Morning friends,

This weekend represented one of the reasons I moved to Arizona. The weather was absolutely spectacular. It was sunny and 70 degrees. Back in Pennsylvania, it was cold, dreary and raining and I was glad I was gone. My bones ache in that kind of weather and I crave the warmth and the sunshine.

But my body has not adjusted to this new time schedule yet. I still feel like I’m on Eastern Time Zone and my mornings are unproductive. In addition, moving into a furnished home has its own set of challenges. We thought it would be easier, but now that we’re trying to add our own things we need to also find a place to get rid of the old things. The furniture we bought was high quality furniture but it was 25 years old and not “today’s décor.” Plus it is very heavy. Meaning – difficult for us (or anyone else) to carry and move out of the house. Pray we can get Salvation Army to come and pick up the furniture so we can have room to unpack the rest of our things.

My goal is to be back to full functioning by the first of the year. I apologize that I haven’t been responding to the posts as much as I would like. But this blog community is so wonderful. I love how you support, pray, challenge and encourage one another.

I am doing a free webinar on the Three Lies that Women Believe that Keep Them Miserable, Afraid, and Unable to Change. It’s on Thursday night and you can sign up here.

There will be no replay so if you want to hear it you’ll need to be there for the live presentation.

Question: My husband and I have been married 21yrs. All along, I knew something wasn't quite right, but I was never able to put my finger on it.

In the last few years I've come to realize that this is an emotionally destructive marriage and also that my husband may be on the spectrum for a cluster B disorder – I suspect (and the counselor also suspects NPD).

The dynamics in our relationship have always been that whenever I have a concern regarding our relationship, I try and address it. My husband then blame- shifts and I end up taking the responsibility, always trying to modify my behavior. I try to be more respectful, “obedient” sexually available, etc, etc. Couldn't we all do better at those?

In the last few years as my eyes have been opened to the dysfunction, I'm pushing back. I am less willing to take all the responsibility for everything and able to see how my husband is sinning against God and against me.

Our biggest issue has always been sex. No surprise that sex is the first to go when the relationship has an emotional breakdown.

I have erected boundaries around all physical contact, including hugs, hand holding, etc. And my husband knows that until he is emotionally safe to me, I will not go there.

About a month ago, a divorced friend of ours from out of town came for dinner. I hugged him hello and I hugged him goodbye. Something completely normal for me to do with everyone. Except my husband took great offense to it and decided to stonewall me for many weeks after because he was “hurt.”

When I had seen our Christian counselor alone (she has just recently taken us on and has not seen us together more than 3 times)I told her what had happened. She had assured me that I had done nothing wrong in hugging the friend and that I needed to continue to be myself. But, when we went to see her with my husband, she changed her story and told me in front of my husband that I owed him an apology for “hurting” his feelings. I was floored.

She gave examples on how when we hurt someone, even if we haven't sinned against them, that we should still apologize for hurting them. In theory, I agree. But the reality is that my husband has blamed me for everything and can manufacture “hurt” out of my breathing (or so it seems). He is always “hurt” by something I do or don't do.

Leslie, I want to be able to see my part in this…I really do. I don't want to be so hard hearted that I don't take responsibility for my stuff, but in this instance, I just don't see why I need to apologize. You have to understand that my husband has accused me of looking for affairs, and that our previous counselor had “ulterior” motives for “siding” with me.

This current counselor has even agreed that I have given him NOTHING over the life of our marriage to ever justify him being suspicious.

Please clarify this for me. Is an apology to my husband in order here?

Thank you. I so appreciate your counsel. It has helped me see through this thick fog that has been hanging over me for so long.

Answer: You have only asked one question but there are important issues that you bring up in your story.

First, let me answer your question. Do you need to apologize to your spouse for hurting his feelings? The answer is no. An apology is an admission of guilt or wrong-doing. Hugging a friend is not a sin. Hugging your friend in front of your spouse (especially since you have put firm boundaries on no physical contact with your spouse) did hurt his feelings. Perhaps he felt jealous, or sad that his friend got a hug from you and he doesn’t.

I will give your counselor the benefit of the doubt although I’m sure her approach was very confusing to you. She told you when you had your one-on-one session that you did nothing wrong and to not to be afraid to be yourself. And then during your joint session she told you to say you were sorry to your spouse for hurting his feelings. Perhaps what she was trying to say, although poorly, was that you don’t have to formally apologize or take responsibility for wrong doing, but you can still show some compassion or concern for the fact that your husband was hurt.

I remember a friend sharing with me that she was hurt that I talked to another friend at a dinner party more than I talked to her. Personally I did not feel I did anything wrong. I had nothing to apologize for. I don’t want to have to monitor my conversations at a dinner party to make sure everyone gets equal time. What I did say to her was this. “I’m sorry you felt hurt by my actions. I meant no harm by them. But I also don't want to feel anxious that when we are at a party together in the future, I have to make sure I talk with everyone equally. That would feel uncomfortable. I hope you understand.”

In other words, I showed compassion for her pain, but I did not change my behavior so that she doesn’t have to feel it in the future. I think that’s what you are afraid might happen. In the past when you’ve said sorry, the expectation was that you do everything in your power for him not to feel that pain again. Therefore you are suspicious that he uses his hurt feelings to manipulate and control you. Don’t let him. You can be compassionate without being controlled.

Since you did nothing wrong, you can show compassion, yet stay firm on your boundaries (Click To Tweet).

For example, you can say something like, “I’m sure that did cause you some pain and I’m sorry you felt it. I’m sad that our relationship is in such a place that I don’t feel safe hugging you in the same friendly way I hugged him. When I no longer feel emotionally afraid of you, I’d be happy to hug you too.”

This is why we need to learn to walk in CORE strength. We want to respond out of the person we want to be rather than merely reacting to what someone does (says) or doesn't do or say.

Friend: Most people do not feel like hugging someone when you don’t feel he or she is emotionally safe. How have you handled this issue with your destructive spouse?

149 Comments

  1. Cathy on December 7, 2016 at 7:39 am

    This is exactly how I feel when my husband demands and apology for his feelings. I want to have compassion but it’s so difficult when he is manipulating. If I say I’m sorry what I did made you feel this way … he demands that I simply apologize for my actions as if I’m in the wrong and will get upset if I say an apology that addresses his feelings. He has told me that I do not get to decide what has hurt him, which is true but the action truly was not a sin against him. I feel degraded when the apology is over and simply too tired to try to even make sense of it all.

  2. Lmsdaily115 on December 7, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Wow. This blog could be about me and my husband. I, too, seem to hurt my husband just be breathing. 20 years of marriage…yet 2 years ago, my eyes were opened to my part of our destructive relationship. But by then, he was so emotionally unavailable, distant and stonewalling, he asked for a divorce. I was blown away. I thought we were okay, even though we had our issues. I learned how to be more respectful and less abrasive. I have tried so hard to clean up my side. Yet, today, I just feel invisible, and taken for granted. I feel sorry everyday for how I must have made him feel in the padt. Unintentional, but still did it. I have appologized, repented, changed my ways. But it never moves him. He remains bitter, unavailable and critical….like we seemed to have switched roles somehow. This is breaking me down at this point…it feels like an endless punishment. At what point do I stop being sorry all the time and let him experience the fallout of his own nuclear bombs? I’m trying to gain my own self respect and confidence after years of feeling “not good enough” for him and the constant perfectionism and criticism, but I want to be a person who is still loving, caring and compassionate too. I just want don’t want to have to be always protective of my heart with the man I’m supposed to be able to trust most. No addictions, physical abuse or adultry (that I know of), but also 2 years no sex, no hugs, no kisses, or affection. I’m very confused too.

    • Wonuola on December 8, 2016 at 6:54 pm

      I often recall a friend saying “don’t let anyone make you less than God made youvto be”, I have found this very helpful.
      God has not given us a spirit of fear. Living in fear of another man no matter how subtle appears to be being less than one is made to be.

  3. Aleea on December 7, 2016 at 8:43 am

    “Friend: Most people do not feel like hugging someone when you don’t feel he or she is emotionally safe. How have you handled this issue with your destructive spouse?”

    I don’t have that issue but I would say don’t hug anyone you don’t want to. I’m sure even hugs can be used to manipulate. I know my mother used them that way. You can’t fix things with a hug, —but you usually can’t make them any worse either. —Who knows, confused as always. —Lets get our hugs from someone who we feel truly loves us or random people because we don’t know enough about them for them to be unsafe. . . .Sometimes with friends that are really hurting, all I can do is hug them so tightly and just wish that their pain could be transferred by touch to my own emotional center. . . . There’s a divinity in a hug no less precious than our fears, our smiles, our hopes, our tears. I know I use them even simply as a distraction from my own thoughts and troubles —and passing out hugs is far better than passing judgements.

  4. James on December 7, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    I agree with Leslie that hugging a friend is not sinful and in that sense, there is no reason why this woman should feel compelled to apologize to her husband for something that was likely not a sexual gesture toward her friend in the least.
    I do think that the fact that the wife has essentially cut her husband off from sex or any kind of physical affection is a real concern.
    I don’t personally think that denying affection or defrauding one’s spouse of what is due them (see 1 Cor 7:1-6) is a good boundary. It may be a necessary reaction in some abusive contexts as I understand that in some situations the marriage is so abusive that sexual relations need to take a back seat to reconciling the relationship.
    What puzzles me is why the relationship is healthy enough that she is ok with sharing a meal with her husband and her divorced friend but not healthy enough to make the most modest of signs of affections such as hugging her husband or holding her husband’s hand…?
    Something seems askew about that to me.
    That said, I can absolutely see how this man was hurt.
    If a man cut his wife off from all emotional intimacy during a season of difficulty in their marriage and then starting spending time with a woman friend of his (being emotionally available to his friend while stonewalling his wife) we could see quite easily how that might deeply hurt the wife.
    The friend gets his attention, the wife gets stonewalled.
    In the same way, of course, this man is hurt. He hears her telling him, “other men are worthy of my physical affections, you are not.”

    • Content on December 7, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Doesn’t God also have boundaries with us, James? If we live in unrepentant sin towards God, we do not enjoy unbroken and full fellowship with Him. There’s no way we can. He opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble.

      I can tell you from someone who has been in your shoes (felt everyone should automatically forgive and offer unconditional relationship because that is what the Christian thing to do is) and is now wearing a different pair. God woke me up big time to how wrong this thinking is. After 24 years of living in an emotionally abusive marriage where my husband chose over and over and over to not listen to me or care about my feelings on a few KEY and important issues in our marriage (along with gaslighting me, rewriting history and repeatedly denying facts and lying to me), there is a time when a wall comes up. When my wall came up, I had no idea what was happening at first. I sensed something was different in me, but I didn’t feel like I was controlling it. After a few days, I realized what was happening. And I am quite convinced that God is the one who erected that wall for me.

      It’s ok to be puzzled about why she is still sharing a meal with her husband. Maybe her next boundary is separation. Maybe these are the steps she is taking in obedience to God. First sexually, then physically leaving. Who knows? It’s something we don’t really have to own or take responsibility for. I hear humility and a desire for compassion in this woman’s voice but also a desire to change her behaviors that were contributing to the breakdown of her marriage.

      I think she’s in a healthy place.

      James, I hope that you don’t have to learn the hard way, like I did, some of these lessons on boundaries, forgiveness, reconciliation, etc. It is not an easy lesson.

      One of the main things God started teaching me as He started opening my eyes to the reality of my marriage was to STOP apologizing for everything. I apologized for all kinds of things that I didn’t need to. That led to an over-balance for a time where I didn’t apologize for much. O.K. Maybe not the best thing, but God is able to handle these times of over-correcting. He is able to shepherd us back to a more compassionate place like Leslie promotes. That doesn’t just happen overnight when a wife wakes up and starts to allow herself to feel angry for the way she’s been treated for years (I think you and I had a conversation a while back about righteous anger vs. sinful anger). Thankfully, God is more compassionate with us and patient while we adjust in these things than some of our brothers and sisters can be who are looking in from the outside and don’t understand the hurt we have experienced.

      Oh, and you say “a season of difficulty”. I don’t think you realize, James, that emotionally and physically abusive marriages aren’t usually characterized by “seasons” of difficulty. It is an entire marriage with patterns of consistent hurtful behavior to the heart and soul of a wife that doesn’t change no matter what changes she makes, how hard she prays, etc.

    • Content on December 7, 2016 at 7:14 pm

      P.S. The commands regarding marriage are written to believers to promote healthy and godly marriages. They are written as an ideal of what a godly marriage should be. So, if you are going to bring up a verse about not sexually defrauding your spouse, you must hold it in balance with all of the other scriptures that address each spouse and what they are to be doing in a marriage. When we start holding certain commands over others’ heads and aren’t taking into account the full story and situation, we are missing something and we miss the heart of God. It is a legalistic way of looking at scripture. For instance, where would you draw that line? Should a wife not defraud her husband even though he is viewing porn consistently and defrauding her….yet, if he comes to her for sex, she should make sure she doesn’t “defraud” him?

      These things can get murky really quickly and I pray God gives us His wisdom and a true view of the His heart for His children before we immediately throw Bible verses around without really knowing the full story.

      • James on December 7, 2016 at 9:11 pm

        Content,
        Thanks for your comments and your thoughts.

        Yes, I agree that God does have boundaries with us. His boundaries are perfect. They are not tainted with mixed motives, or even the slightest degree of bitterness.

        This woman is, in contrast, not perfect, so we cannot elevate her boundaries to the level of God’s boundaries.

        God’s boundaries are found in God’s Holy Word.
        Therefore, we should be particularly careful not to affirm her boundaries at the expense of God’s boundaries. Perhaps this is something that you and I can agree on..?

        One of God’s boundaries that He has set for His children is that they should be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ has forgiven us as Ephesians 4:32 says. I realize that this is a difficult standard to live up to and I have a great deal of compassion for those who have spouses who are particularly difficult to be tenderhearted toward, but that’s God’s standard, not mine, and I don’t have the authority to provide exceptions when God doesn’t provide any.

        I don’t think it is kindhearted to be physically affectionate with another man when you are denying your husband physical affection. From a man’s point of view that really does come across as a slap in the face.

        As to your own situation, I am glad that you have stopped apologizing for things you shouldn’t need to apologize for. I’m not suggesting that this woman should apologize for being appropriately affectionate with a friend, I’m suggesting that sexual refusal isn’t a good personal boundary for marriage because it violates God’s boundaries for marriage Given the clarity of God’s word on this, I’m surprised that this would be a controversial claim.

        The following statement is revealing I think.

        “Our biggest issue has always been sex. No surprise that sex is the first to go when the relationship has an emotional breakdown.”

        It sounds like sex may come off the table rather quickly in their marriage. If that is the case, then that doesn’t sound like a healthy boundary to me precisely because 1 Cor 7 tells God’s people not to defraud one another.

        Content, I have noticed that whenever someone brings up a point from the scriptures, there are several replies that are based on the personal experiences of the women here. Your (the plural your) experiences are your experiences. Your struggles are your struggles and your pain and hurt are your pain and hurt.

        No one should try and invalidate your experiences, no one should trivialize your struggles and no one should be insensitive to your pain and hurt. That said, your (the plural your) experiences are far too subjective to be the standard by which the experiences of all others are considered. The same is true of my own experiences, my own struggles and my own pain and hurt.

        That’s why I appeal to God’s Word. Our experiences are subjective, God’s word is not subjective. Therefore, what you may characterize as “throwing bible verses around” is really, in my view, appealing to an authority worth appealing to rather than replacing our bibles with our feelings.

        Of course we should consider the whole counsel of God, as you suggested. This guy doesn’t get let off the hook. He needs to get the log out of his own eye, he needs to repent, if he is the kind of guy who refuses to repent of his sin then she should bring him before the elders of the church and if they can’t talk any sense into him then he needs to be put out of the church.
        That’s God’s way (see Matthew 18).

        If he is an unbeliever, then her “boundaries” won’t do anything to lead him to a knowledge of the Savior as 1 Peter 3 makes pretty clear.

        But encouraging her to follow the scriptures isn’t “legalistic” in my view. I think that you and I have different definitions of legalism. My definition is judging another on matters where the bible is silent or leaves up to conscience.
        See the CARM article on Legalism: https://carm.org/what-is-legalism

        We won’t find ourselves in danger of “legalism” if we are doers of the word rather than just hearers only. We might find ourselves in “legalism” territory if we nullify God’s boundaries in order to follow the traditions of men, and some “boundaries” talk, I think, gets dangerously close to doing just that.

        Thank you for your comments, this has been a good discussion so far.

        • Content on December 7, 2016 at 10:16 pm

          Thanks for your thoughts, James.

          We will have to agree to disagree on most of this.

          Have a good one –

          • James on December 7, 2016 at 10:53 pm

            Have a great week.

            God bless.



          • Aly on December 20, 2016 at 9:32 am

            James thank you for your comments. Since you referenced Carm you might be willing to look into the book Federal husband.
            This topic that many people respond to via Leslie Vernicks articles are focused on marriage, primarily.
            The husband is given the greater role and responsibility to love his wife like Christ loves the church. But our abusive culture seems to twist responsibility and God’s word to justify behavior regardless if it’s someone’s behavior hasn’t changed.
            God doesn’t just love us with words but in action he shows how He loves.

            Content ~ totally agree and can relate to your experiences. I’m thankful your in a safer healthy place where true love can thrive.
            In these destructive marriages the tactics and power issues are not that invententive that’s why there isn’t much room for debating right and wrong issues here when the bigger issue is rooted in how ‘one thinks’
            Most commonly, these unrepentive spouses have no problem wanting to hold their spouse to a standard, but hold them to that same standard would be (yes a battle) because they are not surrendered, nor do they think they need to be.

            Cluster B ~ or NPD tend not to see their own manufactured double standards in relationship dynamics. The interpretations are so skewed to enable their way of thinking and thus behavior.
            James, I hope that you might consider how you are using God’s word and ask for wisdom and understanding especially on this critical topic.



        • Kathi on December 20, 2016 at 9:55 am

          I agree James. Gods Word is the plumb line not our feelings. Feelings are fickle and usually humility is not in them. God give grace to the humble but resists the proud even in marriage. Jesus is our true husband. We live unto Him as believers and when it’s a choice between humbling ourselves and being saddened by the hurt we have caused people OR standing firm for our rights , humility wins. Jesus is the example.

      • Robin on December 9, 2016 at 8:16 am

        Content, I love what you wrote, they are though out well and I’m sure you’re speaking for many women.
        Too many Christians use their faith and Gods Word to judge and correct, in error. I appreciate hearing a woman speak healthily.

    • Content on December 8, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      “He hears her telling him, ‘other men are worthy of my physical affections, you are not.’ ”

      So, what’s wrong with that? If he has made himself unworthy, then maybe it’s a message he needs to hear loud and clear.

      • James on December 8, 2016 at 7:57 pm

        The problem is that this isn’t grace, its marriage by works, apart from grace.

        I think we would all desire to experience unconditional love from our spouses rather than a merit based foundation for earning affections.

        Would we expect a woman to earn an “I love you” from her husband?

        • Starlight on December 11, 2016 at 12:19 am

          If I ready it right the woman who asked the questions was punished for weeks for welcoming her guest wamly at the front door.

          • Starlight on December 11, 2016 at 12:43 am

            Oops, bad grammar –
            If I read it right the woman who asked the question was punished (stonewalled) for weeks for welcoming her invited guest warmly at the front door!



      • Aly on December 25, 2016 at 4:27 pm

        Content I can agree with some of your perspective on this comment if I understand you correctly. 😉 Sounds like you are highlighting the pain of consequences that a spouse could feel especially if they themselves have decided to for many years …not be an emotionally safe spouse, not cherish or honor his wife as he is even called to biblically.

        James, trust me here this isn’t rocket engineering… if the husband is this ‘difficult’ where the wife doesn’t get to have a voice or express how she is experiencing the difficulties in their marriage. She enventually ceases to exist as a person with value and certainly respect… a wife will eventually die off inside.
        I would suggest at times she feels like an object or even ‘just a role to play in the marriage life’
        God never intends for ‘his daughters to not be cared for or not respected’

        To me: the husband seems Possibly quite immature emotionally, has deep core self worth defenses and probably needs plenty of intervention and prayer for him to grow and see his behavior towards his wife.
        It’s a very cold lonely marriage in this dynamic, because the immature spouse has such a double standard that it’s feels close to impossible to reason with this level or lack of empathy for another person.
        Until they feel and personally experience pain~ communicating about hurts can seem pointless.

        Hopefully the pain he’s feeling or experienced with the lack of affectionate touch is a graceful wake up call to fix some very unnecessary (but resolvable) issues going on within the marriage.

        I think it’s a quote by Jim Burns~
        The pain of STAYING the same must be greater than the pain of changing… for change to occur.

        My husband had a hard time with growing in this area..,
        I remember telling my precious husband once that ‘his pain was never greater than my pain’
        He couldn’t be the one to weigh it because both pains were valid and worth dealing with ‘equally’ because we are BoTH equal heirs in God’s design. This goes for myself, I can’t say his pain is less painful. His pain is valid and worth understanding and hopefully I can be an loving (spouse /agent/vessel) of nurture and healing that can bring glory to God.

        God bless you all, I’m so grateful for this website and journey.

    • Brokeness on December 20, 2016 at 9:16 am

      My husband has sexually abused me most of our marriage. I didn’t realize it was abusive until about two years ago (we’ve been married ten years). I would cry almost every time during sex. Last year he raped me, granted other times through out our marriage he did many things that would be considered it rape, but I can’t emotionally handle that right now so I block it. At this point in our marriage I cannot even imagine hugging him. It sends chills down my spine. Makes me nauseous. It can send me to my knees in tears because it the pain of what he has done to me is so overwhelming. I don’t believe I am supposed to give myself to my husband after this. It would be so disasterous to me and my health. If he were not my husband the world would say he is a rapist and I should get far from him. It seems though as a married woman, people seem to think it’s wrong but that I have to continually give myself to him. It’s wrong.

      • Ruth on December 24, 2016 at 12:55 pm

        I am so sorry for the horror you have lived with in secret.
        I am praying God gets you away from that evil man.

  5. Content on December 7, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    Leslie, great post. I feel like I need to work on compassion as I go forward in dealing with my husband in our separation – not out of trying to control or change our circumstances but out of a place of doing it for the Lord. I do have work to do in this area and was getting on your website to actually look up articles regarding what compassion can look like in these difficult situations so it was neat to see something on the current post. Thanks for what you do.

  6. Connie on December 7, 2016 at 9:37 pm

    Christianity is relational, not fear-based. That is what sets it off from other religions. Jesus came to set the example of, “The Gentiles lord it over each other, but with you it shall not be so. You are to serve one another.” He was a king by example and love. We love Him because He first loved us. Be kind, tenderhearted. See others as better than yourself. We are invited to give authority, but never to take it. We all know that legalism was one of Christ’s pet peeves, making rules for others that were hard to bear up under. The Trinity is an example of mutual flat plane relationship, serving with love and being love.

    So where do we get off telling others they ‘should’ this or ‘should’ that? If God is the initiator and we the responders, how do we then think we have the right to make demands like, “she should show her husband affection, give him sex, etc.” when we know that he has done everything in his power to make himself odious to her? Something as intimate and personal as physical affection can be demanded? What kind of slavery is that? All of us women here know that it takes very little kindness for us to respond with more physical affection than is even warranted…….he can be abusive most of the time and the smallest bit of understanding in kindness has us all over him……..why do you think we stay far far too long, apologize when we haven’t done anything wrong, second-guess ourselves, etc.? Why do you think they get away with near murder? Why do you think there are more murders of women by intimate partners than citizens killed by war and terror together, including 9/11? Because we’ve fallen for the LIE that we HAVE TO give him what he demands. And Christianity has bought into this garbage? NO! Even the secular world is getting the memo about ‘consent’. So when a man is married, God gives him a ‘right’ to prostitute us? To demand sex apart from love? Yes, I’ve done that for years, but also consider myself a paid maid, not the wife of a Christian, no matter how pious his talk. Do you really think that God is pleased with that?

    Yes, I definitely see where something is askew when a husband verbally beats all the value and love out of his wife and then demands that she be affectionate. My 1st husband, when I told him he’d done that, screamed at me, “I’m your husband and you have to obey me, and I demand you to feel affection for me RIGHT NOW!!” Right. If I wanted to be a slave, I’d join a cult, thank you. This is not my God.

    • Content on December 7, 2016 at 10:36 pm

      Connie, I’m so sorry for what you went through.

      I think you nailed it with reminding us that most of the women in these marriages are bending over backwards trying to get the marriage to work — we have read blogs, spent tons of money on books, counseling, etc., taken the blame for years, upped our respect and submission (to a level Christ never asked us to go to). You are right when you say: “he can be abusive most of the time and the smallest bit of understanding in kindness has us all over him.”

      The fact is that until people have gone through this experience, they just cannot and probably will not understand it. (Well, maybe I should take that back….I think God is definitely doing a fresh work of opening the eyes of many in the Body to see this dynamic and to stand up for the oppressed and abused women and men in these situations. And it is interesting to me that it seems that the brothers that have their eyes opened seem to be older and wiser and will willingly admit that at one time, they also held to the same rhetoric that sounded so right and Biblical at the time).

      Anyway, it’s ok. The great thing is we know what God has shown us, we know what He has revealed to us through these situations. We know that the enemy will do everything in his power to stop this fresh revelation and you can always tell because the spiritual warfare gets pretty intense once someone starts speaking out this truth. I actually almost felt like I should comment to Gary Thomas that he better get ready after his latest blog post. There will be warfare because Satan has no desire to see wives and husbands freed from oppressive and abusive situations (it’s his design to keep them there) and he has no desire to see men or women held accountable for their actions because he knows that people might be woken up and see their need for a Savior! Marriages will be restored and people will be set free. It will be a complete reversal of what we see currently with the “submit and respect at all costs” rhetoric that the Church, as a majority, has adopted which has led to the detriment of many, many marriages and lives.

      • T. on December 20, 2016 at 7:56 am

        Amen. Sick of the un-Christlike attitude. Affection cannot be demanded. It is freely given. Period.

    • James on December 8, 2016 at 1:42 am

      Connie,

      Let me address a question that I can only presume is pointed in my direction.

      “So where do we get off telling others they ‘should’ this or ‘should’ that? If God is the initiator and we the responders, how do we then think we have the right to make demands like, “she should show her husband affection, give him sex, etc.”

      I don’t have any authority to tell her that she should do that. Thankfully, I don’t have to have any authority. God has already weighed in on the topic of sexual refusal in 1 Cor 7 which says that marital relations are not to be with-held from one another except by mutual consent for a time and then for prayer (and perhaps fasting depending on the textual family you follow).

      You can characterize that as God demanding something intimate and personal, you may also look at that verse and characterize it as a form of mutual slavery if you like, but it is what it is, and it says what it says, and all I’m doing is calling attention to what it says in a thread in which what is says is pertinent.

      I’m not the author of the letter, I’m just the mail carrier. I have absolutely no authority over what it says whatsoever. I also have no authority over whether the women writing the question takes 1 Cor 7 into consideration when she makes her decisions either. People make choices, and then they live with the consequences of those choices.

      As to whether or not this woman’s husband has done everything to make himself odious to her, I can’t say because I don’t know her. Unless you know her particular circumstance you probably don’t know either.

      But my hunch, given the rest of your response, is that your reaction has very little to do with this woman and her situation a whole lot to do with you and your situation.
      Which is fine. Your story is your story, and you have the right to tell your story. I am sure that there are many things that we can learn from your story.

      But your story is not a very good standard by which to evaluate everyone else’s story. What I’m suggesting is that it doesn’t clarify things to project your experience onto her situation. Let her situation be her situation and then let God speak through His Word.

      God’s Word is a better standard than our story or our feelings. That’s not to devalue your story or your feelings, or anyone else’s story or feelings for that matter. God’s Word is simply a better standard than everyone’s story and everyone’s feelings, mine included.

      So, for the record.

      No, I don’t think that all women respond warmly to even the smallest of kindnesses from their husbands. That may be you and your character, but it is not all women. Some women are very slow to grant forgiveness and can hold grudges for quite a long time, using sex as a way to punish their spouses. Some women use sex as a tool of manipulation. Not all women are like this, and we don’t even have reason to suspect that the women who wrote the email is like this, but some women are.

      It does very little good to “angelize” all women and “demonize” all men.

      I certainly don’t stand to defend any kind of physical abuse against one’s domestic partner, least of all murder.

      I don’t believe that husbands have the right to force their wives to do anything sexual that is un-consensual (that’s rape) nor do I think that wives are obliged to what their husbands demand, when their husband’s demand it, especially if it is truly “demanded” with a sense of entitlement and indifference to his wife’s feelings. I don’t believe wives have these abusive entitlements over a husband either. If there is a relational problem that exists, it should be dealt with, and then normal marital intimacy should resume.

      I do believe that God has weighed in on the topic of sexual refusal and if we Consider 1 Cor 7 to be at all relevant, He doesn’t think it is a good idea, it’s not a good “boundary” because it is, itself a violation of God’s “boundaries” for marriage.

      Also, I don’t see how pretending that this verse isn’t in the bible, or pretending that it doesn’t say what it very clearly says is the helpful approach.

      For the record, your first husband sounds like a total horse’s rear end. I don’t blame you for not wanting to be anywhere near him. But I wasn’t commenting on your situation, I was commenting about the woman who wrote the email, and pointing out that sexual refusal is a bad thing per God’s Holy Word.

      Maybe she already knows but just doesn’t care, or believes that she is somehow the exception. People make choices, and live with them.

      I do see that some feel threatened by what that scripture says, to which I can only advise that those who feel threatened take it up with the Author. Yelling at the mail man because you don’t like what the letter says doesn’t do you or the mail man any earthly good.

      • Connie on December 8, 2016 at 11:10 am

        James, First, you must have come into these blogs recently or you would know that my experience is very common to most women posting here. I’m not talking of all women everywhere. We wouldn’t even be here if that weren’t the case. Nobody here is putting all men and all women in the same category at all. I don’t even know where you get that idea from. We’re here for a reason and don’t appreciate being blamed, categorized, shamed and minimized falsely. We’ve had too much of that already, thanks.

        1 Cor. 7. OK. Paul says in verse 7 that he’s not writing this as a command, but as his own opinion. That being said, last night I called out to the Lord about this passage, and I was suddenly overcome with this sense, which I believe was from the Holy Spirit: “Connie, do you really think that this means God is frowning on you and yelling,’You’d better all have that mechanical thing called sex that you just saw your rooster doing with that squawking hen in the barn and that leaves you feeling like a human toilet weeping into your pillow for hours’? Or, do you think maybe God is smiling and saying, “Why don’t you be sure to take time out from your busy-ness and celebrate with me that glorious naked-and-not-ashamed knowing, honest union of minds, bodies, and emotions that I created?” In fact, if you take the whole scriptures in context, God showed me all of 1 Peter 3 and 4, and I told my h that he needed to choose: there are 2 types of relationship, master-slave and Christ-church. If he wanted the first, he’d have to tell me when, and I’d do the chicken thing, if the second, he’d have to win my love back. Either choice meant his having to humble himself and be honest, so we slept in the same bed 3 more years without touching. His choice. THAT is context with Corinthians. (I’m not recommending others to say that, it was where I was at at the time, and my personal direction at the time, 25 years ago – God is gracious in that He knew the outcome)

        I spent many years listening to preachers tell me that women had to be way stronger and more mature than men emotionally and mentally, that men had such fragile egos that we had to cater to them being immature entitled boys. This was all based on small parts of two verses, like ‘wives submit’ without the context of mutual submission and ‘in Christ there is no……..male or female’.Then I realized that God is a personal God, that I didn’t need a human mediator to tell me His will (though sometimes it does help). I cried out to Him and he kept bringing me to scriptures that I wouldn’t listen to at first because they went so against the ‘church’ teachings. Like in Proverbs: A word to the wise is enough, but stripes are for the backs of fools. (someone who doesn’t listen to wisdom is a fool) Don’t hang around with fools or you’ll become like them. God told me to stop engaging in conversations with h and sharing my heart with him (don’t throw your pearls to the swine…..) There are many scriptures about wolves in sheep’s clothing, people who sneak into churches but don’t live godly lives……..that pertain to our situations. I could quote many more, but I’ll leave it there for now.

        Scripture does not threaten me at all, I treasure it ALL, but all in context of knowing the character of the Authour, seeking His face on it and comparing full passages to each other.

        • Seeing the Light on December 8, 2016 at 12:07 pm

          AMEN, Connie!!!

        • James on December 8, 2016 at 2:30 pm

          Connie,
          I’m not familiar with the experiences of most women, but even if I were I wouldn’t consider those experiences to be a normative standard by which to evaluate anyone else. God’s word works much better for that.

          I haven’t accused you of putting all men and all women in the same category, I said that it isn’t helpful to “angelize” women and “demonize” men. That happens when we read someone else’s situation through the lens of our own experiences. I realize that it is tempting for someone reads this woman’s email, concludes that the husband must be just like her husband, and then dispenses advice based on their own experience.
          I’m arguing that this is a terrible way to dispense counsel compared to allowing the bible to speak to these matters on its own terms. Maybe you disagree. If so, that’s fine, this is America and we get to disagree with one another.
          I haven’t blamed you for anything in fact in my last posting I said the following verbatim”
          (( “For the record, your first husband sounds like a total horse’s rear end. I don’t blame you for not wanting to be anywhere near him.” ))
          I would appreciate you acknowledging what I said here.
          I also haven’t categorized you as anything or shamed you in any way. Again, I have said, specifically:
          (( “But I wasn’t commenting on your situation,”))
          Nor have I minimized your story, in fact I said quite specifically:

          (( “Your story is your story, and you have the right to tell your story. I am sure that there are many things that we can learn from your story.” ))
          And I also said:
          (( “That’s not to devalue your story or your feelings, or anyone else’s story or feelings for that matter.” ))
          These statements are the opposite of what you have accused me of doing, I would appreciate it if you would acknowledge them.
          I understand that this topic may be sensitive to you, and I can also understand if this topic brings up some justified anger at how you have been treated in the past, but It isn’t right to accuse me of minimizing you or blaming yo when I am simply expressing my opinion on someone else’s situation.

          If I can be concise, my opinion about this women’s situation has nothing to do with you, it is simply not about you whatsoever.

          You said:
          “1 Cor. 7. OK. Paul says in verse 7 that he’s not writing this as a command, but as his own opinion. “

          That isn’t an accurate handling of that passage in my opinion
          .
          Paul uses the imperative mood when he says “do not deprive (defraud).” The imperative mood is the mood of command. Paul’s “concession” (not his opinion, paul never says that this is just his opinion) is that there are times in which a married couple may abstain from normal marital relations for prayer. Those times of abstinence are not commanded, they are Paul’s concession as he says here:

          “Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
          6 Now as a concession, not a command, I say this.
          (1Co 7:5-6 ESV)

          Paul is not conceding to couples keeping their marriage vows to have and to hold one another, Paul is conceding to the limited times of abstinence.
          This interpretation is widely recognized by Greek scholars who have taken the time to exegete the passage. I’d comment the following, excellent resource for your consideration: https://bible.org/seriespage/16-touchy-issue-1-corinthians-71-5

          The rest of your post is your experience. What you believe God told you last night, what you believe God taught you 25 years ago, etc..
          Those are your experiences and your story. Your story is worth hearing, its worthy of being validated and I hope you keep telling it. I’ve neither the intent nor the desire to argue about your experiences. But your experience is subjective, just like everyone else’s experience, and I don’t consider them to rise to the level of the authority of God’s word so I can’t build a theology upon them. Nor can I use them to nullify or qualify the word of God.

          Peace be with you.

          • Connie on December 8, 2016 at 3:15 pm

            Yup, you did all those things on posts on the last thread, as well as twisting what we say, and ignoring most of it.

            I read the article you posted, and it agrees with what I said, that you cannot separate the act of sex and demand it, without the love and care that goes with it. I don’t agree that the husband necessarily has to be the spiritual leader, I don’t see that anywhere in the Bible. See how easy it is to add to scripture? And how important that we each check it our for ourselves?

            Perhaps a good solution is what my pastor told me years ago when I was accused of ‘breaking my vows’. He said, “H broke his vows years ago, the vows to love and cherish. You never vowed to ‘live in the same house’. (to LOVE is a command also, I would say on a highest plane) So then your marriage is long broken.” You see, that way you are not depriving your spouse, because it is no longer a marriage.



          • James on December 8, 2016 at 4:16 pm

            “I read the article you posted, and it agrees with what I said, that you cannot separate the act of sex and demand it, without the love and care that goes with it.”

            Is there someone here arguing that one should separate sex with the love and care that goes with it?

            I’m not.

            I don’t exactly know whose posts you are responding to but your objections to what I say betray that you don’t have a very good grasp on what I am saying.

            “I don’t agree that the husband necessarily has to be the spiritual leader, I don’t see that anywhere in the Bible.”

            1 Cor 11:3
            Ephesians 5:23.

            “Perhaps a good solution is what my pastor told me years ago…”

            Again, your pastor’s advice was about you. That was his advice about your situation. I’ve no desire to argue with what your pastor said about your situation.

            My comments aren’t about you.

            This thread isn’t about you.

            Why are you trying to make it about you?



          • Connie on December 8, 2016 at 4:35 pm

            These threads are all about all of us. Leslie always invites us to share our experiences and lessons learned, personal insights, etc. Why are you trying to hijack that and negate it? I want to read about others’ experiences and hopes and dreams and fresh insights. The trinity shows us that Christianity is relational, that what happens to one affects the others. You’re the one who keeps harping on that one ‘command’. I’m sharing my stories precisely because it’s all about my sisters.

            That was a low blow.



          • James on December 8, 2016 at 8:01 pm

            Connie,

            “That was a low blow.”

            I am sorry our conversation just hasn’t gotten anywhere. For some reason, I sense that you are taking personally comments of mine that aren’t meant to be personal at all but your last comment to me suggests that you feel personally offended.

            So please accept my apology for whatever I said that impacted you personally.

            I have tried to communicate that my comments aren’t about you, somehow that just hasn’t gotten through.

            But its more important to me that we be at peace than it is that we understand each other.

            May the Lord multiply His blessings upon you.



          • LindaLou on December 9, 2016 at 11:12 am

            Hey James
            I don’t comment much here because of people like you. There’s coming a time where other men in the church are finally waking up to the horror the “church” has created keeping people who are being abused in unhealthy and dangerous marriages. Please read the following link and commentary.

            http://www.garythomas.com/enough-enough/

            Maybe, just maybe you’ll get an inkling of what some of us have endured not only for a “season” but for decades because our spiritual guides don’t get it.



          • James on December 10, 2016 at 10:44 am

            LindaLou

            “I don’t comment much here because of people like you. ”

            Ouch.

            That felt cruel and hurtful.

            Please remember that I am a person with feelings.



          • Aly on December 22, 2016 at 10:03 am

            Thank you for all your comments here.
            James would you expand on what mutual agreement and time for prayer would be in reference for 1 Cor 7 that has been interpreted back and forth here?

            Because this passage has to do with sexual relations between husband and wife I find it to be very fitting for many of the dynamics of marriage on this forum.
            See the time spent mutually in agreement to me means both parties are clear why there is not physical intimacy and both parties are going to God in prayer seeking ‘hopefully specific conviction’ on what needs to be addressed mutually and resolved emotionally before the couple can truly have a glorifying sexual experience that God would be pleased with!

            Many couples can have sexual relations in the physical sense and have it mean very little but God created us as holistic beings and emotional intimacy holds the safest environment for the physical expression of love.
            My husband would agree that too many men… yes I’m generalizing here struggle with desiring to grow mentally and emotionally.
            They get tunnel vision even in there scripture interpretations.
            Again this is from a husband who clearly knows the cost of emotional and mental abuse.
            So I believe with prayer and conviction in 1Cor 7 there can be the opportunity for something to be resolved and thrive again.
            If couples are having sex out of duty or obligation … it’s hard to get the root issue exposed in the marriage because the sexual act is giving a false sense of connection and it’s temporary.
            I believe scripture always points to authentic love and nothing less. I believe we all are in a sanctification journey and those that are married that are surrendered to Christ will respond to growing and healing.

            Not every marriage has a mutual balance. Nor do they have mutual surrendered hearts toward God and His will.

            Since you are a pastor, it’s sounds like you are counseling as well, please take into consideration how God’s Word is the written authority on these issues. I hope also you have found great insights and awareness in regards to emotional and mental abuse (misuse of scripture) via Leslie Vernicks website and comments. This is a serious matter and you wrote above that you don’t defend physical abuse etc.. but there was no mention of all the other forms of mispower which has harmed and stolen so much from myself and many other people.
            I’m so thankful that God’s word is a light for my path and without it I would be lost.



        • Content on December 8, 2016 at 4:25 pm

          Speaking of scripture and how God can use Scripture personally in our lives….A key thing God told me about a year or so ago (maybe less) was to start submitting to where my husband was taking our marriage. I was so convinced that I needed to submit to him and was so confused by the way I was interpreting Scripture that God knew that I needed those specific words to enable me to start taking steps to change the destructive patterns in my marriage. I started submitting to where my husband was taking our marriage by 1) speaking and living from truth and not from fear 2) not pursuing him constantly after he had shut me out, questioned my sanity and shifted all blame to me 3) started worshiping God as I should have all along and stopped idolizing my marriage and husband. (probably other things, those are the ones coming to mind right now)

          We’re separated now. I see that as a direct result of the actions my husband has taken in our marriage and the actions of living from truth that I have taken in response to God’s specific word to me.

          This statement from James makes me chuckle: “If there is a relational problem that exists, it should be dealt with, and then normal marital intimacy should resume.”

          If only things could be that simple when dealing with men (and women) who have this entitled and controlling attitude!!!! Oh, how I and I’m sure all of the women on here would love, love, love to have a marriage where the possibility of such a simple and pure truth/idea could be realized.

          • Connie on December 8, 2016 at 4:47 pm

            So true, Content. Thank you for that. You put in in words well. Sometimes it’s hard to explain things the way I want.

            James keeps referring to ‘some women’ or ‘many women’, who aren’t doing what they should. I haven’t seen them on here, besides in the way you said. I’m wondering if there is something else going on here. ‘A Cry For Justice’ has things to say about that sort of thing trying to happen over there. I wish “Translations by Ellie” was still happening there.



          • Content on December 8, 2016 at 5:03 pm

            Yeah, Connie….I know what you mean and we are thinking along the same lines. You are doing a fine job explaining yourself. But, you know how it is trying to explain yourself to someone who doesn’t want to really hear you. You’ve lived it for a long time and you don’t have to subject yourself to it here by keeping the dialogue going if you don’t want to.



          • Connie on December 8, 2016 at 5:34 pm

            I know I don’t have to keep it going. I was going to stop a while back because I knew it wasn’t going anywhere. I’m not at all expecting a solution or understanding. I”m hoping for something else. We’ll see.



      • Content on December 8, 2016 at 4:59 pm

        “God has already weighed in on the topic of sexual refusal in 1 Cor 7 which says that marital relations are not to be with-held from one another except by mutual consent for a time and then for prayer.”

        There isn’t mutuality in our marriages, James. This is scripture written to two believers in Christ who are submitting their wills to God. The word mutual is the key word here.

        This verse can’t apply to those who have no voice in their marriage and aren’t valued because the option doesn’t even exist to be able to obey this verse.

        Well, I guess that means, actually, that the only choice would be that we don’t have a choice. Since we don’t have the option of mutuality, we therefore must provide our bodies to be used for sex even though we have been emotionally trampled on or physically abused for years. Yes, that must be God’s heart for His children. Because He would never want that husband to be deprived of his sexual needs…….or would He?

        • James on December 8, 2016 at 8:31 pm

          Content,

          You said:

          “There isn’t mutuality in our marriages, James. This is scripture written to two believers in Christ who are submitting their wills to God. The word mutual is the key word here.”

          I understand that for many women here, and probably for some men who are are too afraid to speak up, there is a lack of mutuality in the marriage.

          I’ve encountered that in ministry and it is truly frustrating. It’s unfair, its exhausting and it tries the very soul of the one trying to be faithful when the other simply isn’t.

          I’ve seen the other side of the coin, periodically, where the man is the one exhausted by the constant effort to live right without any mutual effort on the part of his wife.

          And in those instances, they are tempted to punt on some biblical passages.

          They don’t feel like making any effort to love their wife as Christ loves the church because they feel that those efforts are wasted efforts.

          They don’t feel like trying to understand their wives because all they will get from those conversations is more blame-shifting, sarcasm and accusations.

          Many of them don’t feel like making a good faith effort to be intimate with their wives because they are tired of having their advances rebuffed, ignored and sometimes even mocked.

          I can understand how those men feel, but I don’t get to hand them a “get out of obeying the scriptures free” card.

          I don’t get to say, “oh, that scripture doesn’t apply to you.”

          The bible isn’t my word, its God’s word, its not my will, but God’s will and its not my plan but God’s plan. If it were my word, my will and my plan I could create as many exceptions as I felt like creating. But I’m not called to treat God’s word as if it were my own, I’m called to faithfully proclaim the word as written, pray that those men will endeavor to keep it and remind them of grace when they blow it.

    • Ann L on December 8, 2016 at 7:23 am

      Ha, Connie, I ;just posted some of the same sentiments on the previous thread, then saw this.

      It’s taken me a long time to be able to separate God from church, from religion, from culture, from scripture, from human-proclaimed authority. And judging from my response to some of that same-ol’ same-ol’, there’s still room for growth.

      So I crave the community of church (I still can’t bring myself to use the word “fellowship”. The risk of being sucked back into a world of condemnation and judgement keeps me weird. Yes, weird. I’ve found a wonderful temporary solution in a beautifully sterile Episcopalian congregation. Sterile, not because there’s something wrong with them, but because they are so willing to let me sneak in with eyes down, sit in the back, participate in communion, not demand much during the exchange of peace, and let me leave again without so much as a hello. This is a wonderful gift, and when/if I become ready, I believe the congregation will gladly welcome me.

      As to the hugs: That’s such a boundary issue. I was raised in a family where hugs and affection were lumped in with emotion, and emotion was bad. Due to sexual misbehaviors, hugs were synonymous with danger. Happily, I was able to a appropriately loving with my children and husband.

      As for my husband, once that line of trust was crossed so deeply that I could not ignore, something inside of me clicked. Hugs and touch were once a powerful medium of comfort and care. But the distrust made my physical boundaries as large as a continent. We saw each other at a family gathering recently. As I hugged everyone goodbye, he reached and hugged me. It was a friend-family hug, so I did not feel violated. But I totally don’t get it. Why are we hugging? What obligation does this hug fulfill? So I endured it and appreciate very much that he wants to remain friends. I don’t want to be friends now. We’re not friends. We are a power difference. We are broken dreams. We are lost hope. I’m still grieving. So I’ll take the hug and keep moving.

    • Aly on December 20, 2016 at 9:43 am

      Connie,
      Can relate to your comments and perspectives. My husband and I are raising boys to become ‘hopefully’ Godly growing husbands ….and in our home those demands made by your x husband would be a highlight of a lesson in our home. We might nickname it ‘King Baby’!

  7. Wendy on December 8, 2016 at 12:11 am

    It was a matter of deception for me. It hurt me so much more to begin backing up and trying to see the level of deception than live in the world where I was trying to cover it up. If you are not a woman you don’t understand how an emotionally deceived woman feels. Fraud is the word here for sure! We know that our husbands are living in our bed and a fraud. It just takes thinking for ourselves and letting God have our hearts to figure it out. God knows where the fraud is taking place and why. If a Godly woman is crying out for God to show her the truth He will every time! Our husbands are to lead us and we will go right where they take us. If lies, deception and manipulation are their tools then we will have to make a choice who we will follow when we find ourselves lost in the tangle of lies they have brought us too. Each of us must find our truth in Christ again and each of our journeys will look different. Feeling guilty is why we followed way too long and did not place the boundaries. Getting back to a healthy relationship with Christ takes hard work and dedication. He alone will guide us by the Holy Spirit. I believe our Sister has nothing to be sorry for. She knows the truth.

    • James on December 8, 2016 at 1:46 am

      Wendy,

      I’m curious where you see that the husband in question has been lying to the woman who wrote the email.

      • Content on December 8, 2016 at 4:34 pm

        James, I think what is happening with all of us women is that, since we are on a website that is dealing with a certain dynamic, we are therefore assuming that even though we don’t have all of the facts, we can still all make some common assumptions about this marriage. Once you understand the dynamic of this type of marriage, you see very similar patterns in each of the marriages, even though they might manifest slightly different in how the control, entitlement attitudes, etc. play out.

        No, we don’t have every detail, but we are reading it through that lens because that’s what this website is all about!!

        If you don’t like it, you certainly don’t have to stay and listen to us. We won’t mind if you leave, we promise. 😉

        • James on December 8, 2016 at 8:55 pm

          Content,

          I am sure there are a number of common dynamics that you and other women share.

          Dynamics are derived from keen observations that are demonstrated over a variety of different relationships.

          You are right not to ignore dynamics of abusive relationships, but I think we also need to be careful not to assume that every situation is a another cookie cutter example of “insert textbook dynamic here.”

          I also think we should be careful not to proceed as if God was ignorant of “dynamics” when He gave us His plan for marriage, and outlines our responsibilities to one another.

          Incidentally, 1 Cor 7 doesn’t just speak to the wife, it also speaks to the husband.

          I think we should not ignore the women on this site who are right now being defrauded.

          How do you think they might feel?

        • James on December 8, 2016 at 8:58 pm

          “If you don’t like it, you certainly don’t have to stay and listen to us. We won’t mind if you leave, we promise.”

          I haven’t been blind to the lack of welcome around here.

          Why do you think that most men who find there way here, quickly find their way back out?

          Do you think that this website is men friendly?

    • Charlie on December 8, 2016 at 8:16 am

      Wendy,
      Very well said!
      Thank you!

  8. Rebecca on December 8, 2016 at 6:44 am

    I didn’t get much past the title. Of course she shouldn’t apologize. Get out!!! Leave this creep! Stop denying the abuse and flee!

  9. Lmsdaily115 on December 8, 2016 at 7:19 am

    I agree with this post as far as how to find the truth. It is confusing for women and very scary to find out your appointed “leader” is not leading the way God intends. Do we ride the out of control horse over the cliff or find the courage to jump off of the runaway horse? Either way, there will be pain. I waffle back and forth between the appology or not too. We women realize that it is not OUR timetable we need to follow, it is God’s. How can we know if today will be the day he wakes up? If not today, I might be one day closer to that day at least. We try to keep hope alive, faith strong, but often, we waste our lives waiting for something that may never change….or could change tomorrow.

    I have actually been on both sides of this conundrum. My husband tried for 18 years to “wake me up”. I was proud and bullheaded and thought I was right…big log in the eye. Until he asked for a divorce and I had to face the fact that I didnt know what to do, I finally reached out to God. I started to change…all for the better. But I also started to learn about boundaries and the bible. It is a fine line to walk without falling off to either side of becoming a door mat or overdoing the boundary thing. But basic psychology reveals a truth that even God teaches…people will reap what they sow. This man has emotionally abused his wife. She has stopped producin fruit for him, but still can produce fruit in her life for God and those who cultivate healthy relationships with her…she is not dead. The trouble comes when we start enforcing God’s law as if we are the police. We are not God’s police. He, alone will dole out the justice of His law. We are not to judge or be the jury or executioners. We can guide, suggest, offer help and put up our healthy boundaries, but it is up to God to convict each one of us.

    So, should she appologize? I think she could say “I’m sorry you feel this way, I wish I felt close enough to want to hug you too, but I dont. I hope one day it can change. I need to feel emotionally safe with people to give my whole self like that, and I don’t feel that way with you”. I think the man needs to understand what he sowed. She is saying she would like closeness too. But she can’t do it alone. It seems he could use to learn just what true love is and how to love a woman, not just himself, and I’m sure she could learn how to speak the truth in love and probably some mercy and forgiveness as well, especially to keep resentment and bitterness from taking root. It hurts me to think if a man being denied something so important to him…physical affection, yet, it hurts me to see a woman being denied something so important to her too….loving attention, respect and kindness. We all need to try to see each other’s needs and do what we can to help meet those needs in others, but we also need to be aware of being wise and not foolish with our resources. We are told not to throw our pearls to the pigs. My husband had to do that with me, but now our roles are reversed. I can only pray we both (all) go through these lessons in life and come out the other side as better, more mature people.

    Blessings and prayers to you all.

    • James on December 8, 2016 at 10:37 am

      LmsDaily,

      Good reply.

      I just read your comments above and I am very sorry that your husband is stuck in unforgiveness. It is not ok for him to withhold affection from you.

      • Aly on December 20, 2016 at 10:10 am

        James,
        I’m thankful that you are on this post and website. I’m mean this will all sincerity…. Do you reread the comments twice before interpreting?

        I guess I wonder if any of the other readers are seeing interpretation flags in your responses?

        Maybe you are enjoying the attention….or you are searching for answers to why marriages are difficult or destructive.
        To abuse is to misuse power. Those that misuse power for a long extended amount of time and almost do it as a way of survival expect others to participate in their denial because they are don’t know nor desire to know what to truly be loved might feel like!

        When people no longer participate in the denial of the relationship they are actually beginning to Love the other with a healthy kind of heart not from a skewed relationship where there has been power issues and obviously respect issues of the husband.

        I hope that you continue to stay on this website and offer a soft heart to grow your interpretations and understandings. God’s love is always pure and without sin or self. He doesn’t misuse or abuse His love because if He did it wouldn’t be able to be called love.
        Truth and Love cannot exist without the other.
        I hope you are seeking truth as many of us women have found God’s true love and freedom.

  10. Wendy on December 8, 2016 at 4:30 pm

    James,
    To answer your question regarding the lies within our dear sisters question I say this. The very nature of NPD is lies manipulation and deception. A godly woman will do all that she can until she realizes it is destroying her very soul. When we are dealing with an individual who will blame us and manipulate conversation to guilt us there is no where to go. People who suffer from NPD must maintain their denial and self deception. Their first priority is themselves and they must look good at all times. We hear in our sisters voice that she stayed 21 years that she gave herself to be all that God asked her to be. I see the lies because I also lived in this chaos. There really is no understanding unless you have lived with someone who has this disorder. If they are willing to justify and minimize their behavior they can never repent and change. The worst of it is that we try to get on their level and meet them where they are, however, we are not liars and we cannot live in the deception it destroys us from the inside out. When we begin to see this behavior it is very shocking and painful. However, we must first shut down and disengage from the dance and then figure out the strategy to find hope and healing for ourselves. Leslie has made it very clear that healthy boundaries in abusive relationships are a must! There is nothing that a Christian woman wants more than to love her husband and submit to his leadership. If our husbands want nothing more then to preserve a false image of themselves and are willing to hurt us to do so they leave us with no choice. We can only fall on the mercy of Jesus Christ and trust his leadership and know that we are fully loved. That the very nature of God is to destroy the lies and bring us into healing.
    Our dear sisters trust is completely broken with her husband and she knows it. She knows she cannot even trust him to hold her hand she knows it is a betrayal. She has not figured out all the questions yet but God will bring her to that. Once she feel safe in her Saviors arms and loved he will give her a clear vision of how to proceed.
    To apologize would be like her saying she is responsible for his choices. We will go right where our husbands lead us. She knows it is no longer safe to follow the one man on this earth she longs to follow more than anything. However, the great gift that comes from abuse is our desperate need to fall into the arms of our true Husband and Savior. And the beautiful thing is that He understands her heart completely. She will only need to listen to his leadership and he will take her to a safe place.

    • Content on December 8, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Great comment, Wendy. It’s mindblowing to read other’s comments and be able to relate fully with each point. To feel like you could have written each sentence.

    • Connie on December 8, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Yes, thank you.

    • James on December 8, 2016 at 9:36 pm

      “And the beautiful thing is that He understands her heart completely. She will only need to listen to his leadership and he will take her to a safe place.”

      Amen.

  11. Charlie on December 8, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    Yes, my sentiments exactly.

  12. Lmsdaily115 on December 8, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    I agree with that thought, Content. There are consequences for our actions. You reap what you sow.

  13. Lmsdaily115 on December 8, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Way to take the upper road, James. I pray you are blessed in the ways you need right now from God. Thank you for your insight on this subject….for what it’s worth.

    • James on December 8, 2016 at 9:56 pm

      Thank you for your words of encouragement for me and your words of correction to me.

      I appreciate both.

  14. Lmsdaily115 on December 8, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    Ladies and gentleman. I am new to this blog. Sent here actally on Content’s suggetion. However, even though I understand the point of view of Connie, I am somewhat disturbed at the attacks against James and vice versa. I personally think a man’s viewpoint is just as valid and can be used to broaden our own viewpoints. I don’t see where he was ever lumping women together, attacking, or other insinuated offenses. He, just like all of us, simply has a viewpoint, an opinion, an interpretation. He is one man. Nit ALL men. He COULD be wrong, but then again, so could WE be wrong. We are imperfect humans..each of us. But I do think we are COMMANDED BY GOD to do unto others as we would have done to us. I, too am a wounded wife , married to an NPD husband for 20 years and trying to find my way, my true north in God, but I CAN NOT see where Jesus would have argued with people over different viewpoints in a “low blow” type of attack. It feels like there are some ultra sensitive, emotionally “sunburned”, easily offended people here…which is understandable…we all have been through tremendous emotional and mental, maybe even physical pain….trust is broken, I get it. But God asks us to have mercy, grace and forgiveness. He does not command us to trust, but gives guidance and suggestions on how to build back and try to resolve relationships. Different is not bad, wrong or condemnable here. It’s just different. I invite you all to see the good out of each post and just be grateful for it. Maybe not every point is pertinant, but we are not trying to be exact and perfect and legalistic. Some people take scripture very literal, some take it a bit more loosely and personal. We will never know for sure what is best until we sit beside our Lord in Heaven. That is why we have a Holy Spirit to guide us all…individually.

    James, personally, I found some of your points very worth contemplating, and I personally thank you for your contribition. I have also found points from Connie, Content and others that made me stop and think and really debate and find threads of truth. I am familiar with Contents story, in fact and know where she has been, struggled and is going. It is a very different direction than I feel God leading me to, but I respect the fact that we cannot know what God knows and they me different for each if us. We are not God. We are not to judge and persecute. ..that is God’s job. So I value all the comments and I would like to gently suggest we all put our walls down here and continue to focus on what is good, what is excellent, what is worthy of praise, etc. All of it is permissable, but not all of it is beneficial. We all bring something to the table and learning to appreciate those contributions helps us all be more like Jesus and accepting of His children…our brothers and sisters.

    I know boundaries are important too, but it can be a slippery slope to slam those boundaries down to a point that we become boundary breakers to other people in our over correction.

    Let’s at least be respectful and use some manners here. It’s quite a put off to see the petty arguments and personal attacks. It does NOT serve as an example of godly christianity. It becomes quite ugly and pushes people from God.

    I hope to glean some wisdom to discern how to travel through this valley, but I can’t look at snarky, over emotional retorts that are disrespectful and argumentative and feel this is where I can find help.

    I pray for us all to take some logs out of our own eyes and treat people with respect and godly love irregardless of our past hurts and troubles. Let’s all be bigger people here and do a better job to glorify God and all the gifts we have in Him.

    • Content on December 9, 2016 at 10:19 am

      Thanks for your thoughts and comments, LMS. A lot of good stuff in there, as always.

      James, I should have stuck to not responding up there as I had intended to do.

      When I said that you could leave if you wanted to and “we” wouldn’t miss you, that was a bit sarcastic, I’ll admit (then again, sarcasm is not always wrong)….and I shouldn’t have spoken for the collective reader audience here by saying “we” wouldn’t miss you. I apologize for that whole comment and should have rather spoken my thoughts below to you right from the start:

      I think you would find a big welcome by all if you, as you admitted you need to do, did show more empathy and compassion for those who are deeply hurting right now and chose to err on the side of grace and trusting God to continue the good work that He has begun in His children here.

      It seems, at times, that your comments seem to stir up and end up being more divisive rather than helpful – at least for this especially sensitive season that many of the readers here are in. I think your prayers for your hurting brothers and sisters in Christ would be much more effective.

      I was trying to show in my personal story about apologizing vs. not apologizing that I over-corrected for a time, but that God, our perfect Shepherd who is more than capable and is committed to put us back on the right path, was able to bring me to a place of balance. It feels like you want some to find that balance *right now* and at times, don’t seem to give people the space to let that work happen between themselves and God – which, really – in the end, is the only kind of work that will last and be real heart change.

      One thing I think we *would* agree on James is that every woman and man here needs to be on guard for bitterness and unforgiveness. From what I read of your comments, I think this is also a deep concern of yours. And, that’s good. I know that as God has led me to separate and is giving me very clear guidance on emotionally separating from my husband, He is also giving me a deeper compassion for him and where he is. I know that doesn’t come from me naturally. I know that God has called me to lay these boundaries out of love for not only my emotional health and protection but also out of love for my husband. And, I find it interesting that as I am hearing God’s voice and following Him, the fruits of forgiveness and compassion are increasing for my husband (whereas before when I was trying to work to keep this marriage together at all costs, that was not the case).

      But, even with this truth of guarding against bitterness and unforgiveness, we need to be willing to let God do His individual work in each life. I think that I get your personality — you are probably very black and white, probably strong in prophetic gifting….I understand because I’m the same way. My tendency in the past has been if I see anything “off” in a brother or sister in Christ, to immediately speak to it because, well, I thought that was my duty. 🙂 (See, I’m doing it now, lol!)

      But, I do think this website is different. It’s not a website where people come to debate or want to pick apart Leslie’s answers and try to figure out whether the wife is acting biblically or not. Most are hurting very, very deeply – maybe in ways you can’t understand, James, because maybe you’ve never been there. And, as much as some might even need to hear that they have work to do in certain areas, I’m not sure that any commenter here is going to be able to break through that extreme wall of hurt and distrust and have the chance to develop a strong enough relationship with that person to speak those kinds of things into their lives. I think we need to trust that God has individuals in their lives that are better fit for that purpose.

      Take care –

  15. Lmsdaily115 on December 8, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    I agree with this too. Neither man nor women are exempt from this. I have both petspectives as I was the jerk for 18 years, and now its my husband. A role reversal. Im sure we both contributed to it all in the first 18 years, but i was a highly disrespectful, prideful, controlling and perfectionist wife. My husband claims he tried to reach me for 18 years. After which he lost hope that I would ever “wake up”. He shut down, put up walls and “turned off” zap…nuthin’. Then he asked for a divorce. This woke me up to my sin and how I was living. It was the worst and best thing that could have happened.

    I thought I could clean up my pile of garbage and all would be okay again, but people just are not on/off switches. I am trying to build back emotional safety, trust, relationship and connection with a man who has become the complete opposite of who he was. I’m trying to come in to embrace him while trying to dodge the arrows and darts. It’s very tempting to give up, “let him have it”, sin back at him etc, but that would not be Jesus’ way, would it?

    We both had some growing up and maturing to do. I’m not guaranteed he will ever change, but I keep hope. In the meantime, I carry a shield nowadays and duck behind it when God tells me not to be foolish. There are times when we should not be vulnerable and trusting. It’s advised not to throw our pearls to the swine. But that is not where we should settle down to live and stay. We still need to move forward in life, not stay bitter, resentful and full of anger and hate. Women are not the only victims, mentertainment can be on the end of this too. I’m ashame to admit that I did these things to my husband, but I have been freed by God and living a much more joyous life in His name. A truly changed person. It can hapoen. But I know my unbeleiving husband doesn’t understand it one bit. He is highly suspicious and does not beleive it will ladt. He waits for the other shoe to fall. He doesn’t trust me and doesn’t understand how God changed me…really and truly. I get that. It’s ok. I just pray in time the turtle can come out of his shell. Until them, I am working to make God proud, not anyone else. One day I long to hear “well done my good and faithful servant”.

  16. Connie on December 8, 2016 at 9:02 pm

    OK, I am sorry to those who feel offended by my posts. Please forgive me. I was trying to find out something, and I did. Perhaps this was not the time or place. I’m sorry I took up so much time and space here. I’m bowing out.

    • James on December 8, 2016 at 9:47 pm

      Connie,

      I re-read my last post to you and I was hasty and curt. Please forgive me.

      I hope you realize that I have a great deal of respect for you and for many of the women on this site, I also really do listen to your stories and I pray for many of you.

      I need to do a better job of empathizing with you all as I try to communicate my thoughts.

      Grace and Peace,

    • Ann L on December 9, 2016 at 6:42 am

      I’m not offended, Connie. I do feel that you are wasting your breath trying to “woman-splain” but I give you props for trying. (As if you need my approval! You don’t! No one needs my approval!)

      And that’s the key–where we are, and what we are thinking, and our healing journies are ours to walk. I see this place as a place to share that, to put some of that confusion on paper, to see what it looks like when articulated.

      It’s jarring when that kind of private/public journalling gets held up for approval, reproof, correction. Leslie provides a Bible-based framework for discussion in her response to the question. I see Leslie’s question as a writing.thinking prompt, and the blog post as a framework for thinking about it.

      • Connie on December 9, 2016 at 10:54 am

        Ann L and Content, I wonder if you would give me a shout at cbur53 at gmail dot com. ? I plan to be out all day, but will try to get back when I can. I have a question to ask, thanks.

    • Wonuola on December 15, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      Connie, your contributions have been helpful. It reflects a confidence in God’s love that has doubtless been keeping you strong. You have also pointed out God looks at our hearts primarily and acts are secondary. The beauty of this forum is comforting one another with the comfort with which we have been comforted, with our final authority being the Spirit of God’s word- love and life. John 6:63

  17. God'sdaughter on December 9, 2016 at 1:08 am

    I do not normally comment here, but after reading the article that James offered on depriving ones spouse, I really feel the need to speak this truth as a warning to others. I know a woman who came to our church after her h was abusing her sexually. So the kind of language used in that article was shocking to me as a Christian and actually helps to explain why so many Christians are warped when it comes to the issue of sex. If I were a man or woman who wanted to use my spouse and treat them as an object, I would have to look no further than this article. This man’s interpretation of God’s holy, loving, selfless, honoring design for marriage is way off. Mixing the truth with lies.
    Trigger warning:
    “Ladies, whatever your husband wants that is not immoral or illegal, give it to him. Make sure that your marriage bed is so hot that your husband will not ever go looking elsewhere! ”
    WHAT?! This is one of the lies we just learned about: I’m not enough.
    There are soooo many problems with this one statement. As long as it’s not immoral or illegal?! Is that God’s standard now?
    NO! How about I don’t feel comfortable with that? That doesn’t feel good to me. ? And to infer if the sex isn’t hot enough, the man will wander? Ever hear of personal responsibility? God is really big in owning our own sins. The article even says if the h wants to grab your butt, Let him. This is the way christian men are being taught. To be greedy and selfish and ENTITLED to whatever they want.
    Any man or woman who has been pawed or groped or used as a receptacle knows that is NOT what God had in mind nor did Paul.
    So James, when you call this an excellent resource, with all due respect, you are doing great harm to those you are helping with this “advice”. Didn’t you say you were a pastor? Many churches are waking up to these lies they have believing.
    Like I said I don’t normally comment but have seen the destruction wrought by these types of lies. Many people fight so hard to live in the TRUTH of God’s word that to go back to the lies or have others be ensnared by it is unacceptable and not of God. I hope this is taken in the spirit of love and truth that I intend it to be.

    • LindaLou on December 9, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Thank you for saying that, God’s daughter.

    • James on December 9, 2016 at 4:02 pm

      “WHAT?! This is one of the lies we just learned about: I’m not enough.”

      I don’t think that is what the author of that article is saying at all.

      Rather, I think he was saying exactly the opposite, urging women to be generous, because they are enough for their husbands. I don’t think it’s harmful to encourage freedom and generosity.

      Sorry, I just don’t see this man as trying to encourage, greedy, entitled behavior in men, I think you have to read that into the article. Obviously, if something makes one’s wife uncomfortable or is distasteful, then a man who loves his wife will be considerate, seeking to outdo his wife in showing honor.

      I see him trying to encourage both men and women to fully enjoy the goodness of God’s gift of sexuality.

      Yes, I am a pastor. The Author of the article is also a pastor and an associate prof. at Moody Bible Institute. If you think this article is evil and harmful, I would encourage you to dialog with him. His website has a contact form.

      http://timelessword.com/contact-us/

      I hope you will be open to giving him a fair hearing.

      • Content on December 9, 2016 at 11:29 pm

        “Obviously, if something makes one’s wife uncomfortable or is distasteful, then a man who loves his wife will be considerate, seeking to outdo his wife in showing honor.”

        Yes and amen! And right along with this, a man who loves his wife would never expect sex from her after he has been emotionally or physically abusive to her without humbly coming to her and making all those wrongs right. A man who loves his wife would never expect his wife to open up the most vulnerable part of herself to him after he has closed her down by harming her somehow.

        • James on December 10, 2016 at 10:38 am

          If a man has done something to harm his wife, then, of course, he should come to her in humility and repent. We are in total agreement here.

          In my own experience working with couples, I know of men who were in co-abusive relationships who have owned up to their part and more. They have taken more than their share of the responsibility in the emotional deterioration of their marriage and have been waiting for years for their wives to repent of their own sins and commit to living in a marriage. All forms of intimacy have been taken off the table. Some of the guys have been waiting so long they don’t even want an intimate relationship with their wives anymore.

          Its very sad to see two people who claim to follow Christ living in a hollow shell of a marriage.

          I often get the impression that a couple of those women are using their husbands financially until they have the resources to walk away from their family.

          Its very sad.

          I feel like their wives have embraced a “victim mentality” (and the sense of entitlement that often accompanies a victim mentality) and as a result the wives see themselves as the righteous victim and the husband as the evil abuser despite the fact that both parties were acting in an emotionally destructive way toward one another.

          The blame-shifting, the sense of entitlement, the self-righteousness, the minimizing of their husband’s needs, its very hard for these men. They have repented of their abuse while their abusive wives continue to be abusive.

          My heart goes out to them.

          • Content on December 10, 2016 at 5:20 pm

            I wonder if there is a website for men who are in abusive situations that you could pour your energy out in to help those brothers and encourage them?



          • James on December 10, 2016 at 8:57 pm

            My apologies.

            I thought this website was for both men and women?

            Is this a women’s only website?

            I did not realize.

            I feel totally embarrassed and a little confused.



          • Content on December 10, 2016 at 10:35 pm

            No need to feel embarrassed, James. I was just wondering out loud whether there was a website where the reader audience was mostly men because it seems your passion is more to help men in abusive marriages (and yes, they do exist, absolutely)



          • Seeing the Light on December 10, 2016 at 10:39 pm

            James, you said, “If a man has done something to harm his wife, then, of course, he should come to her in humility and repent. We are in total agreement here.” My question is: And if he does not come to her in humility and repent, but rather continues to harm her while claiming his right to have her fulfill this sexual duty to him, must she?



          • James on December 11, 2016 at 1:09 am

            Seeing the Light,

            Good question.

            Women are going to have to make these kinds of decisions according to their own conscience.

            I’m a pastor, not a ruler. Pastors articulate God’s word and hope to advise according to God’s word, but everyone has to stand before God and answer for their own decisions.

            If a man and a woman were asking me in a pastoral counseling context I would say that it depends on the nature of the offense, how damaging it has been to the relationship, and whether or not the relationship has been chronically damaged or if this is an isolated event.

            In cases where significant harm has been done to the relationship, the following three things occur to me:

            A) It is totally unrealistic to demand one’s right to intimacy when one’s spouse is still angry since it isn’t likely to happen anyway.

            B) It is not such a great idea to press the issue because anyone who feels compelled to be intimate with someone they are in an un-reconciled relationship with isn’t likely to be a very enthusiastic participant, and now you have resentment brewing over the fact that she feels used.

            C) It is, in my opinion, more important to seek and receive forgiveness and grant forgiveness for whatever contribution one’s wife has made the conflict (which is very commonly an element to conflict resolution since the vast majority of conflicts aren’t between one person who is 100% innocent and the other 100% guilty).

            I hope that this has been sufficient to answer.



          • Seeing the Light on December 11, 2016 at 10:03 am

            James, thank you for answering my question and for doing so as fully as you did.

            I found myself wanting to respond a little bit.

            “Women are going to have to make these kinds of decisions according to their own conscience.” Yes. I appreciated that this was the first thing you said in response. As with most issues of obedience to God, each person’s conscience is God’s gift to guide.

            “A) It is totally unrealistic to demand one’s right to intimacy when one’s spouse is still angry since it isn’t likely to happen anyway.” Indeed. I would add that not only does the issue of a spouse’s anger in response to being sinned against come into play (since this isn’t just about anger, of course), but it would be blatant hypocrisy (and a little bit ludicrous) to try to assert one’s sexual rights in relation to one’s spouse while sinning against that spouse unrepentantly.

            “C) It is, in my opinion, more important to seek and receive forgiveness and grant forgiveness for whatever contribution one’s wife has made the conflict (which is very commonly an element to conflict resolution since the vast majority of conflicts aren’t between one person who is 100% innocent and the other 100% guilty).” It may be true that the majority (even vast majority) of conflicts aren’t so divided – 100% guilty vs. 100% innocent – but is that really helpful here? If we are looking at this in terms of no sinner is 100% innocent, then sure. Of course, I would postulate that in the vast majority, it’s also not 50% guilty, 50% innocent. Since much of the conversation on this website’s blog involves situations of outright abuse, then can we imagine that there are situations where, let’s say, one is 99% guilty and the other is 1% guilty (an arbitrary figure for the sake of argument)? A good Christian spouse married to an evil unbelieving wolf masquerading in sheep’s clothing (as God’s Word warns us that such people exist). Now the wolf is not really all that interested in seeking forgiveness or granting it, no matter what they may give lip-service to in pastoral counseling sessions. At some point, even the Christian’s confession of sin and offense and seeking of forgiveness becomes dangerous when proffered to the spouse, who is seeking ways to harm the Christian and can use admissions of guilt in such a way. I would note that this is just one percentage breakdown of it. There could be situations all across the spectrum of assignment of guilt. Part of my point here is just that some people are not interested in true reconciliation at all. That can raise issues of safety (emotional, spiritual, and sometimes physical) for the “more innocent” spouse.

            I did notice in your comment above, (the one containing the part I originally quoted when asking you my question), that you refer to “co-abusive relationships.” Certainly, marriages run the gamut of abusive wife/non-abusive husband, abusive wife/abusive husband, and non-abusive wife/abusive husband. Perhaps it is the varied life experiences of the people speaking here that leads to some of the tension in the conversations. Naturally, we all are affected by our experiences. You may have much more experience here than the average woman commenting on this biog with relationships involving abusive wives and victim husbands or ones involving two abusive spouses. I have been visiting this blog for quite a long time and I think it is safe to say most of the experience of people here is non-abusive wife/abusive husband. That’s been my take anyway. A different blog may have a different demographic.

            I also think one’s own experience of abuse comes into play, especially whether one has first-hand experience of living with being on the receiving end of abuse day-to-day. If you haven’t experienced it, you can’t know all the repercussions. I’m so glad that you said at the beginning that each woman must make her decisions “according to their own conscience” – especially since only she and God know all the details.



          • Lily on December 11, 2016 at 10:11 am

            James, you said, “the vast majority of conflicts aren’t between one person who is 100% innocent and the other 100% guilty).”
            I’m wondering what bible you are reading, or what cult you belong to, that lets you stand before God and say, “She made me sin”, or, “Yes, I made her/him sin.” Or, in your words, “I made a contribution to his/her sin.”
            “Oh, yeah God, I raped her, but……..
            “Oh, yeah God, I yelled and cussed, but……

            And how do you get to judge that ‘most conflicts are…….’ Besides, on this site we are NOT addressing conflicts, we are addressing abuse……there is so much difference between those two, I can’t even begin to explain it. Since when does a bully get a free ride?
            Sorry, when it comes to sin, THERE ARE NO EXCUSES>



          • James on December 12, 2016 at 4:07 pm

            Lily,

            Your post comes across as insulting and accusatory. I have done nothing to you that would warrant such an angry and hateful response.

            If you would like to ask those questions in a more polite way, I would be happy to answer.



        • James on December 12, 2016 at 4:47 pm

          Seeing the Light,

          Thank you for your thoughtful response.
          I won’t try and reply exhaustively.
          But there were a few thoughts I have.

          You said:
          “ but it would be blatant hypocrisy (and a little bit ludicrous) to try to assert one’s sexual rights in relation to one’s spouse while sinning against that spouse unrepentantly.”
          This is exactly right. I think this is such a good point I would like to, with your permission, use some of your language here in counseling situations when they come up. I have never really thought about the dimension of hypocrisy but you are absolutely right here.

          I also agree that there are circumstances where a clear headed assessment of any given situation can find that one (either the husband or the wife) is more responsible for the deterioration of the relationship. In fact, speaking in terms of percentages which I realize is an attempt at quantifying what is really qualitative, I don’t think I have ever seen a situation in which it was 50/50 even. Usually one spouse is handling the conflict worse than the other.

          Sometimes they switch places, that happens rather frequently in my experience. And there are some situations in which someone is clearly 100% wrong. Abuse of children, sexual abuse, rape, physical abuse of any kind are all kinds of abuse where the abuser owns 100% of the situation, and in another sense we are always 100% responsible for our contribution to the conflict.

          What I was trying to communicate is that, in my experience, it is rare to find one person acting in an emotionally abusive way while the spouse is not also engaged in abusive behaviors.

          Like all pastoral counselors, and even clinical counselors to some degree, I have a limited degree of experience. Yet I can say that in my experience, when tackling marriage conflicts, both are behaving toward one another in abusive ways.

          I think I shared in another thread an example of a woman who asked to talk to the elder’s after church. She tearfully told us her story of her husband’s emotional and verbal abuse. She told us that he frequently stonewalled her and that he would yell and scream obscenities at her.

          We reacted immediately because the man was in a leadership position in our church. When we confronted him he confessed but filled in some details. He said he did avoid her because any disagreement could easily lead to her belittle him and calling him names like, pathetic, wuss, wimp, etc… She would make cruel comments about his weight and would even say demeaning things about his genitals.

          When she got really angry, she would slap him on his face and try and kick him in the groin. That’s when he would yell and shout at her to get her to stop. He admitted to using profanity in the process and confessed that this was wrong.

          When we confronted her on these behaviors, she said, “he’s a man, I’m a woman. What kind of a man whines about his wife’s justified anger. He’s annoying, I wouldn’t do these things if he would grow up and act more like a man, besides, I’m smaller and physically weaker, if he were a real man, he would be able to take it.”

          She honestly did not see her own behavior toward her husband as abusive. She had a clear victim mentality, she actually felt that she was entitled to treat him this way and had the right to be pronounced vindicated.

          I’m not accusing anyone her of being like this woman, but I am using this example to show that our sin natures can make us blind to our own sins even while we purport to see the sins of others clearly.

          In short, conflicts are often ripe with hypocrisy.

          Consequently, I have grown to try and heed the counsel of Proverbs 18:17.

          Now, I can totally see your point. If this woman had done this to her husband at 5:15 PM and then wanted to be intimate at 8:35 PM (without owning her abusive behavior, repenting, asking for forgiveness and making a concrete plan to deal with her abusive behavior) then no one would blame him for saying , “not tonight, I’m still upset about what happened earlier.”

          But I think it’s his responsibility to reach out for help and begin the Matthew 18 process so that this kind of stuff doesn’t go on for year after year without resolution.

          Boundaries can only insulate us from harm, in my opinion they aren’t a suitable replacement for biblical confrontation.

          On a personal note, thank you so much for part in our dialog, it has been very thought provoking and helpful.
          Grace be with you.

    • Connie on December 9, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      Thank you, God’s daughter. I read part of the article and thought it was ok, there must have been more that I missed. Sometimes there are ads and I think the article is done? Because I sure as heck would not have said it was good if I’d have read those parts!!!!!! I should have read more carefully.

  18. Wendy on December 9, 2016 at 9:30 am

    The most beautiful place in life to be regardless of our choices is to know that we are truly loved and forgiven.. I pray now every day for a man who is attacking my character to friends and family. I do not say anything to try and defend myself. I believe firmly in the fact that God will fight this and lead me out in His time. I am free to understand that I can change no one but myself. I understand now how personaly he will work and patiently every day. It was so hard to believe that I was not a failure but a survivor. God loves us all and I have never been stronger or closer to Him than now. I praise God for delivering us all no matter where we are! May we all seek His glory as we stand in His perfect strength and make wise choices.
    We must be so careful as some of us ladies are at a time when safety is a real big issue. If we feel we must separate and get safe God has a perfect plan for that as well. God bless you all as God does not see male or femal but mercy!!
    Remember that having a voice is so important and please keep talking! Even if you are hurt and it comes out wrong keep working through it this is the place!!

  19. Wonuola on December 9, 2016 at 10:26 am

    The knowledge of God’s unconditional love is liberating from any yoke of tradition, culture or ungodly expectation, making one free to live in the freedom secured by Christ for us! The confidence in God’s love is also empowering and it appears this has enabled you pray for someone who ill treated you. Please stay rooted in the Greatest Love of all!

  20. Lmsdaily115 on December 9, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Thank you, Content. I think that post spoke much more directly about where we all need to be looking…at ourselves and who we are in God. Thank you all for the “redo” on this post. Emotions can carry us all a ay at times, but we are still part of the body of Christ and brothers and sisters. Blessings.

  21. Ruth on December 9, 2016 at 9:19 pm

    LindaLou:
    [There wasn’t a “Reply” link under your post]

    I read the link you shared from Gary Thomas.

    It was excellent!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Everyone should go read it!❤️❤️

  22. Ruth on December 9, 2016 at 9:57 pm

    I can relate so much to the original poster. I’ve been married almost the same number of years. My H has been emotionally abusive. In the different churches we’ve gone to, no one has ever known.
    I’ve been cursed at.
    I’ve been badgered when I’m worn out and just want to go to sleep. I’ve developed anxiety.
    I get woke up to get yelled at bc I didn’t initiate sex.
    If I’m sick, he gets irritated.
    If he does pick up any of the lack, he does it with a martyr attitude.
    He is negative, selfish, and toxic.

    he doesn’t fit the perfect abuser mold. He doesn’t cheat. He does not lie. In fact, he relishes always doing ‘right’. Once I heard him correcting our son for being proudful. I got the sense that H was proudful of being humble.🤔

    We’ve ALWAYS struggled financially and he’s EXTREMELY arrogant so he’d never listen to a counselor anyway so there was point in going to counseling.
    He wouldn’t listen to pastoral rebuke bc he’s too arrogant.
    I’ve always been too scared to tell anyone about our problems bc I felt like that wasn’t honoring my husband. There’s been plenty of times that my husband had said God will judge me for my disrespect of him. Now, I’ve started having migraines several times a week and I’ve wondered if it’s some curse he’s put on me, although if that’s the case, then it was short-sighted on his part bc it certainly cut back on any sexual activity LOL.

  23. Wonuola on December 10, 2016 at 5:58 am

    Please watch Leslie’s video on ‘Don’t be a caretaker of the narcissist” . I have also been guilty of keeping quiet about verbal abuse! Keeping quiet perpetuates ungodly behaviour! We are to promote love as Christians. Keeping quiet does not help the perpetrator get help as well. He may not appear to be listening as it is not what he wants to hear, please keep speaking the truth and engaging in Godly counsel. Submission is as he submits to Christ. You would not submit if he asked you to rob a bank, so you can’t give in to your life being robbed! Every man will give an individual account to God. There is no marriage in heaven besides Christ and his Church! ❤️

  24. Aleea on December 10, 2016 at 7:15 am

    “RE: Ann L says
    December 8, 2016 at 6:54 am
    Connie and Aleea — for some reason I can’t reply to either of your posts. But want to let you know I’ve read and appreciate them and the faith journey that each discusses. I went through quite a walk with those topics 10-15 years ago. We were in a “right-thinking, Bible-believing” fundamentalist church where the surface of love barely covered riptides of personal pain and family dysfunction. But everyone had to go to church 3X a time because that was scriptural, and there was no room for reality. This made church the place where people came to pretend they had perfect lives. Instead of being a safe place to share pain and wrestle with sin and love and God, to seek forgiveness of self, to be loved by neighbors despite flaws, a safe place to find babysteps toward healing (take a breath! Ending this sentence here!)”

    Ann L., how, —oh how did you get yourself to the point where you didn’t need to respond over it anymore? —It so fires me up! I travel through a LOT of time zones and lay in bed totally awake so many nights thinking and praying and I think it reduces to this: at the end of the Four Spiritual Laws booklet, there is a cartoon diagram showing a toy locomotive engine labeled “fact,” pulling a freight car labeled “faith,” followed in turn by a superfluous caboose tagged “feeling.” When you see this live, the convert is admonished to let faith rest on fact, not to allow faith to waver with feelings. But to so, so many of the psychoanalysts, the neuroscientists, et.al. I have talked to, they very much suspect that it is the caboose that is pulling the train, and pulling it backwards. Faith is based “firmly” upon feeling, and certain notions are postulated as “fact” because of the security they afford the sick soul who seeks a port in the existential storm. This is about certainty and security needs not truth needs. . . . . the predicament of “modern women,” feeling all alone in a big bad horrific *really* impersonal universe and especially inside our marriages. . . .Wednesday night, after being in the air all day, I got to Marriott, Newport Beach got to my room dropped to the side of the bed and just prayed and prayed. I am so grateful to God for all I have! . . .Prayer is all feelings, —pure fabulous feelings!!! Prayer is totally, completely other. . . I can’t say enough good things about it. Prayer also is listening for God’s replies. Got up, opened the night stand: Gideon Bible and also the Book the Mormon. . .I started thinking that’s where the Bible’s manuscript evidence has been demonstrated. The last 275 years of textual research has taught us that the recovery of original sayings of Jesus, well, you judge for yourself (—you can always find resources at no cost to yourself and this is no exception) re:“An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and Their Texts” . . . .

    . . .A safe, judgment-free zone. . . .A palm tree garden oasis so that all issues are totally free to surface. To me, it is the path that helps the abused (—especially spiritually abused) know what they already know. It helps them accept the implications. . . . . . .If and only if *they* feel safe with you doing it: Get ahold of your spouse and hug them. If you don’t feel what the New Testament calls zōē ζωὴ (bursting with real life, a total zoo!) start asking questions: —Can you really, truly, REALLY, safely express an opinion that is different from mine? —Even if it deconstructs the storybook Jesus? What am I NOT really hearing? —Do you feel loved and cared for in our relationship? —Do I show enough interest in you and your needs and interests? . . . .My pastor uses his own formidable erudition in one vast damage control operation. Every effort of his is to squelch the facts from every branch of everything that threatens to cast doubt on the traditional picture of the storybook Jesus and Christian origins. I talk to his wife, psychoanalytically it is so clear to see what is going on. God is being used to control people, —remote control them.

    . . . .If there is any answer maybe it lies in destroying the scapegoat mechanism and embracing total brokenness, doubt, uncertainty, unknowing, be really honest with our shadow sides, —really honest. I really think there is no outsider, we are all outsiders. Maybe, the true distinction is between those who hide their lack under a total fiction of some level of wholeness (—even in Jesus) and those who are able to totally embrace it. I know Jesus and my experience of Him is as valid as my pastors and I am still totally broken: radical doubt, suffering, and the sense of divine forsakenness as I *fully* unreservedly embrace my humanity. Certainty and satisfaction are exposed as the idolatry of God. We are so attached to finding in our perceptions of God certainty and satisfaction that we cannot find what is authentic?

  25. Connie on December 10, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    Aleea, I love your last sentence. “We are so attached to finding in our perceptions of God certainty and satisfaction that we cannot find what is authentic?” Authenticity is what I look for. “Are you real?” I silently ask someone when I want to get to know them better. And I ask myself that all the time. And those who want to live ‘fake’ lives, all about image and what they can get out of you, and about defending a certain belief system, those cannot stand ‘real’. For some reason it angers them. Maybe the anger is a fear of admitting fear? Huge insecurity, for sure. I find the more I ‘know’ God, the less I care about ‘getting it right’ (whatever ‘it’ is) (sorry, just rambling here) 🙂

    I come from Mennonite background, and one of the sayings of their original founder was, “When people stop living the gospel, they start arguing over doctrine”.

    • Aleea on December 10, 2016 at 2:56 pm

      Connie, I am familiar with the Mennonites in places like Belleville, Lansdale, Lancaster Pennsylvania. I grew up in northern Maryland. —But, I’ll also tell you Connie, I could never keep it straight: Old Order Hutterites, Mennonites, Amish, Brethren. —And I can clearly see the Mennonite founder saying that quote given all the historical schisms and severe shunnings to show disapproval of other Mennonite groups. . . . . And it is hard to be totally authentic Connie, I fail so often, as hard as I try.

      “Maybe the anger is a fear of admitting fear? Huge insecurity, for sure. I find the more I ‘know’ God, the less I care about ‘getting it right’ (whatever ‘it’ is) (sorry, just rambling here)” . . . .It has fear in it, yes and don’t be sorry, I so value what everyone says. Notice how in those groups, the fundamental structure of scapegoating is not broken i.e. the severe shunnings to show disapproval of other Mennonite groups. I am not sure but I think if the underlying scapegoat mechanism is not decommissioned, then new “others” will always arise to protect the group from its own internal conflicts. In order to destroy the scapegoat mechanism, a different strategy must be adopted. Instead of trying to create a community where there is no outsider, the real answer may lie in understanding that there is a sense in which we are all outsiders. In concrete terms, this means that a community faces its own lack, rather than ignoring it and thus creating a scapegoat who must carry it: Old Order Hutterites vs. Mennonites vs. Amish vs. Brethren. But I do that sometimes too, I externalize some of my issues so I don’t have to face them internally. Fear, ignorance, and hatred are the trinity of malice and ignorance often leads to fear and hatred.

      “I find the more I ‘know’ God, the less I care about ‘getting it right’” . . . . I guess I understand that and don’t understand that at the same time. Do you know God in ways outside prayer, the Bible, seeing the beauty in the world? For me, all I need to do is pray, embrace the silence that engulfs me, and invite God within. That said, I don’t really know what all the feelings mean. I see God not as an object, but as a mystery present in the very act of service/ real love itself. . . . .Anyways, I think the true measure of a person is how quickly they can respond to the needs of others and how much of themselves they can give. As everyone knows, life is so not black and white. Life involves the interplay of black and white. In other words, the gray area is where life takes place. Our real beliefs are generally not to be found at the level of what we believe but what we do, especially the anomalies. When confronted with inner conflicts, we are tempted to obscure them by externalizing the antagonisms—you see me do that at times. The more difficult, courageous path involves attempting to face and really tarry with the antagonisms. In other words, the claim I believe in God is nothing but a lie if it is not manifest in my life, because one only believes in God insofar as one really, deeply loves. . . . Also, believing in God while remaining dubious concerning what one believes about God (a distinction that fundamentalism is unable to maintain). This is somewhat like your “I find the more I ‘know’ God, the less I care about ‘getting it right’”

  26. Aleea on December 10, 2016 at 12:45 pm

    —Oh, and I forgot re: “We should have coffee somewhere”

    . . . Let me know, I certainly want to hear your stories, in detail. I bet we will not need any coffee, I’ll bring beta-blockers in case our heart rates/ blood pressures go too high. . .It is in the aftermath of the crucifixion that we are able to understand that God revealed in Christ is found in the loving embrace of this life and a rejection of all that would turn us away from it. . . . “fasten seat belts” —a wild ride, over microbursts, through wind shear, —i.e. Find what is authentic within, I’ll tell you everything I have learned: It’s all a total mystery, and only He knows why. Living with an open heart is bravery indeed.

  27. James on December 10, 2016 at 9:36 pm

    Aleea,

    I’m so glad you were led to a church where you are able to wrestle with the realities of the human soul.

    Its funny that you brought up the Gideon bible, Aleea. Before I came to know Christ I would find those so silly and now I smile every time I see one of those precious bibles that those faithful men put into those drawers.

    I’ve gotten to know some of the Gideon’s. They are generous men who give generously to make sure that those bible are available to people and they pray for each one that they place hoping that the Lord will use it to bring healing and salvation to those who open it.

    What a blessing.

    Its also funny that you would bring up the “Four Spiritual Laws.”

    That was one of the first tracts that was given to me when I was searching.

    I thank the Lord for Bill Bright, for the way God has used that man and for the way God used him to take the precious truths of the gospel and communicate it in such a concise way.

    Thanks for your post, it was a trip down memory road.

    • Aleea on December 11, 2016 at 7:34 am

      I love you James! . . . .Faith is a human reality that marks everyone whether they identify with theism, atheism, the sacred, or the secular. It is a profound human reality that has both a beautiful and a monstrous manifestation. Μια σκιά σε σκόνη (—A shadow in the dust!). . . . The courage to be is the courage to accept oneself, in spite of being unacceptable. . . . The first duty of love is to really, deeply listen, —I really need work there! . . . . We don’t want to deeply listen (—with the intent to understand, not with the intent to reply) because really, deeply listening changes us —all of us. There is no place to which we could flee from God, which is outside of God. . . . .For in Him we live and move and have our being. The passion for truth is silenced by answers which have the weight of undisputed authority. We are able to decide for or against reason, and we are able to create beyond reason or to destroy below reason. . . . Or simply, so I don’t confuse myself: The first duty of love is to really, deeply listen.

  28. Ann L on December 10, 2016 at 9:41 pm

    Oh, the stories. Well, we hear them right here on this blog, and we get to see them still unfolding if we choose to engage.

    Yes, brave, brave indeed, to step outside the shelter of the letter and embrace instead the uncertainty of of the Spirit.

    • Aleea on December 11, 2016 at 8:31 am

      —So, so true. . . . the letter of the law cannot override the spirit in the heart. What makes it really hard is that reason is the presupposition of faith, and faith is the fulfillment of reason —but as always, sin ruins everything. . . . .sin is separation. . . . .So truth without the way to truth is dead, —just like that letter of the law! . . . .Sometimes our love becomes distorted by our feelings of insecurity and our fear of abandonment or emotionally abusive because of fear of intimacy. . . . Anyways, that is what I think, I don’t know. . . I’m still thinking about all that! —But all we can do is show love, especially internally. Doing so, might allow others —and us too, to see what they/we are missing and need.

  29. Maria on December 11, 2016 at 8:22 am

    I browsed through the many comments here. There have been discussions of “rules” applying to situations – a spouse should not withhold sexual intimacy. When applied to a healthy marriage, this totally makes sense- when there is conflict in a marriage, the spouses should deal with it and confession, repentance and reconciliation should hopefully take place. Withholding affection as a means to punish is wrong. Not putting in the hard work to resolve the conflict and demanding sex is wrong.
    Instead of applying rules that apply to healthy marriages to unhealthy ones, it’s important to do a root cause analysis and figure out what is causing problems in the marriage. Demanding that certain rules are followed is just a bandaid fix and doesn’t address the real problem. Unfortunately, in abusive marriages, reconciliation doesn’t happen often because the abusive spouse(s) doesn’t (don’t) take responsibility for their wrong doing and instead blame, deny wrong etc. Reconciliation is not possible when this happens.

    • James on December 12, 2016 at 4:52 pm

      Good reply,

      I’m not sure that I would see 1 Cor as an epistle written to a church filled with healthy marriages though.

      Rather, I’d probably say that Paul was trying to counsel them to move toward healthy behavior (in matters of marriage and other matters as well).

      Perhaps you do not mean to say this but I have often heard the opinion that physical intimacy is the result of a healthy marriage. I might disagree slightly and claim that physical intimacy is an essential element of a healthy marriage.

    • T. on December 20, 2016 at 9:23 am

      Thank you, Maria. My thought about this whole discussion. Another point that may have been made is that this forum (or whatever you call it) is done by Leslie Vernick who primarily works with and speaks to people in abusive relationships, not healthy relationships. I don’t think these Scriptures that were put forth are applicable to abusive relationships and I think that’s what most of us take issue with in this discussion.

  30. Maria on December 11, 2016 at 9:21 am

    Another thought- a number of us here are in destructive relationships. Something that I have seen that’s applicable almost always, is looking out for another’s good. We will never go wrong if we do that. Is it for the good of an unrepentant spouse to give into sex? We have to get healthy ourselves and pursue emotional, spiritual health etc in order to be able to look out for another’s good.

    • James on December 12, 2016 at 4:54 pm

      “Something that I have seen that’s applicable almost always, is looking out for another’s good. We will never go wrong if we do that.”

      Yes.

  31. James on December 11, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Aleea,

    Thank you for such a wonderfully sweet post. I love you as well, but not as much as does our Savior. What a wonderful truth that God sent His Only Son to save the likes of us.

    I think you are on to something when you say that the love is deeply listening.

    Loving God who has loved us first, hearing our deepest cries for help, means listening deeply to Him.

    “In Him we live and move and have our being.”

    What a wonderful reality,


    (Acts 17:28-31 ESV) for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

    That we would all grow to hear His voice more clearly as we attend to Author and Perfecter of our faith.

    • Aleea on December 12, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      Thank you James! . . . And believe me, I pay attention. I assume that any person I am listening to might know something I really need to know. So I always try to listen to them hard enough so that maybe they will share it with me. It is so hard not to trigger people or be triggered by them.

  32. Ann L on December 11, 2016 at 7:47 pm

    Connie: How I got to a point where I didn’t need to respond to it anymore: It was a process. The first step was walking away from the church. There was still an immediate sense of anger, injustice, outrage — that in itself was a response, but at least, being away from the church, I didn’t have the issue of standing up to it.

    With time, and through forging other relationships, came the ability to recognize that the authority, rule-driven environment of fear was someone else’s problem. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the beginnings of learning to detach. It wasn’t the best detachment, because there was still the anger. Now, years later, there is still the bad taste and that pit-of-the-stomach feeling, and perhaps, maybe, a smidge of recognition that the preacher and his supporters were acting out of fear. Not fear that the membership would go to hell so much as fear that they, the preacher and the so-called elders, would get it wrong, and, well, you know how that goes. Seventh grade all over again.

    I still bristle when someone presumes to “know,” but now understand that that person is stumbling along on their own journey. I’ve learned that once that kind of person makes their stance clear, I can walk away. I have their response, and that’s all I need. No skin off my nose if they want to condemn me to hell.

    The key for me has been to build a new community, so my truth isn’t defined by a toxic community that thinks it has the authority to speak for God. That’s how I don’t need to respond to it anymore.

    • Ann L on December 12, 2016 at 6:20 am

      Oops.Sorry. That was Aleea to whom I was responding, not Connie.

      • Aleea on December 12, 2016 at 6:13 pm

        Ann L.,
        Thank you so much. I really appreciate that!

        “. . . .the authority, rule-driven environment of fear was someone else’s problem. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the beginnings of learning to detach. . . .”

        I am not so sure it is not the goading of the superego that weaponizes the lack against us. The subtle power of spiritual abuse and spiritual manipulation and the false spiritual authority within the church. —And that doesn’t mean I don’t love Jesus and God’s Word, I think we violate Scripture at our own peril because even at the points were it is not true historically, it is still true theologically, it is still true psychologically.

        I really think you are dialed-into something in that the Lack is not what creates the anxiety, it’s the people/messages we believe. The “perfect people”. The “Victorious”. Those with the “peace that passes ALL understanding” the “I have it together”, at church and on Christian media we follow, ads everywhere we turn, distant friends “success”, management /or church leaders high up the ladder, parents ideals that keep insisting that it’s a problem.

        “. . . so my truth isn’t defined by a toxic community that thinks it has the authority to speak for God. . .” ―Exactly!!!

        So I say: “Embrace the Lack.” —Someone make a T-shirt, please! . . . . .Hello my name is Aleea ―and― I don’t have the peace that passes ALL understanding. I don’t lead a Victorious life. ―I don’t Conquer anything!!! ―But when one is bankrupt, the letters, phone calls and house visits from Satan stop too! —And with them, some, not all of the anxiety that they produce dissipates. ―Ann L. to me it is the loss of loss.

  33. Wonuola on December 12, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    With reference to A) If “intimacy” becomes a right that has to be demanded, is it intimacy or legalism?
    What is not of faith is sin. We are primarily spirit beings and marriage is primarily a spiritual union else the essence and fulfilment of it is lost and any consequent activity is superficial at best.

    • James on December 12, 2016 at 10:24 pm

      Wonuola,

      Great question.

      I don’t think that intimacy should be demanded. I don’t think that is a good thing to disregard the feelings of one’s spouse or a sign of a healthy respect for one’s spouse. I don’t personally think that demanded “intimacy” would be very fulfilling for either party and I would personally question the health of someone who thought that it would be.

      If a man wrote in saying, “doesn’t my wife owe me sex when I want it even if I treat her poorly.”

      I would have choice things to say to this man about how sinful it is to be selfish and disregard how he is making his wife feel when he treats her poorly and then selfishly seeks to have his needs met.

      I also don’t think that withholding intimacy is a good thing or a sign of respect for one’s spouse. I don’t think its a good boundary because I believe that physical intimacy is an essential element of a healthy marriage relationship. If marriage were akin to a three legged stool, so to speak, physical intimacy would be one leg (spiritual intimacy and emotional intimacy would be the other two).

      You don’t make a stool safer to sit on by removing legs.

      I think that you and I may have differing definitions of legalism.

      In my mind, the bible asks us to lead our hearts and joyfully do things that we wouldn’t otherwise choose to do.

      For example the bible tells us to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. No one would blame those being persecuted for not wanting to love their enemies or pray for their persecutors.

      If we really understand just how much pain, hurt and justified anger those enduring genuine persecution feel, we would understand just how hard it is to love one’s enemy and pray for one’s persecutors.

      But the fact that it is hard to do what Jesus commands doesn’t erase the fact that Jesus commanded it. And pointing out that Matthew 5:44 is in the bible isn’t, in my mind, being legalistic even if it is hard for some people to hear.

      In the same way, pointing out that 1 Cor 7:1-6 is also in the bible is not, in my mind legalistic.

      In my opinion, legalism has two definition that the bible uses:
      1. The notion that one can earn salvation by obedience to the law or that one can lose one’s salvation by disobedience to the law. It is salvation by works.

      2. The notion that we are obliged to obey man’s word, in addition to (or in the place of) God’s word.

      In my opinion, pointing out that the bible addresses an issue, and letting the bible speak on its own authority without qualification, isn’t legalism.

      In other words, I don’t think that it is a good idea to “minimize” the bible when the bible speaks to an issue.
      I’m not accusing anyone of doing that, I’m merely stating that it shouldn’t be done.

      That doesn’t mean I don’t have compassion for both women and men who are in marriages where their spouse makes it particularly difficult to be obedient to the word of God.

      I absolutely do have compassion for them.

      Thanks again for your comments and God bless you.

  34. God'sdaughter on December 13, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Wonoula made a great point as have others here on this issue. James, it seems like you are taking the above command to love to mean have sex with. It does not say close fellowship or be buddies with our enemies. Love can mean lots of things. Does love remove consequences? No. that’s why one thief entered heaven and the other didn’t. You can show kindness and concern or say some tough truths. All of these are loving. I feel like some of the things you say ARE man’s word, not Gods. I say this in the kindest way because I know you think you are right. But what these dear ladies and men are saying on this site from what has happened to them in actual reality. What GOD has shown them through the Holy Spirit. I think that is the only authority here. I’m all for discussing and learning and growing. But He is the authority. I think legalism can come all too easily to people. Should. Ought to. Must. Not a good Christian if you do or don’t. The devil uses the word of God with a slight twist to confuse. It’s saying what God never said and then saying “that’s what the Bible says” to justify it. I think most people who have been so close to God because their life and sanity depend on it, are really listening to the Holy Spirit and doing what God tells them. Sex is a want James, not a need and God said he will provide for our NEEDS. (Sorry not yelling.but using caps as emphasis)Men and women desire these things for sure, but I hope you are not saying that there is no marriage where one spouse perhaps for medical reasons or Alzheimer’s can’t have sex any longer. Why do we understand for this but not abuse? Just if a spouse was spending like crazy, should we not give them more money? We are to be generous as you said James. God’s word is not that wooden. The people in Corinth thought it was more holy to NOT have sex and that’s where that don’t deprive part came from. Plus the above addresses a question not known to us. Context, right? We as people helpers have to be sure to let the Spirit work. I would ask if you have read Leslie’s book on destructive relationships. I think if you understood the 3 types of marriages, it may make a difference. Also if you know anything about this blog, it’s that most people here DO know what persecution feels like. They are living it and trying to do God’s will through it. And man’s will always leads to death and God’s way leads to life. That’s why there is such zeal for the truth here. I commend Leslie for all of her great work and truth.
    Peace!

    • James on December 13, 2016 at 12:53 pm

      “James, it seems like you are taking the above command to love to mean have sex with.”

      No, no. Somehow I have failed to get across what I mean.
      I am NOT equating Matthew 5:44 with sex in marriage at all (no yelling here either, all caps for emphasis).

      I am using this verse to demonstrate a principle from analogy. That principle is that God does ask us to do things that are difficult even towards those who hurt us, cause us pain, and crush our spirits.

      We can empathize with those who are called to endure a crushed spirit while loving their enemies but we can’t give them a pass on what the bible says just because it feels hard to do.

      As a man of compassion, I want to tell them that God’s love for them means they will never have to endure persecution. As a man of the word, I can’t say that with integrity.

      The same is true of 1 Cor 7. As a man of compassion I want to be able to say to some women and even some men that God’s love means they never have put themselves out and offer affection to someone who is treating them unkindly, as a man of God’s word, I can’t put an asterisk in my bible to qualify that passage as it suits me. I just can’t. I respect God’s word too much to do that.

      “I feel like some of the things you say ARE man’s word, not Gods. I say this in the kindest way because I know you think you are right.”

      If you can be more specific, I’d be happy to look at those things. I appreciate the kindness of your reply, I do think that I am correct. If I thought I was incorrect, I would promptly change my opinion. I have encountered women here who also are convinced of their own correctness. Were they not convinced that they were right, I doubt they would go to so much effort to let me know just how wrong they think I am.
      Don’t you think that you are right on these matters?

      So we should all probably hold our own confidence in our opinion with both humility and integrity. Integrity in that we stand firm on what we are convinced with a good conscience until convinced otherwise, humility in that we are willing to bend our wills to sound biblical arguments.

      As such, If you can show me, from the bible, where I am erring in my understanding of 1 Cor 7 or its application, I will give your argument due consideration but I’m afraid I can’t be swayed by the subjectivity of anyone’s personal experiences. I just have more confidence in my bible than I do what anyone thinks they heard God say to them.

      Now, as I said before. I affirm the freedom of everyone on this board to make decisions for themselves. No one is obligated to hear me out, to their own Master do they stand or fall.

      Let me deal briefly with some other considerations of your post.
      1) 1 Cor 7 was Paul’s response to marital asceticism. This a distinct possibility, though not all scholars agree here. Whatever the reason, both husband’s and wives (though perhaps more the husbands than the wives) were neglecting one another (perhaps in reaction to the prevalence of sexual licentiousness which Paul addresses in Chapter 6). Whatever the historical context, which is difficult to determine, Paul disagrees that un-consensual and prolonged abstinence is good for a marriage and says that, because of the prevailing immorality each husband is to “have” ( meaning have sex with) his wife and each wife should “have” her own husband. We really don’t need to understand the historical context fully to understand what is being said and that’s a good thing because the truths of the bible arose from historical situations but are nevertheless timeless in their application.

      2) Sex is a want not a need. This is true, sex is not something we will die without. Likewise, having a voice in one’s marriage is not a need either. Women in many Muslim countries under strict Sharia law survive without having any voice in their marriage whatsoever. Just because something isn’t a need in terms of survival doesn’t mean it isn’t a need in terms of having a healthy marriage. Having a voice in one’s marriage isn’t a “survival” need, but it is needed for a healthy marriage. The bible is clear that husbands should dwell with their wives in an understanding way. The fact that a wife doesn’t need an understanding husband to survive does not let the husband off the hook. The same, I think, is true of sexual intimacy. Furthermore, Paul isn’t using the language of need, he is using the language of obligation.

      3) Have I read Leslie’s book? Yes, I read “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship.” That was actually the reason I found the blog. I found Leslie’s book to be very helpful in some senses and not so helpful in others. But I don’t think that Leslie’s book (which isn’t divinely inspired) should qualify God’s word (which is divinely inspired). Consequently, I’m not willing to say, “Under normal circumstances, you should do as scripture counsels, but under these circumstances, you are free to consider yourself an exception.” Now, obviously, there are times when someone “cannot” do what the bible commands. A person who has a prohibitive illness may not be physically able to follow 1 Cor 7. But you and I can discern the difference between someone who cannot and someone who will not. In like fashion there are times in which other biblical responsibilities take priority, if reconciliation needs to take place then both husband and wife should diligently pursue reconciliation. But we can’t subordinate God’s word to our subjective feelings.

      A husband who says, “I will not act in a loving way toward my wife until I feel fond feelings of affection for her” is behaving inconsistently with the many commands of scripture that tell a husband to love his wife. He needs to lead his heart, shepherd his own feelings and put on an attitude of serving Christ through loving his wife.

      Why would that be ok advice to give to a husband but not ok advice to give to a wife?

      Thank you for indulging what I fear is a failed attempt at brevity.

      • God'sdaughter on December 13, 2016 at 7:49 pm

        My comment to you James is below a couple comments.

  35. Ruth on December 13, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    James,
    You were dialogueing with SeeingTheLight. Then Lily took exception to something you said about sharing responsibility for the marriage problems. Something specific you said triggered her.
    Maybe it was her reference being raped.
    Maybe it was her reference to being screamed and cursed that.
    Abuse victims have been brainwashed by their abuser to believe that ‘if you only did ‘XYZ’, then I wouldn’t lose my temper.’ Abuse victims have heaps of guilt on their shoulders.
    Guilt for not being good enough.
    Guilt for not realizing he was an abuser to begin with.
    Guilt for not getting away sooner.
    Guilt because if we leave it will hurt our children. Guilt because if we stay it will hurt our children. Guilt for not being brave.

    if you feel someone has been rude to you on this blog, my advice is to not answer them.
    ❤️This blog is for victims and survivors; and some of us are still hurting.
    Maybe you can’t handle that much raw emotion without getting offended. You’re under no compulsion to address every question. After all, this is not your blog.
    In a patronizing manner, you really put Lily in her place. Probably Lily has been put in her place by an abusive man more than enough for this lifetime.

    • James on December 13, 2016 at 5:13 pm

      Ruth,

      “In a patronizing manner, you really put Lily in her place. Probably Lily has been put in her place by an abusive man more than enough for this lifetime.”

      I disagree that my response was patronizing. I asked to be spoken to with the same level of respect that anyone else here would want from. I submit that if I (as a man) had spoken as hastily to any woman on this thread I would be asked to leave by the website administrator. and I further submit that if a woman had responded to me with the same words I used to respond to Lily, there would likely be a trail of congratulations for exercising good boundaries.

      I don’t know anything about Lily. I don’t know what her situation is. I am more than happy to pray for whatever it is that she is going through.

      I have also been the victim of abuse. Do my feelings and triggers matter here?

      • Ruth on December 13, 2016 at 8:12 pm

        The feelings of all abuse survivors matter. I am sorry that anyone, male or female has personal experience with abuse.
        Are you coming to this blog for support and healing for those wounds?

        • James on December 13, 2016 at 11:25 pm

          I don’t think it is reasonable to expect any blog to be one’s primary place of support and healing.

          I don’t think a blog can really accomplish this. I don’t think its fair to put that burden on the blog or the blogger.

          If you (probably not you personally) want to create a place for abuse victims to share their stories without having to encounter opinions that might be “triggering.” Then you (and again, probably not you personally) should probably have a forum type setup with approved memberships of certain areas, and you should restrict access to certain areas to certain members.

          I am sorry that Lily had experienced abuse. I am sorry that anyone experiences abuse.
          I was also abused as a child by two alcoholic parents.
          That doesn’t give me license to be unkind.

          On the other hand, I see that you are being protective of a sister that you see is wounded and in need of protecting and I can only say that I think you are a very good hearted woman for wanting to protect her.

          If she felt, “put in her place” then that would truly make me sad and I would hope she would say something. She doesn’t have a place, vis a vis your’s truly as I am just some guy on the internet that she isn’t obliged to give 2 hoots about.

          I just think it is reasonable to expect a modicum of civility in discussion.

          That’s all.

          • Leslie Vernick on December 17, 2016 at 12:00 pm

            Thanks James for your input. I’ve been silent here for the past few weeks due to my move and my overwhelm with just finding my toothbrush and teabags. But I’ve always said this blog is for dialogue. It is not just a place to get information, but a place to have a voice, to express an opinion even if it is different than the rest. Fresh air is always good in our thinking and if we don’t ever allow anyone to challenge our thinking, we will not grow. I appreciate how you are open to women challenging your perspective, as I hope we are when you challenge ours.

            Regarding the sexual thing. I’m not going to go to great lengths challenge your position because I suspect if we sat down we wouldn’t have such different opinions either. But this the bottom line as I see it. Touch and talk are important parts of marital intimacy and well-being. If there is destructive talk, the Bible is clear that it injures people and Proverbs says it is better to live on the corner of a rooftop than with an angry or contentious woman – or person. Therefore when the conversation is regularly destructive then healthy marital talk is impossible because to engage is harmful to the health and well-being of the other person. That doesn’t mean she should give him the silent treatment, that would also be destructive. But she can say, “When you talk to me that way, I can’t engage with you in a healthy way, so please stop or reword your concerns.” In the same way, when marital touch is selfish, abusive, demanding, disrespectful, it may be harmful for the other spouse to engage in a healthy way. So what are her options? To lay there like a body to be used? To act as if his behaviors are not harmful or destructive to her and the marriage? To me that’s lying and pretending, which is also something the Bible tells us not to do. IF we are going to live in integrity and with authenticity in our most intimate relationship – trying to move towards reconciliation, then I think a wife is “obliged” to be honest with her husband (Hebrews 3:13) as to why she cannot in good conscious engage affectionately with him. To just call sex an “obligation” I think is short sighted. We have obligations to our government as well, but when our government is behaving corruptly, we may decide that we cannot obey or cooperate with it’s dictates, much like Peter refused to be silent about Christ when ordered to do so in Acts.

            Can women use this manipulatively? Of course. We are all sinners therefore I appreciate you challenging us all here to examine ourselves and see why we are doing what we are doing. But I don’t think we should put a burden on every women here that she MUST be affectionate with her spouse regardless of how he treats her anymore than we can put a burden on her to have a constructive conversation with someone who is unwilling to cease from abusive speech.



    • Lily on December 14, 2016 at 11:53 am

      It’s ok, Ruth. I really didn’t want an answer (more excuses). I’ve heard them all. I just wanted to know if his willingness to give kindness was as unconditional as his demand for sex.

      • Ann L on December 15, 2016 at 6:51 am

        Lily, I wanted to give you a virtual hug. Consider it offered in spirit. I’m glad you are still around.

  36. God'sdaughter on December 13, 2016 at 7:41 pm

    “never have put themselves out and offer affection to someone who is treating them unkindly”
    The Bible DOES NOT say that we have to offer affection to those who treat us unkindly. Let’s start there.

    • God'sdaughter on December 13, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      Sorry. Not sure how this works. This comment is as for James.

    • James on December 13, 2016 at 11:03 pm

      God’s Daughter,

      Sexual intimacy in 1 Cor 7 isn’t referred to as a “kindness we offer” to our spouse it is referred to as a debt that both spouses owe one another. 1 Cor 7:3 Paul speaks of marital intimacy using the term “οφεiλη‘‘ which means “a dept owed to another.”

      Paul uses that same word in Romans 13:7 when he says, “Pay everyone what is owed.”

      When he says, “do not deprive one another” he uses the word “αποστερεω” which means “to withhold that which is owed to another”. That word is the word Jesus used when he said, “Do not steal” (αποστερεω) (Mark 10:19) and is the same word that James uses when he says, ” look! The pay you withheld (αποστερεω) from the workers who reaped your field cries out…

      The idea isn’t that you are keeping back a gift that you are free to give or keep back at your own discretion, the idea is that you are refusing to pay a debt that you owe another person. In essence, the language that is used by Paul in 1 Cor 7 to describe sexual deprivation is the language of theft.

      These are just the facts about the language used in this passage.

      People will have to do with these facts as their conscience dictates.

      • God'sdaughter on December 14, 2016 at 9:45 am

        I will reply to this later James when I have time but would like to know the answer to the question Ruth asked you about why you are here etc.
        I too am sorry that you were abused.

        • James on December 14, 2016 at 12:23 pm

          God’s daughter,
          Take your time, it’s the Christmas season (praise the Lord) and everyone is super busy.

          I’d be happy to comment further on why I am here and what I expect.

          I found this blog when someone I saw a post from Leslie on another Christian Counseling website.

          I purchased Leslie’s book and then found her webpage here.

          I have found that interacting with others in the comments is a good way to better understand one’s viewpoint.

          I don’t expect this blog to be in any way instrumental to my own healing because I don’t think blogs are a suitable substitute for biblical counseling. I’ve done that work, and continue to do that work, quite independently from this blog.

          I’ve heard a number of people say that this blog isn’t for interacting with one another’s viewpoints, rather it is an online support group and that offering complimentary viewpoints isn’t appropriate nor are alternatives to Leslie’s particular opinion on any given situation welcome.

          If this blog is meant to be an online “safe space” where dissention is censured so that no one has to feel the tension that other perspectives can sometimes create then I would gently suggest that it be structured quite differently.

          The comments should really be closed to all except a few members who have been approved to comment and there should be some explicit statement that this is a closed community for abused women and that a man’s perspective probably isn’t appropriate.

          I don’t have the right to really expect anything from this blog. I would hope that it would be a place where differing experiences and perspectives could be discussed without ad hominem attacks and false accusations being lobbed at one another. Nevertheless, I’ve yet to participate in a thread on this site where at least one woman didn’t’ personally attack me for my opinion, and it’s not uncommon for some of the comments to get truly nasty and cruel.

          If that trend continues I’ll likely move along. I do thank you personally for your irenic tone.
          I do sense this thread is winding down, I’d be happy to further dialog by email with anyone who would like.

          • Curt on December 14, 2016 at 8:03 pm

            How can I contact you?



          • James on December 15, 2016 at 12:43 pm

            My email is 5 point pastor at gmail dot come.



          • Leslie Vernick on December 17, 2016 at 12:16 pm

            I have always said this blog is open to all perspectives. I think it is good that we are challenged, and that we learn to dialogue in constructive ways when we disagree with people. That’s how we grow. If we only allow people to comment who agree with our own perspectives then we can grow “cultish” and that would be the last thing I would want to happen. The Jews didn’t like Jesus because he breathed fresh air into their stale religious ideas and they didn’t like it. I’ve attempted to breath fresh air into traditional thinking about the sanctity of marriage and the validity of emotional abuse in marriage and I’ve appreciated pastors and counselors/church leaders who have taken what I’ve said and thought about it. Now when we are challenged, we have an opportunity to do the same. Think about it. Chew on it. Take what’s good and spit out the bones. No need to get scared or defensive.



  37. Starlight on December 13, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    it seems this blog has been hijacked – ugh! Normally all the women here don’t have to go on the defensive – they are usually free to have discussions about Leslie’s posted topic of the week and share their experiences about their abusive spouses and ex’s as they come out of the fog and into the light of the truth. It is usually a supportive community, agreeing on the need to recognize that evil is being done to us in our marriages and many times under the guise of godliness, our church pastors and counsellors stand against divorce instead of standing against the treachery done to a spouse in an abusive relationship – in these circumstances, divorce can deliver her from this treachery and oppression. God desires us to recognize the truth and separate ourselves from evil.
    If a spouse is showing the fruit of evil and darkness in his life and marriage and with his family, scripture makes it clear how to deal with that. These are not fellow believers, filled with the Holy Spirit and desiring and pursuing righteousness and holiness. These are usually self serving people, someone who has an evil heart, who doesn’t care about their spouse but only about using the spouse for their own ends (they may even use scripture to keep them oppressed). John the Baptist said that the fruit of a man shows if he is good or evil. If we are good, prove it by the way we live. In 2nd Corinthians 6:14-17 Paul says the evil man belongs to Belial and the good man who has has the Holy Spirit living in him belongs to God. In Isaiah 61:10 we are told that those who are God’s can greatly rejoice in the Lord because we are clothed in garments of salvation and covered in robes of His righteousness – we are resplendent, he has ‘decorated us’ with his salvation and righteousness because of what we have in Christ. In 2 Cor. 6 We are admonished to not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness (that’s us, the believing person) with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever (even a loud one who forcefully proclaims he is a believer but his life demonstrates the fruit of lawlessness and treachery, not of righteousness?)
    We are the temple of the living God, if we separate ourselves from evil, from those who repeatedly demonstrate they have an evil heart and show the works of darkness and lawlessness, then “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty.”
    I am realizing that if we separate from a truly evil spouse who only causes us harm and never good, (no matter how much we want them to be good to us and to not have to go through a divorce) God will bless us as we remove ourselves from evil. We are his, we are bought with a price, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit – intimacy with one who does not have the Holy Spirit does not please our heavenly father and he desires our freedom from this evil!
    Not all unbelievers are abusive to their spouses and 1 Peter 3 gives advice to those believers. God does not desire for his own to be overcome by evil.

    • James on December 14, 2016 at 10:41 pm

      Starlight,

      I’m curious how you reconcile your interpretation of 2 Cor 6:1-18 with 1 Cor 7:13-17?

    • Leslie Vernick on December 17, 2016 at 12:05 pm

      Starlight, it has not been hijacked, but I have always welcomed other opinions, especially if the person expressing them is humble and receptive to dialogue. I have been on blogs where someone who shares a dissenting opinion is verbally bashed, and I do not think this is appropriate. We are here to learn, gain support, and grow. In order to grow, we must learn to be challenged, think through things, look at what Scripture says and ask the Holy Spirit for guidance. When we are challenged, we do not have to get defensive. That is unhealthy. We all do it (including me) but when Jesus was challenged, he never got defensive. He just said what he needed to say. In the same way, we can learn to express “who we are” or “What we think” non defensively and lovingly, even if someone disagrees with us. WE do not need 100% approval or agreement to be on this blog together and I personally think this is a great opportunity for you and other women to learn to think for yourself when you are challenged and to practice responding out of CORE, not defensiveness.

  38. Sarah on December 14, 2016 at 6:07 am

    This was a very sad letter, but thank you Leslie for answering it so well. Reading it, I feel frustrated (okay, angry) with the author’s counselor, but I also think it is quite easy to unintentionally do more damage to people who are already hurting and I have, in retrospect, done so myself–and to myself!

    At any rate, thanks again. You have such a gift for bringing clarity to convoluted situations.

  39. Starlight on December 15, 2016 at 12:52 am

    It is not possible to live at peace with someone who is destructive and evil toward you.
    By all means not every believer who has an unbelieving spouse is being destroyed by the unbelieving spouse! The ones who can stay should and honor God in their staying.
    There are many many wonderful non Christians who are amazing people who do not have evil hearts and are honest and upright and kind and caring and philanthropic … they live as though God’s law has been written in their hearts (because it has been!)

    • James on December 15, 2016 at 8:56 am

      Thanks for your reply. I have never really considered 2 Cor 6 in the way that you interpreted it. There is some tension in Paul’s counsel that warrants careful study. My current opinion is that the most exegetically responsible way to deal with that tension is to say that Paul is urging the Corinthians not to seek to be yoked together with unbelievers because (as you rightly point out) they are pulling away from Christ rather than toward Christ. But if a man or woman is already yoked to an unbeliever in marriage, they should not seek to dissolve that marriage unless the unbelieving spouse seeks that dissolution.

      I could change my opinion however, your comments have inspired me to do some further study.

      I agree that it is very difficult to live at peace with someone who is doing evil toward us. In those difficult instances all the Christian can do is live out Romans 12:18.

      I think you and I may see things a bit differently when it comes to the theology of the unbelieving heart. I think that the very nature of an unbelieving heart is evil. The unbelieving heart is subject to common grace such that they can be civil, philanthropic, etc.. (as you point out). Jesus alluded to this when he said, “you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts…, but ultimately the unbelieving heart is rebellious toward its Creator. I just don’t see the bible making that distinction.

      It seems to me this is really a man centered distinction. There are those unbelieving hearts that are hostile toward God and hostile toward me and that makes them really evil and then there are unbelieving hearts that are hostile toward God but nice to me so they ok in some sense.

      Nevertheless, thank you for your reply.

      The Lord be with you.

  40. Wonuola on December 15, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Thanks for this response. I have refrained from replying due to time constraints and not wanting to give an inadequate response resulting in any form of confusion.

    God’s heart is Love, there is no fear in love. Perfect love casts out fear. God has not given us a Spirit if fear.
    God’s heart is Love not law, hence Jesus’ engaged endearingly with the woman at the well… she had been divorced 4times! He saw her pain offered her life… so much yet to be said … hoping to reply better later.
    Let’s embrace God’s Love to be empowered in resisting abuse in any way ❤️

  41. Ann L on December 17, 2016 at 3:09 pm

    vMy response to Leslie’s point here: said this blog is open to all perspectives. I think it is good that we are challenged, and that we learn to dialogue in constructive ways when we disagree with people. That’s how we grow. If we only allow people to comment who agree with our own perspectives then we can grow “cultish” and that would be the last thing I would want to happen. The Jews didn’t like Jesus because he breathed fresh air into their stale religious ideas and they didn’t like it. I’ve attempted to breath fresh air into traditional thinking about the sanctity of marriage and the validity of emotional abuse in marriage and I’ve appreciated pastors and counselors/church leaders who have taken what I’ve said and thought about it. Now when we are challenged, we have an opportunity to do the same. Think about it. Chew on it. Take what’s good and spit out the bones. No need to get scared or defensive.

    My response to Leslie’s point here: “I said this blog is open to all perspectives. .. Now when we are challenged, we have an opportunity to do the same. Think about it. Chew on it. Take what’s good and spit out the bones. No need to get scared or defensive.
    For me, the perspective being forth by James is the one that so has been mis-used and mis-applied by so many of us. It does not feel good at all to come here and have to deal with that kind of dismissive judgmentalism and aggressive tactic of exploding the conversation into multiple directions, each one in the form of an accusation that the reader is mis-informed, has missed the point, has misinterpreted her own perceptions.
    But here’s the thing: The CORE that I am building lets me know that I do not owe a response to that. CORE doesn’t mean that I am obligated to participate in a conversation that continues to scatter directions and often ends in some kind insult or hurt feelings – that’s not CORE as I understand it.
    Part of healing, part of CORE, is owning the strength to walk away. It’s being confident enough to risk being wrong, and being brave enough to re-examine things when we are ready. It’s being willing to recognize and respond to patterns of behavior regardless of the origin.
    It means that I don’t owe my husband an apology simply because he has just put a tidal wave of reasons why I do.

    • Patty on December 23, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      Ann,
      My response to your comment above “For me, the perspective being forth by James is the one that so has been mis-used and mis-applied by so many of us. It does not feel good at all to come here and have to deal with that kind of dismissive judgmentalism and aggressive tactic of exploding the conversation into multiple directions, each one in the form of an accusation that the reader is mis-informed, has missed the point, has misinterpreted her own perceptions”

      I do not see how he was being judgmental at all or has an aggressive tactic. Quite the opposite. He is trying to hold up the word of God as our standard. I for one appreciate that very much.
      I enjoy hearing his viewpoint. I really like the Greek words he adds to help us understand what the bible is saying in the original language. It seems like a lot of the women on this blog are angry, bitter etc. But not all of us are. Peace.

  42. Marianna on December 20, 2016 at 9:02 am

    Ann, well said. What you say reflects my thoughts too after all this back and forth. Thank you. May God bless us all with authenticity, peace and true love. You ladies have been my rock through a very tough journey of discovery of power and control issues. Love and hugs. Leslie especially! 💝

  43. T. on December 20, 2016 at 10:10 am

    I think that most people come here to comment on their personal experiences and ask questions. Leslie asks a question about personal experiences. If we are considerate of one another and ask each other questions and make comments, I think that helps. I don’t think most of us want to “throw” Scripture at each other. We come to listen, to learn, to try to understand and grow. We demonstrate love to each other. I guess my point is is that this is a place that the majority of us have/are in or have been in emotionally destructive marriages, which although similar to other destructive relationships, pose some truly unique circumstances. I’m hopeful that anyone commenting would be mindful of that and considerate. Most of us have had our fill of people telling us how they think we should live. Leslie has always shared truth in the atmosphere of love and understanding. That’s why she has been a breath of fresh air to us. Thank you, Leslie.

  44. Marie on December 20, 2016 at 2:04 pm

    James, are you married?

    • James on December 21, 2016 at 11:25 am

      Marie,

      Yes, to a very wonderful and wise woman.

  45. Ruth on December 20, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    Ann:
    I really like what you said!
    Many times, responding just feeds a need for attention or desire to debate. On the other hand, I worry about the ladies who are more susceptible to buying into self-doubt and condemnation bc of his ‘debt’ of intimacy interpretation.
    I’ve been coming to this forum for a little over a year. God has used it to COMFORT ME, TO CHALLENGE ME, and THEREFORE change my marriage (since that’s a crazy, still unstable, work-in-progress I don’t want to go into the big story, update yet).
    I REALLY appreciate you ladies!!
    Merry Christmas!

  46. Patty on December 21, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    James,
    I like you, you are very courageous. And I do agree with you re the victim mentality. We all need to take personal responsibility for our situations. So many get stuck in the blame game. It gets old. God Bless you all.

    • Ann L on December 24, 2016 at 9:44 am

      I’ve been thinking about “victim mentality,” wondering why the use of that phrase bothered me.

      I think it’s because it took me my entire life to realize that there were patterns of interaction in my marriage (and going further back, to childhood) and life in general that resulted in unhealthy results that were personally harmful to me. One can’t change one’s own dance step until he or she recognizes the one being performed.

      Speaking for myself, the “victim mentality” was not a Poor Me, Look at Me, Take Care of My While I Cower Here in Abdication of My Role in the Dance. It was instead, a dawning understanding that the way I’d been treated throughout childhood had a huge impact on what I understood as normal behavior in adulthood. That’s a lot of baggage to sort through.

      The journey (again, speaking only for myself) consisted of anger at the unfairness, righteous anger, anger at myself for being so stupid, anger at the adults who were so stupid. Working through that meant acknowledging the anger I felt as valid and eventually understanding that many of the perpetrators in my life were acting out of their own hurting selves.And that some of them are and will be forever unable or unwilling to change their behaviors.

      My healing journey continues. Not all of the anger is gone. But I am more able to have compassion for the woman who stayed in a marriage with a lying, deceitful husband; to recognize why naming that was so difficult; and to be brave enough to walk away.

      My current struggle is that for every single person I meet I wonder what harm they do when no one’s looking. I wonder how unspeakably evil they are. I could say that I am still a victim because I am so distrustful. But it’s a different kind of victimhood. I don’t feel sorry for myself and I understand that eventually my boundaries will become healthier (as in more willing to trust).

      I see a “victim mentality” as a process. Some people find it a comfortable place and stay there. Some people are wresting with it.

      This blog is a place where hurting people are trying to sort through their marriages. It might read like a giant pool of self-pitying hand wringers. Viewed from another perspective, it might also read like a community of persons building their CORE by first turning over rocks to discover what lies underneath. If that’s “victim mentality” then it’s a powerful first step toward honoring God, self, marriage, community, and other hurting people.

  47. Aly on December 24, 2016 at 1:25 pm

    To Ann L,
    Totally agree with your expression here and the process! Blessings that you are taking the time to write out ~’ I feel ‘ well defined places for those building their core and bravely facing the pain in reality of these abusive tendencies.

    Many people are hurting..to hurt is to not be in a ‘ALL in victim mentality’ it’s to hurt and find clarity!
    Many are walking their journey of discovery & ‘can look’ to some (maybe not walking a growth journey at all) like a victim mentality.
    Can someone define this victim mentality?

    I feel strongly that many may have very different definitions of what victim mentality is, based on what one has experienced.
    Personally, I have scene so many abusive behaviors take this word and again try to victimize the victim all over again ~ this tactic can work at times quite well for the person still wanting control of another person’s free agency to be.

    Is there a definition of an abusive mentality or thinking pattern.? Pretty sure there is and certainly there can be clarity in the patterns of that mentality.

    Again, Ann thank you for articulating your thoughts on this post! It’s validating.

  48. Connie on December 24, 2016 at 4:37 pm

    When in the Bible did godly people not get angry when they saw ‘authority’ figures use scripture to further oppress those who had no means of defending themselves? They were the victims, but they had to be first made aware that they were victims. This takes education and prayer and a willingness to admit that ‘we’ve been had’. Not easy. From that point, we need to find community and support in building our CORE and doing what is necessary to be survivors and then overcomers. Then to thrive. How is this a victim mentality? Would you walk by a child on a playground who had been reduced to tears by bullies, and say, “Too bad she has such a victim mentality. Some of us are just above that.”? And if that child had been abused and raped daily for 20 – 40 years? “Oh, get over it already.” PTSD for abused wives is the same as for soldiers of war. Do we tell them that? And how is learning to walk in CORE not taking personal responsibility? We are, big time!! As far as being bitter, I see none of that here. That is a heart matter, for each to discern through the Holy Spirit, not for another to judge on. People who have told me I was bitter generally were trying to shut me up from exposing truth, coerce me to do or believe what they say, and/or keep me from growing.

  49. Aly on December 24, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    Wow wow! Connie, you are such a blessing to share these truths here and please continue to expose the things that many people want others to hide and oppress or plain deny.
    Such freedom in the true Gospel;)

  50. Chrystal Nall on February 17, 2021 at 11:57 am

    Wow, my husband has been doing the same thing for 13yrs now I’m finally starting to realize things. When I express something upset me he turns it into he was trying to be honest with me but feels like I use it against him and that it’s the reason why he doesn’t tell me things or the truth. He’s never even acknowledged that just because he doesn’t feel the same as me doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt me. For instance he was gone for a week to a class and I hardly heard from him but he was trying to meet up with a old female friend and he tried to lie to me about it, even though I showed him the proof, or when he was working 3rd I asked him to please not contact a certain person because they had a history of flirting which he also denied, but he would text back and forth with them anyway even when I said it hurt me, he told me that he wasn’t going to be rude or ignore someone just because I didn’t like it, and when I would bring up how he wouldn’t reply to me for hours at a time he would get upset saying he couldn’t spend all night texting but when phone bills would come in it showed where he would be texting or calling with the person I asked him not to then he would blame me and accused me of spying on him and I was jealous. He recently brought up having a threesome and I told him how it hurt me and made me feel like I wasn’t enough or pretty, and he turned it around to I was only playing along because you wanted it?? Why am I always saying I’m sorry for my hurt feelings? He doesn’t try to understand why I might be hurt he just says he doesn’t feel that way or doesn’t see it that way.

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