Morning friends,

I’ve made the transition. I’m now up in Pinetop, AZ for the summer months in our little cabin in the woods. My granddaughters are here for two weeks and we are enjoying the cooler weather. Hopefully, it will warm up too, but to 80 degrees and not to 100 degrees. Looking forward to some hiking, pickleball, reading, and doing more artwork, and of course still working.

I will do a live replay of the webinar I did last week on How long should you keep hoping for your destructive spouse to change and how will you know his change is real? on Friday at noon ET. Click here to register. If you missed it, this is your last opportunity to see it. Replays will not be sent out.

CONQUER also closes Friday, at midnight PT. To register, click here.

Today’s Question: Where is the line between understanding and having compassion for your emotionally abusive spouse and protecting your own healthy emotional boundaries and beginning the healing process?

Answer: I think this question is so crucial because compassion for someone else does not negate compassion for one’s own self, or having appropriate boundaries.

Let’s take a few examples. Let’s say that your husband was sick with the flu and had a fever and body aches. You would have compassion for his illness, but hopefully, also have some boundaries for yourself so that you don’t get what he has. That may mean that you check in on him, bring him a cup of soup, or run to the pharmacy to pick up some medication. But it also may mean that you don’t sleep in the same bed while he is sick, and you wash your hands frequently, and even wear gloves if you are tending to his physical needs.

Let’s take it up a notch. Let’s say your husband was home sick with the flu and you just got home from the hospital, recovering from major surgery. Now what? Who helps who? Can you have compassion for his illness without feeling like you have to compromise your healing in order to take care of him? What might you have to do? Ask a neighbor to check in on him? Hire someone to care for both of you? Have an adult child help out with some extra care of errands? Do you need to go elsewhere for your own healing and recovery so that you don’t add to your problem by catching the flu from him?

Having compassion toward someone who is immature, weak in character, and/or blind to his or her own sin or even mentally ill or disabled, is crucial if we are to protect ourselves from hating the sinner, not just their sin. However having compassion doesn’t mean we allow, endure, or excuse without consequence someone’s continued ill-treatment of us at our own detriment or peril.

So let’s again look at some examples. Let’s say your husband didn’t have the flu but was raised by uncaring parents who were abusive and neglectful. You clearly see he didn’t get the love and proper discipline as a child to mature into a healthy adult. And from this place, he does not make a very good husband. In fact, he’s emotionally, verbally, and spiritually abusive towards you and your children.

Does your compassion for his upbringing mean that he can continue to treat you and your children cruelly without consequence because you understand he didn’t get all he needed as a child? What about his own responsibility as a man to get healthy so that he has a better handle on his hurt and his anger?

Or what if your husband had a brain tumor that was causing him to become violent? Of course, you would have compassion, but would you also have good boundaries so that you and your children would be safe from his angry/violent outbursts? Even when those angry and violent outbursts were caused by a medical condition? I hope so.

So your question reminds me of our tendency towards either/or thinking. We tell ourselves, “I can either be compassionate OR I can have boundaries but I can’t do both.” If I have boundaries, that means I’m not compassionate. And if I’m compassionate, that means no boundaries and anything goes.

But in most situations, the truth is more of a both/and mindset.

You can be both compassionate towards someone and their problem and have good boundaries for yourself and your children. Click To Tweet

We do this all the time when seeing a homeless mom and her kids on the street, or giving our money to help vets who need homes or children who need to be supported overseas for their basic needs. We have compassion on their plight and we give of our resources but with boundaries. We don’t just give them our ATM card and say help yourself to whatever you need for however long you need.

We decide (boundary) how much we can help, how often we can help, and how much sacrifice we can make to help someone else. We also know that if we had no boundaries and only compassion, it would very likely put us in a situation that we weren’t able to pay our own bills and take care of our own needs. That’s not good stewardship of our resources, or of our own life.

Proverbs 6 is a good reminder that we are to have boundaries, especially around irresponsible people. In that passage, it reminds us not to sacrifice ourselves by co-signing on a loan. Why not? Because that only enables the person who was unable to get sufficient credit on his or her own, to continue to be irresponsible.

Saying “No to a co-sign” is not only smart, but it’s also Biblical. And, if the Bible says we are to have a good boundary around someone who is financially irresponsible so that we don’t put ourselves in financial peril out of our misplaced compassion, don’t you think the same would apply to someone who was morally irresponsible as well?

Friends, how have you been able to stay compassionate with good boundaries around people who might take advantage of your compassion and empathy side?

60 Comments

  1. JoAnn on May 29, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Leslie, Thank you for this excellent response. I hope that you can have a restful time in the mountains, even though you are continuing to work. It sounds lovely, and having grandchildren with you is great for both you and them. Enjoy!

  2. CK on May 29, 2019 at 11:32 am

    This post is very relevant for me, as my spouse is a combat vet and I believe has PTSD. Disagreements very quickly disintegrate into him calling me terrible names and swearing at me. I’ve really been struggling with how to handle this as a Christian spouse. There isn’t a whole lot of Christian literature on the subject. Most of what Christians do teach is that if he is physically abusive, you should leave. But there aren’t a lot of people other than Leslie Vernick talking about emotional and verbal abuse. I’m really struggling with how much change I can expect from him, since he will probably struggle with anger from PTSD his whole life. Or at what point do I say enough is enough.

    • JoAnn on May 29, 2019 at 6:04 pm

      CK, I’d like to make a few suggestions, based on what so many others here have shared. You might want to look through the archives of Leslies’ blog if you haven’t been with us very long. There is a wealth of information and guidance there.
      So, your husband has had anger issues since returning from combat. There is help through the Veterans Administration, so you might want to find out what help is available in your area. Then, in a calm way, and when he is in a good mood, talk with him about your concerns about his anger, and explain that you are not willing to subject yourself to his angry outbursts. You have to say it that way, as this is about protecting your own heart, not controlling his behavior. Then you simply explain that (1) when he gets angry, you will walk away, and (2) you want him to get help for his anger, based on what you have learned about what help is available. You need to feel safe in your relationship with him, and his anger makes it impossible for you to feel safe. Then, regardless what he decides to do, you must get counseling for yourself. I know that the military does provide help, but that seems to vary depending on where you live.
      Also, read Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, and Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend.
      Good luck with that, and may the Lord guide you to the best help.

      • CK on June 4, 2019 at 4:44 pm

        Thank you, JoAnn! I have been reading Leslie’s blog and watching some of her webinars, and it’s all been very helpful.

    • Moon Beam on May 29, 2019 at 8:30 pm

      I would start by learning about PTSD. Calling your wife swear words is not usually part of PTSD. There are many resources for PTSD. Also consult a domestic violence shelter and the national domestic violence hot line. There is a big difference between the two behaviors. They do not overlap, although many excuse such behavior and claim PTSD is the cause.

    • Ruth on May 31, 2019 at 12:57 pm

      This reply is to CK. I don’t know if my post will land in the right spot or not. Something about the site or my phone seems a little different or maybe glitchy.
      Just for your own understanding, I would recommend reading “The Body Keeps the Score”. Your public library probably has a copy. Also Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman is good. These books are describing the people WITH PTSD. They are not books telling you how to live with your scarred H, but I think they would be very insightful. Well, I read both, but really they overlap material so much that I would suggest anyone else should read both. But for gaining healing for your own wounds from being in an abusive marriage and understanding his wounds, I highly recommend the book “Mending the Soul” by Stephen Tracy. If you only have time to read one, I’d pick it! It’s great. ❤️

      • CK on June 4, 2019 at 4:43 pm

        Thank you so much Ruth! I will check out those books.

  3. Nancy on May 29, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    I was blown away when I read the parable of the Good Samaritan; looking for the boundaries in it (the book Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend looks at this parable in depth).

    The Good Samaritan was a good steward of his own resources (or he wouldn’t have had the money to give the inn keeper to begin with). He had very good boundaries and knew what his responsibility was (to help this man and even provide a space for him to safely heal), and what was not his responsibility (he didn’t stay by the man’s bedside waiting for him to recover). Once he got the man set up, he got back to taking care of his own responsibilities.

    There are so many lessons in this parable of what it looks like to come alongside someone in distress without becoming their rescuer.

    I like Leslie’s analogy about how a spouse would responsibly care for their spouse who has the flu. It helps to see that if one does not take precautions to protect oneself from infection, then the family now has two parents that are compromised. This leaves the kids in a position of having to care for their parents. And this is often what happens in destructive households – the children have no choice but to become the caretakers.

  4. Debbie on May 30, 2019 at 9:14 am

    I so identify with all of this, and I get confused and wrapped up in being compassionate with my husband and worn out form the fall out and abuse. He suffers from and anxiety disorder, and to rationalize it he thinks he cares more than other people because he worries. It’s nuts! He has anger issues and doesn’t take care of his health. He can barely walk anymore and he’s only 66. It’s changed our life dramatically. It’s impossible to talk to him. I had a whole big conversation with him about how we should be able to have normal conversations. He uses anger to control most situations so he doesn’t have to deal with things. And his entire take on the conversation was you really hurt me when you said you didn’t like me anymore?! I never said that!! It’s maddening. Impossible to have a normal adult conversation about any issues that come up. On top of all of that. He is having mind issues, can’t remember things. Can’t seem to process verbal things. He will ask you what you just told him. He was a football player and had multiple concussions. It can be so challenging some days.
    So I identify with these ladies,
    And appreciate Leslie bringing a good healthy center. It gets confusing being in the middle of all of this.

    • Blessed on May 30, 2019 at 11:25 am

      Debbie, your husband’s issues might actually BE physically based. Concussions from football playing have been known to lead to certain injuries. I highly recommend you see the movie “Concussion” or google it. Knowing what is brain damage and what is not would be a very helpful first step, I imagine. I hope you and your husband can get some help with whatever it turns out you both need to heal. I’m glad you found Leslie’s page.

      • Debbie on May 30, 2019 at 6:19 pm

        Blessed thank you for your compassion. It do know that some amount of what’s going on is related to the football injuries. But he’s had the anxiety issues and anger issues since I have known him. And he absolutely refuses to go to the doctor. Some kind of emergency will have to happen for him to get any kind of treatment.
        I saw that movie advertised before he started having symptoms, I have read related articles.

        • Autumn on May 30, 2019 at 7:17 pm

          How do you know that the claims of anxiety aren’t just control tactics? I don’t think there is any excuse for his behavior. There are people with post concussion head injuries and anxiety issues that don’t abuse their wives. I am afraid you are falling for a massive, avoidant, manipulative plan by your abuser. That would explain why he won’t see a doctor. They will call him out in his scheme.

          Does he yell and argue with his peers? The police? Salespeople? Your pastor? People bigger and stronger than him? If the answer is “No”, then knows exactly what he is doing! If he can control his behavior sometime, then he can control it all the time. He just doesn’t want to. He likes treating you the way he does. He is gaining something from the abuse.

          • JoAnn on June 5, 2019 at 2:56 pm

            About concussion injury… The part of the brain that was damaged is going to determine what kind of behavior is manifested, so getting an MRI could be helpful to see what part of the brain has been damaged. For example, there is a section of the brain that controls anger. If that is damaged, the person may not be able to restrain anger. So, a diagnosis is needed.



  5. Debbie on May 31, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Autumn, the anxiety disorder runs in his family, several family members have it. He relies on my strength in stressful situations when things go wrong. His anger issues do have some measure of control. But I believe they are from insecurities and he uses anger to keep situations in control. I think he went to a private school that was expensive. His family couldn’t afford it and he had to work at school to help pay the tuition. I think the guys made fun of him. So he started attacking, but I have no proof. He is definitely more nasty to me than anyone. But he is nasty to everyone, he can only control his anger for so long. No one in my family likes him or wants to Ben around him. They put up with him for me. His own daughter can’t spend much time with him. He stresses her out.
    He doesn’t want to go to the doctor because of fear. He’s a smoker and a pessimist. He thinks they will tell him he hasn’t cancer I think. The one time I pressed him on why he wouldn’t go. He just said “I’m afraid”. So you see it’s very complicated. Yes, he has control issues, but he’s just a pitiful mess. And the narcissistic characteristics he has, turns everything around on others so he doesn’t have to deal with his issues.
    I am getting better about not allowing things. But like I said in my original post. He only hears what he wants. And impossible to have normal conversation with him about any issues.

    • Autumn on May 31, 2019 at 3:18 pm

      Why do you stay with him?

    • Aly on May 31, 2019 at 4:00 pm

      Debbie,
      Anxiety is one of the most treated and successfully treated issues!
      He is nasty to you because you tolerate it, you tolerate him not getting the necessary help he clearly needs.
      You have become the reason (since you said he relies on you for strength) why he doesn’t experience a motivating to address what’s going on with him.
      I was also teased and emotionally hurt as a child by some older peers and older siblings, but this doesn’t license me to be nasty to my spouse or explain it away.

      • Debbie on June 1, 2019 at 10:06 am

        Aly, I spent all my married life being the peace maker and the go between protecting my kids and my family. Taking the brunt of his abuse to protect them. And thinking this was what I was supposed to do as a Christian wife. Through Leslie I’ve learned I need to set boundaries, etc. But it’s not simple as you seem to suggest. He doesn’t respond to talking, Ive tried the truth in love. Doesn’t work with him. He hears only what he wants or perceives to spin it so it’s not his fault. I’m learning. And he’s not abusive all the time. I don’t want to struggle financially at this stage in my life. If I left I would, trying to figure out how to stay well as Leslie puts it. It’s a learning process when you have someone who doesn’t work with you and has health issues.

        • Autumn on June 1, 2019 at 7:59 pm

          So, I hear you saying money is the most important thing in your life. More important than freedom from abuse. More important than your self worth. There is no staying well in this situation. You have tried everything. I have thought like you think. I understand your dilemma. It would take a giant leap of faith in God to trust that he would provide for you financially and give you a life of purpose beyond your wildest dreams. Just ask those who are free now. God gave us peace, provision, wisdom and safety at exactly the write time and sequence we needed. I agree with Robin, give your individual counseling a try. Focus on you, forget about him, his thoughts actions or deeds, and his desires and complaints. Think about what is best for you. You can only change YOUR own life, not his. Living in his world is a ride around sick carousel of the power and control abuse cycle.

          The strength to move forward takes times, education, a support team and a plan. Be gentle with yourself, yet persistent. Your life is worth fighting for! You don’t have to fix him or please him. Your were designed to glorify the Lord, not your deeply disturbed marital partner.

          • Debbie on June 2, 2019 at 12:16 pm

            Autumn, money isn’t the most important thing to me at all. Or not trusting in God to provide my needs. Through all of this I have drawn closer to the Lord and have relied on him for guidance. I have never felt the Lord lead me to separating. Some this involves me learning to not accept things the way they have been. And implementing strategies that work with him. He wouldn’t want to loose me I know that. But I also can’t go from zero to leaving.
            I spend a good amount of time in Bible study and prayer in taking time and taking care of myself.
            I’m learning and growing. And appreciate the support of all of you here that have been there.



  6. Barbara B on May 31, 2019 at 8:13 pm

    A wise mentor told me once, “Never work harder than the person you’re trying to help.” That advice has provided a great measuring stick to keep me from letting my compassion run away with me.

    • Aly on June 1, 2019 at 8:41 am

      Barbara B, Nancy
      I think this is excellent advice and it something that would benefit so many of us who have experienced those who take advantage of healthy compassion and even the experience of abuse by others who are extremely angry that they won’t be rescued or enabled.
      Nancy what you posted above about the children (having no choice) of care-taking is very pivotal for me. Thank you again for being such a descriptive writer here of these issues.
      You wrote: “It helps to see that if one does not take precautions to protect oneself from infection, then the family now has two parents that are compromised. This leaves the kids in a position of having to care for their parents. And this is often what happens in destructive households – the children have no choice but to become the caretakers.”
      For me, I see this as a predisposition. It seems often to familiar to marry and find ourselves in a similar role that is highly one-sided/destructive/over-functioning etc.

      • Nancy on June 2, 2019 at 2:59 pm

        Hi Aly,

        Yes, I agree with you about a predisposition that attracts us to the familiar feeling in a partner that reminds us of our Family of origin. Another way to put that is ‘generational sin’. I pray to God that The Lord has broken the abuse cycle, through us!

        It is only by God’s abundant grace that these cycles get broken. They are far too incideousincideous for us to ‘figure out’.

        • JoAnn on June 5, 2019 at 3:01 pm

          Nancy, Harville Hendrix in his book, Getting the Love You Want, talks about how we choose our partners according to the “imago” of our parents, or family of origin. A very interesting perspective, and accurate, I think.

    • Nancy on June 1, 2019 at 10:07 am

      Hi Barbara,

      This is a great ‘measuring stick’! and exactly what woke me up to my constant ‘trying to fix’ my h. He had SO MUCH baggage from his childhood that he refused to look at (really, who WANTS to ‘go back’ and re-live horrendous abuse). I did everything I knew to try to ‘deal with it for him’ (this is a LIE – one can never face someone else demons, for them). Believing that lie turned me into a manipulative controller, myself.

      It was the decision to let go of my NEED for him to deal with his crap that set me free. If he chose to deal with it, then we might have a shot at rebuilding, if he chose not to, then we would have no shot. It was now 100% his decision.

      That’s where I was set free.

      • Hopeful on June 3, 2019 at 11:20 am

        Nancy and others, so you basically had to let go of the outcome? This is exactly what keeps me from saying what I feel and being truthful with where I am at. I am fearful that as soon as I bring it up, it will be the end so I need to be sure that I am OK with that! I can’t seem to bring myself to allow him to choose. What if he doesn’t choose to do any work, and by that, he doesn’t choose me (or us)! Also, I don’t think anyone is abusive ALL of the time. I still get confused by this, plus I deal with covert abuse. My H can go days or weeks now and be “normal” but then once we have an episode I am reminded of what actually is happening. And I am reminded of how hurtful it is.

        • Nancy on June 3, 2019 at 12:42 pm

          I really appreciate your honesty about where you are at, Hopeful.

          Yes, I had to let go of the outcome. As long as we hold onto the outcome, manipulation and control will creep into our motives, and behaviour.

          But when I say, ‘I had to let go’ that was only possible wth God. I was in so much pain that I believe that He enabled me to allow Him to break that illusion of control that I was holding onto.I would not have been able to let go of control had He not enabled me to cling to Him more fiercely.

          Because really the control IS an illusion. The fact was – in my case anyways – my husband had NOT chosen me for all those years.

          I was operating in the illusion of a marriage. Trying to ‘make it work’ for the two of us.

          Stepping back and allowing him to decide, was me choosing to operate in reality and truth. That is what set me free. Free from trying to control the outcome.

          So can I ask you about your screen name? What do you Hope for?

          • Hopeful on June 3, 2019 at 6:16 pm

            Thanks Nancy. Can you give an example of him not choosing you? I love everything you said about how you were trying to make it work for both of you. I need to be truthful with him and myself or I will lose more of myself! I hope for peace for myself and my family mainly. Not the kind of peace that I make myself by appeasing and walking on egg shells, the peace that only God alone can provide.



          • Nancy on June 4, 2019 at 8:51 pm

            HI Hopeful,

            The biggest example of him not choosing me was his codependent relationship with his mother. He had never left her, so he was not able to ‘cleave’ to me. I did not know that this was one of our root problems until MUCH later on.

            All that I knew when I separated from him was that he was rigidly unwilling to deal with his past abuse (committed against him). One of my requirements was that he see an individual counsellor, weekly. I needed him to ‘look in the mirror’ on a regular basis.

            The most consistent and obvious sign of him not choosing me was his unwillingness to listen to me and take responsibility, when he hurt me. He was so manipulative.

            That’s why I believe that Godly repentance is key to mutual (real) relationship. If someone is unwilling to do the work to take responsibility then they create inequality in the relationship.

            In essence, each instance of hard heartedness or manipulation is them ‘not choosing’ their spouse.

            When I understood this, it would only take one confusing incident. I would not let that incident go, not allow the subject to be changed or manipulation to occur. I would not participate in any other discussion – not ‘move on’ from that subject. Interestingly, while The Lord enabled me to let go of the outcome, He also enabled me to cling hard to each attempt at manipulation, and follow His promptings through the crazy making. (my husband never escalated to physical abuse. He HATED my physical boundaries (me walking away) but he did not cross those physical boundaries).



        • Nancy on June 3, 2019 at 1:17 pm

          Hopeful,

          Wether someone is abusive all the time or not isn’t the point, in my opinion.

          The question is, does he take responsibility for his behaviour and exhibit Godly repentance when he crosses the line? If he did, the pattern would not repeat.

          • Free on June 3, 2019 at 1:24 pm

            Good point, Nancy!



          • Beatrice on June 4, 2019 at 2:32 am

            Hopeful and Nancy,
            Hopeful your initial comment could’ve been written by me. It is the question that CONSTANTLY swirls around in my mind! How do you let go of the outcome? So THANK YOU Nancy for saying “The fact was-in my case-my husband had NOT chosen me for all those years.” And also “The question is, does he take responsibility for his behavior and exhibit Godly repentance when he crosses the line? If he did, the pattern would not repeat.”

            I believe, in my situation, I am getting dangerously close to the tipping point that my teenage children are beginning to be just as hurt by my inaction to take a stand for the health of our family and for them as they are at their dad for the emotional abuse – that has gone from Anger to absolute apathy (as we are approaching two years of an in-house separation with no change from him).

            This blog topic came at the very week that I have started the book “Facing Codependency” with a small group of ladies. “Difficulty Setting Functional Boundaries” is the second of five symptoms of Codependency. Boundaries is a concept I have been on a journey to understand better – as I’m realizing I haven’t had any and usually thought people that did have boundaries were often not kind or accommodating enough. I know now that this was incorrect thinking. I am struggling with the follow through if I state a boundary and it is not respected. LIke you, Hopeful, the consequences are SO life-changing it’s difficult for me to wrap my mind around.

            The position I have been put in to choose my mental and emotional health and that of my children – or my marriage – is excruciating but it is the result of many years of allowing there to be no boundaries…



          • Hopeful on June 4, 2019 at 1:06 pm

            Beatrice, it is so difficult to have to face making that choice. I had someone tell me once the best thing you can do for your kids is for them to see their mom take care of herself. By taking care of yourself you are also most likely protecting the kids as well. You can do it!



          • Aly on June 5, 2019 at 9:01 am

            Nancy,
            Such a great example of what you experienced in your steps of drawing healthy boundaries.
            You offered a precious gift to your spouse, the opportunity to grow and face his unhealthy coping patterns.

            Praise God for the generational change here✨

            I believe letting go of the outcome puts us in a posture of trust and surrender to God not just in words but in behavior and action. Is this comfortable or familiar feeling -NO!
            However, it equips us to battle where we ourselves need to grow and accept that we may loose relationships with those who disregard or disrespect how they affect or treat us. We may loose relationships with those who only want things their dysfunctional way.
            This goes back to -Do they take responsibility for what is their part or do they continue to spin, abuse and try to control the dynamic?

            Ultimately as ambassadors of Christ, what have we lost?
            We have lost the dysfunctional and damaging relationships that do not bring Glory to God allowing us to enter in the the sorrow and grief.
            I believe pain in the right context that God comforts us in.



          • Hopeful on June 5, 2019 at 11:50 am

            Thanks Nancy. Your response makes a lot of sense. This portion “The most consistent and obvious sign of him not choosing me was his unwillingness to listen to me and take responsibility, when he hurt me. He was so manipulative”
            Was incredibly validating for me. I am frequently fighting to be heard or listened to and not dismissed or laughed at for sharing my feelings or speaking up/standing up for myself. So there is no resolution ever!



          • Nancy on June 6, 2019 at 9:42 pm

            HI Hopeful,

            I’m thinking you likely know this but I want to point out that you cannot make him hear you, right?

            When you say you are ‘fighting to be heard’, I understand what you mean by this, but it may be time to take a step way back, and just stop fighting. This is your part of the dysfunctional pattern.

            When The Lord convicted me of this, I stayed up all night writing and re-writing my limits. The next morning I presented him with what I would discuss with him 1) logistics around getting the kids where they needed to go and 2) logistic around the running of the household (groceries, food prep). 3) if kids asked for permission to do something

            That was it. I was DONE discussing our relationship. I spent the next month being a roommate while I planned a confrontation with him according to Leslie’s book. When I finally did sit down with him to talk, he was all ears.



    • Debbie on June 1, 2019 at 10:09 am

      Barbara, I’ve never heard that before. But it is so true!! You can try so hard, but if the other person isn’t willing to try you are just exhausting and frustrating yourself.

  7. Robin on June 1, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Debbie, it is complicated, you are so right about that. And it seems like there are no easy answers. You alone get to choose the next steps. I think it would be helpful if u attended counseling ALONE. Perhaps it could lift some of the complication to have someone one on one that could help you simplify the steps to your choices and where to begin.

    • Debbie on June 2, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Robin, you are right I probably could benefit from some individual counseling.
      I will continue to work through this and keep making more of a stand with consequences as issues arise. It’s a learning curve and changing old habits of how I react to the same situation. And getting braver and realizing being the peace maker isn’t always the best choice.
      Thank you for your kind words and support.

      • Autumn on June 2, 2019 at 6:01 pm

        I think being the peace maker is your only option. You and you family are not safe. I think the whole boundaries, living well discuss is for difficult relationships, not destructive ones. Those of us who have lived in destructive relationships will get ourselves killed by doing anything other than appeasement. Even appeasement is a delusion on our part. Nothing we do will change an abuser. Only he or she can change that. Typically, they couldn’t care less what we think of feel. The only safe solution is a difficult and sad one, get out of the relationship! But of course most of us need a ton of help to do that.

  8. Free on June 2, 2019 at 4:14 am

    “He’s not abuse all the time.” I need to address this belief and recommend you considered that he must be getting what he wants st that time. He is always abusive, the “good” times are him feeling in control of his inferiors, which is everyone other than him.

    Have you explored the diagnosis of Narcissism? There are various forms and variations of this personality disorder. You H sounds like he most likely has this problem.

    Also, if you want to test him, try doing something he doesn’t want you to do. Say the word “No” to him and watch him begin his abuse cycle and start his various manipulation tools. His go response of anger will most likely be the ultimate flair up to get you to obey, so don’t try this with the kids around.

    Finally, he doesn’t have an anger problem, he has control issues. When he can’t control you or others, he uses anger to intimate and bring himself and his desires to the forefront. In his mind, he is all that matters. Deep down he is thinking,,,, Let’s talk about ME! How does this affect ME? The world revolves around ME!

    • Debbie on June 2, 2019 at 12:00 pm

      Free, he does have narcissistic characteristics, but he isn’t a full blown narcissist. He can be caring of others. But it doesn’t usually involve giving of himself. But more in providing resources to help others.
      It took me a while to figure out all his issues. I spent so very many years trying harder believing that would make a difference. Through Leslie and this group I’m learning and growing. And taking steps as I feel stronger in making changes. It’s a process, I’m not equipped to go from enabling to taking a firm stand. I’m making progress.
      I appreciate your advice and support.

      • Moon Beam on June 2, 2019 at 6:09 pm

        It is definitely a process. The first time I read the posts on this blog and participated in a Conquer group I thought. My, this isn’t for me. Why isn’t anyone telling me the secret of how to get help so my abuser changes? Why are all these people telling me to leave my relationship? After I read this stuff, I took a break for months and months. I felt no one understood that I HAD to stay and HAD to take it. Then I was nearly killed by my Christian, “nice some of the time spouse”, my shock came in the hospital emergency room when the social worker tried to find me safe lodging and a lawyer. What? No, not my spouse, he just has childhood wounds, he is in counseling, I said.

        Anyway….you get the drift off my message. Denial lingers. Getting out takes time. God reveals things slowly, as we can handle it. The longer you were in the relationship, the longer it takes to clear your mind and grow. Yet, you must be away from the abuser to think clearly.

        • Debbie on June 2, 2019 at 6:36 pm

          Moon Beam and Aly,
          I did the quiz that Leslie sent a while back is it a difficult or destructive relationship. My scores were difficult not destructive. That’s why at this point I’m exploring staying and trying to stay well. I needed to start doing something and not let my husband always get the pay off of his controlling ways. I thought walking away always and not contributing was the answer. But through Leslie and this group I know I need to do more. I detest conflict so it’s hard for me.
          I’m not saying I won’t eventually make the move to leave. I first need to be more proactive. I have never gotten to the point I lay down the law. If this doesn’t change I’m leaving. I never wanted to use threats. I’m a process thinker, and I just need time to work through all of this. I’m not in any physical danger. And his anger bursts don’t last long. Most times his frustrations.
          But, I’m not happy in this dark relationship. His depression and silence seems to suck the life right out of the house. I just go about my life as best I can now. Get out when I need to get away from it, etc. Stay in the Lord and keep my peace.

          Thank you both for your support since you have both been here. 💜

          • Moon Beam on June 2, 2019 at 7:49 pm

            I disagree, you are in a destructive relationship, not a difficult one. Being yelled at is destructive. Silence is destructive. It is a strategy of control on the Power and Control Wheel. Have you Googled the power and control wheel of domestic abuse?

            Whatever your process, it is all ok. It is your journey and your life to live. I think it is great you are gathering information and making a plan. After 20 years, it is time for action. This has to come from you and no one else. You will know when it is time. Don’t quench the spirit within you. It will nudge you.



    • JoAnn on June 4, 2019 at 5:07 pm

      This discussion is so very necessary and helpful, and it also covers a lot of helpful points that have been brought up in past blog threads. With that In mind, I’d like to mention a couple of very helpful books that I have brought up before, but not recently. Two books that I recommend: “Redemptive Divorce” by Mark W. Gaither, and “Healing Well and Living free from an Abusive Relationship” by Dr. Ramona Probasco. These, of course, in addition to Leslie’s books and “Boundaries” by Cloud and Townsend. The Redemptive Divorce defines a strategy for bringing about a decision point on the part of the abusive partner: either get help and let’s work on redeeming our marriage, or you must take responsibility for the failure and leave. It is very practical, and outlines the steps to take to move forward. It helps you get “unstuck.” Probasco’s book focuses a lot on the healing process needed to recover from abuse. Really helpful.

  9. Hope L on June 3, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    I’m slowly–and very privately–preparing to leave well. I’m learning to walk in CORE, getting stronger, but in some ways still feel so smashed inside. My husband fits the criteria for Aspergers. It’s very hard to tell what he’s capable/ve.not capable of. For five intense years I’ve had weekly individual counseling, coaching, support groups and tons of learning on how to live with an AS spouse. He refuses to talk about “us”. He’s said no to counseling. Has told me he won’t leave. And I just can’t do this anymore. I think I finally get it–he doesn’t want to change. Right now I ask him for almost nothing relationally and more and more live my own life. I’m doing this to guard my heart til I can leave. This way things stay pretty calm. Our 30th anniversary is in a week. I feel stressed that he’ll suddenly ask/demand to know what I want to do and it will become a conflict.I don’t want to risk a battle with him or to address our whole marriage situation yet. I could be ok with breakfast out with him? and maybe a movie on our anniversary. It’s crazy–my heart is so broken; he’s so oblivious. I don’t want to give or receive a gift, or anything that seems like we have more than a platonic “partnership”. If neither of us say/do anything about our anniversary, it will probably just increase tension. Arggh!–what a tightrope! Any ideas? Has anybody else been in this place?

    • JoAnn on June 4, 2019 at 5:14 pm

      Hope L. Thirty years is a long time to live in a non-relationship. I truly sympathize with you. The book I recommended above, “Redemptive Divorce” may prove to be helpful, but for sure, “Healing Well…” will guide you through the aftermath of your separation. The Lord is with you, and He will take care of you. You do well to continue with counseling.

    • Barbara B on June 4, 2019 at 6:35 pm

      HI Hope L,

      I agree, it would feel terrible to have a fake anniversary celebration. I can also see that it could be awkward to ignore the anniversary. I wonder if you could suggest an alternative to your husband such as making a donation to a favorite charity instead of a celebration or gift? That way you don’t have to celebrate but you also don’t have to explain why you don’t want to celebrate.

      I hope it all works out well for you. I’m sorry you have to go through this.

    • Debbie on June 5, 2019 at 9:37 am

      Hope L, this is just my opinion being in a marriage for 27 years where it’s impossible to talk about marriage issues. It always gets turned around on me. He may heed what I say and I’ll see a little change. But never possible to talk.
      Any way, I would just keep the anniversary celebration simple like you said breakfast and a movie. Nothing too romantic. You said you are trying to guard your heart and leave well. To me this would be part of guarding your heart until you can leave. To me it’s a better alternative to the day turning into one big fight because he didn’t get the outcome he wanted. You have the satisfaction you will be getting out and will have a normal life. 💗

  10. Robin on June 5, 2019 at 6:02 pm

    I have been there. I refused to celebrate as if we had a marriage. I chose to pick seeing reality. He wanted to pretend and I was done pretending.

  11. Brave Rabbit on June 6, 2019 at 12:50 am

    Got a bit of shocking news this morning, nothing serious yet. I need the wisdom from my family of survivors. I went for my 6 month dental check up and cleaning. I needed the full panel of extra x-rays because they are to be done every 5 years and mine was last done six years ago. I go to the dentist religiously every 6 months. Today I’m told I have an abscessed tooth. I had a crown/root canal failure. I’m not in pain now, but the doctor says it’s coming and I need to decide my next steps.. It showed up big time in X-Ray. There is defiantly infection. He said I have a bit of time the to make choices. I already spent close to $2000 for those procedure 19 years ago when I had I insurance. Now I don’t have dental. My choice is redoing with fixing it with another root canal and reseal with the crown. The success rates are not favorable it may work against me that it won’t take because infection doesn’t go sway.

    The next more successful way is to have the tooth pulled, remove infection, build up bone after infection renoved. Then get a pin pad implanted after all in is gone and wound right healed. These parts are done by oral surgeon. After four months I’d see my dentist and he would begin the work to replace this tooth. Damages are $5,500 between the two doctors. At minimum I need to get this one thing done. We don’t have the money. We have money earmarked for getting a new roof. I’m glad it’s not hurting yet so I’m not responding because of pain. But my heart aches!

    I’ve spent a lot of money and 25 years to get these teeth of mine healthy. I cry just thinking about having the bad tooth pulled and leaving it at that. And regardless, it has to be done by the oral surgeon, so I know that won’t be the simple task and you are sent on way! The infection needs to come out and heal.

    Ideally, I want the implant. H thinks it’s a waste of mony. ie I take it to mean I’m not worth it. AGAIN!!!

    I’ve not spoken to the surgeon yet, but if I had to guess, he will charge 2000 just to extract and clean.

    I want the fairytale. I’m afraid if I let this tooth get pulled and discarded, it will be the beginning of the end!

    H remark to me on our way home from doctor was, “that’s why you see me getting them pulled. I don’t believe in root canal and crowns.” I’m 58 and I want to keep my teeth for as long as I can!

    The whole time period it takes from start to finish to replace a tooth is about 1year. We could pay each phase as I go. I’m sick thinking about this. If I broke my leg would he expect me to chop it off because it’s inconvenient to get fixed?

    Am I being unreasonable? Anything medically with me is an inconvenience for him. Maybe he just wants me dead so he can move on?!

    Thank you for listening sweet sister and brothers.

    Blessings to all!

    • Robin on June 6, 2019 at 1:04 am

      Brave Rabbit nice to hear from you. My reply is very simple. And I talk from experience. Do what you need . Don’t look for your answer thru a spouse that doesn’t care about your needs. My ex was exactly like him. I’m so glad I no longer have to beg and borrow to get what I need. Please put yourself in the category of IMPORTANT AND WORTHY as Jesus see,s and calls you. God Bless and I’ll be praying for your miracle!💕

      • Nancy on June 6, 2019 at 8:00 am

        HI Brave Rabbit,

        I agree with everything Robin said.

        • Free on June 6, 2019 at 12:08 pm

          Ditto. Good reply Robin.

      • Libbie on June 6, 2019 at 9:14 am

        Yes, I agree. It’s YOUR mouth, and you can choose to fix it the way YOU see fit. If he doesn’t put value in fixing teeth, and would rather pull his teeth, that’s him. Let him. But you are different, and have different wishes, and that doesn’t make it wrong. It’s not like you are wanting something needless or cosmetic, like a face lift. This is for the benefit of your health. I’m sure you can make payments….talk to the dentist about your payment options. If he didn’t value physical health, would you be expected to not exercise or diet, just because he doesn’t care about those things?

        If he’s all bent out of shape about the money, could you possibly do small things to make up for it? Such as, not eat out as much, downsize cable, have a yard sale, clean houses for extra money, etc…. I don’t know. There has to be a way you could show extra effort to express how important this is to you.

    • Debbie on June 6, 2019 at 9:48 am

      Brave Rabbit, having to have extended dental work brings a lot of stress and anxiety alone. I’m sure you are feeling overwhelmed about all of the coming procedures and the expense. You have worked so hard to keep you teeth healthy. And weren’t expecting this diagnosis. So it’s a lot to process, without the non-support of your spouse.
      I agree with the others, move forward getting your teeth fixed the way you feel comfortable. Keep praying God provide the resources you need. The Bible says we don’t have because we don’t ask. So keep asking and trusting. I’m so sorry you husband isn’t more supportive that has to really hurt. But you need to value yourself. God Bless You. 💜

    • Free on June 6, 2019 at 12:06 pm

      Brave, have the tooth pulled with an oral surgeon. That would fall under medical, not dental. If you leave it, the infection can go to your sinuses and brain. Ignore H’s ridiculous comments. Schedule the restoration work. You will have time to pay for an implant. Shop around for the best price, you don’t have to use your original dentist, especially if it is his work that failed. Best wishes.

      • Nancy on June 6, 2019 at 7:30 pm

        Agreed. Shop around. When it’s a big bill like that it’s important not only to get a competent doctor but also one that will charge a fair price for the work.

  12. Robin on June 18, 2019 at 11:41 am

    I love this posting. I’m new here and it seems we are encouraged to reach out.
    I had the exact dental issue. It killed me to even think about losing one of my beloved teeth that God gave me. It made me feel like an ungrateful failure.

    Because of money and the poor chance of a new root canal working, I choose to pull the infected tooth. I didn’t have pain either.

    My surgeon suggested a great solution. Pull the tooth and build up the base in preparation for a post and implant later. I was given antibiotics beforehand to clear the infection. Again, if you’re having no pain, it’s completely doable. The bone build up cost added a bit more to the extraction price but worth it. Those prices sound about right.

    Later, when you can afford it, have the implant.

    Having a gap in my back molars felt humiliating at first. But Time and a realistic assessment healed that. I couldn’t afford more. So what. I still haven’t been able to get a new tooth (after a couple of years) but I will.

    I wish you all the good luck and peace of mind. God really does love you and wants you to know it

    • beloved2677 on June 18, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      Welcome Robin!

      I’m going to do the pull, build up and infection fight. I’m hoping to save enough to do the next step within the next year or so.

      Thank you everyone for your support. Hugs to all!

      God’s blessings too!

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