I love to travel but it is always good to be home. There is something very soothing about a normal routine – and your own bed and pillow that just does a body good. Sigh…..
Registration for our first LIVE CONQUER conference, “Becoming the Best Possible You both Inside and Out” is right around the corner. Registration opens June 1 and we hope you will decide to join us October 14 and 15th 2016. This is a live, in-person, Women's ONLY conference. CLICK HERE to be notified when it's open.
You do NOT need to be a CONQUER member to attend. All the details will be available next week and the first 100 women who register will receive a personally signed and numbered print of a painting I did specifically for this conference. One conference attendee will win the original.
I can't wait to meet all of you in person. Put it on your calendar to attend.
I had the privilege of watching your webinar recently and enjoyed some insight in this clip…..and now I have a question. My husband sexually assaulted me over a year ago. He thought that I was leaving him and felt it necessary to ‘demonstrate' to me how good we were together.
I was fearful and gave into him, as often saying no to him meant he would tell me I wasn't normal. My family became aware of the situation and went to the police who later called me and asked if I would like to talk with them.
I realized that things were quickly spinning and I declined to talk with the police saying that I needed to first talk to a counselor to make sure I wasn't going crazy.
I was blinded by disbelief and could not grasp this as being abusive. His calling me not normal had become so repetitive through the years and I believed it. I never follow-up with the police. My husband found out about their involvement and has accused my family of being crazy. He told me that a police report like that would make him lose his job and that would hurt our family because we wouldn't have money.
He also said that children's aid would get involved and our children would be taken away. In the subsequent year, my husband denied doing anything wrong. He has told family and friends that I am mentally ill and even satanic.
My question is, did I enable his behavior because I didn't stick up for myself and ultimately shielded him from the law because of the fear he instilled in me with regards to money and my children?
I struggle with this daily and welcome your comments.
Answer: First I am sorry for what you've been through. Your story is not the first one told on this blog of sexual abuse in marriage but it always breaks my heart to hear it.
It's curious to me how the one who does the wrong so easily twists things to look like you are the cause of the disastrous consequences (job loss, money problems, perhaps jail time, Child Services being involved) if you simply tell the truth about what happened. Obviously, he knew he crossed the line when he violated you, not to mention he knew he broke the law or he wouldn't have been so worried about you talking to the police. That said, your question is really about your part. Did you enable?
We've just had two blogs about fear, how it can capture us, muzzle us, and beat us silly with its lies. Here are some of the lies I hear you falling for.
Lie # 1: I'm afraid I'm not normal if I don't want to have sex with my husband every time he wants it. Something is wrong with me.
Truth: In a healthy marriage, a couple's sex drive may vary. It is not abnormal for men to have a higher sex drive than a woman, nor is it abnormal for her to not want sexual relations as much as he wants.
When a woman is in an unhealthy and/or destructive marriage her sexual desire for her husband diminishes considerably. Having intimate relations with a person who treats you like you are stupid, crazy, satanic, a pain in the neck or ugly feels not only wrong but also oppressive to your soul and spirit, let alone your body.
When a man watches a lot of pornography, women are portrayed as panting after any man who will have her. In the video, her sex drive rules her and she is insatiable. As he saturates his mind with pornographic images, this is what becomes his “normal” woman. A total fantasy.
Lie # 2: I'm afraid I'm going crazy when I feel strong emotions inside. I can't trust my own mind to tell me what's wrong and what's right, what's good and what's bad. I have to let my husband decide that.
Truth: Our emotions of fear, anger, anxiety, hurt, sadness, and confusion are warning bells. They are telling us something is wrong. Something is either wrong with us inside, or something is wrong with our environment on the outside. Either way, we are to PAY ATTENTION. We shouldn't ignore our emotions and shut down or minimize them. And, we shouldn't allow our strong emotions to completely take over the decision-making function of our lives or we can make some big mistakes we deeply regret.
You are having strong emotions around your husband. Emotions of fear, confusion, hurt, and anger. Those emotions are informing you that something is wrong. He says the answer is, “something is wrong with you, – you are mentally ill.” But there is another explanation. Something is wrong with your marriage. Something is wrong with the way you are being treated. Something is wrong with being threatened, called names, sexually assaulted, and invalidated.
Your emotions are telling you that there is a problem you need to face. Pay attention. There is a good anger and fear at being wronged, oppressed and abused. How we display that good anger or fear makes a difference, but anger, hurt, and fear are the appropriate emotions you should be feeling.
Lie # 3: It's my fault if things fall apart at home (financially or legally) if I disclose that he sexually abused me. If I don't disclose, it's my fault he did this because I've enabled him over the years.
Truth: First sexual assault is a crime and you did nothing to enable that. Women and children are sexually assaulted every day and it is devastating to their sense of self. You may have been afraid (as any person would be who is being sexually assaulted), but that did not enable him to do it. He was going to do it: period. He decided, not you. You could have fought him, some women do. But that doesn't mean he still would not have assaulted you.
Second, if things fall apart at home because you told, it is not your fault. You don't have the power to put people in jail or make your husband lose his job. But judges and police do. And, if you told the truth and the result was that your husband lost his job and/or landed in jail, the fault lies squarely on him for what he did.
However, that does not mean that if that happened, it would not cause you hardship.
Sin hurts people and the consequences of sin don't just fall on the sinner, they often spill over onto the innocent victims of someone's sin.(tweet that)
Third, you are enabling your husband in certain ways and if you want to get healthy and stop, you must begin to change you. By staying silent about what's going on, you enable him to become a bigger bully, a bigger liar, and more and more self-deceived.
He's now rewritten the story of what happened in his mind, telling himself and others, “I didn't do anything wrong. She's the crazy one. She's satanic.” Romans 1:25-28 says that the more we exchange the truth of God for a lie, the more one's mind becomes depraved.
By staying silent and not going to the authorities that God has put in place to protect you and your children, you enabled your husband to continue to lie to himself, avoid the consequences of what he did, and perhaps in those very painful consequences of job loss and jail time, he would have woken up and repented.
It would be tempting here to beat yourself up for not being strong enough to take that action. Don't. It's just another tool of the enemy to accuse and attack. God knows you've been suffering from this question daily. He led you to watch the webinar. You are waking up to what really is. This is God's grace for you. He will lead you out of confusion and fear and empower you to walk in truth and love.
Get support for yourself now. Grow. Learn to walk in CORE strength. Your husband hasn't changed. There will be other opportunities for you to take a stand. Hopefully not another sexual assault, but now that you know, get yourself strong enough to do something different.
Friends: When you woke up to your own enabling ways, what helped you the most take those first steps of change?
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The Destructive Elements of Neediness
Good morning friends, As all of us, I have watched the unfolding of the horror of Friday’s school shooting at Sandy Hook School. If you don’t subscribe to my newsletter yet, you might want to subscribe where I look at the question “Why does God Allow Bad Things to Happen?”. It is hard to…
How To Find And Keep Good Friends
Morning friends, I usually respond to a lot of questions each week about marriage. But last week’s question was about a friendship with another woman and I don’t think we give this topic enough time or energy. Our girlfriend relationships are crucial, probably even more important than marriage because there is no one person, even…
Am I Making Up My Abuse?
Morning friends, Hope you had a great weekend. I got a bad cold but had a great speaking event at the Casablanca Bridal Shop in Newport Beach, California. The sponsoring organization, Celebrate Forever, seeks to educate couples on what makes relationships work, and equip them with the tools and skills to transform bad relational habits…
The offering of hope is a huge grace and a super empowering gift, isn’t it, Leslie.
And to let another soul know that she is not alone and that her mind is operating fine, thank you very much, is a breath of fresh air.
God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but power, love, and a sound mind.
He is for us. And that truth can lead us forward to lives that are healthier, stronger, and saner.
“Friends: When you woke up to your own enabling ways, what helped you the most take those first steps of change?”
I felt like I was going crazy too. In desperation I went to a Christian counselor. I was terrified, and shaking. I’d been taught by him that counselors were ungodly.
Talking to the counselor was the first big step for me. He understood what I was living in! It was a “something”–something people went through called abuse. I wasn’t crazy!
Talking with the counselor, trusted friends and family, and doing research to learn what abuse really is all helped me to change. It took a long time before I took a significant step in my marriage, and I was back and forth for a while. It’s hard to relearn life when you’ve been taught lies and controlled through fear. I spent many long hours in prayer, pouring my heart out to God.
I separated from my husband for the final time about six months ago. I still battle daily the lies that I’m a wicked person for leaving him. And other lies. So many lies. It’s like a huge storm, but we will get through it by the grace of God.
I, too, went through several years of emotional abuse, 44 years. I had left 3 times when my children were young, only to return believing things would get better. I did have some physical abuse but not to the point that I thought I was in an abusive marriage. I wanted my marriage to work and prayed much, read Christian books on being a better Christian wife. I tried to be a better wife with God’s help but it didn’t change things with my husband. After our retirements, and having him home 24/7, accentuated what I put up with, put downs, no respect, no show of love accept when he wanted sex. If he didn’t get things the way he desired he’d storm off to the computer room and shut the door and give me the silent treatment for several days. When I finally went to a Christian counselor and talked with her about these things, unbeknownst to him, I began to see how I was enabling him. As long as I stayed and put up with it, he didn’t see any need to change. I had to finally leave to cause him to fully realize I was not going to put up with it any longer. It was still very difficult to make that decision because I still loved him and knew it would hurt him. I was still expecting that I would be returning to him after he made changes and went for counseling. But, it has been 3 years now and he stopped going for counseling that first year. He thinks he is changed. He goes to church with his mother and was baptized. I have not seen that he has changed and believe that he is doing these things to just to get me to return. I moved about 2 hours away to whetree my family live and have been given much support by them. I also am a part of a Bible believing church with many descipleship classes. God has blessed my decision and I am growing in my walk with the Lord.
Pain. When the pain was turned up high enough the stakes of remaining the same became equally as high.
When God wants our attention He turns up the pain and can back us into a corner.
It’s there that He offered me the option to truly meet Him. It was a risky, costly step in most ways. Yet in hindsight it was a no-brainier.
The question becomes are we willing to dip our toe into the sea of the unknown.
My hindsight net tells me He is able.
Leslie, first I’d like to say your response to this question is loving, firm, & right. Thank you for speaking truth seasoned with kindness & boldness.
I think in my own case of enabling a controlling, manipulative man, what helped me was getting into God’s Word & deepening our relationship. I read through & studied the Psalms to start with. What I found was a beautiful, real expression of the consequences of being hurt & then the Psalmist focusing their attention on to God, resulting in hope.
God put a couple of ladies in my life who asked great questions, who I could be completely real with (& they with me), & who encouraged me to make courageous decisions for myself & my daughter. Like Leslie said, I began seeing that I was not responsible for the consequences my husband’s sin caused……HE WAS! So a good support system is vital, in my opinion. I try to schedule a lunch out at least one time a week with different friends so I don’t wear any one person out. This stuff is difficult to navigate. All their input is considered, but not all their advice is taken.
After years of seeking “counsel” from my church & receiving burdens instead, I eventually found a great counselor I’m currently working with who understands abusers & the abused. She’s gently encouraging me to quit denying his manipulation & his re-writing history, & his blame shifting.
My husband & I recently separated. Since we’ve separated, I’m thinking clearer than I ever have. I’m confident that whatever the LORD has for my daughter & me (& even for my unrepentant husband) will be better than it was.
My husband raped me over a year ago. On that same night (before the actual rape) he did sexual things in front of two of our kids (intentionally). I told him no. I told him to stop. I said he was hurting me but he didn’t care. I didn’t know what to do because I didn’t want the kids to understand what was happening. I never called the cops. Honestly I didn’t know I could or that I should have. Sounds foolish, I know. Is it too late to call the cops or make a report over a year later? Would it make a difference? At one point in the whole experience, while he was doing something I didn’t want, my son walked next to me and said “mommy, you ok?” He was 2 1/2. I was crying. I’m still grieving that night. I felt powerless. I felt trapped.
I am so sorry. You are not foolish. You have been trapped in fear. Check with a lawyer or social worker or counselor to get some understanding on the laws in your state concerning sexual abuse so that you can know how to take the next step. Check with places like your county health department as they may have people who can help you with that at low cost. If you are not safe from him reach out to a shelter or family member you trust to get help.
I am so very sorry to hear about the evil you endured at the hands of the man who vowed to love, honor and cherish you. You are clearly a very brave woman to have endured such a horrible experience and come through it with the spirit of a survivor.
It is absolutely not foolish to process your feelings and memories at this time.
Are you still living with your husband?
No, it is not too late to call your husband to account for the crime he has committed against you and your children.
Would you consider giving serious thought to pursuing prosecution for your husband?
Would doing so help you to come to terms with your own feelings?
How might your husband facing the consequences of his own sin be a protection for you and your children for the future?
James, I am still living with him but it is very hard. When it happened, I was not aware I should call the police. Truthfully, I wasn’t truly able to grapple with what happened until the next day. I have called him on it. I called it on him last year. He said he made a minor error of judgment but that he isn’t a monster and didn’t rape me.
Even if you cannot file a report you can still leave this situation and set boundaries with your husband. I imagine he is still behaving destructively toward you. If not, maybe you can talk to him about what happened and see a counselor together.
I have addressed it with him for over a year. My counselor said last week I need to “let go” of the idea he will understand. Not to let go of what happened, just let go of the idea he will finally get what he did. He said abusers typically don’t ever see things the right way because they distort them in their heads. Last week he said that there are many opportunities between a husband and wife to take something that happens and go look up a definition according to some law and then make accusations. He said he could accuse me of many things but he doesn’t. He keeps saying I have turned him into a monster. I have never said that about him or to him. I have only told him how he has harmed me for ten years and this past year when he raped me (or as he says, made a minor error of judgment) was the cherry on top. After conversations like this I feel so weak and deflated. I know what has happened. I know the truth of the past ten years. He blames testosterone, says this is normal marital problems, etc. I keep looking for external validation to what has been going on and I am not getting it so I begin to question myself.
Broken, I’m wondering why you are still with him? Abusers always say things like- it was a minor error of judgement. My husband committed road rage and risked my life- and he came home and said yes I got a little mad. Right when wife gets out of car she is so afraid for her life and walks down a major hwy for 90 minutes, believe me it’s not ‘ a little mad’ . But this was the red light for me, to wake up . Major boundaries were put in place immediately, which he didn’t respond to at all. 2 months later I filed for divorce knowing he was still stuck on minor errors and would not acknowledge his abuse nor the truth what happened. Are you in counseling, Broken??
I wrestle with why I am with him all the time. I have been married for ten years and within the first month of marriage the abuse started. He would hit things, throw things, scream at me, hit himself in the face, and he also had bad road rage. I remember being in a state of shock but I didn’t know what it was. I remember people saying the first year of marriage is hard so I attributed his abusiveness to that. He has grabbed me and left scabs from his fingernail twice. Again, he was sorry. He didn’t mean to. Again, I didn’t know it was abuse. It wasn’t until two years ago I had a counselor sweetly ask me if I felt like I was in an abusive relationship. I broke down crying because once she said that I was like yes! Yes! Yes! But no one believed me. No one could see how this man who seemed “perfect” to the outside world was so bent on being mean and harsh to me. The counselor recommended Leslie’s book and I bought it that day. I couldn’t believe I was reading things that hit so close to home. Part of me was happy because I wasn’t alone, yet another part of me was so sad that there are so many women experiencing the same thing. I finally had a name to describe what I had been going through and still go through. To answer your question, I think so much of me wants to make sure it isn’t my fault. That I didn’t make him this way. Also, fear. He recently told me our children are suffering because of our marriage (he and I are roommates and nothing more). So now I have this mentality that I have to help the kids. They are suffering and it is my fault because I have put up boundaries and because I am considering divorce. He keeps telling me I need to consider biblical reconciliation. That I am mean too. That we ALL fail Christ everyday yet he still loves and pursues us. That the reasons he has grabbed me is because I was about to attack him 🙁 I know it isn’t true, but it makes me second guess myself. I am alone. I have no family here. Only his family. I have a few friends who believe and support me. I am scared. I am scared what it will do to my three kids. I am scared I will blame myself if or when my children suffer. I question myself and wonder if it is really “that bad”. I wonder if I am making things up? My core is not strong. Some days it is. Some days it isn’t. I am seeing an amazing counselor who understands abuse. My husband is not seeing him. We were seeing the same guy at one point and the counselor told me I needed to come out from hiding and show grace because that would glorify the Lord. I felt sick after that session and never went back.
Sounds like it’s normal for a narcissist. Imo, not normal behavior.
A friend sent me this site today & from what I’ve read so far, she hits the nail on the head! https://1solutionfocusedcoaching.com
Another helpful site to read might be https://cryingoutforjustice.com
Please consider checking the sites out & seeing if you find them helpful.
This is crucial that you see that you CANNOT change another person, especially with with strong narcissistic tendencies. WOrk on yourself and the dance will change.
Forcing a child to watch sexual acts is also child sexual abuse. Yes, you can contact police. Yes, you would be taking steps to protect yourself and your child from future harm. If he forced your child to watch sexual acts, there’s no telling what he has done since then or will do in the future. Rape is evil. And forcing a child to watch sexual acts is also evil.
Jeff, he didn’t force them to watch. They were in the same room when he did some things. I am not minimizing it at all because it was still wrong but they weren’t forced. From what I have read, intentional sexual acts in front of children is child sexual abuse. Forced or not, he did things in front of them where they could (and one did) see. It is one thing for children to walk in on parents but it is another to start things on purpose while kids are arms length away. And it’s another to continue to do those things when I am saying stop, you’re hurting me.
I have read this feed and have broken down crying. I’m sure I am not the only one here who has also read and grieves for you and your children. Jesus Christ is crying for you. And He is there with you. I am praying for you. Praying that He will show Himself to you as He has done for me. Do not forget: God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. I believe that verse is put there particularly for those of us who have been abused. Follow the Light.
Not to excuse anything that happened, but if it is of any comfort to you, most children don’t remember or are unable to retain events as memories until they are well into their 4th or 5th year of life. The Lord made children to be resilient in spite of horrific events, so take heart!
Most children do remember unfortunately, (I have vivid memories when I was 1) they probably just don’t understand what they saw which is a good thing. The eyes are the window to the soul, the memory can stay in the soul. What he did there’s no excuse. I am a single Christian woman and I find it all very disturbing and grievous I feel so sorry and angry for what you have endured. I will pray for you and your children and a husband who is blind to his own evil and sin.
They may not “remember” the incident in their cognitive memory but the body remembers the tension, the anxiety, the anger, etc. Children “feel” the tension even in the womb.
My wake up was when my therapist told me I need to take the first step legally in the divorce process because my husband was trying to manipulate me. My husband had emotionally abused and manipulated me for 23 years before he walked out and tried to convince others I was crazy and that he had a plan to take care of me (like a hero). His plan would have cheated me out of more than $100,000. I was afraid to make him mad, afraid he would take our youngest daughter from me by convincing others I was crazy, so I didn’t want to go. My pastor and an elder who spoke with him discerned his motives and also encouraged me to get to a lawyer. I finally listened. It was so invigorating to take part of my life back and to act with strength (though I’ve still had spells of fear). Through going to the lawyer early I was protected from something underhanded that my husband was doing with taxes and financial stuff and I was given a piece leverage should he try doing something underhanded later on. Letting the law and someone with knowledge of the law protect me is something I believe came from God to me as a gift letting me know He has seen and is looking out for me. I shake every time I go into the lawyer’s office, but I have learned to thank Him for her every day.
Great example Stephanie of using Romans 13 with Romans 12. You asked for help from the law that God has put in place to protect us from evildoers.
The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step. Chinese Proverb
If a child were being hurt in this way we would do anything to get in the way. Today is a new day. Lord I do not want to cooperate in evil. Give me the strength to say, ‘This is not ok with me.”
Yes, and Amen. It’s never okay to say yes to evil.
“Friends: When you woke up to your own enabling ways, what helped you the most take those first steps of change?” . . . . . .The first baby steps (—where I am still at) came from the perspective I received by talking to LOTS & LOTS & LOTS of other people.
“I had the privilege of watching your webinar recently and enjoyed some insight in this clip…..and now I have a question. My husband sexually assaulted me over a year ago. He thought that I was leaving him and felt it necessary to ‘demonstrate’ to me how good we were together. . . . . I was fearful and gave into him, as often saying no to him meant he would tell me I wasn’t normal. My family became aware of the situation and went to the police who later called me and asked if I would like to talk with them.” . . . . . . —Always be willing to talk to other people. Other people can r-e-a-l-l-y give you perspective. It is when we narrow our input group that we really lack perspective. Be willing to talk to lots of different people. I know my cognitive biases are kicking in when I only want to talk to certain people. Our minds are NOT good at being unbiased. Our minds are like a defense attorney that goes about coming up with “reasons” why we do —what we like, —what is easy, —what is expedient, etc.
I also want to say that the whole thing is so, so sad and a serious prayer concern.
Here is the language I have memorized. It is not my language but all Leslie’s language. Anyways, I find I can modify it for many situations: “I understand you are hurt that I don’t want to have sexual relations with you right now. That would be hurtful to anyone who is married (E- Empathetic without enabling). The reason I cannot return to our bedroom is because I feel distant from you. I talk and you don’t hear me. I tell you what hurts me and what bothers me and you don’t care and you don’t stop it. I am a person too. Why would I want to be with a man who clearly shows he doesn’t care about me? If I say yes to you, I dishonor myself and end up feeling like an object that is used rather than a wife that is loved.”
My biggest concern when I don’t enable is that I will get crazy with my own “power.” It is so easy to set boundaries that block the input that we don’t like. That is why we need LOTS of input sources, especially the Holy Spirit. To me, the key to the CORE model is the Holy Spirit. . . . . —BUT, because our minds operate like defense attorneys, we need the Wise Others too who can say: “—Aleea, that is NOT the Holy Spirit, that is your mind justifying your enabling.” That is always a signal to me and fortunately I have friends that will say that to me.
. . . . Oh, and I want to make a point about Leslie’s quote above re:”. . . . If I say yes to you, I dishonor myself and end up feeling like an object that is used rather than a wife that is loved.” I think it is very important to realize that we can’t objectify others without objectifying ourselves. It is lose-lose. In fact, we only objectify others after we have internally objectified ourselves. It can’t manifest in the outside world without it first appearing in our inner world (—how we are treating *objectifying* ourselves.)
Thank you Leslie, our questioner, everyone involved.
I am so sorry for all the ladies who’ve suffered sexual assault. To the lady who wrote the original question to Leslie, I’m so sorry you have to live with and share children with your attacker. You are not crazy. He is the one aligned with Satan, not you. You just have the misfortune of being married to him.
My H has never forced me to do anything sexually that I didn’t want, but sex is a big stress point for me nonetheless. I can relate to the lady posting the original question in that my H acts like there’s a problem with ME if I don’t actively pursue sex – even when he’s been grouchy, rude, etc. It always goes back to his mantra “I (H) wouldn’t be so angry if I wasn’t surrounded by idiots!”
He has absolutely zero grace for mistakes whether it’s me, our kids, or our employees. Although, he does give grace to HIMSELF.
I don’t defend myself or fight him very often when he’s being unreasonable. Is that enabling?
The majority of the time, my method of dealing with him when he’s ranting is to say as little as possible. If I defend myself that just triples how long the rant will go. He has endless energy when it comes to ranting. I silently reject what he says when it’s unreasonable. Robin once described this as ‘Observe. Don’t engage.’
I try to let his negative speech roll off my back. But I’m sensitive to it. It’s not that I ‘receive’ what he says, but his negativity fills me with terrible anxiety.
Fortunately, now that the kids are out of school for summer break my work schedule had to change and I’ll spend significantly less time with H at our business. Plus, I’ll be getting a little more sleep!
Ruth, It seems like you are doing a great job enduring a very difficult marriage.
Ruth, I have lived thru a marriage like yours, except the ranting kept increasing, the demands for sex were endless and it was my duty no matter how he was behaving, these kind of marriages don’t have easy answers. Confront- but don’t engage. Not easy with a ranter. My advice is find a great counselor who can help you strengthen your core. When mine was strengthened, I left him. I realized he did not give me any respect or value. When I got around people that did- I knew I didn’t want to live the rest of my life with someone who didn’t love me. Words are cheap. Take a good long look at his actions and behaviors and ask yourself, does he respond to my plea’s for change in our relationship? Is he willing to get some help? Or does he even care?
Perhaps Ruth, instead of “silently enduring the rage, trying to shake it off” you just walk away and say, “When you calm down I’ll come back, I can’t take this raging anymore, it’s affecting my health.” Then go – leave the workplace, leave the house for a bit and help him see that he no longer has an audience. It’s hard to rage effectively when you are all by yourself.
My husband does the same thing. I call it listening to his monologue. But words hurt us and effect us. Scripture often talks about the deceitful tongue and the power of words.
I’m leaning my husband hates women and give no value to what I say. I love Leslie’s response. I’m also starting to say things like “when you can value and listen to what I have to say and believe that I may have truth in my words I am not answering your questions.” Do not throw your pearl before swine and know that you are of value and worth. You should not be a verbal punching bag or have your views be mocked. This is my fight and I am praying daily that I see the Light and hear the lies and respond accordingly.
When you woke up to your own enabling ways, what helped you the most take those first steps of change?
I think the single biggest thing was accepting the idea that is was ok for the marriage to fail.
Those early hard steps toward independence were traumatic. It took everything I had to tell my husband that I wanted to separate our savings. I shook uncontrollably and had to say it while sobbing.
My journey has been a snowball rolling downhill and getting bigger as it rolls — developing CORE strength, honoring my boundaries and fears, etc.
Ann I think your statement is very wise. We have to do our part, our best at our part, but we do need to detach from the outcome of things and surrender it to God. We can’t control other people, life’s circumstances, etc, and when we can let go of the outcome (the way WE think things should go) we can find peace much sooner.
Yes! That’s its ok for our marriage to fail. I am realizing now that clinging to my marriage is an idol in some way…it has a hold on me and really if I have nothing to lose the core in me builds stronger. Maybe by idol I mean it’s not a threat that my husband can dangle over my head or a fear that hovers over me. My husband needs to fight for himself and the ways he is aggressive and controlling —currently I am telling him that if does not find healing in this area and seek professional counsel then we will not work because I refuse to live with the aggression. ALSO I long for my husband to be freed from the entrapment of these demons. Honestly my love and longing for this supersedes our marriage. He will forever live in bondage. That is more important than us. He is livid and believes my lack of affection is just as damaging as the violence. And it is damaging because it’s not how marriage is supposed to be but I refuse to be intimate with a man who I am afraid of and who devalues me. I will regret and lose myself even more if he “controls” his violence in immature ways and doesn’t seek help and does not truly have a repentant heart. I cannot make that happen/I cannot change him but I can say “I refuse to live with you if you continue and refuse to seek help.”
The … “I might loose my job and our family will suffer and it will be your fault” and the “you are crazy” are part of my story too. My ex husband breeched court orders. I told police… he got bailed…
Only he roped in my family to tell me “how awful I was” for telling things that might make him loose his job…” because he’s not one of those really bad people!!”
However, despite feeling terrible I kept writing on my arm: “responsibility” to remind myself to take responsibility only for my stuff… not his…. the consequences of HIS BEHAVIOUR are NOT MY FAULT. After a while of continuing not to enable due to negative predicted outcomes or guilt… the feelings followed my actions. I “knew” and “felt” i had done the right thing.
It’s so hard to stand strong for truth and justice when people are telling your that your stand is the problem, not the other person’s behavior. Get some support from people who understand as your family is shaming you for speaking and standing for truth. God never does. And when we do it in love (this is in your best interest to wake up from your destructive ways), God honors you and sees the sacrificial love (suffering for doing what was right) and blesses you.
I am newly married and want out already. The first big thing was him not respecting my no with sex. He would guilt trip and push for his way by begging. And being with him I felt like an object. I have not been able to keep my boundaries even though I have told him how his behaviour makes me feel. I end up giving in to him so I don’t pay later by him holding it against me with his mood. Makes me feel so used. I have become numb. He is so controlling in other ways as well. I can’t breathe when he is around. I have talked to many people and no one understands. He has a very good reputation and he tells others it is because of my broken past. I am starting to die inside but feel like I can’t get away from him because when I talk with him in the end I feel it was my fault, but realize he has yet to truly own anything. He talks so kindly like he cares, but his actions show differently in many areas. So hard to hear from the Lord when faced up against these things.
Jane, I’m truly sorry and want to encourage you to keep reading posts like these. Posts to & from real women in difficult situations. Glean from every resource you can & make well-informed decisions for your well-being. Chances are, you’re the only looking out for you. Society & especially the church, tends to look the other way sadly. They don’t understand a husband with an abusive mentality. Your warning bells are going off for a good reason. Listen to them & do what you can safely do to protect yourself emotionally, physically, & Spiritually.
Jane, it might not be to late to get an annulment. Some states allow annulments up to six months after marriage. I wish I could say it will get better, but statistically, it will not. Can you develop an exist strategy. Healthy marriages do not involved any of the actions you describe. It is ok to realize you made a mistake and regain your life as God designed you to live.
Thanks so much Suzanne. Your response made me cry so hard. Because I feel I did make a mistake. But you are so right. It is not what God designed me to live. This is my second marriage and I have four young children from my first marriage, so hard not to beat myself up that I fell into this again. Time to change. And this time not ten years in. I so needed to hear what you said. Thank you. Majorly courage lending.
Powerful stuff that our marriage can fail and we can not just survive, but thrive and honor God all the same. I was never raped but sure did silently weep through a lot of sex.
Amazing how resilient the human spirit can be.
Sounds like your intuition is telling you truths you see early in your relationship– and others u confide in don’t see it so it brings u down. Listen to your own intuition. In my experiences, others are not close enough to see who he really is, so why would I expect them to give a reasonable reply to what I’m experiencing. Go with your own heart. Better now to stop than wait 20, 30 years …………::
So true Robin. His behaviours have been so covert and only between the two of us when he airs his degrading or controlling comments etc. Yes, I know if I don’t act now, I will just become numb and a shell of a person and it will become a vicious cycle. Something I was already trying to heal from with my first marriage, but friends pressuring me I should get married or I am doing my son a disservice. Told them I wasn’t healed enough or ready, but along came a controlling man I couldn’t get rid of and I failed the test and thought I should deny myself and do it for my kids. How could I possibly think of myself? But God is not done with me and I will learn from this and become healthier. Thanks so much 🙂
Yes it is hard to hear from the Lord in these moments, but not impossible. Surround yourself with Godly women and see how Jesus treated women in the Scripture. Not as objects to use but as valuable, precious people. In that culture, women were more or less objectified. But Jesus never treated them that way. God’s protection for the sexual relationship INSIDE marriage was to protect women (and men) from being objectified. The Israelites taking of concubines – which was primarily a wife for sex only, was against God’s plan. Throughout the Scripture God shows his care for women and women is also created in His image, which is to be valued and respected.
Thanks Leslie. It is an uphill battle to understand one’s worth before God when you grew up being objectified as a child and unprotected by those who should have been there. But He is a good father to me and keeps teaching me through my immaturity. I keep thinking I should leave for my kids before they get too attached and learn how he has a devaluing attitude towards me. But they are already attached. I already feel isolated by what he has said to others about me, his family and friends. And also how he presents to others, subtly putting me down but presenting that he has unconditional love for me and making me look hard hearted to others for saying in love what has been right to say to him. I have confronted him many times and he blame shifts or continues the pattern. I feel I can’t afford to do this to myself or my children a second time. But my pastor could not hear me and my friends too, who I thought Godly and mature, can’t grasp well. If I step away now, I will likely face much opposition from my community. But that seems more bearable than feeling oppressed by his scrutinizing presence in my home. God lend me courage and be my Rock on which to stand rightly.
Jane, Are you ready for a big move. Do you have the courage ready? I think relocation is required in this case. I read the advice to seek Christian friends, yet I assume the people who talked you into marrying this predator were Christians. So, sadly you can not trust them and need to meet new people in a new place and build a better life. It is just matter of time before this man is sexual predator to your children like he is to you. Unfortunately, this difficult truth is very common among men who are not the birth father of children, especially teen and pre-teen girls.
Jane, you can do this, move. God will be with you. Pray about it. He will guide you and provide for you. This marriage is a dead end. Pick a new state or city with a reasonable cost of living, domestic violence counseling and shelters, and a church you like.
Jane, When he realizes that you want to leave, he may start being nice to you. It is important to discern whether this is true change or just more manipulation. Sometimes people like this can be extremely charming, it’s difficult to tell the difference. Also, your desire for a good marriage may also make it difficult to tell the difference. This controlling behavior always gets worse (unless he pretends to change to manipulate you more). If it does get worse, your kids will pay the price- he may start manipulating them and as he puts you down more, you will die inside, as you put it. Leaving now may have less effects on your kids than you staying. People around you who don’t understand abuse will not understand you situation. Be careful getting advice from them.
This is going a bit off topic, but did anyone else read the May 15 article in the New York Times titled, “Trump’s Private Conduct with Women”.
I am sick to my stomach.
The article was full of accusations from women who were demeaned and objectified by Trump. Among other accusations, Ivana, his first wife, described a rape experience very much like the one in the original question. She didn’t pursue it legally at the time and now she denies it happened.
. . . . .Religious guilt will never grow the kind of love you want in someone else. . . . . .A competitive and insecure woman will tell you that “true love” is never giving up on someone you have loved. It seems to me that a confident, spiritual, Holy Spirit-filled woman knows that “moving on” doesn’t mean you never loved someone. She realizes that letting go is what God needs her to do because both your happiness and his requires taking different journeys for spiritual growth. Letting go is sometimes the hardest thing (―especially with the Scriptural guilt due to hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years of intereptations running counter to what we see today in so many areas), but it may be the most “real love” you will ever experience.
If you truly loved someone you won’t become their enemy. You will become their guardian angel, even if that means divorce.
If it were true love, he would never make you sacrifice your dignity to be with him. He would respect you and treat you as if you were sacred to his heart. If he loved you as dearly as he professes to love Christ, then he would never let anyone that loved him suffer or lower their self worth to be with him. True love is compassion, respect and honorable acts that prove love. Love without sacrifice is like theft. . . . . So, if the Holy Spirit could lead Moses to the promised land, the Holy Spirit can lead us also. Other people will never fully understand your choices or what you need to do for your spiritual well-being. They will measure it with the majority, historical majority, popular books and even their version of God. Oh my, so many different versions are on offer. I am seriously praying for everyone, especially me. . . . When all his resources were exhausted and Moses was brought to the barren, wind-swept, sun-scorched, horizons of emptiness ―then God came and told him what to do.
I agree and I think one of the strategies of abusers is isolation – no outside input. I wonder if Eve would have talked over with Adam what Satan was asking her to do, if together they could have recognized his schemes. Cults, and spiritually abusive churches discourage outside input or reading of other sources of information. THey don’t want their views challenged or questioned. It’s always crucial that we are OPEN to new information, facts, and filtered through prayer, wise others and the Holy Spirit and the whole counsel of Scripture, but we must be open.
“. . . .I think one of the strategies of abusers is isolation – no outside input.” . . . .No doubt that is THE strategy. They are trying to “control” but don’t realize we are in control of next to nothing. More importantly, don’t we want a relationship that is bursting with life, because if you control, it seems all you are left with is a godless, degrading master-slave relationship. . . . —And if you are treating your spouse like a mere object, depersonalizing, etc. are you not also doing that to yourself? . . . .I guess it is really hard to be self-aware. That is why God puts us together so we can help each other see.
“. . . . I wonder if Eve would have talked over with Adam what Satan was asking her to do, if together they could have recognized his schemes.” . . . . . —Yes, probably they would have recognized Satan’s schemes . . . . .BUT that does NOT mean men are smarter, men are more insightful or less easily deceived. . . . .Anyway, it may have still happened because Satan is a craftsman of destruction. Why God lets him roam the earth is totally beyond me.
“. . . .Cults, and spiritually abusive churches discourage outside input or reading of other sources of information. THey don’t want their views challenged or questioned. It’s always crucial that we are OPEN to new information, facts, and filtered through prayer, wise others and the Holy Spirit and the whole counsel of Scripture, but we must be open.” . . . . . I so try to be open that I am always in some, at least mild, confusion. I will read “Evolving out of Eden: Christian Responses to Evolution” at the same time as I read “Four Views on the Historical Adam (Counterpoints: Bible and Theology)” . . . I always pray: “Lord, here I am. . . .would You please help me because I am blind if You do not help me. Lord I am so gullible, it is truly amazing. Lord, it so often seems all I really want is real love and I will believe anything to get it.” I study and work hard to be balanced but that often leads to more confusion (—and some good positives like true epistemological humility.) . . .I don’t want to hide my lack: I don’t know the answers and I am not whole. Anyone, like me, who has *truly* grazed on the lower slopes of their own ignorances knows they don’t know. . . . A truly open mind means also dealing with the evidence of reality, whether or not I like the implications, and lots of times I most certainly do not. More often than we might think, teaching any evidence-based Bible science is inseparable from teaching doubt. Re: “The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts.” —Lord have mercy on me, I believe, help my unbelief.
Thank you so much, I just love getting comments, except sometimes I get scathing criticism in my e-mail but I guess in reality that represents something wild and unhealed in the writer. If the cure for doubts is the wisdom of God, I sure need a deeper experience of wisdom, which I always pray for.
Thanks, this is helpful!!
One of the wisest things I’ve learned from Leslie over the last few years in my own destructive marriage was to not attach to any outcome — in essence, just do the next right thing, and then the one following. Not easy when there is no true support system but necessary to follow where the Lord leads. Soon I saw that what I believed to be a HUGE risk was truly no risk at all. The problem, as I experienced, is that God requires our complete trust in what appears to often be a risky proposition during a time when our “trust-o-meter” has usually just finished being trampled on.
When we can move toward Him, no matter how badly we are shaking, I believe He treasures that “mustard seed” of faith obedience.
Truly, I have seen those shaky faith limbs are where the sweetest fruit lies. Just the next step, whatever it is. He’s a GOOD, GOOD Father.
Good advice, so helpful
Dawn that is a beautiful statement/ testimony. I have a friend that tells me that all the time: do the next, -no matter how small, right thing, and then the one following. Don’t attach to the Fear. Don’t attach to Future outcomes. Just be in the now. . . . At first I thought it just Tantric Buddhism but some of the Lord’s most beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost, we have to risk doing the next (even small) righteous thing, as you say “no matter how badly we are shaking.”
. . . thank you, Jane. . . . . I am so thankful to all the souls I meet in the journey of life. It is really true that the cave we fear to enter holds the treasure we seek. . . .it is where we stumble and fall, there we find gold. Or just more simply, the privilege of a lifetime is just being who you are in Christ. I was thinking about that in church this morning: To know Christ and to have any part (—no matter how small and uncertain) in His kingdom is just totally overwhelming.
Your post rang true for me. I also remarried with four children
and so desperately wanted things to work out the second time around. Although I did not suffer the sexual abuse, I was basically abandoned and at the same time controlled by him (finances, job, friends, other demands). He knew about my abandonment issues from childhood and my first marriage, and I think he assumed he could pounce on my weak area. He also figured because I was a Christian I would be patient and long-suffering. I so lost my sense of self for many years. I would never want anyone to go through the emotional turmoil I went through. I was ignorant about abuse, otherwise I would never had stayed. ( I had not read any of Leslie’s material yet). Do not beat yourself up. I’m sure you will be led to a good place.
Wow, yes very similar.
(That reply posted before I was finished)… I am so glad this question was asked and that it became a blog discussion. I have greatly benefited from all the words of wisdom that have been offered. I am no longer married to my abuser because after 4 years of severe sexual and psychological abuse I got out, but I am still dealing with the scares. Thanks again Leslie this is one I will keep around to read again.
I think that when we come out of such abusive relationships
it is actually much more familiar for us to self-blame instead of making others responsible for their own choices. If it was my fault, then I felt like I had some control still, I could change me. But accepting guilt for sexual assault that happened too me…that was just too much! I’ve struggled with understanding it all. My own mom blamed me for what he did to me because either I didn’t give him enough or perhaps I wanted it like that. I guess maybe it’s easier for those around us to blame us also.
Sarah, I’m sorry your Mom blamed you. Of all people we hope our family will support us and it’s painful when they don’t. One of the biggest lessons I learned(and there are many) is know what I believe and need and quit asking people for their opinion. A downer for sure when their not in our shoes. !!!
YOu’re most welcome
I’ve been reading over at Cry For Justice – they share Leslie post’s at times.
They are emphatic that you never use the word enable when it comes to an abuse situation – focus on being able to get yourself help.
Enabling sounds like you have a roll in it when the abuser is the only perpetrator.
Angelina I used the term in my blog because she used the term in her question. She asked if she enabled sexual abuse and I told her no she did not. Her husband is 100% responsible for his sexual behavior towards her. However, by not reporting or pressing charges or acting like it was no big deal or pretending everything is okay, she is “permitting” her husband to stay deceived or blind. But I think I made it very clear in my response that abuse was not her fault.
I started vomiting in the bathroom after sex. It happened twice. The first time, I treated it as a fluke and wondered what was wrong with me; I stifled the sound as much as possible, so my husband’s feelings wouldn’t get hurt. The second time, I knew it was because we were really no longer intimate in the way that actually matters, so physical intimacy had become revolting. I did all the things I had done before to keep the knowledge of it from him, but–instead of wondering what was wrong with me–I wondered how I’d become so brainwashed that I was more worried about his feelings than my own health.
We haven’t had sex since; it’s been years. He pretends everything is normal–he can’t be intimate. The intimacy I thought we shared–that he never expressed–was an image I foisted on him, and was unable to sustain in the face of years of self-centered, self-serving, self-gratifying manipulation and lies that included a great deal of financial unfaithfulness, and, I suspect–porn. (His favorite kind of sex has always been by himself in the shower.) The retching, finally, made it obvious.
After that I got into the habit of asking myself, if I was being honest or was I glossing reality to protect his feelings. He’s always held me responsible for his emotional state. Frequently, he implies I’m trying to kill him with my cooking–by way of a heart attack “for the life insurance.” He thinks the only reason I’ve stayed is for the life insurance. He has so little understanding of finance that he doesn’t even realize, since I own the life insurance policy, it would pay out to me whether we’re married or not. (His failure to read the fine print has put us into collections before. And we eat a normal, healthful diet of meals made from scratch–very little meat, almost entirely organic–with less salt than the recipes normally call for.)
As I’ve returned to honesty, he’s gone back to saying I have a critical spirit. He has told our oldest daughter, in private, that I’m not capable of being happy, because of my upbringing. Thus absolving himself of all guilt for the unhappiness that is caused by the consequences of his sins.
I’m happy and at peace most of the time. The most valuable thing I’ve ever had–my soul–is in safekeeping. (Col. 3:3) And, while God meant for my marriage to be a blessing, He isn’t hampered by my husband’s failure, when He wants to bless me. God never needed my husband, and neither do I.
What enabled me to change was recognizing that I wasn’t worthless, that I had value and I wasn’t the bad guy in my situation with some of my family members. The family members had – in writing – admitted that I hadn’t done anything and didn’t need to ask for forgiveness, but they still refused to change their behavior toward me or admit to any wrong doing … and as a result we no longer see or speak to each other.
What helped you recognize that you weren’t worthless and that you had value? That is the million dollar question many people want to know.
My heart breaks for you when I read your question. The Devil came to steal, kill and destroy and he does just that in the lives of Christian women through their abusive husbands. By telling you all those lies, your husband is trying to make you feel like you’re “going crazy” so that you no longer trust your judgement, but whatever HE wants you to believe, making you 100% dependent on him. I’m also married to emotionally and sexually abusive husband. When I felt like I was “going crazy” from enduring constant abuse and lies that he told me about myself, I cried out to God in desperation so that He’d help me find an answer to all this mess. And answer He did… I had an iPhone which enabled me to scour the Internet without my husband’s knowledge and I stumbled upon Narcissistic Personality Disorder and pornography addiction. All of a sudden, everything made sense!!! For the first time in ages, I finally understood that I wasn’t “crazy” or “the problem” as my husband would say, but it was HE, all along. Narcissists are master projectors BTW and have an evil heart and they “walk in the ways of Cain”as apostle Judas says. They have a reprobate mind (Romans ch 1) for they willingly replace God’s truths with lies (twisting the Scripture to suit their agenda). Therefore, DO NOT TRUST a WORD they say. What helped me rid my mind of all the lies was this… I educated myself ad nauseum about NPD and porn addiction. It’s ok to read nonChristian sources for this purpose for there’s a limited amount of Christian litereture that deals with NPD. The very extreme theology about submission and headship that’s taught in conservative churches serves as a Petri dish for breeding husbands with NPD. Check out narcissismcured.com for it’s a great resource on how to set boundaries and gain your sanity back when dealing with abusive spouses. Gail Dines is an excellent recourse on porn addiction. She’s not gonna tell you how to cure porn addiction in your husband, but you’ll walk away with a clearer understanding of the problem and why your husband is sexually deviant. As counterintuitive as it is, you HAVE TO stop believing your husband’s lies and replace them with truths that you read in the resources about NPD and porn addiction. You’re not sinning or being “disobedient” to your husband if you do that. Read Leslie’s books and blog. It was a great recourse that helped me relearn to understand and interpret the Bible correctly, not as my abusive husband and pastor, who sides with my husband 100%, wanted me to. It’s a slow and laborious process, but so worth it in the end. You’ll learn how to make sound decisions that please God without relying on your husband for validation. Find a Christian counsellor who understands abuse. During initial interview, don’t be afraid to ask questions about their understanding and experience in working with abuse. The last thing you need is a counsellor who insists on doing marriage counseling with an abuser, a big no no according to Leslie because the abuser will try to get a counsellor to side with him, deny, minimize, project, blame YOU, and try to paint the abuse as mutual relationship problem in order to keep YOU trapped in destructive marriage all the while it’s an issue of a selfish, proud, and evil HEART of an abuser. If he fails to charm the counsellor to side with him, he’ll storm off in anger and will never come to see that counsellor again. You don’t need a counsellor who bows down to “save-all-marriages-at-all-cost” idol, therefore forcing you to endure further abuse. I hope this helps. God bless you.
“You don’t need a counsellor who bows down to “save-all-marriages-at-all-cost” idol,”. So true!
We saw one of those. Sweet lady. She felt like she’d really done the right thing when I agreed to move with my husband for his new job.
Six years and some CORE later, I’ve finally figured it out. That sweet lady was as misguided then as I was–we both thought that marriage was the highest value in the room. It wasn’t. It isn’t.
Thanks Marina, sounds like you’ve grown in leaps and bounds in walking in the truth.
I always get confused taking about sexual abuse in marriage. For years (we have been married for 33 years) my husband groped me while I was sleeping. This took on the form of various sexual touching on me as well as him using hIs own parts to touch me. For awhile I pretended like i was asleep and hit him off but then I became angry about it. The last year my husband did this to me, we were not having any communication because he would not agree to stay in counseling for his deception in money issues. (That is another story…) I had stayed in the bedroom to avoid hurting my high school children by moving out of the bedroom. Finally, with the help of a counselor I move out of the room to an empty bedroom. The worst part is the disrespect I felt because I knew he was angry and this nighttime routine of his felt like an act of such disrespect. He has been told by numerous people (he says) that my reaction was exaggerated and lots of men touch their wives when the wife is asleep. At time he even convinced me it’s an over reaction. Is there s more clear definition of sexual “abuse”? He even laughed when I called it abuse. Most of what I read here and on other sites talk about sexual a use as being much more aggressive, physically and/or verbally, where does my situation fall?
Judi- for me sexual abuse is simple in my ex-marriage.
a. He does not get to touch any of my parts that make me uncomfortable.
I will insist he gives me the respect I need.
b. I am not required to do anything that doesn’t feel right to me– it’s not his decision. It’s mine.
He can call it whatever he wants. He can even laugh when I say it’s abuse. It’s my right to have control over my body. His bullyness will not change my mind.
I cannot agree more. I left my emotionally and sexually ( he forced me to do porn sex acts which I wasn’t comfortable doing) abusive husband when my kids were 3.5 and 1.5 years old. Truly, they don’t remember any of the abuse that I experienced at the hands of my husband. My kids are visiting my husband on weekends and he’s behaving as a “Disneyland dad.” Therefore, my kids’ opinion of him is very different from my own. Most of my son’s classmates come from stable Christian families, which makes him be the only kids from a broken home. (To avoid a bitter custody battle, I chose to stay married yet live under a different roof). From time to time, my son asks me why his dad and I don’t live together. I said that dad is not being nice to mommy and we will continue to live like this until daddy starts being nice to mommy. I recalled his experience of some boys being nice to other boys, yet being mean to him at the same time. Leslie, can you offer any suggestions as to how I can explain this situation by being honest about the abuse yet not overburden them with too much information. Thanks