Should I Apologize To My Abusive Husband?

Morning friends,

I am excited to let you know that we will be doing a 2 session Introduction to CORE Strength on Wednesday, August 10 and August 17.

If you have always wanted to have some extra help in understanding yourself and how to get stronger, this would be the perfect introductory class. Also, we are giving away some amazing bonuses so check it out. Click here to sign up.

In your prayers for me, please pray for my mother, who is not feeling well. I’m here in Chicago and she was released a little too early from the hospital and feeling pretty weak. She could use some physical Holy Spirit strength. Thanks.

Question: Sometimes I was verbally abusive towards my husband. This came after mountains of neglect, rejection, and emotional abuse. I sometimes doubt my reconciling on this matter. I think my response makes sense under my personal circumstances and yet I acknowledge it is my responsibility to amend those ‘reactions’ to the abuse. I am unsure if this is healthy to do especially with an abuser. In fact, I know it is not a safe idea but in the past, he used these moments as evidence of my weaknesses and it was a weakness but a weakness that came from neglect, rejection, and abuse. Am I an abuser because I responded to his gas lighting and other tactics with, sometimes, intensity? Would you consider speaking to this in an upcoming blog post? Thank you, Leslie.

Answer: I think we all can relate. At times I have responded to even minor incidents of disrespect or neglect with a sharp tongue. When my mother verbally abused me even as an adult, it was extremely hard at times for me to hold my tongue. But as a Christ-follower, we know that this is not God’s way.

So the short answer to your first question is that it’s entirely understandable and human to respond to abuse, rejection, neglect and gas lighting by others with anger and verbal abuse of your own. But as a Christian, we can do better.

Paying back evil with more evil of our own is not only ineffective and ungodly, it let's Satan win (tweet that).

Our battle in these moments is not just against the abusive person, but, also against the larger spiritual forces that seek to destroy us. Please don’t give them the upper hand.

That’s why it’s so important that you learn to build CORE strength. One of the biggest detriments in living with an abusive person is that you start to become more like them. God’s word warns us that when we hang out with angry people we will become just like them (Proverbs 22:24). That may not make you an “abuser” necessarily, but it may make you guilty of abusive speech, which if continued without repentance, can turn you into an abuser.

All of us can fall into a moment of abusive speech. That’s why the book of James is so adamant about the power of our tongue and how we are to learn to control it, especially in provocative moments.

The apostle Paul speaks repeatedly in Ephesians and Colossians about putting off abusive speech. Why does he warn us about this? Because in a moment of intense anger, we may say things we deeply regret. Those things hurt people (reckless words do pierce like a sword) and therefore we should never minimize the damage our words can cause.

However, the difference between an abusive incident (which we are all capable of) and an abuser – one who practices abusive speech as a pattern, is that and abuser refuses to reflect upon his or her behavior and if he or she should, they blame others instead of taking responsibility and repenting.

You are aware that retaliating with verbal abuse is not appropriate for a Godly woman, even if humanly understandable. You do feel bad and wish you could somehow make it right.

But your bigger question is now that you have become convicted of this, do you need to ask forgiveness and make amends with your spouse? You are concerned that exposing what you’ve done wrong to your husband will only give him ammunition to continue to use against you in future abuse. That very well might be true.

I think the wisdom in the 12-Step Program can be helpful to you. Step 5 says that we are to “Confess to God and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.” We are to list specific ways we have hurt others, been selfish, etc. And then in Step 9 it says, “Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.”

You have confessed it here on this blog, but you are anonymous so that isn’t quite the same. Perhaps confessing it with your pastor, counselor or coach and having them hold you accountable to grow your CORE and learn to handle your hurt and anger in new ways is an acceptable way of confession.

Step 5 does not say you have to confess directly to the person you hurt but to another human being. The Bible says, “Confess your sins, one to another” (James 5:16). The purpose of confession is to take responsibility for your part and commit to change in front of a witness. It’s a way of breaking through the shame of silence and gives you the opportunity to invite trusted others to hear your confession and hold you accountable.

I wasn’t clear in your question whether or not you were still with your spouse.  If you ARE working on building a new pattern of interaction with one another, he will see you are changing, just as hopefully you are seeing that he is changing.

If you are in that process, you can practice Step 9 by saying something like, “I don’t like the person I became when I was with you and I refuse to allow myself to get to that place again. I don’t want to pay back evil with my own evil and I’m working on that.” You own your reactions as wrong, but doing the work (not just saying the words) that you are committed to putting off old behaviors and putting on new ones.

The danger with this is that often the abuser will use the same excuse. He will say, “Well I was just reacting to you too. I was reacting to the fact that the house was a mess, that dinner wasn’t made, we didn’t have enough sex,” etc. Then it goes back to you to make sure everything in his life is perfect in order for him not to “explode” in anger rather than him learning to control his own emotional angst when he is disappointed, angry, or hurt, just as you have to do. So it can become a twisted circular conversation that makes it seem like “we are even.”

Therefore if you are not living together or in an attempted reconciliation, I would make amends other ways. Here are a few suggestions: You could teach others what you have learned about abusive relationships or their effects on you. You could volunteer your time to work at a battered woman’s shelter or donate money to help women get stronger so they don’t resort to the same defensive strategies that you did. I’m sure there are many other ways you can make amends to “demonstrate the fruits of repentance” as John the Baptist advised the religious leaders to do, without having direct contact with your abuser.

Friends: When you’ve become aware of your part of the destructive dance, how did it go when you “confessed” it to your destructive partner? If you chose not do to that, what did you do instead?

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135 Comments

  1. Charlie on July 20, 2016 at 7:32 am

    Thank you Leslie!
    I have found what you said to be true in my relationship. Apologizing for my ungodly reaction had positive effects in the short term. In the long term, it was used against me, to minimize the abuse and have it projected back on me. My (ex) husband used my apologies as an excuse for his abuse. I have found setting boundaries to be a more effective way to avoid the conflict and my reactions have been better and more controlled.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 22, 2016 at 5:47 am

      Thanks for sharing.

  2. Missy on July 20, 2016 at 7:44 am

    Leslie I understand these biblical principals but it is very hard to put into practice with the abuser. I’m also realizing that I’m apologizing to calm him down and now I’m experiencing resentment and anger that I’m having to be so painfully self-aware and he none at all! Your book on marriage is a God send to me. Thank you for writing it. I’m finding my voice ever so slowly.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 22, 2016 at 5:48 am

      IT’s so hard to put them into practice every day when you are living in this kind of situation. That’s why you need lots of SUPPORT.

  3. ~ Pam on July 20, 2016 at 7:49 am

    After becoming part of three long term virtual support groups of Leslie’s, I felt the need for safe face-to-face places where I could practice CORE strength locally, outside my home, in order to develop enough strength to walk in CORE strength inside it.

    Each part of the infrastructure of support God had been putting in place was essential to my recovery: The classes at the local DV shelter were helpful, my small Church groups were encouraging in many ways. I don’t know what I would have done without the ongoing relationships that had grown up on Leslie’s FaceBook pages over the years… But it wasn’t until I began to check out the local Celebrate Recovery 12-step meetings that I found the structure I needed to walk out what I’d been learning in each of these other places.

    Leslie writes: “The purpose of confession is to take responsibility for your part and commit to change in front of a witness. It’s a way of breaking through the shame of silence and gives you the opportunity to invite trusted others to hear your confession and hold you accountable.”

    Amen! The local CR meetings provide a safe place to face how I’d enabled my marriage & family to become what it was, to gain the courage to own my part, and the strength to change it in the context of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The structure of CR provides an emotionally safe place to break through the shame of silence, to become accountable, and to find the ongoing encouragement essential to a changed life.

    For more information about your local CR, click on: http://www.celebraterecovery.com

    Thank you Leslie! What you speak and write about has been so very helpful to my recovery.

  4. ~ Pam on July 20, 2016 at 8:08 am

    I heard about Celebrate Recovery for the first time on Leslie’s FaceBook pages and found the courage I needed to check it out when she mentioned a group of CR people in her audience during one of her talks that was posted on YouTube. Thanks Leslie.

  5. CY on July 20, 2016 at 8:13 am

    Before I was aware there was a destructive dance, from my abuser, I would apologize. It would start innocently enough, with me approaching a behavior of his that was hurtful or wrong, and he responding with “Well what about you…” and name something similar, or he named something small that didn’t make sense to me (like cutting my hair without asking first, for example). I’d think about my behaviors & internalize the timeline of events, and go apologize to him. His response was usually the same, he would say nothing & let me apologize and that’s it; or he would use a “told you so” tone of voice; or he would appear to apologize as well, but would follow it up with “I love you, Dear, even though you can be a pain sometimes, I do love you.” Over time, I realized he does not accept his responsibilities. And when I’d continue apologizing (as my part of the dance), he would get angry and tell me that I’m kissing up to him, or that I really wasn’t sorry because if I were sorry I wouldn’t be doing the same things again & again & again, or the “whatever” attitude & silent treatment. So I decided to stop apologizing to him, and God began to give me a good support of Christian believers around me, and I learned to “stay in my own lane”, so to speak…meaning not taking his responsibilities upon myself, and learning to walk in a way that honors God. I have accountability with my support system. That’s what I’ve been doing for the past 4 years. My abuser has not changed…and I don’t take his responsibilities. This year, however, he decided to go back to drinking…and he had been 10 years sober…now his abusiveness is magnified by the alcohol. I am planning to separate from him. I lived through the alcoholism the 1st time & do not want to do it a 2nd time. Living beside the abusive behavior without alcohol is one thing; living beside it with the alcohol is harder for me to do.
    We have been married 15 years, together 16 years.
    Thank you, Leslie.

    • Sue on July 20, 2016 at 9:06 pm

      ” Over time, I realized he does not accept his responsibilities. And when I’d continue apologizing (as my part of the dance), he would get angry and tell me that I’m kissing up to him, or that I really wasn’t sorry because if I were sorry I wouldn’t be doing the same things again & again & again, or the “whatever” attitude & silent treatment. ”

      Yep, sounds like our dysfunctional dance, too.
      As I said in response to the Silent Treatment blog, personal and relational boundaries are essential. They empower me to not take any of it personally and to respond in a Godly way.
      If I see he’s in a foul mood, I put all my effort (with God’s help) into not reacting negatively. Over and over, all day, every day.
      And when I do fail (because we’re human and we all will), take the bait and repay evil with evil, I stop as soon as I realize I’m being dysfunctional. I say, “I’m sorry for being nasty. I know that’s not how God wants me to act. I need to be nicer. Please forgive me.” And then I’m DONE. It’s his problem if he refuses to accept my apology. If he tries to blame shift, I respond, “no, I’m not responsible for what you say or do. That’s your choice to say and do that. I don’t have that power over you.” And I go about my day. End of subject.
      It takes two to argue and if I refuse, then he’ll just be miserable by himself and see his tactics aren’t working.

      • Cathy on July 21, 2016 at 6:58 pm

        Oh, I need to memorize that! ” I am not responsible for what you say or do. That’s your choice to do or say that.”

    • Trina on July 25, 2016 at 11:10 pm

      HA! I got the silent treatment for three days for cutting my hair! When I doubt, I read these posts and realize, I’m in the same boat. It’s always someone who states exactly one of my instances! God speaks thru these posts. Thank you

  6. Stephanie on July 20, 2016 at 8:15 am

    My abuser has used my reactions and confessions against me. He still is as he tells anyone who will listen that I am the one who is unhinged and drove him off. My reactions were NEVER abusive toward him (only emotional upset within myself), but that hasn’t stopped him from saying otherwise. His abuse was always done with absolute calm. He never reacted. He exercised what appeared to be disturbing levels of self-control and superiority. Several times, as our marriage was obviously dissolving, I “confessed” that I was the one with the problem and I’d get help. I so regret it and might not have done it had I had a counselor or pastor I could have been confessing to. Or had read Leslie’s book sooner.

  7. Kate on July 20, 2016 at 8:21 am

    Leslie,
    Thank you for this blog and topic. You described one of my biggest struggles in a nutshell. I have trouble controlling my tongue when emotionally abused, and feel great remorse when I lose patience even though I know I am forgiven. My spouse is quick to forgive, but also quick to jump back into the cycle again. I am working on setting boundaries and coming up with strategies to avoid being triggered.
    I am so relieved that you mentioned 12 step programs. I always found the material so helpful, but the denomination I came out of did not “approve” of such programs; I always felt a little guilty/sneaky attending the meetings. No longer!
    In addition, your suggestions at the end of the post were a great help.

  8. Sarah on July 20, 2016 at 9:30 am

    Same as the others, my abusive ex used my confessions against me. He actually demanded confession and apologies for my part in the “wrong” so if he physically hurt me I was to apologies for my contribution to that circumstance. After playing that circular dance for awhile, I learned that in my situation it was not healthy to confess. I attempted to set boundaries instead, but that was all before I found these teachings so I wasn’t very good at it. I must give credit to God for helping me through those years because I had no wisdom and these amazing teachings had not came along yet.

  9. Aleea on July 20, 2016 at 10:04 am

    >”Friends: When you’ve become aware of your part of the destructive dance, how did it go when you “confessed” it to your destructive partner? If you chose not do to that, what did you do instead?”

    . . . . I first always try to get it worked out with Christ. In one long acknowledgment of failure, I lay myself bare before God. I pray about it a lot. When I pretend I don’t feel hurt or angry or devastated, I am not fooling God. So I am totally honest with Him and at times blame Him. He deserves no blame but it helps to honestly confess to God my feelings of hurt, resentment, and anger. . . . . Anyways, repentance, to me, is shockingly beautiful when we see it not as “I sinned again, I need to repent,” but as “I sinned against my God again, but He is calling me back so He can lavish me with His love and forgiveness”. . . . . Now, in my marriage, early on when I “confessed” that was just fuel for a much, much bigger fire. But finally we realized that we needed to take the time to fully explain (this seems to really work except where there are deeper mental issues like with my mother) after awhile your spouse knows that you know too (you are naming it, identifying it, and being specific about, they are too). They know you know their part too. It usually goes really well, which encourages even more confessing. Sometimes it goes so well you wish you had more stuff to confess. Those are really tender moments sharing all those struggles and setbacks. Confessing causes pain, no doubt but there’s no medicine that can manage the pain of keeping it all in. . . . . Now, with my mother, I can’t admit to ANYTHING without it being that I caused the downfall of all of Western civilization. Confession is always weakness. Wherever babies cry and children go unfeed, there is Aleea. That makes it into a courtroom-style battle where you can’t give on anything without the whole of it just imploding. . . . “Aleea, confession is for your good. You are selfish. It makes you feel good; it ruins the lives of everyone else. It’s a selfish thing to do. Don’t confess.” . . . . I don’t understand my mother.

  10. Amanda on July 20, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Any time I have ever confessed my sin to my husband, he has used it to turn things around. He blames me for everything, as though my confession releases him from his sin. He truly believes that I am at fault for everything. He has turned away from all friends and family and is very lonely. He blames me for that as well. It is my fault that he has no one. Because throughout the years, I have confessed my sin to him and have apologized, he uses it to demonstrate how it is all my fault. He gives me the silent treatment which at times lasts for months. I have tried in the past to talk to him, apologize, but he refuses to talk. Now, I feel I am trained to remain in a “silent treatment” mode and I feel convicted by it. I fear that apologizing for my part will only cause him to again lash out at me and will cause him to believe that I am ready to sleep with him. I feel so stuck. Last week he locked out of our house our 2 daughters and myself and then insisted that I made it all up even though our girls are witnesses.
    God help us. Lord please give me the resources, the support, the wisdom to get out of this mess. I feel so confused. If I stay with him, we suffer abuse. If I leave him, we will share custody and with his temper and alcoholism I fear for my girls. Lord please come quick and show me the way. Lord, please give me strength and wisdom to do your will.

    • Searching on July 20, 2016 at 5:38 pm

      Amanda, I am in a similar situation and feel like I am constantly begging the Lord for strength and wisdom. I have young children as well and the thought of them being around their father when I am not around scares me because I can’t protect them from his terrible temper and excessive drinking (I don’t know if he is an alcoholic, but he drinks a lot). I feel confessing my sins to my husband fuels his ego and makes him the victim rather than the villain (similar to what Leslie posted about earlier this week). He says things like we are both sinners. We both need grace. Christ wouldn’t divorce us so we shouldn’t divorce each other. It is so hard. Prayers for you and your family.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 22, 2016 at 5:50 am

      Isn’t it amazing that a human being could honestly believe he has no fault in anything? Such self deception. God will show you your next steps.

  11. Belle on July 20, 2016 at 2:12 pm

    I confess my part, even though it is in reaction to abuse. There have been times he was launching at me verbally and I have said something I should not have. I confess and he said thanks. It amazes me that he can accept my apology for that one thing I said and say nothing about the nasty tirade he committed.

    Actually he has come to me before and said he can’t believe I didn’t apologize for such and such. Once he said that to me and in the conversation he was referencing, I wasn’t sure I had sinned, and he, a pastor, had called me a vulgar name. I just stood there while he pushed the issue further. Did he confess his sin? Bahaha… Predictably, no.

    Since then he has apologized a few times, but I believe it is just so he can say he apologizes in case I take him back to counseling. He’s got to keep his job and reputation, you know.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 22, 2016 at 5:52 am

      So sad our “spiritual leaders” are so blind and so proud at times.

  12. Survivor on July 20, 2016 at 3:13 pm

    I am “damned if I do and damned if I don’t” so to speak……. My husband (from whom I am currently separated) attacked me whether I apologized or not. If I didn’t, he accused me of never taking responsibility. If I did, he used it against me and said he KNEW it wasn’t all his fault!!!!! Over the years that we were married, I tried everything I could think of and related every different way there is and he has even been in counseling for over 8 years. And STILL the stuff happens. I have to say: I just don’t see a one set path through these issues. The best answer I have found for myself is to keep the lines of communication very healthy and open between myself and the Holy Spirit. He guides me in difficult situations. Sometimes that means apologizing, sometimes it means not apologizing. He knows what is appropriate and when so much better than I. Herein is the only security I find in life at this point in time……

    • Leslie Vernick on July 22, 2016 at 5:54 am

      Thanks Survivor for your words of wisdom.

  13. Sarah on July 20, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    In my past marriage, I was required to confess to my part of any disruption we had, but I found that this was his way of putting the blame on me. Confessing to my abusive husband was not healthy in my situation. I attempted to set boundaries instead though I didn’t have this teaching so I didn’t do it all very well. I still confessed occasionally, but most I gave my confessions to God. I like the idea of confessing to a trusted person though. I believe if I had the courage to confide in someone then I might have saved my son and I some of the pain.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 22, 2016 at 5:55 am

      Thanks Sarah

  14. Sheri on July 20, 2016 at 4:34 pm

    I’ve made it a rule to own up to my own need to apologize. I’ve not had to face a physically abusive husband or parents. I talk and repent to my Heavenly Father first. I calm myself down and know that Jesus too the whipping and death for me. He also took it for the one that is destructive to me. So when I over-react, I come back after settling down and under conviction from the Holy Spirit, do let my husband know that I did in fact not respond like God wanted me to. For many years, that’s where it ended. He never apologized to me. But, the longer I’ve owned up to my part, the better and stronger I feel and know I have a clear conscience before my God.
    My mother and I don’t talk very much anymore, because she has never said I’m sorry once in my life. It’s better to keep distance between us, unfortunately. But I have gone to God asked for forgiveness as well as forgave. It seems there’s a fresh connection and my mother seems kinder for a short time. It definitely shows me there’s something purely spiritual when this forgiveness takes place. When I stand in front of Jesus some day, I want Him to be able to say, way to go! You did what was right, even when it wasn’t easy! I’m learning to magnify my Savior and Lord over the problem. Repay good for evil is living like our Savior.
    Definitely a work in progress!

    • Leslie Vernick on July 22, 2016 at 5:57 am

      Beautifully said. Thanks Sheri

  15. Sheri on July 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm

    I’ve made it a rule to own up to my own need to apologize. I’ve not had to face a physically abusive husband although he has been very destructive in our relationship. I pray and repent to my Heavenly Father first usually. I calm myself down and know that Jesus took the whipping and death for me. He also took it for the one that is being destructive towards me. So when I over-react, or act ugly myself, I come back after settling down and under conviction from the Holy Spirit, to let my husband know that I did in fact not respond like God wanted me to. For many years, that’s where it ended. There was never apologies about what he did. He didn’t bring it up again, usually. I would bring up the past to show him it was a pattern. The longer I’ve owned up to my part over time, the better and stronger I feel and know I have a clear conscience before my God. That’s invaluable! It definitely shows me there’s something purely spiritual when this forgiveness takes place. When I stand in front of Jesus some day, I want Him to be able to say, way to go! You did what was right, even when it wasn’t easy! I’m learning to magnify my Savior and Lord over the problem. Repay good for evil is living like our Savior.
    It’s definitely a work still in progress!

  16. Jilly on July 20, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    This is an excellent topic. I choose to go ahead and apologize when I react or speak harshly. Even when it is difficult.
    I know that his behavior toward me is far worse than what I do, but that does not get me off the hook. In fact, it seems to me that if I say I did or said something as reaction, then I am blaming him for my behavior, exactly what we want to avoid in any relationship!

    So my conclusions are:
    (1) If I am to expect him to take responsibility for his own actions, then I certainly must take responsibility for mine, even when my actions seem small in comparison!

    (2) I also see that when I apologize, it is in a sense modeling for him how to handle an infraction. If I show him how simple it is to admit one’s misbehaviors, perhaps he will get the idea how it works in healthy relationship.

    A surprising result of doing this: Not long ago I cut him off in conversation and then left the room. I realized this was not appropriate conversation. I went back, told him I realized that I’d cut him off and I’m sorry, I’ll certainly try not to do that again. What was it he wanted to say?
    His response was surprise, like I was speaking a foreign language. He said, “Oh, OK.”

    And then the next day he was complaining that I think I’m always right and never to blame. I reminded him that I’d just admitted to an infraction the day before and apologized. That actually halted his complaining that afternoon.

    Truly, I think he was so surprised so see how easy apologizing is, that it did not even register in his brain. It points to how severely he is unable to understand this thing about owning one’s own behaviors.

    • Sue on July 20, 2016 at 9:11 pm

      Love conclusion #1, that is spot on!

    • Leslie Vernick on July 22, 2016 at 5:59 am

      YOu make a good point about US taking responsibility for our own behaviors and I believe we can do that directly with the person involved, and for some it’s doing it with other trusted people who will help us change and not “react” in those same sinful ways again. Either way, yes, to blame others for our REACTIONS is taking the same ideological stand as the abuser.

  17. Aleea on July 20, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    . . . . I am really impressed with so many of these responses: . . . . “The best answer I have found for myself is to keep the lines of communication very healthy and open between myself and the Holy Spirit. He guides me in difficult situations.” . . . “Lord please come quick and show me the way. Lord, please give me strength and wisdom to do your will.”. . .“I’m learning to magnify my Savior and Lord over the problem. Repay good for evil is living like our Savior” . . . . “So when I over-react, or act ugly myself, I come back after settling down and under conviction from the Holy Spirit, to let my husband know that I did in fact not respond like God wanted me to.” . . . . “If I am to expect him to take responsibility for his own actions, then I certainly must take responsibility for mine, even when my actions seem small in comparison!”, et.al. . . . . Those are really, really inspiring and so encourage me to pray more for everyone and respond in a more thoughtful way myself, in all situations. . . . .What is it about others trying to do it God’s way? It is really so, so encouraging to me. I so love to hear that people are trusting Christ. . . . And it is not a passive state of mind with you. It is like. . . . like a determination to lay hold on the promises of God and cling to them despite when it looks like it will just overwhelm us. . . . I know I should not allow my emotions to hold sway over my mind but it certainly must be okay when my emotions see those seeking to let the truth of God rule over their minds.

  18. Michelle on July 21, 2016 at 7:49 am

    You really nailed it Leslie. This ‘twisted circular conversation’ takes place all the time. It was so confusing. I could never describe it. His negative reactions with exactly the examples you listed, the explosion, and the blaming all happen. And I appreciate you putting into words about not liking the person I become towards him when the bad things happen. I have already begun, and this post is helping me along, to continue to put off my old behaviors and putting on new ones.

    Thank you so much.

  19. Leonie on July 21, 2016 at 9:27 am

    I believe there is a place for righteous anger at what is being done to us we can stand tall in strength and speak truth with dignity & not engage in the destructive dance or let our emotions take over but just address the abuse with truth. That often does bring retaliation because our J’s don’t want to hear truth. So many times an apology from the victim gives the abuser ‘license’ to mop the floor with us if we confess or apologize for anything.

  20. Maria on July 21, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    I am not sure if any of you have experienced this- when my husband does wrong, and it is obvious that he is in the wrong, he will try to provoke me with the hope that I get angry and respond poorly. Then, he can blame me for everything. Fortunately I caught on to his manipulative tactics years ago. Now, in my interactions with him, I know what he he is doing and don’t fall for it.

  21. Sue on July 21, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Yep, and then I’m the only one who ends up apologizing.
    So twisted and backwards.
    I’m catching on as well and learning not to be provoked.

  22. Robin on July 21, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    I am divorced now and it really wasn’t my plan for my marriage to fail. But every single day of my life now I think about all the things I felt so sorry for, thinking something was very sick in me. I found out I was right, something was sick. He had me over a barrel always pointing out how I was the real abuser, and how my behaviors were so out of control. He was right partially. I had become very sick inside. I needed help. I found a great counselor, and spent hours repenting for who I had become. She was safe , and she was gentle helping me to understand how I got so sick inside. I wanted my marriage to work so I believed my husband when if apologize and he pointed to all my faults, distracting him from his abuse. Everyday now I live in peace . I feel the H.S. Nudge me when I need to repent. No more of me being accused of everything being my fault. I would suggest to find a safe person to pray with and let out those things that you are ashamed of. God is so much more merciful than a man who refuses to acknowledge his Destructive behaviors. I’m so thankful for all God has done, to clean me out, and forgive me and free me from abuse.

  23. Leslie Vernick on July 22, 2016 at 6:00 am

    I agree. Thanks.

    • Aleea on July 22, 2016 at 3:18 pm

      . . . thank you for all this teaching and thanks to those who help you make all this interacting (this blog) possible. It certainly means a lot to me and I am very grateful for it and I am thankful to God for this forum even during the times I am confused. . . .There is a happy-sad quality behind every exquisite thing that goes on here because it usually comes from something so tragic.

  24. Nancy on July 22, 2016 at 10:17 am

    Hi there,

    I’ve been a lurker on this Blog for a number of months now, and reading it has helped me stay in reality by reminding me to keep my eyes on Christ.

    Thank you.

    My counsellor recommended your book Leslie (EDM), in March, and my eyes were opened to the ‘nice’, covert abuse of his dependence on me. I was floored that this is a form of abuse. After a month of preparing, praying and asking good friends ( who had no idea) to pray for us – as well as writing and speaking to friends I could express my raw feelings to, who advised me to slow down- I confronted him in the way you suggest in your book. I thank God for your words, His timing, His patience (that certainly did not come from me!) and most of all His Spirit that allowed that conversation to be expressed and heard.

    Your CORE video ( that I must have watched a dozen times) is priceless and keeps me ‘rowing my own canoe’. Taking responsibility for the dependence I had on him instead of Christ has been key in changing my ‘dance steps’.

    In a recent conversation where he was trying to lead us down a destructive path, the Holy Spirit whispered in my ear, “I am your Advocate”. This was such a comfort as I have struggled for years to find my voice to say ‘no’ and hold to it (with my Borderline mother and now with my husband). I’ve never had an advocate. Ever. Now I have the perfect One- and I thank God.

    Thank you each for your heart. Your candid discussions have helped me tangibly feel The Lord’s support and love 🙂

    • Missy on July 27, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Nancy I am in awe of your new found strength Thank u for sharing about our great and “personal” advocate the Holy Spirit. This gives me hope in my situation. After twenty years I don’t feel confident in my own voice. I will listen to Leslie’s CDs again and ask the Lord to help me build my core strength. When I am weak HE is Strong. Thank u again

      • Nancy on August 1, 2016 at 6:10 am

        Hi Missy,
        Thank you for the encouragement. Yes, I agree…when I am weak, He is strong.

        We too are about to hit our 20 year anniversary.

        God Bless you!

  25. Ruth on July 22, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    This blog topic is so timely for me.
    My H and I are in a tense fight right now.
    [Back story- H favors our youngest child. H comes down hard of our oldest but he’s also proud of our oldest for being a good athlete. H is harsh with our middle child and she’s very sensitive to.]
    Without going into a novel, all those dynamics came to a head several days ago and we had a big blowup and now we’re in the Cold War.
    After this blowup with the kids, H blasted me. He said some really TERRIBLE things to me. He never acknowledged how he raised his voice in anger at the kids when he should have been calm. but he made some points that caused me to reconsider how I’d handled the situation with the kids.
    That night I went to pray about it. I realized that bc of the timing of this fight (one kid was going away for 8 days) that I should’ve tried to smooth things over so her send-off would be peaceful. But instead, I got loud like my H did. The irony of this: I did the thing I resent him for ESCALATING STRIFE. My heart was so bent on protecting the kids from him that I missed the mark. I told the kids I was sorry for making a bad situation worse. I wrote out an apology to H and read it to me. He listened but never said a word.
    I’ve been sleeping in another room.

    One morning he gave me his run-down of ‘our’ problems. He sees this as our pattern:
    (1) me doing stupid, annoying stuff (not keeping my phone charged, not locking car doors, work issues. etc)
    (2) him reacting to my stupid behaviors with righteous anger
    (3) me, like a fool, not receiving correction; me calling his ‘righteous anger’ evil and getting offended
    (4) me deceiving him bc I’m fearful of his ‘righteous’ anger [yes, I’ve lied to him numerous times to ward off a blow-up]
    (5) now, I’m become a deceiver AND I’m lukewarm and can’t hear from God. I’m a rebellious Jezebel. I’ve gone down the path of deception and rebellion so long that my mind is being destroyed.
    (6) I’ve poisoned the kids against him

    **He also thinks that if I say he was wrong in how he spoke to someone (usually the kids) that I’m disrespectful. For him disagreement = disrespect.

    Then he went into his hostile cold shoulder mode. He only spoke to me when he absolutely had to.
    Here is where we’re at. ????

    • Ruth on July 22, 2016 at 3:33 pm

      He calls himself ‘Righteous Lot, vexed by the evil all around him’

    • Nancy on July 24, 2016 at 5:20 am

      Hi Ruth,

      What if, when you made regular mistakes, you acknowledged it in a lighthearted way to the kids, in front of him. Something like, “oh gosh, now that was a silly mistake!” and laugh about it. Or, if he brings something up angrily, respond, ” I know, right? What was I thinking?”. This way you are modelling appropriate reactions to regular human blunders. If an apology is safe, keep that lighthearted, too. “Yeah, sorry about that!” and move on.

      Then, cling to Christ ( worship music, prayer) during the storm of his petulant anger. When he attempts to ‘correct you’, develop a one line boundary statement that protects your heart against the assault. (Something like, ” I will not allow myself to be disrespected, regardless of the mistake I made”). Whatever statement works for you, that highlights Reality ( respect is key, mistakes are, well…mistakes), then stick to it. Don’t get sucked in to the details. Above all remember that no one is perfect. Do not hold yourself to that standard. Christ doesn’t. He’s crazy about you- especially when you lose your keys!

      • Sue on July 24, 2016 at 11:15 am

        Oh no, I’m sorry Nancy, but that sounds like she would just be justifying his behavior. She would be agreeing that she’s stupid and annoying by apologizing that way.
        And truly, forgetting to charge her phone, lock the car doors, etc. are not the issue here.
        I don’t know the cause, but his annoyance is his problem to fix, not hers.
        Her and the kids have just become the proverbial “dog” to kick when he is at home because he knows he can get away with it.
        If he’s going to in a foul mood, criticizing and complaining, then he needs to be left in his self-induced misery and her and the kids need to go about their day/life without him and his attitude.
        If she thinks the kids are being treated unfairly, then she needs to talk with him privately away from the kids. And even more importantly, she needs to go and speak to her kids privately, ask how his behavior makes them feel and speak encouragement and life into their hearts, and if necessary, a gentle correction.
        Then pray and move on in a spirit of strength and peace to overcome the spirit of strife and contention.
        She will also need to weigh out the pros and cons of keeping herself and her kids in that toxic environment. What price is too high to pay. I believe Leslie discusses this in her book, “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.”

        • Robin on July 24, 2016 at 12:47 pm

          Well said Sue I totally agree!!!!!!

        • Maria on July 24, 2016 at 4:26 pm

          I really don’t think it’s his annoyance that’s the problem, he (in my opinion) is trying to suck her into an argument, and then use it to put her down. It has been my experience that such personalities love to argue for different reasons – to distract from the actual topic, some have a problem with living in peace, they love turmoil etc. It’s important to learn not to engage.

          • Sue on July 24, 2016 at 6:36 pm

            My point is that whatever is going on with him is HIS problem to deal with NOT hers. By apologizing when he is stuck in his bad attitude will only be allowing him to blame shift and not take responsibility for his unloving, ungodly behavior.
            Now, if he’s willing to pray and seek God regarding his list of “issues” he had with her, that’s a different story. I bet God would have him throw that list out and love and appreciate her for who she is- a child of God. If there are issues that need to be discussed in a marriage, then again, you pray first and then approach in an attitude of humble, gentle love with the understanding that we’re ALL sinners in need of grace and forgiveness. Apologizing in this atmosphere will be much different and healthier.
            But I agree with your last statement- do not engage him, do not get drawn into an endless, circular argument that will leave you exhausted and confused. Love yourself (and your spouse) too much to do that.



        • Nancy on August 1, 2016 at 5:57 am

          Hi Sue,
          I see your point, my suggested wording for acknowledging a normal oversight is a bit self- deprecating. Where I was coming from is that to say ‘oops’ puts the loss of keys ( or whatever) into perspective. It’s just that…an oops. It models an appropriate light – hearted response for the kids (as opposed to the tension he is trying to inflict).

          Speaking the truth of a situation in the moment (in this case saying oops, and then moving on), is key for me in shining light on inappropriate anger. Of course Ruth, if this is not right for you, you must flush my suggestion!

    • Carly on July 25, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      Hi Ruth

      #2 is the item that got my attention. Not charging your phone, leaving a car door unlocked, etc – It’s stupid stuff – that anyone could do – why is his anger righteous? and why would any rational adult feel that you “need correction” over these things?

      I don’t live in your house or walk in your shoes, but if my husband reacted this way over stupid stuff I would just say, oops and let it go at that. Is he being affected, really, by any of it? I have had to learn not to let my husband draw me into an argument. What he is doing – calling his anger righteous – seems manipulative.

  26. Brendda on July 22, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    The women on this blog are amazing….wisdom on display!!

  27. Missy on July 23, 2016 at 11:47 am

    OMG Ruth!! U just described my H and me and my identical reactions. So crazy to think there r so many of us out there. Makes u wonder why all this happens in couples. Scary actually. Get a social worker to counsel with. I have a wonderful one who is helping me find my “inside” voice.

  28. Maria on July 23, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Ruth, is there a way to stop this pattern? I think i read this in one one Leslie’s articles or books- when he brings the things that annoy him to your attention, agree with him and tell him you’re sorry instead of reacting to him by defending yourself. This will probably surprise him and break the pattern.

  29. Aleea on July 25, 2016 at 8:21 pm

    . . . .And maybe all of you already are but always remember to pray for everyone in your situations. I wish you knew how hard it was for me to pray for my mother. That’s why I pray for everyone here’s situations. . . . . I was at my counselor’s today, Doctorate in Psychotherapy, all the rest but praying. . . . praying is still the BEST thing we do, period. . . . .It just flushes the bitterness and she can really dredge it up. God never wants me to pay back evil with more evil. . . . . Even though I certainly have so many times wanted to do just that with my mother. I must leave all that payback to the righteous anger of God. God will take revenge. . . .But, honestly . . . .really, I don’t want to even see it or know about it because once God starts taking revenge and God starts paying back . . . . look at the examples, even in the New Testament it is almost always utterly catastrophic. . . . .Anyways, I don’t get to have vengeance. It is not mine to have; it is God’s alone. I am called to love God and love others even if the Holy Spirit directs me to never interact with her again. No amount of text deconstruction can change that. There is no excuse good enough to ever be out of alignment with Christ’s love when I know what that is and can choose to do it. (. . . And yes, part of that is me giving myself a pep talk.)

  30. Maria on July 25, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    Aleea, thank you so much for your prayers. You have been praying for me, and I have felt it. It is indeed hard to pray for people that hurt us, I’m sure many here can relate. Many times I have prayed for His vengeance. Recently, it has been for His mercy.

    • Aleea on July 26, 2016 at 9:02 am

      . . . . Oh, Maria it is a privilege to pray for you and your family and everyone here. To know Christ and to have any part (—no matter how small) in His kingdom is just overwhelming to me(—tears). . . . ―I was thinking about it last night. . . . .Christ seems to continually be shouting through the universe: “You have a love that is already yours. You have nothing to prove to anyone. You have nothing to prove to Me. You are significant and preapproved and utterly cherished. Not because you are in any way “good,” but because you are Mine.” . . . . but. . . but. . . if you were raised in certain religious structures you were told and terrified as a child with the images of hell, of your own evil. . . Oh my, the whole image is that eternal suffering awaits any child who questions God’s infinite love. That’s part of the message I was brought up with. The other part was just “intellectualism.” . . . We were talking in counseling yesterday that we (I) often bat away the messages of value that others and God have for us (me). We (I) don’t mean to…it is just like almost automatic. —And those messages of worth and value just won’t sink down deep inside. . . . —Is there any limit to the ways we can be broken?

  31. Hurting on July 25, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    Tonight my husband and I discussed the serious issues that have plagued our marriage and I suggested a separation because it is the only way I feel healing can occur. He then turned on me and started accusing me of the exact same things he has done to me. He laced little truths with big lies and now I feel more defeated than ever. I apologized for the accusations because I didn’t want to try to defend them, but at the same time the accusations were just that, accusations and point blank lies. He is accusing me of sexually abusing him (which is what he has done to me) and abandoning him. He says I abandoned him because I asked for some space while I healed after he raped me. Is this what classic abusers do? Find ways to get you where it hurts? Not once in our marriage has he said I sexually abused him. Now when I am asking for a separation and telling him I don’t see how things will ever work, he is accusing me of horrible things. I am in despair. He kept saying the gospel isn’t divorce. Christ wouldn’t divorce us. Why would I do this to the kids?

    I feel I will never truly heal.

    • Robin on July 27, 2016 at 1:48 am

      Hurting, I think you are wise to consider a separation so healing can start. Yes the things you mentioned are right on for most abusers. It’s very typical that they don’t bring something up, until you do.?Try not to focus on his words, but on the truth. You need to find the truth for yourself. As you separate and seek for truth, you will heal. It’s very common to wander if healing will ever come. You are in a good starting place. Take your next step- and God will guide you into an authentic healing, peace and joy!!!

    • Susanne on August 2, 2016 at 7:37 pm

      When we were about to separate after 13 years of marriage, my husband told me that I tried to change him all through our marriage. Of course he had never said anything like that throughout our marriage! I was shocked and wondered he was referring to because the only thing I wanted to change was the verbal and physical abuse. I asked him what he meant and he stated that I wanted him to listen to me all those years. Well, I couldn’t help but chuckle and told him that every woman wants her husband to listen to her. So I thought, is that all he’s got?

  32. Sue on July 26, 2016 at 1:11 pm

    I’m sorry you are going through this right now.
    When I/we were at a crisis point in our marriage and my husband found out that I had finally told someone else about his abuse, he pulled out the “big guns”. Crazy, half-truth accusations made in desperate attempt at damage control (saving his “good image”) while continuing to control and manipulate me.
    One important thing I’ve learned is to stop trying to get his approval or to agree with me. To make my decisions and set my boundaries based on what I knew was true and right, not on avoiding his disapproval, anger and rejection.
    If you are not already doing so, please find a Godly Christian counselor who will agree with you that his actions are abusive and will help you to set healthy boundaries.
    Until you work through these issues and become more proficient and comfortable doing this on your own, you will need the help of the counselor and the support of family and friends.
    It took me a good 3+ years in counseling and putting into practice what I learned to begin to be in a good place in dealing with my husband and our issues.
    You CAN heal! It will take some time and determined effort but it is possible.
    God bless ????

    • Robin on July 27, 2016 at 1:43 am

      Sue, is your marriage healing??

  33. Sue on July 27, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Hi Robyn, good question and I’ll try to answer the best I can.
    I believe that I’m healing and that in turn is having a positive effect on all of the relationships in our immediate family- our marriage and also with our kids- kind of a ripple effect you could say.
    I’m focusing on my relationship with God and then in turn, extending that grace to my husband and our kids. What I’m specifically NOT doing is looking/waiting for a change/apology/repentance from my husband first.
    And it is eliciting a positive response in him.
    To be honest, I cannot say for sure that his response is from a changed, softened heart or if he just feels like he is getting his way and I’m finally being the good, submitted little wife.
    And I don’t know exactly what path we’re on or where we will be in a year or five or twenty-five.
    What I believe is that I am being obedient to God (as best as I can as a sinful human with the help of the Holy Spirit) and I am giving God the best possible environment to work in my husband and our marriage.
    I don’t think we’re at the place of trust, vulnerability and intimacy that we could be. We haven’t discussed and resolved important issues, specifically the abuse, control and manipulation by both of us. And I don’t know how or when that will take place.
    By letting go of trying to fix and get what I want my way, and trusting God to work and I have found peace and healing in my own heart, mind and spirit. This is the most I have ever demonstrated CORE in my life. I believe it will show my husband the respect he so desires and will give him only love and kindness from me to respond to.
    At the very least, if he gets cranky with me, I can know I’m not the cause and rather than react out of a position of fear, I can respond in love and seek to empathize and ask best how to help him- whether directly or thru God in prayer.
    I have found that asking my husband questions about areas in his life that I know are stressful has helped him to open up and share more. If I am complaining, focusing on his short-comings and how he’s failed as a husband and hurt me, then he shuts down and gives me the cold shoulder.
    He already carries the double heavy burden of working a highly stressful job to try and a tight budget. He doesn’t need me heaping complaints on top of that. As I’ve shared before, I look/wait for “God moments” to share bits of encouraging truth with him,-i.e. your negativity and complaining is hurting you,- and he has responded well to that.
    I am trying to be more of an asset than liability to him. Example: I had major back surgery last May and haven’t worked much (I’m an RN) since January of last year. As you can imagine, between high insurance deductibles and greatly decreased income, our finances took a big hit.
    I’m still going to PT and Doctor appointments, but I’ve told him I will try to work a shift for every appointment to ease the financial burden on you. I believe this spoke volumes to him because I truly empathized and I offered a tangible solution. Things I know speak love and respect to him because I’ve been studying him and learning how he works.
    Sorry for being so long-winded. But I know I’m the kind of person who needs real life examples and practical advice.
    I hope this is helpful to you in some way. ????

    • Robin on July 27, 2016 at 10:33 am

      Sue, I’m blessed to hear your story and how God has led you to go toward your own healing, and keep your eyes off of husband. You have worked hard and it’s a bit of fresh air to hear a story of moving forward even tho everything isn’t in place. The best gift we can give our family is to focus on us first, and then there is hope they will follow as well. I am divorced now, but one thing we share in common, is looking at the Lord to give us a path of healing. Thank you for sharing!!!!

      • Leslie Vernick on July 30, 2016 at 12:31 pm

        I agree.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 30, 2016 at 12:27 pm

      I’m so glad you’ve learned to “let go of the outcome” and just trust God and be obedient in the process.

  34. Missy on July 27, 2016 at 9:59 am

    Sue. I’m so glad I clicked on yr comment. I don’t know what u were responding to but reading this this morning was just what I needed to hear at this point in my journey. Thank u Lord for helping Sue come to this and please help me let go of the fixing part. My H is also an RN on a very stressful floor and he must feel the only place he can really have control of is home and it’s destroying all of his relationships here. I wish u could be on my support team because I feel u understand and could help me greatly. Thank u again for your heart and sharing!!

  35. Sue on July 27, 2016 at 10:29 am

    Hi Missy,
    I was responding to “Hurting”‘s post and Robyn’s question.
    I’m so glad that it was helpful to you. I know what it’s like to be thrown a life-line when you’re drowning in hurt, confusion and despair.
    I am still learning to apply all of this to my own marriage and have a long way to go, but am happy to share and support you here on this blog. ????

  36. Sue on July 27, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Amen ????

  37. Michelle on July 27, 2016 at 11:05 am

    I need that. Path of healing. I just don’t know where it is for me. Today is not a good day.

    • Robin on July 27, 2016 at 11:15 am

      Michelle, do you have a relationship with a counselor who can guide your healing?? How about a close friend who can listen and hold your hand while you work thru things??
      I also had a D.V. counselor I saw once a week to just talk thru things. Her opinions were amazingly helpful. We all have hard days. Is there something you can do for yourself, that you’re not right now??

      • Leslie Vernick on July 30, 2016 at 12:32 pm

        Great suggestions Robin for Michelle.

  38. Michelle on July 27, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    No. I did see a counselor through church a couple of years ago. While it helped me, it didn’t help my situation. While I applied new better reactions, things just somehow get worse. I feel at my end today. I had a somewhat close friend, but she moved out of state. I’ve talked some to a friend at work who’s a pastor’s wife, but it’s limited, because we are at work. Not much o can do or many I can talk to. My husband has a suspicious nature. Counseling meetings themselves have caused me grief at home.
    I have children, a job, and a studio I’m trying to maintain to bring in extra income. Not much time for anything else.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 30, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      But if you don’t make time for you and your own well-being, you won’t be able to maintain that pace, nor live in CORE.

  39. Robin on July 27, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Michelle, I do understand how challenging it is when you have a family, a job, and a cranky husband to deal with. You didn’t really say where you are in your process. What would like to be able to do different than you are now??

  40. Michelle on July 27, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    I’m stuck right now. I did look for another place to live in May and again the beginning of June. He would come back ask for me to give him another chance. Til the end of summer he said. Things seemed to improve somewhat, but then he got a little sick just before leaving town for two weeks, which was great relief for us. But he’s been home for 1 1/2 weeks now. I see things slipping back to where they were. Right owner are not in a good place, especially me.
    What do I want to do different now? Now, I felt like just packing up, running away, and not look back. I was in such deep thought on the way to work this morning that I missed my exit, and I considered keeping on driving! But I have responsibilities, namely my children. Two of them are just mine. We are a blended family. The youngest is ours together, and oh how he loves us both. To stay is devastating my two older ones. To leave could devestate my youngest. It’s heartbreaking. Today I am at my end.
    What I really want is peace, harmony, and healing. I learned from my counselor about love as an action, especially when you don’t feel it. The feelings hopefully will come back. It’s not happening. It feels like pretending. I don’t want to do that anymore. I just want to be me, be a good mother and get them through school, and hopefully give them the stability they need to be mature well-functioning adults. Stable.
    That’s what I want. No more fear, especially for them.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 30, 2016 at 12:39 pm

      SO what would it take to create more stability for you and the children? What do you need to maintain your desire to be a good mother, and live in a more peaceful place even if it’s just in your own head?

  41. Robin on July 27, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    Michelle, it sounds like you know what you want. Perhaps it’s time to write down what the steps are to achieve your goal. Separation is a good tool if u don’t move back in together too soon. But some women try to work on themselves, hoping they can build strong personal boundaries. Whichever way you go, you will need a strong core. We have to strengthen ourselves first. If I was to give you advice, I’d say do NOT NEGLECT TO PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN. You can work on your marriage if u choose, but your children need to not live in fear.
    You yourself get the help you need, and it will strengthen your children.

  42. Michelle on July 27, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    I am currently reading Bounderies by Henry Cloud. It’s helping me some. As for my children, I have my protective eye on them, especially the two older ones because they seem to get the harshness. The youngest one my husband dotes on and favors.
    My older two are getting into their teens now and I’m concerned about their emotional state. If we were to leave, I would then worry about my youngest emotional state. I don’t like that feeling of making a trade off between my children. Picking one over another.

  43. Robin on July 27, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    Michelle instead of worrying about the kids– do what is needed for you first. As Leslie says in her books, Safety and Sanity are significant to regain healthyness. All your children will cope, when you are. Of course at first they might be upset, but children adapt. You will serve everyone’s needs when you get the help you need.

  44. Robin on July 27, 2016 at 1:41 pm

    Michelle I had a blended family also. My two oldest children suffered greatly. I would encourage you to guard their hearts and do what is best for them. The younger will adjust in time.

  45. Michelle on July 27, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    Thank you for that. When you put it that way, it makes sense. I just hate the thought of the fear in my two older ones, and the sad face of my youngest.

  46. Michelle on July 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm

    I do try and pray about guarding their hearts and spirit. We talk and I’m trying to teach them more about grace as I learn it.

  47. Robin on July 27, 2016 at 2:01 pm

    That’s awesome Michelle. If I had to do it over again, I would separate way early. I am so sorry I allowed my precious babies to be so unloved, and not respected by their dad. They have paid a huge price and it’s my one true regret- not giving them a home of protection and the love they needed.

    • Sue on July 27, 2016 at 3:14 pm

      I have the same regret.
      My two sons (from my first marriage) are young adults now and living out on their own but sadly I do not have a strong relationship with them.
      My current husband was very harsh and abusive towards them and they both left to go live with their dad full time at ages 13 & 11 to escape the abuse. They would have nothing to do with me for years and have since shared that needed me to protect them and I did not. They both have mental, emotional and spiritual issues that they still struggle with and that affect their ability to lead healthy, functional lives.
      I pray for them and try to have a good relationship with them, but it’s difficult. I have apologized and asked for their forgiveness- which they have given me to some degree. But the pain of regret is almost overwhelming at times. I’ve worked on this issue in counseling and know I need to forgive myself, but it’s difficult. I remember them as sweet, cute little boys and wish I could go back and do it all over again.
      I also have a 12 year old daughter with my current husband and he did/does favor her. He did, however, become slightly abusive towards her and I immediately told my counselor (I never told anyone about my sons’ abuse). Social services became involved and he was really angry with me but he changed his tune pretty quick with our daughter and I would do it again to protect her if I had to.
      So even though you think it may hurt your youngest to separate, it’s also hurting and affecting him/her to see their half-sibs being abused and your modeling a dysfunctional pattern of marriage and parenting to him/her.
      Protect your kids at all costs. You only get ONE chance with them during their formative years and after that, it’s too late. They’ll have to figure out how to live with and heal from the abuse they experienced as children.
      Be proactive rather than reactive before it’s too late.

      • Robin on July 27, 2016 at 3:39 pm

        Sue sounds like you learned some valuable lessons with youngest. I know it’s hard to forgive self– I read a quote recently that said, Learn all you can and then forgive yourself for what you hadn’t learned yet.

        • Sue on July 27, 2016 at 4:14 pm

          Thank you, Robin ❤️
          That brought tears to the eyes of a weary mom. I do love my kiddos dearly. I appreciate the empathy.

    • Hurting on July 27, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      My husband grabs my two youngest children a lot. They come to me crying “daddy hurt me!” He says he didn’t. He says they are lying and that he is just disciplining them because they aren’t well behaved. I fear keeping them in a home where grabbing like that is ok. I wonder how it will effect them. They are so used to it and it scares me. But I fear leaving because if I do, I can’t stop him from his anger.

      • Maria on July 28, 2016 at 9:44 am

        Hurting, could you please explain what you mean by grabbing. Doesn’t sound like your kids have a reason to lie.

        • Hurting on July 28, 2016 at 10:11 am

          Yes – because I’d love someone else’s opinion on the situation. My daughter tried to grab his iphone after he told her no many times, I was walking by and saw his face contort to anger after she kept trying and his left hand was going towards her right upper thigh. When he saw me he slowly pulled his hand away. He didn’t actually squeeze her then, but he has many times on her upper arm. Another incident was when my 3 year old was wearing pull ups and he peed through them while my husband was laying next to him. My middle child came running in screaming daddy is so mad all the while I can hear my son screaming bloody murder. My son comes in and says “daddy grabbed me. Daddy hurt me” and was showing me on his biceps (upper arm area) where daddy grabbed him. My husband denies it. These are the two most recent encounters. He says it is discipline, I say grabbing in anger and squeezing a child isn’t discipline. It is abuse. He says he would never abuse his children because he loves them. He has grabbed me before as well years ago and left finger nail prints and slight bruising, so I know he is a grabber from my own personal experience. This type of stuff with the youngest two happens at least twice a month. Most of the time I don’t see the actual grab, I just hear the kids say “daddy hurt me.” I feel paralyzed. I believe them but he is so good at manipulation or minimizing it saying they lie or they don’t know what they are saying. i have told the kids that if daddy grabs them, they need to look at him and say do not touch me like that and to come tell me. I told them no one should grab them.

          • Maria on July 29, 2016 at 7:43 am

            Hurting, This is the first time I’ve heard of parents grabbing their kids to discipline them. For discipline to be effective, we as parents need to be calm and composed. Our goal is to correct the kid, not release our anger. Releasing our anger on kids is abuse. Kids will do immature and annoying things. When their behavior gets to us, we need to take a time out, and cool down before we can effectively discipline them. The Bible talks about sparing the rod and destroying the child, so many Christians use physical punishment. Parents who don’t have self control should stay away from this form of punishment, in my opinion. Seems to me that your husband was angry when he “disciplined” them. That is abuse. If he is grabbing them so hard that he is leaving a mark, he is being abusive. If you do nothing, you will be considered an accomplice. Can you have a conversation with him? Plan what you are going to say beforehand-don’t accuse him, instead tell him your concerns, use I statements. Pray for wisdom before you talk to him. You could say something like this:

            I am very concerned how grabbing to discipline is affecting our kids. I feel that you are angry when you do it. Also, it is very easy to do that in anger. In order to effectively discipline our kids, we need to be in control of ourselves. Otherwise, the kids are going to be negatively impacted, they will see this behavior and do it to others, they will become very angry etc.

            Hopefully, he responds well to this. Then you can suggest a good parenting book to study together, get help from an older couple etc.

            If he responds poorly, tell him you will have to involve the authorities because this is abuse and by staying silent you are an accomplice.

            Someone is bound to see the marks on your kids and call the authorities. You will be in trouble too if that happens.

            Aleea, on this blog was physically abused. Please read her posts to see how she is struggling. You don’t want your kids in that situation.



          • Leslie Vernick on July 30, 2016 at 1:32 pm

            I agree. Thanks Maria



          • Aleea on July 31, 2016 at 5:26 pm

            Thank you Maria, it lessens the pain to know it might galvanize someone into action. Childhood should be carefree, playing in the sun; not living a nightmare. . . .You don’t want any abuse manipulating and twisting your children’s natural sense of trust and love. Having innocent feelings belittled and mocked you learn to ignore your feelings. For me, any expression of feelings, even a single tear, was cause for more severe beatings and abuse. You don’t want their only recourse to be just shutting down. Then everything goes underground and you are a prisoner of your childhood. . . . .Faith is why I’m here today and faith is why I made it through but believe me, the wounded recognize the wounded. I think I have this right, like 82 percent of the traumatized children seen in the National Child Traumatic Stress Network do not meet diagnostic criteria for PTSD. . . . because they often are shut down, suspicious, or aggressive they receive pseudoscientific diagnoses such as “oppositional defiant disorder,” meaning “This kid hates my guts and won’t do anything I tell her to do,” or “disruptive mood dysregulation disorder,” meaning she has temper tantrums. Having as many problems as they do, these kids accumulate numerous diagnoses over time. Before they reach their twenties they have four, five, six, or more of these impressive but meaningless labels. If they receive treatment at all, they get whatever is being promulgated as the method of management du jour: medications, behavioral modification, or exposure therapy. That research shows those rarely work and often cause even more damage (re-tramatize). . . .And let me tell you, later on, relational depth psychology is no panacena either. It is good but it is as slow as molasses. . . If love is minimal and abuse high, the damage will be monumental to repair. . . . . Be your kids hero, you can do it.



      • Leslie Vernick on July 30, 2016 at 12:51 pm

        Can you firmly say to your husband, “Grabbing is not disciplining them, especially when you leave bruises or hurt them. If you need to discipline them, put them in a time out.” If your children ever have bruises, document them, take pictures and take them to their doctor who will be mandated to report him for child abuse. Maybe having authorities tell him that’s inappropriate discipline will yield better results.

        • Hurting on August 1, 2016 at 11:16 am

          I have told him this for years. He says he loves the kids and would never hurt them. He is simply disciplining them. I have one picture of when he grabbed my daughter on her upper thighs (she accidentally kicked him in the groin area). He lashed out at her and hurt her physically and emotionally. They have never had bruises. I’ve had a couple bruises from him but not the kids. They have redness that lasts a little while.

  48. Michelle on July 27, 2016 at 3:56 pm

    Thank you Sue. I appreciate you sharing that. I have read like stories. It scares me. I can’t imagine losing the closeness I have with my children. I can see how you can get overwhelmed. I already get that at times from things that happened a few years ago that I feel I let happen. And I definitely couldn’t live without them. I am all they have anyway. That line, between teaching them perseverance and getting out.

    • Robin on July 27, 2016 at 4:15 pm

      Michelle, when you said that fine line between perseverance and getting out; I encourage you to think what they are to persevere. ABUSE? Those are hard words to hear – but it’s much harder to see children lose themselves to a man that refuses to acknowledge his destructive behavior. And the cost to the children will last a lifetime. My daughters are in their 40’s and have been thru intensive counseling, and still hurt and suffer. It’s not fair for us to allow this to happen.

  49. Michelle on July 27, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    I just added it up. When my youngest is 12, my older two will be 19 and 20, girl and a boy. I can’t let this happen.

  50. Robin on July 27, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Sue both you and I have paid high costs to our children for not protecting them. God paid the price. He doesn’t expect us to go on – suffering but giving your testimony as you did on this blog, perhaps will save others. In time we see the value in that. Bless your heart????

  51. Michelle on July 27, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    Perseverance as in not giving up, living their life with grace and keeping striving to be their best selves God intended them to be. There are lessons in all adversities. I pray we are learning ours, soon it will be done. I keep wondering what else.

    • Robin on July 27, 2016 at 4:48 pm

      It’s not an easy road. But one worth taking. One baby step at a time.

  52. Robin on July 27, 2016 at 5:56 pm

    Hurting, I’m really sorry you have to endure that kind of behavior. My husband did that too. Unfortunately it escalates as the kids get older. It’s a tough call not knowing when a mom should leave. Personally I would say if you can’t draw a boundary making him stop- I’d say it’s time for a separation. Have you tried drawing a boundary and insisting he stop this kind of behavior?? To do nothing is a form of abuse. I would encourage you to be strong for your children’s sake and immediately set a boundary. Does that seem like something you could try??

    • Hurting on July 27, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      I’ve set boundaries with him. I’ve told him not to touch them ever because he cannot control his anger and using physical discipline while angry is not okay. I’ve seen him grab a couple of times and vehemently expressed how that was wrong but other times I didn’t see and he denies it. I don’t believe my children to lie about something like that.

      • Robin on July 27, 2016 at 7:25 pm

        I hear you and believe you Hurting. My children went thru the same thing exactly. I would talk to them and say when daddy starts doing this- I need you to come to me. And then I’ll talk to daddy. ??

  53. Sue on July 27, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Michelle and Hurting,
    May I encourage you, if you have not already done so, to get Leslie’s book, “The Emptionally Destructive Marriage”, and to specifically read and focus on chapter 8.
    You both need a plan and support system in place if you are to have a chance at separating successfully.
    Hurting, I am especially concerned about you being afraid to leave because you can’t stop his anger. That’s true, you can’t control anyone’s emotions but your own. But please don’t let yourself continue to be manipulated that way.
    Since you already pretty much know how he’s going to react, you need to have all your ducks in a row: legally, financially, food, shelter, transportation, etc., so none of those things will tempt you to stay or go back. Continue with counseling to build your resolve. Enlist the help of friends and family. DON’T try to do this alone. Even have two or three others present when you are leaving to protect yourself and the kids- he’s less likely to try something with others around. But if he does, they can call the police and you’ll have witnesses.
    You’re strong, beautiful, amazing women and you can take the steps to a better life for you and your kids ????

    • Leslie Vernick on July 30, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Agreed.

  54. Michelle on July 28, 2016 at 5:35 am

    I totally understand this. You can’t stop his anger. To stay feels nervous and sometimes scary. Thoughts of removing yourself and the children seems safe yet dangerous. I have seen the anger get to a point that I am uncertain how far it could really go. There’s total loss of self-control. If it can get to that point, what’s to stop it from going further.
    And the confusing part of it all is the moments when he’s ‘nice’. I wonder how can this be. Is this the same man that acted out? Is that the same face that spewed out such ugly loud accusing words at me? Is this the same guy wondering why my kids are quiet around him and why they won’t hug him? It’s a viscous cycle.

  55. Michelle on July 28, 2016 at 5:44 am

    I understand this, too. I have tried to set boundaries. They continue to get crossed, then forgotten. This summer in particular, in between ordeals, while he is suppose to be trying to do better, my children are telling me that he is still harsh and unkind to them when I’m not around. I’m trying to work and save money in case I need it for me and my children. I try to never leave them alone with him. He is not physically abusive to them, just verbal, which is affecting them emotionally and mentally I think. We are all suppose to be trying harder. It’s beginning to look more like the definition of insanity. Keep doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome.

  56. Michelle on July 28, 2016 at 5:54 am

    I do have the book. I have read it one and a half times. I will get it out and re-read ch 8.
    My H is the main bread winner here. I don’t take care of the bills. I just give him a monthly contribution, which doesn’t leave me much. I do have a studio that I have some projects I’m working on. I have nothing in my name including the car, which he has tried to take away before. (He ended up giving the key back to me.) I do have info for where to live. Legally, I don’t seem to have the money for representation. I did try to call for a consultation but was turned away when the talk of money came up. I can’t help but feel alone in this. My family lives in Texas. I could try to go to my church if it comes right down to it. That could be awkward since my H’s cousin is the adult pastor there.

  57. Missy on July 28, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Wow Michele my heart goes out to u. U sound pretty hopeless and desperate. I too felt these things and I got w legal aide who set me up w a wonderful social worker who helped me recently see that what I thought was an anger management issue of my H is actually a control/power issue which makes him angry when we don’t comply which is lots of the time. I feel relief that I now know what monster the Lord and I r battling. Try to get a SW u can afford.

  58. Robin on July 28, 2016 at 12:12 pm

    Hurting, ANY GRABBING IS ABUSE. My husband would use words to minimize it . It’s important to not listen to the abusers words- but listen for truth coming from the children. My husband would tell me they needed more discipline. This is a lie to distract you from seeing the abuse from what it really is.

  59. Sheri on August 1, 2016 at 1:13 am

    To all of you responding to Hurting’s post on grabbing. Maybe her husband is being too rough. He’s not being gentle enough or grabs when he’s angry. It is important to run some interference to help the husband handle things in a new way. Love and Logic may be a good book to get a hold of. Share the things out of the book that you want to start implementing instead of grabbing when angry. Ask him to work with you on trying something different that may get better results. I think the important thing to remember is to not overreact & “turn him in” at this point. He needs a better way of coping and acting with kids. Since I’ve not witnessed this firsthand, it’s very difficult to just say bring in the authorities. That should be a last resort. Period. There is the Total Transformation that can also be implemented. Don’t give up on seeking parenting helps. It sounds like the husband just needs to have better ways of handling the situation. Don’t throw him under the bus just yet. Pray and bind the enemy of our souls in the Name of Jesus as soon as he walks in the house (in another room without husband being aware). Ask for God’s peace & wisdom in dealing with your husband & children. Be willing to change your own bad habits that get your blood boiling & your husband’s. Talk about it as adults (helps to remind him that “we can handle this as mature adults)… Give it time to see if those changes help with the situations.
    Worst case scenario is to call cps or police. Don’t hesitate if it escalates & the child(ren) are in true danger, but even load up children and leave with them until he is willing to calm down. You’ve got options. Be smart. Respond in love & wisdom. Let your husband know how much you respect him for being willing to try a new way of handling the tough situations. Do what you can to alleviate his feelings of powerlessness in the disciplining of kids. Build him up that you respect his ability to not grab these little ones. Just do what you CAN do to make new healthier habits.

  60. Robin on August 1, 2016 at 1:24 pm

    Hurting, it might be good to get the larger picture . Is your husband Destructive in other ways than grabbing. Does he clearly behave in ways that put fear in you, and are inappropriate? Or are we only talking about grabbing. Grabbing is abusive even if it’s isolated, but one abusive behavior is usually followed by more. But it’s still good to understand if grabbing stands alone . Or if there is more going on in your home than this.

    • Hurting on August 1, 2016 at 2:21 pm

      Robin, He has physically, emotionally, psychologically and sexually abused me the past ten years. When he has done things to the kids, I was strong enough to say stop or that is wrong. I’ve talked to him about proper discipline. He doesn’t hear me. All he hears is I am saying he did something wrong (which he did). I don’t flat out say you’re wrong, I explain the difference in discipline and grabbing (I didn’t ever call it abuse at first or he would have flipped on me). Once he hears he is being corrected some, his anger and rage come out. A year ago our son was under his care around a pool (I was sick and didn’t have the energy to chase him around). I noticed my husband on his phone and didn’t see my son anywhere. I asked him immediately where our son was and he looked like a deer caught in headlights. I ran towards the backyard area terrified. Praise the Lord my son was ok. He was IN the pool going down the stairs. He would have drowned had he gone a step or two further (he was 2). We were at his moms house and I’m not close to them so I grabbed my son and just sat outside the rest of the day watching him like a hawk. Later on that evening, when I had calmed down, I gently said, “hey can we talk about what happened at the pool today?” I said it as softly and non confrontationally as possible. At first he was like yes, then before he could say the “s” part of yes he was screaming you think I am a monster? You think I am a dead beat dad? I walked away from him as fast as I could but he followed me and he cornered me in the laundry room, continuing to scream at me. I was backed up to a wall and felt terrified, alone, scared, worthless, stupid, crazy…. I tried so hard to gently talk to him and it didn’t matter. This is my life. This, with in reason, is what I have gone through for ten years. I want out so bad, but he isn’t letting me.

      • Robin on August 1, 2016 at 2:58 pm

        Hurting I have experienced everything you shared but even more intensely. I didn’t have the tools I needed to know how to stop him from destroying me. When you say he won’t let you- are you waiting for his permission and acceptance to leave?? Do you understand you need to get your inner core strong enough so you can make decisions for yourself and that are needed to be safe and healthy?? I am so sorry you are experiencing the pain of abuse. I really do understand your agony. Forgive me if I’ve already asked- have you read Leslie’s book and did it help?? What do you think you need to get unstuck? Do you have parents that are watching and able to support you??

        • Hurting on August 1, 2016 at 4:41 pm

          I think I am waiting for his permission. I told him plainly I needed a separation. He raped me over a year ago and have lived under the same roof as he and finally realized there is no healing from that while he is under the same roof. I have read Leslie’s book but stopped at the chapter on leaving. It scares me because I don’t live by my family. It is all his family. Many don’t believe me on his abuse. To get unstuck is to have a miracle for the Lord to strengthen me to leave. I have lived under his abuse for so long, it has damaged me greatly. He literally just sent me an email and said, “I realize what has been wrong our whole marriage. We just don’t communicate well.” I don’t believe our miscommunication should be an excuse for his abuse. I don’t believe he can minimize his abuse to miscommunication, but I don’t have the strength to tell him that or he will retaliate. So I just sit and shut my mouth.

      • Sue on August 1, 2016 at 3:06 pm

        Hurting, I’m sorry if you already explained, but why is it you think he won’t let you leave?
        That isn’t for him to decide.
        You’re an adult woman and you can choose whether you want to stay or leave.
        Right now (and for the past 10 years), you’ve chosen to stay. This may sound uncaring of me, but I want you to start seeing the bigger picture in all of this.
        You chose to marry him, you chose to live with him, you chose to have children with him and you’ve chosen to continue to endure his abuse.
        And for the past 10 years you’ve had the choice to stay or leave.
        I understand how small your world seems when you’re in so much pain.
        I also understand how difficult it can be to think clearly and make rational decisions on your own.
        You can’t do this alone. You need a support system in place because your husband is going to do whatever it takes to have his way and you’ll need the strength and resolve to stand up to him and say, ” no more, I’m done”.
        No arguing, pleading, begging, using just the right voice or words.
        You just take the kids and go.
        And STAY away.
        Please reach out to a domestic violence shelter to get more information about safely leaving, free legal aid & counseling, shelter, food, etc.
        These shelters deal with hundreds of women just like you- not much money/job, young children, no support system, etc. They know exactly how to help you. I know it’s intimidating. Is there a friend who can help you make that first call?
        Please reach out for help.
        You’re husband is not going to agree and give his blessing.
        He’s not going to change.
        He has no reason to change.
        But you have every reason to get you and your kids out and to start thinking clearly.

        • Nancy on August 2, 2016 at 4:24 pm

          Hi Hurting,
          A call to a local women’s shelter can be a very safe first step in gaining clarity. Some shelters provide counselling by phone, or can meet you in person, somewhere safe.

          May God Bless you!

          My favourite scripture is Prov 4:23 “Above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of your life.”

  61. Robin on August 1, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    Hurting to do nothing is a form of abuse; this is my concern for you .
    To not set a goal or work towards something that will prepare you for next steps is a risky place to be. You said you’ve done this for ten years. What are you going to do to not do it for another ten years??
    I don’t believe separation is the only answer — but it is an option to help the Destructive spouse to acknowledge his abuse. But if you choose to not separate, it is wise to set some goals. I would recommend finish reading Leslies book and trust the Lord to guide you. To not read it, is saying you don’t want to hear truth, and that’s the same as denial.
    One more thing– to put your life and your children’s lives in the hands of your abusive husband, letting him say when you can get the help you need (by separating) is a dangerous thing. I doubt he will ever say yes to you to leave. If there’s one thing I learned it was not give his voice power. Work hard to hear truth from the Lord, not the destructive spouse. When I would listen to my husbands words and allow them to be what I would do– it only led to misery.

  62. Michelle on August 1, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    I understand this. That may be my problem too. I’m waiting for him to give me permission or him to agree with me that we need time a part for self healing. My kids need it. And at his most heated moments, he does tell me to leave, but with my personal financial lack, I have to save. During the saving, he wants to keep working on our marriage, but how we think it will get better by doing the same thing I don’t know. It’s insane. I’m not so sure he will simply let me go. At the moment we are looking to purchase a house, but he is also giving me the silent treatment. He left town this morning without a word to me. I’m so sad about this. Not in my plan.

    • Robin on August 1, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      Michelle, you are right. When you keep cycling the same things over and over , nothing will or can change. I often refer to H. Clouds book, ‘Necessary Endings’ as I love how he speaks about ‘true reality- vs- ‘false reality’; meaning false reality is when you live in denial and do not acknowledge the truth about the relationship and how it is hurting all the family members. And true reality is seeing the mess it’s in and goes toward change. The Necessary Ending might be nothing more- than stopping the abuse, and not necessarily ending the relationship. For others it will mean ending abuse will only happen thru a separation. I would never say it’s easy to take these kind of steps. I don’t think anyone is ever ready to do so. It takes a giant leap of faith to accomplish the task of stopping abuse. I’m glad to hear you are working on a plan and saving money. It’s important to have a plan and start working towards change.
      As I said earlier- to do nothing is a form of abuse. But it takes getting an education about abuse by reading Leslies books, maybe signing up for one of her classes, and using this blog for support. Then God will work with you, and help you make the steps needed.

      • Robin on August 1, 2016 at 11:05 pm

        Michelle, if it was me I might have a very honest discussion with him and say- now is not the time to be purchasing a house. We need to prioritize our relationship and the pain in our home. Until we can do that, I am not able to consider buying a home together………. When I was ready to separate my husband said I’m planning a trip to France with my brother and his wife. As if that was going to save our marriage. I simply told him no. It was not what needed our attention, the most. He was shocked. We was always able in the past to distract me with promising me something I wanted. Not this time, I was stronger, and I was standing up for myself and for truth.

  63. Michelle on August 2, 2016 at 5:21 am

    When you say, “To do nothing is a form of abuse”, do you mean me? That I’m participating in it? I would hate to think that I am a contributor to the suffering of my children. I do stand up for them in all of this, which causes me more grief. But I’m all they have, and I will continue to protect them the best I can, as well as help them learn through it all.

  64. Robin on August 2, 2016 at 8:39 am

    Michelle, maybe that’s a question you need to ask yourself- are you participating when you do nothing?
    When you say you’ll help them best you can, will that be enough? And what is it you want them to learn by staying in an abusive environment? I would encourage you to ask these things of the Lord. He can tell you best. But yes I think women who stay in abuse, abuse themselves by doing nothing to change what is happening in their children. Can we really protect them, when they are being conditioned daily by abuse tactics?? I will always encourage a time of separation, for healing and protection from abuse. It also gives you a chance to clear your head . And know what you need.

  65. Don on August 2, 2016 at 8:56 am

    How does this teaching apply to men who have experienced/are experiencing a wife who is adulterous and has cut off,absolutely, all communication? I do not wish a divorce, but I also know I have been a poor husband in the single year we were married prior to her indiscretion. Add to that I was unsaved at the time, yet she claimed salvation and still does. I have come to Christ since the indiscretion, but she will not communicate, and even moved her new boyfriend into an apartment 4 blocks from our home. I have to drive past where he lives daily and they accuse me of stalking behavior even though they moved him in mere blocks away along my route to work. I am accused of all sorts of behavior by HIM that indicates I am unworthy to be her husband, and he will even quote scripture to me concerning my failure while entirely ignoring the plethora of scripture concerning adultery. I feel defeated and desiring divorce simply because she seems to have abandoned out relationship. I wish to heal all of this, yet she has not spoken to me in over 4 months. It is not only men that can commit abusive behavior without remorse.

  66. Caroline Abbott on August 2, 2016 at 10:26 am

    Great advise Leslie! I have a chapter called “You’re reactions are showing” in my book A Journey through Emotional Abuse. It’s hard to know how best to repent when dealing with an abuser. As you said, saying this to him could put her in danger.

  67. Sue on August 2, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    That is very true, Don. Both men and women are sinful creatures and capable of abusive behavior.
    I am sorry you are experiencing so much pain in your marriage.
    From what you have shared, I’m assuming your wife has no interest in being your wife according to God’s definition and is using your past behavior as a justification for her own sin.
    Blame shifting is so common, it started with Adam & Eve, but each of us is responsible to God and others for our own behavior.
    Have you apologized for being a “bad husband”? If she were to take an honest look at you today, would she see positive changes? This may make no difference to her, but at least you will know you are obeying God and doing your part to help the marriage relationship.
    I’m assuming she has not filed for divorce? If so, why not? Then she could be “free” to go and do as she pleases and releases you to move on as well. Is she trying to punish you in some way.
    Have you asked her to go to counseling? I’m already assuming she said no, but you at least need to show your willingness to work on your issues.
    I would encourage you to go on your own to a Godly, Christian counselor who can help you put everything into perspective and work through your issues to help you make good decisions about your future.
    Thank you for being brave enough to post, it is good to have a husband’s point of view.

    • Don on August 3, 2016 at 1:45 am

      Sue,

      I honestly have no idea what interest my wife has in being anything with me, be it according to God’s definition or the world’s; her boyfriend (my former best friend, a man she helped “bring to Christ” during their affair) will quote scripture to me concerning appropriate behavior of a husband, but convieniently leaves out all the scripture dealing with adultery and proper reverance for marriage. My wife used my behavior as a justification, then once she “felt closer to him than to me” slowly stopped communicating with me.

      I have tried numerous time to apologize for my bad behavior, and to demonstrate my repentant attitude. I was not a Christian at the time of all of our troubles, she was, but I never listened to her trying to evangelize me; finally after I witnessed the extreme circumstances I seriously took a hard look at myself to try and discover what was wrong with me – and that was when I found I was missing God in my heart. Even though I took a complete 180, dove into scripture to get God’s help, it has matter little, if any at all.

      I do not know if she has filed for divorce; she said she wanted to file 7 weeks ago, as far as I am aware she has not filed. I do not know why.

      When she would speak to me (its been 4 months of basic silence) I asked if she would go to counseling with me, but she would not. She has been seeing her own secular counselor since the beginning of her affair, another secret I did not learn about for many months. I have been seeking counseling on my own with a good Christian counselor, but it has only been a very short time; for a little while I had tried through the VA, but very quickly determined that they would not be helpful.

      I pray daily for God to work a miracle in both her heart and that of her boyfriend. But it has been slow. I know He has his purposes, but the time has been very disquieting for me.

      Thank you for your response, Sue

      • Nancy on August 3, 2016 at 6:41 am

        Hi Don,

        Have you read Leslie’s The Emotionally Destructive Marriage? In it she talks about how ‘trying harder’ simply doesn’t work in a destructive marriage. The effort needed is not in ‘loving more’ but in setting boundaries. Her ‘CORE’ videos on YouTube are also very helpful in the daily battle to walk in Truth, listen to the Holy Spirit, take responsibility, and pray for your spouse.

        Also Don, here’s a question you could ask yourself: why are you even speaking (or listening, for that matter) to this guy? His actions have spoken much louder than words ever could.

        It’s good to hear that you are getting Godly counsel. God Bless you.

        • Nancy on August 3, 2016 at 7:00 am

          When we set boundaries against evil, we end up loving better (in a more Godly way) than before. The love then comes from a heart that is intact.

          We cannot properly love from a heart that is compromised. God is Healer, He is the only One who can heal. But we need to create the environment for Him to work. If we continue to allow our hearts to be compromised, we are allowing the good to leak out. We cannot love anyone in our lives in that state.

          • Leslie Vernick on August 7, 2016 at 9:28 pm

            So true, Thanks Nancy.



        • Leslie Vernick on August 7, 2016 at 9:28 pm

          She’s right, he has no business “speaking into your life” when his own life is so out of order.

  68. janet on August 2, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    And then in Step 9 it says, “Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.” i was taught in the 12 step program that i am considered an “other” also. so if making amends would hurt me in the process of doing that directly than that was ok not to do directly. i simply found a way to make amends with my actions to other people to make up for my deeds and also i found ways to have actions towards the person i wronged. for example i did the say thing this woman did. so when i was engaged again, i would disengage and practice the correct behavior. even though in my heart i wanted to say the words i knew to do so would hurt me. for step 5, i simply confessed my sins to god and to some safe people who were my church family when to do so to him would cause more strife. hope that helps.

  69. Marina on August 2, 2016 at 2:43 pm

    Before I read about narcissism/codependence dance, I would be the peacekeeper, apologize for things that my husband should’ve owned, because I was always feeling “false guilt” whenever the pease was disturbed. As I educated myself more about narcissism, emotional abuse, and tactics that people with evil heart use to keep the Christian partner enmeshed in a destructive marriage, I learned to not act on the false guilt and “stand my own ground.” I seeked counseling from a counsellor who understands the dynamics of an abusive relationship. This helped me take responsibility by setting boundaries with my husband.

  70. Michelle on August 2, 2016 at 6:03 pm

    That’s a good verse to remember. Thanks for the reminder.

  71. Missy on August 4, 2016 at 9:40 am

    Amen Nancy. I really needed to hear this too thx for writing.

  72. Debbie on September 27, 2022 at 11:17 am

    I just recently had a recurring argument with my abusive husband that is very much related to this discussion. He continues to claim “you NEVER apologize for anything”, and also claims that he apologizes all the time. This is a tactic to make himself superior in our relationship, and its used with a frequency that amazes me. He actually was surprised when I had enough courage to tell him that I can’t always apologize to an abuser, as he has yet to acknowledge his pattern of abuse in our marriage.

    We have been through multiple counselors, most of which he deemed incompetent after they began to hold him accountable, and he felt they weren’t holding me accountable to the same degree. My method of accountability and apology is to confess to a trusted counselor or confidante (I have a great family and christian friends who support me with an ear and a prayer) rather than to my husband, as my apologies in the past have been used as ammunition for future abuse and added to his sense of “we are both sinners” mentality. We are currently seeing the same counselor, but separately, as I don’t feel safe to share openly in joint counseling yet. He will even use the counselor as ammunition against me in a fight, to try to make me think the counselor doesn’t understand me, or doesn’t know what I need from my husband. He will claim they have whole conversations about how she can’t figure out what I need from him. This is a tactic to separate me from a trusted source, abusers often try to alienate you from those who support you. I won’t allow that.

    I have read through your book Leslie about the Emotionally Destructive Marriage, and took notes that I regularly go back to for support and guidance when I feel I’m going insane from the daily difficulties of my marriage. We are both Christians, and he uses scripture to tell me of the ways I’m not being Christ-like, or not doing my part as a christian wife. I set a very difficult intimacy boundary with him 3 years ago thinking that it would be enough incentive for him to humble himself, repent and begin genuine change. It has been hard to keep when he throws it in my face as evidence of me not following scripture. But there are so many more scriptures that tell me not to associate myself with evil, and warning me of how evil grows inside of me if I remain, and I struggle with keeping my tongue from defense. But your book has helped me to choose better language, to choose better boundaries, to understand when to stand up and when to walk away and stay silent. I have 2 boys that are in high school and college age, and I know they are seeing how NOT to treat a woman, and I pray that they see Jesus in me, and growth in me, and humbleness in me, and accountability in me, and that this will be enough to guide them to be the men I raised them to be in Christ.

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