Morning friends,

I had a bad fall today. I slipped on some rocks and fell on a large boulder. Thankfully landing on my rear end and hands and not my head. But it reminded me just how quickly things can change and how fragile our life is. The psalmist prayed, “Teach me to number my days, O Lord, so that I may present to you a heart of wisdom.”(Psalm 90:12)  

Here’s a new picture of Addie. She loves burrowing under this rug.

This Week’s Question: I am in an emotionally destructive at times and disappointing all the time marriage to a man who could best be described as a Christian, but an emotionally immature, therefore “unsafe” person. Most conflicts are never resolved. He takes very little responsibility for his part in the marriage (except financial).

My question is this. How do I best handle this situation in regards to outside relationships (our church, friends, family)? His approach is if we have a disagreement or things are bad to just ignore it, still go to church, or have that social engagement and act like everything is normal.

In his mind, he thinks it is…he says our problems don't affect him. They greatly distress me and I consistently have to either go to the social event while putting my hurt feelings and thoughts on the back burner or not attend because I'm too upset. When I do the latter, he gets mad at me.

Basically, I believe he wants the benefits of a good marriage without doing the hard work to earn it.

I need a healthy social life outside of my marriage, but I don't feel I should tell each person about our situation. I also don't want to drive others away that could possibly be of help to us by being in fellowship with them (mature Christians).

Any counsel on this would be appreciated. Thank you.

Answer: So I hear your primary question is “who do I tell and how much do I tell people about my marriage and my husband”? Your unasked question seems to be “what should I do when I have social obligations or commitments and my husband and I are in the middle of a disagreement or things are yucky between us.”

First, I don’t believe that you have to be naked in order to be authentic. What I mean by that is just like you don’t take all your clothes off in front of everyone, not everyone needs to know everything that’s going on with you or your marriage.  That is not wise or safe.

However, what you don’t want to do is pretend you are something you’re not or live a lie.

When you have a regular pattern of pretending things are fine with you and/or your marriage when that’s not the truth, it will come back to bite you in one way or another. When you do finally break down and tell the truth about your marriage, a lot of people who know you, including your own children, may not believe what you say about your spouse or marriage because you were such a good actress for so long. They may doubt your story and sometimes even your sanity.  

It’s important for you to understand that God isn’t asking you to lie and pretend just to keep up the appearance of a good marriage or relationship. God values honesty and truth. “Love does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices when the truth wins out. “ (1 Corinthians 13:6) Click To Tweet

That doesn’t mean it’s okay to publically humiliate your spouse by posting all of his faults on Facebook, but it may mean that if you do need to go to a social event with him and things are yucky between you, that you don’t feel pressured to “pretend” everything is great.

Yes, there may be times where you do need to put your feelings on the back burner for a bit to do something together, but you can attend together without contributing to a “happy couple” story. If someone you’re with happens to notice that you don’t seem like yourself or asks “what’s wrong” you can honestly say, “We had a fight that’s not yet resolved” or “pray for us, our marriage is not doing well” and leave it at that. If they press for more and you don’t want to say more, you can simply say, “I’d rather not talk about it.” That’s being authentic without getting naked.

You also said that he claims that the marriage problems don't affect him and he can function just fine that way. But does it matter to him that they bother you?  That you aren’t like him and it does affect you and that you can’t “pretend” things are fine when they are not?

Many couples have disagreements and still show care and respect for one another. They can agree to disagree without disparaging or shaming the other’s viewpoint. Have you asked him what kind of marriage he wants? And is he willing to do the work to make that happen? If not, then what does that mean for you?

For a long time, we’ve been told that it’s disloyal to our partner, to tell the truth about our marriage or the ugly dark realities of what our spouse does. But Ephesians 5:11 encourages us not to “participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness but rather expose them.”  

Your exposing darkness is not to shame or blame or judge your spouse as if you are better than he is. The exposing is done to take a stand against the darkness.  Your silence can imply acceptance, consent, or even endorsement. We see in the research on bullying that silence on the part of the victim or even the bystander only empowers the bully. Martin Luther King said, “It was not the words of our enemies that hurt the most but the silence of our friends.”  

Sadly the church has tried to stay neutral around issues of abuse, even at times silencing a victim so that she doesn’t speak out against her abuser. But that is not God’s way.

So if you have a trusted pastor, marriage mentor, counselor, or someone you can safely confide in, please tell the truth. Ask for help. If not for your marriage, at least for you.  

I also agree that you need a strong, godly supportive group of wise women who know you and understand what you’re living in. They don’t have to know all the dirty details but they do need to understand the nature of the problems you’re struggling with so that they will know how to encourage you and pray for you.

Friends, what helped you to stop pretending everything was fine when it was not fine and, to tell the truth, first to yourself and then to trusted others?

35 Comments

  1. Annie on April 24, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    To the question asker I identify strongly with your description of your marriage at the beginning.
    Starting to admit to others was a huge step for me because the whole reason I am in this mess is because I believed the lie Leslie mentions about being disloyal if you reveal anything negative. Add that to my perfectionist upbringing. I started going to counselling because I was coming to the end of my emotional resources. I told myself , if I cant fix my marriage at least I can become a better me to cope with my life the way it is. This is when I learned I was in a EDR and what that meant. Skipping forward quickly I studied alot, set boundaries, in home seperation and gray rock, and now have virtually no social life and a very neutral boring marriage. Recently brought up trying to make it better but the only solution he will accept is just going back to the way things were and I’m bad because I wont forgive his imaginary offenses. I find it weird that he doesnt want to split up either.

    His fear of accountability has isolated us pretty good from old friends and family so I am starting over again. If I see old friends and they ask I admit we are not doing well but dont go into alot of details. It kind of more feels like I am preparing them so if I do ever leave it will not be a shock to them. Mostly I find people are sad your life is hard but cant enter into it with you and become a supportive person longterm.

    Making friends is hard because most people want to relate as couples. Larger family get togethers are no fun for me, a few know, some dont. When I look at the parents and the siblings marriages, nobody has a good one, one is definately EDR. Mostly I interact with others at the gathering, join different conversations than him. I never know if he is going to be anti social or the life of the party. Family used to come to me and ask to explain his anti social behavior, now , I dont cover for him, just say Idk you need to ask him. Everything I do, I do alone. Even what I do is difficult because of course I fit the pattern of health problems of undiagnosable pain, fatigue, anxiety that make it hard to volunteer, or take up a new hobby or the large amount of socializing you have to do before you actually encounter real friends. Hard to find a new church because I dont know what I will encounter re opinions on EDrs. But I am really trying to find a place that pulls me closer to God so I keep trying.

    I would love a supportive group of strong godly women. I have one in my life but dont see her much as she has her own busy life. I feel like a broken record and very needy and try quite hard to be attentive and interactive to her as well when we are together.

    • Deborah on April 28, 2019 at 8:28 pm

      Annie what about Celebrate Recovery? I have read in some of my Christian Facebook groups for narcissistic abuse that the women have attended this group andbit really helped them. A locaal church near me has a weekky meeting which I know I should at least try and give it a chance.

  2. Autumn on April 24, 2019 at 3:36 pm

    Annie, Why do you stay in this relationship?

    • Annie on April 25, 2019 at 12:41 pm

      Autumn,
      Im trying to wrap my brain and heart around that, I had an upbringing that D was only for physical abuse, and maybe adultery as long as you tried to forgive and save your marriage first. D for ’emotional immaturity’ is way more intangible. This fits with the question above in deciding how much to tell others. Those I have told I feel like I have to tell them lots of stories before they understand. Its like Leslie describes that we all respond incorrectly to our spouses, its just how we go forward from there and if their behavior becomes repetitive or intentional that makes it emotionally abusive.
      I feel like God is telling me ‘ not yet’, so I am trying my best to survive and also grow until that changes.

    • Annie on April 26, 2019 at 11:32 pm

      Autumn my first reply never showed up here so I will try again.
      I was raised that D was only for physical abuse and maybe adultery as long as you tried really hard to forgive first. D for emotional immaturity is a lot more intangible. It kinda fits with the question asked on this post because I usually have to tell lots of anecdotes before someone really gets it. Leslie describes it when she says we all do stuff in marriage that is not great but it becomes abusive when it is a pattern that is repeated without remorse or perhaps with intention. So telling people enough so they see the pattern becomes alot of stories. Also since I am not engaging in anything that meaningful anymore there is less really bad behavior to draw boundaries for, but also no reason to trust again.
      I think God is telling me “not yet”. So i’m just trying to figure out how to get through this part as well as grow as a person

    • Annie on May 1, 2019 at 2:37 am

      I’m surprised more people have not told their stories here in answer to Leslies question. Telling yourself the truth and telling others your truth are such pivotal moments in this situation. I think it would be helpful to hear others stories to readers who are still living in secrecy maybe struggling with ‘ who should I ask for help’ or ‘ who can I trust with this truth’, be it counsellor, friend, church, abuse hotline, family, police. The first people you reach out to can make a huge difference in whether you feel supported or shamed. Also helpful to those wondering how to speak with family, friends , children about it as time goes on, and when and how much. Lots of stories give lots of perspectives.

      • Tamara Soto on May 2, 2019 at 8:42 am

        A cautionary approach is best. How would it affect your situation if your husband found out what you said?
        Psalm 15 describes those who abide with the Lord are those who do not backbite nor take up a reproach against their friend. Even when you are not getting along your spouse probably married you because they thought you were a special friend. Sometimes telling the truth can be perceived as gossip, slander or backbiting. We are not to let our good be spoken of as evil. If you feel you need to “vent” that should be the time you cast your burdens upon the lord. Proverbs informs us that a wife who shames her husband is as rottenness in his bones. We may have no intention of shaming him maliciously, still, sin is shameful. So when dealing with conflict and sin it is best to take it to the Lord first in prayer. Ask Him to show you what to do and help you handle it to God’s glory. If Matthew 18 applies and your husband has sinned against you first you should go to him in gentleness. I find most of the time I sin in response to his sin, so first I must get the log out of my eye. Approaching him in contrite confession sometimes opens the door for the Lord to convict him.
        Sometimes we are married to someone the world may call a narcissist, but Proverbs calls a scoffer. Such a person does not hear rebuke nor go for counseling. They are often easily angry and characterized by pride. Proverbs warns us not to correct a scoffer or they will hate you. It also says “If you scoff you alone shall bear it.”
        A scoffer doesn’t love one who corrects him. Personally I see 1 Peter 3 in play here. Win them without a word by your godly conduct. Only God can grant repentance and true change.

        Try to keep the “circle” of those who know limited to those who can help (pastor and one or two godly older women). Ask your pastor for help finding someone with whom you can share and that can support, encourage and pray for and with you.
        If you can be honest to others beyond that small circle, without shaming him that is the most peaceful route. Love covers a multitude of sins. Just say, “I can use a lot of prayer.”
        Once you are able to get to the place where you are completely resting your hope on His grace and goodness despite the circumstances, when you get asked, “How are you doing?” A good reply is “leaning on the everlasting arms!” Or “His grace is sufficient for me,” or God has given me the privilege to partake in the sufferings of Jesus.” It conveys life isn’t perfect but you are hoping and resting in the Lord. And you will be respecting not shaming your man.

        • Leslie Vernick on May 3, 2019 at 12:48 am

          Win them without a word by your godly conduct has been traditionally taught to Christian women as “lie and pretend”. So what would real godly conduct look like in this instance? Certainly not repaying evil for evil (Romans 12:21) but it also might look like “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness but rather expose them (Ephesians 5:11). It also might look like Peter talks about in 1 Peter 2:20 when he tells those who suffer to suffer for the right reason – “when you suffer for doing good.” What is good in these cases? Is it to lie and pretend? Is it to challenge a husband’s wrong thinking or wrong behavior in the hopes that he will come to his senses and repent? I’m not talking minor offenses here. But things that destroy marriages and homes and lives. These things have been swept under the carpet too long and individuals with these kinds of sin patterns have been “patted” with grace and love and have not been taught that tough consequences follow stupid and destructive behaviors. Consequences are meant to wake us up. To tell us to STOP and turn around and repent. When we are overly accommodating to destructive individuals we are not helping them, not helping our relationship and certainly are damaging our own selves. It’s like indulging a spoiled child. Not wise.

          • Cathy on January 22, 2020 at 6:13 am

            Brilliant Leslie 🙂



  3. DEL 37 on April 24, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    I also strongly relate to this post. For a second I thought I was reading my own story. A couple weeks ago I was listening to Dr. Barbara’s Whole Life Podcast and found Leslies interview on EDM. I immediately purchased her book and have been reading and journaling everyday. This is year 26 for me and desperation to change has been motivated by our youngest 12yr old daughter questioning why her dad disrespects me. I have a sense of urgency that I did not have before. I am chapter 8 of EDM and find myself asking the same questions. Who can I tell and how much? I don’t have any family in a position to help me in any way if I needed to leave our home. This blog has also been a great help, reading through comments and suggestions given I also found Patrick Doyle. Taking it on day at time and committed to building my CORE.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 24, 2019 at 7:22 pm

      Welcome, glad you’re here.

      • JoAnn on April 24, 2019 at 7:50 pm

        Leslie, I am sorry about your fall. You might realize more repercussions after a few days, so please be attentive to your body.
        I’m glad you are enjoying your new puppy, but they sure are a lot of work. Just like kids, they do eventually grow up.

        • Suzanne on April 25, 2019 at 4:58 pm

          Ditto to what JoAnn said, Leslie. Sometimes the next day’s aches tell you exactly how you fell. A warm bath with epsom salts and some lavender might ease you into a good night’s sleep. You do so much for others. Remember to care for you!

    • Annie on April 26, 2019 at 11:37 pm

      DEL. I’m sure you will find alot of good help here, especially if you go back through old blog posts as well, and her videos on facebook. I wish I knew what I know now when my kids were 12.

  4. Debbie on April 26, 2019 at 9:39 am

    Leslie, so sorry to hear about your fall, it’s a blessing you weren’t hurt more seriously.

    Anne, I totally understand your situation, mine is very similar. My husband refused to talk to me about anything I bring up.
    We just had this conversation yesterday. And to why he can’t talk to me without getting nasty and manipulating me with the nastiness. I told him it hurts me and I can’t deal with it anymore. For him just to talk to me, asked him why he couldn’t. Told him I need to understand why. He did not say one word. That’s always the response I get. We never can talk about any relationship issues, he won’t talk. Nothing ever really changes. We have no social life either.
    And I haven’t been able to make any good friends connections in years. I can’t seem to find a church that fits since we moved.
    My heart goes out to you. As I experience the same frustrations year after year.
    We do some things together. But we so limited because my husband had just let his health go.

  5. Hope on April 26, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Leslie, please do take care of yourself and heal well from your tumble! I’m praying for you regularly, asking God to bless and protect you. You’re doing such beautiful, balanced work for Jesus in an area of life many wouldn’t dare to risk touching. I can’t thank you enough for all you pour out, especially for those of us in destructive relationships, trying to learn how to stay well or leave well. Your wisdom and biblical insights have been helping me find my way through this very rocky terrain day by day. Thank you, thank you! Hope there are many reminders this week that you’re greatly loved by God and so many other sisters too.

  6. Content on April 27, 2019 at 8:51 am

    I was allowed to share marital problems with one friend when we were married. I believe I was allowed to share with her because my ex knew that this friend bought heavily into the message of wives submitting in an unhealthy way and no divorce ever (this friend and her parents are avid Bill Gothard followers)…

    As I separated, I told a handful of people the general reason but two and a half years later, I am being even more bold about why our marriage fell apart – in the right contexts, of course. If the subject of my divorce comes up, I don’t feel a need to try to hide the facts. I no longer care to protect his image at all and in some ways, feel even convicted that being quiet about it is NOT the right thing to do. There is this feeling of the necessity to expose the darkness – or at least not to cooperate with the tactics of the darkness. This has recently carried over into the way I’m relating to him when we are forced to be together at various functions. For a time, if he inserted himself in a conversation I was having with family members or other people, I would just smile along and keep up this lie that somehow we were friendly exes. Now I’m choosing to simply walk away. I am 100% convinced that he does these things to keep up his image. He even got angry at me when we first separated because I didn’t come out and greet him and the kids in the driveway one day when he brought the kids back to me (I used to greet him in the driveway when he came home from work etc).

    I am respectful if conversation must take place in public but I will no longer be a part of him trying to portray this image of being a nice, friendly guy who is on friendly terms with his ex.

    Saying all of that, I do see the difference in where I am in my journey and where the writer of the question is. There is a time where you are hoping for reconciliation and it feels like you could jeopardize that by being open about the facts. But honestly, this journey is just highlighting to me how truth is paramount (that has been a key phrase for me through all of this). Darkness must be exposed so truth will prevail. How can that truly happen when we are so concerned about the fallout from truth being exposed? So we remain quiet and protect images – images that need to come crashing down and that, until they do, will only keep the abuser and the victim in further bondage.

    • Content on April 28, 2019 at 11:03 am

      As I’ve thought about this more, Lysa TerKeurst’s situation has come to mind. Talk about a bold move when she separated from her husband a couple of years ago. I know there was a lengthy period of time where she was taking each next step in the process…counseling, getting others involved, etc. But when she finally separated, she was not shy about calling his sin out in an extremely public way. I’m sure she was highly criticized for that but isn’t it interesting that exposing the darkness led to her husband coming to a place of repentance?

      • Nancy on April 28, 2019 at 3:11 pm

        I agree with everything you’ve written here, Content. And yes, it is the most loving thing to do for all involved, to shine light into dark places.

        After all, it is the TRUTH that sets us free.

  7. Living in my car on April 28, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Anyone have any experience with stalking? When separation is ordered by the court and one’s abusive spouse remains obsessed with your every move, what do you do? The authorities are aware of his behaviors but they can’t be everywhere. Has a anyone created multiple residences, changed their name or lived continually on the run? I have about three years of this under my belt. I an wondering if anyone else is living like this.

    • Ruth on April 29, 2019 at 10:51 am

      Dear sister, I don’t really have advice but I didn’t want to read about your terrible situation and not reply anything.
      Do you have children together?
      I assume you’ve filed a restraining order? What are the details of the RO? Like if he’s found violating it can he be prosecuted for harassment?
      Please do not reconcile with him under any circumstances. 😬

    • JoAnn on April 30, 2019 at 11:51 pm

      Living in my car, I am so very sorry for the life you are being forced to live right now. I agree with Ruth about the RO, and if you aren’t documenting his activities, then you must do so. Take photos with your phone, save messages, etc. But try not to be governed by fear. Pray for the Lord to be your Protector, which He is, but you must remind yourself that He covers you. Is his stalking really dangerous, or is it mainly aggravating? Does he threaten you? If it’s really aggravation, then I suggest you do whatever you can to ignore his efforts. Don’t let him make you angry. Anger wins, so don’t let him do that to you. That’s just what he’s trying to do: make you mad and scared. Don’t give him that satisfaction. Let the peace of Christ arbitrate in your heart. (Col. 3:15) He loves you and wants to hold you in His arms and give you peace. His peace.

  8. One step at a time on April 30, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    I can relate to too much of what is discussed in this post and other posts. What do you say to your school-age and teen children when you separate? My husband acts narcissistic and my kids know something isn’t right and his behavior is not good as it is at times verbally and emotionally abusive (although the kids don’t always realize that as they are used to it, even though it isn’t all the time– It is consistent enough.). I don’t want them thinking I’m separating because of petty stuff. They don’t know I’m working on separating and he and they won’t know until it happens. They have at times asked me why I don’t separate to which I have just replied that if that ever happens it is a decision I must make and not anyone else. I also wonder if it will help them to cope if they had a name for their father’s behavior. I expect my husband to badmouth me something awful, so they will most likely hear a lot more lies about me from him than they already do.

    • Free on May 1, 2019 at 10:00 am

      Yes, tell them the truth. Tell them the disorder. They probably already know. They have talked to their friends, teachers and coaches. They have been comparing their life to their own for a while. Just tell the truth. They will tell you stop if they don’t want to know. When they do say, stop, you will know where their denial lies. Go gentle, speak the truth, getting out of denial takes time often years. If Dad is truly as sick as he seems his behaviors will speak for themselves. Don’t cover for his bad behaviors and don’t embellish stories or use your kids as therapists. My thoughts…

      • Nancy on May 1, 2019 at 10:36 am

        I agree with Free and would highlight what she said about not using your kids as a therapist. It’s especially important to get into counselling as well as find one or two trusted friends who you CAN lean on.

        Don’t lean on your kids and tell them the truth. It will take work to not cross that line.

        God bless you as you walk daily with Him.

        • One step at a time on May 1, 2019 at 1:42 pm

          Thank you. Yes, I do have trusted friends I can lean on and have received counseling. As to telling my kids the truth…have any of you done that and had your kids then tell their dad what you have told them? I’m concerned that it could backfire. The info I’ve read online has been to not tell a narcissistic person that they are narcissistic or they will then study up on the disorder and use their knowledge to even more manipulate you. Perhaps I have to keep it more general and tell the kids something like “your dad appears to have a personality disorder and that is why he acts the way he does…” There is also the concern that if I tell someone else they can tell him.

          • Alicia Kaylee on May 1, 2019 at 2:16 pm

            One Step at a Time, I have talked with my kids (pre-teen and young adults) about what the issues are with my husband. I have not given it a name (and wouldn’t advise naming it), but rather told them the truth that some of things dad says (or does) aren’t ok to say (or do), and made sure to only use concrete examples that they have witnessed or there is proof of. My pre-teen has definitely been going back and forth with information of what the other parent has said, so I have been very careful with what I say. I do believe it is important that they hear it from you what is not ok behaviour or things said, because they need to know that they can trust their perceptions of what their gut is most likely already telling them. it will validate their understanding of what truth is. But, you will need to trust your own gut as to when it will be best to talk with your kids about it all. Part of this whole process is learning to trust our own instincts, as, I believe God speaks to our hearts in that way if we have a relationship with Him. And, talking with your friends and counsellor can also help you figure out what will be best in your particular situation…..just keep paying attention to your heart…think about what resonates with you as truth?



          • JoAnn on May 7, 2019 at 9:17 pm

            One Step, I agree with Alicia Kaylee. Stick to the facts as much as possible when talking with the kids about their father’s behavior, and when you do, try to get them to talk about how it makes them feel when they see their dad doing/saying that. Validate their reality. Kids are all the time trying to make sense of their world, and if we don’t guide them as they try to understand, they often draw the wrong conclusions.



  9. Shari on April 30, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    Annie and DEL,

    Wow I too felt like I was reading my own story. Annie the relationship you describe with your husband sounds so very similar to mine. I feel somewhat alone in my situation because I have become socially isolated due to my own “undiagnosable” health problems (digestive, migraines, fatigue), the two of having completely different types of friends and therefore have never had “couple” friends, and my husband’s antisocial tendencies (has always wanted to leave immediately after church instead of lingering to talk.) Also we live in the area my husband is from and my family and childhood friends are hours away in another state. Another reason I have distanced myself from others is because I feel embarrassed or ashamed of our marriage and its very uncomfortable to pretend, although we do for family gatherings. My reason for staying is my son and finances. I having a very hard time imagining breaking up my son’s home and I don’t feel confident about working full time again when I don’t feel I can rely on my body to be strong and healthy. I have taken the Intro to Core and really has helped me and I need to continue to strengthen my CORE by reading Leslie’s book and hopefully taking another coaching course. I also need a group of mature Christian women to share and spend time with but have not found one locally. I’m so grateful to read everyone’s stories and know that I’m not alone.

    Leslie, sorry to hear about your fall. I hope you’re better soon. BTW I have a golden doodle named Molly who is my love! She gives me so much comfort. Enjoy your furry friend!

    • Moon Beam on May 3, 2019 at 5:59 am

      It is very likely that your medical issues are a direct result of your inability to escape a destructive relationship. So many health issues are resolved when the body is no longer being deluged with stress hormones.

  10. SteVee on May 2, 2019 at 11:02 pm

    Hi Leslie,

    I am so sorry to hear about your fall. It sounds like it may “only” be soft tissue damage, but that can take so very long to heal and not be tender. 🙁 I’ll be praying for your recovery.

    Addie is adorable. It is so fun to watch puppies play under a rug. The unrestrained fun they have is life-giving.

    “Friends, what helped you to stop pretending everything was fine when it was not fine and, to tell the truth, first to yourself and then to trusted others?“

    I never saw myself as pretending, because I was genuinely happy to be around others. I did say something like, “things aren’t well at home” if someone asked, without giving a lot details. In my case (BPD wife), trusted others were and are clueless (as is probably the case for most of the men and women on this blog. That is, their friends don’t understand). Most people can not conceive of the out of bounds behaviors we face.

    I was not fully truthful to myself though. My wife was damaging me deeply, and by not setting boundaries, I was enabling her to hurt me and our children. A current boundary, “I will not be with you at church unless you unconditionally accept responsibility for the hurt you are causing me” puts the pain for her behavior back on her. It is very important to her to have the satisfaction of being seen with a husband that loves her. Not being willing to be with her is very distressing to her. This distress that she feels means that things are more public. This week, I met with two of the elders of our church to ask for support, emphasizing that we aren’t healthy enough for “marriage counseling” so don’t suggest it. It is the right answer to the wrong problem. I asked that if she complains about my lack of public affection, that they encourage her to follow through with specialized counseling (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) with me.

    Honestly, it has been very difficult emotionally to maintain this boundary. It is a “Commitment to the truth” about the reality of the current state of our marriage that keeps me on track, along with a codependent’s anonymous support group and weekly sessions with a counselor.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 3, 2019 at 12:23 am

      Thanks SteVee. Each day I’m feeling better although my finger on my left hand is still quite swollen and jammed up. But I think your statement that you weren’t quite honest with yourself and how damaging her actions were to you are important. We like to think that if we are truly trusting God, that we can bear any burden and nothing should bother us, but the body and mind and emotions don’t do well when we are around toxic people, no matter how spiritual we are. That’s why the Bible talks about being better to live alone in the corner of a rooftop than with an argumentative and contentious wife.

      • Linda forry on May 7, 2019 at 9:47 pm

        What happened that you fell? I heard you mention that you were playing pickleball. I hope you didn’t fall playing pickleball! We have had several pickleball falls. Praying for you.

  11. The Truth Will Set You Free on May 13, 2019 at 10:51 am

    This is my first comment here. I’m so glad that I found this community; it’s amazing to see how prevalent these problems in Christian marriages are. I thought I was alone for the most part. I’m still in my marriage but have asked for a divorce. My pastor calls this “a great evil” so, yeah, trying to wrap my head around that. So I don’t have a lot of answers, but I can answer the question posed by Leslie. I chose to open up to a trusted Christian friend. We are big readers, so she gave me a book titled Fool Proofing Your Life by Jan Silvus. Reading that book finally opened my eyes to the real problems in our marriage. We had been through almost 17 years of non stop counseling (Christian) who never, not once, ever brought up narcissism. Once I stopped playing by his rules and tried to “live well” without knowing that’s what I was doing, things have gotten pretty bad. You must reach the point within yourself that you will not lie or pretend anymore. I can be honest without being mean spirited. Since we are still together with our 3 children, there have been social times together or birthday parties to get through, and honestly I just commit these times to prayer.

    • Moon Beam on May 14, 2019 at 2:08 am

      Glad you are here. I understand your struggle (Narcissim not mentioned, tons of counseling and living well put me in danger.) I have spoken to Jan Silvus on a phone conference. Thanks for the referral, I will look up her book.

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