Morning friends,

I just returned from Lincoln, Nebraska from speaking there and planning our CONQUER Conference happening in just 7 weeks. It’s so exciting for me to see this coming together. We have some amazing workshop speakers and I would encourage you to consider joining us for this event.  Click here to learn more. 

I’ve asked another guest to share her story with you for this week. SK will be doing a workshop at our Conquer Conference.  She has been through an ugly divorce and the battle continues to rage even though she is now divorced. She is going to share some of the lessons she’s learned about warfare, and especially what she’s learned from a Navy Seal.

Here is her story:

Journeying through difficult multi-year separation and divorce seasons with a destructive spouse, I’ve encountered the term “Warrior” from Leslie and others. I’ve wondered what it means to have a “Warrior Heart” in dealing with destructive people, without responding destructively? And how to step out of fear and anxiety into peace, courage, dignity, and wisdom, in the face of one who only wants war?

A recent guest post by Christian novelist Angela Strong, Battling for Peace with an Abusive Ex, posed a question:

“Friends, what kinds of things have you learned to do to have peace in your heart when there is still war around you?”

I’ve also sought answers to the moral dilemma Angela penned: “I still want peace…but I’ve realized that the Bible never says to KEEP the peace. It says to be a peace-MAKER. I’m going to make choices that will create peace in my own heart…I may never have peace with my ex, but I will have peace…”

Early in my divorce, I sought a peaceful settlement through ‘shuttled’ mediation and email contact with my then-husband. His replies, filled with blame, name-calling, denial, projection, twisted truths and outright lies, sent me reeling, as did his covert manipulation and triangulation with the mediator. He used my proposals as ammunition to fight harder against the offers of agreement I suggested. Rather than make counter-offers, he filed litigation to fight the proposals. Court filings contained similar accusations to his emails. I lived Psalm 120:6-7, “Too long have I lived among those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.”

As the divorce continued, my husband’s retaliatory behaviors escalated dramatically in intensity and frequency–covert psychological manipulation using the court, our teenage daughter, friends and family as weapons–increasing my sense of helplessness. I felt like he’d opened fire with an AK-47 and was shelling me with rockets and grenades. One of my pastors who’d traveled to Israel, shared with us news about a cell phone app in Israel that monitors active air missile strikes, alerts civilians of the estimated strike zone and a detonation time and provides a time interval for evacuation. When I heard that, I wished I had a warning app like that for impending abuse!!

I also read a few fiction books having characters in the U.S. military “Special Operations Forces,” the most highly trained, elite soldiers in each military branch (called Rangers, Raiders, Air Force Special Operations Command, and SEALS). I’d had no veterans or active military in my family, so this was my first exposure to these warriors, who are often assigned to the most dangerous missions. I wondered why these fictional accounts reminded me of so much of my life. I felt prompted to search out more on military training and combat. I found that a SEAL acronym for high-risk combat situations, “VUCA” (“Volatile, Complex, Uncertain, Ambiguous”) perfectly fit my regular experience with a destructive person.

During the divorce, I started my Conquer membership and one-on-one coaching with Leslie. She exhorted me that, while I didn’t need to stay in a destructive marriage or continue to expose myself to abusive behavior, I needed to become an “owner” rather than a victim. I held a lot of victim-based, self-limiting beliefs and learned helplessness embedded from childhood trauma. Overcoming them required learning what my counselor calls ‘radical acceptance’ of every situation, including numerous false accusations and financial strangulation tactics, no matter how hurtful. With help, I began to more quickly grieve my losses and rise above them. Out of desperation, I prayed for more of God’s guidance on how to be an “owner.”

First, God impressed upon me to stop my knee-jerk verbal and non-verbal outward expressions of frustration. I had to quit whining, complaining and making excuses. A seemingly simple but inwardly excruciating test, it forced me to examine my thinking, feelings, attitudes—and even more, my motives. When another person wasn’t changing or meeting my expectations, or when life didn’t go as I wanted or planned, I had to admit my disappointment and trust God had better ways than mine. Now, I still process my feelings about distressing things, but in healthy ways without reacting—helped by God, counselors, and a few trusted friends.

The next step: learn to accept myself while God made me aware of my own shortcomings like impatience, fear, self-rejection and resentment. I couldn’t make excuses or react anymore, so I had to ask for God’s help; this was not a self-help course. He had to re-make me in a ways only my Creator and Designer could. He revealed my entire belief system was faulty. I needed “heart surgery” to transplant my heart of fear and shame with a heart of courage. [The root of ‘courage’ is the French word for heart, ‘couer.’] Slowly, my beliefs about myself, God, and unfortunate people or events began to change. I became more patient and forgiving: first with God, myself, then others. I accepted being the mom of very confused kids and let go. I learned I’d unconsciously been a volunteer for abuse. I made choices to stop enabling it. Through grief work, I let go of resentment and grew more compassionate.

As time went on, I gained adaptive tools, unexpected resources and new strategies to overcome fear without reacting. For example, I learned when to take cover and care for myself. I grew to confidently stand my ground or let go; I discovered my courage to speak up in situations I never dreamed I’d be in; I also learned when to stay silent and/or practice “no JADE (justifying/arguing/defending/explaining)” when confronted by false or distorted accusations; and also how to “sidestep” manipulation; go “no-contact;” guard my heart; tend to my own wounds; expose truth when it’s hard; as well as how to love others and myself by boundary-setting and the authority of my ‘”no.”

Finally, I had to stop allowing other people and circumstances to define my values, identity and character. This involved assessing what I could and couldn’t change. I prayed the powerful Serenity Prayer often: “God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change what I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” God answered! I gained confidence that He’ll always provide options. Wisdom will come when I ask for it and wait for it (James 1:5). I began to take time to listen to God, listen to my own heart, and walk in obedience to that ongoing heart ‘conversation.’ As I did, I came to believe that, in any situation I face, I will have a path in which I can walk in victory and peace. Most importantly, I understood that my identity depends on what God thinks of me, not what others think.

My divorce finalized last year, but as I grew stronger and more independent, my former spouse’s destructive behaviors grew worse (very typical). Digging deeper about the military, I read real-life accounts, watched movies and interviews. Recently, I spoke with Retired Navy SEAL Officer Brian “Iron Ed” Hiner, who served in combat and as a Training Officer, then authored First, Fast and Fearless: How to Lead Like a Navy SEAL. According to Hiner, SEAL training is designed to stretch the belief systems of its participants far beyond their level of previously known capabilities. Trainees are routinely subject to what he called a “RAW Deal.”  

For example, they’re sprayed in the face with high-pressure hoses and verbally harassed by instructors while performing extreme physical training. They’re disciplined for failures of teammates. They’re thrown to the bottom of pools, hands, and feet tied, required to unbind themselves or hold their breath while undergoing “pool harassment.” As I learned of these, I wondered, what’s the point of all this intentional harassment and abuse? How did it help one become an elite warrior? I’d unwittingly and involuntarily endured years of physical, verbal, and psychological intimidation and abuse. I’d gotten a lot more “Raw Deals” during my divorce. But these men sign up for it as a lifestyle. Why?

Hiner explained, “’RAW’ spelled backward is ‘WAR,’ and warfare is life. This understanding is basic, that you have to take action and not let the action take you.” He added that SEAL trainees have to learn “extreme ownership of the outcome” in order to pass (on average, 75% who try it don’t). There are “no excuses” for failure to achieve objectives; they have to admit their shortcomings and either learn to do it differently and better or get out. To join an elite combat team, “they have to decide they’re no longer a victim, keep moving forward no matter what happens to them or how they’re treated, and let their extreme hardship mold them into something special by mentally ‘reframing adversity,’” said Hiner. “Your life is your own…You define you…That’s what SEAL training does. You have to reframe the strength you have. When bad things happen, decide the past is all gone; it’s attached to a belief system.  You have to find a path to change your belief system.”

I realized God’s already been teaching me some “Warrior” lessons Hiner described: be accountable for my own life; admit when I believe I’m getting a “Raw deal” and move beyond it; stop reacting out of my emotions or making excuses; capitalize on my strengths; reframe my adversity as a form of “warrior training.” God, the Master Trainer, has stretched me “far beyond my level of previously known capability” as I asked Him for help and guidance. As my Commander-in-Chief, He has higher, better ways than mine. All this helps define for me what it means to have a “Warrior Heart” and achieve peace in the midst of intense spiritual battle.

Paul admonished Timothy, “You, therefore, must endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3) and “train yourself to be godly. ‘Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.’…Teach these things and insist that everyone learn them” (1 Timothy 4:8). Military special operators learn to endure hardship for this world’s battles. God calls us to endure hardship, including finding the courage to seek freedom from destructive partners, as training for Kingdom warfare.

I love Psalm 18.  David, who had the heart of a Warrior, the tender heart of a shepherd/poet/musician and a big heart for God, wrote, “For by you I can run against a troop, by my God I can leap over a wall…It is God who arms me with strength, and makes my way perfect…He teaches my hands to make war so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze…For You have armed me with strength for the battle; You have subdued under me those who have risen up against me” (Psalm 18:29,32,34,39).

Friends, how is God using your circumstances to stretch your beliefs beyond your current capabilities and train you as a Warrior for His Kingdom?

135 Comments

  1. Sophia on August 29, 2018 at 10:37 am

    S…this is very helpful in many ways! Thank you for taking the time to share both the hard work you have done and what you have learned along the way. I will revisit this. My whole life I have learned to be the role of a doormat. Effort is required to get out of that role.

  2. Julie on August 29, 2018 at 10:44 am

    Oh.my.goodness. This is simply amazing and so helpful. As I read, I feel empowerment rising up in my very core. And yet I am so far from attaining these attributes of a warrior! At that realization, my heart collapses – because this takes hard work! And this challenges me to get to it! I am going to print this out as a sort of training manual to guide my prayers and begin shaping my responses, to shift my mindset from victim to victor. Thank you for sharing your difficult story, SK. You are a warrior most certainly.

  3. Ann on August 29, 2018 at 11:16 am

    Excellent! Encouragement to keep on keeping on, being courageous and strong. Thank you.

  4. Diane on August 29, 2018 at 11:40 am

    Wow! Thank you so much for sharing your story! There is a tremendous amount of “meat” here for processing. As I read your story, there are areas in my own life where God is using your words to convict me dear sister. I thought I was owning my situation and no longer having a victim mentality, however now I see that I still have much work to do with ownership, stop reacting as much emotionally and react more prayerfully, etc.

    If I could ask, what resource(s) helped you discern when to speak up, implement no JADE, sidestep manipulation, etc. (and how to do that)? This is an area I struggle with as I tend to zig where I should have zagged…. For example, I’ve realized when I have implemented no JADE when my h has hurled false accusations at me, my children see this as their dad is speaking truth and my refusal to engage as me “admitting” he is correct. This has led to tremendous backlash/repercussions with my young adult children.

    Again thanks so much for your courage and sharing your warrior story.

    • Violet on August 30, 2018 at 8:58 am

      Diane,
      It is so hard to know the best way to respond to abusive situations! Thank for asking for resources as you are not the only one who has the same question/concern.
      No matter if I stand firm or not, my h orchestrates it to appear to our children like I am hurting him and am the problem in our marriage and he is the reasonable one.
      Argh!
      I hope you get the clarity you are looking for! Stay strong!

  5. Free on August 29, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    S, I understand your mindset. I was told by a veteran that I saw more combat by surviving my abisuve marriage, than many of the soldiers he had served with on active duty. He thanked me for my service. How about that?!

  6. Laura on August 29, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Friends, how is God using your circumstances to stretch your beliefs beyond your current capabilities and train you as a Warrior for His Kingdom?

    To all those facing a battle I pray you can incorporate the encouraging learning tools found here on Leslie Vernick’s site. Her wisdom, coupled with all that is shared by guest accounts and all the respondents godly actions can be worked together and used as strong guidance to victory. My victory comes by way of being an open group leader in a Christian based Celebrate Recovery program. Being a group leader is a place where I am often given an opportunity to be vulnerable and open about my own life. My sharing of struggles in an emotionally abusive marriage is empowering because it is evidence for change. By God’s placement of me in a leadership role, I am able to relate with others about how they too can conquer the lies of the past. This Divine blessing makes me a grateful “Warrior for His Kingdom”.

    To move into warring for God’s Kingdom and then beyond the war zone of destructive situations is hard work. In my case I was trapped as a prisoner of war in a destructive marriage by believing the lies applied to my character by my ex instead of by God’s definition. Those untruths kept me helpless, inadequate and more, until I started Celebrate Recovery to help me learn the steps to recover from the long time abuse I had accepted. I learned a lot in the program about God’s desire for me and eventually graduated from a 12 Step Study Group in the winter of 2016. I want to note it took me many years after divorcing in June of 2010 to reach the point that enabled me to change the things I could. I implore all those suffering in abusive situations to I know it is possible to escape the chains that bind no matter how long the struggle. Seeing through the binding links of abuse and breaking them open brings renewal. Renewal can be accomplished by recognizing God’s hands at work and then using the strategic tactics Leslie, SK, and Hiner have shared as, “warrior training.” The,” SEAL acronym for high-risk combat situations, “VUCA” (“Volatile, Complex, Uncertain, Ambiguous”)” describes my experiences to a T to, ” perfectly fit my regular experience with a destructive person” and I presume it also applies to many others. By taking into account this description for a “high-risk combat situations’ and acting by taking action with, no JADE (justifying/arguing/defending/explaining)” sooner, I possibly would have helped to create a truce with not only my ex husband but for my own emotional well-being. By “enduring hardship”, I might have bypassed some stressful periods. But,instead for far too long I kept feeding into lies, manipulations, verbal attacks and more, rather than finding the freedom God patiently had waiting for me. I can admit that without these valuable lessons learned the battles continued raging on to,” Raw deals”. As quoted,” Hiner explained ” Raw deals”, “’RAW’ spelled backward is ‘WAR,’ and warfare is life. This understanding though a seemingly simple basic fact of life, requires warriors to take action and not let the action take you.” So my prayer for you is to take the position as a warrior,” Take action!!” I confess it took many years for me to see clearly how God was using my circumstances to stretch my beliefs beyond my, “one time”, current capabilities, to ultimately train me as a Warrior for His Kingdom! Please remember this, “Hiner described: be accountable for my own life; admit when I believe I’m getting a “Raw deal” and move beyond it; stop reacting out of my emotions or making excuses; capitalize on my strengths; reframe my adversity as a form of “warrior training.”

    Isaiah 40:29, 31

    “He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. … “But those who wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

    God Bless All! And may you find your victory in Christ

    Laurie

    • Amy on September 1, 2018 at 8:04 am

      Amen! I am still working through a divorce with my abusive h. He was very abusive in so many ways and I did become a victim with a victim mentality…in all areas of my life. I feel shame, which I am dealing with, when I think about what a victim mentality I had. I have started calling myself a survivor instead, but I think I like warrior better. Warrior Survivor!! Interestingly enough, I now live near my parents and I am realizing my father is also an abuser, very similar to my abusive h…no surprise there, so I weekly have to deal with his abuse of me, my sister and mom. Then, on my 3rd grade teaching team, I have a teammate who is very toxic and verbally abusive! So I have the “opportunity” to use ALL the things the Lord has been teaching me through so many avenues to guard my heart, be a peace maker in my own heart and stay away from the mental, verbal, narcissistic war that is being waged. It’s not easy, its a constant decision to focus on truth, but with the crazy making abusive ex out of my head, I am learning how to sidestep the landmines and move out of the way of the explosives.

      • Moon Beam on September 1, 2018 at 8:41 pm

        Yet Amy, you see the dynamic now and that is huge!

  7. outofthefog on August 29, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    I have recently been diagnosed with anxiety disorder and was started on medication. I know that I MUST learn to find peace someway. I am a Christian. He says he is, but does not show it. Everyone at church thinks he is great. Ugh! So frustrating. I am working on building my CORE. I am exercising. I am praying. I am trying to not think about negative things all the time. I realized today that I need to share my thoughts with people who understand. I am so lonely in all of this. I am determined to beat this and get off the medication. Divorce is not an option for me. I am trying to figure out how to “Stay Well”, as Leslie says.

    • Autumn on August 30, 2018 at 5:26 am

      Out, I have felt like you. As I made myself stay well my physical health got worse and worse. My body rebelled against what my mind was making it do. Honesty and living in truth became dangerous for me. As I tried to live well my abusive spouse didn’t like it. I became harder for him to control. He increased his abusive behaviors. Eventually he beat me so bad he tried to kill me. Even then I thought I have to stay, have to live well, have to forgive, submit and honor my vows. So, I don’t think you want to hear this, but if you are in such severe abuse that you are taking medication, the real solution is to get out of the relationship. It may take time, but find a way to detach and make an exit plan. Have an emergency bag packed, just in case.

    • Ruth on September 5, 2018 at 9:30 am

      Being on medication for anxiety, is not something to be ashamed of. If you found out that you would go blind unless you used certain eyes drops every day, you would not hesitate to take that medicine would you? Living with constant abuse and stress changes your brain chemistry AND NOT FOR THE GOOD.
      Go easy on yourself dear sister ❤️❤️

      • Nancy on September 6, 2018 at 3:44 am

        HI Ruth,

        Last post ‘do I laugh at h’s jokes’, you asked for feedback. I responded with some observations and questions, and you’ve stopped engaging (unless you’ve responded elsewhere that I haven’t seen?)

        I’ve noticed that this has happened a couple of times in the past, too.

        What’s that about Ruth?

        • Ruth on September 9, 2018 at 7:45 pm

          Nancy,
          I haven’t responded anywhere else. you are right that my boundaries were much too easily pushed over. I didn’t stop commenting bc I was aggravated or anything like that. I appreciate your concern. As to why, I don’t dialogue very much about it, I guess bc it’s depressing to think about. When I think about my marriage, I see #1 I should have never married this man in the first place.
          #2 I should have sought a divorce BEFORE I had kids (but like with most crazy marriages mine much worse)
          #3 During about a 7 year period I had a bad shopping problem and I overspent and I lied about it.
          I’m glad the environment in our home isn’t so hostile anymore Do you think I should re-start my separation even if there’s not a big impetus for it?
          A friend asked me: “do you love him?” You know that’s funny that we rarely ask that on this blog. I do not mean that it’s bad.
          I answered my friend:
          “No, I feel no affectionate or romantic feelings towards him, but I wish him well.”
          Nancy, now that you and your H are reconciled and you all have both done the hard work of self-evaluation and growth and counseling, have your feelings of “love” (affection) come back? Just curious.

          • Ruth on September 9, 2018 at 8:06 pm

            Sorry this sounded disjointed. While I wrote that, I got asked multiple questions by one of my children.



          • Nancy on September 10, 2018 at 6:28 am

            Gosh Ruth, thank you so much for your vulnerability, that’s so brave.

            I hesitate to tell you what I think you should do. I only have my own story to go by, as well as what the experts say.

            I guess what I would say is that I think individual counselling is really important so you can seek clarity within yourself. This gives perspective and helps us recognize where we are minimizing our own experiences of betrayal. Standing firm in the presence of covert abuse takes a heightened sensitivity to your own feelings and experiences. Counselling is essential.

            As to your question. Yes, my h and I are more ‘in love’ than we have ever been. This is not a ‘notebook – ‘passion in the rain’ type of ‘in love’. It is more dependable than that. There is a rock solid foundation underpinning this Union and family now. I can count on him to support and love me in a way that is hard to describe.



          • JoAnn on September 10, 2018 at 11:24 am

            Nancy, I am so happy that you now have “a rock solid foundation underpinning this Union and family now. I can count on him to support and love me in a way that is hard to describe.” I can only imagine how hard you and your h had to work to get to this place, but I also believe that the Lord led the way and supplied you both with the grace to go the journey. Praise Him!



          • Nancy on September 10, 2018 at 12:01 pm

            Amen.



          • Ruth on September 10, 2018 at 4:06 pm

            Nancy, I would like to reply to your Tuesday 9-10 morning comment at the bottom of the page. This column is getting too narrow for my eyes.



  8. Alene on August 29, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    This was beautifully presented and laid out. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Alene on August 29, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    “A virtuous woman who can find…” says Proverbs 31 in the KJV.

    A few years ago I did a study on that word virtuous and discovered something amazing: it is the word chayil in Hebrew and every other time it is translated it is in relation to warriors.

    Here is a quote I just googled: “Chayil” means strength, might, efficiency, wealth, army, force, power and ability.

    Another: “To a Hebrew woman, moral excellence was a given, but to be a warrior was a choice.”

    I felt like chivalry had hidden the calling of women to be warriors. I was stunned when I first did this word study.

    • jane on August 29, 2018 at 6:06 pm

      cool

    • Nancy on August 30, 2018 at 8:58 am

      A word study of ‘Ezer’ ( helpmeet) reveals the same type of thing. Very surprising!

    • many years on August 31, 2018 at 3:04 am

      Wow..S
      What an amazing journey you have shared with us.

      And how amazing what Alene found about the word ‘virtuous’. So, God can equip His warrior women in whatever walk of life He has put them into, to do His good will. Thank you for this confident assurance S, which you have expounded upon.

      When I first began reading what S was saying, though, I began shrinking from the thought of becoming ‘hard’ But it is not the kind of ‘hard’ that ‘hardens’ the heart, it is the type of ‘hard’ that is a strength to defeat the enemy.

      And yes, not all situations of abuse are the same, as Autumn’s husband’s abuse escalated when she began speaking her own truth. This is to be expected from the enemy of our souls.

      That is why many domestic online sites say to ‘leave’ if expected abuse is apparent or will escalate. This is no time to turn the other cheek, but to get out of there safely!

      I noticed that our own public hospital has the ‘safe’ haven SIGN in plain site, outside the hospital, for abuse victims, or for women or children needing or seeking shelter to remain anonymous and to stay in privacy and in secrecy from their abusers. And if you can’t find that sign, I would say that a hospital would not turn away suspected abuse victims. It would be better than going to the police dept. as you could always contact the police once inside the hospital if necessary.

  10. Jamice on August 30, 2018 at 6:53 am

    What a beautifully written testimony..thank you S for sharing with us. Yes,mighty warrior women of God we are and that is what makes so many of our stories especially painful.We have been designed by our loving Heavenly Father to be that strong ally at our husbands side ( not behind or in front) fighting together against all enemies.Instead we find ourselves fighting to survive and stay sane in a marriage that hurts and wounds on a daily basis.I fought the battles for 26 years and am now off the battlefield and attending to my wounds through a legal separation.I will not reenlist as I don’t believe it is a “just war” anymore.I pray for my husband and leave the future in Gods hands.I pray for each woman here on this site that they know how loved and cherished they are…keep fighting the good fight- for truth and clarity.

    • Amy on September 1, 2018 at 8:09 am

      I love your thought, that you won’t “re-enlist”. Such a good word picture! Truth and clarity. It’s amazing what truth and clarity does for the soul.

  11. JoAnn on August 30, 2018 at 2:13 pm

    I really like that new definition of virtuous. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Moon Beam on August 31, 2018 at 7:25 pm

    I want to say that I went to the zoo today. I saw some huge white cranes that mate for life. I noted they looked quite peaceful together. That observation caused me to reflect and question if there is mistreatment among mates in the animal kingdom. Is there? Are hunans the only creatures that tolerate mistreatment? Why can’t we take a lesson from God’s splendid creation?

    It is just so illogical and unnatural to talk ourselves into thinking it is ok to keep company with or think that we can fix a mean person. Why do we disrespect ourselves so much and ignore the innate response to fight or flee? Can’t we be wise warriors and protect ourselves from proven crazy person, even if they are our mate? The birds I saw , that mate for life, have zero abuse. That is the only expected and acceptible behavior to be a life long mate. Bad behavior, sorry mate, I’m kicking you out of this nest. You failed, just saying..

    • caroline on September 6, 2018 at 6:35 am

      Moon Beam
      well…ever heard of pecking order? We have raised ducks, chickens and quail and there is tons of abuse within those flocks, even with the mallards who are reportedly semi monogamous.

      We also live near a lake where three to four swan pairs come to spend their summers each year. One year there was an abusive swan couple! The male was huge and would not let the female eat.

      My kids would get really mad so they would throw bread or a stick way out and when he swam off to get it they would feed the female as much as they could. He would see and come zipping back over to peck her head and neck for eating his bread. And of course she would dutifully follow him home to the other side of the lake after their “date” because they mate for life so she was stuck with the brute!! Maddening.

      BUT that’s the wild…and maybe well fed zoo birds are better Christians than many men stalking the church rows these days, but thank God, we are not birds and we already have a perfect example of good husbandry: Jesus Christ!!

      Never were insulting words directed toward women, no misuse or blame placed on her, never were her faults and failures used as fodder for jokes or wisecracks to get in with the big donors, Jesus was all that one would want.

      Women loved our Lord when he was alive on the earth and were willing to follow him into the depths of darkness and despair. Last at the cross, first at the tomb, the female followers of Christ knew they had found the answer to the gnawing empty ache inside of them. And we can know that too.

      If a man (married or single) is not looking at Christ as his example he is going to stray in one direction or another. He is going to get it wrong. There is no room for self satisfaction, tyranny, or abuse when the comparison is the living God who hung on a cross for his bride.

      • Moon Beam on September 6, 2018 at 9:51 am

        Thanks Caroline. I am a city gal with little to no experience on the subject of fowl. Yet, we both know a bit about foul and I agree with your thoughts.

  13. JoAnn on August 31, 2018 at 10:32 pm

    Moon Beam, I really like what you wrote, That is a beautiful and insightful observation. Worth careful consideration. Thanks.

  14. Aly on September 1, 2018 at 9:03 am

    S,
    Such a impactful and empowering testimony! Thank you for writing a descriptive reminder of God’s overall Kingdom in process.

    Re: “Friends, how is God using your circumstances to stretch your beliefs beyond your current capabilities and train you as a Warrior for His Kingdom?”

    I think God’s training ground is key for many places in ones journey and especially the kind of relationships that are discussed often on this site.
    For me, I feel He continued to reveal truth about what I was surrounded by; Those who I love, but those also far from God based on their behavior and attitudes. I didn’t want to believe that it was possible that a person could say they love God, believe in God and yet still behave incongruient to being close with God? But it’s true there is a Big difference between, just knowing God, and being close to God in a transforming way. Often it’s these individuals who in truth are not aligning with God but choosing to war against.
    (Don’t worry, they will claim they have truth and that something is wrong with you because you don’t yield to their comforts)

    Truth is essential for healing and any growth and yet so many want to battle against it.

    I love how God keeps His promises as we participate in seeking Him out and asking For His ways.

    Stretching, training and ultimately transforming is the journey if we choose to take it.
    I personally believe there is no other life worth living than the one that He calls us to~A Warrior Heart crafted by God for His purposes💜

  15. Nancy on September 1, 2018 at 9:40 am

    The words that continue to run through my head are, ‘radical acceptance’.

    I think I have to adopt this mindset in order to combat the magical thinking that I had relied on for so long.

    It’s so easy for me to slip into either denial, or trying to fix someone else.

  16. Laura on September 1, 2018 at 3:22 pm

    Hi Amy,

    i can relate to exactly the things you have mentioned. being,. I too have faced realizing how prevalent abusive circumstances have affect my well being. I love the reference to “Warrior Survivors”. If more awareness becomes part of our’ history we will overcome all the threats we once battled.

    God Bless,
    Laurie

  17. Moon Beam on September 4, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    I was thinking about being a warrior for the wrong cause and how such behavior hurts our witness and testimony.

    I wonder if anyone has experienced, as I have, people turning away from God because of my decision to stay so long with an abusive partner. Sadly, a neighbor, just said as much. “If you were a little less religious,’ I was told, ‘you could have saved yourself sooner.”

    My desire to hope all things, trust God, submit, and pray without ceasing, has turned off my neighbor whom I spent years try to witness to.. “If that is part of the God you believe in, I’m not interested,” he said. “I can’t believe you lived like that,” he said. “That is some real sick stuff you believe. Why didn’t you tell us what was going on in your house?”

    I tried to explain that our God doesn’t endorse such evil, yet I lost his attention and respect. My actions, and those of my cross wearing, self righteous, abusive husband thwarted any further interest in the gospel my neighbor may have ever considered.

    Friends, let’s not be ridiculous here. Nobody is interested in our testimony when we stay in a destructive relationship. It makes us seem as my neighbor said, “like some kind of cult.”

    Just something to think about, we need to be strong for the right reasons. When we pretend and avoid the truth, so many people get affected by the lies. People are watching us, don’t forget that. Letting sin win in our relationships makes us look like dim minded fools.

    • caroline on September 6, 2018 at 6:53 am

      Oh this is really true about tarnishing the testimony when we “wink at evil” and enable harm!!
      And even closer to home when you think of the witness to children; kids in the family or neighborhood, youth group, or even just visiting what looks like a safe home.

      I was repeatedly molested by a man because his wife stayed for all the wrong reasons. Had she stood up and demanded truth and health just for herself and her own kids I would never have been put at risk in their home.

      Had they been living separately, I would NEVER have been allowed to visit this man in his own apartment or stay overnight with him alone. But because they were still married…it must be okay and I was allowed to be in the home.

      Yes moonbeam, it makes a mockery out of our beliefs and testimony when we stand by and allow behavior we would NEVER engage in ourselves.

      • Jane on September 6, 2018 at 7:37 am

        caroline,

        I am so sorry you went through that! You make an excellent and helpful point.

        • caroline on September 7, 2018 at 11:43 pm

          Jane, Moon Beam , Aly and Nancy, and Jo Anne, thank you all for your compassion and validation.

          To answer Aly about telling and pressing charges: No, I never told. Not as a child or a young person. I didn’t even allow myself to call it abuse or fully admit to myself what had actually happened until I was almost 35 years old. I had been calling it “inappropriate” , which of course it was, but that description lacked the stench and stigma that abuse victims must carry. I was allowed to keep my credibility as a human being instead of having all my views and reactions discredited by the sins of another.

          I had been studying Dan Allender’s The wounded Heart book to help another person in their walk of healing. I was asked to read various books and be another mind on their recovery team who understood the dynamics of sexual harm and healing, but what I read turned my own life upside down.

          I quietly accepted my reality but I still didn’t want to pay and carry that tag of “damaged goods” and “victim”. I was determined to keep my findings to myself.

          But the truth has a way of coming out anyway. My husband was the first person I told and he was incredibly validating, and very angry on my behalf.

          I did tell my mother shortly after that, and she had a shame melt down. First trying to down play my views as a misunderstanding, and then upon hearing more details , “Oh! (wailing and ringing her hands) Why did you let it happen?”

          My violation was her failure of protection as a mom, and the shame of that failure was too much to bear. So she shifted the blame a little and bound me to secrecy to protect my father. “Don’t ever tell Daddy. He’d lose his mind if he knew it was you”. And so I never did.

          On his death bed he asked me “Have you had an okay life?” It’s like he knew. Knew something anyway. I wanted to tell him so many things, but as I held his bony yellow hand in mine, I swallowed my desire to purge. “I guess I have. It’s not been perfect, but I am so grateful for my life.” Which was true.

      • Moon Beam on September 6, 2018 at 7:52 am

        I think we need to read and think about your post, Caroline. How many of us are living with evil spouses and doing the exact same thing as your childhood acquaintance did? We say we stay for the children but really we just stay for our own pride or fear of financial difficultly, meanwhile sin wins.

        • caroline on September 8, 2018 at 12:15 am

          Moonbeam,
          I agree the stated reasons for staying are probably rarely the real ones. Pride is probably closer.

          For the record, the wife of my abuser was not staying for any obvious or traditional “religious” reasons and not even financial ones as she always worked the “real” jobs with benefits and he was the liability to the family stability.

          If anything she was more of an angry rebellious hyper-feminist type, only nominally Christian at best. She was proud of her tolerance of her husband’s low worldly standards. He was a schmoozer, a liar, heavy drinker, heavy smoker, obsessed with watching sports, huge pornography user, an extravagant spender, totally incompetent around house or cars, and insisted on having separate bedrooms.

          I have NEVER understood their union. They are divorced today (at his request).

          I know many people like to blame Christian beliefs, children, and financial dependence for why women “stay” when they shouldn’t, but I think there is something far darker at play.

          • Moon Beam on September 8, 2018 at 12:40 am

            The reasons people stay iare as diverse and complex as their relationships.

            Did I read it here or on another site that to tell most Christian women to leave is usually poor advice? It seems that turns a woman off fast. Yet, if someone tells them to stay well, they are more likely to consider what we’ll would look like for them. They eventually realize, over time, and in their own way, that it is impossible to stay well. Slowly, many in destructive relationships figure out how bad their situation really is and leave on their own.



          • Nancy on September 8, 2018 at 4:43 pm

            Caroline and Moon Beam,

            While there may be many stated reasons for staying, I agree Caroline that pride is very likely at the root for many.

            For me, my pride kept me focused on ‘keeping up appearances’ instead of walking in truth and trusting God for the outcome. Pride kept me trying to ‘fix the marriage’ instead of taking responsibility for my heart. Pride kept me focused on him, “if he’d only change, then I’d be happy.”

            Would anyone else like to join me in reflecting on how prioritizing your pride has kept you from taking responsibility for yourself?



          • caroline on September 8, 2018 at 11:32 pm

            @ Nancy,
            I will gladly reflect on my own pride and the role it has played in stealing my joy.

            And when I speak of pride here, I also mean shame; the flip-side of pride. To a prideful person, a lack of pride is experienced as shame.

            Sometimes we gravitate to, and remain in toxic unions to avoid the shame of failure; the shame of living unchosen or the shame of losing our lover, which are both human shames, and not Christian by the way. We will not find another worldview in history, either religious or secular, that celebrates relational rejection.

            This is why I can say Abusers Wife made choices that seemed more out of rebellion, and not obedience to the Christian values she was raised with. It was a loveless sexless expensive marriage full of mutual contempt. Go Figure.

            But as for myself, and my own marriage, I thought I could do it, Nancy. I was young and in my arrogance, I thought I would be different. I would not be as other women who all seemed so angry, miserable, and desperate in their life choices. Religious or nonreligious, married, divorced or single, it just didn’t seem to matter. I had only met one couple in my entire life who had entered an arranged marriage, but it seemed most people I knew lived trapped as if they had each been defined by the village matchmaker.

            I didn’t know how I’d do it, but I thought if I just kept looking and reading and working really hard, I’d find the magic within me. I really thought I could hold this thing together by my own strength and will power.

            I was enough to change myself into something more desirable than pornography and habitual MB, (good luck competing with an ever changing fantasy life) AND I could also heal the wounds that had sent hubs spinning into his cycles of sexual addiction as a child.

            And to a huge degree thought I was doing it because, like most addicts, he was also an excellent liar. But honestly, he didn’t even need to be that good, because I was so ripe to believe the “love a good woman” had cured his sexual depravity!

            I was amazing; HE could not change, but I could change enough for the both of us.

            I hope this sounds ridiculous to you all. For it is ridiculous, as in, worthy of ridicule. Yet how many books have been purchased by Christians that formulate my above attempts into a program? how many movies and songs and novels preach that going along and giving in will win the day. Too many.



          • Nancy on September 9, 2018 at 4:40 am

            Thanks for sharing caroline,

            You describe so well, in detail, the pride of what I called ” kept me focused on trying to fix the marriage instead of taking responsibility for my heart.”

            I love how you thought you’d “find the magic within me”. Wow, yes! Also how you thought that you could heal his childhood wounds. Boy can I relate to this! Interestingly, while we still thought that having a biological child was possible for us, I used to say to him, “I want a little boy just like you” this was so that I could love that child in a way that would somehow ‘fix’ his father! When we adopted ( many years later) we adopted girls….wow.

            When you say, “he couldn’t change but I could change enough for the both of us”. I had that same heart posture. Talk about dis-respecting someone! And yet for me, I also would not take responsibility for my own heart. ( I suppose if I did I’d have to admit my powerlessness over the marriage and his healing).

            Would you explain what you mean by “to a prideful person, a lack of pride is experienced as shame.”? And That shame is the flip side of pride. This makes sense to me but I have never heard this. Would you expand on this?



          • Free on September 9, 2018 at 9:08 am

            Caroline and Nancy, I want to make sure you are being kind to yourselves with you perception of events. Don’t forget you were trying to survive a very difficult situation. A situation that outside of this blog, most people don’t have to deal with at any time in their lives. Whatever strategies you used did get you to this point. Be gentle with yourself, the past is the past.

            Sometimes I wish people read or posted on this blog who have never experienced abuse. I love their shock and to the point advice. Their comments are what I thought too, until my abuser started to brain wash me and use tortuous tactics to create behavior modification.

            So we discussed how we modified our thoughts and actions to cope with our situation. Maybe others can chime in too. Yet once recognized, we have a responsibility to place the blame for the insipidity of those actions squarely on the shoulders of the abuser. If they weren’t so terrible we would not have needed to create the mind games we devised to survive.



          • JoAnn on September 9, 2018 at 10:06 am

            Free, i appreciate your thought here, and it echoes a point I made previously: that in abusive situations, a person, especially a child, does whatever it takes to survive, so it is not profitable to regret, but simply congratulate that “younger You” for doing so well and then move on in a more mature and insightful way.
            To your wish for people to read the blog who have never experienced abuse: I am one of them. I came here to learn from you all, because as a counselor, I have been called upon by the Lord to help some sisters in Christ who are in abusive marriages, and I have not been adequately prepared for this in my training. You all have taught me so much, and your honesty and courage have inspired me very much. Thank you!
            Man’s inhumanity to man never ceases to shock me. I long for the Lord to return and establish His kingdom in righteousness.



          • Aly on September 9, 2018 at 10:48 am

            JoAnn, Nancy, Free, Caroline, & other’s,

            JoAnn, your last post is well said! I feel like I need to go back and re-read these last post to better understand the dialog. Or maybe I might need one of you to break it down for me.

            I have experienced abuse and plenty of covert abuse behavior to relate to many of these scenarios.., I also have stayed in my marriage, with yrs of recovery work and counseling, yet still in process.

            Free, I really agree with how you defined who the blame gets places upon in these abusive dynamics with such people who are quite toxic and need help, yet it’s not my responsibility to look inward at myself as if ‘I’m the issue’ giving me some sort of sense of control about the situation.

            Assessing who the responsibility lies with is critical to health and freedom of the survivor.

            Something that I have noticed overtime in patterns in these abusive individuals is:

            Those who are corely fractured/insecure and exploit others, have abusive behavior/posture etc… seek out the certain people for the very goodness, loyalty, vulnerability, and strength (yes strength) that they themselves do not have.

            Also, I think offenders/users of these places have a much deeper sense of understanding how to exploit those with more sensitive conscience where they are more quickly willing to look ‘within’ themselves to take responsibility of a situation.

            This by far is an earlier coping skill of survival for many in family systems.

            I think this is good dialog for many of us to better understand one another.



          • Nancy on September 9, 2018 at 3:08 pm

            Hi Free, Aly, JoAnn,

            Thanks for your concern. Me self- examining and confessing the idols of my heart is not being done with a self-deprecating posture at all, or because my h has changed. It is simply me wanting to take responsibility for my part so that I can identify where else these patterns are affecting my life and relationships. The above article has been a catalyst for that – S is extremely brave in her self-examination.

            And I felt encouraged to know that I was not alone in some of my idols, when caroline responded so vulnerably to my invitation 🙂

            I do find it interesting that in inviting others to look inward and confess their idols, the responses are to ask me to question my self treatment and/ or my relationship.

            Personally me confessing my idols does not equate to being over-responsible, or to lowering my standards for others who are in relationship with me.

            it is possible to do both ( self-examine and confess my part in safe places, while holding others to a high standard) and more than that, I think it’s an essential step in healing.

            It’s ok if you don’t want to join me. Maybe this isn’t the forum for it since so many come to this site for the first time (as I certainly did) not taking appropriate responsibility.



          • Aly on September 9, 2018 at 4:12 pm

            Nancy,
            I appreciate your response here.
            I just wanted to see if I could better understand what you were talking about.

            Maybe you can break it down further for me?

            I understand you see where you thought you could fix or change another. Or somehow your love ‘could Be the special magical love’ to assist in helping your husband with his childhood injuries/wounds.

            For clarification on my part, I was asking about your circumstances today as it seems you are expressing things affecting your life and relationships.

            This seemed more like a present dialog rather than a past one.
            That’s why I was asking.

            For me, taking appropriate responsibility as per my marriage dynamic is that having a standard of trust and respect in my marriage to be essential was not ‘crazy demands’ to place upon my sacred partner.

            To identify what was essential for me to live and thrive in a marriage was not me making demands of an idolized marriage.

            This position change for me was taking appropriate responsibility for what was necessary and essential to have a safe relationship with my husband.

            Is this an example of what you invited us in to share?



          • Nancy on September 9, 2018 at 7:01 pm

            Hi Aly,

            Thanks for your response.

            As to how these old idols, or lies are affecting me currently, I don’t know. What I do know is that just because The Lord sheds light on a lie, or has dethroned an idol, does not mean that the habits that were established long ago because of those lies or idols, are no longer there.

            So, yes in my case, I notice magical thinking and denial creeping into my thinking pretty regularly, and that’s not because I’m responding to any outside stimulus ( my h), it’s because I’m excercising old habits.

            Sure I developed these because of survival, but what payoff am I continuing to get from excercising these old habits. Pointing my finger at my past doesn’t help me to take responsibility for this aspect of my current behaviour.

            I can say, ‘I was conditioned by external stimulus and I simply adapted to that, and when I get triggered I just react.’. Ok, this is one level, but what beliefs underlie that reaction?

            If you read S’s story she talks about how she couldn’t make excuses or react anymore. She had to ask for God’s help and He ended up revealing that her entire belief system was faulty.

            I won’t get to that place if I continue to use the excuse that I was conditioned to use denial and magical thinking.

            For now I have to go, I’ll write more a bit later to answer your question.



          • JoAnn on September 9, 2018 at 11:46 pm

            Nancy, you asked, “what beliefs underlie that reaction?” Yes, that is the real question, and it’s what Cognitive Behavioral Therapy tries to address, by replacing the negative thoughts with positive ones. What I find to be much more effective is Transformation Prayer Ministry, where the lie that is embedded in the traumatic memory is identified and then the Lord is invited to visit that place in your mind where the lie is and replace it with His truth. This is a very powerful approach, and now the web site is structured so that you can learn how to practice this yourself. I suggest that you check it out. When the truth replaces the lies that drive the behavior, you don’t have to keep trying to change the current behavior. When those triggers are disconnected, when the lie that drives the behavior is replaced by truth, the behavior just stops. I have experienced this in my own life and in helping others in my practice. It is freeing. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. Yes!



          • Nancy on September 10, 2018 at 5:52 am

            Hi JoAnn,

            Yes, this is the route that I am going with my spiritual director.

            Beliefs underlie thoughts and attitudes, and as S says in her testimony it was only by turning to God and being completely made new by her creator, did this faulty belief system get revealed and transformed.



          • Nancy on September 10, 2018 at 6:09 am

            Hi Aly,

            Yes you answered, but I don’t find you are very specific about where you were falling down. You talked about ‘crazy demands placed upon your sacred partner’, ok, but what was one of those crazy demands? What idol fuelled that crazy demand? Or ‘making demands of an idolized marriage’….what dis this look like in your thoughts or behaviours.

            Here’s what I’ve noticed in many inter-changes here. We get very specific about the abusers attitudes and behaviours. We analyze etc… and this is important.

            But when it comes to looking at ‘my part’ the dialogue gets less specific. I think that vulnerability, not just about how badly he hurt me, but where I messed up is a critical part of the healing journey.

            And as I said before, it’s interesting that when there is, there ‘s resistance to it.



          • caroline on September 11, 2018 at 6:05 am

            @ Nancy,
            I think inward examination is amazingly insightful for every believer. Marrying an abusive/neglectful/addicted spouse didn’t remove my sin or my dark desire to be my own god and be able to save myself.

            If I’m afraid to look there, and I refuse to think about it, I might just find myself in yet another relationship with another abuser. It happens. Often. I don’t want that. I want to learn from my own life, and from others who are brave enough to share their story. I don’t want to waste the pain I have endured.

            Years ago, when I first heard Leslie on my local Christian radio station, she spoke of something so simple and so true, and it sent chills up my spine and brought tears. It ended up being one of those quiet, yet rock solid voices that gave me strength to keep on pushing back the dark:
            “It takes only one person to do ministry, but a relationship requires two.”

            Absolute gold. I was trying to live both sides of my marriage! I was the pursuer and the pursued. So weird. It does such weird things to your mind…

            More about the shame and pride idea from earlier. You asked for expansion, so I’ll start with a quote from one of my favorite marriage writers:
            “…for shame is what a proud man feels when he has nothing left to be proud of…”
            -Mike Mason

            There as been a multi-fronted attack on shame in recent years and I personally think its gotten way out of hand. Some addict/abuser types are even using it as a bat to beat back anyone who is asking for significant change! Demanding to feel okay about what they have done and demanding “shame-free zones” whatever those are.

            The problem is, the only human tools to really counter shame are pride and the extreme narcissism that eventually comes from that kind of pride. When you consider that only psychopaths and sociopaths feel ZERO shame (think of the “shameless” folks God is always ranting about) it really makes you pause and reconsider this whole anti-shame movement.

            The problem is not in “feeling” shame but in acting destructively to rid ourselves of the feeling. Blame shifting and/or escaping into addictions OR, in my case, sacrificing to the idols that promise a worth and value that come from human approval, admiration, the appearance of “having it all”, etc.

            As Christians we have an answer to our shame. We have an answer to that horrible realization that we have somehow missed the mark and are not all that we have hoped: repentance and gratitude, and standing on the truth who is Christ. Our worth is set. In Christ Alone

            I have not been able to read through all the responses, but I’m really sorry if my self reflection is bothering anyone here. I am not taking on another’s sin, I assure you. I have enough sin of my own to qualify for God’s unmerited grace.



      • Aly on September 6, 2018 at 9:14 am

        Caroline,
        Oh my I’m so sorry! This is so not ok and I’m so sad and angry for what you were not protected from.
        Your post has such a valid postion if these ‘places where it looks like there is a family or marriage’ but yet it’s false and unsafe.

        Did you tell your parents what was repeatedly happening and were there charges brought against?

        Again, my heart goes out to you Caroline and I pray for your continued healing.

        • Aly on September 9, 2018 at 11:23 am

          Caroline,
          I’m sorry this isn’t in alignment.
          You wrote:
          “This is why I can say Abusers Wife made choices that seemed more out of rebellion, and not obedience to the Christian values she was raised with. It was a loveless sexless expensive marriage full of mutual contempt. Go Figure.”

          Ok so I can agree with you and I’m assuming you are referring to the other adult in the Home (where you were horribly hurt) who did protect the well being of the innocent in her home. Correct?

          Was she in rebellion to her original values raised with as you say? Probably but I don’t know the story.
          What I do see often is that even if someone has an upbringing it doesn’t mean they are in union and obedience to Christ at the level that they make healthy and congruent choices.

          In fact, I see this duplicity in many aspects of those who claim Christianity or knowing Christ.

          Your situation was even at such a greater and horrible scale and I’m so sorry for this evil!

          As I read your post of how you describe that situation, it sounds like the wife was ‘married’ (not a real marriage) to a very unhealthy out of control teenager with all the freedoms of an adult role?

          Some women will accept any form of ‘maleness’ in their home to not be ALONE at all of sorts. Not saying this was her twisted motivation…
          They both have responsibility that they will be held accountable for, as will your parents too to some extent.

          Personally what I have seen throughout my family of origin history of women and other places too is that they are willing to accept any counterfeit form of marriage to have some sort of any reflection of a relationship and not face the reality that hey don’t have true intimacy and trust with their spouse.
          The way they define marriage is a pretty low definition and far from How God designs and establishes a blessed and sacred union.

        • Aly on September 9, 2018 at 11:35 am

          Nancy,
          Sorry this isn’t in alignment.
          I’m wondering about your posts and if it’s ok to ask…? Has there been a shift in your counseling with your husband or a relapse in his behavior against you?

          Or maybe you both are doing deeper grief work and you are having to revisit those past places for more healing and clarity?

          It’s healthy for us to have empathy for our husband without ‘over’ empathy. Holding empathy about their history or little boy wounds in one hand, yet holding a healthy place of accountability, boundaries for ourselves and often requirements to move forward to repair.
          Often, the requirements fall heavily on the offender or the person who has chosen behavior to injure trust.

        • Aly on September 11, 2018 at 7:51 am

          Caroline,
          In response to your most recent post I wanted to reply.

          You mentioned some important vital aspects of the Christian life which I agree in some places you touched on.

          You wrote:
          “The problem is not in “feeling” shame but in acting destructively to rid ourselves of the feeling. Blame shifting and/or escaping into addictions ”
          This is true Caroline! I think I can also hear your complaint about the ‘shame-free zones’ you mentioned also.

          There are many churches and church culture that base their ministry upon this but I do think they miss some important aspects that are tied to complacency in the church culture.

          I believe there are 2 kinds of shame; shame which is a product/consequence of our behavior, and False Shame… false shame is not ours to hold and sift through.

          I think also there are 2 kinds of guilt, guilt which is healthy and leads us to repentance (which we need) & false guilt which is unhealthy and can sometimes keep us in a unhealthy situation. Often destructive people, addicts too are very good at pouring false shame and false guilt at the person who sees them closest.

          I agree with you that it is valuable and important to our walk with Christ to examine ourselves and bring other Safe people into our process, counselors etc.

          For many on this blog, our vulnerabilities or paralyzing places are sometimes tied to false shame and guilt that isn’t always ours to wear, due to the destructive individual in our lives. We must be wise in examination because it common for victim/ survivors to be exploited by their abuser when they reflect on themselves.
          I say this from personal experience from my own husband (pre-recovery work). Had I not been in personal counseling I would not have seen the distinction necessary for my freedom.

          You also mentioned something so key about you being the pursuer and pursued above. This is good insight, but I also weigh the fact that you had been married to a non-treated addict who also neglected and abused, the pursuer and pursued role was ‘set up’ for you based on your husband’s way of non-functioning.

          Praise God you are free of all that! But just wanting to offer compassion on what you experienced.

          • Nancy on September 11, 2018 at 2:49 pm

            Aly, Caroline,

            I recently experienced what you, Aly, describe as ‘false guilt’. ( I posted this recently elsewhere on the blog).

            I have been battling guilt since learning that my brother is inviting us all ( FOO) to his place for Christmas. My h pointed out that this was not my guilt…What..? He pointed out that my brother created the event out of his own guilt, and his invitation to us was guilt inducing.

            I was floored by this observation. It was true! The guilt I had been battling for several weeks was not even my own!

            But here’s where I get discouraged. I had not even recognized this…it was so subtle…well, to me anyways.

            I am in very rare contact with my brother. Sure, he can try to heap guilt on me, but it will only work if I allow it. It’s true that he is a work-aholic and now on meds for anxiety without counselling ( that I know of).



      • Nancy on September 7, 2018 at 11:32 am

        Caroline,

        This is exactly the point that I was trying to make. We are just as responsible for the damage that is created by ‘being passive’ (words used by JoAnn when quoting ‘redemptive divorce’)..

        That damage wreaks havoc in the lives of those around – especially children.

        It’s important to recognize who has an unrepentant heart in the relationship, for sure. Who is the abuser….yes. But ladies, once we see that, and are safe, I’m challenging us all here to be willing to take full responsibility for our part. Most of the time, that is passivity, and I don’t see a lot of posts that ‘go there’.

        This kind of responsibility taking will move someone from victim to victor. I get that Lundy Bancroft suggests distancing language by referring to them as ‘my abuser’, but once safe…we need to ask ourselves, how did I allow this to happen? What idols did I have that contributed to me saying ‘yes’ to him?

        S’s story above is shockingly responsibility-taking ( I made that phrase up!). I’m still reeling from it. It is so fantastic, I still can’t wrap my head or heart around the degree that S is willing to take responsibility in the face of such unfairness! She continues to be – what everyone else would call a victim – but I see no evidence in her story of a victim mindset.

        And Caroline, your post a while back about your idols was full of responsibility and insight ( about yourself). That’s the kind of post that I’m referring to.

        • JoAnn on September 7, 2018 at 12:24 pm

          Nancy, I really agree with your perspective here. It is so very important to take ownership of our role in allowing sin to prevail, and I do think it would be helpful for everyone here to do some soul searching to examine how we came to the place of allowing ourselves and our children to be victimized to such an extent. I am currently having fellowship with a young woman who has been very passive in allowing her husband to verbally abuse their children and herself. I am trying to help her to see that by not standing up to him, she is allowing him to damage the kids, her own heart, and ultimately the Lord’s testimony by his sin against them. I appreciate that this is hard for her to hear, and it means she has to strengthen her CORE to be able to speak up, but she also will eventually have to recognize that her passivity is causing a lot of harm.
          Some of you have already shared here, on another thread, what your wake up call was. Surely we need to pray for each other that we would be strong to respond to the Lord’s wake up call, as He speaks to each one according to her need.

          • Aly on September 7, 2018 at 12:50 pm

            JoAnn and Nancy,
            Such good posts and challenges for us all.
            I agree with both of you here.
            I do think when we walk out a transformed life committed to truth, often relationship dynamics change, sometimes they dissolve quickly.

            I know from what some of my journey has been, taking responsibility has meant that I will be rejected, abandoned and seen as the ‘problem’ inaccurately which is hard to embrace.

            But in doing so, God has been such the source of pure Love and courage to continue to show me that he doesn’t accept ‘false faith’, he doesn’t go along with comforting dysfunctional dynamics, but that he is about disrupting the dysfunction!
            In doing so, this is the way to transformation and redeeming hearts for His purposes and Glory.

            My prayer is that we will all continue to be challenged by working this out as we are called to. 💜
            And yes it’s painful, messy and the only life worth living.



          • JoAnn on September 7, 2018 at 1:13 pm

            I would add to this that while it is important to take ownership of our behavior that contributed to the problem, in God’s economy there is no room for regret. We acknowledge our sin, repent and receive forgiveness, even renounce the behavior, then go on in the freedom Christ has bought for us with His own blood. The enemy would love to keep on harassing us with condemnation, but when we praise God from the depth of our heart for His redemption and the freedom He gave us in Christ, then the enemy has to flee. He hates our praises more than anything, so Sisters, let’s shame Satan with our praises. All morning I have been singing praise songs, and I am encouraged by how much energy I have enjoyed while doing mundane housework. God is enthroned upon the praises of His people.



          • Nancy on September 7, 2018 at 6:12 pm

            I like what you said here JoAnn, “how we came to a place of allowing ourselves and our children to be victimized to such an extent”.

            I know for myself, I can easily point to my childhood to say “the reason for my passivity was that I was conditioned that way and so messed up by my environment, and by my parents example” but this ‘reason’ is no longer working for me.

            I was recently reminded that even as a child, I had a choice in what I did with my heart. This is tough and The Lord has me parked on that thought. There was always choice. ( this is not to induce guilt in anyone, of course children do what they need in order to survive. I’m talking here about the heart)

            I chose, a long, long time ago to be a victim. This is a heart posture. I chose to lock the gate of my heart to Christ. That was my choice, yes, even as a child.



          • JoAnn on September 7, 2018 at 7:47 pm

            Nancy, children learn early on, when it’s necessary, what they have to do to survive. Their choices may not always be in their ultimate best interest, as you learned, but with no one to offer alternatives, what should they do? The thing is, eventually, we all learn, as you did, that the choices that worked for us way back then aren’t working so well for us now. That’s when the Lord steps in and offers Himself and His way, and then we can begin to walk with Him, out of that darkness, and into the freedom of His marvelous light.



        • Aly on September 10, 2018 at 10:29 am

          Nancy,

          In response to giving specifics about crazy demands, I need to expand.
          The crazy demands I was speaking of ‘were in Fact NOT Crazy, but only seen as crazy by those who don’t think respect, trust and mutual value are essential in marriage.

          My requirements for a healthier growing marriage was in sync with what An actual marriage is about and even on a relationship level too!
          I was told that I had crazy demands or demands that were unreasonable.
          I was told this by my husband’s continued resistance behavior (won’t go into this now) I was told this by our ext family members who had their definitions of marriage and relationships.. which as you know have serious alignment issues themselves.

          My part was early on in the marriage,. During the fog, the fight etc .. entertaining the idea that maybe my thoughts on marriage were ‘crazy demands’?

          My part was allowing those skewed people who said they were Christian’s offer directives that were not helpful and caused me doubt about what I was worthy for in a marriage.
          Just because they were ok with settling or living the way they were didn’t mean that I needed to follow them.

          I respected these people because I loved them and believed they loved me and wanted the best for my situation.
          Believing someone’s position on things because they love you was my part in wanting to ‘please them’.
          The more I studied, the more interventions we received, the more I could see that they were not who I needed to worry about pleasing ‘or making comfortable’ nor were their beliefs in alignment with scripture.

          Taking radical responsibility meant that I needed to draw my boundaries for me and be ok with their response.

          I had no idea that it might cost ‘the relationship’ a relationship that was based on what they felt ‘comfortable’ around anyways.
          I was willing to accept their decisions but grieved the loss of what I would have wanted to have mutually.

          God’s word for my heart has been so essential to navigating my own ‘warzone’ And it has helped me see that tolerating ‘intolerable behavior’ does nothing for those in denial. Even if those I love are there.

          I have not had desire to change them… I had plenty of my own yard work to tend to… what ended up happening Nancy is that ‘I changed’ my marriage changed, and our change made them very uncomfortable. My h’s change all the more broke the straw I think mostly.

          • Nancy on September 10, 2018 at 11:57 am

            Thanks for explaning more deeply, Aly. I think I understand.

            I’ve had to read your answer a couple of times because it’s hard for me to see past the explanation you’ve given about your family’s bad behaviour, thoughts, attitudes etc…to get to what your issues were. I suppose that’s because your issues were about too heavily weighing their bad behaviours, thoughts and feelings!

            This may just come down to communication style. So here we come up against the limits of blog discussion!



          • Aly on September 10, 2018 at 12:29 pm

            Nancy,
            Thanks for your response here. I’m sorry that my communication isn’t as clear. I will try to wrap it up as best as I can.

            See my part was going along and participating in ‘keeping the peace’ the family image etc. When I obviously changed from peace keeping to peace making choices and action, I betrayed the family system.

            How they defined peace and how I defined peace was very different from one another. I also wanted to put God’s words and defining as the best definition to align with, they had no interest.

            Again, you have to remember I am speaking about individuals who have NO desire to growth, sanctification process, no desire to know themselves more or others more, no desire to be accountable to anyone besides themselves, no desire to even self development and a teachable spirit.

            Sure they will attend Bible study, maybe a Beth Moore Conference etc.. as long as it stays at a ‘head level only’ but never an emotional or heart level.

            It’s probably pretty obvious how I ended up marrying my emotionally unavailable husband ‘my unfinished foo business’ 😥😘

            I think the biggest take away for me is that my change of Peace definition began a threat and all out war against me.

            I trust in God in all of this, even though excruciatingly painful he continues to be faithful to me, my husband and our children.

            Not all people who say they ‘know’ Jesus want to truly know Him, and that’s their freedom to choose but they shouldn’t tell others how intimacy gets played out from their fear based intimacy issues.



          • Nancy on September 10, 2018 at 3:31 pm

            I can so relate to this, Aly “when I went from peace keeping to peace making choices and action, I betrayed the family system.”

            This is what I’m dealing with right now. My brother has ‘invited us’ to his place for Christmas ( I put that in parenthesis because he snuck it in, through all kinds of guilt language, during a difficult conversation that I had initiated, for another purpose).

            It became clear to me last night that I cannot expose myself to the family system. Individually, yes, I can have relationships with each of them, but not with them as a family. It’s too sick and dangerous.

            I remembered that a few years ago my pastor said to me, “The Lord doesn’t want you to hurt yourself”. That’s what came back to me last night. Unless He makes it ABUNDANTLY clear that I am to go, then I might consider it. Otherwise it’s NO.

            I’m so sad about this.

            I get how excruciating it is to stand firm in this, because it brings such grief. In my case, I have to be so careful that I don’t mix up magical thinking with ‘The Lord wants to somehow use me in it all’. Which is why last night I made it very clear to Him that the ball is in His court. If He wants me there then He needs to make that undeniably clear to me. I’m a stupid sheep. He’s the Shepherd. ( no offence to you, sheep!)



          • Aly on September 10, 2018 at 3:54 pm

            Nancy,

            Thank you for staying this so clearly and precise! It’s exactly what I have had to step away from completely about 3-4 yrs ago.

            You wrote:
            “It became clear to me last night that I cannot expose myself to the family system. Individually, yes, I can have relationships with each of them, but not with them as a family. It’s too sick and dangerous.”

            But not with them as a family unit! This is SO key, to me, the family system will never see the system as ‘sick and dangerous’.

            The family system requires loyalty to the family system even beyond God, this is why it becomes idolatry but ‘blurred’.

            I was in the phase of thinking that somehow the Lord was using me as an agent, to eventually find out that was my own reasoning ways of staying linked to my family system and not face the betrayal that was happening anyways.

            Regardless I struggled for years navigating our children because if I was to be an agent then what would the cost to my own children be? It was then that clarity became essential and individual relationships with each of them was far more safer.

            I don’t think God would need to use me as an agent and yet offer such a twisted version of His truths to confuse our children with?

            When I started just showing up to events it became obvious that the children were the only invited ones (for their comfort) and they were willing to put up with me;(.
            I couldn’t offer our children a place that was supposed to be a safe village and them realize it was really about just them being used!



          • Nancy on September 11, 2018 at 3:32 am

            Aly, you said “the family system requires loyalty to the system even beyond God”

            Yes. In our system my mother is to be treated like God. She is to be at the very centre of each relationship. To exclude her from the centre is mean spirited and wrong.

            This year on Mother’s Day I had her over for lunch. I prayed “thank you Lord for Mother’s Day, but mostly thank you for your son, Jesus Christ”

            That simple prayer was so important! I had no idea why it came to mind in the moment but God is good! It is the antithesis of our family culture. Our family culture says (as we stand inside a church) thank you only for our mother!

            As far as our kids. They have expressed sadness over not having family ( both sets of our siblings are spread across the continent ( which isn’t a bad thing!),

            I feel very guilty that I can’t give them that. And knowing that mine will be gathered together at Christmas and we will be alone doesn’t make sense when ?I look at it from that perspective ( I know it’s squewed and it won’t change my decision, I just am hurting for my kids).

            Years ago, my mother seemed like such a perfect grandma. But when I started setting limits, it became clear that much of it was facade. That’s not to say that she doesn’t love them the best she knows how, the problem is that she isn’t capable of love because she cannot receive it.

            It’s heartbreaking really. But it’s not mine to face. She was like this long before I came into this world.



          • Aly on September 11, 2018 at 8:05 am

            Nancy,

            You mentioned ‘she’ was like this long before I cane into the world.
            Wow! How true is that statement and certainly freeing I think!

            I’m sorry Nancy, it is painful and I’m thankful that you are able to see what you need to be who you want to be for those precious girls and your h.
            I understand the painful places with these family systems as you know.

            You wrote:
            “I feel very guilty that I can’t give them that. And knowing that mine will be gathered together at Christmas and we will be alone doesn’t make sense when ?I look at it from that perspective ( I know it’s squewed and it won’t change my decision, I just am hurting for my kids).”

            I’m sorry Nancy that your hurting for them, it makes sense.

            You said you can’t give them ‘that’.. the big extended family filled with safety and genuine love?

            It’s true, we can’t give our kids something that isn’t there to begin with! This is similar grief I have for my own children. But their safety and development is essential as they are growing to understand and experience Christ’s authentic love for them.

            Again, the toxic family system robs many from individuality and true intimacy with others whom we do try to love well.



  18. JoAnn on September 5, 2018 at 12:04 am

    Wow Moon Beam! That’s a powerful insight, and I wholeheartedly agree. “Letting sin win in our relationships makes us look like dim minded fools.” And not only are people watching, but the forces of evil in the heavenlies are watching, too. I have to say, though, that I think your “cross wearing, self righteous, abusive husband” surely did more damage to the testimony than you did. It’s very sad that your neighbor was so negatively affected, but your prayers for him are still before the throne, and we can hope that some day, in another way, the Lord will reveal Himself to that man. Meanwhile, you were doing what you felt you needed to do in the moment, and since hindsight is 20-20, it’s important that you let it go and go on. You are free now, praise the Lord for that!

    • Moon Beam on September 5, 2018 at 6:31 am

      Thank you, JoAnn. I hadn’t thought about the offense my husband must have made as even greater than mine. You are right.

      The decision to tell people about the hell I lived in has been a slow and selective process. I had not spoke to this neighbor in about a year. I must add that he also offered the safety of his home “anytime you need it.” He reminded me that I am surrounded by other men (and he named them by name) who live on this street, who have “never treated their wives like you have been treated.”

      That comment helped me because it was so true. I was surrounded by neighbors who lived with little to no faith in God and yet, they had the safer more peaceful home. Yes, so many men never behave as my husband did.

      Today, I am reflecting on good men (and women) who are kind and gentle to their spouses, those who honor one another and love. Let’s celebrate together those not affected by the issues we live with on this blog. What a life they must have! Praise God.

      • JoAnn on September 5, 2018 at 3:48 pm

        Moon Beam, you are reflecting on the good men and women you see around you, and that is a good practice. While this blog is helpful, reading all the horror stories from so many women can lead one to think that all marriages are destructive, which isn’t true. As with any relationship, it is important that we surround ourselves with healthy friendships that bring out the best in us, and look for healthy role models.

  19. Nancy on September 5, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Mon beam and JoAnn,

    I agree that this is such an important insight! I find myself thinking about children who grow up in such situations..,is it any wonder when they turn away from The Lord?

    I know that was the case for me. I ‘threw the baby out with the bath water’ – the baby being Jesus 🙁

    If being Christian meant that kind of hypocrisy then I wanted no part of it. I consistently saw healthier individuals outside the church ( that I grew up in) than inside it.

    I thank God that He pursued me and patiently revealed the lies that I had believed about Him.

    • Aly on September 5, 2018 at 12:06 pm

      Nancy, JoAnn, MoonBeam,

      Nancy you wrote:
      “I thank God that He pursued me and patiently revealed the lies that I had believed about Him”

      Praise God too for this! I really love Gods pursuit of His own and your testimony is such an understanding of that truth He brings. I’m thankful that you have Him as He has you💜

      Also, I do think as Christians, we by far will be found as a such a valid reason (at times) and an easy reason for someone who is looking for anything to not embrace Christ and His heart for ourselves.
      But none of us can answer to someone else’s walk or as a justification for our choices. We all have to give an account for our belief or non-belief.

      It is our individual responsibility to individually choose to love the Lord with all our hearts, minds, strength, regardless of someone’s else’s behavior.

      Do I think it impacts unbelievers? Yes, but I don’t think that it is stronger than Gods Love and Will for His own according to His scriptures.

      Ultimately, it is our responsibility to follow Christ, to follow and walk along with those who are following Christ.
      It then becomes our responsibility to own our faith, and know what we believe and why we believe what we do.
      There are far too many in the world today that like ‘professing Christianity’ yet fail to see the importance in spiritual growth and maturity.

      Sadly MoonBeam, your neighbors words are painful but more than painful, they are ignorant.
      I’m sorry for all you have been through but so thankful you are free to heal and have your life that will be if not all ready full of abundance!

      • Nancy on September 5, 2018 at 1:57 pm

        I agree Aly, that Moon beam’s neighbour’s words are ignorant, but he is also being honest about his experience.

        Yes, he will have to give an account one day and Moon Beam is in no way responsible for her neighbour’s beliefs!

        There is opportunity there though, (in particular with children who grow up with hypocrisy ) to take responsibility for being a poor witness, validating the confusion in the other, and by taking ownership for incongruent behaviour.

        We are not responsible for another’s journey, but sometimes The Lord might use us to break through our ‘neighbour’s’ wounds, if we choose to be honest with them, in return.

        • Moon Beam on September 5, 2018 at 7:59 pm

          Nancy, I have now fully disclosed the issue to my neighbor. No more pretending. In fact the police recommended I tell my neighbors sooner so they could look out for me.

          I don’t feel hurt by his comments. I thought it was a good reality check. Why, Oh Why, did I let my abusive spouse hide behind my good and respectible behavior? Why did I cover for him and sanitize his sin?

          • Nancy on September 6, 2018 at 3:28 am

            I’m glad that you are being transparent with your neighbour now, and that you were able to hear his honest feedback without defensiveness. That’s very emotionally healthy!



          • JoAnn on September 6, 2018 at 11:46 am

            I have been reading through “Redemptive Divorce” by Mark Gaither. He has this to say about passivity in the chapter “When love has to get tough”: Passivity camouflages a trap; passivity allows the sinner to gradually and comfortable enter Satan’s snare. (Like the frog in the pot of gradually warming water.) Passivity reinforces sinful behavior; it reinforces the false promise of sin that we can do whatever we want without suffering negative consequences. Remaining passive while someone balances precariously on the edge of a skyscraper is not love; a wayward spouse needs intervention, not the casual affirmation of a passive response to sin. Passivity allows sin to harm others, especially the innocent ones (children). Passivity undermines respect, a crucial element of any healthy relationship. Unlike passivity, a proactive response to unrepentant sin reflects the character of God.
            This is worth reflecting on, as the women here are considering how to move forward.



          • Aly on September 6, 2018 at 1:07 pm

            JoAnn,
            Your last post is excellent!
            I have a friend who has been in a very abusive situation across every form, ‘her church’, not the husbands .. ‘you know because he wasn’t all that into the church thing etc’ has now taken sides of sorts by entertaining his position in fighting for the marriage, they ( the church leadership and body) are reinforcing the passive position as they believe in forgiveness. They won’t see that the offender won’t get the necessary help to even consider a possible future together.

            The passivity is toxic and running through so many church bodys these days. So many pastors too fearful to stand with Gods Truths for fear of turning someone away from the Gospel, passive in no need for accountability for behavior.

            This is one of the biggest obstacles that the church seems to refuse to look at! Why won’t they intervene and do the right thing? Talk about twisting the table or blaming the victim/ survivor.



          • JoAnn on September 6, 2018 at 2:15 pm

            Aly, I can’t help but wonder if it’s because so many of those in authority in the church are men? Anyway…. that book explains very well, from a scriptural standpoint, how to deal with abuse. He even points out that God Himself divorced His bride, Israel, because of her unfaithfulness! Wow! That was a new thought to me, but yes, it’s right there in so many places in the Old Testament. For seventy years, Israel was estranged from God, until she truly repented, and then it was only a remnant that went back. I passed the book along to one of our elders, who was interested in learning a biblical approach to dealing with abusive marriages. Good for him!
            I have learned so much from all of you. Thanks for having the courage to tell your stories and learn from one another.



      • Moon Beam on September 5, 2018 at 4:45 pm

        Aly, the thing of it is, I didn’t find my neighbors words as hurtful. I saw them as enlightening. In some ways he was right!

        I am slowly coming to terms with how ridiculous it was for me to be so mistreated year, after year, and seek counselor after counselor, run for safety over and over and think it would ever change.

        After about our 2Oth different counselor and decades of the abuse cycle, the professional we consulted said, “No, I will not see you and your husband as clients.” I was shocked. He said that what could he do that any of the other over a dozen counselors haven’t already tried.

        The problem wasn’t finding a counselor and a treatment, but rather a man/husband/abuser saturated in denial, sin, manipulation and narcissistic behaviors who couldn’t or wouldn’t change. I learned no amount of money or sincere counselor could changed an abuser once they crossed over to pathological behavior with serial offenses.

        Sorry to be Debbie Downer (SNL character) but young ladies don’t hang on thinking it will get better. Actually men with issues like my abusive spouse has get worse and worse over time. No fool like an old fool…

        • Aly on September 5, 2018 at 5:22 pm

          Moonbeam,
          I’m sorry for saying it was hurtful when it was enlightening.

          Thanks for correcting and also for your last post.

          The clarity also could be to others impacted by being ‘watchers’ of your destructive abusive marriage, something like;
          Oh what we had been doing for 20 Years was not a Christian marriage, not at all! In fact it was the ‘false faith’ on my husband’s part that took a long time to be discovered and confirmed.

          I so agree with so much of what you said about how ‘the problem’ became pretty clear to you.

          Maybe it would be added help for those young ladies to read line items of your experience of the pathological behaviors.

          • Moon Beam on September 5, 2018 at 7:40 pm

            Oh, Aly, no sorry necessary.



  20. Sunshine on September 6, 2018 at 3:04 pm

    JoAnn, tell me more about the book you read?
    My abusive spouse insisted I read it a few months ago. I denied his demands and incessant decrees that I read the book and correspond with him about it. What is you take on it and why my abuser would want me to read it. To get back with him I imagine.

    • Aly on September 6, 2018 at 3:12 pm

      Sunshine & JoAnn,
      Wow are you both referring to the same book?
      If so, looking forward to reading the thread.

      • Sunshine on September 6, 2018 at 4:35 pm

        Aly, Redemptive Divorce by Mark Gaither. As you read, I didn’t read it. I am curious what others thought of it.

  21. JoAnn on September 6, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    Sunshine and Aly,
    The main point of the book is to give the abuser an ultimate choice: either get the help necessary to have a healthy marriage or get a divorce. The choice lies with the “Wayward spouse,” to basically “shape up or ship out.” The writer says that appropriate consequences will force a decision, and he provides a strategy to make things happen. Thus, it’s not the abused wife’s decision to get a divorce, but the decision of the abuser. This takes a burden off of the wife who doesn’t want to “get a divorce.”
    Sunshine, does your h believe that you are the abuser? Are you resisting getting a divorce and he wants one? I have been impressed with Gaither’s interpretation of scripture and how he aligns it with God’s dealings with His people.
    Another point he makes, that I really appreciate, is that it’s not the piece of paper that breaks up the marriage. That is simply a declaration that the marriage is already irreparably broken, so the papers get filed for legal reasons. There are legal benefits to making this declaration; for example, spousal support and division of property. If you just separate, you don’t have that. Filing for divorce doesn’t destroy the marriage; the one who breaks the marriage covenant does that.
    So, I would encourage you to read the book, and perhaps in reading it, you will gain an understanding of why your h wants you to read it. I wish you well, Dear Sister.

    • Aly on September 6, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      JoAnn, Sunshine,
      I agree so much with how you describe these situations.
      A very good question to Sunshine that you asked, my first thought is that he must see it that way, but want to hear her answer.

      Sunshine if this is the case this is SO common. Ughh

      When I was dealing with serious family chaos with my own family (not my husband, children) but mainly siblings and parents.
      My parents would not reason with what had taken place and certainly wouldn’t take responsibility for their own choices and behavior.
      They sent me a book to read:
      Wounded by God’s people, Anne Graham Lotz.
      I was intrigued but the minute I saw the title my gut said: “oh, they must think they are the ones who have been wounded”

      To give the opportunity to clarify why this book was sent🤔, I called my mom and asked her why she wanted me to read it and what she found good about the book?
      She said clearly that they were the ‘wounded ones’, even though they didn’t have anything against me other than me holding them accountable to take full responsibility of their own choices and behaviors they did against me personally.
      They didn’t like that I had the line drawn and so they were the ones rounded even though they were the betraying ones and ones that needed a scapegoat to cover up ‘there no so healthy family image’ something they had been trying to build for a long time and found many players to go along with lying and pretending.

      When i decided I could no longer play the role I was forced to play, I was turned on to sum it up simply.
      I find it quite sad with those who harm or abuse, manipulate you name it, twisting who is the actual abuser is one of their tactics.
      Sending these types of materials, twisting scripture etc are all part of how they stay stuck in denial!
      It’s sad how skewed their interpretation across all places are. Relational, spiritual, emotional.

      • JoAnn on September 6, 2018 at 5:34 pm

        Aly, so your parents laid the blame on you for wounding them? Or, were they perhaps admitting that they also had been wounded by their families? Wounded people wound people. Surely they were/are wounded, but aren’t self-aware enough to realize it. How sad! So they turned on you for seeing the truth. I admire your courage to deal with them as you have. It cost you a lot to set those boundaries. They are licking their scratches, while you had mortal wounds to deal with.

        • Aly on September 6, 2018 at 5:53 pm

          JoAnn,
          Yes they turned on me for ‘yet again’ exposing the incongruient behaviors (they didn’t like that I wouldn’t tolerate anymore sibling abuse or misuse) that are quite confusing and will mislead others also.
          We invited them into an individual relationship with us that would be authentic and mutual but that was mocked and gossiped to the rest of the family.

          As you know enmeshed families or systems are a MESS!
          They had no desire for individual relationship where they didn’t have the family system to buffer themselves.
          Our counselor has aided in the grief process because as with dysfunctional families ‘born again believers or not’ the system will turn on the elected truth teller!
          The family system wins their dysfunctional ways (yes wayward ways) but me, husband and kids win freedom to have a better chance at healthier living in abundance and peel off the idolatry of ‘family’.

          Thanks again for often understanding the pain here😘💜

          • JoAnn on September 6, 2018 at 6:04 pm

            Aly, hard-won freedom is worth a lot. You can now create a healthy family dynamic for your own family and your experience has become a ministry to others. Praise the Lord!



          • Aly on September 7, 2018 at 1:14 pm

            JoAnn,
            Thanks for this!
            Sadly at times they still in ways are trying to get to our children… they believe you know ‘I have gone astray’ I’m the lost one and taking my kids with me’ etc.
            Their only interest is the kids because often kids will go along with the pretending and passivity easily making their way of life smooth sailing.

            They don’t believe relationships should have any requirements or standards that they should be ‘unconditionally’ family and unconditional acceptance since that is what we received in the Cross from Jesus.

            Again we are talking about people who can see sin and brokenness as part of this world but do not want to grow and transform into a new way of being in relationships.

            So to clarify, they agree they have woundedness, but they won’t peer closer to see what it’s about they believe once receiving Jesus that all that has disappeared, when in reality their behavior in relationships reveals such a different testimony.
            No authentic desire ‘to KNOW God and especially others more, this posture goes against the character and nature of Jesus himself as written in the scriptures too!

            I do believe this way of living leads to a lot more sickness and secrets in our church bodies.
            Many staying stuck and finding any justification for that decision or any culture to normalize that way of living.



  22. JoAnn on September 6, 2018 at 5:26 pm

    Sunshine, here is another quote from the book:
    “While redemptive divorce allows the upright partner to reclaim power for himself or herself, it is not an attempt to control or coerce the wayward partner. Redemptive divorce merely defines the sinner’s options and clarifies the consequences of each, while demanding a choice sooner rather than later.”
    From what you said, I have an impression that you aren’t at all interested in reconciliation, am I right? It may be that your h thinks that the two of you should try to work it out, and that’s why he wants you to read the book, but if you are saying, “No way, Jose”, then you are not going to want to do the work, and that’s fine. No one here is going to try to tell you otherwise, but you wondered why he wanted you to read the book, and maybe that’s why. We can hope that he sees clearly why you needed to leave him, and that he will do the work to make himself a better man.

    • Sunshine on September 6, 2018 at 5:45 pm

      I am sensing my spouse wants sex. His motive is to blame me as rejecting him thereby making him the injured party. If I would divorce him he could start looking for someone else to have sex with and not break his wedding vows. Funny the police, domwstic violence counselors and judges don’t share his view as the victim. He is one dangerous man in their view (and mine.)

      Asking me to read the book was a ploy to benefit his agenda. I get it now.

      From.what I just previewed on Amazon, I can’t follow the author’s logic. It seemed a cathartic exercise for his own situation and doesn’t seem to apply to my circumstance.

      Great discussion though, thanks.

      • Aly on September 6, 2018 at 8:36 pm

        Sunshine,
        So he was wanting you to read the book as if you ‘were’ the wayward spouse?

        Was he saying you were wayward because you were not sleeping with him?

        Crazy making! If that’s the case here Sunshine. Ok well highly disturbed person is maybe a better description.
        What nerve, but I guess not all that inventive!

        • Sunshine on September 6, 2018 at 9:10 pm

          I fled his abuse for protective custody in a safe house. He wantred me to reconcile yet again and pretend he was fine.

          Yes, crazy making, but to him it makes perfect sense. At this point I couldn’t care. I can think for myself and I have my own life to live.

  23. JoAnn on September 6, 2018 at 5:53 pm

    Typical way of blaming someone else for his sin. YUCK!!!

  24. JoAnn on September 6, 2018 at 10:57 pm

    Sunshine, have you filed for divorce yet? What’s your status now? I applaud your courage and strength.

  25. Ruth on September 10, 2018 at 4:34 pm

    Nancy,
    The timing of your challenge to me to reconsider how I’ve approached my relationship with my H is interesting. Just yesterday he voiced something that I figured he was already theorizing. For me, it’s a tipping point. If he thinks THAT about me on top of our bad history and on top of the fact that he’s making no effort to be vulnerable, open, and communicate with me, then I am disgusted.
    This is what I typed what for him. what do you (and other ladies think). Note. I know you all will probably say I would go with No sex but honestly the way I’ve stated it, he probably won’t take me up on my offer anyway. If he thinks I’m not interested, then he probably won’t ask. But on the other hand, if I say “No Sex”, then he’ll say that it would be MY fault if he had an affair (BTDT).
    I know in the Husband’s Jokes article someone suggested that he sounded like a man who might be into porn. I’m sure he is not into porn, but there was some dysfunction in his FOO that he will rarely acknowledge. There was also sexual abuse that won’t talk about. But I know about bc somebody else told me.)

    Here’s what I have typed out to *send* to him (assuming I get my nerve up. I HATE confrontation. I’m a big chicken. Plus, he’s been all NICE today and that makes it SO HARD. ☹️

    Dear H:
    Yesterday I did not contradict any punishment you made to our son. I said “We’ve talked about this long enough; he can only take so much.”
    Ephesians 6:4 Amplified Bible-
    4 Fathers, do not irritate and provoke your children to anger [do not exasperate them to resentment], but rear them [tenderly] in the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.
    I think this Bible verse backs me up.
    Now, you could have heard me and respectfully disagreed and said, “No, I still need to speak to him.” Or you could have seen how freaked out he was and agreed that enough was said for now. Even if you’d disagreed with me, I wouldn’t be very upset bc people are entitled to their individual opinions. But instead, you said to me: “Don’t be a THIEF and STEAL what is not yours.” A couple of weeks before, you’d told me your theory on how people (mostly women) who steal authority that’s not their’s are operating in the spirit of the antichrist. So I knew that you were covertly saying I was operating in the spirit of the antichrist. Only, you wouldn’t come out and say it openly.
    For the last few months, I have tried to get you to talk to me. I have tried to have meaningful conversations. Lots of times, I just asked you to come sit next to me on the couch or in the lawn chair while I gardened bc I wanted your company, but maybe usually you would ignore me. I wanted a relationship based on more than just paying the bills and getting the kids to their activities, but apparently you don’t want that. You refuse to read the Bible with me. You don’t care to read materials that would help us grow closer. That was what I really wanted. I was also hoping that a deeper emotional connection would help my arousal during sex.
    But I’m tired. I’m tired of going forward a little with you, only to be at this place where if I have a different opinion from you, then I’m a Jezebel or I’m in cahoots with the AntiChrist. A woman who has an opinion is a HUMAN with a brain; she’s not the AntiChrist. A woman without an opinion isn’t a submissive wife – she’s a robot.

    I don’t want to re-argue the correctness of how you handled dealing with our son. That’s not the issue.

    I am finished pretending we have a functioning marriage. I will be sleeping on the couch until God moves on my heart to do otherwise. If you feel you need to have sex to keep from having an affair let me know and I’ll oblige you, but I will not be initiating sex.

    I appreciate that you have stopped yelling at me and cursing in front of the kids. Thank you for not waking me up in the middle of the night to scream at me anymore. But it takes more than controlling the worst of the abusive behaviors to be build intimacy.

    • Nancy on September 10, 2018 at 7:41 pm

      Thanks for sharing here, Ruth.

      I think that this is a great start.

      Leslie gives very specific steps to walk through in preparing for such a confrontation. In my case it took me a bit more than a month between my ‘breaking point’ and delivering ‘the message’ to him. ( during that month I studied her book, and took each step accordingly).

      If you have reached such a point, then I suggest that you slow right down and take the time you need to do things the way she suggests.

      If you cannot stand to be in the same bed, then don’t stay there.

      The morning after my breaking point I did give him a brief letter saying that I would no longer engage in conversation about our relationship – no reasons, just my limit. During that month, I was virtually silent with him while I searched my own heart, prayed, and sought counselling. Then when I had done everything I had to do, according to the steps in her book, I waited for a sign from The Lord as to when I should deliver the message.

      At this point, he was ready to listen.

      • Autumn on September 10, 2018 at 9:12 pm

        Nancy, would you say your husband was abusive or difficult? Ruth’s situation has an abusive husband. She and her children are in danger. I know denial is a natural coping mechanism. It often takes years of abuse free living to get out of the fog. Ruth is surrounded by fog, don’t you think?

        • Nancy on September 11, 2018 at 2:53 am

          Hi Autumn,

          It was a destructive marriage, not a difficult one, according to Leslie’s definition.

          The end result of walking through Leslie’s steps revealed that my h was excessively defended, which resulted in him perceiving attack where there was none. So yes, he was abusive. He could not tell the truth either ( or receive it!). His fear of failing was so strong that he couldn’t admit he was wrong or take responsibility for mistakes. He manipulated, gaslighted- it was crazy making.

          Classic covert abuse.

          I agree that Ruth is in the fog. And think that her highest priority should be counselling.

          • Autumn on September 11, 2018 at 5:56 am

            Wow, Nancy you have done a great job living the teaching. Congratulations.



          • JoAnn on September 11, 2018 at 9:26 am

            Nancy, I am amazed that your h could recover from all of that. He must be an incredible person, to have allowed the Lord to do such a work in him. And no doubt you guys have had excellent help. How wonderful that you both are on the other side of that….glory to God! Now you are ministering the Christ you have gained to everyone here. You comfort others with the comfort with which you have been comforted. Praise the Lord!!



          • Nancy on September 11, 2018 at 2:22 pm

            Yes, it is incredible JoAnn. God has been so good to us in the concrete help and support He has offered us all along the way (this blog being one of these!).

            Here’s a cool sample of a ‘full circle moment’ that I experienced.

            In 2016 Aly wrote a quote on this blog: “The Lord has secured the promised land but He equips us to claim it for His glory.”

            I wrote it out in huge letters, and it is still at the top of our fridge.

            This quote that helped me keep focused on the spiritual battle that I was in, for my h. During that year I was in a women’s Bible study, studying the character of God through the book of Revelation.

            Today, I began my Bible study called “people of the promised land”, and it starts with Joshua.

            Tonight my h will go, for the first time, to a men’s study. He will be studying the same material that I am. (amazingly, he has not joined this study because of me, he was invited through another avenue. We will be studying it ‘together’).

            The Lord has given Life to that fridge quote -in a very concrete way!



          • Jane on September 11, 2018 at 2:37 pm

            Nancy,

            So encouraging. thx



          • Aly on September 11, 2018 at 4:17 pm

            Nancy!
            Praise God for His Word🎉🎉🌈



          • JoAnn on September 11, 2018 at 4:45 pm

            Nancy, thinking about your brother’s invitation and it being a “guild load” for you….Do you expect to ever be strong enough to be immune to the destructive family dynamics in your FOO? Is that even something that you would like to see happen? I certainly appreciate your need to keep a distance at this time in your healing journey, but what would it take for you to ever be able to be with them “in the person of Christ,” without fear of pain or damage? Do you see that as a possibility? Just wondering, and you don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.



          • Nancy on September 11, 2018 at 9:20 pm

            JoAnn,

            These are good questions. Hard too.

            “do you think you’ll ever be immune to the destructive family dynamics in your FOO?”

            No, I don’t think so. Needing to feel respected is just that, a need. What makes my FOO destructive is a fundamental lack of respect.

            “Is it something that you would like to see happen?”

            If you mean would I like to be immune? I don’t know if this is a healthy thing for me to want. This puts all the owness on me.

            You ask what it would take for me to be with them ‘in the person of Christ’ without fear of pain or damage.

            I think just like when I was separated from my h, I would need to see trustworthy behaviour on their part. I would need to see that they were taking responsibility for themselves individually. Most of all I would need to feel respected by them. In short, “what would need to happen” would be changes of heart.

            Do I see that as a possibility?

            Just like with my h, I pray for their transformation and leave them with The Lord.

            I think to want ‘immunity’ would be to be asking The Lord to send me into my FOO strong, despite their lack of respect for me. It would be me asking The Lord to send me to my FOO as a missionary.

            So, if this is what you are asking; then No. I don’t wish to be a missionary to my FOO ( especially not with younger children). In ten years or so, maybe.



          • Aly on September 11, 2018 at 9:57 pm

            Nancy JoAnn,

            My situation is SO SO similar Nancy.

            It is the basic respect thing, and I have said the same exact things, maybe in 10 yrs once my children are raised, unless they come around to see what the problem is🙏… giving them to the Lord

            The disrespect is a bigger issue when your raising children because it leaks into ‘undermining’ the parent and this is helpful for raising children in consistent love and healthy boundaries when needed.

            Nancy and JoAnn, I found that it is ‘me’ they disrespect so much but what I respresent: truth teller role was what I was given but also love the Lord and anything remotely spiritual ‘even being Joyful & or sorrowful’ .. is an offense to them at some level.

            So the lack of respect is really a core level for lack of truth overall.

            Healthy people live in reality, Leslie says often.

            The hard part of participating is that it become collaborative where you then have to pretend and accommodate what’s comfortable all for keeping the relationship that they are willing to have, as long as you don’t be your real-self, your invited and accepted.



          • Aly on September 11, 2018 at 10:04 pm

            Nancy JoAnn,

            Sorry major typos hopefully it can be figured out!



          • JoAnn on September 11, 2018 at 11:47 pm

            Nancy and Aly, I cannot imagine how awful that must be for you to have to live with that kind of disrespect and abuse from family members; people who you want to love and be loved by. I am so sorry that it has come to that.

            When I said being with them “in the person of Christ,” I wasn’t talking about being a missionary or even really a witness. What I mean is that when we take Christ to be our person, we have His heart and his mind in dealing with people. He was able to endure all the disrespect and abuse from His persecutors. He becomes a shield to protect our heart. I had this experience when I was strongly attacked by a woman who I had poured out so much love and care on, but then she turned on me and viciously attacked me. I just had a clear sense that the Lord in me was shielding me and helping me to see her through His eyes. It still hurt, yes, but I felt His comforting presence.
            I understand your wanting to protect your children from their abuse, and I support your decisions. I am not trying to challenge them. I hope that my questions didn’t offend you.



          • Nancy on September 12, 2018 at 6:42 am

            JoAnn, Aly,

            No offence taken at all, JoAnn.

            I know the experience that you are talking about while being attacked. I had this experience with my brother on the phone a couple of weeks ago. In seething rage he accused me of things but the Spirit protected and guided me through and our conversation ended well actually.

            Imagine deciding to put yourself in that position ( with that woman who attacked you) on a regular basis. Or feeling that it was your duty to keep a relationship with her knowing that she wouldn’t hesitate do it again in both overt and covert ways. This is having an on-going individual relationship with my mother ( and brother) It’s why I have minimal contact and call only when I’m strong.

            Now imagine deciding to place yourself in a group of people who feed off one-another’s disrespect. Who target truth tellers and work together to undermine any hint of separateness.

            . What comes to mind is to not jump off the cliff thinking that The Lord will send his angels to catch me. I am not to test Him.

            Thanks for the questions, they have helped me work through some guilt!



          • Aly on September 13, 2018 at 9:54 am

            JoAnn,

            Nancy’s answer is well said.

            Also for me there is no offense. In fact, I’m not easily offended in general and not saying that is a really good place to be either. I have had to do more inner work on these areas of why and often its linked back to the family system and my survival in covert dynamics.

            I so appreciate your understandings here JoAnn, I imagine it’s difficult to hear our fractured family systems ‘those Christian homes where there is no real healing, recovery or reconciliation as a family unit.
            I can see and understand your questions to Nancy, as I have similar ones asked of me! It’s complicated because for outsiders it’s so Foreign to understand the covert abusive stuff that plays out and ‘many family systems’ have going on underneath what we have experienced it’s maybe more tolerable or maybe it’s not so much of a threat to their own family units.

            For my situation, my FOO fueled subconsciously my husband’s lack of respect for me. And at times blatantly when in interaction with them as no one wants to be the victim or be scapegoated by the other insecure individuals.

            Nancy described this so simple and clear:
            “Now imagine deciding to place yourself in a group of people who feed off one-another’s disrespect. Who target truth tellers and work together to undermine any hint of separateness”
            See this is key because the system sees this separateness as a Threat, rather than a welcomed place of healthy individuality. The separateness is a threat because you are not dealing with ‘true adults’ within or emotionally mature and secure adults within Christ.

            The person who does have that level of security in Christ and value is a threat because many others have yet to grasp or possess that kind of truth.
            It’s sad, I know.
            It’s tragic too because the very thing necessary for the repair is the very thing they battle against internally.

            JoAnn, Nancy also gave you an invitation to put yourself in her (our) shoes when it comes to putting ourselves in ongoing situations where there is covert and overt behaviors. Even as a fellow parent trying to parent my own children (child/pre-teen) etc it became clear to me that this expose was not assisting my role as a parent to our children but continuing to put myself in those situations where I would be undermineded was discrediting myself to my children (almost like my FOO was becoming their worst influential peers)
            Rather than assistin I’m raising them up with the things and virtues of the Lord.

            Sorry this is a long example but I think it’s natural that it would seem like how can we walk near these type of family members and be a good influence of Christ for them?
            Well, the truth is JoAnn, Jesus didn’t always walk near those who where far from Him. In fact, he fled many times and did not put himself in continues abusive dynamics and tolerate it, only did he when he was taken and killed unjustly so.

            So when you say he was able to endure all the disrespect and abuse from persecution, he actually didn’t endure in my opinion. He left His earthy FOO for His heavenly FOO and it’s writen in Scripture clearly. His earthly family came around later in His ministry, praise God.

            I’m not staying these examples as an comparisons of the like, I’m just wanting to point out that He really ‘spoke truth and gave them an invitation to consider then walked away ‘when he freely could’ from those kinds of people that persecuted or contributed to the persecution of the true Gospel.

            It’s foreign to walk away from blood family systems, but if I told you they were drug addicts, you might have more acceptance of my safety issues and my protection of my children. I think God is far more grieved over the person who has a resistant hard hearted issue and abuses His own, than maybe even a person who abuses drugs etc.? There might be more hope for the drug user than the hardened heart we are speaking of.
            Let’s not forget these individuals wear their Christian badges and are speak certain Christianese talk, but draw close and you will see they have no desire to truly Know Him.
            Intimacy with Him is an offense of sorts and regardless if it’s out of brokenness or fear, fear is fed and that is what grows to distort His truths.



          • Nancy on September 13, 2018 at 10:52 am

            Your post made my cry, Aly. I will print it out.

            You describe the reality of my situation so well.

            It is horrendous.



          • Nancy on September 13, 2018 at 11:03 am

            My tears are of grief for the reality of the situation, but also tears of Hope. Hope in Christ. Your examples of Him are so precious! Thank you.



          • Aly on September 13, 2018 at 1:49 pm

            Nancy,

            I’m sorry for the tears but thankful you see your Hope and feel His love even more!
            Yes it’s painful to walk but I do it not alone, lots of tears, sometimes disbelief too and lots of comfort from those who see and ‘get it’.
            Sending virtual hugs Sister in Christ.

            Thank you for your encouragement and understanding.



          • JoAnn on September 13, 2018 at 5:14 pm

            Nancy and Aly, (and anyone else who has been following our conversation) I worship the Lord for the work He has done in your families, to bring you out of such destructive environments and into the freedom of His glorious light. We take the good land piece by piece, with the Lord leading the way. You are doing what you have to do for the sake of your children and your own sanity, and sometimes what the Lord requires is hard and even painful, but He gives the grace to do His will. Having passed through all that, both of you now have much encouragement to share with everyone here. What we experience is not only for ourselves, but even more for the building up of one another.



          • Aly on September 13, 2018 at 6:24 pm

            JoAnn,

            Thank you for your encouragement.
            I really do think that it’s important to evaluate our surroundings especially when we discover that there is a destructive marriage or relationship of some sort involved.

            The more others in my life have asked me to share what has taken place etc or areas that they have shared with me, these FOO issues are not that isolated in fact, they are quite prevalent.

            Certainly my FOO situation is very enmeshed if looking at a spectrum, but many of my own close friends are seeing lots of these situations too playing out in their extended families as they peer closer or challenge the status quo.

            I’m referring to how far will we compromise our own faith and growth to make sure family members are ok with us and not uncomfortable.

            Enmeshed families really do sabatoge growing in many areas in my opinion.

            Some of my close friends are very supportive and do understand our ‘invitations’ and who the offenders & real rejectors are.

            And some of our friends have had to cut off relationship with us, I believe it’s because it just hits too close to home for them so to be around us, happy times, sad timed etc is just too real for them.

            Early on (childhood) I wish I had learned that doing the ‘right thing’ could cost me relationships etc. I think I had thought doing the right healthy thing was a good thing with good consequences.

            I do think there should be a lot of freedom and support for any of these decisions. This is where we get to accept that God is who we need to seek true approval from and realize that it’s only Him we will answer to ~our choices and how we lived our journey some day.

            Blessing and hugs to you JoAnn for all of your care for many of us navigating through some very complex things💕



  26. Ruth on September 10, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Later that night, I confronted him about his ‘don’t be a thief’ comment. I was calm, but I *might* have laughed at his ridiculous come-backs.
    I told him that he had no reason to accuse me of stealing his authority.
    He said: “Well, for the past couple of years my authority as head of the household has been taken away.” I reminded him that as part of my conditions for not seeking a divorce was that I was I would take over the discipline of the children until he could stop being abusive. This was for the PROTECTION of the kids and it was the right, Godly thing to do. Now, that he’s stopped most of his ranting and yelling, he can re-enter parenting but parenting is a JOINT EFFORT. The Mom has a voice.”
    When he couldn’t argue anymore with me on that subject, he brought up 2 of his recent grievances against me. This is a common tactic of his – rapidly changing the subject if he feels he’s losing ground on one front. His grievances were lame and pathetic. One was so lame that I didn’t even know he was miffed about it.

    Last night I slept on the couch but I had a migraine and he probably assumed a wanted to be alone bc I left bad. Honestly, I felt so crappy I didn’t want to deal with the whole “I am MOVING TO THE COUCH SPEECH”. I have to be careful when I deliver this text bc i’m afraid he might blow up around the kids.

    • Autumn on September 10, 2018 at 9:04 pm

      I think you are being much too nice. I think he will find your letter and its content as meaningless and annoying. I don’t think he cares about you or your family at all.

      You deserve a happy home and marriage, but your situstion seems like a bad marriage with only one party who is interested in change, you. Are you in counseling? Is he in counseling?

      I applaud your perseverance. Yet, this guy needs a kick in the pants to really change. (Lundy Bancroft’s experienced teaching, not mine.) The behaviors you describe are abusive. That makes him an abuser. Do you have an escape plan? I know you want to try the gentle approach and try the bargin with him, but don’t bother. According to experts who work with abusive men, the only thing that ever changed any of them was jail and court ordered classes with accountability partners.

      • Aly on September 10, 2018 at 9:42 pm

        Ruth, Autumn,

        Autumn I agree with your post.
        Ruth, this breaks my heart for you! You are so kind and deserve t be treated with respect and your husband seems far from this reality.

        My heart is so sad for you! I don’t mean to be harsh here about sex, but this posture is very very disturbing that you would have sex with him in order for him to not have justification for an affair!
        Even if he is not actually having an affair with another person, he is having an affair with himself based on his reasoning skills and that is dangerous!

        Because you mention your shopping behavior, I wonder if you think that this past behavior of yours makes you obligated to this destructive and abusive marriage? Like you owe your dues or something?

        There are other ways you can bring restitution to your debt in this and it doesn’t have to be linked to this marriage especially with the state it was and is in.
        (I’m not even saying you would have to bring any restitution to this shopping behavior)
        The shopping certainly could of been a way for you to cope with what you are dealing with, not saying it’s justificatin but it would make sense to me for you to find an escape especially if that’s the environment your living in.

      • Ruth on September 11, 2018 at 8:09 am

        Autumn
        I know i’m coming across gentle to him but it’s bc my hope that ‘a gentle answer turns away wrath’. I want him to see me conducting myself graciously so he will *hopefully* be motivated to respond in kind. He’s never been physically aggressive but there are a few nights I’ve left the house for my mental sanity.

        • Autumn on September 11, 2018 at 8:17 pm

          Ruth, a gentle answer that turns away wrath was not written about a married couple. I respect your sweet continence, yet it is not what you need in your situation. You need others to walk through this with you. Did you say you contacted your local domestic violence shelters yet? Make an appointment for a free discussion with one of their counselors just to gather information. You don’t have to act on it, but the information is important for you to know. Believe me, I didn’t want to go to any place like that, ever. It turns out they were super safe, knowledge, respected my privacy and connected me with a ton of good information.

    • Nancy on September 11, 2018 at 3:41 am

      Hi Ruth,

      Please don’t stop engaging here. As you have seen with others over the years, there is much to be gained by staying open to your sisters who can see things that we cannot, when we are ‘in it’.

      I think you’ve been very brave to open up. Keep it up sister!

    • caroline on September 11, 2018 at 4:00 am

      Ruth, you are very brave to come here and ask for direct feedback!
      Personally I think this might be a decent set of boundaries if one was not afraid of the receiver’s response, but you said you are afraid he’ll “blow up” around the kids when he gets the message. So I’m thinking you might already know in your heart what’s going to happen.

      Controlling his anger HAS to be another boundary. This first boundary. That really should be made super clear before there is talk of any kind of sexual contact, or gratitude expressed for his stopping outrageous behaviors.

      It seems from his “stealing authority” accusation that he terrorizes the children with entitlement and self righteous arrogance. This does not look promising from where I sit. He has no authority to harm his children. The same bible passages that put a parent over children, put that same parent UNDER the civil authorities.

      Also, when we draw our boundaries in a relationship we need to first articulate (even just to ourselves) what will be the consequences if we get one response vs another. When we set boundaries just to be pushed right back again, it empowers the abusive personality and makes it that much harder to fight for truth and righteousness.

      There are situations where the next move will need to be kept a very tight secret until the moment it happens, but it still needs to be clear in our own minds what we will do next.

      So the question to ask yourself is, what will you do with his possible responses to your message?

      • Aly on September 11, 2018 at 8:12 am

        Ruth, Caroline,

        Caroline you wrote to Ruth;
        “It seems from his “stealing authority” accusation that he terrorizes the children with entitlement and self righteous arrogance. This does not look promising from where I sit. He has no authority to harm his children. The same bible passages that put a parent over children, put that same parent UNDER the civil authorities.”

        I agree and Ruth if his authority is NOT in alignment and NOT submitted unto Christ then it’s no authority for which you are to be following. You are to be first submitted to Christ alone.
        Ruth, please get some additional interventions in place for your well being and your next moves.

  27. Ruth on September 11, 2018 at 8:41 am

    I slept on the couch again last night even though I was too chicken to deliver my text or speech about moving to the couch. For one thing, my teenagers would NOT go to bed. They kept announcing I NEED a
    shower. I wanted to wait til the kids were all in bed before I ‘delivered the bad news’. But my H went to bed first. I guess he’s wondering why I’ slept on the couch for 2 nights in a row, but he hasn’t asked.
    I don’t have very much hope for our marriage being saved. But I would like to stay if it can be civil co-parenting at least until my 11year old goes to college. She’s my youngest child and she is emotionally unstable. She’s not bipolar but if you could imagine bipolar on a continuum, she would be on the least aggressive end. (kinda like her dad).
    I know like Autumn said it would be very difficult for him to have heart change – that would require constantly denying himself
    and resisting his default setting to control and criticize others.

    I’ll join Leslie‘s Conquer group several months ago. But I never did much with it. I have just now started watching the videos and they are so good; they’re really encouraging me especially the ones on codependency. I never thought I was codependent LoL.

    • Ruth on September 11, 2018 at 8:45 am

      Should say I had joined Leslie’s conquer group.
      Sorry, sometimes I voice dictate and I have a southern accent that my iPhone gets confused with.

      • Autumn on September 11, 2018 at 9:24 am

        Ruth, I wouldn’t take any action yet. You have one chance to make a stand and mean it. You have to have all your ducks in a row. Each failed mini attempt makes your case weaker.

        I also think it is unrealistic to stay put until your youngest is ready for college. If she doesn’t get out of this environment she will never be college material. You are skipping how horrible it is for her living in her abusive encouragement. It is very likely the only problem the child has is her family life. Get her out if it now before she engages in high-risk behavior which is associated with kids living with abuse.

        It is telling that your H didn’t notice or care that you were on the sofa. Enlist help, make a better and real plan to remove yourself from the abuse. You can do this!

    • JoAnn on September 11, 2018 at 9:53 am

      Ruth, you say that one of your children is “unstable” and I can’t help but wonder if her instability is BECAUSE she has to live in the same house with her abusive father. For her sake, I would encourage you to make plans to get away from that destructive dynamic. It is hard for you to see right now, but all of your children are going to carry the effects of your husband’s abuse into their future lives, so getting help for all of them now….the earlier the better…will save a lot of suffering in the future. You haven’t mentioned whether or not you have a counselor, but if you don’t, please find one! That has been mentioned many times in the responses from Nancy, Aly, Autumn and Caroline, but you haven’t told us. If you cannot afford to see a counselor on your insurance plan, you can probably get help from your local battered women’s shelter. This is not something that you can handle alone. You need a support group around yo. Ask the Lord to help you find one.

  28. Nancy on September 12, 2018 at 6:44 am

    Anything happen yesterday, Ruth?

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