We’ve had a lively discussion on verbal abuse. It never ceases to surprise me how relevant God’s word is to today’s problems. We can’t ignore God’s principles for healthy relationships and expect to reap great connection and loving community, including marriage. Sadly destructive individuals somehow believe that if they say loving things, or say they are sorry, all their destructive actions and attitudes should be erased. It doesn’t work that way.
Talk is easy. Smooth words can hide evil intent (Proverbs 26:23). True growth and maturity shows up in changed actions. Sadly often churches would want to see a couple get back together rather than press a person towards true repentance even if it means continued separation.
I invite you to head over to my Facebook professional page to watch short little vlogs on abuse topics. They may be just the thing that could help educate your church leaders.
In addition, I will be doing a free webinar on May 22 on “How Long Should I Keep Hoping My Destructive Spouse Should Change And If He Changes, How Will I Know It Is Real?” This webinar is open to the public but only if you register. Also those registered will get 3 free videos to watch prior to the webinar:
Video #1 – If he doesn’t hit me, is it STILL abuse?
Video # 2 – Three common Christian teachings that keep Christian women in Destructive Marriages silent, scared, and stuck.
Video # 3 – Three reasons you should say “no more” to marriage counseling.”
So sign up and forward this to a friend who needs it too. Click HERE to register.
Today’s Question: I have been separated from my husband for over two years. God brought his infidelity to light and freed me from over 15 years of his pornography, deception, lack of maturity, and responsibility, neglect, manipulation, etc. Reading your book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship helped me understand more about what I had been living.
I don't believe that God wants us to reconcile without change being made. I have learned many things and I am changing and growing. I am not seeing that as much in my spouse even though his words say he's sorry and he loves me and wants everything to be different.
The most difficult question I am still receiving (from church leadership) is that Scripture doesn't allow for “separation.”
So my question is: Am I living in disobedience because I am not being submissive to my husband's desires for reconciliation? I believe it's okay to have healthy boundaries (insisting on seeing change) and I feel like that is what I am working on in addition to my healing and learning to speak up for myself. But I can't defend my actions with a verse of Scripture that gives me this right or excuses me from living with a difficult husband.
Do you have any advice on how I can answer this accusation?
Answer: I don't know of any particular scripture that supports separation for a difficult marriage.
But I don’t think you’re really asking that particular question. I think the question you’re asking is this: “Do you have justification from Scripture that gives you the right to be cautious about fully reconciling your marriage when your spouse has not demonstrated the fruits of repentance after serious and repetitive sin?”
I think the answer is clear. Yes, you do, even more so as there was infidelity. Most church leaders would not hesitate to accept adultery as Biblical grounds for divorce.
However, you chose not to end your marriage. Instead, you took a different route and said to your spouse something like, “I’m going to wait and see if you’re going to use this as a wake-up call for personal growth. I’m going to watch and see your actions over time to see if this grievous breach of our marital vows wakes you up to the changes you need to make as a husband and as a Christ-follower.”
From your e-mail, in two years it has not. Despite his words and declarations of “I’m sorry” and “I love you so much” and “I want everything to be different,” nothing is really different.
But now after this two-year separation, your church leaders are starting to view you as the hard-hearted one. Perhaps they see you as the resistant, rebellious, unforgiving spouse who has no grounds to stay separated because he’s sorry and wants to come home. It’s now you who should submit despite your husband’s track record of sin, foolishness, adultery, and deceit (This is not uncommon).
The Scripture that most people use to support some grounds for Biblical separation is in 1 Corinthians 7:10 where Paul writes, “To the married I give this charge (not I, but the Lord): The wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, she should remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband), and the husband should not divorce his wife.”
From what I understand, this is what you’ve done – separating, hoping for reconciliation.
But here are a few other principles from the Bible that also support separating ourselves from those who intend to do us harm, foolish people, or so-called believers who refuse to walk in the truth.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 – The essence of this passage says that there will be people who profess Christ but are all smoke and mirrors. Paul tells us to avoid such people.
Ephesians 5:11 – Paul says that we are “not to participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them.”
Proverbs 22:10 – “Drive out a scoffer, and strife will go out and quarreling and abuse will cease.”
Proverbs 22:24-25 – “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”
Proverbs 14:7 – “Leave the presence of a fool, for there you do not meet word of knowledge.”
But perhaps most applicable to those who choose separation, especially when a spouse is a professing believer is Paul’s various instructions to people to distance or separate themselves from so-called believers who are living contrary to the gospel.
For example 2 Thessalonians 3:6 Paul writes, “Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.”
Titus 3:10 – “As for the person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warned and sinful; he is self-condemned.”
1 Corinthians 5:11 – But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler – not even to eat with such a one.”
Finally, I don’t know if this applies to your situation but it does to many other women in destructive marriages. God values physical safety and relational safety and we sometimes must separate ourselves from dangerous people.
For example, in spite of God’s general instructions to submit to the laws of the land and to higher authorities, when David feared for his life because of King Saul’s jealous rages God didn’t instruct David to “submit to the King and trust me to take care of you.” Instead, David fled, always respecting the position of King Saul, but not allowing himself to be abused by him. (Read 1 Samuel 18-31 for the story).
In another example, when Jesus was born and King Herod sought to exterminate all the Jewish babies two years and younger, God told Joseph in a dream to flee to Egypt until it was safe to return (Matthew 2:13-15).
When Rehab hid the Jewish spies, she lied to keep them safe and God commended her (Hebrews 11:31). I suspect God equally commended those who lied to keep Jews safe from the Nazi army.
Jesus himself valued safety and said even the well being of an ox was a higher value to God than legalistically keeping the Sabbath by not working (Luke 14:5).
Safety is an important component of trust, especially in marriage. There can be no freedom or honest communication if someone feels afraid or is threatened, either physically and/or emotionally or has a price to pay whenever he or she honestly shares thoughts and feelings. Click To Tweet
Women (and sometimes men) fear taking measures to protect themselves because they’ve been taught it’s unbiblical or ungodly. They suffer endlessly with verbal battering, even physical abuse believing that by doing so, they’re being godly martyrs. They believe that keeping the family together at all costs is seen as God’s highest value.
Yet Proverbs 27:12 teaches us, “The prudent see danger and take refuge.”
The scriptures are clear. People influence and impact us, both for good and for evil. When someone lives with an abusive, destructive, manipulative, deceitful person, it definitely takes its toll on mental, spiritual, emotional, physical and spiritual health and often separation is not only good, it’s necessary for one’s emotional, physical, and spiritual health.
Lastly, I would encourage you to talk with your church leaders about this important biblical truth. If Jesus doesn’t offer unconditional relationship with everyone even when he loves them, why would they expect you to offer unconditional relationship to your husband? Sin not only separates us from God, it separates us from one another.
Until your husband can see his sinful heart and actions as damaging not only you, but your marriage and is willing to actually do the work it takes to change, it may be most Christ-like to stay compassionate yet separate from him.
Friends, what other scriptural support can you find to support separating yourself from your destructive spouse?
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I get confused when people quote 1 Cor 7:10 when talking about separation. The word in the original language is referring to legal divorce, not separation, as far as I understand, isn’t it? I don’t believe Scripture talks about separation at all, only divorce.
Suzanna, I will try to rewrite my response as it was lost.
After studying this topic of divorce I realized God hates divorce as well as any of our sins. If one spouse is committed to vows and is caring honoring and willing to engage in spirit physically and emotionally or financially and the other isn’t then that is abandoning the vows.
Also as the verses Leslie shared one spouse is angry in any way un repentive nit owning wrongs done against wife and kids then she can and I feel is obligated to protect her children and herself.
This may be separation for reconciliation and a time apart to pray and see if husband repents. If not truly repenting and changes she is allowed to divorce.
Upholding marriage at the cost of the individual self worth spiritually physically emotionally and financially isn’t Gods plan for marriage. We then idolize the marriage institution over the individual.
Praying as you study you will see more clearly how Gods word applies to your marriage.
DN, I think you have misunderstood me. I have no problem with separation or divorce. I just disagree that that particular verse is talking about separation–I believe the verse is talking about divorce, even though the word ‘separate’ is used.
If I may… this verse in 1 Cor 7 is not talking about ending one’s marriage in the circumstances we usually think about.
In that church at that time, there was the thought (from pagan religion) than to be holy and spiritual, one must live more on the spiritual plane and reject the physical plane. So they were thinking that to be holy and like God, one must renounce sex and marriage. That is why people were thinking “it is good.. not to have sexual relations..” (v1), which Paul is countering. Paul is saying throughout this passage that marriage and proper sex is not going to make you less holy than those who abstain.
So for the purpose of being more Christlike, don’t feel that you must separate or divorce!
I think for our purposes, 1 Cor 5 is more to our situations. Here Paul is responding to the point that a believer is living in sin. Sexually immoral. And the church is accepting that in the name of forgiveness and tolerance.
Because that person is a believer, Paul is calling the church to take him to task and, if he will not repent, have nothing to do with him. In the hopes that he will repent.
But those who call themselves brother and do not repent, have nothing to do with him. 1 Cor 5:11: “not associate with anyone who claims to be a brother… but is.. immoral, greedy, idolater, slanderer, drunkard, swindler. Do not even each with such.”
We actually have broader reason to separate from one who calls himself a follower of Christ yet continues in ungodly behavior like drunkenness, greedy… etc. I especially like the NLT which instead of slanderer says “abusive”. Another version says “reviler.”
This is why I separated from my husband, because he regularly reviled me. 1 Cor 5:11
I also think it’s important to look at the context of who is being addressed in the Malachi 2 passage. In those days, the men being addressed in that passage had recourse if their wives were committing adultery. If caught by 2 witnesses, she could have been stoned making them widowers instead of divorcees. If not caught, she could have been brought to trial where she would bear the guilt of her sin (Numbers 5). Also, today’s domestic violence laws can actually prevent abused husbands from defending themselves because they’ll be the ones getting in trouble and where will they go? Who would believe them? I doubt those men had that problem back then so physical abuse from their wives was probably very unlikely.
I’ve heard stories and stories of abused and betrayed individuals being browbeat with the Malachi 2 passage. I don’t think the men God was addressing in that passage were abused or betrayed. Moreover, God has many things to say about adultery, hands that shed innocent blood, a lying tongue, etc. The people who like to quote Malachi 2 should really start addressing the other spouse instead.
My church encouraged separation. I knew it was bad but not that bad but they saw my ex harden heart. They saw me being to vulnerable and protecting his reputation and they saw my pain.
I just left a marriage counseling session sobbing profusely that I attended on Monday with my husband, an elder, and the counseling pastor. All men. For the second time this happened and I do not want to go back. But if I don’t, they will think I’m not being obedient. I felt that I came across as emotionally weak both times because I cried and I barely had any opportunity to speak.
I have been separated 6 months. I left because my husband had run up about $35,000 in debt, his sole source of income is an mlm, he would share my personal text messages, emails, and voicemails with multiple people, including his 20+ year old daughters. ( I am his third wife.) And I never knew what the next thing would be that I would find out. I was crying and we were arguing.
In the last counseling session, he read one of my texts out loud! It was brief- stating how hurt I was and what good came from our marriage? I was then rebuked by the Pastor. Not only was I triggered by my husband doing this, I was rebuked. The sessions have been mostly my husband talking and the whole thing is so crazy. My stomach is in knots. We had been married only 14 months and then I left. (My previous marriage of 22 years ended a few years prior due to infidelity and abuse.)
I have so much to say and have been reading a lot on here for encouragement. My counselor (a female) recommended Leslie’s book- Emotionally Destructive Marriage, which I devoured. My husband has lied to me, gone more into debt, and continued to turn things on me and mitigate and invalidate me since I moved out! I’m crying so much sometimes at work I have had to go to the bathroom to cry.
I love my church and had to give testimony of my faith in Christ in this counseling. That was a trigger because when I went to church counseling before in my last marriage for my husband’s pornographers and abuse, my salvation was questioned and I had to write out 250 verses. I was so scared the church leaders thought I wasn’t saved but I knew that I was! It was a terrible time for me.
So how can I go back? To a room with three men and when I cry over the frustration and hurt of it all no one says anything? My husband called and made the appointment and I didn’t want to go but the pastor said that I needed to.
I don’t want to reconcile with a 54 year old man whom I do not trust, who has himself in financial ruin, and does not listen. His whole history has been one of deceit. Our dating relationship he cheated and lied. I’m typing this on my iPhone otherwise I could go on and on. I’m scared next session when we have to confess what we are hurt about and I know I will be shamed. I drank too much two specific times in the past and cried uncontrollably and said I that I hated him and used bad words. And I said a few other horrid things. Afterwards I cried and asked the Lord and my husband to forgive me. I will always feel terrible I did that. But I’m sure that will be brought up.
Do I have to go to church counseling with three men? Where I barely get to speak? Am I being disobedient to my leaders as the Bible says? This is a large non denominational church that is solid in the Bible and I know they mean well. I do believe the counseling pastor is doing what he feels is right. Once he mentioned self pity and made almost a mocking of me crying. Perhaps I do have self pity. But how can this be right? I’ve taken enough psychology classes to know you should not put a vulnerable hurting woman in a room with her estranged husband and two other men. I tried to get out of this before and was told I need to be obedient.
Leslie, can you please advise?
I think you should have a woman with you. someone who gives you strength with her presence. Someone who can help you process what happened during hte meeting and help you sort things. I might even give your pastor Leslies article about when marriage counseling is counter intuitive, or other articles that help your express your position. I still freeze in a room with a male authority and cant get my thoughts out. I met with two pastors recently, one whom I trust and one I didnt know. I heard so much of what the one I didnt know say thru my hurt and bruised heart. I had to leave because I was convulsively crying. I am thankful the Lord helped me understand what was happening in me, and that the pastor I trust was able to explain to the other why i was so emotional. By the end we all agreed my safety was priority. That they would discuss what the biblical counselor and a 3rd pastor has tried to work on with H, and then they would work with my husband…and I would work with my own personal counselor on my own issues. I am not sure the direction they will go, if they will see the real issues or not, but for the time I will do my work to heal so that if and when they want to bring us together to counsel I will be strong enough to say no if I do not see humility/repentance first. If I have to sit down with them again I WILL be bringing a woman with me because I will feel more centered and less exposed…if they are not ok with that then I probably will not meet with them again.
Most experts (including Leslie) do not recommend marriage counselling for destructive marriages, in fact, they say it will cause FURTHER HARM.
Tell your pastor that, and don’t go again. If he wants to educate himself on what you mean, then give him this website (don’t educate him on it, you are too fragile at this point. Your job right now is to stay safe).
I do not believe that you are emotionally safe in this situation. Stand up for your heart and say ‘no’.
Lean into Jesus. He will lead you. It seems to me you’ve put your church leadership on a pedestal and you care far too much what they think – they are only human and they are uneducated in this very specific type of situation.
May our Lord Jesus grant you His strength and His Peace as you stand firm.
What does your counsellor say about exposing yourself to such treatment again?
Nicole, I would strongly recommend that you NOT go to any more sessions with these men. They are not skilled or informed in handling this kind of situation, and they are harming you further with their talk of obedience and insensitivity. I agree with everything Nancy said, and I really feel for what you are going through. Lean into the Lord, and get help from your own therapist to heal and recover yourself. I hope that your personal counselor is a believer and that she can help you to know the Lord’s will in this matter. You also need to talk to a lawyer about what your rights are in your state. You may end up with half of your husband’s debt on your shoulders, so you need to work on protecting yourself now.
Nicole, I am glad you are still thinking straight after so much brain washing. Trust you guys, do not make any decisions out of fear. Victims operate out of fear. There should be no fear in love, hence you are not being treated with love. You are being bullied and belittled. Church leaders are full of sin, just like every man and woman alive. Their leadership is limited because they are only men. Listen to the nudge of the holy spirit within you. It is wiser, stronger, truthful, just and loving.
So, you made a mistake and married a bad man. Cut your losses and move on.
Trust your gut, not guys. Trust your instincts.
Of course we come a cross as emotionally weak, because we are. That should be a clue to them that someone has played cat and mouse with us and beat us up emotionally. If you were hit by a car, would the person who found you mock you for crying out in pain?
When my pastor told me to meet with him, my h, and the elders, I said NO. He was shocked and asked why not? I said, 4 reasons.
1. I’m a middle-aged woman.
2. I just got out of the psych ward.
3. I’m blonde.
4. You are all men. I don’t stand a chance!
To his credit, he laughed and said that he agreed. This was over 20 years ago. Now, I might have added that none of them were educated in this type of issues.
Nicole-you need to change churches. It is not a solid Bible church and these “pastors” are certainly not acting like men of God. They think they are superior and wiser than you. And quite honestly they are bullies. Stop going. This is not counseling, it’s manipulation. And remember even Jesus wept.
Dear one, This was my story too! I waited three years before my church threatened to put me under discipline (a step towards excommunication). I chose to leave the church. God used that very situation to change my husband’s heart. I
cautiously let him back into my life and watched for consistent change. Now we are two years reconciled. I also spent a year in conflict mediation with the church leadership and have reconciled with them as well. Hold your ground, sister! Your God is for you! Seek him and he will make his will clear. I am praying for you!
When my pastor came asking what my husband had to do be to reconciled to me, I panicked. The pastor was looking for a checklist and I knew that if I gave a checklist, my husband would work to check every box without changing. All I could tell the pastor was that my husband had to start to treat me as a person, not an object, and that I had to be the one to decide because I would be the one to know what his words and actions towards me meant. My pastor was not happy with my answer. I could think of nothing else to say.
Several years later, when my husband started to act out towards others because I had separated and gone ‘no contact’, the pastor started to see and eventually went ‘no contact’ for his own safety.
The scripture that spoke to me was I Cor 7:21, written to slaves or bondservants. “But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.” ESV
I realized that in an abusive relationship, because of my husband’s power, manipulation, and control, I was not a wife in a marriage but I was a slave under a master. So, although I struggled with the concept of ‘no divorce except for adultery’, I also heard from God’s word that with God’s blessing, I, as a slave in an abusive relationship, could avail myself of the opportunity the laws of this land gave me to be free. To me that included separation of the finances (he would continue to control me if the finances were not separated) and where I live, the only way to involve the court in the separation of finances was to file for divorce. I considered long and hard, but realized that if my husband truly changed, we could be remarried, recommitting ourselves to each other in a new relationship. Unfortunately, that did not happen.
Hi Mama Martin,Thank you so much for your insightful post.It is so much easier to perform and “ check boxes” than to submit to deep heart transformation under the Holy Spirits counsel.Sadly,many Christians want the illusion that if 2 people profess Christ they need to stay married so the “ image” of lifelong commitment remains intact.My mother stayed with my father and enabled his selfish immaturity,and even after his sexual molestation of me was disclosed refused to deal with it.I am now almost 10 months into a legal separation ( living on my own,finances separated) after 26 years of marriage,which included 2 years of in- house separation.My goals in separating were for clarity and truth from the Lord.He has graciously provided for my every need.My husband wants reconciliation without repentance and change which would require me to return to a marriage in which his number one priority remains his obsessive worry and attachment to his mother and sister.This is unacceptable to me and more importantly I now believe to God,who instituted marriage as the uniting of a man and a woman through the leaving and cleaving process.I pray for my husband to find freedom,however it is beyond my ability to help as he refuses to acknowledge his problems.I too remain open to a new relationship with my husband in the future as the Lord leads.Nothing is impossible with God although the reality of this turning around seems like a fantasy at this point in time.
Your last sentence, Janice D, is interesting. “… the reality of this turning around seems like a fantasy at this point in time.”.
It’s the fantasy that we step out of, when we separate, and so yes, his turning IS fantasy, uneless and until he chooses to walk with Christ. Colossians 2:17 says that reality is found in Christ.
It’s true that nothing is impossible with God. But our Lord will not violate anyone’s boundaries. He’s the perfect gentleman. So in this case, the ‘with God’ is not the case for your h. As long as he refuses The Lord, Christ will find other ways to meet your needs. These ways will ultimately be best for you.
I am so very sorry for what took place with your father and your mother’s denial toward you, especially her own issues.
I’m so glad you are taking a different path, one that has & will continue to set you free from being tangled with a person ‘like your unrepentant husband’.
I’m sorry that your husband is unwilling to get the necessary help regarding his issues/relationship with God and intimacy which would highlight how his behaviors and loyalty choices have been the culprit of this separation and now legal divorce.
I agree with Nancy that you are being and behaving as a warrior helpmeet! Even if that’s at a safe distance, you are very courageous and offering such the opportunity for things to be repaired which is full of grace.
Your h may be too far ignorant or stubborn to see the fullness of this, I’m truly sorry for that but also want you to see how free you can be to be available for all the wonderful things God can and has purposes for your path.
I am assuming your husband wants reconciliation without acknowledging the priority issues of his that break your marital vows to God.
Does he act confused at the separation? Does he ask you what he can do to make the marriage work or reconcile?
Sadly, there are so many people who take a marital vow yet are not available ‘emotionally’ or spiritually to be that person in the marriage as God requires. This isn’t a suggestion by God.
What you are doing takes a lot of courage and strength! God sees you and will equip you each day.
I’m glad you are not part of the group of individuals that find ways of denial in their circumstances to then collaborate and enable husbands that need true healing and transformation.
Those that collaborate are adding to the problem rather than being a part of the solution. You are being a part of the solution and your true reward most likely will be experienced eternally. 💞
Janis D. I truly admire your clarity and courage to take a stand for your own health and well-being. I’ve watched your growth over the time you have been on this blog, and your writings have been an inspiration to all of us. Stand firm. God is with you.
I look at it this way. If you know what you know now, would you marry that person again? If the answer is “No” then you have your answer.
A person who wants to change takes immediate steps to change. Cut yourself free from your unchanging, unrepentant, self gratifying partner. Then, they MIGHT change. If they do, then get back together. No harm done. But break all ties, be done and over with the words no action kind of abuser. You remain in bondage every day you thinking you are “waiting.”
I agree with this last sentence, Moon Beam. ‘Waiting’, it seems to me, is the posture where one is not quite ready to take responsibility.
There is a spiritual battle to be fought.
I think those who wait, are waiting for their spouse to engage in spiritual battle. Those who stand firm have decided that enough is enough. They have chosen to go to battle.
Mama, your contribution was very helpful. If slaves have a chance to leave they should. I also hear you with the dynamics of financial abuse. One of biggest entanglement for many is health insurance. So many are stuck to their abuser because they have no other option for health insurance.
Leslie you asked for verses, how about the verse about not giving your pearls to swine, not giving the benefits of a loving marriage to someone who is not acting lovingly. Seperating should not be a discussion of whether it is sin or not , regardless of how one views divorce. Seperation is setting a boundary with consequences, a time out. A chance for an abused spouse to think clearly without being constantly manipulated and confused. A chance to make a statement that they are serious.
I struggle to justify separating after 14 years of verbal/emotional abuse and 1 1/2 half years with therapy. We both go to the same therapist but separately. And she is a great help. I know measures have to be taken to protect the kids from further harm. It seems like my h is slowly starting to make some steps, but still there is hostility and anger just about every day. I don’t trust him. And I am thinking that I need a break in order to recover and as a last attempt to see if that changes anything between us. My heart is broken and the responsibility weighs heavily on my shoulders to find a way out/for change. I don’t think my h sees the urgency in protecting the kids.
I am scared and it feels surreal and at the same time thinking about separating is the only time I see glimpses of hope. I have been so afraid God will tell me I have to stay. Even though I sense he is saying “you don’t have to endure just to endure”.
Any advice or thoughts are appreciated.
You can do this dance for decades. The therapist will make a lot of money,you will nurse false hope and your spouse gets to talk about how terrible you and everyone else is on a regular basis. Believe me, he loves talking about himself. He thinks he is impressing people with his opinions and has manipulated a therapist into thinking he is wonderful too. This emboldens him over time and makes him even more abusive. He comes to believe he is above all authority and can manipulate anyone.
It is time to separate, but do you research. Go to a lawyer, a child psychologist, the bank, ask about restraining orders, phone plans, visit your medical doctor, call the domestic violence hot line,figure where to live, work and get a new therapist. If you haven’t been told to leave for the protection of you and the kids, this therapist doesn’t understand the seriousness of your situation.
I’m sorry for all that you are facing. You are in a difficult place and time given that you are getting some interventions.
“It seems like my h is slowly starting to make some steps, but still there is hostility and anger just about every day”
If seeing a therapist once a week and he is slowly making steps, it’s time to raise the requirements for ‘the level of help/interventions needed’ especially since you see the urgency of what needs to take a large shift.
Usually, what this looks like is additional therapy, more assessments for other behavioral health issues or addictions,more accountability etc.
I don’t know enough about your therapist and the care you have received so far to comment on whether or not your therapist is fully educated in abusive dynamics or not. It doesn’t hurt to ADD another professional to take a look and give an opinion of the therapy -so far.
I can say that for husbands who have had well over 14yrs of abusive behavior that it takes a lot longer than a year or two in active recovery for them to create new ways of thinking and behaving and especially build trust.
I do know that therapists are often pretty patient overall with abusive mindsets so that they can have an opportunity to really assess the person and see if they can help or not, give hope or not.
When you said he is angry and hostile most days, I do wonder about that. My husband went through similar cycles early on in his recovery & since he couldn’t be superior anymore he was lost at how to be?? Almost like an adolescent that is having to have limits and accountability.
-Most abusive mindsets are overall pretty emotionally immature and insecure so it takes a long time to develop healthy reasoning.
This above was something that was given often by our therapist and it helped me to see objectively, as I had already safely detached emotionally from my h.
For ex: Most doctors are not only going to treat cancer with a small dose of medicine and hope that it makes a dent in the rapid and sick system.
Hope any of this helps as you did ask for feedback.
Prayers for discernment and healing for your heart.
Thank you so much Autumn and Aly for your feedback. It is highly appreciated. You both make sense. I should clearify about the therapi. As the first 6 mnths were joint sessions with a different therapist. Then we split and my h got the therapist we both see now. So he has been there once a month for a year. While I continued until Jan with the first therapist but then finished up and tried joint sessions again with both therapists but it did not work well. Then I contacted the one my h sees. And I have been with her 4 sessions and she has been helping me see the seriusness of our situation and also the first one to actually confirm that this is verbal/emotional abuse. I have struggled for so many years to understand my situation and finally someone sees the same as me. She is also helping me in seeing how I need to protect the kids. So I have made a plan to separate if nothing changes in the next few months, as she also says it can take time for my h to change. And as you said Aly it’s like he has to re-learn how to be. I know it will hurt him and it is hard. And at the same time I feel the need to protect the kids. So I was thinking to separate and then we both have the time and peace to work on our stuff. I am open to come back together but after so many years of conflict and no real progress in our relationship I am thinking a timeout might help us start over again. Although the chances are that he might not agree and might not want to continue working with the therapist. Where we live certain therapi is for free.
It’s good to hear that you are getting good counsel for you where you are seen, your situation is also being seen and you are taking action with separation as to protect the kids. I am wondering about planing to wait a couple months to see if your h changes?
I’m not sure I would have a lot of hope to offer after reading that your h is getting only 1 session a month. That’s just not enough interventions given the seriousness of what you & the counselor are identifying as needs for separation.
Is your h doing anything else to address his mindset and his behavior. Counseling is essential, but so is a comprehensive plan.
Your husband is capable of being motivated to change for the short term especially if he doesn’t want to separate. Think of this a good behavior -but his core mindset will always return unless addressed and his heart is surrendered ‘to change/transform’.
Time or a long (timeout) rarely produces heart change but what one does during that ‘time’ can be the factor.
You husband will need intensive ongoing therapy to address his character issues. There also might be other deeper things going on with him that are also contributing to his abusive behavior, but that’s not your job to find out, but his to address.
You could be watching and waiting for a good result for a long time ‘even separation’ if he is ONLY seeing a therapist 12 hours out of a year.
This may give you false hope and confusion thinking that he is getting help or working on things. It’s just not enough. I do hope the counselor can offer more sessions. But there is also other resources out there to add to his recovery plan.
Thank you Aly. The counselour will address this as well with him as she also sees the need for more frequent sessions. I am afraid to do something rushed but also that I fail to protect the kids. I had a good but hard conversation with my h today and he doesn’t want divorce or separation so maybe it will motivate him to step up. I have more hope after speaking to him today and was glad we could actually talk about it without it ending up in anger. Though I see it can come later. I appreciate your insight Aly. You have alot of wisdom in your advices and I recognize the things you say. I know its not a option to stay like we are today. He is not evil just hurt from childhood. Which I feel for him. It is not a straight forward situation as we also will be facing child services if nothing changes. Thank you for taking the time to give me feedback!❤
Thanks Aly. I couldnt comment under your last comment so hope you see it. I would love to read that article, I will also look for it if it is in the comments in one of the blog posts. I have been and am afraid to speak up as it has caused so much problems and conflict and I want to spare the children for that as much as I can. What requirements are you thinking of, could you give some examples? I see that cycle happening, where he is less angry but doesnt really change and then after a while (anything from minutes to days) he is back to his old ways. And I see that he doesnt change because he sees his behavior as damaging but rather because I put pressure on him.
Thanks Aly. So basicly it would take a miracle..I dont even know if half of these excist where we live. Yes there has been porn and other things. It is overwhelming. And still I am cautious to do something hasty. This is though! But thanks for sharing your insight, grateful for that.
Whether or not your husband agrees or wants to cooperate should not affect your decisions. The issues and real and your job is to protect you and your children. You have been trained to comply with your emotionally wounded/abusive partner. Consequences are your only hope of changing him, not compliance and yes, you will pay later for talking about it yesterday.
I am pretty sure you don’t like reading my firm comments. I know I didn’t want to hear such advice when I was in your place. I bought into the whole wounded as a child approach and pitied my husband. That thinking enabled his behavior and kept us focused on him. It took effort and counseling to stop thinking about him and his problem. I had a problem, I was married to a cruel, selfish, fool. I had to address my poor choice of exposing myself to something I didn’t do or create and chose life.
Thanks Autumn! I quite like your firm and blunt comments actually! I have struggled for so many years and I am at the point where I see the need for action. Of course it is easier if we can agree on the direction but I am preparing for the worst case. I feel that as I put boundaries it makes it easier for me to be compassionate towards his hurts and at the same time know it’s his problem, and as Aly said distance my self emotionally from him, if that makes sense.
I appreciate you taking the time to give me feedback Autumn.❤
I fully agree and see where you are coming from! Your last post to Heidi is well said and defined well given your past experience.
Heidi, it isn’t just about boundaries but also requirements that will offer the best opportunity to see how much your h wants to work on his issues.
Motivation isn’t probably going to last long enough for him to make the kind of progress that would ensure a safe emotional environment for you and your kids. As well as the repair work needed for healing for all of you.
Nancy, posted something a few weeks ago that was really good about fear and going to battle. I’ll see if I can find it, I hope it encourages you and you can take action for your children and yourself.
By the way my hunch is that your h probably doesn’t truly see himself as a wounded child acting out against his family. But maybe he is just starting to have some scales fall off to see his behavior and unresolved anger is toward the wrong people. (But again this is a brief awareness- because he will fall back to the same ingrained patterns of thinking and continue to act out abusively if there is not a higher standard of requirements for his treatment.
Chances are you are more likely headed toward separation. You will want to work closely with your counselor on a (structured separation) that will also include requirements and time lines. I will give some examples below- but it would be the short list.
He needs weekly if not 2 times a week with s professional counselor- who you feel is educated and able to best help and also protect you.
He will need to be able to admit to you and safe others, professionals etc that he is abusive toward you and that he is willing to do whatever it takes to get the help he needs as well as whatever it takes to repair all of the things he has destroyed in your relationship.
He needs to admit that he does not have marriage material base foundations and that he is going to take immediate action.
He will need to also be assessed for addictions and any other behavioral issues that are taking place alongside the abuse.
He needs to be assessed for any untreated anxiety, depression, add, personality disorders etc.
He needs to be in a mature men’s bible study where he can have relationships with other men who are healthier and will assist with accountability.
He needs to be in a recovery group (men only) for his abuse etc. and this group must be lead by a clinician- not the blind leading the blind.
He needs also 2-3 strong yet loving Godly men who will hold him accountable for his actions. Men you. Approve of and men you can call at any point in time.
He needs to go to a week or 2 long intensive for his character issues that are abusive -there should be an aftercare program he can follow.
Does he have porn in the present or in his past? I would be surprised if this isn’t there given his anger and treatment toward you.
He will need an intensive to address and life long recovery care also.
This should be at the top of the list.
Again, you are looking for his words to match he behavior and choices.
When his behavior slightly shifts to a relapse of the cycle the requirements increase.
Monthly or by-weekly checkins on progress with his accountability team with you and the counselor too.
It’s not about a miracle, it’s about a person who chooses to grow based on where they happen to be currently.
Your h happens to need a lot of help and it isn’t impossible, in fact many men chose this path and find recovery and healing, but it’s work and God will equip & honor those that choose to work diligently toward the things that do bring Glory.
I’m sorry it sounds discouraging to you but I want you to be equipped with truth and reality.
You have been working really hard. I want wisdom and discernment for you and for you to see just how capable you are to draw healthy boundaries and offer your h requirements to earn his way to the possibility of a marriage that can be an actual marriage-by God’s design.
Plus, your the Daughter of the King who is worth every minute of this kind of transformation and you are worthy to have someone love and care well for you as a spouse, it’s a sacred covenant.
As far as the porn thing goes, that must be addressed First (and strongly) because it actually is probably the biggest issue of his disrespect and disregard for your personhood. Even he (without intervention) on this is not aware of how much this colors his attitude against you.
This is very much treatable if he chooses to get help and decides that he needs to see his damage to you and your heart and how that passes to the children.
If he fakes help, or chooses to not address his porn betrayal then you have a pretty clear answer of what you have to look forward to in the future and chances are his anger and abuse will increase over time.
Even if some stuff isn’t close in your area, often your h can find good resources and recovery online where he can phone in.
Some things he will have to be willing to travel for more intensive help.
Trust in the Lord to equip you and show you your next steps. Ask for strength, courage and wisdom!
Choose to not live another day in fear but in strength and purpose.
Aly, you give me strenght and clearity with your words. It is daunting to think about needs to happen but it gives direction. And it is exactly what I need. God bless you for your encouragement ❤
My husband has not been involved in porn. However, he has been emotionally and verbally abusive and verbally harassing. Recently he talked to some people who pretty much told him he needs to stop his verbal harassment about certain issues or else it would be seriously detrimental to our marriage. He seemed repentant after that although, I don’t think he understands the seriousness of his behaviour or how it isn’t just one or two issues but also other issues that are causing problems and creating a very toxic marriage. I don’t trust him because I have seen him be repentant and then just lapse back into toxic behavior all over again. It’s been a continual cycle for all of our marriage .As a result, I have my guard up to protect myself from him. One of the things he has been doing has been to be very sexually coercive –even to the point of waking me up at times out of a sound sleep. He won’t take no for an answer usually and will even send me texts about wanting sex. After all I’ve been dealing with and how things are heating up the last couple of years especially, I have no desire for intimacy .I’ve told him I need time. He said that was ok, but then several hours later began badgering me about how much time I would need before being intimate .I’ve explained that I don’t know and requested that he stop harassing me about it. He has kept up, however. Keeps telling me how not is so important in marriage and for a man. I’ve explained that the emotional health of a marriage is more important and comes first before physical intimacy can happen. Although we are not separated, I don’t have any desire to “reconcile”and work on my marriage when he is pushing the physical intimacy aspect. I wish there was a link I could share with him that describes the connection emotional and verbal health in a marriage has with physical intimacy. I welcome your feedback.
So, now you are experiencing sexual abuse as well. No person can give their consent while asleep. It is a sick power play on your husband’s part. It is a classic red flag. Have you read Lundy Bancroft’s book. “Why does he Do That?” yet?
I think your husband is a lot more abusive than you realize. You are in extreme danger. After you read Lundy’s first book, read his second, “Should I stay or Should I go?”. It will take you a while to know what to do next, but the more you identify his abuse the easier your decision will be. Sorry, these things don’t get better. Don’t waste your time and money trying to change your abusive husband.
One Step at a time, please consider listening to Free’s advice to read Lundy Bancroft’s books. They helped me on my journey to more clarity in this confusing road. My h did use porn, but hid it well. He bought devices and hid them to view porn on. That is not to say your h is using porn, though, but, they can be crafty in hiding their addictions. What I realized over time was that my h has a sex addiction. Perhaps that is the case with your h as well? Porn use is just one of the things some sex addicts do. So, even though he did view porn at times, he used me to satisfy his urges daily, until I began to have boundaries, and that’s when the abuse intensified. He wanted touch often as well, but that touch was sexual in nature, not a comforting, intimate emotionally enjoyable touch. Over time, I have realized that all his attempts at “intimacy” were sexually based, not out of a healthy relationship, and I was left feeling very used and unappreciated for who I am. Lundy’s books were one of the tools that helped me to begin to understand my h’s thinking, and one of the many tools that helped me navigate the direction I took towards healing.
There is no link that will wake him up or amount of educating him that will wake him up.
Your husband is in need of a heart transplant and that work can only by done by The Lord.
I agree that your job is to protect yourself from him. He is not respecting you as a separate individual with choice. It seems to me that he sees you as a possession, not a person. There is no amount of education that will change that.
I pray that The Lord will enable you to stand firm against the destruction. You are the daughter of the most high king!
One step at a time,
Most of the things you listed are in alignment with someone who has been involved with Porn or who has a very unhealthy relationship/belief with sex in general. I’m not saying he is using porn today or everyday etc. but to state that he has not been involved with porn seems possibly naive given his behaviors and posture toward you?
He wants sex without emotional safety or even the rebuilding of trust to be established. If he is a person who changes for a few days and then goes back to the behavior that he has already addressed as not ok, you have someone with a pattern and he needs to get into therapy to get to the root of the issue and the crazy making! All his relapse does is ruin the small areas of trust that you were trying to receive and work with to then have them blasted back out of the water!!
I would be surprised that sexual objectification, porn, FOO male dominated issues has not been in his history or that he isn’t around other people who believe or think like him about sex in marriage etc.
His posture has been modeled for him somewhere.
Aly, I can see why you think he could have been or is involved in porn. I have thought of that myself so it isn’t naivety that I say he isn’t (to my knowledge). I have checked internet history at times to see if he is looking at it and have not found any traces of it. And yes, I realize people can really hide it if they choose to. But also everything I’ve read so far about the subject talks about men involved in porn having a decrease in desire for sex with their wives, not an increase. He has displayed narcissistic traits as I mentioned in response to Free in the post above. Narcissistic traits also explain some of this. I think it is just another way of “controlling” me.
What did you mean by “FOO”? Is that a typo? I couldn’t find any meaning for it when I googled it.
It isn’t just sex he wants, he wants intimacy. He will want me several times a day to kiss or hug him, forcing me to do that, even if I don’t want to due to needing to guard my emotions and trying to create distance for emotional/mental safety. He wants me to tell him I love him and even asks me at times what I need to tell him.
He also wants me to talk with him but many times I have found that when I talk with him he uses my words against me later, or cannot handle what I have to say. He seems to think I and sometimes everyone is against him (even saying verbally at times that everyone is against him). I have found it is better to play the observer roll and not get pulled in emotionally to what he is talking about. But that means I don’t “discuss” things with him like we need to and he notices my distance, which he does not like.
One step at a time,
FOO = family of origin.
I’m sorry I should have not abbreviated that.
Family of origin, mom, dad, siblings, grandparents aunts uncles etc.
What other interventions have you tried? Is he in counseling at the time?
You also mentioned in your earlier post about him falling back into toxic behaviors… would you want to expand on this. Because obviously you are not going to feel safe with him or anyone who is cycling…or showing a pattern of repeating the same dance.
Being safe emotionally is important for a person to feel safe sexually too, it’s a very vulnerable but important aspect of marriage especially a healthy thriving one.
Do you sometimes feel like he wants to talk to you however he is looking for an argument or a conflict?
Just curious based on some other things you pointed out about your conversations and now you are making it obvious to him that you are not participating ‘ in crazy making’ etc.
We have been to counseling together. Which did backfire a bit on me in that he felt the counselor was against him (although he was not at all and was very neutral. I privately explained to the counselor that I am quite sure he has an emotional or mental disorder or something going on that causes him to act like he does. The counselor “tested” him for these things but of course the test came out normal. He had me take the test also only in my husband’s place by answering the questions the way I see them as true to the way my husband acts and he came out very narcissistic and with high BPD. But of course, without a professional diagnosis (which he would never agree to, I am sure) these things cannot be directly addressed easily.
I don’t have the time right now to describe the toxic behaviors he cycles in and out of…but maybe later I can.
Yes, I do feel like he wants to talk to me but is actually just looking for an argument. He will very often bring up things that he has asked me about and I have already responded to, which he did not get the response he wanted, and he will repeatedly ask me (basically harass) about them. I have had to tell him repeatedly that my answer has not changed. He gets fixated on something and thinks that he is right. They can be issues related to him wanting to spend money on things we absolutely cannot afford as well as many different things. Now he harasses about intimacy. It has seemed that through most of my marriage he has been fixated on something and then harasses about it. He cannot seem to take “no” for an answer and no amount of reasoning or logic will work. So there have been constant arguments due to him wanting to “change my mind” about things that I simply cannot change–like spending money on something we absolutely cannot afford. I have had to refuse to discuss things just for the sake of having more peace in our home and because I know that he will not accept reality and the truth. It’s very frustrating. He will often criticize and turn my words against me during or after these arguments. I had noticed this since we first married (but not before). There have been times I have quoted him (or someone else who was talking to us) word for word and he will deny that he or they said that. He will basically lie or try to convince me that I heard wrong when I know I didn’t. It is truly crazy making. So, although I don’t have the extreme abuse that some of the women are mentioning in this article, I have felt very much like I have no say, no value, and cannot be myself in this marriage.
One Step at a Time,
To clarify or Confirm for you, what you are describing is Abusive – because of the mental gymnastics he does and will absolutely deny what is factual.
Please continue working with a professional counselor individually and I would also ask your counselor about ADD?
Look at Dr.Amens website too, he describes all different types of ADD and what things look like when someone is untreated.
I’m not saying this is the case, but often BP and NPD can look and align with a person who struggles with ADD and does not want to recall their issues, and sometimes they seriously don’t remember ‘in the moment’ the facts. But they also do so much damage to relationships because their expectations are way out of proportion to how they hold expectations for themselves.
This is part of the crazy making, double standards everywhere and ongoing manipulations that are almost clock work in a cycle. It can feel so much like dealing with an NPD.
Which your husband could have a higher scale of NPD and that is what could also be assessed.
Not all NPD’s check off all symptoms, I thinknyou have to have over 6 or something to be considered high traited.
I wonder if you are open to Free’s reply’s or Alicia Kaylee? Are you seeing things from a different place… or considering that your h could have some severe issues to address or that you are in an environment that is not safe in many areas?
“It isn’t just sex he wants, he wants intimacy. He will want me several times a day to kiss or hug him, forcing me to do that,”
Intimacy and forcing just don’t go together, they are the furthest of opposites.
Are you working with a professional counselor?
my H was introduced to sex thru porn, he always wants to do what they do in porn. if he looks at me I am supposed to know when that means ‘come jump me’. regardless of how I feel he wants me to initiate sex, wants to do positions that only work in porn but don’t work with us, then will mope and dive into self pity that he ‘cant do anything right’. He also wanted sex or to be ‘touched’ all the time, constantly masturbating and then still wanting to be sexual. My counselor thinks that probably sex was a way he learned to deal with his emotions or some trauma from his childhood, so even if porn typical decreases the desire for sex with wives he still needs to have sex or be touched to feel good. unfortunately this created lots of anger in him in sexual intimacy, which he took out on me. I never felt adequate or enough, pressured/manipulated into doing things I didn’t want to do, woken up from a drugged sleep to him having sex with me, and to top it all off the issues were always my fault (according to H). Funny enough, I had to start looking at sexual stuff to get ‘in the mood’ just so I could jump him because if I didn’t I knew he would eventually blow up at me….and even with me doing that it was never enough for him. i am not saying your H is watching porn, as far as I know my h hasn’t in 20+ years, but it formed his sexual ideas put that with his self-centeredness and anger and you get sexual abuse.
H wants me to talk to him too. What he thinks is if he knows everything I am thinking, doing, etc we are connected, but it cant be about issues in our marriage or how he has hurt me. Other information he will use against me at some point…if I express sadness in something that occurred with a friend eventually when a similar situation comes up with him he will say ‘see you are over-sensitive’. He didnt believe me when I told him how badly I had allergies when dating, even though for years of marriage he witnessed how bad they were, when I got tested and I am allergic to EVERY tree except hickory he says ‘oh I guess you really do have allergies’ then he says he thought I was OVER exaggerating things. like I can make my eyes redder or my nose run more than it wants…sigh.
Recently I told H that I was done letting his anger destroy me, he was like ‘good, you shouldnt take that’. which shocked me until I realized what he means is that he can be angry, sin, yell at me, blame me, etc and I should be ok with that, not emotional, and still willing to be loving to him. In other words, no consequences for his abusive behavior. sigh.
What are you going to do about this awful situation?
Michele L, you are definitely in an abusive marriage, so I’m wondering what you are doing to help yourself and protect your heart? Are you getting counseling? Support from friends? Pastoral care (the right kind)? Have you considered separation/divorce? If you read the messages above, you can see how all of the advice given applies to you, too. Get help. You don’t deserve to be treated this way!
Nancy and JoAnn, I am sorry I didnt give more information. I was more writing to tell the poster that early porn use could still be effecting her h’s behavior like my H even if he isnt using it now.
H moved out for a month last year at the request of a pastor who was ‘trying’ to be helpful. However, even though the pastor could see the issues, he was less than forthright with H and said they would ‘honor’ my request to have him move out while he worked on his issues. Putting the ownership of that onto me…thus h’s anger toward me. This was very upsetting to me, even though I am the one to ask him to move out to work on his issues the pastor should have be straight with him. the church put him up for a month… rather than letting him feel the consequence of the behavior…. then they sent him home without change…actually he seemed angrier. We have been in seperate bedrooms since that day. I am protecting what little bit of softness I have for him by only interacting when needed. It has been a long year. Every couple months he has a huge blow up saying I am the reason we dont have a relationship… never mind all the smaller incidents of blame shifting, passive aggressive comments, moodiness directed at me, the rest of the time….he is NOT owning his sin.
Prior to that the biblical counselor has also tried to help but he wasnt really able to see the abusive pattern, and without me in the room couldnt really counsel since h is very different with me than anyone else. (I had left ‘marriage’ counseling the year prior realizing that this was not a marriage issue anymore)
Currently I have a wonderful counselor who is helping me deal with many of the trauma’s of my life. Helping me to see my false beliefs based on the abusiveness since my childhood.
Last month after H’s blow up I finally decided I would ask the remaining 2 pastors for help. One I know and trust, whose family has been an ecouragement to me, the other being the brand new lead pastor…what a way to meet him! They were both in agreement that safety for me is priority. Beyond that they are gathering background from the other pastor and counselor at the church that has been involved to see what hasnt worked. They will eventually be involved in working with H. They did say they would give me a heads up when that will happen so that I am not blindsided by a raging H after they confront him. I do have a personal saftey action plan in place if he does rage. I am hopeful and scared in this process. hopefully they will be frank with H about his issues but I am worried they will soft coat it or wont see who he truly is, that they will consider these things marriage issues rather than personal sin issues on his part. However, I have a very good counselor and she is helping me navigate those outcomes as they appear, she is suggesting I do not go in to sit down in any type of counseling with H at this time, and I am in a greement.
I am extremely thankful for the friends the Lord has put in my life as the best support system. I am thankful to have found this blog, Leslie’s videos on Facebook, and Patrick Doyle videos. I do need to get my hands on the Bundy Lundcroft book.
There are reasons I am not out of the house at this point but in particular I have aging family living with us.
oops… the Lundy Bancroft book
I’m so glad to hear you have a really good counselor working with you, the traumas and your journey. You have a safety plan etc. you have taken some important steps toward freeing yourself from your husbands web. Especially his addiction.
I also see the importance of really good strong biblical accountability but it does seem to me like you, the counselors, pastors etc are all working harder than your h?
Maybe I’m wrong but it’s seems like the focus is him not raging when he is faced with reality and responsibility, which we all as adults (even adolescents and younger) have to respond to.
I think it’s time for a long list of requirements which would include intensive work and possibly inpatient care for the sex addiction.
It’s possible he has other behavioral issues that are not being treated and could continue to trigger his addictions and choices to comfort.
Requirements are simply a list that invites him into health and healing and a real chance at repair. It also takes the responsibility off you to be the one working on the issues. It’s puts it on the table and he can choose to feast or not.
At least you have clarity and his answer.
Does he need professionals involved, yes!
Does he need truth telling pastors that are not avoiding the uncomfortable stuff? Yes
Does he need an accountability group that will call him out on his poor coping strategies and abusive ones, yes!
The new pastor has a history of working in similar issues as a military chaplain. I am waiting to see what type of accountability they are setting up, if they will require MORE than just trying to ‘control’ the anger…because that will not work for long. Ultimately I am looking for H’s response when they confront him. If it is humbled and is willing to work on the issues of HIS past…not me… then I will be encouraged that maybe this confrontation will be helpful. However if he continually refuses to focus on his own behaviors or continues to blame me for the way he is ….well then more drastic steps will need to be taken. The pastor that I know well said he agreed with me that H needs to realize that he is going to end up alone if he refuses to change.
I’m really glad you posted you are familiar withPatrick Doyle. I think some of things you have explained- show that your h has been emboldened to continue his patterns of destructive behavior toward you without major swift consequences.
You wrote something like:
“I am waiting to see if they will require MORE than just trying to control his anger because that will not work for long”
Ok so you see that a requirement of MORE is necessary.
As you work on yourself and your healing my prayer for you is that you will see that this Requirement ultimately needs to be held by you!
Even if your h cooperates with these pastors and requirements, he can still move to your dynamic and not respect or honor your requirements. He can still continue to try to get you to Dance like the old dance where he over dominates and is destructive towArd you, even though his anger has nothing to do with you!
I’m challenging you on some areas that I know are not easy to hear. Your response to ‘wait to see what his response is’ again puts you in a place of again waiting on him to do the right thing!
You said more drastic steps can be taken if he doesn’t have a healthy response.
Help me understand why more drastic steps are not taking place given the abuse already?
When dealing with an individual like you h, you won’t regret it error on more drastic responses. In fact, many of our responses should be in proportion or above to the kind of abuse you are experiencing.
When our responses are disproportionate, it can embolden the abuse and the pattern.
Aly, thank you for the response. There is alot that goes into the reasons more drastic response has not been taken yet. I am moving in degrees. There are financial, health and family concerns that are very important factors in the next steps. I have been taking steps in the last two years, since I realized how abusive his behavior is. I want to give him a chance to be part of a healthy relationship with me, and I am working toward that end, while being fully aware it may not end that way.
I am trying also to work systematically thru my options for church involvement which gives me 1. a greater chance of opening up h’s eyes/heart to the issue if I have the backing of the pastoral staff 2. if more drastic response is needed I want the support of my church. Now, if neither of those happens I am still willing to make more drastic changes but for the moment I have peace with how I am proceeding.
another thing to note is that since we have been living separately at home, and with my family living with us there is a degree of safety, and calmness, that allows for me to take this time to see if the church will be helpful or not.
One step at a time,
Your story is my story, exactly. My H does/says all the same things you mention in your posts. When he harasses me about how long, I now just simply say, “I don’t know.” You can’t have a “discussion” with people like this, so don’t even try. Now he is telling me that he can’t wait forever, and he’ll give me a few months, but after that, he will go find someone else who can give him the “love” (read, physical affection) he needs. I read in a book (I think it was Henry Cloud’s “Boundaries in Marriage”) that when you start setting good healthy boundaries, the person who cannot or will not respect boundaries will probably end up leaving you. He’s not willing to be patient with me while I heal from the trauma HE has inflicted on me for 20+ years, so that is telling indeed. My boundaries are in place and I am much stronger now, so time will tell.
I found that our public library system had Lundy’s books as well as many other free resources related to abuse.
I know my husband will never leave me. I wish he would so that I don’t have to do the leaving. From what I read about narcissistic people, they usually won’t leave as long as they have their narcissistic supply. And my husband firmly believes marriage is for Life and that divorce is not an option. So he will keep on with his behaviour because I’m sure he believes I have no choice but to out up with it .
Today in church they said a prayer for mother’s who are celebrating and mothers who are grieving. Then prayed for mother’s who could not conceive, had a miscarriage or abortion or lost a child. I wanted to add mother’s with dysfunctional mothers, mothers whose husbands made the day all about themselves by being grouchy or focusing all the attention by being the life of the party, mothers who are going to be coerced into sex because their husbands were in the nice part of the abuse cycle that day and expect a reward, mothers whose children are being used as pawns, mothers whose children are with their destructive husband today.
God bless you mothers that are grieving, I pray God will turn your sorrow into dancing.
Happy Mother’s Day
Annie, I couldn’t agree more. Well said!
One step, you are right, he wants you to think that you have no choice. HA! What a fool!
I look forward to reading how you escaped his nonsense and broke free.
I’ve tried numerous times to leave a comment and it never posts. Anyone else having this problem?
Leslie Vernick, Patrick Doyle, and Lundy Bancroft videos helped save my life six years ago. I truly believe that God spoke to me through them, when I cried out to Him in immense pain from the shocking abuse thrust upon me by my husband of over twenty years. I’m still healing but every single second I know God is walking right beside me, never leaving nor forsaking me. He reigns.
I will forever be grateful for the loving recommendation to purchase Leslie’s book, “An Emotionally Destructive Marriage,” where I found truth, clarity and also led me to this blog page- where I have read and printed off many words I needed.
I have (like many of you I’m sure) spent much of my 20-year marriage researching, reading, and applying many relationship self-help books in the hopes of creating positive change. I was convinced that if I could only find the ‘miracle cure,’ everything would change. After many years of hopeful expectation, in which I harbored resentment and bitterness that I hid even from myself, I realized I was angry with God. I had counted on my obedience and faith in God to result in His changing my husbands heart and that hadn’t happened. I had to humble myself and realize my anger was a layer that hid my aching and suffering heart and the fear that God did not love me and I was not worthy of a loving relationship. God in infinite gentleness and patience spoke the truth of my worth and value to Him to my heart. That is when the healing began. It has been a long road.
Two years ago, when my marriage was especially dark, I prayed to know if divorce was an option. I was afraid that even considering it would mean I was a covenant-breaker. My eternal salvation means everything to me and I will stay in this lonely painful marriage if that is what God’s will for me is- because I trust Him. God gave me an incredible gift in His answer, one I didn’t know I needed. He answered that divorce was an option- and immediately the feeling of being TRAPPED dissipated, and in it’s place I felt the joyous feeling that since I was free to leave, I could actually choose my marriage again. I did not feel He was leading me to divorce my husband and I wasn’t looking to ask if it was the next right step- I just needed to know if it was an option available. With this sense of renewed hope, I worked harder on my relationship.
I tried marriage counseling, which was ineffective. I have invited and entreated my husband to join with me in a process of rebuilding our marriage. I have sought priesthood guidance- both alone and with my husband. I spent a year emotionally detached. All of these bore no fruit.
After a specifically painful emotional betrayal a couple months ago, I began to read books recommended by someone surviving in a challenging marriage- including Leslie’s book. I felt led by the Lord to confront my husband, let him know I would no longer accept his abusive words and behaviors, that I was moving on with or without him- and I asked a very specific question meant to give me information about how seriously he was taking me and how willing he was to change. If he agreed to the specific exercises I had printed out from ‘shouldIstayorshouldIgo.net’ then I would cautiously watch and see how he followed through. If he said no, I was going to ask for a 2 month separation. Unfortunately, I chose to do this in a counseling session with a brand new counselor, there was a lot of confusion and my husband did not give me an answer at all. I was desperate to not leave the session and go back home with him. It had taken every ounce of courage for me to walk in that door. We drove separately and my anxiety was so high, I had sobbed and shaken the whole way there. So I asked my husband for a week of physical space- for him to stay elsewhere until out next counseling session a week out. He was angry about it but agreed to stay at his parents. The next session he initially agreed but then retracted the agreement once he found out the specific exercises I had mentioned in my question were in fact specific and printed out and that he needed to get an accountability partner. I asked for more physical space while he looked over the steps and decided. Our next appointment is in a week. He has only showed me anger or a martyred countenance in our brief conversations since that time. We have been apart for exactly three weeks today. It’s so odd because this all came apart so piece-meal and since he hasn’t given me an answer to the very direct step I am trying to make, I haven’t directly asked for a separation- which was to be the consequence of his not taking accountability for his abuse.
My major concern right now has nothing to do with my husband at all. It is simply this- I am concerned about my own mental/emotional state. I started this process because I thought it had the absolutely best chance of healing our relationship- in fact, I thought it was the only step left to me at this time, having tried all others. I identified it as tough love- something extremely difficult to do as a healing co-dependant. And I knew God was calling me to take this step even thought I was deeply afraid and wanted to run from it. BUT NOW. After three weeks apart, my heart is speaking something foreign to me. I don’t want to go back to my marriage. I don’t want him to come home. I feel such relief. I hardly ever think about him during the day. When he comes home to spend time with the kids is the only time I think of him- and that with a sense of anxiety that I just need to see him for a brief time. I don’t think of him with anger or hatred. I simply don’t think of him at all. I feel so bad for my children when they miss him, but I don’t. When my husband first left that first evening, he wouldn’t sit down with me to tell the children so the next day I did so on my own, telling them that we were taking a time-out to determine the best way forward so we can heal and make our marriage stronger. That we loved them and loved each other and were really working hard to strengthen our family. Those words were my truth three weeks ago but now I feel that to say those words would be a lie because if I am completely honest, I am desperately hoping my husband says ‘no’ at our next counseling session and I can stay separated from him longer. There is a part of me that suddenly hopes he will divorce me and I will not have to be responsible for walking out this path. And I don’t even know what path I am on anymore! I know with a surety that God led me to this point- but I am wondering what I am here for. Is this sin in me to not care at all? I have been grieving and sorrowing and hoping for so long for a real relationship with my husband and now quite suddenly I could care less??
Has anyone else experienced this?
Is this a stage?
Will feelings of love and wanting to reconnect return?
If not, how do I move forward? Is it right or fair to ask for a separation because it is what I want right now?
Is this fair to my children who love their father and miss his regular presence?
Jenny, the fog has lifted and you are thinking sanely. You should not have any feelings for an abusive person no matter who they are. You are growing wiser and stronger. You actions are thoughts are normal. Do not spiritualize your situation and guilt yourself into thinking you deserve to bear another person’s burdens. Congratulations on your first steps towards emotional healing. Your future is so bright. Let him go. Let him go. The martyr behavior is classic. Expect victimhood to be the abuser mantra, only to be followed by blame shifting, rewriting history and creating his own truth. Set yourself free, you have done nothing wrong. You escaped, now get individual counseling so you don’t get manipulated back under your abuser’s control. Your feelings are normal. Many of us have a story similar to yours. Life will get so much better without your abuser!
Thank you for those affirming words Autumn. I can’t believe that as I read them, I felt myself nodding at the truth and also shaking my head at the huge steps which I do not yet understand and which bring great uncertainty: “let him go, set yourself free, life will get so much better”
I find myself saying, “really? truly? How?” and wondering if that is even something I deserve… to be happy when he seems so miserable.
I worry about what other people will think of me and that discourages me a bit because I thought I was past that. Guess not- more work to do there.
I do have a personal therapist, who I have been seeing for about 18 months. I don’t think I could have made it anywhere near where I currently am without her. I am thinking I should join Conquer before Friday!
Jenny, I wish I could talk to you for hours rather than blurting some advice on a blog. The answer to you question is that you will do this in increments. Little by little the holy spirit will guide you. You will know it is the Lord because you will find peace as you do now. You may have to do the right thing even though you are scared, but the spirit will give you the strength to walk in truth. You counselor will gently lead you.
You can’t fix his unhappiness, nor is it your role to do so. Men with problems like your husband are incapable of empathy, value themselves and their reputation about all else, are manipulative and prefer competition rather than cooperation. His symptoms are trackable. He is sick. You are not. Trust your instincts, your abuser has made you silence your emotions as he hijacked everything to be about his needs. Well, they aren’t needs, just selfish demands.
Little by little figure out your own finances, living arrangements, talk to a lawyer, and do something nice for yourself. Your kids deserve a safe environment in which to grow up.
Another thing I thought of Jenny was about what people will think. First of all we have no idea nor can we control what other people think. Very few people can understand the sick dynamic you live in, so don’t bother trying to explain it to people. That gets tiring. Be very caution whom you chose to share information about your situation. I use the response that my husband has mental health issues which make him unsafe to live with. Oh, people say. Then I say, sadly there is no cure. That is the truth and that is all the information I give.
Autumn your posts are very well said! Jenny, I hope that you can begin your healing journey you are worthy to be chosen as a partner (in marriage) and sadly from what you have explained your husband has not and continues to not choose marriage and being a covenantal husband. This isn’t your fault or responsibility for his choice, it’s about him and not you.
I think some of the -non feelings you are having are there for you to begin a healing process. Maybe it feels foreign but it could also be there for your own well being.
I remember something similar when I got away from someone extremely manipulative and spiritually/emotionally abusive. Looking back it was actually a healthy feeling in proportion to someone who was mistreating me and especially that this person thought I would always care ‘more’ and want any ounce of a cookie crumb one-sided relationship.
That -not caring and not over-feeling gave me space to seek objectivity and take next steps for my sanity and overwhelming peace that came!
It’s really amazing to have you speak so directly to the heart of what I am experiencing without knowing so many of the details! Thank you. Thank you.
Jenny, may I ask (and hope you even see this msg!) how are things now? Where has this last year plus lead you and your husband? Such familiar territory in your story and mine.
Under pressure Jenny, my husband signed the accountability contract. It turned out to be a scam to get himself back into the house. He signed it and I posted it on the refrigerator. The first time he violated it I left and then called him on the phone and read a copy of the contract to him. He replied with a poor me sob story filled with self pity and said he wants me to come home. Not that he was sorry or would adapt his behaviors his main point was that he missed me and I was HIS wife. I returned after a few day as I really didn’t have a secure way to escape permanently at that time.
After my return he became cavalier and his abuse escalated. He felt he won and had obtained a new sense of invincibility. Ha! He had fooled me and the counselor and got me to come home! The power was exhilarating to him.
Very quickly I returned he violated the contract again, this time I began to call the men listed as his accountability partners. Guess what?! They had no idea what I was talking about! He had never spoken to any of the men. He had just written down a bunch of people’s names. He had no intention of ever following any contract. I left after that. Consequences for HIS bad behavior included my going to court to get a restraining order and instituting legal separation.
What you just described is what I am feeling more certain of – that he will do only just what is necessary to get us back to ‘normal’ and stop doing any work beyond that. Because that has been the status quo for the past 20 years!
This accountability contract you mentioned… is this something specific? If so, can you give me the resource? I just asking my husband for a verbal commitment to change- with the ‘Steps for men serious about change’ from shouldistayorshouldigo.net as a beginning place for him to start the work.
It has become clear in the past few days that separation is the right direction to go. And not to put a time frame on that separation. I watched some more of Leslie’s videos yesterday- one in particular that spoke of not using marriage therapy until he had done his work. I look forward to her webinar on Friday “What Does Real Change In Your Destructive Spouse Look Like?”
Since you are seeing that separation is the direction I think it would be wise to work with your counselor on a structured, detailed separation. Your right in that you don’t have to have a ‘time frame exactly’ but what is ‘done’ in the separation time is critical.
A detailed structured separation would define the things he is accountable for daily/weekly etc when it comes to his recovery plan.
Without things being defined about growing in character and maturity it’s too easy for him to check box and make promises that he won’t keep and he will be right back to his character issues that are destructive.
It takes a longtime to build new healthy coping skills and adult mature behavior.
Some are able to do it, some are unwilling to surrender to a process.
I agree with Aly. I would not put energy into an accountability contract, rather I would focus on guidelines for separation. I would include a visit a lawyer too, because you may be able to require more than you may be aware of and a restraining order may be necessary.
Yes, your input Free and Aly are spot on. I have felt directed to have a legal separation. I am not going to give him a list of what needs to be done before reconciliation (thank you Leslie!). If he wants to know how to reconcile, I will ask if he is willing to sign a waiver so I can speak to his counselor about what they are working on. This step will show how willing he is to be accountable and truly wanting to change- because if he is, he will want to make that process transparent to me.
And I joined Conquer! I’m so grateful God has led me to such a tremendous support system. I need it.