Morning friends and Happy Holidays,  

I know for many of you this week of holiday happenings is nothing but stressful. I hope you are giving yourself some time to be with Jesus so that you not only remind yourself of God’s love demonstrated in the birth of Christ, but you can remind yourself of who you are, A precious, loved, daughter of the Most High God.  

Many of you live with individuals who try to tell you who you are. Sometimes their words sting, are hurtful and deeply scaring. That’s why it’s so important that you ask yourself “Who told me that?” Is it God? Or just a mere mortal? And, why would I allow a mere moral, to define who I am?” Even Jesus had people who tried to tell him who he was. “You are of the devil. You are crazy. You are an imposter.” You can’t control what people think or say, but you must control how much you allow them to influence you.

Today’s Question: I separated from my husband after 25 years. I can remember being pregnant with my now 22 year old son feeling distraught and asking myself why I am having this man's baby.

The emotional destruction took place throughout 22 years of the marriage.  I have asked numerous times to go for counseling and actually moved out twice only to come back to empty promises of change from him. 

I feel a sense of peace in every cell of my body that I have not felt in decades. My concern is am I honoring God with my decision for self-preservation, my sanity? Or am I being a poor example of Christ to others by my decision?

Answer: Your question captures the dilemma so many women who are in an emotionally abusive/destructive marriage experience once they prioritize their sanity and safety over keeping the marriage together. They fear God’s anger and his disappointment. They fear being a poor representative of Christ and feel guilty when they finally say “I can’t do this anymore.”

I deeply appreciate that you don’t take your marriage vows lightly. We ought to press pause in order to examine our own self, pray, and seek wise counsel if ever we consider separating from our spouse. We do this so that if we separate, we know we are separating for biblical reasons and have as clear a conscious as possible.

Let me encourage you that God values physical safety and relational safety as much if not more than you do. For example, in spite of God’s general instructions to submit to the laws of the land and to higher authorities, when David feared for his life because of King Saul’s jealous rages, God didn’t instruct David to “submit to the King and trust me to take care of you.” Instead, David fled, always respecting the position of King Saul, but not allowing himself to be abused by him (Read 1 Samuel 18-31).

In another example, when Jesus was born and King Herod sought to exterminate all the Jewish babies two years and younger, God told Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt until it was safe to return (Matthew 2:13-15).

When Rehab hid the Jewish spies, she lied to keep them safe and God commended her (Hebrews 11:31). I suspect those who lied to keep Jews safe from the Nazi army were equally commended by God.  

Jesus himself valued safety and said even the well-being of an ox was a higher value to God than legalistically keeping the Sabbath by not working (Luke 14:5).

Safety is an important component of trust especially in marriage. There can be no freedom or honest communication if someone feels afraid or is threatened, either physically and/or emotionally or has a price to pay whenever they honestly share their thoughts and feelings.  

Women (and sometimes men) fear taking measures to protect themselves because they’ve been taught it’s unbiblical or ungodly. They suffer endlessly with verbal battering, even physical abuse believing that by doing so, they’re being godly martyr’s. Keeping the family together at all costs is seen as God’s highest value.

Yet Proverbs 27:12 teaches us, “The prudent see danger and take refuge.”

Sanity is also an important value to God. By sanity I don’t just mean good mental health from a secular point of view, but good mental health from God’s point of view. Again the writer of Proverbs warns us of the devastating physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences of living with a contentious and argumentative person (Proverbs 15:4; 17:1; 25:24; 26:28).

The scriptures are clear. People influence and impact us, both for good and for evil. When we live with an abusive, destructive, manipulative, deceitful person, it definitely takes its toll on our mental, spiritual, emotional, physical and spiritual health. Click To Tweet

Being sane from God’s perspective involves knowing, believing, and walking in the truth. Jesus says, “If your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is (Matthew 6:33). The apostle Paul says by nature we exchange the truth of God for a lie and that the more we do that, we become more and more insane (depraved mind) (Romans 1:25-28).

Walking in the light and truth are important values of God. When you live with someone who prefers deceit and darkness and twists and manipulates the truth, it can be very stressful and confusing.

However your question is, Are you being a poor example of Christ to others by leaving your marriage? Possibly. You also may be a poor example of Christ by staying in your marriage. You see it’s not whether you leave or stay that determines whether you are letting the love of Christ rule you, but how you leave or how you stay.

There are people who choose to stay in a destructive marriage (for lots of reasons) and are terrible examples of Christ. They are bitter, angry, spiteful, depressed, resentful, and demonstrate no joy, peace, or hope in their countenance. Likewise, those who leave a bad marriage can also leave with those same negative emotions in control rather than the love of Christ.

Let me ask the same question in a slightly different way. What would it look like to be Christ-like and God-honoring even while leaving a destructive marriage?

Here are a few thoughts for you to ponder. The apostle Paul says that we’re not to only look out for our own interests, but also to look out for the interests of others (Philippians 2:4). You are looking out for your interests for safety and sanity by leaving. That’s not ungodly or sinful. But if you want to be a godly wife, you must also look out for your husband’s interests. So what is your husband’s greatest need right now? Is it to stay with him, make his dinner, be his companion, and meet his sexual needs or is it something far more crucial to his long-term well-being? I believe your husband’s greatest need right now is to wake up from his slumber, from his darkness and to come to Christ and repent of his destructive behaviors. The question you must answer is would you more likely help meet his greatest need by leaving or by staying?

Second, God calls you to love your husband, even if he feels like your enemy right now. That is being Christ-like. However, you must also understand that unconditional love doesn’t entitle someone to unconditional relationship even with Jesus. The scriptures tell us that our sin separates us from close relationship from God. It doesn’t separate us from his love as Paul tells us that nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38,39), but it does separate us from his Presence.   

If Jesus doesn’t offer unconditional relationship with everyone even when he loves them, I don’t think he expects that of us either. Sin not only separates us from God, it separates us from one another. Until your husband can see his sinful heart and actions as damaging not only you, but your marriage and is willing to actually do the work it takes to change them, it may be most Christ-like to stay compassionate toward him yet separate from him.  

One more thing. For your own peace of mind, please ask God to show you how to represent him well in this time. You must let go of your desire for everyone to agree with your decision to separate. You may be Christ-like in all your actions and attitudes and people still may not like it. Jesus represented the character of God perfectly and yet there were those, especially religious leaders, who did not approve.

But by asking these questions, it sounds like you are on the right track. You want to be a good steward of yourself and your own life, while honoring God with your decision to separate from your abusive husband. And honestly sometimes you only have the strength and clarity to ask yourself these next step questions after you separate. While living in the war zone, survival is usually your only priority.

Friends, what words of wisdom can you give this woman to help her separate well?

244 Comments

  1. Penny on December 26, 2018 at 2:30 pm

    This is a great article. What’s not mentioned is children. I’m staying for 2 main reasons – my kids and financial. And also now having celebrated the holidays – it’s so hard to think of this not happening together but instead dividing time. But will my kids adopt this distinction into their relationships as “ok”? I pray for clarity and direction daily. It’s so hard to not fear making a mistake.
    All praises to Jesus ALWAYS

    • Karen on December 27, 2018 at 8:22 am

      Dearest Penny-

      Thank you for your post. It brings up what I believe to be the most torturous issue in these relationships.

      I would venture to guess that the vast majority of us “stay for the children.” Most of us, however, don’t “stay well” as Leslie encourages us to do. In the name of “peace, stability, Christian commitment and our testimony,” we stay in our foggy world amd compromise and co-deoemd. Inevitably, we wake up one day and realize that our childten are much the worse for wear. The best thing for our children is NOT modeling the dysfunctional behavior which keeps us in these one-sided, imbalanced, physically and/or emotionally abusive relationships. We wake up and see that our precious little angels are living out what they have experienced and repeating the behaviors- either yours or your soouse’s. That’s the real wake-up call! Would you want your beloved daughter to date and possibly marry someone who treats her the way you are and have been treated? Would you want your sweet and kind son to morph into someone who uses others for his own satisfaction and manipulates and uses/abuses others for his own selfish purposes? That WILL happen.

      I am not suggesting that the only solution is to leave. Certainly start by being unwavering in walking in your CORE. All
      I know is what I have lived. It was impossible to “stay well” amd remain in thr relationship. I am still in the same hone with my drstructive husband, but we are separated, and I pray this season quickly end. I believe we are almist there. My hisbamd, however, did not respond tio the changes I made in CORE. I never imagined he would actually let me go amd lose everything rather than self- correct. He is still visiting his dysfunction on the four kids (now 13, 16, 19, and 22), but I am able to focus my attention on modeling healthy and balanced behavior for them and teaching them principles and values and boundaries which will much better serve them in life.

      Your kids are hard-wired to love both of their parents. Thatbid good and is as it should be. Some parents and people, howver, are best loved in measure and with some distance.

      Love and prayers for you.
      Karen

      • Aly on December 27, 2018 at 9:51 am

        Karen,
        You make good points of clarity here.
        Especially when you wrote this:

        “The best thing for our children is NOT modeling the dysfunctional behavior which keeps us in these one-sided, imbalanced, physically and/or emotionally abusive relationships. We wake up and see that our precious little angels are living out what they have experienced and repeating the behaviors- either yours or your soouse’s. That’s the real wake-up call! ”

        I agree with you.
        I wonder, did you grow up with this dysfunctional modeling also?
        As you may well know these things are often repeated or pre-desposed.

        I think the definition of ‘staying well’ needs to be examined, possibly re-named? and further clarified for many who are in destructive relationships and are just at the beginning of accepting the reality of their situation.

        I’m sorry that your husband choses to not self correct, and it’s probably the way he has been thinking for many many years. Plus, not to mention some individuals will only do one-sided relationships because they are far to insecure to see what healthy secure relationship looks and feels like.

        I’m glad you got the help you needed for your Core so you can offer the healthy relationship to your kids. May you be blessed for your courage and sending prayers to your family.

        • Autumn on December 27, 2018 at 9:18 pm

          I would add, make every effort not to have more children with a destructive spouse.

        • Karen on December 27, 2018 at 11:22 pm

          Hi Aly,

          You ask such an interesting question. I don’t think I was raised in a dysfunctional home. There was a lot of stability and give and take and compromise and forgoving and balance- kind of what I think we all expect and thought could happen in our homes. I have thought long and hard about how I got myself into this marriage and how I stayed so long. For one thing, my Faith was definitely manipulated to keep me in a place of forgiving and “looking at the log in my own eye.” Also, my husband is from abroad and kept asserting that things would be different and more balanced if I would uproot our family and move to his country. I had seen him in both places though and thankfully saw the pattern of instability so I knew I couldn’t trust him to be balanced and pull his weight and be non-verbally abusive and non-aggressive no matter where we lived. That was definitely God’s protection. We did not have a common culture or language when we met, and I wonder if that would have made a difference. I did not have a history of dating dysfunctional guys, but somehow I married one and didn’t leave for 26 years. I am petrified of my children making the same mistake I did.

          • JoAnn on December 27, 2018 at 11:49 pm

            Karen, you brought up a really good point when you said, “I have thought long and hard about how I got myself into this marriage.” I’m sure that the answer is going to be different for each person, but if you think carefully, you might be able to identify red flags that you ignored. Sometimes others can see what’s wrong, even when we can’t, but then the question will be whether or not you will listen to them. My granddaughter got involved with a man who we all saw was an abusive person, but she kept saying, “But I love him!” Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough when he got more and more abusive, so now she is a divorced single mom and having to manage on her own.
            Some of you are now free, and may be hoping to marry again. How to know whether the next man will be good, or turn out to be worse than the first? Perhaps some of you will have some thoughts on this, based on your experience, but for sure, don’t be in a rush to get involved again. Give it time, and ask friends and family for their assessment of him. Just please, be careful.



          • Aly on December 31, 2018 at 10:41 am

            Karen,
            I am glad you are safe from a destructive relationship.
            I am also glad you don’t think you witnessed or were not directly modeled unhealthy relationships ‘growing up’.

            You mentioned above some important issues above, culture and language. Culture especially has a lot of shaping and influence over how men treat their spouses and vice versa.

            You said that you didn’t trust him to not be verbally abusive or aggressive in his country if you had moved, so did he show you things here (US) that revealed these issues?
            Do you think he is far more accountable in our legal system and God showed you that danger?

            Was he all nice and accommodating during dating and then things changed once married?



          • Karen on December 31, 2018 at 5:13 pm

            Hi Aly-

            Here in the States, he was never gainfully employed although he worked all the time starting businesses that were funded by me from our “family budget” so there was a ton of imbalance the whole time (26 years). At the same time, he was continually aggressive (verbally) explosive, and very one-sided. He made sure his needs and desires were met and didn’t really value mine. He was extremely jealous, impatient beyond belief, and demanding as far as making sure everything was done to his standards. If I left the eggs out, I heard about it, but the garage is always a messa. If I didn’t answer his calls when I was out, I received terrible tongue-lashings. It was a real control game. I never agreed to support him, but he kept me in the game initially because of the hope that his businesses would be successful . Later, it was a hope that he was clinging to some dignity and manhood because he never felt good not being the provider. Still, he was too prideful to get a job for which he was qualified (Like Home Depot), and he would get angry and resentful at me for even mentioning it- stating that I didn’t care about him or else I wouldn’t expect him to work below his station like that. He was a “Spanish” person from an Indigenous-dominated country in South America, and they all think they’re something special. At the same time, he refused to get an education that would secure him the level and type of employment he wanted here. Narcissistic grandeur and illusions.

            Did I answer your question? I can’t even tell. I just Know it was H^*€lol for almost three decades of my life, and I am so glad to be winding this down. It has been sooooo hard though. He resists and does everything BUT change. He guilts me, shakes me, criticizes me, threatens me, sometimes sweet talks me- so tough! I am grateful for you and so many others and , of course, Leslie. It helps me see the light just beyond the fog.



          • Karen on December 31, 2018 at 5:21 pm

            I’m want to say “shames” me. Thankfully, I have never been physically abused. It breaks my heart to read posts from so many beautiful broken souls who have been physically abused. I am a criminal defense attorney and admire women who have the fortitude to take their stand and invoke legal protection and assistance. I understand, though, women’s who aren’t ready. We often see women bring charges only to recant later.



        • Nancy on December 31, 2018 at 1:07 am

          Hi Aly,

          I tend to agree that the term ‘staying well’ can very easily be misconstrued. You say that you think the term, ‘staying well’ might be better renamed. What do you think it could be better called?

          • Aly on December 31, 2018 at 10:52 am

            Nancy,

            That’s a good question. I haven’t thought too much about it but I do wonder if it would help others who are navigating at defining ‘well’?
            Meaning what is well for me?

            I know for myself I had a very distorted experience of what ‘well’ looked like for me relationally speaking.



          • JoAnn on December 31, 2018 at 11:04 am

            Aly, I’m thinking, “Staying well by guarding your heart.” Those two words, staying well, imply so much, that you have to read what Leslie says about that to understand what it means. It includes setting appropriate boundaries, having an exit plan, protecting the children, and so much more. The long and short of it is “staying in a destructive situation while protecting yourself and everyone who lives there.” So often, deciding to remain in a destructive marriage includes a lack of options, or at least, a perceived lack. But as so many who have “escaped” have reported, after careful planning which involves building a support team, and having a solid plan, once they are out, the fog lifts and they can see things more clearly. Ultimately, a person’s relationship with the Lord grows deeper and much more intimate.
            Oh! How my heart aches for those of you who are stuck in destructive relationships. May the Lord grant you His rich grace.



          • Autumn on December 31, 2018 at 11:14 am

            How about “strategic living” for a new term.

            I too have a problem with the word “well” there is nothing healthy about such a life circumstance.

            Strategic living acknowledges the effort that goes into staying in a bad circumstance that one can not leave.



          • JoAnn on December 31, 2018 at 12:09 pm

            I like “strategic living.” It does acknowledge the effort that goes into staying in a bad situation.



          • Aly on December 31, 2018 at 12:48 pm

            JoAnn,
            I agree with you in regards to unpacking what ‘Staying Well’ means and I think Leslie has defined this well in her books and on this blog.

            I think for the survivors many who are in the fog and coping through, requires a lot of interventions for an understanding or definition of ‘well’ to emerge.

            You wrote:
            It includes setting appropriate boundaries, having an exit plan, protecting the children, and so much more.”

            Setting appropriate boundaries are often where a survivor experiences NOT having free agency to do so -by a destructive partner or the other in a relationship of any kind in general.

            Often boundaries or requirements offered set the stage for the direction of where the relationship is headed.
            Sometimes it’s immediately severed and often because destructive mindsets don’t want to function in mutualism and mutual respect, nor do they humbly want to repair their own side of the street as well as the the ammo they have fired across the street and all the damage done.

            So yes I’m agreement with you regarding a team to help assist. Because I think a team seems to bring higher accountability to the situation and more support to the victim who also needs to develop other areas of not ‘dancing’ with the destructive person on any terms.

            You wrote;
            “ The long and short of it is “staying in a destructive situation while protecting yourself and everyone who lives there.”

            This is complex and I think it’s rather impossible to protect someone from the secondary effects of these relationship issues- as a metaphor look at second hand smoke. (Please know I have no judgements on those who smoke, your choice)

            How would I PROTECT my baby from the effects of sitting in a closed room (no windows) with 10 of her relatives smoking?

            Staying in the room would offer a non-clear air environment and I wouldn’t feel like I was providing the right care and my only other option would be to ‘leave’ that environment or have those smoking stop smoking or remove themselves and smoke elsewhere.

            If I were to stay in the room, I would have to believe that I have no alternatives (which this is the case for some who are trapped) or believe that the air quality is not ‘that bad’ to endure.
            And probably several other scenarios.

            I think it’s important for those who are ‘staying’ for whatever their choice is, to be well informed of not being fooled of thinking they are also protecting. Maybe there is some areas where there is some temp protection or the better of two bad alternatives and this is an individual place for each.

            But of many who I have talked with ….they are thinking and perceiving that God will bless them MORE for putting up with abuse longer or a destructive relationship and compromising with the abuser by … (the way the abuser prefers to be enabled)
            They believe that they will be given greater favoritism by God by loving someone who is hard or difficult to love.

            But when you break down (What is actually ‘loving’ them?)
            The compromises and enabling becomes more and more clear.

            Some realize,
            Oh what I am calling ‘love’ or commitment of for better or worse’ isn’t really love or a commitment at all.



          • JoAnn on December 31, 2018 at 2:20 pm

            Aly, I agree with everything you said, and I would add a point or two. As we have seen, many women who begin coming here, are only just awakening to the abuse they are experiencing. Many don’t even realize the damage that their environment is causing their children, so, by setting boundaries, the response they get from the spouse gives a clearer picture of what they are facing. Eventually, they begin to realize that they can’t really protect the kids from that damage. I believe that in the process of attempting to “stay well” they will see more clearly just what they are dealing with and can make better choices.



          • Aly on December 31, 2018 at 2:48 pm

            JoAnn,
            This is often the case. Makes me very sad but thankful for such a place like this blog to be apart of.

            You wrote about your granddaughter:
            “My granddaughter got involved with a man who we all saw was an abusive person, but she kept saying, “But I love him!” Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough when he got more and more abusive, so now she is a divorced single mom and having to manage on her own.”

            What assisted her to get out of the abuse?

            I think it’s also vital that those who are witnesses speak truth and I am sure you all did.
            Sadly, many of these with abusive behavior are also very charming and especially manipulative.
            They are actually good at making you believe if only you can love and think the best of them that it will do the trick and the relationship can reconcile.



          • Nancy on December 31, 2018 at 2:48 pm

            Hi Aly, JoAnn, Autumn,

            Guarding one’s heart above all else is the ‘rigid’ commitment that will, as you point out, escalate and make clear the situation. The abuser will do everything possible to ‘pull’ the victim back to old ways. Support is essential when this commitment is made.

            If this is a person’s commitment, then yes, things escalate very quickly indeed.

            Autumn, I like ‘strategic living’. There’s less room for denial and spiritualizing using those words.



          • Karen on December 31, 2018 at 4:54 pm

            Hi all! This is a fascinating conversation. I feel like the point of “staying well” or “ staying strategically “ or whatever linguistic term we out on it is really about protecting ourselves while ho prong Christ in very difficult circumstances. Yesterday, for example, my 14 yo son had to help his dad on a project he was not able to get out of. His older brothers had opted out, but,because of the age and evident power differential he still faces S a minor child, he had to go and do. All I could do was encourage him to treat the situation much like Christ advises the Jewish nation when the Roman soldiers forced them to carry their packs one mile. One mile was evidently set out as the legal maximum they could command, but Christ advised that those pressed into service carry the pack a second mile, thus taking the sting out of the task and regaining ownership, choice, and control over one’s life – even in adverse circumstances. I suggested that my son choose to be cheerfully obedient and as helpful as possible rather than sullen and resentful all day- thereby regaining and maintaining some measure of control over circumstances over which he had no control. That did not mean he will always and forever have to comply with his father’s will or mandates. For now, however, he can stay strong and hi to God in adversity.



          • JoAnn on December 31, 2018 at 5:57 pm

            Aly, you asked about my granddaughter…I think she just finally woke up to the abuse. She realized that she didn’t want to live that way, and she also suspected that he was unfaithful to her. Eventually, it hurt too much to stay. I’m glad she wasn’t stuck there.



          • Leslie Vernick on January 1, 2019 at 10:51 pm

            So glad she woke up. As women we need to be examples of godly women who have strength and dignity. Who speak the truth in love but don’t settle for abusive relationships as the “norm” of life. Yes we may have an abuser in our path and we need to deal with the aftermath of that hurt, but to think women have to “endure” abuse in an interpersonal relationship is not healthy or godly.



          • Grateful on January 1, 2019 at 11:12 am

            I think this “staying well” or “strategically living” or whatever the terminology is is so interesting.

            The real issue is exposure and truth in conversation. Leslie has ventured into a world of God given truth that many believers do not exist. To truly experience that personal relationship with Christ and what does He want for me. One of the hardest things to realize is not one of us has the answers for the other but we have validation, Godly guidance (scripture and personal walks) but He will truly guide our steps – every single one of them. Just like he guided Noah in every single detail of the arc – that story still amazes me.

            But the power of truth, the power of His word, the power of community will guide us and every step is a step closer to our freedom. I woke up this morning knowing my heart was set free in 2018 and I what a road that was. I reread my journal a couple of days ago about the last year and 1/2 and I had no idea how much truth I was writing. But my journal for the previous 15 years (the length I was married) was the same story year after year – how could I change to be a better wife. But even then He was numbering and guiding my steps.

            Here is to 2019 – to truth to freedom and to community
            Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I am doing a New thing



          • Leslie Vernick on January 1, 2019 at 10:49 pm

            Amen.



          • Aly on January 2, 2019 at 10:21 am

            JoAnn, Leslie, Nancy and many others on this thread,

            JoAnn, you wrote about your Grandaughter;
            “She realized that she didn’t want to live that way, and she also suspected that he was unfaithful to her. ”

            I think ‘unfaithful’ needs also to be unpacked for many who are in these destructive dynamics.
            Unfaithful isn’t just a husband lusting or having a physical affair with another person outside the marriage.

            The abuse that your grand daughter experienced, was her spouse being unfaithful to his covenant prior to her suspecting physical or other emotional outside activity.

            I think those that are suffering and finding themselves on the abuse wheel even if it’s not physical would benefit from seeing the a wider scope of the unfaithful behavior in these relationships.

            I think Leslie said it well above about not settling and being a godly example with strength, dignity and speaking truth in love- I believe this involves exposing what many think are norms or beliefs about relationships that need some serious interventions of what healthy and healing looks like.

            Many women are told lies about the word ‘abuse’ or the word ‘unfaithful’.
            Abuse can happen in many ways not just physical.
            Unfaithfulness is also not just one thing outside the marriage.

            A spouse who has misused their power and has used abusive coping skills against their own partner for control has certainly Been Unfaithful to their covenant marriage.

            Consider the repeat offenders in this camp, this is this norm.



    • Lee on January 8, 2019 at 11:18 am

      You do have to balance what works for you & truly ask God for strength & his will in your situation. I stayed for my kids, I guess when ur kids r young it’s one thing but I wish now when they were older late teens I had left. It has hurt them for me staying. I did not know anything about Leslie’s books or her help. I dont think I could have done it without her, I know I could not! But I wish I could have been able to leave before it hurt my children so bad! Pray for Gods wisdom & watch for their biterness.

  2. JoAnn on December 26, 2018 at 2:57 pm

    You said, “I feel a sense of peace in every cell of my body that I have not felt in decades.” Good for you! That peace is a valuable indicator that you have done the right thing. When we are following the Lord in obedience to Him, He grants us a clear sense of peace within. Praise Him for that!!
    One of the ladies here on the blog said a while back that when others challenged her decision to leave, she responded by telling them that she was dying in that marriage, and she had to get out to save her own soul. Anyone who hasn’t been in that place cannot possible understand what that means, but who knows? You might say that to someone who is feeling the same way, and by your testimony you can be a supply to her.
    It’s time for you to heal now, and for the joy of your salvation to be restored.

    • Julie on December 26, 2018 at 6:02 pm

      “….. when others challenged her decision to leave, she responded by telling them that she was dying in that marriage, and she had to get out to save her own soul.”

      I really appreciate hearing someone else say this. On the rare occasion when someone might listen to me, I have begun to say: “My husband made me question my sanity and question my faith in the Lord.”

      I’m still in my marriage, but earlier this year I left for three months, with absolutely no change in my husband, who cheerfully continued to fulfill his role as an elder in the church I have now left.

      I’ve been lurking on and off here for a long time but have never posted. So many of your words have been sanity in a world of insanity – thank you so much. My husband’s spiritual oppression is extremely subtle, so much so that I’m about to finally give up on our counselor of three years, because after extended confusion and distress on my part I finally got out of the counselor that he does not consider my husband an “abuser” since there is “no intentionally on his part” and “he does express a desire to change.” I replied that regardless of the particular label one uses, the spouse’s experience is much the same. I do not know if he heard me on that. I feel betrayed and once again am questioning my sanity, which I haven’t done for quite a while since I have grown so much in knowing Jesus these last three years.

      Anyway, our last adult child is about to move out (for unrelated reasons), leaving me with no buffer at home, and I am asking you to pray for me as you are led, because I am battling fear big time. But I know now what it really means to trust the Lord in the midst of great distress, and if all I am able to do is sing songs of praises to him, I know he is pleased with me.

      It helps to send this to those I know will hear.

      • Moon Beam on December 27, 2018 at 9:27 pm

        In my experience, my spouse moved onto physical abuse after the kids grew up and left. Be on guard. Have an escape plan. You are right to expect the abuse to escalate.

        Oh, and you are not crazy. You are being abused, manipulated, lied to and disrespected. If the last child just left, you have done your duty and can leave. Start making a plan. Stash money, important papers, and figure out where to live. Get legal help and call the domestic abuse hotline. Always have you phone will you or get a safety pay per call phone with a new telephone number.

        Order your support team. Hide stuff at their house. Pack some clothes, pajamas and toiletries. Update your resume. We will be praying for your escape.

      • Nancy on December 27, 2018 at 9:40 pm

        HI Julie,

        A person doesn’t have to be intentional to inflict repeated harm on another.

        Does your counsellor think that your h’s motivation is self-protection?

        If so, harm caused by someone acting out of defensiveness is equally damaging and painful to the person on the recieving end. What you are experiencing is REAL regardless of your h’s motivation.

      • Jane on December 28, 2018 at 2:24 am

        Do you have to stay? Your soul is being beaten down and you are terrified. I understand. You may be able to find a better counselor for you alone, not marriage counseling, that doesn’t work in abuse unfortunately.
        There is a site called psychologytoday.com. you can use the filters to narrow down to a Christian counselor that is familiar with domestic violence, trauma, and may take your insurance. You can also narrow it to someone familiar with a technique called EMDR, this technique helps the brain process trauma once your out of the situation so that terror no longer reigns and you can better rationally figure out your next steps and process why you are even in this awful situation. Also, your local domestic violence shelter may be able to provide you with free counseling though it may not include the spiritual truth you so desperately need. If your not sure who that would be you can call the national domestic violence crisis line for help 800-799-7233(SAFE)

        The women and occasional men on this blog have been such a support, even when I can’t be on the blog itself. I have found the courage through them to tell some of the other people in my life that can support me and now have a support team like moon beam recommends. Always pray about who you will talk to and I pray for discernment for you and that God would prompt you clearly as to who is safe and who is not to talk to. I pray you find safety and sanity, whatever that needs to look like for you.

      • Ruth on December 28, 2018 at 7:34 pm

        That counselor is just clueless. I’m starting to think these guys are getting their degrees from cut-rate internet schools bc they are about as insightful as a rock.

        • Autumn on December 29, 2018 at 6:31 am

          I agree Ruth and I think the demand for abuse interventionists and mentors far exceeds the supply. I also think narcissistic behavior is on the rise.

          Christine Louise De Cannonville, speaks of a new term, Suvivors of Narcissistic Abuse. She, like Leslie is trying to introduce the subject to more audiences. Google Christine’s name for her lectures.

          • Aly on December 29, 2018 at 11:36 am

            Autumn,

            I agree with you and the more people who are around highly Narc traited people… it seems the more they are influenced and reinforced to continue on that false self they have developed.

            I think it’s also imp to note for survivors …that with narcissistic abuse syndrome, the offender (Narc traited) doesn’t have to be a Full flown NPD for someone to suffer the injuries of someone who won’t take responsibility nor cares about another individual with respect and equal rights.



      • Aly on December 29, 2018 at 11:46 am

        Julie,
        Did you post on another thread? I want to reply to your post here.
        What did your counselor do to assist in the 3 mos separation?

        When you went back, what were the conditions under and what did you see in your husband for you to return?

        Not saying you should keep the same counselor but it’s a good idea to get another perspective while at times challenging the current counselor you have. Especially if this counselor is doing marital counseling in the context of destructive marriages.

  3. Ann on December 26, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    I left a emotionally destructive marriage of 35 years after lots of counseling,advice , support and prayer from a few trusted friends who had watched the abuse for years. I believe having this support team is crucial before, during and after leaving the marriage. It’s almost 6 years since I left; the divorce took two years as I had to fight the financial battle. My husband was, and still is by some, considered a Christian leader hosting men’s retreats etc.
    Leslie’s advice to
    leave well( and how to do that) has been invaluable to me over these years. My children were adults; I really feel for those with younger children. One of the hardest repercussions are the holidays. I have two of our three sons with me now and it is hard and I still grieve the loss. I’m sure I always will.
    I do believe , as Leslie mentioned, I have honored Christ in comforting countless women going through similar painful decisions. I’m very thankful that I’ve been able to “ comfort those with the comfort I received” from the Lord and wonderful friends.

    • Moon Beam on December 27, 2018 at 9:15 pm

      I am so thankful for my faithful friends who waited patiently until I was ready to leave. They must have wanted me to hurry up and get out so much faster than I did. I was just to entrapped and coercised that I couldn’t see the light.

      There are a number of things that are difficult, like seeing what appears to be happy couple’s doing normal adult activities. I listen to myself and say, yes I don’t have that, but I have so much. My life is just different.

  4. Maria on December 26, 2018 at 4:16 pm

    Great article!

    I have left because of my childrens safety and sanity. It is so important that they are raised in peace, not in a warzone at home. My husband is sometimes good and sometimes bad. When he is bad he does not care what he says even if it is to our children. Leaving is a witness of a loving God who puts a stop to abuse by admitting divorce.

    God allowed divorce for the sake of our hardness of heart. Divorce therefore is not a sin, even though it is the second best from a good loving marriage.

    The christian life is about living in love and truth. If this is not possible to do with our husbands then we are forced to do it without them.

    If they do not see or repent but instead carry on treating us and our children badly, then they themselves have broken the covenant to love and honour us, and so the marriage is broken already. Ps 55

    Rest in the care of a loving understanding God, a God who also fights for justice.
    🙏🏽❤️

  5. Grateful on December 26, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    I completely understand and as most of us relate to the fear of not representing Christ well b/c that was our greatest desire in our marriage – to be Godly. However, although I struggled for many years and dug deep in the Lord during those times; it was during those times He was equipping me for my place now – two months out until I am officially divorced. He healed me from the inside out from knowing to my core my marriage problems were me and I even felt bad for my husband for having me as a wife to now having truly experienced not just read about or spoke of or believed but truly experienced the Lord Jesus Christ and His love for me. I often have to go back to the peace I have b/c the circumstances are just tough – i have 2 kids (10 (girl) and 12 (boy)) and it has been ugly to the core and financially draining; however, I have my life and my sanity which I never take lightly and I am walking into abundant life. We live in a fallen world and there will be suffering and injustice but when I keep my eyes on Him which I have to literally speak out loud; somehow I get thru it. The holidays are rough but they are just 24 hours and then new life again and I stand behind the stand I took that my children will NOT see a woman (much less their mother) be treated with such disregard. This blog, Leslie’s book and many other preachers (Tony Evans, Beth Moore, Lysa Tuerkest) have spoken and breathed truth back in me on my runs. One of many things I have learned: I can never predict the next event and now that has come as a relief b/c I trust my God and leave my thoughts at His feet. I look forward to how the Lord will use this for another, for many who knows – but I know all my tears are numbered by Him and not one dropped that didn’t break His heart too. He knows me and He sees me and He will protect me. It is one step at a time – try not to look to tomorrow and the sadness of what is to come – but look at it with you holding His hand and believing his truth for you. I know I have said this so many times before but He will give you His promises for you when you sit before Him. I go back to mine daily – there were 2 specifically but many more verses I claim beyond those 2 but those 2 are special and have proven to be true time and time again.

    • Jane on December 26, 2018 at 5:53 pm

      Thank-you

  6. Kari on December 26, 2018 at 5:24 pm

    Leslie,
    You have such a way with words and breaking things down in such helpful, Christ-honoring ways. And not just you, but all of these commentaries are so edifying and instructive to the person posting her query. The change which comes after making such a bold, life-changing decision will undoubtedly have its challenges and its griefs, but this life on earth, no matter how good, eventually witnesses these same things. Holding God, our Father’s, hand is the only way to have true peace and joy, even in the trial. When some believers disapprove, you can be certain there will be others who “get it,” and still others who will need the support of those who have gone before! “Thank you” to Leslie and all who have so eloquently given their support through these wise words.

  7. Vivienne on December 26, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    Wow….this was very timely for me. I haven’t posted here in a long while. I left my husband after 35 year marriage; that was two and a half years ago and followed a years intimate seoaration in our own home. I had lots of hard choices to make but staying would have have been harder, I was on the verge of going insabe as I experienced years of abuse, trauma, and watched the lives of my children disintegrate….I gad to get to safe space to allow them option to follow me, and one did, the other went to university and is in his final year.

    The last few years have been tough. When I first left my husband I felt relief and liberated. Then cane anger as the fog lifted and I could see how controlled I had been, how all my dreams had been given up in favour of whatever my husband wanted instead. Once I knew I needed to leave I struggled hugely wondering if God would be mad with me, was I dong the right thing? The struggle continues to haunt me every now and then and tonight I broke down, cried out to God telling him how broken I am, how everything in my life seems broken, how much I miss my husband yet know I cannot return because he appears clueless how he could ever have hurt me …. he seemingly has no inner awareness how his behaviour is so wrong and destructive, despite losing his third family (I’m his third wife).

    I agree now with Leslie, I believe I did the right thing for both of us, and for our children but my goodness it is such a hard thing to do when you love the person who hurt you.

    But thank you for this question and Lesley’s brilliant response, it helped me a lot tonight.

    • Vivienne on December 26, 2018 at 5:50 pm

      Apologies for typos … iPad and fat fingers…must check before posting:)

  8. Jane on December 26, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    I don’t have words with which to help but desperately understand. I need these words too. I know what God is telling me to do, but all it takes is a few days of my husband being nice and I suddenly dread having to do what God is calling me to do. How wrong that sounds to my heart. How many times do I have to lay down the idol of mom, wife, marriage, children?! How many times do I have to set me heart to obedience, just to feel guilt and shame of the hurt I know it will cause my kids and spouse. Why does it all have to be so darn hard? My heart is ripping in two.

    • Vivienne on December 26, 2018 at 5:55 pm

      I’m so sorry Jane, I know how painful it is and there is no overnight solution it just has to be worked out over time. I hope you find your way, whatever form that takes. Xx

    • Moon Beam on December 26, 2018 at 6:35 pm

      Jane, when he is being nice, it is an act. He is wearing a mask to you and the world to manipulate people. The cruel, mean person is his true self. His nice is never nice enough. Try to remember that all his actions are calculated to serve him and his agenda.

  9. Jane on December 26, 2018 at 6:48 pm

    I understand seeing true repentance takes time to see and believe. I am so frustrated with myself that he could be flagrantly controlling and manipulative in an anticipated way on Friday, and by yesterday I am feeling guilty and awful about what I know I have to do, and I see him trying to show me love (maybe). I love him and the kids, I want God to be able to get a hold of him and change his life, even if that future is with or without me. But there is so much fear in the upcoming steps, so much hurt it will cause, so much confusion and pain in our lives and in our children’s lives, yet I know it’s God’s word as its been confirmed by so many, even people who don’t know the situation. The amount of time and finances that I don’t even have to begin sinking into all of this is overwhelming me. There are not enough hours in the day to get my work done, see the kids for a minute, do some of the housework, and address the things I have to manage to plan for what I have to do. I know it’s an act of obedience now to step out and that I need to do this for my relationship with God and for that reason alone. I feel so stinking double minded. I am frustrated with myself and truthfully I am scared- and I hate that when I know I need to trust God, He is my refuge. Joshuah 1:9 He has commanded me to be strong and of good courage, so I know He must have put it in me somewhere, I’m just having a hard time finding it.

    • Moon Beam on December 26, 2018 at 7:09 pm

      The double mindedness will disappear as soon as you are away from your abusive spouse. You have been brain washed. The other things you mention are predictions for the future that you have no way of knowing. Many of us have testimonies about what we feared, never happened. Testimonies how God should beside us and gave us peace.

      Jane, start the process of leaving, you will get wiser and stronger with each step. He is not acting in love. Stop fooling yourself about that. It is just part of his manipulative dynamic. Many of us have lived what you are living, we hear you and feel your pain. Trust us, it gets soooo much better in time.

      Save yourself and save your children, while you still can.

    • Vivienne on December 27, 2018 at 2:28 am

      Hi Jane. I believe you will find that strength when you step out in faith, strength will manifest when you need it to. Everyone God called in the Bible to step out had to do so in faith…..and it is scary. I believe you will find that strength to carry out whatever decision you make. It will happen when you need it to and not before.

      • Jane on December 27, 2018 at 6:30 am

        Thank-you for the encouragement moonbeam.

        Vivienne- your words are just the confirmation I need. A woman at church has been praying that God would change my heart with this so that it will be easy to leave, but God told me he would not do this or it would not be obedience and faith, it would be my will. I understand this but its hard. I have likewise been told by a woman recently that God will provide the strength at the moment needed. I just feel like I need it now. I have experienced His supernatural peace, that peace that passes all understanding, twice in the past year. I am seriously craving that right now, but it came at the most volatile times, one in which I had to leave the house for safety, yet was at total peace. I know he will provide what I need for the time I need it, I guess I just lose sight of that when I look at the waves and not at Jesus. Thanks for the reminder

  10. JoAnn on December 26, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    Penny, there are so many things to be thinking through. Probably the most important thing you can do right now is to find a counselor who has experience with abusive relationships. She can help you to think through what to do and how to plan for whatever you decide to do. It will also help to go through some of the archives and read about the experiences some of the others here have had.

  11. Jamie on December 26, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    I have been married to an emotionally destructive man for 14 years. I told him last summer that I wanted a divorce and that seemed to wake him up. My husband has repented, asked for my forgiveness and has been seeing a counselor for months. I can see a change in him and possibly getting better. My problem is I have emotionally detached from him and no longer want to reconcile. I want a divorce. I do not want to be intimate with him phy. And emotionally. I do not want to share my thoughts and Or tell him my plans for the day. I rarely communicate with him other then small talk. I do not like him for how he treated me for so long. I want to be happy and be myself again. Is there a point where it is too late and is there still biblical grounds for divorce or would I be disobeying and grieving God. I have 4 children who love him dearly and I’m afraid to destroy them by divorcing him. All I think about is being free from him and starting over. To find someone who will respect and love me from the start. I don’t trust him and always think there is some altermotive behind his behavior.

    • Aly on December 27, 2018 at 9:44 pm

      Jamie,
      I’m sorry for what you are experiencing. I feel like I can relate to where you are at.
      14years is a long time… your h is making changes as you said and has some intervention (counseling)
      Accountability is pretty much a core area of consistent change. It takes a longgggg time to repair and it’s the offender’s job to do the repairing.

      Sometimes the person who has had to detach (like you mentioned) for emotional safety gets all their feelings shut down certainly to protect and I validate that, but it’s hard to imagine trying to move forward especially if his change is ‘new’ and not really to be trusted technically. I had shut down at some level and continued to ask God to keep a part of me soft in case authentic change was possible. This was not easy because this is about repairing trust at a core level. My h had to learn from the ground up. Even he was frustrated with himself always getting in the way of …yes… himself.

      You wrote this:
      “ I do not like him for how he treated me for so long. I want to be happy and be myself again.“
      I get this too! Must be hard. What did he treat you like? You don’t have to expand here.. btw.
      I can relate to your words and for myself I was disappointed with myself being treated poorly for too long and especially felt mad at myself for the continued cycles and being a person who kept getting their power and respect taken from.

      Over time consistency and his behavior to repair and bring added restitution to your healing is what will be a tell sign of your next steps.
      Really I should specify your husbands steps … if he’s building a bridge closer to you or if his behavior is building things away from you.

      You probably have been through a lot of trauma, hopefully you can get individual counseling for what you have been through. I’m sorry.

  12. Starlight on December 26, 2018 at 11:07 pm

    I am so glad to hear from you Vivienne, I do remember you story from a few years ago and had wondered how it went for you? You were relocating to a different country if I remember right. Yes, it is very hard isn’t it. I love how today’s questioner stated that every cell in her body is at peace after leaving her abusive husband, inspite of all the do’s and shoulds we feel from our social group or church or pastors or counsellors or families, that peace is God’s’affirmation to us that we have done what we needed to by leaving! God makes our path straight when we step out in faith to follow him even when it is hard or scary or everyone thinks what we are doing is wrong.
    For the longest time I felt displaced and that I am in the wrong place, thousands of miles from where I grew up and where my extended family is. God helped me and blessed me and I was able to keep my home even through insurmountable and impossible odds after separating from my conartist ex. When I look back at how much good came for my older kids and my first divorce I can truly say that what my ex husband(s) meant for evil God used for good! I no longer feel displaced because God’s help and care have truly been visible and tangible and oh so very faith building! I do not have it all together but I know who helps and provides for and comforts single moms and their kids! I still have a few hard roads to travel; my daughter is still being physically abused and intimidated by her dad and our child protection has turned a blind eye and now my ex is threatening to take me to court so he can travel internationally with her to a non-geneva convention country so I know there are still scary times ahead. God has been so overwhelmingly there and in control! Take heart and keep your eyes on him and he will guide you through this difficult journey!

    • Vivienne on December 27, 2018 at 2:19 am

      Thank you for remembering me. Yes, I had to relocate back to my home country where I am able to work to support myself and my boys. Meanwhile the stbx is cosied up in his new girlfriends house enjoying the fruits of her husband’s labour (she is a widow) to include a large hangar where the stbx stores his racing car, the one he had to sell our family home and raise capital in order to do so. The stbx has put his house on the market and intends buying a motor home so he can tow the car to race meetings and have mobile accommodation. Last September he was diagnosed as having cancer, for which he subtly suggested was caused by my leaving him causing him distress; he is currently taking treatment and enjoying all the attention from wellwishers.

      Because I was trying to be obedient to God, I didn’t want to initiate the divorce process, I was rather hoping my leav8ng would have him make the effort to change his behaviour, he said it had but I wanted to wait and see. Within months, like a true narc, he went from doting husband to latching on to new girlfriend, misdirecting loving texts intended for her to my sons mobile but denying they were for her, later he said that he and her were just friends, nothing more, then I received the divorce papers. I wavered defending the case from fear as my husband is a seasoned traveller through the British court system as he has successfully sued many people through it and I am his next victim. We came to an agreement but recently he decided to undo that so just as Britain tries to negotiate an exit from Europe I am doing the same from my marriage……but in my case I am now saying I am not up for further negotiation, and any offer I made earlier is now off the table. Therefore he will have to pursue me through the court system which scares me to death. You see, I am earning, he is retired, only gets a state pension because he wasted money throughout his life but if his house sells he will have the funds to waste in a court process. He is not declaring his new relationship or that he is living in her property, rather he is spinning a story that he is selling due to financial hardship. Can you begin to see the sob story he will be telling everyone?

      While I am working my socks off I’m not able to save much while I support both my sons, pay solicitors fees etc so I am desperate thus divorce gets finalised ASAP so I can plan my future and invest my resources without interference from the stbx. Until the divorce is final I remain stuck. And some days, like last night, I just feel utterly suicidal thinking about it all. Getting out of his narcissistic clutches isn’t easy.

      • Jane on December 27, 2018 at 6:40 am

        Vivienne, I pray you are not serious about the suicidal thinking. If so please, please get help. The crazy making and gaslighting is enough to drive anyone there. Your words above were just what I needed to hear. God is using you to help others, even in ways you don’t realize. Don’t let this man steal your joy in Christ! There will be an end, at least you are moving towards that end. I will be praying for you.

        Starlight, I pray for your daughter, Lord keep her safe, be her refuge and her strong tower. Lord provide favor in the court system for this young lady to protect her, give the judges open eyes, wisdom and discernment. I ask for supernatural intervention here, that CPS would wake up and put a stop to the abuse permanently. We thank-you Lord Jesus for your love and compassion.

        • JoAnn on December 27, 2018 at 4:13 pm

          Amen to Jane’s prayer, and I also underline Jane’s concern about Vivienne’s suicidal thoughts. Please, don’t entertain those thoughts. The Lord will bring you through, and He has a future for you. That kind of despair comes only from one source, and you mustn’t let the Devil have his satisfaction.

          • Vivienne on December 27, 2018 at 5:50 pm

            Thank you for your concern. I just want to reassure you, I would not entertain suicidal thoughts, it’s just that I get them when life looks bleak and when family are far away or too self absorbed to notice I am struggling. Essentially I am a strong woman but this process of getting out, managing the fall out, fear of what the stbx will do next to hurt me etc., it just takes it toll emotionally. Sheeesh … I just need it to be over so I can get on with my life.



          • JoAnn on December 27, 2018 at 9:16 pm

            Yes, Vivienne, we also want it to be over for you, and it will be…In God’s time and in His way. He knows best how to handle this. Trust Him.



      • Autumn on December 27, 2018 at 9:36 pm

        I too remember your story. You are a brave woman. Remember when you were not sure you would find work? Remember when God provided a job? He knows you and loves you. You can trust him even in the face of more evil from your stbx.

        • Vivienne on December 28, 2018 at 3:28 pm

          Yes, God has indeed been good to me. He promised to hold my hand and I trust that he us … but I have days when I worry, doubt and gett the collywobbles. Thank you Amber for also remembering me. Xx

  13. Stacy on December 27, 2018 at 12:48 am

    2 years ago I left I began to see changes in my husband after I left and thought he really changed. I can tell you 2 years later I went back he convinced me to move 9 hours away from my family and friends for a new start now I am away and he is back to the old ways. I never thought this would happen and it saddens me. I stay now because I uprooted my children and they are happy with there life here but they even say their dad tricked us. I stay for financial peace and hate to put my kids through another separation, I think how stupid I was to believe the lies I was told. Deep rooted people with anger do not change it was all a trick for me to drop custody support and leave my family. It really saddens me that I am back in this situation all over again.

    • JoAnn on December 27, 2018 at 9:25 pm

      I am so very sorry, Stacy. We do want to trust those we love, don’t we? But trust has to be earned, and I think your experience is a warning to others, not to trust too soon.
      Again, I am so sorry.

    • Autumn on December 27, 2018 at 9:42 pm

      Stacy, can you some how humor your narcissist long enough to get the kids through school? Maybe a long term future plan for when the kids go. Get education or a job when you can and make your strategic exit plan. Don’t entangle yourself with him.amy further, especially financially. Beware of his big dreams and promises.

    • Jane on December 28, 2018 at 2:06 am

      I am so sorry!! This is what terrifies me. How do you know when the change is genuine. I get that only 4-5% will actually change, but what if the change is real? How can you ever know?

      • Nancy on December 28, 2018 at 9:30 am

        Jane,

        I think that your fear of Stacy’s story happening to you is a healthy fear.

        You have said that your h’s counsellor believes your h to be both sociopath and NPD. You also repeatedly talk about your fear of hurting him. Surely you understand that the ‘hurt’ will be to his pride, right? As a woman after God’s heart, why would hurting his pride hold you back? That should actually be spurring you towards leaving him.

        Enmeshment creates all kinds of distortion. Separation is the only way to begin to clear your mind.

        • Aly on December 28, 2018 at 9:58 am

          Nancy, Jane,

          So true Nancy about what is being hurt! The pride, the damaged ego, etc.

          Jane, your sensitivity is a good thing and having care for another is also a good character trait, esp. having compassion towards someone. But realize what Nancy said because it’s important to face the reality of the type of person you are caring about (in context).

          No one wants you to loose your sensitivity or compassion for others etc. These are valuable traits to have and continue to develop but often we (here) find that our qualities are exploited by others who certainly don’t have thes traits at their core and they prefer to not be the vulnerable one in the relationship.

          • JoAnn on December 28, 2018 at 10:54 am

            Aly and Nancy…well said, and a very valuable perspective. I thank God for the wisdom both of you bring to this blog. Your experience with abusive relationships is so helpful, and I have learned so much from both of you as well as all the others here on this site.
            I just discovered another book that looks like it could be helpful, though I haven’t had time to read it yet: Healing Well and Living Free from an Abusive Relationship by Dr. Ramona Probasco. If any of you get to it before I do, I would love to hear what you think and if it is worth reading. She also has a web site: healingwellandlivingfree.com.



          • JoAnn on January 5, 2019 at 10:22 am

            About the book I mentioned….I am reading it and can hardly put it down. Wonderful perspective and very practical help. Leslie wrote an endorsement at the front of the book. Dr. Ramona was herself in an abusive marriage, so her perspective is from the “inside.”



      • Grateful on December 28, 2018 at 10:20 am

        Jane, for everything I did I had to have biblical principals behind it – not just what people thought. Even when our marriage counselor told me when I told her I thought I could “manage” my h for the sake of my children and she said to me “you can’t manage demons”. I still needed biblical truth and I found it. That was over a year ago and I have continued to dig deep in His word.

        The teaching of Dr. Henry Cloud re the wise, foolish and the evil has been profound to me. It is based it biblical truth and I would follow up with reading the scriptures behind it.

        I knew I had to face reality of what I was dealing with b/c I still have to co-parent and one thing the Lord revealed to me was I look at things thru rose colored glasses. It is my responsibility to see truth and reality and I did not own that responsibility for a long time. It hurt too much and I wasn’t able to face the consequences of that truth. But the truth – as mind blowing as it is – is truly freeing. Scary but freeing. I have prayed the Lord will reveal any denial I live in but this truth allows me to pray for my kids more directly and for me to not be shell shocked when the next event happens b/c now I know it will happen.

        I hope this helps

        • Aly on December 28, 2018 at 10:29 am

          Grateful,
          So true!
          You wrote:
          “Scary but freeing. I have prayed the Lord will reveal any denial I live in but this truth allows me to pray for my kids more directly and for me to not be shell shocked when the next event happens b/c now I know it will happen.”

          They are full of drama-
          exhausting, glad you have found your way and especially the important clarity of wisdom, fools, evil. None of us readily accept that those we love could be that dangerous. If they were charged as ‘wise’ I don’t think anyone would be trying to figure out the vortex of chaos they are experiencing.. so that narrows things down a bit.

          Your counselor was very wise in challenging you and gave you a treasure of the importance of biblical truth… not the sound bites of certain aspects of Christianity that many of us are brought up in and certainly exploited by.

        • Nancy on December 28, 2018 at 11:15 am

          Grateful,

          I am grateful for your perspective!

          It is indeed our “responsibility to see truth and reality”.

          I think this is the core problem of most of us here ( who are repeat victims of abuse). it’s called denial.

          As victims of abuse we love to blame the abuser. It only takes one person to change the dynamic and it is the responsibility of the one who is awoken to the dynamic, to change it.

          It is not another person who keeps us trapped ( unless you are physically restrained), it is our own squewed perspective that keeps us enslaved.

          • Aly on December 28, 2018 at 11:56 am

            Nancy,

            I agree with you and certainly can relate.

            I do think what’s complex is that even when I awoke to the abuse in a very one-sided abusive relationship, I decided to change and take responsibility back of what was my responsibility. This is no simple task….
            Any abuser will fight this! Because they don’t think the other person should have any individual choice that doesn’t align with them. They have NO interest in the dynamic changing in fact the abuse will escalate and become worse in many ways… I think I was fearful of more lash out and being the receiver of MORE of their unresolved pain.
            Or as you said earlier- also their hurt pride.
            The damaged ego of these individuals is fierce and destructive to be in proximity of.



          • Nancy on December 28, 2018 at 4:27 pm

            Aly,

            To your point, ” the damage of these individuals is fierce and destructive to be in proximity of.”

            Agreed!

            Which is why separation is often essential in order to guard the new perspective that The Lord has so graciously provided! (Prov 4:23)

            I agree that this is a complex task, but simple is not part of the deal that Jesus promises. In fact trials are what is promised to his own: This should encourage us to boldly step into responsibility for our hearts and minds ( not to mention the hearts and minds of our children).



          • Grateful on December 28, 2018 at 11:38 pm

            To Aly, Nancy and all who read this – please take my posts as a process and what the Lord has revealed to me on my journey to freedom. But know without a shadow of a doubt, NONE of this has been easy. The dynamic did change as my eyes and heart were awakened and thus it got worse and my fear at times got greater. But as I believe, the devil always overplays his hand and what I thought would destroy me and my FOO – released me. Isn’t that just God.

            It truly wasn’t til I separated that I continue to realize the danger my kids and I were in. That literally paralyzed me for a few days -I had NO idea what my reality was but am so thankful for all the books, people and articles I have read and have taken bits and pieces from. They all have a place in my journey and now I know evil does truly exist. I believed it as I read scripture but now I know it. But the I keep remembering when I get overwhelmed is to keep my eyes up – it is hard oh so very hard and often times not pretty but He is truly my lifeline.

            Everyone has their own story and their own testimony b/c this is not just for us it is for other women – we are just standing in their gap now. Thank you for all the women who stood in the gap for me before I ever knew I needed it – thank you for your truth, your encouragement and your courage



          • Nancy on December 29, 2018 at 5:13 am

            Thanks Grateful.

            As I re-read your original post, I’m also glad that you mentioned that you “have asked that The Lord will reveal any denial that [you] live in.”

            How delighted our Father must be, to know that His beloved daughter asks for this.



  14. Belle on December 27, 2018 at 6:46 am

    Thank you, Leslie. God is so good. This is just what I needed to hear right now. I see how God values safety, and how repentance is the greatest need.

    But, what about the children in a situation where the abuse is not targeted at them? Separation or divorce are known to be detrimental to them. I fear that separation or divorce would harm them for life. I also fear that they would not support me in such a decision.

    • Aly on December 27, 2018 at 10:04 am

      Jane,
      Have you gone to a shelter?
      Are you receiving counseling and other support for protection and care?

      Having multiple people and support is critical to your safety and exit especially if what you are describing is violet harmful behavior from your spouse?

      Emotional abuse is also very toxic and damaging to our souls, it just doesn’t always show up as immediate as the physical harm but it’s not less of a threat.

      Remember, abuse is about power and control.

      • Jane on December 27, 2018 at 10:54 am

        Aly,

        No shelter- though I have had the experience of calling Interact to find out hours to take out a DVPO if necessary, etc. I have an excellent godly counselor versed in DV. I have church and friend support and loosely I have family support.

        Not overtly physical but sig risk for serious physical, and he loves stalking so its scary. I’m not sure why stalking is so darn scary, but it is. It seems he can always find me. Awaiting my carry conceal permit.

        I think my pastor is too easily fooled by “change” that I am certain is false but as soon as I update my pastor on behavior, he is disappointed, but understands. I am having trouble coordinating the exit for logistical reasons that I’ll explain later just in case he still checks this website.

        My heart just struggles with the way I am going to have to do this for legal reasons. It will be more hurtful to both my husband and to my kids and I absolutely hate it. It’s especially hard right now because my husband seems to be making effort but I know in my head its all superficial, I just can’t get my heart on board.

        • Aly on December 27, 2018 at 2:04 pm

          Jane,
          I am grateful to hear that you have a counselor who is versed in DV.
          These traumas are complex.

          Circling back to your comment about stalking. This is extremely concerning and would need appropriate action and accountability.

          Ok, so you are waiting on a concealed weapons permit? Was this advised by your counselor?

          Are you separated or planning to be soon?

          Often in these complex abusive situations we are very disproportionately responsive…
          for ex: you caring about hurting your husband who is behaving as a very unsafe person is disproportionate.
          I understand why you care about causing harm to your kids. But are you seeing that you need to care for YOU in order to truly care for them well?
          The hurt that your husband May experience isn’t you causing direct to him, but a result of his choices to be an unsafe spouse.
          The hurt is his own consequences to experience.

          Btw…stalking would be a clear sign that you are not safe! This is again about power and control.

          Your h needs more than some counseling or accountability from a pastor who is maybe more willing to enable his character issues. Most abusers will try to make an effort to change but it’s within that they really don’t think that much ‘inside’ themselves needs to get uprooted.
          They want a quick fix and 10000 opportunities to do the same crazy making all over again!
          They need serious interventions where many of them really don’t want to take it to that level. Often their lack of accountability and ‘shaping’ by other men is a key prediction of a repetitive behavior.

          It would not be surprising if he pulls out his church costume to meet with the pastor weekly and go through the motions. This is why you have to be the one to show the pastor ‘the real person at home’.

          • JoAnn on December 27, 2018 at 4:25 pm

            Jane, I would add to what Aly said by encouraging you to document his behavior, both in writing and by recording on your cell phone, if possible.
            I am concerned about you getting a concealed weapon permit, mainly because I think it will prove useless to you. Would you really be able to shoot him if he came at you? (Would he really believe that you could?) What about taking some self defense classes. That can be much more useful to you than having a gun in your hand.



          • Jane on December 27, 2018 at 6:55 pm

            No, not waiting on the permit but will be glad to have it. I also work crazy hours. I’ll tell you what I told my counselor, it sounds ridiculous but it’s truth. He has now found out who my counselor is and where she is. If he found out how she was counseling me and he came in there with intent to harm her, yes, I would shoot. If he came after me, I don’t know that I could. Mind blowing but how my goofed up brain thinks.

            God’s word is now “go”. What I am waiting for I can’t divulge yet because he may occasionally check this site, though I have been off long enough I pray he isn’t. It is complex and has to do with legal work, business, home, children, safety and a whole host of things that it took free counsel from a lawyer to realize is necessary. This is not at all what I had thought would be the way I would separate, but I guess it is necessary.

            Not separated yet. Terrified to do so, but I know its the next step. Chris Moles has an excellent podcast

            http://www.chrismoles.org/podcast/2018/12/11/put-off-and-put-on

            that brings about my hearts cry. This all has to be about my heart with God and obedience to Him. My hope will be that my husband will realize its about heart change and not about reconciliation. I don’t know what the outcome will be, and I know I have to leave it up to God.

            My husband is with a counselor that even asked him to read Lundy’s book. Apparently my husbands response to that was there was no empiric evidence, no science behind any of it. This broke my heart, I so prayed he would see himself in all of this. His counselor sees the truth for what it is. He is the one that two years ago opened my eyes to the fact that my husband has narcissistic personality disorder when we were attempting marriage counseling (so bad!!). I now know via a psychiatrist that he also has antisocial personality disorder (aka sociopath). I can see it, but I also see the good guy that he sometimes is and my heart remains so darn torn I know its going to take separation for me to have proper perspective… I still don’t want to hurt him the way I am going to have to. Any way I do this it will hurt him but I feel like it will be pouring acid on an open wound and rubbing sand in it. My kids will see this pain and blame me, hate me, I don’t think they will understand- but God has called me to lay them down on the altar to. He has assured me they will be ok. It doesn’t mean they’ll be ok with me, but if they are ok with God I will be alright myself.

            He is 2.5 times my size (not just fat), not sure how much self defense will help and requires time and money I don’t have. The house is stock full of guns and ammo and knives, etc to which at least I have access for now. I would enjoy taking a self defense class once I have the finances though, if for nothing more than helping me know what to watch for. I do record a lot of things and take screen shots when appropriate, etc but I don’t think I could get away with recording anything. It is not predictable enough to catch it intentionally, and he usually corners me into “talking” when I am vulnerable, like in the corner of the kitchen doing dishes or in the bathroom getting ready to shower. I do try to keep an exit between him and me but it’s not always feasible and I can’t always have my phone available when my hands are wet (I know he doesn’t think about that, but it seems to work out that way most often- weird).

            It’s been suggested to me to confront him about past abuse while intentionally recording such as asking him why he felt justified to throw a book at me or whatever else I won’t ever repeat here? Then you get him recorded admitting he did behave that way, but I am concerned that this will start something and right now I am a gray rock as much as possible. I pay for it every time I let me guard down so I am so trying to keep my emotions out and friendly talk gone but when he is being a decent human being for once or when we really have to talk about the kids and school or whatever it gets hard sometimes.

            Sorry for the long rant. It’s been a hard Christmas knowing what I am walking into next month, but I will say, God is putting the right people in my life in the right places with, sometimes the smallest of reminders that He is with me.



          • JoAnn on December 27, 2018 at 9:32 pm

            Jane, this must be a particularly stressful time for you and we will all be lifting you up in prayer for your safety and your peace. Via con Dios.



        • Aly on December 28, 2018 at 10:19 am

          Jane,

          Just want to mention…. let’s say he is making genuine effort…
          His change would entail him being compassionate towards your skepticism and even you separating (for safety) he would be supportive of.
          His changed posture would be understanding why you don’t trust him and he would validate this often! He would validate it often.. can’t stress this part enough.

          He would be willing to divorce esp. if that’s what you feel you need for your healing process.

          Even if the change was seeded as genuine, it would be reasonable given the long term abuse and I am assuming you begging, pleading for him to get help that sometimes… late is TOO late and the window closes. Sometimes it’s the consequences of a person not taking action of the seriousness of their abuse quick enough. Sometimes the relationship is a casualty.

          Btw, all the weapons etc that you reference is very concerning. This environment sounds like a war zone and the home is supposed to be a place of refreshment and nourishment to our hearts. A place of safety and community with caring about those we love and spend time with.
          Given what the doctors have seen about your h, any access to weapons would be a deal-breaker.

          • Jen on January 4, 2019 at 1:25 am

            Yes, you seem hyper vigilant and afraid. You can’t live that way for too long! Not good for you.



    • Aly on December 27, 2018 at 10:23 am

      Belle,

      Children in an environment where one there is destructive behavior and abuse is abusive to them (yes it’s not direct but still it’s impacting and indirect)
      They don’t have to be the official target to be impacted.

      It’s very harmful and a form of abuse for children to see one of their parents being mistreated, and especially damaging for them to see others around (DO NOTHING and watch the coping skills of the victim)

      Separate and divorce are often a result of a destructive person not choosing to change their behavior.
      Separation and divorce will not harm them for life but what will harm them for life is Somehow normalizing abuse and not dealing with the consequences of the offenders behavior and mindset.

      They don’t have to be the official target to be impacted and harmed by abuse in the home. No one wants to be the target of the bully, there has been lots of research to how this plays out.

      I think you might have some beliefs that you might want to look further into about what it harmful to children. You might be convincing yourself that staying in the relationship is that they are better off than being in a divorced or separated situation?
      You might have other people telling you similar things. You might have people telling you at least the spouse isn’t harming the children etc.
      Be cautious with these reasoning places.

      Just remember that if a separation or divorce comes about in your situation, you didn’t choose that, but the destructive person’s unwillingness to genuinely repent and change. They are the ones choosing to NOT have relationship based on their own choices and behavior/treatment.

      It’s very damaging to children to experience one of their parents be mistreated, many children that are young grasp their identity of who God is from their parents and it shapes them for life in the early years especially.
      When children see a parent being harmed and mistreated they are often experiencing the abuse secondhand like, based on their value and worth being tied to their parents behavior and how their parents treat one another.

      • Jon on January 3, 2019 at 1:39 pm

        read beforeyoudivorce.org…a resource that Focus on the Family shares…separation and divorce absolutely affect children…

        • Aly on January 5, 2019 at 10:45 am

          Jon,
          You would also agree that staying in that environment where there is a destructive spouse or relationship also affects the children.. right?

          Of course separation, & divorce are going affect the children and many others involved within the family.
          Sometimes it’s the healthiest affect longterm for the children to not have to suffer through and be witness to poor modeling by a parent or both parents.
          Many of these abusive and toxic situations are generational patterns that need uprooting.

    • Free on December 27, 2018 at 11:57 am

      Vicarious trauma. Yes, the children are being abused.

    • JoAnn on December 27, 2018 at 4:17 pm

      Belle, whether or not the children are harmed is very much a function of how the divorce is handled, and a family therapist can help you all to navigate that potentially traumatic experience. You have to consider the ways that having the children witness an abusive marriage is affecting them. It provides a very bad model for them to use when making their own relationships. They are watching, and they will copy what they see and hear.

      • Free on December 27, 2018 at 9:08 pm

        Jane, about the wet hands, he knows. He knows it and seeks you at your most vulnerable. I too have been cold, naked, outside, in a foreign country or abandoned at an airport when he is ready to rant.

        I cannot stress enough, that he knows a exactly what he is doing. You will not “hurt” him. He doesn’t have the ability to have empathy. His soul disturbance is much deeper pain than you can ever imagine. He is restless in his mental illness.

        I think it would be foolish to try to bring up old stuff to record him. Believe me, he will act out enough that you will have a ton of new material when you leave.

      • Belle on December 29, 2018 at 6:53 am

        JoAnne,
        A family therapist sounds expensive. (I looked into getting counseling once and it’s just not an option financially). Do you or any others know of anyway to make it affordable?

        • JoAnn on December 29, 2018 at 12:46 pm

          Belle, have you tried contacting your local domestic abuse crisis center? Or rape crisis center? Many communities now provide free or low cost counseling for victims of abuse. Sometimes there are counselors who will take clients on a sliding scale fee based on household income. Some health insurance companies will pay for a specified number of sessions and you will have only a copay.
          Maybe others will be able to tell you how they managed.

        • Moon Beam on December 29, 2018 at 1:14 pm

          Belle there are so many good lectures on you tube. Watch Patrick Doyle’s material. Maybe you can get a scholarship to Leslie’s groups. There must be scholarships or pay by need financing available. Ask.

          • JoAnn on December 29, 2018 at 1:50 pm

            I mentioned this book previously, but I have not seen it in this thread, so I don’t know if that message got posted. Moon Beam mentioned YouTube lectures, and I just found this book that looks like it will be helpful: “Healing Well and Living Free from an Abusive Relationship” by Dr. Ramona Probasco. I went to the web site and it looks like this will be helpful, as well as Leslie’s book. Belle, have you read Leslie’s book, “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship”? You can read books, watch YouTube lectures, and get as informed as possible.



      • Aly on January 5, 2019 at 10:47 am

        JoAnn,
        Well said!

  15. Janice D on December 27, 2018 at 7:48 am

    As always,a timely message of truth spoken in love.I am grateful to be where I am,safe and restful in my own place separated from my husband who has not left his FOO in order to cleave to me.It took me many years and incredible pain and disappointment to be able to face reality and choose life for myself.My son is grown,a young married man now and I am so proud that he appears to be handling the separation with much grace to both myself and his dad.I truly want to honor this by not speaking poorly about my husband to him and my daughter-in-law.I can’t imagine how difficult the decision to leave would be with minor children at home.I pray for wisdom for each precious woman in this situation.My Christmas holiday was quiet and I am thankful it’s over now.I praise God for giving me a peaceful sanctuary in my apartment to be safe.Today I will see friends and celebrate with them and this weekend my sister and her family are visiting me.I am adjusting to my new life and want to encourage others to trust God’s leading and timing.Each month that passes brings increased clarity… God will make a way and clear the path He has for each of his beloved children(I know there are some brothers in Christ on similar journeys here). Getting free of the confusion and gaslighting is worth every hard step of obedience.May 2019 be a year of sweet fellowship with Jesus and freedom from every form of bondage for us all.

    • JoAnn on December 27, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      Janice D, your testimony is so encouraging, and I am very happy for you that you have found peace at last and are on a journey of healing. I am curious: what does your married son think about your relationship with his father? Does he see why you had to leave? Has he determined not to repeat the sins of his father? I can understand your not wanting to “speak poorly” about his father, but at the same time, I think it is important for him to learn the truth about the kind of man his father is. Now that you have been separated for a while and have more clarity, I would encourage you to have a frank talk with him and perhaps his wife, too, so that they understand well what has happened. If they are left to come up with their own ideas, they might be misled. Keeping the lines of communication open is important. I wish you well, and am so glad you had the courage to leave and find a new life for yourself. Stay with us here; your experience is a valuable contribution.

    • Jane on December 27, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      thank-you, your words are encouraging

  16. Jane on December 28, 2018 at 2:26 am

    BTW- whichever of you amazing people helped hook me up with a copy of Lundy’s book via Mindy-
    thank-you a million times over!

  17. Mindy on December 28, 2018 at 3:43 pm

    The first time I met my husband he got me drunk and raped me. I was a virgin so I felt so guilty for drinking that I blamed myself. The next day he gave me a pill and said it was pot. I had seen pot pills before and figured it was harmless (I’m from a recreational marijuana state). After I took the pill I felt very scared, anxious, dizzy and confused. I am sure it wasn’t pot or at least not only pot, but at the time I believed him. I went to sleep and woke up with him doing what he wanted to me. I let it happen and then cried for a long time after. I felt so guilty that I had taken the drug and that I let myself do this twice when I had saved myself for marriage for 30 years. I felt so confused and sad about what I had done that it never occurred to me to examine what he had done. That was 4 years ago and I just realized yesterday that I was raped. It was a scary realization and I feel sick about it. I don’t feel sad though. I think I should feel a lot more given it was a traumatic event. I just feel surprised that’s I didn’t know before. Rape was normalized for me because most of our sex life for 4 years was when I was drunk or high (not proud of myself). I always thought that the problem was mine. I couldn’t have sex with my husband (or even sleep in the same bed) if I was sober. I thought that meant something was wrong with me mentally. Now I wish I felt connected to this story so I could start to heal and stop hating all men. I feel so naive and stupid that it took me so long to understand what happened.

    • Ruth on December 29, 2018 at 11:45 am

      Oh Mindy, what he did to you is like torture! Then he kept you there with shame and you numbed the pain with drugs. Marriage didn’t make it sex ok. It’s still rape unless you gave consent and once you’d been raped by this evil man then of course you’d probably never want to have sex with me, well unless you were seriously stoned. It sounds like you shut down your heart just to survive. I am so sorry. Can you get counseling?

      • Ruth on December 29, 2018 at 11:47 am

        oops should say:you’d probably never want to have sex with HIM…

        Sorry! I am a bad typist 🙄

  18. JoAnn on December 28, 2018 at 11:18 pm

    Oh, Mindy! What he did to you is highly illegal: he drugged you and then raped you, repeatedly. That is awful, and it is not your fault. Please, please, contact a rape crisis center and get help. You will need extensive counseling to get through this. The damage he has done to your soul is horrible, and counseling will help. Also, it will probably be helpful to connect with Alcoholics Anonymous or a similar twelve step program to help you with the drug and alcohol issues you have. Writing that letter here is your first step in a journey to find yourself and be healed. The Lord is with you.

    • Mindy on December 29, 2018 at 4:52 am

      Hi Joann, thank you for your support. I have a great set of doctors around me plus a domestic violence therapist. One of my doctors had suggested that I post this story here. She wanted to see how others might react to me feeling so naive and stupid about this. I am still grappling with my own fault in the story. I think anyone else would have realized their situation much faster than years later. Anyone else would have seen that he was using drugs and alcohol to keep me in line. I just can’t believe I didn’t know that first weekend. In terms of alcohol and pot, I stopped drinking when I left 4 months ago and have a medication to help ensure that’s I don’t falter. I stopped the pot more recently but have been totally sober for the last 19days. I know by the grace of God (and help of professionals) that I won’t go back to this enslavement.

      • Moon Beam on December 29, 2018 at 6:15 am

        Lundy Bancroft has a new book. Some of itihht not be fully compatible with Christian world view. Yet, there is a section on entrapment. It might be helpful.

      • Ruth on December 29, 2018 at 11:55 am

        Ok, I asked above about you getting counseling. Now, I see the answer to that, so you don’t need to bother answering me above.
        Mindy, I sure couldn’t throw stones for not being naive. I married my abusive H after only knowing him for 2 months. So, I think plenty of us here feel like we’ve made errors in judgment and then had to pay times 10 for it.

        • Free on December 29, 2018 at 1:09 pm

          Ruth, I married after five years of dating through college. His first abusive episode occurred on the honeymoon. He felt he owned me then. I was his object now and would obey his every command. It I had an idea or an opinion I was punished.

          What did I know? I was never married before. I never saw a Christian marriage so I thought the obey part was my cross to bear. The point is once we figure out the abuse, do we stay? Why and for how long?

      • JoAnn on December 29, 2018 at 12:40 pm

        Mindy, as you read more of the stories here, you will see women who stayed in abusive relationships for decades before realizing that they needed to get out. I think what Moonbeam said about “entrapment” above is right. You were trapped, and now you are escaping the bondage that you were in. Use this time to get closer to the Lord, to experience His forgiveness and love. Learn to forgive yourself, even as He has forgiven you, so that you will not carry regret and shame into your future.
        In a bible study that I attended recently, one woman said, “I know that God has forgiven me, but I am having a hard time forgiving myself.” That’s really the bottom line, isn’t it? Forgiving ourselves. And I think, and we talked about this, that the reason that is so hard is that we think we should be better than we are. We should know better. We should be stronger….etc. Those “shoulds” can kill us. The Lord knows our weakness, and He knows our history, so He came to bring us Truth so that we can be free from our past and our sins. Spend time in the Word of God every day, so that you can absorb the Truth He has for you. If you don’t have a good Bible, you can get a free study Bible with footnotes to help you understand what you are reading by going to bfa.org. They will send you a free New Testament that you can use to begin having a close walk with the Lord. Ask the Lord to help you get into a good church (if you don’t already have one) where you can learn how to walk with Him through these dark times.
        You will get through this, and I am so glad that you have a team to help you. It takes time, but a year from now you will look back and see how far you have come.

      • JoAnn on December 29, 2018 at 12:52 pm

        Mindy, have you talked with anyone about filing charges against him? Using drugs to rape a woman is illegal in most states. The statute of limitations may not be over yet.

        • Mindy on December 29, 2018 at 6:06 pm

          I understand why it would be important to do so. Honestly I’m so humiliated and ashamed that bringing this out in the open is too much to handle. I admire women who do come forward and speak out, even years later.

        • Mindy on December 30, 2018 at 9:12 am

          Joann, I am so filled with shame and guilt that I cannot imagine bringing charges against him. I originally filed a DVPO but dropped it when i was pressured by lawyers. When I filed it I had to go to court and tell humiliating stories. It was awful. I’m having such a hard time right now (wish I was exaggerating) that I’m not stable enough to go through anything like that.

          • Autumn on December 31, 2018 at 11:22 am

            Aaahhh, but Mindy when you it you will gain the healing you need! I saw do it scared. We were all scared, justice and the law are your best weapons and often your only affective tools against your abuser. Dig deep, press forward, you will heal faster. Temporary pain for long term gain.



          • Autumn on December 31, 2018 at 12:17 pm

            Corection. I say do it scared. Yup, tell, tell, tell. Otherwise the criminal goes free to do his evil deeds again.



  19. JoAnn on December 30, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Mindy, I understand what you are saying, and I understand the shame you feel about allowing these things to happen to you. And yet, it’s hard to say what might have happened to you if you had fought or resisted. That man put you into a condition of helplessness, and that has set you up for a lifetime of believing that you are damaged and helpless. Our dear Lord Jesus went to the cross to offer Himself once for all as a sacrifice to pay for our sins, and in resurrection He released His own life so that we might live a life that is free from the bondage of sin and its damages. I would encourage you to seek out a mature Christian woman with whom you can fellowship, and who will mentor you in an intimate walk with the Lord. Ask the Lord for this. He is able to provide in unexpected ways. And, as I said before, spend time in the scriptures every day, to get to know the Lord Jesus. He is your Savior and He loves you and wants to heal you from the wounds of your past. He does not shame you, nor does He condemn you. He died to free you fro the bondage of sin.

  20. Jocelyn on December 31, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    Dearest Mindy, as I read your post I became disgusted and angry, and not for one second was it directed toward you. Your husband was/is the aggressor and preyed mercilessly on you, he should be in jail. I am ashamed to admit that, quite frankly, the drug of choice keeping me paralyzed in my situation was denial. On this difficult journey I am learning to be kinder to myself, there are enough bullies out there to do the job of punishing us, let’s not do it to ourselves. Finally (after 38 years) I pulled my head out of the sand and quit allowing my pouting, sulking, victim mentality, dismissive, never-take-responsibly, only-my-way EX to interpret the world for me through his skewed lenses. This ostrich finally got a boot in the tail and RRRRAAANN. Run toward God, he is waiting with open arms, love, truth, forgiveness and acceptance. This blog is essential to my continued quest for truth and sanity and I know it can be the same for you. God bless you.

    • Mindy on December 31, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      JoAnn, Jocelyn, Autumn, Ruth, Free and Moonbeam, I’m really grateful for all the support I have received since posting my story. It has been so painful to relive the nightmare and I can only hope in the Lord. It especially helped to hear that others took a while to realize how bad things were. These men are so manipulative that even intelligent women have trouble seeing the truth. As for going to the police please understand I have been suicidal for some time. I wish I could be strong enough to press charges. The reality is that I am just trying to stay out of the psych hospital. This has taken all my strength and courage for now. Yes I understand that I’m putting others at risk by not reporting him. Still I can only handle one step in front of the other right now. God forgive me.

      • Karen on December 31, 2018 at 5:24 pm

        Precious Mindy-

        There is no condemnation in christ or from anyone in this group. We, above all,understand the complexity and difficulty of your situation and the special challenges of being in relationship- or getting out of relationship – with these type of men and women. We are here to love, support, and assist you. Don’t give up. There truly IS always tomorrow

      • JoAnn on December 31, 2018 at 6:09 pm

        Mindy, that’s ok. You just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and the Lord is right there with you the whole way. As Karen said, He does not condemn you and neither do we. We are just here to support and guide. The fact that you have begun to tell your story is the beginning of healing. Please continue to tell your story, both here and with others who will believe you. There is a lot of freedom in that.
        If I understand you correctly, you are no longer living with him, am I right? If so, that is good. If not, please work on an exit plan. Leslie’s book has some very helpful suggestions, and if you ask for it, others here can tell you how they got out safely. The Lord will open doors for you. Trust Him.

        • Mindy on January 1, 2019 at 6:23 am

          JoAnn, I did leave 4 months ago. During a scary and escalating fight I ran in pajamas and bare feet. It was so hard for the first few months just to be away from him. He stalked me for a little while then gave up. He told his DV counselor that if he had to admit to abuse he would rather leave the marriage. It broke my heart because I really thought it was going to get better with the counseling. For a long time I doubted what happened and felt like I was just being dramatic. My therapist recently told me that my account of the abuse is the only one that matters. If I know it was bad then it was bad. This helped me a lot! In church last Sunday a pastor prayed over me. He didn’t know anything about me or my marriage. The Lord confirmed the things that I believed happened really did and that it was not my fault. This was a huge relief and gave me peace. That peace was short lived, as I began to deal with the sexual abuse, but I have a memory of it to get me through.

          • JoAnn on January 1, 2019 at 11:41 am

            Mindy, thank your for writing. I’m glad that you are safe now, and I firmly believe that this new year is going to be a healing one for you. It takes time, and it won’t be easy, but you are on the right path, and really: IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! (Even if it were, Jesus died to set you free from all the guilt and shame.)
            Stay with us here so we all can take joy in your progress.



  21. Julie on December 31, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    Mindy, I am asking God right now to give you the smallest glimpse of his love for you, his precious child.

    Do you have someone to pray with on the phone? This has been my greatest source of sanity and knowing his presence.

    • Mindy on January 1, 2019 at 6:33 am

      Ruth, God willed not to give me children. I had miscarriages and a hysterectomy. This is the greatest sadness of my life but I’m accepting it more and more. I think Jesus wants me to be here just for Him. As for the suicidality, I have been working hard to overcome the despair. I know it comes from the evil one.

      Julie, yes I have a wonderful friend who is strong in Christ. She often takes time to listen to me and pray with me. I’m so grateful not to be alone with this.

      Thank you all for the prayers and kind words.

  22. JoAnn on December 31, 2018 at 6:14 pm

    Dear Precious Sisters in Christ,
    With the new year ahead, I pray that the Lord will become richer and sweeter day by day in your experience. May He shine His light of Truth into the deepest parts of your being and heal the wounded places in your hearts. May you enjoy His presence daily as you learn of Him in His word. May you enjoy a renewed sense of hope and purpose as you follow the path He has chosen for you. Praise His holy Name!

  23. Ruth on December 31, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Mindy, it makes me cry to hear you say you’ve been suicidal. I am so sorry for all you’ve been through.
    Do you have children with this man?

  24. Mindy on January 2, 2019 at 2:31 pm

    I’m having a hard day. I’m supposed to take suicide off the table before my therapist or psychiatrist will start trauma work. That makes sense but it means I’m processing these terrible things on my own. I can’t help feeling foolish and guilty. I made a lot of bad decisions that I wish desperately I could take back. I want to be faithful to God and value the life He has given me. I just find myself stuck in this hole of grief. I feel like I should be over this. Some of the worst things happened 4 years ago. Why is it so fresh that’s I can’t stop crying? I hadn’t been able to cry for a long time but all of a sudden last night I started and couldn’t stop.

    • Julie on January 2, 2019 at 4:41 pm

      Dear Mindy,

      There are so many things I want to say, and it’s hard to know which are most helpful for you right now in the midst of such grief. I will say a few and pray that the Lord speaks to you through something.

      There’s nothing wrong with feeling foolish and guilty and full of grief! Can you think of Peter, so adamantly saying he would never leave the Lord ….. and then in his cowardice and selfish fear doing exactly that, and three times no less, and because of a mere servant girl. Perhaps no man ever felt the despair that Peter did. And do you know what Jesus did? Knowing ahead of time that Peter would do this terrible thing, before it all happened, out of great love and compassion for what He knew Peter would go through, Jesus gave him these words to remember: (Luke 22: 31) Simon, Simon….. I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned, strengthen your brothers.”

      Peter *remembered* these words of Jesus after his horrible betrayal. He knew the great love Jesus had for him *even knowing what Peter would soon do.* *And* – this is amazing – this terrible grief and near-despair Peter would go through would later be used to *strengthen his brothers*. That’s us, in Peter’s words in Acts and 1 and 2 Peter.

      Jesus is praying for you right now. (Heb 7) His Spirit is in you to heal you, to strengthen you, to give you *life.*

      And He will use this experience, this great grief, to minister to others, to show His love for them *through you*.

      I absolutely know this is true. This is the way God’s kingdom works.

      (I’m sending this now so you can read while I type up some more.)

      • Aly on January 2, 2019 at 4:58 pm

        Julie, Mindy,
        Such beautiful encouragement Julie!
        Such true words of care and compassion.

        I’m praying for you Mindy that these words will bring hope to your heart and your healing journey.
        💜

    • JoAnn on January 2, 2019 at 6:26 pm

      Mindy, I know this is hard, but that crying that you cannot stop…that’s a big part of your healing! Cry out all the grief and shame. Just let it all out. It will come in waves, and then just when you think you are done, another wave hits. I have experienced this, but it is so healing to finally let all that grief out. I would also recommend that you get Dr. Ramona’s book that I mentioned before. Amazon can have it in your hands in two days. Healing Well and Living free. I have been reading it and it is wonderful. She points out that grief is normal when you finally realize that you cannot fix your marriage and you watch all your hopes and dreams of a healthy marriage go down the drain. So, Dear Sister, let the tears flow. Psalm 84:6 says, “When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs. The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.” Claim this promise for your own, and see what the Lord will do.

  25. Karen on January 2, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    Dearest Mindy,

    You are not and never will be alone. The people in this group are here; we are sincere, and we care for you. More importantly, Heb 13:5 gives us the most precious promise: That the God and Creator of the Universe will never, never, never leave you or forsake you. The never is repeated three times because the original language is THAT strong and provides that emphasis that we don’t otherwise have in English. These days were written in the book of your life before one of them came into being. God knew every detail of what was to happen. The good news is that He also knows what is to come–all the peace and beauty that can rise from the ashes and how He can and will use all this pain so that you will be able to tell your story and use your life to speak into the lives of other broken-winged birds trying to heal. We love you. Pour out your heart and know we care.

  26. Julie on January 2, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    (more)

    Do you read the psalms? Prior to the last few years I had a few favorites, but most of them were opaque to me. In the midst of some great distress these past two years, they have come alive to me, as precious words the Lord gives us to help us cry out our grief (and at other times our joy) to Him. Not just crying on our beds, which is depressing, but crying out *to the one who hears,* the one who knows and understands our great grief.

    Here’s a bit of Ps 55:

    “My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me.
    Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me.
    And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest;
    yes, I would wander far away; I would lodge in the wilderness;
    I would hurry to find a shelter from the raging wind and tempest.”

    And Ps 56:

    “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tear in your bottle. Are they not in your book?
    Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call.
    This I know, that God is for me …..”

    Find a more everyday translation if you prefer!

    “enemies” can be any form of death and evil, whether that’s physical violence, emotional violence, betrayal by someone close, the body wasting away from living in a fallen worlds, loss of any kind, and so many more – all of them are a result of sin and death in the world, and all of them we are promised deliverance from.

    The psalmists had *very long* periods of crying in anguish. There’s no time limit. One thing they always know though, is that *God hears*. We are never alone.

    Last for now, on a personal note: I haven’t cried for a while. But this morning a lot of things came to a head, and I couldn’t see how I could keep going ….. and I cried deeply. My daughter doesn’t know how to help, and it is confusing and overwhelming for her ….. but it did help to cry and not be physically alone.

    We *should* cry – the world is a grievous place.

    And the Lord wants to hear from us. He will answer.

    You say you want to be faithful to God – crying out to him in faith is exactly what He wants you to do.

  27. Autumn on January 2, 2019 at 6:43 pm

    I have a question. What do any of you think about warning people about their abusive partner? Let’s say destructive spouse leaves, separation etc… Then the destructive person or family or friends reveal to you that the destructive x partner has a new love interest. Does one have a moral obligation to warn the next potential partner? Should we contact the person they date and say, ugh you know this person is abusive, right?

    I am wondering if we should try to offer truth and protection to potential victims or do we stand back and watch them get damaged like we did?

  28. JoAnn on January 2, 2019 at 7:21 pm

    Autumn, that’s a hard one to answer. One thing to consider is if there is any legal responsibility, as when a counselor or pastor learns of abuse to a child or an elderly person. Laws may differ from state to state and locally. But without any legal responsibility, you can ask yourself if you would have wanted to know if someone had warned you, and would you have believed the report? And, if you do tell, would he come after you if you did warn the new woman? In the end, all you can do is tell your story and leave it up to her to decide whether to believe you or not. It’s a complicated question, and I hope that others weigh in here, including Leslie. I’d really like to hear what she has to say.
    I will add that if you do decide to date a man, and he was divorced before, I would surely hope that you would learn all you could about what his first marriage was like, and not just from him. Ask the ex!

    • Aly on January 2, 2019 at 8:17 pm

      Autumn & JoAnn,
      I agree with everything JoAnn said!

      Autumn if you are describing an ex spouse with high Narc traits,I think you would be wise to leave yourself anonymous as much as you could safely. This way the ex h isn’t gratified by your willingness to stick you neck out for the situation, (remember some like negative attention too) and then hopefully you are not the recipient of more drama and misconstrued blame.

      • Autumn on January 2, 2019 at 8:40 pm

        I have no person experience nor am I in this situation, I was just wondering what was the right thing to do.

        I have a friend who unknowingly married a gay man. Behavior at the bachelor party betrayed his charade. One brave person told the bride to be. She didn’t believe the truth teller and married him the next day anyway. Of course they are divorced now.

        I just wonder. Do we warn others when we know they are in danger? I agree they may not believe the truth. Maybe there is a legal president for withholding the truth. Does it make one an accomplice to the crime?

        • Moon Beam on January 2, 2019 at 8:45 pm

          I am thinking about the scriptural teaching about if you know the good you should do and you don’t do it….

          I am thinking about the concept of withholding evidence.

          Thinking…thinking….

          I guess Jo Anne has a point, tell your story. Let the heater decide what to do.

    • Nancy on January 3, 2019 at 7:20 am

      Our first responsibility is to steward our own heart. If we go off trying to rescue others, we are only continuing in the same pattern as before.

      I think that Mindy is very wise to recognize her limits with regards to pressing charges. We cannot save other people p, they are responsible for their own choices. We need to be very careful that our motivation is not to ‘be saviour’.

      • JoAnn on January 3, 2019 at 12:00 pm

        Nancy, you are right: being “savior” is often how we get into these situations in the first place, thinking we can change the other person or save the marriage. Abusers almost never change, so we must protect our own hearts and those of our children.

      • Aly on January 3, 2019 at 12:08 pm

        Nancy,
        I certainly agree with you on many important points you have made about our own hearts and others making their own choices and receiving the consequences of those choices. Not all receive the consequences and some people are only impacted and or motivated by consequences and pain.

        Mindy is taking one step at a time and it’s her journey as I think we all agree here and so many beautiful exchanges of encouragement.

        I do think stepping in or intervening often is about the context of the situation- not all situations are black and white and are about rescuing motivations. Not saying you we’re saying this btw.
        It’s important we understand the distinction here and the situations.

        I had many precious people in my journey to assist and help rescue me when I needed rescuing and they helped teach me how to move forward in guarding my heart, standing strong in valuing myself as I believe God orchestrated this in my life. I believe this is a core to the Body of Christ and much of what Living Christianity looks like.

        My FOO is bonded with passivity, cowardly & enabling origins and looking away or dismissing wrong when doing what’s right (given the context) could assist in justice, growth and transformation.
        The opposite values of the Body –
        Eventually wrong and right, healthy verses unhealthy look very blurred overtime in such an environment.

    • Ruth on January 4, 2019 at 10:11 am

      I have 2 thoughts on this-
      1. Wow, I wish my H’s first wife would’ve warned me! But I think she just hoped having a new GF meant he would stay further away from her. I don’t blame her though – I was young and DUMB!
      2. Narcissistic, abusive ex-husband’s might be inclined to file some kind of slander civil suit or at the least make a big stink about their ex-wife “speaking TERRIBLE LIES ABOUT ME!!”

      • JoAnn on January 4, 2019 at 10:34 am

        Good points, Ruth. Plusses and minuses all around, so each person would have to evaluate her own situation to know what to do. I will say this, however, that motivation is key here. Be sure that if you do decide to say something, your heart is in the right place; that is, not speaking out of anger or vindictiveness, but with a heart to protect the new person so that she doesn’t become a victim, too. Attitude will make all the difference.

      • Autumn on January 4, 2019 at 10:36 am

        Is it slander if you are telling the truth? If they can google his name and find a restraining order, gun charges, rape convictions or domestic violence incidents and police reports?

        Oh, wait, no one reported him. Hence the cycle continues.

        • Aly on January 4, 2019 at 12:16 pm

          Autumn,
          I’m really glad you posted this because I had a similar first thought when I read Ruth’s comment.
          From what I gave understood about the term Slander, it is only slander when it is false statements about another.

          Many people on the higher scale of Narc traits quickly bring up Legal Slander when they are feeling threatened of exposure to others.
          Telling the offender directly what you have experienced in relationship with them and telling the facts of behavior is not slander.

          • JoAnn on January 4, 2019 at 3:49 pm

            Autumn, I appreciated the irony of your last statement: “Oh, wait, no one reported him. Hence the cycle continues.”
            Sadly true. It’s the fear….the very real fear, that keeps victims from reporting, and also the inability of the law to provide adequate protection. A real double bind.



  29. Mindy on January 3, 2019 at 7:49 am

    I agree with Nancy. Domestic violence survivors need to be empowered to make their own decisions. If they choose not to press charges they shouldn’t be shamed for it. To shame or guilt a victim is to perpetuate their abuse. Ultimately the only person responsible for the future acts of the perpetrator is the perpetrator himself.

    • Mindy on January 3, 2019 at 7:50 am

      Sorry- press charges or warn anyone else.

  30. Jon on January 3, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    My wife was told by her counselor that what my wife described was emotional and verbal abuse…she then got a copy of Leslie’s book, “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” and it’s been downhill since. She asked me in April if I was willing to make changes…I said “yes.” I had NO IDEA that my sarcastic/joking sense of humor was considered “abusive” until I went to counseling and found out that it CAN be to certain people…but not to everyone. After 8 months of separation where I willingly moved out to give her the space she needed and willingly lived away from my two boys; 12 and 2.5, she has chosen to not to reconcile; no discussion, nothing, just done.

    I have, to date, spent over 25 hours in personal counseling and learned a ton about me, my childhood and how those years shaped me into who I am today. My wife does not care. My wife admits that nothing I said or did was intentionally done to bring harm and she admitted her mistakes in not speaking up and enabling behavior.

    I disagree with Leslie’s view of separation and divorce. Matthew 19:6

    • Moon Beam on January 5, 2019 at 12:32 am

      It is very common Jon, for abusive spouses to adopt a victim mentality. You are still in denial about your behavior. You are minimizing your destructive actions which is also common among abusive men still in denial. I recommend you read Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Why Does He Do That?” It will open your eyes.

      It really doesn’t matter whether you agree with Leslie or not. Your comments are symptomatic of classic abuser thinking. You have much to learn about your problem. Have to reviewed the Duluth Model domestic violence wheel? It outlines behaviors like your “joking” and many other actions that reveal means of using power and control over a partner and objectifying them.

    • JoAnn on January 5, 2019 at 10:51 am

      Jon, I am sorry about the loss of your marriage. I have to say that I don’t fully agree with Moon Beam’s response. You are in counseling, you are working to change, you are seeing yourself through the eyes of others. That is all very constructive. I would like to point you in a different direction, and that is your heart. When a person’s heart is loving and kind, he doesn’t make jokes at another person’s expense. And, he becomes sensitive to the response he observes in other people to his behavior. You clearly did not take note of your wife’s reaction to your “jokes,” and “sarcasm,” and if you had, she wouldn’t have had to speak up. So, while I am sorry for the loss of your marriage, I encourage you to continue with counseling so that you can become a better man, and treat the people you love with kindness and the love of Christ in your heart.

      • Aly on January 5, 2019 at 5:07 pm

        JoAnn,
        I agree with you comment on how the heart shows kindness and care. This is fundamental I believe especially for those who are Christians and claim christian beliefs as it’s part of the fruits of the spirit.

        My h struggled immensely with sarcasm and this type of banter interaction.. it was a huge process for him to change his ways of how he connected in a healthy way rather than in a protective dysfunctional way- which was to avoid connection in reality.

        Sadly many boys are taught this way of coping/connection from many males in their life growing up. It contributes to how they see women in general and often many objectify and devalue women.

    • Aly on January 5, 2019 at 11:10 am

      Jon,
      I think what Moonbeam said is important to explore further.

      I’m curious because you told your wife that you were wanting to make change(s)… what were those and did you take action?

      Often sarcasm and what you call joking is linked to your unhealthy and insecure male relationships. Hopefully you have gone further into the depths of this character issue and have taken action to get accountability.

      Change is not just seeing the issues or studying the ‘why’ behind what you have done to cause trust to erode… change is further taking action to transform.
      It’s also about repair. Even if the offenses are non intentional…. the repair must still come from the repeat offender. You can’t do this part without God at your core and accountability with others who will challenge you to mature.

      My assumption is that you have been married for 15 or more years and maybe your wife is seeing the depth of your unhealthy marriage more than you are seeing it.
      If you have a son or two my hypothesis might also be that she is wanting to be wise and responsible to herself and to her children for how she is treated by you and certainly doesn’t want to continue the pattern of the male behavior that you might think is ‘not that bad’ or’ just a joke’.

      Jon, I hope you can and want to make the changes the Lord would desire regardless if the marriage can be restored, but for your own relationship with God, you children and others.

  31. Julie on January 5, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    JoAnn,

    I got the book “Healing Well and Living Free ….” by Probasco at your recommendation and today am half way through. Yes, like you I really like it – especially her personal and compassionate tone, the content of the steps in healing, her quoting so many of my favorite Scripture passages, especially the psalms, her prayers to Jesus. Wonderful.

    But, alas, always it comes down to this for me: my situation is so different from most others’ – none of the physical violence or noteworthy signs of control, just a blind spiritual pride that *only I* experience in private conversations, e.g. “It’s my calling to suffer from a wife who doesn’t love me….. I’ve been waiting 1.5 years for you to repent …… what woman would not want me for a husband …..in x,y, z you are not submissive to me and haven’t asked forgiveness…..”

    I also do not have the typical enabling patterns of the abused spouse – I’ve never thought it was my responsibility to change him, I’ve never thought I needed to cover up and pretend to have a successful life.

    It was only after finally going to marriage counseling that these underlying attitudes were revealed (and most often only to me at home – only a smattering in the counseling sessions.)

    I find the spiritual challenge huge – am *I* the one is blind in all this? I tried with my pastor, tried with my elders ….. they did not want to deal with it. When I finally wrote a letter telling them I was no longer attending the church they finally strongly suggested to my husband that he needed to “take a sabbatical” from being an elder. (Note: the fact that I left for three months prior to that didn’t even cause a ripple since “he was ok with it.” [from an elder to me.] And yes, my husband was ok with it – didn’t seem to bother him one bit. He told everyone, “We are still in counseling, but Julie needs a break from the stress.”)

    I’ve lost friends from the old church. I’m going to a huge new church where I feel alone and vulnerable, although I know where the leadership is coming from, as they hosted an excellent weekend seminar on domestic violence a year ago.

    The hardest part is our counselor only sees a small amount of what goes on and has been unable to understand my repeated cries of distress and confusion and feeling like I’m going crazy.

    I wish someone would write a book for *me*. Please!

    Thanks for listening. Yes, I know I need to find help elsewhere and am beseeching the Lord to help me find someone. It’s not easy.

    Back to the book, though – I am underlining all the significant struggles spouses face, because I have not dealt with most of them, and I do want to be able to help other women whose experience is like mine in some ways but unlike in others. And bits here and there are a blessing. I feel not quite so alone.

    Thank for listening.

    • Autumn on January 6, 2019 at 1:06 am

      Julie your abuser is not unique in his abuse. Your situation is very similar to others. Your abuser is gaslighting you. He also sounds like a malignant narcissists. His sneaky methods of power and control over you sound extremely dangerous, extremely.

    • Aly on January 6, 2019 at 8:59 am

      Julie,
      You say you think that your situation is so much different than others here. Maybe so or maybe not. Some of the information does seem limited to make more assumptions, except I do believe there are many here who can relate to being in counseling and feeling like the counselor is only getting glimpses of just how much toxic things are in this dynamic and that can FEEL very lonely.

      What is it your h is so unraveled or suffering by? You wrote out this as his words to you:
      “It’s my calling to suffer from a wife who doesn’t love me….. “
      What does this mean? How he defines being loved needs unpacked also.
      And this:
      “I’ve been waiting 1.5 years for you to repent …… what woman would not want me for a husband …..”
      This is junior high babble at best. What does he want repentance of? And a person who is saying things about himself in that way is very much self soothing- in a destructive way not in a Godly way where he is looking toward God for his needs.
      And this you wrote:
      “in x,y, z you are not submissive to me and haven’t asked forgiveness…..”

      He’s very narrow and it seems to me that he might be a person who misuses and misapplies context spiritually in an ignorant way. This is where his understandings are skewed and his behavior shows the unhealthy thinking process, it also can bring about what he is surrounded by and what kind of teaching and doctrines he is grasping from.

      BTW, Couples counseling is not recommended for destructive individuals working on marital issues.
      Individual counseling is essential before the marital areas can be treated.

      Also you mentioned about him not having a problem that you stopped attending your church where he is an elder…
      This also is common with many who have a (false self) of an image to continue to others. Men specifically are good with compartmentalism (coping) and have no problem not really addresssing the core issues especially if it might make them look less than what they think others think of them.
      This gets even to be a greater problem for those in leadership roles because the pressure is on. (Pressure they put on themselves or the kind of church culture too)

      In my journey my h said some pretty toxic things. Even though they were harmful at the time I continued to pray to God to have him reveal what was twisted. Often my h didn’t speak his thoughts outloud but when he did I wrote down what I heard and what I felt and how I interpreted. I would bring this to counseling and marital sessions too because they needed addressing.
      A lot of his beliefs were quite fragmented and ingrained at an ignorant place too. But his thought process exposed his beliefs and those beliefs motivated his choices and behaviors.

      Abusive mindsets are not all that inventive. The fact that you are experiencing such (fog) and maybe some confusion about things is evidence of a dynamic going on. Because you mentioned the spiritual aspects it’s essential you get ahold of Truth for your heart and your healing.

      I am curious, what was the thing or catalyst that brought you and your husband to marriage counseling? You mentioned previously that underlying attitudes etc. were getting exposed more in counseling.

  32. JoAnn on January 5, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Julie, what you are experiencing is called “spiritual abuse.” And it all boils down to how you feel in the marriage: put down, blamed and shamed. Accusing and blaming, judging and shaming are all part of verbal abuse. His pride is all over the place with just the few sentences you listed. Of course, his pride will not allow him to be the one who is wrong. How can you love a person like that? I would be tempted to say, “If you are so unhappy with me, then let’s call it quits and you can find another wife.” Since he is ok with you leaving, perhaps you should offer to make it permanent. The fact is, Julie, he has broken his covenant with you and with God by failing to love and honor you as his helpmeet. And the things he says are just a subtle form of control. He is using the scriptures and spiritual principles to control you, to keep you in subjection to him. That’s control, and it’s abuse.
    I’m glad you find the book helpful. I think if you look between the lines, you will see more of your situation than you have realized before. Ask the Lord to expose the hidden things of darkness to you.

    • Aly on January 5, 2019 at 7:14 pm

      JoAnn, Julie,
      Julie JoAnn is correct in what she has offered here.
      I do think it’s possible to love an immature abusive person who twists scripture and uses against you to comfort his pride.
      And that ‘true Love’ (the action of loving him well) would have- strong boundaries and requirements for him to unravel his thinking and accountability for his behavior.

  33. JoAnn on January 5, 2019 at 7:26 pm

    Aly, could you clarify what you mean by having “strong boundaries and requirements for him to unravel his thinking and accountability for his behavior.” I wonder if it would even be possible to establish something like this with someone whose pride is so strong. This hints at narcissism. He is making all the problems her fault. It is so subtle that I don’t know how she could “love him well.” What do you suggest?

    • Aly on January 5, 2019 at 8:24 pm

      JoAnn,
      To me…Loving someone well… means having boundaries (for your own self/heart) to not be a participant in being mistreated by another.
      The offender leaves the ‘sandbox’ or the offendee ultimately (last option) leaves the sandbox if the offender cannot respect the values and guidelines of the sandbox which is to have the atmosphere of a safe replenishing place to refresh and grow.

      For example:
      A boundary could be, ‘I will not be in the same room or any proximity where I would hear you say such toxic statements about our situation where it is coming from a skewed place’
      ‘I will not be close or pretend to be in a reconciled relationship with someone who lies about what was said or what was done’
      I will not be in the same address with someone who twists scripture (abuses God’s own word) to manipulate or bring about coercion and especially by a person who claims to be a Christian and is in a leadership role’
      ‘I will not be in proximity of a person who speaks falsely about my personhood in attempt to break me down and question my own sanity’

      Requirements:
      I require you get professional help (that I would be in support of) to address your spiritual beliefs and understanding of scripture.
      I require you study Marriage by God’s design with a professional counselor and a group of others for accountability.
      I require you begin a transformation group that would focus on Character building and growth.
      I require that your ongoing weekly professional also assess you for any additional areas of addiction, anxiety or depression, unresolved grief and trauma … even maybe ADD, etc that could also be contributing/hindering to your thinking and learning process.

      This would be the Short list given the level of spiritual abuse that Julie is experiencing.

      Not all people who get married are interested in loving another person by God’s passion and purpose. Nor are they interested in hearing how their partner feels loved and cared for.
      Some are more interested in being served than serving and want to control rather than connect.

      • JoAnn on January 5, 2019 at 9:15 pm

        Aly, thank you. Those examples are well thought out and practical.

      • Julie on January 7, 2019 at 7:12 pm

        Aly and JoAnn (and others),

        Sorry for my delay. I have been thinking much about all the things you’ve said here and so appreciate your input. Thank you. My best friend has read this thread and is urging me to continue thinking about these things too.

        Aly, what got us into counseling? I’m not sure. My husband after many many years just finally agreed. That was three years ago.

        Boundaries and “requirements” don’t really work. My husband doesn’t seem to care that we’ve had no intimacy for many years, physical or emotional. He doesn’t mind that we go to different churches. He doesn’t mind attending church social functions by himself because I refuse to go with him now. He doesn’t seem to mind that I now avoid anything but the most basic communication with him.

        It might be possible, I think, to love someone so incapable of mutual relationship *if* I didn’t now have the history of the spiritual attitudes that are so damaging and make me doubt my sanity. And if I had some support and understanding from others instead of having to pretend that everything is ok. (That last I cannot do any more.)

        It might be.

        Seeking the Lord for wisdom. Counseling tomorrow, unless I change my mind about going. (Yes, I know “marriage counseling” is not the way to go. This counselor has his own method, though, which I went along with for a long time …… but even with his wisdom it has been very destructive to me. But that’s a whole other story…..)

        (Our kids are all grown. I don’t intend to pursue a divorce, but long term separation might be a necessity for my health and well-being. But I cannot support myself at this point due to poor health, let alone no resume – I was a homeschooling mom and then many years of struggling with health issues. My state has no separation laws. I have no family except aging parents. And few friends left. My kids also do not understand since they don’t see it and have grown up with nothing different. I don’t want to lose them and my grandson. There are far worse scenarios, I know that full well.)

        Sharing on this blog has been very good for me, I think. Thank you.

        • Julie on January 7, 2019 at 7:20 pm

          I forgot to say: because I now refuse to have the convoluted private conversations with my husband, I am no longer being actively mistreated. He appears to be fine with the current status quo of a superficial minimal relationship. But I don’t think I can live that way. It eats at me.

          • JoAnn on January 7, 2019 at 7:51 pm

            Julie, you said, “I don’t think I can live that way. It eats at me.” So he’s ok with the status quo, and he’s no longer abusing you, but you are not happy living this way. I understand that, but what is it about this “status quo” that eats at you? (Doubts and fears?) Are you reluctant to leave because of the finances? I take that to mean that he is still supporting you, am I right? If you actually do divorce, will he still have to support you, or not?
            I think the one thing that you really need right now is a counselor of your own to talk these things out with and to help you recover from all the toxic spiritual garbage you were fed. The present counselor has been “destructive”? Then why go?
            It is quite possible that all the stress from this marriage has contributed to your health issues, so getting into a healthy environment will no doubt help. Look into your real options, not limited by the dim outlook you now have: classes to become employable, local support groups, even volunteering can get you into a group of people who can become your friends. Search out a women’s Bible study group, or join a Senior Center. Find out what’s in your area and get out and about as much as you can. Stretch your limits. Have you investigated ways to improve your health through healthy eating, supplements? I don’t know what your health issues are, but there is hardly anything that doesn’t respond well to healthy practices. Work on building CORE strength, and open up to new ideas. We are here for you.



          • Autumn on January 8, 2019 at 1:56 am

            Julie, I suspect he leaves you alone because he is into pornography or has found another relationship. What do you think? Have you checked his phone records, computer use and travel behavior?



          • Aly on January 8, 2019 at 7:59 am

            Julie,
            I’m glad that you have given yourself the boundary to not engage in more private conversations where you are seeing that your h is not emotionally SAFE to do so.
            Certainly maturity plays another role here also.

            As far as your counselor, I think it is wise to get second opinions especially if you are seeing that the counselors’ methods haven’t assisted much in 3 yrs to the well being of both individuals and the marriage.
            I don’t know what his methods are but I’m certainly curious. Is this Christian counseling and has the Counselor been able to see each of you individually?



          • Aly on January 8, 2019 at 8:08 am

            Julie,
            I think JoAnn had some good suggestions. I also am wondering about this ‘status quo’ dynamic.

            To me, what you have described is anything but a marital union with two people living and cherishing one another.

            This situation of Status Quo- isn’t healthy either or less toxic because it creates additional neglect.
            Neglect is abuse.
            Now I’m not saying this is your responsibility to fix, please hear me that you have a situation that you have described where your h has done damage- it’s his responsibility to repair.
            But it’s often common that men who have the kind of mindset he has does the damage and then disengages (status quo) rather than broken humble repentance which would lead to repair.

            Is the counselor working with him on his beliefs and his history shaping (FOO) family of origin?



        • Aly on January 8, 2019 at 8:19 am

          Julie,
          Just to clarify on ‘loving someone’
          Loving someone doesn’t mean you have to be in proximity of them or pretend things are good when they are not good.
          Loving someone is often ‘tough love’ not the flowery feelings of such bliss but the ability to stand in the gap for another person who is needing special love.
          Sometimes that love is to give separation.

          Most people who do separate don’t always have a structure separation plan, but I have heard that this is the route to go. Especially if their is any ounce of hope for reconciliation through separation.

          I wouldn’t think anyone here would recommend ‘pretending’ would be an act of true genuine love for another.

          Sometimes when we choose to love well, it’s difficult and it isn’t the kind of love we see in the movies.

          To love we’ll also means ‘to know’ and we can’t say we know someone or especially our sacred partner when we are pretending. So thus, the love is counterfeit.

          By no means do I think you ARE doing this, I think you are awake to what you can’t live like anymore. This may be the an important step for you in your journey.

          Do you also have support wise friends that have some experience or knowledge of what your dealing with? You are going to need a lot of support regardless which steps you take, we all do.

        • Aly on January 8, 2019 at 8:44 am

          Julie,
          It’s a good thing to have a place to share and have others come alongside. Glad you have some friend support.

          You wrote:
          “My kids also do not understand since they don’t see it and have grown up with nothing different. I don’t want to lose them and my grandson. There are far worse scenarios, I know that full well.)”

          What do you mean by there are far worse scenarios?
          Do you mean like other women have it worse or are dealing with escalating abuse?
          Or others are dealing with loss?
          Or disabilities?

          I had a friend who would tell me that phrase ‘often’ as well as a mother, and it didn’t help my situation, in fact it kept me stuck -accepting the status quo and feeling false guilt for my scenario as well as remaining stagnant trying to survive a situation that needed a serious uprooting.

          The truth that the Lord had me find was; yes, there are others with worse situations in detail but because others had their own places of struggle and pain didn’t mean that God didn’t want me to live out the best version of myself or be willing to keep transforming to what He had called me to.

          Ask for wisdom and be discerning to the words that feel comforting in the moment and especially can be areas were we don’t see our compromising.

        • Nancy on January 8, 2019 at 2:46 pm

          Hi Julie,

          You say, “… even with his wisdom it [ the marriage counselling] has been very destructive to me.”

          This is exactly why professionals who specialize in abuse recommend against marital counselling. It doesn’t matter how wise a counsellor is, they cannot handle an abusive dynamic in marriage because abuse is not a marital problem.

          Participating in marriage counselling is contributing to the lie that this is a marriage problem.

          Please seek individual counselling with someone who specializes in abuse.

          • Nancy on January 8, 2019 at 3:02 pm

            HI again Julie,

            I want to add something here. When you say that boundaries and requirements ‘won’t work’ because he doesn’t care. What about you, Julie? Do you care enough about yourself to stand firm in boundaries and requirements (such as Aly listed above)? regardless of how he responds to these?

            Boundaries and requirements should not be set with his possible responses in mind. They are set when you decide that you are worth protecting and that you are worth being treated well. At all costs.

            You cannot force someone to change, but you can certainly decide what you will, and will no longer tolerate.



        • Julie on January 9, 2019 at 12:49 pm

          To all of you,

          I am resting and recovering after an extremely intense two weeks, overwhelmed with how the Lord worked yesterday. You were a part of it, so I want to testify here as well as I can in a relatively brief way.

          As I said, sharing on this blog and hearing from you all was very significant to me. Every situation is so different, yet I knew the Lord would lead me and give me the wisdom to know his steps for me.

          Because I had shared openly here, I was able, at Sunday evening worship when one of the pastors sat down right in front of me, to share my great distress succinctly and cogently. His brief praying for me was a huge comfort. (And praying for others in church and requesting prayer, rather unusual in my church culture, is something I have been purposefully pursuing.)

          Monday night I couldn’t sleep because I was feeling anxious about the next day’s joint counseling, so I spent several hours listening through the psalter, and God gave me the idea to pick a couple to ask our counselor to read aloud.

          Tues I was battling fear but refused to succumb, crying out, “Lord, I believe, help me in my unbelief.”

          Long story short(er), our counselor read one of my psalms, and it ended up being the catalyst for him, through the Spirit, to crack open the door of my husband’s blindness just the smallest bit, with light. A small crack, after three years ….. is huge. We have had two very significant further conversations last night and this morning. I know it will continue to be challenging, but the sense of distress and oppression is gone.

          Aly, you were asking about our counselor’s method. I think the term “marriage counseling,” as so many other terms, has to be defined, because it can mean so many different things. Certainly the notorious “you just have to love him more” and other such advice can be incredibly damaging. But for our particular marriage, our counselor’s method is to use the dynamic between me and my h as we talk as a way of revealing to my h how he needs to change.

          I’m sure our counselor would have an even more nuanced explanation.

          And it has been extremely difficult for me sometimes, primarily because my h would often ask me to leave the room to talk privately with the counselor, and then my h would later use things said there against me, and for various reasons I didn’t have enough opportunity to have these concerns addressed privately by my counselor …… you can guess how that was hard.

          Anyway – you all will be pleased to hear that I did set a boundary before our meeting yesterday: I told the counselor pre-mtg I was no longer willing to leave the room but wanted to hear everything that was said. (And he understood and respected that boundary.)

          So, we press on. I hope someone here is encouraged by my story, and again: everyone’s situation is different. But the Lord answers those who wait for Him – He will not let them be put to shame.

          And of course that waiting on him can lead to very specific *action* – courage, in his strength, in his power, to act in ways we didn’t think we could.

          • Aly on January 9, 2019 at 1:11 pm

            Julie,
            Good for you and praise God for this step!
            You set a boundary of what your needs were and this is probably one of many more to come.
            🙏✨💕



          • Aly on January 9, 2019 at 1:18 pm

            Julie,
            It’s my hypothesis that your h asks you to leave the joint counseling (given the other info you have shared of his self talking behavior toward you)
            Because he sees an opportunity to manipulate the counselor, (hear what he wants to hear) distort what is being talked about etc.

            Sometimes this is also a form of Triangulation.you can look that up.

            A counselor well equipped with addicts, highly traited Narc people etc will want transparency for the offender to face in the room.
            The more witnessess, the more accountability and those that don’t want to be responsible for their own choices and behavior resist accountability like the plague!

            I would struggle trusting this counselor, not saying to change anything sometimes it helps to bring MoRe Counsel to the equation for safety as Scripture states.



          • Autumn on January 10, 2019 at 8:27 am

            Sadly, we the abused get excited when our abuser moves an inch towards understanding. When if he or she was engaged towards repentance and healing they would have progressed by miles at this point. This smidge of change isn’t really cause for hope in my opinion expect relapse and look at the waste of time all the other sessions have been. The reality is that the abusive person is still very, very, abusive. They let their guard down briefly and lost a bit of control. They will use all this information later to their benefit.

            Julie, this is rough to hear and I wish I wasn’t the messenger for this. You are still in the fog, the spiritual fog, that makes you think your prayers can change and troubled spouse if you just pray, pray and obey. Statistically, if we are talking about the various personality disorders that brings one to this site, the chances of healing are slim to none.



          • JoAnn on January 10, 2019 at 9:32 am

            I agree with Autumn. Abusers are really good at providing false hope to keep their victims on the chain. Too many women here have separated and then let their husbands back into their lives, only to repent of doing it. A long separation will get you out of “the fog” long enough to really see what’s going on. Julie, if you go back and read over the things you have written here, with an objective eye, see if you feel any differently.



          • Aly on January 10, 2019 at 10:17 am

            Julie, JoAnn, Autumn.

            Both of what JoAnn and Autumn are saying is valid.

            What I wish our first pastoral counselor had warned me with was..
            Relapse.

            Sadly, relapse is part of recovery.
            I wish this wasn’t the case but it was for my situation.

            Julie, it’s important to be as objective like JoAnn said as possible and I could only do this with a lot of intervention and my own recovery work.

            Here is the tough part on these issues…
            Those with abusive mindsets and destructive beliefs about relationships are ALL on a Spectrum.

            Patterns will reveal more and more where Julie’s husband ‘falls’ on the spectrum and where is ability to want to change falls also.

            The h’s work is Mt.Everest and he is going to hope that Julie won’t hold the line of strong requirements.
            He needs intensive Spiritual REwiring and most likely needs to find another church where men do not contribute to these issues.

            Julie it would be wise for you to list out with a counselor what are your needs for building trust.
            Also to list out the requirements of your h if you want to give a temporary period 6mos to a year to evaluate if he is genuine and making character changes.

            How he responds to the requirements you give (which should be a lot of interventions and behavioral counseling) will tell a lot of his true willingness to want to get help for HIS PROBLEM.

            I have a feeling you have experienced these cookie crumbs of hope from him before and I think you would be wise to work on your own detachment.

            I had an have a lot of support in this process. When our closest friends began seeing the changes, some were overjoyed and so happy for me because I was being treated by my h as I had hoped for.
            It’s just not that complicated to be loving, kind and compassionate toward the spouse you profess to share a sacred life with.

            My h had a God issue at the core not a wife issue.

            Some of our friends and family didn’t respond well to his change because it highlighted their own issues I believe, it made them feel uncomfortable. They preferred that I was the one being mistreated .. experiencing chaos,etc and this took the spotlight off by his changes. Somehow there wasn’t Joy for me. This was puzzling to me??
            I am a person who loves to share in the joy of others who are experiencing happiness and good things in their life – even if my life isn’t exactly what I want it to be, but I have contentment.

            Mind you these are many years of interventions, counsel,wise people loving on us – what I would call a re-parenting of sorts.

            My husband had some biblical ‘scripture’ that he really didn’t understand the fuller context or story to.
            Internally he was probably a very young age versus externally.

            The emotional issues we had as a couple were indeed spiritual. But the character heart issues had to do with his intimacy and lack of love for God and especially ‘they way he thought about himself’.

            What JoAnn and Autumn are bringing to you is wise perspective because of the nature of these mindsets.

            When my h could admit his tactics ‘spiritual ones too’ things began to unravel and get destroyed so the Lord could rebuild.

            He would often give me a crumb of something spiritual … only so I would have hope he would change. And he fully admitted this. He fully admitted to the manipulative choices because he didn’t want me to leave him and then certainly divorce him for his behavior- which was behavior that broke our covenant.

            Sorry this was long just wanted to give and share some of my journey in case it helps someone.



          • Aly on January 10, 2019 at 10:31 am

            Julie,
            One more thing to consider.

            Rest is important for your heart.
            There are different times to exhale and rest indeed.

            But I caution you, when dealing with these mindsets and long term dynamics.. when the offender gives ‘an inch’ NOW is not the time to rest or feel relief.
            Identifying what boundaries and more imp. Requirements for the offender as essential and take a lot of emotional energy.

            Yes, go off find quiet places with the Lord, take a vacation by yourself etc..
            But any rest of vigilance regarding the relationship could be jumping on the cycle again.

            Have you looked at the abuse wheel?
            Emotional/ spiritual abuse is the cycle you have probably been doing for many years with your h.



          • Jane on January 10, 2019 at 8:06 pm

            Aly,

            How long did your husband do counseling before you started to see some actual admission to his behavior? How long would you give it, I mean, if he hadn’t started to change when he did, would you have continued to wait? At what point do you know that you know that you absolutely know in the depths of your soul that the crumbs are just a trail to lure you back into the witches house? When do you stop holding on to that last strand of hope? Yes, God can, but only if my h lets Him, so if God never gives up, how do we know when we should.

            I did separate finally new years eve day abruptly. I must say, I’m exhausted with all I am having to manage with this and I am know my focus must stay on my relationship with God and growing deeper with Him during this time, yet these questions I ask above still linger and annoy me. I know its not time to decide anything right now, just looking for some experience perspective.



          • JoAnn on January 10, 2019 at 8:15 pm

            Jane, well done, for taking that first, scary step! That took a lot of courage, and surely you will be conflicted for a while, but having gotten out of the “fog,” I do believe that you will begin to see things more clearly and begin to breathe. So many stories here, and all of them say that it is important to give it TIME!! Don’t let yourself be lured back into a dangerous situation.
            When you are ready, we would like to hear about how you got to the point of actually leaving and what you are doing to move forward.
            May God bless you and give you His peace.



          • Aly on January 10, 2019 at 10:49 pm

            Jane,

            My h has been in counseling and interventions for over 10yrs.
            This includes our marital counseling. We have continued counseling because it’s what is needed as we raise our children and we actually do enjoy having this as a resource in our journey.

            But I want to tell you that our situations are different and in many ways given some of your earlier posts.

            I’m glad you took the step you needed to gain space and hopefully get clearer on your dynamic.
            Was there a catalyst that came with your decision?

            Jane, trust that if your h is claiming ‘change’ that the Lord will show you this. Your h will also understand the separation and will want to take things slow to begin to repair things.

            You never listen to what they say, you only observe what they do.

            From your earlier posts… your h sounded like he dominated the relationship and was very much a non-contributor in many areas.
            Meaning – no partnership
            But plenty of double standards.

            Jane, tending to your own self care and your own sanity is not ‘giving up’ or not having hope.
            Your h has taken a lot from you and you need time away from the dynamic. You can keep a soft heart for in the event true repentance comes, but a soft heart must still be in a healthy protective place.

            Not being in the presence of someone ‘especially a Spouse’ who mistreats you and your kids is a healthy choice for you and the one who behaves this way.

            You didn’t mention if he’s been throwing you crumbs or trying to get you to doubt your decision?

            I also want to point out that detachment from any outcome is necessary.

            I got to a point that the pain I was in was if I was living in a divorce dynamic, so being separated or divorcing I was feeling somewhat ‘ok’ with that outcome, but certainly not what I wanted.
            I wanted a marriage partner, I wanted a safe person who I could count on. I wanted to be cared for as much as I was caring for him.

            I felt my only obedience was to give the outcome over to the Lord as I walked my own part out to a healthier place. ‘Still walking’

            Do you have a counselor?
            Support team?
            These things are really essential regardless of the outcome you need them moving forward.

            Hope this answers but please ask here what you need many people here are so good at giving concise answers.

            It’s been 11 days for you but as you get more time away, you will begin discovering yourself again and you won’t be dealing with so much chaos of what he was creating in your world.



          • Nancy on January 11, 2019 at 1:41 pm

            Jane,

            There is a lot of wisdom in Aly’s response to you.

            She said, “…detachment from any outcome is necessary”

            I completely agree and would add that this detachment is not ‘automatic’ because you decide to ‘trust God’.

            The detachment will come when you choose to walk into, and through, the grief of all that this separation represents. There will be a lot to grieve. Personally, I was not able to ‘leave my marriage at the foot of the cross’ until I accepted that my marriage was dead.



          • JoAnn on January 11, 2019 at 4:31 pm

            Julie, I have been reading over this thread, mostly in response to your concerns, but I hope that others are getting help, too. So, there has been a lot of very good advice, and very insightful observations from several of us here. What I don’t see is any direct response on your part about whether or not you have acted on any of it. Yes, you set a boundary with the counselor, well done. But there is a need for so much more. Several of us have asked questions to help you sort out your thoughts and feelings, but I see no response to that. What are you doing to protect your own heart? Have you sought out counseling for yourself alone? (A different one than the one you go to with your husband.) Have you taken any steps to help yourself in any way? For us to see you share about these things would encourage us and it would help you to move forward. Even if you are feeling stuck, tell us about it. There is so much help here, but I find myself wondering if any of it is sinking in.

            To others on this site who we are not hearing from: the advice given to one is not only for her; we are sharing from our collective experiences and our heart to help. Please feel free to take anything that “fits” and receive the benefit. So much love here….



  34. Ruth on January 5, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    Julie,
    Do you want to work on your marriage or are you looking to get out?
    Do you have children at home? That makes a difference on how difficult it is to pursue a divorce – for example, my H has threatened to prove I am insane in court so he can have custody of my children. 😔

    • Free on January 6, 2019 at 12:59 am

      Ruth, he can’t prove you are insane. A licensed mental health provider would have to do that. I can tell from you submissions that you are not insane.

      Don’t fall for his hollow threats. He should be more concerned that the court will unearth his psychological problems in his evaluation!

    • Aly on January 6, 2019 at 8:19 am

      Ruth,
      What was your response to his threat? Those exact words are almost textbook for a destructive person who is seeing your strength (maybe seeing changes in your steps) and they are losing control of what they thought they had.
      It’s uncalled for to say such a thing, but not uncommon.
      It’s also abuse toward the children and the mother to have such threats offered, creating an unstable environment …. even if the children are unaware or didn’t hear the threat they can ‘feel’ the threat emotionally.

      • Ruth on January 7, 2019 at 8:40 pm

        Aly,
        I don’t take his mouthy threats too seriously.
        #1 I have much more education than he does; while, I suppose there are some fruit loops with higher education LOL but I look at this as a mean-spirited Stab rather than a quantifiable threat.
        #2 He reasons that my mind is ‘altered’ by all the medicines I take. Here’s an example of ways he is suspicious- I take a migraine preventative med
        that someone in his immediate family also took for awhile but it gave them bad brain fog. This medicine hasn’t bothered me with any negative side effects. As soon as I started taking this medicine, I could tell my H was skeptical and negative about it. I also started taking daily allergy meds and vitamins. I take a low-dose of Celexa for anxiety. Thank God it’s really not a big deal! my H is so out of touch with reality that he if he goes to his lawyer with my daily med/vitamin list the lawyer is just gonna laugh at him.😝

        • Nancy on January 8, 2019 at 3:05 pm

          Wow Ruth. I would take his words very seriously. Not because he has a leg to stand on in court but because he is speaking venom.

          I appreciate your sense of humour but I don’t think this is anything to make light of 🙁

        • Aly on January 10, 2019 at 11:00 pm

          Ruth,
          I think Nancy has a really good point about your sense of humor.

          Yes, you do have a good sense of humor but you also could be crossing this over to coping with your situation about your husbands comments.

          To me, I would not feel very loved, respected and cared for if my h said such threats even if I knew deep down they were not a serious valid threat. Who talks with such garbage about their own wife & children?
          The comment to me would be damaging and would need addressing.
          These types of abusive talk remind of how out of the mouth the heart speaks.

          As a helpmate, I would fear for the condition of his heart and his relationship with God.

        • Aly on January 10, 2019 at 11:09 pm

          Ruth and others,

          If children ‘especially’ witness any of this type of this behavior please remember that we are modeling for them what IS tolerated. Or what is not taken seriously, etc.
          We become a part of the problem rather than standing up to the issue at hand.
          If children witness this posture of a husband treating a wife this way (Vice versa) it is often repeated in their marriages in one way or another.

          My h’s parents modeled all sorts of things. His father controlled much and his mother didn’t take much of anything to seriously. This was her way of coping- not dealing.
          Always had the … oh well, it will all work out, look the other way or pretend it’s not that bad.

        • Nancy on January 12, 2019 at 7:59 am

          Ruth and Aly,

          Aly said, “I would not feel very loved, respected and cared for”.

          I think this is an important standard to have in marriage. Asking ourselves do I feel loved, respected and cared for, is so important!

          Too often we minimize his behaviour by either comparing it to past behaviour -by telling ourselves he has improved and isn’t as abusive as before- or we ‘blow it off’ somehow – with humour or some other ‘tough’ kind of attitude.

          The problem is that in an environment like this our own hearts become desensitized to the pain. A good prayer might be, “Lord please make my heart super sensitive to destructive words, attitudes and behaviour”. In looking back The Lord did this for me ( without me asking!) so that I did not have to ‘figure out’ why I was feeling manipulated or hurt. It just hurt so much that I’d simply walk away. I was able to trust my heart because He has super-sensitized it to destruction.

          It was a bit like living with open wounds that I was responsible for keeping protected and clean. I HAD to guard my heart because of the tenderness of it.

          • Aly on January 12, 2019 at 9:55 am

            Nancy,

            This is well said and certainly such important questions.

            Many of us grew up in homes where these things were minimized or Normalized.
            We learned to tolerate not being respected or cared well for, and we learned to not expect others to treat us with kindness and consideration.
            Did our parents intervene? Often no and often we didn’t have an advocate (mom/uncle/aunt) to assist us with how we were coping in our environment.

            In my FOO, when I spoke up about how I was feeling or being treated by siblings esp. I was told I was Too sensitive and dismissed.
            The adults didn’t want to resolve or see it as important to hold the offender’s accountable.
            My job was to forgive and forget, not be sensitive and push my needs aside.
            Hmmm doesn’t this look like a lot of destructive dynamics for one party of a relationship?



    • JoAnn on January 8, 2019 at 9:06 pm

      Julie, what Nancy said here bears repeating: Boundaries “are set when you decide that you are worth protecting and that you are worth being treated well. At all costs.
      You cannot force someone to change, but you can certainly decide what you will, and will no longer tolerate.”
      Perhaps one of the most important principles to get fixed in your mind.

      • Aly on January 9, 2019 at 9:03 am

        JoAnn, Nancy, Julie,

        I so agree with you JoAnn! This is SO very well articulated Nancy!

        Deciding this important place about oneself is something we all are invited to. It’s helpful for me to remember that part of Nancy’s comment (at all costs)
        What this is means to me is that sometimes when a person decides they are worth being treated well, that the individuals they spend time with or share a home with as Status quo- this dynamic might change… especially if there are people that don’t want to treat others or even just one person with regard or treat well.

        The person deciding to be treated well isn’t the one who IS creating chaos in the relationship,causing problems, or severing the relationship, the person(s) who don’t want to treat another well is the one who is choosing to NOT have a relationship ultimately.

        • JoAnn on January 9, 2019 at 9:49 am

          Dr.Ramona says in her book that forgiving yourself is an important step toward deciding that you deserve to be treated well. She has a whole chapter on forgiving, which is worth reading. In her experience this was a very difficult step, and equally difficult to write about, but she says it very well. For some of the women here, forgiving herself may well be the hardest part of recovery.
          Aly, your last statement is so very true: “The person deciding to be treated well isn’t the one who IS creating chaos in the relationship, causing problems, or severing the relationship; the person(s) who don’t want to treat another well is the one who is choosing to NOT have a relationship ultimately.” Getting ahold of this perspective is vital for recovery.

          • Nancy on January 9, 2019 at 10:10 am

            JoAnn, Aly and others here,

            The perspective that Aly wrote and JoAnn highlighted is indeed important! When we decide that we will no longer tolerate disrespect, there IS upheaval! And because we are the ones who have changed it seems to us and to everyone around us that it is our fault. But just because we are the ones creating change does not make it our fault.

            When my h and I went to tell my mother that we would not go to my brother’s for Christmas, we articulated this very deliberately: I said, “we are not asking for much at all – respect. Unfortunately this very basic request is being refused by [my brother] and THAT is what’s causing the turmoil. We are no longer willing to compromise ourselves. Not even a little bit.”

            Wether she truly understands or not is besides the point (she did respect our decision) but the process of me articulating that very clearly helped to ‘put the responsibility where it belongs’ in MY mind.

            Using my voice is essential in my process of growing into the spiritual power that I have so graciously been given.



          • Aly on January 9, 2019 at 10:42 am

            Nancy,
            To you last post today at 10:10.

            I so very much agree. I think that the upheaval is ‘the crazy making’ in my mind.

            As I have walked the loss of much of my extended family for the request of yes – to be respected and to not be mocked (especially in front of my children) … war zone broke.

            Really?
            A basic simple place of consideration…
            Destructive and really immature mindsets rarely give consideration to another. Let alone mutual value.
            They are are So in the way of themselves! Ughh

            One of my close friends who also had to engage my extended family (trying to make peace) could not believe the posture.

            She said; “a person or family member cannot claim to love another if they have (0) basic respect for another. These things go hand in hand and are part of the components of love.”
            Watcher her try to wrap her mind around such behavior helped me see just what level of compromising I had made over many years being devalued.

            Nancy, I like how you said what we have asked for is NoT much.
            Why does this seem to those who ‘don’t get it’like this is So much?? Or this is offensive to them?
            One of my thoughts is that only unhealthy individuals see this as offensive, while healthier individuals see the benefit as how relationships should be played out.

            This pride or lack of maturity is not untreatable ~ the Holy Spirit and someone surrendering to the process of growing in Christ will see this and their attitude will adjust. Scripture does not lie.

            I no longer refer to my ext. family as ‘family’
            I refer to them as we are related.
            Because family ‘esp family’ doesn’t treat others with such a skewed mindset and lack of care or respect. This goes even more so for a marital dynamic.

            When my husband chose to make a change, *upheaval* in the FOO rippled like any very dysfunctional family that remains to stay stagnant & avoid growth and stay stuck in their comforts.

            Because I will not longer tolerate or compromise being mistreated, I have been called and accused of being bitter,unforgiving and unchristian-like. The focus is on me and my decisions of giving myself good self care boundaries that come from being loved by Jesus.
            Inviting others into healthier places that you care about and love is being a good example of the Christian faith. But many reject this, twist it, you name it.
            All sorts of ugly tantrums.

            I hope and pray that others are better prepared for the upheavals that having these important boundaries (for ourselves) create.
            I was not prepared and quite blindsided.

            Nancy you have done a great job sharing and articulating your journey. It’s helpful to me to read your posts and see just how simply clear some of these things are.
            Thank you so much for what you offer here to so many.



          • JoAnn on January 9, 2019 at 11:02 am

            Aly and Nancy, et al…Asking for respect from those who have no clue of what that is, is like preaching to cows. They don’t know the meaning of the word, nor will they know how to do it. I commend you both for having the courage to stand up to the cows (sorry!) and protect your own hearts.
            Nancy referred to getting her power…I enjoyed this verse this morning in my time with the Lord, Eph. 1:19-20: (To know) what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the operation of the might of His strength, which He caused to operate in Christ in raising Him from the dead…” There is a power and a strength available to us who believe; we need to learn to tap into that strength as we begin the process of becoming stronger to stand up for our selves and become more like HIm. His power is perfected in our weakness. Praise Him! He doesn’t leave us to do it on our own.



          • JoAnn on January 9, 2019 at 11:05 am

            Nancy, I wonder if your mother even knew what you were talking about. Does she see the disrespect? Does she have any realization of what that looks like? As a mother of adult children, I would be so upset if my son and daughter treated each other disrespectfully.



          • Julie on January 9, 2019 at 11:55 am

            JoAnn and others, I’m responding to this:

            Dr.Ramona says in her book that forgiving yourself is an important step toward deciding that you deserve to be treated well. She has a whole chapter on forgiving, which is worth reading. In her experience this was a very difficult step, and equally difficult to write about, but she says it very well. For some of the women here, forgiving herself may well be the hardest part of recovery.”

            I *so* feel the deep need for this kind of healing, and so many are desperate to hear it. It *is* difficult to work through and talk about.

            But here’s what’s been so incredibly life-changing for me. I don’t hear Scripture talking about “forgiving myself.” Hmm. It’s full of the Lord forgiving me, and of his calling me to forgive others as I have been forgiven.

            (Necessary caveat: forgiving another does *not* mean trusting another.)

            Scripture also doesn’t tell me to “love myself.” Um, I do that rather naturally, as in my pride and focusing on my desires.

            (Hold on, I’m not done yet!)

            So why can the language of forgiving and loving myself ring so true to my experience? Here’s one of several reasons: I have let others’ opinions of me define who I am, instead of who *God* says I am, in his Word. Others have shamed me and maybe even made me ashamed before God. I can carry around a lot of false guilt and false shame.

            So what does the Lord say about shame and false guilt, what has he done about it? There are hints all throughout the OT, beginning with the Lord compassionately giving Adam and Eve a covering for their shame. We see the final solution in Jesus, who reached out to *touch* the shamed and the outcast, to heal, cleanse, and get this – to make us *holy* so that we can dwell with him. Unbelievable love. We are made beautiful, radiant, clothed with beautiful garments and a glorious crown, delighted in, a treasured possession.

            Isaiah 62: “You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord…you shall be called My Delight Is in Her (Hephzibah).”
            And the psalms – “Let my enemies be put to shame…. he who takes refuge in the Lord will never be put to shame.” And Zeph 3: “he will exult over you with loud singing…. I will change their shame into praise, I will change their shame into praise and renown.”

            If you want to hear *so much more* of these life-giving words traced throughout the Bible, with so much more deep comfort, healing, and *purpose*, read “Shame Interrupted” by Ed Welch. Literally changed my life. (And I’m due for another read through.) It’s a bit long (he’s recorded an abridged audio version to be found at ccef.org), but his writing style is extremely personal and full of compassion and hope for the shamed. His desire is the same as that of the Lord’s: to lift you up, so you will know how treasured you are by Him and grow in knowing how you are called to go out and touch and heal others with such life-giving words.

            And it’s all because of Jesus.



          • Aly on January 9, 2019 at 12:37 pm

            Julie,
            I agree with so many of things you have posted her about ‘Shame’ And how God restores us.

            You wrote:
            “Scripture also doesn’t tell me to “love myself.”

            I disagree, scripture does tell us to love the Lord with all our heart and love others from that place.
            When we receive the Love from the Lord and respond with a posture of Loving him back we are loving ourselves – unashamed and not in a prideful way. We are receiving the love He has for us as being valuable to Him.

            The loving yourself isn’t a form of self centered love but a byproduct of receiving our adoption of being loved by God and accepting our worth and identity reflection of God.

            The kind of love I’m referring to is the healthy form of loving oneself in a healthy way not in a destructive way.



          • Aly on January 9, 2019 at 12:56 pm

            JoAnn,
            Regarding your post of 11:02am

            What would you make of this?
            Selective respect and consideration of others.

            See while I agree with you that some are clueless and have NO concept of this, I can say that because I have witnessed the same individuals offer respect and consideration to others that they are more than aware of what this is and what it looks like being played out.



          • Nancy on January 9, 2019 at 4:30 pm

            Oh my, JoAnn, the cow analogy made me laugh out loud!

            You asked if I thought that my mother understood. I think to some extent she does. For example, my brother treats her just as disrespectfully when he comes into town, as he does us. ( he consistently prioritizes his friends and assumes that his family will accommodate his last minute plans – which I and my h have done up until about 4 years ago).

            She doesn’t like being treated that way by my brother but doesn’t have the boundaries to say no to this. She doesn’t see them ( my brother and his family) much and would rather have a bad relationship than no relationship; and because we would rather have no relationship than a bad one, this is the part that baffles her.

            She believes in maintaining connection at all costs. We believe in maintaining our hearts at all costs.

            This is a difficult shift for her to witness in us. I have thrown out what she has taught me about loving others.

            Aly, what you said about selective respect and consideration of others rings true. My brother would not treat his friends the way he treats his family. He does it because, up until now, he has gotten away with it.

            Time will tell if he will allow this to change him.



          • Aly on January 9, 2019 at 10:37 pm

            Nancy,
            Thanks for posting that podcast. So helpful to have access to these.

            Regarding your last post via your mother and brother. I’m sorry for all the pain.
            Thankful though for the laughs too… per JoAnn.

            You wrote:
            “She believes in maintaining connection at all costs.”

            Wow, boy do I know how you may feel or I can relate. Your mom’s beliefs are similar to my moms also. Yet, I would not say connection more of an image of relationship (not true connection) .

            It’s the ‘belief’ they have that harms them, and especially the person that has gotten away with treating others poorly.

            Your brother is now an adult so it’s his responsibility in how he choses to treat others, but at one point in time he was taught relationships of what was acceptable and not.
            Both your parents were granted the privilege to parent him and their other children too.

            Your mom is reaping a consequence much later on of what wasn’t addressed when you were children-it seems.



          • JoAnn on January 9, 2019 at 11:45 pm

            Aly, Selective respect and consideration of others…. a good way to describe it. I heard someone say, a long time ago, that we should treat our loved ones better than anyone else, because we love them. I had not ever thought of that at the time, but it made sense, and I tried to infuse that idea into my children. (That sure was a long time ago; they are full grown now.) Why wouldn’t you treat your loved ones the best? The bad thing is, that in too many families, there is the thought that the wife is owned by the husband and the children are treated as objects to be treated however the mood dictates. So wrong. When children are treated disrespectfully, they grow up treating others the same way. Others outside the family must be treated well to preserve an image, to keep a job, etc. So, yes, it is selective. And hypocritical.



          • Nancy on January 11, 2019 at 2:31 pm

            Aly,

            You are right on about my mother reaping the consequences of what was not addressed when we were kids. She would openly say that she did not know how to deal with my brother’s bullying of us ( my sister and I).

            He was a kid with a very strong personality and he learned disrespect from my mother who regularly busted emotional boundaries. He abused his power as older (and stronger) brother. My father was virtually absent and my mother was regularly distressed seeing my brother “Lord it over us” ( as she would call it).

            Of course she did not see that his behaviour came directly out of their ( my parents) own dynamics.

            Her way to cope was to teach us to ‘forgive and forget’. This way, there was ‘peace’. NOT!



      • Nancy on January 9, 2019 at 9:30 am

        HI JoAnn, Aly and Julie,

        This podcast from today’s focus on the family. It’s a repeat and I’ve posted this before.
        The title is a bit misleading. Worth listening to

        https://radio.focusonthefamily.ca/broadcasts/saving-your-marriage-from-divorce-part-ii-of-ii

  35. Katherine on January 8, 2019 at 7:29 am

    During one of those outs of doubt filled anxiety riddled sleeplessness crying out to God asking if I should’ve stayed, my phone ‘dinged’ with this letter and answer. Thank you for the reminder of God’s POV. And thank you, God, for sending me Your Word in the middle of night right when I was trying to take my thoughts captive.

    • Chuck on January 8, 2019 at 1:26 pm

      I’m a man in a bad relationship and this letter and answer was why I needed. Thanks Leslie.

      • Chuck on January 8, 2019 at 4:02 pm

        Katherine, I’ve done the same thing lain awake all night praying and begging for answers. Thanks for your reply.

        • JoAnn on January 8, 2019 at 9:08 pm

          Glad you are here, Chuck. I hope that we all can be helpful to you. Would you be willing to share your story with us?

          • Chuck on January 9, 2019 at 7:18 am

            Tentative yes



          • JoAnn on January 9, 2019 at 9:51 am

            Chuck, sharing your story is a big step toward healing. We welcome you in our midst. We have a few other men here, and I hope they will step in to encourage you.



    • Nancy on January 8, 2019 at 2:38 pm

      Praise God, Katherine!

      He is so faithful and intimate ❤️

  36. Sharon on January 8, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Good article! I left, and recently divorced, my husband after 21 years of marriage. I did so for several reasons: doing what it took to stay with him was damaging my soul and faith; I was beginning to fear for my physical safety; and lastly, I didn’t want to be a bad example for my stepdaughters, who are young wives and mothers. They’ve watched their father mistreat me for many, many years, and I didn’t want them to think that the mistreatment was normal or acceptable. They knew I had prayed and had counseled with my pastor over several years, so the decision wasn’t made lightly or without prayer. They sense the peace that I feel and see my return to being active in my church, which my ex-husband made difficult for me to do.

    What I’m saying is what’s the worst example? Is it staying in a relationship that harms you and your spirit? Or is it protecting yourself and leaving the situation after much guidance and prayer?

    Part of what kept me in a destructive relationship for so many years was my ex-husband’s ability to use my weaknesses to keep my under his control. He also used the guilt factor. It is through good, faith-centered counseling that is help me see through those things and to feel better about myself and my decision to leave him. My hope for you is that you continue to pray and to seek out counseling and guidance to guide you through this tough time.

    • JoAnn on January 8, 2019 at 9:12 pm

      Well done, Sharon. I know it wasn’t easy, but you made the best decision. I hope that you can maintain a healthy relationship with the step-daughters. They will benefit from the wisdom you gained from your experiences.

  37. Loretta on January 9, 2019 at 12:43 pm

    My husband wanted his space and moved out for six months. During that time we lost insurance on his vehicle (due to # of accidents he was involved in). I practiced “tough love” with him; for the first time in our marriage. After approx six months he moved back in with me with several stipulations: (1) we were to do marital counseling with him paying for it, (2) he was to make me his #1. His daughter had always been #1 in past years, (3) he was to respect me and never hit me again. Things are going well after about 5 months but he knows I am a different person who will not take anymore abuse (verbal, physical, or emotional). And he totaled my car while driving it last Jan. At this point in time, I have vehicle ins separate from him and will do almost anything to keep him from driving my car. I also suggested and he is not taking psychotropic drugs to calm him down. I will not take anymore bad treatment from him. I have value and worth and with the Lord’s help I know I can make it. God bless any of you women who are having to take abuse from your spouse. Don’t do it. You deserve better and being a child of God you have worth and value.

    • JoAnn on January 15, 2019 at 11:17 am

      Loretta, you set some firm boundaries, and for that I commend you. I hope and pray that you never have to face abuse again, but be careful; it is easy for things to go south quickly when he gets tired of “behaving.”

    • Aly on January 17, 2019 at 11:28 am

      Loretta, JoAnn,

      Loretta what JoAnn mentioned is key. I’m sorry that you have been receiving such abuse by your (h). Please be cautious.
      Some of your timeline is confusing though.
      I’m wondering what your h did to earn back trust and credibility to get you to agree living in proximity to him with stipulations?
      What did your tough love include?

      He sounds dangerous and irresponsible and the evidence of your examples would show a person with long term behavioral traits? These are not quick fixes and often they require a comphrensive treatment plan long term.
      Maybe he does need meds to assist in his brain organ if it is not functioning properly?
      Maybe he has had a brain injury through all these car accidents? Has he been evaluated?

      What are the stipulations is he does try to drive your car?
      If he does treat you poorly? If he does take a medication to calm him down?
      Or not make you #1?

      Actually you being # 1 really isn’t the best place..,
      I might assume you want God to be #1 so he can treat you like you are #2.
      Without God as the #1 it’s out of alignment with other relationships.

      • JoAnn on January 17, 2019 at 1:05 pm

        Good points, Aly. I hope that Loretta takes these things to heart.

  38. Nancy on January 11, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Hi JoAnn, Julie and others here,

    I want to address the concept of ‘forgiving oneself’. It is common to develop judgment of one’s own’s actions. Through counselling, I discovered that I had ‘abandoned’ a younger version of myself because of wrong decisions I had made.

    Then the Lord gave me the passage about the unforgiving debtor. He showed me clearly that I was not passing on the forgiveness that I had received, to this younger version of myself. Doing so has been a major step toward wholeness.

    So, I believe that the concept of forgiving oneself it is absolutely Biblical.

  39. JoAnn on January 11, 2019 at 12:09 pm

    I agree with you, Nancy. Addressing the needs of that “inner child” is a very powerful way to heal your heart, and to become “one” with yourself. That inner child will continue to try to find what she (or he) needs, and that puts us at odds with ourself. When we learn to take care of that younger me, then we enjoy self respect and self love in new and enjoyable ways.

  40. Moon Beam on January 12, 2019 at 5:36 am

    Jane, you asked how long does it take for a spouse to change from there destructive behavior while in counseling for domestic abuse.

    I have been told by a trauma expert to expect to use a three to one ratio. One year of counseling for every three years of the relationship. So, if you were together ten years, the minimum is three years of counseling which must include consequences, accountability partners and structured homework.

  41. Grateful on January 12, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Jane and Julie,
    I think everyone on this blog understands and dare I say, has felt every word you have written of fear, hope, uncertainty, insecurity, doubt, shame, imperfection, etc. We have all lived there b/c we believed it – but something in us – thru the Holy Spirit- knew it wasn’t right, knew something was off but we all still thought and prayed “change me to help or make this marriage work”
    Well, I am here to tell you to read these words, books, blogs, podcasts that we all have gained strength from BUT most importantly read His truth and EXPERIENCE our Lord’s love for you. In all situations there is a BUT GOD – this world and Satan have nothing on HIM. He is a God of truth, a God of reversal, a God of protection. Please don’t wait for anyone to give you permission or tell you what to do b/c this is a fight for your freedom. I promise you , you have underestimated your husband b/c it is what we do – we see the good and have NO idea of the potential that is in them. I used to pray b/c I feared going against my Lord “please make any of my wrongs right” I just wanted His plan for me – and the road has been painful but my friend, the taste of freedom has been greater.
    I am 2 months of being divorced and still have an uphill battle but God’s timing has been impeccable, my strength has grown more then I ever desired it too b/c this is bigger than me. I am fighting for generations to come with my children. The peace has been nothing short of miraculous in my home and I still await for more miracles to come.

    Please don’t sell yourself short of who you have been created for – it was for such a time as this. Keep looking up and not at your circumstances. God is God and His love for you is intense and protective so that you do not have to live a life of fear. Sit back and marvel at His goodness and love just for you. I have lived it – these are not just words that I say lightly but they are words that have been lived out. It is one step, day at a time – don’t write your story – this is only a chapter of it – let Him write it – it will be greater than you ever could have imagined. I am praying for both of you –

    • JoAnn on January 12, 2019 at 12:04 pm

      Thank you, Grateful, your story is so encouraging. I hope the next chapters will be even better.

  42. Starlight on January 12, 2019 at 11:05 am

    The outcome of reconciliation efforts are dependant on the type of person you are dealing with.
    Bad fruit usually does not come from a good tree, good fruit is not usually forthcoming from a bad tree. Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks & even a child is known by his actions, Usually a ‘bad’ person cannot become good except by repentance & God’s spirit coming in and transforming him and usually a microscope or 3 years is not needed to see that type of transformation.
    John Neufeld on Back to the Bible Canada gave such a clear message about this on Friday Jan. 11/19 – it really is worth the listen!

  43. Mindy on January 13, 2019 at 8:40 pm

    I miss my husband. He has done a lot of terrible things but he is not evil. I knew a wonderful side of him and that is hard to forget. I know that I can’t go back to him. I drive myself crazy wishing I could try one more time. My therapist reminds me that statistically he was never likely to stop being abusive. Especially since he did not want to change anything about himself or our relationship (what he told a DV psychologist). Even knowing that, I still love him and miss him every day. For those of you with more experience when will this go away?

    • Aly on January 14, 2019 at 7:15 am

      Hi Mindy,
      I’m sorry for your pain. I can’t say that my pain has been identical maybe others who have lost a spouse the way you have can Post a reply.

      I do think that we all grieve differently and certainly in all stages.
      I think given your experience it would be wise for you to surround yourself around others that love and support you and also understand what you have been through. Being around others that could see the abusive behavior and the pain I was going through was pivotal for my reality.

      You have had a lot of trauma in your marital experience with the spouse as the offender.
      It’s normal that you would miss the good times or the happy moments, but it’s important to remind yourself of your husbands choices:

      His choices & his refusal to address his issues through his actions and his words to the DV counselor.
      Mindy, isn’t valueable enough to me to earn back her trust and relationship.
      Is this an individual you want to miss or spend time thinking about? See you care more about this relationship than he does based on your actions to get help, get better and safer.

      He doesn’t want what God would ‘call actual relationship’ he wants what would be called dysfunctional and unhealthy.
      Healthy loving caring people understand this.

      Mindy, he doesn’t see or care that his way of thinking is damaged and abusive. He is not the one receiving the behavior. His mindset is not a safe place to be around let alone being a spouse of.

      Overtime and what YOU do in your own recovery I believe the pain will change. Focus on your heart and healing. Drawing closer to Jesus’s love and seeing just how valuable and loved by Him, you might begin to see your worth and identity get rooted.
      Some of your beliefs about what is evil behavior might need further evaluation from that point on.

      Rest in knowing God’s love is true and rich for your heart. Your precious to Him, your worthy of love and care… not just part of the time.
      Please look into Trauma Bonding and work with your counselor. It will get better, if you want to choose better for yourself.

    • Autumn on January 14, 2019 at 7:44 am

      The wonderful side was an act, a mask he used to trick you and other people. You may be influenced by the lure and fantasy of your husband, but he only used you, not loved you. I am glad you are in counseling. When you explore the Bible for teaching about love you will see it is constant, not just at certain times.

  44. JoAnn on January 13, 2019 at 11:51 pm

    Mindy, I really sympathize with your dilemma. You knew wonderful times with him and what he was capable of–both good and bad. Can you offer that love you still feel for him and those good memories up to the Lord as a sacrifice of praise? Even visually lay your whole relationship with your ex on the altar, and allow the Lord to do what He will with them. I had to offer up a loved one many years ago, and the Lord told me very clearly that He had put that love in my heart and it was His to remove. Then it was gone. The pain was gone! I still have the good memories, but the pain of the separation was gone.
    An abusive marriage is an abusive marriage. You do not deserve to be abused….at all. Not one bit. Not one time. Your trying is not going to make it work. I don’t agree that he is not evil. A person who does evil things to a woman he is commanded by God to love and cherish is, in fact, evil. Don’t make excuses for him. And don’t make that marriage an idol. Let it go, so you can be free to move forward. I encourage you to buy and read Dr. Ramona Probasco’s book, “Healing Well and Living Free from an Abusive Relationship.” It is an excellent book for women in just your situation.

    • Nancy on January 14, 2019 at 6:12 am

      Mindy, JoAnn has given you excellent advice.

      It reminds me of 1 John 4:19- we love because He first loved us.

      ALL that we have belongs to The Lord. Even our love for others. What a wonderful way to look at it.

      There’s wisdom too in “don’t make excuses for him and don’t make that marriage an idol”. These things are so easy to do.

  45. Mindy on January 14, 2019 at 7:53 am

    Aly, JoAnn, and Nancy, thank you all so much for your wise counsel. I really relate to the idea that God put this love in my heart and will remove it when He deems it the right time. I will look into trauma bonding and learn all I can. I will buy the Dr Ramona book. Nancy, if you knew what that bible verse means to me! It is clear that the Holy Spirit inspired these messages.

    • Aly on January 14, 2019 at 8:37 am

      Mindy,
      Praise God for this and your willingness to see and learn.
      I love that you experienced hearing from Nancy a life giving scripture:
      1 John 4:19

      What Autumn wrote also is key even though it’s hard to wrap your head around.
      The word ‘abuse’ means to mis -use, use others etc.
      Autumn said, “he used you.”
      He did and he has no remorse in action to be appalled by his behavior. The biblical covenantal marriage is Broken by his treatment of you. He betrayed his vows with God and you.

      One of my best moments in dealing with an abuser was saying I missed some of the times I thought were true and loving, (these Times are what made me think they were safe) …but I will never miss the abuse, being USED, being mis -used/mistreated.

      An abuser is good at making you think your the one with high standards of treatment. An abuser will want you to compromise on what kind of treatment you will tolerate from them. They have to be in power and control – which often is really being ‘out of control’.
      They need someone they can mistreat – this keeps them feeling powerful and blocks them from their own pain they don’t want to face.

      You need to look at your exSpouse as a coward in actions. That’s harsh but that’s my description of what I read in your posts. You can pray that he will surrender to the Lord, but his choice is to abuse, and that’s the cowardly response to me.
      He has earned the consequences of losing his spouse. Be sad for him (just a tad) but not too sad because he was invited into health and healing and he refused!

      • Mindy on January 14, 2019 at 9:01 am

        Yes thank you Autumn. Your comment was hidden when I last replied. I have such a hard time considering him an abuser. His abuse was so covert that it took me 4 years to realize there was anything wrong. My lawyer told me it was the worst case of controlling behavior she had ever seen (She has 30 years of experience). That was a big shock to me. I still have trouble believing he intended to do anything wrong. I’m finding it hard to heal from this when I still doubt what actually happened. I should probably mention that God told me it was abuse. That message was reaffirmed by several Christian friends. I’m thinking that for some reason I am intentionally not allowing myself to consider this abuse. Maybe my mind is protecting me from the harsh reality. I know this will end as I process but it is so hard to overcome.

        • Aly on January 14, 2019 at 9:15 am

          Mindy,
          You wrote:
          “I still have trouble believing he intended to do anything wrong. I’m finding it hard to heal from this when I still doubt what actually happened.”

          I think so many of us here can relate to what you are feeling especially cognitively.

          Here is what helped me,
          It is irrelevant whether a person is intenting to cause harm/pain… what is relevant is their response to you exposing it.

          Many abusers have these mindsets that if it’s NOT intentional than they are not responsible for their behavior or consequences.
          Don’t you think this also. It will get you into their mindset of reasoning with this type of thinking.

        • JoAnn on January 14, 2019 at 1:50 pm

          Mindy, God told you it was abuse, and yet you are having trouble believing even Him? Even after it was confirmed by Christian friends? I think that is something you need to deal with in your heart. Ask yourself why you continue to question that diagnosis. You need the answer to that question.

          • Aly on January 14, 2019 at 2:19 pm

            JoAnn,
            This is such a wise question. I hope it helps Mindy find another step of freedom in her journey.



    • JoAnn on January 14, 2019 at 1:43 pm

      Mindy, I believe the Lord will sever the chords of love when you are ready for Him to do that. Place your ex into the Lord’s hands and let Him deal with the man according to His way: righteousness tempered with mercy.

  46. JoAnn on January 14, 2019 at 1:39 pm

    Good point, Aly… Intent is irrelevant; as soon as you speak up and tell the abuser that he is hurting you, then his response shows whether or not it was intentional. If I accidentally step on your toe (not intentional), then I will quickly apologize and step away, showing concern. If I “meant” to do it, I’ll do it again until you move away from me so that I can’t do it again. At that point, it’s your responsibility to stay far enough away that I can’t step on your toe again. You, Mindy and others, have gotten far enough away so that you can’t be abused anymore. Wise move!

  47. Karen on January 14, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    Mindy- The FOG we all talk about is exactly what You and probably many, many others are surely experiencing right now. We all question whether what we experienced was “actually” abuse or not. The cycles that include beautiful, happy, kind times make us question the bad times – the very bad and painful and dysfunctional and abusive times. Those bad times are real. They end but always come back again. I, personally, was never physically abused (as in, I was never slapped or punched or pushed, etc.), but the verbal and emotional abuse affects our bodies regardless and therefore becomes physical. Journaling the bad times especially helps to ground us and remember that you were REALLY abused and need to free yourself of that.
    My sister used to help me stay grounded and clear-headed by listing “Facts.” She would literally enumerate the “facts” of my relationship and say to me, “Fact. He did xxxx; Fact: he did xxxx; Facr: he has NOT done xxxx, etc” maybe you could make yourself a list of the “Facts” of your relationship.

    Good luck Dear One! What you are experiencing is normal.

    • Aly on January 15, 2019 at 8:59 am

      Karen,
      I’ve been thinking about your post and it was very well said.
      I’m sorry for what you have been through, I can relate and I’m so thankful that you had your sister helping you see Facts.
      Facts are SO important but many who are disordered and who abuse at times are not very interested in focusing on facts.
      I also think if they do want to focus on facts their recollections or versions of events are often skewed.
      Making it completely frustrating to hold someone accountable for behavior. Often they are dodging, loop-holing, sliming their way around the truth, it’s very hard if not impossible and unhealthy to want to cozy up to this kind of individual.

      When I decided to deal only in facts I was accused of keeping a record of wrongs! I was then told that my behavior in doing so was revealing my unforgiving heart! I wonder if others have had these tactics used against them in such a spiritual way that sometimes you do question things and often it is what pulls the ‘more sensitive conscious one’ back into the cycle.

      Not knowing context of scripture was an added area of abuse for me. Once I learned more and studied more I was then ridiculed for studying more and gaining a better understanding of my faith and my beliefs.
      Those who abuse the faith even if they are not intending to do so or are ignorant about what stances and beliefs they have will always be threatened when challenged.
      Not ‘intending’ or being ignorant is their responsibility and someday as scripture promises they will be held accountable. I will also be held accountable for how I chose to participate or not participate with these types of individuals.

      Karen, you said above those abusive times are real, then end and then come back again.
      I agree with you for much of this.
      If they come back again, then I think we can say factually to a victim/survivor that they didn’t end, they recalibrated.
      I think this is an important place where we think carefully about our words to ourselves.
      The word ‘end’. To me …means it has stopped, my brain believes it won’t repeat.. so then it’s much easier to consider The possibilities of negotiating or giving the abuser another chance?

      I really like how you said that the verbal and emotional abuse affects our bodies and therefor becomes physical abuse. Even if it’s a ‘secondary effect’ its an effect that I think many of us can relate to.
      To many in the church body and some even in counseling, do not think of abuse this way and often continue to abuse the victim by not intervening and giving the offender more freedom and a sort of spiritual permission to continue on.
      In general the church body is desensitized, misguided, and not appalled by these things. Nor are they motivated and passionate to learn more of God’s character and kingdom callings.

      • Karen on January 15, 2019 at 9:51 am

        Hi All,

        Aly and Joanne, thank you for your affirmation. God is so good to give us one another.

        As far as using “facts” as a reference point as we go through this season, I agree that my abusive H would not be amenable to hearing “my” facts; neither would he either agree with them or agree with my perception of their significance. I have finally learned, however, after 27 years of marriage not to bother trying to speak “logic” and “rationality” into his life and “our” relationship. He rejects, twists, bullies, bosses, etc. I’m sure we have probably all experienced that.

        I use facts, therefore, for myself because I know the truth of what I have experienced and the Truth of God’s love for me and for my husband and our kids and us all. Those facts help me maintain clarity and stay out of the fog.

        I am so sad to have to agree with you, Aly, about our churches’ responses, in the vast majority, to the abuse other than black eyes and prostitutes and porn. I can only believe that part of the “why” for my/our experience is to help to make that different -one life at a time.

        Bless you all today!

      • JoAnn on January 15, 2019 at 11:02 am

        Aly, I agree with what you said about facts. Really, they are useful only for the victim, to be a reality check for her. The abuser is not going to allow himself to be confronted with facts. In the case of physical abuse, the only fact that will matter to him is being arrested and put into custody, with documents of the damage.

    • Mindy on January 15, 2019 at 10:01 am

      Hi Karen, thank you for your response. I appreciated you explaining how emotional abuse affects us physically. I had a painful health condition that got so bad during my marriage that I had to undergo several surgical operations. Now I believe the intense pain was largely due to my feeling vulnerable and hurt. I wish more people could understand the real dangers of emotional and spiritual abuse.

  48. JoAnn on January 14, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Very well said, Karen. Thanks!

  49. Ann on January 15, 2019 at 9:25 am

    I’m jumping in for the first time but have been following the extremely helpful posts throughout . There is such wisdom and comfort in these exchanges.
    Aly, what you said about “ keeping a record of wrongs” and not forgiving is spot on in terms of the responses we often get from the abuser and well meaning friends. It certainly kept me stuck for awhile but as I went through the very contentious divorce I had to give facts of emotional abuse . It was traumatizing but freeing . I found that keeping a record of wrongs happens when there hasn’t been acknowledgement or repentance. Yet we know we must forgive or we can’t move on. It’s hard work and one that only the Spirit can do, I believe.
    Thanks for all the wisdom and “comfort with the comfort you’ve been given” from you all contributing to this dialogue.

    • JoAnn on January 15, 2019 at 11:05 am

      Thanks for “jumping in” Ann. Your experience matters here, and we welcome your input.

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