Morning friends,

What a whirlwind week I had. I spoke in York, PA for two days and then had the chance to go back to my old church in Allentown. It was wonderful seeing friends there and having a dinner gathering with my former small group. Monday I met with some additional friends and then flew home last night. I do so appreciate your prayers. This season is especially crazy busy and I definitely need that prayer support.

Next week I am doing a webinar on “Are People Misusing The Bible to Keep you Trapped in a Destructive Relationship?” I would love for you to share this link with all your friends on social media who you think might benefit from this webinar. I will be offering it twice, once during the day and once in the evening. Click here to register. 

Today’s Question: I married a sexually dysfunctional woman. For the first 18+ years of our marriage, she was unable to engage in standard marital relations. We endured it a few times to have our children.

It was so difficult for her, I would not even ask her to do it. I had no clue prior to marriage what I was in for. I expected a functional partner. I was not a bull-in-a-china-shop lover either. I showed her gentle affection but she could show me little.

As time went on, she felt guilty and began to reject my affection because she could not reciprocate. After so many years of this, I reached a point of giving up and sank into a deeply settled indifference towards her.

It was a sinful response which I needed to repent of after many years, and I have, after going through your audiobook & 64 questions.

Do I have a right to know why things were so hard for her? I feel like half my married life was stolen and I have no idea why. She does not want to talk about it. It also impacted our children as our relationship was so sour.

Answer: I’m sorry for your pain as well as your wife’s pain. I think we all enter marriage having dreams and expectations of what it will be like. Rarely does it turn out the way we pictured. However from what you describe, from day one your wife was unable to have a normal sex life and for your entire marriage she has been unwilling to get help or talk with you about it what is wrong.

Your reaction to this was to become indifferent towards her. You now realize that was not how God wanted you to handle your hurt and you’ve repented. But now you are asking if you have the right to know why she has withheld herself from you?  I choose that word “withheld” because even if her sexual dysfunction was something that surprised both of you on your wedding day, from what you say she has continued to withhold herself emotionally, mentally, and physically from you.

Part of the promises we make in our marriage vows is that we won’t withhold ourselves from our spouse. Not only sexually, but in other ways as well. We promise to share our heart, our feelings, our dreams, our ideas, our problems, and our finances. Marriage is an opportunity for someone to know us like no other person knows us. Click To Tweet

In your question, you don’t share what you have done to talk to her about this problem. And somehow you were able to talk enough about it so that when you wanted children, you made it happen even though it wasn’t pleasurable for either one of you.

You also indicate that you knew she felt guilty for not reciprocating your affections. I’m not sure she told you that or that is the story you told yourself when she didn’t respond to you. In either case, you withdrew and became indifferent.

I’m glad you’ve recognized that isn’t the answer here. And, your wife has acted indifferent to you too.

To answer your question, I believe you do have a right to know what’s going on with her as her husband. I believe truth always clarify things. If you understood more about what was going on inside her mind and body, perhaps you could have been more caring and empathic towards her own suffering. But by keeping you in the dark she has not only locked you out of her body, she has locked you out of everything. Does she want to be married to you? Have you asked her?

I have two ideas about this. The first one is that she locked you out because she is locked out of herself. She doesn't know why she can’t function sexually and is too afraid to seek answers for herself or get help for why. The second idea is that she does know why. Perhaps she has a history of sexual abuse or other sexual trauma, but she is unwilling to open that box of pain in order to get the help she needs or even let you in to share it with her.

Whatever it is, I believe you have a right to know, but I don’t think you have a right to force her to tell you. That is her choice. However, have you shared with her how painful her indifference is towards you? Her unwillingness to get help? Her unwillingness to even tell you what’s going on or why she acts this way?

If she continues to choose to stay closed off from you, you may need to do some soul searching as to what your next step will be as a godly man and husband.

Do you stay stuck in nowhere land? Married to someone who doesn’t really want to have a relationship of any kind, although enjoys some of the benefits of being married to you?  

Do you put some boundaries in place saying, “I won’t continue to live like this. I don’t want to pretend that we’re functioning as a couple even though we’re not? It’s hurtful to me and to our kids. I’m open to talking, I’m open to counseling, I’m open to change, but I’m not okay with staying this way for another 20 years.” And then see how she responds.  

If she refuses to answer or engage, then you have some tough choices ahead of you, none of which are easy.

For example, you could choose to live peaceably as roommates. You could choose to separate, hoping that will cause her to reconsider whether or not she wants to work on the marriage. You could choose to be bitter and angry, stuck in your own dashed dreams and hurt feelings. You could invite a third party to talk with her such as your pastor.   

Friends, when your spouse has withheld or withdrawn himself or herself from you entirely without knowing the cause, what have you done to stay strong and also have good boundaries?

318 Comments

  1. kristine on May 9, 2018 at 8:08 am

    This is very sad. I cannot imagine anyone these days marrying someone and thinking that never having sexual relations is an option. There are many reasons for having sexual difficulties, and as someone who deals with this professionally there all also many options to address these reasons. If the gender situation were reversed and it were the husband withholding some vital part of marriage for 18+ years it would certainly be considered abusive. Based on the facts given and assuming they are true I think this man has been abused. I would certainly think it reasonable for him to lay out a plan of action as you described and if that is rejected then take steps toward separation—and divorce if he wishes as this is certainly a failure to fulfill marriage vows just as much as emotional abuse or financial abuse. If she has real issues, basic human respect and concern would motivate someone who wants to make a relationship work to seek some assistance at some point in 18 years.

    • Free on May 9, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      I don’t see him as abused. He has a difficult marriage, not a destructive one.

      • Aly on May 10, 2018 at 9:34 am

        Free & others,

        I don’t think that the main concern here is defining if this is an abusive situation.
        I think any difficult marriage (as I agree also with you here on many places) can quickly turn to a destructive one.
        A destructive marriage is defined as having abusive behaviors involved.

        I feel for both parties in this situation and from what the husband wrote in about it seems as his spouse doesn’t want to engage sexually but also won’t give an explanation or explore the reasons why.

        This is a double bind of sorts for the husband and if the wife chooses to not address that there is a problem ‘even though it could be frightening’ she still is in many ways neglecting ~ by not addressing or acknowledging her husband’s experience and feelings of loss of connection.

        I’m not saying Neglecting by not having sex , but neglect by not doing or seeking any help for her or the marital issues.

        I go back to the situation of someone ‘having it both ways’ can be destructive to a marriage even if it’s more passive in nature and not aggressive.
        A partner who has committed to a union of marriage which involves intimacy of ‘all kinds’ and chooses to not engage in sex with her husband, but also won’t offer up any explanation or compassion on the husband’s part doesn’t get to have it both ways. That dynamic to me is very controlling and confusing to a marriage.

        As far as abuse goes, a controlling or even neglectful spouse is engaging in abusive behavior at some form.
        My h would have never consider his behavior destructive or abusive until it was ‘redefined’ for him.
        He was quite awakened at the level of emotional abuse and controlling tactics he used often to avoid our issues since he has it wired in that abuse was ‘violent’ or aggressive.
        He also would have never of defined neglecting someone’s hurts or feelings as abuse either but it is in a marriage.
        (I not talking about jut not having the act of sex), but more the Pattern of Neglect of emotionally connecting to his spouse.

        I feel for the wife in the situation too! It must be hard too for her and she might feel very neglected in other ways by her husband?? or have ‘unresolved things or traumas’ in her past that the Lord wants to expose and heal.

        In abusive dynamics and behavior we look for a pattern of these responses. As a wife, I certainly am guilty of neglect in many areas but it’s not my go to nor is it my pattern of how I engage with my partner.
        There is a difference. But either way the main ‘cry’ I hear from the writer isn’t about is this situation an abusive situation but about ‘what to do’ how to begin grieving. His dynamic has become ‘his normal’ and he might be looking for more validation that it’s not ‘normal’ and permission to get more assistance with the marriage.

      • James on May 11, 2018 at 8:54 am

        It is absolutely abuse.

        She is defrauding him. If a husband refused financial support from a wife for 18+ years everyone here would see it as abuse. The bible is crystal clear, withholding sexual intimacy is tantamount to stealing from one’s spouse.

        I hope and pray that she gets to the bottom of whatever combination of sin and her own pain has led her to destroy her marriage in this way.

        • Seeing The Light on May 11, 2018 at 11:36 pm

          I am concerned about making the correlation to a husband providing financial support as the analogy in the opposite direction. It would seem the more appropriate comparison would be a husband withholding sexual intimacy without explanation. Financial support and sexual relationship are two very different things.

          • Aly on May 13, 2018 at 11:39 am

            STL,

            I can see the concern you mention as well as James point in bringing up the ‘withholding’.
            Obviously, there are deeper reasons for what is taking place in this marriage not just sexually but intimately on the heart level of trust.

            Trust is complex in marriage but it’s also very comprehensive throughout a marital dynamic.

            Marriage is such a sacred union.
            Trust is essential to a healthy thriving union.
            A person unwilling to provide, share finances or contribute financially might send a message that says ‘I don’t love you enough to care for your needs and be invested financially in this partnership’.
            Not only is that a trust issue but also a power issue too.

            Any ‘misuse’ especially long term misuse of the marital covenant is to ‘abuse’ the commitment given.

            I feel for the wife in the situation and for her sexual healing ~ whatever process the Lord wants to bring her through. But her unwillingness can feel like such a Layered Betrayal by being unwilling to at minimum give an explanation. Why wouldn’t the husband feel loss and rejection on top of that loss!

            There is something critical about this man’s situation, Marriage creates a union where sex is offered…the only person who can meet him sexually is his wife and vice versa.

            I wonder about if the wife feels empathy for her husband and this disconnect. Because she won’t offer an explanation, that in of itself seems pretty out of balance and disturbing ~ almost like it’s not important or he’s not worthy of an explaination.

            As for my journey, I married and my husband offered his financial support, his care for me and many of my needs, his body certainly but he withheld ‘his heart’ and that was the one vital thing he promised to offer. With-holding his heart was defrauding me and it WAS abuse of our marriage commitment. Even though he didn’t want to be abusing.

            Thankfully he became willing to deal with his heart issues so he could be available to receive and give love in a safe and healing way to our marriage.



          • Seeing The Light on May 13, 2018 at 12:43 pm

            Aly,

            My reply to your May 13 11:39 am comment is down below. Oops.



          • James on May 16, 2018 at 10:35 am

            On the other hand, the Bible uses the word “defraud” to describe the withholding of marital intimacy (1 Cor 7:5) as well as theft (Mark 10:9) and the defrauding of laborers (James 5:4).

            There is more of a connection than you may think.



          • Seeing The Light on May 16, 2018 at 6:12 pm

            “There is more of a connection than you may think.”

            Nope. See my comment below May 16, 2018 at 6:07 pm



          • James on May 22, 2018 at 3:21 pm

            Nancy,

            The reason why I periodically pop in to see what Leslie has posted on her blog is because, as a pastor, I am dedicated to continually learning so that I might be able to better pastor the congregants that I love and serve. I happen to read a number of blogs, listen to a number of podcasts and read a number of books on topics related to counseling. I do not consider myself a “disciple” of any one of the authors or speakers that I read. Some of what all of them say, I find helpful. Some of what all of them say, I happen to disagree with. As someone who is committed to emulating the character of the Bereans in Acts 17, I don’t exalt anyone’s opinion over what I can clearly discern from the bible.
            Please, do not assume that because I do not agree with everything that Leslie may say that I am not here to learn. One can learn even from those with whom they disagree to one extent or another.

            In my own mind, I don’t consider “searching the scripture” with someone who is hurting tantamount to “leaving them as powerless as when they came.” Rather, I think that walking with a brother through the Word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to console and enlighten someone is remarkably powerful.

            I would probably not send a ‘man’ with whom I was counseling to Leslie’s site for a couple of reasons. 1) Leslie’s site is, self proclaimed, designed to address the needs of women and 2) because there are lots of other resources for men that will address men’s issues from a man’s point of view.

            The only reason that I gave my opinion on how I would counsel the man who wrote in was because you specifically asked. You are, of course, free to agree or disagree.Nevertheless, when I answered, I was under the presumption that you genuinely wanted to know my opinion. It hurt to discover that you didn’t ask because you honestly valued my opinion but because you wanted to put me on trial.

            Consequently, our conversation feels less like an honest exchange of ideas and more like an inquisition designed to publicly shame me for not “learning” enough. I don’t know why you would want to do that but I choose not to participate in exchanges of that nature. May the Lord bless you.



          • James on May 22, 2018 at 3:26 pm

            My last post was intended for the thread below.



        • Maria on May 13, 2018 at 10:33 am

          James,
          It doesn’t look like the wife is willing to get help for her condition. What would be your advice to the husband?

          • Nancy on May 16, 2018 at 9:45 am

            This is an excellent question, Maria. James, how would you advise the husband?



          • James on May 16, 2018 at 10:43 am

            As a husband who has been sinned against, he needs to confront her with her sin and expect her repentance.

            If she will not repent, he should request she seek biblical counseling with him.

            If she refuses, he should bring it before the church.



          • Maria on May 16, 2018 at 3:27 pm

            James,
            And if she still does not want to deal with the problem?



          • Nancy on May 16, 2018 at 3:28 pm

            I think this is biblical advise, James.

            What if, when he brings it before the church, he is not supported? What if he is told that this is not abuse at all?

            He knows full well that it is abuse, but he is told to just love her more. What then?

            ( As you well know this is what happens to many victims of abuse when they seek support)



          • James on May 16, 2018 at 3:57 pm

            Maria and Nancy,

            I saw what you did just there 🙂

            I do know that there are many victims of abuse who seek support and don’t receive it. This saddens me for them as much as it would for this gentleman.



          • Nancy on May 16, 2018 at 4:13 pm

            James,

            That’s great that you know that, and that you are saddened by it. Being sad though, isn’t helpful to someone who is powerless.

            The question remains: What would you advise this man to do, if his wife remains un-repentant and his church does not back him?



          • James on May 16, 2018 at 4:32 pm

            Nancy,

            I would urge the man to find a better church.
            One that will follow through on church discipline to the point that she is shown to be living the life of an unrepentant sinner. My experience is that church discipline is rarely completed before the spouse under church discipline leaves the church and the marriage.



          • Nancy on May 16, 2018 at 4:36 pm

            So he goes off to find a different church and she has no interest in following him there.

            Now what?



          • Maria on May 16, 2018 at 4:53 pm

            James,

            I think you are beating around the bush. If the husband is already attending a Bible believing church, and the wife is shown to be an unrepentant sinner or if she fakes repentance, then what should he do?



          • Nancy on May 16, 2018 at 6:54 pm

            I really am curious to know how you would advise this man, James. I do hope that you will answer.



          • James on May 16, 2018 at 10:39 pm

            Maria and Nancy,

            I don’t see myself as the “answer man” for every situation, so I try to limit my comments to the counsel that the bible gives. If this man were to reach a dead end where he can’t find a church that would deal with the problem in obedience to Christ and/or his wife ends up faking repentance then we would have to search the scriptures together to see how he can live in the midst of that kind of sinfulness with the help of others around him to the glory of God.

            Most of the time, church discipline is never even considered in these kinds of instances and my own experience is that the one under church discipline usually leaves the church and the marriage before the matter is concluded.

            Unfortunately, Matthew 18 doesn’t address what happens when the church refuses to do what it is commanded to do. Christ, I think, rightly assumes that the church will do what is commanded or the church becomes part of the problem and not part of the solution.

            I wouldn’t counsel the man to simply drop the matter and move on with a sexless marriage nor would I counsel him to divorce.



          • Nancy on May 17, 2018 at 7:06 am

            If a man came to you, James, and was in this position, then you would be an ‘answer man’, to him. Your role puts you in this position.

            It’s unfortunate that you wouldn’t have advice beyond, “Searching the scriptures to see how he can live in the midst….” This is nebulous and unhelpful for his situation.

            What makes Leslie courageous is that she offers concrete, God-honouring advise that can set the oppressed free.

            In my case, it was also used to save my oppressor, and as a result our marriage.

            I thank God for her courageous stance.



          • James on May 17, 2018 at 2:49 pm

            Nancy,

            Well, I can understand why you would desire pastors to have all the answers. Unfortunately, the reality is that we don’t.

            There are issues upon which I feel that I have sufficient information and study background to speak with confidence and on those issues where I do not, I generally refrain from comment.

            If you have found that Leslie has given you help and hope where someone like myself has not then, “Praise the Lord!”

            I don’t feel as if I am in competition with anyone I am grateful to be used in whatever limited way the Lord can use me knowing that He may at any time choose to use someone else to accomplish other and greater things.



          • Nancy on May 17, 2018 at 3:23 pm

            I would hope, James, that you would point such a man toward Leslie’s ministry, so that he would not be left in the powerless position that he first came to you, in.



          • Maria on May 17, 2018 at 3:34 pm

            James,

            Assuming that this woman did not disclose her problem before marriage and also refuses to repent, if I understand you correctly, you would work on a plan with the husband involving others to live in a way that glorifies God. How about vs 17 of Mathew 18- treating her as an unbeliever because of her unrepentance? If he stays, he will be in a sexless marriage. The wife does not seem to want to even talk about her problem.

            How about the scenario that Nancy has described in which the wife refuses to go before a Bible believing church? The Bible does not address that so what would your advise be?

            This brings up a good point- the Bible doesn’t specifically address all of the situations we are in. It doesn’t tell us what color dress we should wear, for example. We are to apply the principles of the Bible to our situations. I think that is the expectation of people that seek help from counselors- to share with the Godly principles from the Bible.



          • Nancy on May 20, 2018 at 4:56 pm

            I want to point out why I questioned James.

            It’s very easy to talk theoretically about church discipline and the way things ‘should go’.

            What is extremely difficult is: dealing with real-life, abusive, messy situations, in a God honouring way.

            One of Leslie’s missions is to educate pastors so that they can tangibly help those who reach out to them, for help.

            I wanted to know how James would handle a real-life, abusive situation. I wanted to know what kind of tangible help he would offer such a man.

            I find his response very sad, because if indeed you are the same pastor, James, that has commented before, then you have been on this site for as long as I have.

            If that’s the case, then I see no evidence – in your response to how you would advise this abused man – of having learned anything from the interactions, here on this blog.

            I was hoping that he ( James) would at least say that he’d counsel the man on setting appropriate boundaries and making loving requirements of his wife. I was hoping to see some evidence of having learned something from the real-life, painful situations that are posted here daily, and have often been exacerbated by church leaders not willing to go out on a limb in order to help.

            Instead I got theoretical answers about his limitedness as a pastor, and how he can’t comment on issues where he has insufficient study background.

            If indeed James, you are not in competition with anyone, then I say again, I would hope that you would – at the very least – point this powerless man to Leslie’s ministry.



          • Maria on May 20, 2018 at 9:53 pm

            Nancy,Aly,

            James has given the standard answer that most churches give to hurting spouses- God only allows divorce for adultery and physical abandonment. Then some say that if there’s physical abuse, the spouses should separate (I have often wondered which passage in the Bible says that). Maybe it is the culture that is influencing some of them to encourage separation when there is physical abuse- if a kid is physically abused, and one of the spouses allows it by staying silent, they too are held responsible by the legal system. Soon, counselors may be held responsible for encouraging staying in physically abusive situations. I am for safety, but if churches are dogmatic about divorce only being allowed for adultery and physical abandonment, then be dogmatic about staying even in phycially abusive situations, and bear the consequences. Staying with an unrepentant spouse has major consequences, especially on children. Many churches will encourage the hurting spouse to stay, and then walk away. I have reached out to pastors and haven’t gotten any satisfactory answers or support. The church unfortunately is becoming very irrelevant to common problems being faced by people today and I think it is because of pastors beating around the bush and dismissing people when they are approached with real life problems.



          • Nancy on May 21, 2018 at 8:40 am

            Maria,

            What you say here is so important: “staying with an unrepentant spouse has major consequences, especially on children”. You know..,you are living this!

            It is so sad that after reaching out to churches you “haven’t gotten satisfactory answers or support”. This is exactly what has been demonstrated here, between this powerless man, and James. What is not evident in the above exchange is the emotional turmoil that such unhelpful advise produces. Again, you have lived this, and I am so sorry for that, Maria 🙁

            Thank God for Leslie, who is actually doing something about this widespread problem.

            What puzzles me is, why James continues to be on this site? From your response, James, it seems to me that you are not here with the intent to learn.

            So why stay?



          • James on May 22, 2018 at 9:31 am

            Nancy,

            “If that’s the case, then I see no evidence – in your response to how you would advise this abused man – of having learned anything from the interactions, here on this blog.”

            It hurts to discover that your interactions with me were a “test” or a “trap” rather than an attempt to actually hear my opinion.

            You can disagree with me all you want but, respectfully, what concern is it of yours how much I have or have not learned on this site?



          • Nancy on May 22, 2018 at 12:49 pm

            As I clearly articulated, James, my concern is not ‘how much’ you’ve learned, rather, what your intention here is.

            I wrote, “from your response [with regard to the abused man] it seems to me that you are not on this site to learn”.

            If your intention is not to learn, and if you are not yourself in an abusive situation, then I am openly wondering why you are here?



          • James on May 22, 2018 at 3:25 pm

            Nancy,

            The reason why I periodically pop in to see what Leslie has posted on her blog is because, as a pastor, I am dedicated to continually learning so that I might be able to better pastor the congregants that I love and serve. I happen to read a number of blogs, listen to a number of podcasts and read a number of books on topics related to counseling. I do not consider myself a “disciple” of any one of the authors or speakers that I read. Some of what all of them say, I find helpful. Some of what all of them say, I happen to disagree with. As someone who is committed to emulating the character of the Bereans in Acts 17, I don’t exalt anyone’s opinion over what I can clearly discern from the bible.
            Please, do not assume that because I do not agree with everything that Leslie may say that I am not here to learn. One can learn even from those with whom they disagree to one extent or another.

            In my own mind, I don’t consider “searching the scripture” with someone who is hurting tantamount to “leaving them as powerless as when they came.” Rather, I think that walking with a brother through the Word of God and allowing the Holy Spirit to console and enlighten someone is remarkably powerful.

            I would probably not send a ‘man’ with whom I was counseling to Leslie’s site for a couple of reasons. 1) Leslie’s site is, self proclaimed, designed to address the needs of women and 2) because there are lots of other resources for men that will address men’s issues from a man’s point of view.

            The only reason that I gave my opinion on how I would counsel the man who wrote in was because you specifically asked. You are, of course, free to agree or disagree.Nevertheless, when I answered, I was under the presumption that you genuinely wanted to know my opinion. It hurt to discover that you didn’t ask because you honestly valued my opinion but because you wanted to put me on trial.

            Consequently, our conversation feels less like an honest exchange of ideas and more like an inquisition designed to publicly shame me for not “learning” enough. I don’t know why you would want to do that but I choose not to participate in exchanges of that nature. May the Lord bless you.



          • Nancy on May 22, 2018 at 4:40 pm

            I was clear what my intention was, James: to find out how you’d counsel such a man.

            ‘Blessing me’ in the name of The Lord, after scolding me is insulting. Please don’t ever do that again.



        • Darla on May 16, 2018 at 4:41 pm

          I am struggling to understand where my situation (outlined above) fits within all of these comments. I don’t feel that I am defrauding my husband, but my reluctance to be sexually vulnerable is a result of his criticisms and control. Are you saying that I am abusing him? I have offered to have sex even if I don’t feel like it, but he insists that I have to be into it and fully enjoying it for it to be acceptable to him. I can’t make that promise, and faking that seems so wrong to me. I’m trying to determine where my responsibility begins and ends in this situation.

          • Nancy on May 16, 2018 at 4:53 pm

            Darla,

            Please see Leslie’s response to Misty. The abuse lies in a person’s unwillingness. You are communicating your needs to your h.

            You are not abusing him by not fulfilling his unrealistic expectations of you.



          • James on May 16, 2018 at 11:22 pm

            Darla,

            Your question seems very honest and I think represents a heart that truly desires to bring glory to God and to bring heath into your marriage.

            The fact that you are willing to move toward your husband shows that desire, I think.

            For your husband’s part, he needs to know how his controlling behavior and critical behavior affects you. I think any one would find it hard to want to engage in intimacy with someone who is constantly critical and controlling.

            Perhaps you would both be willing to take some time away from the demands of intimacy in fasting and prayer together to address some of those issues.

            Regarding your husband’s expectations. On the one hand, I can see how this is frustrating for you, on the other hand, I can’t imagine it would be a good thing if your husband was satisfied with just being serviced by you without desiring that you would also enjoy the blessing of marital union.

            His wanting you to fully enjoy it may be a sign that he wants a real relationship with you, not just to use you.



          • Aly on May 20, 2018 at 5:24 pm

            Nancy,
            This is in response to your post May 20, at 4:56pm

            I agree with so much of this Nancy!
            Your post makes me think of a common phrase:

            “Either you are part of the solution or continuing to be part of the problem!”

            I think we are all called to roll our sleeves up~ God gives us the strength and the wisdom.



          • Aly on May 20, 2018 at 11:24 pm

            Maria,

            Sorry this is out of alignment.

            I agree that what you described tends to be the (simplified answer) from the churches leadership and guidance.
            I do think it’s painful messy and certainly a complex issue at times.
            You mentioned adultery ~ being a biblical reason for divorce.
            I agree and I also believe adultery comes in many many forms.

            I think many of the horrible struggles on this site have unfaithfulness streaming through the core issues that break the marital covenant.

            Just as God has clearly spoke against Israel ~the idolatry and betrayal …to me it gives a bigger stance because God is God and we are not remotely capable of being anywhere near His capacity.



          • Nancy on May 21, 2018 at 8:49 am

            Thanks Aly.

            Yes, “part of the solution, or part of the problem”.

            It disturbs me that so many pastors refuse to see beyond the physical.



          • Aly on May 21, 2018 at 9:17 am

            Darla, & James

            I have read back over your exchange here and it’s concerning.
            Darla you describe a critical and unsafe situation (saying your in a marriage with a controlling spouse).
            A spouse who is critical & controlling doesn’t also get to decide that his wife needs to be sexually open and enjoy that intimacy when the relationship obviously isn’t repaired.

            A person who behaves like this is a clue about a mindset ~
            You don’t get to have it ‘both’ ways.
            James, I would rush in to thinking that this husband is coming from a very sexually serving posture in this marriage. In fact, many husband’s who are very controlling want their wives pleased in the bedroom because it becomes about their performance not about enjoying the experience together.
            Again, one sided and probably a marriage in trouble needing good wise counsel, not band-aids.



          • Darla on May 21, 2018 at 9:54 am

            Aly, yes, that’s exactly what it is. It is in no way about my pleasure for its own sake-it’s so he will feel good about himself. This weekend, after he threatened separation of our finances because I wouldn’t agree to an alteration of our budget, I asked for a time of separation so that I can begin to heal. He puts so many demands on me, and his anxiety causes him to be super sensitive and easily angered over the simplest things, that I don’t feel like I can uncurl myself out of my protective ball before the next time comes. He’s accused me of almost 20 inappropriate relationships in our 7 years together. Even in our conversation about separation, where I told him I would be seeing my own counselor and reading a book to try to heal, he was listing off my faults he wanted to make sure I was going to cover with the counselor, and still insisting that I was secretly involved with a man from our church. He refuses to leave the house for this time, but will live in a separate bedroom and is demanding that we finance meals out for him every day so he doesn’t have to eat with us. He’s canceling travel plans three months from now, out of anger, despite how things go in our separation. I am heartbroken, for me and for my son, who is 14 and still lives at home. I don’t want him to live through another divorce (he was 1 when his dad left), but I can’t live like this anymore.



          • Aly on May 21, 2018 at 3:32 pm

            Darla,

            Goodness, this is really painful and I’m so sorry for all of what you are being drug through.
            I totally agree ~ you Can’t live like that and you are surviving but not ‘living’!

            Is your counselor or his own treating his anxiety issues?

            I’m curious because of your last post and major unnecessary hurt can erupt when spouses won’t get treatment for their OWN underlying issues.

            Has he been betrayed and rejected in a previous marriage or relationship?
            I ask because the kind of boundaries you will need to protect yourself will be strong~ very strong.

            My h used to make me ‘wear’ many shirts of others of his past who hurt him. It was a roller coaster and his anxiety was at the root for sure of misguided anger and pain.

            So I get you when you say, “I can’t live like this” totally get you!

            Do you have a supportive network around you? Those that understand the abuse?

            I am very very sorry for your son and that you mention you don’t want him living through another divorce. Darla, you are living in s divorce of sorts here.
            Your h is not an available partner for marriage and the untreated issues he has is going to escalate his power tactics.

            What does your counselor advise?



          • Darla on May 21, 2018 at 4:29 pm

            Aly, thank you for your supportive words. I haven’t seen my own counselor for a year and a half-the last one recommended divorce and said I was suffering from narcissistic abuse syndrome. I wasn’t sure about that, because he doesn’t fit the mold in all areas, so I felt it was best that we attend counseling together so he could tell his side. Unfortunately, as we’ve gone off and on for 5 years, he only will bring up the previously mentioned sex issues. And counseling becomes the only place he will talk. Our deep relationship exists only in that one hour every other week. He will not bring up issues any other time. This year, he has put a belt around his neck with the thought of committing suicide. That led him to give up his ADD meds, which he did not take when we were dating because they made him paranoid. He got back on them the month we got married, without telling me. Then, after he verbally attacked me at a YMCA two months ago, yelling at me in front of people that I was in a relationship with a man who works there (who also goes to our church), I demanded that he begin anti-anxiety pills, and he has stopped drinking caffeine. He was cheated on (maybe? Who knows what’s true-he has also accused me of cheating) supposedly by his ex-wife, although she never would admit it. So yes, I am paying for her sins. Maybe. But so much of this he has constructed in his head. I don’t know what to believe anymore. He says that if I just wouldn’t say certain things or do certain things, we would get along fine. If I disagree with an item in the budget or tell him I’d like to have a date without the pressure of sex so that I can build trust in him again, he makes wild accusations, goes back on his word, and will do whatever it takes to get his way. I feel like I can’t take this anymore.



          • Aly on May 21, 2018 at 6:51 pm

            Darla,

            I’m so sorry this is severe. And I think your previous counselor was most likely on track~ do you?

            A person doesn’t have to fit all the specifics for it to be Narcissistic abuse syndrome. In fact, they don’t even have to be a true NArc but have traits that are destructive. The outcome is what to look at when one is suffering. You have been through enough!

            Unfortunately he believes a lot of irrational expectations that won’t create the dynamic he needs to function in.

            He needs a lot of help and care but you can’t help him when you are the one he attacks and ‘USES as his reasons for destructive behavior.

            Do you have some safe and understanding women who can support you?
            Supportive people are essential an so is counseling for your healing. 💜



          • Darla on May 21, 2018 at 8:21 pm

            Aly, yes, I’m blessed with some very supportive women in my life. I haven’t shared everything with all of them, but I think I’m ready to now. Something changed for me this weekend when he said that he should get more of a say in our finances because he makes more money. I’m a teacher. I brought it up several times, asking if he really believes that we are not equal partners, and how would he feel if the positions were reversed. He said he’d like to think he’d be consistent with that thought, which is know is untrue. The other times he just stared at me. He truly believes he carries more weight in the relationship because he makes more.

            I appreciate what you said about me not being able to help him because he uses me as the excuse for his behaviors. He is always saying he needs “help” from me-he wants to be thanked constantly for doing any kind of chore or something with my son, his money more appreciated, sex initiated, all of it in the name of help so he wouldn’t react the way he does. I have finally told him that I can’t be the one to help him.

            Last night, as he was accusing me of infidelity again, he demanded to know who told me a piece of information that revealed a lie he had told, which, when confronted, led to his attack on me at the YMCA. I said I wouldn’t reveal my source because I didn’t want him to go after them they way he did after me. He said, “When have you ever seen me treat anyone else that way?” This reinforced that I am less valuable than others to him. I think I am finally ready to admit to his abuse after all of this. It’s just hard, because people throw that word around so much that it’s tough to know when someone is abusive, and when they are just making you mad, you know?



          • Aly on May 22, 2018 at 12:11 am

            Darla,

            I think it’s great that you are willing to expose more of your situation to those women especially if you feel they are wise and well informed of the abusive dynamic you are trying to navigate out of.
            You need a healthy sounding board to validate the crazy making that is currently happening as you post on the blog.

            You wrote:
            “Something changed for me this weekend when he said that he should get more of a say in our finances because he makes more money.”

            I’m not sure this even deserves a response from you but I understand why you would challenge it.
            How insulting!
            So I get that truly do.

            I think it might also be helpful ~ don’t know if you have this in your church but other men that come alongside ‘you’ and support you in the fact that he (your h) is not acting rationally!

            Darla to confirm here… this is abusive.
            If you need other words to describe I think that’s a good thing also.
            Such as:
            Top down relationship, unhealthily one sided, the list can go on and on.

            He’s not making you mad Darla, he’s minimizing your position and WORTH and that makes God mad!
            A wise man after God’s own heart will fear God more than making you upset.

            Everyone is invited into this posture.



          • Aly on May 22, 2018 at 11:18 am

            James,

            I recently read your comment to Nancy, I think I understand her concern and I thinks it’s reasonable given the topics and seriousness of the issues on this blog.

            I wonder if you have been following along with my dialog with Darla?

            Your response to Darla, although it was gentle it was in my opinion lended itself to be far too subjective.
            It was not as objective about the issues that are there, that would need to be addressed first.

            You quickly rose to giving the husband a ‘goodwill’ place about his desire for his wife to enjoy ‘sex’ the way he wants to enjoy it.
            This would be understandable advice if there wasn’t serious other unresolved issues going on.
            Criticism and controlling behavior basically kill safety and intimacy in marriage.

            From the dialog with Darla, I hope you can see that any amount of time fasting and prayer (of an unrepentant spouse) isn’t time away fasting and prayer in actuality!

            The husband has serious issues and doesn’t have the insight or willingness to get the necessary stability he needs to have a relationship with another.

            James, I think what I heard Nancy saying is, (maybe I’m wrong) .. such as,
            “Are you broadening your ability to seek deeper the issues that are usually consistent in abusive dynamics?”
            “what do you feel you are doing here to help support, encourage & further build the kingdom of God?”

            There are so many men that call themselves ‘Godly men’ and it’s an epidemic in our culture that so many have such a little understanding of what it means to be a Godly husband who is entrusted to care for a wife.
            This breaks the Lords heart.

            Are you saddened and heartbroken for Darla and what she is surviving through?



          • Aly on May 22, 2018 at 11:42 am

            Darla,James,

            Darla you wrote:
            “This year, he has put a belt around his neck with the thought of committing suicide. That led him to give up his ADD meds, which he did not take when we were dating because they made him paranoid. He got back on them the month we got married, without telling me.”

            James, do you see this isn’t about physical intimacy?
            This is severe.

            Darla, as you know you cannot save him~ your counselor was explaining to you what you are receiving within being in proximity of his behavior ~ its extreme and in over your head.
            Is it treatable?
            Probably, in my opinion but a professional would have to decide that.

            The issue here is also the anxiety and neurological things going on.
            There is lots of different medication out there but usually with anxiety it’s medication and counseling hand and hand (individual).

            People who break an arm, get a cast etc.
            People who have cancer get treated with chemo, people with neurological issues and brain issues/anxiety etc must be treated accordingly to the brain.
            And often those with certain anxieties need Meds to calm things down.

            What goes untreated shows up in a lot of varieties and when you have an ‘unwilling’ spouse to not address the underlying issues. You are not given many options.
            But strong boundaries!

            My hunch is the husband uses ‘sexual closeness’ to relieve his deeper anxieties.. fears, rejections …
            but that is a very short term fix (minutes) to a deeper brain problem & traumas not getting addressed.

            This using of sex is with his request of the wife enjoying it also is a place of comfort for him, but not the CORE comfort he needs from the Lord and the reassurance he needs about his value.

            This is why he goes back to thinking there needs to be a hierarchy (job/money) etc Darla.
            His core worth is fractured and growth stunted and it’s not your job to fix it, you must get to a safe place so your not further harmed by ‘it’.
            Placing strong simple boundaries and requirements offer the invitation for him to ‘actually heal’.



          • Aly on May 22, 2018 at 4:54 pm

            Nancy and James,

            These exchanges are troubling.
            Nancy I think it’s very reasonable to challenge James on his perspective.

            But I believe we have met James here before.

            James, some of your counsel reminds me of Jeremiah 6:14.

            James,
            What would be from a man’s point of view?
            Are you talking about a Godly man or A worldly man that chases after a worldly standard?



          • Seeing The Light on May 22, 2018 at 5:16 pm

            Aly,

            I just wanted to mention that I have kept up with much of the exchanges with James on this post and while reading his comments today, Jeremiah 6:14 came to my mind as well. I almost commented thus. I think you are on the right track.



          • Darla on May 22, 2018 at 5:29 pm

            Aly, yes, you are right about all of it. And I read Jeremiah 6:14 and am amazed at how this applies here. He sees nothing wrong with his views of me, even after he can find no proof of my infidelity, or when I protest that we should be equally valued in our marriage. I told my group of friends today, one of whom has a husband who is walking alongside mine through this. She told me today that her husband was shocked that I would ask for a separation-come to find out, my husband has told him nothing about his accusations and financial abuse.

            I am buying one of Leslie’s books tonight, and I have an appt scheduled with a counselor. I have held tightly to these comments over the last few days-I’m thankful for the perspectives, advice, and care. ❤️



          • Nancy on May 22, 2018 at 7:53 pm

            Thanks Aly.

            Yes, I agree with you on James’ counsel being like Jeremiah 6:14. It’s all very neat and tidy – for him.

            Thank you for coming alongside Darla in a tangible way. Given what Darla had already explained about her spouse, James’ counsel was utterly unhelpful.



          • Aly on May 22, 2018 at 8:09 pm

            Thank you also Nancy,

            I’ve been ‘kicked’ (not literally) when down before and even though the Lord sees all, he had orchestrated that there was a witness to these additional not helpful but additionally hurtful situations laced with ‘spiritual talk’, not wisdom.

            It’s those that are ignorant and those that will not peer closer that the Lord will deal with for their contributions to further harm, shame and evil to prosper.



          • James on May 23, 2018 at 9:04 am

            Darla,
            Darla, your situation is a complex situation that requires the help and guidance of more than faceless people on the internet. While Aly, and other women on this site and even myself can do our best to provide you with some ideas to consider, we cannot provide you with the depth of counsel or care that will be required for you to see healing come to your situation.

            Please be EXTREMELY wary of anyone who thinks they know your situation or your husband well enough to show you the way forward based on such a superficial and shallow interaction that the internet allows. Please also do not take seriously the diagnosis of trauma, medical disorders, Narcissism or any psychiatric disorders from anyone who hasn’t met you or your husband or who has the training necessary to make those diagnostics professionally. Those here who are inferring that they are insightful enough to diagnose your situation or your husband’s medical or mental state are acting from ignorance if they are not trained to identify those disorders or engaging in malpractice for diagnosing them without ever having met the person they are supposing to diagnose.

            Leslie’s site is a great place to find comradery and comfort from a number of women who genuinely desire to see healing come to other women because they themselves have been encouraged by that comradery and comfort. Most of them, save Leslie herself, are unqualified to truly identify psychiatric conditions that your husband may or may not be struggling through. Most of the women on this site will advise you from the depth of their own experiences. While those experiences are valuable and their pain is real, it is very common to see well intentioned advice given that is a projection of their own struggles onto your situation. This is pretty easily identified when their advice to you almost always includes an example or appeal from their own marriage or a comparison of your husband to their husband.

            Your situation isn’t their situation. Your marriage isn’t their marriage. Your husband isn’t their husband and consequently your situation needs the kind of professionalism that your unique situation may require. This is not to impugn the character of any of these women or to denigrate their experiences, for the most part they are courageous, compassionate and caring women. It is merely to point out that struggling through abuse does not make anyone a qualified abuse counselor anymore than struggling through cancer makes one an oncologist.



          • Aly on May 23, 2018 at 9:36 am

            Darla,& James,

            James, I think you might have missed a post from
            Darla.
            She said she scheduled an appt with a counselor!

            Which is highly recommended given the things she has described and explained about her husband having certain diagnosis.

            James would you also say that your replies to Darla are superficial shallow interactions, like you described in your last post about the internet?

            Darla, your a daughter of the King and you have been through a lot so far, But God will equip you and strengthen you to in your journey.
            This community is not about a shallow understanding ~ not at all!

            James, your post is quite insulting and can cause further harm to a victim who is trying to survive.
            As for myself, I live a life of freedom and a redeemed marriage because my husband got the help necessary to be the kind of Godly man God calls him too.
            My purpose is to encourage other women what their part is, and is not.
            I would have been helped a lot sooner and my children would have suffered less had I been given healthy directives for my situation and had women of courage come alongside me!

            I had examples like your posts that kept me continuously second quessing myself and kept me ‘stuck’.



          • James on May 23, 2018 at 9:40 am

            Aly,

            You said, “James, some of your counsel reminds me of Jeremiah 6:14.”

            This response tells me that you are unfamiliar with context of the book of Jeremiah.

            Jeremiah 6:14 is a condemnation of the false prophets who told Israel that all was well and that God would not send Babylon to punish Israel for her sinfulness. They were saying that peace would ensue despite Israel’s harlotry with false God’s.

            Babylon was the oppressor, the abuser sent by God to chastise Israel for her unfaithfulness and send her into captivity for 70 years.

            Unless you think that the abuse that is suffered is God’s punishment and the oppressor is God’s right arm of judgment sent to chastise someone for their idolatry then you have tragically misapplied this verse.

            If you want to articulate your lack of appreciation for my contributions to this thread, please do so without misappropriating God’s word.



          • James on May 23, 2018 at 11:02 am

            Darla and Aly,
            “James, I think you might have missed a post from
            Darla.
            She said she scheduled an appt with a counselor!”

            Amen! I stand in affirmation of your Decision, Darla and will stand with you in prayer.

            “James would you also say that your replies to Darla are superficial shallow interactions like you described in your last post about the internet?”

            Aly,
            Compared to a face to face sit down with a pastor or counselor who has either ecclesiastical or professional qualifications, yes, my replies are subject to the same superficiality and shallowness that are inherent in any online discussion where neither you (presumably) or I know enough about Darla or her husband to be handing out diagnosis. Leslie’s site is good for finding comfort and solidarity but isn’t a good place to get counseling from qualified professionals unless its from Leslie herself.

            “James, your post is quite insulting and can cause further harm to a victim who is trying to survive.”

            Aly,
            Honestly, I don’t think that anything I say would be taken any other way than insulting by you and some others on this site who appear to approach their interactions with me in a spirit of unwarranted suspicion and disdain.

            Perhaps it is because I am a man, or a pastor or because I reserve the right to hold my own opinions rather than tow the party line. For whatever reason, I don’t feel that I can have a dialog with some here without my words being twisted and my contributions represented in the worst light possible or being chastised for not saying something someone expected me to say. I have concluded that starting a conversation where I am presumed guilty, ignorant or evil will never result in fruitful dialog either for me or for the one(s) with whom I dialog.

            So, until I am granted the same level of grace and courtesy that others on this site enjoy I will intentionally limit my interactions with some, including yourself, so as to save my own sanity and avoid foolish controversies.

            May the Lord bless you.



          • Aly on May 23, 2018 at 12:14 pm

            Darla, an others here;)

            If you have followed along James has posted his perspective and also noted that many of our comments here have value but that they are a projected advice.
            I would disagree. In fact, Leslie herself asks this question in the dialog blog:
            “Friends, when your spouse has withheld or withdrawn himself or herself from you entirely without knowing the cause, what have you done to stay strong and also have good boundaries?”

            Given the context many of us are going to relate to our own personal experiences.
            This isn’t projection.

            James wrote:
            “Most of the women on this site will advise you from the depth of their own experiences. While those experiences are valuable and their pain is real, it is very common to see well intentioned advice given that is a projection of their own struggles onto your situation. This is pretty easily identified when their advice to you almost always includes an example or appeal from their own marriage or a comparison of your husband to their husband.”

            I have not compared my husband but I have described my situation and related my experiences and what boundaries I needed for myself and the best opportunity for my husband to get to the bottom of his pain.

            It is my opinion and experience that those that refuse to do their ‘heartwork’ with the Lord and others ~ stay stunted (emotionally and spiritually) and do not feast at the table.
            The Lord invites us in and He keeps His promises to heal our hearts and comfort His children.



          • Aly on May 23, 2018 at 12:20 pm

            James,
            Thank you for the blessing!

            I am indeed blessed to the full in so many ways;)
            The Lord is faithful, I am grateful for His promises 🌈



          • Darla on May 23, 2018 at 2:21 pm

            Aly and James,

            I am sad that my post has put you at odds with each other. I actually appreciate both of your posts–James, you have given me a good reminder to be careful with advice from people who don’t know the full situation and aren’t trained to make diagnoses. In fact, this is even true of friends and people in real life–we always tell people just our side of the story. (They say there are 3 sides to every story–your side, my side, and the truth.) We have a couple who is walking with us through this time–I talk to the wife and he talks to the husband. After I told him I was separating, my husband called her husband, and the husband was upset. He talked to his wife. Come to find out, he didn’t know about any of the infidelity accusations and several other issues at hand. They both needed the reminder that they didn’t know the whole story.

            That being said, I am very grateful for the encouraging words of Aly and others here. I didn’t expect them to be trained mental health professionals when I commented. I find a lot of value in the advice and experiences of people who have walked through a situation before me. Sometimes I try what people have advised me based on their own experiences, and it works! Sometimes I decide that isn’t for me, and I move on. A few years ago I was going through a family situation, and my church supplied a Stephen Minister, someone who had been through something similar and had volunteered to help. She was not a mental health professional. She was just a Christian who had been through it. I am forever grateful for her help–prayers, advice, and a listening ear.

            Honestly, I don’t see Aly making an official diagnosis of my husband. In fact, she is asking a lot of questions, and is steering me to the same place you are, James-counseling. My prayer is that counseling, fellowship, Bible study, and boundaries on my part will begin to transform my marriage. I really do appreciate you all.



          • James on May 23, 2018 at 5:53 pm

            Darla,

            What is between Aly and I has nothing to do with you dear sister. It is not your burden to bear. May the Lord bless your pursuit.



          • Aly on May 23, 2018 at 7:21 pm

            Darla,

            Thanks so much for taking the time to post back. There is nothing about this dialog (between James and myself also others here too) that has to do with anything that you are would have a part in.

            I so appreciate your perspective and how you are responding in your own journey.

            I loved your example about the Stephens ministry too!

            I would encourage you to stay on this community blog, there is a lot of amazing participants that have a lot of wisdom and much needed encouragement in these trails.
            Not all identical for sure but often there are patterns.

            Also I think you did such the right and courageous thing in telling your side of the story to the ‘married couple’ walking alongside.

            Many women do struggle in exposing ‘the real’ exchanges going on in a destructive marriage and I can understand ~ it’s first embarrassing and often very shameful for the one who is being victimized by false accusations by a partner. It’s also very shameful to have a husband treat a wife so demeaning like when it comes to the finances.
            You did the right bold thing by exposing the crazy making! Transparency is key on the trek and will serve you well.
            For me this was critical, because when a person is abusing and using duplicit behavior as your h has especially with outsiders, it shows them what your response will be when they continue. Their power is limited and they see that exposure will be a result ~ showing their incongruity.

            Keep exposing, keep persevering! Know your not alone 💜



          • James on May 24, 2018 at 9:25 pm

            Aly,

            “Thank you for the blessing!”

            You are welcome. Despite our disagreements, I hope you know it was sincere.

            Peace be with you.



          • Dan on June 2, 2018 at 10:09 pm

            Darla, As the husband in the case…
            I think many men don’t even understand themselves. They feel something is wrong but cannot put their finger on it, or they take a guess and run with it only to discover that does not fix the issue. They may “act out” the frustration. I had become toxic (indifferent) toward my wife. I got no support from the church to figure things out. All I got was a dismissive quote from Eph 5:25. You may feel put out by being pressured by your husband, but there is an underlying cause. Very few people set out to become abusive or toxic but become that way for a reason. Find out what it is, or help him find out what the issue is possibly via a counselor. The underlying cause may be a legitimate concern or it may be something sinful…that he needs to repent of. Many folks focus on the bad behavior and getting it to stop, but never get to the underlying cause. You may need to focus on getting bad behavior to stop first depending on its severity… or you may be able to go to the root cause first. Pray, get counsel and God will lead you. He cares about your marriage.
            Blessings, Dan



          • Nancy on June 4, 2018 at 11:26 am

            Hi Dan,

            The only person who can find out ‘the root cause’ of their behaviour, is themselves (with the help of The Lord).

            Of course, if there’s no safety issue then a spouses responsibility is to ‘help’ them find this out.

            The question is how this is done.

            To tell someone who is being abused that they must ‘help’ their spouse to ‘find out the root cause’ is dangerous. It’s dangerous because you are very likely speaking to a person who has already allowed far too much sin to control the relationship, and their own heart.

            What do you do when a spouse is resistant to finding out ‘the root cause’, and insists on using their partner, to continue in avoidance?

            I would be much more specific, in my advise to Darla about what ‘helping him’ looks like.

            1) It involves recognizing that she has no control over him. It involves putting the outcome at the foot of the cross.

            2) It means no longer allowing herself to be used by him.

            3) It means requiring that he take responsibility for finding out that ‘root issue’ ( in individual counselling).

            It does not involve marriage counselling as you suggest. Experts in abuse agree that this will only cause further harm.



          • Dan on June 4, 2018 at 12:35 pm

            Nancy,
            Yes, the Lord is the hidden partner in all our issues. Sadly He is forgotten when sin has been in control too long. Forgotten but thankfully not absent.

            Sadly I know what it is like to be addicted to porn. For about 5 years, after about 15 years of marriage, I struggled with it. God mercifully delivered me from the addiction. They were some of the most miserable years of my life. Anger and guilt were crushing my soul. I started worshiping and singing hymns on youtube in the evening instead of viewing other things. God gradually strengthened me and gave my my joy in Him back.

            She may just have to wait on God for this. She surely has a Matt 18 sin going on…that of neglect of a marriage vow to give and receive affection. Whether/when she should peruse escalation, and to what degree is a prayerful consideration and counseling matter.

            What I shared was only meant to contribute to the mix of thoughts… take it or leave it. What happened to me/us I share as it may help someone in their journey.

            Helping someone takes some discernment. Seek the wisdom of God in the matter. There is sometimes a very limited set of people in the world who are in a position to help a particular person. Spouses are the most influential people in our lives, and so can make a huge contribution positive or negative. If the relationship has turned caustic, the door of gentle appeal may be closed.



        • Adrienne on May 24, 2018 at 12:56 pm

          James, I’m sorry U were treated so badly by Maria & Nancy. It was very immature & they both sounded very resentful towards Pastors & Churches. No one is perfect. Therefore, absolutely no one can have all the answers all the time, not even Leslie. I am very fond of leslie & enjoy all of her teachings, but there’s been a time or 2 when I didn’t necessarily agree with her exact advice. I think there’s always something to learn from everyone. It sounds to me that U R here with good intentions. Some people R just bitter.

          • James on May 24, 2018 at 9:18 pm

            Adrienne,

            Thank you for your words of kindness and for your empathy. We are all still in process. Now is just not the right time for Maria, Nancy and I to have fruitful dialog, for whatever reason.

            God is patient and it will all get worked out either here or in glory.

            Nevertheless, I do appreciate your kindness and I hope that the Lord brings blessing to you.



          • Maria on May 24, 2018 at 9:24 pm

            James,

            I don’t understand why you say that now is not the right time to have a fruitful dialog. What does that even mean?



          • Maria on May 24, 2018 at 9:28 pm

            Adrienne,
            Could you please give me specific examples showing how I illtreated James. James, too if you feel I illtreated you, please let me know.



          • Maria on May 25, 2018 at 10:25 pm

            Adrienne,
            You have accused me of illtreating James and being immature, but have not substantiated that accusation with any evidence. I reread my responses and don’t see that, but I am very open to constructive criticism. I am always looking to grow. You have insinuated that I am bitter. I can honestly say I am not. The reason I bring up my experiences with the church is in case there are people on this blog who are reaching out to the church, and having such experiences. I’m disappointed, saddened and angry at times that many churches have not addressed abuse issues adequately. Right now I am in the thick of raising my kids so I am not able o do anything about it. I hope that in the future I can get involved more in some fashion that will be helpful to people in similar situations.



          • Aly on May 30, 2018 at 9:07 am

            Maria, Adrienne,

            Maybe I missed a reply?

            I’m confused if there was not a response to Maria?
            Why is this based on the comments above? This is not all that congruent with maturity and making an observation in honesty & care.

            Maria, I think your responses to inquire more to understand was healthy and respectful.

            I think a reply would be reasonable.

            Adrianne,
            Your comment to James about ~ ‘no one being perfect and no one having all the answers’ is concerning.

            It’s often a very defended phrase that deflects from the original complaint.

            This topic and dialog was not about ‘being perfect’ or having all the answers… but are WE as a church body doing our part to serve and equip the community for healthier and thriving Families?



          • Nancy on June 1, 2018 at 9:02 am

            This is very well said, Aly.

            It is indeed about ‘how we can best serve and equip the community for healthier, thriving families.’

            Challenging one another is not disrespectful, it is what we are called to do. And it is especially important for pastors to be able openly receive feedback.



        • Dan on June 3, 2018 at 9:29 pm

          Thank you James.
          When you SAY “I do” you give your self to be “had and held” in a mutual promise, and then the person does not receive you, it is a renege on the promise…in essence a lie. Being lied to by your spouse is indeed abuse. Being lied to in wedding vows surely qualifies as a high degree offense because you just made a Binding, Life-Long Promise of it. Those who dismiss this do not have a high view of marriage or its promises.

          Note that this is from the outset of the marriage.

          Another important point – Many counselors we went to had no clue how to get to root cause of our conflict. I got Eph 5:25 thrown at me so many times, just dismissing my concerns and only finding fault with my frustration and subsequent acting out. Discerning the root cause is SO important and rarely done.

      • Karen on May 23, 2018 at 7:20 am

        I’m curious as to the truth of this statement. I would tend to agree from what I have learned in the past few months on this subject. May I ask, how you came to this conclusion?

    • Dan on May 28, 2018 at 10:05 pm

      Reneging on wedding vows is a lie to the deepest regions of the heart. It is of course abusive. Whether intentional, personality disorder, or result of abuse, when you say “I do” it presumes that you can and will when wed. If you cannot or will not, it still makes your vows a lie. You are required to make good your vows.
      BTW she has come a long way in the past 5 years… we have been married 30+. I love her dearly, and I meant my vows and will keep them. I committed myself to her. I promised her before God and many witnesses that I would love her to death part us. God helping me this I will do.

      • Nancy on May 30, 2018 at 9:06 am

        Hello Dan,

        “Reneging on vows is a lie to the deepest regions of the heart.”

        From this statement, I hear resentment. Is this accurate, Dan?

        • Dan on May 30, 2018 at 10:14 pm

          I am past resentment at this point. We have been married 30 years. It was only in the past year that I took the time to understand and articulate what actually took place. I never wanted to face what happened, it was too painful and I had no one to help me understand myself and my own reactions.

          At this point(the past 5 years) my wife has come a long way and is now functional. She is still an ice cube emotionally but I think she is growing that way too by the grace of God. I needed to fully describe it to her because she had written off my grief without really knowing what I went through. I tenderly told her, wept, and told her I love her dearly and have no interest in disrupting our marriage.

          • Nancy on May 31, 2018 at 6:54 am

            And when you described to her your feelings, Dan ( where you wept), how did she receive you?



        • Dan on May 31, 2018 at 5:02 pm

          Her response was blank, pretty much. I suppose it was hard to hear, so I did not expect much response. I don’t ever remember seeing much emotion from her in all the 30 years of marriage.

          It was a closure event for me. I feel like I came to full understanding of myself and what happened. I told her I would not bring it up again unless she wanted to talk about it.

          I do believe she took it in and I can trust God to work out the issues further in His time.

          • Aly on May 31, 2018 at 5:35 pm

            Dan,

            So you have been married for 30 years and it’s been like this since the wedding?

            I’m very sorry for all of your pain and what you have experienced.

            I’m confused about your first post about the seriousness of ‘reneging on vows’ and your words here;
            ” I told her I would not bring it up again unless she wanted to talk about it.”

            So unless she ‘wants’ to talk about it then that’s the only way to further communicate such an important matter ‘to yourself’.

            From what you describe you said she is emotionally shut down or off, so the ‘want to’ will never be something natural or willingness unless she gets further help/treatment.

            I also think it’s enabling of sorts to let someone who is that shut off to be the driver of talking about these things.

            This is often hard and vulnerable conversations that MANY people who get married are not well equipped to know how to do this.

            Have you sought counseling for this?



          • Ruth on June 4, 2018 at 12:41 pm

            dan, I was DUMBFOUNDED when I connected the dots and realized that Darla was your wife. The reason it was not apparent was bc the relationship SHE describes is VERY different than the one YOU describe. Listen to Darla’s account of the early years of your marriage:

            I am struggling with this issue as well. I had a healthy sex drive until I married my husband. He has erectile issues, and was very critical of me the first few years of our marriage. He would blame his performance failures on me-I did too much, too little, not the right things, etc. Each time we had sex, there would be a 15 min analysis afterwards with my flaws pointed out. I started to not want to have sex with him. Additionally, his anxiety has led to a ton of other issues, like his repeated accusations of affairs, telling me I can’t travel with girlfriends because it is “inappropriate,” telling me I look too nice to be going where I say I’m going, lots of control issues in a variety of areas. He’s very quick to point out people’s weight gain, and I’ve gained a few pounds over the last few years, which gives me more insecurities about being intimate with him. I am to the point where I just feel sexually frozen when it comes to him.
            He is very unhappy about this, of course. I’ve told him that, even if I’m not in the mood, I can have sex if he doesn’t mind doing most of the work. He says this is unacceptable-that it’s only fulfilling for him if I enjoy it and have a good experience. So I need to “try harder.” This makes me not want to have it, even if I’m not in the mood, because he will accuse me of just laying there.
            I have communicated how and I feel and why. He has made some efforts to correct some of these behaviors, but they don’t really seem to last. If he and I have a good few days, he starts putting a lot of pressure on me, and I have told him that this will be a slow rebuilding process, which he doesn’t seem to understand. When I start to thaw, he puts the pressure on, and I “refreeze.” I’m just not sure how to do this.”
            This sounds NOTHING like your account of it. It sounds like your criticism shut down her natural loving desires.
            In your account, You’ve never mentioned badgering her with accusations of infidelity – that would kill anyone’s sex drive. You don’t want her to go places with her mother – you’re controlling – that kills her sex drive. You’ve threatened suicide? Please get individual counseling. Paranoia (the accusations of infidelity) and thoughts of suicide. you need healthier coping skills and those are NOT the responsibility of your wife. Sex is only a temporary self-medicating pleasure. Stop focusing on sex. It’s not really the issue. The issue are deeper soul issues. What you really need is to offer the brokenness of your soul to God. Darla is not the problem, but you are tormenting her over sex in the process of ignoring YOUR real issues.Yes, sex may be important to men, but I know by the Spirit that God needs to deeper healing in you. But you’re looking at the more superficial areas. Rather than focusing on YOU and God, you’re looking too much at Darla and her performance. Now, I know you’re gonna say:” yea, but I have done plenty of looking at myself. BUT WHAT ABOUT HER.’ True repentance is focused on the wounded party having all the time they need to heal. By your words, it’s obvious you see Darla still ‘owes you’ and that you’ve been ‘ripped off’. You haven’t reached a place of forgiving her for not being able to meet your sexual needs. There is resentment in your choice of words. You may deny it. But it is simple for us to see as we read your comments.
            Dan, what would happen if you separated from Darla and gave her some peace. some time not to be pressured for sex. some time to detox from the stress and anxiety of living with such a demanding and critical person. Meanwhile, you seek out intensive counseling to found out what makes you so selfish and paranoid.You’ve got to change your faulty thinking patterns. Dan, you might need medication and that’s not a bad thing! Also, beg God to help break your heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh; cry out to God repenting for using your wife harshly. Ask Him to give the the Christ-like love for her that will protect her heart rather than using body and crushing her spirit. Don’t stop until you know He’s changed you. Get desperate. this is NOT about sex.



          • Nancy on June 4, 2018 at 12:51 pm

            Ruth,

            Dan replied to you below, that he is not Darla’s husband.



          • Darla on June 4, 2018 at 3:56 pm

            Ruth, Dan isn’t my husband. But I appreciate your response. I’ve asked my husband for separation-he won’t leave the house but we are separated as much as possible so I can begin to heal while I read the book, journal, and set some boundaries for myself.



          • Dan on June 4, 2018 at 9:40 pm

            Ruth!
            “dan, I was DUMBFOUNDED when I connected the dots and realized that Darla was your wife. ”

            I did not realize Darla was my wife either! 🙂

            I am the husband of the LV Post.



        • Dan on June 1, 2018 at 5:55 am

          we have sought counseling… quite a few times over the years. However I was not in a place to clearly identify the underlying issue of my frustration. The counselors would quote Eph 5:25 “He gave Himself up for her”…and tell me I should dismiss my concerns and love my wife. Even though it sounds pretty clear now, it really was not then for me. I had an its-all-my-fault complex, which blocked my perception. None of the counselors could help me with it.

          When my wife (and I) discovered LV’s audio book, it forced me to start reviewing the past more deeply till I could understand how we had gotten to this point. It was a lot of work. We went to counsel again and It was helpful to reach the point of clarity by giving me a forum to express my review of our past. The counselor was not equipped to deal with this…

          Frankly I’ve beat the horse long enough. It has been an exhausting year of conflict and introspection, repentance, understanding, saying the hard things, and finding out how much I love my wife…God has been in it all the way. He protected our relationship from some divisive meddlers who would loved to have seen us divorce. PTL for His mercy, coming to our defense.

          One old woman counselor, probably the wisest of them all told her to have a glass of wine and enjoy her husband 🙂

          • Aly on June 4, 2018 at 5:47 pm

            Dan

            You wrote:
            “Frankly I’ve beat the horse long enough. It has been an exhausting year of conflict and introspection, repentance, understanding, saying the hard things, and finding out how much I love my wife…God has been in it all the way.”

            I think it’s this expression that I get a feeling you have some deeper ‘beliefs’ about things that might be unrealistic given your dynamic and the things that have been in your marriage of 30 years.

            I can understand that a year can feel exhausting but what if you are just beginning to unravel the deeper issues
            (Your part, her part, and the part you both create together?)

            Nancy pointed out these things and I think she noted critical things to consider.

            Character growth and changes takes a lot of patience and willingness to mature into different healthier ways of thinking and responding.



      • Aly on June 4, 2018 at 1:21 pm

        Dan,

        I’m responding to your recent post about porn being in your marriage and the after affects of it.
        I’m glad you offered it here because I had a hunch that was in the history based on your wording and interpretations around sexuality.

        Praise the Lord that you have been delivered from the use and betrayals that porn creates, but often God can deliver but also invites people into Character growth.
        That takes participation and complete surrender from you and your ability to have willingness to learn how to repair.

        If you have been on the blog for long you will find that the world has tried to redefine ‘porn’ as not really infidelity or betrayal, but this isn’t how God defined it in his word.

        Even though you have stopped using getting to the core root issues about porn use and character will give you an opportunity for more healing rather than ‘having a functional marriage’.

        Marriage is designed to Glorify God, even destructive marriages can be torn down and can be rebuilt with the Lord’s guidance and our participation.

        There are TONS of resources available for you individually and your wife to get the healing she needs to for the trauma that has taken place not just in her past but in her marriage too.

        • Dan on June 4, 2018 at 9:35 pm

          Aly,
          We are making good progress. we have gone through a marriage reset over this past year. Developing core strength, facing my own sins and repenting… setting out to do the good. LV’s material was very helpful for both of us. I took responsibility for my own bad behavior. I am cultivating a responsive attitude towards her. She is responding and she now has a more affectionate attitude towards me. I have asked her to help me spend meaningful time with her and I am making myself available to do it. BTW – it is not all about sex. I keep hearing this from folks like a broken record. I know how to share my heart and I do it where ever I can…I find many places to do this actually, like some really close Bible Home Groups with great open relationships. My wife has always been secretive towards me, so many times I am left out in wonder-land.

          • Ruth on June 4, 2018 at 11:18 pm

            Dan,
            I’m sorry I confused you as Darla’s husband. Their situation sounds much more dire than what you’re describing so please disregard my ‘advice’ to Darla’s husband that I typed out at the bottom of this thread. One Christian resource I do wholeheartedly recommend for your wife if she grew up in any level of abuse is the book by Stephen Tracy: Mending the Soul. It is a Christian book. Your wife may have numbed herself to certain painful experiences as a child and that may have deadened her ability to fully be passionate with you and affectionate with her children. It is a GREAT book. Everyone who wants to heal from abuse should read it.



          • Dan on June 5, 2018 at 4:55 am

            Ruth,
            No problem.
            Thanks for the suggested resource.
            A sense of humor is needful at times even in difficult settings.
            Blessings,
            Dan



          • Aly on June 5, 2018 at 8:42 am

            Dan,

            Yes Dad I agree, it’s important to laugh and I think your response to Ruth was quite on point!

            So maybe your letter to LV was written a long time ago?

            The title of the post and the lack of physical closeness/intimacy , (which is valid) doesn’t always stay consistent in your other replies~

            You wrote:
            “BTW – it is not all about sex. I keep hearing this from folks like a broken record. ”

            Not sure what you are referring to here, but I have read your posts of yourself bringing ‘functional’ marital relations to be about sex and I think I confirmed that in a previous question which you answered.

            Honestly, Dan it’s the frankness and shortness in your responses that tend to offer a less than emotional place of safety. I’m not saying this is so or I am right I’m just wondering from how you have responded to these replies if you see any of this? I say this because ~You ended the last post with she leaves you in ‘wonder-land’?

            It sounds like maybe you are ‘working towards being in the process’ versus what the letter shares about your situation.

            In one post you said that things were good overall between you both in the past but in the letter you claim ‘sexual anorexia’?
            That’s a strong claim.
            It certainly can be her own journey and individually a consequence but could it be a consequence of the marital dynamic too?

            I might also caution you on your comments about ‘God taking care of it all’ etc postures because yes God most certainly gets the credit but he equipped the hearts to transform. It’s work and perseverance to a degree that you can’t do alone.
            I say that because many people these days, are marriages waiting on God to fix or change and many say spiritualized comments to ‘feel better’ versus understand that ‘ repair’ in a relationship is ALOT of work and a different understanding of marital commitment .

            I don’t mean this brashly, so much of our Christian culture is consumed with ‘just a commitment to stay married’ missing out on the commitment ‘to love’ their spouse!
            Anyone can stay in a marriage via commitment and a pledge, but few these days stay in a marriage working it out for the Glory.
            This doesn’t apply to a destructive path because I am referring to TWO individuals willing to work hard (with Gods strength and courage) and see both the individual parts.

            I say these things Dan because of many of the things you have brought here and mentioned about your beliefs and your past ‘it’s all my fault complex’ which is a narrow belief.

            I’m wondering if you are able to see any other narrow areas that could use some space to see from a different point of view?



          • Dan on June 5, 2018 at 12:45 pm

            Aly,
            My frankness or bluntness is due to the limited time for elaboration on a somewhat complex 30 year history which has gone through many twists and turns. I can excuse misunderstanding and shots in the dark as it would take many face-to-face conversations to communicate adequate understanding. Even LV’s response contains some incorrect read-ins. Even the title is a little misleading… It happens and given the limitations of the forum, to be expected.

            I do find these conversations useful. The most useful to my heart are the testimonial, coming to grips with deep personal struggle that leads to relationship healing. Anyone can defeat someone else if you find a vulnerability and attack it. Ah! but to be an agent of Healing! I have some concern for the emphasis on the term : Conquer

            Jesus said Blessed are those who work and succeed as peacemaking.

            Each of us is probably the most important and influential person in our spouse’s life. Have we been an agent of grace or a stumbling block? I tried to be an agent of grace but I did not know how. Perhaps I missed something or she just was not ready. In any case, I became a stumbling stone for her. I have set my heart to love her and rid my mind of destructive ways as I see them now, and as God points them out going forward.

            Those who make happiness their objective will make their integrity suffer. God says he hates divorce. God of course hates all sins but He has singled this one out for particular condemnation because the culture of easy dismissal. With great reluctance should we take the path that God expressly hates. Some have no fear of God, and no faith to wait on God. I trust that God sent me the wife I have. It is my take to find a way to be an agent of grace to her and her to me, God helping me.

            There are of course irreconcilable cases and these poor souls are in need of our grace and love.

            Blessings, Dan



          • Aly on June 5, 2018 at 3:11 pm

            Dan,

            Thanks for your last response ~ much I agree on. Much I’m unclear on.

            You wrote:
            “Anyone can defeat someone else if you find a vulnerability and attack it. Ah! but to be an agent of Healing! I have some concern for the emphasis on the term : Conquer”

            What does this mean?
            I agree with being an agent of healing and grace and I do believe that often begins with our own personal receiving of that in our journey.

            We cannot offer that which we have not received.

            Jesus’s words are true and accurate He was afterTRUE peace making and not peace faking.

            God does Hate divorce and in the context it’s important to understand the full example in scripture.
            He also hates several other things found in Proverbs.

            A easy dismissal of marriage isn’t the topic of this coversation though? Is it?

            Do you hear anyone here speaking in terms of divorce?
            I think this is where I struggle with the conversation because there are more options than:
            1: stay married and stuck
            2: get divorced legally

            These examples are pretty narrow~ Black and white thinking.

            As far as the culture of easy dismissal, yes I can see your point to an extent but the topic we are on is MORE about
            Behaviors that do break the covenant of marriage.
            A heart -breaking covenant not just the legal terms.
            Not that the marriage can’t be rebuilt.

            So here is my confusion;
            One place you say you are ridding yourself of destructive behavior and being a stumbling block, yet in other replies you talk about beating a dead horse?
            These don’t compliment one another I’m congruent posture.

            Am I missing something Dad?

            Also, Nancy’s Post is vital to individual development, emotional maturity and character growth. I so very much agree with her insights here. Do you?



          • Aly on June 5, 2018 at 3:16 pm

            Dan,

            Sorry for my terrible typos!!

            To correct:
            “These don’t compliment one another I’m congruent posture.”

            Should be;
            These don’t compliment one another in congruent posture.

            “Am I missing something Dad?”

            Should be:
            Dan.
            Sorry about that!!



          • Dan on June 5, 2018 at 6:14 pm

            Aly,
            When coming out of the fog of abuse, it is natural to be angry. Particularly when there is incitement to do so. For a time my wife was cold, harsh and very angry, like I had never seen her before. Her support person was a women on her third marriage. My wife saw her as an angel who could do no wrong. Every time they got together my wife got angrier. I began to realize that the foundation of our marriage was under attack. Providentially I became privy to their communication. (BTW I have never done this before.) In self defense I snooped on their communication. She was leading my wife to think of me just like her ex husband in an effort to bring about our divorce. Her mouth was full of slander for me and sweet flattery for my wife who was just eating it up… Then I realized just how serious it was, but my wife never let on to me. I knew I was not fighting flesh and blood here. So I set about to take this to the highest level of seriousness before God. Providentially, about that time one of LV’s audio cd popped out of our van’s cd player as I was sitting in a store parking lot. My wife was very angry that I found it but she gave me the cd set to listen through. I typed every one of the 64 questions into a text file and answered them honestly. This may sound funny but I posted my confessions on my FB page. It was the only way I could communicate to her at the time, I did not care what anyone thought of me, I was out to save our marriage. We went to counseling, where I was able to not only acknowledge my sins but to frame the past and my very real grievances. I prayed and asked God to deal with this troublesome meddler. I took it as a Joseph-and-his-brothers action where God actually had this happen for our good. I believed that if I fought the right fight, God would save our marriage. At last we turned the corner and I won my wife’s confidence back. Some time after that this woman had a stroke and died a week later. It put the fear of God in me. I went to her funeral and shared publicly how God had used her in my life to help me see I had bad attitudes in my marriage.

            I could have been emotionally shredded/defeated by a different outcome…but God had mercy and came to our aid.
            ———————————
            Agent of healing, instrument of grace. If these are strange terms, then you need to do some soul searching.
            ———————————-
            Jesus never preached anything but true peace. This is not wallpaper over a crumbling wall. Being a peacemaker is following the footsteps of Jesus the Reconciler.
            ——————————–
            “stay married and stuck” This is a faithless attitude. After 30 years of being “stuck” I think we are on the cusp of a great marriage.
            ——————————–
            “beating a dead horse?” I have said my peace, there is nothing more to say that will not be a repeat. With a strong and good willed core, I have spoken. It is enough. I await response. Sometimes silence speaks the loudest.
            ————————————
            “A easy dismissal of marriage isn’t the topic…” I have see some comments which I think head this direction.
            ———————————–
            “Am I missing something Dad?” And don’t call me Dad! 😉
            ————————————
            “and character growth” Amen.



          • Dan on June 5, 2018 at 10:04 pm

            Aly,
            NP
            Blessings 🙂



  2. Michelle on May 9, 2018 at 8:08 am

    I’m afraid I relate to the woman in this. The thing is I didn’t use to be this way. It slowly crept in over the years as bad things happened in my marriage. To open up and talk to my husband about it will not only open that box of pain, but also trouble. Box of crazy. I work hard trying to keep that box closed. I have tried to talk to him. He’s even tried to talk to me. He knows, he just can’t accept. I pray often for God to help me be the wife my h needs, and to love him like I should, like I use to feel. I’m so ashamed about this. And sad about it. My dream never really came. It’s just that things still happen that flash me back to the worst of things, which makes me believe it’s still there. I would like some feedback if n thus myself. I wonder if this is a case of irreparable damage. I don’t want it to be. We gave a young son together. I gave two older children still and home. It’s tense.

    • Ann on May 9, 2018 at 11:12 am

      I don’t think I’ve ever been abused, but I can relate to this.

    • Nancy on May 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Michelle,

      Have you sought counselling for yourself?

      • Michelle on May 9, 2018 at 5:37 pm

        Yes, a few times over the last 5 years or so.

        • JoAnn on May 10, 2018 at 6:40 pm

          Michelle, “a few times” for dealing with the kind of painful issues you describe is not nearly enough to get real help. With counseling, first you need to feel comfortable with the therapist, and feel that he/she “gets you.” Then, you need time, and many regular sessions to begin to be comfortable opening up and getting to the real source of the problem. These issues don’t go away with a “few” sessions. For all of you who Have “tried” counseling, please note: it takes time with a skillful therapist to turn your life around. Don’t give up too soon. Also, I would add that some counselors are good at getting to the root of the problem, and some just work on the surface, which in my mind is a waste of money and time. You need a counselor who is skilled in working with abuse issues. Your local domestic abuse shelter or rape crisis center will be helpful in finding a good counselor at reduced cost.

          • Aly on May 10, 2018 at 7:47 pm

            JoAnn!

            I think this specific critical understanding about ‘counseling’ is not stated enough and many people have a shaped belief about the process and how ‘many times’ etc.

            You articulated it so well!
            Our ‘immediate results culture’ wants minimal ‘sessions’ with the greatest outcome.

            My husband laughs at himself thinking 3 sessions was going to ‘fix’ whatever needed fixing ~ like an appliance etc.
            for example:
            Long ingrained belief patterns take a long time to re-align as well as entering into a grief process.



    • Mary on May 9, 2018 at 1:29 pm

      I am equally in the same situation as Michelle.

      When there’s neglect in home, you could end up being so hurt that you don’t care anymore.

      It got to a point that I became indifferent.

      Being a coach, I went in for therapy and counseling and I am better . But getting my spouse to go for counseling is hard as he believes it’s a waste of time. Only God can do it.

      I erred along the line but retraced my steps. I am hoping we would resolve our difference’s and look a way forward.

      If it’s hard for us, I would rather move on than remain stuck. Because it brought me to a point where I doubted everything about me.

      I really do feel like the marriage was never meant to be and I just wanted to stay alone to discover myself and live my life freely.

      I am believing God to guide me.

      • Michelle on May 9, 2018 at 5:37 pm

        Good for you. I’m happy for you.

    • Free on May 9, 2018 at 9:29 pm

      Somehow I don’t think there is anything wrong with you. I bet if you had a different husband who was never abusive your natural sex drive would reappear. Your decreased libido is a normal response to an unsafe situation. You can fool your conscience mind but not your subconscious mind. The decreased desire for intimacy is designed to protect you.

    • JoAnn on May 10, 2018 at 6:45 pm

      I would also say that the damage is not irreparable, but the healing will not happen while you are living with him. You need peace, safety, and perspective, which will only come with a separation. That could wake him up, too, and motivate him to get some help to make changes.

    • Aly on May 10, 2018 at 7:56 pm

      Michelle,

      What do you think happened?
      I’m trying to best understand your post and I’ve read it a few times.
      You said, you said you have tried talking to your husband and he also has tried too… so do you want to resolve the issue or what’s creating the issue based on you saying that something is still there.

    • caroline on May 11, 2018 at 4:04 am

      Dear Michelle, our sexuality is very complex. We are easily damaged, it’s true, but we are also repairable . I love that you desire something better for yourself as well as your husband.

      I can highly recommend the work of Dan Allender.
      Especially his two books about the way sexual harm can distort our view of the world: The Wounded Heart, and Healing the Wounded Heart.
      May God bless you in your search for truth.

    • Dan on June 2, 2018 at 10:21 pm

      My wife came to the marriage in a very broken condition. She never mentioned anything to me at the time and never really has shared any introspection on the matter along the way. I suspected at some point that she was abused. Her father used to beat up her mother, she eventually left him. Perhaps she was trying to protect her children…? I can only speculate but have no information, just that my wife cannot remember any abuse toward herself from her father.

      But at long last, she is functional now.

      • Aly on June 3, 2018 at 1:14 pm

        Dan,

        What does ‘functional now’ mean?

        • Dan on June 3, 2018 at 5:30 pm

          She can handle and actually enjoy standard marital relations without it being like a medical procedure. Little by little she is growing in expressing affection. God is bringing her and us healing.

  3. Dana on May 9, 2018 at 8:43 am

    I think this is a case of neglect, not abuse. I had to look into it a bit. I am thankful for Leslie’s ability to model respect for both parties and be constructive and empathetic. I will pray for the situation shared and the woman who posted about her box of crazy. Have you sought personal counsel. It may be that you need to seek out your hurt and what is underlying with a loving, safe person before blessing your marriage with facing your deep hurt with your husband. I encourage you to be on guard that you don’t curl up and hide it at any stage of seeking it out…don’t give up. God wants you to be whole. Ask, seek , you will find and healed. praying for you

    • Aly on May 9, 2018 at 9:24 am

      Dana,

      I agree with most of your post. But someone who has experienced painful ‘neglect’ in a marriage, i can say without a doubt, it indeed IS abusive.
      Abuse is ‘to misuse’ one’s power or role in a relationship for instance. To neglect care and acknowledge a spouse with honor is to abuse a covenantal marriage.

      • Dana on May 9, 2018 at 10:44 am

        Hi Ally, yeah, I don’t pretend to know, especially when the people involved know the details. I was understanding that abuse causes harm where neglect doesn’t care or prevents harm from happening. I am still processing my thoughts. Although it doesn’t seem to be sexual abuse, it can be emotional abuse. Again, I want to make known that I don’t know, and I don’t want to minimize the feelings and hurts of those involved. And also that both abuse and neglect are harmful.

      • Misty on May 9, 2018 at 10:54 am

        No. Not having sex is not abusive. It is a symptom of something being wrong, either with relationally, physically, emotionally, etc. Of course, it could be that the person not wanting sex is using that to control their spouse, but that doesn’t seem to be the case described. That would mean that the lack of sex is a result of a selfish person or a toxic relationship.

        Rape is abuse. Coercion is abuse. Not wanting sex is a symptom.

        • Leslie Vernick on May 9, 2018 at 2:07 pm

          Yes it’s a symptom, but the not getting help for that symptom especially when it deeply hurts your partner is showing a disrespect and an indifference to your partner who you promised to love. So that unwillingness is the abusive part.

          • Misty on May 9, 2018 at 3:06 pm

            I can understand that, but I don’t feel that sufficient information was given as to the motivation of the wife’s behavior to determine that it was necessarily abusive. If more information was given in the original communication, it may have been edited down for publication. If she indeed was aware of help that was available to her and refused to seek it out, then I would agree.

            But we don’t know what other influences she may have been under. Sex is deeply personal, and we don’t know what emotional wounds, spiritual (mis)guidance, or physical issues might be contributing.

            All we know is that she couldn’t/wouldn’t talk about it. I feel that there are too many variables to definitively ascribe the label of “abuse” to her behaviors.



      • Nancy on May 9, 2018 at 12:34 pm

        I am in agreement, Aly- neglect is abuse.

      • Liz on May 9, 2018 at 11:46 pm

        Yes. Neglect is abuse. So hard not to become indifferent to the spouse who Year after year neglects you in every way. Not an easy road to walk

    • Michelle on May 9, 2018 at 9:55 am

      Thank you. I am still praying, seeking, expecting to find. I journal. I have had secular counselor Nt, and then biblical counseling. My teens are in counseling. So much counseling! Family group therapy.
      I’m so busy with work, taking care of the children, making sure they’re ok, and trying to figure out how or what to do differently.

  4. Rosanne on May 9, 2018 at 9:06 am

    A book that my husband and I give away to couples all the time has served several very well. “The act of marriage” by tim and Beverly la haye.
    I am so sorry for the pain you both hurt from.

  5. Debbie on May 9, 2018 at 9:32 am

    I can so relate to this situation, it’s sad for both partners. I was sexually molested by my dad. I didn’t realize how much it messed me up. And how much I shoved it down deep inside of me. I dealt with it in my early 30’s. My h was with me through this process. His love and support was so key. At first we had a great sex life. But in time the issue was there that all the men in my life (I had been married before) could show no affection for me outside of sexual affection. I told my husband over and over how much I needed affection outside of the bedroom. But he refused and turned it around on me, making it my fault he wanted to make love to his wife. So most of our married life I faked it. Not enjoying sex most of the time. I desperately needed none sexual affection and that need was never met. I hardly ever initiated sex and my husband accused me of being gay?! Our marriage has been a mess!! I have been married almost 27 years. My husband developed health issues and we don’t have sex anymore. I finally got some none sexual affection. And honestly I’m much happier. We don’t have to fight about sex any more.
    Would I have liked to have a loving sex life, yes! But it wasn’t in the cards for me.
    So I’m wondering if the original writer’s wife has abuse issues too. I feel bad for both of them. I know sex is important to men. And there needs to be balance in a relationship to meet each other’s needs. So sorry your marriage was so unfulling. I can identify.

    • Michelle on May 9, 2018 at 10:09 am

      I have such issues. I was molested when I was in middle by my step-dad as well as physically abused. That just complicates the complication further I’m sure.
      I don’t know what a healthy s life even is. What it looks like. I wouldn’t mind being room mates at this point.

      • Misty on May 9, 2018 at 10:56 am

        I’m so sorry, Michelle. My heart breaks for what you have had to survive.

      • Debbie on May 9, 2018 at 11:08 am

        Michelle, I so understand the complications and how molestation spills over into other areas of your life you don’t even realize. It’s just horrible.
        For me living as roommates was a relief. But I can’t say at times I wouldn’t like a real relationship. Like you I don’t know what that is like. And I have been married twice!!

    • Ann on May 9, 2018 at 11:14 am

      I can relate to this too.

      • Debbie on May 9, 2018 at 3:53 pm

        So sorry Ann, too many of us can relate to this it’s really sad.

  6. Darla on May 9, 2018 at 10:41 am

    I am struggling with this issue as well. I had a healthy sex drive until I married my husband. He has erectile issues, and was very critical of me the first few years of our marriage. He would blame his performance failures on me-I did too much, too little, not the right things, etc. Each time we had sex, there would be a 15 min analysis afterwards with my flaws pointed out. I started to not want to have sex with him. Additionally, his anxiety has led to a ton of other issues, like his repeated accusations of affairs, telling me I can’t travel with girlfriends because it is “inappropriate,” telling me I look too nice to be going where I say I’m going, lots of control issues in a variety of areas. He’s very quick to point out people’s weight gain, and I’ve gained a few pounds over the last few years, which gives me more insecurities about being intimate with him. I am to the point where I just feel sexually frozen when it comes to him.

    He is very unhappy about this, of course. I’ve told him that, even if I’m not in the mood, I can have sex if he doesn’t mind doing most of the work. He says this is unacceptable-that it’s only fulfilling for him if I enjoy it and have a good experience. So I need to “try harder.” This makes me not want to have it, even if I’m not in the mood, because he will accuse me of just laying there.

    I have communicated how and I feel and why. He has made some efforts to correct some of these behaviors, but they don’t really seem to last. If he and I have a good few days, he starts putting a lot of pressure on me, and I have told him that this will be a slow rebuilding process, which he doesn’t seem to understand. When I start to thaw, he puts the pressure on, and I “refreeze.” I’m just not sure how to do this.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 9, 2018 at 2:09 pm

      His constant criticisms would be a turn off for sure. Plus his jealousy, accusations and control over you seems like he thinks your main purpose is to “be there for him” rather than be a person who is there for him and also has other interests and friends.

      • Dana on May 9, 2018 at 3:50 pm

        Leslie, I am often reminded of the curse put on Adam and Eve in Genesis 3:16. Do you think this curse is what we see when a man is controlling in a marriage and the woman is trying to keep the relationship together? It is a curse, but not how it is suppose to be. Jesus did away with the curse, and we can be free from that curse (I am not inferring divorce, but can be free from that curse while in the union)?? Your thoughts please

    • Michelle on May 9, 2018 at 5:33 pm

      I’m in the same boat as you. He doesn’t understand the progress takes time thing. It’s maybe a step forward, then a few back. Forever losing ground.

  7. Susan on May 9, 2018 at 10:55 am

    I can relate to the husband. I’ve been married almost 35 years. Our sex life was never wonderful but was ok for years. Then my husband developed ED. After some disappointing tries, he quit our sex life altogether. Counselor and i tried to tell him that he could still provide for my needs, but he said it made him feel bad about himself. So everything ended. I think there is more to it. I believe porn addiction played a part though he denies it.
    He lives in a world of denial. I’ve posted before. He abandoned me sexually, emotionally, spiritually when he turned his back on God. He just remained physically present in the marriage.
    I moved out almost two years ago. So far he still lives in denial. Wants me to move back because he is lonely and misses me. After a long break I’m about to start seeing him again to see how my recovery affects things. Can i live as a housemate? I am ready to decide.
    Thankfully much of the time I now am sad about who he has become instead of mad about his desertion. You’ve taught me lots, Leslie, but that is a big thing!!
    Thank you!!

    • Free on May 9, 2018 at 9:46 pm

      Oh, Susan don’t go back! Have you done your homework to see if he meets at the criteria on the check list in Lundy’s book? If you have doubts about even one category, don’t go back. Do you really think he would tolerate you just being his housemate? He sounds selfish and needy to me, not respectful and humble.

    • Karen on May 15, 2018 at 6:44 pm

      Oh Susan. I believe the porn addiction plays a major role in the relationship disfunction. And the porn use is a bandaid for some deep seeded personal problems within your husband’s heart. You are not alone in your circumstances. I currently live in the same situation. It is heartbreaking. I will pray for God to give you guidance in discerning your husbands true intentions.

  8. Janice on May 9, 2018 at 1:35 pm

    Never knowing what kind of man I was going to be dealing with day to day slowly turned me completely off. I have prayed that God would change my heart and work in his. We have been to counseling many times but the bottom line is that he is not a very nice person many times. We have talked about it and believe me I have told him how i feel. Finally after many warnings I told him that if he continued to act nasty and sarcastic that I would no longer be able to engage sexual with him and i would no longer do so. We will be married 50 years next year and i try not to interact with him. I just don’t like him.He can leave if he wants. It is not the best but I will stay where I am until the Lord shows me otherwise. Does this make me sad- yes for him and all that he could have had. But, I will not dwell on the negative but on the positive.

  9. Seeing The Light on May 9, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    I actually find the wording of the writer’s situation a bit confusing. His word choice makes it sound like her sexual dysfunction was in the past – in the first 18+ years as he puts it. If it is still ongoing, why does he say for “the first 18+years of our marriage, she was unable…” Then, “Do I have a right to know why things were so hard for her?” He does not say “are so hard for her”. What does he mean by, “I feel like half my married life was stolen and I have no idea why.” Does he mean the sexual relationship is supposed to be half the relationship and they are missing that half? Or does he mean that she was not sexually active with him for half the time they have been married? He also seems to be more interested in the why of something in the past, rather than asking what to actually do to solve the sexual problem in the present. Even the areas that you would expect him to say something like “has been” or “is” if it is ongoing, he says “was” like it’s over. Perhaps I’m just missing something or reading too much or too little into it.

    • JoAnn on May 10, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      STL, I think those are very insightful comments. Perhaps he will see that and clarify.

      • Seeing The Light on May 11, 2018 at 11:32 pm

        Thank you, JoAnn. I wish he would.

  10. Ruth on May 9, 2018 at 4:13 pm

    I feel bad for the man who wrote the original letter. Surely, his wife has suffered some sexual trauma to despise sexual relations to that degree. Perhaps it happened while she was young and it was so overwhelming, that she has no conscious memory of the abuse. Maybe she’s had some flashbacks during intercourse and that’s why she hates sex and she afraid of counseling bc she doesn’t want to face the horrible memories? A few kind and patient husbands would take this sort of disappointing and lonely marriage quietly. Most would protest LOUDLY probably pushing the scared woman farther back in her shell.
    Now, this couple has been married for 18 years and the H wants answers but the wife doesn’t want to talk about it. My guess is that she’s scared of his anger.
    I wish he had given us more information about his wife. I am sad for them. They have a very difficult problem. His wife needs a safe person to confide in. Someone won’t who will be kind and compassionate. They absolutely will not pressure her to have sex – that would make her freak out. This would be someone who could listen til they could discern why fear is blocking her natural desire for physical closeness and affection with her H.

    • Ruth on May 9, 2018 at 4:34 pm

      Sorry for my typos.
      This sentence is supposed to read- Someone who WILL BE kind and compassionate.

      I also need to clarify a sentence I wrote that could be misconstrued. I wrote: “they [her friend] absolutely won’t pressure her to have sex” I was referring to them pressuring her to resume sexual relations with her H. I was NOT suggesting her friend/counselors was saying would try to sexually hit on her.

  11. Dana on May 9, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    My husband withdraws from me an emotional connection in our relationship. I go to him once in a while to ‘test’ him with genuine discussion to see if he wants to engage in conversation. I am feeling neglected in this and lonely. He is suppose to be my best friend, and he won’t let me get close to him emotionally. I have a boundary. I feel I need an emotional connection to engage in sexual intimacy. He won’t be kind and gentle, he is often contemptuous and expects sex. I can’t wrap my mind around it: who would treat someone like they are disgusted with them and later want to engage in a behavior that is of loving embrace without reconciling? And sexual relationship does not change his treatment towards me for the better – like I feel that if I give him sex I will earn his favor and kindness. He doesn’t seem to hear me when I talk to him. But mostly, he dismisses the effects of his treatment towards me. How have I stayed strong? I renew my mind, understand how God sees me, values me, and loves me. I frequently revisit my boundary. I ask myself, am I being selfish, am I punishing him, etc…, if he were to change and be kind (no time frame set), am I willing to have sexual intimacy(a good question to search my motives). I don’t keep this desire from him, I share it. He does not reciprocate it. This is not where I am staying. This is before God, and if I am wrong, I am willing to change it. I have grace for myself in that I want to do what is best so ‘show me God, move me’…and I know He will and has patience for me as I work this out. I find myself ‘demanding’ he love me, and I stop myself. Like Leslie said, I can’t force him to open up and connect with me or value me. So I wait. This is one way I can love my husband, longsuffering and waiting for him to be willing.

    • Nancy on May 9, 2018 at 5:00 pm

      Dana,

      Have you read EDM? I don’t think your boundary is unreasonable or controlling at all. You may have to increase your boundaries and add some requirements for him to get help.

      It sounds very one-sided to me, and that is not a God-honouring marriage.

      One of the most loving things we can do for ourselves, our h and our marriage is to adopt a zero tolerance for emotional immaturity. If we don’t require this of an immature spouse, there is no way they will seek help out, by themselves. ( of course safety always comes first. If there is danger, make a plan before you begin). Growing into an emotionally mature adult requires hard work. It takes motivation, intention and sacrifice…over a long period of time. This is because these selfish patterns are very ingrained.

      • Ruth on May 9, 2018 at 10:34 pm

        Dana, I want to interject something about Nancy’s comment. I’ve read Nancy’s advice/thoughts for a couple years now. I’m pretty sure when she said: “It sounds very one-sided to me, and that is not a God-honouring marriage.” that Nancy wasn’t saying YOU were an ungodly wife, troublemaker, etc. On the contrary, when she says your marriage is one sided that’s bc all the wisdom and authenticity and growth is coming from YOUR side not your H’s side.
        I usually would never speak for another woman but you put all your vulnerablitlies out there and I saw how you might misread Nancy’s comment as a scolding. She did suggest that maybe you’re being TOO EASY on your H and I am guilty of that too. Life coaches and counselors say we teach other people other how to treat us – well, apparently I’ve goofed this up, so I could stand to learn from what Nancy is strong in. I can sense boundaries is something she has grown in and has wisdom to share.
        But setting all that aside for a minute, Dana I want to say that God has preserved your heart. By now it should broken in pieces, but He’s been protecting you. You’ve felt the rejection, the loneliness, the doubt but all along you’ve been under the shadow of the Almighty. He’s covered you with His feathers. Psalm 91. He’s been your secret place. You’re coming through this.
        2 Corinthians 4:8
        We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair.
        I’m not quoting this just as a good-feel magic wand approach. But I sense from your post that you know Him to be sweet and close and that in of itself is a beautiful blessing.

        • Nancy on May 10, 2018 at 6:05 am

          Thanks for clarifying, Ruth, and being sensitive for Dana’s heart.

          Ruth is right, I did not mean that you, Dana are an ungodly wife.

    • Free on May 9, 2018 at 9:56 pm

      When you ask who would do something like this? The answer is a person who is unable to empathize with others, a narcissist. I think you may not realize it, but you are being objectified. Your H likely sees you as a possession which he has every right to do whatever he wants to, rather than a person with their own individuality. Your resquests for connection really ticks him off. Shut up he thinks, and when I want something, I’ll expect you to do it what I say without any back talk. I own you.

    • Aly on May 10, 2018 at 9:47 pm

      Dana,

      Leslie also has an article I think on ‘long-suffering’ versus suffering. From what you describe and how you have interpreted Leslie’s comments I’m wondering if you are in a ‘suffering’ situation only.

      You mentioned, that Like Leslie said, you can’t force him to open up to you or value you etc… so then what?
      Do you think Leslie’s advice is to wait for him to ‘awaken’ to his behavior? Or for him to have any insight to how you are not being valued especially if you are still presenting yourself ‘there’ to meet his needs and your role?

      Have you worked with a counselor on these perspectives and beliefs that you wrote above?

  12. Aleea on May 9, 2018 at 7:42 pm

    Friends, when your spouse has withheld or withdrawn himself or herself from you entirely without knowing the cause, what have you done to stay strong and also have good boundaries?

    I don’t have that issue thank God. . . .So here, our fact pattern is very thin indeed, especially with all that is going on. However, the depressive symptoms often associated with this can shut just about anyone down. What a nightmare for both of you. “I feel like half my married life was stolen and I have no idea why. She does not want to talk about it. It also impacted our children as our relationship was so sour.” I bet that is not even the half of it.

    “Do I have a right to know why things were so hard for her?” . . . .Even if you have “the right” she may not even know why herself re: (The making of a disease: female sexual dysfunction + Frequency of Sexual Dysfunction in Normal Couples). She simply may not know even with the benefit of depth psychology. . . .And it would have to be voluntary on her part otherwise you probably really can’t trust “the reasons.” I would say that if you can’t understand why someone is doing something, look at the consequences of their actions, whatever those consequences might be (you know them in detail), and then infer the motivations from the consequences. She may not fully be aware of them herself, however. Our behavioral patterns are exceedingly complex, and psychology is a very young science. The scope of our behavioral wisdom exceeds the breadth of our explicit interpretation, by a lot. We act, even instruct, and yet we really do not understand, not really.

    It could be a way of . . .a tool she uses to reject others before they can reject her or it could be from an abusive relationship, or a combination or something completely different. Who knows how many reasons there are. I would bet she is intrinsically no more selfish than other people, of course not. She is just feeling things that can’t be ignored. Things that point the arrows inward. Her demons are no more illogical and irrational than anyone elses.

    Re: roommates; separate; be bitter and angry; talk with her a pastor; your next step will be as a godly man and husband. . . .Honestly, may God be with you. Like so many who write these questions, I don’t know how you have made it this far, but you have. Leslie makes many good points: “. . . .If you understood more about what was going on inside her mind and body, perhaps you could have been more caring and empathic towards her own suffering.” Why not use the clues you have to become as expert on the issues as best you can. You may be able to help rescue her, motivate her to get clearer if you want it bad enough.

    —Anyways, —anything we can reasonably do to keep parents together is a total win. I deal with corporations, but I have plenty of friends doing Marital Settlement Agreements. These agreements show less trust and good-will than Exxon-Mobil has in their agreements with Total S.A. (the huge French multinational integrated oil and gas company). All kinds of “agreements” in these Marital Settlement documents are simply actionable immediately: Communication protocol between parents: Each parent will communicate any noteworthy, worrisome, exciting information to their co-parent in a timely way, and before transitioning the children. The parents will ensure that the children are not placed in the middle of their communications. The parents will not ask the children to deliver messages from one parent to another. The parents will uphold each other’s rules. Parents will not agree to a change in plan without checking with the other parent so that neither parent is seen as the “good person” or the “bad person” (e.g. if a child asks a parent if she can transition several hours late to the other parent’s home or transition early in order to attend an event, the parent will respond neutrally with something like, “Daddy /Mommy and I will talk about it, and we will get back to you on that.” Parents then confer privately and work out an agreed upon arrangement. Should either parent wish to speak to the other parent about an issue related to the children, that parent would e-mail the co-parent. The e-mail will briefly name the issue to be discussed and offer times when that parent can discuss the issue. The co-parent will respond to the e-mail and a mutually agreed upon time will be scheduled for the discussion. The parents agree to review the parenting agreement on an annual basis. If either party raises a concern about the parenting agreement and the parties are not in agreement, the parties will follow the process set forth regarding “Impasse” (The dispute resolution process set forth regarding “Impasse.”) . . . And on and on and on for untold dozens of pages.

    . . . .All those agreements are just full to the brim with language like that. Those that deal with them tell me they are a nightmare, just a nightmare of disagreements with both parties in violation of lots of clauses upon signing. . . .It’s a matter of demanding change rather than inviting change because you could start applying consequences to just everything. Imagine how that would look going into a marriage: If you don’t get a job that pays more than X, I will do Y. If you don’t keep your weight within X amount of lbs., I will do Y. If you don’t have X amount of muscle mass, I will give you the gift of consequences Y. If you don’t believe this, this and this, (as if beleiveing something is a choice and not something that flows from the actual evidence), I will do this, this and this. Consequences are a way of controlling others behaviors and you could just apply it everywhere. What a total nightmare —performance based families. What do children learn from this: I bet nothing good.

    Maybe in glorifying God, the purpose of life becomes finding the largest burden that we can bear and bearing it. . . .Again, why not use the clues you have to become as expert on your wife’s issues, as best you can. It’s so easy to focus on the anguish and the misery; it’s harder to acknowledge the positive. You may be able to help rescue her/ motivate her to understand herself better and get professional help, if you want it bad enough. The best counselors in the world are expert at listening and even more expert at asking questions. . . .Our only real delight is in the Lord. We praise God when full of joy, and when not, we praise God to become full of joy. To live as though God is worthy of all praise, in all circumstances. When one bears suffering faithfully, God is glorified and honored. —When not, you have contracts and lawsuits and more contracts. Contract law is essentially a defensive scorched-earth battleground. Probably, the only chains we should wear in life are the chains of commitment, otherwise it’s all contracts (explicit or implict).

  13. Barbara B on May 9, 2018 at 8:34 pm

    When someone important to me withdraws or withholds in a significant degree, it’s almost impossible for me not to feel deeply rejected. When this happens, it doesn’t just upset me; I feel undone. It’s a frightening experience. I think of the attachment theory experiments with the little monkeys and how the monkeys with no mother figure went kind of crazy. I believe the only thing that holds me together during those situations is having faith that God’s love is sufficient in a tangible way, not just in theory. Some practical helps: have supportive and understanding friends; spend time and effort nurturing myself spiritually, emotionally, and physically; as Susan said above, trade anger for sadness. Not that anger is wrong, but it takes too much energy to sustain. Sadness acknowledges the situation, but leaves room for other emotions to coexist. There is still joy in the world despite abandonment and rejection.

    • JoAnn on May 10, 2018 at 7:36 pm

      Wise counsel, Barbara B, thanks for that.

  14. Cindi on May 10, 2018 at 11:34 am

    I am in the same situation. After discovering my husband’s pornography use 11 years ago all sexual relations were cut off by him. I have asked him numerous times why. I am very open to counseling and have communicated that to him often, but he refuses to go either alone or with me. Currently we live as roommates. I’m in counseling which has greatly helped me to deal with our situation and stay with him. It just breaks my heart knowing what our relationship could be, but isn’t. I believe he has had a great deal of trauma in his past but refuses deal with it. Beside counseling, my friends and family and my relationship with God is what carries me through the pain, disappointment and grief. There is always hope!

    • Aly on May 10, 2018 at 2:27 pm

      Cindi,

      Your post is heart wrenching😥!
      I’m so sorry for what you are going through. Your husband’s trauma (as you say) is now traumatizing you!
      Porn is betrayal and destroys what God originally intended to be good and very fulfilling in a marriage.
      I would like to understand your last comment about hope?
      What are you saying with ‘there’s always hope”?
      Hope for what?

      Often with any addictive behavior ~ addicts rarely do anything different unless requirements are made…..Or consequences bring discomfort.

      Are you in individual counseling currently?

      • Cindi on May 10, 2018 at 5:27 pm

        Yes I am in counseling. My hope is that God will change his heart and he will be open to dealing with his past and current issues.

        • Free on May 10, 2018 at 8:43 pm

          What is your time frame for your hope that he gets better? Does he know the time frame? Have you said you have 90 days to seek counseling, if you do not do that I will….

          Without a consquence there is no reason for him to change. Place a boundary and then stick with it. Otherwise you will live a lifetime hoping for a miracle to occur. Sadly, it is nothing short of a miracle for addicted abusers to change and absolutely none change without some form of consequences for their behavior.

          At this point you are suffering and he is not. Why is that ok with you. Are you not worthy of a better life? God can heal him without your help. You don’t need to live with him and be stiffled in your spirit. Evil is winning here.

        • Aly on May 10, 2018 at 9:19 pm

          Cindi,

          What Free is speaking into is your freedom to move into your own healing journey. Inviting your husband also but not being a co-contributor to the evil taking place.
          We invite, and we meet people where they are ‘ in the situation’ but we don’t ‘camp’ out there with them or continue a role that makes them believe ~ that their addiction gets to determine the relationship.

          Your other response back to me concerns me in that I’ve heard it often ‘especially by hurting wives and wives who are dealing with serious offenses. The outcomes are not usually positive.

          You said;
          “My hope is that God will change his heart and he will be open to dealing with his past and current issues.”

          I think it’s John Townsend who explains that this kind of thinking can often be a form of ‘spiritual passivity’.
          It’s sounds really pleasant but it’s also not a reality and it can keep a person ‘hostage’.

          You mentioned prior that your husband did go to counseling and realized looking at dealing with his past is just too painful and he doesn’t want to do the work.
          See he thinks that not doing the work is still an option with really no other consequences.
          Does this make sense to you why he’s not motivated to work on the hard and painful past issues?

          And by the way, I happen to believe if you can’t work on the past issues ‘whatever they may entail’ then working on the present are not going to go very far. It’s almost as if they go hand in hand but in a process too.

          • Aly on May 10, 2018 at 9:26 pm

            Cindi,

            Correction on my part~
            I’m sorry I said that your husband did go to counseling but then realized it was too painful.
            Sorry, this wasn’t you. My fault.



    • Nancy on May 10, 2018 at 4:22 pm

      Cindi,

      This is so sad 🙁

      Can I ask you a question? Why do you tolerate his avoidance? Why are you not requiring him to face his past?

      • Cindi on May 10, 2018 at 5:29 pm

        Nancy. I cannot force him to face his past. I have many times discussed with him going to counseling. He did go a for a few sessions but found it too painful to look at his past.

        • JoAnn on May 10, 2018 at 7:54 pm

          Cindi, What Nancy and Aly are saying is that only by imposing consequences for his refusal to get help will anything change. God can use you to set an appropriate consequence for him, like separation for instance, but until and unless your husband has to deal with an unpleasant consequence, he isn’t going to want to change. He has everything he needs right now: you take care of him home, probably cook and clean for him, etc. Think about it: why would he want to do the hard work of getting help as long as his life is just fine the way it is? Not only that, but pornography is an offense to God and to you. It is, in actuality, adultery. (Matt. 5:28) Sitting back and praying for God to do something is allowing your h to continue to sin, while the Lord may be wanting you to take some action that will cause your h to realize his sin. Do pray about this, and go to the blog archives to see the letter about pornography that Leslie addressed last year. May the Lord give you courage for the path ahead.

          • Aly on May 10, 2018 at 8:13 pm

            Cindi, JoAnn,

            Yes JoAnn what you said is very on point.
            Cindi, I know that these things may be hard to digest but I’m wondering if there is anything ‘within’ that is feeling like we see you and what you are navigating (to some extent).

            Your husband behavior:
            Betrayal & adultery based on your post requires a response.
            His issues are NOT your fault or responsibility, just to be clear.
            But your response seems disproportionate to the offense to me. Does it to you?

            Your response ‘can’t’ change or cause your husband to have genuine repentence and seek help for his betrayal, but your response is about ‘you’!
            Your value, your worth!

            Currently, what JoAnn was saying is so valid. You cease to exist to your husband based on the dynamic and the response.
            Nothing that God would want for either of you.

            Do you have any women for support in your life that know what is going on? Women that understand betrayal.

            Also have you been getting educated on this serious addiction and the secondary traumas?



        • Free on May 10, 2018 at 8:47 pm

          It is easy for everyone to blame his past. His present is the problem. He is a bad husband right now, in the present. What are you going to do about that? Not what he will do, what are YOU going to do?Pray is one piece, but what else are you doing? How are you honoring your spirit?

        • Debbie on May 11, 2018 at 8:35 am

          Cindi, I completely understand, you can’t make people deal with their issues. And men tend to live more in denial to survive than facing things and working through them. We can’t force other people, they have to want to move forward.

          • Aly on May 11, 2018 at 9:26 am

            Debbi, Cindi,

            I really don’t think Nancy or myself was suggesting ‘forcing’ anyone to do anything. I really think the context and understanding is being misused.
            Your right, we can’t ‘force’ anyone to do anything especially ‘face’ painful past issues that they have no reason or motivation to do so.
            Married to someone like this is far complicated for sure ~
            However remaining as a partner ‘even as an illusion’ to the one in denial isn’t all that helpful either.

            You wrote:
            “that men tend to live more in denial to survive than facing things and working through them.”

            I can certainly agree with you here as more of a formed culture… but can also see a lot of women choosing this path too generationally. It’s just not as obvious in my opinion. But if you ask a few questions that would expose the dynamic ~ you will quickly see the denial flare up!

            I had a spouse in denial too and much of his past was creating his immature and destructive behaviors in our marriage. I couldn’t force him to face those issues, but I could challenge the reality and his cozy denial day after day.
            I couldn’t live an honoring life as a wife who says ‘I love the Lord’ and be split not being the spouse I needed to be.
            Trust me, I didn’t want to be in that position or place ever!
            But God showed me what he needed to develop in me and in our relationship (God and myself).
            My husband’s comfortable denial and coping skills became a low priority for me. Meaning I didn’t give him the luxury (zero tolerance).
            This was the most loving thing I could do for him and myself. I was honest& kind, but I was firm.

            Living in truth and facing my own pain of a one-sided marriage was a catalyst of deeper healing regardless of the outcome of my marriage.



          • Nancy on May 12, 2018 at 7:58 am

            You’re right Debbie, we can never force someone to do anything at all. But we can guard our own heart from the damage that a loved ones negligence ( of their own heart) causes us. We can ensure that the consequences of that negligence falls squarely on their own shoulders. We can stop absorbing the pain that The Lord intended for them, to begin with.



  15. JoAnn on May 10, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    Aleea, that last paragraph: “Our only real delight is in the Lord. We praise God when full of joy, and when not, we praise God to become full of joy. To live as though God is worthy of all praise, in all circumstances. When one bears suffering faithfully, God is glorified and honored. —When not, you have contracts and lawsuits and more contracts. Contract law is essentially a defensive scorched-earth battleground. Probably, the only chains we should wear in life are the chains of commitment, otherwise it’s all contracts (explicit or implict).” Really good. Full of insight and hope. thanks for that.

    • Aleea on May 11, 2018 at 6:08 am

      Hello JoAnn,

      Thank you for commenting, I very much appreciate that and I appreciate you and everyone here. Leslie is so, so generous to create this space for us to come and deeply think about “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong-style” ―actions that glorify God.

      It seems to me that the reason we have to continue to praise and glorify God (—even if He is objectively to blame —just . . . .just theoretically flow with this a second— for example, letting Satan destroy Job to win a bet with Satan; hardening Pharaohs heart when Pharaoh wants to let the Israelites go, et.al., et.al.), even if God were demonstrably to blame, it does us absolutely no good to curse Being Himself. We are responsible, even if God is causing evil in the world directly. —Because if we do not stay responsible, it quickly degenerates into hell on earth when we don’t take our personal responsibility seriously.

      In praying for our questioner, I am just so reminded how complex and nuanced these horrible situations are. Just like so many situations we see here, you can just enforce “your rights” —or— you can say: I was born for such a burden as this and I will work with my precious wife/ husband to do everything possible to help her\him heal. I will become as good as anyone in the world can on her issues and with God’s help and the help of professionals, we will rescue her (God willing) . . .and he (she) will be a hero for doing so and we should honor him (her) as such.

      It’s so hard to even know what to pray for this man for. Men have to figure out what they have to do in Christ to help their wives. . . .And if they get no serious credit, then they stay Peter Pans. —And why not? But the alternative to valued responsibility (God’s way) is very low class “pleasure.” Why lift these horrible loads if there’s nothing in it for you? —And that’s what we are teaching men and teaching women in the church and what we’re doing to men and boys —that’s a very bad idea. Basically we give them the message, “you’re pathological and oppressive toward women.” They often respond, “fine then, why should I do anything?” If men and women get no serious credit for bearing responsibility, then we can be sure they won’t bear any of it. Then . . . .then life is useless and meaningless, and they are full of self-contempt and nihilism, and that’s not good because we no where that leads. . . .And so that’s what I think is going on at a deeper level with regard to men needing this direction. He has to make a commitment to help her heal and it’s our job in the church to make him a hero for doing it.

      . . .And when we can’t figure out what to do, we glorify God until we have more specifics. When we look for success, it should be for the sole purpose of boasting more sincerely in Christ. There’s no other good reason for it. Success is only worth it when the more intense it gets for us, the more we find ourselves bragging about His power and for His glory rather than our own (I know you know what I mean). Sort of, . . .we had abosutely not idea how to help this person, but we did everything we knew how to do and prayed for God to heal the relationship. Wasting your life and time is living in self-glorification instead of glorifying God. When one bears suffering faithfully (like Job), God is glorified and honored. I don’t have to tell people here: Life is suffering. Love is the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated and Truth is the handmaiden of love. Dialogue is the pathway to Truth. Godly humility is our recognition of our own deep personal insufficiency (—Oh Lord God, I don’t know what I am doing, help me, please! I’m lost without You!) and the deep willingness to learn from anyone. To learn is to die voluntarily and be born again, in great ways and small so that we can glorify God.

  16. JoAnn on May 10, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    Cindi, When Aly said, “But your response seems disproportionate to the offense to me,” I realized that she is right, and I have to wonder if you have buried your anger about his betrayal? Surely, his behavior has made you feel badly on some level. Anger, surely, but underneath that is probably sadness, even grief at the betrayal and loss of your marriage. These are things you need to be opening up to a counselor about. Eventually, these buried feelings will undermine your health and well-being. We will be praying for you.

    • Cindi on May 11, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      Thank you to each one that took the time to respond and encourage. I know you only have my best interest at heart. I am counseling with a wonderful woman and we are working through many of the things each of you has discussed. I am not being passive and am sorry if I created a misunderstanding. We are working to put into place a plan of action that will give hubby consequences to his behavior. This is a process that I am working on and will happen in the timeline that works best for me. I am well informed with CORE and am using it along with counseling and belonging to a support group.

      • JoAnn on May 11, 2018 at 7:09 pm

        Good job, Cindi, and I am glad that you have someone you are comfortable working with. So important. As you go along, it will encourage us if you would share your experiences here. We are all learning from each other. I apologize for any misunderstanding; we did not know that you already have a counselor you are working with.

      • Free on May 12, 2018 at 5:16 am

        I like that your wrote in “my timeline.” That is wise, as each situation is unique and has so many nuances and variables. Slow and steady wins the race!

      • Aly on May 12, 2018 at 9:23 am

        Cindi,

        This is great news that you have a counselor working on these specifics as well as a support group and CORE. So Key and life changing!

        I think the misunderstanding could be in the comments and phrases that tend to be more mainstream phrases:
        Let me explain, the phrases:
        “I cannot force him to face his past” or ” my hope is in God to change my husband’s heart”.
        Often these phrases depict a ‘stuck’ place for a wife who is feeling powerless over any rights and position she has in the relationship.
        I’m not saying this is you, Debbie but the importance is understanding what the phrases mean to you and getting specific about them. As we get specific about them, it is in that we can get the clarity we need to put action into place to protect our heart at the ‘same time’ invite our husband’s into a healing process of their own ~ individually of course.

        Often those who are getting what they want from the relationship and are let’s say ‘taking’ are the LAST ones who want to face the reality of change.

        If your husband has no willingness to get professional help as you invite him into, then you have choices to decide what you want to do with that reality.

        I sometimes think of it like a drivers license ~
        If my husband doesn’t want to get a license to be able to drive the car, then I won’t be a passenger.
        He still has a choice to get the license or not, I’m not forcing him to, but my decision will be greatly affected if he continues to drive without a license.
        Maybe that’s a poor example but trying to explain the difference between requiring and forcing.

      • Sunny on May 13, 2018 at 11:02 pm

        Cindi, I am in the same boat as you. My H totally refuses sex with me, and I feel so totally abandoned. I have had numerous conversations with him about this issue. I’ve brought a trusted married couple into this conversation also. I cannot change him, and I don’t know what to do to motivate him to change. I guess I have to decide if I’m willing to live as roommates. Ironically, his parents have been married for 50 years, and have slept in seperate rooms for the past 20 years. I don’t want to end up there! But I don’t know what steps I can do anymore to change the situation. I am in therapy to work on my own sexual trauma history, and I’m trying to lean hard into the Lord and be the best mom that I can be. However, the marital relationship is so sad and empty. He’s just fine, and I’m miserable. But what can I do? Maybe just change my hopes/ expectations that marriage should include sex? Changing myself is the only part that I have control of. Thoughts anyone?

        • Cindi on May 13, 2018 at 11:13 pm

          Sunny,
          I am so sorry you too are experiencing living in a marriage without intimacy. Please remember this is not about you, but about him. It is not about being pretty enough, skinny enough, young enough or any of the many other things you may be thinking or have been told. Keep working through your therapy until you feel confident you are ready to make wise decisions. If you are a woman of faith, ask God to give you wisdom, courage and strength to follow through with what ever decision you make. He will be with you and give you all you need!

        • Aly on May 13, 2018 at 11:29 pm

          Sunny,

          Has it been this way from the beginning of the marriage?
          I’m so sorry for what you are going through~ so painful!

          When you say,
          he’s fine and your miserable.. that’s very distinctive in how far apart you both are.
          If your miserable, (which I don’t blame you for being and I can understand), how can he be fine with a wife miserable? Such a disconnection.
          Y
          Should you put your marital relationship in alignment with your husband’s comforts..? No! Certainly not!

          Is he aligning himself with Christlikeness in the marriage? I’m assuming he’s a Believer ~ not saying he is.

          What is his response to you when you bring up this complaint?
          Is he willing to discuss it or get help or is he unreasonable and wants you to stop pointing it out?

          I guess I would wonder what his past sexual history would entail …Is porn involved?

          I agree with Cindi also, it’s about him and it’s painful because what is ‘about him’ is still affecting you at a core level as it should be based on the marital covenant.

          • Sunny on May 14, 2018 at 6:25 pm

            He has been willing to discuss this on a couple occasions. Even says “OK I could try to work on that” when discussed with other couple present. Then he never does. More painful for me because he clearly knows of my desires and blatantly chooses to ignore them. Yes H is a believer, but it doesn’t seem to apply to marriage or family or parenting.



          • Aly on May 14, 2018 at 11:33 pm

            Sunny,

            I’m responding to your reply May 14, 6:25
            I’m sorry it won’t let me post directly.

            Ok so you say he acknowledges something to work on, then you say he never does.
            Does this get circled back around in conversation?

            I agree Sunny it’s painful to hear him acknowledge that he’ll do something especially in front of others (accountability) and he probably wants to look ‘good’ to others. Yet your experience is that he never does actually follow through.
            This pattern begins to erode ‘trust’.
            Trust in general I would think.

            What about saying,
            ” I’m so confused husband, you acknowledged that you would address this ‘issue’ yet you don’t follow up? Can you help me understand why this happens and can you see why this hurts and makes me feel ignored?

            I would also consider putting these things in writing to also give to him.

            It’s important for your own well being to communicate how you feel ‘disregarded’.
            When a wife feels dismissed or disregarded, she won’t feel safe and certainly not valued over time.

            I wonder if you could also say;
            Your words don’t align with your actions. You say one thing yet you do another or you don’t follow through with what you want me to believe ‘you will work on’.
            Also,
            ‘Husband, even a good marriage doesn’t just evolve, it takes a lot of work to have a healthy relationship, are you interested in investing in working on our issues~those being independent and marital?’

            Sunny what do you think about those phrases and comments?



          • Nancy on May 15, 2018 at 7:28 am

            Sunny and Aly,

            I like Aly’s suggestions. Given your level of hurt, Sunny, maybe it’s time to develop a ‘zero tolerance’ attitude toward his avoidance. That means using your voice each time his behaviour and words don’t match up. Each. Time.

            Persistence is key here. Turning your anger into a zero tolerance attitude will really hi-light his part of this issue.



        • JoAnn on May 14, 2018 at 3:16 pm

          Sunny and Cindi, May I comment on the expectations that Sunny mentioned? Unfulfilled expectations can make a person miserable, so in some cases, changing expectations can help relieve pressure. That having been said, if your libido is still high, and your spouse is not willing to satisfy you, then it isn’t really about expectations but about a God-given need for intimacy. God created our bodies with a sexual desire, for procreation, yes, but also to provide a closeness, a joining in oneness, that expresses His desire for us to be one with Him. In a healthy relastionship, it goes both ways. That’s why He says in Ephesians 5:31-32 that we become
          “one flesh” even as Christ and His church. So, there is a spiritual side and a physical side, and it is not healthy to neglect either one, unless by mutual agreement.

          • Sunny on May 14, 2018 at 6:28 pm

            Indeed it’s not healthy, but I can’t make him want to connect physically or spiritually. I feel like I got ripped off in the marriage vows.



          • JoAnn on May 14, 2018 at 11:47 pm

            Sunny, this is where boundaries and consequences can be helpful. As long as he can continue to live the way he wants to, ignoring your wants and needs, then that will not change. You may need help to decide how to set some boundaries and consequences that will shake up his lethargy and motivate him to make some changes. Leslie talks about boundaries in her book, and Cloud and Townsend have a book called “Boundaries” that is very helpful. Others will no doubt chime in to talk about how they motivated their husbands to change.



          • Nancy on May 15, 2018 at 7:45 am

            Hi JoAnn and Sunny,

            Boundaries and requirements are key in motivating change because these are not about the other person. They are about what you will, and will no longer, accept.

            These take soul searching in order to get clear on what the issue is. If his words and behaviour don’t align, then the most important issue is trust.

            This is where you can use the words, “I’m puzzled because yesterday you said…..but just now you are saying….”. or “I’m confused because last week you said you’d follow up, and you haven’t”.

            There are a ton on tools, phrases and support available here on this site. What comes first though, is always the question that you need to ask yourself

            “Am I done tolerating the in-tolerable? Am I ready to change?”



          • Aly on May 15, 2018 at 9:42 am

            Sunny, Nancy,

            Sorry this is out of alignment, ugh.

            Your last post Nancy on May 25, 7:28 I could not agree more.
            Sunny as Nancy has said, persistence is key. Maybe you have done this and maybe I’m confused about how you and your h circle back to follow up on things but I have seen many people in marriage that find s corner and think that the other spouse will take note and do something. Not saying this is you but without follow up i want you to see that cycle.

            Something that also benefits pointing out the misalignment is that it brings it to the surface.
            If you don’t want to be following up or you feel you shouldn’t have to, I would ask that to consider the benefits with following up.

            Eventually, you can also make an observation to your h that ‘you notice’ you are the one following up only… why is this husband?
            The more you persist to address, the more the Deeper issues actually get revealed.

            Maybe one of the deeper issues is that he lacks caring about your needs, maybe he lacks the basic respect for you as a person worthy of a follow up.

            You might find that with persistence he sees that the relationship is one-sided and unhealthy in other areas.

            Feelings are valid and understandable but facts as far as follow through etc are facts and those reveal a lot about a person’s character or even if something else internal is going on with him.

            Does any of this seem reasonable to you Sunny? Also, in a previous post I had asked a lot of questions (I’m sorry) I didn’t want to assume a lot.
            There were some important questions that I think would need answered by you (minimum in private with your counselor).

            The neglect your experiencing isn’t healthy or tolerable in my opinion but again that’s for you to decide what you will live with or not.
            Your story is yours and I get the feeling your ready to discover what lies beneath this marital dynamic. Most of the things you have brought up, I believe there are answers to and sometimes we needs those answers to further our reality and our grief process.



        • Aly on May 15, 2018 at 10:05 am

          Sunny,

          I have re-read your original post. It is so sad but you are willing to work on your part and that’s a great step for health and healing for you.
          You post to me says a lot about the marital modeling that was offered to your h. It’s almost like he’s playing out that ‘norm’ to be now your marriage~ even if it’s not consciously.

          I can relate to this from my h’s past treatment of me, often he was stuck with what marriage his parents presented to him in those ‘forming years’ also a lot of beliefs were formed about my value and role as the wife and mom. This gets passed done generationally as you probably know.

          You said, “you have to decide if your willing to live as roommates”

          Is this the only option?
          You mentioned your a mom and I am too. The Lord continued to give me strength and reinforce a truth I needed desperately.
          Because I was also trying to be the best mom to my children, I also knew living in a onesided marriage was destructive for them to be exposed to. I was unwilling to be treated as a ‘roommate’ type wife.

          I remember telling my spouse once,
          “Why get married if you want to continue an independent lifestyle? Why marry me… wouldn’t it have been better for you to stay single if you wanted to live this separate ’emotionally, spiritually etc?”

          Also, your behavior h is that of a single man, not a married man with a wife to love and receive love from.

          Sunny, you don’t have to surrender to your h’s view or comforts of his marital design, surrender to God’s and you will see that those places written on your heart are for a fulfilling partnership and journey where you can have the most sacred person to share life with.
          This is something you as a wife can invite your h into, also in order to cross that bridge.., many things of your h may have to be uncovered and dealt with before he can meet you over there.

          • Sunny on May 15, 2018 at 10:59 am

            Thanks for your help everyone. A few thoughts… Trust is indeed a big deal. My three grade school kids don’t trust him to follow thru on things either. Someone said boundaries and consequences are key here. May I ask what you mean specifically? With regard to sex, it seems manipulative to say “unless we have sex, I won’t (fill in… wash your clothes? Not allowed at dinner? ) I can’t use boundaries to invite someone IN, as in requiring intimacy or connection in a marriage. ???? Boundaries are used to separate oneself from another.



          • Aly on May 15, 2018 at 11:09 am

            Sunny,

            I hope others will chime in on boundaries;) requirements etc.

            Sex in marriage isn’t just ‘inter course’ technically its multifaceted because ultimately it’s about connection and a deep form of communication too.

            Again, I go back to .. has your husband always been refusing sexual closeness from the beginning with you? Is more going on with your husband?

            The fact that one party (you) in the marriage is feeling neglected is a big flag to something is not right???

            His response to your valid experience is key.



          • Nancy on May 15, 2018 at 11:55 am

            Hi Sunny,

            Aly said it best, above, “the more you persist, the more the deeper issues will be revealed”

            Persistence in verbal communication ( not persistence in trying to have sex with him).. Persistence in not allowing your h to avoid doing what he says he will do.

            Healthy marital sex is an outcome. It is the outcome of respect, of trust, and of understanding. It is ultimately (as Aly said) deep communication. Unhealthy, or lack of marital sex is a symptom of something else.

            Can you put sex on the back burner for a while, in order to find out what that something else is?

            Because verbal communication is the first step. Work on holding him accountable, and see where The Lord takes you.

            You asked about Boundari s and requirements. Read EDM by Leslie V. and Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend.

            These books don’t deal directly with sex. These deal with creating healthy relationships. A healthy marital relationship will ultimately find it’s deepest expressions of trust, respect and communication…..in sex. Again…it’s an outcome, not the solution.



          • Aly on May 15, 2018 at 1:09 pm

            Sunny,

            Nancy’s last reply to you today is so important. Again my apologies for the out of sync comments.

            I hope you hear we are trying our best to be tender with your heart 😥 as well as offer any help at redirecting the focus so you can see other avenues of change. Not the kind of change that ‘settles’ with what your being asked by your h to tolerate.

            Having a sexual experience or sexual relations will never heal or solve other marital issues ~ especially emotional or spiritual connections.

            From what you describe your h is quite unreliable in many areas and even your children have deemed him to not trust in his actions of follow through. I don’t know what the specifics are but this is important to recognize a Pattern.

            This isn’t just a sex issue although I do believe his sexuality is a symptom of a deeper problem that should be revealed, but also he continues to reveal ‘character & maturity issues’ based on some of what you describe as your dynamic.

            Boundaries and requirements are for your own safety as well as can be a healthy motivator for a spouse who is ‘checked out’ not invested in the relationship as a healthy thriving growing friendship/partnership would express.



          • Nancy on May 15, 2018 at 7:27 pm

            Hi Aly,

            I think your comment that “having a sexual experience or sexual relations will never heal or solve other marital issues”. This is so true because without emotional intimacy, it’s a superficial activity.

            For years my h and I would take on renovation projects together. We made a good team fixing things, building, painting, and re-decorating. I realize now that this was our immature way of trying to work on our relationship. It did nothing to build intimacy. It strengthened our friendship, where we learned to communicate about superficial things, but we were not growing emotionally ( not individually, or together). This productivity also masked the lack of real connection – even from myself. I had a great guy who did anything I asked of him! What was my problem? ( the problem was he’d do anything superficial for me, but look in the mirror? No way!)



          • JoAnn on May 16, 2018 at 10:49 pm

            Sunny, (May 15), I think you misunderstand the concept of boundaries. Please re-read what Leslie says in her book, or Cloud and Townsend in “Boundaries.” The boundaries are not for manipulation or negotiation. They are to protect your heart. For example, if he begins to argue with you or use a raised voice, you simply say, “I am not going to stay here and listen to you while you are yelling.” Then you walk out of the room. Another boundary might be to say, “Your rejection of me is very painful, and I would like you to consider whether you want to remain in this relationship. Until then, I will be staying at (my mother’s).” The idea is to protect your own heart, or that of your children. Sometimes, as in Nancy’s case, the separation can be a powerful motivation for change. So please remember, it’s not about negotiation, but about protecting your heart.



          • Nancy on May 17, 2018 at 8:09 am

            This is well said, JoAnn.

            Boundaries are a tool that help us to be a good steward of our heart.; by allowing neither harm, nor neglect.



  17. JoAnn on May 10, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    Very direct, Free, and yes, very true. Without consequences he has no reason to change. Cindi, if you have been reading here for a while, you know that there is a lot of collective wisdom among the ladies here. Know that to take this kind of stand requires CORE strength, so work with your counselor on that, to develop the courage to take action. If you haven’t read Leslie’s book, do so, and then read it again.

    • Free on May 10, 2018 at 10:56 pm

      I can be too direct. It is great how all our personalities seem to echo the same truth in vastly different ways.

      For me, I don’t want any fluff or filler. Get to the point I think! This is tough stuff and the danger is real. I feel I am here to give a report from the battle front. You called 911 and I brought the AED to start CPR.

      I also know that many people prefer a gentle approach, padded in love and carefully selected words, reaching out gently to spare pain when possible. I am so thankful for my spiritual sisters who can speak that language. I’m not that type.

  18. JoAnn on May 10, 2018 at 9:28 pm

    Yes, Nancy…well said, and I am hoping that our original writer is also getting some help here. For him to draw a boundary and tell his wife that there are going to be consequences for not getting help will push her to open up. He can do this with compassion, saying that he recognizes that there must be something very troubling in her past that is causing this problem, and that he wants her to get help and will support her in that, could motivate her, and especially if he adds that he can no longer tolerate the kind of living arrangement they now have. So far, he has not answered Nancy’s questions, so I don’t know if he is following this thread, but I hope so, because there is a lot of help here.
    I wonder if Sheep is going to chime in, especially about the boundary issue? Brother??

  19. JoAnn on May 11, 2018 at 10:03 am

    Aly, I like what you said here: “Living in truth and facing my own pain of a one-sided marriage was a catalyst of deeper healing regardless of the outcome of my marriage.” I think that the key to creating change in the marriage dynamic lies in that statement. You had to get to the point of being true to yourself and God’s calling, regardless of the outcome, before you could take any action at all.

    Over the past year, we here have discussed some very important key issues, some of which I want to mention briefly for those who weren’t with us that long. First is recognizing that what you are living is not a God-honoring marriage. Then there is the need to desperately seek the Lord for what action to take, if any. Developing CORE strength. Not holding the marriage itself as an idol to worship, but rather putting it on the altar of sacrifice before the Lord for Him to do as He pleases. That’s a hard one, as it requires us to trust Him with the outcome. Then there is the important step of setting boundaries, both for protecting your own heart and providing motivation for the spouse to change. All these things are in Leslie’s book, of course, and I really appreciate the women here who have courageously followed her advice and then shared the outcome with us. So much wisdom and experience here. Thanks to everyone who contributes.

    • Aly on May 11, 2018 at 11:11 am

      JoAnn,

      Thanks for your affirming comment here and listing such necessities for true change.
      You wrote:
      “You had to get to the point of being true to yourself and God’s calling, regardless of the outcome, before you could take any action at all.”

      This is true and this happened pretty early on in the marriage what I didn’t know was how many people ‘whom I loved and cared for’ were in my way and actually thwarting my actions.
      I was trying my best to work with God and knowing my value of where He was leading me~ it was often all the other skewed ‘beliefs’ that kept trying to intervene and keep our marriage ‘status quo/dysfunctional etc’ even on a subconscious level I believe.
      I think in this process it’s really important to take a ‘deep’ inventory of the kind of people and marriages ‘those of us find ourselves surrounded by’…. we often dont see just how many one-sided marriages are playing out ‘right in front of our lives’!
      This isn’t to place blame here~ not at all. It’s to expose what often continues to reinforce POOR theology and especially dysfunctional relationships.
      Those with POOR theology don’t have healthy thinking patterns about what is theirs and what is not theirs often.

      I love this blog and that we get to digest and work through our interpretations. I think that is valuable to such a degree if we will invest in that and if we will face the ‘real pain’ of what is going on in our most sacred relationships. God can give us this courage and this ability to find the time and priorities for what is ultimately used for His glory!
      Will we participate or will we not?

      You said that it’s important to find the truth & God’s calling before one can take action, I agree but I also don’t think many ‘especially women’ see that ‘Not taking action’ is still a choice of action or posture.

      Many times because of poor theology we want God, others or our spouse to do something about the situation rather than ourselves ‘change’.

      I mentioned that it’s important to take an inventory about those relationships we find ourselves surrounded by, this I believe is also so key!
      My own mothers’ Co-dependency and beliefs (poor theology) were very much a big problem I had to face and a lot to do with how I ended up in my situations.
      She still to this day, desires approval and acceptance from ‘man’ over God and until that unravels she will continue to be a contributing part of this epidemic! While also being a victim of it.

      My continued prayer is that she and every women or man who finds themselves in these places will be awakened at their valued, worth and just how much they are Loved fully by the Lord! That love is the love that is life transforming💜
      But one must be willing to receive it and He doesn’t force anyone to open ‘their hands’ but He woos us for those who desperately seek Him;)

      Love your support and such wisdom JoAnn!
      Such a sister to me✝️

      • Ruth on May 12, 2018 at 5:28 pm

        This conversation is just ripe with wisdom. So beautiful with loving support. Something very precious 💕

    • Aly on May 15, 2018 at 10:08 pm

      Nancy,

      Your comment from May 15 @ 7:27pm is very good!
      You have such a great way at writing in a simplified way something critical to ‘all our marriages’.
      Projects certainly can be fun and can feel so accomplishing too but is there really emotional and spiritual connection? Or do the projects just create more distraction from what needs to be addressed?

      Personally, I love those kind of tasks with my spouse because he’s fun and such a hard worker in areas he feels confident in. I think the word ‘proportional’ comes to mind here for me.
      Also, I meant to reply to something else you posted about earlier… YES praise God your husband chose to face reality and thank God that God gave you the courage and strength to invite him to it💜🌈

      • Nancy on May 16, 2018 at 9:19 am

        Ali,

        You said, “or do projects create more distraction from what needs to be addressed.” This is the question, yes.

        And like these ‘distracting building projects’, superficial sex in marriage can be used in the same way to distract from the real issues.

        It makes me wonder when a person (man or woman) is so focused on sexual relations, if this focus is a way for them to avoid doing the deeper work, in themselves. ( Maybe I am projecting here, but my focus on building projects certainly helped me to avoid changing, for a long time).

        • Aly on May 16, 2018 at 10:09 am

          Nancy,

          I agree with you how distraction or any ‘distraction’ is counterfeit to dealing and ‘going to work’ on the deeper emotional and spiritual issues.
          It’s almost like fill in the blank (projects, workaholic, activities, family busyness etc) all to avoid ~ intimacy.
          The intimacy necessary for a healthy growing thriving marriage and partnership.

          I’m so thankful you are not there anymore~ and as you probably know, counterfeits are pretty short term satisfiers, thankfully! I do believe the Lord knows our hearts and I’m grateful that counterfeits never ‘offer’ or fill what we need in our relationship with Him and with our spouse in the journey.

          We all have our deeper work to do, but sadly I do see many in our churches continue to reject the treasure of seeking those blessings out.
          There is much abundance the Lord has brought to us in the full!! 💜

    • Nancy on May 16, 2018 at 10:12 am

      JoAnn and Aly,

      I had time to really digest these two comments this morning. I hope everyone really reads them both. Very wise.

      JoAnn, the action steps you outlined are key! And Aly, I agree with taking an inventory of the influences around the marriage.

      As you may know; for the first 7 or 8 months in counselling, our attempts to work on our relationship kept getting interrupted by ‘mother issues’. We’d come out of counselling, and session after session we would not have even discussed ‘us’. It was so frustrating! When we took a step back we realized that the pattern that was emerging was that we were allowing them to introduce turmoil into our lives. Setting strong boundaries around our marriage by cutting off contact ( in one case) and drastically reducing contact (in the other case), allowed us to BEGIN working on our relationship. How ridiculous is that? How much money and time did we spend learning that we had not properly ‘left’ our family of origin. AND that we had spent 20 years living with a continuous injection of toxicity. Yikes!

      So glad that our God persists! He is patient, indeed.

      • Aly on May 16, 2018 at 11:11 am

        Nancy,

        I’m sure it feels like a lot of unnecessary time, but I’m glad it was months for you guys ..,for my h and me it was YEARS to unravel and then to find out how horribly enmeshed the full family of origin issues actually are.

        I think taking an inventory is essential.
        Honestly, without other ‘healthy God honoring marriages’ that tapped into our worlds, I’m not sure I would have been offered the perspective of ‘what’s not right’, what’s destructive etc., what one-sided, what’s immature. When you are surrounded by ignorance and immaturity on these complicated issues it’s no wonder why these things have grown worse or stay stagnated!

        God orchestrated His purpose and I’m so glad for His love and continued pursuit.
        I believe He is in continued pursuit of redeeming hearts of individuals and often that redeeming brings a marital shift (one way or the other).
        That meaning a marriage that gets rebuilt with a more accurate view of who God is, or a marital dynamic that comes to a public and legal close, like Leslie has often mentioned.

        • Jackolyn on May 22, 2018 at 9:39 am

          I have never posted before. I have read all your comments today for the first time. I have been married 48 years. Four years ago my husband had a mental breakdown. I have had my entire life and belief system totally changed. I am a Christian and basically have been learning how my background has influenced my view of marriage. If not for the Lord, I would not have lived thru all this. Your comments are truly appreciated.I had to take over all financial decisions and even learn how to has up my car. My husband has never been emotionally mature and has utterly destroyed my trust in him so I made the choice to stay in my marriage but as a caregiver. It can be a lonely place. Thanks for “listening”.

          • Aly on May 22, 2018 at 7:53 pm

            Jackolyn,

            This is a great community! So glad you posted;)

            I’m sorry about what happened to your husband 4 years ago. Do you have other women in community surrounding you and doing life alongside?

            Can you expand on how you see your background influenced your marriage? Was this a positive or negative influence?



          • Jackolyn on May 22, 2018 at 8:53 pm

            I was raised in a Christian home, the eldest of 11 children. My father was a pastor and I was taught it was a sin to wear makeup, dance or to feel or talk about feelings. I saw my mother go for years with no money for herself, no money to get clothes or get her hair done. When I was 17 my dad took my 16 year old sister and left her in another city because she rebelled against his rules. To this day I do not know where she is, she hates our family. When I married my mom gave me this advise: Never say no to your husband. I never did but about 15 years ago I could no longer survive in my husband’s idea of marriage. He was secretive, controlling and I was asking up to the realization that this was all a lie. Most everything I had believed my parents had said was wrong, but how could I dare to think for myself!! Well, I did not have anyone to go to for awhile. My husband is a veteran and he has been diagnosed with Major depression disorder, Mood dosorder, ptsd, and because of stones he has a cognitive disorder. All last year he was so depressed he refused to get up but I have become fearless, thanks to the grace of God. I lost my mom 3 months ago and am dealing with that loss. I did see a counselor for awhile and have gotten caregiver classes that have helped. Basically I do not have a woman I can talk to. While I have forgiven my husband for never being there for me, it is a lonely life and I am learning to live and rely on God. When I saw this community in my email I felt like writing about it which I have never done. I apologize for the length.



          • Aly on May 22, 2018 at 9:54 pm

            Jackolyn,

            I’m so very sorry for your family of origin bringing up that certainly framed you for a marital relationship of lonelyness and a painful partner.

            You said you were raised in a Christian home, do you still see it being a ‘Christian’ home with Christian behavior that align with Christ.

            The word Christian i believe is to mean ‘little Christ’.
            Your father was certainly responsible to set the standard for you and he was terribly abusive. I’m sorry for this.

            I’m sorry also for your loss of your mother and her directives she gave you early in your life.
            It’s confusing because from our core ~ we want to believe and naturally trust our parents to know what’s healthy and right. Unfortunately many parents are unable to speak the truth if they themselves have not entered reality and deal with their own past.

            My own mom used to twist the scripture about not looking back at history.
            So to her it was never a good idea to look behind but to always look forward.
            I disagreed with her often on this and she didn’t see that the verse she used was to keep her not going forward in reality.

            I’m really glad you wrote here and yes we are to rely and depend on God but we also are to be integrated with community because this is how God designed it.

            Him & others🌈🙏



          • Jackolyn on May 22, 2018 at 10:19 pm

            First of all I see I need to check my spelling! I suppose I do not fully understand what a Christian home would be. I do know it should not be full of fear, rules set up that no one should have, never mind not understanding the reasons or being permitted to ask. I grieve for the bitterness and anger my mom chose to harbor against my dad because she was never at a high priority in his life. She was expected to submit to his authority. I have been looking for a church with a ladies bible study. I refused to go with my husband years before because of his aggressive and argumentative behavior towards other men there. I still do not want to go with him. I realize in order to protect myself emotionally and mentally from his behavior, I have put up boundaries. Because of not a lot of support from Christian relatives, this was difficult. I have peace most of the time but it’s a constant vigil to guard myself from falling back into old patterns. I have 5 adult children who have been wonderful but I do not share a lot because he is their dad. I absolutely believe God is blessing my decisions and as long as I know this life right now is ok. My husband has been able to drive locally and he attends an adult daycare 3 days a week. This has been a lifesaver for me and he loves it. The Dr’s and I know good days will not last because he is drug resistant so I treasure the good times.



          • Aly on May 22, 2018 at 10:36 pm

            Jackolyn,

            I need to check my spelling too! 😂 Silly iPhones;)

            From what you describe ~ your family of origin with a pastor dad was NOT a Christian home.
            It sounds more like a spiritual controlling toxic home or a cult of some form.

            It sounds like a home that used ‘Christianity as a badge rather than living it out in action and love.’
            Many family systems DO this by the way!
            Profess Christian like home to normalize toxic family systems and the misuse of power all throughout.
            People do this too, wearing the name of Christianity, yet their heart and behavior are FAR from it!

            Your poor sister! Dumped at 16~ that’s illegal for starters.

            Your mom was expected to submit to his authority and the problem with that it that his authority was not aligned with God or a posture of being a Godly husband and spouse.

            Granted out of fear, your mom did what she did but it also contributed to the cycle of abuse. This is behavior that gets modeled and passed down.
            I’m sad that she was in that much fear. But your dad sounds like a very unhealthy person in the nicest way put.

            Are any of your adult children in abusive relationships?



          • JoAnn on May 23, 2018 at 12:03 am

            Jackolyn,
            We are glad you are here; welcome! I am truly sorry for the difficult situation that you have been in. Yes, it can be lonely, but please know assuredly, that the Lord Jesus is right there, not only by your side, but also within you, in your spirit, and He will sustain you, comfort you, and supply you with the grace you need to go on. Stay with us, and I am sure you will get help and encouragement. God bless you.



  20. JoAnn on May 11, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    Love you back, Aly. Are you going to the conference? I would love to meet you in person.

    • Aly on May 12, 2018 at 9:02 am

      JoAnn,
      I would love to go, I need to check the dates again but I think the last time I looked into it, I couldn’t.
      It would be great to meet in person!

  21. Debbie on May 11, 2018 at 7:55 pm

    Aly, you are much further along than I am in this process. I have been many times where I didn’t think I could do this any more. I have just ignored and put up with most things because it was the easiest way. Any time I tried to stand up for myself it didn’t work. In realizing my husband had narcissistic tendencies and doing some research I found Leslie and these blogs. It’s a lot to process and figure out. I am making steps as I go. And trying to proceed with courage not allowing my husband to control or to turn things around on me so he doesn’t have to face his wrongs or mistakes.
    I appreciate other people on this blog who have prior experience and wisdom. I do always pray for God to help me with his wisdom, and to be in the center of our marriage.

    • Nancy on May 12, 2018 at 8:08 am

      Hi Debbie,

      I’m glad you have found this site 🙂 You will find much support and encouragement for your particular journey.

      If you haven’t read The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, then it’s so worth it to purchase ( I got mine on my tablet and kept it locked).

      Regardless of whether your h is full blown NPD or is highly emotionally immature ( or somewhere in between), Leslie’s book and advice is applicable. That’s because the focus will be mostly in your own walk with The Lord as you implement boundaries to guard your heart.

      This community was so vital for me as I applied Leslie’s advice, and laid my h and our marriage at the foot of the cross.

      God is so faithful, Debbie. And He loves you dearly. He is so very close to the broken-hearted

      • Aly on May 12, 2018 at 8:59 am

        Nancy, Debbie,

        For me it isn’t about a race, in fact FAR from it!
        It’s certainly a journey. And we all have different places where we share what we have learned.

        I like how Nancy articulated the importance of community and your own walk as you navigate ~ regardless if your dealing with a disordered person or not, the pain is evident and needs responses.
        Someone who is severely immature or character issues can cause just as much heartache as someone with a NPD.

        I share my story as I would have benefited greatly in places and shortened some pretty traumatic experiences had I had some good counsel and directives on dealing with such behavior ~ by the way these behaviors are not all that inventive.
        Because many of the things we can relate to doesn’t make them common or normal nor should it take away from the abusive nature they often are.

        I share also to encourage and empower others to see that ‘we’ do have key choices we can make that can make often the greatest change for our own heart and healing.

        My h also had ‘lots’ of N traits, self centered, demanding etc you name it. I was in over my head with reasoning with such a person, he needed 3rd party interventions to push through his stubborn resistance & immaturity.
        Having outside accountability to expose the abuse is key!
        I do think it can be very scary to draw that line but sometimes it’s the only thing that actively addresses the brokenness.
        Especially if you plan to work toward having a relationship where your marriage can be rebuilt.

      • Debbie on May 12, 2018 at 10:49 am

        Nancy,
        Thank you for your encouragement. I have watched all of Leslie’s videos on the Deatructive Marriage. It was eye opening for me. I can’t have a book like that around for my husband to see. He would be furious that I would consider our marriage destructive. Not ready to deal with that. I Read what Leslie posts and follow the blogs. Haven’t been able to do any of the webinar’s because my husband is always home. But I can see I’m making progress. And trying to pass on what I’m learning to my daughter who is in a very bad marriage. She has a toddler who is being effected by it.
        It’s nice to see women loving, supporting and praying for other women.

        • Nancy on May 12, 2018 at 11:11 am

          Debbie, Can you download the book on a tablet, or phone and keep the device locked?

          As far as I know, you can also watch Leslie’s webinars after-the-fact on her Facebook page.

          Also, Patrick Doyle videos on YouTube are very on – point.

          • Debbie on May 12, 2018 at 3:42 pm

            Nancy, my problem is that my husband is retired and we share all devices. He would see a book on our tablet. And because we use my gmail to log on to YouTube. And we have a smart tv. Anything on any device we have and I watch on YouTube shows up on our smart tv. Very frustrating.
            But after
            My first brave conversation I can see he has made some efforts. So I do have some hope. I will keep moving forward and appreciate all your support and kind words. It’s so nice to be able to talk in a safe place. 😍



          • Nancy on May 15, 2018 at 8:53 am

            Hi Debbie,

            A first small step might be for you to get your own email account. Respect for privacy is an important element of healthy relationships.



  22. Debbie on May 12, 2018 at 11:02 am

    Aly, thank you for sharing your journey. Having courage is hard for me, I hate confrontation. But I am trying to be brave with God’s help and counsel. My daughter is in a destructive marriage too. And I’m trying to be brave and show her how to be brave and move forward.
    It’s so good to see you other women moving forward even in fear. Thank you for your examples.

    • Aly on May 12, 2018 at 11:42 am

      Debbie,

      I’m so sorry for your situation and your daughters also. I think being on this blog takes a lot of bravery. Have you shared this blog and Leslie’s resources with your daughter?

      I’m very much in my journey as I will be until my last day here;)
      My courage only comes from the Lord and those He has strategically placed in my walk;) I’m ever so grateful.
      I don’t think many ‘like’ or seek confrontation. But often we are all met with a dilemma ~ especially when we Choose The Lord. Taking this place creates often ‘conflict’, but the redeeming truths are what encourage and motivate me.
      See, when we choose God, we already have victory;) He guides us into living and walking that out, I’m not saying there won’t be grief and loss. Often there is a lot, but He keeps His promises for what we truly need for ourselves and the well being and safety of our hearts.
      I’m praying for you and your daughter. 💕
      It’s sad that so many of us and others out there ‘are rejected’ for doing the healthy and right thing. But understanding our value and worth from God’s point of view helps in how we weigh the overall loss or face the overall ‘fear’.

      • Debbie on May 12, 2018 at 3:32 pm

        Aly, my daughter is a personal property tax accountant and this is her busy season. She barely has time to breath and sleep let alone read. I have sent her some of Leslie’s stuff. I’m hoping she has time to read it and I can be support for her. She knows she has to do something we are seeing real signs of damage to her daughter. She’s a sweet funny 3 1/2 year old.
        Thanks again for all your kind words and support and most of all your prayers. 💜

  23. JoAnn on May 12, 2018 at 11:15 am

    Nancy, you said, “We can stop absorbing the pain that The Lord intended for them, to begin with.” Unfortunately, it is all too common and even easy for us to absorb another’s pain and anger, especially when it is directed at us. It took me lots of therapy to recognize that I had absorbed my mother’s anger, and then further, to realize that she had absorbed my pain, when I was injured as a little girl. In therapy, I “gave back” the anger that she had dumped on me, and then years later, when an opportunity arose, I told her, “That’s my pain; you don’t have to hold it.” That was freeing for me and her. We need to learn how to shield ourselves from other people’s negativity.

    • Nancy on May 12, 2018 at 11:34 am

      So agree with you, JoAnn.

      Boundaries! This is where The Lord gave me “Above all else [Nancy], guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your life”. As I clung to those words, The Lord re-defined what loving myself and therefor by extension, loving someone else was about.

      This process felt as though my entire world was being turned upside down around me. And yet, He kept telling me that was my priority – above ALL else. It felt so very selfish, but those feelings were all lies!

      Now, that my heart is guarded, He is walking me through intense healing with a spiritual director ( praying scriptures and healing memories).

      My director gave me an amazing image.

      Picture three concentric circles. In the centre is our spirit. The next one is our soul ( made up of our emotions, will and intellect). The outer circle is our body. The line that separates the spirit circle and the soul circle is the heart. The darker that line is, the more damage there is to the heart, the less God’s light can penetrate into the spirit. That’s why healing the heart is so key to kingdom work.

      As our heart is healed, more and more light radiates from our spirit.

      Cool eh?

      • Aly on May 12, 2018 at 11:58 am

        Nancy and JoAnn,
        Such great dialog. I like how you mention the absorbing and the importance of shielding. I think discernment comes in great ways here.
        I also like what you described Nancy about the circles.

        I think visuals and examples can be such an opportunity for some of us that learn and remember in that form.

        I think it’s really hard whether someone is married to or has experienced in other relationships ‘the misplaced anger and pain’ you both were talking about.

        I was taught as a little girl to accommodate, be flexible, be patient, the other’s person’s needs come first (always) loving them with the love of Christ, and so on and so on…
        Unfortunately for me, this was only one side about understanding & loving another, plus offering compromise and wanting to ‘Love like Christlikeness’.

        I think it can be very confusing because I continue to see how so many of us have been taught that this is the ‘way’ to reach a lost and or possibly destructive partner.

        • Nancy on May 12, 2018 at 9:17 pm

          Aly, This is such a destructive teaching for a child: Ignore your own needs and focus on the other person’s. This teaches a child to be completely un-aware of their own internal state, and to stay that way.

          A person cannot give away what they don’t have. So sad. As you know, the message I received was very similar : love means that you spend your energy ‘reading’ those you love so that you can anticipate their needs. Loving someone also meant pushing strong feelings down in order to allow them to violate emotional / privacy boundaries whenever they wanted. Loving another meant losing my personhood to my loved one.

          This is the opposite of how The Lord operates!

          • Aly on May 12, 2018 at 9:38 pm

            Nancy,

            I know it is opposite from how the Lord operates. I agree with you and you and I have had similar messages.

            That teaching that you mention… as I have continued to do my work ~ I realized I fought that and it continued to drive my ‘mom’ crazy because that’s not how I was ‘formed’. I’m really horrible at explaining it.
            I do believe that the Lord writes things on our heart that ‘we know intimately’ and not even a mother can erase them.

            I don’t mean to be ‘negative’ with it being Mother’s Day and all… I can whole heartedly say that my mom had many wonderful loving attributes, at times. There were many things I learned from her that I’m grateful for and do appreciate. Many things that I honor her and offer to my own children especially aligning with the Lord’s truths.

            I feel sorry for her though. And as you know my story, it’s painful for what she chooses. But the Lord continues to bless us in the grief.



          • Nancy on May 12, 2018 at 9:58 pm

            Aly,

            Thank God that He writes those things on our hearts. That’s a beautiful truth. ( Psalm 139 comes to mind).

            I’m so sorry for the grief that Mother’s Day brings 🙁

            May The Lord bless you with His Peace and comfort tomorrow, Aly. I pray that He would give you a brand new glimpse of how these boundaries with your mother have amplified His kingdom light into your own family.



      • JoAnn on May 12, 2018 at 3:33 pm

        I have been familiar with the three concentric circles for a long time, but I have not seen that image of the line, or space between the spirit and soul as the heart, and that it can be impenetrable. Great image. One of the things that I have learned also is that it is the lies we believe (the intellect part of the soul), that obstructs the flow of life from the spirit to the soul and back. Our childhood experiences teach us to believe certain things, and not all of them are true. Those lies get anchored in our soul, and the truth can’t penetrate into that part of our mind, even though we can see that those beliefs are no longer true. So the memory needs to be “healed” by the Truth.
        We can help our children to learn boundaries by teaching them that when we are upset, it is not about them, but “mommy is just tired” etc. Kids need to learn boundaries at an early age, but we don’t always do a good job of it or even think it is necessary.

        • Nancy on May 12, 2018 at 9:45 pm

          Yes, JoAnn that’s my experience too: healing the memory involves exposing the memory to the truth. Apparently children are amazing experiences but awful interpreters.

          I suppose the lie that gets stuck in the intellect informs the thoughts. The thoughts then produce emotions and this is where the damage surfaces? I’m not sure how to think about it. I’ve articulated lately that my wounding is almost 100% in my emotions. But maybe the emotional damage is simply the result of intellectual damage (distorted thoughts – believing lies). No wonder Paul talks about ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind’! Such healing ‘ingesting’ the Truth!

          then where does ‘the heart’ come into this? As the intellect is transformed and the emotions come into alignment, and the will is submitted to Him…is this what heals the heart? What do u think?

          And yes, modelling speaking up when tired (or in a bad mood) teaches kids to take responsibility for their feelings, when they are feeling that way. In our house when someone says that they are in a bad mood, the response is, “thanks for letting me know”, and we leave it at that. No fixing, no problem solving. No reassurance. Just thank you for communicating.

          For me, that is HUGE.

          • Aly on May 12, 2018 at 10:17 pm

            Nancy,

            I can’t reply directly but I want to say thank you for your words!

            I needed that and I do appreciate your understanding. 💜

            Romans 12:1-2 is one of our favorites!
            You, my friend are the transformational generation!

            Have a blessed Mothers Day!



          • JoAnn on May 13, 2018 at 12:19 am

            Nancy, I’ll try to answer your question as I understand it. You asked, “then where does ‘the heart’ come into this? As the intellect is transformed and the emotions come into alignment, and the will is submitted to Him…is this what heals the heart? What do u think?” So the heart is not a separate spiritual organ, but rather a combination of the soul and the spirit. There are lots of verses to show this, but I’m not going to go into that now. As we experience traumas or repeated dogmas, usually but not always as children, we formulate explanations, if you will, to make sense of what we have experienced. In the example you mentioned: my needs don’t matter. In PTSD, which can happen at any age, there can be a strong statement like “I’m going to die!” but in fact, you didn’t. However, the belief gets stuck in the “emotional brain” (amygdala) and can’t get the new information that you didn’t really die. With non traumatic beliefs, we just continue to believe things, even though they aren’t true anymore. This is why we need updating, the renewal of the mind, because as long as we hold onto those wrong beliefs, they will continue to control our behavior. So, this is what the Bible calls strongholds, and sometimes those wrong beliefs can be very stubborn and don’t allow the Truth to penetrate. When Truth enters our mind, it frees us from the bondage of the lies we believed. Then the heart heals, because everything is aligned with God’s Truth. That having been said, the part of the brain where beliefs get stuck is not directly connected to the rational mind, so we need the Lord to shine into the dark places of our emotional mind so the we can be free.
            I hope this isn’t too complicated for you to understand. In short, what you said above is essentially true, but in some cases, easier said than done.



          • Nancy on May 14, 2018 at 9:00 am

            This is helpful, JoAnn. It helps me to visualize – it’s a big avenue for the way that I learn.

            My teaching leader gave me a beautiful book called, Comforts from the Cross ( Elyze Fitzpatrick). I am meditating on the truths she presents here. It is simple, and lovely.

            I received two verses that enabled me to be strong throughout a two hour visit with my mother, yesterday. John 1:12-13- the MSG translation is especially powerful. When I ingested those He pointed me to psalm 139. I am His daughter. He used my mother and father to bring me into the family that he needed me to grow up in, but I belong to Him. He used These two passages have set me free from her anxious control.

            Our God is a healing God, in Word, and in deed.



          • JoAnn on May 14, 2018 at 3:36 pm

            Nancy, How wonderful that the truth in God’s word made it possible for you to have a visit with your mother. Yes….begotten of God, and loved by Him. Abba, Father! Praise Him! The Truth does set us free.



  24. Renee on May 12, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    I pray tomorrow will be a blessed Mother’s Day! I will be thinking of all of you and hope that you will find some joy! Let’s all send up special prayers early.

    Hope to be back reading on Monday.

    • JoAnn on May 13, 2018 at 12:21 am

      God bless all mothers here. You are a very courageous group of wonderful christian women, and I pray that the Lord will supply you all richly with His all-sufficient grace. Hugs to all.

  25. Aleea on May 13, 2018 at 6:46 am

    . . .further to our questioner. . . .It’s azaming to me that, for example, that 100 years ago, a sexually interested woman was regarded as mentally disturbed (—completely mentally disturbed: see peer-reviewed studies). Today, a lack of sexual interest is judged as a clinical symptom requiring treatment. . . . .Amazing, jaw dropping example of people being products of their culture —primarily.

    Studies: Female sexual desire disorders: subtypes, classification, personality factors and new directions for treatment re:Hanover Medical School, Hanover, Germany

    So, that group of fairly extensive studies claim, generally, —generally— female sexual “dysfunction” (and remember dysfunction has to do with when you lived) is not only biological but there are unbeleivable amounts of personality and partner-related factors. —Personality and life history factors are huge.

    The results of those studies indicate that women seeking help for desire disorders exhibit marked signs of mood instability and a low and fragile self-regulation and self-esteem. In addition, they tend to be more worried, anxious, introverted and conventional when compared to sexually functional women.

    Interestingly, no significant differences in the variables relating to *spouse quality* in general could be detected (That is very interesting and important and maybe good news for you! Although, we can always, all of us, do better.)

    Most looked internal: mood-disorders, low self-esteem and feelings of guilt. The sexual desire disorders are deep-rooted and particularly affect the self-regulation and the inner balance of the personality, obviously. The thing driving all of them was an elevated level of psychological stress. That’s always upsetting because “psychological stress” is just so vauge.

    The treatment approaches are broad and all the aspects of individual and interpersonal have to be taken into account simultaneously. At least that is what they claim. Also, the developmental sequence of the problems must be factored in. I think all that means is that the symptom of low sexual desire is only a starting point. The issues are complex and nuanced.

    . . .Dr. Carl Rogers was a very well educated, effective clinician. He was a Christian missionary too. He was very interested in the utility of listening. Make certain you are really listening to her. The best thing you can often do is listen when she is actually trying to communicate because people configure themselves through speech. The way so, so many people think is by talking (I know I do) and they can’t talk unless they have someone to talk to who is really, deeply listening.

    Rogers was also interested in the preconditions for having a redemptive relationship and that, in your case, would be a therapeutic relationship but also an intimate relationship and one of the things he claimed was that unless the person was aiming upward (―what glorifies God most) there was nothing you could do about it. To him, that seemed to be associated with the idea of that initial choice say between good and evil. . . . .So, once someone comes to therapy they’ve already done something, they’ve already said I have a problem and conceivably I could fix it and I need to do something about it. So then half the work is already done by the time they show up because they’ve already said: well things aren’t as good as they could be and I could do something about it. But a deeper question is can you do anything about someone who isn’t at that state and those reserachers observations, and this was Rogers observation as well, is that you can’t.

    ―But, we can always serve by example and serve as an example (re: Leslie’s book “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong” ―actions that glorify God no matter what our spouse does.) . . . .So, even if you orient yourself as an archetypal hero, there’s no way you can get through that barrier without an act of her free will. . . .I do not think people can learn unless they are willing to admit that they’re wrong on all kinds of things because through life we *are* wrong, all the time, on things both big and small.

    . . .And that’s an attitude something like: I assume that what I do not yet know can be far, FAR more important than what I think I already know. That’s really tough for us Christians because we always think we have the truth in our back pockets. Let’s keep our hand’s open so God can put things in them, or as the researchers say: high in trait openness. Sure, it could be Satan but it could also be the breakthrough you are looking for. . . .again, the risk that might break you is the one that could save you.⌘

  26. Seeing The Light on May 13, 2018 at 12:40 pm

    Aly,

    To elaborate my thoughts on this…

    There is a stark difference between “withholding” sexual intimacy and withholding financial support. It is this comparison that disturbs me.

    Financial provision does not take the level of trust, vulnerability and risk of one’s heart, mind, and emotions as sexual intimacy does. Sexual intimacy is in a class all its own. For James’s mind to go to the comparison of the sexual and the financial is so highly disturbing – as though financial provision purchases sexual provision. What a disgusting thought. It reduces a woman to the level of concubine, which is not far from a prostitute. Why did he not keep his comparison in context of the sexual relationship? I am concerned with how many men out there – from some of what I have been exposed to in recent years – equate financial provision with sexual rights and demands. I am not a concubine and I am not a prostitute. For that matter, I could have provided for myself, as I presume many married women who do not work outside the home could have done. I did provide for us in addition to his provision the first several years. I then gave up the opportunity to earn money as part of a mutual agreement that duties in our home would be divided with me at home caring for the home and for our children and my husband in the workplace providing the financial support. This had nothing to do with the marital intimacy required to make sexual intimacy a healthy reality. My body is not for sale. No part of me is for sale.

    If this woman had a problem from the very beginning, then it would seem that perhaps she lacked the necessary capacity to enter into a marriage covenant. If one looks into church history, sexual incapacity was grounds for annulment. If this was the case, then this should have been dealt with very early on. Clearly, he lived this way for almost two decades, perhaps more, though it remains unclear exactly what the situation is now since the focus of much of what he has written seems to be the past. I think we are sorely lacking in necessary details to address his question. Obviously, if either spouse would be put through any serious level of pain – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual – in order to complete the sexual act, that would turn the act into something ugly and not what it was intended for. That could only lead to further problems in the marriage relationship, not greater wholeness.

    I do not hear this man sharing about a woman who was manipulating and controlling him through the use of sex or shutting him off out of callous disregard, but rather a very deeply wounded woman – who actually put herself through pain to conceive children and give life – who would have been destroyed by being “forced” to participate, at least at the time. Perhaps the kindest thing he could have done from the start would have been to have the marriage annulled due to her inability.

    As to how to handle it going forward in the event that they are still not experiencing sexual intimacy, I found Leslie’s advice to be quite good.

    The healing that you have found in your marriage, Aly, is inspirational.

    • JoAnn on May 13, 2018 at 9:59 pm

      STL, I appreciate your concern and the insight you have provided. I do have a question in my mind about why the wife refuses to talk about her problem, and I wonder if she has trust issues with him based on some of his behaviors or reactions to her unwillingness to engage in intimate relations. Has he always handled her gently? With compassion? Or has he been demanding and/or shaming? In other words, perhaps she feels she cannot trust him to handle the reason why she is frigid. If, as we suspect, it has to do with a history of sexual abuse, then for her to reveal that would require a strong sense that she can trust him with the information, that he will handle it with understanding and compassion. I might have missed it, but I don’t think this aspect has been addressed at all in either Leslie’s reply or by anyone here.

      • Seeing The Light on May 13, 2018 at 11:22 pm

        JoAnn,

        You raise some important questions. It just seems like there is not enough information here to understand the situation. I do wish the writer would communicate more here to clarify some things. It just seems like the relationship was missing more somehow and I find myself wondering if his perception of some of the situation is amiss.

      • Ann Onymous on May 15, 2018 at 7:29 pm

        JoAnn, Bingo! Thank you for bringing this up.

    • Ann Onymous on May 15, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      Thank you for this comment STL! Regardless of needs, agreements, and whatnot, sex without willful unpressured consent is r/pe. And it disgusts me to hear it implied by some here that the sexual issue is the root issue. To treat it as such is to advocate r/pe.

    • James on May 16, 2018 at 3:03 pm

      “Sexual intimacy is in a class all its own. For James’s mind to go to the comparison of the sexual and the financial is so highly disturbing”

      Aly,

      The comparison is the bibles comparison not my own.

      The Bible uses the same Greek word to describe financial defrauding in Mark 10:19, withholding wages earned in James 5:4 and withholding marital intimacy in 1 Cor 7:5. Your disturbance is to the bible not to my thoughts.

      “– as though financial provision purchases sexual provision. What a disgusting thought.”

      It is a disgusting thought and a complete misrepresentation of what I was saying. Please make an effort to accurately represent my thoughts rather than twist my words.

      “It reduces a woman to the level of concubine, which is not far from a prostitute. Why did he not keep his comparison in the context of the sexual relationship?”

      Again, because the Bible uses the Greek word (αποστερεω) to refer to defrauding of marital intimacy and defrauding financially. The bible is the source that comparison.

      • Aly on May 16, 2018 at 5:18 pm

        James,

        You addressed me as writing that response to you and you need to address Seeing the Light.
        Please correct your reply. I did not respond at all to your comments you have ‘misunderstood’ who wrote what.

        • James on May 16, 2018 at 10:41 pm

          Aly,

          I stand corrected. I am sorry for misaddressing my reply. Unfortunately, I can’t edit replies once submitted.

      • Seeing The Light on May 16, 2018 at 6:07 pm

        James,

        Aly already pointed out that you were responding to my comment, not hers. I am now responding to your comment of May 16, 2018 at 3:03 pm
        “The comparison is the bibles comparison not my own.

        The Bible uses the same Greek word to describe financial defrauding in Mark 10:19, withholding wages earned in James 5:4 and withholding marital intimacy in 1 Cor 7:5. Your disturbance is to the bible not to my thoughts.”

        I disagree with you that the Bible is making the comparison of the sexual and the financial after the manner previously discussed. If your foundation for making these statements is the use of the same Greek word in the passages that you have cited, then I believe that is a weak foundation indeed. If one takes a word from the Bible and finds all the places that word is used and then assumes that simply the use of a common word means a correlation in meaning, interpretation, or application, one has made a critical exegetical error indeed. Everything to do with the Bible, Christianity, and the things of God must be taken in context – the context of the sentence, the context of the passage, the context of the book, the context of the entire Bible, and the context of God, His story, and His Spirit.

        Words are very dynamic things in any language. Take a word and put it a different sentence, with a different context, and sometimes one will be amazed that the same word is so versatile.

        So, no, my disturbance is not to the Bible. Please make an effort not to tell me that I am disturbed by the Bible because I am disturbed by your comment.

        • James on May 16, 2018 at 11:09 pm

          STL,

          Of course, context is important in exegetical interpretation. Nevertheless, words have meanings. It is precisely the aggregate meaning of words in a passage that gives the passage the context to which you are appealing.

          I think diving into the context of 1 Cor 7:1-5 only serves to bolster my claim.

          Paul refers to the mutual obligations that husbands and wives have to one another in the sexual relationship (verse 2). Then Paul uses financial language to describe the fulfillment of marital duty (οφειλη) which has its most common use in the NT as a financial debt.

          The context is replete with allusions to duty and debt.

          However, you are free to agree or disagree.

          If you want to be disturbed by my argument, you are completely free to be disturbed.

          What I would politely ask you not to do is take my words, twist them, attribute some nefarious motive to me and then proceed to argue from a place of supposed moral superiority; which is what I felt you did when you said: “For James’s mind to go to the comparison of the sexual and the financial is so highly disturbing – as though financial provision purchases sexual provision. What a disgusting thought.”

          It was wrong of you to do that.

          You are free to disagree with me, but please do not caricature my arguments in such uncharitable ways.

          • Seeing The Light on May 17, 2018 at 12:07 am

            James,

            You and I clearly disagree. I will not waste my time or energy arguing specifics of Bible interpretation with you. I do not believe it would lead to anything productive. If it would, I might take the time.

            I do believe “diving into the context of 1 Cor 7:1-5” as well as subsequent verses (vv. 6-7, the rest of the chapter, and more) would not bolster your claim.

            Obviously my freedom to agree or disagree with you is a fact whether you recognize it or not. It is good that you recognize it, though.

            From your previous comment May 16, 2018 at 3:03 pm: “Your disturbance is to the bible not to my thoughts.” I would ask you not to state that I am disturbed by the Bible. Your thoughts are not equal to the Bible. I can find your original comparison in the matter disturbing without having any problem with the Bible at all.



          • James on May 17, 2018 at 12:13 am

            STL,

            Then it appears our conversation is at a close.

            May the Lord bless you with His peace.

            If you would like to further dialog on 1 Cor 7, at some point in the future you are free to let me know.



          • Sunny on May 17, 2018 at 10:35 am

            James, you speak with kindness, politeness, and strength. Thanks for your presence on this blog. It encourages my heart to know there are guys like you out there.



          • James on May 17, 2018 at 3:31 pm

            Sunny,

            Thank you for your kind words. That really made my day.

            Grace and Peace to you.



          • ruth on May 19, 2018 at 1:06 am

            MANY women would be saddened to find Christian pastors saying more or less “if a man didn’t provide financially, we’d call him a deadbeat dad and the wife has to PUT OUT OR ELSE SHE DEFRAUDING.”
            I realize you must look at each situation individually, but PLEASE use sensitivity . Speaking for myself, I’ve been treated like a piece of meat so this is a traumatic subject.



          • James on May 22, 2018 at 10:48 pm

            Ruth,

            For some reason I didn’t happen to see your comment so I am sorry I am so late in responding.

            I take your admonition with great seriousness. I understand that for many women, the issue of sexuality is a very tender one. For women who are in unhealthy relationships with a man who is in unrepentant sin, sex is no longer a form of intimate connection it just feels like being used. It sounds like you can identify with that and for that I am truly sorry.

            I don’t think the way forward is for anyone to allow themselves to be used, but rather for both husbands and wives to joyfully embrace the responsibilities that God has given to each of them to love, respect and serve one another in marriage.

            When one isn’t doing that, the bible uses the term “defraud.” While I can understand how that word sounds harsh it is nevertheless the word that the bible uses and to lessen it would be dishonesty on my part.

            As to your own situation, I am truly sorry that you have been used and abused in this way, unfortunately, I am sure your experience is shared by other women.

            However, for still other women who are being refused sexually, what the bible says on this matter is an encouragement and a comfort. It reminds them that the desires they have for sexual union with their husbands who are refusing them are not “wrong.” These women don’t want their husband to simply “put out.” They long for a connection that is God honoring and healthy. The same is true of good willed men.

            May the Lord bless you.



  27. Autumn on May 13, 2018 at 5:20 pm

    The only thing that makes me struggle with this discussion is what would you say to a paraplegic? A stroke victim or a spouse on hospice? Should they have their marriage annulled?

    I am not sure that sex is all that important. Has it been disproportionately elevated in Christian circles? Have our churches preached the artificial elevation of sexuality because our leadership teams are historically male? Where did the teaching of a man’s “needs” come from? I don’t see it in the Bible.

    Our modern culture deemed sexually an activity for pleasure, rather than purpose. Isn’t sex by its’ design for procreation? Contraceptives have perpetuated the emphasis that sex is mostly for pleasure rather than procreation.

    I am thinking the writer is just a bit selfish with his attitudes and his demands. I am thinking he could brote patient and long suffering. He just doesn’t want to exercise love in that manner on this particular matter.

    • Ann Onymous on May 15, 2018 at 7:38 pm

      Right. Some of the foremost scholars on the subject (such as Emily Nagoski) have confirmed that sexual desire isn’t even a drive. It’s not physically necessary.

      Granted, I am seeing where a couple’s sex life can be an indicator of the health of the relationship. But that’s it, an indicator. Trying to fix it while ignoring the rest would be like trying to fix a change oil light being on by disconnecting its power source.

  28. Seeing The Light on May 13, 2018 at 9:55 pm

    Autumn,

    My issue with the situation at hand was that there appears to have been some sort of misunderstanding, misrepresentation, or technical sort of “fraud” at the inception of the marriage. He went into the marriage expecting a normal sexual relationship; she appears to have gone into the marriage without the capacity for a normal sexual relationship. This was why I suggested annulment, assuming she lacked a necessary component of the marriage covenant. In the case of someone who becomes paraplegic or has a stroke or so on during the normal course of marriage, after a normal married life has been occurring, naturally annulment is not an option. This is part of the for better or for worse. I can’t speak to every specific situation either, but I would wonder if the situation would be different if marriage was entered into with a difficulty in this area, but with both parties aware of it and yet still willing to marry. [I began to look into church history regarding the marriage covenant as I was interested in pathological narcissism and sociopathy. I believe there is sufficient reason to doubt that a person with pathological narcissism and/or sociopathy can validly enter into the marriage covenant. They vow what they lack the capacity to fulfill, which would be suggestive of “fraud”.]

    I too am concerned about the disproportionate elevation of sex in Christian circles. I find nothing biblical about considering a man’s “needs” in this area as greater than a woman’s needs in this area. I believe this to be insupportable and a set-up which makes women more responsible yet again for yet another area of life and relationship. I reject the entire notion that men have some overwhelming need that women need to offer up their bodies as objects to fulfill. The sexual relationship is supposed to be an expression of intimacy and as you said, is also for procreation. I am also completely weary of so many false distinctions being made in this area.

    I agree with so much of what you have said.

    • Autumn on May 13, 2018 at 10:31 pm

      Thanks, STL. I wonder who gets to define a normal sex life. I wonder too if the writers wife thinks she IS normal. Yet, having said that, one would think she would hear her husband’s concerns and speak to someone. She could at least see a medical doctor to ensure that she did not have an anatomical condition which contributed to dyspareunia.

      Thanks too for entertainingy discussion about the disparity in needs and the validity of procreation. I know the scripture reference about our bodies belonging to the other in marriage. Yet, what does one due when the get a broken body. One just accepts it, right? Thinking that the writer’s wife came to the marriage bed as a virgin, how was she to know what was expected of her and why does the husband get to define that? Some people just don’t enjoy sex in the same style and manner as their partner. It would seem that intimacy is for when both parties want it. If only one party is interested then it really isn’t intimacy is it?

      Lots of questions here. I am just trying to figure out what I think about this case and how does it apply to abuse, if at all.

      • Seeing The Light on May 13, 2018 at 11:40 pm

        Autumn,

        “I wonder who gets to define a normal sex life.” Good point. Who indeed? I have a female family member who has shared how much more her husband’s sexual desire is than her own. She is not frigid, and from what she has shared, I don’t know how she tolerates such a high level of demand. I believe his expectations are very unreasonable. He knows her level of desire is less than his. She gives in to be obedient and meet his “needs”. It makes me sad. They are not that young either. One would have hoped that age would have helped some with the level of demand. (Some might think she shouldn’t share such intimate details with me, but I think it’s part of how she copes).

        I have not yet heard enough to convince me that the writer’s story qualifies as his wife abusing him.

        • Debbie on May 14, 2018 at 9:24 am

          STL, after years of pretending I was interested in sex with my husband it was just an obligation. He decided what he wanted to give and what he expected. Didn’t seem to matte what I wanted. We had a baby and I got 3 hours of sleep a night. yet he expected sex several times a week. I thought when I get to heaven I’m going to ask God why men and women are so opposite in sexual needs and desires. It causes so many problems. After years of talking to God about this. I felt like I got the answer. This is not the way God intended for intimacy to be between loving partners. The enemy has gotten in the middle of marriages. He knows family is the strongest institution on earth. And he’s always trying to make trouble in this area. It’s so important for us to develop our relationship with the Lord, stay in the Word and seek God’s truths rather than the lies the devil is always feeding us. Thanks God for good Christian counselors like Leslie and Christians who support each other like this blog.

          • JoAnn on May 14, 2018 at 3:40 pm

            Debbie, that insight from the Lord absolutely agrees with my understanding. The devil is working hard to undermine the structure of our society and the churches. We need to learn to stand against that, by His mercy and grace.



          • Aly on May 14, 2018 at 4:58 pm

            Debbie, and JoAnn,

            So agree with this dialog between you!

            JoAnn you wrote:
            “The devil is working hard to undermine the structure of our society and the churches. We need to learn to stand against that, by His mercy and grace.”

            So so true and also I would add the importance of the equipping of the Lord’s Armour!

            When you stand against that, the back lash is and can be overwhelming!
            So key to have healthy friends and counseling to reinforce the aligning with God’s desires and surrendering to His will.



          • Seeing The Light on May 14, 2018 at 9:28 pm

            Debbie,

            “This is not the way God intended for intimacy to be between loving partners.” Yes. So true. Marriage before the fall and marriage after the fall are two very different things indeed. I know, though, that God’s redemption has the power to make a difference in the lives of those truly saved.

            I am sorry to hear about the situation with your husband and physical intimacy. With my own husband it was something very destructive. I was used as a tool or a toy. (There is strong evidence to suggest that my husband is a narcissist and/or a sociopath so there was never going to be love). My husband’s approach to sexual matters was completely selfish. A man’s “needs”, you know… My health, our relationship, my emotions – none of those things mattered. I remember how he pushed me to have sex quite soon after the birth of our first child, though I was in no condition. He even tried to trick me into thinking that I couldn’t get pregnant because I was nursing. (I know there are issues of fertility while nursing and general principles there, but it is not 100% foolproof). I don’t even like to think about it anymore. We have been separated in-house for a few years, and I could never go back to that soul-killing experience.



          • Dana on May 15, 2018 at 1:18 am

            Looking at the Bible verse: Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. 1 Corinthians 7:3 – there are different interpretations…this verse has been talked about, but my experience is that the 2nd half is put weight on…so I have been thinking about this off and on…I looked up the word benevolence: :1. disposition to do good a king known for his benevolence
            2. an act of kindness
            3. a generous gift
            Benevolence is not singling out sex
            There is also the word conjugal used in some versions: more of the sexual relationship
            Good News Translation: A man should fulfill his duty as a husband, and a woman should fulfill her duty as a wife, and each should satisfy the other’s needs.
            What is sexual intimacy (making love) really…my husband says it is different for him than it is for me. Have you seen “Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage”? I think the guy does a great job explaining sex for a woman (I at least agree about it for myself)…so a husband is to satisfy the women’s need – which would require a man to hear what his wife needs to be satisfied – this for me is an emotional connection, that I feel loved by him, that I am all that he wants, etc…that goes farther outside the bedroom, a man is easier to please…and do you notice that the man is addressed first…how much easier it becomes in a relationship when the man loves his wife…now consider the word benevolence…it is the kindness towards one another
            God has a purpose in marriage, and even sex is a picture – pure relation with God (FYI: this is not sex with God but a human analogy to the complete enjoyment we will have when in God’s presence in fellowship with Him)- can a person who does not care about God have that relation with Him? No, God has made the provisions, but if the human is not accepting of God’s redemptive gift, there is no relationship…it takes two to enjoy this as God has designed it. I agree, Satan has distorted sex – which God has designed for a greater, perfect purpose. And when we have the distorted view or have been damaged from it, it is so confusing. Even the Bible verse on each of our bodies belonging to the other spouse…it is not a right to misuse or demand from the other, again, there is a deeper picture involved that invites a vulnerability and trust and tenderness and kindness and respect…who would harm their OWN body? Treat others the way you want to be treated would support this…and how about this: In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, – A husband shows what he thinks of himself in how he treats his wife (unbeknownst to himself when he doesn’t examine it) – and yet, still, this is a bigger picture…one that points to Christ and the Church…I think this so much helps me to see what Leslie says when she shares with us that God cares about us…that the man is not more important, God equally cares. It grieves Him that His design, that is to bring joy to us with Him and a fuller understanding of Him is distorted…also, His creation and everything in it was meant to bring us joy too. Ladies, thank you for your transparency. God’s grace is sufficient, and we do not lose His favor. Our Savior is acquainted with grief and a Man of sorrows.



        • Nancy on May 14, 2018 at 9:33 am

          This is such an interesting and respectful conversation, STL and Autumn.

          What comes to my mind is what we talk about so often here, boundaries and requirements. The requirements, as I currently understand them, are around communication.

          This morning, my daughter got up and left during a difficult topic that I broached, with her. I told her a bit later that I didn’t appreciate her ending the conversation by not using her words. She continued to not take responsibility ( by avoiding) and left this morning without saying good-bye.

          Later, I’ll speak to her about one of her responsibilities within our family: communication. It is my job to ensure that she owns her feelings, her thoughts and communicates appropriately about these ( this can absolutely include, “mom I’m not up for this right now”)

          The reason that I bring this up is because in intimate relationship, it is loving to ‘require’ communication. Greater God-honouring communication leads to greater trust and therefor intimacy. This intimacy will grow and be expressed in ways that are appropriate to the relationship in question. When the relationship butts up against one person’s broken-ness, if the person is open, then the requirement of communication will continue to place them in a ‘growth oriented’ posture’.

          My other thought is that I have heard it said that there are 3 types of love in the Bible ( please correct me if this is incorrect), and that the marriage relationship is the only relationship that can demonstrate all 3 types.

          So in short, I agree with what JoAnn said about not knowing enough about how safe this writer is in the way he ‘requires’ communication from his wife.

          I don’t see this as about requiring sex. But I do think that in any God-honouring relationship, that communication should be a loving requirement.

          Again, requiring communicatin around a painful area is delicate, indeed. It requires exceptional emotional maturity. This writer, in my ooinion, needs to take a giant step back and ask himself what ‘his part’ in this is. And if he finds himself to be emotionally immature, then he has a lot of work and growth to do in order to become a safe person who can lovingly require his wife to communicate.

          • Nancy on May 14, 2018 at 9:52 am

            And part of this ‘giant step back’ may have to involve separation. So that each of them can honestly to go before The Lord without the distraction of the other person.



          • Aly on May 14, 2018 at 10:25 am

            Nancy,

            I agree with so many valuable and truthful things you have pointed out about healthy communication.

            Communication on this level is key to any safe and growing relationship ‘especially’ a marital one.

            I also like your example of what you are teaching your daughter about her ‘choices’ in how she chooses to handle herself in relationship.

            It’s true, when you say it’s reasonable for your daughter to express that ‘she’s not up for the conversation’ (paraphrasing).
            We offer this to our children too, but also require that they ‘don’t abuse’ that phrase and use it to not work through the feelings.
            So it doesn’t become a ‘camping out’ place.

            I agree with you about emotional maturity being key especially with the delicate topic here, I think it’s too common that couples choose distraction or not facing the difficulties in communicating as an option to cope. This can go on for years and years and it’s very sad because it derails trust and further works against developing true intimacy, (not the act of sex) in the relationship.

            I believe that the communication is not only God honorable like you said but it i one of the most ‘basic’ parts of offering regard or respect for another individual.

            Without basics such as respect in a marriage, how can trust be built?



          • Aly on May 14, 2018 at 10:29 am

            Nancy,

            You wrote:
            “And part of this ‘giant step back’ may have to involve separation. So that each of them can honestly to go before The Lord without the distraction of the other person.”

            This is really good and sometimes the physical separation is important to highlight how far apart things are in reality, rather than playing things are ok or two people are connected.
            Disconnection creates chaos of all kinds.



          • Nancy on May 14, 2018 at 4:49 pm

            Aly. What you said about communication being a most basic act of respect to another, is so very key.

            How, indeed, could trust possibly be developped without that foundational element of respect!



          • Nancy on May 14, 2018 at 4:59 pm

            Oh, and I agree that a separation can be very valuable because it ‘tells the truth’ about, as you say, “how far apart things are, in reality”.

            In our case, it was the separation that ended up forcing my h to decide wether he wanted to step into that reality of a broken marriage, or continue in the fantasy that all was well. The divide was too great for him, and after 9 months of trying to straddle that divide, he chose reality – Praise God.



          • JoAnn on May 16, 2018 at 10:59 pm

            I am trying to reply to Dana on May 15: i appreciate your comments and I think you have provided some valuable insights. I especially like this: “sex is a picture – pure relation with God (FYI: this is not sex with God but a human analogy to the complete enjoyment we will have when in God’s presence in fellowship with Him)” The complete enjoyment we will have in god’s presence….such a wonderful thing to contemplate and expect. Yes, I believe that marital relationships, all aspects, are given to us by God as a foretaste of the kind of intimacy we can have with Him. What a shame to Him when our earthly relationship does not reflect that. If we were taught that this is truly what marriage is about in God’s design, then we might learn to be more careful in how we enter into these relationships. Too often, the men are not challenged to be godly examples in marital relationships. Sad.



        • JoAnn on May 14, 2018 at 3:32 pm

          I agree; we don’t know enough, but he did say that he believes he has a “right” to an explanation, and that right there tells a lot. It sounds demanding. It sounds a bit misogynistic. So I go back to a former comment I made, asking if he has responded to her with compassion or harshness. She is surely not going to open up to someone she can’t trust to handle her brokenness carefully.

          • JoAnn on May 14, 2018 at 5:49 pm

            Nancy…he chose reality. Yes! Praise God!!



          • Seeing The Light on May 14, 2018 at 9:37 pm

            JoAnn,

            I agree. Something still seems amiss to me about what he has said. He says he has repented of his indifference and the sinful way he responded to the situation. So whatever the situation is now, what is his focus? He wants to know why she was or has been this way. Why does he want to know? To further oneness and intimacy and healing? What he expresses is that he wants to know why because something was stolen from him and because he blames some negative outcome in the children on it. If I were his wife, and I knew that he wants me to open up so that he can find out why I stole something from him and why I damaged the children (though he admits a sinful response, he still sees her dysfunction as the source of the sour relationship and thus the effect on the kids), I would not be in a hurry to get more vulnerable than I already am.



          • Nancy on May 15, 2018 at 9:14 am

            Hi JoAnn and STL,

            In re-reading the question, he doesn’t actually say that he believes that he has a right, he asks the question, “do I have a right to know why things were so hard for her?”

            The word ‘were’ is confusing, for sure. Are they divorced now? If so, what’s the point of the entire question, at all? There would be none.

            If this is an on-going situation, I believe that he would have a right to know why. And this is where loving requirements for communication come into play, with possible separation, for each of them to individually decide wether they will enter into their own healing / growing work.

            If this man is interested in personal growth, and if he is emotionally mature enough to listen to feedback, then he would benefit from participating in this conversation. I hope for his own sake, that he decides to do so.



    • Ann Onymous on May 15, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      Isn’t this why so many secular couples want to “try before you buy” though, to prevent “sexual incompatibility”? And wouldn’t marrying and then divorcing over an issue like this basically be almost the same? Marry one person, try to sleep with them, don’t like it, divorce… Next!

      • Seeing The Light on May 16, 2018 at 12:51 am

        Ann Onymous,

        I get what you are saying here and I certainly don’t support sexual experimenting of any kind. I meant something far deeper than “sexual incompatibility”. I was referring to something more like total sexual impotence and that being a disqualifying factor.

        • Ann Onymous on May 19, 2018 at 8:23 am

          So… annulling a marriage based on disability (without an extra factor like fearing for one’s safety due to said disability)? Not. Cool.

          • Seeing The Light on May 19, 2018 at 12:20 pm

            Ann Onymous,

            I don’t understand what part of this is not cool. I would really like to understand where you are coming from? Is it cool to marry someone and immediately be unable to participate in a sexual relationship at all? Like it or not, part of marriage as God designed is a sexual relationship. How often it occurs and all the factors surrounding the health of the relationship and its effect on physical intimacy may be particular to the couple. However, one does not marry without expecting to participate in a sexual relationship. (As I said earlier, I don’t know about a situation wherein one is totally impotent before the wedding and both parties know it and discuss it and agree anyway. I’m not sure if this is valid or not). I also said that obviously if something happens during the course of the marriage that disables one of the spouses sexually, clearly that is part of the for better or for worse.

            I do believe that entering into marriage without capacity is not right. Presuming that incapacity is discovered on the wedding night, then why is annulment not a consideration? Is it not invalidating to vow that which you do not have the capacity to fulfill? If there is any intentionality involved, it is even worse. Do you suppose this woman had absolutely no idea that she might have a sexual problem and was herself completely surprised on her wedding night? It’s possible, but I think improbable, unless it is a purely physical/pain-related issue. If there was any knowledge or suspicion on the part of the wife in this case prior to marriage, then I would consider it fraudulent. Marriage does include some basic qualities and you can’t cross some of those off the list – especially without the other spouse’s agreement and consent – from the very outset and still call it marriage. I know that relationships change and each marriage takes on it own life. Where there is abuse, a victim can choose to establish a safe distance (however distant that may be) and boundaries, and possibly divorce. What I am talking about is different. Someone going into marriage without the capacity to fulfill the requirements of marriage, I believe, is invalid. Someone going into marriage representing themselves to be materially other than they really are, I believe, is fraudulent.

            Are you saying that you think it is right to marry and from the very outset not be able to participate in a sexual relationship, previously unbeknownst to your new spouse?



        • Aly on May 20, 2018 at 10:06 am

          Seeing The Light,

          I read your latest reply about this and I think I understand where you are making a fraudulent case.

          “What I am talking about is different. Someone going into marriage without the capacity to fulfill the requirements of marriage, I believe, is invalid. Someone going into marriage representing themselves to be materially other than they really are, I believe, is fraudulent.”

          I think that also can be said about many capacities of marriage (not just physically sexual) ~Its in the misrepresentation that’s that fraudulent piece.
          What about other capacities like: communication? Humility posture? Nurture and Sensitivity?

          For example, marrying someone claiming to profess Christianity and have God as their authority yet once in the marriage the real fruits show. They have no desire to be growing and have a teachable heart~ even if it’s learning about themselves.

          So for the time (pre marriage or longer) they were misrepresenting what they wanted to be for the other partner to feel safe and then they can only be that for so long because it’s not authentic ..then their real character issues show up.

          Yes, we all have character issues to deal with throughout our lifetime, yet it’s the fraudulent person who says they are one thing yet ‘UNWILLING’ (Nancy’s recent post) to be further changed & transformed by the Holy Spirit into a growing and maturing Christian and a healthy safe spouse to do life with.
          Saying you’re one thing and behaving in an opposite direction shows the fraud.

          • Seeing The Light on May 21, 2018 at 9:53 pm

            Aly,

            Yes! I agree that this applies to many capacities of marriage as well, as you said, not the least of which is feigned Christianity to win a Christian over to marry.

            I had mentioned in an earlier comment that I had originally thought about this issue when considering narcissists and sociopaths. In my own situation, I have come to the conclusion that my husband misrepresented just about everything about himself. When I read through the actual vows we both spoke at our wedding, it’s a little chilling. One of the things he spoke, among others, was his promise to provide an atmosphere where truth prospered. He is an inveterate liar. He doesn’t just lie. He IS a liar. How could he have even had the intention of keeping such a vow when he spoke it? When I consider the rest of the vows and the expressions I have heard from him more recently regarding how he views marriage, me, and why he chose me, it is not a leap to come to the conclusion I have, which is that I was the target of fraud.



          • Aly on May 22, 2018 at 12:21 am

            STL,

            I am very sorry for what you have been victimized by.
            I agree with fraud covering many areas of what we are discussing.

            Please know I’m on your side and tracking with you.
            Help me understand why you have any participation to the fraud as of now? The now that you are aware his true self?
            You seem not ignorant to the issues and I want you to not hear this judgmentaly at all… I just want to further understand your corner.
            What are your longer term plans?



          • Seeing The Light on May 22, 2018 at 8:59 am

            Aly,

            Thank you for your kind words.

            To answer your questions, I am not participating in the fraud now. We are separated in the same house, and my current situation is doing the best I can to be as shrewd as a snake and as innocent as a dove as I live with a wolf. I still have lambs to protect (minor children). If I exit, my ability to protect them is decimated. As soon as they are safe (as in grown), I can seek safety for myself.



  29. Maria on May 14, 2018 at 3:55 am

    Autumn & STL,
    I wonder if some of the teachings on sex in the church are due to misapplication of scripture.

    1 Corinthians 7:4 ESV / 24

    For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

    I have heard people make comments about how men may engage in extramarital affairs if wives don’t meet their husband’s sexual needs, how men need sex etc. When I’ve heard comments like these, I’ve wondered about single men. The Bible says sex outside marriage is sin. God does expect singles to not engage in sexual immorality. The church may be absorbing the culture of the world we live in.

    • Autumn on May 14, 2018 at 5:13 am

      STL and Maria. I am in agreement with both of you. Thanks for posting.

      • Autumn on May 14, 2018 at 11:17 am

        Nancy and Aly too. They posted later.

      • Seeing The Light on May 14, 2018 at 11:22 pm

        Likewise, Autumn. Thank you.

  30. Sally on May 16, 2018 at 2:12 pm

    This could possibly be a result of the wife being on the autism spectrum. I know of few couples where this is the case, and they struggle with sexual intimacy because the partner on the spectrum doesn’t enjoy being touched, the act of sex, or doesn’t have the ability to initiate anything. And sometimes these persons don’t know why they dislike intimacy, have difficulty verbalising what the issue is, or wont for fear of hurting their partners feelings. We need to demonstrate empathy to both the husband and wife.

    • Seeing The Light on May 17, 2018 at 12:44 am

      Sally,

      This is an excellent point. I had not thought of this before. I know people who have a very difficult time being touched at all by anyone. Thank you for sharing this pertinent issue.

  31. Sunny on May 17, 2018 at 10:29 am

    Nancy, could you give an example of how you would use boundaries and consequences specifically for a H who refuses sex/ intimacy? Thanks.

    • Nancy on May 17, 2018 at 12:45 pm

      HI Sunny,

      JoAnn gave a great example, ” your rejection of me is very painful, I would ask that you consider wether you would like to stay in relationship with me. Until then, I’ll be (at my mother’s)”

      Personally, I would not go that route. I would put sex on the backburner and work on boundaries and requirements toward healthy verbal communication.

      Healthy, God – honouring verbal communication will lead to healthy God-honouring physical communication.

      I hope that can help you somehow, Sunny.

      • Nancy on May 17, 2018 at 12:58 pm

        Also, Sunny, I would encourage you to answer Aly’s questions. She has an awful lot of insight and is very tender with people’s wounded hearts.

  32. Sunny on May 17, 2018 at 10:49 am

    Joann, I’m wondering if you misinterpreted my post regarding the use/ misuse of boundaries and consequences. (No sex, then no doing your laundry) It is exactly my point that such a use of boundaries is incorrect. I use boundaries in the manner you suggest (if you speak to me like that, I’m going to walk away, etc) all the time. This protects my heart from abusive actions from others! My question, though, is how to use boundaries/ consequences from neglectful INaction of others that hurts me. Specifically, how would you use boundaries actions do consequences to invite a H into sexual intimacy? Does this clarify my question?

    • Sunny on May 17, 2018 at 10:53 am

      * should read “boundaries and consequences” not “boundaries actions do consequences.” Dang autocorrect on my phone. 🙂

    • JoAnn on May 17, 2018 at 11:24 pm

      Sunny, I don’t think that boundaries can be used to invite a spouse to have sex when he doesn’t want to or isn’t interested. The only way you can address this is to say that you are not happy with your marriage the way it is, and invite him into counseling with you to improve the relationship. An important question here, and it might have already been mentioned, is why isn’t he interested? Is he into porn? That’s a common cause. Is he involved with someone else? Those are questions that you need real honest answers to. You can go from there once you have an answer. You may have to become a detective to find the answer.

  33. Aly on May 17, 2018 at 11:28 am

    Sunny,

    You have pointed out some really good questions.
    I will also try to give some thoughts on boundaries / also consequences.

    I do go back to our other dialog Sunny, has it always been like this?
    Maybe you have answered these questions and I missed your post.
    Has there been…
    Neglect of sexual or physical affectionate touch since the beginning?
    Neglect of emotional and spiritual connection?
    Have you ruled out sex addiction or pornography being involved?
    Does the marriage have healthy respect and honor for one another?
    Is there animosity or contempt happening in your interaction or lack of interaction.

    Your h being sexually shut down is certainly a symptom but it’s hard to understand unless there is more info from you.
    Pornography is and has been an epidemic drug that has been at the for front for so many tragedies in marriage and marriages that have lost any sexual or emotional safety and connection.

    I remember you saying something in another post about your h’s claims of being a professing believer except you don’t see the fruits of that in his marriage or parenting.
    This is a big flag to me. Because if this is what you are witnessing then his value and belief system will be compromised to align with Gods desires for him and for intimacy with God and you.

    • Sunny on May 17, 2018 at 10:13 pm

      Aly- Great questions. I’ll try to give a bit info. H’s Sexual withdrawal happened within 1 yr of marriage. First child born during this time also. Caught him doing porn several times at about 1yr point too. Confronted that head on. Haven’t seen any evidence of porn use in 10 years now. (Married 12 yrs). Three grade school age children. Domestic violence, physical emotional. Confronted that too with much help from advocate at shelter. Now things physically safe, but otherwise disconnected. Never in 12 years spiritual intimacy. Never emotional safety. I’m laboring thru so much in my own therapy journey. Survived being sex slave to my father starting at age 3- age 17. My mother facilitated this for him. ( so no, agreed with Nancy. I won’t be taking my three kids aND going to stay at Mom and Dad’s place!) My H indeed has multiple issues and Im alone in most of it. No touch affection. Maybe I should just be glad kids aren’t getting physically have now.

      • Aly on May 17, 2018 at 10:29 pm

        Sunny,

        I’m am so terribly sorry for what you have and are going through! Oh my I just want to reach out and send a hug. You are so brave to walk your healing journey and to navigate as you are.
        Do you have a couple supportive women ‘safe people’ in your corner?

        Thanks for answering more here because it really does set the tone of boundaries and consequences.
        Your h is not well, not well at all.
        I realize the physical abuse ended but the other abuse is often just as bad or worse because it can go underground.

        Porn was exposed, how was this addressed? Was there any additional counseling or programs for help/recovery?
        If not, then it’s still there most likely.
        Have you gone looking for more evidence to validate the destructive behavior your receiving?

        Ok, so can you help me understand why you want to draw emotionally and sexually to a man that has offered such mistreatment to you?

        I realize things are ‘physically safe’ as you have said but I do wonder if the trauma has given you a skewed version of safe?
        The relationship is not emotionally or spiritually safe, would you agree?

        It’s hard to see that I think because you experienced the phyi

        • Aly on May 17, 2018 at 10:35 pm

          Sunny,

          Oops,
          Because you experienced the physical abuse.
          I’m so so sorry!

          My heart is so heavy for what you have gone through!!

          As far as boundaries and requirements go, you could tell you h that he needs to do his own work at why he would physically abuse and what’s at the core of that as well as why he’s so under-developed emotionally?
          If he’s been using porn, often low or no empathy for another is key as well as physical abuse because it destroys a person’s ability to see another as a treasure but to be used and mistreated.

        • Sunny on May 19, 2018 at 8:25 am

          Hi Aly, Read your great questions. I’ll answer when I have computer access next week. 🙂

  34. Aly on May 22, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    M,

    I cannot imagine what you have been through! This is horrible and I have no words to describe my own grief for you and what your children have been through.

    Your story is impacting and certainly so vital to this community of women. Your warnings are true and so important here to share and scream from the rooftops!

    You have been at the hands of a very evil sex addict from your descriptions. I can’t add anything that you already don’t know of your own journey I just want you to know you are heard and I wish I could give you a hug. The abuse is horrendous!! I’m so sorry~
    I realize you have drawn your boundaries with your h about physical sex, but from what you describe he doesn’t even seem safe to have a ‘friendship’ with, not that he’s even capable of one.

    The spiritual abuse is obscene!
    Expose him and never look back;)

  35. Dan on June 1, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Leslie,
    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my question on your blog.

    I know it is hard to get the full picture of a 30 year marriage in a few paragraphs, and you have to make a few assumptions on few details….

    I did answer some of your questions in my interactions with folks here.

    To clarify some things, my wife was somewhat present from the beginning. She treated my like a grungy chore though, and would not get her hand messy. She initially(8-10 years or so) received my affections and greatly enjoyed them (OS). It was very meaningful to me to give my wife pleasure. It helped mitigate her lack of affection toward me. She did begin to push away my affection, and as our recent discussions have revealed, she felt guilty for not returning warm affection. Then things really started going south…

    • Ruth on June 4, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      Dan,
      I was DUMBFOUNDED when I connected the dots and realized that Darla was your wife. The reason it was not apparent was bc the relationship SHE describes is VERY different than the one YOU describe. Listen to Darla’s account of the early years of your marriage:

      I am struggling with this issue as well. I had a healthy sex drive until I married my husband. He has erectile issues, and was very critical of me the first few years of our marriage. He would blame his performance failures on me-I did too much, too little, not the right things, etc. Each time we had sex, there would be a 15 min analysis afterwards with my flaws pointed out. I started to not want to have sex with him. Additionally, his anxiety has led to a ton of other issues, like his repeated accusations of affairs, telling me I can’t travel with girlfriends because it is “inappropriate,” telling me I look too nice to be going where I say I’m going, lots of control issues in a variety of areas. He’s very quick to point out people’s weight gain, and I’ve gained a few pounds over the last few years, which gives me more insecurities about being intimate with him. I am to the point where I just feel sexually frozen when it comes to him.
      He is very unhappy about this, of course. I’ve told him that, even if I’m not in the mood, I can have sex if he doesn’t mind doing most of the work. He says this is unacceptable-that it’s only fulfilling for him if I enjoy it and have a good experience. So I need to “try harder.” This makes me not want to have it, even if I’m not in the mood, because he will accuse me of just laying there.
      I have communicated how and I feel and why. He has made some efforts to correct some of these behaviors, but they don’t really seem to last. If he and I have a good few days, he starts putting a lot of pressure on me, and I have told him that this will be a slow rebuilding process, which he doesn’t seem to understand. When I start to thaw, he puts the pressure on, and I “refreeze.” I’m just not sure how to do this.”

      This sounds NOTHING like your account of it. It sounds like your criticism shut down her natural loving desires.
      In your account, You’ve never mentioned badgering her with accusations of infidelity – that would kill anyone’s sex drive. You don’t want her to go places with her mother – you’re controlling – that kills her sex drive. You’ve threatened suicide? Please get individual counseling. Paranoia (the accusations of infidelity) and thoughts of suicide. you need healthier coping skills and those are NOT the responsibility of your wife. Sex is only a temporary self-medicating pleasure. Stop focusing on sex. The issue are deeper soul issues. What you really need is to offer the brokenness of your soul to God. Darla is not the problem, but you are tormenting her over sex in the process of ignoring YOUR real issues.Yes, sex may be important to men, but I know by the Spirit that God needs to deeper healing in you. But you’re looking at the more superficial areas. Rather than focusing on YOU and God, you’re looking too much at Darla and her performance. Now, I know you’re gonna say:” yea, but I have done plenty of looking at myself. BUT WHAT ABOUT HER.’ True repentance is focused on the wounded party having all the time they need to heal. By your words, it’s obvious you see Darla still ‘owes you’ and that you’ve been ‘ripped off’. You haven’t reached a place of forgiving her for not being able to meet your sexual needs. There is resentment in your choice of words. You may deny it. But it is simple for us to see as we read your comments.
      Dan, what would happen if you separated from Darla and gave her some peace. some time not to be pressured for sex. some time to detox from the stress and anxiety of living with such a demanding and critical person. Meanwhile, you seek out intensive counseling to found out what makes you so selfish and paranoid.You’ve got to change your faulty thinking patterns. Dan, you might need medication and that’s not a bad thing! Also, beg God to help break your heart of stone and turn it into a heart of flesh; cry out to God repenting for using your wife harshly. Ask Him to give the the Christ-like love for her that will protect her heart rather than using body and crushing her spirit. Don’t stop until you know He’s changed you. Get desperate.

      • Nancy on June 4, 2018 at 1:40 pm

        Hi Ruth,

        Dan replied to your question above.

        that he is not Darla’s husband.

        I’m confused – where did you get this idea?

  36. Dan on June 3, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    Aleea,
    Thanks for your thoughts. I made a promise when I married her, a solemn one indeed, to her, before God and many witnesses…”for better or worse” is no small promise. So many just blow off their commitment because they go through some hard times. I suppose if I knew what we were in for, I would not have married her, but I did. If I was not a Christian, we might not be married today.

    One of the biggest issues we had were counselors who had no clue how to get to the root issue. They just pull out the handy verse and then proceed with some psyc or religious manipulation. My concerns were always dismissed. My acting out was the focus, but not the root cause.

    It was not until I could take the time to understand the original issue in full view… I was laid off for a few months…and identify it for what it was, a neglect of marriage vows, that I could know how to respond. I backtracked my toxic behavior, waited for her to be assured my repentance and then laid out from the beginning of our marriage what my grief has been all about. It was done in a spirit of gentleness, clearly speaking the hard things, I have not wept that hard for a long time, told her I loved her dearly, and hugged her. She just looked at me, but after 30 years of living with her, I know she took it in. And as we speak, she is responding.

    God is in this.
    Blessings, Dan

    • Aly on June 3, 2018 at 7:22 pm

      Dan,

      There are some things I’m so confused about.
      One thing I will say here and especially in the ‘context’ of what many topics are on this blog ~ has to do with destructive marriages.

      When you say you have gone through hard times, I believe you and I get that.
      But many of us here discuss the difference between ‘going through hard times in marriage’ with a partner that is also a growing lifetime friend and navigating a destructive relationship with a partner who cycles in abusive patterns.
      There is a big difference.

      What I’m confused about is ‘if you both have really gotten to the root issue’ that you speak of?
      What was it?

      And yes, you are so correct to address that many people focus on the symptoms of the issues. Often the symptoms do need to be addressed (or stopped long enough) before the root heart issues get treated.

      Similar to that of an alcoholic ~ hard to make progress or traction while the alcoholic is dealing with the alcoholic wet brain and lack of reasoning skills.

      Dan, was it you or your wife who found Leslie’s book and resources?

      • Dan on June 3, 2018 at 9:59 pm

        Aly,
        Good thoughts and questions.
        My wife found LV’s audio book first. I found one of the audio CDs in our van’s CD player. I asked her for the first one and started going through it. My understanding of what constituted abuse was now undergoing revision. I saw myself in a few of the inventory questions(mainly indifference), acknowledged my wrong doing and set about to change.

        On the “root” question, it has a couple of parts.(1) For myself, the root cause of my problematic behavior came in response to my my wife’s inability to have standard relations and her obvious distaste for taking care of my needs while enjoying me taking care of hers.
        (2) The second part is still open – why was it so hard for her to receive me? I don’t know if she can ever answer this. She may be too ashamed for some reason.

        I was patient for many years trying to work with her but she would not work with me. She also had no affection for her children…

        So I think there was a destructive absence of natural affection, followed 10 years later by my destructive response.

        • Aly on June 3, 2018 at 11:06 pm

          Dan,
          Thanks for answering not that any of us have the answers but I do think having dialog can open our perspectives up to better understanding ourselves and maybe our spouses.

          You wrote:
          “For myself, the root cause of my problematic behavior came in response to my my wife’s inability to have standard relations and her obvious distaste for taking care of my needs while enjoying me taking care of hers.”

          I don’t know what you mean by standard relations?

          You also mentioned in another post that things were ok early on in the marriage and then things changed.

          Please don’t take this harshly, I am wondering about your ability to resolve conflict in your marriage and your understanding about emotional intimacy and spiritual intimacy?

          I ask because you said your marriage was not always this way.

          I get the affectionate complaint and I validate that in a big way;)
          I do think for many it’s very hard to show affection when there are other unresolved issues even if you are not at the core root of it.

          As a woman, and my husband can confirm, ‘unresolved conflict’ and any avoidance of responsibility, never made it a warm or affectionate connection between us.

          The fact that your wife had Leslie’s material says a lot in my opinion. It says she could have been searching for clarity ~ realizing that there was something very wrong going on in the marriage.

          I see you take responsibility for your response to the neglect and your experience of her in the marriage, but have you taken a deep look at your own history of relationships?

          I think it was JoAnn who brought up the importance of counseling and defining ‘going to counseling’ … this meaning that often we have a skewed understanding of the process of counseling and what DEEP issues and destructive relationships would need via counseling.

          My Husband originally believed that 3 sessions should be enough to fix our issues. He was off by a huge margin that could have cost our marriage many times.

          If he was the one ‘defining counseling’ our marriage most certainly would have failed because he needed a lot of intervention on how he thought about ‘repairing relationships’ and what it entailed.

          Dan, I express these things out of concern and care, because anyone who describes some of what you have been through and also mentions being in a ‘functional marriage’ and saying your a Christian … is alarming and can place you in a more serious place in your marriage to be aware of.

          One more question ~
          How many thriving healthy marriages are you & your wife surrounded by?

        • Ruth on June 3, 2018 at 11:17 pm

          Dan
          Are you Darla’s husband?

        • JoAnn on June 3, 2018 at 11:19 pm

          Dan, the fact that your wife is not affectionate toward the children points to attachment issues on her part. That would require looking at her family of origin and how they interact, especially her relationship with her mother. Attachment theory would characterize her as “avoidant.” To me, this would be the “root” that needs to be addressed for her. It also sounds like because this has been the case, even though you were “patient” for a long time, eventually, you gave up and now there is damage to be recovered. So, in therapy, there are two fronts to work on: the deeper root issues and the damage that resulted from those issues. I hope that your therapist is skilled in dealing with these things. While it appears that things are better now, if the roots are not addressed, then the problems will remain, though they may take different forms. May the Lord guide your process.

        • Aly on June 3, 2018 at 11:37 pm

          JoAnn,

          I agree with so much of what you said.
          I am confused about her being an an avoidant attachment based on her having Leslie’s materials? Maybe?
          Maybe you can expand on this…
          But just seems weird to me.
          I am (was) married to the avoidant and they do many many things to avoid even acknowledging that there a marital issues.

        • Darla on June 4, 2018 at 3:30 pm

          Dan is not my husband. We have only been married for 5 years. Our situation is not the same. At the beginning of my marriage, I was open to him. I have become closed off after his jealousy and control have snuffed out any desire to be vulnerable to him.

        • Aly on June 5, 2018 at 8:59 am

          Ruth, Dan, & Dana

          Ruth, I’m wondering if you saw ‘Dana’s posts’ (not Darla) and thought originally she sounded like Dan’s wife?

          Dan, have you read Dana’s posts?

      • Dan on June 4, 2018 at 5:47 am

        Aly,
        I don’t know what you mean by standard relations? – intercourse or oral

        “You also mentioned in another post that things were ok early on in the marriage and then things changed.” – Misunderstanding, We were limping along for a number of years, but things went south when I became toxic.

        “I am wondering about your ability to resolve conflict in your marriage and your understanding about emotional intimacy and spiritual intimacy? ” Conflict avoidance has been a problem with me. It definitely contributed to us not dealing with the affection issue. Combine that with an its-all-my-fault complex I have been working through since childhood and you can understand why it was not dealt with early on. It was hard to feel spiritually close with someone who did not actually receive me.

        ” also mentions being in a ‘functional marriage’ and saying your a Christian… ” Yes Christians have problems too. I don’t have anything to hide, and God is indeed at work in me and my wife even after 30 years.

        We have a good number pretty functional married friends. But even those who look nice on the outside can have or have had serious issues.

        We did some significant marriage counseling from time to time over the years. We took it seriously with significant number of sessions(months of sessions). Most of the counselors were not really much help, probably because I did not really know how to express my concerns and frame them in a way that they could not just be dismissed.

        • Dan on June 4, 2018 at 5:52 am

          Ruth – no. I am the husband in the LV post.

        • Aly on June 4, 2018 at 9:06 am

          Dan,

          Maybe I’m misunderstanding you, do please correct me.

          I’m wondering about how you define what is ‘functional relations’ or functionally working.

          It feels to me you are only speaking in terms of the physical ‘acts’ and not in terms of emotional or spiritual level in connection.

          I feel like maybe you misinterpret my questions and are quick to respond ~ like ‘Christians have problems too’ type of comments.

          Dan, I feel like from these last few comments you seem really focused on the Physical aspects of intimacy…and it’s about your wife not receiving you.

          Physical intimacy is a very vulnerable place and sacred place in marriage, if the emotionally intimacy is not there or there are many places of unrepair~ Often the physical will suffer and the connection will suffer.
          Maybe this is information you have studied and you are well aware, but from many of your comments I’m trying to understand ‘how you think’ and how you define things or even interpret things.

          I asked about the other couples in your environment, and your response is that they are functional.
          This wasn’t a question about sexual relations but about the connection and healthy cherishing you can witness alongside.

          There is a big difference in knowing and having an intimate relationship with your partner and having sex with your partner. There is a big difference.

          The ‘knowing’ (intimacy) part comes from an emotionally developed and growing adult.

          The kind of issues you describe would take much more time in counseling than most might think. Probably years with a very good well equipped counselor that is the same or consistent counselor.

          I appreciate you being able to see you not being able to frame your concerns or having the ability to do so, but I do wonder about some of your quick to define areas and your ability to look at things from a different perspective than maybe what you had been taught about sex and marriage and if there is flexibility about these definitions especially the ability to emotionally engage and problem solve within a marriage.

        • Nancy on June 4, 2018 at 12:10 pm

          Hi Aly and Dan,

          Your questions and follow up comments are very insightful and point to a much bigger issue.

          One of the reasons that I love Leslie’s book is because it is focused on ‘the marriage’ being destructive. When I first read and digested Leslie’s material, just like Dan, I could very clearly see where my spouse was being abusive.

          After going through a separation, a lot of personal work and now a year and a half of marriage counselling, I can now see that I was equally destructive toward him.

          The Lord used me to hold my h accountable for his attitudes and actions. The Lord got to me first. That doesn’t mean that it was “his fault”. No. We each played our part.

          My responsibility is to own my part.

          Dan, your responsibility is to own yours. Your original question was something like, “do I have a right to know why? [ she refused me all those years]”

          I’m thinking that you have a massive opportunity to learn the answer to that question. But the reason may turn out to be much more your responsibility, than you bargained for. Are you willing to ‘really’ go there? To ‘really’ open your heart to The Lord, for that answer?

          Your wife certainly has a responsibility to communicate. But are you a safe person for her to ‘open up’ to? Are you emotionally mature and secure?

          Aly, has some very insightful comments for you. I would encourage you to continue dialoguing with her.

        • Dan on June 5, 2018 at 5:15 am

          Nancy,
          Thanks for your very thoughtful comments. I think that I am ready. I and my wife have been through the meat grinder together. We need a bit of a breather… we are in a much better place now, but like you say, I may be deeply challenged again when she does start sharing her heart. God has been merciful to us and I trust will bring us full healing.
          Blessings,
          Dan

        • Nancy on June 5, 2018 at 1:43 pm

          Hi Dan,

          I can only tell you my own experience, and point of view.

          There is no one that I know better than my h. Even during the years where our communication was infantile…I knew him like no one else.

          When my h started to grow in emotional maturity, I knew this too. Not because he suddenly became a good communicator ( that is it’s own journey), but because I ‘just knew’. And Because he was growing in emotional maturity, he became safer for me to ‘open up to’ ( I use this language intentionally to convey the emotional, the spiritual, as well as the physical).

          So when you say, “I may be deeply challenged again when she does start sharing her heart.”, my feeling is that you have it backwards.

          Challenge yourself, Dan, to grow in emotional maturity apart from her (individual counselling, men’s accountability group). In these safe places, you can begin to understand your own life journey, your own losses- especially those places that have absolutely nothing to do with your wife. Learning to grieve our losses is essential in taking personal responsibility.

          She will sense your growth, and this is what will provide a safe space for her to open up.

          Once you’ve done a lot of individual work on yourself, then you can become the gentleman who can gently require her to verbally communicate. Making loving requirements of a spouse takes exceptional emotional maturity.

  37. Ruth on June 4, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    Dan
    I am sorry. I just saw your reply that you are not Darla’s husband. I should not have commented until I knew for sure.

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