Morning friends,

I have a whirlwind schedule over the next few weeks speaking mostly on the East coast so I will be away from home for almost 3 weeks. Pray for my safety and stamina that I do each event with excellence.  

Today’s Question: My husband and I began reading The Emotional Destructive Marriage. I initiated this after many years of emotional abuse from him.

I read a third of it myself first and then I approached him, with a strong CORE and we had a calm discussion in which I said, we need help. I approached him by saying that we could read your book and apply it to our marriage, and or once again seek a counselor which we have done in the past. I told him if he chose not to do these things, then I would separate from him.

In summary one year later nothing has changed. I am strong and have a saving faith in Christ so really appreciate your beautiful and brilliant way you incorporate Biblical teachings.

My question is regarding the most recent episode of emotional abuse. It began about three weeks ago and often his way of treating me respectfully is to initiate sex.

Using my CORE I finally decided to confront him. I told him I couldn’t be intimate when we are not getting along emotionally and we need to practice more love and respect before I can have sex. This was the most awkward confrontation I have had with him. His response was to walk away in silence, a very typical one and used abusively.

Was that the appropriate way to confront him on this matter? How should I respond now that he is ignoring me?

I am so much stronger since reading and putting your book into practice but it is still difficult.

Answer: Good for you for speaking in CORE as well as refusing to pretend things are good when they are not. However as I read your summary of what’s been going on, I see you told your husband if he did nothing after one year, there was going to be a consequence and it was separation.

Separation would include not being sexually available but I wonder since you didn't officially separate, he began telling himself things must be better and tried to connect with you sexually.  

Rightly so, you spoke up again. You said, “I can’t be intimate when we are not getting along emotionally and we need to practice more love and respect before I can have sex.” That’s a fine statement in and of itself, but it’s slightly different than what you said earlier, which was we need to read Leslie’s book together and talk about it or go to counseling together or we will separate.  

I bring this up because I think sometimes we can unintentionally give mixed messages to our spouse. So to answer your first question, yes you were appropriate to bring things up with him. But it might have been more powerful if had you done it after the one-year deadline instead of waiting until he initiated sexual contact. Then his feelings of rejection wouldn’t have gotten in the way of him hearing your valid points.

Second, what you told him about not wanting to be intimate physically when there is no trust or safety between you makes perfect sense.  God created the sexual relationship for mutual pleasure and to create children in a bond of safety and love. That’s why he tells us to wait until we have that secure bond of marriage before we are physically intimate with someone. God cares about your well-being. Your husband wants the benefits of sexual intimacy without putting in the work to create emotional safety. Then he punishes you by emotionally withdrawing from you for long periods of time through the silent treatment.

So overall, you did great. You have become stronger, you have established some boundaries and have spoken up for yourself. Your husband’s silent treatment is part of the same pattern of punishing you for not doing what he wanted. But what is your next step? You say you are tired of living like this. He hasn’t shown any effort or interest in changing himself or the dynamic of the relationship. You can stay well or leave well, but you can’t make a good marriage all by yourself.

Friends, what makes it hardest for you to actually follow through on the consequences when there is no change?

46 Comments

  1. Moon Beam on October 24, 2018 at 7:23 am

    I wonder why you didn’t didn’t follow up on your initial terms and separate. Discussions of any kind seem pointless when you didn’t keep your first consequence and separate as you said you would. At this point you a clanging gong of noise in his world. If he respected you, it would have been apparently a year ago when you first confronted him.

    Yes, you demean your self by having sex with him, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Go zero tolerance tolerance on abuse. You explained you point, exposed and problem and now get yourself out of this evil man’s life.

  2. Nancy on October 24, 2018 at 10:11 am

    “What makes it hardest for you to actually follow through on consequences when there is no change?”

    One of my biggest obstacles was the thought that : following through on consequences was not loving. It was not Christ-like.

    I am discovering that this thought is under-girded by deep seated false beliefs about myself, as well as about God’s character.

    So my false belief about Jesus is this:

    the result of contact with Him is a ‘blissful’, Ahhhhh-inspired, deep breath-cleansing, cue angel-music, type of experience. Not so. Often the result of contact with Him is anger and entrenchment ( we are, after all a stench to some). And what is our response to that anger and entrenchment supposed to be? More obedience. We are to look neither to the left or the right ( at their reactions to our obedient walk), we are to stay focused on Him and take one step at a time. One breath at a time. Applying the word of God to our life. Standing firm in Him.

    The false belief about me is this : I am not worth protecting.

    This one is deep. Because I believe this, then each boundary I set automatically goes under full attack by my own self-deprecating thoughts.

    I can read until the cows come home, about how boundaries are Godly, but applying those will be EXHAUSTING because I am not only standing firm in the face of an external bully, but also an internal one.

    I am learning that Jesus loves to be given access to false belief systems. He loves to heal His children ❤️

    • Gladis on November 6, 2018 at 10:16 am

      Well said Nancy, I needed to hear that today . I want husband to change he wants me changed. I don’t want a divorce but don’t like the marriage either. I know this pain can’t imagine future pain if divorce.

    • Shalom on November 7, 2018 at 7:30 am

      I absolutely can relate to your post, Nancy. There has been many experiences in my 21 year marriage that seem to support my false belief of not being worthy to protect, the latest one being that my husband refuses to hire an exterminator to deal with the issue of wasps that are daily getting into our house. Me and the 3 kids are home to deal with it while he is off at work (overnight shift) or sleeping during the day.
      Needless to say, I have become strong through Leslie’s teachings. I let him know in no uncertain terms that I was hiring an exterminator. PERIOD.
      Amazing how I let this false belief system, as well as twisting of scripture to keep me stuck for so long. Praying for us both to embrace the truth of God’s love, protection and presence daily in our lives.

    • Finally seeing the light. on November 11, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      Wow. It’s just like you have been inside my mind.

  3. Carolee on October 24, 2018 at 9:40 pm

    My narcissistic h views consequences as punishments and learns nothing from them. He twists everything. I recently learned how he has groomed me to feel guilty if I don’t give him what he wants. We were going in constant cycles of abuse. It is taking me a long time to learn what being well means. I have a long way to go and I am not a young woman.

    • Moon Beam on October 24, 2018 at 11:33 pm

      It would seem the best thing to do is go no contact with him. You have a great brain Carolee. You will get stronger and stronger as you remove yourself from the abuse. Again, there is nothing wrong with your brain, his brain is the one with the problem.

  4. Beatrice on October 25, 2018 at 1:05 am

    Fear and uncertainty… Fear of what life will really look like for my seven children. Is the abuse really so bad? Is living the lie as we go to church every Sunday yet they see their dad walk down to the basement to sleep there every night for more than a year and this is now “normal” behavior between married people – is that really worse than turning their whole world upside down with mom having to go to work instead of homeschooling and taking care of the family and the stigma of being a divorced family? I can’t figure it out… I still simply cannot wrap my mind around the fact that this is who our family has become.

    • Carrianne on October 25, 2018 at 1:50 am

      Beatrice, I have seven children as well. And I waited for years to finally set boundaries and enforce them, which ultimately ended with him separating from me. Staying for as long as I did meant showing my children, five sons and then twin daughters, how to get it WRONG. Every day you tolerate the abuse and apathy, you are teaching your sons to do the same, and your daughters that it’s ok to settle. That is NOT ok. It is how dysfunction is perpetuated from one generation to another. Praying for courage and strength.

      • Aly on November 2, 2018 at 9:35 pm

        Carriage,
        This is well said! You basically wrapped up something so Huge and articulated it in such a simple yet powerful statement!
        Way to go! And way to show your children how to move from victim to victor!!!

        • Aly on November 2, 2018 at 9:36 pm

          Carrianne;)
          Correction… my phone likes to auto correct.
          I’m sorry! I should have double checked.

    • Moon Beam on October 25, 2018 at 4:50 am

      This is sad to read. I completely understand your dilemma.
      From my perspective I would tweak a few comments. It is not what your family has become, but rather what Dad is doing to all of you. Dad is destroying his own marriage and family.

      The whole marital partnership was only a fantasy that you chose to create and maintain. The few negatives you acknowledge with the destructive dynamic, are really far, far greater in number. I wonder what your children will say about your faith and beliefs when they figure out the lies and hypocracy of it all? All of this, so very, very painful to everyone but the abuser.

    • empowered on October 25, 2018 at 6:59 am

      How We Love is based on our own childhood imprint. I might really appreciate my spouse approaching me for intimacy while someone else would feel its abusive after a boundary was crossed. How We Love teaches us about our imprints and reactivity. It has also taught me empathy for my spouses imprint. Coincidentally my spouse has learned my imprint and has empathy for where I’m coming from also. I no longer consider my spouse a narcissist, it seems to harsh considering his imprint created his actions. I do however continue to require change of myself as I understand my own imprint. Narcissist is the same as an Avoider. Childhood training taught this person to avoid feelings and emotions at all cost. Task and mastery is preferred over feelings. The more I learn of this type of imprint the more power I gain. Power to be a blessing and help heal this imprint.
      Hope that was helpful.

    • DaisyLee on October 25, 2018 at 7:46 am

      Yes Beatrice
      I’m going thru that too . I have said I’m separating but those things are going thru my mind as we are going thru the hoovering part of the cycle and things seem more settled.

    • Sheep on October 25, 2018 at 10:03 am

      Beatrice,
      I sooooo understand where you are at. Those same things kept me bound for a very long time with my abusive, adulterous wife. Fear and uncertainty, fear of what the future will be like, fear that everything will fall apart, fear for the kids (I have 8). Fear of what happens with homeschooling. Fear of everyone learning that we aren’t really “that” family. But much of it was fear of my wife and how she would react. I had been well trained over the years to keep my mouth shut and not disagree with her, and never do anything that would upset her. It just wasn’t worth it.

      Part of what did it for me was the realization that she isn’t going to change, part of it was the realization that we were teaching our children to be hypocritical Pharisees. Did I really want my kids to live in a pretend fantasy world where personal actions and attitudes don’t have real world results? Did I really want to teach them that we don’t have to take personal responsibility for the things we do? Did I want them to see a living example of someone that willfully “continues in sin that grace may abound” No. I also had to answer your question of “Is the abuse really that bad?” Is it really so bad that it is worth turning everyones world upside down? Nobody else can answer that for you, you have to come to that decision on your own. In my case I could no longer ignore everything and pretend it didn’t exist. I couldn’t ignore the lies, the manipulation and need to control everything. I couldn’t ignore that she would flat out say that she wouldn’t promise to be faithful.
      So, I gave her the choice of her doing the hard work of real reconciliation and being in a real marriage with me, or separation leading to divorce.
      She left 3 months ago and it was hard at first. But after a while I realized that it really wasn’t her i missed. I miss having a wife, I miss having a partner and I am lonely, but also realized that my life is so much more peaceful without her here. My mind is so much more clear and I am able to see the issues of the past and present with much a lot more honesty with myself about how bad things actually were. Time and distance can have that effect.
      I will tell you that I have discovered a wide range of reactions of people learning we are separated and going to divorce. Most have been understanding and accepting, some have wanted to give me there beliefs on how I should be Hosea, or how Jesus didn’t really mean it when he said that divorce and remarriage after adultery is not sin. Many just don’t get or want to understand emotional abuse or especially that it can happen to men too. But I have also learned that “the stigma of being divorced” isn’t as big as I thought it would be. I am finding that most people are caught up in their own lives and it just doesn’t effect them that much. Sure they are sad for you and wish it wouldn’t have happened, but they also move on.

      • JoAnn on November 17, 2018 at 5:10 pm

        Your account of your journey, Brother, is an inspiration to us all. Thank your for remaining active on this blog.

    • Nancy on October 25, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      Hi Beatrice,

      I think we get bogged down in fear and uncetaitly when we try to predict the future, or try to figure out where it will all end. There’s just no way to know what the future holds.

      That’s why I love Leslie’s CORE acronym. This addresses our thoughts and behaviour in THIS moment. Will I continue to placate in order to not ruffle feathers, or will I speak loving truth? Will I respond to the Holy Spirit’s prompting in THIS moment, or will I allow my fears about the future affect my obedience? Will I take responsibility for my heart by setting appropriate boundaries and sticking to them, or will I continue to try to fix my marriage? Will I continue to enable his bad behaviour by sweeping my feelings and voice under the rug, or will I pay attention to the signals my feelings/body are telling me and use my voice? Will I prioritize self-care by finding support for myself or will I continue to put myself last?

      Following The Lord is often characterized by not knowing where we are headed. He knows, though. May you find comfort knowing that He loves you and works everything for your good.

      May you find Him sufficient for today.

    • Eve on November 7, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      Wow, we sound like we have a lot in common.

      • Beatrice on November 10, 2018 at 1:39 am

        Eve, I’m sorry you are living in a similar situation. For years I knew something was “off” about my marriage and my husband’s actions and reactions but it wasn’t until I found Leslie’s site, this blog, and read her book that I realized what was happening at home was happening in other people’s marriages. I hope you find hope and healing in your relationship with Jesus and encouragement and empathy here.

  5. Grateful on October 25, 2018 at 7:59 am

    Oh Beatrice – I completely understand what you are saying about the future – it is so not what you thought the Lord had for you and your family. But all these concerns you have to lay before our Lord and He is the only one with the answers. If he says GO then GO but He will guide you. You are seen and He has the best for you. The Lord told me to stay for a while and I know now he was equipping me to leave when He released me. I filed in Jan 2017 and it will be final in March 2018. It has been hard for my kids and myself but I have absolutely NO doubt what I have been living thru would have been far worse had I stayed. The kids don’t know that but thats okay – I do and I trust in HIM. Sit before Him and listen – He has promises for you and He will confirm these and validate them so you can’t miss them. But you do have to be willing to hear what He has to say. He is faithful and He will be faithful to you.

  6. Beatrice on October 25, 2018 at 11:52 pm

    Thank You so very much for taking the time to respond, encourage, challenge, and love me with your words! I have six sons and one daughter. She sees me as a weak woman. Her dad completely ignores her. There’s already damage there. He used to be a very angry person but in recent months it has mostly been replaced with apathy.

    Nancy, thank you for the reminder that I can’t focus on the long term results of decisions. We aren’t promised tomorrow even if everything were great.

    Sheep, I have followed your story for the last several months. Thank you for the encouragement. Your courage is inspiring.

    Carianne and Grateful, Thank you for the challenge to listen to the Lord and faithfully ask for and look for answers from Him.

    Empowered, I know of the book “How We Love”. I heard the author on Family Life Today. I took the quiz. I completely understand what you’re saying. But my husband is so far gone he doesn’t care enough to join me in the pursuit of any answers.

    With no family in town and having not worked in several years I just don’t know where to start. It seems it would make sense for him to go but the couple of times I’ve mentioned it he says “I’m not going anywhere” or “we can’t afford for me to live seperately”.

    I am “off the charts” with empathy and he has a severely damaged childhood that I believe has contributed to his absolute apathy and some narcissistic characteristics. He has become a rude, mean, thoughtless person that I don’t recognize.

    Thank you again for the love shown here. I will update here when there is any movement in our relationship. This site is a blessing to me!

    • K (who's posted before) on October 26, 2018 at 11:22 am

      Hi, Beatrice It’s good to see the caring truth and encouragement that you receive from the community here; so glad this site is a blessing to you, too!!

      Reading your post of the 25th @ 11.52pm (!)……. You write that “I am “off the charts” with empathy and he has a severely damaged childhood that I believe has contributed to his absolute apathy and some narcissistic characteristics. He has become a rude, mean, thoughtless person that I don’t recognize.”

      I wonder if, in this case, you have confused empathy with sympathy, or are falling into the manipulations your hsbnd may be exerting by way of “if you love me, and know that I’m sad and broken, you’ll just take what i dish out and can’t hold me responsible.” Empathy is understanding someone else’s point of view/perspective. Sympathy is being stuck in ‘oh, i wish i could make this better for you, you poor thing; i’ll do whatever it takes to make that feel better for you, even accepting your meanness to me’.

      In the destructive marriage situation you describe, even if you are ‘off the charts’ as an empathetic person, wisdom would still hold him accountable & responsible for his destructive behaviour (he has choices! not all abused children become abusers!). It is only sympathy which allows his story to be an excuse. And someone who is manipulative, abusive & destructive will exploit sympathy in a heartbeat.

      Just a thought to consider………. blessings, K

      • Leslie Vernick on October 27, 2018 at 7:56 pm

        Sorry I’ve been out of town speaking. Just was able to get to this to approve it.

    • Nancy on October 27, 2018 at 8:09 am

      Hi Beatrice,

      It’s great that you recognize that the ‘How we Love’ material is to strengthen a marriage. When there is no marriage, then it doesn’t apply ( marriage is a reciprocal, respectful, loving relationship….not a piece of paper). For years I bought really solid, well written marriage books in order to ‘fix the marriage’….it was only when I recognized that I was the only one interested in doing the work, that I threw all those books away. Literally, in the garbage can.

      That’s when I heard about Leslie’s book. It helped me get focused on what I should take responsibility for…. My own heart.

      Then I was able to lay my marriage at the cross, and trust God with the outcome.

  7. OKRickety on October 27, 2018 at 5:36 pm

    Question: “In summary one year later nothing has changed. I am strong and have a saving faith in Christ so really appreciate your beautiful and brilliant way you incorporate Biblical teachings.
    […]
    I told him I couldn’t be intimate when we are not getting along emotionally and we need to practice more love and respect before I can have sex.

    Answer: “However as I read your summary of what’s been going on, I see you told your husband if he did nothing after one year, there was going to be a consequence and it was separation.
    […]
    Second, what you told him about not wanting to be intimate physically when there is no trust or safety between you makes perfect sense. God created the sexual relationship for mutual pleasure and to create children in a bond of safety and love.”

    I have two responses here. First, unless you edited the “question”, you seem to have a problem with your reading comprehension. The question never says anything about a one-year deadline. It does say there was no change in the husband’s behavior one year later. In other words, you are making an assumption which I find deplorable, especially for a trained counselor.

    Second, I see the opposite of incorporating Biblical teaching in your answer. While I agree that marriage should be a bond of safety and love, I do not find Biblical support for your implication that it is acceptable for a wife to insist on “trust or safety” before allowing physical intimacy. And, by the way, it seems that you consider the wife to be the sole judge of whether or not there is adequate “trust or safety”.

    • Moon Beam on October 27, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      There seems to be a bit of angst in your reply,Rickety. What recommendation would you make to a woman living in a destructively abusive relationship?

    • Leslie Vernick on October 27, 2018 at 8:03 pm

      I do think the wife is the sole judge of whether she feels safe in the relationship. She is only speaking about herself but her voice matters. Her voice isn’t the ONLY voice, but she has asked her husband to do some repair work in their relationship which he refuses. You’re right she didn’t say the deadline is 1 year. But in one year he has done nothing of what she has asked. What does that tell you? It says he’s not interested. It’s not a priority to him. He doesn’t value her feelings or what’s important to her. That doesn’t bode well for rebuilding their broken relationship.

      I’m curious. Why are you here on this site? Are you here to learn and grow or to critique my responses?

    • Aly on November 2, 2018 at 9:51 pm

      OkRickety,

      I’m so confused with your involvement here given your last couple of posts? Why put the time to write comments if your unwilling to answer any questions people ask or dialog with you? Maybe you only have outgoing conversation or mail? Not incoming.

      The word deplorable seems pretty disproportionate given a possible ‘assumption’, don’t you think?

      Also in regards to physical aspect of intimacy in marriage, God designed it as so, to be safe and one union. A husband who cannot hold the heart of a wife in security and connection, will fail at what has been entrusted by God. He designed women far differently in this matter for a reason and sadly many men miss out on this aspect of growth and maturity in relationship.
      We worship a very deep and emotional God, He is far from one dimensional thinking about physical intimacy and care.

      • many years on November 4, 2018 at 3:09 pm

        Amen! To what you have said about God being a ‘very deep and emotional God.’

        Just the fact of how one becomes new in Christ, the rebirth. I mean, BORN….AGAIN. For Nicodemus he was confused because he thought he would have to be physically re-born. But it was talking about the Spiritual birth, the rebirth of our psyche and spirit becoming ‘one with God’…and this mystery of the Church which so involves the relationship with Christ and the church, and how many, many verses in scripture use The Bride of Christ, as a comparison to marriage and the relationship to the husband and the wife.

        What I am getting at is many men do not ‘get’ that spiritual relationship with his wife. The born-again experience which takes marriage to another level of intimacy, not just the physical. Like you mentioned ‘sadly many men miss out on this aspect of growth and maturity in relationship.’

        And I think this lack of growth is what prevents some marriages never becoming what God intended them to be in the spiritual rebirth, so that the actions of a husband will speak louder than words, with how he cares for his wife. When the care and concern is lacking, then there is hardly any type of a bond, especially in the marriage bed. It will be shallow and self occupied for the man.

  8. Beatrice on October 28, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    I have been thinking alot about how I’d like to respond to OKRickety’s comments. Obviously I don’t have to respond – they weren’t aimed at me personally. But I feel like I need to respond.

    The longer I have been on this unwanted journey of a destructive marriage the more I realize how difficult it is for people to understand if they have not experienced this type of abuse.

    What I’d like to say to anyone who reads the comments on this site but has not personally experienced the abuse –

    Do you think the affected spouse is looking for a reason not to be intimate with their spouse?

    I have been married for more than 30 years. For me, the first 17 or 18 years were mostly happy and we had a very healthy and fulfilling intimate life. Something began to change in my husband as our oldest child got closer to the teenage years. Looking back, I can see there were some signs of his destructive behavior (anger, apathy, avoidance) but it was fairly rare. Little by little it became more of the norm than the exception. I forgave over and over again. I prayed and talked and offered forgiveness time after time. But as the behavior got worse instead of better and I watched the emotional pain in my children and our family I had more and more of a difficult time being intimate with my husband. Now it has been 18 months since we’ve even held hands and more than a year that he has slept separate from me in another part of the house. I fantasize about how it used to be. OKRickety, the hurt and pain that comes when the person who promised to love and cherish you physically assaults you in the bedroom and belittles your attempts to forgive and have meaningful conversation about how to heal the relationship is NOT a safe person that you can relax with and be intimate with.

    I love the Lord and love His Word and I have been committed to this marriage. As far as I know there has not been unfaithfulness or porn issues. I STILL do not know how or why my marriage became so destructive. I just felt the need to give you a picture of why you are simply wrong that trust and safety are not necessary in the marriage bed.

  9. Autumn on October 29, 2018 at 3:46 am

    Beatrice your husband’s behavior sounds a lot like those of a porn addict. Have you searched his phone recently? Have you browsed his search sites on the computer?

    • JoAnn on November 17, 2018 at 5:23 pm

      To Sheep: Your account of your journey, Brother, is an inspiration to us all. Thank your for remaining active on this blog.

    • JoAnn on November 17, 2018 at 5:27 pm

      Autumn, I agree. I wonder if the reason his attitude toward the children changed because he had begun to watch porn, maybe even kiddy porn? It would certainly be something to check out. guys who do this are very good at covering their tracks. There is another question about porn use in the blog archives, and it might be helpful to read through some of that, too.

  10. Free on October 29, 2018 at 4:06 am

    I have been thinking about how i minimized the destructive behaviors of my spouse. I should have spoken up more frequently, more forcefully and more publicly. Even now in a state of safety and recovery from abuse, my destructive parnter is actively and repeatedly speaking out as he creates his propaganda campaign. He speaks out all the time polishing his carefully crafted version of his public image.

    When abusers can silence their victims they win. Tell, tell, and tell some more. Call him out. Expose his evil. Yet…..you must be safe. Safely out of the abuser’s grasp, then call the filth of their sin what it is, a violation and a nasty twisted pervertion of their vow to you at the altar.

    Like many I minimized the crimes of my spouse to make myself believe I was living well. Now, that I am free, new wisdom and perspective exposes the tragedy of the abuse.

    • Thankful for grace on October 29, 2018 at 2:47 pm

      This is my first post and I’m sorry it’s going to be long. At what point do you just give up trying to speak out? I too spent many years ‘hiding, minimizing, rationalizing’ my ex husbands behavior to maintain a Godly Christian marriage (24 years). I believed I was not supposed to speak negatively about my husband and should just love more, pray more, try harder, etc. I spent many years trying to create an environment at home that would keep his rages to a minimum but the cycle was still there. The perfect Christian bubble that I created for my porn addicted, alcohol abusing, angry (behind closed doors), outwardly serving Godly ‘Christian’ husband burst in a huge way this past year. I had fallen into depression and as I became more aware of my emotionally abusive relationship and tried harder to push back for him to change, it got scarier and when I tried to leave, he threatened to take my kids and would trap me in rooms arguing until I gave in. I managed to get out one night and he aggressively followed me in a vehicle and tried to run me off the road. At this point, I knew we needed help but he wouldn’t go to counseling (there had been another incident in the early years where I had called 911 and we had sought counseling). It’s a long story but reaching out to a pastor who was my boss and a close friend ended in an emotional affair that was publicly made known through our church, to my kids, and all my friends. The scandal continued, the pastor and I were both fired, I left the church and everyone behind and my husband continued to spin his side and now he has proof that I am adulterous, the one at fault, etc and anything I say will only be justification of my affair (of which I’ve repented and ended contact). I apologized to him several times and asked that he see and repent and seek help for the things he was responsible for and he denied them all, calling them lies. I have ended up divorced, trying to find full time employment (was a stay at home mom for 18 yrs) completely alone in my state because of all the scandal and everyone siding with him because I was silent and retreated. I would love to have a voice but he aggressively verbally acts out when I try and I know everyone will only see it as justification and I don’t want to downplay my fault in allowing the affair. I want to own my sin and let my kids see true repentance and God’s grace and redemption. I also don’t want my kids to see my talking negatively about their father and if I go to the church to tell them of his actions, it will all be brought up again. I am trying to heal from the depression and anxiety, shame, guilt, loss and all the hurt this has caused. So I guess my ex gets to keep his Godly image and continue in his sin, right?

      • Free on October 29, 2018 at 4:39 pm

        Yup, he gets to keep his Godly image and continue in his sin. Yet…one day you will all stand before the judgement seat and you know God will straighten everything out.

        Forgive yourself for the emotional affair. If you had a decent husband, it never would have happened. Can you get out of your negative environment? Can you at least move a few counties away? Can you make some friends who are not Christians too? What about befriending a new immigrant to your community? Are you interested in something like English as a second language? Serve new groups of people, try a new hobby for fun.

        Yes, he will win over and over and over. He is an experienced control man at this point. His success emboldened him. You spoke up when you needed to get out which was great. Now, speak about you. I like this or I enjoy that now that I am no longer being abused. Let your light shine and people will see it.

      • Ruth on October 30, 2018 at 8:35 am

        You have suffered a lifetime at the hands of this man. Heck, just think about the incident where he tried to run you off the road – if he had succeeded and your vehicle had rolled, and you died, then he would have been guilty of vehicular manslaughter or some other murder charge – yet!! you stayed and pursued counseling ?!? And he wants to play the victim because you sought solace and comfort from another man. Your crime is totally understandable. His crime is evil- trying to murder the mother of his children, yet HE is the victim here AFTER he he destroyed your spirit through chronic abuse.
        Dear Sister, it’s long past to drop him and never think back. You’re gonna have to move on who believes him and start investing in you. Free is right!
        And I think *some* people in your community probably DO believe you, but they are the ladies like you who are afraid to speak up. They are the ones in marriages similar to yours who know what it’s like to live with a monster at home but for some reason they won’t come to you and say anything. Maybe they are afraid to speak up like; anyway, that’s just my intuition.

      • many years on October 30, 2018 at 3:49 pm

        Thankful for Grace,

        I know a person who had a similar circumstance happen as far as ‘reaching out’ to someone else of the opposite sex to discuss their toxic marriage, and that person too, has been labeled as having ‘an emotional affair’. The other person was also having a problem with their own marriage, that of an angry spouse, a disrespectful spouse, etc. and the incident did not last long, with a few emails sent back and forth. And the so-called ‘guilty’ spouse was deemed as having an ’emotional affair. On the other hand, the spouse who got away accusing the truly innocent spouse, began gossiping about their spouse to others, fabricating false facts which also terribly harmed the spouses relationship with many mutual friends.

        I am praying for you, as you have done nothing wrong. You were seeking counsel from a friend and pastor, and you were not having an ’emotional’ affair. You were crying out to someone whom you thought could help you. Where does one draw the line when they are attempting to do something to come to a resolution for marriage difficulties, when the other spouse constructs evil information to damage their spouse? It show that the toxic spouse has no intention of any type of a resolve, neither does the toxic spouse have any God-love for their spouse to begin with.

        There is a pervasive mind-set among ‘religious’ Pharasee’s which involves supposed ‘scandals’ when in fact, there is nothing going on between two people who are only attempting to help each other. God says we are to treat each other as brothers and sisters with all purity.

        This terminology ’emotional affair’ has to do with a man and a woman, going beyond the boundaries, when in some situations, the heart is rent beyond repair, and there is nothing left to do but to go to a sincere friend, and then it is thrown into the persons face as an ’emotional affair’ I think the description has been distorted because of this.

        If one goes to psychological sites, which deal with what a real ’emotional affair’ is all about, it is more about clandestine ‘secret’ meetings to be with that person other than just the need to try and resolve marriage issues.

        Please search your own heart, as I think you have definite been ‘set up’ by your toxic husband. God sees your heart in this.

        I also lived my marriage, not speaking up about my husband’s anger, and physical abuse, financial, emotional, mental, etc. against myself for 32 years. But even then, when Bible studies/meetings were held which convicted him of his own life, he would blame it on me saying things like ‘You have been talking about me!’ No, the problem was, he was under conviction and would not allow the Holy Spirit to convict him and used me as his scapegoat.

        Thank you for pouring your heart out. Ruth and Free have very good points to ponder too.

    • JoAnn on November 17, 2018 at 5:29 pm

      Free, well said, and I am so glad that now, at last, you ARE Free!

  11. Janice D on October 30, 2018 at 7:08 am

    To Thankful for Grace, appreciate your willingness to share your painful story.This is a safe place without harsh judgement…glad you found it! Your exhusband only thinks he has won-you know the truth that you lived with him.Let the Lord heal you and lean into His love for you.You are his precious daughter and nothing will ever change that.Your ex is not living in reality but in a false image that is masking the truth…let it all go and trust God to expose it in His timing.Let the Lord be your defense.The enemy of your soul tempted you while you were in a weakened and vulnerable place and you were also exploited by a man in a position of authority.And yes,you participated in a sinful,unhealthy relationship with this man and you have repented.This in no way negates the severe problems your exhusband has and refused to deal with.Sometimes I think people can’t see the complexities of human behavior and go with the easy story “she did something wrong therefore she can’t be believed about anything”.Hope this helps

  12. many years on October 30, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    The poster lady had a good question. My husband and I have not been sexually connected for over 17 months, as I have not instigated it, neither has he. And I believe it stems from me confronting him with pornography which he denied. Most of my marriage, I believe my husband ‘controlled’ me through his sexual advances. I believe sex is a way a man can control his wife. As with me, I did not know how to stop him from some of the more hurtful things he did with my body.

    For a man to use sex as a tool to become ‘intimate’ with his wife, as was put in the answer of the question, the wife would not necessarily know that the husband would be using sex as a way to ‘communicate’ with her. As I have read some books which state that some men only know how to ‘communicate’ their so-called ‘love’ to their wives in the act of sex. The Mars versus Venus scenario comes to mind.

    Some men do have a difficult time expressing themselves verbally, and emotionally, yet when they cannot be accountable and also deny how they have treated their wife besides using sex as an outlet for themselves, emotionally, there is a huge disconnect in the area of communication.

    I think when the husband would not go further in the resolve of difficulties in the marriage, and would not go further in reading Leslie’s book, but then used sex as his tool to become ‘supposedly’ intimate with his wife, sex was used out of disrespect for the wife. This is the way I view it as a wife who has had similar circumstances used to manipulate me in the past, in order for the husband to use sex as some type of ‘apology’ toward the wife. Nope, this type of sexual communication does nothing to resolved differences. It only makes the husband ‘feel good’ about himself.

    I am praying for wisdom for the lady who asked the question. Otherwise, everything else Leslie answered was spot on.

    • Nancy on November 3, 2018 at 5:25 pm

      Many years,

      Making love is a natural extension of the shared emotional and verbal communication that starts long before the bedroom. It is a subtle, delicate and beautiful form of communication.

      Sex is not communication at all. It is gratification only,

      These things couldn’t be more opposite.

      You say that you believe that a man can control his wife through sex. Why do you believe this?

      We always have a choice. Even if he forces himself. We can choose to press charges.

      Don’t you think that we each have a sacred responsibility to steward the gifts ( our heart, our body) that The Lord has given us?

      • many years on November 4, 2018 at 3:43 pm

        Thank you, Nancy.
        Please see my latest comment for Nov. 4th to Aly, as it explains where I am coming from, and I totally agree with you.

        When one is ‘raised’ in a cult-based group of so-called Christians, and the women are ‘told’ to submit to their husbands ‘in everything’ and that type of rhetoric is pounded into the mind and brain, which is what happened to me in my own marriage, then there is a lot of confusion as to how a man can do just about anything he pleases to his wife’s body. And this was years before there was much information for women to turn to for guidance except to the macho men, church leaders, who were biased and wrong.

        So, when I say that my husband controlled me through his sexual advances, I mean ever word of it. I was not taught how to say ‘no’. Sex was still part of the ‘we don’t talk about that subject in depth’ even among mothers and daughters. My courtship was all about ‘him’ getting his way, not respecting my body as being the ‘temple of God’ and I wasn’t even ‘his’ yet. Most of my courtship was about kissing and him using my body.

        And this goes back to the shameful objectification of a woman’s body, and if a man ‘forces a woman to lie with him’ then the man is to ask her to marry him, that is why I married my husband. ( I think that verse is in Deuteronomy.) As I thought there was no way out for me, to not marry him.

        It was a serious misconception in the cult ‘church’ mindset of vile men in authority, who did not entrust the heart of young women to protect them, when the young men knew they could ‘get away with’ sex before marriage.

        In fact the ‘leaders’ in the church encouraged young men to marry young, (mainly because of their libdo which they ‘could not contain’) if they had a job and a house to provide for a wife. It wasn’t about the spiritual aspect of marriage at all. There was not the ‘sacred responsibility’ taught within the cult church I attended except for there being an ‘imaginary’ three foot circle around a young girl’s body which young men were not supposed to ‘enter.’ Little good did that do!

        And I was older when I married and that too led to me being blind to it ‘being the last chance’ I might have to get married. Yes, that entered the picture too. My own brother, when he got married, was sat down by one of the so-called ‘leaders’ of the cult church we were in, and my brother told me later that the talk was ‘all a bout sex in marriage’ not about self-sacrificing nor spiritual things. Even another ‘leader’ told a young couple ‘not to tell their parents’ what he talked to them about’. How deceiving was that, if the leader indeed was supposed to be speaking truth. My brother saw red flags with the girl he was dating within the cult church. But he too, went ahead and got married. He is now in an ugly divorce. I saw red flags too but my foolish heart was blind, and also very ignorant.

        So, yes, marriage is beautiful and the bed undefiled, yet NOt when the man is a whoremonger to begin with. Then it is never a ‘beautiful and sensitive thing.’

        • Aly on November 6, 2018 at 8:20 am

          Many Years, & Nancy,

          Many Years, I’m so sorry for all of what you have gone through and that being in a cult church has brought on more harm as well as you being naively taken by such twisted teachings.
          The Lord grieves over this!

          I think earlier in the week Nancy had asked you a couple of times gently, why you were ‘up to date’ pouring your heart to your husband who has proven himself to be emotionally unsafe and unhealthy?

          Is this recent behavior in your dynamic? Or am I misunderstanding your timeline?

      • many years on November 4, 2018 at 4:37 pm

        Also, when the leadership in the church is talking in a general assembly talking about marriage, and says ‘Remember, young women, when you get married your husband owns your entire body,’ yet nothing is said about reciprocation as far as the opposite being true, yet God’s Word does say that it is an equal give and take.

        And when the wife is completely dependent upon her husband that she looses her identity, and every thing she thinks she has to ‘pass it by’ himself in her brain if her husband would want her to be buying this or that, or going this direction or that direction, or parking her car further out in a parking lot so as not to have the car possibly ‘dented’ by someone parking next to her, this is called ‘crazy making’ where no thoughts are her own anymore. This is ABUSE! When we begin to understand that we need to ‘pass things by God’ FIRST, then that is when we will become free from the destruction which has ensnared us with the abuse we have had to endure.

        • Aly on November 6, 2018 at 8:10 am

          Many Years,
          I am assuming you are no longer involved with that church etc.?

          Many churches run dangerous risks when they give sermons that are topical rather than context and what is called expository.
          There are many different types of sermons we are to avoid based on the all too common ‘twisted concepts’ rather than getting a fuller contextual view.
          Your example about the wife not owning her own body is a good example of this and it’s so important that people studying this place in the Bible hold onto the entire reason for the scriptures here in the first place.

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