I’m sitting again on the deck of the ship in the South of France. I’ve never been here before but it is just beautiful. In the harbor there are yachts that look like mansions, the lifestyles of the rich and famous. But for a moment, it’s fun to get a glimpse of it.
By the time this is posted, I will be close to heading back to the USA. We land in Rome and will spend a few days in Italy and then head to Chicago to visit family.
Our goal for this summer was to get a break from the hot sun in Arizona, but here there is high heat plus high humidity. Lesson learned. Pizza oven hot is easier for my body than steam room hot.
Today’s blog is from a dear woman in our blog community. Aly has been a regular contributor here for years and I invited her to share some of her thoughts about her own journey of healing. These are her words:
Leslie I just want to thank you for all you do for those who like me found themselves in a pattern of unhealthy and destructive relationships. If I had been asked about emotional abuse or what is destructive behavior 10 years ago, I could not have given a clear answer let alone think that it could happen in other relationships outside of marriage.
My story is one that I originally thought began with my dysfunctional & escalating destructive marriage but in reality, it began far sooner with both my husband and my own earlier experiences in our upbringing. The more I searched for answers and grew in my own boundaries the more the destructive behavior revealed itself. That’s not original for many or any of us really, so no need to expand.
As I was praying and thinking about what it is I want to share I felt a lot of things. Where does one begin in a journey of discovery especially if they are continuing to see that something is not bringing about the healing and wholeness with the Lord that He promises?
I think what often gets us confused is that when we live in a destructive environment we’re seeking survival. But others who don’t understand these dynamics often accuse us of looking for “happiness.” Or they tell us that we’re being “discontent” with our circumstances.
Our gut knows that’s not true. But how many of us get caught in this trap of allowing those lies to continue in our head even as we are getting closer and closer to seeing clearer and clearer?
Another common explanation offered to me for “what was wrong” was that I was at fault because I was seeking too much from my marriage.
Today I can smile and realize just how crazy that was because a person must first be in an actual marriage to seek too much and I was in a Non-marriage. I was seeking what I thought I had committed to. A partnership, a union, a relationship that He designed with such sacred places of vulnerability, trust, and honor. A marriage that would give glory to Him.
As a fairly young Christian mother, I loved the Lord, my husband and especially my children. I searched for spiritual comfort and godly answers to what was “wrong” with me and my marriage.
Where does a young Christian bride and most likely a mother go for safe and godly counsel for marital issues? We’ve been taught it’s the church with all its biblical resources.
I won’t give out my age, but I found A LOT of resources out there for someone like me looking for answers. Some of those resources helped. Some just left me more confused. My caution to anyone seeking help is to first pray and ask the Lord to write His truths on your heart as you follow and study Scripture in context.
Sadly, much of the church advice and counsel I received came from those who were totally unaware of the patterns of abuse. While I was in pain and on the confusing receiving end trying to make sense of what was going on, I wondered why I was seeing so many other destructive marriages and so many of these same marriages were pretending they were fine when they were not fine. I fear these examples of destructive marriages pretending to be something other are flooding our churches at a very unheatlhy rate.
Plus, many who are either aware of their unhealthy marriage or blind to it, are the key contributors offering help to the vast majority of destructive marriages in the church (This is probably another blog topic, that I don’t feel can ever be brought to the table too much).
Therefore, It made me extremely sad when I opened my email of 2018 to see yet again another very large Christian organization that focuses on ‘Christian marriages and families’ Post an article: Does God Want Me In A Bad Marriage?
I knew I needed to stop and read intently before assuming …. here we go again. Please, Lord, I want to be wrong so show me that this organization has done their homework and has offered a well educated ‘warning.’
Guess what, they did! At first, I felt a hope that I knew I needed to continue reading. Moment’s later, sadness and healthy protest. Yes, healthy protest. The warning emphasized only ‘physical abusive behavior!’
The person who wrote the article’s warning must be ignorant to the generational pattern of abuse they are passing on even in such a simple and minor way of a warning. In my opinion, this perspective epidemic and it all falls onto our shoulders to take the responsibility to speak out as a Christian community even if we can only address it in our own families, it must be exposed for what it is.
As I read through the entire article, it was almost identical to all the ‘single verse scriptures’ that kept my destructive ‘Christian’ marriage on its chaotic path. It was a reinforcement of rationalizations and spiritual examples that did not apply to my situation and further caused damage to my marriage and my children in the boat with us (helpless, powerless & dependent upon us to navigate).
Thankfully today, and by God’s grace, we are in a safer place and one that can grow and find real hope and answers to such vital things. I praise God for His strength and His pursuit of my freedom out of confusion and inaccurate theology that we find lurking everywhere.
My continual prayer and my question to the Lord is this: How many are out there Lord that need examples of your whole Scripture to assist them in their journey through and out of destructive relationships?
Again, I am reminded what a blessing Leslie’s ministry and others like hers are to our strength and especially our growth even when seasons are painful. Thank you, Lord, for your plan and purpose.
Friends, what was your ah-ha moment, where you started to see more clearly through the hazy maze of false counsel or inaccurate “diagnosis” of what was wrong that finally led you to the truth?
Leave a Comment
Ask Your Question
Have a blog question you'd like to submit?
Boundaries and Consequences
Morning friends, Sorry I’m late with this blog. It’s been that kind of week. You know what I’m talking about. I got a new computer and I’m on a steep learning curve. Yes, I’ve finally converted to MAC. December is the month I’ve committed to learning this before I start traveling again in January. I’ve…
My husband is pressuring me to have another baby
Question: My husband desperately wants us to have another baby (we already have three children under the age of eight). While I love being a mom, I feel our family is complete, and I don’t want to try for a fourth. I’m getting older, and our finances are stretched as is. We argue over this…
Focus On The Family Told Me To Leave. Was I Wrong?
Morning friends, I’ve been meditating on the women of Advent this season in the genealogy of Christ and have been so blessed to see how God uses and blesses women who have experienced grave injustices like Tamar and Bathsheba; women who are disenfranchised, stranded and broken by life’s circumstances like Ruth and Naomi and yet,…
Awesome. You are always such a wise voice on this site. My first ahha moment was in marriage counseling when the counselor revealed to me my husband was a narcissist. I recognized the crazy making and gas lighting. I was hurt, confused, insensed that all these years, I really was experiencing confusion and betrayal. Yet I still did not recognize it as abuse.
The second eye opener which has led me to this site was after a client of mine kind of called it out. I had helped her through some of her other problems in ways I will not discuss (safety reasons) while she was getting safely out of her own emotionally and spiritually abusive marriage. Her husband was also a narcissist so her stories hit home. She invited me to go to a conference on domestic abuse which would also help me with my clients. I was afraid to go because my husband would be angry, but God provided opportunity for me to take an out of state friend that is in a recovering coabusive marriage. She could only attend sections which was great for me. Panic, pain and a surreal feeling of what have I been doing my whole life engulfed me. This was indeed abuse!
So many ah has ever since about my marriage and my family of origin. God has been great and this community and the others God has aligned in my life since then are life savers. I have much to learn and accept and the loving voices that this site brings to the table are such encouragement. Aly, thank-you for being brave and sharing!
Thank you so much for posting this! I have been in an emotionally, physically, and verbally abusive relationship for almost twenty years now. After being given the grace to accept the Truth of it, I have often heard similar comments that diminuize the truth of the situation. And it is so trure. I decided I want to live. That was my first and foremost goal in getting out. It is going to be a process, but Im happy to have taken the first steps.
To the women out there who think that maybe dying would be easier that getting out of the abuse; pray, pray and pray for strength from God – He is faithful to give freely to all who ask.You will also be able to step forward into a life more worthy of who He has called you to be. He never wanted any of us to willfully suffer at the hands of wicked people.
He IS hope and life.
Thank you, Kristen.
Thank you, Kirsten ♡
Thank you Aly and Jane. I just found out after 30 years of marriage that my husband is a narcissist. I keep telling myself that I don’t need to leave because he is not physically abusive. Thank you for confirming that spiritual, emotional and verbal abuse is just as wrong as physical abuse.
My husband keeps me so confused and blaming myself for everything. I know I have my own baggage but it’s so hard to see what he’s causing and what is really my fault.
Please pray for wisdom and clarity for me. Financially I can’t afford to leave and I’m afraid to live alone.
Leslie’s newsletter and blog are beginning to be my lifeline. I’m so thankful for her ministry and hope to continue to find answers here along with help from God.
Praying for you. Do you have a counselor that can help you? I was reeling for months after the narcissism discovery with my husband. Does he do it on purpose? Why does he do it? etc. But I found once I learned about gaslighting and crazy making that I regained some of my own sanity and confidence in interpretation and memory of events. I even smile now with some of it because I see it in the making and think, “NOT TODAY SATAN.” Not that my husband is satan, but the lies and what they used to do to me. Learn, grow in strength, build your CORE, stay on here, and hopefully the other women here that are already through this can help you even more than I can, I am still figuring out where God is taking me next.
Hi Jane. Thank you for reaching out to me! Yes, I have a Christian counselor (female) PTL! I’ve been seeing her for about 4 months. I don’t think my husband is the worse kind of narcissist but he’s enough so that we can’t communicate…..he twists my words and makes himself the victim all the time. We have zero spiritual or emotional intimacy and because of this, I don’t even want physical intimacy any more. I’m reading Leslie’s book about unhealthy marriages and the test in it confirmed I’m in an unhealthy relationship. My husband is getting separate counseling, but not Christian counseling. The Lord has impressed on my heart that he will take care of my husband one way or another – I’m soon starting a Bible study on 1 Samuel 25 – Abigail and Nabal – Nabal being the narcissist! I didn’t even know this was in the Bible until the Lord put it before me in 3 different ways, 3 different times. God is good! He will see us through! Thank you so much for your prayers! I think this trial is going to be a looong one!
Brenda: My heart & prayers go out to you, dear Sister. I was married to a narcissist too — 58 years! He also had a drinking addiction and was unfaithful early in our marriage. He blamed “his problems” on me! — accusing me of cheating on him when we were dating — (I was a teen). He was verbally abusive and insanely jealous. I stayed because we had two young children, and he was a good provider, and I feared I’d have to resort to welfare if I left. I began taking my daughters to church, and soon received Jesus as Savior. However, he became even more abusive, even jealous of pastors. However, I was counseled at church that I needed to stay and keep praying for his salvation. After our daughters married (both early to escape our dysfunctional home), I was at my wit’s end, and thankfully, found Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. I realized there was a way out and began setting boundaries toward my h, which finally caused him to leave (but he kept returning!), until I had to file for a Protection Order. I finally filed for divorce, but regrettably returned to take care of him before he died (2/18).
My advice to you, dear Brenda, is don’t make the mistake I made in staying Way too Long!
Dear Sandra, Thank you so much for sharing your personal story with me. I get so confused! My husband doesn’t drink, or smoke or cuss even. But, he has no empathy or sympathy for me. We have no intimacy – physically, spiritually or emotionally. He takes no responsibility for anything except a little grocery shopping and some cooking because he’s not working. We can’t discuss anything because he twists my words and he is always the victim. But, if we go out somewhere, we can actually have fun together. We make good roommates and I get confused because I wonder if I should just accept this as my marriage and stay for my son and for financial reasons or should I try to leave? I’m in counseling to help figure this out, but I hear everyone else’s story and think “I don’t have it so bad.” Thank you again for sharing and for your encouragement!
Your post has important information about your situation and what you call ‘being roommates’.
It’s hard when it’s not crystal clear when we are in a relationship that seems off or that seems manageable or just not that bad.
I was raised with looking at the positive of difficult situations which I believe can be good but it also allowed me to not see my marital dynamic clearly for a long time.
“I’m in counseling to help figure this out, but I hear everyone else’s story and think “I don’t have it so bad.”
I think I hope you hear this with love and care but what helped me what to seek out what God considers marriage to be and understand better the sacredness of marriage on an intimate level spiritually.
I had similar experiences that you describe and I think it can be costly when we weigh out or compare our situations with others side by side.
My husband used to do this often if I had a complaint, he would want me to be thankful that he wasn’t one of those ‘jerks’ down the road at the bars all night or at strip clubs like many of his friends in college became… to be while holding down very prominent positions in their career.
My heart goes out to you and if your early in your marriage, my hope is that you would consider comparing your marriage based on what God says and how God defines marriage.
Doing this might be difficult but it also might offer something honoring to your husband and your marriage vows.
As my husband did more of his internal work, many of the things linked were that he was raised in a home of roommates with little affection and they showed no intimacy for one another which caused great insecurity in him as a child.
Hi Brenda and Aly,
I agree with what Aly said about comparison. Comparing our situation to others is not where The Lord would have us look…for any part of our lives. He wants us to look to Him 🙂
Also, the Spirit within you is telling you something. Choosing to ‘push that voice’ down through logical comparison will only contribute to the ‘crazy making’ in your own mind.
Minimizing, rationalizing, comparing, and spiritualizing are all ways that we avoid truth. We’ve all done this to one extent or another, or we wouldn’t be here! You are not alone, Brenda.
Yes so true. I was also taught by my mom (someone who I trusted with direction) this very thing when my marriage was in a bad and sad situation.
My mom would tell me to be grateful I had such a financially supportive spouse because he was financially a good provider.
The Christian doctrine she claimed to be faithful had loopholes when it came to financial compromises or the ‘roommates’ acceptance of how things were.
To her, she would tell me that I wasn’t being faithful to my vows of being unconditionally committed to my vows – for better or worse.
What she had wrong and completely upside down was I WAS the only one committed to the marital vows, yet my husband lacked how he would have defined marriage.
Be careful who you bring these issues to because often it’s those we ‘think’ we trust most to give us helpful advice or things to think about.
I have to be responsible for my own thinking and align those comparisons with what God says and describes for His plan and purpose for marriage.
My mom didn’t like this, because it disrupted the unhealthy marriage and made her feel insecure as she is well trained to avoid truth , to cope or feel better.
Aly’s letter to you…felt like I had written that first part! My name is Alisa..but use partially in my name for specific purposes.. Alyssum Aly. She is younger than me…but I couldn’t believe how similar my own situation is to how she described hers. Spouse…her own family, etc. I am stuck in a …don’t know what to call it because I can’t go back to those dysfunctional patterns…even if no one in my family, church, etc.is willing to recognize it. I am expected to take and keep my role as scapegoat in all this. It has affected all aspects of my life.
Seems this is more common than we ever would have known in most families these days. I am only one person. I wish to effect change…
I have been in my own “personal recovery” for ACOA issues, codependency, betrayal trauma, emotional abuse, sexual abuse (by my current husband), abandonment, trust issues, etc. for over 10 years.
This all started when I was 66 years old. There was so much I didn’t understand about myself, my husband and why I did the things I did, or why he did the things he did.
God knows I’m a slow learner. I Praise God He kept pursuing me and didn’t give up on me.
I go to Celebrate Recovery and I’ve shared my testimony at CR. I’ve shared “parts of it” in Bible Studies I’m part of.
I have had SO MANY a-ha moments, over these past years, from SO many sources including your books: Emotional Destructive Marriage & Emotional Destructive Relationships. I heard about your books from ladies at CR and from New Life Live.
I have read over 50 “self-help” books and gone to over 35 classes to learn about myself and my marriage.
I do a lot of “self care” now because of some amazing counsel I got when my new journey started.
My first marriage lasted 7 years (2 amazing kids in spite of us), this one has been 43 years (1 amazing kid in spite of us). I haven’t divorced this time mainly because I didn’t want to go through another divorce. This is also a second marriage for my current husband. He also has 2 kids from his first marriage.
My current husband is a narcissist, emotional manipulator, sex addict and has played “the victim” way too often.
Fortunately because of all my reading, classes, my recovery, and my learning how to detach, and knowing MY truths, I see it much clearer now and don’t react like I used to. He’s in “his own” recovery – sort of. He’s even slower than me.
One of the support groups I attended for 3 years helped me to see how scripture was taught incorrectly, and often from the pulpit. I have even incorrectly believed some of the teachings myself. I took responsibility for some things that weren’t my responsibility but thought were.
It’s been a crazy ride but a much better and healthier crazy than where I was for 66 years. I’m SO grateful to GOD for this new journey He’s been taking me on!!
Thank you, dear Aly! The eye-opener for me was finally reading Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.
I then realized that it described mine and what to do about it. I will always thank God and Leslie for that blessing!
My a-ha moment? About 3 weeks ago my blonde-headed 14 yr old girl ran away from home at night, walking about 8 miles to a friends house where she thought she would be better and safer. At the moment I actually was believing, or trying to, that things were getting better. I did, however realize my daughter needed more help from me than my son. I just didn’t realize the level of devastation that it had come to. That’s the game d thing about emotional abuse, someone knows the gravity of the real devastation taking place until it’s too late, or nearly too late. I thank God I got the nearly. I could have list he that night, easily. My a-ha came within 36 hours of he doing that. When I was made to reallize that all my hope in it getting better was leaving a devestaing trail. And I am responsible for naked no the necessary changes. Now w have moved into a safer place, new schools, fresh start. I ended up going to a meeting she up for me with my pastor who said I need to do some self-evaluation, you know, pray God to search my heart. What?! Oh how many times I’ve done that I’ve the last several years… anyway, now, it’s about survival on a financial level, but my kids are feeling better. Let the healing begin, for all of us.
What a great article! Although I do not suffer from an abusive marriage, I did grow up in an emotionally abusive home and that kept me in an emotionally destructive friendship for too long. I had developed schemes from childhood that made the friendship seem normal when it was not because I was us d to the behavior. I was trained to take responsibility for others actions and so I was constantly trying to make things my fault. I wasn’t allowed to have boundaries as a child but praise God, He has shown me how to have them as an adult even though it was a long road getting there. I’m so thankful for these articles. I am now a biblical counselor and refer women dealing with these issues to this sight. There are so many well meaning but misinformed Christians giving counsel that perpetuates abuse and keeps people stuck in unhealthy patterns. Thank you for your wise words.
My a-ha moment came slowly. I was in one of Leslie’s groups (6 month phone calls/FB group). I remember not wanting to go too far. I could hear the reality in what others were saying about their situations and how that mirrored back to my own. I also spent time in sessions at a domestic abuse shelter and could hear the reality in the various materials they shared. I could hear what aspects fit me and what didn’t. (yes, him burning my papers…or threatening to kick the dog…were destructive behaviors.). Another spot was a counsellor I sought, she would listen and just take what I said at face value…how VERY different from the crazy conversations with my husband. I had to be brave and look what was happening in the face…not minimize or compensate for it or excuse it or ’empathize’ it away or soften in in an effort to make it work and get along and … survive (but I wasn’t really surviving). Good boundaries have helped – and have placed the burden where it belongs:
on him – and growing in CORE strength has helped me be more peaceful. It is still hard. .
Aly, wow that was great. It was a moment of relief to hear that there are happy endings. I had a pretty major aha moment today when you ladies were telling me about some of your experiences. I realized that this (mine) is an on going partern of abuse. He would rather I be high or drunk. Definitely makes me more compliant. I can’t believe I didn’t notice this from literally day one of our relationship. (Sorry rough day).
Mindy, don’t be sorry about speaking truth to yourself!! You are quite right; controlling you would be ‘easier’ for him if you are impaired. You’ve worked hard to become sober and you are worth knowing that you can keep on that path! Don’t beat yourself up for not seeing the abusive patterns sooner………..you are seeing it clearly NOW. When I read your post abt husband plying you with the alcohol, it was so clearly a picture of offering you poison. You forgot that it was poison, but that’s become clear again on this side of the slip. But he always knows it’s poison to you, and does it because it suits him. Keep your eyes on the Lord, keep speaking truth. Be well, Mindy. So many of us are praying with and for you!
The poison part of your message is from God. It is part of my story from last winter. Thank you for sharing it.
I didn’t really have an aha moment. It was more of a long, long, series of moments. I knew that things had been abusive in many ways since before we were married but I always tried to justify the behavior. Over several years and with the help of a wise Christian counselor I was able to finally admit to myself and to her how bad it had been and realize fully that it was still happening frequently. This process has felt slow and difficult many times but I know God has a plan for my life and I am praying that my journey can be used to help other women.
“Friends, what was your ah-ha moment, where you started to see more clearly through the hazy maze of false counsel or inaccurate “diagnosis” of what was wrong that finally led you to the truth?”
. . .Aly, thank you so, so much for taking all this time to share your story and I am praying that Christ blesses you and your family exceeding abundantly above all that you could ask or even think! . . .That we have the biggest possible faith that produces the greatest possible abandonment to God and love for others!!!ރ✝❣😊💕
. . .As someone who grew up with vast childhood abuse from my mother, I fully understand the “whys” but that understanding comes from human logic, human reasoning and evidence on what constitutes human flourishing not from what the Bible’s text teaches, especially in context. The “ah-has” for me is admitting that. For me, the ah-ha is that morals are not coming totally from the Bible. They are coming from people’s minds on what constitutes human flourishing. They are coming from logic, reason and evidence on what constitutes human flourishing, not always from what the Bible teaches. . . .Otherwise, God is the author of thousands of years of massive confusion on these teachings that we just now “somehow” see clearly. . . .Looking at the extant manuscripts of the Bible, the historical interpretations from scholars skilled in those contexts and languages (—many who gave their lives for Christ and most importantly who had access to the oldest Bible manuscripts *no longer extant*), I would not come to the above conclusions. We all know good relationships are not carried out with confusion over expectations, with contradictory passages, etc. . . .And this is so much bigger than divorce and remarriage. Divorce and remarriage is so, so rampant in the churches today, that . . . .well, it is like a mockery in most churches and when I am sharing the gospel I often have that fact thrown in my face —repeatedly. Are the teachings timeless truths? Has God been communicating clearly and carefully what He wants from His people, or are the answers opaque, confusing, time dependent or simply historically/ culturally contingent?
. . .But that’s the Bible and the Bible points to Christ. —Christ does not point to the Bible. We are not the people of the Bible. . . we are the people with the Bible. For example, the Gospel of John does not say, “God so loved the world that he gave us [a Bible].” The Revelation of John does not say that we are saved “by the ink of the Lamb.” . . .The book of Proverbs keeps making this point: Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor Him. . . .Christianity is a “way” to be followed more than it is about a set of text specific chains. Practice is more important than “correct” beliefs. Obviously, beliefs are not irrelevant, —they do matter. But they are not the object of faith. God is the “object” of commitment —and as Christians, God as known in Jesus.
“Truth” serves Life —and not the other way around???
. . .When somebody says to me, “I don’t believe in God,” my first response is, “If you want to, maybe tell me about the God you don’t believe in.” . . .Our God is about entering a relationship in the present that begins to change everything: right here, right now. If God is a cranky, peevish Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic biblical exegesis professor, we are ALL finished, —every last one of us. Also, and always, what we do not yet know is often –far, far more important than what we know or think we know. It’s hard to renovate the Bible without getting worried, but maybe the way out begins with accepting absolutely *everything fact based* (—all empirical evidence about what constitutes human flourishing for example). That means the Bible needs amendments. Could it be that the texts are in need of amendments and more and more amendments as we go through time because what they actually said/say and meant and what the church fathers said they meant for centuries on end no longer serves life? “Truth” serves Life?
. . .God’s revelation can no longer be regarded as an ultimate authority, because psychology and modern brain science shows us conflicting truths about what constitutes human flourishing? —Maybe??? Human knowledge must be based on a more sure foundation, and that foundation is presumed to be located in human reason especially human experience with abuse? . . .God speaks commands in the Bible, but psychology, neuroscience and modern disciples must modify these imperatives? —Maybe??? The goal is not what God says in the texts but that which human knowledge shows as universal understanding, obtained by objective means that all interested parties can use, thus privileging no one perspective and granting a fundamental epistemological equality to all? —I don’t think that but who really knows?
. . .One possible idea for everyone (—not married to neuropsychological measures outside that of normal individuals: interpersonally exploitative, devoid of empathy, unable or unwilling to identify with or acknowledge the feelings and needs of others, rages when frustrated, contradicted, or confronted [—from the DSM-V workbook], etc., etc. . .) is to motivate your husband with your life (—that may not work at all with neuropsychological measures outside that of normal individuals). —But, the cleaning of our hearts (—making conscious and repenting of) even little patterns of missing the mark —sin, that changes the world and especially our worlds (our families)!!! Christ came to give us life, —real life. . . .Again, if God is the “light of the world” but I am covered in dark, black smudges (—gossip, jealousy, bitterness, resentment, name-the-issues) that are in need of light, healing-transformation —then, we (I) —in Christ’s power, taking responsibility to undertake such a cleaning and transformation allow God to shine His Love more brightly into our (my) hearts! It is so, so good for us and it affects everyone in our families and beyond! . . . . 🙏 Lord God please make it a reality in my life. Help us all be continuously transformed into the likeness of You.✞❣😊 💕 ⌘ ⌛
I haven’t been able to tell my husband how serious things are. I just don’t have the courage. I don’t think he would hit me. He has kicked and abused my poor cat (I get so upset about this but he thinks it is funny) and he once kicked a wall next to me, breaking his foot. I am dying to explain it all away. I hate believing that he has been exploiting and manipulating me. He acts confused by the distance I’m taking. I wish I could just say it is not a big deal like I normally do. I told my doctor everything and they responded that i have grounds for an annulment (terrifying). Everyone saw abuse except me. Actually the grounds for the annulment are largely based on alcohol and drug use. It makes me feel better that I contributed to the problem. I would hate to be just a victim. I talked to Church elders about my h’s need for control before we were married. They said I was over reacting. I was reading in first Corinthians how God calls truths from darkness to light. I hope that was a message for me. I’m so grateful to have found this blog. I can’t find any truth without the Lord.
You will find the courage, God will give it to you. Keep in the truth as you have newly found. Try to stay sane and sober. I agree with the annulment concept. I work with a lot of women in the Catholic faith and understand the concept. I think the freedom that would provide you, away from guilt and shame. Yes, reading the boundaries book helped me realize I am not just a victim but a participant, and my refusal to set boundaries due to my understandable fear of conflict has not helped the situation at all. My own willingness to use alcohol on rare occasion to escape led to some awful things I won’t discuss here but it was my choice to over drink on those days, no matter the pressure and pain around me. Yes taking responsibility for YOU and YOU ONLY. But make sure you do not shift blame. Your husband is wrong and living in and even embracing sin. You can not change that, you can only change you through God’s grace. Focus on this, get professional help from a DV (domestic violence) counselor, and pray that God will reveal each next step to you. Remember, one step at a time, one day at a time.
God bless you. I am so glad you have found this site. Take comfort that your God is the God Who Sees. He weeps when you cry. He is angry when you are hurt. He loves you and wants you well and whole.
Thank you Jane. I am looking for an AA meeting today. I have never gone before. It didn’t work for my poor mother. Still I hope it will help me to get back on a healthy path.
I just really appreciate you!❤️
You go girl. It may take trying a couple of different groups to find the one that fits for you. I feel like you already have more hope and that you are not your mother. You are recognizing unhealthy patterns and are taking responsibility to effect positive change in your life. If you put this with God’s amazing ability, you will do great.
My husband recently did the self pity thing, …”if I can change…”, fishing for things like, sure you can you’re really a good guy or you don’t have far to go, etc. Instead I told him, “God can do anything, if you’ll let Him.” I think this statement is true for you. Let God keep working in your life and you will see dramatic changes in your own heart!
I remember the first time I read a list of ‘how to know if your h is abusive.’ Does he hurt your pet or destroy your stuff was one of the top ones. Also, if he punched or kicks the wall right next to you, even once, you will be terrified forever and he knows it. Do you do this to your children? That is not what love looks like.
Think of 9/11. Even though the same number of people die each day from cancer, we don’t think that much about it but we sure tremble at the thought of another terrorist attack.
Thanks Connie. I have a problem with men yelling at me in general. My father had some rage issues growing up. Because of my personal history, I really didn’t believe there was anything wrong before this week. I hate to be a cliche but I sincerely love him. When we were first married he wanted me to change my last name immediately. I had good reasons not to and kept asking him to give me more time. It became a very manipulative situation and I ended up giving in. Now I feel like he was taking away my identity and trying to replace it with a shell of the woman I really am. Still I can’t imagine leaving.
Mindy, at present, you don’t need to imagine leaving. You just need to take each step to getting safe and healthy. You took a brave first step into light and truth by reading and writing here. There is so much help and support in this wonderful community of women!
What is a next step you can take? What about support in person? Is there someone you can go to for counseling support? Sadly, you are unlikely to find it in your church. I pray God will lead you to people who will hear you, believe you, support you.
Thank you for sharing your story it sounds like mine too for years I went to the church to save their marriage my husband played the game and went along and being a narcissist things went well for a while but they always went back to same behavior. Then of course the responsibility was on me because I was the “spiritual one” and I carried the ball for a long time . So glad for Leslie‘s ministry I wish I had found her years ago .
My Ah-ha moment was when I went to the bookstore to buy yet another book on family/marriage and right next to it was a book about the manipulative man. I bought it and nearly threw up reading it. It was so “on point” that I frequently had to stop reading so I could take it all in, in smaller pieces. My eyes were opened and everything started making sense. If only I had such information when I was 17.
So right! How do we help educate the young women of this world?!
I hate to be needy but I need advice. My husband tried to take my car from my office and put gas in it. Sounds nice right? It comes with a lot of reminders of how I’ve failed to be responsible in the past. I clearly told him “it is my car, I will handle the gas.” I even told him that it was very important that he not cross this line in the metaphorical sand. He got really angry and told me if I forget he will not ask before taking my car next time. I thought I was setting an effective boundary. Where did I go wrong?
Mindy, you did not do anything wrong. Your husband does not like that you set a boundary that is reasonable and clear. His tantrumming reaction is HIS responsibility, not yours.
Boundry setting with respect. You didn’t necessarily go wrong. If you set the boundary reasonably like, I need to be responsible for myself and feel better about myself when I do so I need to take care of my own gas needs. However boundaries must have consequences. It is not a boundary if you just say you can’t do this, there has to be or there is a consequence. The most natural consequence is appropriate. Remember this is not to punish him but to protect you. The consequence might be that if he can not respect this than you will need to take the extra set of car keys, spend a night away, something to keep emotional and physical safety. Also, is your car in your name? If he takes it without your permission you can report it stolen too. Just make sure he knows this is a possibility. Boundaries are tough. Read boundaries in marriage, it is helping me learn what healthy boundaries are and what appropriate implementation should be. I have to implement boundaries very slowly for my safety, and it is very hard, but keep trying, don’t give up. And don’t think that if he responds poorly that you have done it incorrectly. He will respond poorly. He doesn’t like boundaries, they mean he is not controlling you and he will certainly fuss. Like a 2yr old being told no cookies.
Thank you Jane! UR the best! I have read Boundaries and Boundaries in marriage. I just really suck at this. IRL I tell other people how to run their businesses. I mention this because I know I sound a little pathetic on here. 😉
One thing I am learning, there is power in your words. You are not pathetic nor do you sound pathetic. You sound like the rest of us! You don’t really suck at this, this is really hard and you are trying and learning. I too struggle but I am learning. Don’t think I’ve got it figured out, shoot read my other posts on here and over the past few weeks.
I have to catch myself constantly with negative talk such as this and with negating peoples complements. You are a child of GOD! This makes you wonderful in so many ways, so give yourself some cred girl, look who your Daddy is and how He loves you!
“I have read Boundaries and Boundaries in marriage. I just really suck at this. IRL I tell other people how to run their businesses. I mention this because I know I sound a little pathetic on here.”
So glad you have read boundaries and boundaries in marriage, you don’t suck at it. When your in a destructive relationship, healthy boundaries are often rejected by the person that disregards another person’s place. It can’t make one feel like they are terrible at sticking up for themselves, but the reality is that the one who prefers to ‘take’ doesn’t like the word boundary or let alone the inability to not have what they feel entitled to.
For me I had to read Boundaries several times and make lots of notes to better understand what was taking place.
Respectful people respect boundaries and disrespectful people are boundary busters. Don’t let boundary busters define your ability to draw healthy boundaries.
It takes a lot of support and truthful wisdom to echo what you need for strength especially given where things are, in fact that is strength and courage in action, no pathetic behavior here.
Your h’s behavior is not typical from what’s been described with the control and proximity.
You are or ‘were’ being treated as a possession not a person.
This is common in abusive relationships but must be understood by the victim so that they can gain their identity back from a healthy place.
All of this takes time and nurture, be patient and give yourself the best opportunity to get healthier.
If you can focus on you and what you need, asking the Lord to continue to light your path, you will see clearer and clearer each day and that will be empowering in the right way.
Continue prayers for you! Sounds like you are making wise choices and actions.
Something to consider as you walk into recovery help, whether that’s AA or another intervention or additional resources of support which will continue to expose the marital issues.
Your h will be threatened by your healthy choices to get healthier and take responsibility for yourself, this won’t feel great for him and would make sense that he could escalate.
That’s why having more support around is helpful and can create more safety the more people know and can assist.
Continue to seek what you need for recovery and healing and just know he will probably not like that path you take because it will expose him all the more. And plus, unhealthy people doing destructive things or addictive things do not like when those around them decide to get healthier.
Mindy, and all who are here who have narcissist partners, husbands, mothers, dads, etc. And thank you, Aly for your story. I can totally relate.
But back to when the man of the house puts gas in his wife’s car. Usually, they do it when it is convenient for them to do it. OR, my husband waits to put gas in my car and uses my car to do other errands of his own, not wanting to use up his own gas in his OWN car. My car is registered in my husband’s name; so there you have it…more control.
There is ALWAYS crazy-making attached to their motives. Do not feel bad about setting boundaries. What if you had needed your car at work for yourself, in case of an emergency, and instead, your husband had taken it getting gas? Then, what would you have done? Just a worst-case scenario. I could think of a lot of other excuses why he took your car, so you couldn’t possibly follow him somewhere else? They are subtle in their mind games. And of course, they will say something like ‘I was only thinking about YOU when I came to put gas in your car.’
Narcissists are only logical in their own eyes. So pray for more wisdom to see the difference in what motivates your husband as opposed to a real interest in who you really are. If he is doing things supposedly FOR you, but there is an ulterior motive behind it to control your life in mundane things, then he is not interested in really taking care OF you, but in controlling you.
Yes, and the crazy-making is gut wrenching, and confusing, so, setting boundaries takes much prayer and wisdom. Yet, with the narcissist, sometimes nothing you say is ever right. So, that is why only the Lord can be our strength and our hope, as it is trauma-bonding that keeps us bound through the subtly of the mind-games of psychological abuse of the abuser.
I had to throw myself upon the Lord in order to make sense of the wrong things in my own marriage. The journey is a slow and arduous one, but if forces one to become closer to the Lord, and to recognize, and become enlightened that you have been a victim helps you on your journey of healing.
Don’t give up! There is light at the end of the tunnel. Yet the journey can be a very lonely one, so we are experiencing the sufferings of Christ first hand. Not that any of us want to suffer, but the pain of our hearts is so real and does not go away but with a sincere desire to do what is right, we can navigate through stormy waters through Jesus blessed name.
We have to stay focused on the Lord, and not upon our circumstances, otherwise it will swallow us up with grief. ‘Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.’ ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’
Yes! Thank you! Even though my h died several months ago, and I’m in a sense “free,” I still grieve that I never experienced a true loving marriage, and must admit I do envy older couples who do. I’m still heartbroken and feel “cheated.” However, I know my true husband is Jesus, who loves me unconditionally, and will never leave me alone. I pray for all you dear sisters, and know you feel the same.
Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved(s) us. Romans 8:37
I can hear your tone of voice as I read this lol.
But yes I will work on that too.
Yes, Mindy, I affirm what Aly and others have said: having support is so important, it can’t be overemphasized. When it is just the two of you interacting, your husband uses manipulation tactics on you. These can be very confusing. It is extremely helpful to have others involved because a.) He will likely be less abusive with others watching him, and b.) You will have the benefit of other eyes and ears that tell you that no, you are not crazy, and yes, it is that bad!
Thank you. I’m sure you are right. I’m just not in a good position right now. My family is thousands of miles away. I don’t really have friends in this state who could get involved. I probably should have noticed before just how isolated I am.
Mindy, my husband made sure our life choices isolated me from family and friends too, and that the voices I was exposed to were only those that aligned with his. I have been married for 37 years to a man who was a pastor/missionary and also an abuser. Took me a very long time to figure it out. We have been separated for 2 years, but it was a step by step process to get there. I can’t overemphasize the importance of a network of support. Since you have no family or supportive friends there: Your local Women’s Shelter will have many resources to help you: usually there is free counseling available, and other resources. ( They don’t just help women in physically abusive situations.) They are extremely, strictly confidential. Do you think you could give a call to them?
I feel overwhelmed by all of this. I’m just trying to survive right now. I went through a depression last winter and I’m afraid all the anxiety and sadness are coming back. This just feels so surreal.
Oh, Mindy, I am not intending to pressure you at all! Please go at your own pace and take good care of yourself. I’m sorry if I added to your stress. Praying for grace, peace, and strength for you. The Lord is near. ❤️
Hi Aly, thanks for writing this week. You did a great job analyzing some unhelpful but common mistakes in response to abuse. These mistakes are frustrating because the information is out there about abuse yet so many ministries, pastors, and even friends seem to have deaf ears. A couple of months ago the ministry you referenced had a guest for three days who was remarkably spot-on and wholly biblical regarding abuse. http://familylifetoday.com/program/what-is-domestic-abuse/
Yet the leaders of the ministry disputed with the speaker (Justin Holcomb), even though they were the ones who invited him to speak! It seems as though their whole identity is wrapped up in the motto “save the marriage.” Which is ironic, because how can caving in to abuse save a marriage?
As for my ah-ha moment, I stopped going to conferences and reading books that lump all women into the “you expect too much/you just want happiness not holiness” little box. That helped me hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit much more clearly.
Wow, this series is really good. My husband fits all the subtypes he talks about, bummer. More women need to hear this message and to know its ok to need help.
The shame part he talks about is so real. All the abuse was there before we married, I always excused and saw his hurt behind it that was driving it so let it go. Duh, of course this didn’t magically change, I let this happen, so of course there is shame. It is humiliating to have to admit that I am a strong person in the rest of my life but in my marriage I am so weak really. It is embarrassing to admit that I have been in abuse for all these years and have not been willing to do anything about it.
These feelings don’t mean I need to cower away and stay in the abuse, it means I have to be brave and take the steps that need to be done and let select people into my true life despite fears of what they might think about me.
Jane, I felt so guilty about the abuse in my marriage, that I didn’t see it before we married, that I was too passive, that it took me so long to do anything about it. But I loved and believed in my husband and tried my best to keep my marriage together for the sake of my kids. And I forgave myself just as you need to do. We never imagined our husbands could treat us so cruelly because we would never treat someone we loved the way they treated us.
Hi Jane, I think your experience just goes to show how truly kind, loving, and helpful good Christian girls and women are. We are kind to a fault, aren’t we; and that’s exactly the kind of person an abusive predator seeks out. I completely agree with your praiseworthy resolve to “be brave and take the steps that need to be done.” Bravo! No victim mentality here, just strength and common sense, which also come from Jesus just as kindness and love come from Him, meaning that toughness and kindness are not opposites. The best thing you can do for your husband is to love him in a different way by resisting his sin.
I want to encourage us to be careful about judging ministries, etc. I listened to Justin Holcomb’s interview on Family Life Today. The only disagreement the hosts had was regarding divorce as a solution. They are very clear about the sin of abuse, and do not cave in to it. I have never heard them counsel against separation, nor have I heard them say no one should ever get divorced. Please correct me if I am wrong. I have been greatly helped by many of their programs, including “The controlling husband” with Ron and Jan Welch, and an interview with Sandy Ralya. They have also interviewed Leslie Vernick. It is unlikely that we will ever agree 100% with another person’s views, but there may still be much we can benefit from. I also want to thank those who have shared on this blog. You have helped me see my situation more clearly.
Hi Confused, I appreciate the points you make here. After re-reading my post, I see that I was reacting and ranting rather than making a thoughtful and fair statement. I’m glad you pointed this out to me because I want to be a fair person even when I am angry.
I think over the years I have become much more sensitive to the minor and nuanced messages such as the example Aly gave in her original post, along with the message I reacted to in the Family Life broadcast. I have seen the kind of neurological changes Justin Holcomb describes making it difficult or impossible for some of my friends to get to safety because of their hesitation to disappoint the church or God by “not honoring their marriage vows.”
I was upset to hear Dennis Rainey, in a subtle way, indicate that leaving or divorcing an abusive husband would not be a loving response. When he makes this kind of statement as his final wrap-up comment, in my mind it negates much of his other seemingly supportive comments in the previous days’ broadcasts. I think a much more appropriate final thought would be: “Dear sisters, do whatever you have to do to find safety. Your brothers in the church bless and support you in the name of the Lord.” However, I will say in Dennis Rainey’s favor that he gave Justin Holcomb three days of time even though he doesn’t see eye to eye with Justin in the area of divorce. That shows the O in CORE strength, open to the input of others.
Thank you for your reply. I too wish that Dennis Rainey had replied differently. I need to listen to that program again to refresh my memory of exactly what he said. I am thankful for how God has used them, and maybe they will see more clearly one day. God bless you!
Hi, I’ve been trying to find the link to listen to the program being discussed. Can you put it up or tell me where to go back to to click on it? Thank you so much!
Confused, Barbara B and others,
Such great dialog here! I listened to the one posted in the link, I had trouble getting to the other two.
Here was my take away and maybe I see it from a similar perspective as Barbara’s original post.
I would also say I like Family life focus on the family etc for many issues but I have felt that they struggle to define abuse, especially when it’s mental, emotional or spiritual in nature.
I though Justin did a great job in bringing awareness to something I think is actually more epidemic than we know of.
I heard and felt I interpreted the host from the gates ‘try to bring up a quick non-essential’ about the seriousness of this topic. It felt almost like a quick posture of dismissal or how can we second guess a person’s claim of abuse?
Maybe I’m wrong but it seemed to come up quickly in the conversation and maybe that’s why it bothered me.
The link in the post that I sent in my original story clearly stated ‘physical abuse’ which I think is problematic for destructive marriages or anyone being searching for understanding about their ‘bad marriage they are experiencing’.
Again, I only listened to the first one so maybe the other two have less of that quick type of response about someone falsely claiming abuse.
Most people in these circumstances have a hard enough time EVEN admitting to themselves that they are in an abusive dynamic let alone go out and claim it.
It’s hard because for many of us being treated with such a lack of regard is normal experience so we are so desensitized by it.
Here are the links to the three days of broadcasts with Justin Holcomb on May 21, 22, and 23. The closing comments by Dennis Rainey on May 23 are what got my knickers in a knot.
I agree, Aly, even a hint of shame or of questioning her ability to understand reality is enough to turn an abused woman away from seeking safety. I wish that more pastors and leaders understood how careful they need to be with their words on the topic of abuse.
I posted the three links but the comment is awaiting moderation. There’s a mistake in the comment. The third link should be this one:
I am new to this site and happen to have fallen acrossed it and have enjoyed reading everyone’s stories. I am in a confused situation and not sure what to do. I have prayed on it for many months but cannot figure out what God wants me to do. I was in a very abusive mentally and physically marriage for 24 years. I finally got the strength to leave him 12 years ago. Took me 7 years to date again due to I wanted to find myself and figure out who I was and I have 3 boys I still wanted to focus on to make sure they stayed safe and happy. So I recently remarried and had prayed about it to make sure God was for this marriage. since we married, I have seen signs of possible mental illness. He also admitted he had a problem when he looked at woman. He told me men will look at women and undress them in their mind and have naughty thoughts “its what men do” he said. He took a class for men addicted to sex/porn, sexual thoughts and felt with Gods help and this class, he had healed himself. but this past weekend when we were out with my friends dancing and having a good time, there was a pretty blond girl who would not quit starring at my husband but then I noticed him starring back. I kind of sat back and watched them as they continued to just stare at each other. She would dance by us and stare him in the eyes and he would do his shy smile and stare back. I was blown away. I fought off the hurt and went on with my night. But the entire night the two of them could not take their eyes off each other. So anyhow the following day, after Church, we were talking about the night before and he told me about a blond that wouldn’t quit starring at him the entire night and why do I think she was starring at him? I mentioned that I had noticed but then that I had noticed him starring back all night as well. I also told him, again, that he is a very handsome man and women are attracted to him. I have had to say this to him everytime a woman stares at him. He always asks me, “why are they staring at me?” I think he asks me just to be reaffirmed that he is good looking? After I had mentioned I had noticed him starring at her as well, he says how I text men and talk to men all the time and I am not perfect either. I told him that yes I text men, I work in construction and they are my crew guys or my subs nothing sexual. And he knows this he was just getting defensive. We have been married for 7 months and I have already moved into my own place and my heart has shut down. I think due to all the pain I had with my x husband I have guarded my heart. My x would stare at women and leave with them and not come home for a day or two. so of course, I am not liking that my new husband is doing this as well, not leaving with them but finding other women attractive and making it so obvious that its becoming embarrassing. Every time we go out he is always starring at blonds, they are also starring at him as well. he is a very handsome man and in great shape. Women are very attracted to him. My heart has totally shut down. I feel, once again, that I am not important. I do take care of myself, work out 3-4 days a week, I am attractive and yes have men hit on me but I have boundaries and I inform them that I am happily married and they move on. My husband is a Christian man and has many times lead other people to God. But I do not want to live the rest of my life competing with other woman like I did with my x husband. I have goals and dreams and I don’t want this worry and hurt anymore. Each time he stares at a women, my heart shuts down for him more and more. This last time my heart has shut down. I haven’t called or have texted him in 2 days. I don’t miss him & I feel nothing for him right now. I am so worried God will not be happy with my decision to leave him but the signs of control, not caring about my feelings and his obsession for blonds and attention is too much to bare. We even started marriage counseling. Our counselor on our 3rd session felt maybe we should not be together. I guess my question is, should I just laugh it off and let him do this and pretend it doesn’t bother me? Do all men, like he says, do this? Before my husband I dated a man for a year and I was his focus. He adored me and proud to have me on his arm. I am so worried that I made a horrible decision and married the wrong man. I will never remarry I feel god would not be happy with that. Plus the embarrassment. Any advice would be wonderful.
Welcome. It is completely unacceptable for your husband to be staring at any other woman.
What he told you about undressing women in his mind being what all men do….this in .not what Godly men do, Jill. Married or not. And as for those who are married:
Godly men love their wives. They protect their wives. They cherish their wives.
Stick around here, Jill. I pray that The Lord continues to open your eyes.
Dear Jill, you said ” I guess my question is, should I just laugh it off and let him do this and pretend it doesn’t bother me?”
Only do that if you want to be crazy.
Nancy is right, Godly men do not justify sexual sin. Especially something that is against someone’s will, like being mentally undressed just because they are female and in his line of sight.
This is not what all men do, this is what all ungodly, sexually immoral people do. Like the woman at the bar, unless she was actually man too, which speaks of another category.
Are you able to have another conversation about this with him? If you are, maybe you can express how it hurts you etc. Hopefully, he is willing to take responsibility (and not justify, blame, minimize, divert) for what he is doing & apologize and work towards being healthier. If he refuses to take responsibility, what’s your next action? Why do you find the need to compliment his looks? When you do, it may sound like you are ok with it. I remember hearing somewhere that the difference between good and bad marriages is not the absence of conflict, but how the two people in it work together when conflict arises.
You mentioned you see signs of mental illness in him? Are you willing to share more?
I had to leave. He went crazy when I got home. He took my keys.
Do you have somewhere to go? Access to funds for a hotel or AirBnB? Or you could go to the Women’s Shelter. You will be safe there.
My doctor was able to help me. I will have a better plan from now on.
I find myself in such a strange situation. I keep thinking that this is stupid. I want to go home (don’t worry I won’t). At least he was sufficiently out of control that I knew to leave. There was no grey area of thinking maybe he would calm down. My mother would have stayed though so maybe I’m not her after all.
I’m so grateful to those who helped me and to you all for your support.
A lot of what you are saying makes sense and I believe many have been in that place of thinking those exact or similar thoughts.
Your not Alone and your doing the correct things to step away and get a better perspective of what your facing.
You will get through this as you lean into God’s counsel and other vessels He can’t equip you into healthier choices for your self care.
The thinking you mentioned is part of the dynamic that pulls one back into ‘wishing’ that someone who is destructive will somehow come to their senses and ‘stop destructive behavior’.
But unfortunately, the behavior is only the symptom and not exactly the core Disease that must be addressed ‘which tends to be a mindset’ and the thinking part is ingrained (wired in) where they have been modeled, shaped and think themselves to outward behavior.
This is only one aspect of the destructive individual, where there is also other substance abuse to effect the process of true maturity and character growth also.
For example, just for a person such as your h to quit drinking or using drugs will not growth him in godly character and or safety.
And no Mindy, your not your mom, your your own individual who God wants to embrace you with your own identity with Him as your source.
Continued prayers for your next steps and organizing the important things to give you the freedoms to find safety💜
I think what you are feeling is pretty normal under the circumstances. I have been separated from my husband for 3 years. There have been many times that I have thought about going back…especially in the beginning. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, maybe it was me, maybe things would be different, or the big one…at least I can see when he is escalating so I know what to expect next…No matter how bad it is at least I can try and prepare. When I can’t see what is or isn’t going on with his anger I would get more nervous. It took 30 years of marriage and 3 years of seperation, but I recently got an order of protection which was so hard and a big adjustment, but I feel SO much safer. I got help with this process from a local agency. It has been a long baby step type of process for me. If you can find a good counselor, friend, or support group or all of the above it is SO helpful. You can do this! (If that is what you are ready for).Praying for you.
Great article, Aly, there is real depth here 🙂
I particularly loved how you pointed out that the author of the article you read, must be blind to their own generational patterns of sin that they were passing down – even in such a minor way as that warning! So true.
This week we were at a Christian family camp. My good friend was talking about how she wants her daughter to dress appropriately so that she ‘doesn’t cause her brothers in Christ to fall into sin’. I responded that a girl, or woman doesn’t have that kind of power over someone else. My friend was taken aback thinking that I was not in agreement about encouraging appropriate dress in our young girls.
No, I explained, I am objecting to the word ’cause’. Sure, they have a responsibility for themselves, but they can never be held responsible for another person’s choice to sin.
That was the end of it, for now. I’ll be watching for this kind of ‘faulty thinking’ in future!
At the root of her faulty thinking, is a boundary issue.
We are responsible FOR ourselves and TO others. Never FOR others. ( unless it’s our child and this is it’s own very nuanced topic!)
So while that might seem like a ‘small’ difference, as we all know here. It can be the difference between Life and Death.
I also would be very curious to find out where ‘she’ might have been taught that thinking or where it was somewhat originated?
Tracing back to where we were offered these things is such an important aspect to exposing those behavior patterns.
It could have been something even recent that she was educated on given all our Christian resources and materials.
As always we must take what we hear or are being taught and accurately align it with scripture in context and the whole word or God.
How convenient and destructive it would be for a young teen or man to hear that ‘it’s the girls responsibility to appropriately dress’ rather than focus on what is also his responsibility for his eyes, brain and heart.
By no means am I saying women shouldn’t be accountable but it’s back to individual responsibility.
As you know…
Abusers are terrific at blame shifting or leveling ‘making it an equal or joint issue’ which in reality takes the focus off the offender’s part-which is 100 percent of their responsibility.
This kind of teaching or instructing sets one up to struggle seeing abuse and all the tenicals ones uses to ‘stay immature and lack character growth’.
Most that find themselves on the receiving end of this are confused because like me I was taught, modeled and threatened by tactics/abandonment to ‘take more and over function’ for their to even be a relationship of any sort.
This gets wired in at such an early age. Sometimes yes innocently but also ignorantly..
Parents, let’s all do our homework and encourage the Body of Christ to be the front runners on this as we hold a high calling as ‘parents following Christ and teaching our children Christian principals.
You are so correct and what a great example here!
I like how you frame it where ‘cause’ takes place.
I think your friend might have meant well but as you pointed out the danger in how it is offered is such the deeper root problems.
For me, I would want to encourage young girls and women to dress in a honoring way based on ‘who they belong to and who they represent’ not based being responsible for another’s decisions on what they will choose to look at or what they will be responsible for themselves.
Something we must educate and teach our children as they are learning to become older and more mature.
Love that you are willing to speak up and challenge even something that’s seems small but in reality is not small.
Yes, I agree, Aly. It is best to teach girls that ‘dressing appropriately’ is first and foremost about honouring / representing our Lord and His holy temple. It is about putting Christ on display, in all His beautiful glory. In that way, there is no shame in dressing beautifully 🙂
Nancy and Aly,
You girls are right on the money! Why do so many Christian mothers subtlety indoctrinate sin-bearing responsibly into their daughters? It really sets these young girls up to accept blame for all kinds of things.
Back to the modesty issue- When a girl gets date raped, one question we STILL hear asked in the 21st century is “What was she wearing?” When you do ever hear that question asked about robbery victims or murder victims?
I think it’s fear. My friend has tremendous guilt about living with a fellow before she knew The Lord.
She’s very focused on ‘modesty’ etc… for her daughter.
I believe, in her case, it comes from unprocessed pain.
Leslie provided my aha moment when I went to an online class and she read my question to the group. After reading my question out loud she asked me what the police said when I called them. And I said oh I would never call the police and she firmly said I had lost my sense of safety and I am in a dangerous marriage and need to work on my safety plan immediately! I had lost myself altogether in the constant pursuit of peace at ALL cost. I am divorced now and currently have a restraining order against my ex. BUT GOD is GOOD I didnt think I could do it much less have the courage and I didnt GOD did. BLESSINGS to LESLIE for puttin light on the bible so that Christian wives are not living a lie! THese gusy are very cunning and will use the bible to keep us trapped! BE FREE GOD LOVES YOU!
I’m having a rough morning 🙁
I woke up having had dreams about being bullied. Terrible feeling.
I know it’s about my brother. I’m having trouble forgiving him and I know that’s what God is calling me to do. We set a limit with him at Christmastime in saying ‘no’ to getting together – we were done being a last minute obligation, when they came into town.
I reached out to him yesterday asking if there was a time we could talk for 10 minutes. I said that I didn’t want to get into the past, just talk about where we might go from here. ( he hasn’t gotten back to me)
My intention in talking to him is to be clear about where we ( my h and I) stand. That we would like to see them when they come to town, and to ask that if they would like to see us that they agree to giving us the same consideration that they give their friends. If not, then that’s ok too.
(We’d much rather an honest ‘non-relationship’, than a ‘guilt driven’ relationship).
I see us setting that limit ( at Christmas) as us ‘killing the unhealthy relationship’. Now that 6 months has passed, I think it’s important for us to communicate the things I’ve said above.
I would like to have a new relationship- as equals- with him.
Time will tell if he is capable of treating me that way.
I’m sorry for your rough morning and the ‘unknowns’ that can bring up old wounds and sometimes preparation for new ones as you have drawn boundaries.
You know our situation and it has been unfortunately to-move to no contact after several attempts of what you are similarly asking of your brother.
You wrote this:
“That we would like to see them when they come to town, and to ask that if they would like to see us that they agree to giving us the same consideration that they give their friends. If not, then that’s ok too.”
‘Giving us the same consideration’ is the underlying issue in my opinion. If your brother has already established a wiring that he doesn’t have to offer this, then you might have your answer.
Also the other possibility: He might be able as an adult now to process that your request is healthy and reasonable and then he might be able to respond ‘in kind’ especially if the relationship is valuable to him (your families etc).
Your request or invitation moving forward is not requiring anything that’s ‘unreasonable or unrealistic’.
Our situation was similar but also laced with a lot more toxic attitude, gossip, immaturity, and overall entitlement from my extended family.
Our invitation was reasonable and healthy, but sadly some even as adults ‘don’t do healthy relationship wise’.
For whatever reason~ there a 1000’s of them!
A very close friend of mine recently told me in my own grief and pain, “you have asked for something reasonable and normal, their response is baffling???”
Is it though? Baffling.. I thought?
Yes, it is for someone who claims to have Christ within and is in an adult body.
However, the more I look at the response the more I see that it’s a control issue.
No longer do those who ‘do the relationship based on what’s easy and comfortable’ are getting their one way, their expected way of how things have been or how they are most likely to behave.
Often, the answer is that they don’t do a two way street unless challenged and offered the opportunity to ‘also be different’ and this the relationship can change and grow.
For my situation, my ext family tried their best to accommodate this change (a couple yrs) but then if your an observant person you can pick up on the leakage…they eventually got honest about their ‘phony’ and pretending.
It’s painful but also a lot of freedom apart from the enmeshed family system.
My prayer is that it’s Gods will for your brother to see clearly what ‘having reasonable considerations in a relationship’ would be and not unrealistic expectations to be put on you or your own family as a way for you all to have ‘any relationship’.
Sometimes I think these beliefs are wired in at such a young age that somehow we can treat our siblings or family members in any way and ‘we will always be family’.
When in reality we should be wired in that because we are family we should Treat our family members all the more with care and respect.
Sorry this is long, I hope it makes any sense or brings any comfort.
When my husband saw that he was Disproportionate with how he treated a stranger or a friend versus ‘his own wife’ it became a pivotal place of maturity for him.
It not only was a pattern but it was something deep within him at an ingrained level that needed uprooted.
That belief was ‘to take advantage or take for granted’ something that was never intended to have that posture.
Hugs and prayers for the outcome Nancy💜
Thank you for the affirmation, Aly.
Yes, being given consideration is indeed the root of it.
When (and if) I end up talking to him, I pray for the clarity to not be dragged into the fog. He has already attempted to drag his mother-in-law’s cancer into this (the reason for their visit at Christmastime). It’s a great victim story for him to hide behind.
That’s why I don’t want to talk about the past.
you said, “is it though? baffling…I thought?” with regards to your friend saying that your request was reasonable and normal)
The wording here is important. Normal? Yes….but for healthy people, only. Reasonable? Yes,,,again for healthy people.
For me the big question is: is my expectation of the outcome with him realistic. In the case of my brother, based on the pattern, it is not realistic for me to expect him to ‘rise’ to the invitation. However, that does not mean that I should assume that he won’t. I still need to extend the invitation but with realistic expectations for the outcome.
That’s the trick! That last part…involves leaving the outcome with God. Therein lies the grief.
I’ll take the opportunity to invite them into something new. I’d like to do that by phone ( as ‘in person’ as possible), but it may end up having to be sent by mail ( likely snail mail).
In fact, perhaps I’ll draft a letter in the meantime (while giving him a reasonable amount of time to respond to my email). This way, I won’t feel so powerless. If he gets back to me, then we talk. If he doesn’t then I can send off the letter, leaving the ball in their court.
When my h wrote his mother the ‘no contact’ letter, he was so sad for about two weeks afterwards. He walked around with his sweatshirt hoodie on his head for those weeks. I suspect, that’s the grief I’ll be walking in to 🙁
I got through the weekend. The Lord put a new friend in my life who really saved me. I have to decide what to do next. I don’t feel ready to leave him or give up hope that he could get help and be healed. I feel really foolish for feeling this way. I told my sister what really happened. I didn’t tell her everything because I did not have the courage. I did tell her enough. Since my husband and I work for the same company I had to tell my boss that I can’t come to the office. I’m afraid my husband will be fired. I do feel the presence of the Lord with me today. I know He won’t leave me completely alone.
Be careful, Mindy. You are witholding truth from your sister and from your boss.
It’s not your job to protect your h. In fact, if you without truth you are getting in the way of whatever consequences are appropriate for his actions.
Getting in the way of truth and of the natural consequences is called enabling.
Maybe God has something valuable to teach him. Of course, your own safety has to come first. If you have to withhold truth for your safety, that’s one thing. Witholding truth because you want to control the outcome for him, is another matter entirely.
C of CORE. Committed to truth.
I’m glad that you are safe.
That is huge Mindy! Baby steps. Hang in there!
I’d like anyone’s take on these, thanks:
My h said he’d heard parts of them while he was driving tractor but it was cutting in and out so he didn’t get it all. I’m not holding my breath, as he’s gone to counseling a number of times and read several good books but tends to take one thing out of it and ignore the rest, or just talk about it and not put it into practice, but for me, I thought it was really good.
I am a focus fan so I applaud them for tackling this issue. My husband is an extremely well informed abuser. He has been labeled both pathological and a skilled violator. He knows all the writing of leaders in this field. He is extremely well read. He uses his depth of knowledge to control mental health providers, law enforcement and any and every person who crosses his path.
So Connie, I think it is interesting that your husband is listening to programming about abuse. What do you think his motive might be for mentioning it?
My husband is in such extreme denial that he volunteers on the board of our state’s court ordered men’s battering class. He fools so many people and exploits the masses with his deceitful represention of himself. His power is magnified through his knowledge of the subject.
I don’t intend to be discouraging Connie as on occasion, for brief periods of time, my spouse was influenced by information and mental healthcare providers who tried to work with him. The changes were short lived and he develioped increasingly more disturbing control methods which incorporated the information and terms gleaned from his research on the subject.
I am confused. Your last post spoke of you and your husband in the present, I thought from other posts you were out and free from the marriage?
What you speak of above is indeed a next level of someone’s capability to use the worst of covert tactics. Scary and I’m sorry.
What also a sad existence for him.
Aly, his behaviors are still his behaviors whether I am in relationship with him or out of the relationship. I changed. He did not. His behaviors endure.
I see your point about his behaviors are his. My main question was confusion over what I misunderstood about your post.
I still don’t feel like I understand even from your last comment.
Of course no need to clarify. Just saying I’m confused.
Oh sorry, Aly. Yes, I am free.
Can you define what you are exactly free of?
Are you still in the marriage?
Free, you are right about how h may use this information. I put it up here for the women, as the speaker clearly tells how to handle a spouse who is a ‘stick’, including intervention and shunning. The part about the confrontation in the second talk was good. “Don’t say I love you or you’ve lost your ground. Don’t let him respond. Clearly make your statement and walk away, so he has time to cool down and think (hopefully pray) about it.”
I did find it interesting how, like Perry in Patrick Doyle’s videos, the interviewer keeps trying to minimize, sin-level, and interject the old church beliefs.
Back to the h, yes he keeps learning the lingo and trying to impress me with his knowledge yet doesn’t put it in practice and then acts SO disappointed when I don’t come running back (we’ve been separated 9 months). Then when I speak up about it, he complains that I keep running it off the rails just as he thinks things are going well. The speaker above says you need a support group of men to do the intervention, and that is what I don’t have. I don’t know of any mature Christian man in this area who would do that. Even in the city an hour away I haven’t found a men’s group. There may be a Genesis process group 90 minutes from here. Does anyone here have any experience with those?
There are court mandated anger management groups in every county of every state. Volunteer partipants are usually welcome for a small fee (about $10 a week.) Call you DA for information.
I am in an emotionally destructive marriage. I am so confused about what to do. I don’t want to leave my home, but I am not staying well. My husband and I have a small farm. I have invested much time and effort in growing a vegetable garden, and raising sheep for future meat. I feel trapped because of health issues and a very restricted diet. I want to grow my own food because of food sensitivities and reactions that I struggle with. If I leave, what will I eat? I don’t expect you all to answer these questions, but these are my fears. I have looked into farms that have apprentice programs for several months. Another fear is financial, as my husband controls the money. I have about $300 in cash. Thank you all for sharing. Please pray for me and my husband. I suspect he is hindered by severe wounds from his childhood, etc. I know God is with me and will provide, I just don’t know what He wants me to do.
Recognizing that you are in a destructive marriage is a great 1st step. Understanding and educating yourself is the next step. Do you have some place to turn for resources and counseling? Then you need to make an emergency exit plan while you do your counseling work. Some of the hardest part of counseling is realizing that it is nearly impossible that your destructive husband will ever change or get better.
It seems you are ready to grow and change. Reviewing your finances is smart. Do you have children to consider? Do you have other job skills in addition to farming? A lot of things in your life my need to change as you prioritize your safety. Have you called a local shelter? They have great guidelines for how to handle a situation like yours.
You can not do this alone. Build your team of friends or family, sisters in Christ and professionals. I am glad you are on this site. Try a few more sites too like Lundy Bancroft’s, Patrick Doyle’s videos and Don Hennessy’s.
Thank you for the words of encouragement and counsel. I have reached out to a pastor’s wife, and want to meet with them for further counsel. No we do not have children. It sounds crazy, but my diet is the biggest thing holding me back. It appears that I react to meat, dairy, and eggs if the animal has eaten grain. It is very difficult to find food that I can eat, and most of it is very expensive to buy, when I do find it. That is why we want to raise/grow our own. We are new on this farm, and just getting started. I need God’s wisdom. I don’t believe I am in immediate physical danger, but the emotional/mental abuse is affecting me physically. I struggle a lot with fear. I would appreciate prayer! Thank you!
Sometimes health issues improve when removed from an abusive situation. The immune system is affected by the over production of coritsol which is a by product of your “fight or flight ” response. This is triggered because you live in fear. Many of us have expected relief from systematic illnesses after removing ourselves from the abusive environments which triggered our magnified stress response. You might like to read about the role of your adrenal gland.
Along that train of thought, it would be wise to tell your doctor about the reality of you living situation for a variety of reasons. Do you have an allergist and a nutritionist on your healthcare team. Reaching out to a social worker is another important contact for you. These are all ways to get the help you need without your spouse knowing.
moon beam is right. I see it all the time with the women I work with. When they are out of the abuse their health problems improve. It has been proven that women in abusive situations have a higher rate of severe illness and a younger age of death (not due to murder). I know it sounds crazy because the illnesses are real and aren’t “in your head” (one of my favorite terms), your body is physically changed by the extreme stress you are under and your chemistry is altered by the damage the words do to your brain, it is truly amazing how our bodies respond to evil. We are not meant to endure evil.
Keep pursuing the truth and trusting God to lead you down the right path and be your provider.
Don’t be discouraged Confused if your pastor’s wife doesn’t help you. It is very difficult to find people knowledgeable in this field. Some people helpers are not Christian, yet they are excellent resources. I am glad you are starting somewhere yet please remember, you will need a team of people to help you. Abuse is a complex issue that requires a complex response. Your emotionally abusive spouse is likely to advance to physical abuse if you show signs of resisting his control. You need a safety plan, even if you never chose to implement it.
My employer found out about my husband. Things are getting more complicated and everyone keeps asking what I’m going to do next. I have no idea. I’m frustrated with well intentioned people telling me to get an attorney. (Very expensive and I’m on a limited budget for now). I don’t want the police involved. I don’t even know if I want to go home. I feel so depressed and anxious. I miss my husband. I wish I could see a positive outcome but every option seems worse.
“Things are getting more complicated and everyone keeps asking what I’m going to do next.”
Who do you mean by everyone?
I wish I could say things get better before they get better, but that’s usually not the situation.
Understand that your options are technically many. Even if you see it as two Paths, understand that BOTH paths are painful and probably will feel worse in the beginning… But one path will lead to healing and restoration and one path will lead to more suffering… even though they both are not easy.
The marital outcome is just that, an outcome that you don’t have control over.
Sometimes the most loving and difficult things are the hardest to do and most painful.
From your posts, it sounds like you are needing to find detachment from an addict type of person (your h).
If he abuses substances, it’s a loving thing to invite him into healthy recovery. He might be more motivated to consider recovery if he begins to see that you are making different choices for yourself and taking a stand for what you believe in and what you love, the Lord first.
Power issues in a marriage are complex Mindy you will need a lot of support to get clear and free of the mind games.
Trauma bonding is essential for you to look into since you are ‘missing him’.
I’m thinking that maybe you would like this all to settle down and go back to honeymoon phase… but as time goes on the honeymoon phase shortens and shortens with addicts, abusers, etc of all kinds.
Recovery is a lot of work especially for the survivor and I would rather encourage those to ‘work on the right things and places that do produce the fruit’.
I am so thankful that well meaning people know your situation! Harness that energy because vif you don’t act, they will stop caring. It is like a car crash or natural disaster, people care until the next big crisis. I say leverage this situation and act. Yes, it is scary but the longer you wait, the less people will support you. You need level headed, non abused people to guide you. Yes, talk to an attorney. The first visit is free. You can interview a few before you commit to one. They know that. With each visit you will get more information.
My lawyer was free because I went to a domestic violence shelters and pressed charges. Press charges or at least get a restraining order while you figure out what to do. Use the free lawyers at the center. Mine were wonderful. They also send an advocate to support you with meetings and court dates.
Yes, you are scared. You will never be less scared. Time to act. Be brave.
I agree. Don’t be afraid to involve the authorities or whoever. This is what I have come to: When you get a goat, you make a fence. If the fence is too low, she will jump it. Then you set it a bit higher, and after a bit of practice, she jumps it. You keep doing that and soon you’ve trained a professional athlete!!
Same with your husband. What I did was put a boundary that wasn’t big enough, hoping he was smarter than a goat (apparently he is not) and get the memo that he needs to stay inside the fence and behave wisely, and he soon figured out how to get around or over it, and so it went. I should have put it all out there in a big way, that ‘This is the way it has to be and no negotiating!’. Now I’ve got a crazy-maker trying to play head games and not respecting the boundaries I’m trying to set because he thinks he can out-wait me and get his way. One counselor told me to stop fluffing his pillow. I know, it feels unkind, but it is not. Listen to those two links by Dr. Dan Clarke I shared above, and a whole bunch of Patrick Doyle. He says the most loving thing to do when you are being harmed is to put an immediate stop to it, whatever you need to do.
Excellent points Connie! I loved the goat analogy.
“The most loving thing you can do when you are being harmed is to put an immediate stop to it, whatever you need to do”
Oh Mindy, I will pray for you and your protection. Darkness hates the light. I too miss my ex-husband, but the further away from the relationship I get the more I can see that what I really miss is the elusive dream, the expectation of a relationship, the promise of a true bond. I crave/d intimacy and trust, it was not there, but I knew it was possible. I crave/d a partnership but it was not there, it only existed when the partnership required the death of who I was as a person. There was warmth, and togetherness only on my ex-husband’s terms. This meant if I acted and reacted as he wished, I was rewarded meagerly, with a relationship of dubious quality, and I settled for that. I finally used some boundaries and he reacted with the angry hysterics befitting a 2-year-old, he never laid down his weapons, so I took up my shield and stood trembling; I had many praying and holding me up. I come to this blog frequently for encouragement and clarification and help along the path whose end I cannot see. Rest assured God will lead and guide you, He has you in his hands. The contributors here love God and are full of wise direction.
Another great post! Thanks Jocelyn.
Mindy, I understand you uncertainty right now, and your reluctance to involve police or get a lawyer. A marriage has been a very private thing and then all of a sudden its everybody’s business.
But our choices effect others even when they don’t know whats going on, because we live different when we are living in unhealthy situations. This is clear when there are kids, but even before kids we each have a calling in this world that requires a whole and healthy self.
Probably others are trying to help as they see fit.
Some states have protective orders that don’t even involve the police, as well as free legal services when you have little money. Your doctor will likely be able to help you find these kinds of resources or find someone else who can help you.
Don’t lose heart my friend.
prayers & hugs
Hi, Mindy, and all the lovely sisters who are holding you in prayer and with care.
Mindy, in an earlier post on this thread, you wrote that you were worried your (shared) employer would fire your husband if his abusive behaviour to you was found out. Today you’ve written that your employer is now aware, though you didn’t mention how that happened.
Here is the important bit to keep in mind, Mindy……………If the employer makes a decision about one of his employees (in this case your husband) based on the behaviour of that employee, and chooses to terminate that person from the job, it is NOT the fault of responsibility of any other employee (even a spouse).
The issue is between your husband and his employer. It is not your burden to try and shield husband from the natural outcome (sometimes, that’s losing a job) of his bad behaviour.
It IS your responsibility to keep yourself safe. And yes, this is a confusing and scarey time for you, but make one decision at a time, always toward keeping yourself safe. That may or may not include seeking legal support from a lawyer (your local shelter will have the contact & resources for someone who can do this, even if you don’t have money to pay). This may or may not include allowing the police to handle situations according to the law in your jurisdiction. Some states and provinces (even countries) deal with destructive behaviour (assaults, theft, damage, etc) on behalf of the one who has been harmed, without requiring that person to press charges herself or himself. Don’t try to get in between that happening as another natural outcome of bad behaviour your husband may need to be confronted with.
When you say that you miss your husband, even in these few days of crisis, be very careful not to let your self-talk steer you into believing the lies that keep you trapped in helplessness. You miss the fantasy of what you wish your husband could/would be all the time, like the times when he is ‘nice’. But when you talk to yourself clearly, do you really miss the anger, the fear, the abusiveness, the fear, the oppression and fleeing and fear that come along with the way he is when ‘nice’ disappears, and angry violent abuse takes over? I don’t think you miss that at all. Be clear with yourself about your self-talk, Mindy. It’s important to tell yourself the truth.
You are much in my prayers. Be wise and safe and look to the Lord.
Can you go to your sister’s?