Morning Friends,

As you read this, hopefully, I am home from the long drive from Los Angeles to Pennsylvania. Thanks for your prayers for safe travels. We had a great time with my daughter and our three adorable granddaughters.

Gracie (my dog) was amazing. She loves car rides and managed the long five-day drive home with unbelievable patience. I think she loves being with us, even when she is stuck in the car.

Today’s question has to do with healing a destructive marriage. I will be doing a free webinar detailing what exactly is required for healing to take place on April 14th. I encourage you all to sign up or encourage someone you know to sign up to watch this important webinar. Click here to sign up.


Today’s Question: I have been facilitating support groups for sexually sinful men for the past 14 years. We added a wives support group 12 years ago. We have had men referred to us by their counselor, pastor, or by their own wife. The deep stabbing pain a wounded wife feels over her husband’s betrayal is overwhelming. I am not able to understand my wife’s pain or entirely why she chose to stay with me in spite of the pain.

We are both glad she made that decision from the first day back in 1994.

Many of the men I deal with struggle with a level of narcissism that is often comical. Their childish behavior, the petty lies and the denial that he wasn’t as bad as other men does not impress a wife. On occasion, we are blessed with a man who gets it. He knows his actions will be the true indicator of how well he is recovering.

My question is this: If a husband is really working hard to win trust and he appears to be doing the right thing AND his wife refuses to trust him after months (maybe years) of anger, etc. What should the husband do next?

Answer: I am always thrilled to hear how God takes our worst sins and failures and uses them for His glory and to help other people. I am glad you and your wife have done the hard work of healing and are bringing the good news of restoration to other couples through your support groups.

Sexual infidelity strikes at the very heart of marital trust. I believe that is why it is one of the few biblical grounds for divorce. Trust is very difficult to rebuild once it is broken and it sometimes takes a betrayed woman a very long time to fully trust her husband again.

One way of looking at the situation you describe is that she may never fully trust him and that may be one of the consequences of his sin that he (and she) will have to live with if they stay married.

Let me make an analogy. If while driving recklessly, the husband caused an accident that paralyzed his wife, no amount of repentance would change the reality that she is now paralyzed. But together they could learn to live in this new place if she knew he was repentant for his reckless driving habits and he knew she forgave him even though she still remained paralyzed.

You don’t mention the particulars but you do give a few clues that I want to flesh out.

First,you say that her husband is working hard and appears to be doing the right thing, but he is not getting the results he wants – his wife’s trust. My concern with your question regarding what he should do next makes me wonder why the husband is doing what he’s doing?

In other words, his actions, even though they look right, still seem much about him. Getting his wife to trust him, love him and forgive him so that he has a better marriage. If he doesn’t get those things, will that mean that he stops trying to love his wife and  earn her trust?

The second clue that you mention is that his wife still has a lot of anger toward her husband. Her anger is appropriate for the sin, but to hold on to it for years hinders her ability to forgive and reconcile with her husband.

To heal a broken relationship it takes repentance and forgiveness. Healing cannot fully take place without both. (tweet that)

If you have forgiveness, but no real repentance, the relationship continues to be damaged and real trust can never be re-established. On the other hand, if you have repentance but no forgiveness, the relationship still remains broken and genuine intimacy and trust is forsaken.

It seems to me that the wife may be having more problems with forgiveness because she can’t (won’t) let go of her anger. If she could forgive, perhaps they both could lovingly live with the continued lack of trust and together work to rebuild their relationship.

Again, using the analogy of a wife being paralyzed by her husband’s reckless driving. If she forgave him, they could live with the paralysis but she still might be fearful for a long, long, time whenever she is driving with him.

As long as he continued to be patient and compassionate with her lack of trust, knowing that his past foolishness caused her great pain and consequence, they would be able to have a loving relationship.

But if he grew impatient and angry because “she wasn’t over it yet” or drove the slightest bit recklessly, it would erase all the good work he had done previously in helping her to feel safe.

So the answer to your question isn’t simple. The husband can continue to work toward rebuilding his wife’s trust by being patient and loving with her lack of it. The wife must learn to let go of her anger and forgive her husband if she wants to have a good marriage. It will take both of their work to make that happen.

If the wife is in the support group, ask her what she gets out of holding on to her anger for all this time? Perhaps it’s her way to punish him. But at what cost both to her and her marriage?

Friends, you who have lived this journey first hand – what does a husband need to do to rebuild your trust?

166 Comments

  1. Erin on April 6, 2016 at 10:01 am

    This really hits home for me, and I’m interested also to hear from others what the husband can do to rebuild trust. My husband has lied to me for the ten years we’ve been married, and is a recovering alcoholic with a long history of hiding his drinking, DUI’s, losses of license, and the usual damage alcoholism causes the family. He’s sober now for almost 2 years but until January continued lying habitually. He’s back in AA and therapy and working on changing his patterns to stop lying but I still am afraid to trust him.

    It’s not the small lies I’m so afraid of, it’s the big ones that covered reckless behavior that terrify me. Like waiting for the other shoe to drop- or maybe it won’t ever drop again? Your analogy of the paralysis was so helpful. I feel like I’ve forgiven him but the consequences of his actions are such that I am afraid and my feelings for him are dead. He’s doing all the right things- working on himself, being patient and kind to me, and maybe I need to be more patient with myself since it’s been less than three months. Then again, how long is too long for me not to get over this? My constant prayer has been for clarity, for God to reveal truth after having lived with lies and having my reality denied for so long.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:19 am

      It takes time to rebuild trust. Do not be hard on yourself for this. Broken trust is the consequence of his deceit. Also the little lies are important because if he’s going to rebuild trust and tells little lies, how will you know he isn’t going to tell the big one’s too.

      • Erin on April 8, 2016 at 12:14 pm

        Thank you… I feel a lot of pressure from church friends to put this behind me and get over it. All the other times things have come to a crisis point I supported him fully in his recovery efforts and was invested in him getting well because I loved him. I just don’t care anymore and that is a strange place to be. I don’t know how the love feelings get restored, but I know it will have to come from God. In myself I don’t want to be with him, but I know it’s best in the long run to honor God and follow His plan. I will admit I’m fighting it though and not easily surrendering my will. That’s the hardest part.

        • Anewanon on April 12, 2016 at 10:05 am

          Leslie put her finger right on it “he’s going to rebuild trust and tells little lies, how will you know he isn’t going to tell the big one’s too”. Match that statement with “Like waiting for the other shoe to drop”.

          THe shoe dropped and I am now divorced and he claims that I could not forgive..

          Every time I would discover a lie, it was always ME “discovering it” or rather, stumbling upon it.. THe last three times it happened, pins and needles overwhelmed my body as the adrenaline and cortisol surged into my veins, worse each time and for hours and then days. The man was killing me with his non-care. He didn’t care that even his little lies was re-opening those wounds. He didn’t care that HE needed to bring healing to the marriage. He put on a good SHOW of caring. But if he still lied and had no concern for how that affected me, then I think it is safe to say that biblically speaking, he :”hated” me. And then to put bitterness and unforgiveness onto me was just too much to handle. I wanted a relationship, he wanted a wife to do his bidding and to not have any relational needs. He wanted me to just trust him and let him do as he pleased no matter how it affected others and to say nothing about it, Oh he loved it when I would be labeled as co-dependent or BPD.

          The paraplegic analogy is a good one, but it falls short in one area. What if the injured was lying there forced to live this new life and her mate “forgot” to bring food or water or the bed pan? (I use quotes to insinuate a lie for his lack of care disguised as “forgetfulness”.) She has no choice but to lie there and cry? Or scream for help? Or die? And then be labeled as unforgiving or bitter?

          She is now putting her care into the hands of a disordered, sinful man who has not fully repented. A man who wants to follow Christ would NOT want to hurt his wife again. He just wouldn’t. No, he isn’t perfect, none of us are. But we all feel badly and want to remedy a mistake RIGHT AWAY!

          WHere we desire “perfection” – if that is their common complaint – is in their attitude of humility and in their desire to bring healing. NOT in their desire to still “get away” with stuff. Alcoholism is a selfish sin. Its the selfishness that needs to be rooted out as the cure.

          The adrenaline got so bad in me that I finally surrendered to the notion that it was God’s sign to me that it really wasn’t in my control. I had to let go of the marriage. I had no control over his lies and no control over how badly they affected my chemical balance. I had to let go and give him to God. It was the worst nigthmare of my life, but I am learning new ways of living without the man I loved – but who only hated me and wanted to use me for his benefit. Selfishness in its extreme.

          • Debbie on April 12, 2016 at 2:00 pm

            Well said!



          • Lonelywife07 on April 12, 2016 at 7:54 pm

            Wow Anewanon…sounds like my life 5 yrs ago when I discovered my husbands emotional affair…I BEGGED him to tell me the truth, and he would tell me I knew everything…then I’d discover another lie about the affair and how deep it truly was and I’d start shaking, feeling like I couldn’t breathe…and he’d say he was sorry but he was afraid to tell me…then another lie, and the same thing would happen.
            I fought for my marriage, I truly did. I worked through forgiveness, even though when I’d have triggers, usually when I found another lie, or he’d get a text from a strange number…he’d accuse me of not forgiving him.
            It wasn’t until I read Leslie’s book and her blog 2 yrs ago, that I finally woke up and realized that this wasn’t about me being unforgiving or bitter..this was about my husbands lack of repentance and not loving or caring about me at all!
            He’d see me crying, he’d hear me BEGGING him to talk to me, to help me fix our marriage….and he’d walk away.
            Death by a thousand cuts.
            We aren’t separated…yet. I’m slowly saving money, looking for a job…all while my husband plays Mr. Nice, acting as if nothing is wrong. It’s when he acts like this, all concerned and loving, that does the most damage to me…I start doubting myself…asking myself if I’m wrong about him, that MAYBE this time he REALLY has decided to change.
            But all I have to do is bring up our marriage, ask to talk about the past affairs and flirtations with other women, the lack of relationship with Jesus, etc…and he becomes coldly aloof…distant…and then the little lies start up again.
            “I WANT to work on our marriage, I DONT want to lose you…we’ll talk this weekend, I PROMISE!” Then the weekend come and goes, and he says nothing…and on Sunday evening when I mention it, he gets upset with me, and tells me all I want to do is harp about the past, that I’ve never forgiven him and I WANT us to be unhappy!”
            I give up. This blog and Crying Out For Justice blog have helped me so much.
            I’m continually working on my CORE, getting stronger every day, and when God tells me it’s time…I’ll be ready.
            I have no illusions…I’m a woman in my mid fifties, a SAHM for over 30 yrs, it will be hard. But this is where my trust in Jesus will come in. He will have to sustain me, and help me, for I can’t do it on my own. I do have the support of all four of my children, so that is a blessing in itself! 🙂



          • Anewanon on April 12, 2016 at 11:11 pm

            Lonelywife07,

            Would love to help you process if I can. My youngest is 16 and my oldest (of 4) is 22. Am working 3 different PT jobs to stay flexible. I have the same name over at ACFJ too. Praying for you. Thank you for responding. It will be hard whether you stay or leave. And if he doesn’t have a heart change, your marriage, if you chose to stay isn’t really a marriage by God’s definition (I think). It hurts. It really really hurts, I am so sorry.



    • Debby on April 12, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Erin, I am in the same exact spot. Forget the pressure of others. If you reconcile because you feel guilt or pressure or you are being “talked into it” you may be “together” but you will continue to be miserable, no matter how your husband is responding. I think the key is “God will have to do it.” I am not reconciled right now. I need time to process my anger (which is OK and UNDERSTANDABLE!) and grieve the loss of the “normal life” I came into marriage 30 years ago, expecting, as well as giving my h PLENTY of time to PROVE he has truly changed. Only you have lived it, only you can decide when the time is right, if ever.

      • Anewanon on April 12, 2016 at 11:09 pm

        Lonelywife07,

        Would love to help you process if I can. My youngest is 16 and my oldest (of 4) is 22. Am working 3 different PT jobs to stay flexible. I have the same name over at ACFJ too. Praying for you. Thank you for responding. It will be hard whether you stay or leave. And if he doesn;t have a heart change, your marriage, if you chose to stay isn’t really a marriage by God’s definition (I think). It hurts. It really really hurts, I am so sorry.

  2. Aleea on April 6, 2016 at 10:22 am

    “Friends, you who have lived this journey first hand – what does a husband need to do to rebuild your trust?”
    . . . . “first hand”. . . . . well, no first hand experience on my part. Thank the Lord God that there are a few (—albeit very few) issues I don’t have first hand experience of.

    “If the wife is in the support group, ask her what she gets out of holding on to her anger for all this time?” . . . . . —Wow, that is a great question for anyone! How is the anger functioning? We are always getting something out of the things we do even if that “reward” is a secondary “gain.” Stuff gets repressed, redirected and that makes it hard to see clearly. I have held anger before to “punish” people . . . . it is totally worthless and only punishes me because the Holy Spirit keeps convicting me of it every single time I pray. It is totally disgusting how we can’t hold grudges in the Christian life (—it seems to me that some people need stuff held against them) but the Lord always reminds me that if my heart is strong enough to hold grudges, then it is very capable of forgiving others. Obviously, it takes more strength to hold onto something than to let it go. When we hold on to our spouses imperfections we become emotionally pair-bonded to their maladies, for sure. . . . .You know what?. . . . this also applies to staying angry and hold grudges against ourselves. Forgive everyone, including, maybe especially, yourself. . . . . I guess, in the end, the Christian life isn’t as much about falling in love with Christ, as it is about learning to get over hatred. —Falling in love with Christ is the easy part!

  3. Connie on April 6, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Yesterday, there was an excellent video on the Crying out for Justice site about all of this. I agree that the husband needs to be doing it for the Lord, just because it’s right, not to get desired results, otherwise as soon as he gets his results, he will relax and relapse.

    On the other hand, just because the wife isn’t falling all over him in gratefulness does not mean she hasn’t forgiven, it may be she just is waiting and healing, or maybe she is still seeing signs of insincerity.

    • Hannah on April 7, 2016 at 4:28 pm

      You are so right Connie. Here is the video you mentioned. It was very good.

      http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2016/04/05/how-reconciliation-works-by-patrick-doyle/

      • Lonelywife07 on April 8, 2016 at 11:02 pm

        I’ve been watching Patricks videos for 2 days now…and I’m even more convinced that separation is the next step for me!
        I’ve NEVER seen repentance in my husband…and his heart is now more hardened than ever, so it’s time.

        • Roxanne on April 9, 2016 at 11:23 pm

          Praying for you Lonely. Glad things are clear. The best is yet to come.

          • Lonelywife07 on April 12, 2016 at 8:09 pm

            Thank you Roxanne…scary times ahead for me…I believe my husband will get VERY ugly once he realizes I’m standing firm on separation…but I can’t and won’t let that deter me!



      • Jennifer on April 12, 2016 at 9:28 am

        Hannah,

        Thank you so very much for posting that link on that video!! The Holy Spirit was in that post for me!! God bless you and all that you are seeking Him for!

      • Sunshine. on April 12, 2016 at 9:00 pm

        That video is incredible. Wow. Thank God for men and women who step out in faith and use their talents to help others and point them to Christ!

      • Dianna on April 13, 2016 at 12:31 pm

        Thanks for the link. I watched a bunch of Patricks videos yesterday as well as Leslies webinar “The Destructive Marriage”. My ex has been gone for over a year now but I know I have a lot of work to do before I ever get involved with someone again (all of my exes were abusive sex addicts).

  4. Faith on April 6, 2016 at 11:55 am

    Leslie, to be perfectly honest, I struggle greatly with forgiveness and am constantly convicted because I know that this is not God honouring. It’s just that I find it incredibly difficult to forgive a man who, first of all will not admit to his destructive behaviors and attitudes and feels no remorse or sadness at the pain he has caused, and secondly, who continues to be emotionally abusive on a daily basis through silence, hostility manipulation, control and complete lack of kindness and affection. How do I forgive in the midst of this treatment, knowing that it will unlikely ever end?

    • Rhonda on April 7, 2016 at 6:29 am

      Faith, dear Faith, it is not time for you to forgive. He is actively engaged in abusing and exploiting you. Who told you he needed to be forgiven?? You are being sinned against. Your natural survival instinct is right and true. He is not safe or trustworthy!!! There will be time for trust building and forgiveness if he ever does his work. Yet, that time is not now.

      He needs consequences if he is every going to change. Be strong and make a plan. Without one you are destined to the 32 years of enabling another blogged wrote about on this site. Remember this is not your problem. It is his problem. Your problem goes away when you change your situation.

      • Aleea on April 8, 2016 at 6:45 am

        re: “it is not time for you to forgive”

        . . . . who really knows (re: manifold hermeneutical issues) but maybe it is always time to forgive? Jesus will not forgive me if I do not forgive (—or maybe He will, I just don’t know.) If I don’t forgive my heart will be full of snakes and bad cholesterol. . . . .But, that is very different from having any more interaction with that person; structural heart/ emotional separation, filing for divorce; et.al. . . . Then again, maybe there is “A Time to Forgive” . . . . .I always thought forgiveness was/is the central meaning of the Bible, even though it is clearly unevenly applied to those who are powerful vs. those who are vulnerable. It frosts me that the vulnerable are expected to forgive to make the community feel better, but the powerful are protected from accountability. I don’t know anything anymore, and maybe never did. . . . . I mean, honestly, what practical difference do these ideas such as forgiveness actually make in the everyday lives of the people when they are infinitely configurable? Maybe forgiveness is not even really (—like really, really real) possible? I know sometimes I can’t even pray for God to have even mercy on the soul of my abuser. Do the perpetrators of abuse deserve to worship God? Are they worthy of God’s love? Post-modern, male-centered Christianity, it seems to make abuse happen easily. Maybe confession and forgiveness of sins needs to be conditional. Maybe it is. For example, in most traditional liturgies you see the words “you are forgiven” but that ignores the fact that forgiveness for abusers is a process of healing and accountability over time. But maybe it is not a process, maybe they are instantly forgiven like the Bible clearly teaches in many places. Maybe the church’s notorious cheapening of forgiveness makes forgiveness impossible? Maybe it is an endless conversation with no hard and fast answers. Your times, your Jesus. How can we have so many right answers all so equally justifiable?

      • janet on April 8, 2016 at 8:11 pm

        Forgiveness does not require reconciliation.
        Forgiveness does not mean trust.
        Forgiveness does not mean that you won’t feel hurt and pain and distrust.
        Forgiveness does not mean you are a door mat.
        Forgiveness does not mean you are saying it’s ok that you hurt me and it doesn’t matter.
        JUST,
        Forgive, and you will be forgiven. (NIV) Luke 6:37
        That is all you have to do. Release the person to God and be free of that burden.
        Then use your brain and spirit and make a plan that the person will employ for redemption. If not you have an answer. God really made it that simple for us.

        • Aleea on April 9, 2016 at 9:08 am

          re: “. . . use your brain and spirit and make a plan”
          re: “That is all you have to do.”

          Janet,
          That is beautiful. . . . and I see it now that you say it forcefully and with conviction (—I love that! People who somehow just totally KNOW! —Like Leslie’s books.) . . . . I guess my confusion simply reflects certain struggles I have in my life. Modern Western life has gotten ahold of Biblical forgiveness and made it Therapeutic forgiveness. . . re: co-opted it with therapeutic grammar. In the East, in early Christianity, at the heart of all anger, all grudges, and all resentment, all non-forgiveness you always found a fear that hoped to stay anonymous. To wit: If you didn’t love him, this never would have happened. But you did. And accepting that love and everything that followed it is part of letting it go. . . . .Every woman that finally figured out her worth, has picked up her suitcases of pride and boarded a flight to freedom, which landed in the valley of really hard, God-given, change. And now, we can stare long and hard at the door that has closed and forget to see all the doors God has open in front of us. To me, for me, the lesson will always repeat itself, unless I see myself as the problem —not others.

        • rebecca on April 9, 2016 at 11:30 pm

          Thankfully, I have never suffered from difficulty in forgiving my abusive spouse. His perceptions are so unrealistic that it is often rather comical to me. Despite decades of counseling, his brain still cycles through the same litany. I put it in a box and live my live. I take what I can from the relationship, try to be apart from him as much as possible and ignore most of his monologs. I don’t create conflict because it only ever results in his ego being bruised. Anything other that what he thinks, feels or judges is a threat to his precious love of himself. I use the money he provides, keep things light and treat him like a roommate. I have my own mind and my own activities and so I never really engage emotionally. It works for me.

          • Aleea on April 10, 2016 at 7:42 am

            Re: Don’t settle, but settle.

            “I have my own mind and my own activities and so I never really engage emotionally.” . . . .But, you need not remain in that state, unless you choose to. You can be emotionally resurrected. It could be, and obviously I don’t know, but it could be that the real sin is persuading oneself that “works for me” actually “works for me.” If you put up with it, you’re going to end up with it. Set the standard you want and don’t settle for less. It’s useless to paint a closed door, in order to change its color. The door needs to be open for both sides to change.

            “Despite decades of counseling, his brain still cycles through the same litany.” . . . . .Decades? Maybe counseling is worthless for him, maybe try plastic explosive at the door of his mind, shaking everything. Maybe try the desert of the REAL. —Welcome to the Desert of the Real (Radical Thinkers) paperback, 2013 –by Dr. Slavoj Zizek (Author) –or- Insurrection: To Believe is Human; to Doubt, Divine paperback, by Dr. Peter Rollins (Author). Read them to each other and discussion will come. —Is it possible to live before you die? . . .Anyway, you know what to read/ discuss with him to get that emotional discussions to the surface. I don’t, but I bet you do, at least you probably have a clue.

            “I don’t create conflict because it only ever results in his ego being bruised. Anything other that what he thinks, feels or judges is a threat to his precious love of himself.” . . . . It is just fear. It is ALL just fear masked with worthless ego. Oh my, if we could just get rid of the stinking egos. . . . . You make it safe enough, every last emotion comes to the surface. . . Is it possible to turn your home into a wide-open safe, judgement-free zone? A palm tree garden oasis of ________. A place to go to share deep hurt. . . . .If you want to find the truth, emotional truth, you have to be willing to upend every last thing you believe. Truth only comes with conflicts. Anyone really looking for the truth has little ego left because they have been so totally wrong, so, so many times. . . . . I’m praying for you, Rebecca!



          • Hopeful on April 12, 2016 at 7:29 am

            Gosh..this sounds like my home and life.



          • Kathryn on April 13, 2016 at 6:30 pm

            Thank you for sharing that….so it is possible to co-exist. I’ve been told by 3 separate therapists with different backgrounds that the incidents I describe are the result of living with a narcissist. They caution me it will not likely get better….I can either chose to leave or stay and basically live my own life in the same home. Your situation sounds familiar….how do you make it work…literally? May I ask you that if you don’t mind as it is kind of intrusive.



  5. Amy on April 6, 2016 at 12:28 pm

    Anger is often easier to hang on to because it gives a since of control over a situation in which we may have felt powerless such as abuse or infidelity.
    Hanging onto anger can make us feel less vulnerable and in giving up that little bit of control no matter how false it may be makes us feel like we are giving in and going right back into a bad situation.

    A red flag for me in the original question was the comment that the husband APPEARS to be doing all the right things. Perhaps his wife has reason to not be letting go of her anger right away. Perhaps it is all appearances. And my experience is that someone who has hurt another person whether through abuse or other ways is that if they are truly repentant and sorry for what they did, they do not keep asking when the offended person is finally going to get over it and finally forgive them. They do not keep asking “what more can I do to make her forgive me.”
    They take responsibility for their actions by expressing how sorry they are for what they did and asking for forgiveness, AND changing their behavior not just so the offended party will let go and move on.

    • Aleea on April 7, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      . . . . Exactly as you say, anger is the emotion that lets us feel in control when we sense danger that a person has not really changed. But maybe anger is just the illusion of control because anger usually masks fear. Anger gives us our sense of power back, . . . . .but blame gives us our sense of power back too (really hard to keep straight). . . .Guilt points to what we cherish so we realize the importance of it, guilt reminds us. The ultimate purpose of guilt, is to teach us compassion? Guilt is ultimately meant to propel us closer to Love, to God. When anger, blame, guilt inspires anything but compassion and love, it is no longer useful? (really hard to keep straight)

  6. Penny on April 6, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    ‘He knows his actions will be the true indicator of how well he is recovering.’ This is such a journey. From our lives And experience, I wanted to share two things. #1. It is HUGE and healing to hear, ‘I am sorry my actions have hurt you. I need forgiveness. I love you.’ This aspect of recovery is a very precious gift. For years there was the double hurt of betrayal and ‘your problem’ for being hurt in any way.’ #2. There are moments when some behavior or action brings back deep wounds of the past. This is part of the journey. I wish it weren’t true and all those hurts could be burned up in a trash heap. But real life is messy. When those things happen it does help to be able to say, ‘This is hurtful. It feels like the junk that happened back there.’ This then becomes an opportunity for my spouse to say…’I am sorry I ever hurt you. I want to learn to love you.’ It is not bitter punishment, it is navigating the land mines of life together.
    #3. Part of this process involves places and people we have chosen to deal with on a ‘together only’ basis. Most of the world may not understand this or approve but we are living life together and learning what is necessary for US. Obviously , we have not graduated. Slowly traveling a healing road, learning to forgive and love. Sometimes we each or both get things wrong. But there is HOPE and it is way better than the superficial tangles of where we lived for over 20 years.

    • Lonelywife07 on April 8, 2016 at 10:48 pm

      Wow. Penny….what you wrote is beautiful. If my husband had ever said the words you wrote, we wouldn’t be looking at separation today…instead he blames me when I have triggers from his affair, and he chooses to ignore the hurt and pain his behavior has caused our family.

  7. Debbie on April 6, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    There could be other reasons for her resistance, such as she senses his behavior is not genuine but rather to get back to an easier, better marriage for himself. Or perhaps she simply feels she is just too wounded to ever trust him again. Isn’t that why the scriptures allow for divorce in such cases, when the injured party feels that the marital bond is irreparably broken?
    I for one came to realize after 32 years of lies that it wasn’t going to be possible for me to trust him again, even though it was my deepest heart’s desire for years.

    • Roxanne on April 7, 2016 at 6:22 am

      Deb, He had 32 years to get it right. You deserve 32 years of wellness to regain your stability and heal. Every moment you lived in abuse is a moment of life you can’t get back. It is like sleep deprivation, we can’t cheat sleep. It will capture our body and make us rest if we go for long periods with out it. Our bodies and minds need time to heal.

      Thanks for reminding us that divorce is a necessary and a natural outcome of abuse. Staying in a destructive relationship is unnecessary martyrdom.

      • Debbie on April 8, 2016 at 1:01 pm

        Thank you Roxanne for your encouraging words.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Yes I think sometimes trust is broken beyond repair and it’s better to admit that and let go than to try to hang on and make each other miserable.

      • Debbie on April 8, 2016 at 1:09 pm

        Yes Leslie. It’s like with physical wounds. Sometimes they are tended, bandaged, scab over and heal. Other times infection sets in and no matter what we or the doctors do, we die. Some wounds are fatal, and some marital wounds are so infectious that they kill the marriage.

      • Hopeful on April 12, 2016 at 7:42 am

        I wonder if this is the story of my marriage. My husband is the one that won’t let go of his contempt and bitterness towards me. Nothing I do or say is enough for him. I made terrible mistakes and have caused him pain as well as our family. He has hurt me as well, but is fixated on the damage I have caused.

        Jesus is the only hope in the healing of my marriage. I wrestle daily with my husbands words of ” it’s too late. I don’t love you as a wife, you should have done something earlier”, etc and then his monologue starts. He is very stuck.

        When will a breakthrough come? Or is this the end. So painful. Living as roommates. He tries to confine t its me to get his physical needs met, but had to set a boundary with him, that since he has no desire to be a husband in every sense and have left the marriage, I can’t give my body to him. It messes with my emotions when I do. Do I sound punishing..?

        • Ruth on April 12, 2016 at 8:11 am

          You are absolutely not punishing him by setting that boundary. You are saying that you have value; you are not his prostitute.
          If he’s divorced you in his heart, why does he get a free pass to use your body?

          • Lonelywife07 on April 12, 2016 at 8:20 pm

            Amen Ruth! I set the “no intimacy” boundary almost 2 yrs ago, because I WAS being used for only HIS sexual gratification, he cared nothing for ME!
            I’d told him for two years that I wasn’t interested in sex, that I felt he was using me, that sex made me feel sad and awful, etc.. And he didn’t care at all.
            He’d say “I’m sorry you feel that way” then he’d want sex again the next day. There was no intimacy, no fun before or after, it was a chore to be performed for his benefit until I said “Enough.”
            It was the best thing I’d done for myself in this non marriage.



  8. Josh on April 6, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    My personal experience is more in line with what Penny says. I do have a response to address the “appears” aspect of Amy too.

    Let’s first agree, anger creates boundaries and barriers. A repentant husband cannot pursue his wife directly if anger is defining the boundaries of the relationship. It can be entirely understandable and valid to be angry and untrusting, but that’s the inner struggle the wife has to work on – is the anger and lack of trust she clings to preventing the relationship she wants…or are they now defining the relationship where she feels comfortable? If the latter, what changes, IN HER, need to happen, because if she is to believe the best in the repentant husband, she will need to remove her own obstacles too.

    To that point, we’re called to living in community. Go to a brother, bring another leader, where 2 are more are gathered in Christ’s name, etc. don’t rely on your own understanding…or feelings. Does he have someone walking with him? Have you been able to establish healthy communication channels while separated? Without healthy communication, you can say goodbye to the chances of a healthy marriage. Only someone of understanding can draw out the heart of a man, and only God can judge the heart of a man. Bring God into the communication. Pastors, friends, family – we are the church. Don’t make the decision on your own, but be vulnerable to ways God is working-in you and him.

    Anger and lack of trust are a result of punishment and fear. 1 John 4:16-21 goes both ways. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Perfect your own love, without punishment, and you may be surprised at how easily your fears are released.

    • Roxanne on April 7, 2016 at 6:14 am

      I think a husband who pursues his own wellness, doesn’t need to pursue his wife. His healing and behavioral change will be magnetic to his wife and he won’t be able to keep her away. We healthy women know what to do with a Godly, humble man. We are wired to love and bond to such a person. No extra work needed.

      • Josh on April 7, 2016 at 1:15 pm

        Thanks for the reply, Roxanne. I see your point, but I think we need to bring it back into the context of this blog post. My response was in the context of the man already experiencing Godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10) and now pursuing reunification and his wife’s trust. I did say “wife”, but I meant a trusting relationship with the wife. I hope you can forgive me for my lack of clarity there.

        I agree with your point that his healing and behavior changes will be magnetic…but that’s the catch-22 of the situation. We are all called not to boast in our righteousness (quite the opposite), but it does take the wife’s hardened heart to be open to seeing that. It’s not black and white. The husband can surely focus on his own purpose in the kingdom, but back in the context of how the wife let go of anger and trust again…That’s up to her. It’s so easy to blame our actions and reactions on someone else, to wait for other people to show us a sign so that we can trust and not be angry. Even the world understands that anger clouds judgement…look at the lyrics to Disney’s Frozen’s “fixer upper” to get a glimpse into that. Wrath is a sin…but what’s worse, anger leads to a sinful heart, and if a sinful heart of anger blames another sinner for their sinful heart…we have lost accountability and CORE strength. I might even say the roles have been reversed, and it is now the angry wife’s emotions that are trumping the repentant husband’s emotions. See how dangerous that can be? I’m not saying when in doubt, reunify, I’m saying if your honest with yourself and those who support you, and you say you want reunification after God’s renewing in him, do you really want the responsibility of preventing that if and when it happens?

        It’s never simple. It’s never black and white. It’s always unique. It’s always sinners struggling. Jesus is the one true mediator, and through him all things are possible.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:27 am

      Thanks for your perspective Josh.

      • Josh on April 7, 2016 at 1:17 pm

        It’s always here, and I’m appreciative of yours as well.

    • Content on April 7, 2016 at 6:01 pm

      “Anger and lack of trust are a result of punishment and fear.”

      Can you clarify what you mean by this please? I’m thinking more along the lines of anger and lack of trust are a result of the fact that someone has wronged you with no care at all for your feelings and broken trust (at least righteous anger).

      • Connie on April 7, 2016 at 6:13 pm

        I was thinking the same thing. The appropriate response to sin and abuse is anger, outrage. The Bible makes that clear. For so many years it was hung over my head that I was the evil one because I was angry about the abuse, like, once a year. I should have been angry enough to do something about it much sooner. It was not kindness to choke on the anger, forgive the unrepentant, pretend all is well, and enable more abuse.

        • Content on April 8, 2016 at 6:03 am

          I had a very godly trusted pastor yesterday remind me that the Bible gives us permission to be angry. (Ephesians 4:26). And told me I needed to let that anger motivate me. He also said the love of God should be the compelling reason for every choice we make. That talk was a gift; it enabled me to realize that the most loving thing I can do for my husband right now is to allow him to face the consequences of his sin.

          God has given me a lot of grace these last few days to bless my husband even though he is being even more emotionally abusive now that the crisis has been created. And enabled me not to get pulled into his tactics. But, I’m angry. Oh, yes, I am. And this morning, I find myself motivated to follow through with what God has set in motion. Laying my dreams at His feet. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are *all* things.”

      • Josh on April 7, 2016 at 7:50 pm

        Very good point to clarify. I will admit I’m taking a few breathes here to make sure I’m walking into this gently.
        To start, I might reword what I said by saying “**Expressing/directing** anger **towards someone else** and not trusting someone else are a result of a desire to punish and being afraid.”
        I realize that might be a tough clarification to hear. Let me explain why I say it that way. Someone (male or female) feels anger because they are wronged. That’s human nature. It’s justified. Anger is a feeling. Feelings are our own, however justified. It is our own responsibilities to make sure our feelings don’t cause us to sin…against God and against each other. Even if it is the sin of someone else that causes us to feel anger and stop trusting, we are still accountable for our own actions…to God and to others. Ephesians 4:26-27 talks about righteous anger, so that’s great that you bring it up, but look at how long those same verses tell us to hold on to anger. We must look to a Godly way of conduct…Romans 12:21 would be one of many.
        We create boundaries and distance so that we can stop the temptation (hard testing in some translations) of sin. In an ideal situation, that separation (marital, physical, relational, etc) can allow both individuals to not be tempted to sin [more]. To Connie’s reply, you might not realize your own accurateness…you said the appropriate response TO SIN…is anger, outrage. AMEN! The evil one is always at work trying to deceive us and turn us against each other…so as soon as you start directing that anger and outrage towards ANOTHER –sinner–, you’ve given evil the upper hand. There are none righteous. No, not one. Because you were sinned against does not give you a pass to respond in and with sin. Sure is tempting though…especially when the world teaches us that it is acceptable. Especially when we even have Old Testament scripture that tells us eye for an eye. The beauty of it is, our sins, and the sins of others are forgiven already, and long term anger is sign of someone who does not have that perspective. Bitterness, resentment, and grudges are symptoms of holding others sins against them…God is bigger than that. The God YOU believe in! Forgive as you have been forgiven. Be the example of Christ that you want to be shown to you!
        I feel like a preemptive paragraph might help here…Forgiveness is not reunification. forgiveness is a 3 fold promise…not to dwell on the offense (Hebrews 8:12), not to use the offense against them (Psalm 103:8-10), and not to gossip about the offense (Ephesians 4:31-32). That’s biblical forgiveness, and it’s hard to implement, but when it is, it is so freeing, for both parties. There’s a quote that says “unforgiveness is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies” Be quick to forgive and slow to anger. By overcoming and being able to show love (albeit from a distance) the sooner you may even realize you’re heaping burning coals on their head 😉
        I hope my words are received well.

        • Content on April 8, 2016 at 3:02 pm

          Hi, Josh… If you look up the root words for those verses talking about anger… and remembering that God does not harbor his anger forever (which means righteous anger lasts more than a day), I think you will see that the pastor I spoke with gave biblical truth.

          Absolutely, overcome evil with good but as Leslie has taught us here, that might be exposing the truth and lovingly holding someone accountable. It could be bringing your husband’s favorite drink to him in the morning even though he’s emotionally abused and tried to manipulate you the day before. Or letting him know – again – that you love him and want your marriage to work.

          Speaking the truth to close friends in your time of pain is not wrong… as with all things, it’s a matter of the heart. If your intent is to bring damage to their name and reputation, not good. But nothing wrong with being honest about reality either.

          I think there is nothing wrong with righteous anger *at* a person. God was angry *at* Israel…burning anger.

          Anyway, I think the Spirit will lead us if we are His…. We’ll know when He’s calling us to let go of righteous anger (as opposed to vengeful anger which, I believe, is the kind to get rid of before the sun goes down). And best to work and cooperate right away with that so bitterness doesn’t set in.

          Anyway, just where I land on all that after looking at root words and thinking about it.

          So, I guess I still stand by what my original thought was.

          Good conversation for me. Will help to know those different angers God’s speaking about and be on guard, but not feel condemned if it’s the right anger, either.

          I’m still very fresh in my realization of the problems in our marriage. Where we are right now is my husband reaping the consequences of what he’s sown. He is very hardened. And my greatest desire is for his salvation. I want our marriage but I am willing for God to take it away if that means my husband’s soul will be saved.

          • Josh on April 8, 2016 at 6:34 pm

            As you enter into the season of action, keep having your pastor and your support groups check your actions and your heart’s intention. I agree with your pastor to use the anger to motivate you. Take captive every thought and make it obedient to God.

            In the past 24 hours, I came across Psalm 37:8 and Romans 2 in my study and thought to share them here. I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with justifying my actions by *GOD*’s *JUDGEMENT* and DESTRUCTION…especially in relation to my spouse or my marriage…but that’s where we cross the line out of generalizations and into specific situations. I can only pray for God’s will be done and hearts align to accept it with grace and mercy.



        • Connie on April 8, 2016 at 6:39 pm

          Why do I get the uncomfortable feeling that someone is using this forum to try to manipulate his wife and to get attention from women? Sin-leveling usually is done by someone who does not want to do the hard work of true repentance and be willing to give up their rights to what they want. That is why the church is such bad shape; it has encouraged things like, “All sin is the same, so we’re all just as bad, so you have to forgive me, blah, blah.” And so wolves in sheep’s clothing get a pass and we are to give them ‘mercy’ and ‘grace’ (at their insistence or course). The Bible always talks of Justice and Mercy together. Justice for those sinned against and mercy for the truly repentant. We can choose the sin, but we cannot choose the consequences, and true repentance never demands forgiveness, it is grateful when it comes and understanding when it doesn’t.

          I’m thinking when Jesus and John the Baptist and the later apostles say things like, “You vipers, white-washed sepulchures, sons of the devil”, and told the church to kick them out, they were actually talking to the person, not just addressing the sin.

          • rebecca on April 9, 2016 at 2:04 pm

            I have the same impression, Connie. I haven’t heard of sin leveling, but I like the term. I smell a rat too.



          • StrongerNow on April 12, 2016 at 11:01 am

            I agree, it does sound like someone is justifying their own demand for reconciliation.

            Such an expectation reveals a lack of true repentance. When the offender is truly repentant, they recognize the fact that their behavior has fractured the relationship and it may never be mended. They may not like it, but they accept it. This is part of “godly sorrow.” Fleshly sorrow only regrets the problems one has caused oneself by their sinful actions and attitudes.

            Pointing the finger at the spouse who recognizes that fact and claiming their “unwillingness to (prematurely) trust” is an equally grievous sin, is typical behavior for the manipulator who has not truly turned from their sin. This person is merely giving the appearance of repentance in order to continue to manipulate.



          • Heather on April 12, 2016 at 4:37 pm

            I agree. Something’s not right here.

            And people who really know the Bible could never say that anger becomes sinful as soon as it is directed toward someone.

            The Prophets show a God with a full range of feelings including anger and destruction towards sinners who reject God, and even against sinners who bully, intimidate, control, abuse, and hurt the helpless and the weak.

            The Psalms show people moved by the Spirit echoing God’s feelings toward sin. I just read Psalm 35- Psalm 37 yesterday, and I highly encourage any woman in an abusive situation to read them right now. You will be validated and encouraged by God and mesmerized by the beautiful image of God as a protector and champion of the weak and helpless.

            Evil is disgusting to God, and it is disgusting to God’s children because we are becoming like him. And anger towards evil and even a desire to see unrepentant evil punished is godly. Abusers, repent quickly. For if you don’t, your punishment is coming soon!



          • Debbie on April 13, 2016 at 7:37 pm

            Amen Connie!



        • Hopeful on April 12, 2016 at 7:47 am

          HI wonder if this is the story of my marriage. My husband is the one that won’t let go of his contempt and bitterness towards me. Nothing I do or say is enough for him. I made terrible mistakes and have caused him pain as well as our family. He has hurt me as well, but is fixated on the damage I have caused.

          Jesus is the only hope in the healing of my marriage. I wrestle daily with my husbands words of ” it’s too late. I don’t love you as a wife, you should have done something earlier”, etc and then his monologue starts. He is very stuck.

          When will a breakthrough come? Or is this the end. So painful. Living as roommates. He tries to confine t its me to get his physical needs met, but had to set a boundary with him, that since he has no desire to be a husband in every sense and have left the marriage, I can’t give my body to him. It messes with my emotions when I do. Do I sound punishing..?

          • Debby on April 12, 2016 at 1:37 pm

            Hopeful, it is helpful if you separate what you have done to hurt him from what he has done to hurt you. Take what you have done and follow the steps a repentant offender would take toward the person who was offended (name the action(s) specifically, say sorry and BE sorry, ask them to forgive you when they are ready and the rest is up to them. He is expected to do the same. The issue, it seems, is what does forgiveness look like? If you want him to forgive you so he will reconcile, that is not a humble reason, it is to “get something back.” (Im not saying you are doing that). If he hasn’t forgiven you, that is on him, but even if he has, he still needs as much time as he needs to heal. He needs to take the same steps as you as an offender. I don’t know what each of you did, so you both will need to make sure you are not “equalizing” sin, i.e., “my husband hits me, but then again, I am sort of messy and yelled at him” kind of thing. Sin is sin but not all sin has the same level of consequences. It sounds like there is hurt on both sides, but I have no idea what that looks like or how egregious it was. You both may need some time apart to give each other space. The admitting and saying sorry and forgiveness can all be done in writing apart where you both feel safe and can think about what you want to say and how you will respond. IT IS NOT FOR THE OFFENDER TO GET TO DETERMINE HOW LONG IT TAKES FOR AN OFFENDED TO STOP HURTING. If they are lashing out at you, or you them, that will not solve anything and may add hurt to hurt so space is a really good reprieve. Don’t be afraid to use that. Maybe he is truly the one who needs space. Offenders (in your case, whoever that may be) often want to coerce the offended into prematurely “feeling better” or “getting over it” when by doing that, they show the opposite of repentance and humility. They rather are showing that they feel that the consequences are too severe for their actions. But only the offended can decide that. I hope that helps.



        • Melissa on April 12, 2016 at 12:59 pm

          I’ve been part of Leslie’s online support groups for over a year, so I have an understanding on what she teaches on this subject. But, I must admit I am struggling with your responses a little bit, Josh.

          I guess you’ll need to define “sin” in the context of “in your anger do not sin.” Is it a sin to hold my husband accountable for his actions? Is it a sin to separate or divorce due to his continued emotional abuse? Is it a sin to not trust him again?

          I can forgive, but that DOES NOT equal reconciliation or make trust renewed. That will take time and how much time depends upon a variety of factors. To try to set a time limit on when the wife should be able to trust him again is putting what should be his consequences on her. His consequences are broken trust, as it should be. His consequences are his wife’s anger, as it should be.

          Anger is an emotion and justified in the case of abuse and mistrust. What she does with it is her choice. I agree she will be trapped by her own anger, as I was for nearly a year before I forgave. What I was left with was HURT and lots of it – deep emotional pain! That is also the consequences of his actions.

          To say that the injured party has a time limit on how long she can be hurt or how long she takes to trust him again, to me that just doesn’t seem right. It puts some of the responsibility of his consequences on HER. He did this to her, so however long it takes her to recover from it is up to her; that is NOT up to him!

          He needs to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. She needs to get healing, and that may require not being with him for a long time – her time table, not his! For him to be asking “how long will this take” is completely the wrong question in my mind. It will take however long it takes! He can encourage her to get healing and let her know that he will keep doing whatever it takes to rebuild the trust, not pressuring her to reconcile before she is ready.

          • Debby on April 12, 2016 at 1:23 pm

            I so agree with you, Melissa that I want to repeat it a 1000 times. Thank you for your reply that echoes what is in my own heart and circumstances.



          • Josh on April 12, 2016 at 9:25 pm

            Yours is a productive reply, Melissa. I thank you for your reply and I am grateful for your interest in my reply to yours.
            To reply directly – It is not sin to hold your spouse accountable for his actions…so long as you are accountable for your actions. It is not sin to separate or divorce. It is not sin not to trust your spouse again.
            You’re right – Forgiveness does not equate to reconciliation and renewed trust. So far, I believe you and I are on the same page.
            I’m not sure where you’re getting a time limit from my responses. Please, let me know where I may be giving that impression. I do not believe there can be time limits or expectations at all when dealing with reading hearts. Only God can read and judge hearts, we can only read words and actions, and out of their mouth, we can get a glimpse of what is in their heart.
            You say anger is a justified emotion in the case of abuse and broken trust. I agree, but I ask justified how? I believe it is justified to have anger. I agree it is justified to invoke limitations on the relationship, “consequences”, in the physical and emotional realms, using justified/righteous anger as the motivator and energy. As you mention, it is justified to hold someone accountable for their sin, even while having anger.
            My concern is when the anger becomes the justification for consequences. “I’m still mad, and my anger is a result of their sin, so they still have consequences to face.” That’s unhealthy, because it’s not wrestling with the anger. It’s a choice not to wrestle with it, and a choice that can be justified, but it’s still a choice. We shouldn’t expect them to wrestle with the anger for us. Someone here had mentioned we all have different capacities for pain. We all have our own emotions and freedom to do what we want with them. If we want to hold on to anger, because it gives us comfort, and keeps us from re-entering a destructive relationship, that can be justified, if we want it to be.
            The caution I have with anger being a considered a consequence someone has to face is they have no choice but to endure it, if the offended person won’t or can’t process the anger in a healthy way. “WAIT!” you may say, “they don’t get to choose their consequences!” I agree, and neither does the offended. If the intent is to hold them accountable for their sin, we must also be accountable for ours. The sin is the sinner’s, and the consequences are felt by anyone. We can express anger at them for having to deal with the consequences of their sin, but that doesn’t deal with the consequences of their sin. Throwing caution to the wind, I’ll throw out 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 here.
            Back in the context of a repentant spouse, truly changed. When we let anger express itself in our words and actions, we run into many risks. Our anger can become acceptable to us – which will just carry into future relationships. We can hurt others in our own hurt – which spawns emotions in others, for them to either forgive immediately or stay angry too. If reunification was a goal, do we really want to push them away with anger? Do we want to give them a platform for sin leveling? Do we want our actions in anger to become a reason why they bring up their own barriers and consequences as they shield themselves from our anger? Remember, it was the desire for accountability that brought them into their consequences from the offended, I don’t think we’re suggesting the offended has no accountability for their anger. Sin is contagious! The evil one will want us to stumble and respond while our judgement is clouded in anger! The world will tell us it’s justified to express anger right back and not even bat an eye! Do not be conformed to this world (Romans 2)! If reunification is a valid possibility, regardless of time, hope and faith will be tested. Be alert!
            If the offended spouse is using their anger against the offending spouse, that’s not forgiving as we have been forgiven. God didn’t give us consequences for our sin to keep us from His presence. Jesus was betrayed…to death…by his disciples, but he came back to them. He showed them his wounds, but he didn’t say “look, this is what you’ve done to me.” Heck, in that analogy, you can say Jesus showed us the consequences of our sin, and then left his disciples for good…there’s grounds for divorce if you want it. That’s what I’m getting to. Anger can disguise our heart and make us seem pure and justified. If we cling to anger, instead of the cross, we deny the redemptive nature of Christianity by prolonging the consequences of sin, when it’s really the consequences of our own emotions that are at play now. Lysa Terkhurst puts it well, “Emotions are indicators, not dictators.” As time in anger goes on against a repentant spouse, not only has the burden of time shifted onto the offended, but the burden of a sinful heart can too…and we may never see it because we call it justified because someone else sinned against us. When both hearts have grown so far apart, wrapped in anger and pain as comfort, we can only expect that reunification is not a possibility.
            My words are not pressure to reunify. My words are a call to constantly check our hearts with God. Check our actions with our support groups. Be vulnerable to correction. I agree, if the offender is asking “how long will this take?” Their heart is focused on reunification and not on their own sin. It is not time to reunify. It may, just maybe, be a time to say, “I’m not ready to trust you yet” or “I’m not ready because I’m still angry.” If they can understand that, we have a glimpse into their patience and we’ve taken ownership of our anger and our decision not to trust. That is justified.



          • Heather on April 12, 2016 at 9:31 pm

            Josh… By all means, everyone should be checking their hearts with God at all times.

            But in the opinion of many, many God-loving theologians and teachers, abuse victims are not required to ever trust and reconcile with the abuser even if there has been genuine repentance. So forgive the person before God, yes. Trust again enough to fully reconcile? Not required.



          • Josh on April 12, 2016 at 10:13 pm

            Heather – Agreed. Divorce and move on. That’s the choice. As Leslie said above, sometimes trust is so broken, it’s better to just call it done and stop making each other miserable.

            Not sure how that ties into what I said or the context of what a repentant spouse can do if the spouse clings to anger though.



  9. karen on April 6, 2016 at 3:26 pm

    The husband should read, apply and practice daily every step of Worthy of her Trust by Arterburn/Matinkus for the rest of their lives together if necessary! unfortunately mine read it promised to do it But never did. Actions always speak truth. Believe what his actions tell you.

    • Erin on April 7, 2016 at 7:50 am

      Thank you for recommending this book… I started reading it yesterday and will be giving it to my husband. It was validating to read that the things I need are not over the top- things like articulating specifically to me how he hurt me, being accountable, and making a point of remembering details ( his defense is often “I don’t remember). The amends matrix is great too. Thank you.

  10. Shellie on April 6, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    I have lived this journey first hand. In this rather detailed comment, I share what my husband does to rebuild trust. My spouse is truly repentant and has shown consistent change over time. I have truly forgiven him (long before he repented) and received complete healing because of that. I have greater confidence in My God who has grown in me greater self-confidence and value, which allows me to be vulnerable and intimate with my spouse again. This has taken years of hard work and painful inspection for both of us. Perseverance is key (allowing the process to unfold with its twists and turns; not a linear progression).

    These excerpts from Leslie’s post are the most pertinent, in my opinion, “One way of looking at the situation you describe is that she may never fully trust him and that may be one of the consequences of his sin that he (and she) will have to live with if they stay married. … his actions, even though they look right, still seem much about him. Getting his wife to trust him, love him and forgive him so that he has a better marriage. If he doesn’t get those things, will that mean that he stops trying to love his wife and earn her trust?”

    ……….This is what my husband does to rebuild trust……….

    (1) My spouse recognizes that trust is earned not owed, and he has finally accepted that neither of us knows the “arrival date” for the return of my trust in him (as if a time will come when he doesn’t have to work on it anymore).

    (2) Likewise, he finally understands that he will never “arrive” at abolishing lust or perfectly resisting temptation. Expecting that of himself is unwise. He’s been there, done that. He has thought he had “arrived” – that he “gets it” and, therefore, didn’t need to complete his work on himself. That wrong thinking wrecked more havoc on our already crumbled, emotionally destructive marriage. It is wise for both spouses to know that it is unrealistic (delusional, even) to expect a day will come where this will never be an issue again; that expectation only piles on more temptation and damage; and breeds more distrust and anger into the relationship. I do not mean to offend anyone. I have been guilty of that thinking.

    (3) He doesn’t simply “get it.” It’s not just head knowledge or even just behavior change. His mind is renewed; his attitude is re-calibrated; and his heart is regenerated, so that his behavior STAYS CHANGED. He sees himself realistically; he has done the hard work of learning his weaknesses and limitations, and he remains sensitive to them. He does his best to recognize them as soon as they flare up and to take the necessary safeguards against them to resist falling into sin. He has accountability partners, goes to support meetings, and is honest with his wife.

    (4) He is patient when I am insecure. He listens to my concerns with empathy and respect. When I am not forthcoming, he notices, and assures me that he wants to know how I am affected. He says he needs to know. It is important to him that he be reminded of the pain and damage his destructive choices caused. He doesn’t necessarily like to hear it, but he knows he needs to hear it from time to time.

    Listen ladies, I do NOT take advantage of this. He trusts me. It would be vengeful on my part and an abuse of his trust to dump irresponsibly. I have my own accountability and support; that what they are for.

    That being said, husbands, you patience is vital in the beginning stages of rebuilding trust. She has a lot to say and is in a lot of pain. She needs to be heard and her pain needs to be validated without ANY excuses – and without being rushed. She needs to be free to end the conversation at anytime, and also, be committed to return to it within a reasonable time.

    (5) *** Once he has my trust (which he generally does now), he knows it is vital that he MAINTAIN that trust by doing the things he did to rebuild it. *** My husband confessed he cannot afford to relax. He cannot take a vacation from taking responsibility for himself. That’s the kind of thinking that rebuilt my trust.

    My trust in him is fragile, like a young plant that is sprouting leaves but its roots are not deep and can be easily pulled out. Trust is growing, but is not secured in him; nor should it be. My trust is fully secured in the Lord and in His wisdom and character.

    ………. About her anger ……….

    If she is not doing the work to release her anger, is holding on to it for years, is still married, wants the marriage, and is getting help, she may not be angry at all. She may be “deathly” scared to be hurt again, and anger is protecting her. Sometimes anger, initially, works as a positive function to guard her heart from injury from her spouse. It helped me speak up for myself, set boundaries, and it motivated me to keep persevering in my healing and maturity (growing in wisdom and trust in the Lord).

    What does a husband do?
    Persevere in wisdom. Now, if her anger is damaging you, then you’ll have to tread the slippery slope of setting boundaries – not to control her anger, but to guard your own heart and mind, so that you keep from sinning in response. Her anger doesn’t justify you quitting or sinning.

    One male counselor asked a husband who was wondering how much longer it will take for his wife to trust him again, “How long had you been unfaithful to her?” “Ten years,” the husband replied. “Expect it will take at least that long, probably longer.”

    • Ann L on April 7, 2016 at 8:42 am

      Thanks especially for your thoughts on the wife’s anger. I made a vow to hold out in front of me what my husband had done (referring to long-term patterns of behavior). It’s to help me not participate in the same ol’ dance of moving forward without addressing the past.

      I want to stop being angry inside but even more I want to not be taken for a fool again. I look forward to the day when I know that I am legally protected from the impact of his issues. Anger helps while I continue counselling and working to replace it with healthier alternatives.

      • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:34 am

        Yes, anger does serve to help us guard our heart for a season, but we do need to let it go and find healthier alternatives. Glad you are doing that.

      • Shellie on April 7, 2016 at 3:56 pm

        Ann L, I totally get what you’re saying!!!!! I remember when my feet fit snugly in those shoes. Sigh…I’ve been there.

        I like your statement about addressing the past; it is so vital for reconciliation to occur. Addressing the past is about acknowledging the truth of our reality, no matter how painful and sad it is/was.

        I remember the season when I felt like such a fool and didn’t know how I could ever, possibly, trust him again. I blamed myself for being foolish and was angry at his covert operations and manipulations that fooled me. There is hope. Today, I am no longer afraid of being fooled. God has matured me, given me wisdom and greater trust to guard against future foolishness. I trust Him to protect me and alert me to the truth. I am no longer afraid to see my reality, even if it isn’t what I want it to be. I have changed the dance so that foolishness can no longer thrive here. Praise the Lord!

        I’m glad you’re working to replace your anger with healthier alternatives. It sounds like it is working as a helpful tool for now. Like all negative emotions, anger is something we feel, but shouldn’t keep.

        You are on your way, Ann L! I am encouraged and am cheering you on!!

    • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Thanks Shellie, great points.

    • Josh on April 7, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      I enjoy your comment and story, Shellie. Thank you for sharing.

      • Shellie on April 7, 2016 at 3:57 pm

        Likewise, Josh. Thanks for your comments.

  11. Linda on April 6, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Dear Leslie ~

    As always, thank you for the wealth of incredibly helpful counsel you provide … you’ve been a steady source of wisdom and information for me as a pastoral counselor for years now.

    So good, in fact, that I just featured you on my Scads of Marriage Resources post …

    http://www.lindastoll.net/2016/04/scads-of-marriage-resources-and-40.html

    Blessings, Leslie

    • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:31 am

      Thanks LInda

  12. Lisa on April 6, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    What if he refuses to go to counseling? He just moves forward and waits for me to “get past it” There are triggers that happen and I feel the pain more intensely. He had an affair with a Chaplin from work. On the job they did it, in her house they did. she is married too. We went to counseling 3 times and then he said he didn’t feel that telling a stranger our problems was any good. I’ve tried to act like its over I’m ok. but I’m not ok. Its not the first questionable relationship he has had. Narcasisim is a word the counselor has used. My husband has told me he doesn’t want to fix this, he fixes problems all day long. I read every book I can to try to understand and make sense of all this I go to counseling and meetings but he doesn’t do any of that. He’s just waiting. So I haven’t shared any of my true feeling with him since we married really because if I do they just get put down. Its all about him. I’ve prayed and prayed God to help me to forgive but I don’t trust anything he says anymore.

    • Shellie on April 7, 2016 at 4:23 pm

      So, so painful, Lisa. I understand. It sounds like he isn’t interested in changing. It doesn’t sound like reconciliation is even in the ballpark at this point. And, it may never be if he told you he doesn’t want to fix this. It sounds like he has made his intentions clear. You say he’s just waiting. Waiting for what? Sounds like he has already made his decision. It’s just not the decision you want to hear or face. Am I onto something here?

      What you do have the power to do is take care of yourself. Your freedom, healing, and even happiness is not dependent upon him changing, nor should it be. Trust me, I know. I waited a long time for him to change so I can be ok.

      I’m glad you’re being honest. You are NOT ok. So, it IS ok to stop pretending you are ok. Ok? In order for you to see clearly and break free from the pain and craziness, you will need to be honest with yourself and with your reality.

      Forgiveness and trust are not the same. You can forgive your spouse and not trust him. It is vital that you forgive him. You will not heal until you do. Forgiveness is not allowance. It does not ignore, forget, or condone destructive behavior. Forgiving your spouse is releasing him into the Father’s Hands for His just vengeance or merciful conviction, so that you are free to live in the freedom that Christ suffered and died for you to have. You should not trust your spouse, according to what you shared. Jesus wouldn’t either. Your spouse sounds unrepentant. So, it would be foolish to trust an unrepentant sinner (Psalm 118:8; Proverbs 10:14; 14:15; 23:9). They will trample and attack you (Matthew 7:6). Scripture also says to forgive, so that you do not fall into temptation yourself. Forgiveness is about you. It guards your heart and mind against deep rooted resentment and bitterness. Check out this link: https://getupministry.wordpress.com/2011/05/27/10-reasons-why-forgiveness-is-so-important/

    • Roxanne on April 8, 2016 at 12:24 am

      Lisa, you describe life as an abused woman. There is nothing for you to get past. What consequence can you put in his life to help him recognize that you will not tolerate being treated in such a way? He has you fooled into thinking you have a problem when it is his problem and he likes what he is getting from the relationship with you without changing a thing. How can you make him squirm? Change the dance so he doesn’t get everything he wants while having bad behavior. Time to concentrate on your hopes, dreams, desires and needs in life. What would be the first step in ignoring his demands and focusing on your life? Is it time for a separation?

  13. Honey on April 7, 2016 at 6:06 am

    In my ignorance, I comment, yielding to you who have experienced marital infidelity, as I have not. I don’t understand why one stays married after infidelity. The bond is broken and the vow is dissolved. Why does anyone continue to play house and pretend marriage when adultery has occurred. Once again, I come from a lack of experience on this subject, yet my first impression is what in the world is wrong with a partner who would want to continue any contact with an adulterer. Am I missing something here? Why would anyone trust that person again? The consequences of their sin is the dissolution of the vow. Move on with life. Being single, is being sin free. Remarriage is unbiblical, right?

    • Ann L on April 7, 2016 at 8:33 am

      In my view, adultery is betrayal in the same category as other trust-breaking behaviors such as continued lying, physical abuse, or emotional affairs. It’s a symptom. So what it makes it worse than anything else?

      The only thing that makes adultery worse is that somebody says it is, and they pull a passage from the Bible and build an entire doctrine of marital relationship, control and judgment around it, and we accept their version of how we should view things.

      For me, adultery might be the line in the sand. For someone else, it might be theft. I’m suggesting that reconciliation is a personal and a couples-decision best left to them to figure out. For some it’s easier to use someone else’s framework as a guide. Using the framework as a guide leaves room for us to extend grace and practice wisdom.

      • Roxanne on April 8, 2016 at 12:32 am

        Good point Ann, each person has their own pain threshold. I remember Charles Stanley once preaching that, just because you have biblical grounds for divorce, doesn’t mean you are commanded to divorce. It is our choice to stay or leave. God will be the righteous and holy judge, in the meantime we have to be sure not to be crucified for another person’s sin. There is only one Savior. Our purpose in life is not to be our husband’s savior and God doesn’t need martyrs for any reason what so ever. Therefore, I guess martyrdom is for our own egos and self righteousness.

    • Lonelywife07 on April 11, 2016 at 2:03 pm

      Honey, for me, I stayed because of my children and because I was a home school mom, who hadn’t worked outside the home for over 25 yrs and I was just sooo sure that my husband would repent, and be so disgusted with himself that a miraculous change would occur, and my marriage would be better than ever!
      I worked sooo hard to help my husband, reading books, finding counselors, etc… I was loving and sexually available after the affair (btw, it was an emotional affair, but I do believe he’d had a sexual affair 2 yrs into our marriage, but I couldn’t prove it)
      Anyway, nothing happened. He took what I offered, and ran with it, like it was his RIGHT to have me doing these things for him.
      It’s taken me 5 yrs since the affair to finally say “Enough.” Also, in a recent conversation, my H told me that he KNOWS he hasn’t worked on himself OR our marriage, since the affair….and he didn’t seem to care.
      My marriage was never a great marriage..we got a long ok, but there was no romance or tenderness…but I didn’t know what to do to change it, so I said nothing.
      The affair truly showed me how wrong my marriage has always been, and I so desperately wanted to fix it, but as Leslie says, “It takes two” so now I’m planning to separate from my husband, as a last ditch effort to show him that we can’t continue as we are.
      I have no hope that this will wake him up…only a deep, TRUE relationship with Jesus will do that, and as my H also recently admitted, he has no relationship with Jesus, and again, he seems ok with that.
      My husbands heart is hardened, and he’s in a very dangerous place spiritually…and he’s blind to it.

      Every person who has been betrayed by infidelity has to make the decisions that work for them….and when children are involved, it’s no longer just about you and how you’re feeling, you have to consider your children also. It’s a process. A long, painful process.

      • Honey on April 11, 2016 at 8:41 pm

        Lonely, I agree that it does seem extremely painful, especially having to have sexual relations with someone who was unfaithful. How did you make your self do that? I am in awe.

        For the last two nights I have been watching videos by Patrick Doyle. I had never heard of his work until someone mentioned it on this blog. He speaks to so many of the issues we talk write about. If you haven’t checked out his counsel yet, I think it would be really helpful to you as you move on to separation wisely and his teachings would add affirmation to your actions.

        You must be one strong and Godly woman, keep up the good work!

        • Lonelywife07 on April 12, 2016 at 8:58 pm

          Honey, YES I saw the Patrick Doyle videos on here and have watched several! He speaks TRUTH, as does Leslie!
          The videos have really helped me solidify in my mind that separation is the right thing to do!
          As for being intimate after I found out about the affair…I thought that would “help” save my marriage, because my husband blamed me for not being affectionate, or loving, as one of the reasons for the emotional affair.
          That is quite common in infidelity, BTW, the offender blaming the spouse for THEIR sin!
          Anyway, I didn’t know better at the time, so I allowed him to “dump” on me, and dump he did!
          I was angry, oh boy was I angry, but I also felt responsible for his “unhappiness” so I jumped through hoops to “fix things” in our marriage, especially since he complained to the other woman about me not being a “good” wife, etc…
          Thank you for your kind words, I feel neither strong nor Godly…I struggle daily with fear of the future….I also struggle with frustration towards my husband for putting me..us…in this mess in the first place, and not dealing with his issues!
          In the last 2 weeks I’ve had my sister AND my best friend come down HARD on me for not being “nicer” to my husband, for not “forgiving” him fully and they’ve both told me if I work “harder” at loving him, he will come around.
          It’s been really difficult, but I just remind myself that they do NOT understand what it’s like living with an emotionally abusive man…and I take a deep breath and move on.
          As long as God knows my heart, I can’t worry about what others think.

  14. hope on April 7, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    My husband has had issues with porn in the past. I discovered what he was doing and I confronted him. He gave all sorts of reasons but acknowledged that it was wrong. We never went for counselling. Sometime later I discovered that he was into porn again. More excuses. During this time he was always trying to find fault with me. The only reason I did not leave him was my child was still so young and needed my husband around.

    My husband never asked for my forgiveness or give me any assurance that he will try to stop viewing porn. He could not keep his job as he spent a lot of time on the computer. Now he does not work at all.

    I am not certain if he has stopped his habit now. He seems to have no accountability. I have not told anyone and my church leaders are unaware of what has happened in our marriage. The history icon is often deleted so I suspect that he may still be addicted.

    I used to feel depressed all the time in the early days and my emotional health suffered but these days I cannot be bothered anymore. I do not question him. I think I no longer care what he does. It is very difficult to move forward when there is no transparency, accountability and repentance. He just let the marriage go. I now think that he wanted this marriage just for the financial security it offered him and his declarations of love was just a pretense. Just because we are following Jesus does not mean that we will be protected from this kind of marriage.

    • Faith on April 8, 2016 at 9:24 am

      Are you still living together, Hope? How old is your child now?

    • rebecca on April 8, 2016 at 11:59 am

      I am wondering how you obtain manage your household. Is he on disability? If you are the bread winner, why keep him around? Porn addiction is like any other addiction, it doesn’t go away (if at all) without intervention. Why do you stay with him now? A separation might shake him up. What consequences does he need to experience as a result of his sin? A marriage to you is a privilege, if he doesn’t appreciate that then it would seem he doesn’t deserve it.

    • Sunshine. on April 12, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      So, do you work and provide the financial resources for your husband? Does he in any way contribute to the marriage and family? Or does he stay home playing on the computer while you work? I ask because this was my situation. My husband was fired from four different jobs. When I went to work, he was perfectly happy to sit back and let me do it all. I was so brainwashed, I didn’t Rock the boat. By that point in our marriage, I didn’t question him. I knew he would yell at me for disrespecting him. He would tell me how disappointed he was in me and my behavior. He said things like,”if you REALLY loved me, you would…” And generally, I did it. Because, I was scared of doing wrong in the eyes of the church, NOT God, but church. When the first counselor was frustrated after hearing the same story, version fifty three, he told me to Not be afraid to cut up the credit card. If he was not going to help out with finances and household chores, he couldn’t spend money however he chose. I was shocked into reality. It has been over four years and I can now question what my husband tells me to do and put it back on him rather than take everything he says as a command. I let him feel bad and disappointed and let down. I take care of my body and am a part of a women’s small group. I have good people who ask me the right questions and pray for our marriage.

  15. Lisa on April 8, 2016 at 3:05 am

    I think it’s time for a divorce. As I reread my journal and all the lies told and believed I don’t feel there is any more hope for this marriage. My husband has lots of issues in his life he doesn’t deal with, he drinks to excess and it’s everyone else’s fault for his misery. I can’t continue to live like this. I feel I have crossed every T and dotted every I. There is no more I can do for this marriage. I must now take care of myself. I fear him, when he drinks.

    • Content on April 8, 2016 at 5:51 am

      Lisa, I’m so sorry…. Feeling your pain. I feel like I just woke up from a 24 year long nap to the reality of my marriage. Like I was blind but now I see. Very very painful. And don’t see much hope as I have created a crisis that is helping me see my husband’s true character. So much thinking to do and don’t know where to start, but I know separation is inevitable unless God wakes my unbelieving husband up very, very soon.

      Prayers for you and me and so many others – for God’s guidance and comfort, wisdom and healing.

      • rebecca on April 8, 2016 at 12:13 pm

        Content, is separation a terrible thing at this point? You can always reunite if/when change occurs. Leaving you in a state of limbo robs you of your precious life. Your husband is in control of your life, to the holy spirit. (Think about it, who really rules your life right now.) Remember, YOUR life has just as much value as your husband’s life. Christ died for you!! Marriage is important, but Christ didn’t die on the cross for marriage, he died for sinner, all sinner. No need for wives to take our husband’s sins. Let him feel the sting of his own behavior.

        • Content on April 8, 2016 at 1:24 pm

          Things are very fresh… We’re supposed to go to counseling Monday but if nothing changes within a few days I will proceed with separation. I have no idea where to start with that (i.e. Can I ask him to leave, he might be agreeable to that? )…. I’m a stay at home mom for 20 years. I’m lost with where to start.

          • rebecca on April 9, 2016 at 2:08 pm

            If you live in the United States, your local domestic abuse shelter will help you proceed. Everything is free of charge. If you Iive in a small community try the next biggest city close to your home. 1.800. 799. SAFE is the national 24/7 hotline. Call as often as you like or need.



    • rebecca on April 8, 2016 at 12:06 pm

      Lisa, I applaud your wisdom and bravery. Who can help you take the next step today? You are not responsible for his sin or to fix his sin. You will give an account before God for YOUR behavior, not his. Have you done any codependent reading? Who told you that you are responsible to fix anyone? God loves you as his special, precious daughter. Staying in this relationship has Satan delighted because he has tied up one of Christ’s servants in deceit. The deceit is that your husband’s sin has anything to do with you and that you can/should fix it. You are handcuffed when the sinner should be in chains, not you. Have courage, the future is so much better than the present. After a little while of suffering through the divorce, you can reclaim your intended purpose in the Lord and get to work as the person he intended before the devil got in and swayed you.

  16. Kathryn on April 10, 2016 at 12:21 am

    I’m new to this blog and have listened to Leslie’s session. They have been tremendously helpful. I am one of these ones who stayed in my marriage for the sake of shame in the community and with my parents (my father is a pastor). I now recognize years of abuse including physical abuse to my children and am saddened that I did not do more to protect them. Now as empty nesters some patterns are emerging; namely under the guise of complementarianism. I’m wondering if anyone out there has dealt with this. To me it seems like patriarcal thinking “repackaged”. My husband wants to leave our church because he believes it should have an “all male board/elder’s board” of leadership and that women should not preach or hold any authority over a man in the church. He is reading alot of material about this and I can’t hold a candle to his arguments of scripture. I want to be a Godly wife but I feel I am loosing my sanity again. Does anyone out there have any similar experiences? I need some serious help. I feel like giving up especially now the children are gone.

    • Connie on April 10, 2016 at 11:38 pm

      I think a lot of us are or have been there, Kathryn. It’s been a long journey for me. Our family was sucked into the patriarchy stuff for so long, swallowing all the Koolaid that went with it. I see it so differently now. Jesus said that the gentiles lord it over each other, but with us it shouldn’t be that way. In the gospels, it also talks about not lording it over each other, and it says that in Christ, there is no Jew or Gentile, male or female, we are all one. Satan’s lure to Adam was control, the right to choose for himself instead of just trust God and walk in unity with Eve.
      Whenever we turn from the light, the man with try to get his identity and fulfillment from the ground (work of his own hands) from which he came, and the woman will try to get hers from the man from which she came. What or whoever we try to get our needs met by will rule over us in place of God. Of course a woman shouldn’t yield authority over men, but neither the other way. And all submission is a voluntary act of love. Nowhere does it say to make someone else submit. God doesn’t make us do anything, what makes us think we have more authority than He does? His biggest gift to us is freedom to choose. We have no right to take that gift from another.

      Holding a position or preaching or counseling is not holding authority, it is just working together mutually and being Christ to each other. In that time there were false religions where women ruled men and did creepy things to them, and the Bible is just warning the new believers that that is one of the ideas they need to drop.
      We need to stop cherry picking scriptures here and there and instead look at the whole Bible and God’s overall intentions and His heart for us. Also, the times these things were written are important, as well as the society for which it was written. “Submission” simply means give and take instead of insisting on your own way. In Ephesians it says, “Submit to each other”, then goes on to say how wives are to submit to husbands, how husbands are to submit to wives, children to parents, parents to children, etc. Another place it says to submit to the elders of the church. Same word. Does not mean to obey their barking orders without question. Or does your husband do that? Usually the ones who bark at the wife are the last to obey anyone else, no?

      • Shalom on April 11, 2016 at 10:56 am

        Kathryn, I will be praying for you as it sounds like you are in a destructive relationship. As you go through Leslie’s material, I think you will see the importance of building your CORE strength and facing your reality with God’s grace and truth. You mentioned physical abuse of your children – do they still have issues as a result of this? It sounds like they are grown now and out of the house but how are they doing? How do you think they view their father and their Heavenly Father. Do they tell you that you should have protected them better?- was it corporal punishment carried out in anger? Was it repeated exasperating to anger?
        You asked about complementarian thinking- you might want to read the transcript from a sermon preached a year ago by Jason Meyer at Bethlehem Baptist where John Piper used to be the pastor. I can’t remember if Leslie commented on this message shortly after it was given. Here is the link. http://www.hopeingod.org/sermon/fooled-false-leadership
        It is not a good sign if you are feeling like you are losing your sanity again. Please look to God to hear what HE is saying, not your husband who may not even care what you are experiencing. It is always wise to take care of yourself. Find plenty of support and someone you can be honest with – “wise others” in your life who will verify what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do and say. Being a Godly wife may look much different than what you have imagined or done in the past. If you want to see change you will have to focus on changing yourself. My heart goes out to you as I can relate to much of what you shared. You are not alone!

        • Kathryn on April 13, 2016 at 6:22 pm

          Thank you Shalom. Yes, I am talking a little bit with our adult children about what they went through and my lack of understanding abuse at the time. When I questioned the excessive physical punishment toward the children ie. breaking down a door, pining our 10 year old up off the ground agains the wall, slapping our 3 year old off the chair because he took a bite of food while my husband was praying….I have such regrets. I did get angry at the time but was quickly pushed back down. I had no income, no support and didn’t know where to turn. When I did go to a counsellor she call Children’s aid society and they gave him a slap on the wrist. I sank deeper into despair and when I reached out to our pastor’s wife she had me come to meet with her and her husband for prayer at the church. When my husband and I got there there were other there approx 8 – 10 people. They started praying and touching me, pushing me telling me I was controlled by demonic spirits. I tried to leave the room and they held me down. After 7 hours I was exhausted and left the room completely broken. I landed in hospital a few weeks later with a complete breakdown. As I got stronger and threatened to leave my spouse he told me he would tell a judge I was an unfit mother and had been admitted to a psych ward. Why do I tell you all this as it was several years ago now…..I am just finally waking up to the fact that this has been abuse. Pure and simple. My husband says he’s changed and God has healed him of his anger. Back then he would have called it patriarcal theology. Today he says he’s a complementarian. I don’t see much difference in this thinking. I just feel so broken. I am trying to pray because I don’t want to do something out of anger but I’m reading Leslie book and it’s making so much sense. Because last week I gave my husband an ultimatum that if things don’t improve in 6 months and he doesn’t seek the counsel of others to help us then I am prepared to leave. Now he is being extremely nice to me. I am cautious. How on earth are we going to heal this marriage with all this toxic history. I am so sad I wasted all these years. Thank you for you encouragement and please forgive my rant. You don’t have to respond. It just feels good to get it out.

          • Leslie Vernick on April 14, 2016 at 8:33 am

            You didn’t rant, and sometimes we do need to get it out just to remember it more clearly ourselves. If your husband is changing time will tell. Meanwhile work on yourself, your own mental and emotional health. Put God at your center, not your marriage or your man and then God will show you your next steps. The worst thing to do is make life-changing decisions simply out of your emotions – especially the emotions of fear and anger.



    • Roxane on April 11, 2016 at 8:49 pm

      Kathryn, are you familiar with the term entitlement as it applies to abusive men? Lundy Bancroft (another great source of wisdom if you are just getting started on this subject) uses a tree illustration to help us understand the dynamics of destructive men. Ownership is the root of the tree, followed by the trunk of Entitlement and the branches are Control, all these things together explain how an abusive man thinks and acts towards his wife.

      • Kathryn on April 13, 2016 at 6:24 pm

        I will look this up. Thank you Roxane for your support. Hope you are doing well too….

    • Roxanne on April 11, 2016 at 8:50 pm

      Kathryn, are you familiar with the term entitlement as it applies to abusive men? Lundy Bancroft (another great source of wisdom if you are just getting started on this subject) uses a tree illustration to help us understand the dynamics of destructive men. Ownership is the root of the tree, followed by the trunk of Entitlement and the branches are Control, all these things together explain how an abusive man thinks and acts towards his wife.

      • Dianna on April 12, 2016 at 4:56 pm

        Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That?” is one of the best books I’ve ever read about abusive controlling men. My ex fit the descriptions so exactly that I had to laugh. As if he had attended a college of being an abusive husband.

        • Dianna on April 12, 2016 at 5:01 pm

          BTW I have forgiven him but I would never trust him again.

          • Lonelywife07 on April 12, 2016 at 9:00 pm

            I cried when I read that book…FINALLY I understood my husband…he is a Water Torturer….it fit him perfectly.



          • Roxanne on April 14, 2016 at 6:45 pm

            Mine wants to have a vow renewal. I couldn’t ever possibly say, “yes” to marrying him again. The thought makes me nauseated.



  17. Roxanne on April 10, 2016 at 8:08 pm

    Just another reason why I wish I lived in the UK. Check out this site in Scotland to help Mothers of small children living in domestic abuse situations.If they would be willing to tolerate our American accents, I love to join the Cedar network. Cheers!

    http://www.cedarnetwork.org.uk

  18. listening ear on April 11, 2016 at 8:28 am

    Connie
    So much wisdom in your post and I hope you will continue
    to share your revealations

  19. XeraRose on April 12, 2016 at 7:30 am

    I am divorced now over a year from my abusive ex, separated almost 3 years. We have young children so I still have frequent regular contact. He insists he is “going to win me back” and refers often to “when our marriage is restored”, despite my occasional requests not to. I say occasional because I’ve learned that protesting often leads to fighting which often leads to…

    He knows quite clearly that I’ve stated I will never go back. He insists he’s changed and is changing. I do not believe him. During our short-lived marriage, we separated for 18 months before trying a reconciliation. “Good behavior” – saying and doing all the things I’d been told were signs of real repentance and change, happened for 18 months, 6 months of separation plus 1 year of living together, which is why I went back in the first place. But it was all a lie. After he thought he’d accomplished the goal of “restoring the marriage” ..he went right back to the old ways.

    Appearances can be deceiving. Today.. I look at him and wonder why I ever got involved with him. I don’t feel anger or bitterness, though when I think back to past memories I will get a flash of anger. But when I interact with him, I feel nothing but caution. I don’t particularly like him, but I don’t particularly dislike him either. … annoying at times tho he is, I see him more as an inconvenience.

    I will not go back. I just wish he’d move on already.. sigh..

    • Honey on April 14, 2016 at 6:43 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story XeraRose, your actions and attitudes seem very wise to me. I have been taught to look for a change in behavior, which in the case with my healing spouse is observed, but short lived. We all pray things were different, but they very rarely ever do get better.

  20. Leonie on April 12, 2016 at 7:39 am

    The husband needs to realize that he may have to be patient for a long time.
    The husband’s actions will show if he is truly sorry or if he just wants his wife to hurry up and get over it and make sure she never mentions it again or if he truly understands how badly hurt she was by his betrayal & actions. I think a wife should guard her heart until she sees the fruit of repentance.
    If he is truly remorseful and truly wanting a real restoration, I don’t think her heart could stay hard for long.

    • Robin on April 12, 2016 at 12:44 pm

      I don’t think I agree, Leonie. I think your advice is spot- on, but when a husband waits too long to repent she may have moved on into a new life. I think it’s possible she would notice his true repentance, be willing to accept his friendship, but rightly feel it’s too late: I also think it’s possible there has been too much damage to correctly restore the relationship. Gods Reconciliation is always possible- but I don’t believe for one to reconcile it means living together. Sometimes it’s best not too. Look back on one of Leslies recent posts, where she said not all relationships can be restored. Sometimes it’s too late, and too much damage. But we can always reconcile with God and be civil with each other.

      • Leonie on April 12, 2016 at 3:14 pm

        You are right Robin, I was just thinking about how long I had an open heart and if my ex would have shown true repentance and remorse for the betrayal and a recognition of how he hurt me, I most likely would have been receptive. I did go around & around with my first husband hoping to reconcile but then every time I let him close he was very cruel again so I just couldn’t. That is when I first realized what was going on was abuse and I found out that I couldn’t expect anything from him except more abuse. Those were hard lessons and devastating. Yes, at some point you have to say, now the door is closed. Will he ever repent or show remorse, probably not.

        • Lonelywife07 on April 12, 2016 at 9:35 pm

          I agree with you both, Leonie and Robin.
          My husband has lost my heart. I feel nothing for him, so even IF he did make a 100% turn around…it’s too late. There is no way he can undo all the hurt and damage he’s inflicted over the years.
          Leonie, in the early days, after the affair, I also would have MELTED into my husbands arms if he’d only shown true remorse and repentance…and on a few occasions, when he fooled me with his lies, I did.
          I walked on cloud 9, thinking he’d finally gotten it…he FINALLY understood my pain….until his emotionally abusive behavior started up again…usually when I had a trigger because of his betrayal.
          Now I live my life, doing what makes me happy…and praying constantly for God to send him out of town on a business trip again…he’s gone quite often, and that really helps me to cope.
          BTW, I have a possible part time job lined up with my sons company…I haven’t worked for over 30 yrs…so I’m excited but nervous…please pray for me as I take this next step! 😀
          My husband was laughing and joking when I told him, I KNOW he thinks I’m kidding about finding a job and separating…but he will see that I’m not!
          My sons are behind me 100% so that really does help!

          • Leonie on April 13, 2016 at 2:12 am

            I am so glad for you, Lonelywfe, it sounds like you are on your way, dealing with things sensibly, speaking wisdom, & you have your eyes open. So glad for your job prospect and your children’s support. That is amazing. I agree, at some point you understand that they’ve shown you long enough the only way it will be if you stay. You can forgive, not expect anymore from them than what they have clearly shown you, detach and say “no more.”



  21. lyn on April 12, 2016 at 9:42 am

    The comments earlier about forgiveness and repentance, I have to comment. If you read really the clearest bible reference on this Luke 17: 4 read it. It says if there is sin, you correct them and if they repent, forgive them.. There is a big, big if there. I think this is very important. If they don’t have Godly repentance over there sin, you cannot forgive them , they haven’t acknowledged their sin yet. You have to be ready to forgive them, and release your anger to Christ about it so bitterness is dealt with, but there is nothing to forgive as yet without their acknowledgement. I deal with this all the time with my wife. She has never repented of anything after years of counsel and counselors bring to get her to acknowledge her abuse. She won’t do it. She will point out if I was a true christian I would have to forgive her, even without her repentance. She has now developed her own religion! Repentance is for Jewish people, John the Baptist came teaching repentance, but that was strictly for the Jewish people because they would not acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah. All of Jeus teaching was for the Jewish people also. She doen’t have to repent of anything, she just has to believe. Paul is her apostle and will only read his teaching!! Amazing, Paul happens to teach repentance also, but she doesn’t see that for some reason. Talk about a powerful delusion by God so they will believe the lie for refusing to love the truth and so be saved. (Thes. 2:10 &11) I live with a very high level NPD

  22. Leonie on April 12, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Hi lyn, it sounds like your wife will not repent. You can guard your heart from further trauma and refuse to grow bitter and angry but it sounds like she is refusing to acknowledge her sin or stop any evil behaviour. Maybe instead of pushing for a repentance that she won’t recognize she needs to do, you need to distance yourself and protect yourself and your children from further harm. Sometimes people let us know all we need to and it is up to us to hear it (recognize the truth of what they are showing you) and then act appropriately in the best interest of everyone else involved. ie: remove children from further abuse, stop trying to get her to change or accept responsibility and work toward healing for your self which may include separation or detaching or setting boundaries … .

  23. WhenAWoman'sFedUp on April 12, 2016 at 2:09 pm

    Awesome. Thanks for your perspective. I felt that way reading the initial post and did not know how to put it in words. Thank you…

  24. WhenAWoman'sFedUp on April 12, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    ?

  25. Heather on April 12, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    I’ve been praying fervently for years that my husband would turn away from his abusive ways, but just recently I saw some potential changes in his behavior and attitude. You would think that I would be thrilled, and overflowing with praises for God, and I was for a split second. But then I felt overwhelmed by fear. I’m terrified.

    Is this what I really want? Reconciliation? If he DOES experience a miraculous change from God, that would be awesome! But then it would be my turn….

    How in the world can I look into the eyes of the man who has hurt me so much and feel what I am supposed to feel towards a husband? I mean, I know that trust takes time to rebuild and he would have to consistently build it again. But the final result just seems impossible. Totally impossible.

    I forgive him for his sins, and I wish him well, and I pray for his forgiveness from God. But I don’t know that I can make myself vulnerable to him again, love him again, trust him again. I just don’t know. Seems impossible at the moment.

    That being said, I’m looking forward to this webinar. 🙂

    • Debby on April 12, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      Heather, I am at that exact place. After 30 years of emotional abuse, many time giving him more chances, only to have my hopes dashed as the “repent” didn’t “stick.” Im at the point and age where I am not sure there IS enough time to trust him and I am certainly dealing with the “do I even want to.” Thanks for sharing.

    • Lonelywife07 on April 12, 2016 at 9:52 pm

      Heather…sometimes they leave it too late. The damage is done. Leslie said that here on the blog…it’s the consequences of their behavior.
      Sometimes there can be NO reconciliation, we can forgive but we cannot FORGET their behavior!

      • Ann L on April 13, 2016 at 8:46 am

        A “like” for Lonelywife07’s comment. I would love for my husband to offer the changes that would make me think he was seriously working on change. But then I ask myself how I could ever trust him now that I have acknowledged and named our history. And why should I ever trust him again?

        I keep that out in front. Financially I risk a big hit for leaving. But my person-hood is not for sale.

        So I continue working on forgiving and remind myself to not forget.

        • Lonelywife07 on April 13, 2016 at 1:55 pm

          Ann L
          I saw a attorney last Nov. She told me that if I CAN, to stay with my husband, because I will lose big, financially.
          But I have to do what I feel God wants me to do, and everyday, it’s looking like separation is the way I need to go.
          I’m scared, I’ll admit that. I have a beautiful home, which I know we will have to sell, and I’ve been a SAHM for over 30 yrs, plus my youngest son has Aspergers and does NOT want me working…he doesn’t accept change really well. 🙁
          That’s why I’m taking things slowly, giving him time to accept the changes that are coming to all of our lives, and it gives me time to save money, and makes plans.

          • Roxanne on April 14, 2016 at 6:53 pm

            Lonely, I have not one but two lovely homes. It is that pride, and keeping up appearances that has bound my hands from daring to leave on many occasions.



        • Seeing the Light on April 14, 2016 at 11:42 am

          “…my personhood is not for sale.” Amen, Ann L. I’m going to remember that one.

  26. hopeful on April 12, 2016 at 2:31 pm

    I am pretty sure that my husband would say exactly what you said about me. Reading your thoughts makes my heart ache for the pain I have caused my husband when I was in a very unloving place in our marriage. He reminds me often that he treats me the way he does as a consequence of my behavior.

    I pray that all hearts…in my marriage and your marriage soften and God does a miracle healing in our marriages.

    • Debby on April 12, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      Hopeful, when you say “he reminds me often that he treats me ‘the way he does’ as a consequence of my behavior” that sounds a LOT like vengeance. Being hurt by someone does NOT give anyone the right to be ugly or hurtful back. It DOES give them the right to limit contact until they feel they CAN treat you respectfully (not “in love” but with respect from one human to another). Being in fellowship with someone and treating them with respect are 2 different things. He does not have to fellowship with you, but if he chooses to communicate/be in close proximity, you should make it an expectation that you are to be treated respectfully (you can do this kindly but firmly). His distance due to trust being broken (by you it sounds like?) is not the same as talking to you disdainfully or being cruel. At that point, YOU need to make a decision to put some space between you. NEITHER person, offender or offended, should be ugly and disrespectful to the other. If the emotions are such that your anger (his anger) is causing him to BE ugly, you can still be loving and caring, but from a distance until he makes a decision to either HAVE fellowship or dissolve fellowship for good. Even as the person who “did the bad thing” you are still a human being and should not allow another person to treat you as such. Maybe ask him “What can I do that will help you?” If he shouts, “NOTHING! YOU HAVE ALREAD DONE ENOUGH!” or something ike that, at least you know how he feels, he is able to express his pain, but you need to give him some space because he needs time to heal. Nobody deserves or should accept abuse. No matter what you have done or not done.

    • Roxanne on April 14, 2016 at 6:57 pm

      Hopeful, you do know that he is 100% responsible for his actions, attitudes, thoughts and feelings. If you could truly control a man like that, you would be a powerful magician, right?! Don’t let him fool you.

    • Roxanne on April 14, 2016 at 6:58 pm

      Hopeful, you do know that he is 100% responsible for his actions, attitudes, thoughts and feelings. If you could truly control a man like that, you would be a powerful magician, right?! Don’t let him fool you. He does not treat you that way because of your former behavior, he treats you that way because he wants to.

  27. WhenAWoman'sFedUp on April 12, 2016 at 2:45 pm

    Wow!!!

  28. Chris on April 13, 2016 at 9:27 pm

    I was with my husband for 10 years. The last 9 of them were bad. I hung on as long as I could. I prayed, I begged God to tell me what to do – whether to love and forgive him, or walk away, or learn to live with it and find my peace and joy elsewhere. How much is too much to sacrifice for the one you love? I had to wait until God told me, in NO uncertain terms that it was time for me to let go. All the talk, and all the discussion, and all the promises never got us anywhere because he didn’t want to change. I never gave up hope, until God told me to. If he had told me to stay I would have stayed. But God doesn’t want us to suffer abuse at the hands of another. We have to have enough respect for ourselves to either make it stop or get away from it. We have to protect ourselves. One thing I learned about a narcissist is that he won’t change unless he wants to. If he doesn’t recognize the narcissism in himself and take the steps necessary to stop the behavior, don’t wait around. He won’t. It’s the nature of the disease. Denial blocks acceptance like two-ton linebacker. Nothing gets through. It can’t. Do what you can do. Do ALL that you can do. And when you can’t do any more, just do what God wants you to do. He loves you. He doesn’t want to see you hurting because of someone else’s foolish choices. I asked my husband for a separation. The day he left I felt the weight of the world lift off my shoulders. It was like there was an evil presence in our home and when he walked out the door it went with him. The sense of peace and calm was so extraordinary, I didn’t recognize it for what it was at first. It had been so long since I had known that kind of peace, the peace that surpasses all understanding. I felt free. I felt whole. I felt new life pouring into me and I knew I’d be okay. Nothing worthwhile comes easy. Holding on is not easy. Letting go is not easy. God will guide you if you truly give it all to him. God bless you and be safe. Please, be safe.

  29. hopeful on April 13, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    Aleea..my husband has been the one who has been holding on to his anger, grudges a against me, and continues to punish me by the way he acts and the way he has shut himself off from me.

    It is agonizing for me. I hurt him so he feels that he has the right to be critical, cruel, immature, threatening me with divorce. The last 3 years have been traumatic for me. I don’t think he knows how to get past hatred.

    • Aleea on April 14, 2016 at 10:07 am

      Hopeful,
      I’m praying for you and your husband too. . . . .It is so, so sad to hold on to anger, grudges, etc. but I know how that feels. I do that too. . . .with God Himself. . . . . I would think you need to set a boundary on the critical, cruel, immature, “threatening you with divorce” verbiage. At some point, all that is totally unacceptable.

      How do we get past hatred? . . . . I don’t really know but we can ask lots of questions: How is the hate functioning? What problem is the hate trying to solve? What “reward” do we get by hating? Maybe his hating isn’t really about you but about himself? It is also important to remember that we often face our greatest opposition when we are closest to our biggest miracles. The important thing isn’t what other people think you are Hopeful; it’s who you are.

  30. SomeThingsAreSoSimple on April 13, 2016 at 11:43 pm

    I have experienced much in this line, and would add that trust is earned, not awarded. Almost every dysfunctional man minimizes the impact of his sin on the relationship… “I said I was sorry, let’s move on… what?! why can you just get over it?” The damage only multiplies as they blame their victim for a lack of trust or out-of-proportion anger. I sensed this dynamic in the original question, and I disagree with Josh’s comments in this context: “Without healthy communication, you can say goodbye to the chances of a healthy marriage…Anger and lack of trust are a result of punishment and fear…Perfect your own love, without punishment, and you may be surprised at how easily your fears are released.” I would say that without true heart change, you can say good-bye to the chances of a healthy marriage. You can communicate all day, but if the core problem that caused all the destruction has not changed, nothing will be accomplished except more crazy-making. Please check with that man’s wife for the other side of the story, as he may still be stuck in denial and blameshifting. A lack of trust in this case may not be the result of punishment or fear, but of betrayal. Sowing/reaping…you break trust, people will not trust you. A lack of trust is HEALTHY when someone has repeatedly and deliberately violated trust with you. The person who broke it is the one responsible to rebuild it, and that means accepting the consequences for as long as it takes for the other person to heal, with no pressure. What should the man do? Keep on working on his own issues – and not just for his own benefit, reputation or comfort. Josh, I think I understand your intention, but the comment about perfecting your love could easily be misconstrued as meaning that if one just develops a perfect enough love, fear disappears, anger dissipates and voila…trust! In situations of abuse, this thinking does so much damage. The abuser must first become trustworthy, and as a woman sees over and over and over again that he is safe and has truly changed, THEN trust begins to grow. That takes time and a ton of hard work, which few men are willing to do. However – just because a woman has been abused doesn’t not entitle her to wallow in anger, fear or revenge. For her own sake, she must grow up and take responsibility for her health and emotions, and cultivate kindness and graciousness even while setting firm boundaries, because of who she is in Christ. I believe if a man truly repents, his actions will show it – he will start doing everything he can to rebuild what he damaged. Took away her sense of safety? Make her feel safe – again and again and again and again and again – with no thought of reward. Cheated on her? Become completely accountable and demonstrate – again and again and again and again and again – that you will take every measure to prevent future infidelity. As churches, we’ve forgotten a vital element of repentance – RESTITUTION. That is what rebuilds trust…when a man is willing to pay dearly to make things right. To you dear women who are wrestling with very hard things…anger can literally kill you, so let it go as soon as you can. But never let go of the expectation of safety, honesty and fidelity in marriage. That is God’s heart for marriage – and it’s not wrong to require all three.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 14, 2016 at 8:39 am

      It’s interesting to note that Jesus had perfect love yet he did not trust people because he knew what was in their hearts (see end of John 2).

    • Ann L on April 14, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      YES, SomeThingsAreSoSimple. Thank you for taking the time to articulate that in a gracious way with meaningful information. Plus, it’s another great reminder to me personally that my spouse is not concerned about taking those actions.

    • Josh on April 14, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      You might be surprised by this, but I agree with you completely. My response here will only bring it back into the context of this post and challenge you to clarify your own comments.
      To clarify my own comment first, it was an exclusive and with anger and trust. If an offending spouse is still the target of expressed anger AND they are not in the process of earning trust, the offender is still receiving consequences from the offended. In the context of this post again, where the offender has had Godly sorrow and is fully repentant, it’s up to the offender to acknowledge that. If reconciliation is a goal they still have, they’ll be looking for true signs. If the offended doesn’t see true repentance as true repentance, that’s not something the offender can help with, and probably shouldn’t even try, as we’ve already discussed. If they’re legitimately not ready to trust and reconcile, the offended should be able to acknowledge and communicate that in a healthy way, now that they’ve worked on their CORE and established healthy boundaries. If they’re not working on themselves to be able to trust again, own it. It’s over. Quit making everyone miserable.
      Every comment I’ve made on this blog thread has been in the context of a truly repentant spouse and what they should do when they offended person is still angry. I think you’re separating those 2 (anger and trust) when you replied to mine. If a spouse wants to not trust, that’s their choice. It will always be their choice. If we can agree in the idea that trust is a gift, given and earned, then a gift demanded is not a gift at all! Again, back in the context, if anger is preventing trust, a repentant offender can only wait. When the anger has manifested itself in deteriorating the trust of the offender though, or even the sanctity of the marriage, -both- spouses now have to decide if they want to keep waiting and determine if they’ll ever want to trust again. As Leslie just said, Jesus didn’t trust, so why should you should anyone be expected to? We see it all the times in abusive relationships – the abused wants to believe the best, they want to trust again, and when that’s the case, they should not trust again. End it, but do “if you’re going to leave, leave well.” Don’t say “I’m divorcing you because you abused me!” That’s about them. Own it. Be strong. Be bold. “I’m divorcing you because this is what I need to be who God has designed me to be.” They are no longer a part of who you are. If you make it about them, that blames them. Go see what Brene Brown says about blame. If you make it their responsibility, that gives them 1)hope to overcome 2)the implied ability to change your stance and make it right, without it being defined how – and/or 3) Sorrow, in their completed repentance, but having to accept their circumstances. I’m all about making sure we’re talking about restitution, but perhaps living amends is best discussed in this week’s blog post. Ultimately, the offended has to be willing to receive it.
      At some point, we have to drop the charade of Biblical justice and look at the world we live in. if you are a white woman who is separated from her spouse, there is a 98 percent change you will get a divorce within six years of the separation. (http://www.emaxhealth.com/1275/21-factors-may-increase-risk-divorce) If you want to say all of those is just because a spouse is not repentant, that’s fine, I don’t have any statistics that say otherwise. I can say that atheists have longer marriages and divorce rates are decreased if the couple are atheists. Paul’s advice for us is to stay how we are – if we’re single, stay single. If you’re married, stay married, even to an unbeliever. The choice is yours as to when you made your mistake. Marriage can be painful at times, and we all are all designed differently to endure –emotional—pain (IF IT’S PHYSICAL GET OUT!). If separation was initiated for fear, that’s fine, but eventually, both people (as individuals and/or together) have to figure out what is happening here and what they’re wanting. Proverbs 29:18. Overcome your circumstances and look at to what you’re working towards. God calls us into struggle, and if either wants their marriage, they’ll have to struggle, together and separate. If an offended spouse is not wrestling with their anger, which again, is a consequence of someone else’s sin, then there’s a reality to face – you’re not struggling for the marriage. If you need time to deal with the anger, so say. If reconciliation is off the table until you deal with your anger, say so.

      Yours is a productive reply, Melissa. I thank you for your reply and I am grateful for your interest in my reply to yours.
      To reply directly – It is not sin to hold your spouse accountable for his actions…so long as you are accountable for your actions. It is not sin to separate or divorce. It is not sin not to trust your spouse again.
      You’re right – Forgiveness does not equate to reconciliation and renewed trust. So far, I believe you and I are on the same page.
      I’m not sure where you’re getting a time limit from my responses. Please, let me know where I may be giving that impression. I do not believe there can be time limits or expectations at all when dealing with reading hearts. Only God can read and judge hearts, we can only read words and actions, and out of their mouth, we can get a glimpse of what is in their heart.
      You say anger is a justified emotion in the case of abuse and broken trust. I agree, but I ask justified how? I believe it is justified to have anger. I agree it is justified to invoke limitations on the relationship, “consequences”, in the physical and emotional realms, using justified/righteous anger as the motivator and energy. As you mention, it is justified to hold someone accountable for their sin, even while having anger.
      My concern is when the anger becomes the justification for consequences. “I’m still mad, and my anger is a result of their sin, so they still have consequences to face.” That’s unhealthy, because it’s not wrestling with the anger. It’s a choice not to wrestle with it, and a choice that can be justified, but it’s still a choice. We shouldn’t expect them to wrestle with the anger for us. Someone here had mentioned we all have different capacities for pain. We all have our own emotions and freedom to do what we want with them. If we want to hold on to anger, because it gives us comfort, and keeps us from re-entering a destructive relationship, that can be justified, if we want it to be.
      The caution I have with anger being a considered a consequence someone has to face is they have no choice but to endure it, if the offended person won’t or can’t process the anger in a healthy way. “WAIT!” you may say, “they don’t get to choose their consequences!” I agree, and neither does the offended. If the intent is to hold them accountable for their sin, we must also be accountable for ours. The sin is the sinner’s, and the consequences are felt by anyone. We can express anger at them for having to deal with the consequences of their sin, but that doesn’t deal with the consequences of their sin. Throwing caution to the wind, I’ll throw out 2 Corinthians 2:5-11 here.
      Back in the context of a repentant spouse, truly changed. When we let anger express itself in our words and actions, we run into many risks. Our anger can become acceptable to us – which will just carry into future relationships. We can hurt others in our own hurt – which spawns emotions in others, for them to either forgive immediately or stay angry too. If reunification was a goal, do we really want to push them away with anger? Do we want to give them a platform for sin leveling? Do we want our actions in anger to become a reason why they bring up their own barriers and consequences as they shield themselves from our anger? Remember, it was the desire for accountability that brought them into their consequences from the offended, I don’t think we’re suggesting the offended has no accountability for their anger. Sin is contagious! The evil one will want us to stumble and respond while our judgement is clouded in anger! The world will tell us it’s justified to express anger right back and not even bat an eye! Do not be conformed to this world (Romans 2)! If reunification is a valid possibility, regardless of time, hope and faith will be tested. Be alert!
      If the offended spouse is using their anger against the offending spouse, that’s not forgiving as we have been forgiven. God didn’t give us consequences for our sin to keep us from His presence. Jesus was betrayed…to death…by his disciples, but he came back to them. He showed them his wounds, but he didn’t say “look, this is what you’ve done to me.” Heck, in that analogy, you can say Jesus showed us the consequences of our sin, and then left his disciples for good…there’s grounds for divorce if you want it. That’s what I’m getting to. Anger can disguise our heart and make us seem pure and justified. If we cling to anger, instead of the cross, we deny the redemptive nature of Christianity by prolonging the consequences of sin, when it’s really the consequences of our own emotions that are at play now. Lysa Terkhurst puts it well, “Emotions are indicators, not dictators.” As time in anger goes on against a repentant spouse, not only has the burden of time shifted onto the offended, but the burden of a sinful heart can too…and we may never see it because we call it justified because someone else sinned against us. When both hearts have grown so far apart, wrapped in anger and pain as comfort, we can only expect that reunification is not a possibility.
      My words are not pressure to reunify. My words are a call to constantly check our hearts with God. Check our actions with our support groups. Be vulnerable to correction. I agree, if the offender is asking “how long will this take?” Their heart is focused on reunification and not on their own sin. It is not time to reunify. It may, just maybe, be a time to say, “I’m not ready to trust you yet” or “I’m not ready because I’m still angry.” If they can understand that, we have a glimpse into their patience and we’ve taken ownership of our anger and our decision not to trust. That is justified.

      An understanding and repentant spouse will respect boundaries, without question and pressure. A repentant spouse will not have to be understanding as they endure expressed anger. I’m keeping this generalized, cases can vary depending on the circumstances, but just as Leslie warns, we have to be prepared for someone else to walk away. Anger, especially if anger was endured previously, can be hope killing and leave both sides further and further away from reconciliation, let alone reunification. I don’t know how else I can express the dangers of anger – the evil one will say it’s OK to repay evil for evil. The world will tell you it’s justified to take out your anger on them because they are the ones that caused you pain. If time is needed, ask for it. If space is needed, ask for it. If the intent was truly reunification, work for it without deadlines and pressure, but work on it. Anger isn’t freedom to justify our sin. It’s not an excuse to sin when we have hurt, in fact, it’s increased responsibility and needed awareness to not sin ourselves! If we’re not careful, anger will settle in our hearts without us knowing, and it will negatively affect all of our relationships.

      I’m going to delve into a metaphor…dangerous territory, I know. Picture a man picking up a can full of paint. Look at him, he can manage to keep the paint in the can and spin it around like a windmill! Something happens, he lost his grip and the can hits his wife right in the face, or as he tries to slow the spinning can down to stop, after seeing his wife’s face of concern, the paint in the can splashes out and onto the wife, or as he spins it, the paint gets all over himself. Where

      To a broader response, sin has consequences for the sinner – agreed. Sin can have consequences for external people (specifically, a spouse) as well – agreed. We are all one body. We are called to be the hands and feet. That’s the wonder/uniqueness/danger of Leslie’s teaching. It enables sinners to lead by faith, stop sin with consequences, and distancing themselves from the sin so they will not be caught in the contagiousness of sin. The danger is when the anger of being sinned against not only lingers, but drives justification and comfort. Back in context of a repentant spouse, I believe the parable of the prodigal son, or the shepherd going after 1 lost sheep is a concept lost in today’s worldly culture. If we’re following Leslie’s practices, of building our own CORE, communicating the consequences of repeated sin to the offender, deciding to leave well or stay well, looking for changes that heal…the process should work once the sinner has repented. Anger and hurt are reasons to keep distance and barriers. Enter the paradigm shift and where this gets messy. As you mentioned, Melissa, there is a desire to hold a spouse accountable for their actions, their actions being their sin. Keep that in mind as I go on here. The offended is still in control of the relationship while sin is still active, and that can be comfortable. Just as Heather responded in this thread…having a repentant spouse can be terrifying! The separation/consequences were initiated because of the sin of the offender. We all get that. Out of that desire for them to be accountable, we also need to be able to accept accountability for our own actions, even if they aren’t sinful. If we initiated consequences out of love (1 Corinthians 16:14) and not anger, why is anger now preventing reunification? Back in the question of time limits, perhaps in our anger, we didn’t expect the offender to have a quick/miraculous change that only Godly sorrow can bring, and maybe we underestimated the time it would take to move past our own anger and hurt. It’s understandable – our anger became our tool to initiate and motivate the separation. A repentant spouse, still interested in reunification, won’t put time limits on the offended spouse’s emotional progress…and…an offended spouse won’t put arbitrary or blaming time limits on reunification, if that is truly their intent. That’s the danger of it all. If consequences were implemented with a primary goal of stopping sin…with reunification being a secondary goal…we have to be honest about that. Repentance takes care of the primary goal, and now both people can see each other’s true heart in the face of reunification. If the offended spouse is using anger to keep the hope alive, as if there’s more work (undefined?) for the offending spouse to do, that’s living a lie. The spouse repented! REJOICE! If the offended spouse is still clinging to anger and not able to trust again, that’s fine, but they need to be honest about that. Phrases like, “I need more time.” Are healthy. Phrases like, “We can’t get back together because I’m still angry and that is a consequence of your sin.” May be true, but the truth that needs to be understood there is the offending spouse is now the one waiting for the offended spouse to decide they have reciprocity. If the offended spouse is using their anger against the offending spouse, that’s not forgiving as we have been forgiven. God didn’t give us consequences for our sin to keep us from him. Jesus was betrayed…to death…by his disciples, but he came back and ate with them. He showed them his wounds, but he didn’t say “look, this is what you’ve done to me.” Heck, in that analogy, you can say Jesus showed us the consequences of our sin, and then left his disciples for good…there’s grounds for divorce if you want it. That’s what I’m getting to. Anger can disguise our heart and make us seem pure and justified. If we cling to anger, instead of the cross, we deny the redemptive nature of Christianity by prolonging the consequences of sin—ONCE THE SIN IS GONE. As time in anger goes on against a repentant spouse, not only have the burden of time shifted onto the offended, but the burden of a sinful heart can too…and we may never see it because we call it justified because someone else sinned against us. If time is needed, the need for time should be stated. If space is needed, the need for space should be stated. If immediate consequences for sin need to be carried out by another sinner, that should be stated, but watch your actions, because a sinful heart can lead to anger spilling into other areas, where the offender does not deserve consequences. Wild and uncontrolled anger are destructive. If that anger from specific sin is being misdirected, that’s sin, and you should expect the same immediate consequences as when you originally judged. Our own sin is never justified.

      Phrases like “I can never trust again” verbalized or subconscious, are death sentences. As soon as that becomes apparent, the original offender’s sin/repentance no longer becomes the limiting factor. To pause, I am sure there are circumstances where finality is the healthiest option – I don’t think the actioner(s) are necessarily sinning in those cases. The person(s) who took the action now have the control and ownership though. The hope is that is something they don’t crave. Again, pausing – hands and feet, it can be entirely Biblical for believers to correct one another, and this is where my response will get messy. We’re talking Matthew 18 here. Hypothetical – tell your spouse they’re sinning and need to stop – No good? Take some others with you and try again – still no good? Bring in the church – Still no good? Stop holding them to beliefs they obviously don’t hold (pagans and tax collectors). To reiterate, it’s never simple, it’s never black and white – there are always specifics and perspectives to consider, and when we’re so focused on the sins of others, especially in context of (righteously!) implementing consequences for those sins, we can be tempted to let down our guard and let sin into our own lives. There is a season for everything, and sometimes the sins we see in others are the results of how they’ve been sinned against…call in the psychologists here if you need to…but if a sinner doesn’t see their sin because they’ve learned (parents, siblings, friends, anyone) to take the abuse (controlling, emotional, physical, etc) from others. –IN CASES—it may be appropriate AND fruitful to implement consequences on a sinner. –IN CASES—It might be that the sinner has such a heart that they need to be shown the LOVE of Christ first. I think that’s danger of jumping into action, even with talking about it with strangers on the internet. Let’s be rational…if someone is a true believer, they will turn from their sin. They’d be compelled to. If they’re not turning from their sin, you have someone who can’t see their sin. Label them all you want – narcissist, Borderline Personality Disorder, abuser, unbeliever, manipulator, but all of these labels just add layers to the true label: sinner. Caleb Kaltenbach says “I’ve never seen someone beaten or insulted into the Kingdom of God.” THAT is where anger can take us. Our frustration with a sinner, can be their unbelieve, and can lead us to give them consequences alone. Alone being the operative word there. I think doing things in anger rebukes 1 Corinthians 16:14, and I think doing things in anger can cloud our judgement, because let’s be honest here, we’re judging someone else. That’s what I find so admirable about Leslie’s teaching, when done right, it takes CORE strength, in more than 1 individual, in ways this world is not accustomed to. FIERCE! Passionate! THAT is what consequences should be about- not about “you sinned against me, now I get to

      • Josh on April 14, 2016 at 3:22 pm

        oops…that comment was incorrectly copied and pasted from word…can it be deleted?

    • Josh on April 14, 2016 at 3:23 pm

      You might be surprised by this, but I agree with you completely. My response here will only bring it back into the context of this post and challenge you to clarify your own comments.
      To clarify my own comment first, it was an exclusive and with anger and trust. If an offending spouse is still the target of expressed anger AND they are not in the process of earning trust, the offender is still receiving consequences from the offended. In the context of this post again, where the offender has had Godly sorrow and is fully repentant, it’s up to the offender to acknowledge that. If reconciliation is a goal they still have, they’ll be looking for true signs. If the offended doesn’t see true repentance as true repentance, that’s not something the offender can help with, and probably shouldn’t even try, as we’ve already discussed. If they’re legitimately not ready to trust and reconcile, the offended should be able to acknowledge and communicate that in a healthy way, now that they’ve worked on their CORE and established healthy boundaries. If they’re not working on themselves to be able to trust again, own it. It’s over. Quit making everyone miserable.
      Every comment I’ve made on this blog thread has been in the context of a truly repentant spouse and what they should do when they offended person is still angry. I think you’re separating those 2 (anger and trust) when you replied to mine. If a spouse wants to not trust, that’s their choice. It will always be their choice. If we can agree in the idea that trust is a gift, given and earned, then a gift demanded is not a gift at all! Again, back in the context, if anger is preventing trust, a repentant offender can only wait. When the anger has manifested itself in deteriorating the trust of the offender though, or even the sanctity of the marriage, -both- spouses now have to decide if they want to keep waiting and determine if they’ll ever want to trust again. As Leslie just said, Jesus didn’t trust, so why should you should anyone be expected to? We see it all the times in abusive relationships – the abused wants to believe the best, they want to trust again, and when that’s the case, they should not trust again. End it, but do “if you’re going to leave, leave well.” Don’t say “I’m divorcing you because you abused me!” That’s about them. Own it. Be strong. Be bold. “I’m divorcing you because this is what I need to be who God has designed me to be.” They are no longer a part of who you are. If you make it about them, that blames them. Go see what Brene Brown says about blame. If you make it their responsibility, that gives them 1)hope to overcome 2)the implied ability to change your stance and make it right, without it being defined how – and/or 3) Sorrow, in their completed repentance, but having to accept their circumstances. I’m all about making sure we’re talking about restitution, but perhaps living amends is best discussed in this week’s blog post. Ultimately, the offended has to be willing to receive it.
      At some point, we have to drop the charade of Biblical justice and look at the world we live in. if you are a white woman who is separated from her spouse, there is a 98 percent change you will get a divorce within six years of the separation. (http://www.emaxhealth.com/1275/21-factors-may-increase-risk-divorce) If you want to say all of those is just because a spouse is not repentant, that’s fine, I don’t have any statistics that say otherwise. I can say that atheists have longer marriages and divorce rates are decreased if the couple are atheists. Paul’s advice for us is to stay how we are – if we’re single, stay single. If you’re married, stay married, even to an unbeliever. The choice is yours as to when you made your mistake. Marriage can be painful at times, and we all are all designed differently to endure –emotional—pain (IF IT’S PHYSICAL GET OUT!). If separation was initiated for fear, that’s fine, but eventually, both people (as individuals and/or together) have to figure out what is happening here and what they’re wanting. Proverbs 29:18. Overcome your circumstances and look at to what you’re working towards. God calls us into struggle, and if either wants their marriage, they’ll have to struggle, together and separate. If an offended spouse is not wrestling with their anger, which again, is a consequence of someone else’s sin, then there’s a reality to face – you’re not struggling for the marriage. If you need time to deal with the anger, so say. If reconciliation is off the table until you deal with your anger, say so.

      • Leonie on April 14, 2016 at 9:16 pm

        Josh, I find your posts very confusing.

        • Ann L on April 15, 2016 at 12:45 pm

          When it comes to communications that confuse me, I have learned to trust my instincts.

          At work, this meant that a confusing report from someone didn’t mean that I incapable of understanding — it meant that the person who delivered the report didn’t want to be understood. They wanted to protect their role as “knowledge-keeper.” (this interpretation feel risky, but you learn its accuracy over time).

          This year I took the brave step of accepting that it is valid when I have the same physical and psychological responses to specific communications from my husband.

          My life lesson in general is that there are reasons that people don’t communicate clearly.

          That’s my “C” in “Core.” Being committed to accept what I know regardless of how scary that might be.

          • roxanne on April 17, 2016 at 10:03 pm

            I concur that the posts from Josh are confusing. Yet, we know that men often use a monologue style to communicate with others rather than dialogue. Maybe sticking to just one of two points would be helpful. A shorter post would be easier to digest.

            Yet, there is also the saying if you give the person enough rope, they hang themselves. So the long post might be revealing something.

            Ann’s comment about confusing communication is profound. I agree! Barring disabilities and communicative disorders, there is a reason that intelligent people choose to be poor communicators….deception.



        • Remedy on April 15, 2016 at 2:29 pm

          I found it the same and had to read and reread many sentences repeatedly to understand what was,being said.

          I was also wondering what part of the destructive marriage situation you are battling, Josh? It helps to know where commentes are in facing this particular type of heartbreak…. so responses are appropriate. Not many men comment on the site so when one does, it stands out.

      • SomeThingsAreSoSimple on April 21, 2016 at 1:09 am

        Well, I’m a bit puzzled at the need for clarification if we agree completely.:) I don’t see Biblical justice as a charade that should be dropped, I don’t believe natural consequences are the offended person’s problem… and I’m not sure where demographics or race comes in. Our biggest difference perhaps lies in the assumption that that this husband has truly repented, and the problem is now his offended wife’s anger and refusal to trust. From the question he is asking, and from his focus on the sin of someone he deeply offended, I question the premise of true change. A changed person doesn’t demand trust, but shoulders the responsibilty to demonstrate trustworthiness. Focusing on a victim’s “anger” or “lack of trust” is usually an indication of blame-shifting, denying and minimizing… hallmarks of the abusive thought process. “Drive out a scoffer… and quarreling and abuse will cease.”

        • Leslie Vernick on April 21, 2016 at 9:10 am

          Here’s a good example from the Bible. When John Mark disappointed Paul and Barnabas and wigged out on his commitments, Paul was done with him. He didn’t want anything to do with him. Barnabas extended mercy and worked with John Mark again. Who was right? Well later on in Colossians we see that Paul once again felt trust for John Mark because he proved himself trustworthy. There is no biblical mandate to automatically extend trust again to someone who has been untrustworthy. They have to earn it.

    • Honey on April 14, 2016 at 7:05 pm

      I love the comment ‘trust is earned not awarded.” This is good. My husband tells me that he can’t move forward because, I need to do work. The work he wants done is to diminish the past and give him sex. My counselors have discharged me and can’t find anything else to work with me about. Three have declared good mental health. I think my situation (the marriage) is the problem. Without the marriage I am happy as can be.

  31. hopeful on April 14, 2016 at 10:57 am

    Thank you Aleea. I am guessing that my h. holds on to his contempt towards me as a way to keep in control and keep him from harms way. He tells me that I am a very unsafe person to be around. Any time I express a feeling or confront him, I am in his words ” not a safe person.” I often feel that he is dumping 54 years of wounds and unresolved trauma on to me. And instead of looking at his behavior and rotten fruits, leaving the marriage is the easiest for him.

    I go to Jesus daily crying out for help. I leave my marriage and my husband at his feet..and then ..I take it back. It is a process for me to know that I am loved by God and so many people, except my husband.

    • Aleea on April 14, 2016 at 1:00 pm

      Hopeful,
      I too give things to the Lord but then take them back when I am afraid. —All we can do is remember that Christ loves us. To Him we have the greatest value. He gave His life for all we are worth. . . . I say this only to encourage you: Do not cling to anything or anyone in this world and wholly be His. —And yes, I don’t really know how to fully do that either. Just keep your hands and heart open and don’t be afraid to risk if the Holy Spirit leads you.

  32. Lisa on April 14, 2016 at 11:00 am

    Well after our whole marriage of my husband being in control and manipulative, We had a disagreement 11 days nothing really new we can’t communitcate. He drinks and I don’t anymore because I thought that would save our marriage. I moved to the spare room. He quit drinking 6 days ago I told him that I would not tolerate being treated with disrespect any longer. Now he has done things in the past to make it seem like he wanted to make things better. Like going to church or mens group and looking sad. This time he quit drinking6 days ago and actually threw all the alcohol and beer out. This is a big deal I think. He is seeking our Pastor and the mens group and such. I am still leary. We don’t speak much because we don’t really know how to communicate beyond the surface level. We need counseling for our marriage and the for the affair. I haven’t brought it up again to him as of yet. He is going thru the withdrawl phase of alcohol which I am familiar with 8 1/2 months for me so far. I am afraid it might be too late for our marriage. He didn’t want to work on any of this a year and a half ago when the affair was uncovered. He has had many questionanable relationships during our marriage. I guess my question is what do I do now? He kinda seems like he wants help but I told him that actions mean more than words. We are awkward toward each other, we may give a kiss hello or goodbye or maybe a awkward hug in the hallway before bed. Its very uncomfortable and it makes me angry. Angry because now that I guess he is hurting or feeling the pain being sober it is now time to fix things. Not when my heart was ripped out of my chest and shreaded into a million pieces. I just don’t know if I am or if he is strong enough to go thru the process of trying to face it all and recover from it. I am scared.

    • Honey on April 14, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Lisa, focus on yourself. You can not fix him. Get counseling for you. The marriage counseling can come another time. This is not the time to talk about the affair. Do you go to bible study? Just being with some women can help you keep your head on straight. What about some exercise or beginning a hobby you haven’t done in a while. Gardening? Music? What do you like to do?

  33. Chris on April 14, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Get counseling for yourself from a good Christian counselor. Learn how to set your boundaries and stick by them. Then take responsibility for your own behavior and let him take responsibility for his. If it is too painful for you, separate yourself from his mess completely. After 10 years of a bad marriage I finally asked my husband to leave. All those years he had insisted on doing it his own way and I would give in. It never worked. This time I decided to be as stubborn as he was. It was my way or the highway. He didn’t like it but it was the beginning of the end for us and at last I regained my peace, sanity and freedom. It wasn’t that I didn’t love him, it was because I did. God told me to get out of the way, that HE had work to do in my husband and I wasn’t helping. There’s not enough that can be said for ‘boundaries’ – good, healthy, sustaining boundaries. They are a must for every relationship. Don’t allow yourself to be hurt any more. That’s not what God wants.

    • Carolyn on April 14, 2016 at 10:43 pm

      It’s been almost 3 years since I discovered my husband was at year four and a half of an affair. I required a polygraph test and then found out he had had one night stands (starting before we had been married for two years and was pregnant with our first), prostitutes and, in addition to the affair, had joined a dating website and had met with women in bars and hotels. He had two STD’s and gave me one. This was shortly before our 35th anniversary. To avoid a divorce, he agreed to many things. Counseling, a support group, accountability partner, a meeting to apologize to me and our adult children, paying me the amount of money he spent on his affair (about $60,000 that I can see), full disclosure and more. To date, he is going to counseling. He’s done a lot of other good things, like traveling less, calling me often, treating me well and taking me on trips. BUT, he hasn’t shown empathy, compassion, or learned how to be open and honest. And he hasn’t done the things he promised. He is still defensive and lies a lot. Everyone sees the good things he is doing and wonders why I “can’t forgive” and get over it. He looks great in his counselor’s eyes and his family’s. But in my eyes he is not doing the things that I have asked for and patiently waited for. Now I am angry and feel like giving up. Maybe the questioner does not see the real story

      • roxanne on April 14, 2016 at 11:01 pm

        It would seem it is time for him to receive consequences for the part of the agreement that he is not keeping. Did you make a written contract between the two of you? In cases like this it is time to call the accountability people. Did he even get accountability people, pay you back, talk to the kids?

      • Robin on April 15, 2016 at 1:15 am

        Wow, you have tolerated a lot. What do you need to forgive? Until he becomes real with you and does some honest repairing of relationship-,forgiveness isn’t the issue. Healthy relationships require honesty and keeping ALL his commitments. If I was you, I’d attend individual counseling and get help for myself. Maybe he won’t change entirely— but you sure can!!!!!

  34. Josh on April 14, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    Yes! That is wrestling with anger introspectively! That is the person asking themselves what they’re trying to achieve and where they are taking themselves! That breaks the victim cycle and the Karpman triangle!

    • Aleea on April 14, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Re: Karpman drama triangles and exiting from any corner by taking false narratives I am telling myself and aligning them with my material reality (re: a new, honest narrative based on actions not beliefs)

      . . . .to me, and I am constantly wrong about so, so many things, but, even if I could hear the actual thoughts in your head, I still would not really (—not really) know what you (—or anyone else) really, really want/ think. This is because we all so easily follow our liturgical belief structures and what they tell us to believe. What our internal liturgical structures want from us (i.e. what we ought to do; what we ought to say; how we ought to feel; how we ought to think, et.al.) . . . . And many times we are just lying to ourselves (i.e. what you are thinking is not as important as what you are doing.) . . .What you really (—really) want/ believe are in your smallest of symptoms. We have to be careful forensic detectives looking for the smallest anomalies in our lives. The really little (—the wee) tells. . . . . That is where the truth shows up. . . . .Anyways, that is what the Holy Spirit has been showing me in my prayer time. Maybe I lack common sense or it is totally not the Holy Spirit. I could easily write a book called: “I Bet Everything I “KNOW” is Wrong.” Again, . . . .to me, it is really hard to know what symptoms are. And to me, symptoms are true Holy Prophets that, if we will listen, speak the truth into our lives. . . . . .Think about a person who is the “ideal” body weight. They may actually, totally, completely hate themselves and are seeking love through other people. —So society will love them they conform to society’s ideals. They are people pleasing by being this “ideal” weight. It is still self-hate disguised as being “healthy.” . . . . I am always most interested in how my beliefs are functioning. What are they keeping me from confronting? Our beliefs are defense mechanisms, our actions are where the symptoms, the true Holy Prophets are, and if we will listen they will speak the truth into our lives. i.e. behaviors over beliefs, always.

  35. Robin on April 15, 2016 at 1:19 am

    Is it time to give up on broken promises and a dying relationship??
    I would suggest considering separation and see if he really values the relationship, as right now his choices don’t sound like it. Be very careful who you are listening too for advice- you need friends who will support you and talk in wisdom, not foolishness.

  36. Aleea on April 15, 2016 at 7:01 pm

    Re: the next thread/ post up : The “Does Grace and Forgiveness Erase Negative Consequences or Amends Making after Serious Sin?”

    . . . It totally depends on which group of church fathers/ scholars you asked. . . . I tried to post on that thread multiple times but only the Lord knows where those posts went: Lost in wireless routers, maybe they made it to some East coast DNS cache, sitting outside some firewall. Maybe they are on the other side of the world under a layer of software, caught in a packet filter. . . Anyway, not showing up is FAR superior to half-postings, multiple postings (—the worst. . . ha, ha, ha.)

    Near the end Leslie said: “Words won’t show you these things, only actions over time will.” . . .Oh my, that is so, SO very true and important. . . .Matthew twenty-one: “. . .So, what do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he went and worked in the vineyard. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I certainly will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted? “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors (thank you Lord!) and the prostitutes are going to enter the Kingdom of God. . .” Behaviors over beliefs, actions over words, always. And that is actually stinging (i.e. sometimes Aleea has to take the advice of Aleea.) We may listen to what someone says but what a person does tells us who they really are.

    This footnote was supposed to go with those other posts. I don’t know what happened to those posts but again, not posting at all is FAR superior to half-postings, posting multiple times, et.al.
    ________________
    ***Re: first and second graces χάριτος: We received, not New Testament grace instead of Old Testament grace; nor simply, grace added to grace; but new grace imparted as the former measure of grace has been received and improved. To have realized and used one measure of grace was to have gained a larger measure (as it were) in exchange for it. Consequently, continuous, uninterrupted grace is New Testament grace! . . . . Anyway, I hope it is, because it is clearly not straight forward! Like posting things over wireless networks. Early Church history shows that a lot of the activity in the Church was focused on correct belief about the graces vs. heresy. The early councils and much of the Patristic writings were focused on dealing with the various “wrong grace beliefs” and correcting them. As I was going over them I saw a margin note near Matthew twenty-one: “Μόνο η απελπιστική η αγάπη του Θεού” (Only the hopeless love God) —so I qualify. Anyways, people will always prefer black-and-white over shades of grey, and so there will always be the temptation to hold overly-simplified beliefs and to hold them with excessive confidence.

    In modern evangelical Christianity, we are very prone to think that beliefs operate at the level of the mind, however what goes on in the mind has no necessary relation to the material realty of our operative beliefs (those that we enact). For example a person may “believe” that they are utterly safe flying in a plane and yet be too terrified to ever step onto one. The point is that the conscious claim (I am rational and know that this is safe) is a mere story that covers over the operative belief (I will not be safe). And so many church fathers believed that in grace (the experience of actually accepting that you are accepted) we can admit to who we are without excuses, or even trying to change. For in grace we accept that we are accepted as we are and don’t have to change anything. The power of grace really comes to light when we realize that it is only as we are able to find this acceptance and admit to our darkness that the darkness begins to dissipate and that low and behold we change. And that is so like the way God does: The way up is down; The way right is left; The way to save your life is to lose it completely (—If we cling to our lives, we lose them. Matthew ten, et.al.)

  37. Sandeep on April 19, 2016 at 4:48 am

    Thanks for Sharing

  38. Avril on April 26, 2016 at 1:54 pm

    What about if the husband has confessed she was right, he had a porn addiction and others. That when she cobfronted him he denied and he said she was blaming him por nothing that she was overracting and after separation and going to counceling he repented and he santa he santa to change and he os taking actions. But still he gets mad because she still wants to continue separate…and also what about if the wife wants to forgive bit not reconciled? Is now her sin?

    • Debby on April 26, 2016 at 8:06 pm

      Avril, I was where you are. In answer to your first question, if he is in any way “mad, put out, frustrated, pressuring” then he is NOT repentant. This alone, shows that he has not accepted responsibility for the pain and damage he has caused her. This happened to me, too and I fell for it WAY too many times and it was always a short time later that the behaviors began again.
      Read up on “how do you know repentance is real?” articles. Leslie has a great one. Lundy Bancroft has a list to help her as well. I don’t settle for crumbs any more. The second question is based on a misunderstanding of the heart of God. This man has broken his vows, not once or twice, but over and over. He has hardened his heart to her pleas. A covenant is only as good as the weakest link. HE has already broken this “marriage.” Her serving him papers is just a natural repercussion/consequence for a hardened heart. There is NO redemption with living with abuse. He has clearly NOT taken the steps to make reparations and get help for his behavior issues, or to give her the time SHE needs to heal. He is thinking of HIM, so as Leslie teaches, there is still no reciprocity or mutuality. His sin has “torn asunder.” She need not look at the legal act of separating assets as some kind of “sin.” She has a right to be protected and safe from emotional trauma. I hope that helps. I have been studying abuse for 2 years now after living with it for 30.

  39. Sara on May 5, 2016 at 7:42 am

    Leslie, you are the first person who I feel actually understands the pain. Thank you for the analogy.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 10, 2016 at 3:02 am

      You’re most welcome.

  40. Confused on May 24, 2016 at 10:25 am

    What do you do if a husband is not truly repentant and you have continued to catch him in lies or you seem to still catch him secretly doing stuff. What if you want to put safe boundaries in your marriage for protection and he gets mean and ugly about it. What if it seems more like he is “sorry he got caught” more than he is sorry? What if you are truly willing to forgive if he had a different attitude?

    • Leonie on May 24, 2016 at 6:38 pm

      I think a lot of us have this experience. This was the indicator to me that my ex didn’t want to be my husband and I shiukd move along with my life. He kept proving over and over that by expecting change I was
      trying to trust someone who is doing the opposite of what he says.

      • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 8:50 am

        Proverbs 25:19 says, “Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot.” It’s foolish. Trust must be earned back when it is repeatedly broken.

  41. LA on August 31, 2016 at 12:41 am

    So if I’m angry at the abuse, day in and day out, when am I supposed to have the time to process forgiveness? And forgive me, however, I don’t believe this in my own heart,
    ” I guess, in the end, the Christian life isn’t as much about falling in love with Christ, as it is about learning to get over hatred. —Falling in love with Christ is the easy part!”
    I don’t believe that falling I. Love with Christ is the easy part at all… Accepting Him as Lord and Savior isn’t “easy” either, I don’t think any of it is “easy”! I hung onto Him for years only to realize… he was holding me! I prayed to trust Him more, only to realize…He was building my tust! I prayed to learn to love Him more, only to realize… He love Me without Measure… I still cannot fathom the depth, width and breadth of the love He has for me! Herein is the “Good News” not one part of my life is about me and what I can figure out, not figure out, do or be… It is now and has been Forever all about Him… Wrap your head around that!
    Just Breathing and Trusting
    LA

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