Morning friends,

Wow, we had an incredible response to the registration launch of our Live CONQUER Women’s Conference on October 14th & 15th. We’ve already had 120 women register and I hope you are one of them. If you haven’t had a chance to check it out. Click here for more information. I hope to see you there. It will be an amazing time. You will not want to miss it. Invite a friend and spread the word.

This week’s question is from someone who feels stuck in a different way from our friend from last week’s blog. My heart goes out to her, but validation of her pain will only help her feel heard, it won’t help her change. She needs to be empowered to take some constructive action over her life. Let’s see how we can learn to move from being a continuous victim to an owner.

Question: I am in an emotionally abusive marriage. We have three adult children and my husband has repeatedly undermined my self-worth to two of my children. Thus, they are a continuation of his verbal abuse using some of the same phrases that he uses. My oldest has tried to micromanage me verbally as if she is the mom and I the daughter. In addition, he enlists them in every aspect of our marital issues. I have pleaded with him through counseling to set boundaries so we can begin the healing of our destructive marriage. He is very hesitant on excluding them and wants to know the boundaries he'll have to adhere to. Can you address these complicated issues?

Answer: From your question I’m assuming that your three adult children are still living in your home? Your husband has regularly enmeshed your children into your marriage so that there are no clear boundaries between the marriage and the children (even though your children are now adults). You are not only being controlled and verbally abused by your husband but also two of your children. It must be awful to live that way.

I'm curious about the third child? Why has he or she been excluded from your husband’s behaviors? And what is your relationship with this child?

I’m not sure why your husband is not clear on what you want from him. You say that despite counseling together and pleading with him to set boundaries with your children he is still fuzzy about what boundaries you want him to adhere to? Have you not been clear or is he playing dumb?

This issue is not as complicated as it seems. The most important thread of this mess that I’d like to untangle for you is that you are stuck in a victim mindset. I don’t say this to shame or scold you but rather to empower you to take ownership back over your own well-being.

You keep waiting, begging, pleading for your husband to set boundaries but where are your own personal boundaries? What is okay for you and not okay for you? And if your adult children or husband are regularly being disrespectful to you or treating you like a child, why are you putting up with it?

It’s true, you can’t change them, but you can change you.

The first change you can make is that you must move yourself from a victim mindset – (I am a victim of their problem and have been helpless to change anything) into ownership mindset – (what is MY problem here? What do I need to change in order to not be a victim anymore?).

Your problem in all of this is you don’t like the way you are being treated. You don’t like being treated like a child and bullied by your daughter. You don’t like your husband demeaning you in front of your children. You don’t like your husband involving your kids into your marriage relationship.

When we have an ownership mindset, instead of helplessly waiting or continuously begging for someone else to do something to change, we ask ourselves, what am I going to do about my problem(s)? Do you hear the difference?

As human beings, we all have choices to make and our choices have consequences. Over the course of your marriage, the consequences for you have been a loss of self-esteem and a loss of respect from your kids, not to mention the emotional, mental and physical stress you must experience day after day living in that kind of environment.

But what if you spoke up and said to your daughter, “I don’t like the way you are talking to me and I want you to stop it.” Yes, she might escalate, or not talk to you for a few days, but she also would begin to see you have boundaries. You are speaking up for yourself and not willing to be bullied or controlled any longer. And if you were consistent, and refused to engage in any conversation that was disrespectful or controlling, she might decide she has to change her tone if she wanted to have your help or input with anything.

What if you said to your husband, “I’m not going to tell you again what I want. I’ve told you for years. But if you continue to put our children into our marriage and degrade me, I am no longer able to share the bedroom with you or I will disengage myself from the conversation or I will get my own apartment.”

When you regularly behave like a helpless victim in the midst of someone’s mistreatment, they quickly learn that they get their way and there are no consequences for their bad behavior. Perhaps if you implemented negative consequences for their poor choices, they might make different choices in the way they treat you.

The second change you need to face is that you might not be living in reality. Healthy people live in truth, not in what they wish was true. If you speak up for yourself and tell your family that you don’t like the way they are treating you, you might discover that they don’t care about what you have to say or how you feel. If you leave the room or the house it may not matter to them.

If that’s true, what is your problem? Your problem is you are knocking yourself out to have a relationship with people who don’t care about you or want to have a healthy relationship with you.

A healthy relationship takes two people who mutually want to work at caring for one another’s needs and feelings. (tweet that)

If you are living with people who do not care about your feelings or needs and instead see you as someone who meets their needs and is an easy target for all of their own emotional vomit, what do you need to do?

I know this sounds awful, but love sometimes speaks some tough truths. The person who needs to care about you right now is you. God loves you. You are precious to Him. So is your family but he doesn’t want you to be treated this way and perhaps God is calling you to speak up for yourself not only for your welfare but also for theirs. When people treat others contemptuously and bully them around as if they are property they not only dehumanize and degrade you, they dehumanize and degrade themselves. As much as it depends on you, don’t allow it.

Instead of focusing all of your attention on what your family is doing “to” you, which is clearly sinful, do something new. To get unstuck from the victim mindset, ask yourself another question. Ask yourself what are my family’s action and attitudes doing “for” me. In other words, what does their behavior towards you teach you about you? About your relationship with them? About what you need to learn in order to get stronger? About your fear of speaking up, or your passivity in enabling them?

Your husband and kids are clearly sinning against you, but the only way through this mess is if you change; not keep wishing, hoping, or begging them to change. Changing you is now your challenge and your opportunity for growth. God wants to help you grow, get stronger, and be a God-centered, not a family-centered woman. Get some help for yourself to be able to do that instead of wasting time at the counselor’s office trying to get your husband to change.

Friends, what helped you to switch your thinking from helpless victim to responsible owner?

108 Comments

  1. Rosie on June 8, 2016 at 7:53 am

    I can relate to feeling helpless about my situation. I’m currently separated from a controlling & belittling husband. As time passes, I’m thinking clearer & becoming stronger. I wasn’t sure how to set boundaries & how to maintain them & it is a work in progress. I stumbled across some of Patrick Doyle’s YouTube videos. They have been helpful to me. He understands they dynamics of abuse & what to do about it. Listening to his videos has been very empowering for me to take that first step in the right direction. Here’s a link for one, although there’s good counsel in his other videos too.

    https://youtu.be/bi7IkucDXyE

    Journaling without editing has helped me too. As I write, I’m able to see patterns of my own enabling behavior & my perceptions of others behavior. Then I can see a little clearer to pray through some things & come up with a plan.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm

      As Rosie and others have said, educating yourself is one of the first steps of getting unstuck. The internet is a great resource to find answers for what’s going on and many of the resources shared here are spot on.

      • Susan on June 22, 2016 at 1:35 pm

        Educating myself and working on my own issues that have caused me to allow the emotional abuse have saved my life. I continue to educate myself and ask God to direct me to resources that build up my worth through what God says about me. Celebrate Recovery has been a safe place for me and I recommend it to anyone struggling with codependency.
        My favorite line in your answer, Leslie, is when you said… God wants to help you grow, get stronger, and be a God-centered, not a family-centered woman. So much truth in this statement!

        • Confused on July 19, 2016 at 1:43 am

          My husband told me that Jesus doesn’t divorce us and I need to mirror my life after Christ. How do I respond to this. I know Christ doesn’t leave us. That He loves us and died for us. I didn’t know what to say when he told me that. I feel he is manipulating the situation but I don’t have the words or enough education on this to make sense of it.

          • Valerie on July 21, 2016 at 4:14 pm

            Confused, Christ doesn’t divorce those who are His but not all are His. When we are truly in relationship with Him by making Him the Lord of our lives we don’t act consistently in a manner that would cause Him to distance Himself from us.

            It doesn’t sound like your husband is attempting to understand but rather to attempt to control you through word games. He is trying to debate to win, not to gain mutuality. If this is the case, no amount of reasoning will be effective because you can’t reason with an unreasonable person. It doesn’t sound like you have the same goals so attempting to work toward those goals will be futile.

            You have a sense that he is attempting to manipulate you and that you don’t have the same goals. You don’t need to verbally prove him wrong. The fact that you say you don’t feel you have the words or education to make sense of it seems to describe more of a him-against-me mindset rather than a partner. You don’t owe him an explanation when he is proving himself to be an unsafe person for you.

            He is asserting the importance to model our lives after Christ, so how is he doing in this department? Is he open to feedback? Again, I wouldn’t suggest trying to prove his hypocrisy because he isn’t looking to make things better from the way it sounds. I’m only pointing this out to help you stay grounded in the truth. In a healthy relationship (or even a difficult one) you don’t consistently question your sanity or feel a need to defend yourself. My 2 cents.



  2. Survivor on June 8, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Great question. And great response, Leslie. Thanks so much for addressing this one!!!!! I particularly like how you address “our problem” and is taking ownership rather than remaining a victim. I have heard SO MUCH about taking responsibility for myself–but usually from the perspective of people who thought that if I got things right enough I could somehow keep the fights from happening. Believe me: I tried everybody’s suggestions with gusto!!!! Knowing you can’t change another person makes one feel helpless, but I knew I could take responsibility for myself and make changes there……and if that would make our relationship better, then I was most certainly willing to do it!!!! And I did. But it made no difference. And nobody believed that I tried anything at all because “surely if I tried hard enough things would be better”. And since things were not better, that ‘obviously’ meant I hadn’t done my part……. Needless to say, I became very resistant to anyone who had anything to say about “my responsibility” in the situation…….until I came across how you address it!!!! Finding a way out of the victim position without taking on his responsibility has been life changing. There are those who believe that I am an awful person and that I refuse to look at myself, but God knows how much I have done and where my heart is and He is my Judge……not other people. That does not mean that the road is not lonely and painful, but it takes the confusion out of the equation………

    Thanks again, Leslie, for sharing your wisdom!!!!

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 12:17 pm

      You are welcome. And I love how you distinguished between taking responsibility for myself and my problem and taking responsibility for keeping the marriage alive. That is not your sole responsibility and it is soul crushing when you are trying to carry that load all by yourself.

    • A fellow survivor on June 21, 2016 at 12:15 pm

      Survivor,

      I agree with you and what you shared. Without knowing what you went through and without sharing my details I feel your words spoke about my life and my situation.

      I am so glad you shared this because it is hard listening to those that want to shame me for leaving a toxic situation without knowing what really went on.

      What happened was I started representing ME. I realized what I could do was to take care of me. I learned that setting boundaries and not allowing others to treat me in bad ways cost me some relationships but I would rather live without those that treat me that way and be happy than to struggle trying to “fix” something that I had no control over.

      Thank you, thank you THANK YOU for helping a stranger 🙂

      • Yearning to be desired again on July 1, 2016 at 12:39 am

        This is for anyone but you mentioned losing relationships and the children in the example are “adult” children. I have this situation, but while my oldest is technically an adult at 18 – she is still in high school. So I have 5 kids now who are like this with me, but I can’t give up a relationship with them (nor do I want to) and I can’t move away from them (nor do I want to) so how do we handle this when the kids are KIDS? Anyone know?

    • Pamela on June 21, 2016 at 4:36 pm

      Survivor– Wow! I agree w/Leslie and thank you so much for drawing the line between personal responsibility and the “impossible quest” many faith-based communities expect us to keep venturing out on when it comes to marriage.

      At the local DV shelter I found encouragement that defined the cycle that I was caught in but tended to leave me feeling as if my victim status was something to learn to cope with rather than change. Many Churches provide the opposite end of the spectrum and put the burden of the marriage on any one person who comes forward for help. Leslie was the only voice I was aware of who put her finger on that line between personal responsibility and the over-functioning I thought defined the core of what a godly woman was…

      • Survivor on June 21, 2016 at 7:16 pm

        Thank you, ladies! Always good to hear that my experience can help someone else. It took me 10 years to learn the difference between what was ACTUALLY my responsibility and the things that people around me wanted me to be responsible for. The book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend was fundamental in helping me to see that difference. I say this with caution because there are women who have been told that if they follow what they learn in this book it will fix their marriage!! Please know that I am not promoting that notion in any way!!!! It just helped me to stop trying to take responsibility for him and I became a healthier person and was able to see that a separation was necessary. It was not until I was able to see that the things I was being called on to fix were not my responsibility that I was able to see how toxic the relationship STILL was (he has been arrested for extreme physical violence and after the arrest it stopped. So then I thought it’s getting better And I need to stay……)
        We all need someone in our lives who can help us see the truth in these situations.

        A fellow survivor: you are welcome and blessings to you in your journey. I said a prayer for you today.

    • Susan on June 22, 2016 at 5:33 pm

      You are telling my story! It is helpful to be validated after feeling so crazy. I, too, stepped out of victim roll by taking responsibility for me and laying down the full responsibility to “fix my marriage”. It is a lonely and painful road but I see God’s blessings in how He is using me to help others. I choose to believe what God says about me these days rather than what someone else thinks. That is the safest place to be for my emotional stability!

    • Liza on July 13, 2016 at 10:44 am

      I am struggling tremendously in this area of my life right now and don’t know which way to turn. I have been married for 28 years to a husband whose behavior is emotionally abusive and controlling. We have two children together, one in college and one in high school, and I am scared to death of how my decisions about the future will impact them. He is a chronic liar and manipulator and repeatedly plays mind games with me to get what he wants. I can never depend on anything that he says and he justifies not following through with what he often says by citing circumstances that he claims are out of his control. He works very hard to control every aspect of my life including checking up on me several times a day all under the preface of taking care of me. If I respond in a way that doesn’t totally agree with him he says that I am being ugly or mean to him. I get little to no help with anything in regards to maintaining a home including upkeep and repairs. He controls almost all of the money decisions in our family and gives me little to no input in decisions that are made. If we need groceries he claims there is no money yet a week later went out and bought two horses for $800 and the next week spent almost $500 on a hobby. His financial behavior in personal finance and his business is shady at best and he often races to the banks to cover thousands of dollars in bad checks. He is negative in his words and actions the majority of the time. We have years ago attended counseling which was basically unproductive and When we finally stopped going he walked away with the totally false sense that the therapist was blaming me. The therapist at that time even noted in his presence that he seemed to take pleasure in making me upset. He exhibits the same type of mean behavior towards my children but most especially my daughter. He is not physically abusive but his words and actions create turmoil, chaos, conflict, and grief. Myself and my daughter are constantly made to feel like we are not good enough and do not perform well enough in things we do. I am at my wits end to say the least and am borderline suicidal. It is only my faith in God and the fear of the impact on my children that have prevented me from taking action to end my life. I desperately need out of this marriage but am scared to death that I will be outside of the will of God if I leave. I have literally DUG into the bible and on the Internet to find relief from my sadness, despair, and feelings of no hope but can’t seem to find a sense of peace. Your blog and articles have been about the only thing that I could find that gave me some sense of hope that this is not all my fault and that I am not crazy. I literally feel like I am losing my mind but from what I have read that seems to be a common outcome of emotional abuse. Being outside of the will of God scares me to death. But I desperately want out of this marriage and this toxic relationship. He has told me that he doesn’t believe in divorce and will never give me a divorce; so, I know if I leave it will be a challenge to say the least. I have struggled with several emotional breakdowns over the years because of all of these circumstances. My family (father and sisters) is extremely supportive of me and says that I should have left a long time ago. I just recently found out about additional lies he has told to family members and mistreatment towards them. He has never hit me but he has repeatedly badgered me over the years into doing things sexually that repulse me and says I should want to do those things because my goal should be to please him. This is his typically behavior in everything. If I don’t want to do something then persist until I give in. Every day of my life is an emotional battle. I have no interest in therapy or talking through the issues with him. I’ve tried. He manipulates the words to his favor and argues until i lose my focus. My sister has also asked the question of me how am I teaching my daughter on how she should be treated by a man if I continue to stay in this marriage. My whole family sees it and has been waiting for me to “wake up” and realize what he had been doing to me emotionally. Just from writing this, I feel like I am a bad wife and betraying him by telling what is going on. I just don’t know what to do. Will God forgive me if I leave my husband? That is my biggest concern at this point. WILL GOD FORGIVE ME IF I LEAVE MY HUSBAND? I am dying emotionally in this marriage.

      • Survivor on July 14, 2016 at 7:15 am

        Liza, from what you describe, I would say what Leslie so often says: It sounds like he has already broken the marriage.

        Search your own heart. What are your goals in leaving? For most women in your situation, it is simply to be safe and healthy. This is not a sin!!!!! I grew up in an extremely conservative setting and most of the people in that setting believe that i am sinning by separating from my husband. However, I have sought God in this matter and I have found that when I make it my goal to follow Him every step of the way, He is faithful to guide me every step of the way. He did not lead me to leave immediately, so I stayed put and waited. When He did lead me to leave, it was quite a sudden thing and I had to spring into action very quickly. But it was very plain and I have never doubted the wisdom of the decision regardless of what people have said to me.

        Dear one, seek His face and ask Him to guide you so that you don’t have to fear. At a time like this, you need the Rock solidly under your feet because the rest of the world, sadly, will fail us…….. Hugs, prayers, and blessings!!!!

      • Leslie Vernick on July 17, 2016 at 10:17 pm

        Please get some outside help for yourself right now. God hates what is happening to you and your daughter. It is not his will that you are treated this way – you are like prisoner of war, captured, silenced, and scared to break free. Go to a free women’s abuse group, join CONQUER or other group I run, do something for yourself to get some fresh air into your head so that the lies your husband is feeding you begin to be exposed. God will not be mad at you if you flee this abusive marriage. Contact a lawyer who can help you. Reach out for help now and do what you need to do for your daughter and you to be safe and eventually sane.

  3. Jennifer on June 8, 2016 at 9:09 am

    Leslie, thank you for this message. This is exactly what you did for years. I had a victim mentality and expected someone to right the wrong. I had been to counseling, but nobody said these things to me. I wish they had. I am now divorced and in my own place. I took ownership and am much better off. I hope to teach my own kids this lesson that I had to learn the hard way.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 12:19 pm

      Yes too often counselors sit with you in your pain and validate your right to have it (which is crucial) but they don’t help you to identify your problem so that you can move out of your pain.

  4. Penny on June 8, 2016 at 10:16 am

    Thank you Leslie! Instead of repeated failure and hopelessness, it seems clear that these dehumanizing behaviors in our families are exposed for what they are over time. God is at work, He is reminding us that this pattern doesn’t work! It brings Him no glory, it does us nor those around us any good! He is actually helping us grow by exposing these very damaging messages. It is akin to unwrapping the infected wound which stinks! Of course we do not want it covered up again with an attractive bandage. Please disinfect and get to the bottom of the trouble! Lord help us! He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Is. 40:29. The only way out is THROUGH, and I can be an active part of that process in spite of those around me.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 12:20 pm

      Yes, exactly.

    • Nancy on June 21, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Thank you Penny. True words of life to me today-Exactly what I needed to hear.

  5. Holly on June 8, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Wow, loved this. I completely agree and can relate to the issue of perspective and how it dictates how we see and feel about our own situation. One mindset is empowering, the other crazy-making. I love Leslie’s advice about taking ownership of our own problems instead of holding onto a victim mentality. It truly makes all the difference! For me, it just got to the point one day where I knew I was either going to leave or I was going to go crazy. I chose to leave and have never regretted that decision. Yes, I tried talking, repeated counseling, pleading with him…but my life changed for the better when I made the decision to pursue a whole, healthy life, whether or not my husband decided to pursue it. I’m still walking through that now, each day choosing to take ownership of my life. It’s hard and scary but SO worth it.

    • Daisy on June 8, 2016 at 10:48 am

      Holly, I think you are right. Sometimes, we try to do the “right” thing (taking ownership, setting boundaries, telling the other person you will not talk to them if they are disrespectful). The goal of all that is good – that they will see what they are doing and change to have a positive relationship. However, just because we set those boundaries and address these issues with our husband or kids doesn’t mean they are going to magically say, “Oh my gosh, you are right. I am disrespectful. I will be polite from now on.” Often, we do what we can (ie: take ownership of it), but sometimes our boundaries are not enough and in the end, we still end up leaving. It’s good to try those suggestions, but I’m saying, they aren’t a magical cure. (I know that sounds negative and depressing, but it’s true. Boundaries can be set, but it’s not a guarantee they will be followed. We may need a follow up plan that may involve divorce or separation).

      • suzanne on June 10, 2016 at 12:43 am

        Daisy, thanks for bringing up this point. i too use boundaries and approach problems directly and logically. Yet, my abuser escalates his abuse at every turn. I understand the suggestions, yet with many they will growl louder and louder and become physical or disturbingly more and more evil with each attempt to address them. I remember something Lundy wrote which indicated, “He is fine with anger, as long as it is not your anger.” I would extend this in my life to any just criticism or slight remark on any subject he disagrees with.

        • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 12:29 pm

          OK then Suzanne, what is YOUR problem here and how will you solve your problem? Perhaps you need to make a plan to leave this relationship if his anger is escalating at every turn. YOUR problem is you are not safe and so now what are YOU going to do about YOUR problem?

          • suzanne on June 11, 2016 at 1:36 am

            Great food for thought. I have done many things for my problem of living with an abusive person. (education, counseling, restraining orders, separation, pastoral counseling, time out contracts, etc..) Short of leaving there is no solution.

            Yet, I like the money and my house. I like the social standing i hold and the role of happy healthy, christian family. I keep the secret, because it is of great benefit to me and my extended family to do so.

            I separate myself emotionally, read his issues and wait it out. I have so much fun in live. The seize the day, run, work, travel and live to the fullest despite the frequent and regular episodes of abuse.

            So what to do about my problem. Trying yet another counselor in attempt to find someone brave enough to hold him accountable and not be brainwashed into his perspective. Thousand and thousands of dollars spent as he switches tactics and snows over another counselor. The men’s abuse group he is in now, just asked him to join the board! Smooth talker, remarkable ability to distort and retort. So, once again, short of leaving, no real solution to my problem.

            I do travel as much as possible, work late, do as much apart as i can to stay strong. As Patrick Doyle says, it usually only take 2 weeks before an abused woman start to think clearly and get her energy back. I take every break from him that I can, even just an hour or two to charge my batteries and stay strong.



      • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 12:26 pm

        So true Daisy, but in a healthy relationship when when you say to someone “That’s not okay with me” they respect that. They adjust or modify their behavior. In an unhealthy relationship you’re supposed to do all the accommodating or adjusting or enduring to your own peril. If someone repeatedly refuses to respect your boundaries, then your problem is you are living with people who are your enemies. Now What? Can you love your enemies? Yes, but only from a distance. It’s tough to live with your enemies in a way that does not destroy you.

        • Daisy on June 10, 2016 at 1:08 pm

          Very good, Leslie. I think I’ve internalized all those feelings and had a reaction similar to, “I guess I’m not good enough” because I’ve always been teased, made fun of, and disrespected. So, maybe I see myself as the problem, not good enough, etc instead of understanding it for what it is – an unhealthy relationship.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      So glad you’ve recognized how important your mindset is and only YOU have control of your own mindset.

      • Sal24 on June 21, 2016 at 10:51 am

        Leslie, Please illiustrate what staying well looks like in Daisys situation. Isn’t she staying well?

        • Sal24 on June 21, 2016 at 10:54 am

          Actually I am referring to Suzannes story. It seems Suzanne is staying well and using her core.

  6. Johanna on June 8, 2016 at 10:37 am

    What happens after you move out? What should be the expecation? That’s where I’m at. Recent new marriage of only a couple years. Husband started showing more anger, decided to push me around a bit so we moved out. My older kids don’t care for him now and we have a baby together. We’d like for things to work out, but I will not be in a relationship and be bullied. Not sure which steps to take now..

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      I would ask you what is he doing about HIS problem of anger and how he handles HIS anger? If he isn’t doing anything actively to OWN HIS problem then your next step is to stay separated for your and your children’s safety until he takes ownership of HIS problem and gets help for HIS problem. YOUR problem is you don’t want to go back to a marriage where you are pushed around when he gets angry. Therefore reconciliation is not possible until there is acknowledgement and ownership of HIS problem, and a faithful desire and action to work on changing his anger habits.

      • Johanna on June 21, 2016 at 10:59 am

        Thank you, Leslie. Since I left this comment, he has owned his problem and has enrolled in a program to deal with his anger issues. I let him know that the relationship would not move forward unless he dealt with his anger problems and I see real changes in him. If that happens, then we might try marriage counseling .

  7. Leonie on June 8, 2016 at 10:46 am

    Thanks for speaking truth to us Leslie!

  8. Pat on June 8, 2016 at 10:51 am

    This is very strong n true. I am in a similar situation. I felt the exact way u felt. The emotional-physical boundaries were broken n I was broken. Like u did I too took my husband whom I am married to for 30 years. I prayed for him on him with him. Ofcourse God gave me strength to make changes… He cannot change because he is incapable of it. No empathy grandiose. No boundaries etc. I stopped sharing the bedroom n began taking good care of myself. Studied – do things I like to do in life.. Discovering more about myself.Met friends . I turned to be a stronger woman not enabling any of his behaviors. Life changed for me from my own prison to freedom. I do not expect anything from my husband. He is calmed like a sheep. I am now strong n ready for the next step that God wants me to take
    Be strong do not fear. The dogs that bark dont bit you. They are scared God Bless you

  9. shelly on June 8, 2016 at 11:09 am

    Leslie, thank you for your wisdom. I feel for this dear woman, as my situation was very similar to hers, just five years ago. I have been separated now for nearly 4 years, and it has been a long and difficult journey. However, I have had friends say to me over the past year or two “I can see so much change in you. You are so much stronger now”. There were a number of things that helped me. Coming across Leslie’s website was one of the building blocks of recovery. Listening to Patrick Doyle’s talks over and over were very helpful to me. When you’ve been brainwashed to believe the image of yourself reflected from a controlling spouse, it takes hours and hours of truth from a number of sources to begin to undo the wrong thinking. I journaled constantly, and transcribed conversations with my spouse so that I could begin to see the patterns of manipulation and find the places where I had been distracted or led down rabbit trails, or lied to. Don’t believe your husband when he tells you that he is not clear on what the boundaries are with your children. He knows exactly what he is doing. He just does not want to yield the power that he gains from enlisting the children against you. One day you will see even more clearly how very sinful it is to have one parent align with a child against the other parent. Right now it is your reality. Triangulation is a common characteristic of dysfunctional families. You have probably become isolated. You are loyal to your family, and love them, and you have likely wanted to protect and honor your husband. However, you are going to have to find women friends to share your struggles with. Another loving human being who tells you you are not wrong, or crazy, or imagining things is so important. Don’t hesitate to develop those friendships – you have no allies in your own home and so you need them outside. And be patient with yourself. This will take time. If the children have been trained through example to discount your opinions and devalue you, you may have to go through a period of time when it seems they could care less whether you are in their lives or not. Like Leslie says, living in reality can be painful, but its where we need to be. Your best opportunity to positively influence your children is if they respect you. And if they aren’t used to that, they won’t like it when you start to expect it. Don’t be afraid of their reaction. (Easier said than done, I know). That reaction can last a long time. You are hanging on to the thread of what you have because you are afraid you will lose them forever. However, what you have right now is not healthy for you or for them. Taking ownership and responsibility for your own life is scary and feels “sinful”, but Leslie is so right – it is the only way forward. Cling to the Lord – seek His wisdom and His presence and His guidance every moment of every day. He is your loving Husband!

    • Aleea on June 12, 2016 at 6:16 am

      “Taking ownership and responsibility for your own life is scary and feels “sinful”, . . . .”

      . . . . “feels “sinful”, . . . “ —Wow, that is a very good insight. . . .No wonder it “feels” “sinful” . . . . For close to two thousand years of Christianity: fidelity, fidelity, fidelity was the score, the rest were called “heretics” (from the Greek, hairesis, “a taking or choosing, a choice”). Heresies are any deviations, and this came to mean “thoughtcrime,” implying it was blasphemy to presume to choose instead of swallowing what the church spoonfed us.

      Jesus is about radical, sweeping, power structure disrupting, encompassing empowerment. In a power structure by men, for men (the church) there are few things more dangerous than empowerment. But the search for truth takes you where the evidence leads you, even if, at first, you don’t want to go there. Do what the Holy Spirit speaks to your heart, much of the rest comes from the past. The victim mindset dilutes ―But, as Brené Brown says: “If you own your story you get to write the ending.” . . . Yes, it “feels “sinful” but that has to do with the past and we certainly should not guide our lives by feelings. . . . .Orthodoxy is my doxy and heterodoxy is your doxy, . . . hmmm, no snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible, right? . . . It is like all hate is the result of people refusing to take responsibility for their own lives. It is only when you take responsibility for your life that you discover how powerful you truly are. . . yes, yes . . . yes, I’m trying to convince myself to do that way more often too.

    • Michellle on June 21, 2016 at 12:49 pm

      I can so relate to the dysfunctional effects of triangulation in a family. It is a very lonely place. I did play the victim role for the last few years of my marriage and harbored a lot of anger towards my former spouse. I felt like my role was of was reduced to a housekeeper .I felt relegated to meet their needs while mine were not. I was teased, made fun of and criticized. I ate my way through the last few years of my marriage. I was a mess as I had tied my self esteem and worth to them. He is an alcoholic and sexual addict and he manipulated my misery and made me feel totally crazy. Three years after the divorce,, he still tries to manipulate me. However, I have control over my life. It was not easy and It involved a lot of therapy and placing my trust in God and myself. I work out, lost weight, and have friends that I can talk through my struggles. I will not say my relationship with my older child who is in her 20’s now is perfect but I think that she has begun to recognize that he has issues. It also involved separating from her as well as I refused for her to treat me with disrespect. Realizing I have no power over other’s behaviors has empowered me and is a game changer. in how “I” interact with them.

  10. Aleea on June 8, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    “. . . . God wants to help you grow, get stronger, and be a God-centered, not a family-centered woman.” . . . . . ―Oh my, that is such a beautiful statement. Only work on changing yourself. If people see your changes that can often galvanize them into change. Four total lies: ―I am not enough; ―Love equals pain; ―My world is not a safe place; ―I am powerless.

    >“Friends, what helped you to switch your thinking from helpless victim to responsible owner?” . . . . . ―well, I know, for me, when I have a victim mentality it is because I have forgotten to see the blessings of the day. Because of this, my spirit is poisoned instead of nourished. I choose what type of person I will be and what type of impact I will leave on others. I try to never choose the destructive path of self and outward victimization but I still do it at times. . . . . ―But when I do, I always analyze what I am getting by doing that. . . . . .And then comes repentance and asking forgiveness and compassion. Compassion is such a healing force and comes from a place of kindness towards myself. ―But, there is a fine line between compassion and a victim mentality. Playing the victim is a toxic waste of time that not only repels other people (―big time), but also robs me of ever knowing true happiness. I know I have the idea at times that I don’t deserve to be happy, but amazingly, that baseless victimhood is usually the last stage before outright verbal aggression. ―So, I use it as a warning signal.

    “If you are living with people who do not care about your feelings or needs and instead see you as someone who meets their needs and is an easy target for all of their own emotional vomit, what do you need to do?” . . . . . . . As always, I don’t “know” but I would suggest the first step in the acquisition of wisdom is silence before God and asking Him to give us real wisdom, the second is listening (―the emotional vomit may be the key to unmet needs), next would be teaching each other how to meet our needs. . . . . And I bet the “needs” aren’t even the real “needs” once the defense mechanisms come down. . . . . For example, people reject what they do not understand because it makes them feel small. They would rather believe in some other reality, even if it is only an illusion, so long as it makes them feel bigger. Always share your personal goals and objectives for yourself with your family so others know what you are trying to do. (―Does not apply if you have decided you need to leave someone.)

    “When people treat others contemptuously and bully them around as if they are property they not only dehumanize and degrade you, they dehumanize and degrade themselves. As much as it depends on you, don’t allow it.” . . . . I think this is an excellent point and can’t be emphasized enough. . . . .You know what? The war against dehumanization is ceaseless and far bigger than just families. Institutionalized rejection of difference is an absolute necessity in a profit economy which needs outsiders as surplus people. Dehumanization, is a concrete historical fact, period. . . . . But at the personal level: If you don’t love yourself, you won’t be happy with yourself. If you can’t love yourself, you can’t love anyone else. You can’t give the love you do not have. You can’t make anyone love you without loving yourself first. . . . . For me, the claim that I believe in God is nothing but a lie if it is not manifest in my life, because I only believe in God insofar as I really love and hate to see all this loneliness, and broken hearts and lack of fulfillment in the lives of others (―Oh, that so pains me so). . . . Categorizing people via their symptoms is a reductionist and violent act that allows for dehumanization and lack of empathy. It allows us to distance ourselves from others, and to temporarily avoid those parts of ourselves that we most fear. All of us have serious defenses, and the game of “thank God I’m not like them” is evidence of one of them. . . .This does not mean for one minute that we trust those who cavalierly destroy those around them if it suits their purpose. I hate reality because it is so, so harsh BUT reality is always the way to go and acceptance is the only way to get there. . . . Anyways, don’t degrade your soul to the extent of believing in his curses. No one can curse you except your maker. But also realize you cannot change someone using fear, degradation, humiliation, or by comparing them to others. It can only be done through love, with love, for love (for God) while you are changing yourself.

  11. Sunshine. on June 8, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Someone on this blog gave a Patrick Doyle reference. I looked it up. I watched one video and knew that I was on the right track. He spoke about a victim mindset. He gave qualities of a survivor then a victim. I was so ashamed to realize that I have the victim mind. I wanted to change it. I am changing it. When my husband started spewing about me being crazy, I didn’t take it personally. I decided that I could do something about it. I could be proactive. I don’t need to feel guilty for declaring that I will not stand and listen to my spouse speak down to me and speak ill of me to others. I can choose to cut close ties with him. There is no way I can make him treat me better all the time but I can choose to limit time with someone who loves me out of one side of his mouth and declares that I am unhealthy, unstable, crazy and awful from the other side.

    • Lonelywife 07 on June 8, 2016 at 11:31 pm

      No shame allowed here, Sunshine,says!!! We are all a work in process and we’ve all made mistakes…buy its only forward from here on out!! 😀

    • Aleea on June 9, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      “I can choose to limit time with someone who loves me out of one side of his mouth and declares that I am unhealthy, unstable, crazy and awful from the other side.” . . . . . Exactly!!! —But let them know why too, always invite people to change.

      . . . . Oh, and I want to make a point about Leslie’s quote above re: “When people treat others contemptuously and bully them around as if they are property they not only dehumanize and degrade you, they dehumanize and degrade themselves. As much as it depends on you, don’t allow it.”. . . . .Again, I think it is very important to realize that we can’t objectify others without objectifying ourselves. It is total lose-lose (re: All the pain of being treated like a mere object; depersonalized; etc.) . . . . 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, that is objectifying, ourselves.)

      Society is the repressed sex drives of men, the objectification of women, everyone’s paranoia, the posturing, the denial, the ego stances, the beauty standard, it’s all just one charade masking a never ending mess. . . . . All I know is that Jesus came into the world to make marginalized and objectified women really alive (—real life)! —Obviously applies to men too but when power is balanced you get less abuse, period.

      Also, different topic, but if the public discourse were really concerned with women’s health, it would turn angrily upon all aspects of even things like the beauty myth. Modern cosmetic surgeons have huge direct financial interests in a social role for women that requires them to feel ugly. They do not simply advertise for a share of a market that already exists: Their advertisements create huge new markets. The surgeons’ market is imaginary, since there is nothing wrong with women’s faces or bodies that social change won’t cure; so the surgeons depend for their income on warping female self-perception and multiplying female self-hatred. . . . . .Psychoanalysis shows far too many women don’t even realize they are feeling this way and it’s a very subconscious thing. This is what happens when we attach our identity and sense of worth to something other than Christ. I do not wish less power for men; but over myself and my thoughts. . . . Yeah, society may think they can make convenient slaves, but slavery will have its constant horrible effects, totally degrading the “master” and the abject dependent. The first point again: 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.

    • suzanne on June 11, 2016 at 1:19 am

      Sunshine, I do a similar thing. I remove myself from the relationship emotionally, and psychologically. I look for any opportunity to work late, travel or choose to be somewhere else. This helps me regroup and remain strong as I endure. I choose my emotions and my attitude. When my abuser speaks, I listen, yet quickly he digresses into one of his control behaviors. It becomes easier and easier to pick out. Once I recognize it, it is like a billow of useless hot air. I seek relationship with friends, colleagues and faith based activities.

      • jm on June 21, 2016 at 8:41 am

        Hi Suzanne,
        I’m saying this with all respect…how has handling things the way you have been changed anything ? I know personally the abuser only stops when you’ve had enough & you ask God for the courage to confront him yourself. Go to the necessary people God shows you will help & ask them for help. Your husband will not stop because another man confront s him. Things will change when he sees you are no longer afraid & will no longer enable him.
        The only thing it seems you are doing is learning how to numb yourself & turn to others things to do what God designed your marriage for….a safe place of rest where we can wrestle with the issues in our hearts.
        I don’t know you, but I am very sorry that you are going through this. God loves you so much & wants your marriage to be the best relationship you have on this earth next to your relationship with Him. I will pray for uou first….that you will meet intimately with the Lord your Healer & that He will open your eyess, flood your body with light & give you the courage to bring the darkness into the light. I will pray also that God will show you who your helpers are & uou will go to th for help & that together yiu can confront your husband & he know it’s time for him to change or there are consequences.
        If you are content in staying married for all the benefits – the ones you listed in prior posts, you then you’re not broken enough & ready yet .

        • suzanne on June 23, 2016 at 11:31 pm

          jm, Thanks for your comment. You have got me thinking. I would love a people helper! Thanks for the prayers. My husband has hoodwinked every professional that has come our way. He is smooth.

  12. Esther on June 8, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Pain.

  13. Michelle on June 8, 2016 at 8:12 pm

    I believe the moment I began to shift away from a victim mindset, was when I went to journal but looked at past entries and saw myself repeating the same question – Why God? Why do I have to stay married to this man? Why God are you doing this to me? – and I heard… “The greatest gift I give Man is choice. ”
    I became still as my mind expanded and in that moment I realized – I HAD CHOSEN THIS.

  14. Jane on June 9, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    This is so helpful and something God has been challenging me on over the last few weeks. It is SO freeing to take charge of one’s life. I have lived so much of my life feeling like my perspective wasn’t valid because no one cared about it or what I was experiencing. But God does care. And He gave me a mind and a will of my own. He even wants me to use them. Sometimes we pray and pray for God to free us and then we suddenly realize all the while He was wanting us to stand up and act. To stand up for what is right, even to defend oneself as a person of worth before Him. Empowerment is a new hope and a new healing in Christ and I am thankful for what it is creating in me. 🙂 Even though VERY hard.

    • Aleea on June 10, 2016 at 11:20 am

      “. . . . even to defend oneself as a person of worth before Him. Empowerment is a new hope and a new healing in Christ and I am thankful for what it is creating in me.” . . . . Wow, good for you Jane!!! . . . . And Jane, don’t underestimate yourself if you have the Holy Spirit of the Living God. . . . It should be your Light not any darkness that should most frighten you. Jesus is about radical, sweeping, encompassing empowerment. Your deepest fear should never be that you are inadequate. Your deepest fear should be that you are powerful beyond measure. It is the light of Christ in our hearts, not our old sin nature that should most frighten us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be cherished, who am I to have real affection, who am I to be treated like a precious treasure, who am I to be really loved? —Actually, who are you not to be? If you truly belong to the Lord, then you are a champion eternal. A daughter of the Living Light. A person of the highest caliber. You are a child of God. God wants you so close to Him that you are radiating His glory. . . . . And there are no speed limits on the road to holiness. . . . .NO speed limits exist on the road to Godliness. God always lets me go as fast as I want on that road. Self-seeking is the road by which I always depart from peace & real life; abandonment to the will of God (-even if I can’t see but one small step ahead clearly), that’s the road by which His peace returns.

  15. Kathy on June 10, 2016 at 10:11 pm

    This topic was so helpful—thank you Leslie. My victim mentality was deeply ingrained in me through childhood circumstances, then reinforced/perpetuated in the denomination I was a part of for many years as a divorced mom. Although overtly it looked like I was trying not to be the victim, internally I maintained the victim mindset for many years. I knew something was wrong but couldn’t put my finger on it. I kept praying that God would renew my mind— it took a while to realize I was so off track in my thinking! I’ve taken some big steps, but I have to examine the way I respond to subtle little incidents —and realize I do not have to respond as a helpless victim,stuck in a situation without a voice or choice. Just because someone would like to control me, does not mean it is right. Knowing that God gave me a clear mind and that he wants me to use it, helps me with discernment in these situations and empowers me.

    • Aleea on June 11, 2016 at 7:31 am

      “. . . Although overtly it looked like I was trying not to be the victim, internally I maintained the victim mindset for many years. I knew something was wrong but couldn’t put my finger on it.”

      . . . .In counseling (—you may already know this —or your issues are already solved) we are always doing these “becauses.” . . . .It may come down to answering questions like this: “I want to be a victim because. . . “ “ . . . I like giving my power away to other people because. . . “ Kathy, whatever those “becauses” are, you then because those “becauses” until you get down to the reasons. . . . We cannot make these behaviors go away, no matter how much we “TRY” —we have to see what the root cause/ “benefit” is, and heal that in Christ. We cannot just say: “Today is a new day. Don’t let your history interfere with your destiny! Let today be the day you stop being a victim of your circumstances and start taking action towards the life in Christ you want.” Unless we identify the causes (“payoffs,” —whys), then the true “cure” eludes us. . . . . For me, it is giving up defenses (—and I have dozens) used since childhood—the denial of the emotional impact of my losses—playing the victim so as to be rescued and avoid responsibility. For me, it is exposing the memories and emotional pain that the defenses have hidden.

      It is really Christ-centered brain reorganization. If an established brain network is blocked, then older networks (—and who knows what is really going on, we are so primitive) in place long before the established one, must be used. So the “becauses” get to the payoff and this “un-masking” of older neuronal paths. Regression in analysis at a neuronal level is, I believe (—but I don’t know), an instance of unmasking, which often precedes psychological reorganization. For me, this disconnect from the true source of Love occurs out of some form of protection/ payoff/ non-repentance/ ignorance/ not-knowing, et.al. in fullness. ( i.e.: “Forgive them Father for they know not what they are doing.”) . . . Anyways, that is what they do with me in counseling. Who knows what the right approach is but I think it is helpful to see that I am not a victim. No matter what I have been through, I’m still here. It’s my responsibility to stand on victorious ground and know that whatever it is I’m experiencing or going through, those are just the clouds rolling by while I stand here on the top of this mountain (—Obviously, I don’t always believe all my talk or I would have no problems . . .but Aleea could do well just taking the advice of Aleea!) because I have some history of victory.

      So, we so, so need to fight these battles in the arena of our minds. —Otherwise, persecution becomes inevitable, inescapable. —And once you get into the victim mindset, you’re done. The abusers don’t even need to hurt you now; your poor, warped, pathetic brain is doing more than half the work for them. . . . I’m seriously praying for you!

      —Oh, and for me, those “becauses” . . . . what do I get? That victimhood gives me a great —false— sense of moral superiority and entitles me to unquestioning sympathy while exempting me from examining all my actions. As a victim, I am utterly devoid of responsibility or blame. This, of course, leaves us vulnerable as we will carry on engaging in precisely the behaviour which provoked an unacceptable response. The world is NOT responsible for me and will NEVER do anything to better my quality of life in Christ. . . . So, the victim mentality only creates helplessness, the most maddening, miserable and upsetting of mental states. —In fact, it is commonly reported that nothing triggers madness like a sense of helplessness because it is a cousin of paranoia. This is a warped, twisted mentality that offers no real benefits (—find the supposed benefits, so you can see them for what they are) and, —MOST importantly, realize they are manifestly false and un-Christlike.

  16. Hannah on June 11, 2016 at 12:38 am
  17. Jane on June 11, 2016 at 1:44 am

    Thanks Aleea,
    Love your conveying of ideas here. 🙂 So so rich….

    • Aleea on June 11, 2016 at 4:29 pm

      Thanks Jane 🙂

  18. Aleea on June 11, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    Kathy. . . .Sometimes I don’t get to re-read what I am writing at light speed. . . . .This statement “. . . .—And once you get into the victim mindset, you’re done. The abusers don’t even need to hurt you now; your poor, warped, pathetic brain is doing more than half the work for them. . . . I’m seriously praying for you!” sounds arrogant and condensening. I was trying to say: . . . . —And once WE get into that victim mindset, WE are done. The abusers don’t even need to hurt US now; OUR poor, warped brain is doing more than half the work for them. . . . . I’m seriously praying for you, and everyone and especially my broken self!” . . . . . . . Our brains renew themselves throughout life to an extent previously thought not possible —so, pushing our self past our boundaries of limitation, off our comfort zones, creates new neuro pathways within our brain, —more clarity. . . . . The victim mindset will have us dancing with the devil, then complaining that we are in hell. —And I so easily forget about “who I am” in Christ and that God is in control. We tend to ignore or forget, or attempt to discredit, information that does not match our beliefs, or perception of the world, because it is very distressing and difficult to think and perceive in unfamiliar ways . . . —But, I think this is so often about turning our ghosts into ancestors. We are often haunted by important relationships from the past that influence us unconsciously in the present. As we work them through, they go from haunting us to becoming simply part of our history. We see with our brains, not with our eyes.

  19. Robin on June 12, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    Aleeah, power words you speak. Can you share some of how you have worked this out in your own life?? I learn better by hearing others life stories, rather than just words not applied. Thank you!!

    • Aleea on June 12, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      Robin,
      Certainly and thank you for asking. —I appreciate that! . . . I would say the two main things in the last year (re: empowerment and taking ownership and responsibility for my own life) have been: #1) entering counseling about a year ago (—at first it was easy but then we got down to the real abuse issues and it has gotten very hard) and then six months ago #2) going no contact with my abusive mother. —That was a nightmare of backlash from her. Dr. Meier had really warned me but I was not ready for everything from certified letters to threatening phone messages night after night. Her constantly showing up unannounced. Calls to mutual family members denying, twisting, et.al. —Anyways, I would like to file a cause of action against my mother for the mental distress and damage of all that childhood abuse but the tort law statutes are basically five years from when you become an adult unless you only “knew” later and I have always known. Anyways, those tort actions are really hard to press. . . . .Heck, even a simple restraining order against her needs to show potential for irreparable harm with a balance statute (—you know, balancing her right to protected speech, etc.) that I can’t meet currently with regards to her. I could go the trespass route but I don’t think I have enough to file anything. . . . Anyways, I made the mistake of sending her a mother’s day card and gift (—I don’t know what I was thinking. —I wasn’t thinking, it is a habit from all the past years. I should have discussed it with my counselor or asked someone here). I guess I am too proud to ask for help at times. . . . But now even things with my counselor have really gotten hectic. As we break down further resistance —beyond my childhood abuse issues, she is starting to have issues with my deeper issues (—I have lots of Bible-based doubt issues.) . . . .Robin, I don’t think she can deal with the questions I have internally. She looks really shocked when I tell her facts, evidence, my reasoning and my thinking. I try to keep the issues on my deeper concerns of breaking down defense mechanisms and understanding the reasons for all the doubts (—the reasons behind the issues) but she always wants to know my reasoning and then it throws her. All these Christian doctrines are like pills, they are fine if you swallow them whole but if you chew on them, especially in light of what scholars have learned in the last 275 years of biblical research, archaeology, manuscript finds. . . . Well, it is a total mess. More than this, her husband is now an atheist so you know she is now super sensitive. I need someone who can help me reason, is sincerely willing to go through this struggle of faith with me. Someone willing to question, probe, et.al. and also realizing that the “problems” are not always the problems. That is not her, not right now and so I guess I need to find another counselor for the rest of the journey. . . .So, I need to take action on that. That is one area where I need to take ownership and responsibility but have not yet. I need a psychologist who can also do pyro-theology. . . . because it is only as we submit our spiritual and dogmatic affirmations to the flames of fearless interrogation that we come into contact with the reality that Christianity is in the business of transforming our world rather than offering a way of interpreting or escaping it. In other words, belief in the resurrection means participation in insurrection (—like we do when we fight abuse wherever it is found!) Thank you for that question Robin. I needed to confront that.

  20. Robin on June 13, 2016 at 1:11 am

    My counselor has told me several times Aleea, we need different people helpers in our lives as we move from one level unto the next one. I have found that to be very true. I have never made the progress I am now with this counselor, and I very much believe we must seek out the right person that can help us where we are today.

  21. Robin on June 13, 2016 at 1:18 am

    I am also working thru very difficult issues from an abusive mother and it seems exactly what you said- the deeper issues cause even more deeper and it gets confusing for both of us. She keeps saying we have layers and layers to work thru, one at a time……..

  22. Aleea on June 13, 2016 at 12:37 pm

    Robin,

    “. . . . we need different people helpers in our lives as we move from one level unto the next one. I have found that to be very true.” . . . . —So, so true. I am sure that is even more correct than I realize but after working with my counselor for well over a year on the childhood abuse issue, I just feel so, so comfortable with her. . . . but that will now not move me forward. I know. “. . . . we must seek out the right person that can help us where we are today.” —I agree with that too. . . . I know we are to look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else. . . . But I don’t feel very equipped. I had a meeting with one counselor and she told me that “. . . . In my early professional years I was asking the question: How can I treat, or cure, or change this person? Now I would phrase the question in this way: How can I provide a relationship which this person may use for his own personal growth?” —Wow, I thought that is really good.

    “. . . I am also working thru very difficult issues from an abusive mother and it seems exactly what you said- the deeper issues cause even more deeper and it gets confusing for both of us. She keeps saying we have layers and layers to work thru, one at a time……..” . . . . —Oh my, I am sure there are all those layers. . . . The most effective weapon a parent has to control a child is the withdrawal of love or its threat. A young child between the ages of three and six is just too dependent on parental love and approval to resist this pressure. My mother beat me into submission, but it was the loss of my father’s love that devastated me. In its place I developed feelings of guilt about everything and fear of authority figures. I know you know this but the whole process paralyzes and unfortunately, there is no expiration date on grief. . . . . But, the acknowledgement of having suffered this evil is the greatest step forward. . . . There were nights when I left the sessions so physically and emotionally drained. . . . I never had a childhood. Not like the rest of them anyway. I had a starting point from which I have never stopped running. . . It is so hard, as you know, you have to be the sort of person who can turn around when you have nothing left, and find that little bit extra inside you to keep going.

  23. Robin on June 13, 2016 at 2:52 pm

    Aleea, I can relate to all of what u said. The greatest comfort for me when I walk out of those sessions in a pile—— is waiting a few days and seeing a tiny bit of truth own me. I would never say it’s comfortable, but my pain in childhood had to be stuffed so deeply – I wasn’t really a person. I was frozen and did what my religion told me to do. It is a relief weekly to feel some feelings I’ve never known. I feel like a young child, who just got told she was going to Disneyland as the grief rolls off me and I understand further it wasn’t my fault- I feel like I’m on vacation in a wonderful place I’ve never visited.

    • Aleea on June 13, 2016 at 8:07 pm

      Robin,

      “. . . The greatest comfort for me when I walk out of those sessions in a pile—— is waiting a few days and seeing a tiny bit of truth own me.” . . . . Oh, I totally agree with that. . . . .You know what? . . . . There’s a reason why many people feel most loved and cared for in the therapist’s or counselor’s office: few people ask us questions as well as they do, with the interest that they do.

      . . . And we should consider deprofessionalizing that task, though, and restore it to the context of friendship and mentorship where it originally belonged!!!

      “. . . my pain in childhood had to be stuffed so deeply – I wasn’t really a person. I was frozen and did what my religion told me to do.” . . . . That so breaks my heart. Mind control is built on lies and manipulation of attachment needs. How do we find words for describing levels of betrayal and emotional, physical and spiritual torture that fragment and destroy a child and cause traumatic shadows over the whole of adult life?

      “It is a relief weekly to feel some feelings I’ve never known. I feel like a young child, who just got told she was going to Disneyland as the grief rolls off me and I understand further it wasn’t my fault- I feel like I’m on vacation in a wonderful place I’ve never visited.” . . . . . Absolutely!!! When you are no longer afraid is when you can be yourself and love that little child (you) . . . As an adult you can fully love her. So never forget to give her lots of hugs, love and care. . . . I also believe that psychoanalysis has at bottom the goal to create a space within oneself in which God’s voice can be heard! Yes, the past is alive in the present but the future is alive in the present too!!!

  24. Stuck (I think!) on June 14, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Leslie,
    I think I may be stuck (?). My husband had a 2 yr affair and was caught. Confessed then and says he wants to stay married to me to honor commitment but does not want to be close to me. So no affection jus very nice to me. He says he lost feelings for me due to my years of disrespect and control which I’ve confessed to him and God. Sex has stopped (my boundary) but Im waiting and praying for God to change his heart. My counselor says I have 2 choices. Leave or stay and learn to live like this. I try choice 2 but I erupt every 2 weeks trying to talk him into trying to start new. He says he just can’t but that he still loves me just can’t pursue me or try to make this work. It’s the same conversation over and over again. Help!

    • Leslie Vernick on June 15, 2016 at 9:57 am

      I think your counselor is right and if you can’t do # 2, perhaps you need to move towards option # 1. Also if you leave, perhaps your spouse will realize that he does miss you and want to work on rebuilding the relationship and not just have someone at home with him.

    • Robin on June 16, 2016 at 12:01 am

      I guess I’m wondering if he says- he just can’t make it work,why you’re still holding on hoping??
      He wants to stay married to honor commitment- but does not want to be close to you. Do you think he’s honoring his commitment when he doesn’t want to work on his marriage and be close to his wife?
      Yikes, I’m so sorry for you.
      I lived that life for a year- where we were distant acquaintances. Believe me, it doesn’t work and you will stay angry. How could you not, when he doesn’t want you which is really what he’s saying, it sounds like to me.

      • Leslie Vernick on June 16, 2016 at 4:48 pm

        Is his commitment to stay married or to love? He’s not honoring his commitment to love you or to sacrifice himself for you, so I’m not sure what he’s thinking when he believes it gives God glory to just stay married but treat you like you don’t matter in every other way.

        • Yearning to be desired again on July 14, 2016 at 1:33 am

          This was great insight… That’s was a comment my husband made “you can stay but there will never be a relationship” I was stunned. Later I asked, so you mean to tell me that we wi stay together but I am to never expect love or sex ever again in my life and I am to be ok with that??? He stuttered around at the blunt look (plus I figured it was a “punishment” for bringing up and being upset about “her” again – his emotional affair that he denies) he said, Well I didn’t say that. I said “yes you did” he said “well, I don’t know. We will have to see. If you’d just shut up maybe this wouldn’t happen”. Ugh ????

  25. Robin on June 16, 2016 at 12:05 am

    And when you’re having the same conversation over and over again, Dr Henry Cloud says it’s time for an action. Enough talk.
    I realize separation is uncomfortable but it won’t be as uncomfortable as living with a man that doesn’t want a loving relationship with his wife.
    Perhaps your anger and acting out as come from the pretenses you are accepting in your marriage??

  26. Amanda on June 16, 2016 at 3:54 pm

    Hi. I’m new here. I’ve been married 25 years and have 4 kids. My husband is a minister,which makes this situation maybe a bit more complicated. We separated in 2012, but our church board made us either get back together or resign and that was our only income so guess what we did? I work now but we are still far from wealthy. I’ve tried and tried and we’ve been in counseling for years. My husband is either incapable or refuses to change his emotionally abusive behavior. He has suffered abuse as a child and has stuffed it down until it HAD to be dealt with. The thing is although he is dealing with it in counseling, he puts no effort into being decent to me. He is either incapable of having a relationship or he just doesn’t want to put forth the effort. Either way I’m cut off from him. We have had to stay together to put food on the table, but his I ministry is about to end and he will have to seek employment elsewhere and maybe do part time ministry so that we don’t starve to death. I think he wants it to be over but he wants ME to do it. I say that because he will not make the changes I’ve begged him to make. I’ve tried to make mine. I know I’m not perfect but even my counselor sees growth with me. I think my husband would rather gaslight and then call me crazy when I fall apart. I hope this makes sense. And I really hope someone out there can understand me because I can’t confide in anyone here.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 16, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      AManda, I hope you can come to our CONQUER conference where you will find lots of women who understand what your life is like and get the support you need.

    • sunflower on June 17, 2016 at 7:59 am

      Amanda, I hear the pain in your post. If I understand your message, your primary reason for staying in an abusive situation is the fear of not having enough money. I know that thinking, yet I also know that other women on this site have given testimony that God had provided in ways they could not have ever imagined once they left their abuser. Also, have you consider that if everything does fall apart, we do have a very generous social support system through the US government right now. Could it be time for you to step out in faith and leave this relationship?

      I am also thinking that your abusive husband is deceptive in his chosen profession, the ministry. Isn’t he being a hypocrite? For you and everyone else’s safety, he should not be a pastor.

      Also, have your familiarized yourself with the resources mentioned on this site? Have you read any of Lundy Bancroft’s books or watched videos by Patrick Doyle.

      I know separation sounds very scary, yet sometimes it is the wisest and safest thing you can do for all involved. Think about it…are you living fully in your spiritual gifts OR do you have to stop being who God designed you to be to live in your husband’s sinfulness? You are not responsible for his behavior, he is. You are a wonderful woman who has yet to embrace the fullness of life Christ died for you to live. Be brave and make the difficult choice to leave.

  27. Amanda on June 17, 2016 at 10:22 pm

    Thank you for the video and reading suggestions. I will definitely use those.

    Actually, I don’t feel he is hypocritical at all. Although he is responsible for his behavior, he is not purposefully trying to hurt me and then putting on an act at church. He isn’t hurting anyone at church and he is seeking help. He’s damaged and hurting. Can he choose better behavior? Certainly. Will he? I don’t know. And I don’t know if I can stay much longer if he doesn’t. Therein lies the problem.

    Ministers are humans too. In fact, the pressure that is placed upon families in ministry probably adds to the marital problems many of us face. I know I am far from the only minister’s wife facing this.

    I caution you to tell someone to leave their spouse. That is a heavy word of advice to give. That being said, I thank you for caring enough to respond. Meanwhile, I need to decide how to “stay well” until I decide I am done with that.

    Where does mental illness factor into this scenario? I believe he is struggling with it and I’m unsure of my duty to him in this area.

    • sunflower on June 18, 2016 at 12:04 am

      Yes, Amanda is was rather forward of me to suggest that your leave your spouse. Unfortunately that comment is based on not being new to this situation and believing the research which indicates that abusive, controlling people rarely, if ever change.

      My comments about hypocrisy stem from the impression his congregation has been left to believe about him. Has he been transparent with the congregation and the elder board regarding his abusive behavior?

      Thanks too, for giving me a glimpse into life as a Pastor’s wife. I agree that it must have its’ own unique pressures on marriages and families.

      I am pondering the comment that his behavior isn’t hurting the church. If he abuses his wife he has a vast array of issues, often least of which is mental illness. Unfortunately the cause is usually power and control.

      Best Wishes staying well.

      http://owa-archives.uic.edu/power_control-wheel_clip_image001.jpg

    • Leslie Vernick on June 18, 2016 at 7:44 am

      Amanda, you may want to read my blog probably 3 or 4 months ago about dealing with a spouse with mental illness, but the issue really is can he own his problem (abuse, mental illness, stress from ministry) and get help for it. If not, then the other problem he has (pride) continues to impact him, his ministry, and you and your marriage. You can learn to stay well if there are not safety issues, but if you are unsafe, regardless of whether or not he is mentally ill, you need to take measures to be safe.

      • Amanda on June 18, 2016 at 10:23 am

        Yes. He is getting help and counseling and he admits something is wrong. I just don’t see progress with it. I gave him the ultimatum – personal counseling now or separation and he did go to counseling. I’m praying now that it will help him. Right now he doesn’t know what he wants. As for me, I need change or I need to separate.

        • Leonie on June 19, 2016 at 4:03 am

          “Actually, I don’t feel he is hypocritical at all. Although he is responsible for his behavior, he is not purposefully trying to hurt me and then putting on an act at church.”
          You might be surprised – he could be very intentional about hurting you, much more than you realize, that’s what abuse is.
          At some point what your husband (or any abusive man wants becomes irrelevant.
          Many times abusive men want to keep what they have because it works for them. They get all the benefits in the marriage and the wife gets none.
          He is like a cat playing with a mouse.
          It doesn’t tie a bib on the mouse and sit it down on his lap and spoon feed it and nurture it! The cat plays rough with the mouse injures it, bats it about for fun, thinks it is a toy and when it collapses in exhaustion and the cat gets tired of the fun it moves in for the kill. That is what the cat wants, what the mouse wants is irrelevant to the cat.
          At some point the wife needs to realize that her needs she wants are not going to be recognized and upheld by the abusive husband and what he wants will never be in her best interest, she better recognize she is being exploited and it can only end in destruction.
          Why, because he can, sometimes even because he thinks he has the God given right.

  28. Robin on June 18, 2016 at 3:42 am

    Amanda, something you could consider is a separation. A time out.
    A time to stop any pretenses and say , I need to be real. Time after time I see women who are brave enough to fight for their marriages by separating so the destructive behavior stops. Then your head is clearer, and you are more able to move in a direction where you are seeking help and getting answers I’m sure you need. And your husband either has to accept you are serious, or you accept he’s not interested in taking steps toward healing. But to stay the same and keep doing what hasn’t worked- will not produce a result that will preserve your sanity and give you safety. It’s a hard step, but it’s a step toward healing and wholeness.

    • Amanda on June 18, 2016 at 10:27 am

      I agree. Separation would probably help. We seem to be moving in that direction and are trying to find a private way to allow this to happen. If people in the church find out, it could cost him his job before he’s had time to find another one. Unfortunately, people talk and everyone expects their ministers to be perfect or else they are let go. We need help but we have to separate in secret. It’s painful.

      • Robin on June 18, 2016 at 10:01 pm

        I’m sure it’s hard to think what you choose might cause him to lose his job. I do understand that clergy have a complicated situation. But sometimes when we stand back and let the walls crumble around a spouse that shows no acknowledgement of needing to move forward- tough love is something that can produce a better result than we’ve had . I just want you to know there are many women on this blog that are in similar circumstances, that will support and encourage you. Don’t hesitate to ask for help, prayers, friendship. This s blog has been a lifeline for many of us.

      • sunflower on June 19, 2016 at 12:19 am

        I have been using my imagination about how Amanda could separate and keep it secret. Might you consider a short term mission as an explanation to your absence. Some ministries are solely for women and one could suggest interest in such work. In reality, the short term mission is for yourself and your family, but the congregation doesn’t have to know that.

        Also, I was thinking that one could offer to help a friend or family member who lives out of town. Aging parents always need support. A distant relative in a far off country might be great to have at this time.

        This stuff is so very difficult. I hope things turn out well for you. This blog is sometimes the only place many women can speak freely. Thanks for sharing with us.

        • Robin on June 19, 2016 at 5:01 pm

          Amanda, I’ll be praying that you can get away if that’s how God leads – in honesty and not needing to make a story up to protect your husband. When you choose to separate if that’s what you choose, he might have to take a risk of losing his job- as it won’t be your goal to keep protecting him.
          Much prayer going up for you as you make your decisions!!!!!!!

  29. DigitalGirl on June 21, 2016 at 8:50 am

    The seismic shift from victim to ownership began with small tremors of understanding gained through counseling and reading. When I could name my patterns as codependent and my on-the-way-to-being-former husband’s patterns as covert narcissistic behavior, those handles steadied me as I made changes.

    When i attended a couple presentations on abuse and saw myself described, and when I could name his behavior as controlling, manipulative, verbally and emotionally abusive then I knew something had to change. Armed with this awareness, I knew I couldn’t claim ignorance and continue the same patterns in good conscience. God had provided this understanding through others, response and change became my responsibility.

    It’s been a long road to make the decision to divorce, but I told God I wanted to get well and would do whatever the healing process required. I didn’t think claiming ownership and stopping codependent behaviors would have this result, but it has and that’s okay. It’s painful and I grieve the coming end to my marriage, but am thankful I have had and continue to have the strength to make this choice.

  30. Sky on June 21, 2016 at 9:31 am

    All of this rings so true for me as well… I separated from my husband almost 2 years ago because of the anger and devaluing and invalidation (emotional abuse) I was experiencing. The separation lasted 9 months, we’d see each other on weekends and then he filed for divorce because “this wasn’t what HIS life was supposed to be like….a weekend marriage”.. I prepared myself for letting go completely, and then he suddenly felt led for us go to a church counselor so as not to make another selfish decision in life…We went. He determined to “let go” and to trust the Lord in our marriage. I believed in what was happening. We reconciled and moved back in together. That was about a year ago. Slowly the behaviors have crept back in….of course it’s only when I’m asking him a useless question or being insecure or if he’s tired or watching tv and not wanting to be bothered…. If I was “relaxed”, stopped asking questions, etc…(=did everything exactly how he expects/wants things to be done…) then he wouldn’t be angry, roll his eyes, etc etc…. You all know the routine. I really don’t know why I’m still holding on. I guess I need to start working on my “becauses”…. I am not a stupid woman, but even with tons and tons of research on bpd, narcissistic abuse, gaslighting, invalidation, the cycle of abuse, coercive control, cptsd, etc etc etc (for years)…with many lists I could check off of things we live through on a daily basis, I just can’t ACCEPT that he is possibly doing this on purpose. I have believed in our “love”… (I intellectually know it’s NOT love to ever treat somone like their feelings don’t matter…even telling them “I don’t care!” in those moments..)..I have something in me fighting so hard to simply believe the good times…the moments of real intimacy…he has addressed many issues of his past and grown through hard things, seems very committed to working together to achieve victory in our life and marriage in ways…it’s very confusing that he seems so”in” at times and so angry and “out” other times…so much so that I just can’t seem to grasp and believe the bad stuff…stuff I would counsel any other woman is horrible, inhumane, unChristian treatment and that they are worth FAR MORE than those moments/cycles… I’m not sure what to do next but am constantly seeking to grow in Christ…to claim my full identity in HIM as His beloved child, and a warrior of His light!…also to embrace my own inner child … I realized recently after years of trying to be embraced and nurtured, that it actually needed to be ME to be the one to embrace and accept and encourage and reassure MYSELF in Christ and to stop living based on whether or not anyone else has or does that for me now… I can also relate with the victim mentality…I have NO desire to be a victim any longer in any way, so I’ve been trying to gain strength in the midst of the feelings of brokenness and sadness and weakness that consistent devaluing and criticism causes… I also deal with children who have taken on habits of devaluing my opinions and instructions… I’m pretty much surrounded with voices of condemnation at times…and we all know who the accuser of the brethren is… Honestly, my goal has been to get strong in Christ alone (God views me as PERFECT, clothed in the righteousness OF CHRIST!) and to try to learn how to let the other stuff roll off my back… You all have incredible wisdom and insight..thank you for sharing. I’m still trying to see if I can be a successful warrior for Christ here in this place or if I might need to free myself from oppression not from the Lord. Please pray for me if any of you feel led… I’m very tired…and sad…BUT GOD IS BIGGER THAN ALL THIS!…..God bless you all…and I wish you all joy and peace in Christ – and health and strength -, spiritually emotionally and physically…♡

    • Sky on June 21, 2016 at 9:46 am

      Any advice highly appreciated!

      • roxanne on June 22, 2016 at 11:17 pm

        Have you heard the expression your marriage is only as good as its’ worse day?

        I once confided in a friend about the abuse I was enduring. She said, “You need to know that their are men who never ever treat woman the way you have been treated.” She said her husband, her father, her brothers, have never behaved in the way I described. She was shocked. Her shock was shocking to me. Imagine such a life!

        Yes, imagine such a life. Because men should never ever, not even once treat us the way we are abused on a regular basis for hour after, hour, day after day and year after year.

        • Sky on June 23, 2016 at 8:07 am

          Very good point, Roxanne. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

        • Robin on June 24, 2016 at 4:53 pm

          Thank you Roxanne, it is true, some of us can’t even imagine that a relationship could be so different. I’m a piano teacher and I have a few dads that come into my studio with their children- AMAZING DADS!! Time after time I have asked, is this for real?? But in both cases I have seen their families together and yes I have learned, some men adore their wives!!!

  31. Sky on June 21, 2016 at 9:43 am

    Amanda, I stumbled upon a very black-and-white sermon series on Sermon Audio that is blessing me immensely… It is by a Pastor who is teaching very clearly and Scripturally that domestic abuse is very prevalent in the church, and VERY WRONG. God does not want us to be abused. It is NOT OK for a husband to consistently abuse his wife and even claim Christ, nevermind SERVE Christ in ministry! When this is occurring, some serious soul-searching needs to be done by that man. I highly recommend this sermon series. I am finding it very affirming and encouraging to my heart.. The LORD was already speaking these things to my heart, but in the midst of abuse there is much confusion… These messages clear up the confusion with Scripture…our only REAL authority on any subject…. Be blessed sister!

    1. Go to sermonaudio.com
    2. Type JEFF CRIPPEN in search bar at top of page
    3. Click on CHRIST REFORMATION CHURCH – JEFF CRIPPEN PASTOR – TILLAMOOK, OREGON that pops up
    4. Click on SERIES tab that shows up above his picture area
    5. Scroll down beneath the SERMONS BY SERMON SERIES tab and click on DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND ABUSE
    6. Twenty-one messages will pop up.. the first one is called SIN OF ABUSE EXPOSED BY THE LIGHT OF CHRIST

    • Leonie on June 21, 2016 at 4:55 pm

      Yes, I listened to those and also the newer series, ‘Wise as Serpents’ – Very enlightening and very good there is so much truth in them! I think God for this man who tells it like it is and busts so many of the myths in our church today!

      • Sky on June 22, 2016 at 7:09 am

        Amen. Me too! And with many many Scriptural references that apply very well to these situations too!

  32. Carter on June 21, 2016 at 10:03 am

    What changed for me? I spent 22 years in an abusive marriage trying every method( right and wrong) to change the direction of our marriage. When it finally became clear to me (thank you God) that I was accepting behavior that was not pleasing to the Lord and realized how much God loves me and what He says about me ( Is 54:5-6). It was then that I began to take responsibility for myself and emotionally separate. I explained to my abuser what I was doing and invited him to make a move, but he said no thanks! I stayed( not well) and tried to live like Daisy suggested. We looked good from the outside- Happy pastor’s family- but would go home to continued abuse- which no one handles well- that’s why God instructs is not to have intimate relationships with such people! One day, God got ahold of my heart and said I was a liar. I was not behaving in a way pleasing to Him! When God spoke to me, I knew what I had to do. Safely exiting the situation was quite a process, but God was in the details. Sisters, please do not let fear or man’s opinion of you( especially in the church) stop you from honoring God with your heart. It is only then that we, as captives, are set free! Leslie, thank you so much for allowing God to use you! Praise God for His grace and never- ending love for us!

  33. Teena on June 21, 2016 at 11:50 am

    I’m learning how to change from a helpless victim to responsible owner by listening and learning from the Word of God and multiple, creditable, counselors like Leslie. Our relationships in our marriages can be complicated, but the ultimate goal is that God should get the glory from it. ALL things are possible with God. And don’t get to Heaven with any other excuse. We all come from disfunctional relationships in our past. The only true and good relationship examples we have are between The Father and The Son. And know this, we can not have a relationship with The Father unless we have one with The Son. And of course He gave us a Helper, personal Counselor, etc. There are no excuses. I can not be a good wife and mother until I am a good daughter. This applies for my husband as well. All of our relationships appear to be products of ourselves. Some have the grace to have awesome relationships while others need to apply faith. Faith is by works believing that you too can have an awesome relationship, but you have to work at it. I have to be mature within myself to set my own boundaries before setting the limitations of how far someone else can affect me. I believe some of us women still act like the honeymoon isn’t over. It is! Our responsibility is two fold. (Could be more) First, recognize your own triggers. If you haven’t repented and made Jesus your Lord, do so. And recognize that there is sin that creeps back into our lives. For example, I think I’m not heard comes from the child in me. I wanted the say and control over my very own life, yet mom took the control. This translates into me, now an adult, thinking I have the right to talk, and I want my husband, who is a poor listener, (after being talked down to by his mother) to hear me. And when he’s either looking the other way, or not coming home, frustration builds within me and I react negatively. I begin to blame him for not being there or not listening. Women, men are different than us! We have to respect that he has his own personal life. Alternatives I use are: Ask if he has time to hear an issue, then keep it short and to the point. Ask him to only listen or please offer advice. Then I need to responsibly act on what I decide. This is huge because I always wanted my husband to be like my girlfriend, but he’s not. He’s almost like a father figure. Secondly, if you find yourself being disrespected by your husband, without reason, (and I have), then limitations are to be set on how he can or can not treat you. And I have set those. I have had to let go of my husband not opening the door for me, cuddling me like I want, and complementing me, because that’s who I married. I saw the signs (b4 marriage) but ignored them. But I know that these are my husband’s bad behaviors and that “I’m not crazy” because of his over-reacting to others. These let me know that HE needs to change. I have set consequences to this behavior (advice from Leslie), otherwise he over uses his rights or is abusive. I write a constructive, respectful note to tell him what he did. Then I physically separate until I get an acknowledgement from him. I separate by continuing my household responsibilities short of doing for him. But I make sure any responsibilities we have together; like paying a bill, or picking up the children, that I handle them until we can come to a resolution. But we HAVE to resolve the issue, otherwise there is no change. Dr. Phil says, you won’t change what you don’t acknowledge. Aside from these situations, if you have a husband who beats you or mistreats you simply because…, then you have a problem. Don’t walk, but run to more of Leslie’s advice and other constructive advice. This type of man will not change unless he has a drastic life altering encounter with God and postures himself as a son to Christ. I know, because I was formerly, physically abused by my husband. I’ve changed! By being transformed by God, and Him showing me how to treat a man but only AFTER my husband accepted Christ and began to learn for himself. (Side Note: I think it’ sad that I can’t joke with my husband, but he doesn’t like it soooo…) We’ll be working this until God’s Grace is evident or we go home to be with the Lord. As long as I’m safe, and no longer under the threat of harm.

  34. Amanda on June 21, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Hi. I went to my counselor yesterday and she suggests the same thing. I may go to stay with my friend for a week or two along with my boys. My husband goes again for some intense counseling tomorrow. He is doing EMDR therapy and I’m praying it will help.

    • Robin on June 21, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      Great news!! Praying for you Amanda!!

  35. Charity on June 21, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Eighteen years ago, I had come through a devastating divorce and was completely numb emotionally. When I started counseling, I didn’t even have a good emotional vocabulary. My Godly counselor walked me through a book called “The Child Within” by Charles Whitfield, and chapter by chapter, I started dealing with the stuffed emotions that were killing me. That’s when I learned that I needed to own my own hurt and my own healing and create safe boundries for myself. I’ve come to find out I’m not alone in having a low emotional IQ. (The irony of this is that during this time I was assigned to teach emotional support!) LOL I am thankful to God for enabling me to find a counsellor much like Leslie who taught me with patience, empathy, and love. To this day, I pass it on freely! 🙂

  36. roxanne on June 25, 2016 at 3:16 am

    Aleea, maybe I am missing something, but Why don’t you move away from your mother? Do you live in the same city? Have you thought about changing your phone number ? I guess you have already done that.

    Are you siblings really a support to you or do they need to be blocked too? Are you the “burden bearer” of the dysfunctional family in their eyes?

    When was the last time you went on a short term mission trip or applied for a fulbright and studied abroad? What about traveling to a retreat center like Sandy Cove for example?

  37. Hannah on July 9, 2016 at 1:09 am

    For me, it was a prayer. I knew things had been disastrous for a while, but I wanted so badly to believe things would change that I started living in this survival/ minimizing/ denial sort of mode, and one day we had a fight so awful I broke down and cried out to the Lord. I didn’t even have words I was so hurt, but my heart said something like, “God, I know you are good all the time, and that You are seeing all of this and You care. What else can I possibly do to make this better?” And I sat and listened. I heard, “You know Hannah, you are enough. I died for you. You are a worthwhile, capable person worthy of love and respect. Your identity doesn’t lie in what your spouse thinks of you, it comes from Me and what I think of you, who I say you are. You are Mine, and I bought you with a heavy price. Your identity isn’t even in being married. I do see. I am not happy with how your husband treats you. He is not changing. It’s ok to let go. My heart is grieving too.” After that, I realized that I was putting way too much pressure on myself to carry the marriage, and taking too much responsibility for my spouse where I didn’t need to. Then I started reading, trying to better understand the dynamics of our relationship, and all of a sudden I had a vocabulary for the abusive and controlling tactical games he was playing, and I could fight back and name what he was doing. I was empowered enough to call him on the carpet and ask for changes, and over time he showed me he didn’t want to change, which was unfortunate, but my point here is that first I had to realize that what I wanted my marriage to be wasn’t my actual reality, and then having a vocabulary was empowering to know what changes to ask for, to help me see what was really going on and why I felt so crazy. Reading The Emotionally Destructive Marriage was helpful, as was Dr. James Dobson’s Love Must Be Tough.

  38. Lynne on July 13, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Things that have helped me are:
    The book Boundaries by cloud and Thompson
    Leslie’s book “The emotionally destructive marraige”
    my friend who walks with me and asks me,
    “Is that what a victim would say or is that what a creator (empowered person) would say?”
    Beth Moore’s praying God’s word – there is an iphone app for $10.00
    This blog.
    And God. Jesus came to remove our blindness, and to set us free from our captivity and to renew and transform our minds.
    Taking steps to put into practice what you learn from wise sources takes what you think in our mind (when you see the results through consistent practice) turns it into what we believe in our hearts.

    Thank you Leslie and others. After 29 years, my husband is in Christian counseling and confessed just this past Monday that he realized that he was destroying his family with his out of control anger. He broke down in tears of remorse in our counseling session.

    Recent insight: I used to get discouraged when I didn’t see the response in my husband that I wanted when I applied firm boundaries. Then I would give up. But I realized that my motivation was to get my husband to change. Instead, when I allowed my motivation to be pleasing god by growing emotionally, I had peace and I became stronger. And I now have the conviction that if I seek god’s wisdom and apply appropriate boundaries, I am doing what is right. I also believe that if my boundaries are inappropriate, that God will show me through his word and wise counsel. Much work to be done – but remorse is the first essential ingredient.
    Focus on getting healthy yourself. If you seek God and focus on being obedient to God, he will restore you (whether or not that restoration includes your husband is not up to you.)

    • Leslie Vernick on July 17, 2016 at 10:25 pm

      AMEN. Do your part to do your part and not worry about the outcome. Get healthy, set boundaries for your own stewardship of your body, mind, spirit and finances and leave the results to God.

  39. Rosie on July 13, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    I’m trying to reply to Liza. I don’t think God will punish you if you end up divorcing your husband. God is compassionate & kind. He does not love your marriage more than you. You are being manipulated by your husband. The sexual stuff you described very well could be sexual abuse too. Please look up ‘A cry for justice’ website & watch some of counselor, Patrick Doyle’s YouTube videos. I think you will gain strength in getting some validation to how you are feeling. It sounds like you are responding normally, given your circumstances. Your circumstances need to change. I hope you are able to find health & peace.

  40. Sky on July 14, 2016 at 7:29 am

    These are the exact words I needed to hear this morning. Thank you for sharing. I posted quite a while ago in response to this post….and saw this in my email (first new email in my inbox)…. I am trying to come to terms with the reality of my situation…my spirit and emotional well being have suffered greatly in this relationship yet still I’m somehow taking responsibility and trying to change me enough to make things better….somehow I just can’t accept that things may never change (that husband may never change) and that I most likely will NEVER DO ENOUGH to make him happy…WHY am I still looking at things from this warped perspective? I’m not sure…especially after 5 years of research and understanding all I do about narcissistic abuse, Stockholm syndrome, CPTSD, etc…. It’s like I’m looking at myself and this situation with all the right answers but somehow can’t put them into practice fully…. I believe the LORD can do anything and that I can do all things through Christ…why am I still trapped in my mind and feel somewhat hopeless?…

    • Leslie Vernick on July 17, 2016 at 10:29 pm

      Because to admit otherwise puts you in a despair you don’t want to face. And it forces you to make some tough decisions about what you are going to do that you may not be ready to make. So I’d encourage you to get some personal on-on-one help to get unstuck. Knowledge isn’t necessarily wisdom. It’s putting that knowledge into practice.

      • Sky on July 22, 2016 at 7:34 am

        I went to a support group yesterday which was good. I just think it’s gonna take a miracle for me to actually admit and accept that it would be best to remove myself. Very very tired.

    • Hannah on July 17, 2016 at 10:50 pm

      Oh honey, because it’s so very difficult and heartbreaking. I know for me, part of me will always love and miss the person I fell in love with, I never ever thought we would be going down a road ending in divorce. It’s scary, it’s risky, and the longer I was in it the harder it became to believe I could ever leave, the more desperate I became to hold onto anything he threw my way that was the littlest bit caring and hopeful… and I really believe that somewhere in his heart he does love me still, in the limited way he knows how. My parents are still married and I was raised that marriage wasn’t something you just threw away when times were tough, and I was taught like a good little Christian girl that I should be forever forgiving and understanding and strong. I was taught love meant that I wanted the best for someone else, no matter the cost to me, and that is how I survived so long in my situation. It took a long, long time to be able to distance myself emotionally a bit from things, and start looking at them from a new perspective. It took a long, long time for me to admit that maybe I could still want the best for my spouse, but from a distance; that my emotional, physical, mental, and physical well being were too high a price to pay. It took a long, long time to realize that while I was taught to be a living sacrifice, that didn’t mean on the altar of whatever my husband wanted. It’s so hard, and I am a young mom and part of me is terrified of the unknown– and yet, part of me is relieved that I get to be free to be a person again. I have already seen God show up in incredible ways, and while there are moments of “if only” this or that, for the most part it is better to be out of the pressure cooker. You’ll be in my thoughts/ prayers this week! I totally get it.

      • Sky on July 22, 2016 at 7:37 am

        I agree with all you ladies are saying. Acceptance and taking action are another matter and I’m not sure what it will take to get me there. I have kids that need to know this is not ok too. You’d think that would be enough for me to do something about. Not sure why I don’t have more internal strength…I guess it was systematically worn away…BUT GOD IS STILL GOD…and I do trust Him with this… I’m praying for discernment and strength…(the discernment is probably already there if I’d stop denying it…) Thank you for your caring encouraging understanding responses. ♡

      • Gail on September 2, 2021 at 1:42 pm

        You couldn’t of said it better. I am where you were and finding my way out.

    • Hannah on July 18, 2016 at 4:43 pm

      …also, while I too believe God can work miracles, he’s a gentleman. He doesn’t force Himself on anyone, so if your husband won’t cooperate like mine, it’s better to face that than to hold onto empty hope. 🙁

      • Sky on July 22, 2016 at 7:38 am

        I agree. Thank you for your prayers. ♡

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