Morning Friends,  

I am in Round Top Texas, the place where Joanna Gains from Fixer Upper from HGTV loves to find great antiques. I’m here for my yearly retreat with women I love. We’ve been gathering together for ten years now and it’s amazing the love and support a group of godly women can give. For the same reason, I love this blog community. I’m so appreciative of all your comments and how you pray, love, and support one another in this journey of growth.  I hope you are all planning to attend the upcoming CONQUER Conference, Be Brave: Grow Strong on October 12-13, 2018 in Lincoln, Nebraska. I would love to meet you all in person and for you to meet and love on one another.

Today’s Question: I loved your newsletter, The Intentional Life I read recently. You asked what really matters? Well for me it’s family. But my question is what if what really matters is the very thing you need to avoid? Like liars and thieves right in your own family. From my husband to now my grown children.

I have given my all to my family for over 40 years. My husband left when his addictions were exposed within the church and family. Now the family is crumbling. My purpose is gone as far as I had planned. I know I can’t stop it. I can’t fix it; I can’t change anyone but me. Where do I begin when all I lived for is gone?

Answer: Life can be so disappointing and heartbreaking, can’t it? As women, we long for great connection with others, especially our family members. And when that doesn’t happen, it can play havoc with our identity as a person as well as our psyche.  

Studies done on the psychology of women have shown that a woman’s sense of identity rests in her connection to those around her, especially her closest relationships. When those fail or are non-existent, a woman begins to question her value and her purpose. That’s what’s happening to you. I’m so sorry. But your question is now what? How do you begin to pick up the pieces of your shattered life and your sense of self?

What encourages me about your question is that you are embracing an owner mindset rather than a victim mindset. When bad things happen to us, it’s tempting to get stuck in self-pity and victim mindset. Please don't mishear me. People are victimized by other people’s sin such as you have been with your husband’s sin. But being victimized does not mean you have to embrace a victim mindset. In fact, one of the most powerful ways to move out of being repeatedly victimized is to embrace an owner mindset. In other words, you ask yourself the question: “What am I going to do with what has happened to me?” Do I need to learn to speak up more? Be less passive? Understand the red flags I missed when dating this person? Do I need to fight back, be more aware of manipulative tactics and how they hook me in?  

This question of “what do I need to learn from this?” is powerful. Because once you ask this question, all kinds of possibilities open up for you. When we fall into victim mindset the only thing we can focus on is what has been done to us. How it has hurt us or robbed us or damaged us. And that is a downward spiral of hopelessness, anger, helplessness, and often leads to depression.

First, it’s important to give yourself adequate time to grieve. You have experienced a very real loss and right now a lot of your emotional and even physical energy will be taken up processing this loss and accepting it. There is a big gap between knowing something and coming to emotionally accept it. You know your marriage is over and your family is forever changed, but coming to truly accept that reality takes time and that process is called grieving. You grieve the loss of what you had. You grieve the loss of what you never had. You grieve for what you wished you would have had. You can’t wisely build a new life until you are able and ready to let go of the old. That’s grieving. It’s the emotional gut-wrenching process of letting go and saying goodbye. Don’t rush that process. Give yourself a lot of self-compassion while at this stage and hopefully you have some good support from girlfriends or your church too.

Second, it’s important that you not forget that your life is not over even if your marriage is. That means you still have a purpose because if you didn’t, God would take you home. So ask God, “What do I have to give you God in order to serve you and glorify you in the time I have left on this planet?” You may have given yourself 100% to your family and thought that was your entire purpose, but it was not. That was for a season and now it’s over. What’s next for you? Many women have to answer this question for themselves even if their family hasn’t shattered like yours has. Repurposing after the empty nest is important. Even if you have an intact family, kids grow up, get married, and move away. Perhaps grandchildren don't live close by or are busy with other activities. A woman has to find a new purpose or she will live her life without intention or direction. That is not God’s description of a life well lived. You don’t want to just exist.

Third, if your entire life has revolved around your family, my guess is you are lacking girlfriend support. This is crucial for you right now because God intends for you to have real people in your life who will encourage and support you. In addition, as people, we are highly influenced by the company we keep. Find some spiritually mature, grounded women, some who have walked this path you’re on right now. Remember, there is still a purpose for you and part of that purpose is forming new and healthier relationships. Get connected to a good church that has a robust program for singles or senior citizens. Move to a community of 55 and older where you can meet other people and may have activities and clubs you can join to meet other people.  

I’d encourage you to stay away from dating or looking to remarry anytime soon. This is a season for you to find out more who you are, to work on healing and developing a strong female support system. I say this because every woman over 55 (and you say you were married 40 years so I know that’s you), needs to develop a good female support system. Chances are a woman will outlive her husband even if her marriage was loving and good. Therefore, it’s very important that a woman not revolve her entire life around her husband and their marriage because it is possible that one day those things will be gone. When she has other loving and supportive people in her life, it makes that new reality of aloneness easier to bear. Children may or may not be present or supportive and that’s why it is important for you to reach out and develop your own network of personal friends.

Last, not only does God have a purpose for you, he cherishes you and wants you to trust him in a deeper way in this new and scary season of your life.  I know this isn’t what you would have wanted or chosen but God is always with you and holds you by the hand through this process of letting go and moving on. Guard your heart against bitterness and resentment which are so easy to feel when you have been hurt by others especially those who promised to love you. Don’t allow them take one more thing from you, especially your mental, emotional, spiritual or physical health.

Read Psalm 73. One of the things I like about this Psalm is that David is so real and honest with God. He questions why the bad guys seem to get away with things and the good guys suffer. He doesn’t understand what God is up to until he enters in the Presence of the Lord. Then he begins to see things more clearly. I'm not sure how long it took him to get from verse 3 to verse 17 where he was able to see things more clearly. I don’t think it was instantaneous. However, even when David knew he wasn’t in a good place, he wrote, “I realized that my heart was bitter, and I was all torn up inside. I was so foolish and ignorant – I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you. Yet I still belong to you, you hold my right hand…(verse 21-24).  

That is who our God is. He knows life is hard. He knows we won’t always handle it well and he still holds our hand through it. Trust him as you rebuild the shattered parts of your life. He will show you how to do it and where to go (Psalm 32:8). Click To Tweet

Your life and purpose are not over, but you need to give yourself time to grieve and figure out what’s next. Surround yourself with godly people who will support you in this journey.

Friend, when your life has shattered, what were some of the first things you did to regain your sense of who you were or your purpose so you could rebuild your life?  

71 Comments

  1. JoAnn on January 10, 2018 at 9:34 am

    Leslie, I love your answer to this dear sister. We all need to find our higher purpose in God, even when things are good, but more especially when everything we care about is taken away. That’s when we find that our God is always there, ready to hold our hand and walk with us to the high places.
    I must tell you and all the others, that I am really looking forward to the Conquer conference! As we say here in Texas: “God willin’ and the creek don’t rise,” I hope to be there. I cant wait to meet the other precious women on this blog.

  2. Kathy on January 10, 2018 at 10:43 am

    I feel your pain very much. I too was faced with “remaking” my life this year. It’s been hard but I’m starting to see the blessings multiply. In the darkest times, I would verbally say, “Lord, no matter how bad things get, I WILL praise You, worship You, stand for You and speak Your Name.” Also – I highly recommend “Divorce Care” a national organization that is held in many churches – free of charge – for divorced and/or separated persons. I took the fall session and will be taking the Spring session starting next month. It’s godly advice, instruction (some from Leslie) and support and directs us to God and His Word and helps us look at and reflect on our depression, seeming failures, etc. Yes – find supportive godly women. We will support you, care for you, and pray for you.

    • Grace Meeks on January 10, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      Yes, Kathy, Divorce Care was a great resource for me too, 12 years ago. I also determined that Satan may have won in the heart of my husband, but I was not going to allow him to in my life. What I had been doing for 29 years in marriage had not produced results I wanted, so I let God remake me. Celebrate Recovery, Divorce Care, Juice Plus, exercise & new friends were my tools.
      Thanks for this answer, Leslie – have shared with several others!

    • Beck on September 23, 2019 at 11:35 am

      Dear Leslie and ladies,
      I just came across this blog as I was searching for Leslie Vernick after seeing her interviewed in the Divorce Care videos. Leslie, thank you for your EXCELLENT response to our dear sister in regard to remaking life, grieving, and taking on an “owner” mindset.

      I am reaching out hoping to receive encouragement through the devastation of my life circumstances. I just started attending a Divorce Care, but I feel like I don’t fit completely which is adding to my dismay. I am 47 and was married at 43. I saved myself for husband all of my life and was so excited to finally experience the beautiful Song of Solomon marriage relationship the Lord intended. My very romantic fiancé cut me off romantically immediately following the ceremony saying he has a mental block and does not know why. The honeymoon was a bust and thereafter for the next three years as I went around the world trying to get help and determine what was wrong with him. After 3 years of trying to get him to respond, I realized that he did not want help really. He had moved into my house, and I realized that I ended up being his mom and caregiver instead of his wife. I also could not get him to combine our salaries and could only get him to give me $300 per month…so then I ended up being his landlord as well. It was making me extremely ill and out of my mind with pain of rejection and neglect. He has always been a wonderful christian man…but was never married before either. I was and am absolutely shocked that he really did a bait and switch. The christian psychologist has determined after much counseling that he is just not interested and really knew that before the wedding, but was not honest. So, we have a Hallmark love story that turned into a Lifetime movie really on the wedding night. I feel so horribly sick and betrayed. I feel sorry for him but could not allow him to hijack my life pretending that we have a marriage when it was really a housemate situation. I was counseled by several pastors that the vows are not binding if the marriage has not been consummated, so I obtained a legal annulment from the state of PA. It is actually part of the law here when a marriage has not been consummated.

      This experience has left me utterly devastated. He knew I wanted to be a mom. He stopped kissing after wedding. Now I have to live with the fact that I am not a mom because I could not get my husband to try even one time. I know the Lord is sovereign of course…but I do feel quite robbed. I do realize that I need to look at this as the Lord sparing me from uniting with a very unhealthy man. And, if he ever does choose to send a real husband, I will have then saved myself for him. But, if the Lord wants me to die a virgin,…I was doing fine…did not need this to happen to me of course.

      I feel like my life is over. I wanted to have a partner in life, to be a mom, and to pass down all that my wonderful, godly, Christian parents had instilled in me. I am so ill. My wonderful dad died in 2007 after having a simple knee replacement, and my also very healthy mom was hit with a rare disease the next year. She is amazing still alive and had to place her in a nursing home 10 years ago. This happened when I was 35 with no peers who understand because they all had their parents. I go to the nursing home every night after work to check on mom and care for her. I thought that the Lord was blessing me by bringing this wonderful man whom I dated almost 20 years ago, back into my life in 2014. We were reunited through Facebook. He said I was the love of his life and he never married because he had always loved me. (I had broken up with him in 2000) So, I thought that the Lord was bringing joy after all of the horrible sadness of my parents’ plight. But, to my horror, I turned out to be shunned and rejected from day one. He was unable to even really be sorry or able to talk about this to work with me. I kept thinking his problems were his diabetes and sleep apnia, but then our counselor helped me to realize that he was using his health as an excuse not to be close.

      I am trying to figure out where I can go from here. Can the Lord use this? I don’t want to be unfair to him by sharing my story…but this is devastating and I want to use this to help women one day. I am a singer songwriter too and want to use this pain to minister through song. I am bewildered and perplexed why the Lord would allow this to happen. I am so humiliated and am facing things going public now. I could just die! Plus, I feel like a troll because I was so rejected and neglected. To this day, he does not understand the pain he has caused and really that he betrayed me by not even attempting to keep his promises.

      Please if you have a moment, I deeply would covet any comments or prayers for me as I try to heal from this horrible nightmare that just ended this past April.

      Gratefully,
      Rebecca

      Have any of you ever heard of this happening to anyone?

      • Leslie Vernick on September 23, 2019 at 5:28 pm

        Yes it has happened before and I’m so sorry that it has happened to you. But here is where you have a big decision to make. Are you going to let the circumstances of your story and your pain and anger decide how the story is going to end? Or are you going to take OWNERSHIP of the ending of this story, your story, and make something beautiful out of the broken pieces? I choose the latter. God chooses the latter. You can get through this and come out stronger.

        • Beck on September 23, 2019 at 5:48 pm

          Leslie, thanks so much for responding. I DEFINITELY choose ownership…I am struggling to realize what that looks like and seeking the Lord to reveal what on earth I can do with this. I truly want ALL of this trauma to be worked out for good in due time to touch other lives somehow. Hoping the Lord will clearly show me. Thank you for letting me know that this has happened to others. I am just shocked and feeling lonely as this seems very rare. I have one friend though who had the same exact thing happen to her. Never consummated marriage after 12 years,…husband won’t get help. She does not have the courage to stand up for herself and to institute boundaries that will make her husband deal with his neglect and sin. I am working with her to encourage her to not let him do this to her for the rest of her life. She aches with pain that her husband also does not kiss or ever attempt consummation/intimacy. I think it is so cruel and husbands need to be made to deal with their sin. I was told that I cannot share my story publicly because it would be an indictment against for husband. Do you agree? I don’t want to make him look bad, bu I do want other women to know that this happens and they are not alone. Many man thanks for responding to me. Warmly, Beck

          • JoAnn on September 23, 2019 at 7:01 pm

            Beck, I really sympathize with what you are going through, but the Lord surely has a path for you to follow, and He will lead the way. However, to follow Him, you might need to try thinking “outside the box.” For example, you would be well qualified to adopt a child, since you want to be a mom. You can volunteer at a baby nursery to hold the neonatal babies. You can find new friends in various volunteer organizations. Fill your time with enjoyable and meaningful activities. Eventually, after your heart has healed, the Lord will give you a way to share your journey with others, but meanwhile, the question to ask is, “Lord, how do You want me to go on? How can I experience You in a new and fresh way as I work my way through this situation?” He wants to be everything you need. Explore what that means.



  3. Beautiful to Him on January 10, 2018 at 11:39 am

    I’m so sorry. It’s so disappointing and it feels like we are actually dying to feel this pain of those we thought we knew so well. It feels like a dagger to the heart.
    I’m praying for you right now.

    My husband and I are separated ( not legally ) he moved out . Sexual addiction that he still doesn’t admit to , Bc he blames me for it.
    He is narcissistic , was diagnosed by psychiatrist.
    And so I know that trying to have an authentic relationship with him was never possible. I always knew something was missing and terribly wrong right after the wedding . 20 yrs later and four kids. We are now separated. It’s sad to not have love .
    My husband moved out Bc he knew I was going to file for a legal separation. He didn’t want to lose me but he doesn’t show he wants me either
    So I feel stuck. My desire is to reconcile but I know that will take God to break him . He’s very stubborn and prideful .
    He’s lied and cheated and manipulated many people including myself.
    I don’t know where we will be in a year from now
    But I do know he’s out of the house and I can heal with my kids.
    He shoes zero remorse for all the pornography , and dating sites and I even believe chat rooms.
    I wonder if he was unfaithful to me . He’s lied so much there is really no trust
    All I can do is work on my core and do my own recovery work and get the support I need and self care .
    He still tries to manipulate and control as he is financially supporting us.
    He likes his single life and he’s working on his recovery but shows no behaviors that support his work . It all seems to be going through the motions.
    Again
    And again
    Years of counseling and nothing helped us
    Bc he can’t connect emotionally.

    It’s so hard to be here but I’m happy he’s not in our home as it was so toxic with his anger mood swings ,blaming, criticism outbursts of rage , selfishness , porn usage , lies and deceit and hyper sexuality.
    I am half the person I was 10 yrs ago . I’ve lost so much in this battle

    I’m Grateful to have this group!!

    • Héla on January 10, 2018 at 10:24 pm

      Am afraid this sounds like me now. But a lady that caught her hubby cheating then divorced him told me that I should not divorce my hubby for the sake of the kids
      Zero emotional connection but to my surprise he connects with everyone you can think of.
      I confused. He can see me cry and it will not move him but if he sees another woman cry he will be first to console them
      What do I do

      • JoAnn on January 11, 2018 at 5:30 pm

        Dear Hela, Be careful. Everyone you talk to is going to have advice, based on THEIR OWN EXPERIENCE. However, each woman’s experience is going to be different in many ways, so that is why you must work to develop your CORE strength (have you read Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage?), and develop a strong and intimate relationship with the Lord, so that He can guide you in the best way to go. Not everyone here has gone the way of divorce, but some have had no other choice, so it’s going to be different for each person. You will also need a strong support system of friends who can stand by you and help. If you can see a counselor, that will help a lot. Above all, guard your heart.

        • K on January 11, 2018 at 6:47 pm

          Hello, Hela

          I think you might be new here, yes? Welcome!!!

          JoAnn’s note to you is spot-on, deeply Biblical wisdom: Be careful (wise) and guard your heart!

          You say that the situation “Beautiful to Him” writes about is very much like your own marriage. That makes my heart sad. I hope as you read the book JoAnn mentioned, you will find the courage to believe truth: you do not have to accept destructiveness from your husband.

          That may or may not mean separating. That may or may not mean divorcing. It definitely DOES mean learning to see yourself as one who is beloved by the Lord, Hela, and not as a woman diminished and devalued by your spouse’s destructiveness.

          Growing in this new way will be hard. Sometimes it will be REALLY hard. Healing is hard work for a body recovering from injury; healing is equally hard work for the heart, soul and mind. But Lord will walk with you through it all if you ask Him. What you are already living with is beyond hard, it is destructive!!

          Let the Lord (not other people) lead and guide you in what you need to do, how to respond, what choices you make, Hela.

          Be blessed. K

    • JoAnn on January 10, 2018 at 11:34 pm

      Dear Beautiful,
      I am so very sorry for all that you are going through. Yes, now it is time to heal and get stronger within. Make a plan for what you need to do to be on your own….get a job/financial support, training, whatever you know you will need. You will need good legal advice. That is important. Time to recover the person you were ten years ago, and the Lord will lead you through that process. May God grant you a rich portion of His all-sufficient grace.

    • sheep on January 15, 2018 at 9:36 am

      Dear Beautiful,
      I so understand what you are saying and where you are at. In your writing I can feel the same pain and suffering that I am living. You sound so much like me and your husband sounds so much like my wife. Our situations are so very similar, except my wife won’t leave. She has had multiple affairs, and she will do nothing more than say a shallow i’m sorry. Except there is no sorrow. She lives most of her life pretending that nothing is wrong, that she is in control, and that there is nothing that she needs to do or change. Until she gets mad, and then the truth comes out.

      And now we are at the end, I have tried so hard for so long to get her to reconcile. But how can that happen when she lives in a complete make believe world where she does no wrong and blames everyone else for her own sins? I have told her many times of the changes that I have to see in her for us to stay married (heart change, accountability, truthfulness, abusiveness to me and the kids, taking responsibility) She just looks blankly at me like I am crazy and then accuses me of just wanting a divorce.

      Thankfully, I am surrounded by good, godly friends and family that are walking this journey with me. Almost all of them see that it is time for me to file for divorce, including my pastor. But even with that I have come to the realization that I will never be able to do it “right” or at the right time. Naturally, everyone will have their own opinion of what I should do, and when and how I should do it. And that has to be ok.

      Leslie makes a powerful statement when she said…

      “There is a big gap between knowing something and coming to emotionally accept it. You know your marriage is over and your family is forever changed, but coming to truly accept that reality takes time and that process is called grieving. You grieve the loss of what you had. You grieve the loss of what you never had. You grieve for what you wished you would have had.”

      This is where I am. I know my marriage is over, and I am beginning to emotionally accept it. But now I have to actually end it and I’m not sure how to reconcile in my mind the fact that I vowed “till death do us part” I am already grieving over a lost past and lost future, but grieving the loss of what I never had but thought I did is especially tough.

      Now I have to go through the process of working out how best to divorce a narcissist, with as little collateral damage as possible.

      One thing I have noticed since I have been on this blog. It is so much easier for me to look at the stories that others share and I instantly “know” what they should do. But I look at my own and everything goes out of focus, and I end up back in the crazy place of making excuse and taking the blame for her.
      Do you do the same? Do you look at my story and think “wow, he should just divorce her?” Most people do.

      Recently, a woman whose husband cheated on her (they have reconciled) told me that this really is no longer about our marriage. She effectively divorced me when she abandoned her wedding vows and then refused to return to them. This isn’t really about our marriage, this is about her soul, her heart. And her heart will never be dealt with as long as I am taking responsibility for her actions and helping her avoid the consequences of her actions.

      • Nancy on January 15, 2018 at 10:06 am

        Your last statement, Sheep, is very true.

        Even, though, when you get to the place of filing for divorce, and allowing the full weight of the consequences of her decisions to fall squarely on her shoulders, she still may not turn to Him.

        That is between she and The Lord.

        All any of us can do is properly steward the things the Lord has entrusted to us. Starting with our hearts. Loving another person does not give us the right to steward their gifts. Those gifts (hearts, bodies, time, responsibilities) are given to each one by God himself. He will deal with each of us as to how we handled what He entrusted to us.

        Hugs to you as you grieve, sheep.

      • JoAnn on January 15, 2018 at 12:08 pm

        Dear Sheep, your last paragraph says it all. She broke the marriage vows by adultery, and it would be very difficult to mend that break, even if she was willing to try.
        I would like to share something here that I already posted on another thread, but I think it is appropriate here, too. Read Matthew 14:22-33 and Luke 8:22-25, then this:
        “Today the Lord Jesus is on a mountain, that is, in the heavens
        (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25), and the church is on the sea. Day by
        day we face the contrary winds. The church boat has constantly been distressed. However, this is our destiny. The fact that the Lord is in the heavens praying for us is a source of comfort and encouragement to us. We do not care how strong the contrary winds are, for we know that the Lord is on the mountain praying for us.

        Do not be afraid of the contrary winds. There is no need to be
        disturbed by them. Because our destiny is in the Lord’s hand,
        there is no reason for us to be afraid of anything. The contrary
        winds and the opposition are under His feet. The Lord is on a
        high mountain praying for us and interceding for us. He knows
        how strong the wind is. But He laughs at the wind and seems to say, “Little wind, you mean nothing to Me. What are you trying to do? You can’t do anything with My church. Those in the boat are My followers. In fact, they are just Me. Although I am here in the heavens, I am also with them.” What a marvelous picture this is of the high mountain, the troubling waves and contrary winds, and the little boat on the sea!”
        Peter was fine (in Luke 8) until he looked down at the waves and stopped looking at the Lord. May we all keep our eyes fixed on our Savior, not the winds and the waves.

        • SunRiseIsland on January 15, 2018 at 1:24 pm

          Sheep,

          My prayers are with you and for your strength. I know the pain of which you speak all too well. Please focus on your own self care & be encouraged.

          Although it’s extremely difficult at times for me to accept and understand this, please know that you are not alone!!

      • Beautiful to Him on January 15, 2018 at 3:34 pm

        Sheep, I do understand that part. Yes that we can see others situations and know what they should do but our own? Different and difficult. I believe much of that has to do with gas lighting in the psychological fact that has on our brains to be able to trust her instincts and intuition. We have believed the best for a long time and even covered send in the name of love. But this is not love.
        You are right, I believe my spouse too , left me years ago and is attached to the idea of marriage and it’s part of his portfolio.
        Looks good to have a beautiful family and a wife on your arm.
        The thing is, is my husband always raises the bar. I take very good care of myself emotionally spiritually physically mentally intellectually. But he doesn’t see it he seems to only want the physical. I truly feel like an object he doesn’t need to know. He’s not interested in wasting his time and he says I talk too much. And it’s not important.
        He’s interested only in what I can do for him or give him.
        I’ve been told I’m beautiful inside and out I believe this but I don’t when I’m with him.
        He looks at women and their parts and narrates it to me telling me this means we are close and I should help him by listening to his thoughts about women who catch his attention.

        • JoAnn on January 15, 2018 at 3:40 pm

          I think lecherous is the word to use. How horrible for you to have to deal with that!! Beautiful, you do not need to continue to put up with that. When a man looks at another with lust in his heart, the Lord says that is the same as adultery. (Matt. 5:28) What is the Lord asking you to do about that? What do you WANT to do about that?

        • sheep on January 15, 2018 at 9:13 pm

          Beautiful, I am so sorry for what you are going through. And you are very right about trusting our instincts and intuition. Because the truth of the matter is that when she is around, I don’t trust what my instincts and intuition say. I am so used to my opinion, thoughts and feelings being meaningless that when she is around my brain goes right back to that place. But when I am not around her, things become so clear for me, I see her for what she is.
          My wife isn’t even attached to the idea of marriage. She is so obviously just using me to provide for her, to bail her out, to take care of the kids when she doesn’t want to. She also doesn’t want to deal with the fallout of her adultery becoming widely known.

          As a man, I really feel stupid saying this, but she would be more than happy for me to service her sexual needs, expecting me to pleasure her any way she wants, never kissing me, unable to even look at me. And once she is done telling me to hurry and get it over with. this is what it was for a long time until I finally told her she makes me feel like a prostitute. When nothing changed, I said I was done and couldn’t continue our physical relationship anymore. That is all so difficult. I desire intimacy so much and I have so come to realize that real intimacy is so much more than sex, and that sex without intimacy is nothing better than prostitution or porn. And I will repeat that saying all this as a man just makes me feel stupid even though I know that it shouldn’t.

          Beautiful, I will tell you that if your husband truly only sees and wants you for the physical, then he is an idiot. He is obviously addicted to porn, and if he has no remorse or desire to change, there really isn’t much more you can do.

          You and I seem to be stuck in about the same place. We both desire reconciliation (i admit that I am loosing that desire) We have both worked our tails off for it, our spouses have no desire to take responsibility for their sinful choices. We have both taken responsibility for them and shielded them from the consequences of their actions. We have both prayed endlessly that God would do a miracle in them. The question I have to answer is, am I hindering the work of God in her life by letting her continue to get away with her bad behavior, and if so, is that really showing her love. I must admit that I think I am hindering God’s work in her life.

          Ok, that was probably a little long 🙂

          • JoAnn on January 15, 2018 at 9:41 pm

            Sheep, you said, “The question I have to answer is, am I hindering the work of God in her life by letting her continue to get away with her bad behavior, and if so, is that really showing her love. I must admit that I think I am hindering God’s work in her life.” I think you already know the answer to that question. Others here have said that they didn’t really get clear about their situation until they put some distance between them and the spouse. You have admitted that, too. Think, also, about the impact this is having on the children. Is it really in their best interest to continue exposing them to this kind of relationship? If her relationship with the children is limited to what it convenient for her, then she probably won’t mind too much allowing you to have custody of them. I pray that you will have a clear leading from the Lord about your next steps. Be strong to advocate for the well-being of the children, if not for yourself, but your own heart must be protected, too.



          • Beautiful to Him on January 15, 2018 at 11:28 pm

            I got to that place too, Sheep. Am I getting in God’s way.
            In my case I’m a stay at home Mom and my husband is FT breadwinner.
            Thankful to be home FT to teach my kids God’s love and grace .
            He left this past summer after I found pornography again on his computer. He knew I was at the end of my painful rope, now in shreds .. I was hanging on by frays.
            And I was going to see an attorney. He decided to leave and has been gone since. I see little to no behavior change
            He’s not broken or humble
            Doing some recovery work but I think it’s just to check a box.
            I am losing my desire for reconciliation.
            Bc I don’t want what we had before . His addiction , rage, mood swings, selfishness, no connection. He wanted sex
            I am his object and possession. Not a partner
            Never was a partner or equal.
            I was an employee I work at the house
            Care for kids and Home and meals , shop, clean.
            Never took me out on a date in years
            But wants me to be his fantasy wife and look good on his arm.
            Nice children . Well behaved
            “Success “ ✅

            I think I prayed for a long long time and I believed for a long long time that if I prayed he’d change or maybe by my witness . Well he didn’t he started to mock me for my faith and I almost walked away from
            God..
            He said I was too spiritual.
            I tried to change me and I tried to change him and I think I tried to change him more than he cared to change. I did enable him.
            Religious Shame kept me glued here.. truth is he left me a long long time ago. He left before the kids calmed along
            He achieved his wife, house, kids . Now our jobs are to produce feed for his ego
            Since I woke up he feels threatened.
            I can sense it with the boundaries I’m learning
            But that tells me a lot
            It’s been several months since he left and I honestly do not know if we will reconcile
            I’m working on me.. my self esteem, boundaries, loving my children, leaning on my support, my walk with the lord , counseling.
            The rest is up to him.
            We will stay separated until I see a man who wants to roll up sleeves and work hard and destroy the old patterns for something new and better
            I will NOT go back to the old ways / abuse
            Not for me
            Not for my kids
            We are healing now
            It’s best to have him out of the house while we heal

            I’m praying for you . Must be hard
            I know I was praying for God to show me clearly what to do and within a few weeks I saw the pornography again and dating sites / accounts
            I knew..
            Pray for God to reveal the truth to you to shine light on the darkness and to protect
            Provide and prepare the way for you
            He will.

            Prayers to you , Sheep
            I’m sorry. I know the hurt
            Seek the Lord and His ways
            Know that you are strong
            You are courageous & brave !



          • sheep on January 15, 2018 at 11:50 pm

            Hi JoAnn, unfortunately I cant see her easily letting me have primary custody. Part of the identity she had invented for herself is being the perfect mother. We have a lot of kids and she used to be a pretty big blogger with all kinds of mother/spiritual advice.

            Thank you for your advice about protecting my heart. Unfortunately I’m not very good at that. I tend to be far more open and vulnerable than I should be with all that has happened, but I am getting better.



          • JoAnn on January 16, 2018 at 9:40 am

            Then developing your CORE strength is what is needed. Gradually, as you get stronger and learn to establish healthy boundaries, things will work out. Good counseling for you, being a loving, caring father to the children, fellowship with other God-seeking men, are what is needed. All of this will help. Praying for you.



          • sheep on January 16, 2018 at 12:06 am

            Beautiful,
            I am not a person that would tell someone else to get a divorce. As I have come to learn, that is a very personal decision and it is one that each one of us have to come to on our own. In the beginning I wanted someone to tell me that that is what I should do. But in a lot of ways that was just being weak and wanting validation form someone else. I have also had to really wrestle through the implications of divorce and my faith. While believing that adultery is a biblical reason for divorce, I would have probably never have said that someone should actually do it.

            That being said, even if you don’t intend to divorce him, I would advise you to at least consult with a good attorney. That is how you can protect yourself and your kids right now. It helps a lot to know your options, to know the laws of your state and to get an expert opinion on your situation. knowledge is empowering.

            Don’t walk away from God! He loves you, he cares about you, He will not abandon you. In all of this I have thought more than once of Job. What an honor it would be if someday I found that all of this happened because Jesus had found me faithful enough to say to Satan… “have you considered my servant (sheep)?”



      • Free on January 24, 2018 at 8:32 pm

        Sheep, is legal separation an option in your state? That maybe a more palatable first step for you to act upon.

        • sheep on January 25, 2018 at 12:38 pm

          Free. Nope, we don’t have legal separation. Even if we did, she still will not leave. I have asked her to leave several times and she just snorts and looks at me like I am stupid. She has brought up several times that maybe we should separate. I have responded with OK, you can leave anytime you like. She just looks at me like I’m crazy.
          I have made it clear that I’m not going to leave. I can’t. If I did, she would accuse me of abandoning her with all the kids. I have been advised by an attorney to not move out unless there is the likelihood of physical harm, until such a time as there is either a legal agreement between us, or it is ordered by the court.
          YUCK

          • JoAnn on January 25, 2018 at 1:21 pm

            Dear Sheep,
            You have my sympathy; you are between the proverbial “rock and a hard place,” and I am sure it is rough. Times like this, the only place to go is “up”. The Lord always makes a way out, and in this case, praying for Him to arrange an “event” that will precipitate some action, is a good way to pray. He is, after all, able to do abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think, so lean on Him, trust Him, and work on your own core strength. And take good, loving care of the children. They need you to be their rock and their safe place. Be their shelter in the storm; they need your protection now more than ever. Much grace to you, and please keep us posted.



          • Beautiful to Him on January 25, 2018 at 3:23 pm

            Sheep, I was praying for God to reveal light on darkened areas in time, a short amount of time ( two months) I found dating sites on his computer. He set up accounts
            That was my confirmation
            He left .
            If I went with an attorney he wouldn’t have left and I’d have to serve him divorce papers..
            not what I was thinking first hand .. was thinking separation first to reconcile .
            But I have Biblical grounds for divorce on many accounts

            AND.. I am the unforgiving one. It’s jist projection of his Shame onto me ..
            Praying for you!



          • Free on January 25, 2018 at 4:47 pm

            Your situation seems so difficult, sheep. Will it ever end? I think you have to leave and take the kids with you, that way you did not abandon them with an abuser. The way you are being disrespected is painful to read. I feel for you.



          • sheep on January 26, 2018 at 8:59 am

            Free,
            Unfortunately, that one doesn’t work either. When a man takes the kids and leaves, he is considered a kidnapper. I have a couple of friends that are lawyers and we have discussed this. Our court system (for the most part) has become jaded because they see such horrible things on a regular basis. Most judges (and attorneys) just don’t see emotional/verbal abuse, especially covert abuse, as being that bad. They see such awful physical and sexual abuse on a regular basis, so that is what they have to compare it to. And then there is the issue of trying to prove it. I see it, but I am living in it all the time. Even then I can easily talk myself out of it. Emotional abuse is so difficult to even describe to someone let alone prove it.



          • JoAnn on January 26, 2018 at 1:36 pm

            Sheep, I am wondering, what kind of boundaries have you put in place to limit the emotional abuse? It seems that since you are having to live in this hostile environment, it is important that you protect your own heart and that of your children by setting some clear and appropriate boundaries. Have you read Cloud & Townsend on this? Their book is called “Boundaries.” Of course, Leslie talks about this in her book, but C&T address it more thoroughly and that book might be more helpful for you to identify appropriate boundaries and how to implement them. It is especially important that you do whatever you can to protect the children, if you don’t want them to be damaged, or to learn to do the same thing to others in their lives. This stuff can get deeply imprinted in their minds and cause problems for the rest of their lives. As I said before, it is also appropriate to pray for the Lord to bring things to a head so that whatever action is needed would become very clear. Prayers for you, dear Brother.



          • sheep on January 26, 2018 at 2:33 pm

            Joann,

            Boundaries are certainly an issue. Unfortunately I have never figured out consequences to put in place that she will care about. She does not respect any boundaries. She has a way of justifying anything that she wants. I have told her the changes that I need to see in her for me to continue in marriage. She hasn’t done any of them. The only consequence that I can figure out, (that I am willing to implement) is divorce. And that is a huge step. I have thought of saying if you cross this (insert different boundaries) again, you will need to leave. But I have no way of making her leave.

            I am more than open to hearing what ideas others have for consequences. Some of the possible consequences, I’m just not willing to do short of a divorce situation because I don’t want to live with the abuse that crossing her will bring.



          • Nancy on January 26, 2018 at 3:05 pm

            Hi Sheep,

            The first thing about boundaries ( that took me forever to get) is that it’s not about making the other person respect me, it’s about me respecting myself enough to remove myself from harm. This is a subtle but HUGE difference in that might (hopefully?) unlock some different ideas in your thinking.

            It’s about me deciding to treat myself with care and respect.

            One thing to do might be to ask The Lord to grow self-respect in your heart. That’s the starting place, I think.

            Hopefully others will have some concrete examples.



          • JoAnn on January 26, 2018 at 4:59 pm

            You are right, Nancy. The boundaries are for your own protection, and those of the children. Sometimes just saying something like, “When you [use that tone of voice with me], I am going to get into the car and go for a drive while you change your tone/attitude.” Take the kids with you, if needed. Just the walking away will get the message across, especially if you are consistent about it. Even if it doesn’t get her to change, it sends a clear message about what is acceptable and what isn’t.



          • sheep on January 26, 2018 at 9:57 pm

            Joann, Please know that I am not meaning to sound unappreciative or disrespectful in this, I do really appreciate your taking the time to share with me. But as I read your comment, I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of telling her that I would go for a drive while she changes her tone or attitude. That would not bother her in the least, in fact she would probably have a big smile on her face and tell me to have a nice time driving. She would see that as a win. In fact, I have yet to figure out anything that she can’t spin as a win.
            She has an unbelievable ability to totally make up whatever narrative she needs, to make herself come out on top. Remember, she was caught and confronted over a year ago with long term adultery, but she doesn’t see that as giving me any kind of moral “upper hand”



          • JoAnn on January 26, 2018 at 10:45 pm

            I understand what you are saying, but the point of “walking away” is not to teach her a lesson, but to protect your own heart. It is simply to say, “I will not allow myself to be spoken to that way anymore.” You are not trying to control her, but you are stating the terms by which you will listen, or not, to her tirades. You are choosing to refuse to subject yourself to her abuse anymore. She can think whatever she wants, as it seems that to her it is a game: I win, you lose. But in the realm of reality, you are taking the high road by refusing to engage in her games. You actually win by walking away, and for sure, you are demonstrating strength of purpose to your children, which they need to see. Any time that you can take the children away from her tirades, you should. They need your protection, too. I hope that you understand what I’m saying. Please consider this carefully and prayerfully.



          • JoAnn on January 26, 2018 at 10:54 pm

            Please re-read what Nancy wrote above, and what I wrote. Your wife sees this as a game she needs to win, but for you it is a matter of respecting yourself enough to refuse to allow your self to be treated that way. Don’t be drawn into her game. The only consequence you need to enforce is to exit, and not be present while she blows off. This is not about controlling her behavior. You already know that you can’t. But you have options. I like that Nancy suggested that you pray for the Lord to help you gain self respect, because I think that is part of the problem. Read C&T, see a counselor to help develop a strong CORE, and pray, pray, pray!



          • Nancy on January 27, 2018 at 7:46 am

            Hi sheep and JoAnn,

            I so agree with what you said, JoAnn about not entering into her games. This is something that requires the strength of The Lord, because it is so natural to get sucked into.

            It’s really important to look at our own hearts and how we participate in ‘the dance’. When we interpret boundaries as a way to change someone else, there is a spirit of control there. ( I know because it took me a long time to realize that I was also being controlling!)

            When you begin to respect yourself enough to remove yourself, the message that will be received, will be received by you (and your children).

            Wether she ‘gets’ the message is between she and The Lord. I hope this isn’t too harsh sheep, but:

            wether she ‘gets’ it or not, is none of your business. That has to do with her heart.

            Your business is your heart. And your heart is the thing that you have TOTAL control over. Once that really sinks in, you will never be a victim again.

            Proverbs 4:23 ‘ Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of your life’. This is where the journey of self-respect, begins.



          • JoAnn on January 27, 2018 at 12:00 pm

            Nancy, I affirm what you said. You and I can agree together in prayer that the Lord will strengthen our brother and help him to see clearly what we have shared with him. As you said, it is hard to see, but once you do, it changes the whole dynamic in the relationship.



          • Nancy on January 27, 2018 at 12:07 pm

            Yes JoAnn!

            You are being lifted up in prayer, sheep ❤️



          • sheep on January 28, 2018 at 5:19 pm

            Nancy and Joann,
            Thank you both so much for your prayers, experience, and advice. It is greatly appreciated. You are both so right about respecting myself. I really don’t, and I haven’t for a long time. I have come to realize that it is something that has been slowly taken from me over the last 25 years.
            That being said, I have actually gotten quite a bit better over the last 6 months. Part of this is due to the advice of our (my) counselor, and part is from the words of my best friend. But a lot of it has come with “detaching” myself from her emotionally as well as physically (as much as is possible). I have found that the less I am with her, the more respect I have for myself. (also less depressed) Your explanation of boundaries has been really helpful, because I see that in some ways I have been doing what you have suggested for several months now. I have been walking away from “arguments” and I have been (occasionally) calling her abuse for what it is. (she doesn’t like that at all)

            It has been really hard for me to move from “do everything under the sun to show her how much I love her and need her, give her whatever she wants, don’t make waves that will upset her” and “just love her as Christ loved the church and everything will turn out great” To a place of realizing that until her heart changes, she is not going to change, and that her heart very well might not change. And there is nothing I can do to get her to change, or really get her to do anything. I have finally realized that one and it hurts to know that there isn’t anything I can do. I feel powerless, and I have learned to be ok with that.
            I have realized that I no longer want to get her to do anything. If I could make her love me, I wouldn’t. It has to be because she chooses it, she has to want it. Because of these things and so many more, I realize that really the only choice left to me to stop the abuse, adultery, etc. is to divorce her. And that choice is not to “get rid of her” or “reject her” or “giving up on God” But is more about respecting and defending myself and my kids to the point of saying “enough, you can choose to live whatever kind of life you would like, but I don’t have to subject myself to being a part of it. And I can choose to protect my kids from it as much as possible”



          • JoAnn on January 29, 2018 at 3:03 pm

            Well stated, Brother! You have come a long way. Painful, I know, but necessary. It’s a difficult journey, but in the end, you will come out on top. God will bless.



          • JoAnn on January 29, 2018 at 11:29 pm

            Sheep, I can see that the Lord is giving you some clear insights, and I am so thankful for that. He will also give you the grace and courage to follow through on what He has shown you. Grace and peace to you, Brother.



    • SunRiseIsland on January 15, 2018 at 10:50 am

      Beautiful To Him,

      Its a scary and shocking revelation to realize that our lives (and experience in our marriages are identical) – you have written my current life story to the ‘T”. The only exception is (I moved out) and after 2 years of separation with no accountability, remorse or repelled behaviors from my wayward spouse (who is narcissistic, takes ZERO responsibility for anything & blames me for everything) I have filed for divorce from my almost 20 year marriage.

      After leaving, I too desired to reconcile and did everything I knew possible to save my marriage (counseling, changing myself to meet all his needs, walked on eggshells, etc. – you name it, I did it all for the sake of holding my family together). All the while his mouth said he wanted his marriage and didn’t want to lose his family but his actions spoke something terribly different. My unilateral efforts were exhausted trying to save a marriage alone while he continued living a double life (pretending to work on his marriage, he displayed a different persona in public, the adoring loving husband & at home the mask slipped and he became the horrible monstrous husband behind closed doors).

      Along with his double life came the lies, cheating (I KNOW he was unfaithful more than once), manipulation, rage, massive drinking, abuse, partying and now during the divorce process, I have learned of the reckless financial debt, spending and irresponsibility (to fund his unfaithful trists 😠). I came to realize that I enabled his “foul” behavior (by trying hard not to rock the boat) and thus became part of the problem. I’d had enough and couldn’t accept his treatment any longer.

      I couldn’t agree more with your last paragraph in that, I am pained and devastated beyond words to be in this place and am trying to piece my shattered life back together one day at a time and sometimes am not sure how and when I will get there but for the sake of my children and myself, I am moving forward.

      I am so glad he is no longer under our same roof and we are no longer subjected to walking on eggshells, his mood swings, rage, control, blaming, criticism, selfishness, porn usage, lies and outright deceit.

      At times, I feel so alone but I am directing my faith and focus on God and seeking him more now than ever and am praying for my own guidance, healing and purpose.

      It hurts tremendously as I no longer know this man who vowed to love and protect me. Sadly, I don’t want to know the person that he has become and as a result have absolutely NO CONTACT & have turned the man I once called Husband and his demons over to God.

      My heart goes out to anyone in this difficult situation in their marriage as I wouldn’t wish this pain on anyone.

      Hugs 💙

      • JoAnn on January 15, 2018 at 12:15 pm

        SunRiseIsland, you have made a very difficult stand, and i commend you for it. The Lord will strengthen you on your way and guide your steps. When you don’t know what to do next, pray and wait until you do. Take it slow, knowing the the Lord is walking this path with you. On a different thread, I recommended the book Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard. some of the women did read it and were very encouraged. I recommend it to you now.
        you will get through this, by His grace.

        • SunRiseIsland on January 15, 2018 at 1:18 pm

          JoAnn,

          Thank you for the encouragement & I will order the book you recommended.
          Hugs 🙂

      • Free on January 24, 2018 at 8:28 pm

        Your story is a great encouragement. So many women are not strong enough to get out. Good work. Blessings on your journey. Life just gets better and better!

      • Amy on January 31, 2018 at 5:56 am

        Pretty amazing how so many of us have the same general story. It certainly makes one feel a little less crazy as we venture down the path of healing from years of narcissistic abuse. One thing I have recently read that has really set my mind at ease is the difference between co-dependency/enabling and “trauma bonding”. I don’t believe those of us who stayed in a reckless marriage for soooo long were enabling our partners…..we were simply trying to survive and we were caught up in a trauma bond. I walked on eggshells every day for the majority of my marriage trying not to rock the boat for fear of the rage, mental, emotional and physical abuse that might come my way if I crossed his imaginary line of acceptable behavior. I was serious when I made my vows on our wedding day and wanted to do everything I could to have a healthy marriage. I worked overtime on that, while he looked at porn and who knows what else( I don’t want to know).
        Don’t want to get off track….look up trauma bonding. It makes so much sense. It has helped me understand myself so much better and has helped me deal with the shame I struggle with….knowing I let him manipulate, gaslight, lie, cheat and steal from me all while he wore a lovely mask of grace and truth. I wasn’t enabling him….I was surviving….for the sake of my family and the sake of our marriage/honoring the vows I made before God.

  4. JoAnn on January 10, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Kathy, I love that you said “In the darkest times, I would verbally say, “Lord, no matter how bad things get, I WILL praise You, worship You, stand for You and speak Your Name.”” Praising always chases away the darkness (Satan).

  5. Laura Di on January 10, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Some of the first things I did to regain my sense of who I was or my purpose so I could rebuild my life included, drawing closer to God in prayer and meditation. This showed me how He will always lead the way if we seek His help. I from there miraculously stumbled upon books like “Jesus Calling”, by Sarah Young to guide me on a daily journey. Also GOD’S PROMISES for every day, by the W Publishing Group is a great and handy compilation of scriptures providing God’s word for any issue you face. It can be purchased through Joyce Meyer Ministries.

    I also went back to school, earned an Associates Degree. I found a new church which could be a good change for some. Joined Celebrate Recovery a Christian group that helps one cope with hurts, habits and hangups and will help those who want to change to meet new people, find new places to go and help with the elimination or addition things in their life that need attention. And from these and more I learned to love myself like God wants me to. I suggest volunteering too! By finding a cause that you are passionate about you will in turn put joy into the lives of others. Godspeed and God Bless!

  6. Aleea on January 11, 2018 at 4:07 pm

    “Friend, when your life has shattered, what were some of the first things you did to regain your sense of who you were or your purpose so you could rebuild your life?” . . .Well, my shatterings happened in childhood so I couldn’t do the things I do now like connect way more deeply with people from my church (weekend retreats, Bible-studies, evangelism, etc.)

    . . .Anyways, I want to deeply thank everyone from Leslie providing the content, to those spending their precious time to post their experiences, ideas, and comments, to those dealing with the software and hardware that makes this blog a reality. It is so, so meaningful to me and I realize that nothing is easy and everything costs.

    . . .When you see a person acting violently (—like this husband that left instead of repenting and staying with his family), it is so, so sad. —Everybody loses. . . .But whether something is wonderful or horrible, the most harmful thought we can think is: “Will this last forever?” . . .I agree that connecting with those you know love, like and appreciate restores your spirit and gives you the energy to keep moving forward. —Unconnected loneliness leads to nothing good, only detachment. I’m praying for you and your entire family, —your husband too. —Sometimes the people who most need to reach out are the people least capable of it for so many reasons. . . .Courage is our natural setting. In Christ, we do not need to become courageous, but rather to just peel back the layers of self-protective, limiting thoughts and beliefs that keep us small.

  7. Sunny on January 30, 2018 at 6:31 pm

    Hi Friends, Sorry if this is off topic a bit, but I’m so overwhelmed and discouraged that I don’t even have the strength to do another day. I’m in a lonely battle and I just cry out to God to rescue me from this hell… but for whatever reason that he chooses, he does not intervene. I’m angry with God and it’s killing me. For real. Can’t even think straight anymore.

    • JoAnn on January 30, 2018 at 7:36 pm

      Oh, dear Sunny,
      I am so sorry! Do you have a safe place where you can go? Is there a women’s shelter nearby? You don’t give any details, so I don’t know how to help you, but the important thing is that you get to safety. I will be praying for you. God has not abandoned you, but He may be asking you to do something to help yourself….if that is true, what would it be? If you are feeling suicidal, then please call the suicide hotline at 800- 273-8255. A live person will talk with you.

      • Sunny on January 31, 2018 at 10:45 am

        Thanks JoAnn. You nailed it. Asking God for next steps, but what I’m hearing is too scary to swallow. Also feeling like I’d rather not live if I have to walk out these steps. I’d like to get to a place of rebuilding as this blog is titled, but the demolition process is tearing me apart from head to toe. And that is probably a good thing from God. But I’m going under and trying to fight it and afraid to surrender because I have 3 kids too.

        • JoAnn on January 31, 2018 at 10:56 am

          Sunny, Be assured that your life and that of your children are in the hands of a loving God who loves you enough to have died for you, and now He will care for you and take care of all your needs. Going into heart surgery is never fun, and is usually painful, but the outcome is that we get healing for our souls, which is what you need right now. In that “surgery” the Lord strips away all the things that are keeping us out of His divine glory. Spend time daily in His word, and let that word operate in you to free you from the bondage of your past. He is there, carrying you through. Read and re-read the message from Sheep. Very helpful and comforting. We are all here praying for you and supporting you. You will get through this. Max Lucado’s book “you will get through this” might encourage you right now. He says, “You will get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. Don’t be foolish or naive. But don’t despair either. With God’s help, you’ll get through this.” Amen!

    • Free on January 30, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      Sunny, you have the courage and wisdom to change your situation. You take the lead. We all get mad when God doesn’t do what we want. This time he wants to do something better. He wants to change you. He hears your cries and he loves you. Focus on you and God now, not your partner or your circumstances.

      • Kathy on January 31, 2018 at 11:48 am

        I too have prayed that God would rescue me – and wondered why He didn’t seem too. A mature and wise Christian said not too long ago that we pray for rescue, and God keeps trying to say – “You have 2 healthy feet/legs.” Change is not easy, but maybe God has “rescued” us by giving us the means, strength, courage and wisdom to just plain go. set boundaries – whatever is needed to be done. I left and set boundaries and life is so much more blessed and happy.

    • sheep on January 30, 2018 at 11:01 pm

      Hi Sunny,

      I am so sorry, I know the pain and the discouragement you are going through. I know what it is to cry out to God for deliverance and seemingly see nothing in return. I don’t know if this is your situation, but I know what it is to ask God constantly to intervene, to help me, to expose my spouses evil deeds, and hear silence. In the end, I realized that He was helping me and I didn’t know it. He was bringing me to the point of being willing and able to stand up, say “enough” and obtain proof of her adultery. He strengthened me enough to confront this.

      Unfortunately, I paused in this place for a long time hoping, praying for change in her, but seeing none. Now, God is helping me to see (through the help of some of the sisters here 🙂 That through all of this, God has been working. He has been changing me. God has been strengthening me to learn truths about myself, about my wife, about my marriage that I never could have admitted or accepted before. He is once again bringing me to the place where He has strengthened me enough to act.

      Some of the things he has brought me to learn is that my wife is very emotionally/verbally abusive. Both to me as well as my kids. That he has brought me to the place of being able to even admit this is a miracle. He is teaching me that apart from a miracle from him, my wife is not going to change, that she has no desire to change. She is just using me to keep from having to deal with the consequences of her affairs/abuse. He has made me dig into all of this, to dig into His word, to dig into my own feelings and truly figure all of this out for myself. I would have never been able to do all of this had He not been working in me.

      Now we are at the end of a 25 year marriage, and I am starting to have more peace than I have in the last 3 years. I know that I have done what scripture requires of me as a husband, I have loved her selflessly as Christ loves the church and gave himself for her, expecting nothing in return. I know that I have done everything possible to try to reconcile with her. But reconciliation can not be done by one person. He has brought me to the place of confronting her about the sin in her life, he has brought me to be able to lovingly point out that she really doesn’t have any of the fruits of the spirit in her life and that she should “work out her own salvation with fear and trembling ” But I had to work through all of this to get to the point I am now. I still have a long way to go. I still have not filed for divorce and that is going to be a horribly difficult process.

      I tell you all of this to say don’t give up on God! He has not given up on you. I can tell you from personal experience that He is working. It might not be the way you want Him to, and you might not be able to see it right now, but He is working. It might not be on your husband, Maybe it is you he is working on because He loves you so much. He has shown me His love by working to purify me, to teach me that despite 25 years of being conditioned to think that I am worth nothing, that I am worth something. I am worth something to Him, I am worth something to others, that He loved me enough to die for me knowing full well all the ways that I would fail Him.

      My last 3 years have been a living hell, and yet I can honestly say that I thank Him for them. Do I like them? No. But I do see the value in them. Without what I have gone through, I would still be trapped in my own fantasy world thinking that I had a marriage for others to be jealous of. I would be accepting and agreeing with the abuse leveled against me because I believed that I deserved it. I would still be denying that I even have feelings because it was just too painful to feel. I would still be living in fear of my wife and not knowing why. I’m still in the thick of it, but finally there is light at the end of the tunnel. And NONE of that light is coming from God changing my wife. None of that light is coming from God giving me what I wanted. Did I want my marriage to end? NEVER. But He has brought me to the place of being able to say “Though you slay me, yet I will trust you” He has shown me that He loves me and not the institution of my marriage.

      My theme song the last couple of years has been “I will praise you in this storm” by Casting Crowns. Listen to it, Feast on the Psalms, continue to cry out to God that He will do His will in your life. And don’t give up praying for your husband. In the meantime, work on your CORE, learn to be strong, surround yourself with Godly women that will walk through this with you. Be teachable, listen to them. When the pain is so great, it is easy to fall in the trap of listening only to ourselves and that can be dangerous.

      Remember, you are not alone. I was so surprised when I found this blog and saw just how many have been and are in a similar situation to me. (even though most of them are women) (I’m just one of the few men that are willing to admit it)

      • JoAnn on January 31, 2018 at 9:08 am

        What an encouraging letter. Thank you for sharing, Brother. Your message speaks to the heart of what many of us here have experienced. God starts working on us, first. His working is inward, bringing us to a place of absolute surrender, and then He can begin to change things. Whenever we hold on to anything other than Him, we fail, and are weak. When we hold the Head, Christ, then the life that is in Him begins to flow into us.

      • Ann on February 2, 2018 at 10:36 pm

        Sheep. It is as if I wrote every one of your posts. My situation is virtually identical to yours (minus the children but there are 2cats like my children). My husband is the mirror image of your wife- I know the same abuse you have endured all too well. I am just about at the same place as you on this journey too. However my situation is also complicated by severe financial devistation for me and him having all control over that, & my having numerous serious medical issues that prevent me from working- which he emotionally batters me for that on a daily basis. He also has refused to move out of the home and I can’t leave due to
        My financial & medical issues do I am trapped- no family where I live either. I can’t even begin to verbally state how vicious & cruel this man has been to me after 25+ yrs of faithfulness, love, devotion, commitment to our marriage- he seems to enjoy punishing me for the demons he carries inside him from his childhood & actions of his own Mother which he is in complete denial about. I respect you as a man for your disclosures here-that took courage- the kind few men have so I say bravo for you doing this. I share your pain, respect your strength & honor your loyalty to do everything you could for your marriage- I wish I would’ve found a man like you 25 yrs ago. My situation is complex & I still don’t have a real solution but I’m continuing to pray God will clear a path for me. My heart goes out to all of you

    • sheep on January 30, 2018 at 11:05 pm

      Sunny,
      If you haven’t, you also need to read Leslie’s book “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” I avoided it for a long time because I was afraid of what I would learn. But from the first words it was like a curtain started to lift and I began to see things so much more clearly.

      • Sunny on January 31, 2018 at 10:52 am

        Thanks Sheep for your words. And yes, I’ve read EDM. Super helpful and opened my eyes. I’m just so exhausted and there is no end in sight. Sometimes battle beats a person up to complete depletion, and even ends in death. That’s the battle that I’m in. Been in it since childhood- my father’s sex slave from age 4-age 15. Young adult trauma including rape, and suicude of my roommate. Now DV and kids in the mix. I know that God loves me. But I long for the day all is made right.

        • JoAnn on January 31, 2018 at 11:06 am

          Sunny, have you talked to the local rape crisis center to get counseling for your history of sexual abuse? I hope that you can get help for that, too. Childhood sexual abuse leaves a woman with deeply seated feelings of shame and helplessness, and I believe that is what you are dealing with now, on top of everything else. Work on strengthening your CORE, and be committed to growth and change, so that the Lord can do His transforming work in you. I know that sometimes it’s hard to trust Him, but realize that His love for you and your children is stronger than your love for yourself and them. Be safe.

        • sheep on February 1, 2018 at 4:07 pm

          Sunny, I know what some of the things you are going through are like, but I don’t even pretend to know others. You are in a difficult situation and I will not act like I am qualified to help you.

          I know what it means to be completely exhausted… mentally, physically, and emotionally. To be so depleted that many days the reason I drag myself out of bed and go to work is so that I can have some relief away from her.

          I know what it is like to try to hold it together for the kids, and not be able to admit the abuse because it will hurt too much. Not knowing where to turn, who to trust, or how do I continue. I haven’t been suicidal, but I have wished more than once that the airplane I was on would crash.

          All that being said, I don’t know if you have a good counselor, but you need one. I beg you to see someone and get some help. Do not try to do this alone. You need someone to come along side you and help you to think straight. We all need trusted people in our lives that can help us see where we are right and where we are wrong.

          I want to encourage you with something I have been struggling with for a long time, and that has to do with the concept of “deserving” something. I have really fought the idea that I deserve anything. But in the case of marriage I have come to believe that there are certain things we all deserve from our spouse just because that is the nature of the marriage covenant. I will tell you a few of them, BECAUSE YOU ARE WORTH IT! YOU HAVE GREAT VALUE!
          – you deserve to be loved
          – you deserve to be heard
          – you deserve to be treated with dignity and respect
          – you do not deserve to live in fear of your spouse
          – you do not deserve to be manipulated or controlled
          – you NEVER deserve to be hit!
          – you do not deserve to be yelled at
          – you deserve absolute faithfulness
          – you deserve intimacy
          – you do not deserve to be lied to

          Wedding vows mean something. To love, honor and cherish has deep meaning. Unfortunately, too many don’t think a whole lot about what they are actually committing to when they make those vows, but that doesn’t make them any less binding.

          Please talk to a counsellor. It sounds like you are on the edge and I am really concerned for you.

          Praying for you Sunny.

          • Free on February 4, 2018 at 10:15 pm

            Nice points. Thanks.



  8. SM on January 30, 2018 at 10:53 pm

    I’m still learning how to rebuild after a year, but appreciate the suggested resources people have posted. I left a 20+ year marriage about a year ago with 4 of my 6 kids (2 were grown). It’s been a struggle every day. After 2 decades of his ongoing cheating (1 kid is his by another woman during our marriage who I raised, and then there were the prostitutes), and then a few years of extreme gambling while I paid the bills, and increases in temper blow-ups, I met someone and began a 2 year affair. He found out and for a year I was subjected to the worst emotional abuse as he constantly yelled explicit and demeaning sexual things to me in front of the kids, and even moving towards violence. The kids and I moved out and he caught me later with the man in a car and reacted in a way that got him a felony and horrible debt. I know my part in the blame game, but it has taken, is taking, me a long time to realize I am worth more than how he treated me, worth more than what I let myself become, and even more than how some of my teens think they can treat me now during their own pain. Leslie essentially said in her book that God cares more about us than our marriage – and it’s so true we let situations and relationships define us more than the fact we are a child of God. I’m still healing and learning…

  9. Kathy on January 31, 2018 at 12:00 pm

    Sunny – I’m praying right now in support of your feelings, that you’ll be strengthened and have a good sense of hope bubble up within you to move forward into total healing – which God wants for you. There are many of us sending you emotional support through our prayers. Do not give up. Yes – it’s challenging and uncomfortable – but the end result – an emotionally healthy godly woman is so worth it! YOU are worth it!

    • JoAnn on January 31, 2018 at 4:41 pm

      Yes and AMEN ! Kathy I agree with your post. An emotionally healthy godly woman is so worth it.

  10. Understanding on February 1, 2018 at 10:42 pm

    I can’t personally relate to being divorced but my mom has recently gone through a divorce with my very psychologically abusive dad. I know how hard it is to prove emotional and hidden abuse and how painful it is to try to deal with someone who is the cause of hidden abuse. I want to recommend a very incredible book to everyone, “Healing from Hidden Abuse, the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse,” by Shannon Thomas, it’s on Amazon and ITunes and it’s helped me and my mom so much with our situation. I hope it is helpful to anyone here who is struggling with hidden abuse.

    Blessings.

    • Free on February 4, 2018 at 10:13 pm

      Thanks. I have not heard of this title.

  11. Beck on September 24, 2019 at 9:34 am

    JoAnn,
    Many thanks for your response and words of encouragement! I definitely as seeking the Lord as to what He can do with this and how to come out stronger due to this. I pray that I can make some friends and find support/encouragement on this blog.

    Thanks a ton,
    Beck

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