Morning friend,

I thought I would do something a little different this week. I get a lot of e-mails, much of it I can’t personally respond to and so I use this forum to answer questions from mostly women in destructive marriages. But this week I want to answer several questions from a counselor who has some concerns that I am not providing enough qualifiers in my online material and may be empowering women to falsely accuse their husbands of abuse.  

I thought it would be helpful to let you in on both his questions and my responses to his concerns. I also want you to respond to him from your experience with well-meaning people helpers. Remember, we are all working on CORE strength and so I would appreciate you being constructive and respectful as you respond, even if you get triggered or disagree with his thoughts. I thought it would help you see how some people think and help him understand more of your experience when you’ve tried to communicate with your counselor what’s going on at home.

 

Question #1: I’m working with a woman who has been strongly influenced by your website in negative ways which are in fact complicating the process of finding workable solutions (I was made aware of your resources through her). With that in mind, while I would not want to in any way question your expertise in the area of “abuse,” I wanted to share some of the reservations I’ve been struggling with as I have looked through your materials on emotional abuse. So as not to waste your time, I’ll jump right in with the following questions.

There are some important cautions and disclaimers which I find lacking in your information (or at least they aren’t obvious). First is the caution that accusing someone of being “abusive”(in any of the various ways) is a serious matter, on a par with accusing someone of embezzling funds or of sexual harassment or of being an alcoholic or a sex addict. A contemporary translation of the 9th Commandment could read, “Don’t make false accusations against someone close to you.” For a wife to falsely accuse her husband of “being abusive” or “being an abuser” is absolutely devastating. It destroys trust and seriously sets back the process of finding constructive solutions to that couple’s marriage struggles. It seems some warning about jumping to conclusions and accusations without adequate interaction with a counselor, etc. might be in order.  

Answer: I agree with you. Making false accusations of abuse is devastating, but so is any kind of abuse. Both destroy trust and break apart marriages.

However, I disagree that a person being abused needs verification from a counselor before she can be sure she is being abused. Some victims might need that validation from a counselor only because her own perceptions have been regularly discounted or minimized and therefore she no longer knows or trusts her own thoughts, feelings, perceptions, or experiences anymore. But someone who lives with it day in and day out year after year is the most qualified to define her experience.  

I agree with you that people lie and I imagine some people – men and women, make false accusations against their spouse at times. However, I do not think I should warn a woman not to trust her own perceptions or experiences. Quite the contrary. One of the most painful things for a victim of interpersonal abuse is to have the people she goes to for help (pastors and counselors) not believe her and minimize or dismiss her experience because they don't “see it.”  

As a counselor, when a woman (or man) comes to you expressing that she has been a victim of abusive behavior, you would want to know specifics in order to make a wise assessment. I imagine your specific client has given you some examples of what she considers abusive. My guess is that you don’t define those behaviors as abusive or you don’t believe her and that is the problem.  

You say she has been “strongly influenced by my information in a negative way” but you didn’t detail what that was. Could it be that one of the ways she is thwarting a “workable solution” is that she refuses to do joint marital counseling with you? I’m clear that marital counseling is not recommended when someone is in an ongoing abusive relationship. If there is no safety for her to disclose without being further abused, how can she be honest? Also, some abusive men (and women) are very good charmers and liars. The Bible calls them wolves in sheep’s clothing.   As you stated, victims of abuse are not “sinless.” That’s true. So what happens when a woman (who is a victim) is depressed, or poorly expresses her own anger or resentment when she tries to explain what’s happening at home? And what if her husband is calm, cool and collected because he’s an expert at image management and deception? (See Proverbs 26:23-26).  To the counselor, he looks like the “spiritually mature one” and she looks like an angry, unhappy woman. Be careful. Clever sociopaths have the ability to fool counselors. Sometimes you don't know what you don’t know.  

Question #2: A second needed disclaimer is that (contrary to the impression your materials give), not all abusers are men and not all victims are women. Women are just as sinful, self-centered, deceitful, and controlling as men. And they are just as capable of emotional abuse, and maybe even more capable of verbal abuse. I observe many marriages where the women are vicious and relentless in their harangues of their husbands and children. Enough said…

Answer: I’ve never claimed that men are not victims of abuse. I have written an article that Men Are Victims Too. 

I also know first hand that women can be abusive and if you have read anything about my own story, my mother was the abuser and my father was a great man, as is my husband. But God has led me to minister to and help women in destructive marriages. That’s why my information is directed towards women like your client. I don't think women, especially Christian women, are typically believed when they talk about being abused (especially when it’s not obvious physical abuse). I believe God has called me to advocate for abused women in church and counseling setting such as in your example. I do have another book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship that speaks to both men and women who have been victims of abusive relationships.

Question # 3: Your articles and talks give a distinct impression that if a woman “feels” controlled, fearful, confused, objectified, etc., she IS probably being abused. Our post-modern feeling-obsessed culture notwithstanding, feelings are often not a reliable indicator of reality. If a woman feels her husband is abusive, narcissistic, dishonest, or addicted to porn, but there is no obvious evidence that any of this is true, then what? What if other’s who know him would disagree with any of these assertions? And she has not given me any credible examples to substantiate her accusations?  Yet a counselor with whom she apparently has had several sessions (and who introduced her to your site) continues to reinforce the perception that “if you feel these things, abuse must be happening.” 

Meanwhile, in my experience, there are a number of reasons why despite strong and persisting feelings of being abused, those feeling might be far from reality. In one case, a woman who was sexually abused as a child was projecting her anger and hurt toward her husband, who was a fine and loving husband. She fully believed her husband was abusive, but those beliefs were delusional. Another woman with a strong personality became emotionally abusive toward her husband with the onset of menopause. For her, accusations and perceptions of abuse toward her husband were a smokescreen to avoid dealing with her own destructive behavior. These aren’t isolated cases, and they demonstrate how complex alleged “abuse” situations can be.

Answer:  I agree that these are complex issues and our feelings aren’t always a true indicator of reality, but feelings are something that we must pay attention to so that we can discover and discern “what’s wrong?” So when a woman/wife regularly feels controlled, objectified, confused, afraid, or demeaned/disrespected in her marriage then it is something she must pay attention to. So what is going on? Is she paranoid? Crazy? Deceitful? Or is something going on in her relationship? Those are your options to explore as her counselor.  

Let me ask you something. If a woman was sexually abused as a child, are you saying that it wouldn’t be possible for her to accurately determine that she was also being sexually abused as an adult in her marriage? Would it only be projection or delusion? I don't think so. We might disagree on this. The very fact that she was abused as a child might make her more sensitive to abuse as an adult but it doesn’t make it less abusive. In the same way, a person who had been burned in a fire might be more sensitive to the sunshine, but it doesn’t make sun exposure less dangerous.  

It seems like you have already decided that your client is either lying about what’s happening or delusional and that my information is feeding that pattern. On the other hand, have you considered the possibility that there might be something rotten going on in her marriage – that might not be going on in other relationships? And perhaps my information is finally validating it and giving her the courage to speak up and say “no more?” Intimate partner violence is called such because it does NOT happen with other relationships.  I’d encourage you to watch a short 10-minute video called Fred and Marie. It is in French with English Subtitles.  

Let me ask you if Marie were to come to counseling to talk about how she “felt” her husband treated her, how would she put Fred’s behaviors into words in a way that would “show” her counselor for sure that she was emotionally abused? Do you think Marie is being abused? Sometimes a woman (or man) can’t put what is happening at home into words that sound clear and compelling. But that does not make it untrue or not happening.

I’ve taken a stand. I choose to believe what a woman or victim tells me unless I have compelling evidence not to believe her. That's just how I function as a counselor and coach.

I’d rather be wrong speaking up for the oppressed than be wrong by empowering the oppressor.  Click To Tweet

Question #4: I also have to take issue with your description (in your webinar) of Jesus’ primary modeling of headship as that of washing His disciples’ feet. Quite clearly He was teaching them that their apostolic leadership was not to be self-serving, but rather in humility and for the good of those they were leading. But Jesus “the Head” did far more than wash feet. He taught, exhorted, rebuked, counseled, confronted hypocrisy, determined ministry direction, angrily cleared the temple (more than once), and made decisions on behalf of His band of disciples. If Jesus is a model of headship for husbands, they are clearly going to need to be leaders in more dimensions than “washing feet” (i.e. humble service), including the responsibility of being the final “buck-stopper,” in taking responsibility and making decisions. Your statements surrounding that little section (in “5 Red Flags”) emphasized phrases such as “he has no right to….” and “you have the right to…” By not presenting a more balanced picture of headship, and by undue emphasis on “rights” (a Western post-Enlightenment value, not necessarily supported biblically) you can create the misimpression that any husband who takes an active leadership role in his family may be stepping over the line into abusiveness. 

Answer: We can agree to disagree here. I don’t believe Biblical headship means the man has the final say.  I’ve been married for 42 years and my husband and I have always worked together to have a mutual say in decision-making. In teaching his disciples about leadership and headship Jesus specifically chose to demonstrate headship using this very example of foot washing. He could have used the cleansing of the temple to talk about leadership and headship but he did not. He also warned his disciples – the future leaders of his Church, that they were not to exercise leadership OVER people like the Gentiles (Mark 10:42). He was clear on this.

Question #5: I realize your primary ministry is to women and I realize those in abusive situations often need special care and encouragement. I also realize that if one was able to read everything you’ve written, you’ve probably filled in these gaps somewhere. Having said that, a large percentage will not read everything you wrote, and by what you understate or overstate, you run the danger of creating false impressions or over-simplifying what are actually more complicated situations. I would like to recommend your resources to those who truly need them without reservations, and so I hope you might be willing to consider some of the issues I’ve raised. 

Answer: Most people don’t read everything someone has written. They pick and choose what fits for them. Someone can read bits and pieces of the Bible and gain false impressions of its teaching or understate or overstate their case on something as well. That doesn’t mean that every verse or article teaching something from Scripture must have qualifiers around it so that no one misinterprets or misuses it. That would be cumbersome and frankly impossible.  

I hope as you become more familiar with my teaching you can recommend my resources without reservation. I know you have respect for Focus on the Family. I have been on their radio several times and they have received a huge positive response from my interviews. Their staff regularly recommends my resources to those who call their help center. I’ve also spent some time at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs training their counseling staff. I hope you will consider reading my books, articles and watching my videos and wholeheartedly recommend them to others who may benefit.  

I also have a new website just for pastors and counselors and advocates at www.leslievernick.com/counselors. I encourage you to spend some time there continuing to learn and hear God’s heart for the oppressed. You may also want to consider joining EQUIP which is a support group for counselors and church leaders who want to be more effective in helping destructive marriages.

Friend, how have you struggled to communicate the reality of your abusive marriage to your pastor or counselor with specific examples?  Have you been believed?  

432 Comments

  1. Rebecca on November 1, 2017 at 7:51 am

    My knee jerk response is that the male counselor’s opinions remind me of when people helpers accuse a woman who has been raped of asking for it because of the way she dressed. Does he really think women dream this stuff up after reading a blog? This feels like let’s blame the victim.

  2. Karrie on November 1, 2017 at 8:01 am

    First of all, I appreciate that this counsellor has looked into Leslie’s material when it was presented by his client. When I finally was able to admit to being abused, I went to my pastor who was also a licensed counsellor and I did not get that kind of response.
    I know everyone is different but from my interactions with wives in recovery these last 2 years, I’ve found most of us are slow to come to the point of admitting we’ve been or are being abused. Abuse was always something worse than I was experiencing even though I had a couple people suggest I was in danger. I think it’s quite rare for a woman to jump to the conclusion she’s being abused. It’s not a conclusion to make lightly. I first read The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. That really resonated so I read The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. It felt like finally someone got it. I always knew my marriage wasn’t like those around me. Now I had words to help describe why.
    I have worked with Leslie for two years now in a group setting. She repeatedly calls us back to doing our own work. Yes we can acknowledge what’s been done to us but there’s always the question what do we need to do or think differently going forward. She consistently points us towards the Lord and His Word. Her heart is for the Church and helping us do the “one another” love better. I encourage you to keep investigating through the website for people helpers.

  3. Garrett on November 1, 2017 at 8:27 am

    In Question 1 regarding accusations breaking down trust, I would think it would be easier to see that accusations reveal either that the wife’s trust of her husband had already been broken or the husband’s trust of his wife might be misplaced.

    Maybe it catches him off guard and he is a decent guy. Or, maybe he isn’t and trusted her NOT to care about the issue he hides or say anything about her suspicions, but now she has. The way things are said have underlying reasons for why they are said.

    My trust in another person is my responsibility and if I choose to trust someone that is not worthy of that trust I will eventually be harmed. My goal, therefore, is to know the truth about the person and not just to be a trusting person.

    It might be wiser to care less about the trust between them and more about the truth. Trust without truth is dangerous. Even if the accusation is false, the truth is that the wife is willing to accuse in the presence of a counselor. Either she really does want to know the truth or she is simply attacking him to hide her own issues. But that can be worked out. It is counseling, after all.

    • Nancy on November 1, 2017 at 9:31 am

      Amen. “It is counselling, after all”.

      If a counsellor is not willing to do the hard work of seeing beneath the surface and wading patiently through the muck, then they shouldn’t be counselling at all ( wether for money, or for free).

      If the word abuse is brought up ( or if you are a more sensitive counsellor, who senses it) then simply start separate counselling.

      Continuing couples counselling is doing harm.

      Why would you, as a counsellor, want to risk doing harm?

    • Tim on November 3, 2017 at 9:10 pm

      Thanks Garrett,

      I had missed your comments on my first and second read through. I fully agree. I want to know the truth..by doing so false assumptions and accusations are avoided all the way around and the best care provided to all involved.

      • each and every counsellor, pastor, leaJanet on November 5, 2017 at 10:55 pm

        Tim
        Please would you respond to Leslie’s post that I have copied and reposted, below, just incase you conveniently miss that one, as you must do with any that are directed to you personally and are not in agreement with your proposals, thoughts and opinions.

        Tim, I invited you here because I hoped you would hear the women’s hearts about their own experience and how misunderstood and misheard they have been. I also hope that by listening, you will become even wiser as you seek to help those in abusive situations – perhaps with less obvious markers of abuse present. As you see, they are not perfect women. No person is. So it’s easy to get defensive and reactionary instead of listening deeper. This is where it’s easy as a counselor to get tripped up and miss the forest for the trees. There isn’t a woman here who wouldn’t say she has things to work on, both personally and in her relationships. This is the kind of woman who comes to counseling and speaks of being abused and isn’t believed because her delivery isn’t so polished and she has obvious issues of her own to work through. Yet that does not make her story less true or her spouse less abusive. Because you are a counselor, I will call you to a higher degree of self-awareness and self-control. Your responses do seem a bit insensitive with certain posts and defensive at times and I’d encourage you to slow down and prayerfully re-read before you hit send. (pp.Leslie)

  4. Aly on November 1, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Dear Leslie and to the Counselor writing in,

    Such great questions and I believe an important discussion to put on the table.

    You asked:
    “Friend, how have you struggled to communicate the reality of your abusive marriage to your pastor or counselor with specific examples? Have you been believed? ”

    For me, it took many years, lots of eyes and help within our marriage to see that our situation was not a normal marital disagreement. Everyone wanted to believe that we struggled like ‘everyone else’.

    This is a difficult question to answer briefly…
    I think because the word ‘abuse’ means immediately different things to different people, its hard to say that word without defining it.
    When I understood that abuse entailed a bigger umbrella I was able to see my reality with my husband as well as eventually he could see how he was behaving in our marriage as an abuser. His attitude and mindset of what he witnessed shaped his behavior and his beliefs BIGtime!

    Many people don’t hear the word abuser and think of a hard working man that has been faithful and is often loving to his wife.
    But when someone peers closer~ you can see that the word and behavior of ‘abuse’ actually is a person ‘misusing their power’.

    As I discovered more and more of the patterns in my marriage it became evident that the power wasn’t mutual and the marriage was very unbalanced. Yes, I had my part indeed and I learned how to tolerate such a climate. (No more though)

    Patterns and the reoccurring decisions to do the same thing or same dismissive posture toward me was what shined the light onto my husband’s attitude. Counseling highlighted our cycle and empowered me to have a person in my corner who could see that my complaints and concerns were valid! Even if I could have said this is not an abusive husband, it was the continued ‘mindset’ of him not seeing my experience as valuable. And when someone experiences this ongoing … this form of abuse is normalized.

    Trying to describe this kind of behavior to someone who doesn’t have a grasp of what emotional abuse is… it nothing short of torture! And someone who has a definite ‘origin issue’ with abuse or any kind of abuse will struggle wanting to believe a victim because they themselves fall into the ‘group think’ problems that enable.

    My own family of origin had no idea to see that my husband and I were struggling horribly ~ it didn’t get clear until years later that ‘they themselves’ are comfortable in these types of dynamics of ‘superior verses inferior postures as to the sake of ‘loving others to Christ’.

    My own ignorant father told me he wouldn’t intervene unless my husband ‘hit me’.
    That was his definition of abuse.

    As my husband can now see through recovery and growing up.., ‘not being believed’ is some of the worst parts about these dynamics.

    I have found that in many areas/circles it is far more common that women and men are in ‘very unhealthy’ and many in destructive marriages … but in denial to how bad the power balance is.

    Because there is not physical violence many don’t see how disturbed the non-marriage union they have as they look around and see so MANY marriages in terrible states that they choose to normalize.

    I think it’s hard for many to see that abuse is not all that inventive and that many people model what was modeled for them in their histories.

    I know my answer is long, but give the topic a good counselor must have the patience and the compassion to stay long enough to peer closer to see deeper. A victim is going to struggle explaining it every which way, but they ‘feel it’ and that’s important to diagnose.

    One thing I forgot to mention above is that often with an abuser they struggle at a core level of having respect for another person. This can look like many behaviors but in the counseling room it’s critical to see how they react to being held accountable for their choices and actions in the marriage.

    Praise God for all the support and resources available today for many who are in desperate need of help!

    • Pam on November 1, 2017 at 9:23 am

      Thanking God along with you for resources available today.

    • Diane on November 1, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      Dear Aly,

      Please tell me how you got help.

      • Aly on November 1, 2017 at 11:56 pm

        Diane,
        I think I understand your question. Counseling was ‘essential’ as well as resources and close friends to help witness and be there for many difficult periods that I was learning and mostly discovery the unhealth I was tolerating through many relationships that were very one sided. A pattern emerged.
        To summarize;
        Counseling, workshops, books, videos, bible study, support and Jesus in every fiber of every thing listed.

        Let me know if I didn’t answer specifically enough.

        • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 10:52 am

          Aly, Diane, That is how I found help and discovered so much more about myself as to why/how abuse happened to me…Then I was able to let the Lord in,over time, but fully, when I learned about my role in the relationship/s for the good or the bad, I was able to learn what was my responsibility and where I was accountable, in negative/toxic/one-sided relationships. Only then could I be really helped, and Jesus could heal me, teach me, strengthen me, and comfort and counsel me, growing me spiritually, emotionally and psychologically.
          To fully heal and grow, I believe, we must learn to look at ourselves, objectively,with sober judgement, acknowledge our weaknesses and be willing to change. after-all if we experience a pattern, in our life,reactions,relationships etc. then we must be a part of that pattern. If it’s a negative pattern then we have choices and decisions to make if we want to bring about changes in our lives, relationships, reactions etc. We can only change, control and be responsible for ourselves, yet we are accountable to Christ, only, and He alone, by His Holy Spirit must be allowed to enter in, unconditionally and convict us of our sin, where necessary. Our weaknesses are not necessarily sin, but they can certainly lead us into it, and into sin per sei.
          Thank you for letting me share my thoughts and experiences here too.
          God bless

  5. Marie on November 1, 2017 at 9:28 am

    As a woman who experienced abuse from her husband before it was admitted in the church or talked much in society, I find the counselor’s comments more proof of why this site exists.

    Twenty years ago, I lived in, what today what is readily labeled today an “abusive” marriage. I considered “abuse” or even the concept of it, far more dramatic than what I was experiencing. So I never framed my feelings in that definition.

    In my attempt to make things work, I went to two pastors and not counselors. Both had the same response – we were newly married, things would work out. I got a fatherly pat on the head, a wordless stare when I attempted to share my feelings that things were not right. I felt crazy and angry. I did not share the intimate side of the marriage – that was too embarrassing, but also had evidence of dysfunction. I walked out disillusioned with the ability of pastors to grapple with the ugly side of marriages – or have a frank dialogue about anything other than keeping a relationship together at all costs – even the emotional death of one person.

    The end point of my story is symptoms, not labels, are they key to understanding that is going on in a relationship. Sure there is always that person that is an outlier – one who is the dramatist. But most women I know want to be loved, understood deeply and struggle to make things work in the face of great odds. They do not want divorce, they want a marriage that is fulfilling. That is a Biblical longing – Genesis, the woman’s heart will be turned toward her husband.

    To the counselor, I would humbly say that I have experienced more Christian counselors who have failed to correctly diagnosing by applying labels, rather than taking the time to filter through the emotions than women who want to call themselves abused for attention or some other emotional malfunction.

    Websites, counselors, podcasts – whatever – they are all just tools in the hands of the person reading them. Anyone can misuse a tool or gain from using it. The Biblical standard is there is wisdom in the multitude of counselors.

    God puts the responsibility of our actions solely on us. Regardless of how we would like it to be, the responsibility remains there – for us to answer to for it.

  6. Rebecca Davis on November 1, 2017 at 9:32 am

    I found it interesting that he disparaged the concept of “rights.” That’s the very thing I’ll be talking about at a conference this coming weekend in Raleigh, NC.

    As a matter of interest, the “post-Enlightenment period” gave birth to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, probably the two most forward-thinking documents on the issue of “rights” for their time.

    And the concept of rights is very much supported by Scripture.

    • Tim on November 1, 2017 at 6:46 pm

      Would you care to support that assertion, Rebecca?

      • Maria on November 2, 2017 at 6:01 pm

        Tim, You directed your comment to Rebecca. Allow me to comment, if you may. I don’t believe we should always stand up for our rights. Many times we are to be humble and put our rights aside to serve others, just like Jesus did. But the Bible also talks about Paul who used his right as a Roman citizen to get a fair trial. Our motives are important in these situation, too.

        • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 7:39 pm

          Well said, Maria. Thank you for giving a biblical example of our right to have rights and use them.
          I needed clarification on this subject.

          • Maria on November 2, 2017 at 9:20 pm

            You are welcome, Janet. There’s a danger in giving up our rights all the time- we can be taken advantage of. At the same time, we can be a blessing to others when we give up our rights. I think it is situation specific. No blanket rule that covers all situations.



          • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 10:13 pm

            Helpful. I can see your point, in my own life. Thank you. Although I never gave them up, I was (groomed for abuse) and brought up to believe I was not allowed them, as well as believing abuse was normal and my only deserved entitlement and expectation for my life. Then grew up to believe everyone else was allowed rights except me, then was treated this way, not surprisingly now, by everyone and worst of all my husband, (whom I trusted and wholly believed in) confirming my false beliefs, Now I’m trying to discern scriptural truth from biblical evidence in this area as well as understand how to assert my rights and what they look like in godly relationships.



      • assistant on November 3, 2017 at 10:48 am

        *** This is from Rebecca, she was having a hard time with the system, so she asked us to post it for her***

        Hi Tim~ I’ve tried to respond to this three times, but something has been glitchy. Trying again . . .

        The concept of “rights” comes from the idea of “doing right” or “acting righteously.” It’s closely related to the concept of justice, which is “setting things right.” In “Untwisting Scriptures that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind,” I have two chapters exploring rights, discussing the Biblical teachings and examples, and addressing the way it’s been taught in the church today, especially regarding the teaching about surrendering or yielding rights.

        Here are a few Scriptures that relate:

        Proverbs 31:8-9 Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.
        Psalm 82:3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.

        Leviticus 19:15 “You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.

        2 Samuel 8:15 So David reigned over all Israel. And David administered justice and equity to all his people.

        Isaiah 1:17 Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause.

    • Tim on November 3, 2017 at 7:36 pm

      Thank you for your clarification, Rebecca. I am not dismissing the idea that writes exist in the Scriptures, but do believe our perception of them in postmodern West is very different from the biblical perception of them. What you have described is a biblical concept of rights based on the safeguards God included in the Old Testament law to bring about justice and compassion. The concern I was trying to express, and I probably didn’t do a very good job in those brief sentences, was based on how people perceive the concept today. In fact the whole purpose of my communication with Leslie relates to people’s perception Of the truths and messages she is trying to communicate. In other words, if I am a person being abused, my “right“ to live in a safe and healthy relational environment, is first of all based on who I am as a child of God, the dignity and worth he bestows on me, And the truth of God‘s love based standards of right and wrong. Secondarily, it is based on the legal “rights“ I have as a citizen of the nation in which I reside. When a discussion focuses on rights, it easily becomes subjective, selfish, and a tit for Tat kind of interchange that is not the most healthy perspective in bringing about a God honoring relationship. So the husband insists based on first Corinthians seven that he has A “right“ to sex whenever he wants, and a wife insists she has a “right“ to express her feelings in whatever way she wishes, no matter how hurtful or offensive, and the list goes on and the standoff is never resolved. If our focus is on the God given worth and dignity of the other person, then our behavior is based on love-I. E. What is in the best interest of that person, because of who God made that person to be. This brings the abuser face to face with God as opposed to wrangling over rights with another sinful, confused individual. I’m not expressing this as clearly as I would like, but hopefully you’re getting the gist of what I am trying to say.

  7. Kathryn on November 1, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Thank you Leslie for answering these questions with a forthright spirit. As I read these questions/comments by the counselor I became very stirred up as “he” negated repeatedly the gut feelings that the woman “he” was counseling presented. “He” also did not address clearly the power and control involved with deception. I remained in a destructive marriage to the detriment of my children and my own life because I did not validate my gut feelings, nor did I recognize the power of my husband’s deception. I was following the guidelines this “man” presents, and as Augustine says, “I curved in on myself.” Thank you for your ministry. May God continue to protect, lead and guide you into the paths of truth.

  8. Pam on November 1, 2017 at 10:07 am

    My first marriage counselor was a LPC at my church. I explained to him that I did not feel like my husband was able to show love to me and the marriage was struggling. I did not know how to come out and say I felt used/abused. I was in denial.
    The church counselor simply advised me to “just have more sex”. I left HOPELESS because I was already doing that. The following years of our marriage were just as difficult/destructive.
    I found new marriage counselors–a husband and wife team. They counseled us and I was taught how to negotiate with my husband. This led to a healthier marriage. For the first time in the life of my marriage I caught my husband’s attention with my strength and dignity. I am thanking God for learning how to speak up for myself in a destructive marriage.

  9. Shannon on November 1, 2017 at 10:18 am

    I like what Aly said, “But when someone peers closer~ you can see that the word and behavior of ‘abuse’ actually is a person ‘misusing their power’.” I agree. I also agree that the word “abuse” means many things to different people.
    So, using this definition for abuse… my husband does not believe in “counseling”. He believes Genesis 3:16, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” period.

    See, me just saying that will raise red flags in people’s minds. “This is a situation ripe for abuse.” And it is, and it has been, at the core of the definition above. No “power” is safe in man’s hand that will not ultimately be abused… it is the history of Israel. BUT, it is the will of God that man should “rule” over his wife. I do believe that he does this for the sake of order in God’s heiarchy. We (God’s people) are an army and this is why armies have Generals, etc. I do not have an issue with this. I do have an issue with abuse.

    I have not struggled to communicate the reality of my abusive marriage to a “counselor”, but to my own husband; during moments of his abusing his “power”. I have not been believed, often, by him. But then again, duh, it takes a person of great strength in God to humble himself to accept that he is abusing his power when he thinks he is simply doing what God has required of him, ruling his own house.

    And you know, sometimes, as the counselor writing in mentioned in question #4, when a woman has a well meaning husband, a good husband, he aids her in her own growth by “putting his foot down” and it steps on our vanity, it steps on our ego, it “feels” like abuse, even though, in the end it was very much for our own good. And when true abuse is mixed in WITH this, it makes it all the more complicated.

    Was it “abusive” of God to have Israel in bondage in Egypt for over 400 years?

    Where is the line? And who will decide? Especially in families where husbands believe it is sinful to go “over his headship” and involve another man in his family affairs. Men can be the victims here very easily… trying to be good leaders and keep their families in line. and there are many MANY families that do not “chime in” on this as they are outside this “counseling” loop. It is not simple; it is not cut and dried. I see my husband’s point.

    I also agree with both Leslie and the counselor writing in on question #3, we DO live in a “feeling obsessed culture. We cannot think with emotions, we cannot reason with emotions; eSPECIALLY sensitive emotions. The counselor gave an example that hit close to home, “A woman who was sexually abused as a child was projecting her anger and hurt toward her husband, who was a fine and loving husband.” “Feelings” are NOT always a true indicator of reality, but when there is a little voice inside you, nagging you, when you regularly “feel” dismissed, controlled, confused…. there is something WRONG…. only “feelings” alert us to this.

    We were given feelings for the same reasons we were given sex, to enjoy life. It is our duty to operate within God’s framework, our feelings are to be managed, not the ruler of our lives. That doesn’t mean we don’t consider them. Only a wife knows many, MANY things about her husband… Leslie hit the nail on the head when she said, “Intimate partner violence is called such because it does NOT happen with other relationships.”

    There is so much more I could say, but for now…. I praise God every day for the access to the abundant help I find on the internet. I praise Him for giving me the ability to discern truth. I thank Him and pray for so many that went before us, struggling alone to find God in lonely abusive relationships with no one to turn to. To all counselors, please listen with an open mind and know that manipulators are the king/queens at image management. Never forget that.

    • Nancy on November 1, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      Hey Shannon,

      What about in Genesis where a wife is called to be her husband’s Ezer?

      Ezer is the Hebrew word for what we have – very poorly – translated as ‘help meet’.

      An Ezer fights FOR her husband. We are called to fight FOR our husband AGAINST sin.

      You ask, where is the line? and Who will decide?

      Christ.

      It is Christ who is our husband first. When we are married, we don’t displace Christ. He remains first.

      We lean on Him, we draw near to Him. And in Him, we fight FOR our husband, as we were called to do on our wedding day.

      Christ knows EXACTLY when and where that line is. We rely on Him to show us when and where we need to go to battle.

      Here’s a phrase I got from my friend Aly, that is on my fridge:

      “He has secured the promised land, but He equips us to claim it for His Glory”.

      What kind of boundaries and requirements would you need to put in place in order to go to battle for those sinful areas of your husband’s heart?

    • Connie on November 1, 2017 at 1:54 pm

      Shannon……it is the will of God that man should rule over his wife? Wow, I don’t see that at all. God places a curse on the ground, etc. But then He makes a statement (not a law or curse) that because the woman will desire the man, that gives him power and he will tend to rule her. God did not say he was supposed to, as I see it anyway. Jesus set us free from the curse anyway, did he not? The NT says that in Christ there is no east or west……male or female…..does that not make us equal? And as for the husband being the ‘head’, is that not, in context of the rest, that he is to protect and provide? Even if you see that as being a leader, it still does not mean a demander. A leader is followed voluntarily, not coerced. Jesus and Paul both said not to lord it over each other.

      I’m just saying we need to be careful not to fall for interpretations just because they have been accepted for so long.

      • Aly on November 1, 2017 at 3:18 pm

        Connie and Shannon,
        Connie wrote what I was about to comment on, so I won’t repeat.🤗
        I’m long winded as it is~

        Anyway just wanted to add that the role of the husband is of greater responsibility of the health of the Godly marriage, that is why he is called to servant leadership. Which is actually the most humble serving, loving and strong leadership of all. Strong meaning dependable, protecting and honored.
        I could go on and on here.

        My simple point is the posture of a healthy Godly husband and that the wife glady follows a husband following Christ~ one surrender to His authority.

        A husband who is his own authority has aLOT of work to do for their to be a healthy marriage and let alone raise Kids with a healthy accurate view of who God is.
        A husband who his is own authority will be misaligned and will often be misinterpreted many roles, misusing many places of power.

        A good and equipped Godly counselor should be able to key into these areas fairly quickly.

        • Connie on November 1, 2017 at 10:59 pm

          Today I was thinking of the Genesis ‘curse’. The ground was going to grow thorns and thistles, the woman was going to tend toward desiring a man above God, to the point of giving him power over her. So, I think we realize that these things are the result of the fall. Yet we don’t just let the thorns grow or even plant them on purpose. but we realize that we are in a war against them Should we not then also be in a war against letting men rule women? To fight those powers of darkness that are out to kill, steal and destroy us all?

      • Larkin on November 7, 2017 at 8:41 am

        DH

        • Larkin on November 7, 2017 at 8:59 am

          It’s interesting to understand God’s original story. His plan and purpose in Creation for marriage was quite a different picture then what the marital relationship was after the Fall The consequence of sin has marred his original intent. Thank God through the Good News of the Gospel married couples can see a better story for relationships. There is much wisdom, discernment, experience and spirit-filled guidance that we can receive through Old and New Testaments. I pray that we will be equipped to understand truth through Jesus’ eyes, not our ‘Western Cultural eyes’. Leslie has often shared with us numerous biblical examples of appropriate behaviors and boundaries that individuals wisely employed in their own difficult, disappointing or destructive circumstances. I pray that all of us who not only believe the Gospel, but call ourselves Christians, will depend upon the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and wise others to live our lives in Truth, mutually respectful, mutually reciprocal, and mutually free. I’m hoping we’re able to live this way and allow others in to be a blessing to one another! Thankful for this venue.

          • Larkin on November 7, 2017 at 9:00 am

            We have been Redemed and look for to the New Creation.



    • Tim on November 3, 2017 at 9:19 pm

      Shannon, you raise some good points and I appreciate your balanced perspective. Thanks for sharing.

  10. Anne McCallum on November 1, 2017 at 10:41 am

    This sounds exactly as if my husband wrote in and asked these questions. My husband is still in major denial about his behaviour and doesn’t validate what has happened to me and our marriage. I have been emotionally abused on and off for 38 years. A few weeks ago my husband physically assaulted me. I didn’t report him because I thought I’d show mercy and compassion and it would ruin his career as a Presbyterian minister. He continues the emotional abuse. I don’t know how long I have to live and am in cancer treatment. A Christian psychologist told me that my husband may “not get it” before I die.

    • Nancy on November 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm

      Hello Anne,

      I’m so sorry to hear of the hell you are living. Please gather your strength to guard your heart.

      Prov 4:23- above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your life.

      Anne. Your job is not to make your husband ‘get it’, or to protect him (he is to protect you). He is being engulfed by sin. The most loving thing you could do is report him. Stop shielding him from the God given consequences of his actions.

      Jesus said, “go and learn what this means, I desire mercy, not sacrifice”

      The merciful thing to do is to allow God access to his heart. His career is the least of his ( oryour) worries. His heart needs the discipline of The Lord.

      And your heart needs protecting.

      I am praying for you.

    • Rebecca on November 2, 2017 at 1:08 am

      Anne, You are not safe on so many levels. If you are approaching the end of life might you consider hospice care? Hospice does not have to be in your home. There are free standing facilities as well as those incorporated into larger healthcare facilities.

      Do you have children? Might you tell them the truth for their future protection?

      Also, when you go the the hospital or clinic for treatments you need to tell the the health care workers about the abuse you are experiencing. It is integral to your healing!! (Didn’t they ask you this question on admission?) Healthcare workers are mandatory reporters and are required by law to protect you and provide help in your situation. Please let the system do what it was designed to do and share your burden at your next appointment of any kind.

      Your abuser can be stopped in your lifetime. There is hope.

  11. Leslie on November 1, 2017 at 10:44 am

    I love you Leslie Vernick! You are my shero! You are our advocate, and you are able to articulate our pain in ways many people helpers and even ourselves sometimes, cannot. Continue in well doing!

    • Sophia on November 1, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      ❤️

    • JoAnn on November 14, 2017 at 11:22 am

      Hi, Aly, Thanks for the good words. We have been happily married for over 50 years now. He’s a good man.
      I was unable to respond for about a week while my computer was down. There has been quite a lot of catching up to do, and I wasn’t sure my input would be read, so thanks for mentioning it. This has been a very interesting exchange…..

      • JoAnn on November 14, 2017 at 11:23 am

        This ended up in the wrong spot….oh well, computers don’t always do what we want them to…

  12. Mary Ann on November 1, 2017 at 10:47 am

    I can only speak from the experience that I have had as a woman who was in the position of being belittled, put-down, ridiculed, stone-walled and emotionally abused by my former spouse. So in saying what I say here, I am not saying that men have not experienced these same abuses. I KNOW that they have. I have been a DivorceCare support group facilitator for many years and have heard many stories and scenarios. I use this experience as a qualifier and my God-given discernment, to ask this counselor to search his soul for evidence of gender bias.

    I cannot emphasize enough the damage that was done me because I waited and endured not wanting to “accuse” hastily or without cause. Most people WANT a loving relationship and marriage. They do not go around looking to accuse falsely and usually wait much too long to move on those grounds causing themselves sometimes “irreversable” damage.

    Christ calls us to freedom in Him. For without the freedom from abusive repression, we cannot be all He has intended for us to be and do His work in the world.

    Lastly, I have finally come to realize, a full 20 years after I have been “freed” from this destructive life, that I was married to a narcissist and what that means. Unfortunately or fortunately, however you want to look at it, this was realized because of the narcisstic leadership this country is now having to endure. I can finally identify behaviors and indicators of those who fool so many people that they actually get elected! To this counselor who posed these questions: be very, very careful. Perhaps, you are not seeing the forest for the trees and also killing the messenger.

  13. Casey on November 1, 2017 at 10:56 am

    I’m not sure how to address this. My husband did such weird things that no one took it serious. Even when he was going to bars & left me when I was 6 months pregnant, there was not much support from the church. I sought counsel always & no one knew what to say. I had a little breakdown once over some of the crazy meanness & instead of talking to my husband, the pastor ask me if I was on my period! Really???? I never called my husband’s behavior abuse! I told situations & I got nothing to help me. We will pray for you.
    We once got individual help, I was shocked he agreed. The pastor heard my husband only & I was sent to one of his friends who was a counselor. He ended up blaming my mom for our issues. Until one day my hubby got irritated & accidentally showed his true colors to the pastor. My husband is amazing, most of the time. But when he’s not…. it’s HORRIBLE! And only my son & I have experienced the full Wrath of it. My son is now 24. I would challenge this male counselor to talk to my son & get his thoughts on all of this. He would probably cry & apologize to Leslie if my son would talk to him. We were not physically abused to the point of evidence. I used to beg him to hit me so I could show someone. Now, with the phones, I just record him in his fits. So much goes through my mind with these. I wish we could unzip the hearts of those who have no clue & put our stories in color in there long enough for them to rightfully assess & then give their advice!

    • Connie on November 1, 2017 at 12:38 pm

      Casey, one counselor we went to said that a wife’s period is her husband’s best friend. If he truly wants to grow and mature in the Lord, he will realize that during her period is when his wife is most honest about him and about the things she has been suppressing the rest of the month when she feels stronger.

      • Aly on November 1, 2017 at 12:58 pm

        Wow Connie!
        I haven’t ever heard that example before but I do believe it.

        I was also told by my own mother that she thought my hormones needed to be assessed ‘because I was facing truth’ and speaking up in love;) for myself and my husband.
        I find it to be a pattern of the ignorant to want to assess the hormones, claim a moody day, and consider medication for the victim.. when in reality it is the ‘destructive person’ that needs the brain work and most likely the medication to regulate their unrealistic and unreasonable thinking patterns!

        But let’s look at the victim first and see what we can rule out ~Medicate and quiet down the ‘messenger’
        I’m being faciscious here~ although the reality is it happens all the time to victims who are trying to figure out the core issues.

        By the way, I informed my mom that my hormones were all normal from getting the tests ran from my doctor.
        The problem was … I was awake to the abuse as she was still trying to stay asleep in narc world.

  14. Laura Di on November 1, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Friend, how have you struggled to communicate the reality of your abusive marriage to your pastor or counselor with specific examples? Have you been believed?

    Fortunately my pastor, and counselors had no qualms about the abuse I encountered. I had recorded some of the episodes at a point where I was so broken by the emotional abuse that I was suicidal. These individuals were able to hear the exact nature of my husbands abusiveness. I actually while still married attended sessions of counseling where the counselor tried to help negotiate the happy ending I hoped for because she knew I had a deep commitment to trying to save the marriage. That I see now was due to my misconstruing of Biblical principles. I can recall many times leaving the sessions perplexed as the counselor remained patient with my husbands passive- aggressive jabs to the point I doubted her expertise. One day at a particularly stressful session his false charm collapsed and a Jekyll and Hyde demeanor erupted surprisingly to the point that my therapist stood up, walked to where he was seated and with hands on hips emphatically said, “ (His name) you are abusive.” three times in a row. He looked her straight back in the eyes, smirked, spoke, “I am not abusive”, dismissively with conviction. Needless to say he never went back and I foolishly knew staying with him was not healthy but still remained married for a number of years despite her attempts of encouragement to help me to be self-supporting of the apparent truth of my situation. Abuse is often difficult to be labeled as such by the victim too because it is so hard to fight overcome denial. When abuse is crafted oh so slowly and finessed the abusee remains so unsure of themselves that as in my case they hang on. Years prior to seeking help I can recall having a close friend tell me a story about a conversation she had with my husband. She gushed back to me what he intimated and spoke about how lucky I was to be so loved. Sadly I did not betray his truth as my face smiled and my stomach churned. Abusiveness can be so covert that the abusee loses all sense of self and actually suffers a degree of insanity. It wasn’t until I reached out to Jesus that I started to see things changing in my life.

    I have been divorced for over seven years and though free from the marriage but realize I need to keep aware of my own weaknesses in relation to relationships. My hurts, habits and hang-ups can resurrect at any given moment. Recovery from abuse need to be worked upon in an ungoing fashion in order to protect against reoccurrence. I discovered this web-site through a Christian counselor as I sought help from her while being drawn into craziness by my ex after marriage because it was disguised as concern for our children. Through finding Leslie Vernick I have learned and implemented valuable CORE lessons. I am so thankful and appreciative of this resource. Leslie’s ministry is so helpful in keeping me safe as I negotiate through life! I pray that many others can be directed to her site so they too can find a healthy way of living.

    God Bless you all!
    Laurie

    • Janet on November 1, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      Laurie…I hear your courage and your struggle.
      As for your final comments about how the Lord ministers to you through Leslie’s site and how this has kept you safe, I say, Amen to that!

      You are an amazing woman of strength and courage, you have got got this far, you can go all the way now, He won’t leave you where you are now.
      Remember:
      You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength and He who began a good work in you will continue and bring it to completion! Proving that we Know the truth and the truth HAS set you free!

  15. Sally on November 1, 2017 at 11:37 am

    I gave specific examples in a polite, tasteful way (no gory details) and was ignored. We went to our pastor together. He referred my husband to a counselor, and completely ignored me. Never a follow-up question, no email to express concern or prayer, nothing. I felt like the situation- and I – didn’t even exist!

  16. Jennifer on November 1, 2017 at 11:54 am

    Leslie, your answer is awesome! I admire your ability to speak truth!

    • Janet on November 1, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      Jennifer, So Clear and precise, yes.
      I have responded to the counsellor in question, but did not feel the need in any way to reiterate or rehash what Leslie said in her comprehensive comment/response to Him.
      I do think He was challenged though. by his “client” and her high opinions of Leslie’s advice and by Leslie’s advice itself.

      What he does not seem to have considered is the time spent (by all seeking help) reading and seeking godly clarification of scripture and attitudes before we finally accept and acknowledge we need to address our situations, or the years we’ve previously spent battling with our own minds and hearts about the facts he is “concerned” we may be coerced into believing. Or is he concerned that Leslie could be advocating an army of women, band together, focussed on divorcing good/all husbands. Uniting women together, against men, with scriptural strength and intention to defeat men once and for all in the battle of the sexes?!

      More seriously, probably and hopefully, the challenge is a conviction from the Holy Spirit on HIs understanding, mind-set and attitudes towards women, leadership, marital roles, marriage “equality” in Christ, not the secular understanding of equality.
      In other words challenging the worlds view of the Biblical ‘patriarchal’ interpretations of Husband and wife relationships and marriage “V” Christ-like Holy Spirit revelation and transformation for both husband and wife, man and woman, made in His image, and joined together “AS ONE FLESH” through/in marriage.
      There definitely seems to be a cross over in his understanding of subjective and objective power “V” leadership/headship, and within his thinking.

  17. Connie on November 1, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    I’m going to have to scroll up and down to answer this.

    “First is the caution that accusing someone of being “abusive”(in any of the various ways) is a serious matter, ..”

    Of course it is a serious matter. Why do you think most of us wait until we think we’re ready to check ourselves into a hospital with emotional and/or physical breakdown before we go for help? We try and try and try to reason with our h because the world has taught us that ‘everyone means well’ and if we can only say it the right way, he will listen and care. After all, that’s what he promised at the altar, right? We look for the little crumbs of ‘love’ and hope and hope that they will become more frequent, then when we finally read Leslie’s book and Proverbs we realize that some people are fools with no intention of kindness. And that is the end of our lifelong dreams of a happy family. It is so very devastating that we go to a counselor to see if it can be fixed after all. Still hopeful. Like going to a doctor and he says it’s all in your head? Most of us in this situation already were raised to feel of little worth. Our parents and teachers ignored us and here we hope someone cares.

    “For a wife to falsely accuse her husband of “being abusive” or “being an abuser” is absolutely devastating. It destroys trust ”
    Devastating to what? To ‘his fragile ego’? Our egos need to be devastated if we’ve been chronically unkind. It’s not ok for the man to be humbled but it’s ok that she has been humiliated for years and years? Sounds like the old ‘don’t talk don’t tell’ belief system. The Bible says to expose evil.

    “It seems some warning about jumping to conclusions and accusations without adequate interaction with a counselor, etc. might be in order. ”

    Everyone I know in this situation did NOT jump to conclusions, but has given the benefit of the doubt to her husband many many times for years, has read and read and read, hoping to find another answer, and has slowly and painfully crawled to conclusions, not jumped. The jumping ones don’t come here.

    “And they are just as capable of emotional abuse, and maybe even more capable of verbal abuse. I observe many marriages where the women are vicious and relentless in their harangues of their husbands and children. ”

    Many? Really? Could it be some of those have been made to feel so powerless that they’re crying out? At least they’re honest. Most abusive husbands are such good actors that they appear nice but ‘viciously and relentlessly harangue’ their wives in such sneaky ways that are not seen to others. Like already noted, we wish they hit us or screamed, at least we’d be believed.

    “Meanwhile, in my experience, there are a number of reasons why despite strong and persisting feelings of being abused, those feeling might be far from reality.”

    I’ve been dismissed by many doctors over 34 years, and now, finally, have a diagnosis of Lyme. Apparently I had strong and persistent feelings of being sick, but was delusional. Finally this doctor says, “A hypochondriac is someone who is sick, but the doctor doesn’t know what it is, so he blames the patient.” And if I was delusional? I would still want compassion and validation as a person, and help, not contempt. Please. Please.

    “But Jesus “the Head” did far more than wash feet. He taught, exhorted, rebuked, counseled, confronted hypocrisy, determined ministry direction, angrily cleared the temple (more than once), and made decisions on behalf of His band of disciples.”

    It IS time to ‘angrily clear the temple’ of those who are willfully and deliberately showing contempt and control over the weaker vessels that they are told to love and cherish, submit to, and live with in an understanding way so that their prayers aren’t hindered. A wife isn’t a Pharisee or even a disciple of her husband. Where does this even come from? A sense a real condescending attitude here. I’ve always said to h, when he says, “What did I do wrong? Did I say something wrong?”…..I say, “It’s not what, it’s the attitude. Attitude is everything.”

    This answer is probably a waste of time and way too long, but it was a good exercise for me. 🙂 Thank you for your really good replies, Leslie. They’ll fly just fine without mine.

    • Marianne on November 2, 2017 at 12:39 am

      Connie,
      Your response was not a waste of time! I resonated with everything you said! Thank you! I am so with you! I am so tired of women being told to just over their husbands more and have more sex. Ha!
      And of course you can never say my ex was abusive or he would freak out.
      I am in school training to become a counselor – that’s what I’m doing about what’s going on in churches because church leadership will not hear the woman. I had some key friends who tried to help my ex but he showed his true colors to them because he spilled out all over himself. Eventually, it will all come to light. We must stay or get healthy ourselves throughout. Very hard to do especially with children and trying to work and do everything else. The Lord provides a way out. I love that!

  18. Kellie on November 1, 2017 at 12:29 pm

    Firstly, it is heartbreaking that so many have endured ‘abuse’, whether verbal, physical, emotional or spiritual….it is all abuse and no one has the ‘right or power’ to inflict upon another.

    Secondly,. the counselor with the questions appears to be more of an advocate for the oppressor and I would be leary as to even talking with someone of this mindset.

    Lastly, as one who endured horrific emotional and spiritual abuse for ~3 years, I experienced great difficulty in talking to counselors and pastors, mainly because they honestly were not experienced in ’emotionally destructive’ relationships. I agree that a couple should not seek counseling together when the abuse is severe and ongoing.

    In my case, my ex-husband is a ‘master of manipulation’ and adept at ‘image management’ as Leslie said. He could walk into a pastors or counselors office and quote scripture from front to back or remain calm and cool, while portraying himself as the ‘victim’ and I as the ‘abuser’. The problem…..that was his ‘false self’, while the ‘real self’ was evident behind closed doors only. That is how a severely narcissistic person functions……they will do anything to prevent the world from knowing the ‘lie’!

    For me, the spiritual abuse was the worst…….how he could use God’s word to manipulate in an attempt to have me think I was ‘bad with God’ goes well beyond abnormal, and I would say pure evil. I was literally yanked by my hair, kicked out of bed, pushed out of a car, locked out of my home, and woken up at all times of the night and emotionally tortured for hours because I did not give him the affirmation and respect he demanded as my ‘God given husband’.

    There is nothing ‘God given’ in that…..or no matter what form of abuse!

    • Roxanne on November 2, 2017 at 1:24 am

      Kellie you took the words right out of my mouth. Those exact same things happened to me. What a smart woman you were to get out of such a terrible marry. Is there more to your story? How did you get away from your abuser?

  19. Brianna on November 1, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    Leslie, you are not responsible for those who might use your materials to feed their delusions and make false claims. I’ve seen people who use the Bible in a twisted and manipulative way to say all sorts of things. Is that the Bible’s fault? No way.

    I appreciate how you answered this counselor, and I really hope his client goes elsewhere and gets some real help.

    • Roxanne on November 3, 2017 at 7:57 am

      I mentioned the writer’s delusions also. He responded that it was name calling. Ugh.

      • Leslie Vernick on November 3, 2017 at 2:02 pm

        I would like all comments to be constructive and in CORE. Delusions is a label that is negative and that’s why it was taken as name calling.

  20. Diana on November 1, 2017 at 12:57 pm

    I so appreciate this post. It sounds to me as if the therapist feels threatened by her own client! A good therapist should put the clients needs above her own! Sounds like issues of control on the part of the therapist. Scary!

    Thank you Leslie for this particular post. It has opened my eyes again to the sad fact that all therapists are not helpful. Some even harmful.

  21. Yvette on November 1, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Leslie, in the course of my 33 year marriage with an emotionally, and physically abusive husband, I went to 7 different counselor/pastor/laymen with only 2 of them actually perceiving that I was indeed a victim of intimate violence. In the beginning years, because I had not the vocabulary to express what was happening to me and I didn’t want to “uncover” my husband, I would use the term “he is angry”. I was asked what I was doing that was making him angry, or told, because I was spiritual and walking in communion with God and confidence in Christ, that I was not submissive enough. I have been told that I need to get a job (even though he didn’t want me to work outside the home). I was told to submit to him and honor him and God would discipline him. I was talked to for my disrespect…the counselor took time scrutinizing me to find a fault, and when finding nothing concrete, made a vague declaration that I must be disrespectful because he was feeling disrespected. Although I knew I wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, I apologized and told my husband that I would work on my disrespect. The abuse became worse because he used the disrespect word anytime I would stand up for myself and tell him it was not ok what he was saying or how he was treating me. I believe the counselors who saw it as being that I was too sensitive, or that we both had our own sins to focus on, or that I, as the weaker vessel and woman, should submit full trusting my safety and sanity into my husbands hands were foolish. The counselors who may have believed there was an issue but believed it was both of our sins, harmed me as greatly as the ones who didn’t believe there was abuse. Both kinds of counselors are detrimental to the safety and well being of the victim. Leslie, your line, “I’d rather be wrong speaking up for the oppressed than be wrong by empowering the oppressor” is powerfully right! The questions from this well meaning counselor seemed a bit naive and uninformed from the victim’s point of view, and every one of your responses were truth based and right on from my point of view, which is that of a survivor of domestic intimate violence. After years of repenting of my own sins, love covering a multitude of sins, guarding my husband’s heart and secret sins, and denying myself and picking up my cross and suffering for Christ, I am now separated after being physically attacked again, and because I was able to grow in CORE and your excellent wisdom to draw from, I am stronger as I walk in the truth of the Word, and not the insanity of grace without truth.

    • Nancy on November 1, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      Yvette,

      I love the saying, ” the insanity of grace without truth.”

      I grew up in a church where the minister was an alcoholic, his wife was bi-polar; and they were my parents best friends. My father had multiple affairs as a (incredible destructive) way to cope with my borderline mother, and guess what the theology of the church was…?

      Grace.

      Truth was no where to be found. And denial flourished. And as a result….

      Insanity prevailed.

  22. Aleea on November 1, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    . . .Well, it could be very helpful for this counselor to read/ re-read two of Leslie’s books: “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” and “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong”. . . . .The issues Leslie is dealing with are obviously not simple issues and (—I love you Lord God) but Your Word does not often communicate things very clearly. I’m sorry Lord God but it just doesn’t. . . . .That is why we have all kinds of book series like the Spectrum Multiview Book Series from InterVarsity Christian Press: Psychology & Christianity Five Views, — Divorce and Remarriage Five Views, —The Historical Jesus Five Views. —Biblical Hermeneutics, Five Views, etc., etc., etc.

    No version of Christianity is likely the true account. I certainly have not made peace with that with God’s Word: . . . .This morning in my Bible, I was reading Hebrews 2:9 . . . it easily could have originally read that Jesus died “apart from God” (χωρίς) 😥, as opposed to “by the grace of God” (χάρις). It is only a difference only between two letters–omega and alpha– but such variants (and the Word-of-God is just full of them) have significant implications. Stating that Jesus died “apart from God” may be an echo of Jesus’ last words in Mark (15:34) and Matthew (27:46). That is really important because the longer ending in Mark 16:9-20 is not found in any early manuscripts, which is historically significant, because if this passage is excluded there are no descriptions of Jesus’ post-mortem appearances in the Gospel of Mark 😥 (our earliest gospel). That means that such details are only found in the much later gospels, which could easily reflect ☞ growing legendary development. . . .I just don’t get it because I *totally* know how imperfect I am, at *all* levels. I’m a mess but . . . . .but I expect God to communicate far, far better than I. . . . .I don’t know, maybe He is.

    Maybe also read the research in “I Just Lost Myself: Psychological Abuse of Women in Marriage” by Valerie Nash Chang; “Domestic Violence: Intersectionality and Culturally Competent Practice” by Lettie L Lockhart, Fran S Danis, et.al.; and maybe “A Troubled Marriage: Domestic Violence and the Legal System” by Leigh Goodmar.

    . . . .One thing I get when I study Leslie’s books . . . .I walk away feeling eternal life is less about a kind of time that starts when we die, and more about a quality and vitality of our lives and relationships now in connection to God. Right here, right now. Eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts now. It’s not about a life that begins at death; it’s about experiencing the kind of life now that can endure and survive even death. Many faith communities don’t permit open, honest inquiry about the things that matter most and people really suffer. Lots of people have voiced concerns, expressed doubts, raised questions, only to be told by their pastor, elder, church, church friends: “We don’t discuss those things here.” I believe the discussion itself is divine. Abraham does his level best to bargain with God, most of the book of Job consists of arguments by Job and his friends about the deepest questions of human suffering, God is practically (basically) on trial in the book of Lamentations, and Jesus responds to almost every question He’s asked with. . . .yes, a question.

  23. Diane on November 1, 2017 at 2:21 pm

    “Friend, how have you struggled to communicate the reality of your abusive marriage to your pastor or counselor with specific examples? Have you been believed?”

    I wanted to thank Leslie for discussing this very important issue and to the counselor for having the wisdom and courage to speak directly with Leslie to better understand and clarify any misconceptions they may have.

    As to the questions above: While I have communicated a variety of examples to counselors (some examples they have also witnessed themselves), there seems to be a strong desire by the counselor’s we’ve seen to ignore or talk themselves out of what they’ve witnessed. Here are a few examples:

    1) My husband is in outside sales and is gifted with reading people. He is very charming with the counselor, frequently complimenting him on the vehicle he drives, the computer he uses, the college he attended, etc. This immediately sets up a strong rapport between my husband and the counselor. When I brought up the example when my husband poured steaming hot coffee on my arm (I stil have the scar), spitting coffee in my face at a family event and how even his father reprimanded my husband, all my husband had to say to the counselor was that he didn’t remember doing that (which was a lie as this had been recently discussed by his family). The counselor’s response was that since my husband didn’t recall this, this was not a good example for me to bring up. The counselor went onto say how each of us sees situations differently and that my husband and I both could be correct, that no one had to be wrong… The counselor went onto to say that since I already had a history of abuse as a child, I am probably being too sensitive to abuse and am seeing “it” where abuse didn’t exist. The counselor also said that the scar on my arm likely didn’t happen they way I remembered but was from something else…. Each of the counselor’s statements no only minimized a very abusive situation, but invalidated the accuracy of my points. It also validated the pattern that all my husband had to say was “I don’t know,” and he would not be accountable for his actions. In other words it enabled my husband to see the benefits of being more covert and lying about abuse during counseling sessions.

    2) The fact that I suffered physical/emotional abuse as a child only resulted in my perception of situations being minimized and invalidated by the counselor’s we’ve seen. Instead of holding my husband accountable for his inappropriate behavior’s, some the counselor’s have observed first hand (yelling/screaming at me, criticizing me, getting caught in lies pertaining to situations involving me, blame shifting/scapegoating, etc), I am told that I need to submit more and make having sex with my husband more of a priority in our marriage…, that sex even comes before taking care of our children. Unfortunately I went along with this for 2 years, and instead of improving the marriage relationship, it worsened it.

    Even the counselor referred to my husband’s actions/behavior’s as abusive. The problem was that each counselor refuses to confront my husband on his destructive behavior’s. One counselor finally admitted after 4 1/2 years of counseling that he was afraid of confronting my husband (yet he had no problem having me confront him). Another counselor kept telling me my husband refused to take responsibility and asked me to keep providing “fresh examples” so the counselor could confront hubby. After 3 years of counseling, this counselor never once confronted my husband. Instead the counselor made excuses for his lack of follow through (my husband was too angry already, my husband’s heart rate was over 100 beats a minute so he wouldn’t hear what the counselor had to say, the counselor said he did confront my husband but he really didn’t – this last one was spoken in front of my husband who also agreed that the counselor did not confront him. The counselor became so fearful, he ended the session 20 minutes early without providing a reason). During the next session the counselor tried to say he didn’t know what I was referring to, but he was unable to look at me when he was talking.

    3) I would be asked to give examples during counseling, yet there were no protective boundaries in place, no exit plan, no means of accountability for my husband. I was put in a very unsafe situation. After the session was over, I had to deal with my husband’s rage for hours. When I implemented boundaries with consequences, I was told by the counselor (in front of my husband) that I was wrong to do so. I was told that I had to obtain my husband’s permission to set boundaries that pertained to him and get his approval on any consequences. I was told this by 2 separate counselor’s and a pastor. Of course my husband refused to give his consent and their “recommendations” only fueled his rage and abusive behaviors toward me.

    4) I am physically disabled which adds an additional level of complexity to my situation. When I had surgeries that would further debilitate my physical ability, I was told to do the following to avoid abuse: a) Don’t engage my husband when he is upset. b) Avoid setting any boundaries, instead I should pray. c) Since I was deemed the emotionally/spiritually healthier one, it was my responsibility to save our marriage. I was supposed to engage in fasting during my convalescence. d) I was told not to tell anyone what was going on as this would just further upset my husband, it was my duty as a submissive wife to protect my husband. Again, no responsibility for the abusive behavior/situation was placed on my husband. If my husband became abusive, then I must have done something to cause it! This type of thinking by counselor’s is incredibly devastating to a victim of abuse – yes, by this time even the counselors were referring to his behavior as abusive.

    5) My husband had threatened to harm our son as well as me. Our counselor did not believe me. My husband repeatedly threatened to kill my cats. This threat occurred in front of the counselors multiple times. The counselors never said anything to him about this. When the counselors met with me privately, I was told my husband wasn’t really serious about this. I was told by another counselor that this showed the depths of my husband shame/depravity and I should pray for him.

    All of these counselor’s had over 25 years experience each. One counselor has a Ph.D. Two counselor’s stated that they specialized in emotional/verbal abuse in marriage. One counselor stated he had been certified by Leslie B Vernick; however, I later found out this wasn’t true, and the counselor no longer advertises this certification anymore.

    I wish the counselor’s would have been honest with me and stated they did not really have positive experience treating individuals who are emotionally abusive or emotionally destructive marriages. Instead we have wasted a great deal of time and money, and our marriage is only worse. Up until March of this year I have followed through with everything the counselors have asked me to do these past 9 years. My husband has yet to follow through with any of the recommendations the counselors have made, yet not one of the counselor’s confronted/discussed this with him. They would talk about it with me, but I already knew this. Why didn’t they confront/discuss these situations with my husband? Can you shed any light on why counselors avoid confronting abuse, especially when it occurs in front of them? I understand you haven’t actually observed this, but it would help me to understand why Christian counselors avoid this. Again, thank you for allowing me to comment and for reading this. Sorry it was so lengthy!

    • Ruth on November 2, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      I think the millstone is tied around that ‘counselor’s’ neck.

      Dear Diane, I wish I could wisk you,
      your son, and your cats away from that abusive husband. And if your story broke my heart, I know it’s breaking the heart of Jesus.

      • Diane on November 2, 2017 at 11:56 pm

        Thanks Ruth! You’re a sweetheart! ❤️

    • JoAnn on November 12, 2017 at 7:07 pm

      Dearest Ruth, how utterly shameful that so many counselors have refused to give you the help you need. While I believe everything you have told us, I am shaking my head in amazement that any licensed counselor would be so heartless and clueless. There is a true bias against women indicated there.
      So, my question is, now what are you doing to protect yourself? What resources can you access to get the help you need to leave that debilitating situation? I hope that you are not still living together, but if you are, please try to leave. You don’t deserve to be treated that way. Seek the Lord and lean on Him. He is your advocate before the throne.

  24. Jessi on November 1, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    I want to start by thanking the counselors and pastors for their heart to minister. It is an incredible undertaking!! I realize that when a person comes into the office there are so many unknowns and it can be difficult to even know where to begin.
    With that being said, I think there are certain things you need to look for and certain questions that need to be asked. Abuse is real and oftentimes more subtle than people realize. It takes a lot for a victim to speak up and when they aren’t believed it is devastating. I deeply desired to be a good Christian wife raising Godly offspring but his unhealthy behaviors in the marriage with a complete lack of true Godly repentance when sins were observed by many led to a divorce.
    My own story comes with its own share of pain in how the ‘church’ and counselors let me down. He was the well-loved worship pastor of 10 years. I knew for a few years that things ‘just weren’t right’ so I did my due diligence by going to doctors and counselors. Things came to a head when he was caught in the parking lot at midnight with a young woman he was told to stay away from. The pastors started strong and put him on a month leave with mandatory marriage counseling (both by a pastor and a private counselor they had hired). They themselves began to identify behaviors (manipulative, controlling, twisting scripture, addicted to friendships with other women, addicted to the praise of man, addicted to pornography) and I felt great support. However that support shifted when I myself began putting the pieces together and further confirming the behaviors they themselves had already identified. My ‘aha’ moment and the setting of some pretty clear boundaries along with listing 5 basic steps to begin rebuilding trust were met with great resistance and accused of being too strict or unforgiving or striving for the world’s definition of love. There was a focus on saving the marriage for the sake of the ministry as opposed to the health or wellbeing of the people in the marriage.
    Before I had even used the word abuse while the pastors were still identifying issues in the context of my now EX, he refused to allow this to be ‘our story’ and that I needed to quickly change my perception of him by doing what he wanted. I can tell the moment people I once confided in have been turned against me by his twisting of the truth and it has left me with few friends as well as a church I had to leave.
    We do a huge disservice to each other by softening the terminology of the sins we commit. We minimize the sin and take away the benefit there is in overcoming and healing. I would agree that taking small chunks of information or reading out of context can be so detrimental, however, from the first video of Leslie’s that I watched there was a huge relief that someone finally ‘got it’. I had my own due-diligence of researching, examining my own heart, and observation which I took very seriously. I am an educated woman who grew up in a stable conservative Christian home and yet I allowed my heart to be deceived and for my voice to be silenced by the man who vowed to love me. It is now my job to heal from that and gain the inner strength that God calls me to.

    • Maria on November 3, 2017 at 2:05 pm

      Jessi,
      I agree that some counselors focus on ‘saving’ the marriage instead of addressing core problems. I don’t think God is glorified by marriages in which people are putting up a show to look perfect. God wants us to be authentic. Minimizing sin does not glorify God either. Sin cost Christ His life. We are lying to others when we put up with sin to give an outward appearance of a good marriage. I think we are good witnesses for Christ when we are authentic and honest.

      • Content on November 3, 2017 at 9:16 pm

        Amen

      • Marianne on November 4, 2017 at 1:52 am

        Amen!

  25. Refocus-Reclaim on November 1, 2017 at 2:46 pm

    I can understand the counselor’s confusion. I agree, that some may twist the material from Leslie’s site, but that is true of any other material out there. We cannot control what someone else chooses to believe, we can only go by what we see and hear from them.

    That said, as one who was abused for many years, I can tell you that it isn’t as simple as you want to make it. Unless you’ve lived it, or seen it play out in with a close friend/family you will have a hard time believing it. I went to the first counselor because I knew something was wrong – but, as is typical of someone emotionally/mentally abused, I thought it was all me – I was doing something wrong. This, after 18 years of marriage. I wouldn’t even willingly believe that my spouse had the potential to harm me, even though I’d witnessed the explosive rages first-hand. It took about 2 years before I actually realized it wasn’t my fault – I wasn’t doing anything to cause it – and yes, I was very much in danger physically. The problem was, only a very few could see any discrepancy between my spouse’s words and actions. Abusers are excellent manipulators & liars, and can be caught at it only by careful attention to what is said from session to session.

    Let me say this: when the 2 of us were in a counselor’s office together, I wouldn’t say much – if anything… because I knew it would come back to bite me later. Real abuse silences the abused person, especially when in the presence of the abuser.

    5 years later, I’m still trying to untangle myself from the web that I’m not worth anything, my thoughts/opinions have no value, if something goes wrong it must be my fault. I didn’t enter my marriage that way – the person I was married to made me that way – very slowly and ever-escalating. The climb out is incredibly difficult and long. If someone had noticed it sooner (there was an earlier counseling series due to infidelity) I would be in a very different place today. If I hadn’t become aware when I did, I probably would have been one of those physical abuse statistics.

    Counselors need to be alert. I thought I was alone in this… and then I realized how many women are in the same type of situation. It blew me away – and it gave me the strength to make the changes necessary to my survival.

  26. Nancy on November 1, 2017 at 3:21 pm

    Hi Aleea!

    On your point, ” most faith communities don’t permit open, honest inquiry…”

    This is not my experience at all. I would say that if anyone is experiencing this they should run in the other direction!

    Our Lord does not require blind faith. I am studying Romans this year…In chapter 4 Paul talks about how Abraham faced the facts of his dead body and Sarah’s dead womb ( and that he didn’t weaken in his faith).

    This is the opposite of denial, or of ‘blind faith’.

    Hugs to you 🙂

    • Aleea on November 4, 2017 at 6:17 am

      Thank you Nancy and I apologize for not getting back sooner because *I love* getting comments, from anyone, about anything. So thank you. . . . .The past two days have been such a blur, I haven’t had time to even check the blog (I know, maybe that is excuse making) but posting here, to me, is one of the most meaningful things I do.

      Nancy, remember, you are a cool, fun, in your own words “baby Christian”. I don’t know what kinds of questions you have been asking in the faith communities you have been involved in but if you and I walked into them and loving, kindly, carefully asked them the deepest questions on my heart. . . .well, at first they would “tolerate” them but as those questions lead to “now accepting implications” moments as the standard “party line” responses were shown to be totally inadequate against the actual facts, you would see *very* clearly of what I speak. See for example: “Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery” paperback –by Thomas L. Brodie; and the work of people like Thomas Thompson (totally different Thomas), Niels Peter Lemche, Keith Whitelam, Philip R. Davies, et.al.

      . . . .Thomas Thompson started asking serious questions about the Old Testament thirty years ago. That Thomas, and so many others like him had to do more than just “find another church”. —Nancy, their brothers and sisters in Christ (Christians) tried to destroy them and their careers for even asking those questions and yet today, —today, Thompson is credited with actually originating what would be the overwhelming consensus thirty years later on about the historicity of Moses and the Patriarchs. People did not want to know what was already the true facts. Thompson’s writings “The Historicity of the Patriarchal Narratives” were a critique of the then-dominant view that biblical archaeology had demonstrated the historicity of figures such as Abraham and other Biblical patriarchs. His “The Early History of the Israelite People From the Written and Archaeological Sources” set out his arguments that the O.T. biblical history was (—well, maybe take a look). In “The Mythic Past: Biblical Archaeology and Israel,” he argued that vast sections of the Old Testament were entirely, or almost entirely, a product of the period between the fifth and second centuries B.C. Thompson’s arguments landed him in such hot water that he had to take work as a high school janitor, house painter, until in 1984, he was awarded full professorship at the École Biblique in Jerusalem. . . . .And Thompson states that the École was heavily criticized for even hiring him. Today, what he said, is basically believed by all who are honest and study the facts in peer-reiewed settings. See, for example, Thomas L. Thompson “Biblical Narrative and Palestine’s History” Equinox Publishing. . . . .Okay, so there are tons of examples like that, and worse.

      . . . .Nancy, maybe think about this, if you want to: As Christians, we have made what is in the Bible our entire identity. —I certainly have too!!! That’s why I so like so many here. Once something is part of your (and my) identity, we can no longer objectively evaluate it. Nancy, things that we like, . . . .really, really like, we need to be especially careful of because they are things we *will not* question because they are our identity. However, that is not a reliable way to come to the truth.

      . . . .Alright, I’ll try to do better with what I am saying. —Maybe, look up and watch some of John Crist -Captive Thoughts Comedy Tour- he is this Christian comedian. He is very good at making people laugh, and because of that, people will consider what he is saying. This is the way I say it. . . .

      “—If you want to tell people The Truth, you had better make them laugh, otherwise, —they’ll kill you!!!”

      —Ha, ha, ha, ha. . . .When people laugh together, they tend to talk and touch more and to make eye contact more frequently. It is so, so easy to observe. —Think about what happens when we really, really laugh. Our defenses are down. It is a very Holy-Spirit-like moment. We are completely open, completely ourselves when that message hits the brain and the laugh begins. That’s when new ideas can be implanted!!! Re: “Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew” and on the lighter side “To Believe Is Human: To Doubt, Divine.” . . . .If, at that moment, a new idea slips in, it has a chance to grow. . . .

      I’m not good at making people deeply laugh, but if anyone is, we have some real work God wants us to do. . . .Again, thank you Nancy for your comments. I appreciate them, even when I don’t agree with them❣😊

      Many prayers for you and all that are so hurting. I cry with you too. —I get it, even if my issues are different.
      Aleea 🌷 🌷 🌷 🌷 🌷 💖 💜 💟

  27. Carrie on November 1, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Bravo Leslie. You clearly were led by the Holy Spirit in your answering.

  28. Sandra Lee on November 1, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Dear Leslie: I regret that this counselor is questioning your genuine and godly counseling. I have found it truly vital and biblical, and recommend to others. It appears to me that this other counselor may believe that husbands are to be obeyed and allowed to have “power-over” their wives, even in a controlling and/or abusive manner.

  29. Janet on November 1, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    In response to the counsellor’s questions/comments in this article, I felt the need to respond. I do hope he reads it.
    I want firstly to offer a personal explanation of why I am choosing to respond through the use of marked pointers. It is my hope that this will adequately and understandably address and answer directly, the “Counsellor’s” points/comments whilst separating out, rather complicated experiential learning reasons for my response.

    1. I find writing in this way helps me to see, (think through and state clearly) clarify and express my responses as they are (often) intrinsically linked to my emotions (and have been found to complicate and compromise my verbal reactions/responses). Thus re-affirming my emotions as (being ignored, insignificant) invalid – even, unspiritual/non-Christian; my thoughts – irrational, distorted, paranoid or delusional, my reasons unqualifiable and the facts unrecognisable. firstly, to the relevant sources of support/ help (I have accessed over the years), secondly, to myself, and then to my friends and finally to my family. Rendering my situation/accounts/ evidence (even now) as questionable/ unbelievable/ untrue/ delusional/distorted/ fantasy/ incredible/ disproportionate/ crazy/attention seeking even self-pitying etc.
    I’m still unsure of (and am still working through) the reasons for this. (tbc…)

    [N.B. Aside from Leslie’s scriptural clarifications and her helpful insights, I AM (In reality) COMPLETELY ALONE NOW ON THIS JOURNEY OF (self-spirituality) DISCOVERY, LEARNING AND HEALING. (with respect, no advice is being asked for here).

    Cont…
    1) A) (Maybe because ?) I have a blockage or inability (to make sense of my life, thus far, and the abuse that I experienced and received [for 50 years],) which subsequently effects my verbal clarity and sequentially affects my self- articulation and self-expression, thus making my “mental clarity/stability” questionable (to the above and below-mentioned authoritative categories) and cyclically, failing to secure, for myself, adequate or necessary advice, effective counsel, help or guidance. Previously compounding my feelings of confusion, inadequacy and unworthiness, as to how to help myself without the resources, knowledge or skill to communicate my experiences/situation and no evidential proof of “physical violence” to justify or confirm my fears and concerns for my sanity and personal safety, making it impossible for other people to see/to help/understand/grasp or believe my experiences, thus, perpetuating my situation. I now hold fast to The Lord; His teachings, His guidance (and now I’m able to trust) His promises, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

    Alternatively…
    (Maybe I have been failed?)
    1. B) I have met, each time, (and there have been many) with counsellors and authorities “that need” strict /visual/viable/quantifiable “evidential proof” before they are willing to leave aside their own bias’s, prejudice’s and text book opinions and (usually when they have been proved wrong, and often when it is too late) listen openly and unconditionally, with solid, non judgemental, insight and foundational discernment and wisdom.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH LESLIE FOR BEING A VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS! FOR SPEAKING UP FOR THE VOICELESS, FOR SPEAKING OUT TO THE SILENCED, AND SPEAKING IN TO THE OPPRESSED; FOR BELIEVING WHEN YOU CANNOT SEE AND FOR TRUSTING WHEN YOU DO NOT KNOW!
    It was your personal response to a post I made, (approx. June 2013) in the midst of my professed “confusion” at a time, when I believed I was safe and my (now, ex) husband was “being good to me”…
    that I now understand and believe, saved my life.
    You said ONLY 4 simple words, that shocked me, awake, like a bucket of cold water being thrown in my face; “Run To God Now!”

    2. My 52 years experience, and spiritually based understanding, tells me that this counsellor, in particular, may feel his intentions are pure, and advocating cautious concern; I suggest they are biased, prideful and conclusive. Most of all Harmful and Damaging to the “potentially abused”
    and certainly Empowering to the dominator, controller and abuser, especially the covert manipulator. “The subtle accuser!”
    We know that there are manipulators and abuser’s out there, who deliberately and intentionally twist, misuse and misquote scripture, they will most likely despise and object to Leslie’s advice and counsel, in order to deflect or self-justify, even some, using Leslie’s pages/comments and advice, to manipulate and further their abusive mind games, there will also, most certainly, be many more who now, because of Leslie’s scriptural clarifications and unbiased opening up, uncovering and revelation of truth in the scriptures, (Eschatology?) will be able to view their situation objectively and find the right help to bring truth and healing into their relationship, saving it from destruction. Some I admit, a tiny proportion, may misunderstand Leslie’s advice and get it wrong, exaggerating signals/red-flags etc. for various reasons. Ultimately, however, I believe that the majority, will find confirmation, understanding, insight, wisdom, scriptural clarification, affirmation, validation and most of all TRUTH! (and you shall KNOW THE TRUTH, and the TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE. (Paraphrased from John?)

    3. I was (caught-up in blindness and confusion) 27 years in a covertly abusive marriage (fighting for my sanity, and in vain, for my family and my marriage) to a Covert Narcissistic Psychopath. (I am 4 years free and becoming more sane with every day). Leslie’s scriptural clarifications, advice and counsel have played an integral part in my biblical/scriptural understanding, spiritual growth and godly understanding of attitudes and expectancies within relationships, especially marital and intimate relationships. If The Lord saw fit to bless me with a second chance of being married, I’m certain that I would have a more realistic, healthy and balanced understanding of what to expect (from myself as well as my husband) as well as how to approach and live a more peaceful and successful married life. Moreover, It is again with the help of Leslie’s insight, advice and biblical teachings on certain subjects that I have been able to see, acknowledge, confess, repent, apologise, forgive and grow from the mistakes I made in my marriage, despite the fact that He was the perpetrator, I have been able to see how my brokenness enabled certain scenarios/life events and particular mind sets and attitudes compounded problems and perpetuated events. This understanding in no way blames (the abused) or excuses (the abuser). His choices to abuse, manipulate and deliberately orchestrate “a lifestyle” to purposefully destroy me, at the cost of my (our) children’s emotional, psychological and spiritual stability, stealing my relationship with them, and killing our family/life together, were his intentional decisions, alone, The powers and principalities were obviously at work, I understand this, which is why I continually pray for him, but through his own brokenness and choices he still refuses to look at, acknowledge, accept or take responsibility for his choices and actions, while still justifying, projecting and blaming me because I made the decision. Ultimately a fulfilling his self-proclaimed prophecy.

    3. a) (How do I know that he IS a Covert Narcissistic Psychopath, especially as he has never been assessed nor diagnosed? The Lord has shown me, taught me, explained to me, helped me, guided me and is healing me). Unfortunately, (in the eyes of Counsellors, Christian leaders, Pastors, Preachers, Theologians, lay people, G.P’s, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, or “Qualified Therapists”, and even the police, this does not qualify, validate nor authenticate my knowledge or understanding of this “disorder” (experientially or spiritually).

    4. A reminder here of the issue I will comment on…
    Question #4: I also have to take issue with your description (in your webinar) of Jesus’ primary modelling of headship as that of washing His disciples’ feet. Quite clearly He was teaching them that their apostolic leadership was not to be self-serving, but rather in humility and for the good of those they were leading. But Jesus “the Head” did far more than wash feet. He taught, exhorted, rebuked, counselled, confronted hypocrisy, determined ministry direction, angrily cleared the temple (more than once), and made decisions on behalf of His band of disciples. If Jesus is a model of headship for husbands, they are clearly going to need to be leaders in more dimensions than “washing feet” (i.e. humble service), including the responsibility of being the final “buck-stopper,” in taking responsibility and making decisions. Your statements surrounding that little section (in “5 Red Flags”) emphasized phrases such as “he has no right to….” and “you have the right to…” By not presenting a more balanced picture of headship, and by undue emphasis on “rights” (a Western post-Enlightenment value, not necessarily supported biblically) you can create the misimpression that any husband who takes an active leadership role in his family may be stepping over the line into abusiveness.
    Answer: We can agree to disagree here. I don’t believe Biblical headship means the man has the final say. I’ve been married for 42 years and my husband and I have always worked together to have a mutual say in decision-making. In teaching his disciples about leadership and headship Jesus specifically chose to demonstrate headship using this very example of foot washing. He could have used the cleansing of the temple to talk about leadership and headship but he did not. He also warned his disciples – the future leaders of his Church, that they were not to exercise leadership OVER people like the Gentiles (Mark 10:42). He was clear on this.

    My understanding of this is that Jesus modelled to all of us that we must not have a power objective (heart/mind)attitude.
    Headship/leadership responsibility does not mean “power over/to”
    submitting “weaker vessels” does not mean being beneath, less than, submissive.
    It is my observation, here, that you have both missed this point, and thus come from a subjective “V” power perspective/attitude/mind-set/understanding.

    On this point, “Humble service” and leadership, I would like to comment that a godly husband, in humble service, to his family, and wife must, as you state (counsellor/objector), take the ultimate responsibility, for decision making. Suggesting that it is an authority expectation to make the decisions, while indicating that he is better (godly) equipped to make decisions and is therefore more capable of making the right decision, especially as he would take the rap for it. Thus maintaining the equilibrium in a marital relationship.

    However, as Leslie suggests, a mutual and shared agreement on all decisions is a healthy and balanced approach to relational/marital health/success.

    I would like to share my thoughts on this agreement/disagreement.

    Would there not be scope in a healthy, balanced marital relationship for the husband to have the final say, to be the one who takes the final responsibility, to stop the buck, so to speak, as Jesus did, when He took full responsibility for ALL OUR WRONGS, without judgement, blame or guilt and still chose to lay down his life as a sacrifice to show his love for us all, within both these agreements/disagreements?

    To me this speaks clearly of no blame, no guilt, no shaming, no shame, honourable, humble, self- sacrificial, submitting, yielding, laying down of life, service. For both husband and wife.
    Freely accepting responsibility for all decisions/decision making, especially the ultimate and tough (marital life) threatening, life-decisions, from the husband, as well as self sacrificial acceptance for decisions the wife (does/must) make throughout the marriage, with the ultimate “stop the buck” decision making, humble service, leadership, being the husband’s responsibility, If this decision, inadvertently causes hurt to the husband or the family.
    It speaks clearly also, of wives submitting respectfully and accepting without blame or shaming, when the husband does/must make decisions, especially the final (must-make) decision.
    Clearly this is the “public and private side” of a right and godly authoritative/headship and right godly, marital order.

    With reference to the private side of a godly marital relationship, I’d like to refer to the often misinterpreted and mostly misunderstood scripture, paraphrased here from Ephesians 6 ?…
    Wives respect your husband…
    And husbands love your wife, sacrifice and lay your life down for her, as Christ loved and laid His Life down for the church…
    Ultimately, a loving, humbly serving husband would listen, hear, understand and apologise from his heart, to His wife, (and family if necessary) if she, or the family expressed a hurt resulting from any decision he made, and a loving respectful wife too, would listen, hear, understand and apologise likewise, while also respectfully honouring her husband, and his position as head of the family, without scorn or blame, in all areas of decision making/consequences. She too, would be willing to accept accountability, to listen and wholeheartedly apologise to her husband (and family if necessary) for any decision she made, that inadvertently hurt her husband or the family.
    More-so they must both be readily willing to forgive each other, and themselves, let go of the “hurt” and move forward, growing in wisdom, maturity and love as each issue was overcome, together, in a Christ-like humble and sacrificial/submitting, serving way, Thus honouring God In all things…
    I hope my belief in this being a right and godly attitude for both parties in a marital situation is not idealistic. If it is, Then I am sure My father will either correct me or not give me my heart’s desire in being a successful godly wife, to a loving godly husband.
    God bless to you all.

    • Autumn on November 3, 2017 at 8:02 am

      Excellent post!

  30. Nina on November 1, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    Leslie,
    I so appreciate the response you had to the counselor’s questions. Yes, I have had problems with counselors about my Emotionally Destructive marriage. I believe the first counselor believed me, but when my husband came for joint counseling, the counselor was intimidated by him and would not confront about the abusive behavior.
    Because of that I sought another counselor and asked him before making an appt., would he be able to confront about the abuse and how did he handle it with prior clients. His answers were good. But again when my husband joined us for joint counseling, he never confronted about the abuse, nor did he ever give the gospel to him as he said he was too prideful.
    After I listened to your video and with the Lord’s leading, I stopped the joint counseling as it was only reopening wounds God was healing and empowered my husband. It was a dead end street. I also opted out of the individual counseling as it wasn’t helpful.
    Leslie, I have found your counsel on line and through Conquer to be so much more helpful than any personal counseling.
    I also listen to Patrick Doyle who you may be acquainted with on Utube and have been so blessed by his ministry also. God has used the two of you to help being me to a place of wholeness. My husband and I have been separated for over a year and I am doing so well.
    Also, I wanted to add that when I watched one of Patrick Doyle’s videos about how would he know if a woman was telling the truth about abuse in her marriage. He replied that if a woman came to him and was distraught about the way she was being treated, he always believed her.
    Thank you Leslie for standing firm and defending us in this ministry God has given you!!!!!!!God’s blessings and prayers.
    Nina

  31. Alene on November 1, 2017 at 6:43 pm

    I appreciate that this counsellor took the time to write respectfully and share his or her concerns, questions, and input. If a person has a concern or question or input, it is wise and good to go to the other person in an open, honest, humble way to share. He did. I sincerely hope the counsellor takes the time to read this blog and senses that his words are treated with respect. I hope the counsellor finds good things to glean. I know how hard it was for me to grapple with these questions.

    The counsellor is in a situation where someone seems to be handling things in a ‘negative way’. There isn’t unfortunately any definition of what that ‘negative way’ is; it is an unknown. It is always possible for someone to make poor choices even with the best material. It is also easy for the wife to be misunderstood for a variety of reasons.

    The counsellor said it was hard to find ‘constructive solutions’ to the ‘marriage struggles’ as a result. The question becomes; is it a marriage struggle or isn’t it? If there is abuse or destructive behaviors, it likely is not a marriage struggle. It is a wife struggling with abuse or destructive behaviors. Leslie wisely says that in such cases mutual counselling is not advised. I approached my situation for years for help with the marriage. Lightbulb. It wasn’t a marriage problem; it was a problem that affected the marriage.

    I hear the counsellor’s input: why not give a caution? Usually and you can hear it in many of the words above, the woman is too cautious, not wanting to go that direction, tolerating so long that the effects on her, the children, and others have multiplied. One counsellor steered me clear of the word ‘abuse’; it doesn’t matter what you call it, you can use the term ‘peanuts’ she said. I understood that she was saying that to use the term abuse can put up walls because it is a strong word. You can hear in words above well, ok, what if the wife describes situations instead? Well, recognizing truth in this area is hard: it doesn’t matter if a word is used or a description is used. It is hard to get it into the light. Truth statements and descriptions can provide light that doesn’t blind the other person but helps them see. Stating that the behavior falls under a label of destruction or abuse also has it’s place. Wisdom is always needed.

    Will there be some that jump to using labels and throwing accusations rather than addressing real marital problems? I am sure. The counsellor is the one on the ground and must have discernment and skill; not to miss what could be happening as well as not to allow wild accusations. It isn’t going to hurt to have separate sessions as part of the discernment process.

    I well know that if there is real tension, the wife does not feel free to be open. That brings back memories! I have appreciated Leslie’s help with CORE strength. I needed that. I couldn’t stand up for what was good without it. I couldn’t wait for my husband to listen (someone caught in destructive behaviors isn’t in a place to listen, too much pride and blindness), I couldn’t wait for pastors to help (they really weren’t equipped or able), the best help I had was from older women teaching me how to heal and how to speak up and stand stronger (and even then, it’s hard).

    Is it possible for someone to be overly sensitive from their past? yes. My husband viewed women with a strange twist and distrust because of how he internalized how his mom was a wife. Was I what he thought I was? no. The same thing happened with a certain personality type because of his dad; my husband’s perspective was tainted. A good counsellor asks, listens, explores, discovers.

    Rights. Could the word be ‘responsibility’? What choices or responsibilities does the wife have before God? God calls her an ‘ezer’ a term translated warrior every time except Proberbs 31. The women in Jesus geneology did not get there by being passive and letting men do whatever they wanted. What responsibility doesn’t the husband have? he doesn’t have the responsibility or right to think for his wife, to belittle her, and so on.

    Dear counsellor. Ask. Listen. Learn.

    • Tim on November 3, 2017 at 9:25 am

      Good thoughts, thanks!

  32. Heather on November 1, 2017 at 6:56 pm

    I was married for 30 years, and left my spouse after seeing him watch porn on our office computer. I didn’t “feel it” or “suspect it”–I saw it ( I had seen it for 30 years, kept hoping, praying, tried to set boundaries). Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage helped me to come to grips with the REALITY that I was living in a fantasy, HOPING that things would change (and I had to face my own character deficits, co-dependency, anger.) Her checklist in the book (I checked 95% of the characteristics of abuse) helped me to have the “courage to change.” My ex was diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, alcoholism, and sexual addiction. Leslie helped me to find my way out of that sad and hopeless relationship and I heartily thank her for detailing WHAT abuse looks like, and how to “stay well” or “leave well.” Please read her books, articles, and blogs, asking the Lord to open yourr heart and mind to her experience and expertise. BTW, I had a wonderful MALE counselor lead me through the pain + process of divorce. I am indebted to these caring + insightful professionals!

  33. Jenny on November 1, 2017 at 7:22 pm

    Here are some positive and negative experiences and some things I think I did well in and others that I struggled in (all over a year and a half of serious counseling, and meetings with our church):

    – i first called the women’s ministry leader to admit that i was being abused. I told it tearfully and fearfully. I felt like i was betraying my husband and was terrified of what that would me between me and God, would anyone believe me, etc… I came to this realization before I ever heard of Leslie Vernick, in fact the only stuff available was on Focus on the family, but it was specific enough to tell me the truth of my experience and force me to not lie or deny.
    – the church called me in for meetings, I wish they had come to my house
    – the first meetings were with the woman and then a pastor (close friend of my husband), I shook all the way into the building as I pushed my child in a stroller, I was terrified, terrified my husband would learn of my “betrayal” and that he would certainly, finally beat me
    – the church delayed, postponed, rescheduled meetings, I was one of other crisises, yet I felt my life in danger and had no family or friends to turn to (I was isolated)
    – I was referred by the female leader to EMDR therapy, only for myself, my meeting with that counselor confirmed the abuse, though her (a doctor and lead trainer in the state for EMDR) was “oh my goodness, he had been abusing you, but then, you already know that don’t you” and I wept aloud – relieved to hear the words and absolutely devastated at this terrible reality within my christian marriage that was meant to last a lifetime
    -I had spent 2-3 months prior to that meeting denying and accepting and denying until there was nothing I could do. Again no Leslie Vernick or Dr Langberg for a few more months.

    In short, I appreciated the concern of the church, but they did not protect me and the way they conducted their meetings (lots of meetings, no decisions, no resources, more men brought in, betrayal of confidence), well it all got messy. Looking back I marvel at God’s mercy to show me the truth so early and to give me the courage to press on with the truth, even when I could hardly face it myself. I was bringing the misdeeds of darkness to light in the hope that God would grant repentance, he would come to his senses and not be held captive by the devil to do his will (2 Timothy).

    What helped with counseling and what did not:

    Going to separate counselors kept me mentally, physically and emotionally safe. When we later a marriage counselor, his abuse, on the way home, in the home, in the waiting room, on emails, oh, it was awful and it was even in front of the children (none of it physical).
    -He cried and cried in counseling, saying he was sorry, saying he wanted his family back, saying he was devastated by what I had done. But as one renowned male Christian marriage counselor said to him, those years were for himself only and he was not showing any contrition or sadness for the state that his wife was in. To which my husband replied “her tears mean nothing to me, and they haven’t for a long time. I feel nothing for her”. The hardness of heart was unbelievable.

    – The most hurtful thing with counselor and male pastors and female church leaders was that when I found Leslie Vernick and Dr Langberg and Focus on the Famiky, I sent the resources and they never read any of it. They told me, “we’ve got this”. But if I, who had been married for years had not seen it, couldn’t and wouldn’t see it, and could hardly unpack it, then how could they see it in a few minutes of a meeting with a man crying – and of course a man exposed by his wife, and crying was too painful for the other men to bear and my calm reserve looked like a cold woman who was a feminist and who was out for blood. The truth is that when I was with the pastors privately, they asked me to give details of sexual abuse and when I did they never confronted my husband along with me in the room, as they said they would. I was thrown to the wolves and man was there he’ll to pay on my way home. They believe the husband outed and shamed. The truth is, I had called one woman, who called in the friend/pastor, who spoke with three other male pastors without my permission (men whom Inhad never met at this large respected church), who then referred me to a counselor, who then called with them to my personal counselor to check on my mental health. Afterall, I had said “abuse”. It must be a lie, there must be something mentally wrong with me. Either I’m crazy, or they assumed I was so proud spiritually to judge my husband’s sin and not talk of my own.

    I really wish they had believed me, for the safety of myself, my children and for my future view of the church – I still deal with deep wounds from their lack of protection, leadership, advocacy, mercy, courage and refusal to own any mistakes.

    I have the most sincere hope that you, dear counselor, will be able to unpack and find the treasures in Christ’s teaching on abuse. I hope for this so that more men and women will not have to go through what I went through.

    I will say this, there were two counselors, Of the three we saw. And when the counselor called my husband on his lack of empathy, his total and unrepentant hard heartedness and when they refused to be drawn in by his emotional charade – he got so angry at their implied refusal to believe him that he stormed out and quit the counseling. That was the safest and best thing that ever happened to me. It did not help the marriage last, but the marriage was already killed by abuse and my husband wanted out. He had abandoned me years before mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and sexually. The only reason we were still married was cause I hoped God would answer my prayers for brokennes and repentance and change in my husband. His answer was, “no”.

    My life is not easier, I struggle financially. I am exhausted with three girls under 9, two with medical special needs. But, I have a clear mind in what I read from scripture, I have a clear conscious that I fought for my hisband’s hesrt mind and soul, I know that he abandoned me, though he forced me to file. And I know that even if I have this whole thing wrong, Jesus will still accept me into his kingdom based on his actions for me and not my own. I am safe, my children are growing up in a home with truth and love and as such this foundation is helping them see the lies (however painful) when they are with their father.

    I would do it all again, be pregnant and separated, just to see my husband repent. But I accept God’s answer. What I am passionate for is seeing good helpers come along women and help them live out God’s kingdom wayang onnthis earth, to see them equip women with the truth of Jesus’ good news so that they can see and believe that he died for their soul, not for two gold rings and the reputation of marriage – even though it is a most honorable estate.

    I struggle today – not with the damage of years of emotional, verbal, mental, spiritual, financial and social control, or even of marital sexual abuse. I feel quite redeemed and continue to heal in even deeper ways as I go along. Instead, I struggle so much with the abandonment, disbelief, patronizing, self-preserving, and well-intentioned efforts of Christian counselors and church leaders during the years of my marriage, separation and divorce. I did not and do not live in a small town, I went to privileged white churches where nearly everyone was highly educated, and the churches taught with strong theology and pastors had years of seminary training, not to mention the degrees behind the counselors. And we were in large influential cities, in the suburbs. And so I hope my words sound as a plea for you to listen and as a hope that all will be sorted by God, as you wrestle with his truth, as expressed through people like Leslie and others.

    In closing, my mom, last week said that she wished there were male teachers like Leslie who pastors could listen to and I said no, therein lies the problem. My father, a pastor/missionary, himself very conservative and respectful of the role of male pastors absolutely disagreed with her, saying he was once one of those men. But, he has had to do a lot of reading and listening to learn about abuse and compare it to scripture and he says the lack of credibility of abused woman by Christian counselors and pastors makes his stomach Church, that the patronizing, lording over and demanding must stop as it is not like Christ at all. That until then, more women will not only be abused in their homes but will be then abused by more men in their churches as they come out of the shadows.

    He still had hope for pastors and churches, my hope had almost been irreparably damaged by what I went through – though I am a church member and attend church every Sunday. My heart is crushed still in so many pieces and writing tonight is a way for me to pick up one more piece and hope that telling my story will make a difference.

    Sincerely,

    Jenny

    • Remedy on November 1, 2017 at 9:16 pm

      Wonderfully written testimony, Jenny, tho heartbreaking this is reality in so many churches.

    • Roxanne on November 2, 2017 at 12:33 am

      You had my heart at the mention of pushing a stroller to the church “meetings”. I am so glad you are free now. You are a brave and strong woman. Good job rescuing yourself and your children.

      Walk tall dear sister, your loving heart is very evident.

      • Roxanne on November 2, 2017 at 12:36 am

        Oh, one more comment. Jenny, the church leaders were mandatory reporters. They failed you terribly by not reporting your husband to the police and child protective services.

    • Content on November 2, 2017 at 8:19 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story, Jenny. Praying for continued healing for you and God’s provision for your family.

    • Content on November 2, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Oh, Jenny…I thought of something I wanted to ask. You said your daughters were able to see the lies when with their father because of growing up in a home with truth and love. If you are up for it, would you mind expounding on this? Specifically, I’m wondering if you’ve spoken in detail to them about your divorce and why you divorced, etc. Or have you just brought them up speaking the truth and loving them with Jesus’ love and they can see the difference? Have they specifically spoken to things they have noticed while with their father? Thanks so much…..I guess I ask because I do pray and hope that one day, my children will understand why I have chosen this path.

  34. Barbara on November 1, 2017 at 7:36 pm

    I have a suggestion for the counselor in the original post. Given your discomfort, concerns, and questions, perhaps it would be best for you to withdraw from clients who bring up the topic of abuse. Refer them to a counselor who specializes in abuse and therefore has experience and skills in dealing with the concerns you raise. Marriage counseling and abuse counseling are two separate sub-disciplines with vastly different assessment tools and treatment protocols. Let the abuse experts deal with abuse while you focus on marriage work.
    I wonder if others on this site agree with this idea: A good marriage counselor won’t be a very good abuse counselor. Your thoughts?

    • Roxanne on November 2, 2017 at 12:21 am

      What an excellent response! I agree.

    • Nancy on November 2, 2017 at 4:46 am

      Totally agree, Barbara!

    • Wande on November 2, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      I completely agree. After experiencing ten years of marital rape (violent sex that left me sore and incontinent for days, pressure to have sex constantly-sometimes multiple times a day, being woken up at all hours of the night for sex, my husband having sex with me in my sleep, etc) I finally insisted that we go to a marriage consellor. The counsellor’s solution was to have my husband and I dim the lights, turn on music, pour some wine and share our hearts so my husband could learn what true intimacy is. When I commented that this seemed like sending a tape victim back to her abuser for more sex, so he could learn to do it right, he clarified that it didn’t ‘sound like’; it was exactly what was required. I said thanks but no thanks. The only person who believes me is my Pastor. My husband has convinced multiple therapists that he is really a nice guy who just made a few mistakes. The harm that has been done to me in this process is immense. I’m not even sure what my next steps should be.

      • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 5:47 pm

        Wande,
        I’m so sorry! The advice given to your husband was very harming and layered more trauma. I’m so glad your pastor believes you.
        Your h would thinks of himself as a nice guy doesn’t have an ounce of healthy insight to see that ‘nice guys’ don’t objectify and horribly abuse what they have commited to love and cherish a person made in ‘God’s Image’
        It’s a sin against God.

        This is posted at many ‘Elementary schools’; I find it helpful in making a clear point to an underdeveloped and developing behavioral thinking:

        Is it Bullying?

        When someone says or does something ‘unintentionally hurtful’ and they do it once, that’s RUDE.
        When someone says or does something ‘intentionally hurtful’ and they do it once, that’s MEAN.
        When someone says or does something ‘intentionally hurtful’ and they KEEP doing it even when you tell them to stop or show them that you’re upset, that’s BULLYING!

        Children need to be taught these principles early on. Otherwise unfortunately they grow into big children with similar patterns and issues.

        • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 7:34 pm

          Aly and Wande
          Aly that’s a very clear, identifying philosophy to hold to. I wish I’d have had that advice or insight at any point in my life. Especially to share with my kids.
          I will try to bear it in mind for future understandings of right and wrong behavioural clarifications.
          Unfortunately, I only have the Lord as my model for relationships. Not that this in itself is a problem, more that I have never, as yet, known a healthy relationship, or had a positive role model, for myself. I believe I am just moving into them, but only time will reveal this. And Now I have the Lord on my side and teaching me, guiding and leading me, along with this resourceful site, I’m learning 52 years worth of lessons in super quick time. (7 years in Christ) I am now stronger and healthier, emotionally and and psychologically, than I ever was, or could have been without the Lord in my life. and I have a place to unlock my thoughts, to check and weigh them, soberly, where non judgemental individuals, read, hear and share their thoughts and experiences too, helping me sort and categorize my thinking, (without them even knowing or trying)in the process. Thank you Ladies.

          Wande
          Your suffering must have been terrible. Trust that where you are now is not where you will stay. Hopefully you are free now? and with the Lord’s help, you will heal and grow from this. Romans 8. We are more than conqueror’s …and He works ALL things, together for the good of those who Love Him and are called for His purposes. That’s you Wande. and me…and every sufferer of abuse! God hates abuse! and Leslie gave a perfect example of this recently in a post commenting on the husband’s behaviour and attitude towards his concubine (In Judges). Leslie if you read this, can you somehow, insert it/the reference to look it up, for Wande, Please? I hope you will be uplifted and encouraged Wande. You are beautiful! NO ONE has the right to do what your husband did. No “good” counsellor, who understands abuse, would ever suggest something like your counselor did. That’s despicable! and sadly, I would have tried it… You were wise or HURT enough to know this was bad advice. (There i go again, I would not have seen the immediate bad advice, had that been suggested to me). Until you continued by sharing your horror and reasons, I was (caught) in my thinking that this was a good idea, apart from the wine part, as my experience tells me that alcohol involvement often causes complications when trying to explain or have heart to hearts. Thank you Wande, for showing me the wrong in this thinking! Wow! I am shocked at my own thinking tonight! I really am still vulnerable! and have a way to go.
          Wande, one day at a time, don’t think too far ahead. Be who you are, and let the Lord guide, lead and heal you. Keep following this website and Learning from Leslie, you will soon be flying again and even soaring on Eagle’s wings!

      • Ruth on November 11, 2017 at 3:44 pm

        Wande,
        He is a torturerer NOT nice or kind at all. I pray you will be delivered from this evil SOON. I am so glad there will no sex in heaven.
        God is near to the broken hearted. 💕

    • Karen on November 2, 2017 at 9:05 pm

      I totally agree that this person should step down to counsel non-abuse issues!
      A marriage counselor should be able to discern this and separate the two things out. At the root of this lies heart issues.
      I heard one counselor who gets this say, “I can take one look at the wife who comes into my office and see exactly how her husband has been treating her.” If the husband is loving her like Christ loves the church, she would not look like the walking dead.

  35. Tim on November 1, 2017 at 11:22 pm

    Thank you, Ladies, for your heartfelt, passionate, and articulate responses to my comments and questions directed at Leslie. Two limitations of this kind of interaction is that I cannot describe the examples I used in detail, nor do any of you know anything about me other than what Leslie quoted. Actually I am well aware of abuse, it’s various manifestations, and it’s deceptiveness. For many years I and my family faced death and other threats from angry husbands of abused women whom we had “freed” and relocated, sometimes with new identities, in the course of our ministry. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; Who can know it?” (Jer. 17:9). And yes I am well aware that abusers can be first rate performers. But they aren’t the only ones. We all are prone to perfect our performances when it comes to sins we love and self-justification.

    With the above in mind, let me say I am all on board with Leslie’s goals, I have a high estimation of her expertise, and I would not want to denigrate or trivialize the horrific experiences you all have been through. I have risked my own life and the safety of my family to help abused women, and I am on your side. Which is why I have tried to point out to Leslie some gaps in the presentation of her material, which if addressed could I would hope enhance her credibility.

    Recently a friend introduced me to a website dedicated to the dangers of gluten. On it I was told if I experienced headaches, stomach pain, muscle weakness, asthma, skin rashes, etc., most likely gluten was the culprit. In the comments and the administrator’s responses to those comments, I noticed that any “diagnosis” which didn’t ultimately arrive at the conclusion that gluten was to blame was denigrated and discarded. Please understand this is an analogy and don’t blow it up to be anything else.

    My intent in writing to Leslie was my concern that her website, webinars (the ones I watched), and books tended toward the above danger. In other words, one might receive the impression that in any struggling marriage, where husband and wife are in conflict, or in any situation where a woman is feeling demeaned, confused, controlled, etc., if the woman herself and those trying to help her didn’t come to the conclusion that “abuse” was the culprit, this was evidence of lack of discernment, lack of compassion, ignorance, and a variety of other failures.

    So to respond to Leslie and some of your comments…
    1. Various studies indicate approx. 40% of partner abuse in the English speaking West (i.e. N. America, UK, Australia) is inflicted by women upon men. I realize Leslie’s focus is women, but a clear acknowledgment of the above fact in prominent view, and the inclusion of more examples of how men are abused, will enhance her credibility and guard her from the charge of sexism.

    2. Inaccurate perceptions of being abused (whether among males or females) are not isolated incidents, and as I pointed out, there are multiple reasons why people “feel” abused when in fact it may not be happening. Many situations are mutually abusive. That “fact” doesn’t in any way discredit or minimize the experiences of those who truly are being abused. But I have found in the course of counseling that the more pain and confusion someone is experiencing, the less objective and accurate their observations are about what is happening to them. Yes feelings are important in alerting counselors that “something is wrong here”, but they are not necessarily reliable indicators of what that “something” is…which is why a counselor’s diagnostic work is anything but simple – just like a physician diagnosing stomach aches can’t simply jump to the conclusion that gluten is at fault. A counselor has an ethical responsibility to beware of his or her own assumptions and the assumptions he or she may be inadvertently encouraging in client perception. I would never want to rule out abuse, but I would want to have as much objective evidence as possible before concluding “abuse” was the issue and confronting someone with that conclusion. Please reference the 9th Commandment. It’s there for a reason. And I believe Leslie’s credibility can only be enhanced by clearly posting that “abuse” is not the only cause for the conflicts and emotions and hurts which exist in a marriage relationship.

    3. Lastly, about headship and submission, Leslie makes several hermeneutical “leaps” in her discussion on this point (*hermeneutics deal with accepted principles of interpreting the Bible). Faulty hermeneutics lead to flawed theology, which in turn can lead to mistaken applications. Make no mistake, Jesus (and the other NT writers) clearly articulated a style of leadership characterized by humility and service, not domination, manipulation, or harm. But it is still leadership, and the words Paul and Peter specifically chose in their marital instructions in Eph. 5, Col. 3, and I Pet. 3 (words translated “head”, “submit”, “respect”, etc. paint an unmistakable picture of the husband’s responsibility (not privilege) to take initiative and lead in far more ways than “washing feet” (or it’s modern day equivalent). Rather than argue this point in detail here, I would refer you to the most helpful description found in the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’s Danvers Statement (found here: https://cbmw.org/about/danvers-statement/).

    A caution: Jesus’ foot washing demonstration in context, was a response to the disciples’ ongoing bickering over who among them was to be preeminent in the Kingdom. Yes, overarching principles were intended there, but it is not intended to be the primary prescription for marriage patterns that Eph. 5, Col. 3, and I Pet. 3 are intended to be. But it is also instructive to see how the Apostles applied Jesus’ lesson to their leadership patterns in the church, especially Peter (Acts 1:15ff, 2:14ff, 5:1ff, 6:2ff, etc.). Their exercise of authoritative leadership is unmistakable – even to the extent of “sentencing” Ananias and Sapphira to death, and in asserting, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables…”

    My encouragement in this regard to Leslie is not to let the very real scourge of “abuse” cause her to lose sight of a truly balanced and biblical understanding of headship and submission, but rather to help both men and women to replace “counterfeits” on both extremes with God’s Truth, which ultimately will be most effective in creating healthy patterns of marital blessing.

    Thanks again to you all and Leslie for your interaction. May God give you all the strength and wisdom you need to pursue healthy marriages free of abuse and dysfunction.

    • Roxanne on November 2, 2017 at 12:17 am

      Tim, Are you familiar with Dr. Stark’s writings on coercive control?

      Have you read Lundy Bancroft’s work?

      I think you percentages and comparisons are off base. Tell me about the women who are addicted to porn. Huh…not many, right? Tell me about the percentage of women who sexually abuse their partners? Huh…no comparison, right?

      • Marianne on November 2, 2017 at 12:51 am

        Great point about Lundy Bancroft – excellent books by him. Helped me tremendously.

      • Tim on November 2, 2017 at 2:29 am

        Are you disputing something I wrote above? Or trying to make some other point? It’s not clear.

        • Roxanne on November 2, 2017 at 9:11 am

          Have you read or studied the writings of the experts I mentioned?

    • Marianne on November 2, 2017 at 12:54 am

      Tim,
      The best thing you can do at this point is your own work on your own story. Be curious about why you feel the need to defend yourself with all the work you’ve done to help others. Seriously, please do your own work.

    • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 9:18 am

      Tim,

      I’m a bit confused on your biblical perspective of an ‘example of leadership in relation to the church authority’ you wrote below;

      ” But it is also instructive to see how the Apostles applied Jesus’ lesson to their leadership patterns in the church, especially Peter (Acts 1:15ff, 2:14ff, 5:1ff, 6:2ff, etc.). Their exercise of authoritative leadership is unmistakable – even to the extent of “sentencing” Ananias and Sapphira to death, and in asserting, “It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables…”

      The death (which happened to each of them Independently~ more on that later) was about the seriousness of ‘deception’.

      Their deception was motivated from them committing Fraud by pretending to be something they are not and ‘using God’s platform to do it in’
      This was the seriousness of the offense. They were looking for the praise of ‘people’ over the praise of God~ which was upside down. My context and understanding was that God wanted to use them as a clear example of what He knows fully in secret.

    • Barbara on November 2, 2017 at 1:42 pm

      Tim,

      The potential for misuse of Leslie’s material does not create a credibility issue for Leslie. It creates a credibility issue for the people who are misusing the material. Perhaps your efforts toward improving the credibility of others could bring about better results for you if you would contact those people who are misusing the material and offer corrective suggestions to them.
      I really don’t see anything in Leslie’s work that could reasonably be said to put anyone in danger. I don’t see Leslie putting shameful words on anyone. I wonder why you feel there is danger and failure here? I don’t think it’s coming from Leslie.
      If people don’t think Leslie has credibility or if someone is accusing Leslie of being sexist, I don’t think that’s a problem for Leslie as much as it is a problem for the naysayers and accusers. There is plenty of evidence in Leslie’s work that would more that adequately refute either of those concerns. The same is true for someone who has inaccurate perceptions of being abused. All that person has to do is to read what Leslie teaches on that topic. This information is very easy to find on the blog and in her books.
      It seems to me that you might think Leslie is somehow responsible for the thoughts and feelings of other people. I find her teaching quite balanced and biblical so it’s surprising to me that you fear extremism and counterfeit doctrine. If you have eyes to see and ears to hear, you will know that you have nothing to fear from Leslie’s work.

      • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 2:03 pm

        Barbara, & Tim,

        Barbara I see your position and you wrote this;
        “I find her teaching quite balanced and biblical so it’s surprising to me that you fear extremism and counterfeit doctrine. ”

        Tim can you please respond to the above because I am unclear that… that is or was your original concern?
        If it is, or not…I would like clarity.

        My response to much of what I have seen and experienced myself is that the fear or concern of influence is of empowering a wife predominantly to use her position as EZer in a healthy manner and bring about the greatest possible change through the change in herself ‘first’!
        Not saying that the outcome is always what we hope for but that God can be trusted with it.

        Also any fear or concern for the healthy empowering of the woman could be because the woman can shift the balance of power to a healthier posture.
        The power struggles are not the same dynamic. I’m speaking from my own experiences here.

        My husband fought this for a long time:) he really preferred the unhealthy level of power that he had in our marriage and wasn’t going to give it up willinging… especially when it serves one so well in their destructive patterns.

        • Barbara on November 2, 2017 at 4:36 pm

          Hi Aly,
          I quoted from Tim’s earlier post:
          “My encouragement in this regard to Leslie is not to let the very real scourge of “abuse” cause her to lose sight of a truly balanced and biblical understanding of headship and submission, but rather to help both men and women to replace “counterfeits” on both extremes with God’s Truth, which ultimately will be most effective in creating healthy patterns of marital blessing.”
          How encouraging to hear that your husband has worked hard in overcoming his fear. I’m glad you shared that!

        • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 4:58 pm

          Aly thank you for asking for clarification.
          I do agree and fully understand your final paragraph. If you have managed to find balance in your once abusive/power struggled marriage I commend you, and your husband. (sorry I do not know your back story).
          your comments, here, certainly sound like it was a successful outcome.

          • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 7:27 pm

            Janet,
            Thank you;) I’m grateful for all the resources and the amazing Godly counselors that are out there.
            By far we are walking our journey DAiLY…and will be for the rest of our days. Neither one of us wants to return to the non-marriage we technically had for a long time.
            My husband has been working hard to become the man & father God calls him to be. Pride, immaturity and plenty of family of origin issues created a huge Battle for his Godly mAnhood and restored heart ~ that once had a very inaccurate view of who God was.
            I fought hard as his Ezer but I didn’t fight alone 🤗💕

            We hope to be used to bless others and give an Glory to God that can encourage so many hurting and dysfunctional dynamics.

            I won’t expand via this post, but our journey has brought some amazing blessings and healing as well as costing us in areas we were not prepared for, but the Lord had been faithful.💜



          • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 7:54 pm

            Aly
            I can truly imagine what unexpected costs this journey has caused you,(purely because of my own “costly” and valuable journey) and the Lord will restore and repay everything that is laid aside for him. Every sacrifice we make in His name will be remembered! whether it was a willing or unwilling!
            God is no man’s debtor!
            I am encouraged and find hope in the fact that there are marriages saved, relationships restored and really some godly but broken men, willing to love their wife (Ezer) enough to lay aside his pride and recognise that he needs help and then reaches out and accepts it! and also that His wife, His helpmeet, is actually FOR HIM, not against him.
            I reckon, any man/or woman, unwilling to look at themselves in the light of Jesus Christ, and not be willing to lay aside their beliefs, attitudes, thoughts and behaviours, in exchange for His, and listen wholeheartedly to HIS/HER spouse, bearing their burden, (hearing their pain about what is wrong in the marital relationship) is not actually IN CHRIST, and simply just claims to be to further their own end. Let no man do anything out of selfish ambition! God opposes pride! and lifts up the humble!



        • Tim on November 3, 2017 at 9:57 pm

          Sorry for the delay in answering your question, Aly. In Leslie’s webinar “5 Red Flags…” she uses the example of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet to support the premise that “headship” = selfless service, period. She defends that position in this blog post, essentially denying that a husband’s “headship” includes any authority component whatsoever.

          Let me share what I wrote to Leslie in response to that assertion:

          Imagine applying for the job of being a store manager. In your interview the owner states, “We’re looking for someone willing to pitch in and help wherever help is needed. You cannot consider any job beneath your dignity.” That statement doesn’t mean all you would be doing as manager is to run around pitching in where help is needed. No, you would still need to do all the work of a manager – hiring, firing, setting work standards, resolving problems, making decisions about sales goals, etc. The above statement simply defines the attitude with which the owner wants his manager to work.

          In the same way, the point of Jesus’ foot-washing lesson was the attitude with which He wanted the Apostles to do their leading. But they still needed to fulfill all the other normal functions of a leader or “head”. The fallacy of your position is that you’re trying to force the passage to say what it does not say, that “foot-washing” is the only defining role of a biblical leader. A more accurate portrayal or paradigm of leadership (or “headship” if you prefer) is the one most often repeated in the New Testament – that of “shepherd” (John 10, 21, I Peter 5) – one who protects, cares for,…and yes proactively leads for the good of the sheep, as well as doing the menial jobs involved. If you were to reference this paradigm, there is no contradiction with Eph. 5:22-33 and other teachings on headship within marriage.

          In John 10 Jesus compares “the Good Shepherd” and “the hireling”. Peter also outlines the distinctives of an “integritous” shepherd in 1 Pet. 5. Scripturally and theologically, all those requirements can be applied to a husband’s headship…i.e. there is absolutely no room for abuse of authority…but there is authority.

          I hope this clarifies.

          • Aly on November 3, 2017 at 10:09 pm

            Tim,

            I think you have the wrong comment associated with my name.
            So no it does not clarify because I didn’t comment any fallacy of leadership.

            My question, which has still gone unanswered was…. Do you think you are ‘sensitive’ to these emotional abuse dynamics and the people involved?



          • Marie on November 3, 2017 at 10:12 pm

            Tim,

            I figured out why it’s so hard for me to read your responses on this blog. Your approach to our lives reminds me of the bludgeoning by emails and statistics my ex used to use to try to prove his superiority. Since I’ve separated and divorced I’ve learned the power of the delete button.

            I will ask one question – and it’s rhetorical. Does even one husband or ex described by any of the amazingly courageous women on this blog sound like the kind of man that was going to hear Jesus calling him to any kind of appropriate authority?



          • Connie on November 3, 2017 at 10:27 pm

            What is wrong with a husband and wife being simply partners? Why do the men always insist on finding ‘authority’ somewhere where it isn’t? What are they so afraid of? “Someone has to have the last word.” Really? What happened to praying until both hear from God the same thing, thus being confirmation for each other that both are being led by the spirit? Why do women supposedly need someone to have ‘authority’ over them so badly? Jesus and Paul both said not to lord it over others.

            http://margmowczko.com/kephale-and-male-headship-in-pauls-letters/



          • JoAnn on November 12, 2017 at 7:39 pm

            Tim, I agree with your suggestion that Shepherd is a much better example of how a husband should be taking the role of headship in a marriage. The verses related to submission and authority have been much misunderstood and misused over many centuries.
            Another point I would like to make regarding your concerns about Leslie’s advice regarding abuse is that as I read the comments from all the women here, I can see how her advice is taken is very healthy ways. These women encourage one another to “lean on the Lord,” “go to the Lord,” “develop CORE strength,” “seek the Lord’s enlightenment as to how your own behavior might be contributing to the problem,” and “what is your part in the dance?” This tells me that what she presents here is very balanced and is taken in a balanced way. There is very little ranting here, and very little direct advice; mostly it is to seek help, keep safe, however you can, and sometimes to get away from the situation so you can see things more
            clearly. The women here have endured much, and I love them all. I also appreciate that you are involved in helping abused men and women find peace and safety. Praise the Lord for that.



      • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 4:51 pm

        Barbara
        Well said Barbara for picking up and pointing out the credibility issue. I noticed it yet you have thought to suggested a far better option and solution for Tim to consider, if he is at all concerned, than I would have done.

    • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Tim

      Thank you for your explanation of intentions and clarification on particular areas. I, for one, appreciate this particular post.
      I have actually spent all day, (again) carefully wording a response that I felt was needed, to speak into the initial posting and responses over the last 2 days. Speaking from an overall summary, taking a bird-eye (godly) perspective, regarding everyone’s comments, even my own. I guess the Lord must not have wanted it posting, (maybe it wasn’t from his perspective after all?) or maybe it was? and the enemy stole it… I don’t know. I do know I clicked the wrong button and lost it, as i was explaining that i should have said EXEGESIS, not ESCHATOLOGY, while thanking you for your clear definition. I was wrong either way with the word I chose to express what I thought Leslie did with scriptures.

      Nevertheless, I do want to say, in a very different way now, that although I take your points/ concerns and can understand them, as I myself have, on occasion, had concerns that sometimes the advice “seems” at first reading, to advocate divorce and “could” potentially lead to some husbands being called on abuse, when in fact, It’s not the case. As well as concerns for the relationships that are simply stuck in a power struggle, (and can very easily sound/look like domination/ abuse) due to the very nature of the misunderstandings of scriptural interpretation/teachings, discussed here, as well as the (damaging generational) mind-sets (Patriarchal/ Matriarchal/Feminist/de-masculinization/Misogynistic etc. passed down, that can affect heart attitudes. However, I must agree with Leslie, OVERALL. Being wrong in Empowering 1 abuser/oppressor, and thus perpetuating and compounding an already abusive situation, Is without doubt, catastrophic and far more reaching! and unthinkable! Whether the abuser/perpetrator is male or female!
      (As what happened to me, and many others, as you have now read and hopefully can see for yourself). I hope you would be in agreement to this.
      Below is a quick summary of my reasons and thinking

      ABUSE DOES NOT HAVE A GENDER!
      ABUSE IS NOT GENDER SPECIFIC!
      ABUSE IS ALWAYS A CHOICE!
      ABUSE IS ALWAYS WRONG! REGARDLESS OF GENDER/SITUATION/RELATIONSHIP!
      THERE IS NEVER A REASON FOR / TO ABUSE! THERE IS ALWAYS A REASON AND A WAY TO STOP… FOR THE ABUSER!
      Sadly not so for the abused/victim.

      I’m not even certain, if or how it’s possible for a person to “stay safe” if/when the abuse is severe, as I and many others have experienced. I tried all ways, before I finally locked the door on him, while he was out at work.
      HINDSIGHT GAINED THROUGH EXPERIENCE HAS 20/20 VISION, and can be called wisdom.
      TO ME, IT SAYS, GET OUT, ASAP! SAFELY! or get him out if that is an option…AND STAY AWAY.
      NO CONTACT…NOT EVEN EYE CONTACT is the only way to “keep yourself safe”

      I can also say with conviction, that Leslie’s advice, and this website. is a life-line and a life-saver. It literally saved my life back in 2013.

      Leaving aside the comments you have received, personally that are “seeming to be” subjectively personifying you and attacking/accusing, and were, most likely, assumptions, as each of us do not know each other, intimately; I would like to think that now you have looked deeper, heard Leslie’s comments, as well as hearing from the ladies on this sight, disregarding their emotionally charged responses as attacks and showing compassion for their obvious pain, circumstances and events, that you have read,and even mentioned, I hope you can see the OVERALL benefits of, as well as the strengths in Leslie’s work and ministry here?
      Bearing in mind, Leslie’s comments that I have touched upon, earlier, and understanding, that this was never about gender and statistics as to who abuses who and who is the biggest perpetrator? (was it? is it?), can you now see the vast and beneficial impact this work does in empowering real victims of abuse?
      Have your thoughts and concerns changed in any way, since you have interacted on this site, especially on the particular issues, you raised? Would you share these changes?
      I would like to think that your initial post and subsequent posts were, in fact, immediate responses to what you have read. I sense, amongst your “seeming to be” sincere genuine comments and responses, that you clearly believe that you are making some extremely valid points, I do not dispute this, I do wonder though, if there is any arrogance or superiority in your heart? Only you and the Lord will know this, Maybe only the Lord.

      I say “seeming to be” on 2 occasions. The first highlighting an opportunity to change the panorama, and offer an alternative viewing perspective, to an objective, emotionally healthy, unbiased one, for you as a counsellor/individual, that does not appear (by your comments/responses) to have considered, while bearing in mind and showing empathy for the individuals emotional reactions, I’m certain they (ALL the perceived negative comments/subjective attacks/personal criticisms and assumptions) could be viewed, objectively, as (understandably) defending, protecting, supporting and reactionary.
      Couldn’t they?
      The second seeming to be because as I said previously, not one of us know each other, therefore we can only interpret what we perceive or understand by what each one of us has written and how we have written it.

      I want to thank you also for the additional websites and added scriptural information, that I can and will look into for personal discernment.
      My first response, that I lost, was so very different from this. I do think though, as you asked for personal interaction for your comments, that this is probably the best as it holds direct questions as well as balanced, objective view points that you do not seem to have considered, that nevertheless, I would personally be grateful to hear your responses.
      This is a request and is not meant as a challenge, I want to be clear on this, at this point, so as not to muddy any more waters with misunderstandings or implications of personal motives/intentions. This is simply my response to the overall postings and responses to the initial post.
      Thanks Tim

      • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 5:27 pm

        Janet,
        Well expressed, I did want to highlight something very important that you noted & simplified;

        “Bearing in mind, Leslie’s comments that I have touched upon, earlier, and understanding, that this was never about gender and statistics as to who abuses who and who is the biggest perpetrator? (was it? is it?),”

        I’m glad this was articulated, because I think that this IS the wrong question and focus all together.

        It reminds me of the places ‘often not always’ an abusive mindset goes when wanting to shift blame and create a complete nonrelative deflection attempt to somehow quantify something that doesn’t need to be quantified or measured?
        To me it also highlight an immature thinking& coping pattern.

        Thanks again for your post and sorry that your other one didn’t come through~ but thanks for taking the time to write again. Much appreciated!

        • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 6:58 pm

          Aly
          Thanks for that.
          One thing the Lord has clearly shown me through all of this, is that I am not ready for another relationship, as I am still vulnerable to get caught out again by (possibly through being too) empathetic, too tolerant and too accepting of other’s thoughts ( this is a weakness of mine, that causes me no end of upset) and too willing and ready to give and take an objective viewpoint in the hope of finding balance, reason and justice balanced. I’m still not 100% clear on the red flags within myself,warning me, and this is dangerous for me.
          I thank the Lord for revealing this to me. I have reason, once again to thank Leslie for this website, for without this resource of organising and reflecting and checking my own thinking and reactions to myself and responses to others, I would not be aware of these unhealed areas.
          SO… Keep it up Leslie!!! 100% I am now in favour and see even more essential and verifiable reasons why this site is helpful not harmful.
          If Tim is unable to see this, and hopefully openly agree, then I myself, must conclude, at the very least he is prideful, and and unwilling to even look at his character weaknesses in this discussion,(which in itself is ungodly and a red-flag for problems in any relationship with this kind of person) and at worst, He is, of the dominant/controlling kind, even possibly of the authoritarian and maybe Patriarchal kind, and worst of all the abusive kind. If he is. actually Narcissistic himself, sociopathic or psychopathic,and only he and God knows, (maybe a partner, and 1 or 2 more) then possibly and quite likely he will be either enjoying the reactions and attention “that is ABOUT HIM”, or He is quite likely being enraged or at the very least simmering anger at the comments and reactions that are not engaging him in a mind/power battle or that are directed at him through the emotional reactions this post has triggered. Either way, He will know, and so will the Lord. Ladies,that’s NOT OUR CONCERN! KEEP ON KEEPING ON! A true godly person or even an emotionally healthy counselor would discern all the things we are pointing out between us and would not need me to defend their case.
          GOD IS SOOO GOOD! and so are you ladies, now i understand why my first post, today, disappeared. God wants TRUTH and TRUTH only! I think I was seeing through obscured glass darkly, while I was typing it.

          As I sat reading the overall comments, I was initially shocked by the huge emotional reactions. This immediately triggered my balance and injustice with empathy falling at Tim’s feet. Then On reflection, and against the inner impulses/prompts/red-flags? (were they?) I decided to give a birds-eye view summarising objectively, what I thought was happening. I can see clearly now, that I was reverting to type and over compensating, in the name of balance, justice, fairness and healthy debates.
          Apologies to you all Ladies. And thank you Lord for changing my post and revealing truth to me! about my weaknesses! while shedding light on real and godly objectivity! AGAIN.
          Thanks for responding ALY, It was right here and now that I got these revelations!

      • Tim on November 3, 2017 at 10:03 am

        Janet, just wanted you to know I have read your thoughts and appreciate your moderation. I think I expressed my affirmation of Leslie’s work and clarified that I was suggesting some cautions which would enhance her credibility. The main impression I’m left with is how so many took offense at my comments. As I mentioned elsewhere, listening is a two way street.

        • Aly on November 3, 2017 at 10:22 am

          Tim,

          I’m singling myself out here.
          I do not take offense to your inquiry and your input on wondering about the credibility issue that can naturally arise in our common culture.

          Maybe you have responded to my questions but they have yet to be posted. Especially my last one where you clearly answered ‘for me’.

          You wrote;
          “The main impression I’m left with is how so many took offense at my comments. As I mentioned elsewhere, listening is a two way street.”

          Here you make a clear statement of something you think and believe, however I want to give you the benefit that you are wanting to have a two-way dialog that entails listening and responding. Unfortunately, I’m not experiencing this application of you based on your lack of responses & when you do respond there accompanies a defended tone of sorts? (I say this with all care and gentleness)

          Do you feel you have responded directly to my inquiries and that you are also wanting to meet the requirements you keep pointing out of the two way street of dialog and listening?

          • Tim on November 4, 2017 at 9:28 am

            Part of the problem, Ali, is that 20 or more ladies have asked me questions. I realize I’m not responding adequately to all. I apologize if that is the case with you, but at the same time, I have had to address similar questions together.



          • each and every counsellor, pastor, leaJanet on November 5, 2017 at 11:04 pm

            Tim, this is not a question, it is directly addressed to you. from Leslie.I, for one, would be interested to hear your response.I cannot not find any of responses from you, for any post that challenges you, your attitudes or your theories. indirectly, or any post for that matter, which seeks to engage offer you with personal insight or any that has asked you to respond to directional feedback offered to assist you in your life, as a result of being here.

            Tim, I invited you here because I hoped you would hear the women’s hearts about their own experience and how misunderstood and misheard they have been. I also hope that by listening, you will become even wiser as you seek to help those in abusive situations – perhaps with less obvious markers of abuse present. As you see, they are not perfect women. No person is. So it’s easy to get defensive and reactionary instead of listening deeper. This is where it’s easy as a counselor to get tripped up and miss the forest for the trees. There isn’t a woman here who wouldn’t say she has things to work on, both personally and in her relationships. This is the kind of woman who comes to counseling and speaks of being abused and isn’t believed because her delivery isn’t so polished and she has obvious issues of her own to work through. Yet that does not make her story less true or her spouse less abusive. Because you are a counselor, I will call you to a higher degree of self-awareness and self-control. Your responses do seem a bit insensitive with certain posts and defensive at times and I’d encourage you to slow down and prayerfully re-read before you hit send.



        • Barbara on November 3, 2017 at 2:10 pm

          Tim,
          Enhance her credibility with whom? This straw man argument simply doesn’t work on this site because we disagree with your premise that Leslie has a credibility problem. The cautions you suggest to solve this supposed problem also are not going to work here because why would Leslie change something she’s doing that’s obviously working to solve a problem which doesn’t even exist? As for not listening to you, our ears work just fine, so this is another straw man argument that’s not going to work here. We have listened to your ideas and listened well to your comments. No amount of listening on our part can overcome the misconceptions we perceive in your premises and conclusions.

          • Tim on November 4, 2017 at 9:36 am

            Barbara, If Leslie’s sole purpose is to provide information and support to women in pervasively abusive situations, she is doing a wonderful job. However, if she wants to help build awareness of this problem among churches, among folks who may be behaving in borderline abusive ways without realizing it (and who would be open to change), and even among counselors who, like myself, have large gaps in our understanding of the issues involved, then the simple disclaimers and cautions I’m suggesting, as well as tightening up her biblical understanding of headship will strengthen her credibility. If you are a victim of abuse, you likely will not see the need for this, but as a more neutral and detached “outsider” it is important.



          • Aly on November 4, 2017 at 10:05 am

            Tim,

            I say this will all politeness and care;
            We all have our own lens from which we see through. Everyday, I want God to strengthen and give me His eyes to see better the intricacy of Him. By far I’m not claiming I see crystal clear.. not even capable of that here.

            The reason why (I think) you ‘may think’ think Leslie should put a disclaimer or cautions as well as your suggestion to tighten up her biblical understanding of headship, is based on your own example here;

            You wrote;
            “even among counselors who, like myself, have large gaps in our understanding of the issues involved”
            You are admitting to having large gaps and they are assisting you in thinking her credibility is of concern which will be a struggle with bringing awareness.

            How you interpret headship from your gaps or lens could also be influencing your concerns? And it could be that many in your circle or willing counselors are also seeing from a similar lens as yourself.



    • Maria on November 3, 2017 at 2:18 pm

      Tim,
      You talk about headship and submission. Do you believe that a woman in an abusive marriage should submit to the headship of her abusive husband?

      • Tim on November 4, 2017 at 10:34 am

        Maria, that is a complex question but here are a few principles:
        1. Submission is commanded “as unto the Lord”, which automatically excludes submitting to do anything sinful or obviously destructive to family members.
        2. Paul’s use of the head / body analogy in Eph. 5:22-33 is instructive. If the head is making impossible demands of the body, obviously this is a dysfunctional and unworkable situation. So once again, I don’t believe the bible is commanding wives to do the impossible.
        3. If you study the way Paul teaches (and Peter), you’ll realize some areas are clear doctrinal truth, some areas are black and white moral imperatives, and some areas are principles of godly living and church life. Teachings on marriage would fall into this third category. Because they are “principles” their specific application will vary according to age, culture, and situation, and the Scripture writers assume we will apply the best wisdom possible to the situation.
        4. A husband’s headship is a symbol of God’s presence in family life and as such (I believe) there is a difference between a husband exercising spiritual leadership for the well-being of his family, and exercising selfish domination. Even in an abusive relationship, if a wife can see her husband is clearly attempting to exercise godly leadership for the good of his family, she needs to cooperate and affirm that leadership. But if he’s just making selfish demands and abusing his position, that’s where Leslie’s boundaries and consequences need to come into play.
        5. A wife can show respect toward even an abusive husband in deference to his God-ordained position in the family. In other words, “headship” is God-ordained, not something earned, and if it is possible to defer to his initiative and direction without compromising important principles, it is pleasing to God to do so.

        In that sense, I would recommend reflecting on 1 Peter 2:18~3:22, as Peter is speaking to people who are trying to live out their faith in circumstances involving oppression, abuse, and suffering.

        I hope these comments are helpful.

        • Autumn on November 4, 2017 at 4:16 pm

          As a Christian for over 30 years I have never been taught that the husband’s headship is a symbol of God’s presence in family life. Those words do not exist in the bible. We are all made in the image of Christ (which is in the bible) so God’s presence exudes from all of us. We are salt and light remember? Yet, an abusive husband can only ever be darkness.

          I would also like to comment on the following sentence when I respond and say you can’t be both dark and light. There is no Godly leadership possible from an abuser. That to me is like being kind of pregnant, you either are or you aren’t. Abusers don’t have the ability to be less of an abuser, they are self absorbed and rebellious against God. They act as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Their sadly, their leadership is corrupted.

          “Even in an abusive relationship, if a wife can see her husband is clearly attempting to exercise Godly leadership for the good of the family, she needs to cooperate and affirm that leadership.”

          • Rebecca on November 4, 2017 at 4:22 pm

            I agree and would like to add that usually any break in the abuser’s mask is usually for his own benefit. Remember image management is one of his greatest priorities. With that in mind any attempt at family leadership could only have his own self gratification at its’ root. Although it is very likely that he has chosen to apply scripture to his domination or coercion to gain power. This is called spiritual abuse, Not Godly leadership.



        • Barbara on November 4, 2017 at 8:27 pm

          Tim, Aly, and Maria,
          I want to comment on Tim and Aly’s post previous to this one. For some reason the reply option is missing in that section, so please excuse me for interrupting your interesting thread regarding submission.
          Aly, I agree with your comment. Tim, would you consider reexamining what you describe as your detached and neutral position? Like Aly, I wonder if in fact some unintentional biases are causing you to hold Leslie to the standards you suggest before you are willing to say she is credible. Are you willing to listen to Leslie and listen to the female client you mentioned in your original post, even if they do not speak in the ways you prefer? I will say it again, for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, Leslie already has more than sufficient credibility, even for those without a personal history of abuse. The concerns and suggestions you mention are already addressed in Leslie’s material. The information is not hard to find. For those with preexisting biases against her message, however, no amount of small adjustments in Leslie’s style of presentation will ever be enough.

  36. Wendy on November 1, 2017 at 11:46 pm

    Leslie,
    I could say so very much right now and respond in so many ways. I am now over a year away from divorcing my abusive husband. The greatest gift I was ever given was your website and a voice. I have rebuilt my life and it is filled with safe and wonderful loving people. Since I left my husband he has been arrested. He has been accused of stalking other women. What this counselor is so ignorant of, is that most of us who are with abusers are the last ones who want to turn and call the man we love abusive. By the time we get to our counselors there’s very little of ourselves left.
    Your work Leslie, is rebuilding my family. Not just me my entire family. Thank you for the truth thank you for a voice thank you for hope.

  37. Wendy on November 2, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Tim,
    I am offended that you think the work that we do with the Leslie is in anyway quick. That she in anyway advises us to quickly judge our husbands. We did not read a website to find out what our husbands were. We became a part of this website because we absolutely knew what our husbands were. By the time we log on to Leslie’s website we are broken down. The word quickly does not apply to any of us on this website. We wanted to believe. We were faithful to our husbands and to our God. We put on the faces for our families and church for decades. We fought harder than any one on the planet. Some of us fight until we almost died. Leslie’s message to me was not quick. The only message that I quickly received was that she loved me and how I felt was important. She encouraged me to work on me first. Some of the most beautiful pictures of Jesus Christ has been revealed in Leslie’s teachings. She told us to look at ourselves first. She tells us to build our strength in Jesus Christ first. She teaches us how to draw boundaries that are godly. She then teaches us what to do when those boundaries are not respected. She tells us it’s OK to separate for a time because boundaries are constantly being disregarded. However, in that separation time we are to seek Jesus Christ and his healing over our hearts. To look at our part of the dance and ask Jesus Christ to heal us. To wait and pray for our husbands.This is a very very painful work. It takes a strength that is unbelievable to do. Again, nothing quick about it.
    Unraveling lies and deception takes a very patient humble and caring individual. It takes someone willing to listen for a long period of time to an individual one on one. The greatest counselors are those who hear the word abuse and are not afraid of it. Even if the woman sitting in front of you is wrong she came to you for something. Maybe simply focusing on her needs and her heart and being patient and allowing your love and your strength to help her find her true voice would give her what she needs not what you think she needs. Sometimes we can come to the rescue physically and move people around. However, sometimes all we can do is be patient and listen and pray that God through the power of the Holy Spirit reveals the truth. It may be that we ourselves need to grow as counselors and learn how to emotionally be patient with a very distraught individual. Maybe, we have been abused ourselves by the very people we thought were being abused. There is a time for everything season of change and growth that’s what Jesus said. I guess what it really boils down to is the reaction we have to the person right in front of us. Is this person that you are counseling causing you to grow maybe that’s your season.

    • Tim on November 2, 2017 at 2:31 am

      Wendy, I’m not disparaging your experience or Leslie’s expertise. Please see my additional comments two or three comments above with this. I feel you are reading something into my words that are not there and which I did not certainly intend.

      • Nancy on November 2, 2017 at 5:11 am

        Hi Tim,

        Your experience with helping victims of overt, physical abuse and the dangers associated with that is commendable.

        Emotional, covert manipulation / control ( which is also abuse) is an entirely different beast.

        I agree with Wendy in sensing a need for a ‘quick fix’ in your writing. There will be no quick fix. In these cases emotional safety needs to be a priority. I don’t sense from your question or follow-up responses, that you are sensitive enough for this work. This is not meant to be a criticism. Limits are simply part of being human.

        Stick with overt abuse. It’s clear and you have done well with it.

        Or, if you feel conviction, use this as an opportunity to fall on your face before The Lord in facing your own grief, and allow Him to grow you through it.

        As Wendy said, “I guess what it boils down to is the reaction we have to the person right in front of us.”

        • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 8:41 am

          Nancy & Tim and others;)

          Thank you Nancy for writing a response I was trying to formulate. My head was spinning a bit Tim after your last post and I most certainly would agree and acknowledge your advocacy that you have spoken of in regards to ‘overt abuse’.
          Thank you for your brotherhood protection in this!

          Nancy mentioned an important word ‘sensitivity’ this is something my husband has been challenged on for years in therapy along with genuine Empathy. …
          Sometimes they go hand in hand. 🤗
          He was quite injured in these places in his family of origin~ they began there where sensitivity was ‘weak’ and not welcomed.

          My first question would be, Tim do you see yourself as a sensitive patient person that can sit in the unknowns and the uncomfortable places of pain and grief? There is a lot of sorting that gets done in counseling and it should be a safe place for pain to be shared. It also takes a lot of compassion and time to draw out these ‘ exchanges of emotional abuse of a victim’ but with patience.. a pattern shows itself.

          I’m thankful that my husband and I had and have a strong yet compassionate counselor that understands the layered levels of pain and healing~ something similar to Jesus’s conversation with the woman at the well. He met her with Him, not religion or culture.

          Occasionally my husband will visit the ‘old behavior of insensitivity’,as I share my experience he sees quickly his natural shame based tendency to want to (close feelings off, mine, his.. the dog🤓) realizing his insensitivity is a gracious reminder of his growth out of immaturity and into becoming the man God has called him to.

          That immature man was not who he wants to be, he chooses differently which is actually empowering, rather than choosing the insensitive behavior which is isolating and protected him in an unhealthy way.

          The world had been successful at making ‘insensitivity’ commonplace and our families and marriages have suffered generationally in this.

          Many counselors are very equipped biblically and intellectually but have their own emotional development work to grow in.
          Knowledge is one thing, but knowledge without ‘love’ is nothing.

          Lastly, it’s important to see where any of us are insensitive, because when we are insensitive we are not helping, but hurting & contributing to the battle against healing and the true command of ‘ the one anothers’.

  38. Remedy on November 2, 2017 at 3:17 am

    I’m not sure if it was specified….is the writer of the questions a counselor, individual and/or marital…..or a pastor, or both?

  39. Janice on November 2, 2017 at 4:56 am

    Tim, is it because we are women that you assumed we don’t know the definition of hermeneutics? I humbly ask you to examine your heart for any trace of arrogance. I have been a part of this website for several months and this is a fellowship of sisters formed by mutual suffering and sorrow,not a chat-room of “confused” air heads. Jesus commands husbands to lay down their lives for their wives and live with their wives in an understanding manner. I can’t imagine a wife unwilling to submit to that kind of servant leadership.I am married 25 years and am praying for my husband to “leave and cleave” so we can actually have a marriage without divided loyalties… the pain is real,daily and is beyond my ability to bear.BUT GOD… my Jesus has already taken this for me when he willingly and obediently went to the cross and died for my sins. This is the hope I cling to and I thank the Lord for Leslie and this safe haven of sinful,struggling saints.

    • Tim on November 2, 2017 at 8:56 am

      Janice…and others…lots of negative assumptions and unfounded accusations in your comments. Most Christians aren’t familiar with “hermeneutics”, male or female. So let me turn the question around and ask you why you choose to take offense? Just by way of clarification, I did not “invade” your fellowship of sisters to stir the pot of your pain and struggles. Leslie asked to share my questions with you all and invited me to enter into the conversation that resulted. I realize you’re speaking out of your pain and so you are taking my comments as if they were personal attacks on you and the group, when they are not. I’ve shared some objective neutral observations, and it’s interesting to me that none of you have actually engaged with me regarding the substance of what I shared. Why is that?

      • Roxanne on November 2, 2017 at 9:14 am

        The words I see missing from your posts are “I am sorry, I was wrong.”

        • Tim on November 2, 2017 at 7:14 pm

          Excuse me, Roxanne, but what is it you’re wanting me to apologize for? Unless I’m totally out to lunch this is supposed to be an interchange of ideas.

          • Roxanne on November 2, 2017 at 8:18 pm

            I think I will add delusional to my assessment. Have you read any of the comments?



          • Refocus-Reclaim on November 3, 2017 at 10:33 am

            Actually, I think Tim is right – this is an open dialog and shouldn’t be accusatory in any way. Sharing your experience and/or story isn’t accusing, nor should anyone need to apologize for kindly sharing their viewpoint. He has a right to voice his thoughts and opinions just as we do, and maybe we all can learn something from the dialog.

            His points that “disclaimers” should be added to the material come from the current trend in our society to cover our butts in every way possible because society is “sue-happy”. Just like lawn mower manufacturers now have to put “do not put fingers near blades while running” on mowers… really??

            I don’t think it’s necessary, but then I feel that if you are looking for biblical support you don’t need a disclaimer and if you’re looking for an “out” you’re going to find it no matter what or where you look.



          • Leslie Vernick on November 3, 2017 at 2:19 pm

            Tim, I invited you here because I hoped you would hear the women’s hearts about their own experience and how misunderstood and misheard they have been. I also hope that by listening, you will become even wiser as you seek to help those in abusive situations – perhaps with less obvious markers of abuse present. As you see, they are not perfect women. No person is. So it’s easy to get defensive and reactionary instead of listening deeper. This is where it’s easy as a counselor to get tripped up and miss the forest for the trees. There isn’t a woman here who wouldn’t say she has things to work on, both personally and in her relationships. This is the kind of woman who comes to counseling and speaks of being abused and isn’t believed because her delivery isn’t so polished and she has obvious issues of her own to work through. Yet that does not make her story less true or her spouse less abusive. Because you are a counselor, I will call you to a higher degree of self-awareness and self-control. Your responses do seem a bit insensitive with certain posts and defensive at times and I’d encourage you to slow down and prayerfully re-read before you hit send.



          • Aly on November 3, 2017 at 3:15 pm

            Leslie, & Tim

            Thank you Leslie for posting your comments and observations. I’m still feeling quite confused as I don’t feel attacked or defensive ‘from Tim’ to myself, but perplexed with feeling ignored?
            Nor do I feel like my comments are out of line with some healthy dialog.
            (But please someone copy and paste my errors)

            I was really hoping for some great two-way dialog as Tim has expressed and was seemingly trying to set I think a healthy communicative standard.

            I think what’s difficult in these places is that ‘we all are’ going to have our own experiences to shape much of our lens, so it seems respectful to brothers and sisters in Christ to give the allowance to answer from those places. I feel Tim was also answering from his own places of experience and there was a part that I wonder if it’s not a twoway street to hear from others’ personal experience?

            We all have blind spots and I’m wondering if this is an area that could be closer examined?
            (….For the benefit of us all and the greater Kingdom)



          • Aly on November 3, 2017 at 4:20 pm

            Tim,

            I decided to go back to your first question that you asked Leslie and reread your comments to try to understand better where any defensive triggers could come up via the blog comments.

            This is in regards to question #1 only:
            You wrote:
            ” I’m working with a woman who has been strongly influenced by your website in negative ways which are in fact complicating the process of finding workable solutions.”

            Can you give more detail of what you might define as negative ways? This seems to be your conclusion, am I right?.. correct me if I’m not.

            I also am not clear what you mean by workable solutions.

            Most people in a destructive/abusive relationship are dealing with individuals who are not ‘solution oriented’ nor are they often in a place of workable posture. Thus, the saying you can’t reason with someone ‘unreasonable’.

            Further down in your question one you note ” for a wife to falsely accuse her husband of ‘being abusive’ or ‘being an abuser’ is absolutely devastating it destroys trust and seriously sets back the process of finding constructive solutions to that couple’s marriage struggles.”

            This comment is what I believe can be an area in itself that can thwart good discussion where we can all grow and learn more. Not saying it did, but can.

            The sentence here implies that A wife that is falsely accusing her husband and this is thwarting solutions to what you define as marriage struggles…. when in fact the topic at hand is the importance of defining, confirming and then dealing with an emotional abusive marriage dynamic, not marriage struggles.

            You wrote:
            “it seems some warning about jumping to conclusions and accusations without adequate interaction with the counselor, Etc. might be in order.”

            It’s this last sentence that confuses me the most so are you saying you are not working with this woman?
            Because above you begin your question with you ‘are’ working with a woman and you are the counselor is how it comes across.

            Tim, I think the importance of defining marital struggles verses emotional abusive relationships and marriages are key.

            I believe Leslie and her ministry have done a terrific job at defining the differences of these.
            I think this lends well to answer Leslie’s prompted question and discussion,

            The ‘struggle’ is in how a counselor is also making conclusions from their own lens and also how they are defining a struggle verses an ongoing marital trauma. (That trauma being in an emotionally abusive marriage and not getting many to understand or be validated by) How a counselor defines these areas are KEY.

            Most well trained professionals know what to look for when dealing with these traits in individuals that would be in the camp of emotional abusive people in relationships. Here are my experiences.
            Lack of care for another’s perspective or feelings, superior:inferior imbalance, double standards~ the rules are different for them. Also a sense of impatience and insensitivity to being bothered or putt out by a marital problem. Inconvenienced.. I could go on but I won’t.

            I hope you feel that my comments have been engaging and specific for healthy two-way discussion.



        • Tim on November 2, 2017 at 8:53 pm

          I don’t think insults particular enhance our mutual understanding. I asked what it was you wanted me to apologize for.

      • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 9:26 am

        Tim,

        I have recently responded to you and maybe the blog is just posting.
        But I disagree that you have not been engaged with.
        I have asked you questions based on what ‘you believe’ and why you do.
        Not coming from a pain centered response here but one of curiosity for your concerns.

        • Tim on November 2, 2017 at 8:52 pm

          Excuse me, Roxanne, but what is it you’re wanting me to apologize for? Unless I’m totally out to lunch this is supposed to be an interchange of ideas.

        • Tim on November 2, 2017 at 8:54 pm

          So sorry Aly. Somehow I missed your post. I’ll look back over it and try to find it and get back to you.

          • Maria on November 2, 2017 at 10:24 pm

            Tim,
            When I put myself in your shoes, I can understand your concerns. Like you say, to accuse someone of abuse is a serious matter. I’m sure that people come to you and tell you they are being abused. Abuse has different definitions depending on whom you talk to. It may be helpful to focus on the behaviors instead of labeling someone. Also, being in your position, you may wonder if you should believe the person leveling the accusations. This is especially true if you know the accused. From what you have written, it sounds like you’ve caught people in lies. All these have you concerned, and understandingly so. But there is another side and maybe my situation will help you understand this. I am in an emotionally destructive marriage. I was raised in a Christian home, and married a person whom I thought was a Christian. He is a narcissist who is very clever in portraying a positive image. During counseling, he would lie very convincingly, and I could see that my pastor probably thought I was the one lying. We did the Love & Respect Book, Boundries book, and other marriage studies with other couples and he used them against me. If he was in the wrong, he would taunt me and I would react poorly, and he would blame me. There are people who come to you who are really in abusive situations. And yes, there are those who lie. Although I don’t have actual statistics to back me up, I believe there are more people that seek help than there are people looking to deceive. And what complicates things even more is that none of us is perfect. The abused spouse may react poorly, but it doesn’t lessen the fact that he/she is being abused. I love how Leslie teaches us to respond using CORE. Yes, we may be being ill treated, but we are responsible for our actions. In my case, couples counseling was not the answer. My husband used it to hurt me more. Maybe this is something for you to consider- counsel people in these situations separately. That way, the innocent party is not victimized again, and you are not a pawn in the abuser’s game. I have only addressed one of your points. I will try and address your other points later.



          • Refocus-Reclaim on November 3, 2017 at 10:51 am

            Maria: Good points & well said. I had a very similar experience with joint counseling. In fact, often the counselor would go back and forth between believing me or believing my ex… and I was saying the same thing each time. It was very unnerving but it is true that truth will prevail, and it did so for me. But you are right – these abusers are master manipulators & usually only get caught in it when they are actually upset.



        • Tim on November 2, 2017 at 9:08 pm

          Aly, I found one message from you in which you asked me one question, “Do you see yourself as a sensitive patient person…” and the rest of message was your description of your husband and your thoughts on the importance of patience and sensitivity in counseling. I assume you’re referring to this.

          Trying to be honest here…”patient”? Yes, although the real life time constraints of counseling are not conducive to taking adequate time with clients as I would like. Having said that, I’m thinking of a female sexual and emotional abuse victim I’ve been working with for 5 years, and I’m proud of her for the slow but gradual progress she’s been making toward healing.

          “Sensitive”? You would probably think “Not”. I am off the charts objective and logical, and it’s not easy to get my head around what’s happening in a person who’s processing emotionally. My ideal counselor would always have both components in balance. Have I answered your question?

          • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 10:06 pm

            Tim,

            Thanks for answering some of my question. Here below is where I don’t think you did answer.

            You wrote;
            “Sensitive”? You would probably think “Not”. I am off the charts objective and logical, and it’s not easy to get my head around what’s happening in a person who’s processing emotionally. My ideal counselor would always have both components in balance. Have I answered your question?”

            You told me what ‘I would probably think’ and my question was …Do YOU think you are a Sensitive person?

            Having that kind of response towards me does not promote objectivity in fact it lends itself from my point of view ‘a condescending tone’?



          • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 10:24 pm

            Aly
            I have actually noted a condescending, patronizing even arrogant tone/attitude in some of his responses. Especially the first one I read today thanking us ladies for our comments that he had made TO LESLIE… sorry i’m not very good at copying and pasting like others do. but i’m sure you will know which one I mean.
            I just can’t grasp where he is really coming from, at all. I reckon if he takes time to comment to my post that was directly engaging with him, I will have more of an idea. For now, the jury is still out, on my watch as far as i’m concerned.



          • Leslie Vernick on November 3, 2017 at 2:06 pm

            I think Tim is coming from a very common perspective and I am hoping that through our dialogue together he might come to see some things in a new way and perhaps he too has things to add for us to see things in a new way as well. It’s not a black white, win, lose, discussion. At least I hope it doesn’t become that. We are believers seeking truth and to help those who are abused. We have that in common. Where we might differ is crucial, but can we talk about that so that we can all learn and grow. However, growth gets thwarted when people feel defensive and attacked – and it’s going on a little bit here – both ways. So can we all take a deep breath and open ourselves up to what God may want us all to learn through this blog post and the way we receive and respond to it?



          • Aly on November 3, 2017 at 4:45 pm

            Leslie, Tim &others,

            Here’s my thoughts to question number 3 and why many victims & survivors might feel added disregard.

            Tim you wrote:
            ” your articles and talks give a distinct impression that if a woman feels controlled, fearful, confused, objectified, etc., she Is probably being abused.”

            It’s the following sentence that is sad. You immediately follow that sentence above with,
            ” are post-modern feeling-obsessed culture, notwithstanding, feelings are often not a reliable indicator of reality.”

            Tim this is where I ask you to rethink your directives and your inquiries as if either being genuinely caring and sensitive or leaving this as your ‘opinion’ to voice.

            I’m a survivor of the items you listed, and It’s very insulting to be told ‘even as a survivor’ that you would comment to serious victimization of people that they are ‘feeling Obsessed’ this is So So sad. 😔

            My prayer is that you can read these posts with regard for people and their healing and choose to become part of the solution and not add to the problem of the attitude against those that are brave to face their reality.💜

            We are all called to be life long learners and to love others.



      • Nancy on November 2, 2017 at 3:16 pm

        To your statement, Tim, that “none of you have actually engaged with me regarding the substance of what I shared.”

        There have been several well thought-out, and cleverly articulated attempts to engage you. You haven’t responded to Aly’s comments, nor Barbara’s, nor Garrett’s…( to name only a few).

        Many here have shared very specific thoughts on specific concepts and phrases that you used.

  40. Marie on November 2, 2017 at 6:33 am

    First of all Leslie, thank you for working so tirelessly to educate Christian counselors and pastors that destructive marriages are a thing.

    I got married in 1991 and the first three or four male counselors were able to hear me say that my ex was always angry and they would try to approach that aspect of our marriage so I would feel like I was being heard. BUT, after one session, my ex would declare the counselor a jacka$$ and we’d never go back.

    I’d get an earful at home about how I wasn’t perfect so it wasn’t right that everything was always his fault. I no longer remember the specifics of these encounters.

    At some point, we found a counselor that my ex respected and I did some personal work with this counselor. Those sessions were discouraging because I was told that my expectations were too high or that things weren’t as big a deal as I was making them out to be. My ex and I were given a book on Verbal Abuse by Patricia Evans. I ate that book up because it was the first time that the things I was experiencing were so clearly described. I finally understood so much more about the dynamics of my marriage. My ex disagreed on every level so we didn’t make any progress. However, I no longer felt crazy so I could start to make some personal progress towards finding my voice again. I learned the huge difference between trying to stand up to him and learning to stand up for myself. Life changing!

    I was still living in what I thought was hope but was really wishful thinking so I agreed to a joint session. My ex became so incensed he exploded in the direction of the counselor and stormed out of the office. After a moment of silence the counselor looked at me and said he now understood what I had been talking about. I know he was pained because my ex was actually his mentee for a Masters in Christian Counseling program at a respected theological seminary.

    He told me I needed to find the support I needed to do what I needed to do. I couldn’t believe that I finally had permission to take my secret to people that might be able to help. Yes, I had ignored red flags before we were married.
    Yes, I had over-performed in my role as stay-at-home mom.
    Yes, I allowed myself to be silenced over the years. Talk about losing my voice! And in hindsight, it would have been nice if the support I needed had come from that office so that I wouldn’t have needed to convince the next round of people that my reality was what it was. My ex was charming so it was an uphill battle to convince anyone what was really happening at home. It was actually his kindness that initially attracted me to him. Your basic wolf in sheep’s clothing.

    However, at the time, the counselor’s words were so affirming and my next job was to reach out to my church where my ex was doing his counseling internship.

    They did refer me to a female counselor who specialized in domestic abuse and I spent some time there but wasn’t ready to leave the marriage with four kids so I sort of got stuck and didn’t continue my work with her. Baby steps though – because my ex’s behavior escalated in certain ways I did prepare a safety binder and opened up a checking account in my name only.

    At some point, I came across your excellent books and blog and worked hard to find my core strength. This was such hard work because I was walking on eggshells in such fear of my husband’s anger. By that time I had been married over 15 years and was in my mid 40’s with four kids. Eventually, I did ask him to move out and while he is still controlling us financially (he has convinced a doctor that he is too depressed to work so he stopped paying alimony and child support – the child support courts are NOT very proactive I’ve discovered.) we are no longer being verbally and emotionally abused. The disdain and complete disregard for us as people was so hurtful…

    The most wonderfully experienced semi-retired Christian counselor at my church to ever make headway with my ex did it in such a way that his defenses were down and he revealed very casually how little he cared for me so it helped cement my decision to leave.

    Leslie, in one of your books you speak truth when you say that it doesn’t matter whether the presenting issue is anger, Asperger’s, bad childhood or stress at work (all things I used as excuses to defend my ex’s treatment of us) our husbands are grown men and accountable for the way they treat us and our children. Since they don’t act that way at work or in public, it is behavior that is very specifically targeted at us.

    At some point the church office checked in on me and asked me to come for a follow up visit. At that visit, I heard that they couldn’t support my decision to leave but they couldn’t not support my decision to leave. What does that even mean? I will admit that because the church in my experience was not any kind of safe haven, I’m a little hesitant to get back into church attendance. I’m not proud of that but with as hard as I’ve had to work to try and provide for me and my family without any financial support from my ex, my weekends are full of survival tasks – keeping up with the yard work in case I have to sell the house, hitting local food banks etc. I’m in my mid 50’s and so tired but it has been worth it to see my children doing so well away from the abusive influence of their earthly father.

    So while things are tougher than anything I could have prepared myself for, I’m walking in core strength and my children are finding ways to heal. Jehovah-Jireh definitely shows up for us on a regular basis and my prayer is that all of my kids would come to understand that God is their true Father…and my true husband.

    Ironically while the counseling part of my church is not what I had hoped for, the care part has been awesome. They have stepped up on several significant occasions to help us financially so I’m very grateful for their own baby steps of understanding the plight of single moms.

    I totally agree with Jenny above that what our churches need is the male version of Leslie. I prayed for two decades that my marriage would be redeemed and my ex would find grace to change. He was accountable to no one. I twisted myself into a pretzel to be easy enough to live with and keep the children well-behaved enough and the house clean enough and dinner on time enough and laundry folded and put away enough so he wouldn’t get mad and all I did was make myself nuts because there was no way to please him.

    Tim I don’t know whether you are writing your true thoughts or whether you are on here to play Devil’s advocate but if you are telling us your true thoughts, I would ask you to spend some silent, listening time with women in our shoes. So far, the few comments I have read indicate that you are not able to really hear us. I would not feel safe going to you for counseling and I pray that when women do trust you with your stories you would find the grace and humility to refer them to someone with whom they will feel safe.

    My ex was not physically abusive to me but he did break my things and he did charge at me and back me into a corner with his body one time while screaming at me. The final straw was when he broke a wooden spatula across the face of my youngest child. And you know why? My youngest (about ten at the time) was standing outside the locked door without his key. My ex decided that was a good time to teach our child about responsibility so he refused to unlock the door. When my child started crying out of sheer frustration because he could see his dad standing right there, my ex unlocked the door and hit him across the face. I wasn’t home but saw the facial marks when I returned. When I asked my boy what had happened, he told me and then said, “It’s not my face that hurts so much – it’s my heart.” I can’t even type that without crying. It was the last straw.

    That was four years ago and I am now successfully divorced.

    That you might express disbelief about the seriousness of my former reality and give me a statistic about such and so and compare it to information on the web about gluten has me in disbelief. This is a place of grace and I hope that you spend enough time here to find it.

    • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 12:30 pm

      Dear Marie, & Counselor Tim,

      Wow, I’m am so sorry for your horrible experiences and so grateful you are freed through the truth and love that Jesus promises.
      Sending virtual hugs 💕

      Marie you wrote;
      “So far, the few comments I have read indicate that you are not able to really hear us.”

      This is a really important question to be explored because I believe we can ALL work on being better listeners.
      Our culture happens to have a pretty low standard of this skill and many who think they listen~ actually only ‘hear’ there is a difference.

      Part of being a good counselor is being a ‘professional listener’, listening to the aspects of an individuals’ soul is a privilege and critical to the healing process.

      I also believe that the prerequisite for being a good listener is sensitivity and patience.

    • Carly on November 2, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      ” I twisted myself into a pretzel to be easy enough to live with and keep the children well-behaved enough and the house clean enough and dinner on time enough and laundry folded and put away enough so he wouldn’t get mad and all I did was make myself nuts because there was no way to please him. ”

      This. My life exactly. Even when I did all these things, he would find something else to have a tantrum over. Still does, but I have learned to walk away and not engage.

      • Marie on November 2, 2017 at 9:47 pm

        I remember my early days of learning not to engage. He would tell me I was incompetent in some way and I would just say “OK”. Left him stunned into silence and me secretly smiling inside because I knew I was getting strong enough to leave well.

    • Alene on November 2, 2017 at 2:46 pm

      Marle,
      Can you clarify the difference between standing up to him and standing up for yourself. Loved those words. Thanks.

      • Marie on November 2, 2017 at 9:27 pm

        Hi Alene,

        First of all, let me say that moving from standing up TO my ex to standing up FOR myself was a two decades LONG process. If others can learn from me in order to pass through the steps more quickly, I will gladly tell you about my experiences.

        At first I THOUGHT I was standing up for myself when I would assert myself and tell him to stop yelling at me. Or explain why it hurt me or why he shouldn’t treat me that way. Because his moods were so volatile and I walked in such fear, I thought that not suffering in silence like a victim was a victory of sorts. I thought I wasn’t letting him get away with treating me poorly because I was calling attention to it.

        The thing is, his poor treatment never stopped.

        As I learned more and more about boundaries (John Townsend and Henry Cloud are the experts for me on this) I realized that by telling him to stop yelling at me, I was trying to put a boundary around him.

        It’s no wonder he was always telling me he was sick of me “trying to change” him.

        The only person you can change is yourself.

        So, as I started standing up for myself (and my children of course) I could start saying things differently. The goal remained not getting yelled at but since I couldn’t make him stop yelling at us, I could only remove us from the yelling. Goal met!

        I will give you three examples in the progression keeping in mind that there are many smaller steps along the way.

        So, it started out with “If you continue to yell I will leave the room until you can speak calmly.”

        When it doesn’t stop, it becomes, “Because I no longer feel safe with you and need some emotional and physical distance from you, I’m going to be sleeping on the couch.”

        When it escalates, it becomes, “Because I am not OK with the way you treat me and the kids and you are choosing not to make any changes or pursue any kind of accountability towards healing, I am asking you to move out.

        Of course, in my heart of hearts, I was always hoping that one of the boundaries I was setting around myself would lead to his repentance but it just increased his arrogance.

        I’ve been divorced for over a year and separated for three and I’m only now truly understanding that I was married to what the Bible describes as a fool.

        Also, your steps to standing up for yourself might look completely different. It might not be verbal abuse at your house and you might not need to separate but the idea is that you are deciding what boundaries you will set around yourself and let the choice be his to respect them…or not.

        If he doesn’t, you also have to be prepared to follow through on what you said you would do. I asked my ex to move out at the beginning of a month. My dad passed away suddenly about ten days later and my sister’s wedding was scheduled three weeks after that. It was horrible to have to navigate all that plus he refused to leave for an additional eight months.

        I’m just saying that you need a plan and support so that what is already hard can still be done because your core is strong and your resolve is settled.

        Does this help?

        • Alene on November 2, 2017 at 9:49 pm

          Thank you Marle. Yes it does. Thank you for clarifying. There is so much discernment and learning in the process. I appreciated you bringing this side of things to light in what you saw and learned in your life.

    • Roxanne on November 2, 2017 at 4:23 pm

      Courageously and beautifully written. Good work, mom saving your children and yourself!

      • Marie on November 2, 2017 at 9:31 pm

        Thank-you. I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for Leslie’s ministry.

        • Starlight on November 4, 2017 at 9:06 am

          Amen Marie, thank you for sharing your story.

  41. Tim on November 2, 2017 at 8:44 am

    I’m sure you’re all familiar with the stats but here’s one I referenced in my comments above.

    http://www.saveservices.org/2012/02/cdc-study-more-men-than-women-victims-of-partner-abuse/

    • Refocus-Reclaim on November 2, 2017 at 11:43 am

      Interesting data. This is, however, strictly related to physical violence. Physical violence doesn’t just happen out of the blue without precursors.

      I was blessed with a couple friends who have significant experience and training in “behaviorally challenged children” when I needed it. The dance that leads up to actual violence is visible to those trained in it. There is usually a substantial length of escalation time – and it always escalates.

      Perhaps since the date of the study (2012) and now, that there is an increased awareness of what precedes the actual physical violence. Brene Brown’s books “I Thought it Was Just Me” and “Daring Greatly” speak to the causes behind this and how prevalent it has become.

      • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 4:45 pm

        Refocus-Reclaim
        Well done for highlighting the date of this study and pointing out, with valid reasons why it is now out of date.

        Obviously we cannot determine how it has changed and in which direction. However, I would like to add, that in the uk, Domestic Violence is STILL used to identify and Label ALL abuse within an intimate relationship. However, unless there IS CLEAR EVIDENCE of physical violence, the help is non existent. The authorities “talk” about all abuse being viewed and treated the same as physical violence, yet, when you are in the position of reporting, accessing help, or finding “safe” ways out, (as I was, for 2 years, inc. being homeless for 6 wks, No-one believes you without this quantifiable proof! therefore, there is no help to be accessed. I was as much alone then as I am now, albeit in different ways.
        Covert, coercive, manipulation, narcissistic, psychopathic/sociopathic understanding/help/advice, is actually non existent. Which is one reason I have found this site, and Leslie’s advice invaluable. I also hope and pray that the Lord will use me, one day, to make a change to this wrong and so very unjust, imbalance in society’s perception.

        • Roxanne on November 2, 2017 at 8:21 pm

          The UK now prosecutes for coercive control. Thanks to Dr. Evan Stark’s ground breaking work. Watch a lecture or two of his on you tube.

          • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 9:56 pm

            Roxanne
            I will thanx. I did take a note of his name from your comments. BTW I love your latest comment to Tim. I actually laughed out loud when I saw it just now. I wish I had your boldness and courage to speak out regardless of what people think and without fear of being wrong. Please pray the Lord will release this in me.
            This is good news for many but going by my experiences alone, and knowing how difficult it is to prove or even show these covert narcissists up for what they really are, I can’t imagine there will be many successful prosecutions. I doubt that there will be many individuals, that are still suffering from the consequences and pain of this type of crazy making and confusing abuse, will have the courage, tenacity, know how or funds to even attempt to prosecute. Then there is the problem of finding a uk lawyer who actually understands and has the gumption to fight to win. Judging by the deviously manipulative “ways” of my husband with his “fine line subtleties” that really could be genuine or actually clever manipulations, and the fact no one else that knows him would think or believe for a second that he could be the abuser. Which is why, i have lost all my family and friends since I made the announcement that we had split. Everyone of them choosing to believe what they saw before we split and can’t possibly imagine,now, as opposed to seeing the reality through the way I was “coping” and the fact that my mental health was improving rapidly from the day we split and progressively speeding up the longer we were apart, even though they could also clearly see (had they bothered to look) the devastation I was experiencing, because of the whole situation and the breakup of my family, (choosing not to denigrate my husband and “tell the whole grisly truth”) while experiencing continuous manipulations from him and discovering more truths and feeling the pain of 30 years wasted, while I suffered in vain, for 3 years after we split, still hoping there was a glimmer of hope for us, regardless of the facts that were continuously being uncovered. How clearly we can see when we are actually out of it! Nevertheless. I’m here, I survived, I made it through the darkest days, which were in fact experienced while I was with him! My relationships with my “deceived and hurting kids” are on the mend, and although I am financially worse off, I am richer than I have ever been in my life! AND I’m happier than i’ve ever been, even on my worst days! from day 1, the relief of knowing he wasn’t coming back, and I (we, my kids) would not have to go through it anymore, far outweighed whether anyone believed me or not. In actual fact, the only thing I have missed is his sewing! (he spent hours sewing rather than risking the fact I might buy something new). This was also a problem as he would spend hours sewing socks that were a pound a dozen, just so he could say he didn’t have time to do anything, i needed him to do, or help in any way in the house. For many years, Sewing was his quantifiable excuse for shear laziness, apathy and indifference.



          • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 10:02 pm

            P.S.
            Roxanne
            I don’t think the courts or Tim would class sewing as evidence for coercive, manipulative, narcissistic abuse. yet pervasive and insidious as carbon monoxide is, to kill us without symptoms, so was my husband’s abuse to me and my family. or the smell of gas, you know it’s somewhere, making you sick, but you just can’t detect it…Until…



          • Roxanne on November 3, 2017 at 7:11 am

            Janet, I couldn’t find another place to reply so this will be out of order.

            You bring up an excellent point which is the comparison between our cultures and countries! Thank you for the first hand report on how life is in the UK. Isn’t it amazing that our interpersonal relationship situations are the same regardless of where we live? For a long time I patiently endured my husbands terrible behavior because he seemed stuck in the mire of a terrible family situation. It wasn’t until I finally learned about abuse and met other women suffering in abusive situation that i realized my husband was not unique. In fact his behaviors were repeated over and over my other men around the world. The problem was an attitude of entitlement and actions which were based in the love of power and control over others.

            Thank you for too for your encouragement and words of acceptance. Although there are differences in our cultures (American vs British) I can be a bit too bold and even brash at times even for an American. I understand from my counselor that that strength and confidence is a result of my strong will to survive.. My actions and attitudes, so I am told by professionals, are similar to combat veterans who served in active duty. Although no longer fully engaged in battle with my abuser, the personality I developed helped me survive my repeated, incessant abuse rather than take the attitude of a victim and be killed.

            I here you that the legal system is not as just as you would hope and expect it to be. It is the same here in the States. I think that many people mean well and want to help, but as you know, our abuser are sly and very influential. Gee, many of our most powerful political leaders exhibit some narcissistic tendencies themselves! ha.

            On a different topic Janet, have you watched the TV series “Very British Problems?” It is a hoot! It outlines the foibles of living in the UK and the necessary politeness, traditions and elite social norms that are expected in society. We could all use a good laugh after engaging in the heavy topics on this blog. 🙂



          • Roxanne on November 3, 2017 at 7:22 am

            Janet, your testimony is very moving. I am very happy for you that you are finally free. You may have lost some immediate friends and family in your brave move, yet please know you did the right thing. You have been a very brave woman to leave an abusive situation. So many women just can’t find a way to leave. It is tough! Bravo.



          • Aly on November 3, 2017 at 8:17 am

            Roxanne, Janet and others,

            I agree Roxanne about Janet’s bravery and the gratitude for her freedom and journey;)

            Sometimes when things get clearer we can assess better … the objective process of, were they really ‘friend quality and were they really ‘family’ with some healthy mutual basics. Often times the reality is ‘no’ they were not based on their own unresolved pain and injuries. We can invite them in to the process but many can find their logical denial a good defense. Excuse me, not so ‘good’ after all.

            The objective reality doesn’t lessen the pain and grief of loss but it can help us with grieving in reality with those that are ‘family and those that know how to be a ‘friend’.

            One thing that struck me in my own path was that it was deeply wired into me and my upbringing not ‘spoken’ or written on the wall, but that marriage problems were a marital issue between 2 parties. But often times especially in these places of dynamics, tactics, and power struggles it is usually (an ‘individual’ issue not a joint issue).

            Many counselors are trained to treat a joint issue and not treat the individuals, why is that? Both individuals have their ‘part’ as Leslie might highlight. This statement isn’t to equate but to separate.
            Our history and our culture have framed this unspoken relational belief of a ‘joint issue’ and I do believe it’s getting reprogrammed some.. but what we are immersed around and modeled by gets influenced to be played out in the modern Babylon if we are not being diligent and careful of our surroundings.

            Prayers and hugs for each of our journeys 💕
            Stay safe and sane



    • Diane on November 2, 2017 at 11:16 pm

      Hi Tim,
      These are interesting statistics and an interesting article; however I would point out that it specifies the statistics as “Over 40% of victims of severe physical violence are men.”

      I believe that’s what the ladies here are expressing concern with. These statistics would be very visible considering they are referring to severe physical violence. Emotional/verbal abusive tends to be very covert, especially in the church setting. Have there been any studies that focus on the church population? The dynamic that many men subscribe to (The man is the head of the household, the wife is to be submissive and therefore has no voice or is allowed to speak up with any concerns or opinions that differ from her husband. The wife is considered as a servant to whatever her husband wants and tells her to do) is a very common belief that has the potential for drawing in men who have problems with control, emotionally destructive patterns, etc.

      For example, the churches around my local area, where I have lived for 50+ years do not allow a woman to hold any leadership position in the church (e.g., she is not allowed to be on the board, teach beyond 6th grade students, or be on the search committee for a new pastor, etc.). This type of “leadership” does not value or even validate a woman’s opinion, intellect, unless her husband supports it. This is not the Church Body, or the description of leadership Christ demonstrated, or what the New Testament church embodied as described in the Bible.

      Also, because there is a lot of pressure to put on a “good front” in the church environment, many men (as well as women) demonstrate a very different personality at church than they do at home. My mother was a very abusive individual. Both of my parents were; however the church would only confront my mother for a short period of time…., until my father would go to the pastor or church board of directors that he led and defend her…, then the matter was completely dropped. Both of my parents were eventually diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (my mother in 1993 & my father in 2005 – both diagnoses were completed by psychologists with phd’s).

      My point is that I’ve repeatedly seen churches react very promptly and openly to the woman’s “sin;” yet when the male (particularly when he is highly regarded or in a leadership position in the church), the issue is ignored, swept under the rug, or denied altogether with the “victim” being vilified. I have seen this pattern repeatedly in multiple churches in this area. Many times Christian counselor’s attend these churches and are also in positions of authority. Now, can you imagine when a woman attempts to reach out for help from these same male leaders, Christian counselor’s with a husband who is constantly criticizing her, scapegoating her, being condescending/patronizing toward her, treating her like a child, etc? When she brings up specific examples, it can sound like she’s being petty or overly sensitive. As she sees she’s not being believed, she becomes very anxious/panicky; because she knows that her husband will “make her pay” when they are home…, and he does!! This situation does not only have negative consequences for the woman, but also for the children as well. I wonder how many teenagers who attended church faithfully in elementary and junior high school leave the church due to what they see as hypocrisy in their home and how the church responded to their mother? Again, teenagers leaving the church is happening in epidemic proportions throughout this nation. I’m not saying this is the only reason for this occurring, but I do know of many families where this did occur due to the presence of EDM’s in the home. This is why my children left the church for a while. It wasn’t until I became educated on emotionally destructive marriages, emotional abuse, and covert narcissism that I began to see the need for strong boundaries with consequences. While I received a great deal of backlash from the church leaders (mostly male) and Christian counselor’s for doing this, I knew the Lord was telling me to start taking responsibilities for the true situation I was in, and that by using boundaries with consequences, I was still able to show love to my husband. To ignore the problem would not be loving of me as a wife or mother. Boundaries with consequences provided some safety at home; however the damage to my children has already been done. Both have picked up many of the abusive behaviors they witnessed their father committing, and they think it’s “normal.” Fortunately my son is presently in premarital counseling away from this area and has been called out for what the counselor called “emotionally abusive and controlling behaviors.” I’m thankful he and his fiancé are seeing a counselor who is sensitive and skilled in identifying emotionally destructive patterns.

      On the rare times my husband showed his true colors (angry outbursts, blame shifting, scapegoating, getting caught in lies, etc) to the pastors/Christian counselor’s, he was able to convince them it was a one time situation (and apologized to them, not me for his outburst). He could be quite convincing with his tears; however when we got into the car, his tears quickly vanished, and he became enraged at me for “ratting” him out. How many times would these men need to see him “acting in an abusive manner” (this is what the one pastor described it), before these same men would hold him accountable or see the pattern? I described my marriage as me having to walk on eggshells in a minefield, or when my husband was angry, he would spew verbal vomit over me repeatedly. The pastors and Christian counselor’s still didn’t believe me because I couldn’t “show” them my husband behaving like this. As it turned out the worse my husband behaved, the more I was asked to submit & was told I was the one responsible for “saving the marriage.” I spent 10+ years praying, fasting, submitting, doing anything I was told to “save” my marriage. I pleaded with God for wisdom, to show me how I could change, to convict me of my sins, etc.

      However, how can one person save a marriage when only one person wants to be married? I finally realized my husband needed me to continue his unhealthy ways to cope with stress, continue an unhealthy pattern my husband has toward women – this he admits to, & use me as a scapegoat for his mistakes, for not following through on promises, or when he wanted to avoid embarrassment. How would I have ever showed this pattern to pastors or Christian counselor’s? All my husband had to do was deny it, say I was trying to blame everything on him, accuse me of not admitting my own mistakes, etc.; and he would instantly be believed by these men! Unfortunately each counselor and each pastor believed his lies, and I didn’t have enough “proof” to refute them.

      I hope as you read over this, you’ll get a sense of the frustration women in EDM’s go through, especially when they are Christians. Recently I had the opportunity to be present at a conference for Christian counselor’s. I am not a counselor but attended with a friend. I was shocked to hear over and over again how these same counselor’s admit they receive very little if any training on EDM’s or emotional abuse in marriages/families. They said most of their training on this area needs to take place post graduate at their own cost…, after they receive their Master’s Degree. Perhaps this is something that needs to be addressed with the profession as a whole. Leslie also mentioned that when she was speaking in Lynchburg, Va at Lyberty University, I believe it was the head of the department that came up to her and said, “We don’t teach anything like this!” That’s so incredibly unfortunate and also explains why so many counselor’s are not skilled/experienced in spotting and treating individuals who engage in emotionally destructive behaviors. I agree with the one post, this is NOT a marriage issue, but it impacts marriages/families! I’m so very thankful for Leslie’s teachings and her program.

      • Marianne on November 2, 2017 at 11:50 pm

        I have experienced the same thing! I’m so thrilled everyday that I am out of that awful marriage. I was told by leaders continually that it’s the marriage at all costs. Well that’s not true. God cares about me as a person more that a “marriage” that was not a marriage.

      • Tim on November 3, 2017 at 10:15 am

        Thanks Diane. I can’t respond in detail, but I agree with most everything you said. You are rightfully pointing out a glaring weakness in many churches, which results in abused individuals not getting the help and support they need. Thank you for sharing.

        • Diane on November 3, 2017 at 2:47 pm

          Thanks so much Tim for taking the time to read my post…, it got a little bit longer than I intended. I appreciate the opportunity and time you’re giving to dialogue with me/us. I wish it could be face to face. At times the written word can seem impersonal, and so much communication takes place in the “nonverbal realm,” which I unfortunately can’t see here on these posts! lol

      • JoAnn on November 12, 2017 at 9:32 pm

        I would like to add to what you said, Diane, that having taken a course (only 1!) in marriage counseling, we were taught that the marriage is the client. In other words, the job is to save the marriage, so you do not take sides with either the husband or the wife, but you work to save the marriage. Nothing at all was mentioned about abusive situations. Perhaps this is why Tim is trying to find “workable solutions,” instead of helping the individuals. If abuse is not involved, that may work, but where there is abuse, whether physical or emotional, it really needs to be handled differently.

    • Colleen on November 8, 2017 at 11:48 am

      I’d like to point out for posterity, that your link doesn’t direct to the CDC report from 2010, but rather to a website (arguably associated with ‘men’s rights’ groups) interpreting the data.

      A link directly to the CDC report: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/nisvs_report2010-a.pdf

  42. Wendy on November 2, 2017 at 9:47 am

    Tim,
    I was referring to your statement that Leslie moved quickly to label with the word abuse. She absolutely does the opposite. She humbly opened herself up and submits to the calling over her life and listens. She does not presume to know it all she sees our hearts and understands we need to come to a place of healing. She leads us with her kind acceptance of who we are right where we are.
    Most of us do not want to label our husbands as abusers for this indicates we are victims. Admitting we are victims is one of the hardest things to do. However, it is in this admission we get the help that we need to become over comers.

    In regards to submission, this is the most beautiful word never up for debate. This is a silent beautiful gift we first give to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Who, modeled this beautiful submission on the cross.
    I did submit to my abusive husband and longed with all my heart to be the godly submissive wife God called me to be. However, submission is a very personal matter. As I said, a personal gift A beautiful gift we give to one another after we give this gift to Christ Jesus. The problem with this is that an abusive man or woman hates the word submission. They live their lives to run from the Lordship and leadership of Jesus Christ. They tell everyone else that they need to submit. When we submit to Jesus Christ and become kind and loving we become more disdained by the one we are trying to give this submission to. We become a mirror of everything they are not and they in fact rise up against it. This is why it is vital to understand a person must give an account of them selves and their ability to submit to the headship and Lordship of Jesus Christ. If we do not we will not be godly leaders.
    In regards to counseling alone, this reminds me of how our great Shepherd leads us into the valley and prepares a feast before us right in the presence of my enemies. He does not say he invites the enemy to the table he says he prepares a feast just for me. As we submit to the leadership of our great Shepherd in the middle of this terrible valley we can learn to feast at the table ,however, an abuser does not feel the need to feast.
    If we are counseling someone do we see their need to feast in the valley? While they are suffering and hurting are we willing to support what God is trying to do in their heart and just love on them and listen. We are great at quoting scripture looking at someone else’s fault. Leslie has encouraged me to look at my faults to allow my shepherd to prepare a table just for me. I will only be inviting those to the table who understand my need to feast and heal.

    • Connie on November 2, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      Nowhere in the Bible does it say for anyone to make another submit. It is a voluntary act of love toward someone showing love, and both wives and husbands are told to submit to each other, as well as parents and children, employers and employees to each other. And, we need to understand what submission is. I think ‘show deference’ would be a better way to say it.
      And, as I said earlier, when God said that the man will rule over the woman, He was saying that this would be an unfortunate result of the fall, not one of His laws. Like thorns and thistles, we would always have to war against this propensity to sin, but Christ came to set us free.

    • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      Wendy,

      I agree, there is a clear distinction of who He is in fellowship with.

      Your points are well written and expressed with genuine care.
      Thank you;)

  43. Alene on November 2, 2017 at 10:02 am

    Tim,
    I truly did seek to engage your words and meet you there.
    I believe you are seeking to bring in some good discussion; discussion that seems to focus on balance. Balance rather than extremes has wisdom, I can meet you there.
    I don’t believe you yourself are being extreme and swinging away from caring and wisdom. I believe you are seeking to clarify a couple of points where that could be honed.
    Thank you for clarifying who you are; a man who has sought to help women. As you so aptly point out, there is a risk for the woman speaking up and also for those who seek to help her.
    I believe you are saying you’ve observed there is a risk at times of going too far too fast with accusations. As you’ve heard here, for most women the danger is too little too slow. I believe you are saying that since the other scenario does exist, giving a word of caution can be helpful; there are those who may need it. I personally believe that Leslie is empowering women with information and advice to seek the Lord and come to their own conclusions and response for their own situation.

    I have had a concern that in some discussions of marriage the pendulum swings too far away from any authority structure. I believe you pointed that out. I think you are simply saying, let’s check the balance and not lose that element that is simply a part of reality and is a definite part of scripture in general, God does tend to set up lines of authority in many ways. I see Leslie’s point that in a healthy relationship there is … relationship, mutual respect and caring, that carries the couple forward smoothly as they work together, seeking to understand and care and then walk as one. Many of the ladies here have been damaged by authoritarian approaches but that doesn’t mean we throw the baby out with the bath water and throw out any sense of authority, which as you point out does clearly run through all of God’s word. Healthy authority, healthy respect, healthy relationship, and healthy trust in the Lord.

    I hope we can all listen to each other’s hearts and look for what is good, and seek the wisdom there.

    We can seek the Lord and we can seek wisdom together and healthy discussion is part of that.

    • Alene on November 2, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      PS
      Tim,
      I reviewed what Leslie asked of us at the beginning: “Friend, how have you struggled to communicate the reality of your abusive marriage to your pastor or counselor with specific examples? Have you been believed?”
      She didn’t ask us to agree or disagree or engage in discussion actually.
      My personality tends to easily lean into analyzing. I wonder if I sense that in you? I have to be careful to use that talent as a tool, choosing when it fits and when it doesn’t.
      Logic is important but it tends to reside in the head and can easily miss people’s hearts. I think the ladies are sensing something missing in interacting with you.
      In pondering, I feel this is an important postscript.
      I may make another post but will stick with Leslie’s specific question and share out of my story.

      By the way, you may feel counsellor constraints about sharing details about whatever this negative, etc. element is that you sense. It may be possible to share from general observations.

      Thank you.

    • Tim on November 2, 2017 at 9:26 pm

      A heartfelt thank you, Alene. You have truly heard what I was trying to share. And yes, as I commented above I tend toward objectivity and logic…analytical to use your word.

      And I agree with you that “the ladies are sensing something missing in interacting” with me. The logical me says, “That is because I wrote to Leslie about H, I, and J whereas they want to talk about A, B, and C…not H, I, and J. I will agree that A, B, and C are infinitely more important. But that is not what I wrote about, and presumably that is not why Leslie chose to share my comments on her blog. Listening is a two way street…thank you for having done it!

      • Diane on November 2, 2017 at 10:12 pm

        Tim, I struggle with keeping on topic. Could you tell me how to stick to H, I, J when I am an ABC wanderer?

      • Autumn on November 3, 2017 at 6:35 am

        Dictating what is discussed seems rather controlling to me. Scary, scary, man..

        • Tim on November 3, 2017 at 10:20 am

          No one is controlling but responding to what a person has said is helpful for constructive dialogue don’t you think?

          • Roxanne on November 18, 2017 at 3:46 pm

            One can control by omission. Take note of what questions were never answered. That action provides the speaker with control of the discussion as only one side is affirmed.



          • Janet on November 19, 2017 at 6:15 pm

            Hi Roxanne
            I noticed this too and also by some of the comments Tim made that led the reader to draw conclusions to what he might mean, e.g. “This site has enlightened me… or words to that effect, I can’t start trawling through again, but many of Tim’s responses left the reader to assume what he was meaning, which could lead to believing a positive…. and maybe that he was in agreement… I know my ex husband used these tactics to bluff me, there was a lot of gas lighting etc and he gave ambiguous answers inferring agreement, like, or approval. Constantly, he left me believing we were on the same page when in fact he was meaning the opposite, and I would pay for it later. At times, he was actually saying words to the effect of “ah i get it now… you’ve given me the ammunition, by what you’ve just said, you’ve fed me the bullets, now i’m going to fire the gun, but I won’t tell you when… or better still, i’ll turn the table around so you can fire your own bullets, it doesn’t really matter, because I’ve got you now, you’ll suffer now, you can pay for this because you have just shot yourself in the foot”…and it’s all your fault now, not mine at all! These times were when he was most dangerous.
            However, I have concluded, that yes, I am still vulnerable and could quite easily be drawn into the abuse web again. Through my over empathy and compassion/self doubt and irregular boundaries, weak CORE as well as unclear discernment, prudence and unstable wisdom. For this reason, I steer clear of romantic involvements until I know I’m safe and that won’t happen until I can see a pattern in my regular relationships being healthy and stable.
            However, whether I am right or wrong in my hypothesis about Tim, I know for sure, I have no concrete evidence regarding his character… I do not know Tim. I do not know his character, I do not know what was in his mind or heart, therefore, I cannot assume. ASS-U-ME
            I can not read something in, that may (or may not) be in there. WHY? because I am not in a relationship with him and I can’t tar everyone with the same brush as my ex (and other perpetrators of abuse, that I am aware of) just because I didn’t like what he said/didn’t say or omitted to say.
            Neither My expectations or understandings can be superimposed onto him, regardless of who he is, or how he is.

            I am me, and he is he.

            I am responsible and accountable to me, and the Lord. The Lord can judge and will know, so I don’t need to suspect him of wrong doing, I need to take care of how I respond. Therefore, I chose to apologize, simply because I can choose and make free will decisions now without submitting through fear or giving in to keep the peace or even holding back from apologizing for the same reasons. I am in a safe place, I’m not being coerced or submitting against my will or because of a crushed spirit. I’m not giving in, or being influenced by opinion.

            My choice does not impact nor influence any one else’s decision. It was a personal decision, to apologize, despite what I believe I saw or felt, and regardless of anyone else’s decision. No judgement/condoning implied on any individual choice, either way. I took an objective overall look, and agreed (from the beginning) that some comments seemed to be directive and emotionally charged. I saw that I was responsible for making implied comments when I am not the judge or jury and I do not know the man or his wife, nor indeed if he has one etc. Therefore, as Leslie stated, we are here to learn how to walk in CORE strengths, and dialogue accordingly, I decided, regardless of Tim’s comments, feelings or position or even James’ feelings and thoughts on the matter,(although I’m grateful for his gracious way of highlighting “where my arrows had been fired”.
            I would apologize for what I believe, I said/did wrong. and often times, this dumps other people’s rubbish on me, but I have to keep my heart right with the Lord, first and foremost, and if that means apologizing (wrongly or rightly) for what I perceive as my wrong, then this I must do and let the Lord teach me and bless me accordingly.
            Ultimately, Tim’s TRUTH and heart motives are between Him and God. As is each and everyone on earth.
            God bless all.
            Proverbs 3:5-6



  44. Sophia on November 2, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    I became a Christian as a teenager in a truly abusive and chaotic family. Physical realities include a Mother who has lost her mind and requires monthly ECT treatments for the past 6 years to minimally function. Add two siblings that have taken their lives(as adults). I was able to attend a Christian college but learned early to keep my past a secret. After years of adult life, I finally reached a point of enough security and support to get help via a Christian counselor. After marrying my believing husband and having a family, an MO was quiet surrender and accomplishing ‘all’ so we could raise a Christian family and build the church. Those patterns did not help my husband ultimately in his struggles nor glorify God. I am so grateful to God today because our struggles eventually lead to more intense personal outside counseling for both my husband and I. Also, God provided for us through Leslie Vernick and this site, an opportunity to turn the lights on and put the truth on the table. I am slowly getting stronger nd standing in confidence withought shame or guilt before my Savior Jesus Christ. The process however has taken decades! It has also been a slow process for my husband to confront and see his own sin and weakness. Many years have gone by of enabling patterns that might just appear to be quiet Christian living. In a way, this was repeating the pattern I grew up with and destroying us. Being honest and reaching out for help are monumental steps that for some of us require all the courage, grace and support we can get. If someone is truly in a place of desperation, I believe it is damaging to shut them down. If a person does not have the experience or calling to help, the best one can do is pray and step out of the way so help can be found. I have often thought that if our child broke a leg we would never run into the church for repair, yet we frequently do that with emotional struggles and brokenness. The co-laborers on this site are immensely compassionate and helpful and point to Christ. Leslie, please keep doing what you are doing .

    • Aly on November 2, 2017 at 12:45 pm

      Sophia!
      Praise God💜 For your transformational journey ~
      May He restore and redeem as His will 🙏

      • Sophia on November 2, 2017 at 1:09 pm

        ❤️

  45. Karen on November 2, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Everything you responded to was spot on, Leslie! My ex and I were in counseling and he was a MASTER at deception. He came across as the “victim” and me the “crazy wife” who, if I could be fixed, our marriage would be problem free.

    HOWEVER….He was so charming and me so completely abused and beaten down and ANGRY and fighting for my life and sanity! Even today, only God and he and I know every detail that occurred behind closed doors.

    Our counselor suggested that we split into two counselors and then meet every other week, the four of us. His counselor kept looking at me and blocking me, buying into all of his charming lies and deceit. It took our three children sitting in on the sessions to finally expose him!

    It was basically the four of us against his lies. His counselor finally got that I was telling the truth all along and later profusely said she was sorry with this comment, “I could only believe what my client told me. I’m so sorry.”

    These abusers have such an ability to act and charm, and because they smile and are so jovial while the abused can barely think or function, the victim is blamed for being off the wall….

    I suppose only us who have experienced this or like you who see this every day can really get it that these men are absolute subtle devils! I realize that women are abusers, too, but because men can disconnect from their feelings better, it is devastating to us as women and our personhood. I barely kept above water after 23 years of this, which became increasing escalated over the years.

    By God’s grace and mercy he lead me to a wise Christian counselor and she helped me to the extent that I was able to see and feel the reality of what was happening and actually support and help me through it. These other counselors claimed to be “Christian” but let me tell you, unless they are aware of the dynamics of this insidious relationship, they have NO CLUE and many woman’s lives are in danger because of it!

    Thank you, Leslie, for responding to God’s call to train these pastors and counselors on this life-threatening deception! It is bad enough to have been abused and shamed, but to not be believed and blamed by the people who are supposed to help can leave one in much despair and hopelessness. I am taking a huge sigh of relief in knowing someone is finally doing something about this! God Bless You and Keep You <3

    • Roxanne on November 3, 2017 at 6:30 am

      Another great post with a very accurate description of abusive dynamics well described.

  46. Autumn on November 2, 2017 at 9:52 pm

    This guy, Tim who says he is a counselor is dangerous. Why are we engaging with him again? He exhibits far too many red flag responses to be anything less than a predator. He is probably one of our X husbands.

    • Connie on November 2, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      My thoughts, too. He sounds strangely familiar, like he’s been on here before? Or maybe someone similar. He does, however, confirm by his links, the suspicion I’ve had that “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” doctrines are not biblical.

    • Janet on November 2, 2017 at 10:18 pm

      Autumn
      I wondered if the woman he was counselling was in fact his wife and he was on this site to glean a heads up to batter her down more. was it only a thought?! LOL!

    • Tim on November 3, 2017 at 11:49 am

      Autumn, “dangerous”? Do you think Leslie would invite my participation if she thought about me what you’re saying? So sorry you feel that way. It has been enlightening…

      • Maria on November 3, 2017 at 6:21 pm

        Tim,
        You are feeling attacked, and you are reacting. Imagine being attacked and belittled for days on end, month and years. It is likely that women in those situations have come to you for help, desperate and at their wits end, with poor, even sinful reactions. If their husbands are narcissists and are masters at manipulation, and you take their word over the abused emotional victim, what injustice! Please understand I am not accusing you of this, just trying to drive home a point.

  47. Wendy on November 3, 2017 at 12:24 am

    I must say that I am very tired after trying to get through all the posts about Tim. I agree with you my dear sisters, too many red flags.
    I had to leave my church and all I knew because of logical people who could not allow themselves to believe the wonderful man they would see every week was a fraud. I can tell you they believe me now. It took one year of my silence for him to show his true colors again.
    Being patient with the process and allowing God to reveal the truth is the only way to handle people. When we have an agenda regarding someone and feel we know better than they do we take Gods place in the situation. You always wait and allow God to work before we speak.
    The only one who knows the heart of a man is the Holy Spirit. If we humble ourselves to his leading we will be wise in our consoling.
    Leslie, thank you for never making us feel the way Tim does in conversation you are truly blessed by God in your calling.
    Tim my brother you are truly the one to be learning from your dear sister in Christ.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 3, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      Thanks Wendy. I think it’s crucial that we all learn how to communicate our thoughts and opinions without judging or attacking others – Tim too. This can be a rich dialogue and I think it can end on a very positive note. When we get upset or disagree it’s tempting just to fly off a quick reaction instead of really thinking it through and responding as God would have us respond. Let’s practice Core here. C – committed to honesty, no pretending. O – open to the Holy Spirit and wise others R – Responsible for MYSELF and RESPECTFUL towards others without dishonoring myself and E – empathic and compassionate without enabling. I think if we ALL stay in CORE, our discussion can be very fruitful.

      • Tim on November 5, 2017 at 2:51 am

        Ali, Nancy, Janice, Sarah, Leslie, Wendy, and others…
        (I’m not sure the best place on the thread for you all to see this so ‘ll post it here, and again at the end).

        First of all, thank you all for sharing your experiences, struggles, and feelings. I truly have heard you and my understanding of your situations has been illuminated . Trying to stay objective and “professional” here, I’ve been trying to figure out what the obstacle is to our mutual understanding…specifically why it is that many of you have reacted to my comments as if I was attacking you or judging you personally, which is certainly the farthest thing from my intent.

        So let me take a different approach and see what you think. Many of you have asked for more information about the woman I mentioned in my initial communication with Leslie.

        I’m interacting with several men who are in difficult marriages, and are desperate to find ways they can connect better with their wives. The woman I mentioned is the wife of one of these men. I engage on an individual level as well as in couple’s counseling and I have witnessed first hand the kinds of intense conflicts they’re struggling with. Both partners say, “This is the way it always is.” In other words, I have ample evidence to believe that what I have witnessed is what is actually happening and no evidence there is the kind of totally different hidden reality that most of you have described.

        So here’s what happens between them. For example, a friend’s child suddenly dies. The husband shifts into action mode, asking “what do we need to do to help this couple.” The wife is in grieving mode. She wants to sit still, reflect, weep, and mourn together, but he’s not in tune to her need, and she hasn’t communicated this expectation. The more he dives into helping the friends, the more she feels emotionally neglected, until she explodes at him, accusing him of insensitivity, lack of empathy, and failure to care for her.

        He is bewildered by her outburst, but calmly and logically explains his thinking with the conclusion “this moment is not about us…it’s about them and their needs”. But his explanation and even his calmness is further evidence to her that he doesn’t care about her emotional needs, so her feelings and accusations escalate. He concludes his explanation wasn’t logical and persuasive enough so he repeats it in more detail and with greater forcefulness. That just infuriates her all the more, and the cycle continues until there is a total meltdown between them. This is the kind of thing which happens regularly.

        In a nutshell, he is speaking “male-ese” and she is speaking “female-ese” (I realize it’s a stereotype but please bear with me). He’s speaking the language of logic and reason and she’s speaking the language of emotion and heart connection. Both persons have been “wired” by God in their respective ways. Neither focus is “bad”. So if they could learn to speak and understand each other’s “language” there could be much progress toward healing in their relationship…right? And that is precisely what I had been working toward.

        Now…another ingredient is added to the brew, and the pot is stirred. A female counselor with whom the wife meets from time to time recommends Leslie’s website, webinars, and books with the suggestion that “the real problem” is likely that her husband is emotionally abusive. Various incidents are recalled and rehashed from that perspective. And as she listens to Leslie’s 5 Red Flags, reads the book, and does the 60 question inventory, it all seems to make so much sense.

        Meanwhile, the husband is distraught. He is now being repeatedly accused of being “emotionally abusive”. He is being told the solution to their problems is not continuing to learn to speak and understand each other’s “language” but for him to stop being “an abusive person”. Instead of both of them working together toward a common goal, the full responsibility for their problems has been dumped on him. He has to change while she is now “working to take care of (herself) and (her) own needs”. The husband watches “the Five Red Flags”, checks out the website, and takes the Questionnaire too. He says, “I can use all that as evidence that my wife is the abusive one in the relationship. But I don’t believe “abuse” is causing our dysfunctional relationship. Rather, our dysfunctional relationship is causing symptoms similar to some of those in abusive marriages. Besides, how does writing each other off as “abusive” help us resolve the actual root problems in our relationship, which were so obvious before this “abuse” thing was added to the mix?”

        This is the “negative” influence I was describing to Leslie. Two of the other men I’m interacting with are in similar situations – one a bicultural marriage with it’s unique complications, another where the wife comes from a extremely dysfunctional family background. In their cases, Leslie’s resources aren’t part of the mix but at some point along the way, both wives “checked out” of the hard work of building constructive communication and response patterns under the guise of considering their husbands to be abusive, when in fact in both of these cases, it is the wives who are actually both extremely physically and emotionally abusive.

        Hopefully the above examples help to clarify where I’m coming from when I suggest the inclusion of some disclaimers. The suggestion in no way disparages or casts doubt on your very real horrific experiences. But presenting a more complete and more balanced picture of the truth is not something we should be afraid of. Like I’ve said above, it can only add to the credibility and effectiveness of what Leslie is trying to do.

        • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 5:01 am

          Tim,

          I really appreciate you trying to speak into problem solving and having healthy dialog.
          I’m going to try my best to say, wow I so relate to what you describe below! I’ll try to be brief here;

          I have asked questions about your original letter that Leslie shared which I think are reasonable of why maybe there are dynamics unfolding that maybe have lead you to think, Leslie needs to place a disclaimer on her website etc. given the sensitive topic at hand.

          (Something to note and simplify)
          Asking for more information about your original post and your implied conclusions to Leslie are reasonable and asking questions at all ~ shouldn’t be taken as taking any ‘offense’. So I think that many have wanted to engage and ask questions out of respect and not assuming.

          Moving on to your most recent post:

          You wrote;
          “Both partners say, “This is the way it always is.” In other words, I have ample evidence to believe that what I have witnessed is what is actually happening and no evidence there is the kind of totally different hidden reality that most of you have described.”

          Ok, here is where you and I can meet on the logical side of things. You have witnessed an hour (which is a fraction of time). I’m going to assume you see one of them each week and there are 168 hours/week.
          This is important because even that both partners will say ‘this is the cycle’ this is the dynamic right in front of you … doesn’t mean that there are not any ‘other components’ going on the other 168 hours of the week that are adding to the disconnection. I just think it’s important to not get caught up in the evidence of what you ‘don’t see’ and consider that a good conclusion or speak as if it is, when that logic itself could lend to a faulty one.

          Chances are you are seeing ‘the best version of the deeper chaos’ sadly.
          My heart goes out to them.

          Back to your example, you wrote;
          “The husband shifts into action mode, asking “what do we need to do to help this couple.”

          {seems like he’s might be comfortable being in this form of action/acts of service/task oriented}

          The wife is in grieving mode. She wants to sit still, reflect, weep, and mourn together, but he’s not in tune to her need, and she hasn’t communicated this expectation.

          {how do you know she hasn’t tried to communicate her needs? Maybe she has and she’s exhausted trying to be seen by him and heard by him}

          The more he dives into helping the friends, the more she feels emotionally neglected, until she explodes at him, accusing him of insensitivity, lack of empathy, and failure to care for her.”

          You made a good reference;
          ‘He’s not IN TUNE to her need’.
          This is critical because if he cannot be in tune to this very specific sensitive situation I can only imagine how out of tune he is regularly?

          I’m not saying he is all the time but this might be a tipping point for the wife…..a wife that is this upset at his posture is going to get built up ’emotional neglect’ over time.
          (I can personally relate to this)

          Have you asked the wife how alone she feels?
          Have you asked her how scared she is or maybe she could express it?

          It’s simple in some places that the husband as you describe is operational and the wife is needing emotional connection for something to me that seems reasonable (even if it alittle) see it’s not about how he is with the other couple going through a tragedy is about how he chooses to not engage her about tragedy. He doesn’t lean into her either. So what message does the wife hear or fear, what if tragedy comes to our door, my husband won’t be able to grieve with me and be of support and comfort. I’ll be abandoned and by myself.

          Are you working on Attachment and bonding issues with this couple?

          Emotional neglect especially over a long period of time is ‘abusive’ even if the husband isn’t mature or developed enough to understand the importance of being sensitive and compassionate to ‘his wife’s needs ~ he can take a road to learn how to!

          Abandonment and the posture of abandonment is also emotionally abusive. I don’t expect the husband that you describe to understand what I’m referring to because he is functioning at his level of comfort. (Maybe worldly maleness to generalize for a moment)

          You also wrote;
          “He concludes his explanation wasn’t logical and persuasive enough so he repeats it in more detail and with greater forcefulness. That just infuriates her all the more, and the cycle continues until there is a total meltdown between them. This is the kind of thing which happens regularly.”

          Greater forcefulness?
          Not sure I understand what that would mean but it sound like he is justifying his lack of emotional connection to her and wants to reason his way through, rather than Apologize, take responsibility to be adjustable and be IN TUNE with her needs (which are not going to be his exactly).

          This is called being compassionate and comforting to a spouse that you love and cherish.

          *when my husband is hurting, I’m hurting because he’s my husband*
          Emotional and spiritual comfort are essential to a healthy thriving marriage.

          Tim, if you are willing to see the seriousness of the emotional neglect and the years of hurt the wife has ‘unresolved’ you will add to the pain she feels of not being heard and validated.
          This isn’t a male or female lens issue, this is one of emotional maturity and intelligence as well as deep sensitivity toward neglect and abandonment experiences.

          I hope that helps in anyway, and I’m speaking from a similar marital framework~ but my husband decided to look deeply at his choices and his behaviors. The ‘worldly version of maleness’ was ultimately a very low standard that we were all paying a high price for.
          Thank God for his Love and Truth to give wisdom for us.🙏

        • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 5:19 am

          Tim,

          I really appreciate you trying to speak into problem solving and having healthy dialog.
          I’m going to try my best to say, wow I so relate to what you describe below! I’ll try to be brief here;

          I have asked questions about your original letter that Leslie shared which I think are reasonable of why maybe there are dynamics unfolding that maybe have lead you to think, Leslie needs to place a disclaimer on her website etc. given the sensitive topic at hand.

          (Something to note and simplify)
          Asking for more information about your original post and your implied conclusions to Leslie are reasonable and asking questions at all ~ shouldn’t be taken as taking any ‘offense’. So I think that many have wanted to engage and ask questions out of respect and not assuming.

          Moving on to your most recent post:

          You wrote;
          “Both partners say, “This is the way it always is.” In other words, I have ample evidence to believe that what I have witnessed is what is actually happening and no evidence there is the kind of totally different hidden reality that most of you have described.”

          Ok, here is where you and I can meet on the logical side of things. You have witnessed an hour (which is a fraction of time). I’m going to assume you see one of them each week and there are 168 hours/week.
          This is important because even that both partners will say ‘this is the cycle’ this is the dynamic right in front of you … doesn’t mean that there are not any ‘other components’ going on the other 168 hours of the week that are adding to the disconnection. I just think it’s important to not get caught up in the evidence of what you ‘don’t see’ and consider that a good conclusion or speak as if it is, when that logic itself could lend to a faulty one.

          Chances are you are seeing ‘the best version of the deeper chaos’ sadly.
          My heart goes out to them.

          Back to your example, you wrote;
          “The husband shifts into action mode, asking “what do we need to do to help this couple.”

          {seems like he’s might be comfortable being in this form of action/acts of service/task oriented}

          The wife is in grieving mode. She wants to sit still, reflect, weep, and mourn together, but he’s not in tune to her need, and she hasn’t communicated this expectation.

          {how do you know she hasn’t tried to communicate her needs? Maybe she has and she’s exhausted trying to be seen by him and heard by him}

          The more he dives into helping the friends, the more she feels emotionally neglected, until she explodes at him, accusing him of insensitivity, lack of empathy, and failure to care for her.”

          You made a good reference;
          ‘He’s not IN TUNE to her need’.
          This is critical because if he cannot be in tune to this very specific sensitive situation I can only imagine how out of tune he is regularly?

          I also want to highlight your reference ‘to her accusing him’
          Have you considered asking him these questions?

          Are you insensitive? Are you lacking empathy? Could you see that your wife is feeling neglected by you emotionally and that because of this she feels very disconnected and not valued by you?

          Your example of the wife exploding (not being reactive abusive but complete despare) might be a tipping point for the wife…..a wife that is this upset at his posture is going to get built up ’emotional neglect’ over time.
          (I can personally relate to this)

          Have you asked the wife how alone she feels?
          Have you asked her how scared she is or maybe she could express it?

          It’s simple in some places that the husband as you describe is operational and the wife is needing emotional connection for something to me that seems reasonable (even if it alittle) see it’s not about how he is with the other couple going through a tragedy is about how he chooses to not engage her about tragedy. He doesn’t lean into her either. So what message does the wife hear or fear, what if tragedy comes to our door, my husband won’t be able to grieve with me and be of support and comfort. I’ll be abandoned and by myself.

          Are you working on Attachment and bonding issues with this couple?

          Emotional neglect especially over a long period of time is ‘abusive’ even if the husband isn’t mature or developed enough to understand the importance of being sensitive and compassionate to ‘his wife’s needs ~ he can take a road to learn how to!

          Abandonment and the posture of abandonment is also emotionally abusive. I don’t expect the husband that you describe to understand what I’m referring to because he is functioning at his level of comfort. (Maybe worldly maleness to generalize for a moment)

          You also wrote;
          “He concludes his explanation wasn’t logical and persuasive enough so he repeats it in more detail and with greater forcefulness. That just infuriates her all the more, and the cycle continues until there is a total meltdown between them. This is the kind of thing which happens regularly.”

          Greater forcefulness?
          Not sure I understand what that would mean but it sound like he is justifying his lack of emotional connection to her and wants to reason his way through, rather than Apologize, take responsibility to be adjustable and be IN TUNE with her needs (which are not going to be his exactly).

          This is called being compassionate and comforting to a spouse that you love and cherish.

          *when my husband is hurting, I’m hurting because he’s my husband*
          Emotional and spiritual comfort are essential to a healthy thriving marriage.

          Tim, if you are willing to see the seriousness of the emotional neglect and the years of hurt the wife has ‘unresolved’ you will add to the pain she feels of not being heard and validated.
          This isn’t a male or female lens issue, this is one of emotional maturity and intelligence as well as deep sensitivity toward neglect and abandonment experiences.

          I hope that helps in anyway, and I’m speaking from a similar marital framework~ but my husband decided to look deeply at his choices and his behaviors. The ‘worldly version of maleness’ was ultimately a very low standard that we were all paying a high price for.
          Thank God for his Love and Truth to give wisdom for us.🙏

          • JoAnn on November 12, 2017 at 11:04 pm

            Aly, this is a good word, and very helpful, I think. The husband in this case seems to lack the ability to be sensitive to his wife’s feelings. Why not comfort her? Why not give her some comfort before running to help the other family? This sounds to me like an escape mechanism for someone who can’t handle emotions, which is not uncommon, especially in men. I remember too well having to teach my husband how to handle my emotions, especially my “monthly” crying bouts. Fortunately, he was a willing learner. I might be wrong, but it could be that this wife had abandonment issues already, (which an insightful counselor could take time to address) and when her husband went on to help the other family, it just triggered her own feelings. Feelings of abandonment can be triggered by anything, as simple as him walking out of the room before she has finished talking. I think you were right to point out that attachment issues might be at play here.



          • Aly on November 13, 2017 at 6:36 am

            JoAnn,

            So glad to see a response here from you🤗!
            You bring up some critical factors that I know I benefited from and hope to continue to benefit from.
            An insightful counselor is a very important aspect to sorting through these issues.

            My saddness is that I do think there have been many who have gone to counseling to get help and have received less than ‘help’. This particular dialog and article highlights the issue that maybe isn’t often brought to light in the counseling scope?

            Also yes to the Attachment link of abandonment!
            Your key phrase for me was ~
            The word ‘anything’ can trigger the abandonment wound.
            *Anything* is important especially for those of us who are married to these individuals because it’s hard enough for them to acknowledge their abandonment let alone have the introspective place to process them. Often times they are just projected onto the spouse, (they deem as the offender) and thus feeling a bit like a 2×6!

            Crazy making easily gets moving during these exchanges at least they did for my husband and I. The more I tried to understand, ask questions, the more frustrated he became, as if getting close to seeing clearer would make it worse. I was wanting to help reassure and give honest comfort… this was an impossible task. The less I looked or tried to resolve.. I was punished for that too. Conveniently covertly.
            Praise God for counseling to microscope in on certain moments! He is still working on his honesty toward dealing with the shame messages, I think this is where God ‘replants’ and replaces those old processes that don’t serve anyone well.

            My husband and I can laugh at certain memories, of how impossible it felt to get close, resolve, etc. to a mountain lion that tries to look like a kitten😲
            Quite daunting.

            For me when it comes to the emotional, mental and spiritual abuse, those Attachment wounds are big factors to address because they get played out in marriage often. And if not addressed then, they seem to reinvent themselves.
            Plus the biggest issue is how they affect A person’s ability to see and connect with God.

            Had it not been for our marital issues, I’m not sure that my husband would of saw his relationship with God an actual issue. For this He is so very thankful and continues to work through things.

            Hope you are well and thankful that you had a spouse healthy enough to be willing to care for you in tender ways.



        • Refocus-Reclaim on November 6, 2017 at 10:55 am

          It sounds like, in the first example mentioned (where the wife was referred to Leslie’s material) the wife was looking for something/someone to blame. She wasn’t looking inward at all – even in the previous counseling sessions. Disclaimers wouldn’t solve that – if they were even read by this wife.

          I think that is a marked difference between this wife, who seems to clearly be looking to shift the blame onto someone/something else (anything other than herself) to get out of doing some hard work, and a woman in a truly abusive situation. The women I’ve met (including me) who are in abusive situations are in denial in the sense that they don’t really believe it could be their spouse’s fault – they assume that all fault lies with them, as that is what they’ve been conditioned into believing. They try to cover up what’s been done, because they’re sure their spouse “didn’t mean it” or “has promised not to do that again”.

          I think Leslie is an expert at picking that scenario out, and doing so quite quickly. I know not all counselors can see that difference – I had worked with one who couldn’t before finding Leslie. When I read her book, it was as though someone had been living in my house and writing about my life. It both terrified and comforted me… but it still took me 3 more years to actually realize I wasn’t the only one at fault; that me not speaking truth was actually harming my spouse – not helping.

  48. Janice on November 3, 2017 at 12:11 pm

    Tim- We learn from bad examples as well as good… perhaps your inability to hear constructive criticism is telling which catagory your comments fall into. You seem to have such a low opinion of fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as to their intellectual capacities.I cannot help but hear condescension in your tone.If Jesus who knows everything and has the highest I.Q.(as well as Emotional Intelligence ) can speak to us without being patronizing surely you can as well… Leslie is inviting you here in order for you to humbly listen and learn.This is what is happening here week after week as we seek( always imperfectly) to listen to each other…”iron sharpening iron” I believe is the analogy.

    • Tim on November 5, 2017 at 3:48 am

      Janice,

      Let me ask you a question. If you’re “hearing condescension in (my) tone” and I honestly intend no condescension in my comments, how do you resolve that difference? Are you able to believe my words at face value and acknowledge you might have misjudged me, do you choose to believe that I’m delusional, or do you consider me to be deliberately putting down you and the others commenting on the blog?

      While I don’t always succeed, I find that thinking the best of others’ intentions generally results in better communication and understanding than maligning them. But also I would ask you to consider the possibility (as I mentioned in my post at the end of the comments) that you and I may speak differing “languages”. I might be wired to speak the “language of the head” while you might be speaking the “language of the heart”. Both are legitimate languages…not one superior to the other. As I do marriage counseling I see this one dynamic creating more dissonance than maybe any other.

      • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 5:53 am

        Tim,

        I think this response is critical to seeing some profound concerns.

        You wrote to Janice;
        “Are you able to believe my words at face value and acknowledge you might have misjudged me,”

        See right here is where I’m calling you to a higher place of acknowledging and reflecting… something not emotional, but logical ~
        Do you believe the woman in your counseling scenario at face value? Can you also acknowledge where you could misjudge her?

        You continued;
        “do you choose to believe that I’m delusional, or do you consider me to be deliberately putting down you and the others commenting on the blog?”

        Personally I don’t think you are deliberately putting anyone down on the blog.
        I do think you have had some replies that are with a condensending tone, which I have brought to you. Plus I think condensending tones are more ‘defenses’ that breakdown communication rather than foster good dialog.

        The word ‘delusional’ has come up and the interchange hasn’t been productive. Leslie pointed out that it is name calling, which I would agree in the context of the interactions it was so.

        I also want to note; that you yourself used ‘delusional’ to describe a women in your original post (question 3)

        I’m asking you to have some constructive reflections about what could be A pattern;

        The pattern or even biases that you have given in #3 reflect that the man Is ‘a fine and loving husband ‘ while the wife is suffering from ‘projecting’ her anger.

        I wonder if you are not unintentionally looking through this ‘lens’ on many scenarios and not investigating adequately to understand the dynamic and the cycle?

        Maybe you can relate more to the maleness of your client and maybe it hinders taking your females words at face value.
        Not saying accusations should be, but the importance of accusations is to consider the seriousness of them.

        It is my experience in many circles that many ‘women’ that might walk into your office for help are far from aware that they have been in an very upside down relationship dynamic for a long time. It took myself a long time to come to terms with my own emotionally abusive marriage because most often (not always) we are predisposed for a dynamic of these issues.
        I’m asking that you take inventory on your biases and ask God to help you be slow to conclude.

  49. Nancy on November 3, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    Hi Tim,

    In an answer to Aly’s question of whether you believe that you are sensitive, you answered that you are very logical.

    Counselling emotional abuse situations is an intuitive process, not logical.

    Recognizing that your logical strengths in some situations (physical abuse situations), are weaknesses in other situations ( emotional abuse), is critical so that you don’t UNINTENTIONALLY do harm to someone who is seeking your help.

    ( incidentally, my h is very logical. It is A LOT of work for him to learn how to communicate with me ( and me with him). He is putting in the effort because he is called to do so. In your case, unless you feel CALLED to counsel emotionally sensitive situations, then I don’t believe it is wise for you to do so, because it is not a natural fit for a logical personality profile).

    Perhaps much of the exasperation you are coming up against on this blog, is an overall response to a very logical communication style.

    And Counselling is ALL communication.

    • Maria on November 3, 2017 at 6:08 pm

      Nancy,
      From my experience, many church leaders have the same views that Tim has. And most women will approach the church for help first for financial reasons, anonymity etc. Therefore, it is important to have this kind of discussion with those are are open to listen. I really wish church leaders would walk closely with people that are in ED relationships. I know that if they are involved in the day to day challenges we face, they will see the truth. Until they have had personal encounters with abusers it is tough for them to understand. People that have walked with me through my journey have seen growth, I hope. At the beginning of my journey, I was responding poorly most of the time. Now, it’s with a desire to glorify a God and be an example to my kids. My husband however has become more manipulative and deceptive and does not accept any responsibility for his actions. I have seen him manipulate people who interact with him briefly. If they were to walk with us, they will see that we are faced with gray areas, not black or white situations as Leslie puts it. Many times I have had to pick the lesser of two evils. My close friends and family members had no knowledge of ED relationships. They have walked with me and been open to reading books to understand. We’ve had many good discussions over the years. I am hopeful that church leaders who are willing to listen and learn will understand abuse.

      • Nancy on November 3, 2017 at 10:32 pm

        I agree Maria. Any counsellor will benefit from Leslie’s teaching. And because Tim is willing to listen and interact here, that will most certainly benefit his clients.

    • Tim on November 5, 2017 at 3:50 am

      I agree…see my response to Janice above.

  50. Janice on November 3, 2017 at 2:09 pm

    one final thought…the only ” workable solution” to abuse is repentance on the part of the abuser.Until the Holy Spirit convicts no amount of marital counseling will change the human heart.My husband and I went for many years and sadly it bore no fruit in our relationship.I fear that many counsellors are subjecting women to guilt and pressure all in the name of ” workable solutions” that are in reality enabling abusive/neglective husbands to avoid the consequences of their behaviors.I have learned so much from Leslie and Patrick Doyle as well-he definitely”gets it”!

    • Nancy on November 3, 2017 at 3:19 pm

      HI Janice,

      Yes. That’s why counsellors who are specialized in abuse do not recommend marriage counselling to those in destructive relationships. In fact, as you point out, marriage counselling DOES HARM.

      My husband and I were damaged by it 5 years ago. After reading Leslie’s material and applying her suggestions, we went through a separation where I watched and waited to see my husband’s responses to my boundaries and requirements. That was 9 months of REALLY leaning into Christ, because the temptation to go back to the way things were ( not rock the boat, not stand my ground etc…) was so great.

      We are back in marriage counselling and it is COMPLETELY different.

      Thank you Leslie, for your voice, your wisdom, your books and this blog. The Lord used you to call me to repentance, and then He used me to call my husband to repentance. I am so grateful for what you do.

  51. Alene on November 3, 2017 at 6:29 pm

    Tim and Ladies,

    Tim, thanks for interacting above. I wanted to look for the best and seek to meet your words, and heart and hear what you were saying. I appreciated that you also heard me. I felt like we found a good balance.

    Leslie asked us to share with you and any others who read this ‘how we have struggled to communicate the reality of our situation with counsellors’, I’ll add pastors and husbands. Since I didn’t really do that yet, I’ll seek to get it into words.

    First of all, let me say, the ladies in this group are all in different parts of a process. I appreciate that Leslie gives us the space to grow and be where we are at in our journey. I think if we didn’t have freedom to choose and to be … that we wouldn’t have freedom to realize and feel our responsibility.

    I have been married almost 30 years.
    Cracks began to appear in the relationship with my husband a couple of years in to the marriage, and definitely after we had kids.
    If I tried to bring up concerns, he would cut it off and had an intimidating element and I was not heard and was ignored.
    When I tried to get help for the marriage (you will remember above that it took me many years to realize this was NOT a marriage problem), I felt too intimidated to share openly with the counselor (we were there together) so nothing was accomplished. So life kept going.
    I again at another point tried to get help through a marriage weekend: I ran in to a wall with my husband’s complete lack of awareness or willingness to consider what I was saying.
    A few years later I ran into a certain wall with my husband and began really bringing it to the Lord.
    2002: he ran into a work related problem and depression. The marriage element came to light in counselling but again he was unable to see and unwilling to work on the problem. I dropped out of counselling. It wasn’t doing any good for me to be there. My husband is a strong personality and the counsellor was able to do some work with him but he didn’t address a lot of what was happening but some progress made but…it wasn’t nothing but really things continued as well.
    Fast forward to 2008, I tried a marriage counselling week called ‘Caring for the Heart’ and there was a breakthrough: he put down extreme dominance and I realized that I needed a healthier view of submission (I’d been enabling, in Leslie’s wonderful words). Again he didn’t really own behaviors and – this is a key I’ve learned – did’nt have empathy for the impact. He acted like he was really a nice guy.
    I described it to myself over the years as running a gauntlet, being up against a fortress like Helm’s Deep with flaming arrows coming at me, and living in a fun house of mirrors where someone is pretending what is happening is not happening and it twists reality.
    This was burdensome.
    I tried to make it work, live around it, understand, persevere, trust the Lord, and so on.
    I tried to speak with two pastors, neither was equipped to understand, recognized what I was struggling with, or was equipped to help. The one pastor tried to do some marital things. It wasn’t a marital problem.. He told me once “I need to hear this type of thing” when I described a scenario earlier this year: I was left thinking “why”??? so you can decide if what I am saying is real? I am living this. There is no way to make you really see or feel this reality. You need to believe me and support me. You need to hold him accountable.
    There were a couple other opportunities for counsellors over the years; both times my husband’s denial and intimidating approach left me unable to speak freely.
    The pastor in spite of me speaking with him several times over the years…allowed my husband to be put in a position of leadership two years ago. His words to me were “I’m not the one who put his name up”. But he was the one who did nothing. He wants to believe the best but grace needs truth for balance just like truth needs grace.

    I went to get help for myself beginning five years ago. The first counsellor gave me a place to speak and she listened and took what I said at face value. I would share stories and she simply believed me. In comparison, my husband constantly stonewalled, was intimidating, and tried to get me to shut up and acted like nothing was wrong. He called me ‘too sensitive’ and he called counsellors names. What a difference to sit and be heard! I began to feel stronger. I needed someone outside the situation. It is so lonely trying to stand alone.
    Shortly before this I set my first boundary (he might choose to talk certain ways but I didn’t have to choose to listen! how freeing!). Leslie took a couple of my questions on her blog because I didn’t understand boundaries or consequences. I began to find my choices.
    I joined a six month Empowered Group with Leslie. I was so nervous at first. I didn’t want to go too far, and say something was destructive or abusive. In actuality I had waited far too long. I needed CORE strength: truth, … to stop enabling … resonsibility. CORE was crucial. It is truth that sets us free. I had a place again to describe what was happening and learn from other ladies.
    I think for some of the ladies here on this blog this feels like a safe place and they want to protect that and are alert to anyone who might take away that element; even in subtle or unintentional ways. I think you’ve run into that and I hope you’ll hear that heart element.
    It was hard to admit how bad it had been; myself, my children, my family, a few of my husband’s coworkers, a neighbor had all been effected, dreams, and goals. I needed better wisdom and strength so I didn’t enable the problem any longer.
    I went to sessions at a local women’s DV center. Again this helped me look what was happening in the face. Yes, throwing papers out and burning them falls under the term domestic violence. It violates the other person and their trust and the relationship. A red flag is how a person treats animals; a lack of respect and kindness there reveals something in the heart. I could hear the echo of my husband’s put downs of the dog and threats to kick him. Reality was becoming more and more clear.
    I also got involved with a group that emphasizes loving God and people WITH strength and truth. They spoke about watching our attitudes, intentions, and motivations…on the journey to greater strength. Leslie does too ‘respectful’; these ladies dug a little deeper by looking at A.I.M.s. They spoke about not cooperating with our husband’s poor behavior. They spoke of the spiritual element; crying out to the Lord, trusting His love, and the need for truth statements. There can be an entrenched strondhold that is blinding and causing deafness because of pride or the extent he’s cooperated or agreed with sin. (this would help explain part of the element of why my husband can’t hear me).

    Marle (above) shared how she learned not to stand up to him but to stand up for herself.
    There are so many things to learn on this journey. The Lord shown a light on a verse for me and showed me I’d been addressing the surface problem in what my husband would say and I needed to address the deeper real issue (not his words but his attitude, this was huge, it wasn’t the words about our son it was the fact he was putting him down).

    I have sought to grow and walk in CORE strength. Truth statements are making some impact. I wonder if stronger action is needed. He wants everything to be ok. He is avoidant. He avoided with a counsellor in a difficult work situation a year and a half ago. How do I go forward without open truth in this relationship? How do I stand strong? What is the wisdom needed at this point?

  52. Nancy on November 3, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    Hi Alene,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Your tenderness is evident through your writing.

    Alene, I’m guessing that you’ve read Leslie’s books. Have you considered applying her suggested strategy for confronting him, in love, with boundaries and requirements in order to move forward toward creating a new relationship?

    My h was also avoidant and it was a big relief to step back and allow him to make his choice. Did he want to be married, or not? Because if he wanted to stay married then he’d have to take responsibility for 50% of the relationship, as well as 100% of the baggage he brought in.

    Because for over twenty years, I took responsibility for the entire relationship, my sticking point was the fear that if I let go, he’d not grab on.

    If you haven’t confronted him, do you know what stops you?

    • Alene on November 4, 2017 at 11:24 am

      Nancy,
      You can see by how I ended that there are questions. Questions aren’t a bad thing as they lead to seeking the Lord and seeking how He can provide and lead through. I’ve continued to grow and gain strength, which was needed.
      Have I confronted? yes.
      Has he tried to respond? yes.
      Has he responded enough to ‘get there’? no.
      Has he avoided? yes.
      Has there been some progress? yes.
      Has it gotten deep enough to be real progress? not really.
      Is it easy to know the way? no.
      I think many of us would agree about that.

      • Nancy on November 4, 2017 at 12:48 pm

        Thanks for answering my question, Alene. That’s what I love about this group, we can offer one another support as well as questions that might help in ‘getting un-stuck’.

        And no, it isn’t easy to know the way.

        Hugs to you.

      • Aly on November 4, 2017 at 2:25 pm

        Alene and Nancy,

        This is really great dialog~
        Alene, would you expand how you might define ‘real progress’?

        I think this is very important and key to discerning boundaries and requirements.

        To give some details of my experience here, not saying it’s exactly the same shade or category.. of any but not all behavior addictions are all that inventive (just saying to consider).
        (Nancy and I have crossed certain paths with our husbands similarities)

        So when my husband surrendered (the mindset that he trusted) and it was what fed his ‘avoidant addiction patterns, he could see why and how he was emotionally abusing someone he claimed to love wholeheartedly.
        He’s in recovery for avoidant addiction ~ and he can see that battle, ‘seeing’ has been a long road😥 ..with the Holy Spirits’ help It came out of pain, loss and fear of loss.

        Bottom line was he was only surrendered to his wholehearted addiction. Without intervention and pain he would have been quite satisfied with his level of coping.
        Plus how he defines ‘wholehearted and a surrendered posture, versus God’s defining.. set him on a different path.

        • Alene on November 5, 2017 at 8:10 pm

          Aly and Nancy,

          Thanks for interacting with me.

          Nancy: what if I let go and he doesn’t hold on? that is the sticky point!

          Real progress: it might look a lot like CORE. Open to input would be a huge element. Empathy and understanding for the impact. Awareness of behavior and where it came from and definite commitment not to do it anymore. Open communication.

          Aly, I confess, some of your words were a little hard to follow but I think I got it.

          Aly: avoidant addiction!!! what a phrase! I’ve never heard it before.

          • Alene on November 5, 2017 at 8:15 pm

            Aly and Nancy,

            Open communication would mean we can talk about the past and things that have happened without him getting upset.

            Aly: I looked up avoidant addiction and it seems to mean socially avoidant. My husband is avoidant of knowing there’s a problem.



          • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 8:37 pm

            Alene,
            Yes .. conveniently so right😉

            You also might want to look into Attachment and bonding with looking at avoidant issues and addictions.
            Are you in counseling?



          • Renee on November 6, 2017 at 8:44 am

            Alene: Open communication would mean we can talk about the past and things that have happened without him getting upset.

            It has to be done. But it seems even counselors desire to sweep things under the rug.

            In my case: Not only does hubby not desire to talk about the past, he does not want to talk about current or future things that need discussing. Some of it does not involve the marital relationship.



          • Aly on November 6, 2017 at 10:13 am

            Renee,

            You mention some great points here. It’s seems that those that want to talk about the past are motivated to, because the past is ‘actually the present’ in terms of what a spouse might be experiencing.

            Not sure who quoted this:
            “When you’re free from the pain of your past, you can live fully in the present~ and look with hope toward the future”.

            For my journey and my marital journey…unless the pain is looked at and walked through, the unresolved grief or loss reveals itself in behavior and choices.



          • Aly on November 6, 2017 at 10:45 am

            Renee, Alene

            It’s really frustrating ‘not even being married to a person who won’t take accountability or responsibility for their past/present behavior …. let alone trying to have a sacred union with them!

            A person who continues to be unwilling to communicate and take ownership of themselves creates ‘destructive dynamic’ in my opinion.

            It’s completely unreasonable to not think communicating and working together in leaning into Christ and each other as essential!
            Even if your married to a professing (non-believer) that is an unreasonable standard for any marital dynamic.

            Something that helped me was to see that the person battling for (non resolve) has no interest in healthy mutual respect and regard. They are not the ones suffering from a lopsided unbalanced power struggle. In fact, their attitude and maturity level is much of ‘I shouldn’t have to work this hard to understand my spouse or their complaints or communicate to solve problems. Let’s avoid it and maybe it will magically resolve’



          • Renee on November 6, 2017 at 2:43 pm

            Oh Aly. How I wish this truth could be shared with my husband. But this is my safe place for now.



  53. Sarah on November 4, 2017 at 12:28 am

    “I’d rather be wrong speaking up for the oppressed than be wrong by empowering the oppressor.”

    Amen!

    This is not really an answer to Leslie’s question, but what I keep thinking while reading through all of this is: Proving guilt for private sins is very difficult. The most obvious example of this is sexual assault. Statistically, the overwhelming majority of women who bring accusations of sexual assault are telling the truth. But this is not easy to prove unless there is physical evidence. Legally, this creates a very sad difficulty in prosecuting sex crimes and there is no clearcut way around that difficulty without abandoning “innocent until proven guilty,” which a democratic society cannot abandon.

    Counseling cannot require the same weight of evidence. If a woman (or man) discloses sexual assault to a counselor, she (or he) should be immediately believed. The harm in not doing so is extremely great. The very slim chance that the person might be lying does exist, but there is much less damage in believing a lie than in invalidating the truth.

    Of course, sexual assault is a very particular, grevious crime, but the idea of private sins and how hard they are to prove carries across to abuse in general, of all kinds.

    Counselors should try to discern the truth, but there is often no way to prove or disprove private sins. Judges and juries exist to sentence perpetuators and so require a great burden of evidence. Counselors exist to help people. Counselors cannot logically wait for that burden of evidence as the courts to believe people, because much of the time, all any victim has is their word.

    I also think that this is partly why individual counseling is best. When someone counsels two people instead of one, they do become, by default, a judge to an extent. Because they have to judge between differing accounts. And because there is often no way for a counselor to really know the truth, they must guess. Better for each person to have their own counselor, I think–even if one person does lie, and their counselor believes them, the other person still has their own counselor and thus someone in their corner.

    Thank you again, Leslie, for everything you do. I am so thankful for you and your work. And I am so sorry about Gracie.

    • Aly on November 4, 2017 at 9:07 am

      Sarah,

      So well written, thank you;)

      You specifically brought up the importance of Invalidating the truth, or believing a lie.
      This narrows this discussion SO well because more often (not always) than not the offender has no interest is problem solving, seeking counseling etc. where as the offended is looking for validation and support based on what is taking place on an emotional level that can be hard to explain. They are looking for resolve while the offender thinks life and behaving this way is common place.
      And in some ways the attitude is common place (common does not mean NORMAL or healthy).

      As in my circumstance with my husband we had one counselor, (still do🤗) who was able to clearly see the pattern.
      ‘What you say, isn’t what you do’.

      This became clear in dialog only, and the counselor could validate the chaos and challenge my husband.

      I’m so thankful that many counselors are open to listening and getting equipped from Leslie these important areas of help in counseling and seeing such a high calling of that role.
      Thank you Leslie and your staff too;)

  54. Jo on November 4, 2017 at 12:56 am

    In the New Testament, both husband and wife are required to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”(Eph. 5:22) To me, that says neither is to have an attitude of superiority over the other. Instead an attitude of reverence for Christ is to govern their interactions. A husband is required to love his wife, and a wife to respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33). I Peter 3:7 requires a husband also to be considerate of his wife as well as to treat her with respect. In the verses that speak of a wife submitting to her husband, it tells her to make the choice to do this. Nowhere does it tell a husband to force her to submit to him.

    Those of us wives receiving abuse from our husbands, many of whom promised before God to love, honor, and cherish us as we also promised them, cry out abuse when our husbands do not do these things and instead misuse power to their advantage and to our harm. It is not just single incidents, but a pattern of selfish behavior at our expense. It is not easy to accept that the man you love is working against you for his own gain instead living up to the vows he made. When the abuse is all words, it is difficult to “prove” it to others, because these men have learned to show a “nice guy” facade to the world. My own husband is very careful to commit his emotional abuse when others aren’t looking. Unless a counselor is well-informed about abuse and very wise about its presentation in counseling, an abusive man will deceive the counselor, making himself look innocent and his wife look like the problem. Abusers are accustomed lying to and deceiving others. Mine does it most often by telling partial truths to make him look good and me look bad. The key is often in the information he leaves out and how he twists events for his own gain.

  55. many years on November 4, 2017 at 2:39 am

    To all who are here to express their consternation, their weaknesses, their goals in Christ to rise above their fears, to become founded in our Lord Jesus Christ. To let go of misconceived ‘church’ dogmas which they may have been raised with for years, which entrenched them in mindsets which strove against them, especially as women who were abused.

    Women who were dogged by ministry which ‘programed’ the congregation to live in a muddled world of misconceptions about the true nature of marriage which God intended. ‘To be HEIRS TOGETHER in Christ’.
    Because I have lived with a covert Narcissist for years (my husband) it took me literally years to figure out how to let go of HIM. And that means, in my heart, and in my soul, and in my mind, and to TOTALLY turn him over to God.

    As try as I might, there was no way I could ever change him. Only the Holy Spirit can do that.

    And no, there was no way I could go to so-called ministry to talk about my marriage, as those men in ministry were already brain-washed into the archaic methodology of the husband ‘being over’ the wife in the Lord IN EVERYTHING, even sexual abuse.

    Recently, when I was making comments here on Leslie’s site, someone asked me if I was working on my CORE. She could not see by my thought process and my reasonings, that I had not had any help from anyone else in my marriage, for the fact that the fellowship I was part of, effaced women in particular. I had had to ‘go it alone’ except for the fact that Jesus was with me.

    And Oh! My! Gosh! using the monthly period for a woman as an excuse for being emotionally deluded, and not in her right mind at that time of month…yeah, what men don’t really know about women and their ‘gut’ instincts and their intuitive and spiritual perceptions. Some men don’t believe women are capable of ‘understanding’ the things of God. Hogwash! Abigail, Deborah, Ruth, Esther, Jesus’ mother, Mary, the little maid who told a king to wash in a river to get rid of his leprosy. These women KNEW the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords! They knew how God worked in the lives of those whose hearts trusted in Him.

    It was only in 1990 that some of these psychological diagnosis such as Narcissist, Borderline, etc. came into being in the clinological professional format, except maybe with the exception of Carl Jung and his personality types assessment. So, I didn’t even have a clue as to what I was dealing with in how my husband related to life in general. Emotionally vacant, yet being able to ‘appear’ empathetic, and ‘giving’ to others, only for it to serve himself to fill his own needs.

    And for the confusion which is apparent with Tim and his counseling tactics, that maybe he has helped women in abusive situations, and possibly those situations have been very drastic abuse situations where the women, or men have had to get out immediately. He may not realize the covert part of how some men and women, can appear to be religious on the surface, but are ravenous wolves inside.

    What about those of us, who had to go it alone, when there were no websites to help us, (and now we have Leslie’s site and others) and it has only been recently that we have been helped by these sites. So, we are STILL trying to assimilate our lives, and for some of us our children went through difficult times, and yet NO ONE WAS THERE FOR THEM EITHER, or the help was ‘not enough.’

    I want to believe that ministry is beginning to ‘pick up’ the slack, in abusive relationships, and yet, there is still abuse which is rampant.

    And like one commenters said here on Leslie’s blog ‘there is no quick fix’ to some of these marriage dilemmas.

    We can only pray as individuals, when we do see the signs of abuse at long last, and yet, when there is no cure, for the abuser, even with confrontation with the abuser face to face, and yet, there is no apparent ‘way out’ for some of us, AND YET, as most of us ARE waiting upon the Lord for some clear signals. We don’t just ‘upstakes’ and walk away. Yet, I had a few gals who were pretty blunt about what I was doing in my own timing and in God’s timing, as though I could not discern for myself when to leave, or the timing was not quite right. I don’t need that kind of reprimanding as this is difficult enough as it is.

    When I said to my husband the other day ‘We are heirs together’ as I was talking about a financial situation where the law in my state says that half of the income coming in from either spouse belongs to the other spouse (and this is in a normal marriage situation, not just in an abusive one). My husband said, ‘I don’t think so’. So, later, I handed him an online printout to prove what I was saving was honest and true.

    My husband, who, when he is confronted spiritually, if I use God’s Word to prove a moot point, and doing it in a truthful, and honest manner, most of the time, he will not address the issue at hand, but will make a very shallow comment, which when I had said we were ‘Heirs together’ he retorted ‘That is E-R-R-O-R-S together, Errors!’ I seriously could not believe he said that. Later I told him ‘You can’t even be serious about spiritual things!’ He had no reply. He is spiritually vacant. When I attempt to talk to him about serious things (which I had tried to do this for years) He usually makes a cunning ‘joke’ about a serious marriage issue, or he will get on the defensive and say ‘That repulses me’. Years ago when I knew there was something definitely ‘wrong’ with our marriage and we needed help, he got a blank look on his face, and that conversation went no where.
    My grown children did counsel with two men in ministry about their dad’s verbal and physical abuse, and they talked to my husband, but my husband, never told me one thing the men talked to him about. So, there has never been any real communication on a deeper spiritual, or even marital level in my marriage.

    My husband doesn’t even have that capability to ‘relate’ to me as his ‘heir together.’ So sad, as he is the one who is really missing out on what God has intended for a man and wife. If he is even saved, only God can see his heart. And so, I pray. He did take a psychological evaluation where he works, and it did indicate that there are some normal aspects to his psyche. So, talking to him about serious things in life, is like talking to a blank wall.

    He has provided for family, but cannot provided spiritually, only on a false religious format.

    And it is apparent that the cult mindset religious group he grew up in, the authority was all about the MAN in the marriage. That the MAN had the last say. Really? And I am thankful for all of you ladies who posted about ‘rights’ in a marriage which you gals are ‘spot on’.

    What does one do with a man such as this when he can’t even be serious about spiritual verses in God’s Word which state implicitly how a true Christian marriage is supposed to function, ‘giving due benefit to one another’.

    He is shriveled up inside of himself with not much light penetrating his self-gratifying deception. It is sad, and disturbing, BUT, he has made his own choices. Oh, he has done many good deeds for others, but when he gives to others, it usually benefits himself in some way or another, and has do with his maintaining his upright facade.

    May God have mercy on these deluded souls whom we live with, or are attempting to distance ourselves from in order to continue to be children of the Light.

    God is my witness. I am just trying to speak my truth here. My road is not lonely, as I have Jesus by my side.

    • Aly on November 4, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Many Years,

      I’m very sorry for your marriage and what you have been through. I’m sorry you are alone, I hope you are open to not being alone on this journey as even as a Christian sister, we are not called to ‘be and remain alone’.
      I need Jesus as much as I need other with Jesus inside them walking along with and growing.

      Leslie has an article that talks about ‘5 descriptions of evil’ I’ll try to find it and post it.

      Again I’m very sorry for what you had been through and sounds like your still daily going through it~ but obviously more detached? (Not saying that’s the best option either)

      I would be interested to understand ‘why’ you think that staying in this non-marriage dynamic is the thing to do?
      Not staying you shouldn’t or should, wondering about what you think?

      I’m wondering about what belief you have about staying in an environment with him that communicates ‘ a form of marriage TO him’ when in reality you and he are very separated.

      From some of your examples;
      His immaturity and simple thought process might seem to interpret ‘togetherness’ very different than yourself and God. But nonetheless that is what he is experiencing and receiving from his own standard, Not God’s.
      (Even at the most simplest expression of presence here)

      I think you have done such great work of getting resources and getting knowledge about your situation. There is also lots of studies that show a person that would fall into this camp that you described~ actually has to ‘experience and feel’ consequences in order to have any catalyst to change or desire to even.

      When their life and lifestyle is rarely interrupted it’s only natural they are going to pursue their path they are on..

      So it’s challenging when we as Christians are called to love another which is really ‘to love the other to their highest Good’ it causes ourselves to look at our part and our love and what we are communicating in that love? Are we loving them to their highest good, are we loving them to our own needs, comforts or fears?

      As a parent, I face this often through my day.God has blessed me and privileged me with the daily ‘living’ reminder of this awesome challenge for His glory.

      My prayers are for You, and you are not alone, that is if you don’t want to be🤗
      Virtual Hugs

  56. Nancy on November 4, 2017 at 6:59 am

    Thanks for your response, Aleea.

    You said, ” as Christains we have made what’s in the Bible our entire identity”.

    We are not called to find our identity in the Bible, we are called to find our identity in Christ. And while Christ is the word made flesh,I’m really not comfortable with ‘finding my identity in the Bible’. That could lead to ‘Bible worship’. Worshipping Christ is good, worshiping the Bible is dangerous, I would think.

    I’m not sure how to articulate it more. But the Bible as my identity feels like a very dangerous starting point.

    Hugs to you!

    • Aleea on November 4, 2017 at 11:16 am

      Thank you Nancy,

      . . . .Okay, I didn’t say that very clearly but I am all but certain that you really know what I really mean. Our identity is in the Christ-of-Faith. We learn about the Christ-of-Faith from the Bible (God’s Word), unless people are just making stuff up or hearing voices, getting feelings, etc. I feel this color is important because it shows a commitment to honesty —no pretending.

      In love, I feel you are seizing on an irrelevant distinction to avoid the real force of my entire argument. If we really, I mean really, want to find The Truth, we need to make an iron-man out of arguments we don’t like, not a straw-man. Doing that appears to me to be just trying to “WIN” some minor point, but hopefully, we are trying to find The Truth.

      I want to believe as many true things and as few false things as possible. I am certain you do too. . . .I once, very sheepishly, asked a prominent Evangelical apologist who talked at our church, with his PhD in New Testament, if he had ever chanced to read Strauss’s Life of Jesus Critically Examined, 1835 (Free on the internet, pdf and voice, just Google). He had not. Things began to become very clear to me. He didn’t know that all his trusty arguments had been thoroughly, factually refuted many, many decades before he was even born.

      . . . .And like you, I am hopelessly in love with Jesus Christ and so grateful. The core of Chrsitianity is so, so beautiful even if there are parts that are all laced with misinformation that is spread intentionally or unintentionally.
      Much love, Aleea❣♡ ۵ 😊 💕

    • Nancy on November 4, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      Ok, so…I went back and re-read your post. I get that you seriously question the details of the Bible. I get that that is an avenue that is really important to you.

      All those details are just not important to me. As you know I approach the Word, as JoAnn explained, as rhema.

      God cuts through all the ‘misinformation’ and speaks to me about MY life. That is the Word alive and active in my day and week.

      Analysis just isn’t my thing.

      Take care

    • Aleea on November 5, 2017 at 1:40 am

      Thank you Nancy,

      . . . .You know, even after praying, a lot, about it. . . . .It seems to me, that the bigger picture is made up of nothing but details. Just like a digital picture is made up of nothing but those individual pixels. Christ’s divinity is in details, in highly disputed passages not in any extant manusripts of the Bible until the 4th Century. . . . .I try to be factual, fair and balanced. I’ll read “How Jesus Became God” 😥and “How God Became Jesus”❣ 😊 💕at the same time. But maybe being factual, fair and balanced is not possible. I don’t know.

      . . . .As I have said, sometimes I think, something else, . . .something else is going on at the intersection of psychology, theology, neuroscience but I don’t know what it is. I just know how I feel. “Faith” seems the word one uses when one does not have enough evidence to justify holding a belief in any normative sense, but when one just goes ahead and believes because of the way it makes them feel: i.e. helps them have hope. ―And to me, hope is r-e-a-l-l-y important. ―I love that feeling, being in love with Jesus. It is the best in love experience EVER! ―But also for me, the search for truth takes me where the evidence leads me, even if, at first, I didn’t want to go there.

      Again, ―I get it. ―I just don’t *fully* get it. I know of no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too desirous of evidence in support of their core beliefs. . . .As I study history, I see we have a choice. We have two options as human beings. We have a choice between real, deep, honest conversation (―like you and I at least attempt) and war. That’s it. Conversation or violence. ―And all through history, faith is a conversation stopper because often our own rhema (ῥῆμα in the N.T.) collides with someone else’s ῥῆμα. ―How do we adjudicate disputes without any appeal to evidence (―to details)? That is why there are thousands of Chrsitian demoninations believing all sorts of things and why Chrsitianity is so ill defined. . . . .

      Maybe, but only if you have time and want to, think about Islam for a min. If someone doesn’t value evidence (―which is made up of nothing but details), what evidence are you going to provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn’t value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic? While believing strongly, without evidence, is considered a mark of madness or stupidity in any other area of our lives, faith in Allah still holds immense prestige in the Middle East. Faith is the one area of our discourse where it is considered noble to pretend to be certain about things no human being could possibly be certain about. It is telling that this aura of nobility extends only to those faiths that still have many subscribers. Anyone caught worshipping . . .say Poseidon, even at sea, will be thought insane. When considering the truth of a proposition, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn’t.

      In the year 2017, a person can have sufficient intellectual and material resources to build a nuclear bomb and still believe that they will get seventy-two virgins in Paradise (―that is their rhema/ῥῆμα). We can’t get people together if they do not value logic, reason and most importantly, evidence. It is doubt that unites us, faith separates us.

      . . . .Again, Nancy, thank you so very much for sharing some of your life with me, that is special and beautiful and I appreciate that. —I need to work -way more- on what you are talking about to be more balanced. ☑ Each day, when I pray, I don’t even give God suggestions . . .I just pray “change me” continually change me as you see fit❣😊 💕 💗 ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬

    • Aleea on November 6, 2017 at 5:30 am

      Nancy, so as with everything I write, only read/respond to what the Holy Spirit tells you too. —I understand and always appreciate you. . . .I just wanted to put this here for anyone else who may be struggling with this because it rolls-up to much, much larger (—non-details related questions). . . .

      Re: Why Details Matter for the Rest of Us

      . . . . .I just wanted to add this, humbly, thoughtfully, why it matters that there are so many textual variants in our surviving manuscripts of the New Testament. Let’s just assume for now that details do not matter because no “fundamental Christian doctrines” are at stake. That’s not true, at all, but let’s just assume that, per se, . . . .details are important for other very important reasons. It should matter for anyone who believes that God gave the very words of the Bible, since the facts that we don’t *have* the original words in most/so many cases and that in many other cases the words themselves are highly in doubt (textual variants —equally dated manuscripts with different words), should call that belief into question. (I should point out that with the Hebrew Bible (—the O.T.) —God have mercy on us, we are in MUCH worse shape that the N.T. in knowing what anything like the “original” —whatever that might be— was. The textual situation there is really quite dire and anyone can confirm this by actually doing the research themselves —but actually doing the research themselves —very important.)

      The second group that the details and variants should interest would include just about anyone who is interested in knowing what the various authors of the Bible had to say about various subjects. I would assume that this group would include almost every person that posts to this blog.

      Re: Why Details *REALLY* Matter for What the Bible Says About Divorce & Remarriage

      One of the most fundamental insights of deeply studying the Word-of-God is that the different authors of the Bible all have different points of view (—this is extremely important for the teachings on divorce and remarriage), different perspectives, theological investments, opinions, ways of looking at things. The Bible is not ONE thing. It is lots of different things. —Just sticking with the New Testament: Matthew’s understanding of Jesus is very different from John’s; John’s is very different from Luke’s; Luke’s from Paul; and so on. The understanding of the ongoing importance of the Jewish law and the relationship of Christians and Jews is different, depending on whether you are reading Matthew, John, or Paul. The understanding of how one is put into a right relationship with God (—saved from our sins) differs significantly between Matthew, Luke, Paul, and James. And so on and on. And so the details really matter. You can’t simply lump them all together and derive “THE” teaching of the New Testament —on many, many, many issues.

      But that means that it really, really, deeply matters what each individual author has to say. If it WERE the case that the “lumped-together” view was all that mattered, then textual variants (details) would be far less interesting and important. If Mark (on divorce) can be shown to say one thing in a particular passage that is at odds with Luke and Matthew, then a “lumped-together” view would smooth over the differences. But letting each author have his own perspective, point of view, their own voice in our CORE methodology, and theology means that if textual variants are taken seriously, the *differences* among the authors actually become very profound and significant.

      So that is enough of that. . . .but it also shows you why prayer is so, so important too. i.e. Lord God show me not conformation basis but the Truth. Help me to get out of my own comfort zone so I can learn and grow closer to Truth. For all of us, we want to be the most skeptical of the things we *most* want to be true (—our confirmation biasis) if we care about finding Truth. . . . .Very, very difficult to do, —I certainly know that too. It is probably harder for me than most.

      Much love and Prayers, Aleea

    • Nancy on November 6, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      Hi Aly and Aleea,

      Augustine ( I believe) said, “in essential, unity, in non-essential, liberty and in all things, charity).

      I so agree with you Aly about the essentials of the faith.

      And the reason I love Bible study is because it was at a bible study that the Lord first touched my heart. He speaks through His word. I don’t do this alone, I’m part of study that is multi denominational and as a result the focus is on the essentials of the faith. The rest, the denominational differences, are not essential, they are important for each person to discover, but not essential.

      My faith is very smal. But it rests in One who is not.

    • Aleea on November 6, 2017 at 6:25 pm

      Re: Sandra Lee

      “. . .All we need to believe is that Jesus is all we need, now & forever = JESUS + 0”

      Sandra Lee, I appreciate you saying that. That is a beautiful statement of love and dependence on Jesus. —And when I read the gospels, I fall in love with Christ too, the way one falls asleep. . . . . .slowly, and then all at once. It is like a magnet just reaches to my heart and just pulls me. . . . .There is a deeper place to go, as Aly mentions and I agree with her, but I still love statements of dependent faith. That is so, so beautiful. . . . .I just want people to be armed and dangerous to anyone that would try to exploit them but at the same time I don’t want to use what I know to unwittingly be a pawn of the devil. . . . .It is a delicate balance. Much love, Aleea !!! 💗 😊 💖. . . .

      Re: Aly

      “As Christian’s I believe it’s important to have ‘like mindedness’ on the essentials of faith. There is plenty of space for our differences in the non~essentials but even that can get merky as we are all growing in different areas.” . . . . I agree Aly.

      . . . .And like you, I am hopelessly in love with Jesus Christ and so grateful. The core of Christianity is so, so beautiful even if there are parts that are all laced with misinformation that is spread intentionally or unintentionally.

      “Love that you are here on this Blog Aleea, it’s really painful when any of us have been steered or misused by scripture of the Bible and injured so.” . . . .I appreciate that Aly. . . . .Again, I just want people to be armed and dangerous to anyone that would try to exploit them, but at the same time, again, I don’t want to use what I know to unwittingly be a pawn of the devil.

      My posts, I pray over them, -a lot. I have lots, and lots of posts that the Holy Spirit has said “NO” to. Not because people can’t deal with the Truth but because I need to do more research before saying something or the probability that it could be wrong was higher than thirty percent, etc. Much love, Aleea❣😊 💕😊 💕. . . .

      Re: Nancy

      “in essential, unity, in non-essential, liberty and in all things, charity. . .” . . .I agree.

      “And the reason I love Bible study is because it was at a bible study that the Lord first touched my heart. He speaks through His word.” . . . That is so beautiful.

      “My faith is very small. But it rests in One who is not.” . . . That is equally beautiful. . . . .Again, I am hopelessly in love with Jesus Christ and so grateful for all God has given me and for all of you blog friends. The core of Christianity is so, so beautiful.

      Much love, Aleea 💜 💟 😊 💕. . . .

      . . . .Oh, all of you, you would not even *believe* how emotional I am, as a person. I really, really have to work so, so hard at being rational, analytical, careful, not just going with my feelings, etc. . . .To know Christ and to have *any part* in His kingdom (—no matter how small, even just praying for people) is just overwhelming to me.

      Being a Christian, sometimes when I *really* see it clearly, beyond the shame, the guilt, the self-judgement . . .it is such a majestic thing! Christ ♛❤ comes and lives inside us!!! Sometimes, I can’t even fully process that. It is so unbelievably wonderful it is almost unbelievable to me.

    • Nancy on November 6, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      ❤️

    • Aleea on November 7, 2017 at 5:57 am

      re: “❤”

      . . . .Absolutely!!! . . .Christ’s love ❤ > all the text deconstruction used to “prove” the modern day divorce/remarriage stances (re: Charles Kraft of Fuller Theological Seminary, Christianity in Culture, Kraft points out how Evangelicals have often found themselves in a *total* quandary over “biblical injunctions” . . .and, as a result, deploy liberal text deconstruction. . . .

      Christ’s love ❤ > ALL post-modern Christian structural thought. . .*all* of it.

      Christ’s love ❤ . . . is always the very present mystery in the very act of real love and sacrifice itself. . . .What if the church would be less concerned with creating “saints” than creating a world where we do not even need these saints? A world where people like Mother Teresa, Leslie Vernick, etc. would have absolutely nothing at all to do, except pursue/share Christ themselves. . . . .That requires lots of rainbow vs. black and white thinking, on everybody’s part. A true Christian pastor attacks systems of oppression against women, men, everybody —and fights for people’s spiritual health AND a better world even though that new world will negatively affect his own positions of power.

      . . . .Bringing real love, Christ’s love ❤ into our inner and outer world’s . . . .that will cost us everything. Sometimes it just hits me that Jesus was offering his followers . . . .was actually inviting them to enter into a life of love that transcends ethics, a life of total liberty that dwells beyond even the Bible’s own religious laws? . . . .Because, it seems to me, that the difference between following an ethical system and being consumed by love can be seen in the way that ethical systems seek to provide a way to work out what needs to be done so that it can be carried out. In contrast, love is never constrained, it never sits back, it always seeks to do more than what is demanded of it and it absolutely melts the hearts of those that receive it. Re:”Why do I have such a wonderful husband/wife?”

      . . . .But, as always, none of this works with an interpersonally exploitative, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, etc. man, woman, etc. . . .but I would extrapolate that the amount of those people is actually extremely small, at least that is what I hear from the counselors/researchers I talk to. . . . .But, that’s the peer-reviewed, large-sample, longevity data we need and what this counselor (above) seems to be at least partically upset about. Labeling people is extremely dangerous. If I call someone a “post-modern Christian structural thinker” I better be able to verify that with real facts.

      Anyways, Christ’s love ❤ > the church reducing the Crucifixion and Resurrection to affirmations held by a certain tribe, rather than expressions of a life of real love, i.e. the event they testify to has been almost completely eclipsed. A faith that can only exist in the light of victory and certainty is one which really affirms the self while pretending to affirm Christ, for it only follows Jesus in the belief that Jesus has conquered death. Yet a faith that can look at the horror of the cross and still say ‘yes’ is one that says ‘no’ to self in saying ‘yes’ to Christ. Right? . . . .The problem with so much church communication is that it aims at changing our minds. The result is that we can hear the message of the pastor without necessarily heeding the message (actions). We need more role playing and modeling right in the service. . . .We can listen to the “Truth” and agree with it, yet not change in response to it. . . . And as true as a God exists in heaven, our real beliefs are not to be found at the level of our egos, they are in our actions, especially under pressure.⌘ ⌛ ✈ ⌚ ❣

  57. Maria on November 4, 2017 at 7:12 am

    Many churches preach that the man has the final say. This is dangerous doctrine especially in abusive situations. Does anyone know the scripture they use to support this?

    • Barbara on November 4, 2017 at 10:08 am

      There is no scripture which states that the man makes the final decision. That teaching comes from their interpretation, or more accurately, their application of Ephesians 5:23.

      • Connie on November 4, 2017 at 10:25 am

        I’m going to post this again, since I think it sort of got lost up in the many posts (and since this ‘authority’ thing keeps popping up over and over:

        http://margmowczko.com/kephale-and-male-headship-in-pauls-letters/

        This is such an excellent article, and lots of references at the end as well. The kingdom of God is to be different than the ‘gentiles’ in that it’s a flat field, no castes or ‘chains’ of authority. Just look at history and we can see that we humans cannot handle power over others. Only God has that right. How can you really love someone who is not your equal, someone who you feel is your boss, or someone who you look down on as your subject? Sure, you may feel some sort of ‘love’ but it’s twisted. God told Israel not to have a king, because he would take advantage of them. Even the good ones messed up whenever they weren’t listening to and accountable to a prophet. Every. Time.

        It is the world, the flesh, and the devil that cause people to want to ‘be as God’.

        • Tim on November 5, 2017 at 8:17 am

          Connie, the writer in your article cites dated evidence that has been refuted for many years. A good up-to-date summary on the word kephale (head) and it’s meanings can be found here:

          http://www.waynegrudem.com/meaning-of-kephale-after-30-years/

          Here is an expanded portion of the above:

          the primary lexicon for New Testament Greek, the Bauer-Arndt-Gingrich-Danker Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature,84 has now been replaced by a new, completely revised third edition, based on the sixth German edition. Due to the extensive work of Frederick W. Danker, this third edition is known as the Bauer-Danker-Arndt-Gingrich Lexicon, as announced at the 1999 Society of Biblical Literature meeting in Boston. In that new lexicon the entry for kefalhv includes these meanings: “a being of high status, head, fig. 2a. In the case of living beings, to denote superior rank. . . . 2b. Of things, the uppermost part, extremity, end point.”(p. 542). No mention is made of the meaning “source.”
          3. Is there any dispute in the lexicons about the meaning of kefalh?v Where does this leave us with regard to the dispute over kefalh in the ancient world? Up to this time, Liddell-Scott was the only Greek- English lexicon that even mentioned the possibility of the meaning “source” for kefalh.v 85 All the other standard Greek-English lexicons for the New Testament gave meanings such as “leader, ruler, person in authority” and made no mention of the meaning “source” (see BAGD,
          83Joel Green, ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, and Carlisle, England: Paternoster, 1995), 165-172.
          842nd edition; Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1979. This is a translation based on the fifth German edition of Bauer’s Griechisch-Deutsches Wörterbuch (1958).
          85Professor Al Wolters has pointed out to me in private correspondence (December 7, 1997), however, that the recognition that Herodotus 4:91 gives to the “sources” of the Tearus River with the plural of kefalhv is rather standard in Greek lexicons in other languages than English. I agree that kefalhv is applied to the sources of the river in the Herodotus passage, but I would also agree with the analyses of Glare and Chadwick that this is simply an application of the word to the geographical end-points of a river and fits the common sense “extremity, end-point” for kefalhv and should not be counted as an example of a new meaning, “source.” (Wolters him- self thinks the Herodotus reference is a result of semantic borrowing from Persian and so has a rather un-Greek character. This is certainly possible and would not be inconsistent with my understanding of kefalh.v )
          192 BIBLICAL FOUNDATIONS FOR MANHOOD AND WOMANHOOD
          430; Louw-Nida, 1:739; also the older lexicons by Thayer, 345, and Craemer, 354; also TDNT, 3:363-372; as well as the sixth German edi- tion of Walter Bauer, Griechisch-deutsches Wörterbuch,86 874-875; and most recently A Greek-English Lexicon of the Septuagint, edited by J. Lust, E. Eynikel, and K. Hauspie,87 254; similarly, for the patristic period see Lampe, Patristic Greek Lexicon, 749, as cited above).
          But now the editor of the only lexicon that mentioned the mean- ing “source” in any connection says that kefalhv “does seem frequently to denote leader or chief . . . and here it seems perverse to deny author- ity” and that “The supposed sense ‘source’ of course does not exist.”
          These recent developments therefore seem to indicate that there is no “battle of the lexicons” over the meaning of kefalh,v but that the authors and editors of all the English lexicons for ancient Greek now agree (1) that the meaning “leader, chief, person in authority” clearly exists for kefalh,v and(2)thatthemeaning“source”simplydoesnotexist.

          http://cdn.desiringgod.org/pdf/books_bbf/books_bbf.pdf

  58. Alene on November 4, 2017 at 12:14 pm

    Tim,

    I have found that Leslie’s idea of CORE strength has a lot of helpful wisdom embedded in it.

    One of the elements is ‘commitment to truth’. Sometimes in a desire to speak ‘right’ it is possible to subttly mask truth. Bear with me and I”ll try to bring out this thought.

    There is a personality that tends to be analytical and also tends to focus on what is right.

    Is it possible you are frustrated with how the situation is going with this marriage counselling? Is it possible that you as the counsellor want to discern the problem and direct the process? Is it possible that part of the frustration is because you aren’t able to because there is another counsellor involved and a wife who is making certain choices based on her perception? These are truth questions (C) and it would fall under your (R) responsibility to wonder what the answers are or decide they don’t fit.

    I looked into personality info to seek to shave off what was not part of the problem in my situation. I honed my understanding of my tendency to analyze and my sense of right. I think I sensed something in your original words.
    You said you want to be able to recommend Leslie’s materials. Was that the truth or trying to say the right thing smoothly as you ended. I wonder if you were being real. If you see the value of what she is saying then they are worth recommending. If you think they would be better with a word of caution you could choose to bring up the topic with Leslie and you did. If Leslie feels that adding a word of caution would bring in an element that might soften or minimilize her message then you can choose to recommend her materials and give your own word of caution or decide you can’t recommend them. If she agrees with your concern she may choose to respond.
    It is possible that she could agree in one sense and not think it fits. What would you recommend instead would then become the question.

    I wonder if one question is: is using the term ‘abuse’ always line up with strong words like ’embezzler’. Is it a verdict or sometimes a description? I did actually use the word the ‘abuse’ earlier this year to speak truth about what type of behavior this has been. I was not giving a verdict and condemnation but a description. I used a serious description because it has been serious behavior and impact.

    I have found Leslie’s CORE strength statements make me stop and think and hone my awareness of not only what others are doing but what I am doing. C is commitment to truth. I know how I have tended to write ‘right’ and lack an element of ‘real’ or ‘relationship’. I can get a superficial element or cold element. Someone else of a different personality might need to be aware in a different area. I like knowing this about myself. There is a time for analysis and ‘right’ and I can choose when that fits or how it fits. Personality info has helped me understand what is behavior that needs to be addressed with my husband and where I can live with him in a more understanding way.

    Often ‘right’ is actually wrong when it is not relational and doesn’t differentiate to allow freedom for what is my responsibility and what is someone else’s. It can be wrong if it doesn’t listen to the other person to see their perspective. The idea of ‘rightness’, like analysis, is also a tool and needs discernment of when to use it and when not to. Why is this woman using the word abuse? where and how have you listened?

    I like Leslie’s “R” of responsibility, even when it cuts both ways. Leslie is being responsible to speak up to alert us to destructive behavior and provide help. I can safely say that thousands of women have been helped, strengthened and encouraged and thus children and families and communities have been impacted in a positive way. You as a counsellor have a responsibliity to listen and discern. You had a concern and could take the responsibility to speak up.

    I have noticed that it can be very helpful if the “Commitment to Truth” included the word “Humble truth”. God gives grace to the humble. It is very easy to get bitter or frustrated or at last sound crazy in these situations. I’ve found that retaining humility is a key to aim for. I include that when I share with others. You can make a similar choice saying that you find that using the term abuser is a serious accusation and it can be helpful to discuss abusive behaviors and not jump to a label or judgment (I am seeking to get your concern into words).

    Is it possible for a woman to hit the point of no return and not be able to reconcile because of an accumulation of bad behavior and impact on her and loss of trust, yes. In interacting with women I have gained a compassion for how difficult these situations are and how hard they are to navigate and how alone a woman feels and how much she has born over the years. It is possible that there is no longer much time for resolution but only a serious response. My husband couldn’t move quickly enough to respond in a work situation and a friend of mine in a family situation and that is just part of reality. People helpers have to give the people they help the freedom of responsibility to choose; they can advise but they cannot choose. People will continue to learn and grow no matter what choice they make and sometimes that is just the way it is.

    I hope that what women are sharing here helps you know how hard it is for a woman to speak up and be believed. I hope the discussion has been helpful around what you brought up too.

    • Aly on November 4, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Alene,

      I so agree here!! Thank you for posting such clear examples.

    • many years on November 4, 2017 at 5:13 pm

      Excellent! Alene! Thank you for these insights.

    • Tim on November 5, 2017 at 3:33 am

      Alene, time won’t permit me to touch on everything you said, but I do want to respond to your thoughts on the word “abuse”. No doubt we all have differing perspectives on the word, and context is relevant as well. Someone above called me “delusional”. That is another label I would be very hesitant to use because like calling someone “abusive” it crosses a line. If you’re going to go there, you need to make sure you’ve done your research and have your facts straight. This is why the Scriptures in both the New and Old Testament require serious accusations against someone to be brought with two or three witnesses present, and for serious accusations against an elder/pastor to be brought BY two or three witnesses. As I pointed out earlier, the most ignored 9th Commandment is a specific warning against false accusations, which is why I take it so seriously in counseling situations. I even take it seriously in the kind of interchange we are having here on this blog. Labeling someone “narcissistic”, “sociopathic”, “psychopathic”, or even “controlling”, “manipulative”, and “domineering” is not helpful in furthering the truth we’re all searching for, nor does it build deeper understanding between us. It easily becomes a means of vilifying the person with whom you disagree or by whom you feel threatened, so that you don’t have to truly engage with that person’s opinions or feelings.

      Having said the above, when the situation is clear, there comes a time when we must confront the truth that the person’s pervasive behavior IS abusive, addictive, delusional, controlling, narcissistic, prideful, lustful, or whatever it might be. This is the heart of Paul’s command to “speak the truth in love.”

      • each and every counsellor, pastor, leaJanet on November 5, 2017 at 10:48 pm

        TIM
        You wrote:
        As I pointed out earlier, the most ignored 9th Commandment is a specific warning against false accusations, which is why I take it so seriously in counseling situations. I even take it seriously in the kind of interchange we are having here on this blog. Labeling someone “narcissistic”, “sociopathic”, “psychopathic”, or even “controlling”, “manipulative”, and “domineering” is not helpful in furthering the truth we’re all searching for, nor does it build deeper understanding between us. It easily becomes a means of vilifying the person with whom you disagree or by whom you feel threatened, so that you don’t have to truly engage with that person’s opinions or feelings.

        Having said the above, when the situation is clear, there comes a time when we must confront the truth that the person’s pervasive behavior IS abusive, addictive, delusional, controlling, narcissistic, prideful, lustful, or whatever it might be. This is the heart of Paul’s command to “speak the truth in love.”

        Tim
        I would just like to say, The situation was not as clear to me in 2013 as it is now. Today it is very clear to me. If I had to wait for 2 or 3 witnesses to give evidence (to corroborate) my evidence, as to my husband’s behaviour, attitude towards me or his family, I know I would have been crucified beside My Lord and Saviour, and even so today, 4 yrs later!
        Likewise If I had to wait for a diagnosis into his condition/character/personality, I’m certain he would get the “all clear” while I would be branded guilty!!!

        God is my Judge and He is my witness.
        He is the one that led me to understand what was going on in my relationship, and why after 27 years of me trying everything, I could, In every way I could, to make the marriage work, inc. several (failed) attempts at counselling, I had to call it a day for my sanity’s sake.

        I no longer wish to continue with this thread because I realise you also draw the same conclusions as every counsellor, pastor, leader, elder.

        There is no wonder so many women suffer in silence and are stuck in abusive situations!

        There is one set of statistics I would like you to show me, and that is the percentage of MEN who are disbelieved when they report abuse from their female partner, compared to the percentage of women who are disbelieved, especially amongst the church ministries.
        .
        I am alive today because the Lord stepped in to my life, intervened in my situation and saved me from what my husband was planning. I chose to believe the Lord, and leave my husband, with Abrahamic faith. Hoping and PRAYING the Lord would give me a miracle, or not let the truth of what HE had opened my eyes to, shown me and led me to discover and learn (in the last year of our marriage).

        I don’t just read and quote scripture to prove my point, as going by what I can see in these threads, seems to be your way.

        If I had waited for just 1 person, that knows my ex-husband, to believe me, or to say that he was not the salt of the earth, I would be dead. He is the sickest most perfect manipulator I have ever heard of, and this is why I was (held) beguiled, deluded and confused for 26 years! You may be a counsellor but it does not make you an expert on covert and coercive abuse. It is impossible to get even an understanding or a real knowledge of this kind of abuse from a textbook or lecture class. Let alone know what covert narcissism/ a socialised Psychopath really looks like or how it impacts and individual or their family.unless you have lived it.

        I have heard you loud and clear, in every one of your responses. I have not read one response, from you, that even implied understanding, compassion or empathy towards any woman that responded on this thread. From the very beginning you perceived their emotional responses as personal attacks on you, and chose not to show grace, compassion or empathy, instead, you reacted by telling them their reaction was wrong!
        Conversely,
        You replied to every comment that was in your favour, agreeing with your thoughts. Effectively, pointing out to us all again, that what you was saying “IS RIGHT”. You are agreeing with yourself as you praise their comments!

        I understand that gaining understanding about covert abuse, was never your aim or intention for being on Leslie’s site in the first place, and it is apparent that you are not willing to be humble and share anything that you have learned, personally. That is if you have? Has the Lord spoken to you about anything that you need, or can take away with you, that will benefit you? or are you here purely and simply to benefit us?

        I’m not even sure if you know the Lord, intimately, and personally, for Him to speak to you.

        It seems you have a scriptural based theological knowledge that you combine with a postmodern view of Western history. This is no substitute for a real, living relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord of your life, Nor is it relevant in real life, abusive situations, covert or overt.

        The majority of ladies on this site are not whimpering, attention seeking, manipulators that simply need to learn to communicate their emotional needs, better, in order to engage with their spouses. Nor are they avenging wives who
        who failed to engage or connect with their spouses emotions then cried abuse when things got sticky.

        You may or may not be right in suggesting Leslie adds disclaimers into each and every post for safeguarding purposes. I do not think this would stop any individual from manipulating the content to their own ends.

        I know only too well the fine line between abuse and misunderstandings, and it nearly cost me my life, and almost cost my daughter hers too! It did cost me my marriage in the end!

        So please. I am not just labelling my ex with my thoughts, perceptions or false accusations.
        I am not falsely accusing him.
        I used a name for something, (a character/personality that believes, behaves, reacts/thinks and acts, by his very nature) that (describes) is my husband, and can be now explained and understood by the name I used, if you know anything about it at all.

        So please do not presume you are right in every situation Mr counselor.

        I do not profess to know anything about anything, unless I have lived it and experienced it, first hand. (unlike you, sir).

        In fact, God forbid you should ever be the counsellor chosen to preside over a course of therapy for any woman who is actually suffering at the hands of a man, as I was. And I thank the Lord you are not my Judge, nor ever will be!
        Your conclusion seems to be drawn and, by what I have seen and what I have NOT SEEN, FROM ANY OF YOUR COMMENTS/ RESPONSES OR REMARKS on this whole thread, is overall and a full and final decision.
        “NOT GUILTY!”

        For your information, Tim, I am still praying for the Lord to meet my ex at the point of his need and to heal my broken heart, restore my family and my relationships with my children and to limit the generational damage for my now grown up children and future grandchildren

        My husband is dissociated, indifferent and Legally self absorbed now.

        My heart was ripped out and my family ripped apart because of the way he was and what he was doing. Not one counsellor noticed or challenged his deflections, or manipulations. He was making a laughing stock of them while proving and confirming to himself, over and over, his superiority over “everyone”, because no one could catch/find him out,.while gloating behind their backs that no one would believe me because I was the one “seeking help” not him.

        Every step of the way I was willing to accept responsibility for “my part” in the marriage problems and look for a workable solution.
        In his own words he wanted “until death us do part” ONLY, (& he was orchestrating it, for his victory) and no other marriage vow meant anything to him.

        The last time we visited our counsellor, as we walked out, he told me quite clearly he had no intentions of “working with them” despite him “appearing to be on board” whilst being in their presence. When I called them to cancel all future appointments, due to his unwillingness to co-operate, we received a “lovely letter” stressing how wonderful it was that I was “taking his feelings into consideration”.

        He was out to win, and he thought that was a His win. But I had God fighting for me!

        The Lord knows what I have been through with him, and the Lord knows how hard I tried, and how much I gave.

        And I know, now, (not back then, but now), that my husband has every hallmark of a Narcissistic Psychopath.
        If you would like to assess him for me, I would be more than happy to be proved wrong. In the meantime, do not suggest that your theories supersede what I know, just because you have a piece of paper qualifying you to counsel.

        You haven’t even had the common decency to answer any of my “engaging with you questions” and more to the point you did not even bother to respond to any of Leslie’s direct comments to you.

        • Aly on November 6, 2017 at 12:57 pm

          Well said and I’m so sorry for your experiences but glad you have found freedom!

        • Roxanne on November 7, 2017 at 6:31 am

          You make many good points. I would like to say that in my case it wasn’t until my husband went to an actual psychiatrist that a doctor was able to diagnose his coercive control and narcissism. Counselors are not medical doctors. Although helpful, lay pastors and social workers do not diagnose. Sometimes we have to go to mental health experts rather than less trained people helpers. Not to say there isn’t a role for people helpers, yet sometimes serious mental health issues are not fully understood because they do not have the authority to diagnose and treat.

  59. Helen on November 4, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Abuse in any form is a complex subject and should not be addressed with preconceived notions, but with an open mind. In order to be helpful and not harmful a dedicated study should be undertaken. Read all the works of Leslie Vernick, George Simon, Lundy Bancroft,Robert Hare, Sam Vagnin and more who have given many years to this research. “A Cry for Justice” by Anna Wood and Jeff Crippen should be the first on your list as a pastor and counselor…Good books written by people who have lived through abuse are also available lately. Sit in on group support sessions and listen to stories of further abuse from church leaders, court systems, and counselors. Do the work required to do the job well or don’t do it at all.

    • Roxanne on November 18, 2017 at 3:51 pm

      In my opinion this is the best reply yet. Thanks Helen.

  60. Helen on November 4, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Abuse in any form is a complex subject and should not be addressed with preconceived notions, but with an open mind. In order to be helpful and not harmful a dedicated study should be undertaken. Read all the works of Leslie Vernick, George Simon, Lundy Bancroft,Robert Hare, Sam Vagnin and more who have given many years to this research. “A Cry for Justice” by Anna Wood and Jeff Crippen should be the first on your list as a pastor and counselor…Good books written by people who have lived through abuse are also available lately. Sit in on group support sessions and listen to stories of further abuse from church leaders, court systems, and counselors. Do the work required to do the job well or don’t do it at all.

  61. Diane on November 4, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I do agree with the statement at times some counselor’s have their own agenda in counseling and that is to save the marriage at ALL costs, even to the point where it includes NOT confronting the husband on his abusive characteristics/patterns. This has been the case for me and my situation. While all of the counselors we saw stated that at times it takes a crisis to implement a person to change, and they felt that’s what was needed in my situation (to which I wholeheartedly agreed saying at least my husband will hear the truth from someone else!), all of the Christian counselors we saw could not go through with confronting him. Again each counselor we ever saw described my husband’s pattern of behavior as abusive. It was not “borderline” or “mildly” abusive, but each admitted his behavior/actions were pretty severe. Yet something held them back from following through with confronting him that what he was doing was even wrong or inappropriate!.

    From other stories shared from women in Conquer, this theme seems to be a very common occurrence with Christian counselor’s. What hurt the most was not just a feeling of betrayal from someone I trusted but that each one of these men lied to me by saying they would confront my husband (if I did xyz during the counseling session) when not one of them did. I felt like I was put out on a limb (since I had to bring up a specific story or example first) and time & time again not only did the counselor not go through with confronting the abuse, but these same counselors would frequently turn and accuse me of being too sensitive. Then these same men/regarding the same examples had earlier said to me privately that they were furious at my husband’s abusive actions/responses. Again I use the word abuse as that as how the counselors repeatedly described his actions. Most of the time the counselors would be silent and allow my husband to yell at me, falsely accuse me, falsely criticize me for bringing up the example, which in reality was something they themselves had asked me to do.

    One of the worst responses I received from the counselors was that we were both responsible for the problems in our marriage and both had things to work on that led to our “marriage problem.” While I definitely agree that I had/have things to work on, saying a statement like this in front of my husband only validated the abusive behavior/action that was just discussed. My husband felt he was being affirmed by the counselor re: his abuse toward me. Plus if there was something to work on, I should go first since I was the source of the problem. Each one of the counselor’s said they agreed with him during joint counseling!! Then when they met with me privately I was told they had to agree with/appease my husband so he would continue to come to counseling! When in reality what they did was affirm an abuser to continue and even escalate his abuse! This strategy the counselors used NEVER worked and always backfired.., and I was left with a worse situation to deal with.

    While both people may have things to work on, dealing with the abusive behavior/individual needs to come first! After multiple times of not following through with confronting my husband’s abuse, I started being told how critical it was to save the marriage and that emotional/verbal abuse was not a sufficient reason for risking separation/divorce. They were afraid if they confronted my husband, he would leave the marriage. This was the exact opposite of what these same men told me at the beginning of counseling. In effect I was now being told that I had to endure the abuse for the sake of my marriage. This happened with each counselor…, almost like clockwork!

    I should mention that I am also physically disabled, and all of the counselors knew my doctors had expressed concern for my health/life with the constant stress/abuse I was under. They even wrote letters that included medical documentation/test results to the counselors expressing their concern with the lack of progress/lack of a safe/healthy environment that I was having to live in. Yes, I had given my consent to the doctors for them to write to the counselors each time, but each time it was the doctors who initiate the idea to write to the counselors. Each counselor refused to respond (I was even able to obtain my husband’s consent for each counselor to answer the doctors’ letters), but they refused to. I am unable to hold down a job. I have no local or family support. The local domestic violence centers in my area do not recognize emotional/verbal abuse as actual abuse, so I do not qualify for support from them. My church is sympathetic but say they are not in a position to help. I have friends at church who can help me for a few days, but that’s it. I have no one who could help me long term (e.g., during separation or divorce process). Again, each of the counselors we saw were aware of all of this. The only advice I was given was by one of them who recommended I pray for death…, yes, he said he was serious. I was told if God was merciful, He’d “take me home.” So in otherwords my death was preferable according to this professional as to the counselor confronting my husband on what he had witnessed for over 3 years. This man insisted he was not fearful or intimidated by my husband. Unfortunately my husband still sees this counselor (they have become quite “chummy.”). I no longer see him. This counselor calls me and accuses me of “giving up” on my marriage. What’s even more frustrating..?, this same counselor originally told me he was trained and utilized Leslie’s approach in dealing with EDM’s….

    I understand you were not present or responsible for any of this, however could you provide insight as to why Christian counselor’s tend to respond this way?…, and why they feel breaking a promise to a “victim” of abuse is correct therapeutic procedure? Each counselor who had 25+ years experience was fully aware of how my husband would react toward me (one counselor refused to meet with my husband as he was afraid of him). Unfortunately this is quite a common experience with many Christian counselor’s. I also hear from them that they were not given training on this (EDM’s) as a reason for their lack of success – yet when I had initially interviewed them, each counselor told me that this was one of their areas of expertise..?”

    You have expressed well thought out questions and comments. Please do not feel I am being critical, and please I don’t want you to take the above information the wrong way. This has been my experience. Other ladies here report similar experiences. I fully believe that EDM’s are more prevalent in the Church than believed/reported. My reasons for believing this would involve another post…, lol. I’m just trying to communicate my experiences, how the “counseling” received by Christian counselor’s almost broke me/my faith in Christ, and very frequent patterns of Christian counselors saying they have expertise in areas they later deny having even basic training in. Leslie encourages us to do our due diligence in evaluating a counselor and sometimes to trust our gut so to speak when something just doesn’t seem right. I wish I had heard about her & her teachings much sooner. The irony is that one of the above counselors (the one who told me to pray for death) told me about Leslie Berg Vernick when he told me he was following her program. Fortunately I checked out Leslie’s site and discovered that none of the counselors had been following Leslie’s teachings as they said they had been.

    Thank you again for your insight, time, and willingness to dialogue!

  62. many years on November 4, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Dearest Aly, and also to Diane (my comment to her at the very bottom) and for all who desire to read this too. And also, as Leslle has stated: She encourages others to speak their ‘truth’ if indeed it is in line with God’s Word.

    This is my individual journey, Aly. I do appreciate what you have said, yet there is an underlying flow of thought which others NEED to work out their own situations, and not to be forced into doing it the way someone else would. There are things I cannot change at the moment. Only God can! So, like I said, I am on my own journey, and I do appreciate the input and the love. BUT, I cannot live on someone else’s faith.

    And some of us cannot leave until it is clearly in God’s will and in His timing. I can’t list all of the situations in my own marriage, but I am here on Leslie’s site to continue to be blessed and admonished, yet, I will defend myself to the degree so that others who are in similar situations as myself, will trust in the Lord, that he will do good to those who trust in him.

    I don’t believe in ‘tough love’ as some of the terminology is used on some sites. To me ‘tough love’ is like pounding the abuse victim to race from point A to point B. This is like the churches who force people to act a certain way when it may not be in the individual’s heart and it ‘feels’ wrong to do so. We should never force an individual to get from point A to point B. God does not work that way.

    If people think THAT is the way to progress in a destructive marriage scenario, THAT concept has flaws. Not all destructive marriages have all of the same elements. So, it HAS to be an individual breakthrough and there is not always an instantaneous change or ’cause and effect’ scenario. The changes can be extremely slow. It does not happen overnight, nor does it at times happen if we think the Lord is not going fast enough to work on our behalf. If we ‘force’ the Lord’s will for us, we will not be blessed. If we think with that mindset then we are not trusting the Lord’s guidance.

    In the case of severe and extreme abuse, yes, I say to those women to find that way of escape so that you may be able to bear it, and God WILL make that way of escape. Get help from women’s shelters, and do it with discretion. If a woman is living with a violent spouse, GET OUT!

    As for the rest of us, we have to strengthen our own walk in Christ. ‘Blessed are you when men shall revile you and persecute you for my name sake.’ And no, it is not an easy road. And not all of us can enact that escape, as the process can be difficult. ‘Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.’ ‘The whole law is stated in this: Love one another as I have loved you.’

    ‘And think not that some of you may save your husband?’ This is another aspect of a marriage. This is truth from God’s Word. We cannot ignore it.

    Councilors and other people can only do so much for an individual, then it is up to that individual to act upon the advice and pray to the Lord that change will take place. And I will say that there are some of us who are still ‘stuck’ but God is also leading to a remedy.

    And believe me, if there is a time where my husband does get violent, I will be out the door! I do have a plan for that. Like others have commented that the authorities don’t always help victims unless there is real evidence, or a backlog of abuse on legal records.

    So, maybe this is what I am waiting for when my husband will finally ‘lose it’. Proof positive of a violent nature which the law will have to intervene. Verbal, spiritual, mental, and financial abuse leaves no scars. And this is why ministry has a difficult time in wanting to get a woman out of a verbally abusive marriage to discern that concept of abuse seems to be beyond many in the ministry.. We all know this.

    I tried and got no where after speaking to ministry, and also after sitting under ‘authority’ which did not think it was the wife’s place to ‘confront’ the husband, as it was ‘her duty’ to submit. And because of that, a large part of our ‘church’ has disintegrated, (over a seventy-five year time span) and marriages have fallen apart, BUT there has also been a degree of victory because of that archaic and deluded mindset finally being tested and resisted. The men were NOT held accountable in their own marriages. Phooey on that!
    Which is exactly what Diane has pointed out in her synopsis of how her counseling went with many whom she and her husband counseled with. Thank you, Diane for your actual first-hand, life-case scenario. The examples speak for themselves.
    God bless everyone here!

    • Diane on November 4, 2017 at 7:42 pm

      Thanks so much for your comment. Yes, I am diligently searching/praying for an exit plan, however I also realize I need to wait on God, lean into him for His wisdom/guidance, and grow in my relationship with Him. He knows the endgame! I absolutely agree with you, if my husband became physically violent I would be out the door. It’s interesting how with physical “proof” I would be believed and help/assistance would be outpouring. However in the absence of proof regarding the damage emotional/verbal abuse causes, help is not as readily available. 🤔 I am so thankful that Leslie and others are bringing this to light within the Christian community. Secular counselors in our area are actually providing a more compassionate/complete response to “victims” (I hate that word!) of emotional/verbal abuse than Christian counselors…, very sad.

      Thanks for bringing up the topic of “tough love.” As with anything I believe it’s how a person defines it. The term Tough Love can be defined in an extreme, hostile way or in a manner that’s more constructive and freeing for the abusee (i.e., allowing the Holy Spirit to deal with the abuser while providing a safe environment/response to those targeted by the abuser.

      I’ve seen it used as a club on an individual who was abusive; however the tough love approach being used was also abusive….., abuse on top of abuse…, not a good response! The result?…, intense fear in the church, the individual & their family suffered greatly as all were shunned – including those who were innocent, and a self-righteous attitude for those leaders who wielded the “tough love bat”.., definitely not a scenario from Scripture.

      On the other hand I have seen women apply boundaries with consequences. Sometimes the consequences implemented are severe (e.g., separation, calling the police, going no contact, etc.) depending on the problem. This approach can and is also defined as a “tough love” approach, and one I believe/see supported in Scripture.

      Have you read the book by Dr. James Dobson on Tough Love? He has written a couple articles over the past few years that deal with emotional abuse and emotionally destructive patterns in marriage. I’ve read a few of his articles and must say I was impressed by the stance he took. He called out the Church, pastors, and Christian counselors to be more involved and stop “blithely” sending the wife back home and tell her to be more submissive. He really called the Church out, because he also discussed the ramifications of what is happening to the children who grow up in homes that have an emotionally abusive parent – his article focused on the women being emotionally/verbally abused by their husbands. While he definitely made a point to qualify that both genders can be emotionally abusive, he felt the Church was much more lacking & derelict in their response to women in these situations. I loved his comment on how like any abusive behavior, emotional/verbal abuse can be passed on to the next generation if not stopped or dealt with properly!

      Slowly but surely the word is getting out in the Christian community about EDM’s and how severe the consequences are not just for the wife but for the children and future generations.

    • Diane on November 4, 2017 at 7:43 pm

      Dear Many Years Says,
      Thanks so much for your comment. Yes, I am diligently searching/praying for an exit plan, however I also realize I need to wait on God, lean into him for His wisdom/guidance, and grow in my relationship with Him. He knows the endgame! I absolutely agree with you, if my husband became physically violent I would be out the door. It’s interesting how with physical “proof” I would be believed and help/assistance would be outpouring. However in the absence of proof regarding the damage emotional/verbal abuse causes, help is not as readily available. 🤔 I am so thankful that Leslie and others are bringing this to light within the Christian community. Secular counselors in our area are actually providing a more compassionate/complete response to “victims” (I hate that word!) of emotional/verbal abuse than Christian counselors…, very sad.

      Thanks for bringing up the topic of “tough love.” As with anything I believe it’s how a person defines it. The term Tough Love can be defined in an extreme, hostile way or in a manner that’s more constructive and freeing for the abusee (i.e., allowing the Holy Spirit to deal with the abuser while providing a safe environment/response to those targeted by the abuser.

      I’ve seen it used as a club on an individual who was abusive; however the tough love approach being used was also abusive….., abuse on top of abuse…, not a good response! The result?…, intense fear in the church, the individual & their family suffered greatly as all were shunned – including those who were innocent, and a self-righteous attitude for those leaders who wielded the “tough love bat”.., definitely not a scenario from Scripture.

      On the other hand I have seen women apply boundaries with consequences. Sometimes the consequences implemented are severe (e.g., separation, calling the police, going no contact, etc.) depending on the problem. This approach can and is also defined as a “tough love” approach, and one I believe/see supported in Scripture.

      Have you read the book by Dr. James Dobson on Tough Love? He has written a couple articles over the past few years that deal with emotional abuse and emotionally destructive patterns in marriage. I’ve read a few of his articles and must say I was impressed by the stance he took. He called out the Church, pastors, and Christian counselors to be more involved and stop “blithely” sending the wife back home and tell her to be more submissive. He really called the Church out, because he also discussed the ramifications of what is happening to the children who grow up in homes that have an emotionally abusive parent – his article focused on the women being emotionally/verbally abused by their husbands. While he definitely made a point to qualify that both genders can be emotionally abusive, he felt the Church was much more lacking & derelict in their response to women in these situations. I loved his comment on how like any abusive behavior, emotional/verbal abuse can be passed on to the next generation if not stopped or dealt with properly!

      Slowly but surely the word is getting out in the Christian community about EDM’s and how severe the consequences are not just for the wife but for the children and future generations.

      • Diane on November 4, 2017 at 7:45 pm

        Sorry.., this posted twice! Not sure how that happened?! 🙄😢😢

      • Aly on November 4, 2017 at 8:13 pm

        Diane, Many Years

        Diane, I think you make some really important points especially as you walk your own journey. I strongly agree in many places how you are seeing the passing down of generations and how it needs to be uprooted.

        Many Years, Not sure why Tough Love was brought into the response with… still confused since I didn’t bring that up?
        I think my reply was sincere and I believe there is much evidence and experts that would support why boundaries &requirements are so very valuable to all journeys and not saying anyone is identical. Your situation is ‘your’ journey.

        Diane you wrote to Many Years;
        “I absolutely agree with you, if my husband became physically violent I would be out the door. ”
        I’m wondering about this place of ‘drawing the line’ and how it contributes to the level of tolerance of emotional abuse because that form of abuse is not physical?

        I agree fully with this below that wrote;
        “Slowly but surely the word is getting out in the Christian community about EDM’s and how severe the consequences are not just for the wife but for the children and future generations.”

        I believe it’s the awareness and the change of ‘no tolerance’ that will bring the greatest change toward this form of abuse and destructive relationships.
        Hugs and prayers for your journey.

        • Diane on November 4, 2017 at 9:16 pm

          Hi Aly,
          Thanks for responding (not to mention for reading my long winded comment…. 😉😉). For me and my situation, I have to consider being able to survive, so I need assistance/support from other resources if I were to leave/separate (e.g., DV, church, etc.). Presently, I only receive a small disability income. I need my husband’s insurance to cover much of my medical expenses as well as his income to survive.

          If I had physical proof that my husband actually hit me/physically abused me, I would have much support from a variety of resources – including my husband’s father. My FIL has zero tolerance for physical abuse from his son, however he considers emotional/verbal abuse as “just being moody” or “having a bad day.” My FIL would consider me way out of line for leaving. My church, local DV, even friends from church for the most part pretty much have the same idea as my FIL. There is definitely a lack of awareness/understanding of how detrimental emotional/verbal abuse is. People just do not understand how diabolical and pervasive it can be in the marriage and home environment. There’s this idea that all I need to do is “leave the room and let him stew in his own juices for a while, and he’ll get over it.” That’s not how an abuser thinks or works, plus sometimes I am not able to “leave” the room.

          However if I had evidence of physical abuse, that would be an entirely different story! The church, my in-laws, DV center, etc. would provide financial assistance as well as emotional/physical support for me to be able to leave. There is definitely a better understanding (and therefore much more assistance/support) re: physical abuse.

          Unfortunately for me, that’s what it comes down to. My physical disability/inability to work negatively impacts my overall independence and exit plan options/timing. I’m a very independent person! Dealing with my disability, realizing/accepting my physical limitations, and living within my physical means has been a very humbling journey. My doctors tell me they have many gray hairs trying to convince me to “step into reality” regarding my physical status/limitations. Unfortunately my disability is also a point of contention (trigger) for my husband as you probably can imagine….

          In other words, it’s not that I’m tolerating or enabling my husband to continue abusing me. My exit plan will take a while to implement. In the meantime I am learning all I can about setting/implementing boundaries with consequences, detaching, making my own healing a priority, etc. One thing I’ve learned on Conquer is that while we have much in common, each situation is also different. Mine may be more complex given my physical disability, but many women have other issues as well that makes leaving complicated and sometimes their exit plan can take year(s) to implement. It is an individual journey, and I am so grateful I have the support/encouragement of my wonderful Conquer sisters such as yourself Aly! Finding Leslie and Conquer has been such a blessing. I thank God for both!! ❤️

          • Aly on November 4, 2017 at 10:02 pm

            Diane,
            I’m so sorry for what you are facing and dealing with.
            I agree with you these situations are complex on so many fronts. Wow~ I’m so sorry but glad to hear that you would have support avail.

            I’m so glad to hear you are currently feeling support and validation in your conquer group. Gaining strength and support are key to dealing with these situations ~ because I have never seen anyone face these ‘dynamics alone’.

            I think that something that seems to come up when others or myself bring up the words (boundaries, requirements or consequences) is that many quickly run to the idea someone is suggesting ‘leave’ get out of the marriage, separate, etc.
            When that’s not always what beginning with boundaries or finding what ‘you will’ or ‘will not’ tolerate means.
            I believe there can be ‘plenty of steps’ And versions of boundaries and consequences and that can be very different for many individuals and circumstances.
            Yes, some consequences can escalate to separation or divorce but they usually don’t begin there.

            Maybe I’m way wrong here, but the response seems to come across as if ‘I’ have suggested there are only 2 alternatives. Stay or leave. Which is not what I am communicating.
            Hope that clarifies any miscommunication on my part.

            Sending prayers and hugs for you! May you feel His comfort and His truth to strengthen you💕



          • Diane on November 4, 2017 at 11:31 pm

            Hi Ally,
            I didn’t take anything you said wrong at all. Actually, I’ve enjoyed talking (or rather typing! 😛) with you! Other than Conquer, I am pretty much on my own. I have one church friend that’s open to understanding, but she has such a full plate I don’t want to overload her. She’s the one who said if I needed a place to stay for a few days I could. Other than that I’m on my own (except for my Conquer sisters!)

            Yep, boundaries are very diverse and don’t necessarily apply to just staying or leaving. I didn’t even consider that that was what you meant. I was just clarifying the tolerance topic that was pointed out. I didn’t want you to think that my not leaving when I’m living in an emotionally abusive situation was related to the idea that I would leave under physically abusive conditions, because I somehow thought physical abuse was worse. I don’t…, in fact I find both emotional and physical abuse insidious. I can speak from experience as I endured physical AND emotional abuse from my Christian parents/siblings until I was 27 years old, and then emotional abuse from my husband after that. While there have been a 2-3 incidents that could be classified as physical abuse during my marriage, it’s mostly been emotionally destructive behaviors from hubby. I can honestly say that emotional abuse is much worse!

            Hopefully soon there will be a better understanding in the Church about EDM’s and the impact they have on marriages & families. I wish more counselors/pastors could read the posts on this blog. Hearing so many folks speak from the heart about their experiences I truly believe would open some hearts/minds as to what’s going on, how the present response from most churches/Christian counselors is NOT working, and that the points Leslie’s making in her program would be better understood.



        • many years on November 7, 2017 at 1:58 am

          Sorry, Aly
          Some of what I was addressing in my post was not about what you had posted to me. So, sorry if I offended you in any way. I had seen someone else post about ‘tough love’ and I was just expressing my own thoughts on the subject. Diane had some good points about ‘tough love’ and also about Dr. James Dobson, which I hope to read his book on that subject.
          And I am praying for your own situation in your own marriage, and with your mother too. I am sure that is not an easy situation to deal with.
          I try to shy away from asking other’s questions on this site. To me it feels intimidating. That is my own opinion, so if I seem to get defensive, when you ask me those ‘why’ questions, maybe it is because I still don’t have the answers yet myself, that is the reason.

          So, forgive me if some of my post seemed ‘harsh’ as some of it wasn’t even directed at anyone. It was just some thoughts flowing through my post, and I got some good feedback.

          This entire blog post, which Leslie began with Tim, about councilors has been quite a deep and constructive discussion.

          Peace, love and joy to you on your own journey!

      • many years on November 7, 2017 at 1:48 am

        Thank you, Diane
        Lots to peruse here on your comment. And thank you for your examples of ‘tough love’. I agree there are different aspects to the definition of ‘tough love’. I will do more research and praying on this subject.
        I read Townsend and Clark’s ‘Boundaries’ years ago as that was about the only book out, at the time to find any sort of help for an emotionally destructive marriage.
        I always knew there was something ‘wrong’ with my marriage, and I could put my finger on it, but I didn’t like what it would entail me to do about it. And when I did confront my husband with his verbal abuse (and emotional, and mental, and financial, etc.) he did not want to have a constructive conversation about it. Hence, I was on the right track! But no solution.
        And I can blame the church we attended for years, as it was always about being the ‘submissive wife’.
        Yet, the husband was not the accountable one. You know the scenario.

        • Aly on November 7, 2017 at 7:43 am

          Many Years,

          Glad that you got your hands on Boundaries Book. 🤗And yes I agree with you it’s difficult to navigate but becomes more and more clear how ‘ill’ the marriage dynamic is when you ‘take some action’ to protect yourself from the behaviors.

          You wrote:
          “And I can blame the church we attended for years, as it was always about being the ‘submissive wife’.
          Yet, the husband was not the accountable one. You know the scenario.”

          I think I understand the scenario?, but I do think the church was probably ‘mirroring’ much of the common marriage culture?? Maybe that’s not what you meant and maybe the church was very clear on those roles. So please correct me.

          ~A husband not being the accountable one for his behavior and attitude and ‘overall character’ has been a symptom of the Fatherless nation~
          Even if many might say that their dads were there, many of them had a physical presence but not a dad who was providing his children with emotional and spiritual well being, let alone modeling & knowing how to love his wife like God loves his church.

          I think the reason why I wonder about you pointing out ‘blaming the church you were in’ is that ‘yes’ many places can negatively effect our marriage dynamics and certainly throw gasoline on a fire, but it’s important to ‘critically think’ about the statements, because if we don’t we may be looking for other churches (in hopes that they are healthy enough when in fact they may not be) to solve our issues, when the process begins from within.

          My point is that I myself bring my unhealthly and healthy places to my own church and I’m part of the contribution. This to me is the area where I look at what’s ‘my part’ as maybe Leslie might highlight for any of us.
          My hope would be to grow each day to get healthier so I can offer the best to my family, community an church.

          When I look at my past areas of my journey with my husband…I think about what was and what were the BIG influencing areas and reinforcing beliefs of his destructive posture?
          ….
          If me and my husband were attending your church with your husband in the men’s circle, ‘your husband’s influence and attitude’ would not help my situation, but reinforce my husband’s ability to normalize his behavior.

          I think many things are organic of Family of Origin in these areas of abuse, but sadly many are reinforced by the environmental factors and especially the church environment.

          My husband and I have talked about this OFTEN, he has given me really good understanding on his process. Here is an example of a immature person (in areas of manhood) trying to grow in an immature environment 😩

          …. When it’s been revealed that their are some ‘macho’ or ‘avoidance’ behaviors in men at the church, he was eventually honest in saying why Church men made him ‘feel’ better about himself and stagnate his process..
          to the macho man, he felt ‘at least I’m not like that?’ To the avoidant one, silence was ‘approval’ that he was I good standing.
          Praise God he’s not there using these forms of comparisons ~ one example of why intensive counseling is super important!
          His comparisons came from his family of origin.

          So important to peer closely to the ‘family of origin issues’ but also assess the environmental ones (yes sometimes church influence) that feed often the original destructive patterns.

          As the Bible Reminds us, those who walk with the wise become wise. 💜

          Influence and accountability is so important in character growth, it’s really hard to chase after God when family systems try to derail (sometimes ignorantly) a person, but God promises that those that earnestly seek Him, will Find Him.

          Prayers for your heart and your husband’s heart💜
          Much love to you Many years!

          • many years on November 7, 2017 at 8:28 pm

            Thank you, Aly
            Yes, all of the above, what you said about the church we attend, the men’s circle would not help your situation and yes, it would reinforce your husband’s.

            There has been a huge ‘split’ in our church, as does happen at times, so some are of the founding ‘fathers’ opinions which are about a more staunch format for the husband and wife, which neither spouse can grow in that kind of an environment, unless they themselves go to God’s word and walk in newness of Life.

            On the other hand, the split has caused many to pursue a more dynamic mindset in the marriage, and yet, that can cause one to ‘go with the flow’ of the secondary ‘split’ mindset, too.

            People need to do their own ‘homework’ within themselves, in order to bring about a true restitution, or even a separation, where the couple involved either comes to an agreement, or the lack of true communication drives them further apart.

            The true dynamic is to be focused on Christ, and when one of the spouses doesn’t have that goal in mind, then there isn’t much to discuss in the way of a grounded spiritual conversation of what God desires a couple to have in the unity of the Spirit of Life in Christ in the bond of peace.

            And this can be so devastating to the one spouse whose aim is to truly to be together with their spouse in the things of the Lord, and yet, try as they might, it is like pulling hen’s teeth to even attempt to accomplish that desire. And the years go by and it never transpires.

            It is, after all, how God tries the hearts of men. We either desire the things of God, or we don’t. People can have a ‘form of godliness’, and they can live like that for years, but it isn’t a true relationship with God. It is a false ‘church’ identity, which is a subtle form of self-worship, with pride involved.

            Yes, when the family of origin of both spouses is so totally opposite, that dynamic comes into the marriage, and just the grinding of the differences can throw off the initial beginning of the marriage. This is why I told my husband, early in our marriage ‘There is something wrong with our marriage’ but he did not want to go into either of our family of origin dynamics. He said, and I quote: ‘It repulses me’ is what he said.

            So, I had to pursue the Lord and let him guide me toward a more settled and grounded spiritual mindset for myself, even when my husband chose not to go that same direction, not wanting to ‘figure it out’ or even discuss it. It was like him saying ‘That is the end of this conversation’ and he wanted no part of it.

            As far as he was concerned there was nothing ‘wrong’ with our marriage, because he had been duped into thinking the husband had ‘the last say’ whether he was right or wrong. So, yeah, no spiritual growth in our marriage TOGETHER.

            My sister-in-law just called me on Sunday, to say that her husband, had just walked out the door after a spat with herself and him. And this isn’t the first time he has done this, with words to the effect when she tells him ‘I will be praying for you’ and he tells her as he is leaving ‘You don’t even know how to pray!’ This is my husband’s brother, so there is an underlying disconnect with their family of origin to not want to discuss the most important aspect of the marriage and that is ‘the unity of the Spirit’, and when that dynamic isn’t even apparent in the marriage, the spouse who ‘takes offense’ is usually the first one who walks out the door, as they can’t handle the confrontation. My sister-in-law is also concerned about her husband’s salvation, as I am, with my own husband. She has also been going through this for years with her husband.

            Which kind of fits with what Tim has been asking and answering questions here, and many have been asking him to consider his attitude and his relational values and mindset.

            I barely have any connection to either side of the church split which has happened, which I have had fellowship for over forty years.. It is basically because of the location where I live, and because a lot of people ‘left’ the church twenty-five years ago as they were seeing the gross lack of the fruit of the Spirit. People who ‘stayed’ with the founding fathers, were not growing in the Lord, nor was the fruit of the Spirit evident, nor were young couples being helped in their own marriages.

            Many left because they needed help raising their families in a less toxic environment, which was not conducive to the family environment, which basically ‘forced’ the young people to dress, act, and ‘say the right thing’ around the ministers, etc. It was like ‘Big Brother is watching you’ church life. Not a healthy environment. And self-expression in the spirit was almost non-existent. And it was basically FEAR based, and so, this is how the family unit was based around a ‘spirit’ of FEAR, and not of love.

            I believe my husband still functions, mentally, in that realm of spiritual fear. Which is not healthy and does not promote self, spiritual growth. In fact, at one point, when I attempted to hold a NORMAL spiritual conversation with my husband, years ago, when we were first dating, his comment to me at the time was ‘I get that from my dad all of the time’, as though it wasn’t a comfortable nor an agreeable thing that his dad ‘put him through’, as though it was ‘forced’ upon him to engage in a spiritual conversation. Maybe his dad used it as a tool to confront my husband during his teenage, mildly, rebellious years.

            So, yes, men who never learned how to get past the mentality of a ‘spiritual’ teenager, and were not ‘allowed’ to grow in the Lord, ON THEIR OWN and were thus, unable take it to their own hearts, as it was ‘force fed’ to them, when so much of it was actually a religious format they grew up in.

            And this is why some young, engaged couples had a hard time distinguishing whether their to-be spouse was actually saved or not, as the to-be spouse could walk the walk, and talk the talk…then years down the road, things began to fall apart in the marriage and the truly, born-again spouse, began to see ‘signs’ in the other spouse of their ‘belief’ as being, like I said ‘a form of godliness’, and this is so disappointing to the saved spouse, as there never really has been any true conversation in the beautiful things of the Lord to begin with.

            Even scripture can be quoted by the so-called ‘saved’ spouse as it was drilled into their heads as children, yet it was never allowed to grow in their heart.

            I have, been there, and done that, and Satan is so subtle that he even deceives the simple minded into ‘thinking’ they are ‘spiritual’. Such it is with Satan, being transformed as an angel of his own light, but not of God’s holy Lighht.

            Thank you for your prayers for my heart and for my husband’s hearts too. God can overrule and so I proceed with perseverance, and know that it is not my husband that I am against, but I am against the enemy of our souls.

            And Christ is the conqueror and defender of our faith, and he has conquered the enemy. We just need to hold fast to that fact and to not forget it.

            Much love to you as well, Aly.

            Prayers for you and your husband too.



    • Aly on November 4, 2017 at 8:25 pm

      Many Years,

      I find your response a bit confusing and on the harsh side,
      Some of the confusing part is as you begin with ‘dearest Aly’… and go on to speak in more a defended place? It’s sounds ingenuine. Maybe your not, but your response seems to ‘contrast ‘ with my reply to you…
      I wonder what you ‘hear’ me saying and I wonder what you hear my questions or replies to mean?
      Do you hear or are you feeling forced ‘to doing it the way someone else would’? See below…

      You wrote;
      “This is my individual journey, Aly. I do appreciate what you have said, yet there is an underlying flow of thought which others NEED to work out their own situations, and not to be forced into doing it the way someone else would. There are things I cannot change at the moment. Only God can! So, like I said, I am on my own journey, and I do appreciate the input and the love. BUT, I cannot live on someone else’s faith.

      I don’t know what you mean be living on someone else’s faith? Or even how my thoughts would suggest you too?

      • many years on November 7, 2017 at 12:53 am

        Aly,
        I will be praying for you. That is all I am going to say.

    • Nancy on November 4, 2017 at 10:32 pm

      Hi Many years,

      I agree with the scripture that you have quoted, “and think not that some of you may save your husbands.”

      Yes!

      For my situation, this meant me adopting a ‘no tolerance’ approach to his ungodly attitude. It meant me acting. It meant me dis-engaging from enabling his foolishness / avoidance. It meant stepping back and asking him to make a decision. It meant me relying heavily on God throughout the entire process.

      Please don’t read into this, that that’s what I’m suggesting that you do. My point is to say, like you, that our journeys are individual and The Lord might use the scripture you quoted, to prompt a woman to action.

      • many years on November 7, 2017 at 1:05 am

        Thank you, Nancy
        Very well said. I have been to sites which talk about this very thing…discerning if a person is really saved or not, and by their fruits ye shall know them, yet it is God who sees the heart.
        Prayer, lots of prayer is needed in our marriages.

        .

        • Nancy on November 7, 2017 at 7:29 pm

          Hi many years,

          Where I currently stand on the issue of ‘discerniing if someone is saved’ is pretty black and white…I don’t mean this to sound like a judgment of your process at all…just articulating what has been helpful to me

          I don’t think it’s any of my business to attempt to discern that. That line of thought, for me, can be a rabbit hole.

          I prefer to treat someone as they claim to be. And look for indicators of wether I should trust them with my heart ( opposed to focusing on their heart).

          I just think that a person’s relationship with Jesus ( or lack thereof) is the most personal thing in this whole world, and who am I to try to ‘figure them out’. I might even go so far as saying that might be trespassing….?? ( I’m really open to correction here 🙂 We’re called to guard our heart and get the log out of our own eye…are we supposed to try to see someone’s heart? I really don’t know, I’m honestly asking. It just doesn’t seem right to me.

          And yes, even my husband, before I knew for sure, I dealt with him on a behavioural level. I prayed for his salvation and for sure often ‘broke my own rule’ in trying to ‘figure it out’, but I don’t think that was right. Same with my mother.

          Personally, drawing that very clear line has helped me a lot.

          • many years on November 7, 2017 at 8:39 pm

            Thank you, Nancy
            I totally agree with what you have said. Only the Spirit of the Lord, the Holy Spirit can truly know if a person is saved or not. We can only hope and pray for our husbands.
            And I know some who were in their later years and accepted the Lord months or even days before they passed away.
            So, the Lord is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. And it does require repentance, knowing one is a sinner, as that is why Jesus died, was, buried, suffered in hell, and rose against with the keys of Death and Hell, for the sins of the whole world.
            Yes, we can’t even attempt to try and ‘figure out’ if our loved ones are saved or not.
            We all have that same choice to accept Jesus as our Savior.
            Thank you!



    • Autumn on November 4, 2017 at 11:11 pm

      Something that helps me see the forest from the trees is to substitute the word Jesus each time I read the word church or church leaders. When I do that, the church’s actions seem ridiculous, because Christ would never act that way. At that point I feel free to dismiss their authority and see it for what it really is. an institution of mired in religion rather than a group of people trying to live as Christ taught.

      • Autumn on November 4, 2017 at 11:20 pm

        I was trying to make the above post in reference to Many Years discussion about the disappointing advice she received from her church’s leadership team.

      • many years on November 7, 2017 at 1:26 am

        Autumn,
        Yes, thank you. It is sad that generational pastors have definitely, like you said have been ‘mired in religion rather than a group of people trying to live as Christ taught.’ I know this to be so true, as I lived exactly like that for over forty years, and it is such an unhealthy, spiritual environment, and escaping it is such freedom in Christ!

    • each and every counsellor, pastor, leaJanet on November 6, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Hi Many Years…

      “Verbal, spiritual, mental, and financial abuse leaves no scars. ”

      When I read this statement I immediately felt an “ouch!” As I openly spoke it out too.

      I think you would really be meaning “no visible/open scars?”

      If not, and I am wrong, can you please explain the real meaning for using this statement and the evidence/experience you rely on/referred to when making it?
      I have many scars from a lifetime’s worth of abuse in the 4 areas you mentioned, as well as open wounds that the Lord is working on and I am living with as I work on them with him.

      I notice also you did not mention emotional abuse. Please can you explain your reasons for this? I imagine it was a “typo miss” only?
      Thanks

      • many years on November 7, 2017 at 1:16 am

        Hello, each and every counsellor, pastor, leajanet,

        What I meant was, if and when women call 911, to report abuse, or a hot-line to get help, the ‘evidence’ is not going to be ‘physically’ evident to those whom the victim is speaking with. This is what I have read and meant about abuse which is not ‘seen’. And yes, emotional abuse is probably the worst, and yes, I inadvertently left it out, not on purpose.
        So yes, ‘not visible/open scars.’
        Yes, me as well, a life-time of those 4 types of abuse. And yes, it is a huge ‘ouch!’ to our soul, our heart, our mind, our spirit and our entire psyche.
        Thank you for your question.

        • each and every counsellor, pastor, leaJanet on November 9, 2017 at 4:59 pm

          Many years
          Thank you for your clarification. I did think this was your true meaning.
          Thank God we have Jesus as our healer. He is a wonderful comforter and husband too! 😉
          Jesus’ scars show His love for us! Our turning to Him to heal our scars, shows how we love and trust Him.
          He will not fail us!
          God Bless. Be uplifted and encouraged as you continue your courageous healing journey.

  63. Renee on November 4, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Wonderful ladies! Please do not allow this post to cause you to become harsh toward each other. When I came here everyone appeared to be so loving and kind toward each other. Thoughts, opinions, and suggestions were offered but I never took it as the ideas being shoved down one’s throat. I hope this post does not cause anyone a setback when we have all worked so hard not to always be defending. Continue to be a blessing ladies.

    • many years on November 7, 2017 at 1:27 am

      Thank you, Renee
      Taken to heart, soul, and spirit.
      Good admonition!

  64. Tim on November 5, 2017 at 3:06 am

    First of all, thank you all for sharing your experiences, struggles, and feelings. I truly have heard you and my understanding of your situations has been illuminated . Trying to stay objective and “professional” here, I’ve been trying to figure out what the obstacle is to our mutual interaction and understanding…specifically why it is that many of you have reacted to my comments as if I was attacking you or judging you personally, which is certainly the farthest thing from my intent.

    So let me take a different approach and see what you think. Many of you have asked for more information about the woman I mentioned in my initial communication with Leslie.

    I’m interacting with several men who are in difficult marriages, and are desperate to find ways they can connect better with their wives. The woman I mentioned is the wife of one of these men. I engage on an individual level as well as in couple’s counseling and I have witnessed first hand in counseling the kinds of intense conflicts they’re struggling with. Both partners say, “This is the way it always is.” In other words, I have ample evidence to believe that what I have witnessed is what is actually happening and no evidence there is the kind of totally different hidden reality that most of you have described.

    So here’s what happens between them. For example, a friend’s child suddenly dies. The husband shifts into action mode, asking “what do we need to do to help this couple.” The wife is in grieving mode. She wants to sit still, reflect, weep, and mourn together, but he’s not in tune to her need, and she hasn’t communicated her expectation. The more he dives into helping the friends, the more she feels emotionally neglected, until she explodes at him, accusing him of insensitivity, lack of empathy, and failure to care for her.

    He is bewildered by her outburst, but calmly and logically explains his thinking with the conclusion “this moment is not about us…it’s about them and their needs”. But his explanation and even his calmness is further evidence to her that he doesn’t care about her emotional needs, so her feelings and accusations escalate. He concludes his explanation wasn’t logical and persuasive enough so he repeats it in more detail and with greater forcefulness. That just infuriates her all the more, and the cycle continues until there is a total meltdown between them. This is the kind of thing which happens regularly.

    In a nutshell, he is speaking “male-ese” and she is speaking “female-ese” (I realize it’s a stereotype but please bear with me). He’s speaking the language of reason and head and she’s speaking the language of emotion and heart. Both persons have been “wired” by God in their respective ways. Neither focus is “bad”. So if they could learn to speak and understand each other’s “language” there could be much progress toward healing in their relationship…right? And that is precisely what I had been working toward.

    Now…another ingredient is added to the brew, and the pot is stirred. A female counselor with whom the wife meets from time to time recommends Leslie’s website, webinars, and books with the suggestion that “the real problem” is likely that her husband is emotionally abusive. Various incidents are recalled and rehashed from that perspective. And as she listens to Leslie’s 5 Red Flags, reads the book, and does the 60 question inventory, it all seems to make so much sense.

    Meanwhile, the husband is distraught. He is now being repeatedly accused of being “emotionally abusive”. He is being told the solution to their problems is not continuing to learn to speak and understand each other’s “language” but for him to “stop being an abusive person”. Instead of both of them working together toward a common goal, the full responsibility for their problems has been dumped on him. He has to change while she is now “working to take care of (herself) and (her) own needs”. The husband watches “the Five Red Flags”, checks out the website, and takes the Questionnaire too. He says, “I can use all that as evidence that my wife is the abusive one in the relationship. But I don’t believe “abuse” is causing our dysfunctional relationship. Rather, our dysfunctional relationship is causing symptoms similar to some of those in abusive marriages. Besides, how does writing each other off as “abusive” help us resolve the actual root problems in our relationship, which were so obvious before this “abuse” thing was added to the mix?”

    This is the “negative” influence I was describing to Leslie. Two of the other men I’m interacting with are in similar situations – one a bicultural marriage with it’s unique complications, another where the wife comes from a extremely dysfunctional family background. In their cases, Leslie’s resources aren’t part of the mix but at some point along the way, both wives “checked out” of the hard work of building constructive communication and response patterns under the guise of considering their husbands to be abusive, when in fact in both of these cases, it is the wives who are actually both extremely physically and emotionally abusive.

    Hopefully the above examples help to clarify where I’m coming from when I suggest the inclusion of some disclaimers. The suggestion in no way disparages or casts doubt on your very real horrific experiences. But presenting a more complete and more balanced picture of the truth is not something we should be afraid of. Like I’ve said above, it can only add to the credibility and effectiveness of what Leslie is trying to do.

    • Free on November 5, 2017 at 6:35 am

      I find it very odd that the husband in the situation you mention is so interested in another family’s loss. He seems unnaturally interested. Which leads to ask if this is not the first time he has poured his attention onto someone or something that makes him feel good about himself or props up his self image.

      I also think the wife’s behavior is odd. Her over reaction supports my hunch that this is not the first time her husband behaved in such a manner. She reacted out of her feelings of insecurity and possibly jealousy.

      This odd dynamic, taken as an isolated incident doesn’t indicate that either party is abusive. Yet it is very likely that the husband is abusive rather than the wife. In the scenario you have described there are multiple behavioral examples of an abusive marriage. There are quite a few tell tale signs apparent. Including blame shifting on the husband’s part. Abusers are usually very manipulative and often fool even the best marriage counselors.

      • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 8:03 am

        Free, & Tim too~

        Free, Such good examples and curiosities that you pointed out.
        Important!!! Very!!

        I agree with you on your blame shifting point to. This is key for counselors to see how this plays into the pattern and the ‘crazy making’ as this community is well familiar with.

        Because the Husband is wanting to create separation from ‘abuse’ and dysfunction… I ponder that.
        For me this is my issue & my experience, both my husband and I are dysfunctional (in recovery) but nonetheless dysfunctional… however not every person dysfunctional will be abusive overtly or covertly.

        Most dysfunctional issues are core Attachment and bonding issues in my opinion.

        What my husband found out about his abusive behavior was that it was linked to his Attachment and intimacy issues overall. Things learned in the ‘family of origin’

        My dysfunction was tolerating being treated such a way, thinking that my level of tolerance was loving and that God would reward me for my sacrifice and loyalty. This was dysfunctional and dangerous for our two dynamics crushing together! Yikes! I even feel sorry for our counselor at times😂

        If the husband is willing to see where he is misusing his role taking his wife’s word at face value and experience, he might be blessed by his misuse (the symptom of the problem) that points to his dysfunction…. that points to his own Attachment injuries and insecurities of significance.
        Then he might see God from a different point of understanding and reflect that toward his wife and others as an image bearer?

      • Nancy on November 5, 2017 at 8:27 am

        I agree, Free.

        The fact that the husband is obviously more comfortable in ‘action’ mode ( of helping this other family) does not negate his responsibility to his own his family, first (starting with his wife). His responsibility to love his wife, as Christ loves the church, requires that he prioritize her, over his own need to ‘do something’.

        Grief is a critical aspect to growth. This feels like avoidant behaviour and although, Tim, you may see this as ‘male-ness’, I would respectfully challenge that. When we don’t require men to do the emotional work of meeting their wives in their feelings ( in this case, grief), we are not holding them to the Biblical standard that Christ calls them to. Emotional work is tough, yes. But that’s what a biblical marriage requires.

    • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 7:42 am

      Tim,

      You wrote from the husband’s voice here;
      “The husband watches “the Five Red Flags”, checks out the website, and takes the Questionnaire too. He says, “I can use all that as evidence that my wife is the abusive one in the relationship. But I don’t believe “abuse” is causing our dysfunctional relationship. Rather, our dysfunctional relationship is causing symptoms similar to some of those in abusive marriages.”

      Interesting that you don’t have a similar tone toward the husband as accusing ‘abusive behavior’ as a serious offense if false?

      Do you maybe see the biases that are not lending well to solutions.

      Also, the husband is claiming that identifying destructive behavior (labeling abusive) isn’t why they have a dysfunctional marriage… and doesn’t help them problem solve.
      I disagree on his point because we can change what we can acknowledge and if the husband is in denial that he is ‘misusing his power’ or misusing his role as husband and his promised covenant, then that behavior is going to root up again and again on any given issue or topic.

      Please Tim see that a mindset of a person is crucial to their growth and their ability to be a teachable and humble person.

      • Nancy on November 5, 2017 at 8:13 am

        Aly.

        Excellent points! I agree that at the root of abuse, is the misuse of power. This helps us to see that abuse can morph and change and go underground in a miriad of ways.

        • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 8:44 am

          Nancy,

          Thanks for your reply!
          These issues are critical to the emotional and spiritual health of our church body.

          If you asked my husband a few years ago if he thought he was abusive (covertly so) or acted unreasonable toward being challenged on areas … he would flat out first not connect with your question.. and second be quickly offended that you might suggest he would have inappropriate behavior or that the attitude and disregard was (damaging and harming to model) in our home.
          When something is continuing to be a consistent pattern of damaging and harming responses or interaction, it is abusive, not only to the spouse& and children but to the abusive spouse as well!

          As he got more educated and was ‘willing’ to peer closer and see that his posture/attitude and arrogance toward being challenged was indeed ‘misapplying his role and his power within his role’ that he could see the abuse of it.

          His role is pivotal and influencial in our home on many fronts. The seriousness of his attitude was the ability for him to choose… ‘what type of healthy posture and reverence to the Lord do I want to reflect in my other pivotal relationships?
          Thus, using my power in a way that will honor God the greatest. This takes a lot of humility and leaning and feasting toward the Holy Spirit to guide.

    • Nancy on November 5, 2017 at 8:01 am

      Hi Tim,

      I really like what Janice said, and join her in thanks for ‘hanging in’ as well as her very specific prayer for you and your ministry.. Patrick Doyle’s YouTube videos are excellent.

      I also think Free has made some excellent points.

      I can see that having the abuse term ‘flung around’ in a counselling office would make things very difficult to manage. What if you begin counselling separately, watching very closely for the signs that you have heard talked about here? Even if they say they want couples counselling, they are making it impossible for you to discern Truth.

      The ‘marriage’ would then no longer be the client. Each person’s well-being would become your priority.

    • Maria on November 5, 2017 at 8:31 am

      Tim,
      This conflict between this couple is puzzling to me. Like you, I am a very logical person (although I am female). Why wouldn’t the wife be happy that her husband is willing to help this couple? There must be some underlying issues. For example:
      1. His wife is a jealous individual and selfish individual.
      2. He has been neglectful (emotionally, financially) of his wife and his family in the past. Maybe his motives are pure in helping this couple, but if he is wise, he will address his neglect, and prioritize his family. You may find this hard to believe, but perhaps he is neglectful and knows it and wants to flaunt his power. My husband does this with the kids. He refuses to buy the kids presents, and then will buy something for another person and flaunt it to them.

      It sounds like this is not an isolated incident. Let’s assume that they are having this conflict repeatedly because men and women are different. Then maybe the solution should be that both parties don’t do anything until both are in agreement, and then only do what is agreed by both. If the guy repeated goes out and does what he wants he will eventually destroy the marriage.

      I find it hard (and illogical) to think this couple is having repeated problems because of the difference between male and females. The root issue may be that he is not connecting with her emotionally. He cannot empathize with her, which I think is essential for a good marriage. Instead of trying to work on that, he is avoiding the issue and doing things. Men are capable of connecting emotionally with others. It is not a gender issue. I have experienced this growing up with my dad. But there are some men (and women) who cannot (like my husband). And instead of addressing the issue, they even illtreat (abuse) others.

      It just doesn’t make sense that what you have described should be such a big issue. Unless there are deep underlying issues. It also doesn’t make sense to me that gender differences would be the main cause of this.

      • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 8:52 am

        Maria,

        I can agree with many of your important points.
        The underlying issues are the bigger issue, and one could suggest that maybe the husband is ‘more loyal’ to what he is comfortable ‘doing’ than meeting his wife in places of the marriage that are important to her also?
        This then becomes a trust & loyalty issue.

    • Alene on November 5, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      Tim,
      You managed to share and – I imagine you worked to maintain client privacy by giving a general idea of the situation.

      Leslie differentiates between disappointing, —, and destructive relationships. (I can never for some reason remember that middle word!)

      I had to carefully discern what part of my relationship fell where: Since the biggest problem was the destructive elements – that was where I knew I needed help, I didn’t want to enable that any more and knew I needed to gain strength and wisdom.

      You believe the relationship to be dysfunctional and say that both people have said, this is all there is.

      I think you are trying to bring up a valid point: people do project based on past history or unresolved childhood wounds – this is a known fact, sometimes a person’s response is too extreme, sometimes it is too self focused. You seem to see that there are similarities to abuse…without it fitting into a full abuse category. This seems to be your caution. I think this falls under the “C”, to use that association again, category. Commitment to truth asks the questions to discern what the real truth is. A commitment to truth is willing to go there. Truth can withstand scrutiny. Wisdom is willing to ask those questions because truth is important.

      It is part of truth that what looks like one thing from the outside can feel like devastation to another person on the inside. For myself, I know what it is to have my words dismissed and be silenced and my perspective be ignored. It does indeed feel devastating. I felt worthless. Totally devalued.

      I just had a friend the other week whose husband and her had very different perspectives about a family matter and both felt hurt. They did each need to get outside of themselves, leave room for the other person’s perspective, and not assume how the other person should think. If ths type of balance shifts to a power over situation, or one person usually winning and crushing the other’s opinion, this scenario becomes much more dangerous. One person ends up feeling destroyed. They feel like they are slowly dying inside.

      One person in your scenario is a do-er, and one is a feel-er, apparently. Neither of those is wrong. In the story I just told one person was a care-er and the other was a practical person. Neither was wrong. They had to leave the other person space to be themselves and not assume the other should be just like them. They had to be aware of the other person. They were so focused on their own perspective that they were stuck. And judged the other…and felt hurt…and so on.

      In taking this journey of truth, I have seen things in myself I needed to be more aware of, areas I could grow. This is part of the journey of truth. If there’s going to be q commitment to truth, there has to be truth, and that includes truth about me. There’s that double edged sword.

      I learned that personality is cross cultural. (I’ve lived cross culturally overseas). Different people are wired differently. I had to learn to speak my husband’s language. (he needs strong clear direct words; he isn’t a deep thinker and I am, and so on). If I think the other person should see and do things my way, that is a problem. I can’t enter another culture that way. I need to discover and respect the culture that is there. I need to discover ways to communicate in this culture. There is a time and way to bring myself in to the equation. Many things aren’t wrong, just different and take flexibility. I wanted to shave off any elements in the situation that weren’t part of the destructive pattern.

      When he turns words to attack me, THAT is a whole different category. It doesn’t take flexibilty or understanding, it needs truth.
      When he puts our son down, THAT does not take understanding and empathy and compassion on my part. That takes truth.
      These things took discernment. What was disappointing, what was that middle d— word, and what was destructive.

      If it felt destructive, if I felt I was losing myself and being destroyed…could I put that in a destructive or abusive category, even though to someone else it wouldn’t be? Is that part of the question?

      When my husband made a choice a number of years ago about a job that I would never have chosen, it sat on my old wound from childhood of being alone (long story). I had clearly said no. I had clearly said I can’t do that. He had promised. I felt betrayed when he did choose to do it. I found myself forced to face that old wound, and mature, and allow him more space. I needed a stronger focus on God alone. I ALSO needed more strength than I had because the other half of that equation involved definite concerns that involved the destructive patterns.

      I had to face and allow the childhood wound to heal. (talk about feeling your heart is ripping, it is not easy to walk into pain like that, this choice hurt and ripped me to the depths). It is easier to avoid pain.
      I had to face in the long run that it wasn’t about him making me comfortable; I needed to mature in an area I hadn’t.
      I had to face in the long run that I needed strength. I couldn’t try to lean on him, just expect him to hear me, and so on. I needed skills and a voice and strength and he couldn’t give that to me. I had to seek and find it. He needed me to. My family needed me to. My circumstances and difficulties were calling me to. God wanted me to overcome not just have my circumstances made easier.

      . Yes; my husband and I need to get to the point where we can come to a decision in a way that works for both of us and that is an area of need; if I am not free to bring up concerns because he is uncomfortable then that can’t happen and if I’m not strong enough to hold my ground and do so it won’t happen. It is possible he still would have made that job choice but it would have happened in a strong clear way where concerns were heard and addressed maturely. It didn’t.

      I was pondering today about cautions. I have learned different cautions on the journey…I think it is part of the discovery and the process and the journey. No one can tell me all of them. I have to find them as I come to those points on the journey. I wish someone could give me a list of all of them! wouldn’t that be easier! But…it doesn’t seem to work that way. God doesn’t fill His word with little footnotes and cautions…he gives us the main ideas and sends us forth on a voyage of discovery…and tells us if we seek, we’ll find. Part of what we find, comes from the seeking and the joy of discovery.

      I can learn some things from others journey and there are times those things impact me. In many ways I have to discover in my own journey so I own it and it is mine and is real and a part of me, embedded in my story, and thus powerful and able to be shared with others.

      If all I ate was someone else’s cautions, I think it would be like eating baby food. I wouldn’t mature.

      I had a friend recently who finally figured out her personality type. I knew it months ago but she had to discover it on her own.

      Life is like that.

      Thanks for bringing up a tricky topic. It has been interesting wrestling with it.

    • each and every counsellor, pastor, leaJanet on November 6, 2017 at 7:28 pm

      Tim I believe you are the husband and you are talking about your own marriage. In the scenario’s you are discussing I believe they are directly related to you and your wife. She has mentioned this site and you are here to check it out for yourself. I believe you are shocked and hurt by what she has said regarding your behaviour, attitudes and actions and cannot imagine that what you are doing is abusive. I believe you spoke out initially to look for justifications and to prove yourself right because you are convinced your wife is wrong. I think you genuinely believe you are right and you are doing right for your marriage and also that God is in agreement with you. Especially in regards to Headship/leadership.
      You have your fixed ideas and mindset of headship/ leadership and of God’s will in this area that you will not hear another word said. Which highlights a problem immediately in Pride. This attitude is definitely not humble in any way. You will not budge and therefore cannot see the wood for the trees. She can’t make you hear her no matter what, and she’s probably tried everything she can think of, with no success, so concludes abuse.
      Only the Lord knows rhe answer to this, at this point.
      You do have a choice though, You could ask her, in what ways does she think you abuse her, then listen to her reasons, then decide if your willing to ask her “how she would like things to change/what she wants for the marriage now” Then, make a decision if you are willing for these changes to happen, or not. If the answer is no, Then you have a stalemate.
      I do not believe you are a qualified counsellor and I think you have come here for to prove your point first of all, (in the guise of a counsellor/either that or you see yourself as being that part in your marital issues).You are definitely convinced that when your wife is wrong, you can tell her and she should submit and stay silent. she most surely should never say you are wrong. (How can you be if you are the head?! You believe you (as the man and husband) are entitled to make all the decisions and never be wrong because the buck stops with you). You have proved on
      this site alone, by all your reactions and comments, that you will not be questioned or made to seem wrong and I truly believe that you are convinced that you are right at every step, here and I believe in your marriage too, and you do not consider what you are doing/saying or how you are interacting with your wife as abusive,.in any way shape or form. You believe it’s a communication issue, and if she could understand this everything would be fine, then you could also convince her that she was wrong if she would at least learn to listen and hear you. I believe that until the word abuse came up, you were probably convincing your wife of the same. This word abuse has thrown a real spanner in the works.
      I would suggest that if you are not willing to consider the theory that you are maybe appearing to be abusive, at least from her perspective, then your marriage really is in trouble.
      One thing you have overlooked… When seeing a counselor, It is made clear that only one counselor is seen, Thus avoiding a conflict of interest.
      I’m not sure you realise that you have contradicted yourself too many times. Even as far as the “don’t accuse me but I can accuse you” reactions I have observed going on.
      Firstly in saying you are counselling the husband. and other men in this situation. (I believe you are talking about your buddies/ other men you have discussed this subject with, maybe church leaders/elders/men in prominent church positions) and they have said these things to you, in the form of advice/help for you, or they are in agreement with you and they have the same probs with their wives).
      Then you say you are marriage counselling a couple/men. It seems impossible not to notice that you are showing a very strong bias towards men, (by your comments throughout this post). Even the bible says that it is wrong to show partiality or bias.
      I conclude you are not a counsellor, or you are a very bad one, simply by reading some of your reactions and comments. I’d be horrified to think you were counselling me or my husband. I don’t believe a good counsellor would argue/discuss the points you are discussing in the ways that you are discussing them. I certainly would not wish to be counselled by a counsellor that has your values, belief system or ways to resolve marital issues. ( I do believe many women here, are/were married to a man that has though.
      Thirdly you mentioned this woman heard about this site from a (her) female counsellor. Yet you are saying you are the woman’s counselor as well as her husbands… If she is your client, I would say that you are definitely “unsafe as a counsellor” and yes, even “dangerous”, purely because you have concluded she is delusional, therefore it would be impossible to work out a positive solution with/for anyone that was delusional or that held these beliefs before you even started. No relationship can possibly be a successful one, if one party saw the other as delusional. How can any counsellor counsel fairly if they have prejudices about the person they are counselling? The same as no “good and loving” spouse would stand a chance at having a positive outcome if their “contending spouse” viewed them as abusive.
      This creates an impasse situation, immediately. (as you are fully aware).
      You have not replied to any question I asked, yet you wanted “engagement”. Nor have you replied to any other individual that “called you out” or questioned/queried your methods. You have argued your point and challenged “negative comments about you! but not when Leslie spoke truth into what you were doing. You have glossed over, deflected and justified many of the comments to you, or your own comments and posts.

      I’m calling you out on this Tim. I think you are not being fully open and honest here. If you were to be fully open, fully honest and even shared openly your marital situation, you may find a degree of sympathy, as you would be willing to seek help, and/or understanding. I believe that you genuinely don’t think you are being abusive towards (your wife). (at the point when you first entered your question to Leslie and she posted it, I do not believe God would hold it (your transgressions ), as sin and against you, as you were innocent in your sin. It is not
      sinful if we don;t know the difference. Hence the reason for the 10 Commandments. (not just no.9). (my husband was not necessarily wrong in abusing me before he knew it was abuse. What made him wrong and the abuse absolute, was when my husband chose not to stop when he discovered his actions, behaviours and attitudes were “described as” abusive, and when he learned how much he was hurting me, our family, our children and still chose to ignored it, choosing instead to continue regardless and at any cost. Even when he saw ( by me locking him out, finally) how his actions and behaviour were destroying our marriage. Then for 3 years after, while I continued to work towards us getting back, and he chose to continue manipulating me and the children, If he’d have just (taken me serious) and stopped to see the effort I was making to save our marriage, help him to see his responsibility and need to “work” on himself and us, then we would still be together now. As it is, He chose to continue his ways, regardless and ignore everything I said and every plea or offer of help. Unfortunately for us all, he really did not want me well because I called him out on some of the things he said or did, at times I did not submit as I had opinions, thoughts, feelings and a mind of my own. Conversely, When I was ill, I was 100% submissive. I was a free thinker when we met, and this is what attracted him to me, as well as my bubbly personality, sadly these were also the very things that he saw as “threatening/ challenging to him”. As we became “one flesh” he expected we would become one voice, his! and my needs would be his needs only!
      You’re obviously a very intelligent man, articulate and a clever negotiator, with good scriptural knowledge, But I don’t believe, for one minute now, that you are a counsellor, because this is the pattern I am seeing all the way through. I really think that you are using your marriage and your wife as your example/client couple.
      Nevertheless, ABUSE OR NOT, I really suggest that you seek real help, with open and honest dialogue. I believe you need this help if you really do want to save your marriage. If you do love your wife you need to stop telling her, and start listening to her. Especially if you want her to listen and hear you, respecting you as you so desire as the man/head/lead of the house.
      I believe She is telling you that she is hurting and the marriage is at risk. She is telling you that if you don’t listen and hear NOW, you are at risk of losing her. She is telling you to stop doing what you are doing, because it’s harmful, to you, her and your marriage and you need to start listening NOW, and really working at this if you want a workable solution, where both feelings and needs are taken into consideration and met. Together, you could very well end up being the respected leading, head and godly husband. and she the loved and cherished, submitting wife. Apart you will both be unable to meet anywhere in the middle, and you will soon become a statistic.
      I truly hope and pray that you see the truth in here, not the criticism. Turn to the Lord for help, and get real, for both your sakes.
      We cannot cherry pick scripture to suit our thoughts and life. We need to apply it all or discount it all.
      I really do hope you visited this site to find out and understand. Not to justify and prove.
      May God bless You both Tim. I do know, that if you are in Joint counselling, and you do want to save your marriage and become the husband you describe and your wife desires, then It’s time to take action and start listening and hearing. You will lose TIM, GOD OPPOSES THE PROUD! and EXALTS THE HUMBLE!
      It was pride that took over lucifer! It was pride that lost me my husband and cheated my kids out of their dad, and ultimately it will be pride that is your downfall if you don’t take this opportunity to humble yourself before the Lord, repent and allow HIM to heal YOUR LAND! The powers and principalities at work here are hell bent on stealing your marriage, killing your wife’s love hope and belief in you and destroying for you, and everything you think you have right now. Don’t become a statistic for satan’s rule.
      Be Wise. Only a fool would stay stiff necked at this point.

      • Aly on November 6, 2017 at 11:07 pm

        To each and every counselor, pastor, leaJanet

        Wow! My thought is I wonder how many of us have that same letter written from our own perspectives of the traumas of dealing with a prideful, stubborn , and foolish male?

        Heartbreaking😢

      • Barbara on November 6, 2017 at 11:51 pm

        I have noticed that men who follow the Grudem/Family Life/PromiseKeepers headship system have a lot of fear. They have this impossible standard of always being the strong one, always being the leader, the “buck-stopper” as Tim said. If they can’t live up to that standard they see themselves as failures as men and they think they have let God down. It’s a lot of pressure. So naturally the only way they can live up to this standard is to pretend that they have it all together and if anyone questions them or says they are less than perfect then that person has to be shut down. So as we’ve seen in this discussion, they bounce back and forth between super-spiritual one minute and then having meltdowns and tantrums the next, if anyone dares to question them (especially if a woman is seen as pointing out any kind of flaw). Probably many of them don’t want to be bullies, they are just scared. That doesn’t excuse their abuse but maybe is some insight knowing how to pray for them.

        • Connie on November 7, 2017 at 10:57 am

          Barbara, Thank you for this. My son as well as my h have been to Promise Keepers, and I keep wondering what it is that bothers me about that. I will copy what you have written and pray about sharing it with my son. The more I think about it, the more it seems that marriage was meant by God to be the one place (well not only, the church too) where you can relax and not feel there is always a power struggle. Connect with your Lord and let Him lead, and then the two of you can walk hand in hand and side by side and enjoy each other.What a relief it would be to be able to do that!!

          • Connie on November 7, 2017 at 12:42 pm

            Another thought, Barbara, is, could it go the other way as well? We women have been brainwashed in the ‘submission’ doctrine and have tried so hard to be that perfect wife, yet it doesn’t feel right love one’s ‘boss’ or ‘father figure’, and so we pretend and pretend, hoping to fake it till we make it….giving the husband more and more power, and then we crash and burn one day, and it’s too late. And, we feel like we’ve failed and let God down. How awful is that?



          • many years on November 7, 2017 at 8:43 pm

            Hi, Connie
            Amen to your second comment at Nov. 7th 12:42 p.m.
            So true, and ‘spot on’.



        • each and every counsellor, pastor, leaJanet on November 9, 2017 at 5:32 pm

          Barabara
          I just feel sorry for Tim’s wife now. (I’m certain this is the marriage and the couple he has worked intensively with). He really believes he is the one who is right and he is doing his best.I didn’t notice one reference to Jesus as Lord only to scriptural evidence for headship and leadership etc.
          I felt very frustrated and sad at the end, just like I used to feel with my husband, because there is no helping them to see how much we love them, if only they would relax their hierarchical patriarchal domination, and be in a two way relationship. (Unfortunately, my h. had more problems than that). I really think by most of Tim’s comments,towards the end, that he actually left feeling more justified than when he first entered his comments to Leslie. I think he probably expected Leslie to apologise for her mistakes and take his comments on board… I’m sure he didn’t expect the passion and deliberate responses that he read here. I really don’t think he was a counsellor, just by comparing the way he responded and replied to how Leslie does… There was such a difference. Tim used a lot of highfalutin words, I think, claiming an articulate, (to make himself sound) intellectual and professional image, When in fact, this is usually a shield to hide insecurities. I know for sure I’d be really worried if he was my counsellor.
          I have no resentment against him, I just feel sad, for him and his wife. More so his wife now. I’m concerned that their problems will now be intensified and she will be under more pressure to submit/bow down.
          I think it was Autumn that said she felt like she’d read something similar on here before… I felt this too. Even the scenario of the husband going off to help another family while his wife was left crying.
          These scenario’s can be so easily “poor communication” I even thought, for a moment, that the wife could be at fault, I know many manipulative wives/girlfriends, but as Tim interacted, and most of all ignored completely any suggestion of help for him, or lessons he could learn/show compassion etc. I became more and more certain that he was sounding very much like the “husband”. It almost feels like a deja vous to me now.
          I will be praying for him, and his wife. My heart is heavy right now, he is so “blind” to the compassion and help, for his situation that he could have found here had he been open to hearing and learning.
          I hope his wife goes by a pseudonym on this site, if she does access Leslie’s advice. God bless

          • Leslie Vernick on November 10, 2017 at 3:34 pm

            I think Tim did gain some insights by being with you all and thank you for sharing them. Tim indeed is a counselor – albeit one who has some different opinions and approaches than I do on these issues. But this is real life in the Christian world – we don’t all agree on everything – even in worship music or styles do we? Yet we are still brothers and sisters and are called to a high standard of showing the world that we love one another even if we disagree.



          • each and every counsellor, pastor, leaJanet on November 10, 2017 at 6:30 pm

            Thank you Leslie
            I know for sure, this has taught me that I still have a way to go with my healing Journey. That was a wise move posting Tim’s questions.
            I truly have come a long way, But I thank the Lord I have Him as my TRUE guide, comforter and counselor. (and I don’t need the world to believe me or understand, anymore). It is so difficult showing Truth and Grace in balance. .CORE teaching/understanding and practise/application is so needed, on my part at least.
            This site, and you in particular, Leslie, are the nearest thing to truth and understanding I have found outside the bible (If you understand my meaning). (in my experience). Thank you for your serving and ministry.



          • Renee on November 10, 2017 at 7:22 pm

            You said: I know for sure, this has taught me that I still have a way to go with my healing Journey.

            I agree. I still have buried memories coming to the surface. I can’t believe I have been so forgiving and accepting.

            You said: I truly have come a long way, But I thank the Lord I have Him as my TRUE guide, comforter and counselor. (and I don’t need the world to believe me or understand, anymore).

            Amen and Amen.



          • each and every counsellor, pastor, leaJanet on November 14, 2017 at 4:39 pm

            Renee, Tim, Leslie and all the ladies that took part in the discussions with Tim the counsellor regarding his understanding of Ephesians 5, headship,humble service, leadership and submission in marriage.
            See below a wonderful article offering scriptural clarification of the subject of submission and leadership just as we spent 2 weeks debating the very same with Tim. I hope you take time to read it.

            Why Wives Must Read the Context of Ephesians 5:22
            by Jay Payleitner
            “Wives, submit to your own husbands as you do to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22).
            For many, it’s a troubling or ludicrous command. Cynics quote this verse to prove that the Bible is archaic and irrelevant. A biblically illiterate Neanderthal quotes this verse to keep his wife in a subservient role, insisting her opinion has no value and her contribution to the household is limited to cooking, cleaning, and keeping herself available to his sexual whims. Christian women with husbands who are not church attenders struggle with how to respond to the idea of submission.
            Instead of skipping over it, let’s put Ephesians 5:22 in context. Upon further examination, I believe you’ll discover this verse and its surrounding passages are all about empowerment for every member of the family.
            Let’s begin with the nine words immediately preceding that verse. Ephesians 5:21 says quite plainly, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” That’s pretty clear. The apostle Paul was writing to believers in the church at Ephesus and all believers everywhere. He expected all of us to have the heart of a servant and put first the needs of others.
            Then after introducing the concept of submitting to one another, Paul turns his attention to the family, which is the building block of a healthy society. He gives three examples of how submission works in real life for wives, husbands, and kids. Read them for yourself:
            Wives, submit to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior (Ephesians 5:22-23).
            Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself (Ephesians 5:25,28).
            Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right (Ephesians 6:1).
            Men, women, and children have different needs, so Paul explains how to honor and affirm each of them differently. Children need instruction. Women need to feel cherished. Men need to lead.
            Submission is all about putting the needs of other members of your family ahead of your own. But today’s culture doesn’t place a very high value on others. Selfishness, misplaced priorities, and exhaustion keep us from nurturing our own submissive hearts and we have nothing left to give to the people we love most.
            • Busy parents sometimes don’t have the time or energy to instruct and discipline their kids, but that’s what they need. Our kids are counting on us to teach them right from wrong.

            • Distracted husbands sometimes forget to do the little things (and the big things) to express love to our wives. But a husband’s sacrificial love for his bride is critical for a healthy marriage.

            • Exhausted wives sometimes make family decisions without any input from their husbands. She’s trying to manage a household and can’t even get his attention. He feels out of the loop and the family loses his leadership. And he loses their respect.
            Can you see the immediate benefits of Ephesians chapter 5 to both a wife and husband? Some theologians call it “mutual submission.” Others don’t like that term, but it’s a pretty accurate paraphrase of how the Bible describes a successful marriage. He feels respected. She feels loved. Both are looking for the best in each other and looking out for each other.
            So next time you hear someone misquote Ephesians 5:22, you are now equipped to get in his or her face and say, “You know, I think you’re taking that verse out of context. Have you even read that complete passage of the Bible?”
            Takeaway
            Any discussion about mutual submission must include the mandate of Genesis 2:24, “And they become one flesh.” When you’re looking out for your spouse, you’re really looking out for yourself. And vice versa.
            “There is nothing more admirable than two people who see eye-to-eye keeping house as man and wife, confounding their enemies, and delighting their friends.”
            —Homer (9th Century BC)
            Article excerpted from 52 Things Husbands Need From Their Wives by Jay Payleitner. © 2013, Harvest House Publishers. Used with permission.
            Jay Payleitner is one of the top freelance Christian radio producers in the United States. He has worked on Josh McDowell Radio, Today’s Father, Jesus Freaks Radio for the Voice of the Martyrs, Project Angel Tree with Chuck Colson, and many others. He’s also a popular speaker on parenting and marriage and the author of dozen-plus books, including the bestselling 52 Things Kids Need from a Dad, 52 Things Wives Need from a Husband, and 52 Things Sons Need from Their Dad; he also created “The Dad Manifesto.” Jay has also served as an AWANA director, a wrestling coach, and the executive director of the Illinois Fatherhood Initiative; he now partners with the National Center for Fathering, whose efforts he fosters and promotes. He and his wife, Rita, live near Chicago, where they’ve raised five great kids and loved on ten foster babies.
            Publication date: June 16, 2014

            I have chosen to post this article here as Renee is responding to a comment I made about how The Lord is my TRUE guide and counsellor etc.
            You will see here one such time I believe the Lord is guiding me to His Truth. I am in agreement with this clear explanation of this scripture and subject. I am open to Leslie highlighting any weaknesses, if there were to be any. I doubt it because often times this happens to me. I believe it is words from the Lord.
            It is an impossible coincidence. He has done this to me for 6 years since He first spoke to me in scripture and then I learned how to listen and hear Him In everyday situations. I am not talking about a mythical god that I fit around my needs, I’m showing an example of how the Holy Spirit can meet with us in any situation, if we listen and remain obedient to Him. We learn to recognise His footprints and His handprint in our life. He will use a medium that I (we) have access to. I do not look up, nor research clarification for things, anywhere, except the bible, The Living word itself, and through Holy Spirit Revelation. I pray for the Lord to clarify and teach/show me.
            During conversations, discussions etc. of the Lord and His meaning of scripture, I may get things slightly wrong or if I don’t understand the meaning of scripture properly, yet have discussed it using my understanding.etc…I believe the Lord chooses situations like these to clarify things I have spoken about or have taken to him as others have spoken to me.
            If All scripture is God breathed and used for teaching correcting rebuking etc…. (Timothy? the words are stored in my heart and in my understanding rather than storing the chapter and verse in my head), Then why wouldn’t the Lord speak to us, clarifying, teaching, correcting, rebuking, guiding etc. in this way.
            I hope this settles things for you Tim too. Giving you a clearer understanding of the scripture examples you chose to use as supporting evidence.
            God Bless to you all.



          • Aly on November 10, 2017 at 7:00 pm

            You wrote;
            “Yet we are still brothers and sisters and are called to a high standard of showing the world that we love one another even if we disagree.”

            Could not agree more!

            I think it reveals a lot about a person’s capacity and overall maturity who cannot show space & love another when they disagree or feel uncomfortable with another person’s perspective. Can they still express care& love and not agree or is it only based on their uncomfortable feelings that maybe could benefit from being challenged?



      • many years on November 7, 2017 at 2:25 am

        Wow! each and every counselor, pastor, leaJanet

        This sounds like the scenario to many marriages where the wife doesn’t show respect to the husband because he forces his headship upon her, making it appear that she is not submissive. It is a two-way street and definitely full of confusion and pride.
        Thank you for your spiritual insight.

      • Roxanne on November 7, 2017 at 6:18 am

        Yes, yes and yes.

  65. Janice on November 5, 2017 at 6:50 am

    Tim, appreciate you hanging in there and continuing the discussion…I’m curious if you have listened to any of Patrick Doyle’s videos and if so what your thoughts were? He does not appear to me to speak ” male-ese” or ” female-ese” but wisdom from God in a humble and humorous manner.He is speaking as a”wounded warrior” who has allowed God to transform him into an insightful counselor with a disarming approach.My prayer for you Tim is that this time on Leslie’s blog will bear fruit as you continue your counseling ministry, always remembering the oath ” first do no harm”

    • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 7:32 am

      Janice;)
      I SO agree with your post!
      He is a man modeling what recovery looks like at the same time knowing he isn’t completed in his journey.
      When any of us can face our shame (someone else’s shame placed on us), our addictions and our identity issues…. our hearts fall into His lap wrapped in His love and truth💜

  66. Tim on November 5, 2017 at 8:30 am

    Do you see what you’ve all done? The fact that I’ve observed these two over the course of time, and have interacted with them intensively notwithstanding, you’ve determined that no analysis of the situation is adequate unless it comes to the conclusion that the husband was an abuser. And that is why I wrote to Leslie in the first place. I think it may be time to terminate this discussion.

    • Maria on November 5, 2017 at 8:49 am

      Tim,
      Are you confident that you have the full picture of what’s going on in that home? I say this because of my experience with my husband. He is smooth, knows what to say and lies convincingly. There are women like that too, by the way.

      Not sure if you saw my post above. I mention there is a possibility that the wife could be the one with the problem.

      It sounds to me that in the same way some of the ladies are set on defending the wife, you are convinced that the husband is in the right.

    • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 8:54 am

      Tim,

      I am not sure my recent response posted to you.
      It was a bit lengthy .. sorry.
      But I don’t think it expressed what you just claimed. Maybe it will post.
      Thanks,
      Aly

    • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 9:06 am

      Tim,

      One of my main questions for you was are you working on Attachment and bonding with this couple?

      I did not conclude that the husband is abusive ~
      I have specific reasons and examples for what I consider abusive and possibly you as the counselor can peer closer and even ask those questions to the husband.

    • Nancy on November 5, 2017 at 9:31 am

      Tim,

      If you carefully re-read my original response to your post you’ll see that I did not jump to any conclusion. Only validated your feelings of frustration, applauded your desire for feedback, and suggested that couples counselling might no longer be the way to go.

      I am praying for your ministry, and told you that.

      It is offensive to me that, once again, that you lump everyone together and make a generalized negative assessment. This is exhausting.

      • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 10:02 am

        Nancy and Tim,

        Nancy I agree with your replied post and this one as well.

        My challenge for you Tim is do you think you are ‘hearing’ or are you being quick to ‘listen’?

        And, also I would appreciate not being lumped into something that I feel has been a pattern in this dialog.

        If your serious & genuine about wanting input and engagement and especially to want ‘to help this couple’, then it’s essential to have the healthy GRIT~ Which comes from the heart within.

        Do you feel that Leslie’s materials and resources stir the pot for your situation with the marriages you are trying to assist?

        I have a specific example to share about counseling and what my ‘father accused our therapist of’..
        “that the Therapist is just about causing havoc and breaking up families!”
        This was my father’s viewpoint and entrenched belief about counseling.
        I asked our marital therapist what her response was?

        “Yes, he is correct ”
        I do break up dysfunctional / destructive generational families”.

        Truthful but freeing;)

        • Nancy on November 5, 2017 at 10:23 am

          Ooooh, I love your therapists response!

          This shows her heart for healthy individuals, over unhealthy marriages ♥️

          • Nancy on November 5, 2017 at 10:38 am

            I’m going to bow out of this discussion now. It has become too triggering for me, and I cannot put my desire to help Tim( and this couple) over my own heart.

            I can see how it would be easy for him to feel overwhelmed by the amount and variety of responses, but that doesn’t justify him being disrespectful to us as a group.

            Leslie called you, Tim, to higher standard and you responded to that, but this morning have slipped back into reactivity. This kind of disrespect is particularly painful for people who have been abused.



          • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 10:54 am

            Nancy,

            Agreed!!

            And committed to the greater building of the Kingdom;)
            💜



          • Maria on November 5, 2017 at 12:11 pm

            Nancy,Aly,Tim,
            When word spreads around in your community, women are going to stop coming to see you. When I come into contact with women who are hurting, I tell them my experiences with some of the pastors.



        • Maria on November 5, 2017 at 11:02 am

          Yes Aly, the goal should not be to save a dysfunctional marriage by putting a bandaid on the problems. It should instead be to fix the dysfunctions. We are not fooling people or God by the former.

          • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 11:24 am

            Maria,
            Yes this happens far too often 😥~ and there is a biblical reference to to the cries of Jeremiah:
            Jeremiah 8:11
            “They dress the wounds of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.”

            Both my husband and I took a covenant ‘all bandaged up (figuratively🤗)’ when it is heart surgery we ‘needed’, not more bandages where more infection can take place.

            I have an older professing believer in my life, much older than myself and if he was questioned on any behavior or ‘anything in passing’, he responded with anger, “that at a certain age ~ people don’t change”!
            Hmmm I thought, if that indeed was his belief… “where were you informed that ‘age or old age’ granted you freedom from responsibility to grow and change/transform”?

            Privately, I thought.. hmm I don’t think ‘my questions are about changing’ but considering what’s leaking out behind the bandages ‘yikes its oosing’
            Later I decided to try to express my thoughts and purposes.. don’t think it went too well. 🤔



          • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 11:35 am

            Maria,

            You are correct! There is even a biblical reference to this as Jeremiah cries out;
            Jeremiah 8:11-12

            “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. Peace, peace, they say, when there is no peace.”

            Both my husband and I took a covenant ‘all bandaged up (figuratively🤗)’ when it is heart surgery we ‘needed’, not more bandages where more infection can take place.

            I have an older professing believer in my life, much older than myself and if he was questioned on any behavior or ‘anything in passing’, or anything noting to let’s not just stick a bandaid on this but work out the conflict in a healthy manner,… he responded with anger, “that at a certain age ~ people don’t change”!
            Hmmm I thought, if that indeed was his belief… “where was he informed that ‘age or old age’ granted you freedom from responsibility to grow and change/transform”?
            Where was this message also reinforced?
            His belief and often spoken messages was , “if I say it isn’t broken, then it isn’t because I say it isn’t, so don’t tinker with something I say is ok”!

            Privately, I thought.. hmm I don’t think ‘my questions are about changing’ but considering what’s leaking out behind the bandages ‘yikes its oosing’
            Later I decided to try to express my thoughts and purposes.. for my questions…
            don’t think it went too well. 🤔



          • Maria on November 5, 2017 at 12:02 pm

            Aly,
            Thanks for your reply. I think this might stem from the teaching that we are to be witnesses of Christ. Presence turns people off (at least people who are seeking the truth). If we are authentic and real, we are more attractive to others. They will see Christ not ourselves trying to appear good. Of late, I have been thinking about this topi a lot (authenticity). It is especially relevant now because my children are growing up. If I preach to them about something, and they don’t see it in my daily life, it has no meaning to them..



          • Aly on November 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm

            Maria,
            I am understanding..
            Maybe you meant to say ..
            (It’s a turn off for people who are ‘Not’ seeking truth and authenticity?)

            If someone is seeking bandaids ~ they are seeking quick solutions that end up not really dealing eith the disease.
            And I agree with you on what is modeled for our children, it’s important to their own shaping and character growth.



          • Maria on November 5, 2017 at 12:04 pm

            Presence not presence.



          • Maria on November 5, 2017 at 12:06 pm

            Pretense



    • Maria on November 5, 2017 at 9:50 am

      Tim,

      If I may restate your original concern. You are counseling a couple, and the wife looks at some of Leslie’s material and comes to the conclusion that her husband is abusive. If the wife sincerely wants to fix the marriage, she will study Leslie’s material. After doing this, if she is sincere and wants to please God and is in the wrong, I think she will quickly realize it and repent before God and her husband. Now if the wife does not want to fix the marriage, she could use Leslie’s material out of context and blame the husband. But I dont think such a person would want to study Leslie’s books and apply her principles. In this case, the root cause is that the wife does not want to work on the marriage. Whether this kind of person uses Leslie’s material or not will not save the marriage.

    • Rebecca on November 6, 2017 at 5:31 am

      I think the most glaring words of this post are “Did you see what you have done?” That phrase alone is shocking!

      My question is, who speaks like that to anyone? It is just not done among professionals. Yet it is a common phrase used by cruel parents, mean pet owners and tiranical bosses.

      • many years on November 7, 2017 at 1:33 am

        Rebecca

        Excellent point about ‘Did you see what you have done?” Jesus never would have said that either. After Jesus healed people, he would say to them: ‘Thy sins be forgiven thee. Go and sin no more.’ Jesus wanted restitution, not shaming, nor name-calling.

        • Roxanne on November 7, 2017 at 6:10 am

          Yes, and now that same person has picked up all his toys and left the sandbox because the game was going his way.

  67. Free on November 5, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Might it be possible Tim that God is trying to teach you something from us? Are you willing to consider that we know what we are talking about and that it might be time to change your perspective?

  68. Renee on November 5, 2017 at 9:37 am

    Tim, even if you terminate this discussion we will continue to learn. I realize I did not start reading from the beginning and hope to start catching up today.

    Have you been called an abuser? You really dislike that word. I dislike that word as much as I do the word victim. But hey.

    In my case, none of the counselors had to call my husband an abuser. They did not have to address me as a victim. But, I did expect destructive behaviors of my husband to be addressed. I did expect him to be challenged. I expected the same.

    You can go into the next session, leaving out the word abuser and address what Free stated [I also think the wife’s behavior is odd. Her over reaction supports my hunch that this is not the first time her husband behaved in such a manner. She reacted out of her feelings of insecurity and possibly jealousy.] Also address part of Nancy post [The fact that the husband is obviously more comfortable in ‘action’ mode (of helping this other family) does not negate his responsibility to his own his family, first (starting with his wife).

    I believe you can get an hour long session out of those statements just along without mentioning the word abuser.

    Since you question Leslie’s methods. Besides God and the Bible, what books do you recommend to your clients?

  69. Renee on November 5, 2017 at 9:46 am

    Tim, please don’t leave us yet. I’m going to provide an example of a discussion my husband and I tried to have yesterday to see how you would address/challenge us in a session.

    Have to run for now. Busy day.

  70. Connie on November 5, 2017 at 11:06 am

    This is such a good (?) example of using human reasoning over wisdom, sacrifice over mercy, as well as what happens when the church comes from a posture of ‘authority structure’ instead of equality.

    Thank you, Aly and Nancy and others, for being articulate and thoughtful. I love that counselor who said yes, I’m here to create havoc. 🙂

    • Barbara on November 5, 2017 at 2:04 pm

      Yes, there are many great examples of a certain type of mindset along with some classic examples of logical fallacies (despite claims of logical analysis). I’d like to hear the thoughts of the group regarding the appropriateness of Tim sharing in a public forum the personal stories, including details which could be identifying, about his clients? If Tim really is a counselor, and this couple exists in reality, surely they would object? I know I would. I don’t know a lot about licensing, but surely breaking confidentiality in this way is prohibited. The happy side is that if the lady Tim refers to as delusional really is reading Leslie’s material, she will see what Tim said about her, and I’m sure find it quite enlightening and helpful as she ponders her next steps.

      • Connie on November 5, 2017 at 4:31 pm

        Think of this: (not Bible; I think it was Churchill who said it) Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Even the founding fathers of the USA understood that. That is why they put so many checks and balances in place, so that one person would not have all the power. Traditionally the Mennonite church had a similar policy, with the plural ministry, so that no one person had all the say. Schools have school boards so that the principals don’t get too big for their britches.

        So now look at the model of the Christian family. If the husband/dad is the ‘boss’ there is no accountability. I think that is why we have such a problem today with abuse. As in Aly’s case, only when we are accountable to some true Christians in our lives will we mature. Most of us are far too lazy (and far too unable to see ourselves clearly) to grow to maturity all alone, especially if the only person who knows us well enables us, or who we have trained to be afraid of us. On a radio talk show a woman called in and asked the pastors what to do about a husband who was clearly not behaving well. The pastors said that whatever she does, don’t tell him what to do. A husband hates being told by his wife what to do. Like they’re so special? Nobody likes being told what to do. Maturity is listening and taking heed anyway. Humbling yourself is hard. Sure God hates divorce (actually in context He hates what causes divorce), that’s why He hated having to divorce Israel. He also hates pride.

        “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” Proverbs 27:6

      • Connie on November 5, 2017 at 11:44 pm

        One possibility, Barbara, is that the example he used is closer to home than we think.

  71. Brenda on November 5, 2017 at 11:13 am

    Tim,
    I can hear your heart for these couples that I think you are genuinely trying to help. My stance is that I would hesitate to pinpoint Leslie’s work or anyone else’s “the problem” or a contributor in these scenarios even though it feels like they are a contributor and becoming an obstacle for you to accomplish your good work in their lives. For whatever reason that is what they have connected with and where they are – and that is what you’ve been given to work with. I pray that you will be given all of the things that you need to work with these couples effectively. And I do believe that it is possible that any person whether man or woman could claim abuse even if it is not a valid claim.

    I’ve read the responses and although difficult I understand the places that these women are coming from. I hope that you can understand at some level however small that the church is not the safest place for women and children who have legitimate abuse happening in their lives. Speaking as a woman who was abused by her Pastor husband and then later being the mother of a daughter who was abused by her stepfather (a leader in the church), I am sad and grieved that I found no protection within the church’s walls. I have found that “the world” that we preach against so loudly has much safer structures for women to find protection for herself and her children. We are sad that we cannot go to our Christian husbands and our churches to be heard and to find protection. Yet we deal. We find resources wherever we can to rebuild and heal. We re-engage with our churches but never with the absolute trust that it will be a place to trust our hearts to safely.

    The women in this thread have spoken wisdom and have also reacted – probably in ways that have not felt helpful to you. I think they were just trying to show you how pervasive abuse issues for women are in the church. Because you are a man, working through a church it is easy to assume many things about you. I don’t really know you – I have not met you – I admire your courage to engage in dialog – that is a rarity in Christian circles. I cannot know your heart from this brief exchange.

    There is a path through this for you and each of the couples that you are trying to help. It is always best when couples can know and speak the truth about themselves and about their relationships. And yet, that truth can often times be the hardest thing to find.

  72. Renee on November 5, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    I have changed my mind Tim. This blog has examples galore. I just wish we could hear how you would counsel each and every one. Tim, are you going to tell us the resources you recommend to your clients?

  73. Alene on November 5, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    I noticed when I posted that this got lost above so I’m copying it in here. 🙂

    Tim,
    You managed to share and – I imagine you worked to maintain client privacy by giving a general idea of the situation.

    Leslie differentiates between disappointing, —, and destructive relationships. (I can never for some reason remember that middle word!)

    I had to carefully discern what part of my relationship fell where: Since the biggest problem was the destructive elements – that was where I knew I needed help, I didn’t want to enable that any more and knew I needed to gain strength and wisdom.

    You believe the relationship to be dysfunctional and say that both people have said, this is all there is.

    I think you are trying to bring up a valid point: people do project based on past history or unresolved childhood wounds – this is a known fact, sometimes a person’s response is too extreme, sometimes it is too self focused. You seem to see that there are similarities to abuse…without it fitting into a full abuse category. This seems to be your caution. I think this falls under the “C”, to use that association again, category. Commitment to truth asks the questions to discern what the real truth is. A commitment to truth is willing to go there. Truth can withstand scrutiny. Wisdom is willing to ask those questions because truth is important.

    It is part of truth that what looks like one thing from the outside can feel like devastation to another person on the inside. For myself, I know what it is to have my words dismissed and be silenced and my perspective be ignored. It does indeed feel devastating. I felt worthless. Totally devalued.

    I just had a friend the other week whose husband and her had very different perspectives about a family matter and both felt hurt. They did each need to get outside of themselves, leave room for the other person’s perspective, and not assume how the other person should think. If ths type of balance shifts to a power over situation, or one person usually winning and crushing the other’s opinion, this scenario becomes much more dangerous. One person ends up feeling destroyed. They feel like they are slowly dying inside.

    One person in your scenario is a do-er, and one is a feel-er, apparently. Neither of those is wrong. In the story I just told one person was a care-er and the other was a practical person. Neither was wrong. They had to leave the other person space to be themselves and not assume the other should be just like them. They had to be aware of the other person. They were so focused on their own perspective that they were stuck. And judged the other…and felt hurt…and so on.

    In taking this journey of truth, I have seen things in myself I needed to be more aware of, areas I could grow. This is part of the journey of truth. If there’s going to be q commitment to truth, there has to be truth, and that includes truth about me. There’s that double edged sword.

    I learned that personality is cross cultural. (I’ve lived cross culturally overseas). Different people are wired differently. I had to learn to speak my husband’s language. (he needs strong clear direct words; he isn’t a deep thinker and I am, and so on). If I think the other person should see and do things my way, that is a problem. I can’t enter another culture that way. I need to discover and respect the culture that is there. I need to discover ways to communicate in this culture. There is a time and way to bring myself in to the equation. Many things aren’t wrong, just different and take flexibility. I wanted to shave off any elements in the situation that weren’t part of the destructive pattern.

    When he turns words to attack me, THAT is a whole different category. It doesn’t take flexibilty or understanding, it needs truth.
    When he puts our son down, THAT does not take understanding and empathy and compassion on my part. That takes truth.
    These things took discernment. What was disappointing, what was that middle d— word, and what was destructive.

    If it felt destructive, if I felt I was losing myself and being destroyed…could I put that in a destructive or abusive category, even though to someone else it wouldn’t be? Is that part of the question?

    When my husband made a choice a number of years ago about a job that I would never have chosen, it sat on my old wound from childhood of being alone (long story). I had clearly said no. I had clearly said I can’t do that. He had promised. I felt betrayed when he did choose to do it. I found myself forced to face that old wound, and mature, and allow him more space. I needed a stronger focus on God alone. I ALSO needed more strength than I had because the other half of that equation involved definite concerns that involved the destructive patterns.

    I had to face and allow the childhood wound to heal. (talk about feeling your heart is ripping, it is not easy to walk into pain like that, this choice hurt and ripped me to the depths). It is easier to avoid pain.
    I had to face in the long run that it wasn’t about him making me comfortable; I needed to mature in an area I hadn’t.
    I had to face in the long run that I needed strength. I couldn’t try to lean on him, just expect him to hear me, and so on. I needed skills and a voice and strength and he couldn’t give that to me. I had to seek and find it. He needed me to. My family needed me to. My circumstances and difficulties were calling me to. God wanted me to overcome not just have my circumstances made easier.

    . Yes; my husband and I need to get to the point where we can come to a decision in a way that works for both of us and that is an area of need; if I am not free to bring up concerns because he is uncomfortable then that can’t happen and if I’m not strong enough to hold my ground and do so it won’t happen. It is possible he still would have made that job choice but it would have happened in a strong clear way where concerns were heard and addressed maturely. It didn’t.

    I was pondering today about cautions. I have learned different cautions on the journey…I think it is part of the discovery and the process and the journey. No one can tell me all of them. I have to find them as I come to those points on the journey. I wish someone could give me a list of all of them! wouldn’t that be easier! But…it doesn’t seem to work that way. God doesn’t fill His word with little footnotes and cautions…he gives us the main ideas and sends us forth on a voyage of discovery…and tells us if we seek, we’ll find. Part of what we find, comes from the seeking and the joy of discovery.

    I can learn some things from others journey and there are times those things impact me. In many ways I have to discover in my own journey so I own it and it is mine and is real and a part of me, embedded in my story, and thus powerful and able to be shared with others.

    If all I ate was someone else’s cautions, I think it would be like eating baby food. I wouldn’t mature.

    I had a friend recently who finally figured out her personality type. I knew it months ago but she had to discover it on her own.

    Life is like that.

    Thanks for bringing up a tricky topic. It has been interesting wrestling with it.

  74. Allyson on November 6, 2017 at 12:06 am

    Friend, how have you struggled to communicate the reality of your abusive marriage to your pastor or counselor with specific examples? Have you been believed?

    I have wanted to answer this question or pose what to do about how I was treated by my pastor and his wife since finding this website. I have been a longtime fan of your book, Leslie, How to Act Right. It spoke to me and helped me get right about 12 years ago. I picked it up again after being emotionally and then repeatedly physically assaulted by my husband. We have been married nearly 10 years.

    He was truly uncaring about my feelings and treated me horrible for years. I am a Counselor myself and always thought I could teach him or help him to learn how to treat me right. Instead, my anger grew over the years. We had two amazing children who are now 6 and 8. We fought a lot. Finally escalating into me cussing at him often (something I never do) and he finally started hurting me. Started about 5 years ago. Backhanding me across the face, throwing me on the bed, pushing my legs down and punching repeatedly. I finally got out of the room and locked myself in the spare room in the middle of the night. I was terrified and devastated. I thought my marriage was over. I didn’t know what else to do and emailed a friend from church who was the wife of an elder. She told her husband who came to speak to my husband the next morning and I went to work, sore and scared I would bruise, but didn’t on the face. I was told the elder contacted the head pastor and he sat at my table as my husband said he was sorry for the night before, but never since has shown any true heartfelt remorse. The church recommended we start the “Marriage Mentoring” class that was starting up. We got some support from a couple that didn’t know anything about the abuse, just thought we were struggling with communication and things. It was helpful, it seemed, but there was never any dealing with what happened and anytime I mentioned feeling it wasn’t dealt with I was met with full force anger.

    Fast forward over the next few years. I endured my husband pushing me from behind from standing to face against the carpet. He pulled a gun out and forced it into my hand and made me put it to his head and said, just pull the trigger and end this all now. I don’t know if it was loaded or not. Final event was me leaving the bedroom after saying something he didn’t like. He kicked me from behind and I literally flew several feet into the metal railing along our upstairs. My arm took the brunt and was cut and bruised and swollen. I thought my pinkie was broken, but never went to a doctor or had it checked. I was scared and ashamed to. I fled that day with my kids to my best friend’s house. She called her husband who again called our pastor. So he knew what was going on, but didn’t seem to get involved at all, so probably forgot all about me. He sent an elder to “Mentor” my husband and his wife met with me and they both started working with us on Love and Respect stuff. I was hoping my husband would learn to love me, but the abuse was never discussed. I don’t think the mentors were every told really why they were paired to help us. The mentor seemed good for my husband who never had a father figure (alcoholic father mostly not present). My husband was starting to learn to treat me better and so things got better. I worked so hard to change my anger and respond in a better way and find who I was again. Things improved for about a year, although there was never remorse, reparation, or discussion of the physical violence. My husband is in the national guard and headed out for deployment at this time. He was gone 11 months. In Kosovo, no combat, just time away. We communicated pretty well over the year, but if he was mad at me for encouraging him to prepare for work when he returned or some such thing, he would ignore me for several days.

    I had some concerns with him returning because he was not consistent with work, tried school and didn’t complete it, had no plans or intentions of supporting us or being responsible. But, overall I was looking forward to his return thinking we were stronger and would work through things together. First night home he was exhausted (which he keeps reminding me of), but was super angry and mean to our 8 year old son who went to bed crying after just waiting 11 months to see his Dad. When I went to bed looking forward to being in the same room with my husband, I was lovingly trying to explain what my son’s intention was with what he said and that he was really hurt. My husband jumped out of bed in a full rage, yelling you F*in B* this and that at me, fists clenched, pacing around me cowering on the bed, sure he was going to start punching me again, just like our first incident.

    I was much stronger and was not going to be hurt by him again. I told him forcefully to leave my room or I would call 911. He left and I told him the next day he needed to get help or move out. Second day after his return from deployment (no PTSD, nothing to be feeling that from).

    Fast forward, 9 months filled with terror, anger, raging, me calling police once when he locked me in the backyard with no shoes or keys. He grabbed my son’s neck and screamed at him through clenched teeth. He was playing extremely recklessly (not intentionally, but stupidly) and dropped my 8 year old son from his sholders 6 feet in the air to the ceramic tile and my son ended up in ICU with a fractured skull, clavicle, and bleeding on the brain! After neck grab, I told him he can’t discipline that way, he can’t be physical in any way with the kids because of his violent past with me, his loss of control. He said, “how can you say that, I didn’t go to far?” I reminded him he punched me so hard that the next day he wrapped his injured wrist. He replied, “It is a law of physics, I didn’t hurt my wrist because I hit you too hard, I hit you at the wrong angle.”

    There were a few more months of me terrified that I would lose my kids because I didn’t have enough proof. That if i left him, I couldn’t protect them from him when I wasn’t with them. I finally decided it was too much and started trying to get help by going to Family Advocasy with the Military. They were able to get my husband removed from the home on military order for 2 weeks, but then he was released to come back because under their “threshold” they couldn’t claim maltreatment and mandate services, but highly recommended them. They also made me contact CPS and they investigated. Again, not finding enough to remove anyone from the home or mandate services or charge, but recommended and offered services.

    Now, my husband truly feels justified. He hasn’t done anything wrong because no one charged him or mandated anything. Honestly, he wasn’t only because I didn’t allow it to get that far and because I didn’t call the police years ago.

    In the months of me trying to convince him to get help, admit that the kids and I were fearful for a reason and we were unsafe, he kept working with the mentor and getting support from the men at church. I pulled back telling him we needed professional counseling and support. We spoke to 2 professionals together. The male told him the way he treated my son, no matter how my husband tried to diminish the neck grab, was not appropriate or the way a loving father would act. The female also told him he crossed the line and was trying to teach him what aggressive parenting would do to his son. He stopped seeing both of them. I refused to speak to “friends” at church any more.

    I then got an email that his mentor, a church elder, sent to my husband and said for him to forward it to me. It said that we were required to stay in a marriage and love our spouse because of what Christ did for us. He also went on to assert that in accusing someone we need to seek 2-3 others in the church to verify. “Since I have known (husband) for 3 years, I know that the assertion that he is a danger to his wife or kids is just not true!”

    I sent him and his wife a lengthy explanation of all our violent incidents and he only replied we will keep praying for both of you. I haven’t spoken to them since.

    My husband continued to assert that he wanted us to get help from the church because that was where he “felt safe” and that his mentor was now asserting that I had been emotionally abusing him all our marriage. I told him if he would move out and get help during a separation I would go to the pastors with him. I didn’t think he was really going to move out. He had been refusing to leave our home for weeks. I had already spoken to multiple lawyers and was ready with a separation agreement. I explained to him, in front of our pastor and his wife, that I would give him one more week to separate by moving out of the house and get help. I would require a parenting class and completion of a batterer prevention program before trying to work on our marriage again. I said if he didn’t I would hire a lawyer and file for divorce. I explained that in the state of Arizona, if there was any “significant domestic violence” in the marriage I could not request joint custody and that I would request sole custody of the children and supervised visitation. The pastor was super cold and negative, so I started to explain the things he had done to me. I explained how he hit me and punched me, pushed me, kicked me, pulled a gun on me. I was met with the coldest response I have ever encountered. A cold, accusing tone, “Why didn’t you call the police sooner?” “If someone is truly in danger or being hurt, they should always call the police.” He was accusing me of lying and making it up, without using those words. I was mortified. I told him, I didn’t call the police, I called him! I went to the church hoping to be protected and save my marriage at the same time. He went on…”Are you going home to the same house with him tonight?” “If you are afraid of him and think he will hurt you, why would you do that?” No compassion or caring, no real concern for my safety. Only accusations that I must be lying. I explained that i didn’t really have a place to go and take my two kids. I had a safety plan from family advocacy and my kids had been sleeping in my room for weeks because they were afraid to be away from me. The wife just sat there silent. They said nothing to my husband like, “Did you hit her? Did you kick her?” Nothing to verify. My husband said, I wish I could take back that night (referring to the first night, essentially admitting he did it) Still nothing from them to me.

    I left utterly crushed. If that’s how I would be treated by people I thought were family. People I thought cared about me and my children. I was going through the toughest crisis of my life as were my kids and I just lost my church home. I will not return to a church under their leadership. I will not. This has gravely affected myself and my kids. I have a few close friends that have remained in contact with me, but I feel so disconnected and am too sad to want to visit another church at this time. I am in the beginning stages of a custody battle and am trying not to let fear get the best of me. If that is how people who were supposed to love me treat me when I tell them what happened. How will a judge believe me and help me keep my kids safe?

    As far as my church. I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to just leave. I want to let all the leadership know what has been done. What if another woman who is not strong enough to leave comes to them. What if a man is hurting another woman and children in the church, they are truly unsafe there. Leslie, can I hire you for an hour to go with me to an Elder’s meeting?! We are not far from where you live currently (I read in a different blog post that you are in Sun City, I think). My mom used to be part of an organization called Peace and Safety in the Christian Home. They educated pastors and christian counselors about abuse. I want to resurrect this organization, I want to do something!!!

    I also want to not feel this deep pain at not only losing my hopes of a happy marriage, see my kids go through pain at the beginnings of divorce, but also losing my church family and support all at the same time.

    • Aly on November 6, 2017 at 12:56 pm

      Allyson,

      I don’t have adequate words to describe my anger and saddness for what has been and what you are facing. 😥
      I think sometimes the pain of the abuser is so deep that it’s hard to see how doubly painful it is to experience ‘the bystanders ~ with ‘help’ badges on … contribute and actually create a more damaging problem.

      I want to speak into your bravery and your heart, you are doing the right thing and you are also shining the light on the issues that ’empower’ the abuse!
      This is one of the key components that must change in our communities.
      My heart goes out to you and I will pray for your strength. 💜

      • Allyson on November 6, 2017 at 10:54 pm

        Thank you so much for your encouragement and prayers.

    • Renee on November 6, 2017 at 3:13 pm

      Allyson, is this your post or you are quoting someone else?

      Did you take photos of the bruises? Did you go to the hospital each time? Do you have police reports? Did you request and obtain a restraining order?

      I pray that you all have made it to the other side and that you NEVER ever have to see this evil person again.

      I hear you mention the military, so maybe this is handled differently.

      • Allyson on November 6, 2017 at 11:17 pm

        Renee,

        The entire post was mine except for the questions Leslie posted at the bottom of her original blog post. That is what I wanted to answer, that wasn’t very clear. I wish I went to the hospital or called the police. I did not. I took photos once and I foolishly erased them off my phone because I didn’t want to see them any more. When I hired a lawyer nearly 2 months ago, she advised me to get an order of protection (a restraining order in Arizona). She told me to put my kids on it even though she doesn’t usually advise that, and I was able to get it easily. I called the police when he got threatening and they helped me serve it on him. They made him leave the home after taking all his guns.

        I wish I NEVER had to see him again, but he is the father of my two small children. I have to see him often and give them over to him. I am just starting the divorce and custody battle because he claims he has never acted violently to me or the kids and is requesting joint custody.

        I do have emails where he said, “I do not deny hitting you…” He said, “I did push (our son), but didn’t intimidate him.” I have a facebook message that I wrote to my friend, immediately after he first hit me and I described the whole event. I have a friend willing to testify that she saw my injuries after the kick into the rails. I went to her house immediately after it happened. I hope and pray it is enough to get me sole custody and as much protection as my kids need.

        The military got involved and investigated, but he was only on temporary orders at the time and they said that they could only investigate what happened during the orders so they didn’t even investigate most of what he did. They said that they would not charge or mandate services because his orders were over soon. We are now working in regular civilian courts for the divorce and custody.

        • Rebecca on November 7, 2017 at 6:04 am

          I will pray that the courts are just. Lundy Bancroft has a book and information on his website about child custody. It may be helpful to you.

          In addition I would like to add that none of knows what the future holds. It is very likely that your life gets better and better. Your child have a good Mother.

    • Autumn on November 6, 2017 at 6:17 pm

      Allyson, the hardest thing to let go of is the dream of a happy marriage and family. The reality is that you are in danger. I know that the thought of leaving your church and marriage feels like giving up. It is a loss. But the ugly reality is that all you ask and hope for, is just a dream at this point. It is a kind of magical thinking that we who have lived such a life, believe. It is a unique way of thinking that is rooted in denial.

      I know I held on to the very same dream for much too long. I didn’t want to believe the reality that my husband broke our marital covenant between he/myself and God. It was my fantasy and fears that kept me trapped. The truth hurts, the future looks even scarier so we stay. Eventually we get so beaten down that will to get away leaves us and we rationalize until our minds become warped. That is what abuse does to healthy people.

      You must get out to heal. He can heal too, but you deserve the finished product in this case, not a work in progress. It is just too dangerous for all of you. Please take this from someone who has walked in your shoes.

      • Allyson on November 6, 2017 at 11:19 pm

        Thank you for the encouragement, Autumn. I did get him out of the house with an order of protection and have filed for divorce. I am moving forward and away from him one step at a time and mostly concerned right now for my kids who can’t truly leave him. I will keep them from his as much of the time as I am able.

        • Autumn on November 7, 2017 at 5:55 am

          Thank you for telling me. I understand the fear for the children too. It sounds as if you are doing everything you can possibly do and doing it well. PS( I have been locked out of the house too. I was on my bike in bike shorts. It got freeing cold at night living in the woods. I was so hungry and cold.)

  75. Alene on November 6, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Leslie had said at the beginning that they might need to agree to disagree. She stated she chooses to believe the wife. I think (not sure what she would say) because the marjority of the time, it is real and it is dangerous to miss it. Tim (perhaps) seems to seek to remain objective. He may define abuse in a very strict, serious, criminal way. Leslie may broaden the term and uses the word ‘destructive’.
    Many abused women have been hurt by that stance because it plays into the problem by ignoring her voice. Both agree that there is a possiblity of being wrong. I think I am hearing that one chooses to believe the wife because she usually has a valid concern, one chooses to remain objective because it could be wrong. The wife says she sees a problem; the crux of the matter seems to be to figure out why and help her, no matter which side of the coin you’re on.
    Would you say this is the crux of the matter?

    • Aly on November 6, 2017 at 10:02 am

      Alene,

      I agree here, it seems that it could be a very constructive discussion if mutual regard was flowing back and forth.

    • Renee on November 6, 2017 at 11:55 am

      I agree Alene. They can’t visually see the abuse. Some (not all) counselors, pastors, and other authority figures behave in destructive behaviors, which is why it is hard for them to call it abuse.

      • Aly on November 6, 2017 at 12:30 pm

        Renee,

        I agree with you that sometimes this is the unfortunate reality.
        Because their own mindsets are already shaped in those beliefs it’s very difficult for them to see the ‘real abuse’ or the ‘real victim’ because their own mindsets have been shaped in abusive dynamics and has altered right and wrong beliefs. Thus, scriptures come into play and get turned and twisted to meet the mindset where it is.

        For ex: this is similar to desensitization and standards that someone has normalized.

      • Autumn on November 7, 2017 at 5:49 am

        I am thinking about what you wrote that pastors can’t see the abuse. That is true. Thankfully most people don’t live like we live. Thankfully most people find it repulsive and deplorable. We think that too, yet we have been carefully groomed to think yes is no and no is yes. Of course most people don’t get it. How could anyone get it unless they were taught about it? Although we may be normal, the trap we are in is evil, very evil.

    • Maria on November 7, 2017 at 6:34 am

      Alene,
      Leslie mainly deals with the wife only. What would be the point of her lying? The husband isn’t there. And if she does, studying Leslie’s material will convince her of her wrong doing. Pastors see both husbands and wives so that may be a difference too. It is very important that pastors have a thorough understanding of manipulative and narcissistic types. When a wife/husband tries to explain what has happened, the narcissist will lie, minimize, blame etc, and try to deceive the pastor. Another thing, is these things happen in the privacy of one’s home. If the situation is abusive, there may be fear that what is said will be used later to hurt her/him. Great harm can be done if the pastor does not have adequate training. Such a person has no business counseling others. These are real lives that they are dealing with. And I would hope they don’t want to join hands with the abuser to retraumatize the victim.

  76. Sandra Lee on November 6, 2017 at 11:37 am

    All we need to believe is that Jesus is all we need, now & forever = JESUS + 0

    • Aly on November 6, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      Sandra Lee,

      I believe that’s True for Salavation and our Eternal promise, but not for the teachings in scripture about our sanctification process in growing complete and mature in our faith until our last day.

  77. Aly on November 6, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Aleea,

    Details for me where and ‘are’ critical to my faith and my journey. Maybe some of us have this in common and some of us don’t.
    As Christian’s I believe it’s important to have ‘like mindedness’ on the essentials of faith.
    There is plenty of space for our differences in the non~essentials but even that can get merky as we are all growing in different areas.

    As a result of details in the Gospels, the variances you mention don’t bother me..
    Are their textual differences, yes. I think a critical examination is at what level of differences are there?
    For me the differences only add to the credibility of the witnesses, because each other is ‘speaking to different audiences’ this is key I believe.

    In speaking of the importance of ‘details’ the details in prophesy are critical especially as we look at the statistics of the prophesies!
    I find the evidence to be overwhelmingly orchestrated by a God I cannot possibly ‘contain in details these things’ but He gives me the grace to experience the beauty and glimpses of His Character & Promises throughout the scriptures.

    Love that you are here on this Blog Aleea, it’s really painful when any of us have been steered or misused by scripture of the Bible and injured so.
    It takes great courage to persevere to earnestly seek for Truth and those ‘truths in the details’ offering many freedoms of Love along our journey. 💟

    I can’t possibly explain to you a God who holds the Universe and yet also has the capacity to know the intracate details of His own children. But I can tell you the evidence is in both existences.

    Thomas of the Bible was ‘a doubter’ and God gave the grace to show him the evidence. Let’s not forget Gideon. God had compassion to reveal for them and others too.

    Hugs and prayers to you!

  78. DaybyDay on November 6, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Hi dear sisters,

    Part of me initially thought that my (former) pastor was the one who wrote all of these questions because I have been repeatedly lectured on the exact same ideas, asked to stop using the A-word altogether, and made to believe that I was going crazy and it was all in my head. My husband then was able to justify his words and behavior because “the pastor doesn’t think that you have any evidence I am abusive, so clearly there is no problem here.” It gave him a free pass to continue treating me the way he always has.

    He also tried to convince me that the root of our problems are gender differences. I had problems with that on SO many levels. First of all, I have engaged in conversation with enough men to know that it is not normal for men to silence and shut down women, to criticize every thought and feeling they express, just because they are men. That idea is disrespectful to both men and women. Secondly, this idea of gender differences removes the need for repentance and responsibility for harm. It is a plea to continue speaking and behaving they way they always have, because it is “just the way men are.” Third, it does not foster a mentality of empathy and compassion for the hurt of the other. It just seeks to justify everything as “the way it is by nature.”

    I thank and praise God that he brought me to a church community where I was able to share my story with my pastor, and he met me with the most kind and compassionate response. He specifically addressed my husband’s spiritual abuse and told me over and over that God does not have wrath towards me. He also affirmed that I am not out of line at all to consider my situation abusive.

    I am also reminded of Leslie’s thoughtful words when I asked my question on the blog last spring, regarding spiritual abuse and questioning if I was just going crazy, and she told me to look at the evidence. My friends and family suggested that his words and behavior towards me were abusive. I constantly had a crushed spirit. After writing down things he said to me, I could see it was not in line with truth of scripture, even though he vehemently told me it was absolute truth. These things are NOT the result of common marital struggles or mere communication and gender differences.

    I am so sad (and angry) that women are met with these types of dismissals and justifications when they finally muster the courage to speak against evil. We need men and women (like my current pastor, like Leslie and this community) who will be our advocates and stand firmly against something that God hates.

    All I have been asking this entire time can be summed up as “I want us to be close” and “I want you to not hurt me.” Those are basic human and relationship needs, not extravagant requests. And yet he has this mentality that nothing he can do will ever make me happy and I am asking him to move mountains.

    I thank God that he finally gave me courage and addressed all of the spiritual threats and intimidation that I was facing, assuring me that I would not be eternally condemned or separated from his grace — and I finally left my home to get safe and try to heal. I moved last week. My husband put his foot down on staying in the apartment, in the same way that he put his foot down on sleeping in the bed for 2 months when I decided to move to the couch. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but I am confident that it is the best (and only) thing to be done at this point.

    Oddly enough, after I left, my husband said that he questions if he believes the Christian faith at all anymore, and he has no desire to fight for me or for the marriage. He does not want to wait to see how the separation goes or to get help to change. He just wants to give up. Honestly, after being the one to unilaterally make decisions and arrange everything to move out – apartment hunt, split finances, load my car, purchase furniture and things for my room, etc. – it is a relief that he might finally be doing something. But of course it is also incredibly painful to be rejected by the very person who is supposed to fight for you.

    Anyway, I just wanted to note that this blog post felt SO familiar and in line with my experiences over the past year. I grieve for women who experience the confusion and pain that I have felt, and pray that more counselors and pastors will start to advocate for the oppressed.

    • Aly on November 6, 2017 at 7:10 pm

      Day by Day!!

      Wow! 💕 Brave brave brave!

      You wrote:
      “I am so sad (and angry) that women are met with these types of dismissals and justifications when they finally muster the courage to speak against evil. We need men and women (like my current pastor, like Leslie and this community) who will be our advocates and stand firmly against something that God hates.”

      I SO SO agree!!!
      The part that makes me the most upset is ‘when they (you, me,) any of us muster the courage to speak against evil.

      This is what must change for future generations!

      • DaybyDay on November 8, 2017 at 1:57 pm

        Thank you, Aly! It is so funny when people say you are brave and you feel just the opposite, but I really appreciate your kind words! Let’s pray that this does change for future generations! 🙂

    • Autumn on November 6, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      The first week of your new life.
      Bravo! Support is so important. I hope you have been blessed with a few people who love you enough to keep telling you the truth.

      Sending hope and asking the angels to hug you tight tonight.

      • DaybyDay on November 8, 2017 at 1:59 pm

        Autumn, this is so kind of you! God has blessed me with a rich support system, and I have started to learn which voices are speaking truth and hope to me – and which voices are speaking something that is not life-giving. Making that distinction has been crucial!

    • Maria on November 7, 2017 at 7:37 am

      Some things have struck me as odd during our interaction with Tim. We have had interactions with pastors in the past, and they have at least been empathetic and compassionate after hearing how some of the women have been ill treated. Many have expressed some really awful situations. The average person would at least acknowledge that and show compassion. I would expect more from a counselor/pastor.
      We are told to “cry with those who cry”. When someone is in pain, we are to empathize with them. Tim made a comment that the more pain one feels, the less objective and accurate they describe their situation. Logically speaking, one can cause great harm with this assumption (it can minimize a situation).
      The point of us explaining our experiences and viewpoints was mutual learning from each other. In order to do that, one needs to be humble and realize we don’t have all the answers. It is important to be a good listener too. This seems to be lacking. And I would expect a counselor/pastor to be held to a higher standard than the average person.
      This is an online forum, so it is possible that I don’t have the full picture and I may have misunderstood his comments. Also, with all the comments he has been flooded with, he may just be responding to select things. I hope this is the case because if it isn’t I feel really bad for the person whom he is trying to help.

      • Roxanne on November 7, 2017 at 8:51 am

        One of the things I learned from this discussion is that sometimes people helpers are not helpers at all. I was also thinking about the instruction to report matters to the police which is if course good advice and very important to do. Yet, some of these men are well connected even with the police. This seems to be common in small towns. I know my destructive spouse was a big donor for the police fundraisers, socialized with law enforcement and had some in his clutches by them owing him personal favors. So in such cases, we must be smart and strong on our own. Some of us live in a war zone, seeing more active duty than many combat veterans.

        • Renee on November 7, 2017 at 7:55 pm

          Roxanne, I will not say that my husband is well connected. But he seems to know every man and women in this small town. And of course, those he does not know, fall into his pocket. Hence, the reason I started leaning back toward moving rather than trying to divorce. So far he has convinced everyone that I’m the big bad wolf.

          • Roxanne on November 7, 2017 at 8:09 pm

            Good think I know Renee you are much more like Cinderella!



      • Aly on November 7, 2017 at 10:12 am

        Maria,

        I agree with so many of your points here.
        Mainly, I believe the high calling of counselors is to be ‘professional listeners’ at a soul level for many of us.

        Many of us have ended up in counseling due to not being listened to, heard, understood~ not be be agreed with, basically ‘Seen’.
        For a counselor to be considered a counselor ~ listening is the basics in my opinion.

        One thing I don’t agree about the Tim (lack of response) is that I don’t believe he has been flooded with comments that have caused his non-replies.
        The amount of time he has taken to structure his biblical theologies in his replies are proof of his availability and his choices to how he wants to use that time in responding.

        I responded to him biblically on his position of the Church leadership example in Acts. ~that he was misapplying about husband authority in my opinion and missing it all together.
        He has had adequate time to offer healthy dialog and communication.

        • Maria on November 7, 2017 at 10:43 am

          Aly,
          A few things that are clearly evident after reading the different posts:
          1. The headship of husband doctrine is causing a lot abuse in many situations.
          2. The male and female roles doctrine is doing the same

    • Nancy on November 7, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Day by day,

      May The Lord surround you with comfort and tenderness. May you find His Peace amidst this transition.

      May He richly bless you with His Presence ❤️

      • DaybyDay on November 8, 2017 at 2:02 pm

        Nancy, your words are so kind and spirit-filled! Thank you! The Lord has definitely been very close to me through this entire transition and bringing hope to my crushed spirit. I am safe now, and he can begin to heal me here.

    • each and every counsellor, pastor, leaJanet on November 9, 2017 at 5:45 pm

      Day by Day
      You spoke from my heart too.

      As for your present situation, It will get better. I you turn to the Lord for everything you will be healed as you grow as you get stronger. (I think you already know this though).

      Sometimes, I think we hold on to nothing in the hope it will turn into something. It is hard to accept that we loved an image, an ideal, an illusion… remember, the reason he does not fight for you, IS NOT BECAUSE OF WHO YOU ARE/ARE NOT….
      It is because of who HE IS/IS NOT.

      God Bless! You have a safe and beautiful future, full of real hope now. Hope in Jesus Christ, not a fabricated dream, that turned into a reality, and IS far different from God’s truth. Your identity IN HIM IS YOUR REALITY! xx

  79. many years on November 8, 2017 at 12:54 am

    Dear ladies, and listening, gentlemen, especially to Tim too!
    I don’t think this is coincidence, but four days ago, I came across a gal in Australia (I think?) who is addressing this particular of headship, not just in the home, but in the church leadership. Here is her website:
    http://margmowczko.com/Kephale-and-male-headship-in-pauls-letters/

    If the website link does not go through, copy and paste it.

    Marg is her name, and she goes into the Greek translations to found her statements upon the role of women and men in the Church. She has many other articles of ‘note’ to peruse. I have not even begun to skim the surface of her site. And always, with caution, prove all things by God’s Word, but also have an open heart and glean what you may.

    I think Tim should read her site, especially that particular article too, as it addresses a lot of what he has questions dealing with the marriage relationship.

    I have heard it said that the King James translators, chose to use certain descriptive words in order to downplay the role of women in their own God-given roles in the Church which is Christ’s own beautifully structured spiritual body which is a housing for the souls who BELIEVE in Jesus Christ for the redemption of our sous, and who are filled, automatically with the Holy Spirit of promise. We are sealed unto the day of redemption by the Holy Spirit. Where there is neither Greek, nor bond, male, nor female, etc. If that phrase is for the church today, then we need to make it true!
    We need to sing out and praise our Lord and not keep our light hid under a bushel, but shine our light forth and not let MEN, nor any other creature separate us from the love of God and Jesus who gave himself for us. Amen!

    Everyone here, continue to grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as it is he who has made us and not we ourselves. We owe everything to Christ!

    • Connie on November 8, 2017 at 10:36 am

      Here is another one: https://godswordtowomen.org/submission.htm

      It is so easy for men to fall back into the world’s way of thinking. Like the scribes of Jesus’ time, they will make up yet another set of ‘laws’ to keep people in bondage, putting heavy burdens on others that they themselves do not want to lift. (e.g. Paul said to submit to the elders of the church, but I don’t see these men obeying their elders without question). Jesus has set us free, does that mean only men? Where have they been given the permission to put women under a yoke of bondage? What happened to Jesus’ teachings of ‘call no man master’ and ‘don’t lord it over each other like the unbelievers do’, etc. ? The ‘chain of command’ teachings simply don’t fit with God’s Word.

  80. Ruth on November 11, 2017 at 8:59 pm

    The Bible says for each person to work out THEIR OWN salvation.
    Leslie does not subscribe to the patriarchy of the The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) the flagship organization for complementarianism. The counselor (Tim) who wrote his concerns to Leslie does agree with those doctrines.
    In Leslie’s teachings is there an emphasis on a life first submitted to God’s authority and second on a life/marriage focused on MUTUAL submission and service.
    Tim made his pitch to sway Leslie to over to his camp. I understand Tim’s argument – ‘Hey, Leslie, let’s play nice with all the church Big Shots who preach male patriarchy; you’ll get a bigger audience that way. And BTW, if you want to be on our team,
    you need to put a disclaimer in your literature for these women that to say the word abuse is SERIOUS
    business, they’d better be careful OR ELSE they’ll be breaking the 9th commandment.’ (We’ve got to keep these women in line.) Many victims were treated like whistle-blowers and were intimidated into silence
    by clergy, ‘counselors’, etc.
    It’s the same spirit that Paul was fighting against when he wrote this letter to the Galatians:
    29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. (Chapter 4) 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

    (Chapter 5)
    1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
    2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified[a] by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
    7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?

    The men and women who teach patriarchy are adding works to salvation and a yoke of bondage to women. Honestly, many men would rather go this life as a team effort with JESUS as the leader (if they were smart). And if marriage was just wonderful stuff, why did Paul recommend singleness?
    But for me, as I’ve studied it, it’s the fruit of the patriarchy movement that shows me something’s rotten in Denmark.

    As I read on in Chapter 5, I saw verse 14 and I recognized Leslie’s blog and ministry in action🙂:

    14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Now, when the occasional outsider comes in here trying to sway to us to submit to abuse, it trigger some power memories and make for some touchy responses. But I hope that we never fall into the trap of ‘consuming one another’.
    15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.

    Just a few observations.
    1. It should be clear why the vast majority of the women on the blog might be skeptical and touchy with Tim bc many of them when they reached out to a pastor or counselor were told to endure the abuse. They were not protected or given compassion. Here Tim is dismissing his female client’s claim of being abused.
    2. Tim makes it sound as though Leslie thinks women are ALWAYS the victim; men are always the abusers. Is he actually making this accusation without knowing that Leslie grew up with an abusive MOTHER?!? He needs to get his facts straight. Many women on this blog mourn over the loss of the mother they never had bc of abuse. So, yes we unfortunately know evil can lie in any heart.
    3. I am so thankful that we have this safe place to encourage each other in the truth! “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 2 Corinthians 15:58
    P.S. If Tim wants to schooled on CBMW he needs to read over at A Cry for Justice.

    • Connie on November 11, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      Yes.

  81. JoAnn on November 12, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    Aleea, I like what you said about Leslie’s writings: “I walk away feeling eternal life is less about a kind of time that starts when we die, and more about a quality and vitality of our lives and relationships now in connection to God. Right here, right now. Eternal life doesn’t start when we die; it starts now.” This is so true; the Lord came to give us His life, which is eternal, right now, and available right now.
    Another point that I would like to address is the question of Biblical authenticity, which you often bring up. First of all, the Bible was never meant to be a history book or a science book; it was given to us by God so that we can know Him and His purpose, which was formed in eternity. So many of the theological arguments swirl around the apparent contradictions between what the Bible says and the scientific facts, such as archeological records, etc. The Bible tells us God’s purpose and His plan to fulfill that purpose, so what is recorded there is selective. Science teaches us the process that God used to accomplish that purpose. My husband now teaches a whole course at his university on this subject: Science and the Bible, … a state run university. If we will accept that the Bible is God’s way of presenting Himself to us and calling us into intimate fellowship with Him, then it doesn’t really matter so much which translation you read….God can speak to you through them all. There are students of the Bible who say that the Bible is a great romance, a love letter from God to His people. (I call them students of the bible as opposed to theologians because many theologians have robbed us of the rich enjoyment that we can have in the Word of God by their arguments.) Over the years, the biblical records have been handled by many men, godly and God-fearing men, who sought to bring us an accurate interpretation of the Bible. The Bible today is more open to us than it has ever been since the day the Lord Jesus walked with His disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24). (Thank you, Martin Luther, for beginning that process.) I choose to believe that the Bible we have today is God’s gift to us, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to enable us to know Him and His purpose for us as members of His Body. It is our spiritual food and drink, and as we eat and drink of Him, we are becoming more and more like Him in life and nature. I thank Him daily for His word, and I pray for Him to fill us all more and more with His life.

    • Aleea on November 15, 2017 at 6:11 am

      “The Bible shows the way to go to heaven, not the way the heavens go.” – Galileo

      Hello JoAnn,

      I apologize for not responding sooner. I didn’t know anyone had posted anything else to this thread, but I very much appreciate your post. . . . . I was at this Tres Dias (www tresdias org) retreat this past weekend (―no cell phones; no laptops; no tablets; not even watches. . . . .We focused for three straight intense days (Tres Dias) just going deeper and deeper and with Christ. . . . ―Woo Hoo!!!) It was so, so beautiful. ―Wow, it blew me away and I am *skeptical* (. . .as you well know).

      JoAnn I so, so appreciate what you said. Thank you so much for taking the time to write that to me. I deeply appreciate you and what you say and that you take the time to post comments to me. Let me get this junk (overhead) out of the way and then we can talk heart-to-heart on the Spiritual level.

      “First of all, the Bible was never meant to be a history book or a science book; it was given to us by God so that we can know Him and His purpose, which was formed in eternity.” –JoAnn. . . . .I just think that makes it very hard to keep the meaning in the Bible’s claims. . . . .I think the arguments people offer for their faith are not the reasons they have faith. Something else seems to be going on, but I don’t know what. The beliefs are important to them for other reasons beyond logic, reason and evidence. That almost never seems the reason they hold their beliefs. . . . More than this, I really have a hard time with why God (who totally knows how weak minded all of us are) leaving totally fallible, sinful, self-motivated humans to deliver an endless plethora of confused and contradictory messages about what God did and did not say.

      . . .I guess I just don’t understand. If the Bible is not accurate in its history, how do you keep the meaning in the claims? Imagine standing in front of a group of young people and telling the Truth: The gospels have an obvious theological bias and an apologetic agenda as “John” says they are written “. . . that you might believe. (John 20:31)” The gospels contain fictional forms. For example, Jesus just walks up to random fisherman at their job who have never even heard of Him before and asks them to follow Him with a single pithy statement and they do. No teaching. No persuading. No reputation. No checking of references. No checking to make sure their business and assets (boats now unattended) will be taken care of, or that they’ll have an income, or even be able to eat. That is extraordinarily improbable in real life. *But exactly the sort of thing that happens all the time in fiction.* The gospels are also inconsistent with each other (This is why Christian bookstores have whole encyclopedias of Bible difficulties that try to explain away various contradictory issues.) The gospels are also inconsistent with known facts: The gospels say Jesus was famed throughout all Galilee (a huge region) and yet no one mentions Him. . . . .Herod’s massacre of all the boy babies two years and under at the time of Jesus’s birth (Matthew 2:16) ―Nobody in the entire region records that catastrophic event. The Bible says that at the time of Christ’s resurrection (Matthew 27:52-53): “The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had died were raised and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many.” Nobody in the entire region mentions that either. ―Hundreds and hundreds of other examples could easily be given.

      Finally, and this is HUGE: we can’t demonstrate the existence of a soul ―any soul. We can’t demonstrate that heaven or hell exists. We can’t demonstrate that eternity is even a possibility for a soul. “Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus” is a Latin phrase in law meaning “false in one thing, false in everything.” In law, it is the legal principle that a witness who testifies falsely about one matter is not credible to testify about any matter.

      If the Gospels are not actual historical accounts but instead, like can be shown for so much of the Old Testament, are imaginative literature produced by God to serve a theological vision. . . . .Well, again, I just don’t see how you keep the meaning in the claims? They are then just the “supreme fictions” of our culture, self-conscious works of art deliberately composed as the culmination of a long literary and oral tradition. When I see that the resurrection of Lazarus after his death is exactly like the Egyptian myth of the resurrection of Osiris by the god Horus, I don’t know what to say. How do we keep any of the meaning in the claims?

      I don’t know. . . . .I just don’t know. . . .maybe it cannot properly be described as knowledge, but rather as possibly a desire that something be true or false, or else it is a naive trust in guesswork. . . . .I just don’t know JoAnn. Some days it seems like a mess only humans would create. . . . but I don’t know that. I believe and love Jesus but . . . .

      Chemists all agree on the fundamental facts of chemistry, Christianity not so, at all. —I want God, not someone’s understanding of God. We start with the evidence and then figure out what the best explanation of it all really is, regardless of where this quest for truth takes us. Christianity may be a battle for control every bit as complex as we see in other dominance hierarchies. At other times, we are in a hall of mirrors, no evidence, no logic, no reason will prevail with cafeteria-style Christianity.

      . . . .Okay, that part is over. Woo Hoo!!!!! I hate that “Truth” part. In myself, I just want to pray, hug people, love. Much of what’s unknown is redemptive. Much of what’s unknown gives life savour; it provides the kind of excitement that justifies my suffering. . . .One thing is for sure, when it is functioning in love, a relationship with Christ is the most beautiful thing ever and it provides a way to keep our heart’s clean and our relationships open. . . . .And let me tell you