Morning friends,

Our nation is in turmoil. We are grieving, scared, and not sure what the outcome will be. Some of that will depend on our next steps forward. I wrote this essay in response to the George Floyd murder and invite you to read it. Click here to view the post. 

Question: I’m married to a wonderful man who is a great provider and all the things anyone could ever want in a husband. 

He’s caring, has a great job, makes a great living, thoughtful, generous, kind to me, and others both in public and behind closed doors. He’s successful, smart and is a great father. 

He’s all of these things…..until he’s not……. sometimes even wavering between being wonderful and demeaning in just a few hours! 

That same great husband and involved father is critical of me and others, condescending, acerbic, and demeaning and has been verbally abusive in different degrees throughout our relationship. At first only occasionally and sporadically and now it’s the norm. Day to day his personality can change by the minute. 

Conversations (if you can call them that) go around in circles and simple everyday interactions can be so confusing. 

The “great dad” facade is confusing to our kids the older they get and are subtly subjected to it as well. One minute he’s harshly “helping” with homework, the next he is praising them. The unpredictable and inconsistent moods, double standards, constant passive-aggressive comments, and verbal jabs are EXHAUSTING! 

I’ve read so many books (yours included) on the subject of emotional and verbal abuse, narcissism, and different personality types trying to make sense of my life over the past 12 years….yikes! (15 total) which looks perfect on the outside but is toxic on the inside. 

While he’s not physically abusive, there have been so many verbally abusive instances, more than a share of big blow-ups, many mid-range rants (with a little bit of truth but still completely bizarre) and way too many odd and underhanded passive-aggressive comments over the span of our relationship. With that said, we also live a great upper-middle-class life with many friends, a supportive family, nice things, vacations, etc. I’ve documented, journaled, researched to the point it has become my norm! The books, articles, YouTube research, etc. etc. all hit close to home…. way too close! 

I’m at a point where I need to confront him and possibly make some major changes. I know what I “should” do but there are so many factors involved. 

I’m a stay at home mom to 3 amazing children. Currently, we have 2 houses (in transition from one to the other an hour away which is a whole story within itself) and of course, have built a beautiful façade of life. I’m at a point where I can’t (emotionally at least) move to the new house until I know that he will change and that I want to stay married. 

I’m at a breaking point where part of me just wants to throw in the towel, talk to a lawyer, move on and learn from the past giving my children a respite from the dysfunctional way he treats me. My faith is the only thing I’m hanging on to right now. While I’m at a point where I still truly love him and can see us working it out, I’m also losing the love and desire to make it work on a daily basis. His reactions to things recently as well as my feelings as I accumulate all my journaling and research from the past are daunting and discouraging. I’m trying so hard to do the right thing for our children as to not damage the future that is possible. 

Answer: I think your dilemma illustrates well that not all abusive individuals look like monsters nor do they behave poorly or abusively all of the time. Sometimes they can be very wonderful to be around…..until they’re not.

I have a few questions I’d like you to ponder. Was his Jeckyl/Hyde persona present early on in your marriage or is it more recent? You wrote, “at first only sporadic but now more the norm.” Domestic abuse has a progressive pattern of increasing in frequency and intensity over time. Therefore, I’d like you to answer these next four questions:   

1. When was the first time this kind of behavior happened? Dating?  Honeymoon? While pregnant with your first child? Only in the last half of marriage? Recently?

2. When was the last time this kind of behavior happened? Yesterday? This week? This month? Last year? A long time ago?

3. What was the worst thing that he has done to you or the children? Often times it’s the most degrading or humiliating, not always the most violent or dangerous.

4. What is a typical time?   

These questions were first introduced by Lenore Walker, an abuse specialist, and they help us quickly identify patterns of increasing frequency and intensity over time. 

What pattern do you see when you answer these questions? Have you ever told him these critical, demeaning, harsh, crazy conversation behaviors are hurtful to you and to your marriage? Have you stood up for yourself or your children when they are being treated this way and if so, what has been his response? Does he hear you? Blame you? Withdraw? Does he get more acerbic? Use the Bible to spiritualize his headship, authority, and abuse of power?  

Every one of us had good sides and bad sides. Each of us can, when provoked or disappointed or stressed out behave towards those we love in sinful ways. However, the main difference between a healthy individual and an abusive individual is that a healthy individual does not feel entitled to act that way, nor do they feel good about it. When they are confronted with their sinful behaviors or see that they have hurt those they love, they usually apologize, show empathy for the pain they’ve caused, and work hard not to repeat those sinful attitudes or actions.

An abusive person has a different mindset and heart. Although he may have a good side, he (or she) rationalizes, justifies and excuses their sinful and hurtful behaviors. They believe they are entitled to lash out and punish you when you have disappointed them or aren’t doing what they require. They believe they get to make the rules for you to follow. They believe they are entitled to judge, condemn, and criticize others because their pride puts themselves above you and as a god. Therefore, they aren’t accountable, nor do they need to be teachable. Why would they? They know it all and are always right. You can’t have a calm discussion with these individuals or give constructive feedback because your thoughts and opinions are worth-less than theirs. 

It’s crucial that you (and people helpers) understand these mindsets and heart issues are not marriage problems but they always cause marriage problems. Marriage was designed by God to be a safe and trusting partnership in which to raise children who are loved, healthy, and safe.

Marriage is the one relationship where we should be able to trust our spouse not to do us harm. When that doesn’t happen and harm is repeatedly caused, what’s the other spouse to do? Endure and enable sin to flourish? Not according to the Bible. Click To Tweet

Instead, we are to expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness and speak the truth in love (Ephesians 5:11; 4:15). We are to humbly speak up (Matthew 18:15-17; Galatians 6:1), and have appropriate boundaries and consequences for the harm caused. This is not punishment. That’s God’s job. This is living in reality. The Bible says, “What a man sows, he reaps” (Galatians 6:7). When you repeatedly sow harm, damage, destruction, deceit, and indifference into a relationship, you don’t reap trust, affection, intimacy, and safety.  That’s like saying if I act like a fool and jump out of the window, God’s grace should void the laws of gravity so I don’t suffer the harmful consequences of my actions. God does not negate the effects of his laws like gravity, even when we’re sorry we jumped out the window. Some consequences are permanent. 

Therefore, you do have some tough choices and continued growth to do right now. You know what you “should” do but if you do the right thing, you’re afraid of the ramifications. You’re afraid your kids won’t get to grow up in a beautiful home with all the perks of their current lifestyle. You’re afraid you might have to go back to work to help support them. You’re afraid their dad could become more cruel or vindictive. You’re afraid that after keeping up this lovely image for so long, you might not be believed. And, you might be right.  

But then again, what happens if you do nothing and maintain the status quo? Is that healthy? Is that godly or right? Is that teaching your precious children to walk in the truth and the light? Is it teaching them how a man treats a woman and how woman allows herself to be treated so that they go on to repeat those patterns in their own lives? Is it teaching them to live in fear and to keep quiet to maintain a certain standard of living? One of my mentors once said, “golden chains are no less chains than chains of iron.” 

I do hope your husband sees himself clearly and repents. The only hope for him to do that however is if you get brave enough to tell him the truth with love. Like the children’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, all the Emperor’s most trusted advisors were afraid to tell him that he was naked. Unless we have loving truth-tellers in our life, we can all be easily deceived and self-deceived (Hebrews 3:13). As his Biblical helpmate, you have a unique role in his life to speak into his character and behaviors in a way that no one else does.

I encourage you to plan for this important conversation. Prepare, get yourself read, prayed up, and strong. Collect and use your documented evidence. Invite a trusted pastor or counselor to be with you if you feel uncertain of his reaction. Make sure you have a safety plan in place, just in case your husband’s anger escalates and you and/or your children are in danger.  

This is hard and we’re here for you. Let us know how it goes.

Friends, when you’ve had to stop pretending and speak the truth in love, what did you do to prepare yourself and your safety plan?

93 Comments

  1. Sarah on June 10, 2020 at 9:13 am

    Wow, my life.
    Your kids probably “know more” truth than you think and leaving may really be a relief. When my 18 yr old said to me while packing up to leave for college, ” Mom, Dad is a covert narcissist and you need to get a place and move out”, I realized my carefully orchestrated visible life was harming them more than I thought. I moved our with my 17 yr old and my 18 yr olds things (other 3 were out of house) and what s relief. 4 of 5 have talked to me about their abuse ( I did not realize it affected them so), and the younger 2 ( now 19 and 20) asked to go through counseling last fall. It is unlikely your husband will change. I went through 4 years, 3 couselors, 2 pastors, group of counseling elder friends all to no avail.

  2. Dawn Ulmer on June 10, 2020 at 12:21 pm

    Excellent!

  3. Linda on June 10, 2020 at 12:26 pm

    I too have a marriage that is very draining. My husband considers ‘bringing up a subject’, asking a question, or stating my opinion as ‘criticizing him’. He cannot talk about anything that might make him look bad. I have gently asked him questions. He still responds in a manner that really upsets me. Part of his responses come from his blood sugar being too high. (diabetic, type 1). I can be sympathetic to his condition, but NOT when he yells at me. Even if he could just turn around and say ‘I’m sorry’ a little later that might help. I have to ask him to apologize. I am just exhausted with this marriage of 9 years. First I had the step kids to deal with. Now as he gets older, he is just irritable all the time. His ankle hurts. He is irritable. Whatever I say I am criticizing him. I ask a question. He thinks i am telling him ‘he is bad’. This Covid19 is making it worse. I need to get out of here. I lost my part time job which was no money anyway. I am in the process of looking for a job, and if something different does not happen- I am getting an apartment as soon as I find a job. It is not a practical solution, but I am so sick of this. I admit I have gotten angry and lashed out at him. He shuts down even more. But his way is always passive aggressive and condescending. We were on a three way call with our insurance company and he said, ‘ Honey, do you have any questions for Sue- that we haven’t already discussed.”? Does anyone know of a counselor that does it remotely- online- (I’M in IL) I need a counselor who actually understands this type of abusive and will call him up on it. A christian life coach or counselor. We have been to counselors but my husband always acts like a victim when we talk to the counselor. I am not ‘separating’ inside the house. Thank you for listening.

    • Jane on June 12, 2020 at 2:22 am

      I don’t have advise but you have described my life almost perfectly. I’ve quit confronting because I feel like I’m getting no where. Not sure whay is my next step right now.

      • Linda on June 12, 2020 at 12:42 pm

        Jane, do you feel like it is a pride issue? I know he has ADHD and his blood sugar sometimes dictates moods. Last night we were doing a Gary Chapman study about communication. I asked my husband to express feelings to me. He did manage to say, ‘I hope you begin to feel better about our marriage. I am sorry you are hurt.” I am not sure if we will ever reach Level 4 and 5 (deepr communication) because he is like a person who was deeply hurt or something and cannot risk intimacy through conversation. He asked me to do the study and so I did. Right before that I told him I would like to separate for a while. I said that I am very hurt in this marriage. I guess I have watched too many romantic movies. Isnt the husband supposed to say, “lets work it out, I love you so much.’ What bothered me was hm thinking I did something wrong telling him I wanted to separate. Right now I will do the thur study and yet keep myself with a bit of a shield around me. I talk with friends and try not to be isolated. I have given up on the dream of a man who looks me in the eyes and says, like on the Honeymooners, “Baby, your the greatest.”

        • Jane on June 12, 2020 at 1:47 pm

          I too think he is hurting and has something going on that causes him to feel that he needs to turn everything around that I say. He also never apologizes. I can count on one hand the number of times he has apologized when I confront him or we get in a fight in the last 2 years. I am trying to keep a wall around my heart so that it doesn’t hurt so much.

          • Connie on June 12, 2020 at 3:08 pm

            Funny, isn’t it, that men are allowed to be mean when they’re hurting, but women aren’t. We are all hurting here, and I rarely see anger or meanness, just a lot of compassion for each other and our husbands. Sorry, I’m not buying it. They have access to the same God that we do, and last I read the Bible, He tells us all to grow up and be kind.



        • Aly on June 12, 2020 at 10:50 pm

          Linda,
          You wrote:
          “ I am not sure if we will ever reach Level 4 and 5 (deepr communication) because he is like a person who was deeply hurt or something and cannot risk intimacy through conversation”
          I’m sorry for what you are going through. I can relate and can understand how you are reasoning ‘his issues’.
          But please know he chose to make a covenant of marriage in the highest regard. Intimacy isn’t something easy but it isn’t something a person who takes a marriage covenant gets to decide they are not interested in growing in and building with a partner.
          If he is not interested in growing in this way? Maybe he needs to evaluate the vow he made to be the kind of partner you thought you were marrying?
          Also, your husband should be able to say that he is sorry for how his ‘lack of presence has hurt you’ instead of him saying, “ I’m sorry you are hurt”
          Putting the hurt at a distance and making it about you, rather than him involved.

          • Linda on June 14, 2020 at 4:35 pm

            Thank you everyone. I will say prayers for you. I am so appreciative of this group of women. I so wonder why I did not see alot of this before we were married. I guess i did see some. I am not liking who i am becoming. I just feel sad and mad alot. And I am really a joyful person in the Lord. I need to put up a wall, because I cannot financially just take off. I think he is on the autism spectrum with ADHD plus diabetic mood swings. I really have to make my own life. Most of the time we are like room mates. I think his self esteem is so low that he just cannot accept any kind of ‘failure’. Not fair. Not right. But I distance myself and I am not a dummy. I am doing some planning. hugs to all



    • Free on June 13, 2020 at 5:00 am

      Try Focus Ministries, Inc. in Elmhurst,IL. Director, Paula Silva.630-617-0088. They can provide you with classes, education, support and counseling.

  4. Barbara B on June 10, 2020 at 2:05 pm

    It’s sad to say, but I think sometimes we have to go outside of our own churches to find supportive friends. I don’t mean find non-Christians, I mean find Christian women who don’t feel the need to support the teaching of their church (wives submit to husbands) over the need to support a friend. If you don’t go to church with your female friends I think they are more likely to say, “That’s crazy! Your husband is wrong!” But if you all go to church together they might not say that, especially since he is likely to be a Sunday school teacher or other leader.

    To answer Leslie’s question about how to prepare, I would widen my circle of friends to include people in my church and also good Christian women outside of my church.

    • Julie K on June 10, 2020 at 3:00 pm

      That is a very interesting point and one I have found to be true. Christian friends outside my old church (well, most of them, not all), believe me and are supportive. Confiding in new Christian friends, of course, is another matter and requires careful discernment.

      But you definitely need friends to get through this.

  5. Matt on June 10, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    From a husband like that:

    I’ve read the “Emotionally Destructive Marriage” twice in the past two months. There’s lots of stuff for the abused wife but struggling to find stuff for the guy who wants to change and is trying to do everything right. That’s the problem, I could give you a list of all the things I’m doing right. Through counseling, your book, and Now your blog, I’m seeing what I’ve done wrong…am doing wrong.

    • Barbara B on June 10, 2020 at 7:18 pm

      Matt, I’m glad to hear you are taking steps to correct what is wrong. I don’t know if he still does this, but in the past Patrick Doyle offered counseling sessions by phone. I think you are going to need some strong accountability, and Patrick would be very good. He has the experience and insight to answer your questions.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2020 at 9:02 pm

      I’m glad you want to work on you and change the destructive mindset and patterns in your life. I’d recommend you continue doing your work. YOu may want to head over to revchrismoles@gmail.com for some help. He’s a pastor and a specialist dealing with male abuse. He’s written a book you can get on Amazon on domestic abuse. There isn’t a whole lot out there from a Christian perspective and please, you will never do everything right. The biggest change is you have to “see” and “admit” when you don’t do it right and deal with it instead of blameshift or make excuses. That will be the biggest change you can make right now is gaining humility to see your mistakes, problems and wrong thinking. That will go a long way.

      • Matt on June 10, 2020 at 9:17 pm

        Email sent to Chris and to Patrick. Thank you.

        • Free on June 11, 2020 at 6:56 am

          Matt, I would like to share an assignment my husband received when he sought counsel with a specialist in this field. The assignment was to reflect and record his earliest memory of getting someone to do what he wanted them to do (manipulation). He was asked to record every incident he could recall from his earliest childhood memory to the present. Record how it felt to command power over an individual, the technique he used, how he adapted various strategies to accomplish his supremacy over time. He was to reflect on his life and identify each and every strategies he ever used, with whom he used them and the duration and frequency in which he used them.

          This directive called by husband’s bluff, and he never did the assignment, nor returned for a second appointment with the expert. My husband returned from the appointment and said he was not going to do the assignment. He added that actually, the counselor said, I was the one with the problem and he couldn’t do anything to help him until they “fixed” me. I called the counselor and got the real story which differed greatly from my abuser’s rendition of the appointment.

          I learned that my husband did not want to be transparent about his actions or behaviors. He wanted credit for being changed and healed to maintain his public persona, yet he had no intentions of changing anything about himself. I also learned, in later years that my husband was/is able to remember each and every incident he every instigated to gain power over others. Those incidents make him feel good about himself. They make him feel like he won a competition of some kind and he gets a massive, satisfying adrenaline rush in the proces. He learned he loves how powerful and in control it makes him feel. He said he used denial, delusional rationalization and blame shifting in his reply when he avoided the assignment when he refused to participate in the treatment. That made him feel good too.

          I would also like to suggest that you read “Coercive control” by Evan Stark, “Why Does He do That?” by Lundy Bancroft, “ People of the Lie” by F. Scott Peck and “Malignant Self Love” by Sam Vaknin.

    • Jill K. on June 10, 2020 at 11:29 pm

      Hi Matt. Would be really good to be introspective and honest with yourself. Let others who know you best speak into your life, listen with openmindedness and humility. Individual counseling where you can work on what are good and healthy ways of relating to those you love. It’s good to have an accountability partner, someone who can come alongside you and guide you in your times of struggle and someone you’re willing to be painfully honest with.
      Hopefully you and your wife can work together and work things out. It’s good to hear that a man is willing to read this book and not blame or gaslight his wife with what he’s reading. Hopefully you’re not doing that. It sounds like you aren’t.

      So many of the commenters have husbands who are unwilling to change their ways, for years, and the unhappiness goes on for so long and affects the whole family for years and years. It is truly a hard thing to face, when the man you love and have ties to and dreams with, when he is not healthy in the relationship and causes breakdown.

      Get help for yourself. Work on yourself. Get strong in your spirit and be courageous in your decisions for your future and for your children’s future.

      And, to comment on having a support system, yes I would definitely agree that friendships and support from women outside of your church family is a blessing, as I have experienced that with having marital problems and lack of support within my “church”, but full support “outside” my church. But not outside the larger body of believers. Not everyone understands the nature of overt or especially covert abuse because they haven’t walked in those shoes. Within my “church family”, I was ostracized from my small group. Not allowed to rejoin. Not contacted at all through the covid shut down business. But my other friends have been in touch, with us encouraging each other and being supportive.

      • R on June 14, 2020 at 10:05 pm

        Also, just expect it to take lots of time. It took time for things to deteriorate. It will take lots of time and compassion for things to improve. You can’t just fix this overnight.

  6. Wendy Rokos on June 10, 2020 at 4:56 pm

    Wow! I feel like I just read about my own life! I’ve left my husband of 7 years twice & am currently living on my own. We foster his grandson (2 yrs) and that throws things into an even more complicated mess. He’s verbally attacked my son and even his father and that was the last straw, I rented a home close by and moved just as the pandemic hit and I had to work from home. Even separated we continue to be in counseling but all we get are communication tips! This isn’t a communication problem, it’s abuse! He went on a text and email rant with me just 2 days ago and yesterday through all the begging for grace and forgiveness he’s continuing to threaten to take our grandson away from me! I certainly don’t always respond well but no one deserves this treatment and after 2 1/2 years of counseling nothing has changed! When I read the emotionally destructive marriage I was relieved to know I wasn’t crazy and his pattern of abuse was real and destroying my love for him! At this point I’m scared, frustrated & beaten down and I know I have some tough decisions to make! No one would ever suspect he could be so cruel because of the facade he puts on for the community he’s so involved in! I’m beyond frustrated and don’t know which way to turn! I rely on my faith but he’s not a Christian so biblical truth shared just gets used against me! Ugh! I’m relieved to know I’m not alone but so sad for those of us living this and needing to make decisions! Help!

  7. Terry on June 10, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    This sounds very much like my second “marriage.” I was divorced and had small children from a previous marriage to a husband who was unfaithful over and over and finally abandoned us. I was so relieved and overjoyed to find a man who said he wanted not only me but the children, too.

    He was harder on the children at times than I felt was necessary (that was the only thing I would sometimes stand up to him about) and he was also explosive towards me at times. He was a good provider and we lived in a nice neighborhood, went on a vacation in the summertime, etc. but it was always marred by his unpredictable behavior. To most people and extended family, we were a remarkable couple. But no one saw the episodes that happened behind closed doors. I thought we just had to get adjusted to being a family and made excuses. I saw a counselor on my own, but I never got any clarity. My husband’s job was extremely stressful plus he was in a very active reserve unit. (Thankfully, he did work long hours and was gone a lot of the time!). I tried to hope that things would get better. One day…when the children were older, when the reserve duty was over, when he retired from his job, etc. Well, I stuck it out for 35 years. It never got better. It only got worse. The children did grow up. One has nothing to do with him, two love him from a distance and the child we had together who is an adult, suffers from anxiety and depression. I stayed with him (wasn’t that my “Christian duty?”) even as his verbal yelling, slamming doors, throwing tantrums, demeaning words, continued and became more frequent. Since he no longer had children to dictate to or a job where he could take out some aggression (law enforcement field), he seemed to take everything out on me. If I disagreed with anything – even what to buy at the grocery store, for example, he’d explode. Never hit me – but I often wished he would do so in order that my wounds would be visible. A counselor told me to disengage and explain to him that I would not be part of the conversation. That only made him angrier. For several years before that I started yelling back ugly things at him. But he seemed to like that as though it were normal. The I told him I hated it when he yelled at me and I hated myself when I yelled back and that I couldn’t live like this.

    I finally got him to go to a counselor with me but he looked right at the counselor with all his charm and said he didn’t ever yell at me. That I was just too sensitive. We got no where with this counselor.
    I was in so much pain and confusion, ashamed and embarrassed, just totally exhausted. I finally shared my story with a friend I met in Bible study who totally understood and called it what it was – abuse – domestic violence.

    I finally left town to visit my daughter for what I thought would be a week or two. That was 17 months ago! He went to a counselor 4-5 times because I told him he had to, but announced that neither he nor the counselor thinks he needs to continue on in counseling- That he needs to change but he can only do that if I come back and work on it with him. (Which God has shown me is not true. He is not going to change and it is not my place to make him change.) I was going to file for divorce but at this time we have agreed to live separately. He is sending financial support and I’m in the process of getting my own place to live. This is all a long and complicated story, but I just wanted to share that it does not get better – it gets worse. Don’t expose your children and yourself to abuse any longer. Come up with an escape plan. Listen to those who know how to help like Leslie Vernick, Patrick Doyle, Rev Jeff Crippen to name a few. I am at peace now even though I never wanted to spend my golden years alone. I haven’t had anyone in the last year and a half (especially someone who says they love me) explode at me over nothing and act like I’m the stupidest person they’ve ever known. I don’t have it all figured out but I can tell you I now have more peace and confidence than I’ve had in over three decades. I’m into studying what the Bible really says and reading books (and watching videos) by authors like I previously mentioned. I regret that I didn’t leave much sooner and I have to forgive myself for that. I’m working on it.

    • Linda on June 10, 2020 at 10:04 pm

      Oh Terry, my heart goes out to you. It must have been so hard. I am in a very hard marriage myself. I am 61 years old and with this CoVid19 i am not sure how i would manage on my own. But with or without him, I am moving back home. Money is an issue, if if wasn’t , I would live separately. I wish I could take a walk with you and give you a hug. God bless. You will be fine.

    • Wendy Ortiz on June 12, 2020 at 11:14 am

      Wow so happy for you tht you were able to escape that destructive marriage!
      He sounds a lot like my husband 😣💔
      He makes me feel like I’m stupid all the time even my children are losing respect for me. Idk what to do or how to do it. Please help me pray for my escape as well. Thank you God bless you. ❤️

    • LIbbie on June 15, 2020 at 1:12 pm

      Wow, Terry. I could have written this. But after only 6 years of marriage I got out. Sometimes I wonder if he would have changed had I stayed and tried harder. You make me realize that he wouldn’t. He would have always exploded over the small things….making mountains out of mole hills. Thanks for posting, and so happy that you are happy now.

  8. Sally Jones on June 10, 2020 at 6:40 pm

    I very much doubt your husband will be able to grow or change if you ask him to. I had a similar marriage that got worse over time and he could never understand or admit he was wrong, had a temper, was passive-agressive and had mood swings. The best thing to do is get all your ducks in a row and get a divorce as it is also bad that your kids see you continuing to put up with this abuse.

  9. Ann Watt on June 11, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    Frontal temporal dementia developing? Or mild, cognitive impairment? These things affect judgment and caring, among others. There is also a “phenotype” of this, if the MRI image looks normal. Often related to clinical depression, but not always. NOT Alzheimers, if this is what your husband has. Sounds very similar to somebody I know, and he has been professionally diagnosed. Maybe see the best neuro-psychologist in your vicinity, like we did? Just a thought.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 11, 2020 at 12:47 pm

      Thanks Ann, we should always consider physical disease, especially if the onset is more recent. That’s why I ask her to look for the patterns in her history so we can tell if it’s more recent and he was great before, or if it’s just more of the same, just more intense because she is not willing to be the shiny object anymore.

      • Julie K on June 11, 2020 at 3:15 pm

        And Asperger’s, particularly if it’s undiagnosed or unacknowledged, can *really* complicate matters. It can be very difficult to find experienced enough helpers in this arena.

        • Barbara B on June 12, 2020 at 10:41 am

          I found lot of helpful information here:
          https://www.aane.org/

          The Asperger/Autism Network. They have a counselor who specializes in marriages of one spouse with Asperger’s and the other without. On the home page, click adults, then find Neurodiverse Couples Coaching. If you scroll down there are some articles.

          This article is especially good:
          https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.naswma.org/resource/resmgr/imported/FCE_AspergerMarriage.pdf

          “Asperger Marriage: Viewing Partnerships Through a Different Lens” by Gracy Myhill and Denia Jekel.

          • Barbara B on June 12, 2020 at 10:44 am

            Okay let me try my comment again. This time I will not include the links.

            I found a lot of helpful information at The Asperger/Autism Network. They have a counselor who specializes in marriages of one spouse with Asperger’s and the other without. On the home page, click adults, then find Neurodiverse Couples Coaching. If you scroll down there are some articles.

            This article is especially good: “Asperger Marriage: Viewing Partnerships Through a Different Lens” by Gracy Myhill and Denia Jekel.



    • ruth8318 on June 15, 2020 at 5:35 pm

      Anne, your theory sounds plausible. But the wife would need to be very shrewd in how she suggested neurological testing to her H – I mean, if she says to him: “you’re acting NUTS, so you need to be tested for dementia!” Then his pride would buck up and he would say “heck no!”

      When I read her description of his behavior, it made me think of rapid cycling bipolar disorder. (I know not all people rage during their manic stage.) There are other mood disorders he could be experiencing.

      He is responsible for the damage is causing his wife and children REGARDLESS of why he is acting badly.

      I am sorry for this wife. The confusion of trying to reconcile the good AND the horrible in your husband is so grievous.

  10. Wendy on June 11, 2020 at 5:33 pm

    Wow this sounds all to familiar! This sounds a lot like what I’m dealing with. The only difference is, I can’t say he is the best provider yes he takes care of rent, bills food etc. but he doesn’t give me any money for my needs so I have to come to him if I need something and he will take me to buy it. A lot of times Thts hard fro me to do especially when things aren’t always so good between us. Also my oldest isn’t his bio child although he pretty much raised him he’s never supported him.
    He’s controlling and this has been ongoing since the very beginning of our relationship so 13 years 😔 I’m so angry at myself for not ending my relationship sooner because now it’s so hard to get out. I feel stuck. No matter how I try to plan my escape, it’s almost as if he knows without me telling him anything and he tries so hard to be nice. For example, just recently I was talking to my oldest sister about what’s been happening. She told me to come stay with her so she got the kids and I one way tickets to Florida. Now I had to tell him eventually was just waiting for the right time didn’t want him to make things impossible for me. However, I didn’t tell him I was planing on staying because I just know tht wouldn’t have ended well if I did. So wen he asked wen I was coming back I just said I didn’t know. I really just wanted to at least separate from him for a little while just to have some peace in my life. Now he’s making plans to go to Florida as well and telling the kids that he will be renting a home and telling them he’s taking them to the parks etc. he knows I am unable to do any of these things because I do not work. The only thing I do is clean my church and I don’t get much for it. But this is the second time he does this. I have told him In the past when things got ugly tht I was leaving to Florida with my sister because he wouldn’t leave and he knows I have no where else to go as I have no family here where we currently live so I guess he’s trying to stop tht from happening? God is the only reason I am still here today but I am so stressed so lost so hopeless so miserable it hurts. I have been suffering from severe depression anxiety and even attempted suicide dec of 2018. Lord knows I love my kids to death! But I feel like nobody cares although there are the few tht do care but many who know my situation who I’ve shared my story with leaders and pastors all say they’re here for me but actually they’re not 😔

    • Barbara B on June 12, 2020 at 10:48 am

      Wendy, I’m really sorry to hear about this terrible situation. Sometimes, for the sake of safety, it’s okay to lie. If you have to tell a lie to your husband, like saying “I’ll be back in a month” I think that’s okay. Your safety and the safety of your children is important!

      • Wendy Ortiz on June 13, 2020 at 11:38 am

        Hello Barbara, I no I’m just afraid of what he’ll do. He has threatened to take me to court if I leave the state with his kids and he has more Le way than I do being that I attempted suicide Dec. of 2018. Well at least that’s what he has said to me. He tells me things like, who do you think will win custody if you left? Especially after what you did?! And laughs. He tries to make me feel as if I’m crazy even using my own family to say some of them have agreed even our old pastor who use to council us he and his wife which my husband still talks to from time to time from what my husband has told me has told him that I am needy and insecure. And that just wowed me coming from someone I thought really cared about me. Before they left they they even told me to leave and don’t return because they have tried with us with him and he wasn’t consistent or cooperative.

        • Autumn on June 14, 2020 at 4:36 am

          Wendy, he is using those threats to attempt to control you and it is working. Time for you to live in the truth. You have a number of phone calls today make and a bunch of websites to search. Forget what he says. It is time to get yourself educated.

          Call your local domestic abuse shelter, inquire about the ARMS program mentioned here. Start reading the books referenced on this website. Get a free consultation with a lawyer and know your rights. Most importantly, get counseling for yourself. Have faith.and courage. Trust God and not your spouse.

  11. Sunny on June 11, 2020 at 10:15 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story. This is nearly in parallel with the hell that I live in daily. I also have physical disabilities, and it makes dealing with H’s abusive behavior even more difficult. H is master manipulator, and he refuses all the help that’s been offered to him. I’m slowing dying. This is a painful death.

    • Barbara B on June 12, 2020 at 10:45 am

      Sunny, I’m so sorry for your pain.

    • JoAnn on June 12, 2020 at 8:17 pm

      Sunny, Is there any way at all for you to separate from him, for the sake of your health, if nothing else? Try to think outside your box, and look for new options that you may not have considered before. You say that he refuses help that has been offered to him. What about help that has been offered to you? Take whatever comes to you, please. There may be some angels in your life that you don’t recognize.

      • Sunny on June 12, 2020 at 9:07 pm

        Thanks for your reply. I am currently in therapy with an excellent Christian therapist. I am dealing with my own childhood trauma, and severe PTSD. I also have three children at home. Just over a year ago, I was tossed to the curb by my church because I chose not to volunteer for something that they expected me to do. (It was illegal) There is a lot of trauma and obsticle in every direction.

        Can you say more about what you mean “angels in your life that you don’t recognize”?

        • JoAnn on June 16, 2020 at 9:46 pm

          First of all, Sunny, I think it was a mercy that your “church” forced you out for conscience sake. Good. Find a group of believers who demonstrate the Lord’s loving heart and teach and believe the Bible. Ask the Lord to lead you there. Sometimes the Lord sends people into our life to offer help or just friendship that seem unlikely, or different from us, but who are really His messengers to bring us something we need. We are His Body on earth, and He has only our hands and hearts to minister to others. Keep your eyes on our beautiful Savior, and receive the hope and peace He has for you. He cares.

          • 5Sunny on June 16, 2020 at 9:57 pm

            Thanks Joann. It is really hard because it waant the people at the church that were so horrible.They were my friends and support system. The leadership was the ones that did the illegal thing and then made my life he’ll when I said “No. I won’t volunteer to do that.” The leaders gossip ed about me and even took it out on my kids. I start to shake every time I drive by the church. I feel like an orphan from my friends. It’s been a full year and I still don’t have any new friends at church (although I’ve been attending one)



    • Sherry Hofer on June 13, 2020 at 5:44 am

      Sorry, I should have proofed that before hitting send. 🤦🏼‍♀️

    • Aly on June 13, 2020 at 10:18 am

      Sunny,
      This breaks my heart! I’m so sorry for you. Does your counselor know of a women’s shelter in your area?

  12. Sherry Hofer on June 13, 2020 at 5:39 am

    I VERY MUCH relate to your story. God opened my eyes to His Truth. I thought I was being a good wife by remaining with my husband and carrying on the facade. I thought I was protecting my children because, at least, I was there to be a buffer when he became verbally abusive and controlling. I believed this was my cross to bear because I had taken vows before God. Let me say it again, God opened my eyes to HIS TRUTH. I couldn’t see the truth until He showed me that I was, in fact, being a BAD MOTHER. Yes, a bad mother. I was allowing my children to grow up in a home where there was no harmony. There was only FALSE NORMAL. Rather than harmony, my children and I were walking around on egg shells, doing whatever we could to keep the person we loved present, and the person we feared at bay. We bent to his every whim so he would be Appt, kind and loving. Inevitably he would hurt us, yell at us, demean us- do something hurtful. He would then, at some point rescue us from the hurt by bringing back the person we love so we could walk on egg shells to keep that person present. (The abuse cycle, in a nutshell.) God exposed you me that my children didn’t know anything about harmonious human relationships. I- let me repeat that- I…was teaching them that this was normal. I was doing that by allowing it to go on. Everything in me shifted on that day. All my Sunday School teaching about submitting to your husband, honoring your wedding vows, swearing to your own hurt, etc., went out the window the day God showed me that the little lives He had entrusted to me to bring up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, I was actually harming. God told me to put an end to the abuse. That is what gave me the strength to leave. I made a plan and over the ext months I slowing prepared to leave him safely. My children moved 2000 miles away and I went in to a long term recovery program. My husband sought help he would NEVER have been willing to seek if we had stayed with him. He was in an intense recovery program for abusive men for over 2 years and has remained in an ongoing support group for over 6 years. Our family began joint recovery after 2 years of separation and reunited under the same roof after 31/2 years of separation. Our children are clear on what is abuse and what is family conflict that is typical and healthy. Our children and I have received repentance, remorse and rebuilding of harmonious relationships with their dad. We are a rare story of restoration. Most men don’t/won’t change. Whether he changed or didn’t change I knew I had to do right by my children. Leaving him was very hard on them, and they hated me for leaving. I know now that I would rather have taken their hatred then than stayed and have raised them to perpetuate the cycle of abuse. My children have immense respect for me now, 8 years later. They don’t regret leaving. They know it was of God and they are healthier for our leaving. My husband says I saved his life. I know God did all of that. I simply OBEDIENTLY put a stop to the abuse. It was the hardest thing I e ever done. It literally broke me in many ways. I thought I would crumble…in some ways I did…but we have all come back much stronger.

    • Wendy Ortiz on June 13, 2020 at 11:28 am

      Wow! It amazes me how many woman are going through the same thing as me. In a world where i feel so alone in my suffering. No matter how many ppl I talk to.
      No one seems to have the answers.Yea they tell me leave or we’ll pray etc. but that doesn’t change the fact tht I’m still stuck here! Reading these comments makes me feel a bit better tho hurt for others who are going through it! It is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. But the fact tht I’m not the only one or tht it’s not me being overly sensitive Or dramatic or crazy as my husband calls it, that IT IS REAL and it’s not ok! I want to leave especially for my children my oldest 19 now doesn’t want to leave. And he is not my husband’s biological child altho he did raise him. Sadly they have no relationship. I’m still trying to figure things out because if I leave it would have to be out of the state because I have no where else to go but my sisters. I have no income no nothing. I’m just praying and trusting God he will make a way! Your story is so inspiring! May God continue to bless you and your beautiful family.

      • Sherry Hofer on June 13, 2020 at 11:45 am

        I hear everything you said. I had to move 2000 miles to move myself and my children in with family. I was also unemployed. I had to find work there. Living in someone else’s home was extremely hard. All of it was so hard. However, it was the right thing to do. I completely understand your dilemma. It took me 2 years from the time I was willing to recognize him as abusive to the time I finally left. I almost came back 3 times in the first year because living away from everything we knew was just as hard in a different way. I know I could never fault anyone who makes that choice. But, in the end, no matter the hardship, leaving, and leaving for a very substantial period of time, was what brought the possibility of healing to our family.

        • Wendy Ortiz on June 14, 2020 at 11:15 am

          You are one strong courageous mama! I admire you for that n more!
          When you said you almost came back, what stopped you from coming back?
          Also as much as I love my big sis I no it’s going to be hard especially because she only has a 1 bedroom which she says she will give to me n the kids. But our mom who is also having some issues is coming down as well. But I almost feel like that’s my opportunity to go amd try to find a place with my mom out there so we can help each other out. She can even watch the kids for me so I could work.

          How did it work for you was your hub ok with you leaving and taking the kids? My hub makes threats to me if I take the kids outside of the state. But he knows that’s the only place we have to go and he won’t leave I’ve told him so if you don’t want us to leave you leave and he says he will but never actually does.

          • Sherry Hofer on June 14, 2020 at 4:33 pm

            Wendy, I went to the county women’s services office and they assigned me a planner. That person helped me with all the steps I needed to take before I left. I told my husband I was taking the kids to visit my sister. Once there my pastor gave him a letter explaining that I wasn’t coming back u til he went through an abuse recovery program. My husband respected our pastor who had worked with us for some time. Our pastor told him not to fight me. If he wanted his family back he needed to get help. Brent never tried to force us to return. If he had it would have further damaged our ability to rebuild later. My planner help me know how to navigate the legal issues.



        • Wendy Ortiz on June 19, 2020 at 5:17 pm

          Hello sherry! Blessings. Are you in fb? I have a coupe of questions I would like to ask you as I am in the process of separating from my husband. Thank you.

      • Aly on June 14, 2020 at 10:14 am

        Wendy,
        If you can go to your sisters for a time where you feel safe and you can begin to process things you may start to see many other opportunities of how to chose a healthier daily life. You could find a support group or join an online group.
        There are specialized women’s shelters and communities/organizations that offer professional counseling for women in domestic abuse situations. It doesn’t have to be just physical abuse in order for you to find resources.
        Thankfully, you have somewhere to go like your sisters!
        Are you afraid to leave for even a short time?

        • Wendy Ortiz on June 14, 2020 at 11:03 am

          Hi Aly, I did eventually tell my hub prob shouldn’t have done that but he was home from work for 6 weeks he just went back today! Had I known tht he was going back so soon I prob wouldn’t had said anything but at the same time it would have bothered me to leave without saying anything to him. I no how much he loves his children. But wen I told him he started asking questions. He asked when were we coming back I told him I didn’t no. He let it go but then started making plans to rent a home out there. Even telling the kids about it telling them we will go to the water parks etc. Again he came back to ask wen were we planing on coming back. I gave him the same answer but he started to get upset and started saying what do u plan on being out there the whole summer? What am I supposed to be without my kids all summer I don’t think so and started lashing out so I said only a few weeks I just need to get away for a bit but I didn’t tell him the real reason tht he was the one I was trying to get away from. I know it’ll just create a whole big fight which is what I’ve been trying to avoid these days. But lately I’ve been feeling like just telling him the truth. Even telling him I may not come back.

          • Aly on June 14, 2020 at 3:54 pm

            Wendy,
            There are some things to consider. Autumn wrote out some great action items for you to begin to get your ducks in a row. I don’t know your ages or state laws regarding your kids, so it’s possible it could look very bad if you left with the kids and told your husband your not returning. I’m referring to other posts in this thread. If somehow he has money to rent a second place in Florida, why do you not have money to rent a separate place in your state? Does he have complete financial control of the family’s income?



    • JoAnn on June 16, 2020 at 9:38 pm

      Wow, Sherry! Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace! You have an incredible story, and I am so glad that it has a good ending. Not all stories result in a successful recovery of the marriage, but at the very least, when a woman can gather up the courage to leave for sanity’s sake, she and the children can recover, and that’s worth a lot.

      • Sherry Hofer on June 17, 2020 at 1:21 am

        JoAnn, it’s worth a whole lot!! And you are correct, few will truly change. Leaving is still the right answer. It still leads to healing and recovery.

    • ruth8318 on June 16, 2020 at 10:20 pm

      Wow Sherry, thanks for sharing your testimony 💗

  13. Matt on June 13, 2020 at 9:49 am

    It’s possible that he doesn’t even see it. I spent 24 years thinking I was a good husband and father. I’ll bet he does too. I keep coming back and rereading this post and thinking my wife probably could have written this. I read the comments from some of the other woman and see and hear the hurt and bitterness and I don’t want that for my wife. I’ve order Chris Mole’s book and started watching his videos at “Men of Peace”. I’ve talked to a couple mentors, one of who said…”I can see that in you.” Which was eye opening and hard for me….but I trust him. My wife and I have been having some great conversations. There are some conversations we still need a mediator for, a counselor in the room. I spent a year in individual counseling defending myself arguing about “What more can I do to make her happy” and how hard it was for me being such a great husband and father but not being able to make her happy. No more. I now see my pride and where I was blind. We had fallen into such a negative cycle of self defensiveness and picking up offense from what we id to each other. Neither of us had any grace for each other. Even though we were having weekly dates nights and “investing in our marriage” and being part of marriage studies at our church. We would almost always fight when we did the homework study stuff together during the week.

    My poor wife. She’s been though so much. She put up with being drug all over the world and had to pretty much be a single mom while I deployed 7 times and worked late when I was home. She got stuck playing 2nd fiddle to my career, discipleship for other men, to my ego and selfishness.

    I didn’t see any of it. I though we had the perfect life. Perfect marriage. Perfect family. We’ve got 4 great kids. One of them is in ministry as a missionary, one just graduated HS and is following my footsteps joining the Marine Corps and a middle school and elementary boy each who are awesome. The whole time my wife was being cut down and undermined and stressed and pushed past her limits trying to keep up with me.

    Sorry this is so long. I’m sure you can imagine the long winded conversations my wonderful wife has had to put up with.

    If this sounds familiar…tell me what else to do.

    • Aly on June 13, 2020 at 10:16 am

      Matt,
      Maybe the case is that you don’t see how much Grace she offered during all the things that you listed?
      You mentioned that you both were in a cycle? That you ‘both’ didn’t have grace for each other.
      My husband went through something similar with some of your (self-talk). He would convince himself that we were in the same boat sharing blame. ( not saying your wife doesn’t have places to grow- but usually those places are different than your path)
      The truth was he was pulling us into the crazy cycle train!
      My husband eventually realized through a lot of interventions that he WAS -living present in Grace and patience from me, yet he didn’t offer the same reciprocal place for me. For many years the marriage was one-sided and it cost me emotionally greatly.
      Through Christ & the willingness of someone’s teachable heart, a lot can be repaired. 🙏
      My husband first had to grow and receive/accept love from the Lord before he could offer pure love from a healing and healthy place.
      He also had to address the 4 (d’s)
      Denial
      Defending (himself)
      Dismissing
      Deflecting
      Otherwise -the conversations were circular and not productive.

    • Sherry Hofer on June 13, 2020 at 12:08 pm

      Matt, your situation sounds a lot like my husbands. We were in counseling for a very long time together. We went to 4 counselors over time. None of them saw ME as the problem so we went to another. We went through several church marriage enhancement groups. The more I tried to “respect” him the worse things became. For a man to see the abuse is extremely difficult. There are complex reasons for that difficulty such as, our culture elevates men and the church has been very patriarchal, just to name a few.
      You asked what else you can do. Hear are several things that come to mind. 1. Listen to her complaints as though she were a friend’s wife telling you her experience with her husband. Depersonalizing helps you hear her story without defense.
      2. My husband wrote a short book that outlined what he learned and what he needed to do to make the changes necessary to heal and to bring healing to our family. His book is “Confessions of an Angry Man” by Brent Hofer. It has helped a handful of men see the problem in themselves. It’s available on Amazon.
      3. Much more significantly, find a men’s abuse recovery program and commit to the extremely hard work of going all the way through the program. It is very difficult but eye opening and life changing. In our area that program is Abuse Recovery Ministry and Services (ARMS).

      • Matt on June 13, 2020 at 1:13 pm

        Just ordered the book. Thank you.

        • Sherry Hofer on June 13, 2020 at 2:27 pm

          Matt, you sound open to change. I hope his book helps. It is not a self help book. It is more of a confessional and explanation of what he learned. His actions helped us all to heal and begin to trust. It took time but it has happened. Good luck to you and your wife. Know it is much work but the work is worth the effort.

    • Free on June 13, 2020 at 3:48 pm

      Matt, did you see my reply to you on this post on June 11th? There is an assignment written in it that is a first step for people in your situation to complete. Have you begun to list every time you manipulated or coerced a person in your life? Use both a time line and an essay format. Have to documented how that made you feel? Powerful and in control? What did you gain from each experience of exploitation? The reflective assignment should take quite a bit of time and is what you will bring to the counselor’s office as you begin your journey of discovery and contrition.

      • Matt on June 13, 2020 at 6:24 pm

        Yes, and I plan to do it. I want some help from my counselor on this one. It’s going to take some hard work since I think I had the perfect childhood, not an easy one but a good one. I’ve got a lot of blind spots but my vision is starting to clear. I’ve been blind to how I’ve manipulated people, especially my wife.

        • Free on June 13, 2020 at 9:22 pm

          Thanks for your reply. Narcissists remember every event and are a secretly proud of them. Matt, there is great hope for you if you are not suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder. There is no cure for NPD.

          Best wishes on your journey.

        • Sherry Hofer on June 13, 2020 at 10:56 pm

          Matt, my husband thought he was one of the few that had an idyllic childhood until he began to really unpack it. He now sees he was taught to think and act the way he did and he was taught that it was right and he and his family were better than others. Again, it’s hard work, but good work.

    • Barbara B on June 14, 2020 at 11:37 am

      Matt, first of all I want to say thank you for serving our country. We appreciate you and the other men and women who sacrifice so much to keep us safe and free.

      My suggestion is to consider whether the things that brought you success and also kept you safe in military situations might be the very things that create distance with your wife.

      Military training is important and good. I’m grateful for it. I don’t want to suggest otherwise. However, I think a different type of training is necessary for the home, because your family relationships are different than military relationships. Because of this difference it makes sense that there would be different protocol.

      For example, I read that you were asking the question “What more can I do to make her happy?” I could be wrong, but to me that looks like an outcome-focused mindset with an emphasis on strategy and transactional relationships. You want to take action to fix a problem.

      However, I wonder if your wife might simply want someone to sit with her in her unhappiness? She might value empathy more than decisive action. It sounds as though she is carrying a burden of grief over the things she has lost over the years. More than anything, she might need someone to just sit in silence, listening and supporting her as she grieves and mourns her losses.

      Of course I can’t speak for your wife but I think that’s what I would want.

      • Sunny on June 14, 2020 at 11:54 am

        I think you hit the nail on the head here. Don’t assume that the goal is to ” Make her happy.” Speaking for myself, I deeply long for a spouse who would be patient enough and strong enough to sit with me in the pain, and not try to change me or fix me. That type of behavior from my husband (or anyone) would speak volumes of love and care, and also help to heal deep wounds from years of abuse.

        • Barbara B on June 14, 2020 at 2:00 pm

          Amen to that, Sunny. That’s a true friend right there, one who will listen not talk or fix. Really none of us can make anyone happy; all we can do is be kind.

        • Aly on June 14, 2020 at 3:59 pm

          Yes agree!
          What’s the saying, “ start getting comfortable with Being Uncomfortable” ..
          Not many people have this naturally but it is something people can grow in if they choose to.

      • Matt on June 14, 2020 at 4:17 pm

        Yes, I’m a fixer. I’m a Sr Combat Officer in the Marines. I’ve commanded at multiple levels and combat. I’m a strategic planner and don’t compartmentalism well. I treat those I lead like my family and my family like my Marines. I’m the same at work as at home. I don’t cuss there and I don’t cuss at home as an example. I’m learning not to fix everything. I’m learning to listen. I’m learning to not treat my wife like one of my Marines. It’s not easy being married to me. My wife is amazing and is an amazing mother and has lived in foreign countries and had moved 20 times. I’ve survived 7 deployments without PTSD (maybe) but I think she may have developed some from living with me. We are working through those. I love the analogy of the burned arm that Leslie used. I’m embracing that one and seeing it.

        • JoAnn on June 16, 2020 at 9:32 pm

          Matt, I admire your courage, both in serving our country and in facing your part in your wife’s unhappiness, which may require even more courage than fighting in battle. Becoming self-aware is not an easy thing to do, and there is no real training for it. Keep on keeping on. You are on the right track, and these women here have offered some excellent advice. Thank you for listening.

          • Matt on June 17, 2020 at 5:39 am

            Yes, I’m learning a lot. It’s eye opening. There’s a lot of pain and hopelessness here. Yesterday I read Brad Hambrick’s “Self-Centered Spouse” and last night Chris Mole’s “The Heart of Domestic Abuse” arrived. I’ve read the 1st two. chapters already. And not only have I always put the toilet seat down, I wipe the rim for any mess 1st. That doesn’t make a good loving husband though, I suppose it could be an indicator but I wouldn’t rely on it too much.



  14. Linda on June 13, 2020 at 1:20 pm

    Dear Community:

    I have a question to ask. Wow. It sure feels like a wierd one. I asked my husband to leave the toilet seat down so I don’t have to keep putting it down after he uses it. He says he has been doing that, and so I now need to put the toilet seat back up for him. Is that as wierd of a request as I think it is? I thought that the husband is supposed to cherish the wife…..

    • LIbbie on June 15, 2020 at 12:41 pm

      That’s very weird. It seems to me, that he’s trying to prove a point, or play a mind game with you. Saying it should be equal. Putting the toilet seat down for you is common courtesy, he is not going above and beyond doing that for you.

    • Emily on June 16, 2020 at 11:04 am

      It is not a weird issue. Every male-female couple deals with this or has dealt with it and its no longer/never was an issue. I wish for 2 bathrooms. That being said … I totally agree with but still struggle with the “husband is supposed to cherish the wife”. While this is true, when he doesn’t cherish me and I wish for or request he does, then I feel selfish/entitlement. I want to be cherished in the ways I need to be cherished, without asking for it. Dilemma

      • Julie K on June 16, 2020 at 6:44 pm

        I’m speaking from my heart here – I do *not* want to sound “preachy.” This insight from a biblical counselor changed my life dramatically: of course I want to be loved. I’m made for mutual relationship (with God first of course). But God calls me to love more than I want to be loved. Because He first loved me. And I’m thus following in Jesus’ footsteps, He who laid down his life for others, for me.

        (And this in no way condones abuse of any kind.)

        I hope it blesses you too. Even if it’s just a 51% loving another and 49% being loved, this *attitude*, this mind of Christ, changes everything.

        (And of course constantly comparing those “percentages” is not the goal either, lol. It’s a heart change.)

        • Aly on June 16, 2020 at 7:17 pm

          Julie K,
          I agree with you and this posture;) I understand why you see it from a Christ place- which it is. This is great in healthy relationships where their is respect on both sides.
          For me, I did this for a very long time only to realize it actually created more entitlement behavior in my husband and a few others to continue to expect more from me.
          It became their normal. I thought I was modeling Christlike behavior. Only to find out I was enabling their lack of healthy behavior!

          • Sherry Hofer on June 16, 2020 at 7:43 pm

            Julie and Aly,
            Yes and Yes!! Both of these comments are true but Aly, yours applies to a typical or healthy/ harmonious marriage. I, like you Julie, applied this Christlike attitude and behavior to my husband and our marriage. We went to innumerable Christian marriage seminars that taught biblical love and respect, how to fireproof your marriage, taking the position that I am third, and so forth. What I learned in recovery is that abuse is a bottomless downwardly spinning cycle. The more you give, the more your abuser is willing to take. I came to understand that I can pray and ask my husband to change, to show the love I’m willing to show him, to meet me at even a 60/40 ratio but even God can’t affirmatively answer that prayer unless my husband is willing to change. An abuser is looking for a “source” to fill his empty bucket. He is not there to fill hours. You are there to fill his. As long as you are doing the supposed “Christlike” things he will gladly take and take some more- until you want something in return. This is not a 50-50 relationship. And it never will be as long as you maintain being a ‘source’ It is here that most Christian marriage programs and teachings fail for those of us in abusive relationships. Here, we need to look at what Proverbs says about the hardened fool. We need to walk away.



          • Aly aly on June 16, 2020 at 8:06 pm

            Sherry,
            Yes I agree with you completely! Thankfully, my husband did get help and has had a long time of recovery. I have had to walk away from those precious to me that (want to use/abuse-and see nothing wrong with their posture)



          • Julie K on June 16, 2020 at 10:01 pm

            Aly and Sherry – I was replying *only* to Emily’s situation re the toilet seat and her dilemma that she stated.

            I realized after I posted that in this forum my comments could be seen as problematic.

            Wisdom in knowing truly what Christ-like love is in a particular situation, is the issue. Sherry, I’m so sorry you did not receive full biblical teaching in marriage seminars – I so know how rare it is to hear such teaching. Christ-like love includes speaking the truth in love – and sometimes even that may not be safe to do. The “Love and Respect” teaching by Eggerichs has done a ton of damage in the church. Ugh.



    • JoAnn on June 16, 2020 at 9:20 pm

      This is an issue for most couples, unless the husband has been taught by parents to put the seat down. I taught my sons to do that out of consideration for others. The first time this became an issue with us was shortly after we married, now 53 years ago, and I fell into the toilet in the middle of the night. My dear husband was so sorry and has put the seat down ever since. My suggestion for you would be that both of you close the toilet–seat and lid. Same for both. But of course, if he is that inconsiderate, I doubt he will do this regularly. Too bad.

  15. Annie on June 14, 2020 at 3:02 pm

    He’s not wonderful.
    Wonderful is the whole package.
    Not perfect but, faults accompanied by compassion, humility and change.

    His kindness gets him what he wants.
    Your loyalty, his nobility.
    Until it doesn’t.

  16. S on June 16, 2020 at 11:33 am

    I also feel like I could have written this question. So many unfortunate similarities. My husband has openly admitted that I am mistreated and that his behavior is selfish, etc., but we are stuck in a cycle. Things improve for several days/weeks, and there are times when I do think he is “wonderful.” Then everything reverts back to exactly how it was before. It’s like he is a completely different person and it makes me feel crazy. He will back pedal on the apologies he made and the things he admitted prior and say that he said those things because he felt like he had to say them, not because he really meant them. It’s frustrating and so hurtful because I can’t tell what is real and what’s a lie anymore. There have been times of closeness and apologies that seemed so sincere and I don’t know what to make of those moments. I believed them and they seemed so real (and I’m not a naïve person). He has been working through many issues from his childhood with a Christian counselor over the past 2 years, so I have been understanding about where some of the behaviors came from and it did help in my own appointments with the counselor to realize that many of the issues had nothing to do with me as a person and were stemming from old traumas and patterns. But I feel that 2 years in, now that the issues have been identified and we’re both aware, it’s not okay to willfully continue to treat me so cruelly. I have 3 young kids and we both work full time. We cannot afford to live separately nor could we manage our children without both of us here. If I don’t figure out how to disengage I feel like I’m going to disappear though. The stress and pain are manifesting in physical ways (headaches, stomach issues, etc.) and I’m so afraid of my kids growing up and having bad relationships because they see me treated so inconsistently. When things are bad, I pray and read my Bible and pour my heart out in letters to God, but the loneliness of living this way is gut wrenching (and the extra isolation due to the pandemic right now is not helping matters.) I don’t have any friends that I’m comfortable sharing these details with and honestly I don’t have any close Christian friends at all anymore, they all seem to be surface level friendships. Speaking with the counselor greatly helps, but unfortunately that isn’t as frequent as I’d like or need. Praying that the author of this question is able to find her way forward and get some much needed peace for herself and her children.

    • Autumn on June 16, 2020 at 8:09 pm

      S, you are going to need to get support to get through this. I am glad you found this site. The good times your husband expresses are fake and part of the manipulative cycle. Two years of talking about himself is not changing anything.

      Have found Natalie Hoffman’s site, Flying Free? Are you reading books for reference? Lundy Bancroft wrote a book about when Dad is an abuser. ( You will have to get the correct title.)

      S, this will not get better. What can you do to change you finances and your living situation? If you already have physical symptoms, you are already much too traumatized. As are your children.

      Are you in one of Leslie’s groups? Are you watching the free YouTube videos by Patrick Doyle on the Dove? You have some work to do her Dear, work that will empower you before you self destruct.

      • S on June 16, 2020 at 11:12 pm

        Hi Autumn,
        I have read Leslie’s book but thank you for the other resources you mentioned, I am going to check them out. I know I need to join a group or do something to get more support. The loneliness is getting unbearable.
        I don’t see an easy answer for our living situation at this time, other than trying to live separately in the same home. He chooses to spend most nights on the couch anyway so I guess making it formal will not matter to him, although I expect that finding out there won’t be any more sex will garner some attention. Honestly I feel like the biggest idiot, because it’s becoming clear that he must just be using me for sex and I somehow let myself believe every single time that it means something and that we’re moving forward. Tonight I am getting the silent treatment and being ignored, so I will browse Natalie Hoffman’s site. It’s hard to keep this up and still try to be a mom in the morning (and also work 40 hours from home.) I often wish Jesus could just appear in person for a few minutes, just long enough for a hug and to tell me audibly that it’s going to be okay.

      • Kathy on August 6, 2020 at 9:18 am

        Thank you Autumn. Just ordered Natalie’s book and workbook. Her site is very informative and helpful.

    • Aly on June 16, 2020 at 11:04 pm

      S,
      You are correct many of the issues as your counselor said have nothing to do with you as the origin, yet they have EVERYTHING to do with you as the recipient and as Helpmeet/wife. You are the person who is taking the brunt of his unresolved areas and maturity places. Painful😩
      If your husband makes steps forward, then backtracks to more destructive behaviors and cycles, then this shows that HE needs more interventions than what is currently taking place. The current counselor must continue but he might need another accountability group (Real mature Men) as well as another counselor To collaborate with the other one. He made need in addition a psychiatrist to assess any other underlying issues?
      I also agree with Autumn- join Leslies groups -Conquer
      Get well acquainted with Patrick’s videos, etc.
      Raise the requirements and keep strong boundaries as he is working his path.
      Outline consequences of what will happen should he not emerse himself in recovery work.
      Don’t waste another minute on the crazy train with him.
      Being firm and loving is necessary.

      • S on June 16, 2020 at 11:41 pm

        Hi Aly, yes I think he does need some additional intervention for sure. His counselor has suggested several different options to him in the past (I think all were group settings for men, not sure of the names off the top of my head.) He does not seem to be interested in taking any additional steps – he also has not read any of the books she has recommended to him. He can be quite charming and personable and I have a feeling he may be chit chatting during some of his sessions and not letting her in on the facts of what’s going on. Easier when we were going together but with the pandemic everything has been virtual and we’ve had to take turns with appointments due to lack of childcare. There is also a family history of mental illness on his side and it has occurred to me that there could be something else going on. I will be meeting with the counselor on my own in the next week or so and will see what she thinks (he would not receive this suggestion from me, but he does seem to trust her.) I have to imagine she’s probably evaluated him before but definitely worth bringing up.
        I know I need to do some work on myself – sorely lacking in this aspect right now and I’m letting the hurt overwhelm me, which is making it harder to stick to boundaries. I really do appreciate the feedback.

        • Aly on June 17, 2020 at 9:46 am

          S,
          I’m very sorry for what you are going through and not having other women alongside you. Jesus is there, I’m sure it’s hard to feel that right now.
          Joining a group like Conquer would be wise because often ‘our stuff’ to work on will be very different than what your husband has to work on.Your counseling sessions that you describe are ‘common’ Especially if your husband is comfortable with how things are it is in the stage of putting on a front.
          It’s important that you also have a session right before or after so that she hears both sides and can hold him accountable to the possibility of misrepresentation. The counselor will see the PAtterns! If he knows that you are also meeting with the counselor he will be more apt to do the work or he will show the inconsistencies and that will be revealed.
          Also, the word suggestion when it came to my situation with my husband had to be removed and our counseling showed that it had to be replaced with Requirement!
          My h often saw things as ‘optional’ given what his struggles are.
          My children were younger at critical times like this, the more you get this around safe people, the better chance you have to be healthier and sane for yourSelf, kids and the overall future… regardless of the outcome of the marriage with your spouse.
          Touch base with Leslie on Conquer and some of her other individual/ small group classes. She also has my info that she can pass along.

  17. Chandra on June 19, 2020 at 10:58 am

    This is all too familiar. He’s amazing until he’s not. I’ve begun, after 12 years to be able to predict when another episode is building up. So I can at least be ready to use the skills I’ve picked up in boundary setting and controlling my Co-Dependancy. I have many times when I’ve wondered how much longer I can continue on this cycle. We are a blended family and the way he has treated my two children has almost led to divorce. Probably should have but I have no way to support myself with 4 children total. I also am terrified of divorce after my last divorce was traumatic and abusive with custody battles and emotional abuse. I just can’t do it again. I had finally a counselor guiding me in getting the confidence I need to get myself self sufficient again and then corona happened. We have done well the last three months and I feel I have it under control with stopping the behavior by walking away, setting boundaries and standing up to the behavior but it’s still who he is. I have since recognized that he is an alcoholic and he acknowledges that, and I see where the addiction to that and food affects his responses. It’s also a part of that “disconnect” he does by staying up late and not coming to bed every night. He is controlling and has anxiety and is a narcissist. But he’s great in so many ways, until he’s not. I am in Celebrate Recovery, have read Melody Beattie and am now happy to find Leslie. I am continuing a lot of growth and breaking a lot of the same Co-Dependancy from my Family of origin. Thanks for letting me share.

  18. Susanita on June 21, 2020 at 8:56 am

    Good morning. I’m married over 20 years. He is a PK whose father left the conservative end of the denomination’s range basically because he identified through study a single point of doctrine, and my opinion is that he made himself obnoxious about it and was looking for something to divide over. I initially liked my husband, the son, for his faith, he knew the Bible really well in three languages. There were warning signs – polemic statements in Sunday school then pulled back just enough, I felt, to not cause offense, I remember thinking at the time, several others.

    My mother was apparently classic bipolar and refused treAtment because “then they would more easily control” her. Lots of isolation, lots of subtle innuendo about things, lots of Bible reading. I know my Bible in English. Saved at 14. My mother raised me to be ecumenically minded within christianity. My father is the nicest guy and diligently provided but waited to divorce her till us two kids were out of college. Then there was a big accident, long story all over. I never wanted to get married for fear of being my mother to any kids but I did consider it as a possibility.

    Well he changed my mind. he told me at the beginning he wasn’t into making a lot of money. At that age with my life ahead of me I still believed I would find a career and succeed so believing in God and also in that delusion I said it was ok and I wanted to work anyways to keep from getting too isolated so that wasn’t a peoblem. we were young and horny and as Christians wanted to marry as virgins and I have a lot of confidence in the sexual integrity end of things. came to find out from his father that he’s not supposed to marry outside that denomination.

    So much I could tell. We were suggested to leave the nondenominational community church we met in and married due to him trying some rhetoric to make them more [insert denomination here ]. So we eventually did at my discretion.after all I felt I should submit to his way and so I had my first in depth experience of Christianity under technically correct doctrine in the denomination that had years ago kicked out my father in law, as the family tells it. 50 miles away, then when we bought property we moved closer. No “community” in this church life, so we had more time to ourselves. Since he was kicked out of that church for being divisive (warn once, twice, then nothing more to do with him forget the book but it’s 3:10), since then he’s been kicked out of two more churches total of four.

    I can’t tell the whole story here cuz its so long but after studying and observing him for 20 years I had been wondering if he was narcissist ic or a sociopath. Then I read Driven to Distraction and learned that ADD people are oftenmisdiagnosed that way when they are really ADD. That also fits.

    Recently I had some sort of breakdown- suicidal ideation and a weapon- and now at a different relatives in another state for treatment. With anti anxiety meds and antidepressants, I’m doing better but was introduced to the world of domestic abuse thinking and boy has it been an eye opener.

    I can for sure say I am not innocent in this regard because I have certainly had my own fits of rage that would classify as verbal abuse. He said he was walking on eggshells a lot and asked me to read Love and Respect by Eggeridge. That was in 2007 and I put in practice what the book taught. He even noticed that fall and was happy about it. In 2008 I had another major depression and continued to be respectful. In 2011 he was arrested, it’s complicated, and instead of paying the relatively small fine, chose to fight it himself all the way to the state supreme court, losing the whole way and refusing to pay the fine at the end AND getting ‘out of the system” legally he says, and he’s studied up on it so his line of reasoning is likely true, at least persuasive.. I was respectful, and tried to stay out of it, plus I really have to make a scene to get him to change his mind about anything….. More long story.

    Anyhow the breakdown happened after I was away for a while helping my dad arrange to put his sister on Medicaid as she has a long-term chronic illness that none of us can afford to pay for, and she was arguably well prepared for aging, except for the illness. But that process showed me what I will never be able to rely on for my husband, and he tries to be healthy but has had enough concussions for example the doctor says he can’t have any more. On the one hand the breakdown I experienced was dumb because I could not trust God with this fear but on the other hand, the man’s radical stance has consequences and they are not inspiring.

    So, getting home form the Medicaid project I learn that my husband now does church with a bunch of other people who were also kicked out of churches “for wanting more of Jesus”, he goes to a Life Group where they talk about healing a la Andrew Wommack, and going to WalMart and asking people if they can pray for them, he’s got a couple mens groups who pray on Sunday afternoons with him, he listens to a prayer line they talk about what you speak is what comes into your life, and when I had my breakdown, he laid hands on me, held me down, said he needed to cast out the demons that were bothering me as a result of his new spirituality, and told his brother to turn up the Michael Card music louder that I used to listen to. Brother’s wife let me come here and I much prefer drugs to the demon theory about the same time the MIL had clear symptoms of bladder cancer and instead of encouraging her to get tested, he introduces her to Andrew Wommack, the prayer line, and so instead of medical treatment for a condition that could have been highly treatable, she’s pushing Andrew Wommack, rebuking the devil, and claiming she cannot have cancer inside of her if Jesus is inside of her.

    So…the lens of domestic abuse is providing a plausible explanation for my experiences. That’s a short story.

  19. Donna on July 1, 2020 at 2:34 pm

    I would encourage you to read up on Borderline Personality Disorder. Learning about this helped save my sanity and also confirm my next steps. I’m also learning about the impact of growing up with a BPD parent (your kids are more impacted than you realize right now). It is a VERY complex disorder–often accompanied by comorbid disorders like PTSD and depression. Information is very empowering. It took me nearly 40 years to understand what was happening and to realize I couldn’t fix it.

  20. Susy on June 4, 2021 at 8:26 am

    Very familiar for me too. He is amazing (and even more amazing to everyone out there) until you get on his way. I was married for only 2years and a half. Unfortunately I had had red flags that I ignored. For example I had seen him reply back to me when he felt rejected, with extremely hurtful words. That kind of words that a person who claims to love you would not even say. I remember thinking ‘how can you say you love someone and think those horrible things about that person?’. He proposed to me way to early, I turned him down and made me feel guilty for saying no with ‘this ring cost me a lot of money’… and etc, so many behaviors that were just NOT normal. He had a terrible upbringing with a dad who was very violent (all of it and with weapons). He made me believe that because of that, he could not tolerate any forms of violence against women. I was very naive. To add to that, he had a toxic relationship with his mom. He would share everything with her and she (who is a narcissisms) turned him against me whenever my behavior was not approved in her eyes. Our problems started right away (our main issue revolved around her mom, which had been nasty several times to me). I became pregnant and when our daughter was born everything intensified. He turned his back on me, became authoritarian, made my maternity leave a real nightmare. I implored him to solve our problems and misunderstandings, he refused and kept mistreating me with extremely harsh words and ignoring me (since the birth of our daughter he went and slept in a different room). I went into post partum depression and had to call my family to help me out. It got to the point where I was scared of him, he was so mean and harsh with me, calling me a bad wife and a bad mother and constantly accusing me. Then he started to threaten me (that he would take my baby away from me with false accusations, that he would divorce me etc). I left the house a first time to get better. He accused me of stealing our daughter. It was such a difficult and confusing time for me. My family encouraged me to file for separation but I was conflicted, after all, there had been an amazing side to that man as well. I went back home to give it a chance and the mistreatment continued. He kept on ignoring me and whenever he was mad, he would explode as usual.. until I left..I knew the whole time (and unfortunately even before marriage) that this was not right…I have been separated for 6 months now and all he has told me is ‘to move on’..I have had a really hard time dealing with all the anger inside of me. it was very painful to realize that he never loved me, that he never understood what he was doing when he married me.

    • Alexis on July 28, 2022 at 10:33 am

      Hey! I was just reading your comment. Your story sounds exactly like mine. Like EXACTLY what I’m going through right now. I’m in the “giving it another chance” part of your story, but struggling. I know you posted this a long time ago, so I’m not sure if you will respond. How did you decide when enough was enough? I feel so guilty for some reason. My daughter is only 5 months, but I also gave a 9 year old son from a previous toxic relationship. I think that’s the hardest part along with my husband telling me that everything is my fault and I’m crazy. Also, I believe he does love me below the surface of the arguments, names, and talking down to me when he’s mad or angry .

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