Am I Trying Too Hard?

Morning friends,

I’ve had a whirlwind week of being a Nana. Love it, but it’s exhausting, especially when you are entertaining three darling little girls in 115-degree heat. But we did swimming and some shopping and playing games and today we cleaned “Nana’s office” so we could keep busy.

This week’s question dovetails nicely with our peacekeeper’s question from last week. This reader is also exhausted and desperate for help.

This Week’s Question: What do you do when your spouse has a mental disorder? At least you know there is something terribly wrong after 40 years of confusion and seeing the children self-destruct and estranged from their parents and it's been one crisis after another!

My spouse has no emotion. He doesn't learn. He’s not teachable. It has had very damaging effects on all of us. No counselor, therapist, or psychologist seems to understand what I say. They're saying my spouse has his head in the sand. I am not able to explain what is happening or has happened to my family. Help!

Answer: You sound desperate to find someone who will speak into your spouse’s life in a way that he will hear that he needs help and take steps to get it. But from your question, it sounds as if the people you have asked for help have already given you feedback that your spouse is unable or unwilling to listen. You used their words – “He has his head in the sand.” What they mean by that is “he doesn’t want to hear what they have to say.” Sound familiar?

You have observed the same thing. You indicate that he is not teachable and he doesn’t want to learn. He sees the damage to his kids and family but he doesn’t connect the dots from how he behaves and the chaos and destructive effect it brings to others.

I don’t know if your husband qualifies for a mental health diagnosis but the Bible defines people who refuse to listen, refuse to learn from their mistakes, and refuse to reflect on the consequences of their own life as fools.

For example, “Mockers hate to be corrected, so they stay away from the wise”(Proverbs 15:12). “A single rebuke does more for a person of understanding than a hundred lashes on the back of a fool” (Proverbs 17:10). “People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray” (Proverbs 10:17). “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment. A fool has no delight in understanding, but in expressing his own heart” (Proverbs 18:1,2).  And “If a wise man (or woman) contends with a foolish man, whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace”(Proverbs 29:9).

Sadly, when you are married to a fool, the consequences that fall on him fall on the rest of the family as well. I would highly encourage you to get the book, Fool-Proofing Your Life, by Jan Silvious. It will help you take some new steps.

It’s time to change your focus. You have spent inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to get him to see, to listen, to go for help, and to change. You have spent hours speaking to mental health professionals about him and what he’s done and how he behaves or thinks or doesn’t feel any emotions hoping they will figure it out. Perhaps they do understand, but they are just as powerless as you are at getting him to change. People usually go to counselors and psychologists because “they see they have a problem,” not because someone tells them they have a problem. He doesn’t see it – he has his head in the sand.

But what about you? I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. The only person you can change is you. So let me ask you a different question. What do you need to do differently so that you grow, you get healthier, and you begin to take better care of you? – Click To Tweet

Since you have stayed in this chaos and destruction for 40 plus years, I think it would be helpful for you to stop trying to change him and start to take a look at your own part of this destructive dance. How have you enabled? How have you sacrificed your own well-being by living with his continued destructive behaviors? What do you need to change so that you get safe and sane and don’t passively participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness any longer? (Ephesians 5:7).

Many Christian women believe and have been taught that the “loving” thing is to bear with someone’s weakness and be the bigger person. And that’s great advice for certain problems. But when someone is repeatedly destructive and is causing harm to others, including small children, there is another Biblical way of being loving. That way involves confronting sinful behavior as well as implementing strong consequences for the destructive behavior. This is done not only to protect yourself from the fool’s behaviors but also in the hopes that tough consequences will wake the “fool” up to his or her destructive ways.

I wish I could wave a magic wand or say a prayer for you that would take all this away. But God has a way for you to walk this through in a manner that will glorify Him and also do the most for your spouse. But does it glorify God for you to stay passive and silent and live with a man who is continually destructive? Speaking up to a fool won’t yield any positive results as the Bible tells us fools refuse to listen. Therefore your only other option is tough consequences, which may include separation. But before you take that step, I highly encourage you to get the help you need to figure out where you are at, what changes you need to make and then to get strong enough to actually implement them.

Friend, have you spent more energy trying to change his destructive behavior than on getting stronger and healthier yourself? If so, what helped you switch your focus?


  1. Rosie on June 21, 2017 at 8:46 am

    Q: Friend, have you spent more energy trying to change his destructive behavior than on getting stronger and healthier yourself? If so, what helped you switch your focus?

    A: For me, the most helpful thing was getting some physical distance first, then emotional distance naturally happened. I could better identify lies & destructive patterns we both participated in. When I was in it, I couldn’t clearly see what was going on. I was too close. It was all a jumbled mess, a tangled glob of misery. When I got away from His influence, I found I was able to make good decisions for my children & me. Those little everyday choices built up my confidence – in both me & my faith. I lean heavily on the Lord for guidance like never before. It’s as if I put my foot out to step forward & God has placed the paver before my foot lands. I am safe & secure.

    I still have a long way to go in healing, but there’s been so much progress in a short amount of time. I don’t feel like I’m constantly struggling to find God’s will anymore. Peace is abounding.

    • Toni on June 21, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      Thank you Rosie for writing this. Your words have given me so much hope. I am literally within moments of getting that physical distance and I think that may just be the hardest step. God has made everything so clear regarding what boundaries I need to set and I am beyond grateful for that. But actually breaking away is so complicated, especially with kids. Thank you. May God bless us all in this journey!

      • Sunshine on June 21, 2017 at 7:44 pm

        Toni, I pray you choose life and take the next step to freedom. Blessings as you flee.

      • Rosie on June 21, 2017 at 10:19 pm

        😉 May God bless you as well Toni.

      • Peggy on June 21, 2017 at 10:49 pm

        Breaking is the hardest! I am right there with you.

        • Dawn on June 23, 2017 at 6:39 am

          Praying for you, Peggy

      • Dawn on June 23, 2017 at 6:39 am

        Praying for you, Toni. As you move out, seek Him, Sit with Him, heal. Heal. Heal.
        It’s as cathartic a time as it is scary. I am asking for the Lord to give you a special peace.

    • Tracy on June 23, 2017 at 12:21 am

      Rosie, thank you for what you shared. I too, felt just like you did. I had a wonderful first marriage to a godly man, who died in 2009 after a 15-yr battle with MS. In 2012, I remarried a man who had some idiosyncrasies, but I attributed these to his having never been married. He seemed to be a genuine Christian, but within a couple years of marriage, engaged in destructive patterns and manipulative behavior, which over time left me feeling both miserable and guilty for feeling miserable.

      At the time, I didn’t realize what he was doing. I just kept trying harder to do more, give him more space, and be all the energy and emotion of our marriage. He lived in absolute denial of things that seemed he clearly had, including a movement disorder and some type of Asperger’s or ADHD. I finally got to the place where I couldn’t physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually sustain doing 100%. It was crushing me. I had been crying out to God all the time to help me, and to help my husband be able to hear my heart and see how what he was doing was hurting me so deeply.

      When my husband not only did not notice how his behaviors were affecting me, but also did absolutely nothing to change when I gently tried to talk to him about it many times over a two-year period, I felt close to despair. After 3 months of Christian marriage counseling, to which he agreed to participate in, he left home, choosing to do none of the things our counselors recommended (say and show that he was committed to our marriage, go to church, and seek independent pastoral counsel).

      Even though I was sad that he chose to leave home, this provided the physical distance I needed to start seeing things for how they really were. Last summer, just 3 months after he left home, a friend recommended I read Leslie’s The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. It was then I realized for the first time that he was hurting me and our marriage by his indifference and neglect, was trying to control me by his verbal manipulation, and was only “committed” to our marriage if I met all of his personal stipulations (he basically wanted everything to go his way and have an easy ride, and do none of the hard work God calls us to do in loving our spouse). After being gone for close to a year, not changing in any way, and regularly talking about divorce, he finally did divorce me in January of this year.

      While deep down I was hoping and praying he would want our marriage to be healed, there was a tremendous amount of mercy in his leaving and divorcing me. For the first time in a few years, I am finally starting to feel like the woman God made me to be. How thankful I am for His kindness and sustaining love!

      • Rosie on June 24, 2017 at 11:27 am

        Tracy, thank you for sharing your story. It’s beautiful. I’m sorry you lost your first husband.

        Yes, as I continue to move in a new direction, with God guiding me, peace is increasing. I had no idea of the manipulation & twisting he was subtly doing every day. He is the type you describe – always wanting his way. Looking back, he set up the system to work for him & I got on the treadmill to keep the system working for his benefit. Then, when I began to question what was going on, the “church” we were going to & that I sought help & counsel from encouraged me to continue spinning the plates my extremely selfish husband wanted spun. I quit. Eventually, I let the plates begin to fall. I decided to quit intervening in the relationships he had with others; with his children, with our extended family, with the few friends we had.

        It’s amazing to see things clearer, from a different perspective now. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out which disorder my husband has. Finally, I concluded that the official diagnosis is a secondary issue. My response to him, whether he’s a narcissist, a sociopath, or a psychopath is the same – get the heck away!!!

        I spent far too much time trying to reconcile what he was saying (he said he loved me) with what his actions showed me. He was lying. It could never be reconciled – therefore there could never be harmony or balance. God doesn’t want us (me & children) to live like that. My divorce will be final very soon. While I wish things may have worked out differently, I couldn’t be happier looking forward to where God is leading me. I believe Gods promises. He will continue to provide. He will continue to lead. He will continue to teach me what I need to know when I need to know it.

        I pray for our continued blessings!!

        • JoAnn on June 24, 2017 at 2:51 pm

          Good for you, Rosie!! You took the courage that the Lord offered you, and the grace, and you made a wise move. Now the Lord will take you on to the “high places.”

        • Dawn on June 24, 2017 at 2:54 pm

          Amen, Rosie, on any diagnosis we might want to achieve for others being a secondary issue.
          Any spot of emotional resources we possess are best spent on figuring out our own issues / diagnoses … those are the ones within our power to change. So thankful for your testimony and this extremely valuable discernment on your part.

        • Dawn on June 24, 2017 at 2:55 pm

          Amen, Rosie, on any diagnosis we might want to achieve for others being a secondary issue.
          Any spot of emotional resources we possess are best spent on figuring out our own issues / diagnoses … those are the ones within our power to change. So thankful for your testimony and this extremely valuable discernment on your part.

        • Christine on June 27, 2017 at 8:29 pm

          This comment was so ‘nail on the head’ I could not help laughing at the insanity of what we’re going through! Thank you for clarifying it so well Rosie!

      • Tanya on July 4, 2017 at 1:07 pm

        Thank you for sharing, your story sounds like mine. I left after 10 years of a verbally, and emotionally destructive marriage. I was married to an addict and lost myself in the marriage physically, financially, mentally, and emotionally. I lost who I am as a person. I am in the middle of divorce now and find myself after being seperated 3 years later that he still shows no true repentece or Godly remorse for the destructive pain caused. As soon as I filed he started another relationship with another woman. He stayed in our big home while I am in a small quarters with my mom and 3 children. I have begged him to move out so we do not go through divorce as he gets help and work on himself until I feel safe and notice a change. He refuses to give up the home for the welfare of his children. This is is the man I beg to change and I can not. He treats me like Im the cheater, the liar, and he still bullies me, yet justifies or minimizes his behaviour. He does not want to sacrifice a thing of his comfort to reconcile our so called marriage, to prove that he is willing to accept accountability. I am still being used to bail him out of his messes and I find it hard to stop entangling myself into his financial problems because I feel bad for him. I am the classic enabler that I get upset with myself for being so foolish when he doesnt care enough about me. Im having a struggle facing reality and can not make decisions

        • Maria on July 4, 2017 at 3:27 pm

          Tayna, I can tell you that even though he won’t give you the house, honestly just let it go. The best homes are the ones that can contain love and safety and security for moms and children alike. Him wanting the big house is truly a blessing, because this allows him to deal with all of the finances needed to pay the mortgage not to mention hundreds and hundreds a month in upkeep between yard and all home maintenance. Let him have it, and give him nothing to use as “fuel” to frustrate you. There are many things to fight for, absolutely tops are the children, but homes in my opinion of dealing with my own fight for years, homes are where love is and a place we can afford, not necessarily the place you might want right now.

          • Tanya on July 4, 2017 at 6:52 pm

            Thank you my hardest battle with myself is losing the home. I remain in “limbo” upon his change and I am emotionally distraught because I have such oppressive circumstances I am living with. I am so afraid to grow up and face the trauma I get depressed instead. I do not know how to take control of my life back. Because I keep looking back to check if I will make a mistake by divorcing..

          • JoAnn on July 4, 2017 at 11:26 pm

            Absolutely right, Maria. A house is not worth the price she’s paying.

        • JoAnn on July 4, 2017 at 11:23 pm

          Tanya, I think you need to ask yourself why you continue to try to help him and enable him, when in fact he is now in an adulterous relationship. You might benefit by attending an Alanon meeting. They focus on learning how to stop enabling, and even if your h is not an alcoholic, you can still get help with the enabling behavior. You are not helping anyone by continuing this behavior. In fact, you are helping him to continue to sin against you and against God. Think about that.

    • P.S. on July 5, 2017 at 4:40 am

      What helped me is Joshua 1:1-9. Be strong and courageous. Only be strong and very courageous! For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
      The Lord encouraged me to make a stand. I live in England and they love their queues. I was in the bank and somehow people were queuing on the wrong side of the desk. I was aware of this and tried to redirect the queue by standing on the right side of the desk. One of my fellow queuers said to me, ‘Why don’t you end the confusion…’
      This spoke to me powerfully. I need to end confusion in my marriage. I need to be strong and courageous. This means that I am none of these things but I need to be. It feels alien and unnatural but isn’t that what faith is? We think we follow Jesus by being compliant wives but that is not what He wants. My eyes have been opened by watching your videos and teaching on YouTube Leslie and I know it was God speaking to me guiding me further in the journey I had started. I was laid up for a while with an injury and had it not been for that I may not have found your teaching. The Lord used my time out to teach me. How surprised I was to see it all lined up with the Bible! How I had believed that within marriage everything is allowed I don’t know but finally my eyes are open. Married for over 30 years desperately trying to always do the right thing and be a godly wife. For years I just submitted it to Him yet saw no change. Thought I had to change more. My husband loves me and he tells me so. He tells me I’m his priority. His addiction is work and action. Childhood trauma forced him to get on with things and he hasn’t stopped. He’s a child in a man’s body. He cannot empathise with me or his children. He can’t give what he does not have.
      I was afraid of his reactions to my differing opinions and would cringe and cry and despair. I no longer do that. He gets agitated when he knows I don’t agree with him. It could be anything. I now know it’s not ok for that to keep happening. My counselor is helping me to see where I need to change but no longer in a marriage counseling session with my husband as that didn’t work. So I’m trying to work on myself to be strong, be there for him in the capacity he needs, not be the wife he wants.
      Counselor says I can be the one to change the narrative in our marriage. I can be the one to’rewire’ his brain. I think I can only do that by doing what I think is right. Not be governed by his exacting standards that none of us can live up to.
      I hope I don’t have to leave. But I’m preparing myself for it now. A thought that would have seemed ludicrous a year ago, even though this has gone on for so long.
      Apart from me seeing a counselor we are accountable to the elders of the church. This was my husband’s initiative. He’s happy to do that but stopped seeing the counselor. Prayer playas a part. I know. But for me if there is no plan of action it is not enough on its own. I did move out of the bedroom twice. And I explained why. I also explained why I came back. I’ve tried telling him he can lose me as I can’t continue like this. I believe it made an impact but I’m not sure if it has made a lasting one. The most important thing for all of us is to listen to what He’s saying to us and do that. For me it is to remember to be strong and courageous. It means stepping out of my comfort zone. Ouch.

  2. Peggy on June 21, 2017 at 8:58 am

    I could have written this post. 42 years for me. At this time we are once again in couseling. The counselor cant figure my husband out. I think we need a different counselor as the current one seems to focus on relationship enhancement and cant see that you cant enhance in the presence of denial and when oe party is totally self absorbed.
    Ive stood up and simply refuse to be in a destructive pattern any more. The article by Brad Hambrick on the self absorbed spouse ,as well as reading The Emotionally Destructive Marraige opened my eyes to reality. Its a process but im now just working on strengthening my core and taking steps to establish healthy boundaries and seeking exsternal help to accomplish those goals. I feel God is guiding my steps and educating my mind and equiping my heart by raising up individuals like leslie to shed light and give truth to broken people
    Thank you leslie

    • Robin on June 21, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Have you looked into Asperger’s Syndrome or Narcissism? My husband has been diagnosed with Asperger’s and finding the right counselor who specializes in ASD marriages has made a difference with just one visit so far. Not that he’s changing (yet), but it has helped me a lot and now I understand his behavior so much better through the books she recommended that we read. Praying you figure out what’s going on and that you can get help for both of you. Being self absorbed is a trait of men with ASD.

      • Connie on June 21, 2017 at 12:25 pm

        Asperger’s certainly is a problem that needs to be understood, yet it is not beyond the scope of God’s ability to make beauty out of ashes. The director of Elijah House prayer counseling ministries has Asperger’s and yes, he has had huge struggles and much to overcome, but he is a very godly married man with children, and doesn’t use the condition as an excuse to be ungodly. One thing he realizes is that he needs his wife as his helper (ezer) more than most. Humility is the key to all of this.

        I think that in God’s economy, fathers and church leaders should be dealing with all these things. I’ve been reading in James, I John, Peter, and the theme keeps repeating that if we don’t love, we are not part of God’s family. I believe that if God says that so often, that He actually expects us to cry out to HIm and get the power to do so, no matter what. That He is bigger than any hard heart.

        I think that we wives cringe against doing all these boundary things because we feel like then we are being ‘mommies’ to our husbands, and this shouldn’t be our responsibility. Yet we seem to have to because nobody else is stepping up to the plate. We are exhausted from mothering our children and believed that we were getting a partner in parenting, not another entitled oversized immature child. And by the time we have figured it out, so much water has gone under the bridge that our dynamics are way too entrenched to fix quickly, if at all.

        Most of these men were kind and thoughtful before marriage, and are still so with all the other ladies in the church, so why do a lot of people actually believe that they are incapable and keep making excuses for them? I find that the ‘head in the sand’ thing is often selective, like a child’s hearing…….you know?

        • Claire on July 4, 2017 at 9:56 am

          To Rosie and all of you posting, be well on your journeys and congratulations for finding the inner strength to stand up for yourselves and say, “No more!” Very fitting for July 4th, Independence Day to become your own personal Independence Day declarations!

          There is a book I am currently reading that cross references and compliments Leslie’s books on Destructive Marraige and Relationships called, Healing From Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas, LCSW. She describes what many of you may have experienced which may give you even more clarity to help you move forward. May God Bless you and keep you safe.

        • CC on July 15, 2017 at 10:36 am

          Thank you. I needed to hear your words today. Thank you so much

  3. Anewanon on June 21, 2017 at 9:08 am

    My husband was similar. He engaged in activities such as gaming and p*** and alcohol and fantasy Sports, Etc. And he valued those things above connecting with the children and l and most certainly above time with God.

    God’s word says to give them over to their fleshly desires. So at the risk of driving a knife through my own heart and protecting my kids from his selfish ways, I did divorce him.

    One year later he was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of brain cancer. The tumor was located in an area that does control emotions and ability to read others in Social contexts.

    It causes me to feel guilty that perhaps it was the cancer. So it might be worth getting a brain scan in this day and age where brain cancer is becoming more and more prevalent because of cell phone use and other causes.

    But I also wonder if it’s a chicken and the egg problem wherein if you are not willing to connect with other people and certain areas of your brain atrophy, do those areas of your brain become then vulnerable to cancer? Such thatbthe question could be did the cancer cause the disconnect or did the disconnect make him vulnerable to the cancer?

    Science and medicine are wonderful things, but at the end of the day only God knows the truth. Meanwhile my calling is to glorify God by protecting and teaching my children God’s decrees and showing them what Jesus would do.

    It’s hard in a patriarchal world where we are sometimes forced to carry heavy burdens for selfish people who choose to load us up under their rules.

    Very hard. Keep going to his Word and ask him to show you in your situation. God bless.

    • Ruth on June 21, 2017 at 11:57 pm

      Do not feel guilty.
      You and your children were being abused. You were brave and removed yourselves from wickedness.
      Now, he has cancer? That’s NOT your fault.
      Lots of people will get cancer.
      Not your responsibility. You can pray for him from a safe distance.

  4. Doris on June 21, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Just a quick comment on the man and his behaviour and the family chaos. It rang so many bells for me because it sounds exactly like the life my sister in law suffered under a difficult man.
    He had severe Aspergers Syndrome, and wasn’t diagnosed until her son was diagnosed, and then years of pain and hopelessness made sense.
    Maybe not, but unteachable, chaotic, emotionally blocked, constant tantrums and lack of coping…well so familiar.

  5. Dawn on June 21, 2017 at 10:23 am

    Such good food for thought ~ iron-sharpening-iron thought. Thank you, Leslie.

    Time to change focus for me came when I realized that I was WAY out of alignment in my understanding of biblical love and my own worth as God’s Beloved Daughter. I was out of alignment partially because my husband was out of alignment.

    I had spent years, as many of us here, trying to do God’s work of fixing another. I needed to let that sink in ~ deep in, to my own heart. In essence, I was also the fool. The one who wouldn’t receive correction (as in this wasn’t my job to do ~ my job was to move out from under this covering of foolishness, and do my own work).

    This layer of protection that I had been shielding my husband with ~ by this I mean maintaining the appearance of an intact family unit, absorbing the abusive “shocks”, working to keep up appearances of “the perfect family”, etc., was actually grievous to God. It prevented Him from doing His work in each of our hearts. The covenant relationship of marriage doesn’t work when either or both of the souls in it are out of alignment. Conversely, it cannot be fixed until each soul commits to doing their own work (their side of the street cleaning).

    Once I stepped out of the way by separating physically (years too late), I then was able to begin the process of proper alignment and healing of my own soul with Christ.
    THAT, Sisters, is what we are responsible for.

    It has been a two-year journey to “restoreth my soul”.
    It was literally the most difficult faith walk I’ve ever encountered. In it He remained faithful and true ~ safe to trust.

    Yet here I stand, after doing the most difficult task ever…the John 6 “work of believing”. Believing that He is who He says He is… and equally important… I AM WHO HE SAYS I AM!! That right there is wisdom taken root.

    Proverbs is loaded with the attributes of wisdom. It starts when we bend our knees to HIM ~ not to the abuser. Proverbs 3:5-6.
    The quicker and further we bend, the quicker He heals.

    Oh Sisters, I encourage you to stop and think, seek and pray. Ask the hard questions of God. Where does He want you, what is your role? How are you inhibiting Him from working? Listen for the answers. He is bound by promise to give them to you. Matt. 7:7-12.

    I stand freely now ~ like the Acts 3 Lame Man at the Gate of Beautiful. It is a testament to Him, and what happens when we allow Him to work in His strength through His Spirit in our lives.

    My prayer is that we all learn to Arise Beloveds, and take our rightful places as His Daughters FIRST, at His right hand, joint heirs with Him and in Him. Here is His covenant promise when we do our part here. “Seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God and it’s righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt. 6:33

    Keep seeking Him first, Sisters. He is faithful, and oh so safe to trust!

    • Connie on June 21, 2017 at 12:29 pm

      Thank you. What a beautiful testimony.

      • Dawn on June 23, 2017 at 6:50 am

        Thanks, Connie. My heart breaks at so much here, because it often feels like “going home” — old home.
        There is a beauty in healing. The freedom I now know is something apart from the bondage I had been in for most of my entire 54 years. Things from the foundation of youth that shaped my marriage partner choice. That kept me there … all of it.
        I know now why the enemy makes fear such a strong deterrent for us. He is one of the strongest agents in the enemy’s arsenal.
        It’s because the freedom on the other side of the work is life changing.
        My prayer is that we all experience it. Hopefully in marital restoration but if not, apart from the chaos and as His bride!

        • Sandy on June 23, 2017 at 7:58 pm

          Thank you for the encouragement Dawn!
          I appreciate it. It takes faith to please God, and what you have shared for us to do is continue in faith, believing, letting go of lies and empty traditions, fear of men. I needed to read this today.
          God bless you!

          • Dawn on June 24, 2017 at 3:04 pm

            Yes, Sandy, you are so right. Healing begins when we allow ourselves the gift of letting reality penetrate our hearts. Acknowledging the truth of the good, the bad and the ugly. All three sides.
            Healthy people live in reality !
            When we are willing to use our “faith hands” to releasethe old paradigms of sin patterns to receive His deep love and healing… AHHH!
            The beauty of that peace.
            Hopefully in restoration, but certainly with and in Him!

  6. Beth on June 21, 2017 at 11:48 am

    I am very saddened to read this post and these replies. I was married to a man like that but decided to leave after another man assaulted me and my Ex blamed me. I tried to live with him after that, but it didn’t work. But why arectherr so many “Christian” men like this? Why do they even ask us to give them our lives, our bodies, our trust and then act as if we don’t exist? I know the root answer: sin. But it seems too prevalent these days and it breaks my heart that it is so. Are there godly men out there?

    • JoAnn on June 21, 2017 at 1:41 pm

      Beth, I know that it is discouraging, when you look around and all you see is sinful and dysfunctional men. But I have to say, yes, there are godly men, and they may be difficult to find, but they are there. If you are hoping to remarry some day, be careful where you look. God’s people are known by their fruit. Observe carefully. Don’t rush, but take time to really get to know another person. And be very sensitive to that little nudge in your spirit that says, “be careful!”

    • Dawn on June 23, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Yes, Beth. I am sure there are. I am so sorry you had to go through this.
      I am asking our Heavenly Father to step in w comfort for you.
      He is faithful and safe to trust as you heal. And always.

    • Helen on July 4, 2017 at 3:31 pm

      I know what you mean about giving these men ‘everything’. Especially our bodies—I now believe this is a form of sexual abuse in marriage; where there is emotional abuse and the H wants sex. That means he just uses our body but won’t give us his heart. This has been a very new aha moment and I really think it is true.

  7. Wendy on June 21, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Amen Dawn! Thank you for saying it truthfully and powerfuly! Don’t we wish we would have given Him this time sooner! But praise God for healing no matter when it comes!

    • Dawn on June 24, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Amen, Wendy! Reveling in the beauty of it , no matter when it comes.
      It is ours for eternity.

    • Dawn on June 25, 2017 at 11:39 pm

      Yes, Wendy. I thought I was doing the right thing by staying to get my youngest through High School. I left one week after she graduated. Two years after the I knew I was released.
      In hindsight my staying was disobedience. I didn’t have enough faith nor courage to go. That was a mistake. It led me to some very dark places as the dysfunction and pain escalated. I believe that it was no favor to my daughter either.
      However … there is grace and redemption and forgiveness. Praise Him! I slather that stuff all over the place — myself first. Apply liberally.

  8. Aleea on June 21, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    “. . . . My spouse has no emotion. He doesn’t learn. He’s not teachable. It has had very damaging effects on all of us. No counselor, therapist, or psychologist seems to understand what I say.” . . . .Then you already know what you have to do. Re:the book I Promise to Hate, Despise, and Abuse You Until Death Do Us Part. —It is very clear.

    . . .While we are taking action, hopefully, we can do *much* better than calling people fools (in so, so many ways re:“don’t cast your pearls before swine”, and acting like we don’t have massive cognitive biases, all manner of confirmation bias and truckloads of unsupported beliefs ourselves because *all* of us do. In spite of the fact that Jesus tells us not to use that word, “Whosoever shall say Thou fool, shall be in danger of hellfire”***, He does with the foolish bridesmaids in Matthew; the rich man in Luke and in His angry tirades against the religious leaders, etc. But He is God, for the rest of us, maybe we just focus on taking action starting with ourselves. So the question Leslie asks is *really* the place to focus. “What do you need to do differently so that you grow, you get healthier, and you begin to take better care of you?”

    ***I realize the contexts, text deconstruction and apologetic nuance often used to get around the plain sense of this. I don’t think it is worth the risk just to be able to call people “fools.” Time and increased exposure to primary source evidence makes fools of us all. I’ve been foolish so many times in my life I don’t want to risk the judgement of God. I am a fool for Christ, anyway. I start a lot of prayers off this way: God I seriously lack wisdom but You said “. . . .if anyone lacks wisdom, let them ask of You, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given. . . . “ Help me Lord God to know what to do and even more importantly to actually do it. A lot of times that is as simple as being deeply honest and doing the next right small thing. . .

    . . .Anyways, I would guess that Christ’s answer for “I can’t live this way anymore!!!” is basically, “Good! Don’t live that way anymore.” Set boundaries and consequences to feel safe, respected and heard. Promote change and redemption. Get the love and support you need from other places to take the kind of stance that may actually redeem the relationship. —If you do, chances are much better for redemption, as best I can tell. That has been my experience: Every time you make a commitment to your own self-care, self-love and self-respect and then follow through, you build trust in yourself. There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true (super easy); the other is to refuse to believe and act on what is true (really easy too) and we really have to lean on Christ to even have a hope of knowing the difference.

  9. JoAnn on June 21, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    Leslie, what a beautiful photo of your granddaughters! Thank you for sharing. Grandchildren are such a delight….all joy. I have 7, and with a great-grand on the way, I’m loving every minute.

    • JoAnn on June 22, 2017 at 12:11 am

      And yes, they can be exhausting, which is why it’s so nice to be able to give them back to their parents 😉

  10. Many Years on June 21, 2017 at 2:50 pm

    thank you for your comment about calling people ‘a fool’. I had that experience (way before I was married) in my own peer age group, years ago, with one of my friends who was not following the so-called ‘norm’ of the cult-based group of Christians I was having fellowship with at the time.

    I was actually using the Pharisee attitude of ‘holier than thou’ to address a problem of modesty with one of my friends. I called her a fool. And afterward, I knew in my heart that was not right for me to do that. Because of my attitude, it shattered another friendship too and there was a huge rift of separation between myself and some of my very good friends.

    I did know the verse about being in danger of hell fire, if one called another person a ‘fool’. It took years for the damage I had done, to repair those friendships. It is not a light thing, in the eyes of God, to call someone else a ‘fool’.

    I am no longer in that cult-based mindset. It took years to get out of it, and others too, began seeing the horrible damage it was inflicting upon our lives. Love was not being shown and people were stifled in their walk with the Lord.

    Many, who have now left that chained mind-set in that cult, still show signs of PTSD from being spiritually abused. Destructive abuse can take years to heal from. It is not an overnight spiritual healing.

    And my own husband was also injured mentally, spiritually, and emotionally by the same group. I know that most of his angst comes from the fear he learned within his own family, by his own harsh upbringing with his own dad, in order to ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’ of that group to ‘fit in’. But this is not God’s way for true joy and peace in the Lord! God wants us to be ‘free indeed!’

    And so it is with being in a destructive marriage, and the time it takes to get out from underneath that crushing weight of wrongfulness. It is like being in a destructive cult, and the healing of the mind and soul can take years.

    Today, I have a lot more understanding about the verse, of calling someone a ‘fool’ as I believe the verses which Leslie has used about ‘the fool’ from verses in the Psalms, and Proverbs does indicate that we can discern with true spiritual discernment who a fool is; and in Love, attempt to help those people who are truly fools ‘by their works you shall know them’. And when they do not want to hear us, then we have done what God has instructed us to do and it is out of our hands. And I will never verbally call someone a fool again.

    And yes, we are all fools for Christ’s sake, as you said, Aleea, the Lord loves us all, and we do know that sometimes, when our hearts ache for the other person to change and like Leslie commented ‘confronting the sinful behavior’ in love, and when there is no change, the only thing we can truly do it to turn them over to the Holy Spirit, and also do what we can to keep our own sanity, and do what we have to do to protect others in our family.

    And years down the road, in a destructive marriage such as this, when the wife has had no clue for years how to go about dealing with that destructive behavior in her husband, and she finally begins seeing a solution, by coming to sites such as this, it is THIS that will free her from the destruction she has endured when she begins getting help for herself.

    • Aleea on June 21, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      Thank you so much Many Years, I very much appreciate you taking the time to write that. . . . .I have *vast* expertise in being a fool myself and so I have compassion. That does not mean our questioner can stay in that horrible situation, absolutely not, but compassion can maybe help her forgive and understand more easily. The thing that has blown me away through the years is how little we know. It is truly astounding to me. I’m in no position to every call anyone else ריקא or ריקה Raca, or Raka, in the Aramaic and Hebrew Jesus spoke: the empty one, the fool, the empty head.

      “I did know the verse about being in danger of hell fire, if one called another person a ‘fool’. It took years for the damage I had done, to repair those friendships. It is not a light thing, in the eyes of God, to call someone else a ‘fool’ . . . .” —Exactly. . . . .But this extends beyond just others and is where I so often fall down. That I forgive insults, love my enemy in the name of Christ, that must surely include myself. I am the enemy who must be loved too; the enemy that is in need of long-suffering instead of calling myself “Raca,” and condemning and raging against myself. . . . I myself stand in most need of the alms of my own kindness. —Love is an inside job! And a truly compassionate attitude towards ourselves (―internally, in our CORE) is the only way to have it for others. If we get it right internally all that cycles out into our worlds, even if others behave negatively or hurt us. Only the development of compassion and understanding for others and ourselves too (―really important, ourselves internally) can bring peace. . . .Cult victims, as you well know, often do not realize that they were even in a cult until they have escaped it. Nor do they fully comprehend the severity of the brainwashing that they were subjected to, until they are finally free of it. That applies to spouses too.

      “I am no longer in that cult-based mindset. It took years to get out of it, and others too, began seeing the horrible damage it was inflicting upon our lives. Love was not being shown and people were stifled in their walk with the Lord. Many, who have now left that chained mind-set in that cult, still show signs of PTSD from being spiritually abused. Destructive abuse can take years to heal from. It is not an overnight spiritual healing.” . . . . Absolutely. I have PTSD from at least two sources according to my therapist. Trauma is hell on earth. Trauma resolved is a gift from God. The inability to get something out of your head is a signal that shouts, “Don’t forget to deal with this!” As long as you experience fear or pain with a memory or flashback, there is a lie attached that needs to be confronted. . . . Yes, there is a truth to be gathered and a lie to discarded but getting at them is just excruciating. My counselor is forever telling me “it is only as hard as you are resistant.” I don’t feel resistant but old memories still make me cry, so I write them down carefully and completely in my journals.

      “And years down the road, in a destructive marriage such as this, when the wife has had no clue for years how to go about dealing with that destructive behavior in her husband, and she finally begins seeing a solution, by coming to sites such as this, it is THIS that will free her from the destruction she has endured when she begins getting help for herself.” . . . . Absolutely. But breaking free is only the beginning, as you well know. Then begins the painful process of reversing the indoctrination. That is why we must not give or sacrifice our lives without so much as a minuscule query about some person who is to be our husband or the beliefs and origins of our ideologies. At their best, church groups have opened up new horizons of discipleship, but they have often offered hard lessons about the intractable sinfulness and selfishness of partly-redeemed human nature (as you document). None of us can undo, sans enormous work, the damage that had been done to psyches over many years. It is true for husbands and churches. The only way over is through, but it is still debilitating and stressful. Every admirable human desire for love, for belonging, and for meaning can be manipulated by the unscrupulous to benefit themselves. In the beginning, I only wanted to know, love, and serve God and understand the Bible. What harm could that possibly bring? . . . . But too much of anything is dangerous unless it’s God’s Love. God’s Love is all there is. God created us to be loved, not abused. —And learning to let go is not giving up! It is simply passing the burden to a better fighter (the Lord), so we can focus on love. . . .All we can do is face the fear and keep going.

  11. Jill on June 21, 2017 at 7:14 pm

    Thank you Leslie! I have struggled being married to a man that fits the description of the writer’s husband. My husband and I separated in January. It has been painful to accept that he truly is a fool. He is very smart but very foolish at the same time.
    When I read your quotes from Proverbs it helped me so much to accept I am doing the right thing.

    The last six months have been giving me healing at a level I have not experienced in the entire 23 years together.

    Someone else had recommended Fool-Proofing Your Life, by Jan Silvious. I will put it on my reading list next. I am currently reading your book Emotionally Destructive Relationship. I am getting a great deal out of it. I also joined Conquer this last time you had enrollment.

    Thank you for all you do!

  12. Nancy on June 21, 2017 at 9:15 pm

    This last question you ask Leslie, is such good timing for me.

    I thought that I had stopped ‘over focusing’ on my h’s behaviour, and certainly God had convicted me a year ago of – as Dawn said above, doing “God’s work of fixing another”. But yesterday in our counselling session one of my underlying beliefs was uncovered and that was this: feelings are dangerous. Focusing on my h’s behaviour is my way of distracting from my feelings and it’s both automatic and ingrained.

    On our way out, our counsellor said, “next time we will start out by looking at that fear”, and I joked, “yeah, I think I feel an illness coming on.” I couldn’t get out of that office fast enough. Then I shut down. We ended up completely forgetting our daughters’ art vernissage ( kind of like missing a play off game). I was devastated. I couldn’t stop crying or beating myself up. ( by God’s grace the art teacher phoned this morning to say she’d leave the exhibit up an extra day. This afternoon, we got our own private showing. God is merciful). ❤️

    My point is that this underlying fear is terrifying, and it drives me in a way that I hadn’t recognized until yesterday. My drive to stay personally safe, by avoiding my feelings, is sabotaging my very healthy desire to contribute to an emotionally safe environment in my marriage (and very probably with my children, too).

    Please pray for me as I walk through this, sisters.

    • Marcy on June 21, 2017 at 11:10 pm

      Nancy your process is beautiful. The insights you had in counseling, the way you understood your feelings and reactions afterward and the way God was so kind to extend your daughter’s exhibit.

      As many others have said, I could have written out this reader’s question as well but I’m so grateful that through therapy I’ve gotten stronger.

      Praying with you!

    • JoAnn on June 22, 2017 at 12:08 am

      Oh Dear Nancy, I am praying for you and praying for your counselor, that she will have the wisdom to help you through this. Remember, while feelings can be scary, they are temporary. Once you let them out, and the truth in, you don’t have to feel them anymore. This is another step on your journey. The Lord will carry you through.

    • Many Years on June 22, 2017 at 2:34 pm

      It’s okay, Nancy,
      we all do this. Sometimes I feel a breakthrough in my heart, and I feel like I have come through the fog, and then it’s back to square one again. And yet, Jesus is there to comfort and cheer, as one song says it so well.

      We forget to look to Jesus when our own attempts fail miserably, we are human after all. So, we pick ourselves up, and I find that going back over material I have already documented helps me to get back on track. I have to remind myself that I have made progress in my journey, even though it feels like a set-back.

      I think it is when we realize we are helpless without leaning on Jesus is when our fears begin to surface again. Which shows how great our Lord really is! He wants us to lean on him for ‘when I am weak, then THOU art strong.’.

      We need the strength of God’s Word, and the comfort of the Holy Spirit to keep moving forward in whatever conflict we are facing. We were never meant to do it alone, or to ‘go it’ alone. “I am with you always, even unto the end.’ Jesus said. ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’ as these are such comforting thoughts.

      ‘I need thee every hour, most holy Lord, no tender voice like thine can peace aford; I need thee! Oh! I need thee! Every hour I need thee, Oh bless me now my Savior I come to thee!’
      Praying for you, and praying for everyone on this site.

    • Nancy on June 22, 2017 at 7:31 pm

      Thank you JoAnn, Many Years and Marcy. Your support is appreciated 🌷

    • Dawn on June 25, 2017 at 11:44 pm

      Prayers up, Nancy. Lean in to Him He has you as you listen for His voice.
      You have good support here.

  13. Many Years on June 22, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    Beautiful thoughts and admonitions, Aleea. You are a strength and comfort to me.
    Yes God’s love covers all. Thank you!

    • Aleea on June 23, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      . . .God’s love drives me crazy. I lose control. I lose perspective. I lose the ability to protect myself. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-Him love. . . . I go home and say to myself, “I am a wayward, foolish child. —But He loves me! I have disobeyed and grieved Him ten thousand times. —But He loves me! I have lost faith in Him. —But He loves me! I do not always love Him, I am even furious at Him at times (God is so hidden, God is so silent, God is often inert, the evidence is often inadequate, etc.) —But He loves me!” God does not love us because of our prayers, our “commitment,” our “faith,” or our “good lives.” God seems to love us simply because He loves us and it is almost borderline mental that He does. —Unless something else is going on and I don’t understand it. It’s so crazy it is almost unbelievable. God loves every piece of us, even the pieces we can’t love ourselves. Life begins where fear ends. . . .If we can be less of a judge of ourselves, not judging ourselves, we stop judging others too. —That’s why it is so important to work within our COREs where everything flows from. —And that makes us more human, more compassionate, more understanding. . . .If we can grow in love, we will grow in awareness. —And if we grow in awareness, we will grow in love. . . That’s a good loop to be in. . . .

    • Aleea on June 24, 2017 at 7:12 am

      “. . .how deep and wide and long God’s love is for us, especially when we don’t deserve it.”

      Hello Tracy,
      . . . .Absolutely! . . . .And there are no great women or men of God. . . just weak, sinful women and often worse men, of a totally GREAT and absolutely merciful, AWESOME God —that we all have access to!!!

      Glad Acapella Project Vol. 1, 2, . . . .Never heard those songs before but they are truly beautiful. —And can they sing and harmonize! —Wow!!!

      . . . .to me, the biggest tragedy of life is when God asks us to glorify Him for our own good but we choose to glorify self for satan’s good. . . .Christ’s Love makes everybody rich and we make each other rich by truly, really, deeply loving each other. Reason is powerless against the expression of God’s Love.

    • Aleea on June 24, 2017 at 7:15 am

      “Bold I approach the eternal throne, And claim the crown, through Christ my own.”

      That’s beautiful JoAnn. Christ has given us wings and yet we often prefer to crawl through life. I hear so often when I pray: “I know you’re tired but come, this is the way.” . . .And let none of us be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others, we need these experiences for ourselves. —Yes, He’s our Great Reward!!!!!

  14. Marie on June 22, 2017 at 11:15 pm

    I think I tried and tried to find a reason for my husbands behavior. It almost eased the pain if there was a reason for the way he was reacting and treating us because no one in my mind could be this controlling, manipulative or emotionally destructive to another person. However, after doing some research, I was learning that people with bipolar or other disorders are nice good people and not angry or mean people. I was recognizing in my case that a disorder could be an excuse for abuse. The disorder could still be there and exasperate the abuse but at the core abuse is abuse and not a symptom of a mental disorder.

    *understandably there are mental disorders that need to be treated and I’m not speaking this across the board by any means. This is just what made me turn around and focus on me and stop trying to figure out or name what was going on with him.

  15. Tracy on June 23, 2017 at 12:16 am

    Leslie, I feel like I could have written the very post you shared yesterday morning (except change 40 to 4 years of marriage to such a man). In fact, I cried when I read this woman’s post. I too, know what it’s like to live with a husband who seems to have a mental disorder, little to no feelings, and little commitment to our marriage. However, because I read your book last summer, I heard the hard but life-giving words you shared about standing up for what is biblically right and the most loving thing you can do for your husband. Sadly, he had no interest in changing any of his neglectful behaviors or indifferent attitude toward me. Neither did he ever come home once he left. Instead, he spent time and energy last year pursuing relationships with other women (via phone, text, and email), which God in His mercy allowed me to discover. Although he said he should not have done these things, he said he did not violate his marriage vows and was only trying to survive. I believe the work of having a real relationship and being a husband after God’s own heart were too costly for him. I am sad but I am strong in the Lord Jesus, who loves me with an everlasting love, and underneath are the everlasting arms!

    • Gail on July 4, 2017 at 12:05 pm

      Bless you, What would we do without the everlasting arms of Jesus to carry us sometimes.
      I to have a husband who had a secret relationship with another woman for 14months, but refuses to acknowledge that he broke any marriage covenant. Says that I have over exaggerated.
      We had been married for 34yrs at the time. And for the last 4 yrs I’ve been trying to repair.
      I’m now exhausted and trying to muster the courage to separate, but I find it so hard.
      I don’t know why this step is so hard and so lonely but it is.

  16. Confused on June 23, 2017 at 7:24 am

    This post is just like my h and our marriage. We have been in and out of counseling. For years. He’s unchanged
    I’m learning that counseling with a Narc is (and I experienced this too) so hard emotionally on the victim. It sure was. He doesn’t follow counsel, he lies and deceives in his business he runs.
    I know about it no one wise sees it Bc he “hides ”
    So now that the last counselor we saw said he doesn’t believe marriage counseling is the answer and told me it’s about 90 % him and 10% me..
    I’m living with this . Again.
    I’ve been counseled to see the Lord on a separation so that’s where I’m at. With covert narcissist– they believe their own lies. Their lies are their truth. He’s certainly a fool by the way he lives.
    I’m learning to detach and take care of myself and my 2 kids
    And not rely on him emotionally or share much with him.
    Especially Bc now I know ( he told the counselor he doesn’t want to do “emotional connection ” and he does not! Not with me, kids, his mom or dad — no one. He says I blabber talk and it’s a waste of his time.
    Very few friends , like 2 –whom he only has in his life for himself and Bc they talk to him about him ( very nice guys) Bc otherwise friends are a waste of his time , breath and energy.
    ( yes he has said this)

    I’m struggling with detachment and intimacy in the bedroom. I feel like something to use Bc he’s so vocally expresses that he won’t do emotional connection. No face to face – except for sex.
    Then the rest of our marriage is side by side.
    How do I meet his physical needs which I now I must somehow figure this out. I cry every single time and it hurts me so much
    There has been (and is still?) porn use and again with no trust .. how do I give myself to him?
    He argues and says Bc I married him.
    I say he’s not loving me like God expects him to. And he would say he is Bc he provides and helps with the kids and house just that he will not do any kind of connection. None
    And he expects me to be the one to make him happy , pursue him, touch him, admiration and praise and physical intimacy and attention
    But not for me.

    How do I meet his sexual needs?
    How do I detach and do this?
    If I don’t meet them I’m dealing with Shame from him and he also gets irate .
    I hate to say it but maybe this will cause him to leave?
    He didn’t want me to separate Bc he said he will work on it. He’s not and no counselor can help us – he’s not willing to work.
    He’s not counselable. His “only” issues are caused by me .

    • Confused on June 23, 2017 at 10:36 am

      I guess what I’m really asking is I’m using CORE with him and other techniques to stand up to him , that I’ve learned in my healing. But I’m a sense I’m still in the abuse and I don’t understand how to be vulnerable with my body when he doesn’t want to see me as valuable enough to cherish my heart, mind and soul.
      Drink first?
      Detach and be used?
      Bc my body is not mine.,

      • Connie on June 23, 2017 at 12:17 pm

        I guess if I were to do it again now, I would say that porn is an adulterous bed partner. He promised to forsake all others, cleaving only unto you, did he not? If we don’t make that totally unacceptable, and keep trying to meet his wants (they are not needs, he will not die without that), maybe then we are committing adultery too?

        At the time of my 1st marriage, over 20 years ago, I didn’t have this blog or Leslie’s books, only secular information from the library (which I know God led me to in an answer to my cry to Him). I prayed and believed God told me to go to him and say, “God said you can have all the sex you want. According to 1 Peter 3 and 4, there are 2 kinds of relationship, master-slave and Christ-Church. You are the initiator, so you need to decide which kind you want. If the you want a master-slave relationship, tell me when you want me and I’ll comply physically, but if you want a Christ-Church relationship, you will have to win me back, because you have lost me. I have no affection left in me.” Both choices required humility, and his responsibility in answering to God, which he didn’t want to have. With the first, he had to admit that he was a cold controller and not a godly man, and with the second he had to admit that he’d been very unkind and not a godly man. We slept in the same bed 3 more years and never had sex again. Of course, he still tells people, “She wouldn’t let me touch her for 3 years, wah wah”, but I know between me and God that that’s a lie. I’ve told this to counselors, they were surprised but always said it made sense.

        Please know that I am not telling you to do this. God only knew the man’s heart and how he would respond. Somehow I doubt God would want me to be used. What I am saying is that if you cry out to God and listen, He will tell you what is right in your situation, even if it seems unusual. Probably if it happened today, I would be more decisive, but at the time I still believed that leaving one’s husband was the cardinal sin of sins. And God met me where I was at. He is that gracious.

        Blessings to you and we are praying for you. These things are so very hard, yet that is where God comes in and does the impossible.

        • Rebecca on June 23, 2017 at 5:28 pm

          Great answer Connie!

        • Leslie Vernick on June 26, 2017 at 10:54 am

          Love this reply to him. Wise.

        • Dawn on June 27, 2017 at 8:37 am

          Ahhhh Connie! I LOVE your story — I love your listening ears that sought to hear His voice. Beautiful the way He speaks and provides solutions and protection IN the impossible. To orchestrate our way out — whether that be via healing of the relationship (if the spouse chooses) or healing of our own individual souls.
          Like your scenario above, either had revelation to be used for healing.
          Thank you, Connie. You encouraged my heart today!

      • JoAnn on June 23, 2017 at 5:44 pm

        First and foremost, your body belongs to the Lord, and your h is abusing that. Connie and Beth have offered some good advice based on their personal experience. To answer this week’s question: I would say yes, you are trying too hard. Time to accept what is and move on. The courage and peace will come from the Lord.

    • JoAnn on June 23, 2017 at 11:39 am

      Dear “Confused,” I am wondering just what it is that you are confused about? This is not a marriage. Not at all. From what you said, it seems to me that he is treating you like your only existence is for his sexual pleasure. What is that? If he is doing porn, then he has definitely violated the marriage covenant (Matt. 5:28). You have done everything possible to save this relationship. Now, perhaps it is time to save yourself. Talk to a counselor about how you can best do that. And read Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. You will get help there and with us here on this blog. May our Lord grant you the courage to take the next step.

    • Beth on June 23, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      Dear “Confused,” This was my marriage only he wouldn’t admit he didn’t want connection. He just didn’t do it. No face to face time. No shared joy. No shared sorrow. Even with counseling. We have to accept that we are not the problem. If we have gone to them, begging them to walk in truth, and they refuse, though we have not been perfect, we are not to blame. We have to understand that marriage is mutual sacrifice for mutual benefit (as Leslie says). The Bible says that he who doesn’t provide for his family is worse than an unbeliever. He is providing financially, but he is not providing what you need emotionally. Your husband should not expect the perks of marriage without the responsibilities. Saying he provides for you financially, and not emotionally, is treating you like a whore. You can buy sex (or watch it online). Marriage is not to be bought. The marriage bed is not for sale. Marriage is far more than him providing financially. I just wanted to add these thoughts and encourage you to stand firm in the Lord.

    • Nancy on June 23, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Hi Confused,

      I agree with these ladies. This is not a marriage. You’ve been counselled to separate. Do not accept the shame he projects onto you for saying no to protecting your body from being violated. So what if he gets irate? Would you counsel your daughter to give her body up to be used?

      You are a daughter of the most high king, and He wants you to realize your worth.

      Separate, and begin the healing journey.

      I am asking our God for His wisdom, strength and courage for you.

      • Rebecca on June 23, 2017 at 5:38 pm

        I agree with the other answers given so far, Confused. I keep thinking why do you think you have a responsibility to meet his requests for sex? Are his requests more important than yours? What happens when you say, “No?” Does it lead to unkind comments, belittling or badgering? If so, you can be sure this man never wanted to “make love.” I would like to suggest he wants to “make lust.” The Bible has a thing or two to say about lust and fools for that matter. You know what to do Confused. I pray you gain the courage to do it.

        • Confused on June 23, 2017 at 5:44 pm

          He does tell me he lusts me and is infatuated.

          • Rebecca on June 23, 2017 at 6:35 pm

            Aaaahhhh! That is creepy! Oh Confused, my skin is crawling! Separation seems like it can’t happen soon enough. Stay strong and love yourself as God’s daughter.

          • JoAnn on June 23, 2017 at 7:30 pm

            That’s not love.

          • Remedy on June 23, 2017 at 8:28 pm

            Had similar situation in counseling with two of our pastors. They basically said to the husband ‘ you have no relationship…sex is part of a,relationship for which you have none so we will sanction the wife to have a room of her own.’ So, that ended the feeling of obligation to give my body to be used by a husband who did not love me. That was over 3 1/2 years ago. Still, no relationship

        • Confused on June 29, 2017 at 4:04 am

          When I say no to him and tell him why Bc he seems to “forget” he says stuff like “well when I’m taking care of myself in the morning next to you don’t get mad.”
          I asked him to go someplace else to do that.
          He said he’s only human and has his needs.
          But ..fine then go ahead I say. Bc
          I don’t want to be used .
          He says he got married to have sex
          And that “if he knew this before married he’d have slept with many many more woman.”
          Then he told me “I should have been f’ing ( sorry.. I know that’s awful to write here) his brains out every morning to support him all if that is how he feels respected . But I never did.”

          Yes …. of course our intimacy has suffered greatly for the past 8 years or so. But so has our marriage. He’s so selfish. Takes trips alone, makes decisions without me , ( like buying a sports car, booking trips for himself to travel , buying expensive items for himself , his use, a dog)

          No emotional connection, no unity , we had young kids, I was very sick , stressed out feeling like a single mom while he’s out there climbing his ladder to success expecting me to be a single parent.
          He refused counseling for years, I went alone.

          I take full responsibility for not being more about sex in our marriage to this point.
          But, We are here now and I can’t fix this mess by being an object.
          Our last counselor said marriage counseling is not going to help right now Bc he needs individual counseling and he will not make an appt.
          I can’t be held responsible to fix this by being more physical.
          I see him doing nothing to change. He avoids connection to my heart, he will only do stuff with me and not sit and talk with me daily. He tries to control me by insisting that he talks to me while we bowl, or Bike ride but he can’t listen to me babble and he’s not going to share his feelings or open up. Bc he’s not going to be changed . He’s not emotional, period .
          I’m in counseling, and I’m working with a life coach and I am getting stronger emotionally, physically and he’s still blaming me. And not willing to own his issues
          Or start counseling for himself.

          Ladies, What am I not seeing?
          I do realize it takes two to break a marriage and two to fix it ..
          he’s not willing to help fix it. Just for me to meet his needs and do fun stuff with him , make him happy.
          He says his moods are Bc of his reaction to me.
          Thanks for listening . It’s late at night and I can’t sleep.

          • Confused on June 29, 2017 at 4:14 am

            Would giving in to him fix this? How do I do that?
            It doesn’t feel loving knowing he has told counselor he wants no oneness , no emotional connection. Counselor told him he can’t counsel us Bc he could see my husband is so self serving and he can see he does not want to work on the marriage.
            Why am I so confused? Bc I’m in it?

            I guess I need to know I’ve tried everything to save my marriage.
            🙁 before I file for separation.
            He tells me his moods are reactions to me being “too strong now ”
            He sees a difference in me, and I’m sure that he’s using that to try to guilt and control me.
            I’m using CORE and not allowing him to control me with his emotions, reactions and moods
            He says those are Bc I’m not recognizing him and not touching him enough.
            And I treat him like dirt. Of course that Causes me to look to change .
            I don’t see him trying to change .
            Thanks for being a safe place for me.

            If I knew how to fix this , I would keep trying but something tells me fixing it with sex is not going to fix this. He has issues he will not address .
            They are much much deeper than his physical needs.

          • Nancy on June 29, 2017 at 12:55 pm

            Hi Confused,

            Please read Leslie’s opener for the guest post that was posted on Wednesday. In it Leslie talks about how her heart is for women who are caught in abusive relationships to learn to SHIFT THEIR FOCUS. ( I’m paraphrasing here).

            You are caught in the loop of focusing on your husband and his behaviour. Pray for The Lord to enable you to shift your focus from your husband, onto yourself.

            You cannot change him. He is not your responsibility.

            YOU are your responsibility.

            I pray that The Lord enters in and shines His light into your heart and enables you to stop investing energy into places that you have no control over.

            You have control over your own heart, your own mind, your own body. These are your areas of responsibility. These are God given responsibilities. Ask Him to help you make God honouring choices.

          • Free on June 29, 2017 at 10:27 pm

            Confused, Have you read Lundy Bancroft’s books “Why Does he Do That?” and “Should I Stay of Should I Go?” These very important resources will decrease you confusion immensely.

          • Free on June 29, 2017 at 10:31 pm

            Confused, I just wanted to add that I can’t imagine lying next to someone who masturbates beside you and has the nerve to validate the behavior. That is absurd behavior. Just a little reality check from someone who is not in your relationship. This is a sick man, really sick.

          • Sunshine on June 30, 2017 at 5:16 am

            Confused, have you learned about the Duluth Model: Power and Control Wheel.


            This is a great site by which you can watch tutorials explaining the most common recognized behaviors of an abusive person.

            i just watched again last night and it gave me clarity to move forward.

          • Claire on July 7, 2017 at 2:12 pm

            Dear Confused,

            Your husband has no empathy for you, is playing mind and word games to confuse you keep you spinning in circles, and to make you doubt yourself. He has you on a chain that he is orchestrating. Been there done that and I know what you are going through! The first step is to get off the merry-go-round, go somewhere you are safe can sleep, and take care of your needs. You will regain strength and get clarity. Time and distance will give you increased insight into this game in which you have been immersed. Everyday will get better, God will show you the way and keep you safe. Have faith and know that you are not alone. God is with you along with this amazing community of strong women.

        • Confused on July 1, 2017 at 8:26 pm

          To answer that question about why we need to meet his physical needs –when I’ve been in church counseling I’m told my body is not my own , so I must give it to my husband when he wants / needs it.

          They do not address his neglect of my emotional needs, as he is given much latitude with this . The physical intimacy is highlighted and I’m
          Told is a command.
          So if I’m not separated from
          him I need to give him
          My body even if I feel used.

          I’m struggling so hard with this especially knowing he doesn’t want any emotional connection.
          What can I tell him? I don’t feel safe emotionally. I am sure I can just lay there and let him use me once a week. Will this be obeying the command of God?
          Is this obedience?
          How can I fake that it feels loving? How can I give love to him in this way?
          I can’t. I need to be used
          The last counselor we saw told me that the only way I could do this is to ask myself if I feel like being used first.
          Should I tell him that? It won’t matter , especially Bc he does have narcissist tendencies.. I can’t make him “see..”
          He is on the 6-12 right now good cycle on abuse cycle and i know
          Full well he’s expecting something.
          I’ve already told him I can’t .. and I won’t be able to do this. But that didn’t matter. :/
          Should I write another letter to him?

          • Rebecca on July 1, 2017 at 9:14 pm

            This is a hard one to answer. How much do you want to stay with this man. Do you have small children to raise? I endured the sex like a job. I put my brain in another place and just removed myself emotionally to endure. I would make a food shopping list in my head or imagine how I would plant the front garden until he was done. I zoned out and put up with it because I was staying for the children. Now….that took a huge toll on me, but I did it. There was no emotion for me, I dreaded it but I got it over with.

            The scarier part for me was saying, “No.” He used all the frightening stuff in his arsenal if I said, “No.” Really scary, rape, strangling, life threatening stuff. I lived like a prisoner of war, isolated and abuse. Certainly you don’t want this for your life, right?

            What to do tonight is a problem, because there will be many more nights of this. I have heard that when women are in denial about their abuse, the most common way to get them to realize it is to ask if they feel used after sex. If the answer is, “Yes”, then they are not in a healthy relationship.

            Make a plan to change your life and leave.

          • Rebecca on July 1, 2017 at 9:18 pm

            I would like to add that a letter didn’t do anything when I tried it. He laughed at me and ripped it up.’

            Confused, you are not confused, you are spot on! You know what is wrong her, you just need a way to get strong enough to take action to set yourself free. A man doesn’t need you in his life to change. He can change any time he wants. He just does’t want to .

          • Connie on July 1, 2017 at 11:52 pm

            I’m so sorry, Confused, and I totally understand where you are coming from. Been there. What I now don’t understand is that teaching that your body is not your own. If your body belongs to him, then his belongs to you, right? He has broken every vow he made at the altar. So you have no marriage. You can tell him what to do with his body just as well, if that’s the teaching. Either way, it just does not go with the whole scripture and God’s heart. Women are the responders in a marriage, and he has not given you anything to respond to. “We love Him because He first loved us.” This is not love. You need to change the dance here, please, please. Get alone with Jesus and ask Him where He is in this. I asked Him that one day and I saw Him standing in the door of the bedroom and saying, “I just can’t come in there.”

            Read Proverbs and see what God says about men like that.

            My heart cries for you. I hope you are listening to Patrick Doyle videos and reading lots of posts on A Cry For Justice as well as here.

            Why is it that the church makes a big thing about being under grace, not law, then turns around and makes more laws? Pharisees, they are. Grace means we still do God’s will, but from the heart because He has showed Himself faithful and kind and good, and that is why we should follow Him. I we’re doing anything out of fear, we are not followers of God. There is no fear in love, and love casts out fear.

          • Maria on July 4, 2017 at 6:42 am

            Confused, I encourage you to look for a counselor that understands abuse. I too went to the church for help, and realized quickly that their advice was not sound. The Bible tells us to love others. Loving a person means looking out for for that person’s good. Giving into you husband’s demand for sex encourages him to continue to use you as an object and adds to his selfishness. Also, since his demands are met, he has no reason to look at himself and work on his sin. Having sex with someone with whom you don’t have any connection and you know is using you will only make you feel used and worthless. No wonder you feel this way. I don’t think that is what God had in mind. When we withhold sex to control our spouses, that is wrong. In your case having sex with your husband is detrimental to you. As far as your church telling you that you are not separated so you should continue to have sex with your husband- you may be living in the same house, but you are separated in a lot of other ways. I don’t think God wants you to emotionally detach so that you can stand to have sex with your husband.
            I would encourage you to stop focusing on saving your marriage. Instead, start focusing on pleasing God in every area. Leave the results to God, whatever they may be. Also, stop focusing on pleasing your husband. When you focus on pleasing someone who does not have your good in mind, you will suffer. Putting God at the center is essential in good relationships too. The difference is when we do things to please God, if our spouse is living to please God too, then we are pleasing them too.
            I also don’t think God wants us to demean ourselves to meet others selfish needs. You are His temple. God wants (even, I would say, requires) you to take care of yourself. “Love thy neighbor as yourself”.

  17. HOPEFUL on June 23, 2017 at 12:32 pm

    Wondering… all of these comments about what seems to be overt abuse. Are there ever good days? Do you ever feel like “it isnt’ that bad?” that is my situation…. no physical abuse, but emotional for sure,almost everything he says is a backhanded compliment, a put down or a “riddle” about what he wants me to do but not actually telling me what to do…. but some days I can see the good in him. Some days I feel like I can make it work, but then am I believing lies? He refuses counseling – i have been going for 11 years! I have read books, sought pastoral counsel and now am just waiting to see if I should take the next step. It is like i know it isn’t right and healthy but it also isn’t constantly horrible. Just wanting some thoughts if you have any.

    • JoAnn on June 23, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      Dear Hopeful,
      In past entries, several ladies here have suggested keeping a journal of things he says and does and how you feel about it in that moment. That helps you to have perspective. Also, setting firm boundaries will prove just where this is going. It sounds to me that you need a “watershed experience,” something that will show you just what you have and help you to decide what you want. You’ve been trying for 11 years. How long do you wait?

      • HOPEFUL on June 26, 2017 at 12:14 pm

        thank you for the replies. It is like I know deep down I know what I have, by doing a “road map” but then am given small glimmers of hope but are they more like him throwing me a bone? You are right, I often ask myself, how long do I wait? My hesitation in confronting him again, every other time i have asked for change or for him to see what I see, his reaction shuts me down, with dismissive behavior so I am fearful of any confrontation. what a great group!

    • Remedy on June 23, 2017 at 8:35 pm

      Hopeful, if you can live with it and be healthy, perhaps find other alternatives for fulfillment and validation, ie, working, hobbies, volunteering work, church life, friendships, exercise, etc. The Lord sees and knows your worth and gives us many paths in life to use the gifts He’s given us to bless and be blessed.

    • Nancy on June 23, 2017 at 9:34 pm

      Hi Hopeful,

      I agree with JoAnn. Setting firm boundaries will reveal what to do next. If you haven’t read Leslie’s Emotionally Destructive Marriage, I’d highly recommend it. Very practical advice and steps to take.

      • Nancy on June 24, 2017 at 9:37 am

        I want to add, Hopeful, that drawing near to Christ and following the promptings of the Holy Spirit will also really began n to clarify things. Your statement, …” It’s not cool constantly horrible, either” says a lot.

        We have a tendency to minimize our pain, and one of the strategies is by comparing to other ‘more horrible’ situations. This way we don’t feel the pain as acutely. The problem with this is we also block what The a Spirit is trying to tell us.

        Don’t compare. Listen to what The Spirit is telling you. 11 years of trying to fix your marriage hasn’t resulted in improvement. There’s a much better way -,read Leslie’s book ( EDM).

    • Maria on June 24, 2017 at 10:28 am

      Hopeful, In my case, and I’m sure with many others here, there have been good times. That’s actually what makes it confusing. If the person abusing us was always nasty and mean, it would be a black and white situation, and easy to make a decision. Many of these abusers know when to be nice (unconsciously or consciously). They push the limits a little more every time, and stop before they feel the person being abused may leave etc. If you look up the domestic violence cycle, it will explain a lot.

      • Connie on June 24, 2017 at 10:39 am

        There’s the story of Lenin’s chicken. When the American journalists asked him (supposedly) how he keeps the people following him, he picks up a chicken, pulls its feathers all out, then puts it down and offers it a few grains out of his hand. The chicken is so thankful for the few grains and lives in hope of a few more, even though most of the time it’s in pain.

        Abuse is a carefully enacted skill, that’s why it’s called deception. They know how to convince us that that is all we are worth, or less, and we should be eternally grateful for one grain, on occasion. It makes me shudder to even write this.

        Hope can be a really good thing, or it can keep us from reality.

        • Dawn on June 24, 2017 at 3:18 pm

          Great analogy, Connie! I would question whether this is hope or deception.
          In one of Leslie’s FB Live Sessions she shared about abuse cycles. If you think in terms of a clock face — from 12-6 they are abusive, displaying horrible behaviors, etc. — the bad days — then from 6-12 they are kind and nice seemingly sorry (not repentant) — the good days. But the cycles don’t stop. Unless we stop them.
          Good info on that session. Worth looking up.

          • Ruth on June 26, 2017 at 12:09 pm

            See, that’s what I’m trying to discern.
            My H recently just had an epiphany after our last big fight AND our counselor called him a bully.
            My H finally admitted to being an abuser. He fully owned his abusive behaviors without shifting ANY blame on me, our teenagers, his adult children, his troublesome employees, our long-term strained finances, etc. It’s been several days. I told him that I’m ok with living as separated in the same house if he can be civil/pleasant. There’s no hostility or stress which is not the normal for our home, so I keep wondering “how long will this last?” In other words, is this just part of the abuse cycle [the nice phase] or could my H actually be part of the super slim minority that OVERCOMES the stronghold of sin through the power of Christ??

            I also wonder what I should say if I should pick an arbitrary time for our boundary on physical intimacy- 3 months, 6 months, 1 year??
            This will be a real test for my H. Going without physical intimacy has been a BIG issue for him, Plus, I have a such a hard time saying NO. I remember reading Maria’s post a year ago and she said something to the effect of “I learned that I could live with his displeasure and it wouldn’t kill me.” After I read that, I thought:”Wow, Maria is tougher than I am because I cower under anyone’s displeasure,” Obviously, I need to grow stronger in that area and address why there’s a sore spot there.
            So, I’m praying and asking God about this ‘time’ thing bc I need to have this kinda figured out before H pressures me for intimacy before I think we’re ready. Any thoughts?

          • Nancy on June 26, 2017 at 1:46 pm

            Hi Ruth,

            I think it’s great that you recognize your area of weakness with regards to ‘displeasing someone else’. I share this weakness and have been praying for the Fear of the Lord. I want to, want to, please Him, but my fear of man can so easily take over!

            Based on where you are right now ( a space of calm, waiting for the ‘other shoe to drop’, so to speak) it may be tempting to go back to walking on eggshells with your h. Resist this temptation. Continue to call him out ( even in a lighthearted way) on his behaviour. It may be tempting to want to minimize ANY sign of manipulation, bullying etc…. because of the tendency to ‘wish’ those smaller offences away.

            His old behaviour WILL show up. The question will be how do you both handle it, when it does. Will you deny it and not confront? Will he take responsibility when he is confronted? If he shows signs of displeasure, will you turn to The Lord and ask for His strength to stand your ground?

            It is a great sign that he has taken responsibility and not blamed others for his bullying. Will he be one of the ones, as you say, that are in the slim minority who can overcome the stronghold? This question will play out in each interaction you have. Can he be accountable to you? Will he continue to humble himself when his pride gets the better of him? This is a muscle that needs working out. His willingness to ‘work out’ ( by humbling himself before The Lord, and you) will reveal itself over time, one interaction at a time. Only God knows the outcome. But your job is to stick to your own ‘workout program’.

            As you flex your new muscles of confronting in love, guarding your heart and standing your ground, he will have the opportunity to respond. This takes time. One. Interaction. At. A. Time.

            Keep up the great work you are doing, Ruth – your work. Keep focusing on ‘your side of the street’. Stay super connected to your own heart, and to God.

            He is with you !

          • Nancy on June 26, 2017 at 2:10 pm

            Also, with regards to physical intimacy. As I understand this, you are currently separated and that is the case because he has lost your trust. Physical intimacy is the ultimate act of trust for a woman.

            He has to earn this. Again, time will tell. The good news for him is that he is in control of how he responds and how he responds will either build trust, or take it away.

            If you look at it like this, then you will not be able to give a time frame.

            I hope this helps.

    • Rebecca on June 24, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Hopeful, I know what you are talking about. I clung to the few good times and did something scary during the bad times. I denied them. My brain comparmentalized the abuse. I went about my life year after year as a battered victim. One day I was nearly killed and I fled. I had a lot to learn. What I want you to hear is that emotional abuse is a gateway to many kinds of abuse. He only does what controls you. Apparently he gets results with emotional abuse, yet there are many forms yet for him to pick from.

      This is all about power and control. Google for a power and control wheel. It will teach you the many kinds of control such as, financial, head of household, religious, silent treatment etc.

    • LindaLou on June 26, 2017 at 12:39 pm

      Hopeful, during the early part of my 41 year marriage, I kept thinking he would mature and grow and start realizing what he was doing to me and our kids. I was never allowed to go to counseling because that was for people who were “crazy”. Yes, we had some good times and good days but the bad WAS bad and many times I thought we should separate. My first starter home was fraught with holes from his fists, doors had been kicked in and lots and lots of damage. He never laid a finger on me but believe me when I tell you the damage to me and our girls was incalculable.

      We are still together as all of our finances are controlled by him and I am never allowed to have enough money to even get to one of my now grown daughters who live a great distance from me.

      I am only now starting to stand up to him (he’s a bully) and he doesn’t like it. I know now that I should have left him a long time ago, not only for myself, but more importantly for my children. They have been impacted tremendously and one of them is now in the process of divorcing a similar type personality because I modeled the wrong behavior for her. I will help her in any way I can to get away from him because I do not want her to live the kind of life I’ve had to live. It’s too late for me but not for her.

      • Nancy on June 26, 2017 at 1:07 pm

        It’s never too late, LindaLou. Christ see you and He knows your pain.

        With God, anything is possible ❤️

        • LindaLou on June 26, 2017 at 1:47 pm

          Thank you, Nancy.

      • Dawn on June 27, 2017 at 8:48 am

        Never too late, LindaLou! You are on God’s site line. His heart breaks over this. Mostly over the lie that the enemy has you locked in … “it’s too late for me”. God delights in mans “too lates”. Otherwise we wouldn’t know about the story of Abraham and Sarah having the baby that would begin the birth of His nation.
        So go ahead and laugh at that, “too late” name. Call it out for what it really is. Whatever that is. Pray over it. He will direct. Lean in. Remember after destruction comes redemption. If we choose it , if we let it in to do it’s healing work. Prayers up !

        • JoAnn on June 27, 2017 at 11:08 am

          Dawn, I love that you brought up the story of Abraham and Sarah!! Beautiful. That’s a great example of how it’s never too late for our God. He brings beauty from ashes. Praise Him!!

    • Jocelyn on June 26, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Hopeful, most of the time spent in a destructive marriage is fraught with confusion, for me it was anyway. Why can’t I ever do enough, or be enough, what have I done this time? Why is he sulking/pouting today? OH boy, I have been out with the girlfriends too long, silent treatment to come. So much time and effort spent on trying to interpret HIS moods and wants, and me taking responsibility for things that weren’t really mine to own. There were times when things were good but that was tied to my ability to please, not connected to my value as a person. When the “watershed” experience finally hit and I drew the boundary line I became the enemy in my own home and I left. I knew deep down that if I ever stood up for myself I would likely lose the relationship. Only when I removed myself from the situation and consequently discovered Leslie’s book did the confusion I had experienced for so many years begin to clear. 1Cor 14:33 says “God is not the author of confusion…” Focus on God and become a lover and pleaser of him first, He is a God of peace and order.

      • P.S. on July 5, 2017 at 5:50 am

        Jocelyn, Now that you have left has your husband been shocked by this? Any desire on his part to compromise? I’m hoping to hear the right answer but fear the other one..

    • Sophia on June 26, 2017 at 4:00 pm

      I recently asked my male counselor, ‘What would happen at your house if one day a week you stood up and said 5 things you disliked about your wife, but the other six days you were kind???’ He said, she would respond by saying, ‘something is wrong with HIM’ and would most likely distance herself in some way from him. WOW!!!! What a revelation! Up until recent years my response to this type of behavior would be to shut down completely thinking I am unloveable…and only able to shake it off days later. WOW!!!! God has determined my value and it has taken me ALL of my life to start learning to believe the truth! If a raging motorist yells at me, I can quickly dismiss them as an angry person with a problem. Why have I allowed people closer to me in my life the power to wound and define and destroy me???? Those days are over! Everyday I learn something more about living as God allows us to live…if we look to Christ, believe the truth…the truth sets us free!!! Thank you to all the women here who teach by living and sharing!

      • Nancy on June 26, 2017 at 8:00 pm

        Hi Sophia,

        I love what you said here, ” why have I allowed people closer to me in my life the power to wound and define and destroy me??? Those days are over!”

        It sounds like you had an epiphany! Thanks for sharing it with us.

      • Dawn on June 27, 2017 at 8:55 am

        Sophia! Way to embrace your CORE strength! When we listen for His voice, we begin to let His thoughts define us. Glorious Unbecoming — that’s what that is!
        We embody the “it is no longer I that live, but Christ alive and living IN me!” Principle.
        Arise, Beloved! Take your place at His right hand as His Joint Heir! Occupy the space He died for you to have. Beautiful!

  18. Tracy on June 23, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    What a beautiful testimony. Thank you for sharing such meaningful encouragement and reminders of just how deep and wide and long God’s love is for us, especially when we don’t deserve it. One of my favorite hymns is the old ‘And Can it Be.’ I love the accapella version the old Christian group GLAD recorded years ago, and this newer accapella one on YouTube: Still thrills my heart to consider just how amazing His love for us is!

    • JoAnn on June 24, 2017 at 12:30 am

      Wonderful hymn written by Charles Wesley. The Barbershop version has changed some of the wording, but still retains the message. In the original, I really like this stanza:
      No condemnation now I read;
      Jesus, and all in Him, is mine!
      Alive in Him, my living Head,
      And clothed in righteousness Divine,
      Bold I approach the eternal throne,
      And claim the crown, through Christ my own.

      Sisters, let’s claim this truth as our own.

    • JoAnn on June 24, 2017 at 12:32 am

      Sorry for the typo: No condemnation now I dread….

  19. Ruth on June 25, 2017 at 9:58 pm

    Leslie’s question is good.

    I’m going to slightly re-phrase it- What are you doing to seek healing, get stronger, and get to a healthy place? INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ALL YOUR ENERGIES ON YOUR DESTRUCTIVE HUSBAND.

    For me, I have boundaries set in my marriage right now – no physical intimacy.
    I am attending a small weekly prayer service where the people know my home situation (I just started that a couple of weeks ago).
    I am reading books and online resources about abuse.
    My husband and I were going to counseling together but we’re now meeting separately.
    I’m hoping my appointments in July with the neurologist and the headache specialist will be fruitful in getting my migraines under control, because one more step towards getting stronger would be a source of income other than our family business. I would like to ‘be ready’ just in case I need to proceed with a divorce. So, when my kids go back to school in August, I’d like to look for a job.

    • JoAnn on June 25, 2017 at 11:23 pm

      Ruth, That sounds like you have some good plans in place. the Lord will show you the way to go. Keep on trusting Him and leaning on Him. He loves you so very much..

    • Rebecca on June 26, 2017 at 5:27 am

      Excellent work! I had terrible migraines since I was six years old. This might give some insight into how horrible my childhood home was. I was taken to a chiropractor for year. His kindness helped, not the manipulations. In fact I have funky scar tissue on xray from all those years of chiropractics Guess what finally stopped the headaches? I moved out of my! Maybe, some day, getting away from your abuser will heal you too.

  20. Ruth on June 26, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    I am writing this in response to your post about your counseling experience, but when I looked for that post, I couldn’t find it. Have you read the book “Mending the Soul” by Steven Tracy? I am currently reading it. This morning when I got to chapter 8 I thought of you; it’s very good. I ordered my book cheap off eBay.
    I think you’re brave to be fighting for your marriage, striving to be your best emotional self, most present mom, and most whole daughter of the King. I know it would be easier to deny and sit in darkness. Thank you for setting an example of forging ahead the hard but worthwhile path to wholeness. I really appreciate your transparency. Most of what I’ve known is in the body of Christ is either fake, plastic, full of denial, or just surfacey.

    • Nancy on June 26, 2017 at 1:16 pm

      Thank you for your words, Ruth, they mean a lot to me.

      I have not read “mending the soul”, but will check it out.

      Our God is faithful ❤️

      • Ruth on June 26, 2017 at 4:44 pm

        Thank you for what you said wrote to me up above (there wasn’t a reply under it).
        If you do get time to read Mending the Soul (which I highly recommend to everyone here), don’t
        think just bc the early sections might focus a little more on types of abuse that you don’t relate to, that reading this book is a waste of time. For example, it talks quite a lot about sexual abuse and childhood neglect. I don’t have either of those issues in my history, but I read on anyway. Especially as I’ve gotten to the 2nd half of the book, it’s been VERY good.

        • CK on June 27, 2017 at 8:32 am

          This book is wonderful and saved my sanity as it helped me understand the difference between forgiving and reconciling. I highly recommend!

  21. Connie on June 28, 2017 at 11:37 am

    One thing I’ve been trying to learn to do is not only to realize I can’t change the other person, but also to ‘throw the ball back in his court’ when he tried to lay stuff on me. For example (if he claims to be a Christian), when he has said he plans to do something ridiculous which he knows I disapprove of, I’ll shrug and say, “Well, if that’s what the Lord is telling you to do, you’d better just do it.” Or one day I said, “You know, I know you play games with me in your head, like, ‘If she does this, then I will do that’, whether to punish me for something or just because of an eye-for-eye competitive mindset. What I don’t understand is why you would allow me to control you like that.” Made him stop and think, and I believe it actually made a difference.

    I’d love to hear examples from the rest of you in that department, because I feel like it’s something I need to learn better.

    • Nancy on June 28, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      Thanks for sharing your strategies, Connie, I look forward to other examples too.

      One thing that I am doing with my teen daughter, when she gives me attitude ( eye roll etc..), is simply this: I put my hand up, palm facing her and say, “I don’t receive that” and I walk away (or continue what I am doing).

      When I have been successful at this, my heart is completely guarded, I don’t get at all angry and she has come back, after a time, and taken responsibility! ( even if she hadn’t taken responsibility, I HAVEN’T INTERNALIZED IT and her feelings stay between her and God (that is the key to staying emotionally healthy for me -not internalizing other people’s feelings, and taking responsibility for my own).

      I haven’t had the opportunity to use this with my h but I suppose it’s a good tool to have in any relationship.

      A girlfriend told me about this – she uses it with her husband ( who is not at all abusive). It is a gentle but firm way to ‘keep out the bad’.

      • Anewanon on June 29, 2017 at 2:31 pm


        You wrote:

        >When I have been successful at this, my heart is completely guarded, I don’t get at all angry and she has come back, after a time, and taken responsibility! ( even if she hadn’t taken responsibility, I HAVEN’T INTERNALIZED IT and her feelings stay between her and God (that is the key to staying emotionally healthy for me -not internalizing other people’s feelings, and taking responsibility for my own).

        I haven’t had the opportunity to use this with my h but I suppose it’s a good tool to have in any relationship.

        A girlfriend told me about this – she uses it with her husband ( who is not at all abusive). It is a gentle but firm way to ‘keep out the bad’.>

        it is good and helpful that this works with angry strangers or children. Good that you have discovered this!

        I believe that a wife who is being intimate with her husband has a MUCH harder time extricating her emotions like this. Putting a hand up to a daughter is MUCH different than doing the same to a “one-flesh” partener. For what a wife/husband is doing to the spouse they are doing unto themselves. If he is sinning against God, he is also hurting you!

        Lies from a child, for example, are not nearly as painful as lies from a husband upon whom a wife counts on the integrity much moreso than from a son/daughter.

        The husband wife relationship is far more complex. I believe this is why Paul wrote that MARRIAGE is a MYSTERY in Ephesians.

        A husband who is not abusive could receive “the hand” in the right spirit. An abusive husband could not receive it, and thus, an abused wife would fear trying this method. All this to say that IF you find you “can’t” do this method to your husband to protect yourself, I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself because, in marriage, wives ARE designed to be deeply affected by their husbands. Remember Headship? He is leading (he is created to lead), whether you like it or not, when you are one flesh. The real problem is, he is either leading you to life or to death. Choosing not to follow is detaching.

        Deep help is needed when wives are so negatively affected by that one-flesh relationship.

        I know wives who have cut off the intimate part of their relationships, and consequently, can cope much better. But it still isn’t the “marriage” God intended and that hurts, deeply.

        • Nancy on June 29, 2017 at 3:59 pm

          Hi Awenanon,

          What strategies do you use to guard yourself to prevent receiving – into your heart – his words, or behaviour (and consequently prevent you being lead into death)?

          • Anewanon on June 29, 2017 at 10:42 pm


            That is a good question as your heart is so open to preserving your marriage.

            The only way I could survive was to extricate myself from the marriage. I had tried all sorts of methods and would get fooled back into the marriage and the marriage bed like a Stockholm wife. The last three times we cycled around on the abuse wheel, my PTSD symptoms were off the chart. I knew I had little left in me to cycle another time and survive.

            So for my kids sake, I had to file for divorce. I think he was happy that i did which causes me to believe that he pushed me to that brink on purpose so that he didn’t have to feel guilty.

            I don’t have any good answers on what to do other than to leave,. I tried to save the marriage for 7 years. I realized I became the frog in boiling water who needed to save myself. An emotionally abusive man thrives on confusion to get his way. It was death to me, or leave the marriage.

          • Sunshine on June 30, 2017 at 5:31 am

            Anewon, I appreciate your post. I think sharing the truth is of great benefit to all of us. Although, appreciate our spiritual reflections, it is real life advise that helps me flourish while reading this blog. Thanks for speaking the truth. The cycle goes, on and on and on, like a sick carousel. Only we have the power to stop it. They only hope for both parties to get well, (if there is any hope) is to get away from the abuser and stop putting fuel on the fire.

            This is so very difficult to do as we want to preserve our marriage, have taken a vow before the Lord and fear for our children. Unfortunately, for many of us, the only solution is to get out, just as you mention. Thanks.

          • Nancy on June 30, 2017 at 12:43 pm

            Hi Anewanon,

            I thank God that He gave you the clarity to recognize that you were the frog in the boiling water, as well as the strength for you to save yourself and your children.

            May He continue to bless you on your healing journey ❤️

          • Anewanon on June 30, 2017 at 1:49 pm


            I used to tell ladies what I hear so often: different strategies, pray more, believe more, disconnect more … etc, etc.

            My ex-husband knew what he was doing but he didn’t care about my health nor feelings. He didn’t believe what I would tell him about the adrenaline and cortisol racing thru my veins. His experience was different and thus he didn’t believe mine. He felt i was trying to manipulate HIM. That I wanted P&C over HIM.

            No. The fall rendered Eve desiring of her husband and her husband ruling over her. Going against that is as hard as going against gravity if you ask me. .. but for Christ. Christ came to break that curse. He taught men to “die-to-self” for their brides and he taught women to “sit at his feet” and turn away from sinful men.

            Nowhere in God’s Word are women asked to die for their husbands. In fact in EVERY instance that wives are taught to love their husbands it is a Phileo love, not an Agape love. WHereas every instance in which husbands were taught to love their wives it is an Agape type love. (The English language renders a “3D color Hebrew and Greek Bible as simple “black and white”; much is lost or mis-translated.)

            And so turning away from a sinful man was the single most hardest thing for me to do. Yearning for him was my flesh hard at work. I still struggle. But I gave up my marriage for Christ’s sake. I am not exaggerating when I say it nearly killed me: emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually.

            Prov 18:14 ” The human spirit can endure a sick body, but who can bear a crushed spirit?”

            My spirit was crushed beyond repair. I was not Christ carried me all the way. Every e-mail, text, encounter from him nearly leveled me with “crush”. My heart is racing right now just to write about it. And he wasn’t a physically abusive man. His rejection was crushing given how much I loved him and gave up for him.

            but Jesus only wants me to sacrifice to that level for Him, and not for a wayward man. My kids are my mission field. The are to be protected, and not sacrificed on the altar of protecting my marriage to a pretender and hypocrit. Covert abuse is far worse than overt abuse. The man filled with demons was salvageable, the pharisees were not.

            Praying for each lady here to seek ad find the wisdom you need in your instance. God’s word has it all. May the Holy Spirit speak to you.

        • Sunshine on June 30, 2017 at 5:24 am

          I just keep noticing we are using the work intimacy for sexual relations when ironically, the last thing many of our destructive partners want is intimacy. They want power and control over our lives, especially our bodies. Each time we yield to their sinful behavior, we enable a crime against ourselves. What a sad situation to be placed in. Then again, our destructive partner isn’t sad, they are too caught up in their dysfunction to even notice.

          Yet….we are growing and changing ladies and God will give us wisdom because we are asking for it and because he loves us. Now, it is up to you and it to take action and stop our part in allowing someone to sin against God’s daughter.

          • Sunshine on June 30, 2017 at 6:13 am


            Sharing another excellent site, this time from the beautiful country of Australia. Thanks for this public service production highlighting domestic abuse and its affects on women.

    • JoAnn on June 28, 2017 at 11:51 pm

      Connie, I love that: “Why would you allow me to control you like that?” Wonderful!!

  22. Renee on July 4, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    Thank you all for sharing. I really enjoyed the encouragement. I can relate to most of you in one way or another. Though our stories may differ. I got married to an abusive relationship that started out verbal and ended physical. I finally left that 10 year relationship after he gave me a few blows to my body. I also believe in the marriage and never wanted divorce because I had hoped and believed he would change. Before he got physical he would tear me down emotionally. Ignore me, avoid me and the kids, he even left for 9 months and I took him back because I wanted our marriage to work. Then when he came back he was even more mean and hateful. I desperately wanted my marriage to work even though it was so abusive because that was all I ever knew. Everything revolved around him. I did not know who I was to even know to want something more or different. But through that time I was able to get to know God. I could not have made it without Him. Little by little he was pulling me out. It took a few blows to my head and body for me to wake up and get out. So I left with nothing but the clothes on my back and my kids. We started our life over with nothing, and God provided. It was hard for three years and I spent a lot of time just trying to survive financially. Finally o got a break and was able to buy a house. But the whole time I never dealt with anything. I just kept going for my kids. Then when we got settled in our house, I decided to start to date again. I really wasn’t ready because I never healed from the distinction. And damage caused by my prior marriage. So for three years I’ve been dating this guy and we’ve been stuck in a cycle of what I could consider potentially abusive. He’s not physical but he withdraws and likes to be in control. He has issues being connected and close. When theirbis problems, I feel a bonded by him and left alone. He never addresses his issues and I find myself always working to “fix” the relationship. I hate yo give up and always want to hope and believe for the best. It’s one of my best and worst qualities. I find myself being like Martha trying to fix everything and thinking it’s all my fault. But it’s still controll because he refuses to acknowledge any wrong doing or change any behavior that I tell him is hurtful to me. He uses silence and abondans me when I need him. I feel like it’s all about him. It is hard. Because when you love someone you will make excuses for them. You make allowances and you forgive. You don’t want to make the same mistakes so you run yourself ragged trying to fix yourself to become what they need so they will love you more or stay or finally give you the live you want. You compromise yourself for the sake of saving the relationship meanwhile loosing a part of you. I don’t really know who I am or what I’m supposed to do. Sometimes they are good and it makes sense and sometimes you get hurt so bad. Why do we keep doing this? I think it’s because as women we want to be loved so bad and we desire unconditional love from them that we take whatever we can get. Not know your self worth or who you are in Christ or more importantly what real love looks like. I’ve never seen or known a happy marriage or relationship so I honestly don’t know what that looks like. But I do know that scripture that a man is supposed to live his wife like Christ loved the church. Christ had all authority and power yet he choose to use his authority and power to lay down his life for his bride so she could be saved. He is the true gentleman that each woman’s heart desires to he lived by. It’s not a scarlet place but a place of safety and peace. It’s a confidence and reassurance that you are safe with him because he would rather die so you can live. His dying gave use freedom. The freedoms to choose to live him or not love him. There is no rules or restrictions but freedom to love and be loved. That is the way a man is supposed to live a woman. And I think in every woman their is that natural desire to have that. And for some of us, if we don’t get that from our man, we try to convince him to love us that way. By either changing ourself to fit him or changing him to fit us. Which leads to more frustration because it’s not naturally happening so we wear ourself out to the point of exhaustion. Then mix in all the hurt and dissapointments over time and the blaming to try to figure it out to make it work. All because we NEED love. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be loved. We were created that way. I guess the real question is at what cost and who are we getting it from. I honestly don’t believe a man can truly love that way unless he first loves Christ. That is where true love comes from. I think someone said we can’t fix a man but we can fix or change ourself. In my current relationship, he was offered a job in another state. He accepted it and wants to try to maintain our relationship long distance. I am very doubleful of how it will work being that we are here in the same state and can’t figure it out let alone being hundreds of mikes away and making it work. Neither of our relationships with God are where they should be. I realize I can’t make choices for him or controll his decisions only my own. It is very hurtful that he is leaving and I feel very selfish on his part. But I believe God is trying to get my attention off him in on to me and God. It still hurts because you want that communication. You want connection and closeness. You want to feel safe and protected and it is easier to turn to a man who pieces of that from time to time than to turn and trust in a God you can’t see or hear or hold on to. But one thing is for sure, God has never let me down or left me alone. Even though I can’t see him and sometimes can’t hear him or touch him. Thank you again for sharing. Sometimes you feel so alone and without hope. This morning before I read all your post I was thinking God do you even care? Everyone is going on in their life. My kids are growing up, I’m getting older, my so called finance is leaving me. And I’m just stuck here with no hope. Everything I wanted which was just a simple normal family and to be a mother and wife has been taken from me and my life didn’t turn out any way I hoped but everyone else is just going on in life and enjoying their self and I’m forgotten. I admit I was a bit angry with God because I felt left out. I still don’t know who I am or what im here for. Then I read all your post and it gave me strength. To know we are all struggling with something. Everyone has a story and a hardship but the common denominator is God is our provider, our protector, our friend, our comfort, our husband, our help, and even the lover of our soul. God Bless you all and I pray strength for each lady suffering in their battle. Strength and wisdom. For you and for me. May we all grow in the Lords love for us individually. Please keep me in prayer as I embark on this new phase of my life if finding myself and what God has for me.

    • Maria on July 5, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      Sorry to hear what you’ve one though. Are you still in a relationship with this man?

      • Renee on July 6, 2017 at 9:12 am

        I recently excepted a job offer to PA and will be leaving this weekend. And I live here and LA. Everything looks like it’s ending. I feel so lost because for so long I thought we were going to have a life together. He’s leaving and my kids are getting older doing their own things so now I guess it’s time to find who I am

        • JoAnn on July 6, 2017 at 6:10 pm

          Renee, this is a time to simply trust your Savior to care for your needs. find a church right away where God’s Word is taught, look for a support group, and get yourself rooted in Christ. You will be fine. Trust Him!

        • Sunshine on July 11, 2017 at 7:37 pm

          I think you are being saved! This man is abusive too, just not the kind you are used to. Count it a blessing. Time to work on yourself so you don’t get fooled by another abuser.

      • Renee on July 6, 2017 at 9:45 am

        He excepted a job offer to PA and will be leaving this weekend. And I live here and LA. Everything looks like it’s ending. I feel so lost because for so long I thought we were going to have a life together. He’s leaving and my kids are getting older doing their own things so now I guess it’s time to find who I am

        • Maria on July 6, 2017 at 6:05 pm

          Renee, There are so many red flags in your post. Your boyfriend sounds like a very controlling individual. Things will only get worse. If you read through the posts in this blog, you will see that things can get really bad. Pay attention to the red flags. This man does not sound healthy.

          • Claire on July 7, 2017 at 1:01 pm


            Sending you a great big hug! Even though you are sensing that your relationship w/ your boyfriend is ending, it’s OK. YOU are OK and will continue to flourish as you disconnect from your relationship. Time and distance will give you clarity. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step. You’ve already taken many first steps by keeping your distance and reaching out to this amazing community of strong women. Hooray for you! Have faith that you are in exactly the right place at the right time, that God will provide the grace to protect you and guide you through these tough days. Every day will get easier. Celebrate the small victories you are making for yourself to gain back your self-worth and self-respect.

    • JoAnn on July 6, 2017 at 6:14 pm

      Is what you feel for this man love? Really? Yes, red flags everywhere. Now that he is taking the job in PA, let him go and you find a new life.

  23. Amie on July 4, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Hi ladies,
    I am informally separated after 30 years of marriage. Due to EM I could not be intimate with my husband and haven’t. Recently disclosure about affairs and porn surfaced. I struggled with guilt over celibacy, but one of the most conservative voices Albert Mohler years ago wrote an article about porn and stated that husbands must earn access to marriage bed. I would say this goes for treacherous treatment. Also we did a biblical counseling intensive with Dr Schaumburg and he alluded to the same thing. If there is a problem sexually men must look at themselves and he feels counselors give wrong advice to women. This greatly relieved my guilt.

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