Am I Enabling And Is It Wrong To Stop?

Morning friends,

Thanks for your prayers. This season is exceptionally busy for me and I’ve been feeling the pressure of overload. Plus, when you are doing remodeling, nothing goes as planned so the chaos continues. Hopefully, by summer we will be back to running normally around here.

Question: Thank you so much for what you do. I have read your book and listened to many of your videos. After years of counseling, reading and praying, I cannot shake the belief that I am being selfish.

I’ve been married for 25 years. All 25 years I have worked to support our family. In the beginning, this was difficult for me, but I was willing to work toward my husband’s dream job. I worked while he built his business. I helped finance all of his projects at the promises that he just needed another year, etc. etc.

Here we are in the same position, only more expensive to accommodate his projects. Nearly all of his profits go right back into the business. It is mostly a hobby that pays for itself. There is no contribution to the household expenses. However, because the business is in the backyard, he sees it as helping with our “situation.”

I have trouble seeing it this way, so I become confused. Aside from the financial stuff, he is very short tempered. He is a schoolyard bully type that teases people for their flaws. He becomes angry if you show hurt feelings. He is loud, crude, entitled and cocky. He has an “I’ll hurt you before you hurt me” attitude. When he becomes angry with me he rages with insults and accusations about me, my family, my work, my hobbies and sometimes our children. He gets angry when I spend time with my parents. Teases if I go to church.

He tells me I’m “stepping out” when I take my mother to craft shows or go somewhere with a friend. He has disowned every member of his family. He hasn’t spoken to his own daughter from a previous marriage in nearly 10 years. He sleeps late in the day. He answers to nobody, no responsibility to anyone or anything. If he doesn’t want to do something he just doesn’t do it. I feel sorry for him.

He is like a child that gets so hurt that he has turned into a hateful person as a defense. He’s been diagnosed with depression and OCD (intrusive thoughts), anxiety and sleep apnea. He will go to doctors for a bit and then decide they don’t know what they are doing after he’s put little to no effort into treatment. He is very good at convincing me that his doing anything different is impossible,

My question is if I know his behaviors are coming from past hurts and some mental issues and I still leave… doesn’t that make me the bad person?

Also, if I’ve enabled this behavior all these years, am I selfish and cruel to just abandon him? I’ve become his parent. I’m responsible for his wellbeing. After all these years I feel taken advantage of, sad, defeated and quite frankly…. Ticked. I can’t get away from the feeling of selfishness and guilt though.

Afraid that my kids will be angry especially if he turns to them for financial and dependence. How can I stay well, or leave well when he isn’t well in either situation?

Answer: I’m so sorry for all you’ve had to live within your marriage. Your husband sounds like a very difficult man to live with and relate to and you have tried to be compassionate and understanding as to where this all might stem from.

There are a lot of angles here but let’s just tackle two. The first is your fear of feeling like a selfish and bad person if you say enough is enough and leave.

The second area is related in that if you indeed enabled his self-centered and irresponsible behavior all these years is it cruel of you to now withdraw your support by leaving?

Some of my answers depend on how continuing to carry him impacts you? Any caregiver knows that being responsible to fully care for another adult’s needs can be exhausting and burdensome. I remember when my mother-in-law was caring for my father-in-law who had ALS. There came a time when she just couldn’t anymore. It wasn’t an issue of being selfish but became an issue of stewardship. Taking care of him was killing her and her body and spirit were breaking down. She needed to place him in a facility that could better care for his physical needs and she then also got a break from his negativity over his illness.

Right now you are struggling with negative emotions, resentment, anger, contempt and perhaps even disgust. These are normal emotions to feel when you are being perpetually taken advantage of, disrespected, demeaned, mocked and bullied.

Your emotions are telling you that something is wrong. Pay attention. The problem is not just with him or your marriage, but also with you. Most people when they start to fill up with negative emotions towards someone realize that they need to make some changes.

The changes can be drastic like ending the relationship, but they can also be less drastic or final by you having better boundaries for yourself. For example, saying “no” to new requests for money, or having boundaries around what you will listen to and what you won’t listen to when he gets negative and critical. Having excellent self-care routines and not allowing him to bully you or badger you into giving up things you want to do or doing things you don’t want to do is also important.

Here’s an analogy for you to ponder. If you were repeatedly getting your foot stomped on by dancing with your husband, the pain in your foot is telling you something is wrong. Ouch! At first, you might try to tell your dance partner that he needs to stop stomping on your foot. But when nothing changes and he keeps his stomping up, is it selfish for you to take care of your foot?

No! And, the only way you can take care of your foot if he won’t stop stomping on it is to stop dancing with your partner in the same way you. It doesn’t always mean you have to leave the dance, but you have to stop your part of the dance so your foot doesn’t continue to get stepped on. Therefore you might say, “I won't slow dance with you.” Or “I won’t dance with you where you hold me close because you continue to stomp on my foot and it hurts me.” We can fast dance or dance separately.

You do have good compassion for your husband and the hurts and probable mental health issues he struggles with. But this good quality of compassion may also be blinding you into taking more responsibility for his well-being and care than necessary.

Also, what are you doing to take care of you? He refuses to get help for himself but are you getting help for yourself? Have you stopped some of your enabling? For example, have you asked him to contribute to the household expenses or have you continued to pay all of them yourself? Are you still funding any of his dreams or are they totally self-sustaining through his hobby/business income? Are you indulging his temper tantrums or bullying or are you walking away?

The Bible says that we are to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:4-6), which means we are to be unselfish when we see someone struggling beneath a heavy load. But it also says, each one should carry his own load. Click To Tweet

From what you say, your husband has never had to bear his own load earning a living to sustain himself let alone support a family. He doesn’t bear his own load relationally. He just cuts people out of his life if they require too much from him. He’s done that with his daughter and his biological family. I suspect he keeps you around because you give him so much and require nothing in return, not even a modicum of respect or appreciation. Your relationship is not mutual or reciprocal. Nor do you have the freedom to make good choices for yourself like go to church or visit your parents without receiving a heap of contempt from him..

So help me understand why you think it’s selfish for you to say “no more” to a grown-up man who is functioning as a 12-year-old boy? Maybe it’s time for him to face his own self and be invited to grow up through some tough consequences. Maybe it’s time to stop taking the mother role and let the chips fall where they may. Perhaps only then will he pick up his own load to do the hard work he has to move into adulthood instead of staying in selfish adolescence.

So, friend, I encourage you to get going to do your own work of understanding what your fears and obstacles are in stopping your dance steps with a man who continually hurts and demeans you. My guess is he’s a lot more resourceful than you know or even he knows but he’s never had to discover it because he’s always had a too compassionate dance partner who never said, “I’m not dancing with you this way because I do not want my foot crushed anymore.”

Friends, how did you let go of the guilt that you were a bad person when you stopped your enabling or over-functioning for someone who should be carrying his or her own load?


  1. Ruth on May 23, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Dear writer,
    Wow you are a tolerant woman not to have left already!
    I am sorry for what you have endured. You would not be selfish for leaving now. My goodness you would finally be able to breathe! Of course, your H will vilify you if you leave. But, God could use your leaving as a wake-up call to him. You could write him a detailed, compassionate letter expressing your concern for the train wreck of his emotional life, and explain that bc of his abuse and irresponsibility you must you leave.
    I’m assuming since you’re the breadwinner that the credit cards are in your name; you could get him taken off your accounts. Let him get his own. Credit card companies will give anyone a card. In this economy, EVERYPLACE is hiring. Our business is always looking for new help. Your would H whine and try to suck you back into his clutches but needs to take responsibility for himself.
    It’s only a tiny chance that a man with such an engrained sense of entitlement would really humble himself before God and repent. It’s tricky to bc sometimes people with shallow personalities will be sad for their circumstances which they think is repentance. They play the whole repentance game. We as caregivers have prayed for this for years so we’re SO HAPPY THIS DAY HAS FINALLY COME. But really it hasn’t.
    With all that said, the bottom line is you need to begin to cry out to God: “Lord, what do you want me to do?” All the stuff I said above my not be God’s plan for you. I know Nancy has said she had to put her marriage on the altar, meaning, God could do whatever He wanted with it at that point and she was going to trust Him with that. Prior to that, she thought the end result HAD to be a certain way which in her mind was a saved marriage.
    Sometimes we stay on the wrong path so long we think it’s ridiculous to get off NOW. But it’s not!
    I can see you have compassion for your H. Maybe you’re thinking his crazy behaviors come from a wounded childhood. But he’s doing NOTHING to solve these problems. He’s got a daughter that he’s cut off. How sad 😞! You are not responsible for him. You probably need to grieve over your marriage, maybe even express anger about your marriage.
    Remove yourself from him for a season and get alone with God. Play worship music. concentrate on the goodness of God and listen to his voice.
    I recommend reading Joyce Meyer’s “How to Hear From God”. So Good!”

    • Aly on May 23, 2018 at 7:39 pm

      Leslie you wrote:
      “Friends, how did you let go of the guilt that you were a bad person when you stopped your enabling or over-functioning for someone who should be carrying his or her own load?”

      Such an important question. I’m sure I have carried the guilt so much as I’ve worn the ‘false shame’.
      That for me has been a pivotal place of understanding more of myself and trying ‘my best’ to understand how other’s may think ~ even if it’s unreasonable.

      What I have come to understand is that unhealthy people will go to great lengths to make another person continue in ‘enabling them’ or over-functioning in the relationship. Mutuality and reciprocity is not in their vocabulary!
      Often there isn’t a relationship once one stops over-functioning in order to have ‘any’ form of a relationship and this can be a deep place of grief as well as a close Place with God and more space for healthy others to spend valuable time with.

  2. Nancy on May 23, 2018 at 11:59 am

    “How did you let go of the guilt that you were a bad person when you stopped your enabling or over-functioning…?”

    The book Boundaries ( Cloud and Townsend) came to me at the same time as The Lord was drawing me to Himself.

    In it was (among other verses) the following verse:

    Prov 4:23 , “above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your life.”

    This verse was life-changing. Actually, it really confused me, but I knew there was something very profound there, for me and so I clung to it.

    I thought, “if God is telling me to guard my heart ‘above all else’, this must be critical.” And yet the guilt just grew stronger and bigger.

    What got me through those over-powering feelings was simply trusting the Truth of this verse more than my own feelings.

    Then I started to become extremely sensitive to my own heart. I started to pay attention to what gave me ‘life’ and what did not.

    A very important step was saying ‘no’ to people. I expected push-back from everyone. What I ended up finding out is that healthy people have no problem hearing ‘no’.

    Another critical element was getting involved with healthy people. This is where I began to see that I had chosen friendships similar to my family of origin and these relationships only perpetuated my unhealthy thinking. I joined a couple of Bible studies with Godly women.

    It took me a long time to get to the place where I believed that setting healthy boundaries with others is a loving thing to do, for them. I grew up with a ‘me verses you’ definition of love. It was either me OR you, and so I translated that into “if I set boundaries to guard my heart then this must be to your detriment”.

    That thinking is a lie.

    • Aly on May 23, 2018 at 7:27 pm


      This is a tweet;)
      “A very important step was saying ‘no’ to people. I expected push-back from everyone. What I ended up finding out is that healthy people have no problem hearing ‘no’.”

      So good! So true;) wish I had learned that early on in those early years.

    • sheep on May 24, 2018 at 8:16 am

      Nancy, Thanks, I needed to hear that. I have so lived in fear of telling my wife no, that it has bled over into other areas of my life as well. Then, I’m afraid to tell anyone no.

      But you are right, healthy people don’t mind hearing no, AND they don’t think worse of you for saying it. I know that I don’t even think twice if someone kindly tells me no.

      And it bothers me so much when I see my wife flat out lie to someone to get out of doing something that frankly, she just doesn’t want to do. But instead of just saying no, she will add a lie because she thinks that to say no she has to have a good excuse. She thinks that this makes her look better to that person.

      • Nancy on May 25, 2018 at 10:32 am

        Here a thought that has helped me:

        ” ‘No’ is a full sentence” 🙂

  3. Diane K Jackson on May 23, 2018 at 12:05 pm

    I really like the word picture example of what an emotional ,mental, spiritual abuse would look like if it was physical.
    I used this technique to help me make good choices.

    • sheep on May 24, 2018 at 8:51 am

      Diane K Jackson,

      I don’t know that I have come up with a particularly good one yet, probably because it is so hard to put it into words, especially for those that have never experienced it and probably don’t really believe it exists. But, I’ll give it a shot.

      Imagine having your spouse hit you whenever you think something different than they do. Imagine that the blows continue until you change your mind or give up. Now imagine that your spouse truly BELIEVES that nothing has happened and that all is just fine in your house and relationship, couldn’t be better. You learn early on in your relationship to just take it, because if you try to point this out, not only do you get hit more, but your spouse tells you that you are the problem. They tell you that you have it all wrong, they say that you never had that disagreement, and they say that you are the one that actually hit them. But the crazy thing is that they actually believe it themselves, and many times, they make you believe it too.

      When it FINALLY begins to dawn on you that you are being hit, you question your sanity because those blows never leave any marks that can be seen. You make excuses for the other person because you are afraid to end the marriage and you are afraid of them. But you couch that in terms of making excuses for their behavior, and you have let them blame things on you for so long that you have gotten used to being responsible for their actions.

      But now, when you have finally had enough and you gain the courage to tell others, you don’t have a clue how to put it into words. Remember, the blows never leave visible marks? So now you are trying to tell someone about this but you don’t know how to describe it, they very well might not even believe in abuse anyway, or they think of it as modern psychology garbage. But they nod and look like they are listening, but they might be thinking “all he really has to do is Love more, be more understanding, or more tolerant, trust God more. What is wrong with him?, he is just too sensitive, he should just toughen up. They think “well, it does take two to destroy a marriage”. But, they focus on changing you, getting you to “fix” the marriage. If you just wait a little longer for God to work, things will get better.

      Interestingly enough, these same people will rarely address the abuser. Why? because you are much easier to deal with and they already know this. Most people are cowards and they would much rather tell you to tolerate, love, give, and submit than tell the abuser that they are living in sin and they need to stop.

      Which, of course, keeps the abuse train rolling down the tracks.

      • Nancy on May 24, 2018 at 3:28 pm

        This is a fanrastic word picture, sheep. It’s very important to have these – especially when the abuse is unseen and leaves no scars.

        It is all very hard to keep straight, and word pictures help us do that.

        I used to ‘envy’ my h for being physically beaten, because I needed to know that I wasn’t crazy for all the pain from my childhood (emotional abuse).

        My counsellor gave me an amazing word picture of my childhood that I will forever be grateful for. I talked about how I have very little toleraace for any kind of ‘elephant in the room’ (that no one talks about).

        She said, “that’s because Nancy, you didn’t just grow up with an elephant in the room, you grew up with the rotting corpse of an elephant, in the room’. As disgusting as this word picture is, it brings me great comfort because it validates the very real ( but invisible) damage that was done to me.

        Images are so important. Great work putting that devastating pattern into understandable terms.

      • ContentinChrist on May 26, 2018 at 11:24 am

        “Interestingly enough, these same people will rarely address the abuser. Why? because you are much easier to deal with and they already know this. Most people are cowards and they would much rather tell you to tolerate, love, give, and submit than tell the abuser that they are living in sin and they need to stop.”

        Spot on, brother. Wow. Love it.

        • Loretta on May 26, 2018 at 11:55 am

          So true because we are more tolerant and easier to deal with. it wasn’t easy dealing with my abusive husband. Friends and members from church did talk to him but it did no good. And then they started telling me that I had their support when I chose to divorce him.
          We still need to pray for that other person, the abusive spouse, because they need all the guidance the Lord can give them.
          I’m thankful I chose to leave the marriage, however I still hurt when I think of good memories in the past and what I had hoped for in my marriage. Know I can find strength in the Lord, church family, some friends, and some of my family members. Some of my family members need prayer. They blame me and can’t see past that. They need to forgive and give me support, as I would them. Thanks to Leslie and all you out there needing prayer and support. I’m praying for you.
          I’ve learned some valuable lessons. Saw a gal from BRASS yesterday and she asked if I would like to speak at upcoming event. Yes, I will because a lot of women have been abused verbally/emotionally and you can’t see these open wounds; but they are there.

        • Aly on May 26, 2018 at 11:57 am

          Content in Christ, sheep,
          I would agree this is very spot on to uncovering more of the unhealthy!
          You wrote:
          “Most people are cowards and they would much rather tell you to tolerate, love, give, and submit than tell the abuser that they are living in sin and they need to stop.”

          I might even take it another step further to say that many of these same people are also the ones ‘saying that our culture is going down the tubes’ or our religious freedoms are being further eroded!

          Ah yeah!

          Personally the coward behavior I believe comes from the lack of studying the full counsel of God and applying many foundational principles to our lives in our Christian homes.

      • Christin on May 28, 2018 at 6:09 pm

        That was an excellent illustration, sheep. I found myself welling up with tears because it describes my situation well.

  4. Loretta on May 23, 2018 at 2:21 pm

    I feel like this lady who has tolerated and made everything possible for her husband to have a good life. It is not fair that we give of ourselves without any respect or love in return. I’ve been hurt by my husband leaving 10 days ago but I am not begging him to come back. He wants to be on his own. He has no close friends because he alienates everyone he comes in contact with. He having to stay at a hotel/motel now since he keeps having mid-understandings with all apt. managers he comes in contact with. I still pray for him and yes, I worry about him, too. He has emotional issues and will not let anyone help him. Even his siblings and daughter don’t want anything to do with him. For the last 17 1/2 years I’ve tried to keep this marriage together but he doesn’t want me anymore and said he ready to move on alone. . I loved him and did everything I could to keep peace in our marriage.
    After much emotional/mental abuse and then physical abuse, I’m choosing to get a divorce from him. I will always pray for him.

    • Free on May 23, 2018 at 9:11 pm

      Loretta, your have done an excellent job in extreme circumstances. God well done. The job is over now, the problem are too complex and too big for you to fix. Pass all your worries, cares and thoughts over to God. Again, you are done. Your work is complete. God will take it from here.

      Now you are responsible for how you treat yourself. Time to work on that.

      • Free on May 23, 2018 at 9:12 pm

        Job well done..not God well done.

    • Aly on May 24, 2018 at 11:40 pm


      I’m sorry for what you have been through and I really see your loving heart and wanting the best for him.
      Sometimes we get to a place where ‘we can’t want it more than they do’ ~or we are out of alignment.

      I can relate to this when it comes to my mom and her choices. It’s sad, and the best I can do is be the daughter of the King.

      Please know your not alone in your grief. There is still a lot of good memories to be made in your journey. Take each day as you can and give yourself plenty of space to process and cry out the Lord is near.
      From your description; Your husband is foolish and I’m sorry!

      You said you are not begging him back … ? Have you had that cycle before?
      And if so, good for you not playing your old role. You’ve moved your place to a healthier spot.

  5. Karen on May 23, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    Dearest Writer,

    I have been reading Leslie’s blog for several months now, but your situation is the closest I have ever read to my own. I have been married and supporting my husband and our four kids for 26 years. He is a “visionary” and a “businessman” and worked really, really hard to make a business successful, but he never has. Of course, all the financing came from our family budget. I tried to believe in him all along, but, at some point, you just give out and can’t believe any more. That’s where we are now, and it is critical to set boundaries. I have separated from my husband, but he won’t leave the family home. Be prepared for that. I can’t get legal relief (in VA) until we have been separated for one year or more. I can leave the house myself, but that is another set of problems and complications (kids, finances, etc.) Beware that this is likely for you if you decide you need to separate. My H is very unstable and engages in rather predictable emotional cycles. He gets angry and loud and ugly (though not physically abusive); he then tries to force me to stay in the relationship because “we have a covenant before God.” That guilt is really hard on empathetic people like me, and, presumably, you. Be strong. Your relationship, like mine, is not mutual. It is not a healthy, functional place for you to be. He will not change. You mentioned concern about your children. The best you can do for them at this point is to model healthy behavior. I am learning as much as I can and sharing what I learn with them as they are open to receiving that. May the Lord bless and strengthen you Precious Soul.

    • Aly on May 23, 2018 at 7:32 pm


      I really appreciated your post.
      You wrote:
      “The best you can do for them at this point is to model healthy behavior.”

      That means a lot to me, that is something I need to remind myself often especially when I am grieving the loss of people I love.
      I just wanted to say thank you for writing those words ~ it helps me;)

      • Karen on May 23, 2018 at 7:51 pm

        Hi Aly,

        I’m so glad that you were encouraged. Let’s keep praying for one another, for Leslie, and for this whole awesome group. God is upholding us in His mighty right arm.

    • JoAnn on May 23, 2018 at 11:59 pm

      Karen, the “healthy behavior” that you want to model must include strong and clear boundaries. This will protect your heart and those of your children, and eventually, your h will probably tire of them and leave. This is what you can pray for. Don’t tolerate any of his hurtful behavior. You do not deserve to be abused the way he is abusing you and the children. The Lord will help you to arrange the boundaries. Stay here with us and you will find hope and help. Grace be with you.

      • Karen on May 24, 2018 at 8:24 am

        Thank you JoAnne. I appreciate your input. I am being told that I am trying to “control” him when I set a boundary, so I am having to be very careful with my language and my resolve. Jesus was falsely accused and said nothing though, so I am in good company. Bless you!

        • JoAnn on May 24, 2018 at 9:58 am

          Karen, it is important to be clear that boundaries are not to control the other person but to protect yourself from abuse. This must be your response when he accuses you of control: “no, I will not allow myself to be spoken to in that way. It is hurtful, so I will leave your presence when you speak to me that way.” Answering that way will make it clear that you respect yourself too much to allow the abuse.

          • Free on May 24, 2018 at 7:25 pm

            Very true Jo Ann, yet some of us would be chased down and smacked in the face for speaking to our spouses like that. Later they would circle, berate, take away the car keys and block the closest exits. It depends on the level of abuse. Many of us need to permanently flee rather than to expect to reason with a mate who demonstrates evil.

          • JoAnn on May 24, 2018 at 8:00 pm

            Free, I get your point, so if there seems to be any possibility of an abusive response to stating such a boundary, then the wife should do it in a way to protect herself and the children, such as waiting until all the kids are out of the house and she has an escape plan, or doing it in writing. Still, I do believe that such boundaries are necessary for protection, not control, as she was being accused.

    • FLGirl on May 24, 2018 at 9:20 pm

      Your situation is about as close to mine as I have read. Sounds like we must be married to the same person, LOL. You said, ” I tried to believe in him all along, but, at some point, you just give out and can’t believe any more.” Amen to that. I reached this point for the final time several months ago and my boundary is not speaking to him at all because he is argumentative, unsupportive, a bully and unpredictable.

      He has said the same thing “covenant before God” as a way of controlling me with guilt. The guilt is awful at times mainly because of the kids and the fact he has in the past told them I was the one wanting him gone. He won’t leave either so I am living in another room while He lives in our larger bedroom. We put the house on the market and he has said he wants separate checks at closing. I am praying it sells soon so I can get away from the negative environment and constant chaos. I guess I’ll file after. I pray my kids will support me and it will not create more issues for them. They are 18 and 21 and going through anxiety and depression from living in this.

      • Karen on May 24, 2018 at 10:10 pm

        Hey FL Girl-
        I’m soooo glad you wrote. We are NOT alone. I have also basically withdrawn from relationship except for absolutely necessary conversations. Otherwise, I am not safe, and I can lose my sanity too easily. I want to encourage you about your kids. They, too, have lived with his insanity for 18 and 21 years. (Mine are 22, 19, 16, and 13.) I am certain that he is the same way with them as he is with you-at least sometimes and especially as they get older. Now is the time we can pour into them and help them to frame and have context for the dysfunction they have lived. Now is the time for them to either 1) learn to set boundaries if they are empathetic and tend toward care giving or 2) develop maximum awareness if they tend toward narcissism or whatever their father has exhibited in their lives and choose a better path for themselves and their lives. I know that God has Jeremiah 29:11 plans for your kids and for us all. I pray for your peace and conviction going forward-always forward! You’ve got this Girl!!

        • Aly on May 24, 2018 at 11:27 pm


          This is good!
          I like how you mention the 1) & 2) corners.
          This is key to unraveling the dysfunctional system.

          So do you see traits in your children?
          I ask because my sisters happen to be quite NArc traited and I certainly was predisposed to abusive tolerances growing up but it was more sibling related than just the marital dynamic.

          • Karen on May 25, 2018 at 8:35 am

            Hi Aly,
            I’m certainly no psychologist, but I absolutely see that my kids are split down the middle. Two are so angry with their father that they have trouble being in the same room with him. They are avoiding relationship and communication. At the same time, I see them developing selfish and aggressive tendencies themselves, and that cannot bode well for their future relationships if gone unaddressed. I think they are mimicking what their father has modeled about “looking out for #1” and not seeing the bigger picture of how their behavior may salve their hurt and their wounds in the moment but will cause them and others pain in the long run.

            The other two kids are trying not to add stress to this difficult season. They are being warm and caring with both their parents (although they both see that their father ‘is not well.’–their words, not mine). That seems really desirable on the surface, but they are not engaging in self-care of self-advocacy, and he manipulates them both. They learned from me who wanted so desperately to “keep the peace.” Those kids are care takers, and he wants to be taken care of. My kids have never seen me model setting healthy boundaries on what I will and will not accept/tolerate/whatever until recently, so they, too, are new to that concept. It is critical to their own futures however, that they are made aware of their natural self-denying tendencies and how that plays out over time. We all need to learn Leslie’s wonderful “CORE” strength. I am grateful that the Lord brought this dysfunction to light while they are still open to receiving my input into their thoughts and actions. What do you think? How are your other relationships?

          • Aly on May 25, 2018 at 9:41 am


            Your posture about these things I think are really healthy. And I agree with you in getting more of these things exposed will help others in these relationships (left and right).

            Observation is a good place to help evaluate.
            I don’t believe you have to be a psychologist to note something concerning or something you see as a pattern in your personal relationships.
            (I’m sure you know that as a Mom, and you sound like a very good mom ~ walking in your core)

            Emotional abuse can tear one’s ability to point out the obvious sometimes. I remember when my h would remind me that I’m not a psychologist etc. when I would challenge him on his selfish behavior or point out something I observed.
            That was then, and it stung then. But now, I know ‘credentials’ are valid but not having those do not eliminate (or dismiss) ones experience of the dynamic.

            This was a tactic he tried often, and it back fired.

            Ok so thanks for replying about your kids. I think you are wise to be realistic about these dynamics and the ripple effect.
            This ripple effect KEEPS abuse in our communities for sure. So it plays a part.

            The fact that your kids are open, is key and a good time of of opportunity for them to learn more about reality and responsibility in relationships.

            Often in these dynamics, kids are not taught responsibility (what is theirs and what is not theirs)
            Then you see more of a divide of the self denying skills like you mentioned.

            You asked about my relationships, I assuming it’s about my siblings?
            Maybe I’m wrong.
            It’s a long story…
            but we are estranged and it’s best this way.
            They have heavy resistance to ‘repair’ what is theirs to repair.
            They had two decades of ‘me doing’ their repair when things would collide.

            This behavior was modeled for me by my mom and she still ‘is there’ sadly.
            I brought this into my own marriage for sometime and when I decided to not operate that way, a difficult marriage quickly turns to destructive!

            I have had to grieve the loss of my sisters and really my entire family system because of ‘their unwillingness to live in reality’.
            They can only do phony.

            And my sisters can only participate in a relationship if they have a superior role (fake too) versus a mutual role of respect and love that of which is authentic.

            But they just don’t have the basics that healthy relationships require! It’s sad but it’s wired in early on!

            And it’s hard to understand for my own kids why they want to live this way ‘~ even as professing Christians;)?

            As far as my parents, they can’t observe the wrong doing and are blind to the bigger issues here.
            So as Sheep might say,
            They try to deal with the more accommodating person, the one who has been mistreated to reason with because it’s easier for them.

            Thanks for listening sorry so long 💜
            But thankfully I get to live apart from crazy.

        • FLGirl on May 25, 2018 at 7:10 pm


          So grateful for your empathy and encouragement. I am praying for my kids who don’t want to let go of the fantasy–my daughter hit rock bottom with her anxiety and I and counselors have been working with her. Thank God she is starting to process the dysfunction her “dead” father brought to our family. My son is a different story–he is so tenderhearted, codependent and in denial. He is naive, thinking forgiveness solves everything, meanwhile he had his own anxiety to deal with throughout high school and refuses to come home except for an occasional quick meal.

          I know he is protecting himself but at the same time he has started to exhibit some of the same shut down emotional behaviors as his dad and it is killing me to watch him running. He just graduated from college with a degree in ministry and I know he is so wounded on the inside from the abuse he has experienced and watched toward his mother and can’t move into his purpose without healing. I just keep praying for the scales to fall off his eyes and that he will accept the final end of this marriage without it destroying his hope in God.

      • sheep on May 24, 2018 at 11:04 pm

        Hey FL girl,

        just a thought, but if you are selling the house, you should at least consult with an attorney before that happens. I don’t know what the whole separate check thing will mean if you file after. Some of that will depend on the property laws in your state.

        On another note, I so understand what you are going through. I am there too. I have worked for years to believe that she will change, to “give God more time to work” to “just keep loving her until she “comes back”” All to no avail. She continues to live in a fantasy world where she is in control and nothing is wrong, thinking that if she is just nice to me that all will be ok. I went for years letting her tell me that all of her problems were my fault and constantly walking on eggshells around her to keep from setting her off. Now I have reached the end. 1.5 years after her last affair and still no repentance, remorse, accountability, or desire on her part to do the work of reconciliation, I have asked her to leave. I asked her three months ago and she wanted to wait a couple of months and trying to be “nice” I said ok. Now I have asked again , but this time when she asked me what I would do if she didn’t, I told her I would divorce her immediately. (she now calls this boundary an ultimatum) She just doesn’t get that I am not trying to change her, I’m simply laying out what will happen.

        Then, earlier this week, we were having a rare “serious” conversation/ I told her that if she leaves, I’m willing to wait a short amount of time before I file for divorce to see if there is any change in her. But mostly, I just want a divorce. I just want a divorce. I finally said the words that my guilt has kept me from saying for so long. I just want a divorce. Of course that is a statement that is loaded with so many layers, but that isn’t something I can explain to her. She hears what she wants to. Even after that, she still pretends everything is just fine. It is crazy making. But at least I get it now and she cant really blind me to her manipulations anymore.

        • Aly on May 24, 2018 at 11:24 pm


          What a post!
          I’m sorry for what the immediate circumstances are. In my first glance thoughts…. It’s hard to begin a grieving period with what you are dealing with in your daily life.

          Someone acting and not in reality. It’s foreign really and I wonder if it is another layer of mental abuse. I would think so.

          I get that you want a divorce. I understand that to best that I can.
          I think you are more than valid and have hurt long enough trying to put a square into a circle.

          It isn’t just the notion of divorce….
          You want the crazyness to end!
          Do you not?
          Maybe I’m wrong here but that’s what I wonder about.

          She divorced along time ago or never really was available for a real marriage ~ this isn’t on you Sheep!

          Honestly, although we ALL have our own brokenness to deal with, I can’t help but try to accept that some individuals don’t have ‘the basics’ in relationships.
          Almost as if someone in denial must be married to someone also in denial for it to continue ‘so to speak’.

          I try my best to mentor my children to always be Kind, never nice.
          To be kind is better than nice because to be kind takes honesty and authenticity. To be nice~ well many fake that.

          As you know ..,your wife being nice is all about her and nothing about repair.

          A person who doesn’t see broken, can’t see repair. This has been a hard lesson for me to grasp.

          Grieving alongside.

          • sheep on May 25, 2018 at 8:59 am

            Aly, YES! I just want the crazyness to end. Yes, I know that niceness is all about her avoiding the consequences of her choices. When I told her that I wanted her to leave, she actually said,”but I like you” I wanted to say but you like the dog, you like the neighbors, you liked the guys you have had affairs with. But I know it would serve no constructive purpose, she won’t hear it and I’m not that kind of guy. So I settled for saying “well I would kinda like to be loved” She said she does love me. I just told her that we have very different definitions of the word love.
            You are right, and to quote the old saying, “Wa can’t fix what ain’t broke!”

          • Karen on May 25, 2018 at 6:49 pm

            Hi Aly,

            For some reason, I’m not able to “reply” directly to your last post in which we were sharing ideas, so I’m piggybacking on this one. Hope that is okay. I’m new to blogging and internet sharing. This is so helpful though. We each share a lot of the same pain, but God has given us different insights and different ways of expressing our experiences, and that is helpful.

            Anyway, I wanted to delve a little deeper into the brief allusion you made to your kids. You said you didn’t understand how, despite their being professed Christians, they were living “this way.” I wonder whether you’d like to talk more about what that means and what you are seeing in their actions and attitudes?? If so, I’d be happy to try to unpack it with you. My #1 priority right now is to use this experience and all I am learning to pour into my kids. If they can avoid the pitfalls I made and end up with balanced, happy marriages, it would be worth all the pain and tears I have cried. XXOO!

          • Aly on May 25, 2018 at 8:45 pm


            This is to reply to your 6:49pm post;)

            Yes, sorry I can’t get a direct post either so I’m hoping this makes sense and answers your questions.

            First, let me clarify in case there is any confusion about my comment about ‘confusing for my kids (who are in their growing up years currently) that this has happened to my family of origin ~ as they the family system are all ‘professing believers’.

            To simplify:
            I believe my family of origin’s attitude about relationships in general and healthy family/marriage are not all that congruent to the kind of posture we learn about in Scripture & Christ centered community.

            This incongruent behavior is what is confusing to my children and certainly not easy for me to explain.

            Saying one thing and yet treating another opposite of what they claim they believe and value.

            For example when it comes to Christ, He doesn’t just want to have a superficial relationship with us, but He Knows us and invites us into a more integrated relationship out of Love and His design.

            I think you said it really well a couple of days ago Karen:
            “The best you can do for them at this point is to model healthy behavior.”

            An unhealthy person~ sometimes detests this modeling of healthy behavior because it’s usually the opposite.

            I have tried my best to do this through the many Years ~ in my extended family to ~ staying congruent to model this for my children.

            This behavior has made my ext. family uncomfortable and I believe it revealed a lot of things they would have preferred to live in fantasy/denial over.
            This living in superficial fantasy world with the people you claim to love most in the world is what was Modeled for them, and they think everybody should accommodate this comfort posture.

            This level of functioning also continued to feed the spiritual complacency that I think contributed to drawing many people further from the Lord or less engaged.
            All the While ‘saying’ they were close with the Lord.

            How does one (professing Christian) get offended when you bring up the word: Jesus, blessing or prayer? Or you share aspects of your life?
            Not always but on occasion.

            As it goes for us & my kids, we invited them into not just repairing the relationship but having a healthy honest growing one with them.

            They are not interested in this kind of relationship. The relationship they will have is if we will ‘pretend’ all is good. Or fake like we are all ok. Really keeping up appearances like I think Nancy has mentioned.

            Basically to be in relationship with them, we have to not exist ‘really’, but only on their terms, timeline, etc.

            This isn’t a relationship invitation because it doesn’t include (2 parties)

            We have had to cut all contact and exposure so our children are not modeled this as ‘normal relationship behavior’ let alone being tolerant to be treated as we are not valued to be our own individual(s).

            The door is always open should they ‘want to look’ at what’s wrong with this way of treating another person or family member.

            As parents my husband and I need to steward our role and protect our children from something really dysfunctional and calling is being Christian.

            Love Protects!

        • JoAnn on May 25, 2018 at 3:34 pm

          Sheep, congratulations on finally saying the words! We all here know how hard it has been for you to get to this point. She did ask what will happen, so I would encourage you to draw a firm line and tell her what that line is. If you allow her to stay in the house until you file for divorce, I imagine that she can make your life very uncomfortable during that period of time, so consider forcing the move out, according to her previous agreement to do that.
          Brother, I do believe that as you move ahead, step by step, you will begin to feel stronger and freer. She “moved out” of the marriage long ago. Now she needs to move out of the house.

          • Karen on May 25, 2018 at 11:36 pm

            Hi Aly! What a clever idea to cite the time of the post to which we respond. Yours was at 8:45 p.m.

            I think I understand much better now the dynamics in which you are working and raising your family. They are very blessed to have you so grounded and determined to raise them in integrity, authenticity, (congruency) and, most of all, true Godliness. I am certain the Lord will honor that.

            In the meantime, we can join you in praying for your extended family/family of origin. Sometimes, in love and humility, we have to step out of the way and let the Lord work out His perfect plan in their lives trusting that “all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose” and that He “makes all things beautiful in HIS time.”

            Keep running the race! We will see you at the finish line!!! 🙂

        • ContentinChrist on May 26, 2018 at 11:54 am

          FL Girl –

          I agree with sheep’s advice to see an attorney (or two) and maybe a financial advisor before putting your house up for sale.

          Right before I separated from my husband, we decided to put the house up for sale. The plan was to downsize and start actively working on getting out of our ridiculous debt (my husband controlled the finances and I had little say although he did not micromanage my spending). At this point, my husband was showing some small improvement and willingness to change (looking back, I can see it wasn’t real). Anyway, we had the house up for sale and ended up getting a contract on it. During that time, something happened that was a final straw for me and I decided to ask for a separation.

          I saw a divorce attorney and a bankruptucy attorney during this period. Both of them were disappointed that there was a contract on the house because it is a low mortgage and they said it would be hard for me financially to find something that reasonable in rent (and being in a safe place for myself and my children) than staying in the house.

          One of the first big signs from God that He was with me in this separation was in this matter of the house. I started trusting that if He wanted me to stay in the house, He could have that contract fall through. Sure enough, within about ten days, the contract fell through and it was not for the usual purpose of finances; my realtor friend said was it was a rare reason for someone to pull out of the contract.

          Also, God gave me a significant amount of courage and resolve to stand firm that I would stay in the house and my husband would leave (I know everyone’s situation is different and for some, this would create a very dangerous situation). I spoke from strength and because I had actively been speaking truth to my husband about his sin and wouldn’t allow his manipulation anymore, he knew that I knew that our marriage was broken because of him.

          So, anyway, all that to say that I agree with sheep about getting some professional advice first.

          I was surprised that the first attorney I saw (during that time) listened to what my husband’s plans were for after the sale of the house and bluntly told me that my husband was looking out for his own interests and not mine. I would not have known that; I thought that was my husband was offering to do was fair.

          But, my husband is super covert about his abuse so now when I think back to that, it doesn’t surprise me.

      • sheep on May 24, 2018 at 11:22 pm

        Fl Girl,

        Also, (before I knew what was really going on) I remember several times where I begged her to go to one of those marriage getaway weekends. We even had people offer to pay for it. He response was that it didn’t sound like any fun and she would rather have her fingernails pulled out.

        FF to today. I had someone offer to pay to send us to one. I realized that I have absolutely no desire to go anymore. I really don’t want to go hear someone tell me we just need to learn to communicate better and forgive. I’ve already wrestled with what forgiveness is, and I can truly say I have forgiven her. But I’ve also learned there is a big difference between forgiveness and reconciliation. Anyway, I told him I would pray about it, but I wasn’t likely too. I will pray about it.

        I am curious if any of you have any experience with “a weekend to remember” and if it is at all appropriate in abuse situations. I’m guessing not, but I’m open to hearing what y’all say about it.

        • Free on May 24, 2018 at 11:39 pm

          The program is definitely not for abusive relationships! They have no clue to the dynamics of abuse and using their format would be incredibly emotionally dangerous for you.. A “weekend to remember” is a stretch even for difficult marriages. It is more of an enrichment conference for people who are already doing pretty good. It is sappy, sentimental, idealistic and elementary level s

        • Aly on May 24, 2018 at 11:55 pm


          I agree with a lot of what Free offered… even though I know ‘Weekend to Remember’ has adjusted a lot in the recent years.

          Abusive dynamics need TRIAGE treatment and on-going intensive re-programming.
          Often the abusive spouse has NO interest in such an overhaul of their thinking and comfort of operations.

          I do think that the weekend tries to touch on the deeper issues but that’s all!
          Marriages needing marriage enrichment (which all marriages can benefit from) will walk away with tools to benefit them.
          Those marriages that have abusive dynamics or coping skills need deeper work by both parties, so often the ‘weekend’ is short lived and can keep a person in wishful thinking.

          Sometimes, marriages that ‘Refuse’ to attend or have NOT Any interest … to me it shows a serious problem that they don’t want exposure of!
          There is a huge disconnect going on and the marriage is probably hanging by a thread.

          Even healthy marriages need time to evaluate and focus of their marriage and their marital goals.

          • Free on May 25, 2018 at 12:25 pm

            You said much better than I did. Thanks.

        • Aly on May 25, 2018 at 12:02 am


          My visual analogy when it comes to the ‘weekend to remember’
          would be that I see you have your arm detached and your in pain and shock, Someone hands you a bus ticket to get to the hospital and says they will fund your way.

          Someone else sees this and decides to find any vehical to immediately get you to the ER!
          Hoping to save your arm.

        • Nancy on May 25, 2018 at 7:52 am

          Hi sheep,

          Just wondering who offered this? (what your relationship with this person is)? And what your motivation is to even consider ANY type of ‘marriage building’ thing?

          Even an intensive marriage thing that was specifically for abusive relationships would absolutely need a repentant abuser to even consider….but you know this, right?

          So….the “I’ll pray about it” response to whoever this generous but ill informed individual….what is that all about, sheep?

          • Karen on May 25, 2018 at 8:42 am

            Hi Sheep,

            Our dear friends, too, offered to send us to a marriage weekend. That was before I had ever heard of Leslie and her work and experience. I am so grateful that we never went! Well-meaning people have NO idea the dynamics of a destructive relationship. You should follow Leslie’s advice to the letter. There can be no forward motion on the relationship unless and until you have both done your own work and established both safety and sanity. She probably won’t do the work. I find these partners don’t have the incentive to change because the unhealthy dynamics were working for them. It is usually easier for them to leave and find another person to supply their demands.

            In the meantime, I wholeheartedly encourage you to share what you have learned and what you are learning with everyone you meet! This info and awareness needs to get out there so that well-intentioned friends don’t add to the problem when they sincerely want to help and honor God.

          • sheep on May 25, 2018 at 9:20 am

            Nancy, At this point, I cant really explain the they are or the relationship. But they are someone “new” to the situation. But they only know the adultery part of the situation. they are not people that I would share the abuse part with. I don’t believe they are people that would “get” it.

            Motivation for going?? The only motivation for going would be to make others happy. It would be just one more thing I could point to to show that I have done everything possible.

            Yes, I do know she needs to be repentant before anything else.

            “I’ll pray about it” is because I do intend to pray about it. I don’t ever want to be hardened to the point that I won’t at least pray about something. I don’t want to be the cynical, hardened person that doesn’t believe anything, and is so determined not to ever be hurt again. If I become that person, then I will never know true intimacy.

          • Nancy on May 25, 2018 at 9:48 am

            Thanks for your honest response, Sheep.

            I guess I’m wondering about you equating praying about a bad suggestion from an ill informed person, to ‘never wanting to be a cynical, hardened person that doesn’t believe anything and so determined not to be ever hurt again’?

            Knowing ourselves is so important. The danger for you, sheep ( as I see it, and so this is such a limited perspective!) is quite the opposite…it is to continue to consider things that will weaken your personhood.

            We have the mind of Christ. Yes, we need to pray…YES, to develop our relationship with Him.

            But we have the mind of Christ in each and every moment. Trusting in His protective wisdom, is also super important.

          • sheep on May 25, 2018 at 10:37 am


            I am learning that there are some people I can share everything with and they get it. Unfortunately, I am finding that most people don’t understand emotional abuse and they don’t really want to. People understand adultery (at least on the surface) but they don’t understand that the emotional abuse is just as painful. At least with adultery you can easily point out the betrayal. It is easy to see what is going on and everyone (mostly) agrees that it is an absolute betrayal and universally devastating. But just try to explain to someone the pain of emotional abuse to someone that frankly doesn’t believe in it or doesn’t believe it can be “that bad” and their eyes glaze over.

            Then add to that the fact that I am an abused man, and people really don’t want to touch that one. Our society has so conditioned people to believe that men are insensitive jerks that are constantly abusing their wives, or at best are dumb, lazy and uninterested. Nobody wants to believe that the sweet, strong woman that they know is actually all controlling, manipulative, totally insensitive and unavailable. So, they either don’t believe you, they just put the information out of their mind and don’t think about it, or they think you are just trying to “pile on” and make her look worse than she actually is. I won’t even go into the comments of “just man up, just love her more and communicate more with her, or it really cant be that bad” comments and attitudes.

            Then there are the feelings that men have in this situation that we aren’t manly enough, or the feelings we have that we are somehow not as good as other men because we let our wife manipulate and control us. That we are actually afraid of our wife.

            I don’t have the emotional energy to try to convince someone of of emotional abuse, when they don’t want to believe and they have no intention of believing.

            Last, how do you even describe it? I haven’t found an effective way to describe emotional abuse for someone that doesn’t already believe how bad it is. I think for most people to “get it” it takes them being involved and going through it with someone that is being abused. Then, over time, they see the patterns, they feel what you feel, they hurt also. They live the day to day walking on eggshells with you. Then they start to get it.

            At least that has been my experience.

          • Nancy on May 25, 2018 at 11:28 am

            I agree with you, sheep. For where you are right now, educating people should only be done very sparingly and carefully ( like what you said to Jamie, yesterday. Amazing!)

            Maybe now is a time to really cling to Prov 4:23

            Above ALL ELSE, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your life.

            Your heart must come first. Before everything. Before everyone else. Yes, even your kids…because we cannot possibly give what we don’t possess.

          • JoAnn on May 25, 2018 at 4:20 pm

            Sheep, I am wondering why you need any more of an explanation than that your wife was unfaithful to you and unrepentant. Yes, you have been emotionally abused for many years, and yes, you have tried very hard to bring about change, but the fact is that, as you have noted, people don’t understand emotional abuse, so it really isn’t necessary to try to explain that part. You gave her time to repent, and she didn’t. After that statement, if anyone still wants to push, you only need to say that there is more to the story but you are not willing to go into that. Unrepentant adultery is enough justification for what you are doing. I hope that you are beginning to make peace within yourself that what you are doing is ok with the Lord and that He is guiding you along the way. Don’t be blinded by the fog around you. Once she is out of the house, and the fog clears, you will see everything much more clearly.

          • sheep on May 26, 2018 at 9:18 am

            Thanks, You are right, I don’t need more explanation. I think some of it goes to character. Character, and being a man of honor and integrity mean something to me. So, I want people to understand why i’m separating and divorcing her. I want people to believe that I have done everything I could possibly do to save our marriage before i took those steps.

            Now, I do believer that I have done everything I could have done to do that, and those that have been with me in this know that I have done this. I just need to learn that for the most part, I just need to inform people (that should know) of the basics. She has had multiple affairs, she is not repentant, she will not do the work of reconciliation and she will not commit to being faithful. We have been in counseling, I have taken this to the church for discipline, I have sought and received counsel from many Godly men and women. So, I have asked her to move out and I will be seeking a divorce.

            I have to learn that at this point I am not really looking for their council in this. I have already received much council from those that have been walking this path with me, and I am acting on that council. Scripture says that there is much wisdom in wise council. I’m guessing that would make me a fool if I ignored that council.

          • Aly on May 26, 2018 at 9:38 am


            I totally get you on this even though my situation is far different.
            I ran into similar battles with ‘people’ when it came to my situation with my parents and ext. family.

            What helped me was to see that those ‘getting involved’ had perspectives that were ‘less than developed’ in my opinion.
            What I mean is,
            You could be talking to someone ‘let’s say an ext. family member of hers or friend’ and they say…
            “She has stopped having the affair?”
            To them JUST stopping the betrayal/sin equates with repentence!

            They don’t have a true understanding of repentence.
            This is also another huge epidemic in our churches. Repentence is not being taught in this form.
            They think they understand repentence from a biblical stance, But they don’t have it. Not many churches have it to teach it.

            For me, it would often put me in place of thinking ‘I needed to convince them of my actions and yes my character overall’.

            You need support and wise Care alongside you. This is essential, but often this kind of healthy and developed clarity of your situation can be hard to find. So many people are (often dysfunctional families) are not vested in this kind of education to know how to walk in support and they often have a resistance to ‘being open’ to understanding your circumstances.

            It’s not just a level of ignorance Sheep, it’s an unwillingness to grow.
            Some just get older in life and some choose to grow older with wisdom!

          • JoAnn on May 26, 2018 at 4:51 pm

            Sheep, (May 226, 9:226am)
            I agree with you, and what you can say, after revealing only as much as you want to, is,”I appreciate your concern, and I don’t think it is necessary for me to tell you any more.” If you want to, you can add that you have received wise counsel from others who know the whole story, implying that the person you are speaking to doesn’t know the whole story, and you don’t need to give it to them. People in general are very…shall I be nice and say, curious…. and with an attitude of “concern” will try to get more information than they have a right to know. You must guard yourself against those. There is no need to try to justify yourself. In fact, the fewer people who know about this, the better. Otherwise gossip turns into a major ordeal. Keep your head up. You know who you are and what you are doing. Give yourself to love the Lord with your whole heart, and be a pattern to other believers of such a lover of Jesus. That’s where the blessing is.

        • FLGirl on May 25, 2018 at 7:15 pm

          Yes we have been to marriage weekends and he has been to men intensives. My opinion and experience is that when one has a personality disorder a workshop from heaven would not cure them. Those workshops and counseling is for people who are interested in mutual goals not those who are fighting to win and deny reality. It is so sad but true. I have fought this long and hard. We cannot fix another person and God cannot change them either unless they are willing of dealing with their deep rooted issues.

          • sheep on May 26, 2018 at 9:23 am

            FLGirl, JoAnn, Nancy, Karen, Aly, Free.

            I talked to our councilor (who she won’t go to anymore) She says “a weekend to remember) is absolutely not for situations like ours. Their people are not trained to handle things like this. She said that if my wife was truly committed to reconciliation and rebuilding, eventually she would recommend a marriage weekend that had people trained to deal with this dynamic. But, she said, at best it would be a waste of time and money.

            That is what I figured. But I also figure that at worst, it would set me back in my own recovery.

          • Nancy on May 26, 2018 at 9:57 am

            It is so good that you have this counsellor, sheep.

            I have to admit that when I first read this, I was surprised that you would even bring this question to your counsellor.

            As JoAnn said, “once she is out of the house and the fog clears you will see everything mush more clearly”.

            In the meantime, your counsellor will really help you to live in reality.

          • sheep on May 26, 2018 at 11:00 am

            Nancy, I totally get that about the fog clearing. She is gone with some of the kids this weekend and it is interesting how much peace I have this morning and how restful I feel, rather than the normal restlessness.

        • ContentinChrist on May 26, 2018 at 11:33 am

          “I remember several times where I begged her to go to one of those marriage getaway weekends. We even had people offer to pay for it. He response was that it didn’t sound like any fun and she would rather have her fingernails pulled out.”

          Sounds like she and my (now) husband would be a great fit for each other. LOL (sorry for laughing, *but* I will say that hopefully that is hope for you. Because I am 19 months on the other side of separation – divorce to be finalized soon- and am laughing again. The grief does end and the sun does shine again!)

          • Karen on May 26, 2018 at 2:24 pm

            I want to thank you all for your encouraging posts about grief and the grieving process. Honestly, I’m afraid to start to cry and allow myself to grieve because I am so afraid of the depths of my sadness. My kids know my husband’s volume and aggression, but I am the only true strength they have known. I think they are all nervous that I will fall apart in the midst of this season. They really need me to stay strong. I’ve had a few raw and honest moments with my mom, sister, and best friend, but I feel like I have to keep this bottled a bit longer until we have attained greater stability and emotional safety. Please pray for me/is.

          • Aly on May 26, 2018 at 3:05 pm


            I will pray for you! I’m so thankful you have support near and you can let those gates down, it’s good for you to be able to do so.
            God is CLOSE to the broken-hearted.

            I also get your fear of your sadness, this makes sense but know and envision God’s arms holding you and catching your tears.
            He is well acquainted with grief.

            You are being brave and taking steps toward your pain & actually freedom and that will reap benefits for you.

            Sometimes we are not modeled ‘why grief’ is good or healthy. Sometimes we are shamed for being sad or crying growing up. Or we were not allowed to have feelings of disappointment etc.
            (Some of this was my husband’s upbringing)

            What doesn’t ‘get grieved’ in a safe place can manifest in other ways that can actually cause us more harm & sometimes harm to others.

            I believe a lot of what happened to my family of origin is rooted in grief and the abuse turned outside to harm and hurt.

            (This is ofcourse the furthest thing from you!) not at all…
            Please know that, but I do want to encourage you to choose the pain of grief, over bottleing it up. This is good self care for you and those around you;)
            Prayers for you and know He is there always. ✝️

          • Nancy on May 26, 2018 at 3:52 pm

            Hi Karen,

            I understand that you want to ‘be strong’ for your kids. What I think might be worth thinking about is, how do you show your kids a healthy grieving process.

            Something what I do when I’m having a bad morning, is I ask the girls if they will pray with me. This allows them to see me sad and asking for His comfort. (I don’t go deep with words – I might say something like ‘God I don’t even know why this has been such a hard morning, but you do. Will you be with me and guide me through it?’ I do allow the tears to flow.)

            I think this is healthy because I am showing them ‘how to be human’ but I am not leaning on them, I’m leaning on God.

        • K (who's posted before, different from K who posted in early April) on May 28, 2018 at 11:53 am

          Hello, Sheep You have made a wise decision in declining the opportunity for ‘a weekend to remember’ style marriage programme. I think some of the other post-ers here have made similar comments. As a counsellor, I most definitely want to affirm you. Where addictions, abuse, or adultery are present, marriage enrichment events, and even ‘ordinary’ marriage counselling are inappropriate. While any of the ‘3 big A’s” are active and present, true marriage work cannot happen. Much better that your friends should gift you with support for your individual counselling sessions. Be in God’s peace, Sheep!!!

    • Aly on May 26, 2018 at 12:51 am

      In response to your 11:39pm post;)

      Thanks you for your prayers and encouragement!

      • Karen on May 26, 2018 at 5:08 pm

        Hi Nancy- thank you for your post about praying through our grief and using even that opportunity to minister to our children and model healthy behavior. I am trying to think I’m terms of having infinite goals and vision rather than finite goals and vision (Simon Sinek). God is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. This season is finite; He is infinite.

        • Nancy on May 27, 2018 at 3:56 pm

          Hi Karen,

          I’m not familiar with Sinek and these concepts. If you want, can you explore this a bit, and relate it to grieving for me?

          • Karen on May 27, 2018 at 8:00 pm

            Hi Nancy,

            I may not explain it well, but, the idea finite versus infinite goals comes from game/war theory. It’s the idea behind what motivates the decisions we make. Are we focused on the moment-the battle that we want to win, or are we motivated by overarching goals and principles that guide us? Are we willing to lose the battle to win the war? The Cold War was two parties (the US and USSR) both engaged in a struggle for an infinite goal–the exportation of Democracy vs Soviet-style Communism/Socialism. Infinite goals are sustained and principled. The Soviets had to withdraw because they ran out of resources not because their vision changed significantly.

            Anyway, I feel I have been focusing on battle after battle after battle in my home–just trying to get through the next conflict to get to a point of respite in the cycle. I was on my knees the whole time, and I know the Lord was with me, but I feel like I lost focus of living and breathing and making decisions with an eternal and clear motivation and vision for myself and my kids.

            Does that make sense at all? I can’t say that I understand it myself exactly. I do know that it gives me courage to face tomorrow focused on the war and not the battle, if you will!


          • Nancy on May 27, 2018 at 9:56 pm

            Yup Karen, it makes total sense, especially this, “I feel like I lost focus on living and breathing and making decisions with an eternal and clear motivation and vision”

            Wow. Powerful. There’s a sense of ‘letting go’ what you wrote about living to ‘win the war’.

            Thank you!

  6. Loretta on May 23, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    This web site, or blog, is giving me the needed strength. I am still hurting after my abusive husband left me but I’m trying really hard to turn him over to God. In the first years of our marriage, he was a godly man and you couldn’t ask for a better husband. His heart hardened over the years. He makes fun of the people I attend church with. He has made fun of me and called me “stupid”, “brain dead”, etc. Some really hurtful things.
    I’ve been told by friends & family that he doesn’t respect me and you can’t love someone you don’t respect. I’m still hurting. I try to smile during the day but cry myself to sleep at night.

    • JoAnn on May 23, 2018 at 11:54 pm

      Loretta, I am so sorry for the pain you are going through, but be encouraged: you did the right thing. No doubt you are grieving the loss of your marriage, and the loss of what you hoped it would be, but now you have the opportunity to reclaim your heart, your own soul, and live in peace. The pain will diminish. Try to understand what thoughts are causing the tears. Sometimes we lie to ourselves with thoughts like, “I failed,” or “I’m unlovable.” Then you can open those thoughts to the Lord and let His truth replace the painful thoughts. That’s where the real healing comes from. His truth really does set us free.
      We are glad you are here with us.

    • Free on May 24, 2018 at 1:41 pm

      Loretta, This is a painful but crucial time for you. Your parasitic husband will continue to try to manipulate you, beware. Many, many women return to their abusive spouses, don’t be one of them. The past is the past. You only have the present and it is YOUR present. Your life is incredibly valuable. A support team is essential. I agree that this blog can be a great support, yet you need a team to stay strong. Little by little build a team, establish your boundaries and keep your money to yourself since it is your money! Remember a workman is worthy of his wages and you are the workman.

      There are stages of sadness and a potpourri of other feelings involved here. Counseling is essential, yet find someone who knows about abuse. Do not do marriage counseling, it is not applicable in this case. What boundaries have put in place so far to help yourself live in a more healthy manner?

    • ContentinChrist on May 26, 2018 at 12:12 pm


      The grief is so hard. I’m so sorry for your pain. I know God will be so close to you during this time and I also know and can attest that He will bring you through. I thought the pain would never end when I was in it. But it does – God is faithful and He will not leave you in this place forever. And even though the grief is hard, it’s necessary.

      I remember one time barely making it into my bedroom to cry (had been out with my children running errands and could barely hold myself together when a wave of emotion hit me). I somehow managed to hold it in until I got back home. Locked my door and fell on the floor silently sobbing. I heard God so clearly in my spirit say “Don’t be ashamed of your tears.” That sentence came back to me many times in my season of grief. There came a time when I was so tired of crying that I started to try to push it down. But, that was not healthy and I remembered those words again and chose to allow myself to cry whenever I felt it come on. If it came during a time when I couldn’t really “let it all out”, then I revisited those emotions later when I was alone and could. If I was around friends and family who were loving and safe, I let it all out with them and their tangible love, hugs, support, and words were healing. So, grieve by yourself and with others if you have that support.

      It’s necessary to sit in the pain and grieve each memory that resurfaces. Acknowledge the sin against you, let God hold you through that process and assure you that He is grieved right alongside of you and hurts with you.

      You are loved and valued. God has really, really good things in store for you, Loretta.

      Oh, one more thing that helped me tremendously in my grief was to be intentional about finding things to be grateful for and to thank God for. There are apps you can download on your phone to jot down at a moment’s notice or you can just journal it or just in prayer throughout the day, look for things to be grateful for.

      Just the act of searching for things to be grateful for/to thank God for boosts dopamine and serotonin in your brain (which are what antidepressants are used for. Love how research backs up how God has designed us. 🙂

      • JoAnn on May 26, 2018 at 5:07 pm

        ContentinChrist, Thank you for sharing this. I have had similar experiences with grieving, and it is really very healing to let it all out. It is something that you have to give yourself permission to do, but once you do, the tears do flow. I know that in the beginning, you are afraid that once you start, you might never stop, but believe me, even if you cry for a full hour, eventually, the storm is over, and you feel lighter and cleaner that you have before. Did you know that those tears actually carry toxins out of the body? they have a different chemical composition from the normal tears that lubricate your eyes. So, yes, it is a dark place, that place of grief, but there is always the Lord there shining in the end.

        • ContentinChrist on May 27, 2018 at 11:05 am


          Yes, I often felt much, much lighter and able to focus after one of my crying sessions. If it didn’t come right away, it seemed like it would catch up to me the next day then.

          Tears are healing!

          I do believe that we need to model grief in front of our children. I know we want to protect them from pain, but believe me, they are in pain anyway. Our modeling healthy grief can give them permission also to let the grief come so they can heal more quickly as well.

          • JoAnn on May 27, 2018 at 12:26 pm

            ContentinChrist, I like your point “they are in pain anyway,” but unless we help them to process it, they will act it out in unprofitable ways. My mother often told my sister and me, “You just need to go have a good cry.” That was really good advice! It would have been better, of course, if she had had a way to talk us through some things, but I think the advice here about talking with the kids and modeling healthy grieving is really spot on. Let them talk, and give them words that describe what they are feeling. They often don’t know how to talk about their feelings, and we can help them with that.

          • Nancy on May 27, 2018 at 4:06 pm

            JoAnn, ContentinChrist,

            In my experience, helping my kids ‘process pain’ began with simply having them name their feelings. This step was critical for me because I’d try to help my kids process their pain by trying to ‘fix’ them. My goal (although I didn’t know it) was for them to ‘get over’ their feelings because of my own discomfort with negative emotions. ( there still is work that I need to regularly do, naming my own negative feelings).

            We let them know that they don’t have to know why they feel the way they do, and we thank them for sharing. The freedom to just ‘be’ is huge, and often leads to them asking for what they need.

          • Aly on May 27, 2018 at 7:13 pm


            Thanks for posting this! So important and I love that you offer this for your children ~ what a Blessing!

            As you know I love the ‘feelings word list’ it’s crucial in our home.
            My children often will push back on the list (yes. Still) but I stay gentle and firm about picking 3!
            I then often say, “ok if you can’t pick three, pick two.”
            For some reason that motivates them to try and I usually end of with 4 or 5!
            What they find out is defining for them helps them feel like they understand themselves better and they are not so restless.

            They often come away feeling better but they can manage that maybe there isn’t a resolution right away but they feel free to express what’s troubling them.

            Early on, my husband would squirm!! Drove me crazy. He was so uncomfortable and sometimes would try to push back~After a few times he got much more capable of sitting with their negative feelings. He could also be sad with them. (This was huge and connecting for them)
            We have had a lot of grief to move through and often visit.

            My husband tends to offer ‘strength’ in the sadness, something he is thankful for developing and hoping it will bless them.
            He validates and gives them space to feel.

            Negative emotions were not allowed in his home. Everything was controlled and superficial ‘happy’.

  7. Karen on May 24, 2018 at 11:52 am

    Gotcha. Thank you!!!!

  8. Aleea on May 24, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    “Friends, how did you let go of the guilt that you were a bad person when you stopped your enabling or over-functioning for someone who should be carrying his or her own load?”

    RE: “. . .He becomes angry if you show hurt feelings. He is loud, crude, entitled and cocky. He has an “I’ll hurt you before you hurt me” attitude. When he becomes angry with me he rages with insults and accusations about me, my family, my work, my hobbies and sometimes our children. He gets angry when I spend time with my parents. Teases if I go to church.”

    . . .He teases you if you go to church??? . . .Everytime I read these scenarios, I just praise God for how fortunate I am. I mean, he teases you if you go to church??? . . .Every person on this earth is acting out some story and it sounds like he wants his to be an absolute tradgey. Let me tell you, you want to know *clearly* what story you are acting out because it can easily be a horrific tradegy. . . .And even if you don’t know what is true, following Christ’s example and going to church and taking personal responsibility is so much more meaningful than: “. . . .He sleeps late in the day. He answers to nobody, no responsibility to anyone or anything. If he doesn’t want to do something he just doesn’t do it.” . . .But no responsibility also means *no meaning* in his life, period. The more responsibility you have in life, generally, the more meaning you have. He can say he wants to be free of rules, but every last one of us search for structure. No rules, no structure. No responsibility, no meaning. . . .In the Old Textament, the story of the golden calf reminds us that without rules we quickly become slaves to our passions —and there’s absolutely nothing freeing about that. We all require routine and tradition. . . .Sure, order can become excessive, and that’s not good, but chaos will just swamp us, so that we drown —and that is a total disaster. We need to stay on the straight and narrow path if we want life with meaning.

    For your husband, for all of us the purpose of life is finding the largest possible burden that we can bear and bearing it. That is true for all of us. The more responsibility we have in life, generally, the more meaning we have. If he doubts that he simply needs to check the hundreds of studies that show that. He also should not underestimate the power of vision and direction. Those are irresistible forces that are able to transform what might appear to be unconquerable obstacles into pathways and expanding opportunities. That is why we need God and why he should go to church with you. He needs (—as you certainy do too) to take care of himself. Define who he is. Choose a real destination and articulate it. . . .Unwillingness to learn? —Refusal to learn? —Motivated refusal to learn? Look at what Jesus was always saying: —Basically, the secret to our existence is right in front of us (pick up your cross and follow me) and it manifests itself as all those things we all know we should be doing, but are avoiding. —Don’t ever underestimate the destructive power of sins of omission.

    RE: [he was] diagnosed with depression and OCD (intrusive thoughts), anxiety and sleep apnea.
    . . . .There are many systems of interaction in the brain that can get caught in destructive feedback loops. Depressed people, for example, can start feeling useless and burdensome, as well as grief-stricken and pained. This makes them withdraw from contact with friends and family. Then the withdrawal makes them more lonesome and isolated, and more likely to feel useless and burdensome. Then they withdraw more. In this way, obviously, depression spirals and amplifies. . . .

    . . . .So, the first thing I would say is that if you know you are dealing with someone who’s really depressed, you should try getting him to use antidepressants (—in fact, insit on it) because if he dies, no one can help anyone, anymore. Maybe say, —look, I don’t know exactly what’s going to help but don’t arbitrarily throw out any possibilities because you might not have that luxury. By the way, full disclourse, I don’t know *anything* about antidepressants except that the research shows antidepressants have helped a lot of people and there are very technical reasons why (—especially given the OCD). If we are offered a gift by our society and it works, —at least try it. . . .Often, people who are suffering with depression have other issues too. Obviously.

    One thing he can think about is associated with the story of Peter Pan, —you know, a Peter Pan is someone who won’t grow up. The problem with Peter Pan is he gets to be king but it’s king of Neverland. —Neverland doesn’t exist so being king of nothing isn’t that helpful. One of the things that you often see in the research on people who suffer from depression, but we can not make a blanket statement, is that depressed people don’t have enough order in their lives and so tend to get overwhelmed. Maybe he needs to be on a schedule so his biological rhythms (circadian rhythms), function because that’s enough to make him depressed right off the bat, —especially if he is napping during the day.

    It sounds like he has very little purpose, “church” but more specifically God and Jesus can help give him real purpose. People who don’t have a purpose are in trouble because humans are not good at all without a purpose and this isn’t hypothesizing. Neuroscients absolutely understand the circuitry that underlies positive emotion. They know exactly how it works and almost all the positive emotion that anyone is likely to experience in their life will not be a consequence of attaining things, it is a consequence of seeing that things are working as you proceed towards a goal you value. You can’t have movement towards goals you don’t have. Therefore you have no positive emotion. . . .Anyways, if you don’t have meaning in your life, you tend not to have a point so you’re overwhelmed by chaotic lack of structure and you don’t have any positive emotion. That is a horrible situation.

    Now for you, his wife, Leslie is spot on: “Your emotions are telling you that something is wrong. Pay attention. The problem is not just with him or your marriage, but also with you. Most people when they start to fill up with negative emotions towards someone realize that they need to make some changes.” —That, I feel, is so very important. Everything that irrates you about your spouse is actually a log, a beam, in your own eye that you need to be working on. . . .Christ gave us our spouses to remind us to work on the logs in our own eyes.

    One of those logs, for you, may be setting boundaries. Your home needs some rules . . .but limit the rules and use the least force necessary to enforce those rules. We all need to take personal responsibility because God is not someone to be commanded to perform magic tricks, or forced into our own self-revelation —not even by His own Son (See Matthew 4). It makes a mockery of independence, courage, destiny, free will, and especially personal responsibility. God is not a safety net for the blind and especially the willfully blind.

    Now, you want your husband to be tough and capable because as the reserachers would say: “If you think tough men are dangerous, just you wait until you see what weak men are capable of.” Down is a lot easier than up. . . .We really need God. Unchaperoned, and left to our own untutored judgment, we are quick to aim very low and worship qualities that are so beneath us.

    —We all need to find a mode of being that’s so meaningful that the fact that life is suffering is no longer relevant. I think we can find that in Christ and that’s why your husband should not only not tease you about going to church but should go with you. . . .He doesn’t just have to believe whatever they say. Go, learn, ask deep well thought out questions. . . .And as always, what we DO NOT YET know is often far more important that what we know or think we know. . . .But for all of us, there’s real utility in gratitude. It’s also good protection against the dangers of victimhood and resentment.

  9. Loretta on May 25, 2018 at 1:07 am

    Since my husband left 13 days ago, I have experienced peace. He was always calling me stupid, making fun of me, telling me I didn’t know what I was doing. Always putting me down in some way. other people saw it whereas I couldn’t. I pray for him everyday and ask the Lord to take care of him. There were some good memories. At times, I still cry myself to sleep when I think about him not laying there in bed with me at night. I thought we would grow old together; but he has chosen to go it alone without me. All I can say is “oh, to be loved the way I loved him”. My heart has been broken but I know with prayer, Christian friends & family, I will survive.
    So thankful I found this web site and the support I’m getting from you gals. I’m praying for each of you who are in bad situations. Let’s trust in the Lord for guidance and have faith that He will strengthen us.

    • Nancy on May 25, 2018 at 9:29 am

      Hi Loretta,

      Welcome. We are so glad that you are here.

      Free had a great about what kind of boundaries you have in place?

      Keep reading on this site. Ask for feedback. The reason I suggest this is because it is very common to develop ‘magical thinking’ in order to survive abusive dynamics. And this magical thinking can really get us into trouble. That’s why the C of Leslie’s CORE acronym comes first.

      C-committed to truth. This is the opposite of magical thinking.

      Be aware, too, that it’s very easy to twist Biblical principles to serve our magical thinking, instead of help us navigate reality ( as thhey are intended).

      Ideas such as ‘giving it to God’ can be used to nullify us of our responsibility to guard our hearts by setting boundaries. ( instead of taking responsibility for our heart by setting and keeping healthy boundaries, and ‘giving it to God’, by allowing the Lord to deal with the h)

      This type of thinking can set us back, a lot. Cling to reality and truth, Loretta.
      Not the fairy tale idea of ‘growing old together’.

      Grieving what you never had is an important thing to do ( instead of grieving what you just lost. If you grieve what you just lost, then you are continuing the magical thinking.) This is a difficult reality to accept, but it’s essential to be truthful with yourself about the type of ‘marriage’ that you actually lived (instead of the fairy tale that you may have spent all kinds of time developing).

      Also, if you can get into a really good Bible study that gets you into the Word on a regular basis, and sincerely lean into The Lord, then He will transform your mind to deal with reality.

      • Aly on May 25, 2018 at 10:36 am

        Nancy, Loretta;)

        Such a great response Nancy. I really like what you said here:

        “Grieving what you never had is an important thing to do ( instead of grieving what you just lost. If you grieve what you just lost, then you are continuing the magical thinking.) This is a difficult reality to accept, but it’s essential to be truthful with yourself about the type of ‘marriage’ that you actually lived (instead of the fairy tale that you may have spent all kinds of time developing).”

        Loretta, this above is so key to the place of proper proportional clarity.
        What I guess I’m trying to say is, it’s amazing how what we desire and want in healthy mutual balanced relationships can BE a good thing, often that’s not always what we actually have ~ as we assess our situations.
        And these dynamics can steal and rob us from other ‘really valuable’ mutual
        Relationships that we can be available for. Rather than be so preoccupied with someone who is not in a healthy place for doing healthy relationship.

        Sometimes the lonelyness is a blessing to take good self care and be in a place of pouring and receiving healthier communities💕

        • Nancy on May 25, 2018 at 12:37 pm

          Aly, Loretta,

          “Rather than be so preoccupied with someone who is not in a healthy place for doing healthy relationships”

          This has me thinking about how that preoccupation was actually a safe space for me to be. I was comfortable in those kinds of relationships because that’s all I knew. As I began to become involved in healthier relationships, it was scary because I had to learn the boundary of respect, that came with not trying to ‘fix’ the other person, and also the boundary of not over-analyzing the other person’s behaviour. The boundary of not trying to guess the other’s motives.

    • Aly on May 26, 2018 at 9:09 am

      You wrote this a couple of days ago:
      “Since my husband left 13 days ago, I have experienced peace. He was always calling me stupid, making fun of me, telling me I didn’t know what I was doing. Always putting me down in some way. other people saw it whereas I couldn’t. ”

      His behavior is very unhealthy and verbally abusive clearly. A loving sacrificial husband doesn’t treat his spouse like that. He chose to leave. Did you give boundaries or push back from being treated this way? Did he leave because you no longer would enable his harmful behavior ~ so he grabbed his toys and left?

      I ask, because I’m concerned for his possible returning?
      Maybe I shouldn’t be. In ways, I wonder if you are feeling symptoms of further psychological abuse. I think it’s called a trauma bond and many victims are experiencing the ‘games’ or mind games a person will play with another that they want to control and think they should have control over.

      It might be wise for you to look more into this and make sure your are well equipped in case he returns.

      • Loretta on May 27, 2018 at 12:06 pm

        Aly, thanks for your concern. He is not to return here. We are in process of divorcing, however he has not responded to Divorce Petition but my attorney says I can get Divorce by Default Judgement (which we are pursuing). I’m 66 and have been “beat down & too much abuse”. I’m ready to release him and turn him over to the Lord. We were married close to 18 years and the emotional abuse was increasing as time passed. I need to get my life back together and live in peace. I have support of church family, some friends and some siblings.
        I’m just praying he stay emotionally healthy.

        • JoAnn on May 27, 2018 at 12:35 pm

          Well done, Loretta! It sounds like you are on a good path, and I am glad that you have good help along the way. As you have put your h into the Lord’s hands, don’t be alarmed if/when you see things going downhill for him. Some people only turn their lives around when they hit rock bottom. It might be that the best way to totally leave him in the Lord’s hands is to stop praying for him at all. Visualize putting him into the Lord’s loving hands and them letting go and walking away. Trust that the Lord knows how to deal with him, according to His love and righteousness.

          • Aly on May 27, 2018 at 1:52 pm

            JoAnn, Loretta,

            JoAnn,I really like the encouragement and clarity you gave here.
            The visual is really helpful I think when grief is really raw.

            Loretta, JoAnns post is really good and it’s a blessing that you are on the path you are. Praise God for this!

            For some people ~ they don’t hit bottom ‘ever’.
            It’s important that we remind ourselves that Jesus is for all but not all chose him or turn from whatever keeps them from seeing their choices.

            This isn’t a failure on God’s part, As we seek and pray His will we can trust in the outcome even if it’s not ‘what we think we want’.

      • Loretta on May 30, 2018 at 8:47 pm

        There will be no returning. I’ve suffered too much emotional/mental abuse. Friends are saying that I seem less strained now that he is gone. I’ve walked on “eggshells” for years trying to keep peace in the home. No more. I couldn’t be me and his wife at the same time.
        I pray for him as he has chosen to leave, to have his own space.
        He has not responded to Divorce Petition but my attorney says I can still get Motion for Default Judgment and divorce him anyway.
        If he were to get medical help, to aid him in controlling his temper, his mount, I would consider being his friend. He has moved to another town. However, our marriage is over. I wish him happiness and good health in the future.
        Leslie’s blog and the info you gals are providing is helping so very much.
        Keep up your good work and God bless you for what you are doing.

  10. sheep on May 25, 2018 at 10:40 am

    I agree, grieving what you never had (but thought you did) is very important and difficult, but good.

    Actually, that one is almost harder for me than grieving what I’ve lost.

    • Sherry on May 25, 2018 at 5:55 pm

      It is so hard to admit that my marriage was never good from the beginning. He abused me from the start and when I would call him on it he would make it my fault.

      Dear writer, K is so right! There is no time like the present to change your behavior, no matter what his reaction is. I enabled my husband with my codependency because it was all I knew, but God helped me change when I cried out to him. It doesn’t matter how long it has gone on. I was married for 32 years.

      It is very hard to start over at 62 but its great to see God bless me! My husband wouldn’t change but God used my marriage to help me change! He will do the same for you.

    • ContentinChrist on May 26, 2018 at 12:26 pm

      Sheep, I’m 19 months out and I’m still confused about this very issue. I know I’ve grieved my marriage falling apart and my family being ripped apart, but it’s hard to wrap my head around the fact that maybe my husband never really loved me.

      I think for those of us who don’t think and operate the way they do, it’s just so foreign that we can’t really process it. It feels that way for me, anyway.

  11. K (who's posted before, different from K who posted in early April) on May 25, 2018 at 12:47 pm

    To the writer of the question Leslie discussed; it is never wrong to stop a negative behaviour, so if you are truly enabling, now is the time to stop. if you are not enabling, but just managing to survive the destructiveness toward you, now is the time to start growing in strength and hope.

    Keep reading God’s Word, meet with Him in prayer, and keep coming back to this discussion site. Hope grows large and strong, from the tiniest of seeds!!

  12. JoAnn on May 25, 2018 at 6:23 pm

    Sherry, That’s a great testimony! Thanks for sharing. Thirty-two years of living in a destructive marriage, but now you are free to have the life that God wants for you. Stay close to Him, and enjoy knowing Him in a new and fresh way.

  13. Loretta on May 25, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    I’m having to start over at age 66. I loved my husband and my identity was in him. I’m learning that my happiness does not depend on another person. We are to find satisfaction in Christ and learn from our mistakes.
    I pray for my husband (ex-husband one of these days). He was high tempered and alienated the people he came in contact with. God doesn’t make “junk” and I pray the Lord pursues him till he calms down and finds his peace in the Lord and in the Bible.
    I read “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage”. That book was written for me. Leslie, thank you for authoring and for your blog. I’m finding strength in both.
    it still hurts so very much. We tried counseling and he said it wasn’t working. I need counseling, but not “marital counseling”.

    • Aly on May 25, 2018 at 10:09 pm


      Your hurt is very valid😥. I’m sorry for all of what you have been through and it’s painful to process loss.
      I’m so glad you are finding strength in Leslie’s ministry. I found a lot of clarity and validation that I was not ‘going crazy’ being in such a toxic environment.

      Supportive community is going to be really helpful for your continued strength too.
      I’m glad your on this blog~there are some amazing people who have understanding on some pretty complicated yet all too common issues.
      Counseling~ yes so critical too!
      Hugs and prayers for your heart!

      • Loretta on May 26, 2018 at 12:02 am

        Yes, I’m finding that I need a supportive community. Was with a family member today and was told that they did not want to hear anything about my “emotionally, abusive marriage”. They kept saying that it was my fault. Knew I had to change conversation; I need support not condemnation. With support of Leslie’s blog & support I’m getting from it, I will find strength. I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not perfect but as far as I was concerned, I thought we would grow old together. Now I ask the Lord to watch over her & take care of him. Hard to give it all to the Lord because I keep wanting to do my part. Need to put full trust in the lord. He will take care of my husband (ex-husband one of these days). I’ve made right choice in deciding to divorce him. I’ve had too much pain & not enough job the last 10 years. Gals, let’s stay strong in trusting our Lord and Savior. thank you, galls for your support & prayers.

        • Loretta on May 26, 2018 at 12:05 am

          Meant watch over “him” not her. Sentence should have read: “Now I ask the Lord to watch over him and take care of him”.

        • Aly on May 26, 2018 at 12:34 am


          That’s rough! Goodness, sometimes it’s not just the conversation that needs changing but those ‘we are having conversation with’!
          I’m not trying to be harsh here, it’s just that so many ‘especially family members sometime’ seem to be pretty harsh at the one doing the hard but healthy thing.

          Remember: unhealthy people are not drawn to learning what’s healthy and what changes need to be actively made.

    • Free on May 26, 2018 at 5:00 am

      Loretta, Are you familiar with Focus Ministries? They are a Christian non profit organization in Illinois. They have great free articles you could read that pertain to what you are going through.

    • ContentinChrist on May 26, 2018 at 12:21 pm


      I posted another comment on grief up above, but wanted to reply to this and say, yes – if you can find some counseling, please do so! You are worth the money and time it costs. This was probably the biggest “self-care” step I took as I started to get healthy. I really put the issue of being able to pay for it in God’s hands and just trusted that He would make a way and He showed up again and again to do so. If we wait until we have the money, many of us probably would never commit. In my case, I felt that I should make the commitment to pursue it no matter what and that I could trust God to figure it out and He did so in kind of amazing ways.

      I found a great Christian counselor in my area who also utilizes EMDR therapy. I’ve seen several others on this board say that EMDR was very helpful for them, as well.

      Praying God will lead you to the right counselor. It took me at least three total before I found “the one” for me. 🙂

  14. Maria on May 25, 2018 at 11:06 pm

    Friends, how did you let go of the guilt that you were a bad person when you stopped your enabling or over-functioning for someone who should be carrying his or her own load?

    Many of us here are overfunctioning because our spouse is not doing their part in raising the children. I know I have had to bear much of the burden to get my kids’ needs met because my husband has different priorities.

    • Aly on May 26, 2018 at 8:59 am


      I’m trying to understand your last post here about your situation. I would agree that often the place of over-functioning is put on the spouse who can prioritize from an adult place.

      What about the marriage?
      Do you think a similar pattern is there about those who ‘under-function’ in relationships?
      Do you think that the under-functioning is a clear sign of really not being an available partner? Makes a dynamic one-sided.

      Marriage is about partnership and some individuals lack core teamwork skills and priorities.

      Have you had any false guilt or feeling like a bad person for handing back responsibility to him?

      • Maria on May 26, 2018 at 12:41 pm


        Guilt has nothing to do with it. My husband parents when it’s convenient or he feels like it (from what I can see). There is no point in handing back the responsibility to him, because he will not accept it. He thinks all he needs to do is provide for them financially.

        As far as the marriage, there is really no relationship.

        • Aly on May 26, 2018 at 2:03 pm

          Hi Maria,

          Hope you didn’t think I was saying you are feeling guilt.

          I was going off of your post where you wrote Leslie’s question,
          “Friends, how did you let go of the guilt that you were a bad person when you stopped your enabling or over-functioning for someone who should be carrying his or her own load?

          The question is about stopping enabling or stopping over-functioning from what I understood.

          I thought Leslie gave a great example with dancing with someone.
          Maybe there are others who are in your circumstance and can use an analogy of your healthy functioning in your situation?

          • Maria on May 27, 2018 at 9:36 am


            You are right about Leslie’s question being about stopping enabling. I just wanted to point out that many of us have had to do more than our share because of our partner refusing to take responsibility. I didn’t do a good job (multitasking and rushing). My actions probably enable him to continue his behavior, but I am not willing to use consequences that impact the kids.

            There are a few things that have helped me function in this negative environment. First is self care. I exercise regularly and try to eat healthy meals. I know I can’t help my kids if I am not healthy. I listen to sermons, radio broadcasts, worship music when exercising. Reading God’s word and praying helps center me. I also have a couple of women that I can talk to who are honest with me.

            I have also emotionally distanced myself from my husband. Recently due to some circumstances in our life, I had to interact with him more. He changed to his charming self (he hasn’t been that way towards me in a very long time). I let my guard down. It was a time of crazy making. Rick Warren has some sermons on emotional health that has grounded me once again. Free posted a website and in the book resources I saw a book by Jan Silvous- Foolproofing your Life. I was able to listen to an interview with on Moody radio yesterday. I have also ordered the book (thanks, Free). It was very helpful.

            When I realized I was in an EM destructive marriage years ago, I decided my decisions would center on what was best for my kids. I decided to stay. There is a program in our church where the kids meet weekly with other kids and 2 adults (same gender) for 6 yrs till they are done with high school. They study various books and topics. This has proven to be very helpful for my kids. I am very open with my kids and discuss what is going on.

            For a very long time, my husband distanced himself from us. I think that made staying manageable. Recently he has been getting more involved and that has been difficult.

          • Nancy on May 27, 2018 at 5:27 pm

            Hi Maria,

            Can I ask,,,,how long do you have left? Until the youngest is of age?

          • Maria on May 27, 2018 at 6:29 pm


            Fortunately, there has been a change in circumstances. I don’t want to give details because this is a public forum. I’m waiting to see how things play out.

          • Aly on May 27, 2018 at 6:51 pm


            I really like how you offer a response even given this public forum.
            To me, this shows respect to Nancy and her question.
            Rather than just not answer you gave an answer you could give I think it’s healthy dialog.

          • Maria on May 27, 2018 at 7:41 pm

            Thanks Aly.

          • Nancy on May 27, 2018 at 8:14 pm

            That is good news, Maria. And thank you for answering while respecting your boundaries.

  15. Loretta on May 26, 2018 at 1:36 am

    Thank you. Some people are not drawn to what is healthy. They only see things their way (and sometimes they are harsh). Guess I’m a soft heart. Sometimes I let me heart rule instead of using my head, as in situation with husband I’m trying to divorce.

  16. Free on May 26, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Lundy Bancroft is having a webinar for professionals working with people in abusive relationships. I reviewed the objectives that he hoped to introduce to what we may call people helpers. I thought his objective were spot on and that we would probably affirm them. Here they are:

    -Support the Abused woman (person)

    -Equip her with the skills they need to define the abuse

    -Guide her in analyzing the effects the abuser’s behavior is having on her life

    -Assist her to put her own needs, and her children’s needs at the center of their life

    This just really speaks to me. It is a pathway to recovery.

    • Aly on May 26, 2018 at 8:48 am


      This is good. Thanks for posting it here.
      Leslie’s ministry I believe reaches those who have been also wired with ‘inaccurate or twisted scripture’ of relational essentials that protect one’s own value and worth.

      It is my opinion that ‘abusive’ behavior is directly linked to ones beliefs and reasoning. Plenty of other links too, but this one is molded early on.

      • Free on May 27, 2018 at 10:25 pm

        I have got some of the pronouns and plurality wrong with the post, Aly. He or she can go either way.

        Glad the focus site was helpful Maria. Jan Silvias will do a one time counseling call for free if you would ever like to talk to her.

  17. Karen on May 27, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    Hi Aly amd Nancy- and all on this thread. A conversation with my H on Friday night put me into a real funk this past weekend as I realized yet again that, despite the desire of my heart and despite him “losing” me, he is not responding to this opportunity to grow in order to save our marriage and family. Based on your encouraging posts, I allowed myself to grieve within reason and even shared with my kids the truth that this is hard and it hurts for all of us, and I need to grieve, and they do too and it’s okay. I love the idea of a word list that we can use to be mindful and authentic as we process life and grief. I thank you so much.

    • Nancy on May 28, 2018 at 10:55 am

      Hi Karen,

      Here’s a link to a feelings word list. The How we Love material is really good. It is not appropriate for destructive marriages, but is well worth -at some point- looking into your own attachment injuries.

      I’m sorry for your h’s posture but am so glad that these conversations have helped to ‘keep things real’ for yourself and your kids 🙂

      • Aly on May 28, 2018 at 11:26 am


        Can you expand on why you think it’s not appropriate for destructive marriages/individuals?
        Do you mean if you have a unrepentant spouse?

        Expanding, I think might be helpful given that we all enter attachment injuries upon birth and certainly are shaped by a lot of our environment and family of origin organic s.
        Plus many of us our parents;) and it becomes I think an important aspect to the nurture and care of our children.

        When I discovered the book I had a ‘baby’ and was looking for education on my parenting and bonding… didn’t realize how much it would help me with my injuries etc.

        Attachment worked helped my husband greatly, but that was only after he could see that something was really wrong with how he saw relationships in general. Only after he could consider his mindset was ‘skewed’.

        • Aly on May 28, 2018 at 11:28 am


          Oops~ correction:
          “Many of us are parents.”
          Not, our parents 😜 Sorry small iPhone.

        • Nancy on May 28, 2018 at 11:52 am

          Hi Aly,

          The How we Love subtitle ends with ‘to enhance your marriage’. I wouldn’t recommend it for marriage work for a destructive couple because it isn’t designed for abusive dynamics. It’s designed for those who can ‘look in the mirror’ and take responsibility for their injuries.

          This is why I recommended it to Karen only.

          My h and I use this material now, but it wouldv’ve been a disaster when our relationship was destructive. It’s similar to a destructive couple going for marriage counselling – not recommended because it does more harm than good.

          Hope that clarifies 🙂

          • Aly on May 28, 2018 at 12:27 pm


            Thanks for responding. Yes I would agree with you on several things you mentioned.

            Honestly, the cover of the book with the ‘enhance’ your marriage could use a different subtitle.

            I like how you said:
            It’s designed for those who can look in the mirror and take responsibility for their injuries.

            What if those injuries are defined as ‘personalities’?

            What if those injuries really do block developmental growth emotionally and spiritually?

            I think the resource was ‘another aid’ to the untangling of ‘bondage thinking’ for him.

            It helped my h open a VERY bolted/ defended door~ to consider: why he was the way he was? And why did he approach relationships the way he did?

            The Attachment injuries showed strongly the mirror he held up to God and his ability to receive from God and others (myself) here too.

          • Aly on May 28, 2018 at 12:29 pm


            Thanks for responding. Yes I would agree with you on several things you mentioned.

            Honestly, the cover of the book with the ‘enhance’ your marriage could use a different subtitle.

            I like how you said:
            It’s designed for those who can look in the mirror and take responsibility for their injuries.

            We can take responsibility for something we have yet to be aware of.

            What if those injuries are defined as ‘personalities’? I think our culture has done this a lot.

            What if those injuries really do block developmental growth emotionally and spiritually?

            Depending upon the circumstances:
            I think the resource was ‘another aid’ to the untangling of ‘bondage thinking’ for him.

            It helped my h open a VERY bolted/ defended door~ to consider: why he was the way he was? And why did he approach relationships the way he did?

            The Attachment injuries showed strongly the mirror he held up to God and his ability to receive from God and others (myself) here too.

          • Nancy on May 28, 2018 at 2:30 pm

            Hi Aly,

            “what if those injuries are defined as personalities? [Or] if they block developmental growth emotionally and spiritually?”

            I don’t think it’s about how ‘blocked’ someone is, or if the injury is so ‘deep’ that it’s called a personality injury, rather I think it’s about their willingness to take responsibility.

            Once (and if) the willingness is there then any number of tools might be super helpful to ‘unblock’ growth.

          • Aly on May 29, 2018 at 12:46 am


            Thanks for answering.

            I completely agree willingness is essential.

            I think what I was trying to point out is that many people are comfortable saying something is their ‘personality’ versus seeing that maybe it developed from an attachment injury/ environment of family of origin.

            Like for example:
            A hard headed stubborn husband saying, “this is just how I am”
            Or ” it’s normal for my personality that I have no Godly men in my life, or really any real relationships or friendships, I prefer to be isolated, this is just my personality!”
            Or, ” this is how I’ve always been, it’s normal and my personality”

          • JoAnn on May 29, 2018 at 9:20 am

            Aly, re “That’s just my personality.” That’s when I would want to say, “howz that workin’ for you?” Or, maybe in a kinder way, ask if they wish they were different in any way. As a counselor, that would be my starting point: “How would you like to be different?” Sometimes people don’t realize that change is possible until their life doesn’t work as well as they’d like it to, but that word “change” is scary. There are personality traits that are genetically determined, and then there are those that are shaped by experience, such as attachment issues. The latter are subject to change, once a person realizes that it’s possible.

          • Aly on May 29, 2018 at 10:56 am

            Hi JoAnn,

            I agree, and good responses too;)
            I like:
            “Would you like yo be different?”

            I think you mentioned a key place of dynamic change~
            You said it’s when things in their life are not working out so well.
            This is where discomfort and necessary PAiN to change comes in.

            (Pain and change can come from with the abusive spouse (taker) or the victimized giver spouse).
            But often the abuser role is doing everything in their power to Avoid pain and take more power from others in the process. That’s why controlling behavior is so common.

            To me;
            Often the abuser is quite comfortable with what they think is typical and normal ‘personality’ from their vantage point.

            They do a great job at convincing their weaker partners that ~ this is just how my personality is and live with it.

            My husband was very resistant to looking at his ‘injuries’ because he thought they were how he was to be, it was his unique personality.

            Boundaries and consequences can help a lot in these dynamics because the abuser rarely awakens on their own to their behavior that’s unhealthy and harming.

            Seeing a counselor or mentor was not even on the top 50 things on my h’s list to do in life.
            Why should it have been? He was quite comfy in doing life they way he was accustomed to!
            He also was trying to play out what was modeled for him by his parents.

            (Yet again another root in the bondge thinking)

            He had a long journey to see the reality of what that kind of relationship was and how he interpreted it from a little boy. For him to consider it was an unhealthy dynamic or model, he struggled because he was getting his value and worth from being an extension of them and the marital union of them also.
            Plus, as he got deeper in his work it became easier for him to be honest and he didn’t feel so disloyal to all the dynamic unhealthy.

            To simplify:
            If the marriage was broken, then he saw himself as broken.
            So he did everything possible to form a belief of how normal and good it was and how normal the ‘personalities’~ or the roles were.

            Yes~ a long process of untangling those belief structures.

          • JoAnn on May 29, 2018 at 12:48 pm

            Aly, (May 29, 10:56) You wrote that he believed: “this is just how my personality is and live with it.”
            I believe this is the fault of many churches in Christianity. We are called by the Lord to “be transformed by the renewing of the mind,” and to “be conformed to the image of the Son.” But how much is this concept taught? None of us should ever be content with “that’s just how I am,” no matter how good we think we are. The Lord is always calling us higher, better, to be Christ-like, and to live out -manifest- His life in us. When we learn to be honest with the Lord, and to really look into the mirror and ask Him to show us what He wants us to see, then we can pray, “Lord, CHANGE ME! I don’t want to stay the same!” Search me, Oh God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is some harmful way in me, and lead me on the eternal way. Psalm 139:24.
            I also believe that the Lord uses our relationships to show us what we are, and this is why setting boundaries with the abusive spouse can be helpful, to be an instrument for change. At the same time, let us all be before the Lord daily to allow Him to do His transforming work in us. We want the spouse to change, but we also need God’s work in us, to strengthen us and to learn to be intimate with Him.

          • Nancy on May 29, 2018 at 1:04 pm

            Hi Aly,

            I see what you are saying about people easily making excuses to not grow, and labelling this as, “it’s my personality”, or “who I am”. It’s wise to challenge those things as the Ho,y Spirit prompts.

            Above, you mentioned how when you discovered the book with the intention to bond with your baby, you ended up discovering how it was even more helpful for you in your injuries.

            Can you describe your injuries and the ‘blocks’ that you had to grow through ?

            The reason that I ask is two-fold:

            1) I have a clear picture of where your h had to grow, and what his injuries were, which I think is super helpful for those on the site to know what to watch for etc…. knowing what you struggled with, and the ‘pitfalls’ that you had to deal with would encourage me ( and maybe others) to look to see what ‘my part’ is.

            2) the other reason that it would be helpful for me is because I believe that you have similar attachment injuries as my h. It would help me to see where his struggles are.

            If you’re not comfortable, then don’t. I just thought I’d ask.

          • Aly on May 29, 2018 at 1:06 pm


            So agree with you! It’s epidemic I believe in our churches that the message often gets interpreted as: ‘accept me as I am’ because this is how Christ accepts me in all of my sin and brokenness.

            I believe that it’s evidence in the transformed life that shows the fruit of accepting the grace & mercy given to us by Jesus.

            Certainly we still sin and we are still in position of having our eternal salvation, but do we have a posture for change ‘or transformation’?
            Or is our attitude ‘accept me as I am, and don’t try to get me to change’.

            I think many people interpret Jesus as the friend alongside us in our sin, but your right He challenges us to grow, change, transform…. He doesn’t just camp there. But maybe its just me and what I’ve been through that I think much of why we end up seeing so many unequally yoked marriages ~ trying to survive. ???

          • sheep on May 29, 2018 at 1:54 pm


            You said “But often the abuser role is doing everything in their power to Avoid pain and take more power from others in the process. That’s why controlling behavior is so common.”

            Boy, isn’t that the truth.

          • Aly on May 29, 2018 at 2:47 pm

            Hi Nancy,

            Of course I’m oomfortable with sharing.
            I will do my best to explain and it might come in to parts:
            A brief one and I’ll expand more later when I have more time to write;)

            Let me go back to this,
            You wrote:
            “I see what you are saying about people easily making excuses to not grow, and labelling this as, “it’s my personality”, or “who I am”. It’s wise to challenge those things as the Ho,y Spirit prompts.”

            I agree with you on the challenge part~ boy do I!
            Ok so what I found is those that have that stubborn belief or posture about ‘my personality’
            Also tend to have a firm line of not being ‘challenged’!
            So it’s kinda double sided and hard to penetrate such strong defenses.

            Ok back to my injuries,
            I’ll write more later, but if you can revisit the ‘pleaser injury’ and some of the ‘victim injury’ & some secure attachment.

            I know I’m a handful!🤗

            Because I had a lot of unsupervised care by my siblings I believe I learned a lot of ‘pleasure strategies’ to deal with bully type and disconnected siblings.
            I don’t blame them~ it was not their job to raise me, goodness they were kids and certainly had their own bonding and coping issues in our environment.

            Needless to say I had a lot of exposure to accommodating to not be cast out from them.

            I was the only on in my family that did get to have a very loving and early relationship with Jesus.
            I was quite young and spent a lot of time also around other loving and nurturing church communities.
            (More secure Environment of love offered to me)
            I was blessed with receiving such an understanding from the Lord of just how much he cared about me and I also could understand in very young years that I belonged to Christ, not necessarily my parents.

            Mind you, I had parents who also loved on me well, in a lot of ways but spiritual someone was disconnected.
            Having this deep love for the Lord and feeling loved by Him…., This did not go off well in my Christian home~ something was very different about me and it was something that my family was NOT delighted in, in fact I often was made fun of and the black sheep of the family because I was I truly loved learning about who God was and I wanted to be at church and involved~
            These were my 5,6,7,8 years of age.

            I still to this day am very thankful to have the Lord work in my heart so young… to have this be a foundational part He wove in me early but that didn’t mean I would have smooth years of growing up etc.
            I do think it was critical for a lot of the challenges I ended up facing.

            I’ll write more later on the ‘pleaser injury’ part of me;)
            I hope it helps!

          • Aly on May 29, 2018 at 2:58 pm


            Thanks for posting. It’s a painful reality, is it not?
            I’m sorry sheep! It’s wrong and so unnecessary but stepping back and as you walk further you might see that what you thought you had, or what you hoped to develop (even through excruciating betrayals), that she isn’t capable of that dynamic with anyone!

            What I mean is those that have this place of superiority in the relationship, this is there only way of having relationships!
            Sad for both parties because neither is experiencing a true relationship with two parties.

            They don’t do mutual or equal value and honor. They only do it one way, their way.

            When you try to be healthy and do mutual you often find ~ the relationship isn’t there because they won’t participate in mutual and reciprocal.

            They are not available for any kind of it!

            There ‘Loss’ & foolishness in reality Sheep! They are the ones who miss out!

            We get to move on and have healing and healthier relationships.., they don’t. And that’s a grief in and of itself.

            Still praying for your strength and your journey!
            He will lead you through!

          • Nancy on May 29, 2018 at 4:47 pm

            Hi Aly,

            I listened to focus podcast today, where Dr. k. Leman talked about birth order. Are u by chance a middle child? My h is, and fits that description very well.

            Accommodating, mediator, flexible…all great qualities.

            As a child he would go to church alone! He was an altar boy ( Catholic) he would go just thirsting for ‘something’ but unfortunately never finding it there 🙁

            I’m happy for you, that you did. Wonderful! But also confusing that having a relationship with The Lord was the very thing that made you a black sheep in your Christian family 🙁

            At my h’s elementary school, the priest would sit in the cafeteria waiting for kids to come for confession. Imagine how heavy that was?

            In high school he had a priest come alongside to play basketball, and was a great support during some difficult high school years, but he never shared the Gospel!

            His injuries are many: pleaser, avoider ( both scored 100%) and then victim (80), vacillator (60). These multiple high scores come from a very difficult childhood where he was the only one who was physically abused ( he has the same name as his father – self-hatred projected onto his son) and took on the role of taking care of his physically disabled mother ( was responsible for grocery shopping for a family of 6, at 15 years old).

            It’s incredible to me after everything that he lived that he did not become as hard as nails ( although he was really getting there in our marriage). He’s always had such a kind heart and lots of compassion for people, he just couldn’t get past his defenses in close relationships. Intimacy was a dangerous thing for him. It’s still very difficult.

            The work The Lord is doing in him is amazing, really. He is able to now -finally!- allow me to walk him through the ‘comfort circle’ questions. ( this took a lot of patience on my part and gentle prodding on our counsellor’s part).

            I am learning to listen. I am so very sensitive to being scapegoated ( blamed), and this does not allow him to explore his feelings.

            My counsellor asked me, ” can you, while he is inaccurately floundering around for words, tell yourself, ‘this is not about me, this is about him’?”

            This is so scary for me, because I equate being quiet with ‘taking the blame’.

            There’s a balance, I’m discovering between requiring him to articulate properly and allowing him to explore and express himself poorly. I very uncomfortable with the latter!

          • Aly on May 29, 2018 at 5:57 pm

            Hi Nancy,

            Thanks for writing and yes I think we can relate so much to each other even if we don’t have all the same injuries.

            You wrote:
            “The work The Lord is doing in him is amazing, really. He is able to now -finally!- allow me to walk him through the ‘comfort circle’ questions. ( this took a lot of patience on my part and gentle prodding on our counsellor’s part).”

            Praise God for this Nancy! This is really hard work and the more you can work in the comfort circle the easier it gets to process those things.
            Stay encouraged because it’s worth doing the homework~
            It’s not only takes time but it takes a new vulnerability muscle and like you said a lot of patience.
            Just want to encourage you here;)

            Wow~ your husband did have a lot of early ‘growing up responsibilities’.
            Probably not as much time for self discovery with his identity rooted in Christ especially if he was not offered the Gospel in religious arenas?

            Maybe .. I don’t know.

            No I am not the middle child, but I did develop an older soul early on and I learned from my mom especially in her relationship with my dad ~ to over-function.
            Try to give everyone what they need and then all will be ok.

            Even though both my parents are believers ~ it’s still does sting to think that some basic concepts of Christianity are foreign to them or they are quite defended against.
            The ‘image keeping’ is a strong pull to not be broken and vulnerable (even to someone safe) about the real stuff we all battle.

            I think these deeper injuries ‘can’ stand in the way.
            But yes, confusing Christianity by far.

            I like Dr. Leman too!!
            I think he has some great parenting tips through the years that I’ve listened or done his studies.

            For me, you mentioned your husband about accommodating..

            I learned early on if I didn’t accommodate that I would be punished (siblings mainly) or worse that I was causing chaos by not going along to get along.

            I was certainly the~ truth teller of sorts in the family system, but the truth was never ‘respected’
            I didn’t learn this until well into therapy in counseling.
            A truth that was there when I was little and still there to this day.

            But it’s true…
            The truth does set one free💜🌈

          • CK on May 30, 2018 at 5:42 am

            Nancy, In your post on May 29 you mentioned some test scores for your husband. Can you share what test this was and where to find it? Thanks.

          • Nancy on May 30, 2018 at 7:06 am

            Hi CK,

            If you go to the website, there is a button that says ‘take the test’ or something like that. You answer the questionnaire and they’ll give you a score on which attachment injuries to focus on.

    • Free on May 28, 2018 at 1:14 pm

      When my girlfriend’s daughter’s fiance broke up with her, they watched “Father of the Bride” over and over agsin. They cried good and long, holding nothing back.

      Is there a movie or a song that could help you cry like you mean it? A primal scream helps too.Let the tears flow. They are natural emotional cleanserd.

      Then my friend, be done with it.

      Remember his promises are new every morning and great is his faithfulness.

      • sheep on May 29, 2018 at 2:01 pm

        Free, I used to cry for the movie Fireproof, mostly with the hope something like that could happen to me. That if I tried hard enough and loved enough, her heart would soften. If I were to watch it again, I would be crying because of what will never be.

        • Free on May 29, 2018 at 5:54 pm

          Yes, there is loss. I think it is ok to acknowledge it, but we need
          to beware to not get stuck in it. That kind of thinking can lead to depression if left unchecked.

  18. Aleea on May 28, 2018 at 7:15 am

    RE: [he was] diagnosed with depression and OCD (intrusive thoughts), anxiety and sleep apnea.
    RE: “[he] teases if I go to church.”

    . . . .One other idea for our wife/questioner above. I talked about why she sould not give up on trying to get her husband to go to church with her and talked about why he should realize that he should go with her. Re:“There are many systems of interaction in the brain that can get caught in destructive feedback loops.”, (above) . . .The core doctrines of Christianity, Judaism and Islam impact the content and exhibition of obsessive/compulsive thoughts and behaviors for individuals with OCD (Inozu, Karanci, & Clark, 2012). In Moral thought–action fusion and OCD symptoms: The moderating role of religious affiliation -Journal of anxiety disorders, 2010 . . .Shows that people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) found help from going to church. In fact, the highest R-squares within Christianity, (r = .82) . . .that is one high R2ed if they are controlling the context well. That is real statistical significance. See also: IS RELIGION A BUFFER AGAINST PSYCHOPATHOLOGIES? In the exposure and response prevention trails, participants are encouraged to expose themselves to their obsessions (or to situations that will bring on the obsessions), while they prevent themselves from using compulsions to get rid of the resulting anxiety. . . .It’s tough because some studies found it increased obsessive-compulsive disorder and related disorders. Re: Christianity and guilt in OCD patients re: Can Christianity cure obsessive-compulsive disorder? I would say to her that OCD is a relentless condition, if he had it earlier in life then probably he has it now (. . .but I don’t understand enough about it to know that re: Why are religious individuals more obsessional? And The role of mental control beliefs and guilt in Muslims and Christians.) . . .And the reason he may choose to go to church and even more importantly, have a relationship with Christ is because everyone has ghosts that haunt their self psychologically, re:“beliefs work even when we don’t believe in them.” It is like Niels Bohr who said, “I don’t believe in evolution, but I understand that it works anyway.” And there is a joke, cited by many in psychology: “A man believed that he was a grain of wheat and so he had a fear of chickens. The psychiatrists using CBT convinced him that he was not a grain of wheat. But he came running back to the clinic, having encountered a chicken. The doctors said, ‘But didn’t we convince you that you were not a grain of wheat?’ ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘but who is going to convince the chicken.’” . . .God is always un-dead, no matter what anyone tells you, especially still in our “post-modern” day. . . .So, to her husband, choose to go to church with your wife, take antidepressants if they help you, think about if you really want to be Peter Pan and be open to healing and a real, deep relationship with your wife. Keep your hands and heart open, especially to God.

  19. Karen on May 28, 2018 at 2:07 pm

    Thank your Free. That’s is great advice! Nothing like a sappy movie and box of Kleenex to purge the pain!!! I may plan a movie night!

  20. Karen on May 28, 2018 at 3:45 pm

    My dear friend has read that book and highly recommends it. It must be time for me to get a copy. I understand there is a lot of stuff on youtube also about attachment issues. Thank you for the suggestion and qualifiers!!!

  21. JoAnn on May 30, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Is there a web site where I can learn about the “Comfort Circle”?

  22. Nancy on May 30, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    HI JoAnn,

    Go to At the bottom of the page under resources, you’ll see a tab called ‘free downloads’. You’ll find ‘comfort circle guide for the listener’, as well as other resources.

    • Nancy on May 30, 2018 at 3:20 pm

      There’s also a ‘journaling awareness sheet’ which is essentially the same as the comfort circle except that you are walking through it yourself ( and journaling.) I have found the journaling awareness sheet to be very helpful when I feel very triggered.

      • Aly on May 30, 2018 at 3:49 pm

        JoAnn, Nancy;)

        You might want to try YouTube also, they might have more examples that are in video form.
        When they do their workshops they also give live examples which I think really offer a better understanding of what it is.
        Nancy, I think one of the questions in the forms or comfort circle worksheet is: wife asks husband or vice versa in the context of what they are sharing,
        “Husband/wife … tell me if you can rate your ‘feeling’ and how much of a percentage do you feel ‘this’ is happening now or this is a past feeling and or experience?”
        This was huge for us!

        Often my husband would be able to identify a past unresolved pain.
        His %’ were high from past people and that helped him learn not to Misuse or Misquide his anger upon me. I was an easy target.

        Many things were skewed and distorted ~ which drove me crazy 😜 And he was acting out of that skewed place.

        Much of those hurts and fears were way about the past injuries and needed to be put into the right context and the right offender.
        This was very pivotal for him in processing the grief.

        This built trust within both of us.
        Not sure if you both have had anything similar… ?

        • Nancy on May 30, 2018 at 4:22 pm

          Yes, I completely relate, Aly!

          When the percentages that ‘fuel the present pain’ are big, this is often very surprising!

          This has happened to both of us.

          I also like the “what we’re the consequences of your actions” question because this has shown us where a downward spiral has taken place. In a triggering situation, my ‘actions’ can be to ‘ruminate’ and therefor intensify bad feelings. In his case, he withdraws which intensifies his cycle.

    • JoAnn on May 30, 2018 at 5:42 pm

      Thanks, Nancy.

  23. Loretta on May 30, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    I’m just now realizing that I need to experience grief “for the good memories and what I had hoped for”. He broke my heart when he left but he made it obvious that he wants to be alone “in his space” till he settled down.
    I will continue to pray for him.
    I know I’ve made right choice by choosing to divorce. And I’ve committed to taking care of myself. My heart has been broken, my self-esteem has been crushed, and I’ve got to learn to be independent again.
    This is a challenging time.

    • ContentinChrist on June 1, 2018 at 5:38 am

      You are right, Loretta – it is a challenging time. But God will continue to hold you – He is your Defender, He is the keeper of your heart. He will restore, redeem and heal you. I’m so glad you’ve committed to taking care of yourself. There will be a renewal of your mind with the truth that God sees you as valuable and you are free to invest in yourself and care for yourself – to learn about the beautiful ways God has designed you so that you can walk in the freedom of being all that He designed you to be so that His life will fully flow out of you.

      There is freedom here – it is on the horizon. Hang on, sister. It is going to be worth it, I promise.

    • ContentinChrist on June 1, 2018 at 5:38 am
      • Kay on June 2, 2018 at 11:13 pm


    • ContentinChrist on June 1, 2018 at 5:39 am
  24. Karen on May 30, 2018 at 6:27 pm

    Oh, Dearest Loretta,

    Know that you are not alone. There is an army of the victorious wounded marching forward to claim tomorrow’s joys!! You are strong; you are beautiful; you are a child of the King who has plans for hope and to prosper for you.


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