Morning friends,

How are you doing? It’s getting a little lonely and boring, isn’t it? Yet I hope you are all safe and your loved ones are healthy. As a part of the “community,” share with all of us some of the good television series and books you’ve been reading during this time. I just finished “The Choice” by Edith Eger, and am starting “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl. Great reads about the resilience of the human spirit during these tough times. I also just finished watching Unorthodox on Netflix about an Orthodox Jewish woman trying to escape a very conservative Hassidic Jewish Community and find a new life. It was extremely interesting. But I could use some lighter fare. Something funny would be good. Suggestions?  

Also, I’m doing a workshop Tuesday, April 14th on How Long Should You Keep Trying and How Will You Know If the Change is Real. I will be providing you a detailed worksheet to take notes and live questions. If you would like to attend or know someone who needs this, please register here

Question: I’ve chosen to “stay well” in this relationship as I see him working towards being closer with the Lord and speaking with a therapist about his past. However, he seems to be getting worse with his self-discovery in emotions and it’s being taken out on me. 

Is this normal when digging into past things that you tend to see worsening emotions and actions rather than better? Or is this a sign of how this will continue for the rest of my life? 

Answer: First, I hope you are taking good care of you as your husband is doing his work. What he does or doesn’t do, has an impact on you too. Be careful. As your husband is doing his work in counseling, he is beginning to feel emotions that he’s never allowed himself to feel before. Perhaps in his family of origin, he wasn’t allowed to feel sad, or scared, or hurt, or angry. He may have experienced abuse, loss, or trauma that he has never acknowledged or processed. So, if he’s looking at his past and experiencing strong emotions, it may be very scary territory for the both of you, especially if he’s been a stuffer his whole life.

However, if he is expressing his new emotions in destructive or frightening ways, that’s not okay or a healthy way to heal. You didn’t mention specifically how he is taking them out on you or how his newly discovered emotions are affecting you. But if you’re feeling unsafe or uncomfortable, have you shared how you feel with him and/or his counselor? Does that matter to him? Does he show any compassion and empathy for you during his healing?  

Sometimes the treatment feels worse than having the disease. For example, if you are diagnosed with cancer, having surgery or chemotherapy may feel far worse than just leaving the cancer alone. However, for long term survival, you have to go through the chemo or surgery.

If your husband is working through abuse from his past, he may feel a lot of anger and shame. He may be withdrawn, or he may feel clingy and needy. Or maybe he’s angry and scares you with his temper. You can feel care and concern for him while he’s experiencing these new feelings but with good boundaries.

Here’s something you might want to say to him. “I’m grateful that you’ve being brave and starting to do your own work. Yet your newly discovered emotions are getting a little overwhelming for me. I feel ________ when you ___________(and put in your own feeling when he behaves in ways that upset you).

Stop. See if how you feel matters to him. If it doesn’t and it’s still all about him, his healing, his needs, his feelings, then you will know that despite him being in therapy, nothing significant is changing in the destructive dynamics of your relationship. However, if he takes note of that and feels compassion for you then continue with something like this.

“I want to help you in any way I can but I can’t be the target for your rage (or whatever he’s taking out on you). I need you to discuss what’s happening with your therapist so that you can find safe ways for you to experience your emotions. I don’t want your healing to harm me or our relationship even further.”

Then pay attention to what he does not what he says. If he is truly healing and getting better, he will do his own work but also see that it’s not okay to damage you or your relationship further and learn how to manage his emotions in a safer way.

His healing may take a long time, but hopefully, his self-awareness and ability to exercise some self-control over his strong feelings will happen sooner rather than later. But ultimately you are responsible for your well-being and I hope you speak up and develop some good boundaries if you are going to continue to stay well. Click To Tweet

Friends, how have you learned to stay well and have good boundaries for yourself, while you wait whether your husband’s healing includes caring for your safety and well-being?

9 Comments

  1. Alene on April 8, 2020 at 11:22 am

    The Lord provided a way for help and a heart for me to have a willingness to let the relationship go a year and a half ago. I’m being honest, not a ‘perfect’ heart to let go but a heart I hadn’t had before. I just couldn’t keep going with what had been going on.
    It is a process.
    It isn’t short.
    We are doing counselling – yes, we – but the place we go has one section that focuses on dealing with men who abuse and the counsellor knows how to differentiate and be careful.
    I wasn’t sure about us both being in counselling together at first; I did speak with Leslie about it; I’m glad I’d done so much of my own work and had a lot of clarity. No one can do your work for you.
    It has been helpful for me to be there too instead of him off doing his own thing, which didn’t work a few years ago. You can’t get help if you won’t admit there’s a problem and the biggest problem was he wasn’t admitting there was a problem.
    I spoke up about that oh, six months ago, that was worse than all the other stuff that had gone on for 30 years; the denial.
    My stance in this counselling has been; I won’t live that way anymore, he didn’t know what he was doing (this reflects Jesus words on the cross, if we really knew what we were doing – we wouldn’t be doing it) which brings me to my words: the need for both awareness and awareness of impact, and then the need for a family meeting as a down-the-road goal because of the impact on the kids.
    It is not easy.
    The first four months plus he would gripe about the cost (I am working part-time by the way).
    At four months he admitted he was ‘paddling up De Nile (denial). Obviously using humor to handle it.
    There was still a lot of denial and avoidance to get through.
    Mid year last year we hit another major breakthrough.
    The counsellor has balanced building relationship with him with truth. My husband now counts him as a friend and looks forward to going and values his input.
    I have had to weather the process if that makes sense.
    Being there with him, means I had support when I was speaking up about harder areas. I was stronger and he couldn’t get away with things.
    Being there means I could bring truth that cut through the avoidance.
    It takes time.
    It takes patience.
    I have to continuously recognize (and I think this is just a healthy thing) that it is what it is at the moment, no more, no less.
    I still have to stay aware.
    I have to speak up – that doesn’t change – twice in the last week because patterns are deeply ingrained. When I spoke up about a verbal pushback the other day, he claimed he wasn’t doing one aspect of what he used to, I saw that he was still doing some of what he used to and simply said “I beg to differ.”
    We’ve come a long ways.
    I am still healing.
    I still grieve.
    The impact in our lives and stories exists.
    I keep growing.
    I keep aware.
    I weigh options.

    • Free on April 8, 2020 at 6:38 pm

      Alene, have you thought about asking his therapist to help him develop a contract? It would be a written list of goals, promises and action plans, complete with timelines and accountability partners. It think that is the only thing that made me stay. Eventually he proved he couldn’t meet the goals, the accountability partners were never notified and the couldn’t keep the promises (i.e.: when I am abusive I will leave the home for 1month). I finally learned that the counseling was all just another way to keep me hooked into his disorder. He used it to manipulate me further. I was fooled. I had false hope. He was loving the control of out smarting both me and yet another counselor.

      I would ask all of you who plan to stay, how long are you going to stay and what requirements have you set forth as expected modification of his behavior? How are you holding him accountable and what is your action plan when he doesn’t do his work? Beware of the victim mentality of counseling. Poor him, is sad childhood…yada,yada, yada. These too can be blame shifting techniques and are not signs of change. Change includes admission, repentance and then a consistent modification in character and behavior.

      Abusers will get what they want, they don’t care how they get it, but they will get it. Make sure your “staying well” isn’t just an easy walk in the park for him to continue what he always does, while you are just in your own fantasyland of delusional hope.

  2. Tricia Deckard on April 8, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Hi Leslie and Community, My name is Tricia. I am a Christian and new to this community. I am thankful for the Lord for his life and faithfulness, answering my prayer to find support through this time in my life. I have been reading Boundries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend. I have been busy working from home, as well as learning a new software program. More importantly taking time to examine what I need for my heart to heal and my relations with the people and the Lord. I recently watched Little Women with my children and enjoyed it.

    • Nancy on April 10, 2020 at 1:46 pm

      Hi Tricia,

      Was it the little women released in 2019? I’d like to watch that one.

  3. Marlene on April 8, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    I am reading the Green Series (5 books total and i’m reading Book 3 now) by Judy Christie. It is light reading about a female newspaper editor who moves to small town Louisiana, (which is where I’m from) and has a nice combination of serious, real-life drama as well as some light-hearted, comical situations.

  4. JoAnn on April 8, 2020 at 8:37 pm

    You asked about books to read for enjoyment. I have been enjoying Rachel Hauck. She is a christian writer, so I don’t have to deal with the hot sex scenes that modern authors seem to be required to write these days. I have also enjoyed Kristen Hannah, but her later books have succumbed to the current trend also, which is sad because it’s so unnecessary. The Mitford series by Jan Karon is delightful.
    Yes, we all need something lighthearted to escape to, especially these days with isolation. I am praying for all those who are not safe in the Homes they must isolate in. May the Lord grant extra protection.

  5. Free on April 9, 2020 at 3:59 pm

    Please google Luke and Ryan Hart. Young men standing up in support of those living in emotional abuse. Their mother and sister were killed four days after Like and Ryan helped their Mother escape their father. Their book about their mother and sister is called, “Forever Remembered.”

  6. Jennifer on May 14, 2020 at 5:23 pm

    For gentle yet interesting reading, please check out Leanna Sain – wholesome mysteries. No curse words, no gory blood and guts, no bedroom scenes, yet righteousness prevails. Her website is .com after her name. I highly recommend her writings!

  7. Suzanne B. on June 11, 2020 at 9:09 am

    Hi Leslie, I’m catching up on your blogs and saw the question for lighter fare on TV or in books. If you have not watched Jane the Virgin on Netflix; that is a telenovella about a telanovella and it combines humor with soap opera drama with mystery. It’s fairly light and silly and entertaining.
    If you want ridiculous, try Community on Netflix about a group of “misfits” who return to community college and form a study group. It is truly ridiculous so you have to go into it knowing that. The dialogue is fast but at the end, there is usually a moral or lesson that is highlighted. Light fare for adults. Enjoy the mountains. Stay safe!

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