I just got back from spending time with my three favorite little girls, Amaya, Leilani and Natalia. They loved wearing Nana’s jewelry and learning to draw houses and trees.
I’m heading out to Iowa this week for a women’s event. Pray for the special anointing of the Holy Spirit. This event will be dealing with suffering and pray that God’s Spirit deeply shows himself to these women and to me. I’m a little exhausted from all the travels and I want to have my full energy available for this weekend.
Today’s Question: I have read some of your blogs and done some of your suggestions. But what I experience from my husband when I act in the ways you describe is rage, anger, bitterness and resentment and it’s not because I didn’t say it right. It’s because he’s not getting his own way and it’s becoming too much for me to handle (it’s been 25 years).
I believe the next step is to seek a counselor who can help us both communicate better, respect each other and then allow my husband the gift of consequences if he chooses not to work on these issues. I signed up for a mutual relationship, not a servant master relationship and I plan to hold him to his word, lovingly.
I believe from my experience with my husband that he will not cooperate with anything and will give me the ultimatum, “Take it or leave it. You have the problem.”
What do you think? Speaking up terrifies me because I don’t know what could happen and rocking the boat causes a lot of anger, not just in our marriage but in the whole family.
Do you have anything to offer besides trust in the Lord, pray, don’t be afraid or be anxious for nothing. I know these wonderful truths, but even Jesus cried and exuded blood from his pores, even Moses was scared, even Abraham doubted when he walked the journey to place Isaac on the altar. All of these emotions are part of being human, but it doesn’t mean I don’t have faith. My family is very dear to me and I’m afraid that if I put my foot down it will only get worse. Is it wrong to just want peace and rest? I know God won’t give us more than we can handle, but I am so very tired and I’m afraid of the outcome.
Answer: You are right – we are human and we all have real and raw emotions when we live in stressful situations where there is continual conflict, bullying and disrespect.
Your letter indicates you are conflicted about this change you want to make. On the one hand you say you are very tired of living this way and are ready to make a serious attempt at real change. On the other hand you are very afraid that the change you desire won’t occur and by standing up to him, things could get worse.
I was just reading today in the psalms. It said, “My soul has dwelt too long with one who hates peace. I am for peace; But when I speak, they are for war” (Psalm 120:6,7 NKJV). Your situation reminds me of many marriages where one person wants peace, but when she or he finally speaks up, it just causes more drama, more hatred, more conflict.
You’re right. Just because you finally take a stand and say “I didn’t sign up for a slave/master relationship” doesn’t mean that your husband will be willing to move toward a more mutual marriage. As long as he’s the master and you’re willing to be the slave, it works for him. However, perhaps he’s just as frightened of change as you are or just as unhappy.
So you ask if there is anything I can offer besides the standard trust God and don’t be anxious? It’s sad to me that we don’t find the comfort and healing in God’s word that he wants us to but I understand what you are saying.
But here’s what I want you to know. God designed marriage to be a mutually loving and respectful relationship, not a slave/master one. Because that is God’s will for marriage, know that he is on the side of the oppressed when one person takes power over another and uses words, money, physical force or the scriptures to dominate and control the other.
When you respectfully speak up against injustice and oppression in a marriage (or any- where else for that matter), know that God is on your side. If the other person refuses to listen, the gift of consequences can be a painful but helpful reminder that he or she will not reap the benefits of a good marriage when they sow discord and selfishness.
Sadly, when we are in close relationship with people (as in marriage and family) when one person receives painful consequences, often the entire family also suffers. That’s what you fear and rightly so.
So I think the next step you’ll need to ask yourself in this whole process is do you want to live in fear – fear of staying or the fear of leaving, or do you want to live in faith (whether you think it wise to leave or stay)? Faith that God knows your story. Faith that God is bigger than your story. Faith that God has a plan for your life and he is your helper in times of trouble.
It’s interesting to me that the psalmist says both, “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:11), and “When I am afraid, I will trust God” (Psalm 56:3). There are times our faith is so big we don’t feel fear. Other times, we are so filled with fear we will be overwhelmed by it if we don’t trust God.
I pray you choose faith, even when you feel fear.
Friends, when fear rears it’s ugly head in your life or home, how to you muster your faith army?
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I Have No Say. What Are My Next Steps?
Morning friends, I’m back at my home near Phoenix, and it’s pizza oven hot. Temperatures yesterday hovered around 115. But it’s been a nice change, and I got a chance to walk my 10,000 steps yesterday in our community pool, which has a walking track right in the water. I also got to visit with…
Is Hitting Someone Ever Justified?
Morning friends, Pray for me. This weekend I’m speaking all day to Christian counselors, pastors and leaders in Kentucky on Domestic Violence on Saturday and then Saturday night speaking at a youth rally on Bullying and Relationships. Pray that I’m able to fully share all that God has put on my heart. Don’t forget our…
One thing that got me moving toward standing up, is that I realized that I do not want to live the rest of my life the way things are going right now. I realize that when I rock the boat, things may escalate.
But – with much study about marriage (reading Vernick, Cloud, Balswick), prayer, reading Proverbs especially, developing healthy supportive relationships – I’ve come to see that God does oppose the proud and gives much grace to the humble; God’s heart IS for the lowly, the downtrodden, the oppressed. So standing up for godly relationships is exactly what God would call us to do. And I have faith, then, that God will see me through to the other side – whatever that will look like. I guess I have faith in my relationship with God, that He will be there for me every moment and through whatever comes.
I also realize this is a spiritual battle. So keeping in the Word – 2 or 3 times a day – is very important to keep me strong.
God is in control, dear Jilly, and as Leslie said, He doesn’t expect us to live in fear of our husband’s rage and abuse. When I had enough and began setting boundaries until my husband showed signs of change, he refused to do soand continue to blame me, and finally left on his own. I praise the Lord for the freedom and peace I have enjoyed for the past year> I believe “My Father planned it all,” as the hymn goes! God bless you! .
The Lord goes before you! I am a little over 7 months into a separation and I can’t tell you how worth it the change has been. I could go on and on with stories of how God has provided for me and my 4 children. Full ride for my college freshman for starters. God knew that her dad would not contribute a penny and that I wouldn’t have any extra. And the peace in our home is palpable. The kids are in a safe place to deal with their issues and yes, they are angry that their dad is such a jerk. But, it’s safe to express it and they are relieved for the situation where we are no longer criticized or held in disdain. No getting yelled at for whatever wasn’t good enough either. They don’t have to watch their dad throw his weight around entitled to all kinds of respect and honor while disrespecting me. I used to walk in fear but as God grew my courage, I am so grateful for the opportunity to get well myself. God is for you.
I completely see both sides of the coin on this one. After 25+ years of marriage I finally stood up to my husband and told him that we had come to a cross roads. This was after a long history of repetitive sexual sin (I did not know about)-followed by repentance-renewing vows-counseling-healing etc.. When the aforementioned happened I told him the infidelity was bad but the deep scars were from a history of emotional abuse. He denied that he ever emotionally abused me. But the abuse went away for a couple of years then slowly started to creep back in. Then I started seeing the effects on my kids. That’s when I knew I had to take a stand. I had a lot of support from mentors and friends. I work at a counseling center so praise the Lord I had many resources at my fingertips along with reading Leslie’s book and blog to help me. But I still had to take my stand and say I wasn’t taking another step until he did. We saw our preacher and counselor and he was very angry at the notion that I would say he had emotionally abused me. It was brutal- he lashed out, said many unkind things (proved my point), refused any further counseling and didn’t speak to me for a month and a half. What happened after that is that God settled the matter in my heart. He taught me to cast my cares to Him because He cares for me. My husband still says he will not go to counseling and has just minimized all that has happened. The abuse has eased up for now. I told him I am still standing on the fact that I believe that God will work it out. We are currently separated because of a job choice of his but are scheduled to move when the school year is over. I asked the Lord to continue to work on me and I run to Him often telling Him that I am scared, anxious, and have a fear of the future. But He is gracious and continues to provide real hope. Leslie is so on target that we really can find what we need in His word. The gap is our faith. In the end it won’t be a counseling session with our spouse and the Lord. It will be a One on one. He will provide all we need.
Trusting God and staying close to Him. It IS difficult, but not impossible to find out who YOU are in spite of a husband’s abusive behavior. I waited until my children left home. Telling your husband you desire a Godly relationship if he is interested, but if he is not, you are not willing to keep living like this. Praying for you.
I identify with this struggle of fear. I am at a point of relative peace in my relationship. However, there are still things that happen that are offensive and disrespectful. It’s just not to the degree and the amount that it was in past years. (There is a reason for that, but I won’t go into that.) I generally don’t address the offenses against me. I have learned that to address those offenses against me ignites anger and I get attacked. I read about this in the Proverbs. “It is folly to rebuke a fool.” I have felt justified in not rebuking my husband because of the Proverbs. “He who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.” (Prov. 9:7)
On the one hand, I feel justified for not addressing the wrongs, and there are many days now that are livable, anyway. He has actually even on a regular basis been doing and saying many positive things and seeming to develop a spirit of gratitude. The overwhelming verbal manipulation has largely halted. However, in addition to the current offenses, I also feel that the past has not been repented of. He would say it has, but I would say otherwise. I know I am not allowed to bring up the past as he will say I just can’t let the past go and am unforgiving etc.
Although I feel justified for not rocking the boat, I also am not happy with how things are. It’s a little fake in my mind. It is like acting like everything is ok, when it is not really. And how I feel does seep out. He notices that I don’t seem to want to spend lots of time with him. Should I count my blessings that he seems to love me, and has for awhile? Yet there are some things that anger me and there is no addressing them. Everything is fine as long as I stay quiet.
So, right now, I have a pretty nice marriage – he says thank you, says some nice things and doesn’t verbally attack (for the majority of the time) like previously.
I know God is more concerned with reality than with how things look. I know that our relationship looks pretty good now, yet I feel it’s not real since real issues can’t be dealt with. I know I can’t address real issues without incurring his anger and being told I am unforgiving or too sensitive or attacking him.
What kinds of consequences could be suggested for this inability to admit wrong? The idea of consequences is so new to me.
I know consequences are to protect ourselves and bring the other to their senses, but not to punish them. I just am not sure how to deal with this, and, yes, I am afraid of rocking the boat.
Proverbs 9:7 is very true in my
marriage. For three years, after
reading many books on marriage, I learned that the path to intimacy and trust was to share your feelings. I did not demand he change, I just let him know how much it hurts me, his indifference, his unforgiveness, his passive agressive punishing because I won’t be his fantasy wife, I won’t promise to never rock the boat. I pursued him and trying to save our marriage and finally came to the end of all my efforts by dragging him to counseling and just plain wanting a loving, reciprocal relationship. I want a good marriage not a brother/sister relationship. I want to be able to be me. I want him to be happy and have good, close relationships with his children yet he doesn’t know how to have a close, intimate relationship with
anyone. He is a fool. Denial and self righteousness (narcissism) are his coping mechanisms. The world has to revolve around him. The counselors and other godly men in his life could not get through to a FOOL who will not listen, whose heart is bent on
pleasing and protecting himself. If pushed in a corner, he will lie. It takes godly courage to move forward and say good bye to your reputation (divorced woman), put your kids
and your sanity before worrying about what others think, leaving the security of your home and having to support yourself. It is big change and scary but I know that God will provide. This is my second marriage and I have been through it all in my first marriage, he was physically abusive and alcoholic, this one, emotionally abusive and very self righteous, non-repentant, etc. I have been separated for several months now and getting stronger every day. I am devastated that my second marriage ended this way but I know now that this is not God’s will for my life or any other wife for that matter. I am an abandoned and abused wife, and not a sinning wife who is out of God’s will. His will is for me to leave and trust Him to provide me with a more abundant life. One that truly honors and glorifies Him, and is not faking and lying about my marriage. God will take care of you, God will heal you and your family. Allow people to see your brokenness and how much you need Christ. God will confirm His will in many ways! Live for God, not your husband, or a fake marriage, or your pride!
Belle….you described my marriage perfectly!! My husband has never been verbally abusive, he’s emotionally abusive….but of yes! If I say nothing, just do my own thing, never talk about the past, or tell him I feel emotionally starved…my marriage is fine. Well, to my husband it is. I want more. I want a man I can go to when I’m hurting, afraid, sad, etc….but I can’t. I’m on my own. My husband had an emotional affair fours years ago, and when I brought it up the other night, he looked at me and said “That was four years ago!!” Right then and there I knew that his going to counseling the last few weeks for all for show…he’s never even told his counselor about his two emotional affairs he’s had during our marriage….and today, he cancelled his appt. for the 2nd time….I’m saying nothing to him anymore about it….this shows me what I need to know. He’s content with a marriage where we have no intimacy of any kind, I stopped all of that in June, after realizing that feeling sexually used is NOT Gods plan for marriage, and I try not to spend any time alone with my H either…I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I’m praying and just waiting on God to show me. My marriage isn’t “bad” by most standards, but it’s certainly not a Godly marriage, like my H pretends when at church or out with friends. I refuse to hold his hand or sit with his arm around me anytime we are in public though…at least I no longer am a Peacefaker.
Sorry, that should read “But of course” if I say nothing….
Belle and Lonely wife, I relate 100% to your descriptions of your marriage. We were separated for 5 years about 20 years ago and I see now that I should not have reconciled when I did . Now I feel like it is too late. I too work hard at not being a peacefaker although my H would like to do that.
I have learned to grow in my relationship with Christ and have some very good friends through a recovery ministry at my church. My children are grown and have their own families. However as a result of what they lived through they do not have a relationship with their father and one of them has completely broken off his relationship with his father. There are so many long term effects that I daily entrust to God to heal and restore. He is my hope and where I find my rest. Thank you all for your sharing. It helps me to know I am not crazy and there is more to my life than having a godly marriage. I am learning to let go of my expectations. As Leslie says “I do not have a marriage but a ministry.”
Belle and Lonely Wife, I too relate to you. I had desires, good desires for a godly husband and marriage but let them become demands. I see that now and go to Christ with my hurts, disappointments and losses. My husband says that I can tell him anything and that he want to be my best friend but when I tell him I’m hurting or when I am struggling he is impatient and prickly. I struggle with how to be an independent wife? What is the point of marriage? Over the years I have lost any affection towards him. Three years ago he was caught on pornish sites. We went to counseling and worked through that but a couple months later we had a minor fight and he went back onto the site again. That hurt to say the least. But something happened in me when I found out. It’s like a switch went off and will never turn back on. I don’t know how else to describe it. I know marriage is hard and I need a servant heart, love unconditionally (unless abusive). I just don’t know where I belong in my marriage. He wants me to not need him in many ways and he needs me to be there sexually for him b/c he’s a man, he needs me to work so our children can go to a Christian school, which I gladly do b/c that is important to me. He tells me not to be so hard on myself yet I find he is hard on me. We have a son who doesn’t get along with him. We struggle there and I am afraid our son is going to walk away from us when he is old enough. Our son is frustrated and discouraged. We all are frustrated and I try to bring Christ into our situation but I am the lone parent doing this. I just can’t seem to love my husband when I am not having my needs fulfilled. I too stay quiet thinking that’s the best. I don’t know now. We had a huge argument recently. He swears like crazy at me. I know I have a sinful heart too. I feel like I have to be the referee between the two of them. Our son needs to be obedient but our handling it is not good. Many times I feel bullied and then wonder if it really is bullying. What if I’m the one who is causing all these fights and I need to be quiet. I am afraid of the future. I just told him that it is hard for me to be affectionate to him b/c I don’t have feelings for him. It hurt him, understandably. I noticed I became very afraid he was going to leave and I wondered throughout the evening if he was enjoying punishing me for being so hurtful and heartless. I’m tired of being married like this. I’m tired of having to be the one to choose the right road. I want to be led not walk alone. Yes, I have Christ and He is enough but where does emotional and spiritual leadership in the home belong? I hope I make sense! .
Lonely and hurting,
What I read in your comment is a discrepancy between what your husband says and what he does. I see that now with people in destructive marriages…the comments focus on “he says….” followed by much confusion. In my marriage I did that as well, because quite frankly, there was no behavior to indicate any commitment, integrity, love or truth to the things he spoke of. Yet now and then he would say the kinds of things I wanted to hear, so it left me confused. My confusion came in when I assumed that if he said something he meant it. I assumed that he had no reason to mislead me or outright lie to me about his feelings and intentions. I assumed wrong.
I know the switch you speak of that flips off. I wonder if that switch is our self protection mode. When that switch went off in me I had to remove myself emotionally as much as possible to even try to be intimate with him because I, too, felt nothing for him. I would beat myself up for those feelings but I now realize that to feel nothing for him was a more natural response than what I was trying to force considering both how he treated me and the fact that I never really knew him even after decades of marriage. He was a stranger I happened to be living with.
My husband kept urging me to be independent and there was a time I took that as a sign that he wanted me to be healthy. Of course he insinuated that I was overly dependent on him. This too, was twisted thinking on his part. He didn’t want to be responsible for any of my needs so he deemed that I was too dependent. Yet he also created scenarios in which I was dependent on him, which I now see is all part of the twisted game of a narcissist. It is a game in which they orchestrate the relationship for you to be dependent but then hate you for it when you are.
My husband also was very good at twisting words to confuse and punish me. He would also tell me I was too hard on myself but minutes later would accuse and belittle me (covertly). He was not satisfied until I was laying in a heap crying or unable to communicate due to pain or confusion. He was a bully. I felt like I was locked in a pen at a zoo and he was constantly cornering and badgering me- mentally and emotionally poking at me with his stick. I felt caged because he always had a way of blocking me off when I would try to leave that cage. Life became about keeping the zoo keeper happy so the cage could be bearable.
I think one of the most insidious things the abusive spouse does is to convince their targets that what they are asking for in the relationship is too much, that our expectations are too high. In reality what we have been asking for is to be treated kindly, respectfully and honorably. When it comes to the abuser, this expectation clearly is too high because they truly are not capable of it without change within themselves, beginning with their sense of entitlement and need to control.
You said, “I just can’t seem to love my husband when I am not having my needs fulfilled.” I would ask you if this is true of your other relationships. Do you still love your children even when they are being ugly at times or selfish? Were you able to love them as infants when they could not possibly meet any of your needs? This statement hit me because it is also one that I beat myself up for. I felt like I just needed to be more sacrificial. However, my husband was not just asking me to sacrifice my needs, he was asking me to sacrifice my very self. I couldn’t love my husband not solely because my needs weren’t being met; I couldn’t love my husband because he was cruel to me. I hated how I felt about myself when I was with him. The only truly positive thing about the entire marriage was the hope that I had that one day, somehow it would be better. The hope for something better was the one positive thing I hung on to that kept me on the hamster wheel. Someday if I ran fast enough on that wheel I would break free from that cage. When I finally came to my senses I realized that I had no reason for this hope because in reality my husband had spent the whole marriage sabotaging our every chance at having that hope fulfilled. It wasn’t just that we didn’t have the same goals, he was bent on sabotaging any effort toward unity.
I say all this to encourage you that though you may feel lonely, you are not alone. Hugs to you!!
Thanks Valerie. I am convinced that my husband has ADD or something. I’ve wondered for the past little while and am in the process of figuring out how to go about dealing with things. My husband doesn’t like to be told what to do so I have to be creative in how I encourage him to get help. Parents with high-needs children often need relief and a time to be separate from them to stay healthy. Well, I need that relief from my husband! And so does our son. I don’t know what that looks like right now but am praying for wisdom to know if it is possible. I am praying also for a truck load of grace if I am to endure living like this for the rest of my life. I have accepted and mourned over many hurts and disappointments. My son asked me to make an appointment with his counsellor after an altercation with his Dad. I am proud of our son for being so mature in wanting to learn how to deal with things. God is so good! Life isn’t easy and I don’t know what kind of marriage I’m in. I’ll I know right now is that it isn’t normal. I have many godly people in my life and have parents who care about my husband deeply and yet tell me they will support me in whatever decisions I make. Thanks for responding to my comment. Thanks again!
Go to Jesus when you are hurting, afraid, sad, et. al. –And go really, really deep into God’s word. Study it. Really, think about it. Imagine a question mark behind each and every verse. —Yes, read it like the first time. The truth will set you free but first it will often have to break your heart. It is just crazy that many man fear closeness and actually feel safer with distance. The thing that makes many women feel safe makes many men feel unsafe. Yet Christ does NOT call a women to be a rose in any man’s lapel but a soldier in Christ’s army.
Thanks Jeff for your affirming words.
Belle, one thing my counselor told me, and I wholeheartedly agree is: A fake peace is NO peace. Something to consider…….God wants us to be truthful.
When fear rises within me I try to remember to pray first, then ask God for clarity of mind. When I fear that circumstances are feeling overwhelming I have recently started to repeat the things that God has ALREADY done, even the small stuff lol I count it all because it helps me. God has shown me that He can provide food for my family. God has helped me learn the envelope system with my food money that I get, $330 twice a month. Because of this I was able to find a God given deal at only 1 store in my area where flour was 89 cents for a 5lb bag when all the other stores are at 1.29.
When I stated to my husband that God is good and provided the flour he responded with “but I stopped there and found it”. I thanked him for finding it but my heart knows that God provided.
I am thankful that God helps to remind me that He is my provider and He is watching over me and my 12 children.
When you stand up to injustice and abuse things will get worse. It is like Pharaoh who responded by not only made them meet their daily quota of bricks, but made them get their own straw. He made the bar impossible to reach. I think it is good for targets to realize this WILL happen. As Peter said, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you”. Through this escalating of abuse, however, God gives the gift of clarity. When you witness the manipulative or increasingly wicked response to your plea for a better marriage, you can more accurately discern the reality of the sin that is occurring.
An apt picture was chosen for this post. The woman is in midair…taking a leap of faith into the “Promised Land” with a chasm between the old and the new. It is the midair flight that is terrifying but necessary in order to get to the other side.
The poster seems to have a solid foundation for her assessment of the marriage in the sense that she sees her godly behavior in the marriage has not yielded a godly response from her husband. It is no longer a marriage issue when one seeks to have control over the other and sabotages unity. This is a heart issue- not a marriage one.
I see the poster in the heap of the same twisted distortion that the church has helped nurture. The evidence of sin is staring you squarely in the face but targets are not only encouraged, but bullied into compromising spiritual discernment for the sake of plastic peace. In my own experience and countless others I’ve talked to in recent months, this is the point at which many targets find themselves stuck. Do I please man or God? Man would have us believe that to not accommodate man we are doing a disservice to God, meanwhile it is at the expense of justice and God’s character.
Ultimately I had to learn God’s truth enough to stand up to man- not just my husband but the “Christian” community as well. I have found that the result of these fiery trials is that God has brought me to a place of peace and strength that I’ve never known by solely living to please God to the best of my ability. What can man do to me when God is with me- an ever present help in trouble? As others have mentioned, God WILL provide!!!
Wow, what an excellent response — your whole post… and particularly this: ” I see the poster in the heap of the same twisted distortion that the church has helped nurture. The evidence of sin is staring you squarely in the face but targets are not only encouraged, but bullied into compromising spiritual discernment for the sake of plastic peace…” You remind me of a friend from NC named Valerie… Last time we talked (about 2 yrs. ago) the marriage was doing better, but it could be you have made some new discoveries since then? You’ll know who I am if you are THAT Valerie. (And please contact me!) Regardless if you are or not, know I am praying for you., dear sister, and please keep sharing your wisdom!
HisEzer, I have never had the pleasure of traveling to the east coast, but thank you for your kind words.
I have come to realize that a good question to ask myself is “how do you know if you are being deceived?” The basis for being deceived is being in a state of unawareness, right? So how do you know if you are being deceived? I have learned that if I continually ask that question it keeps me grounded and focused on the truth of God’s Word and not just mindlessly moving along like a crowd in an airport. Sometimes you have to stop and ask if you want to end up where everyone else is walking. Everything must be tested against His Word to see if it lives up to His standard of holiness.
Wisdom originates with God so may He be glorified for any words on this blog or others that sets captives FREE! 🙂
So much truth…thank you for sharing your wisdom!!
Wow! Valerie, I agree with hisezr, what an excellent response! Let us know when you publish your book. 🙂 I like what you said about the clarity God gives after the manipulative response of our spouse to our plea for a better marriage. I experience that “clarity” but in my nativity or whatever I shld call it I find myself still stuck or playing into my husbands foolishness. Trying to compromise with someone who thinks he’s entitled to….. and the authority figure is taxing. Even though we’re separated its hard bc we have a 7 month old. I am the woman in midair right now, all the ladies on here who have already made it over are such an inspiration, all the ladies who are in midair with me remind me I’m not alone and to those who have yet to jump and remove yourselves, I hope you find courage through Gods word and this blog. It has helped me tremendously. Leslie the Scripture you quoted psalm 120 is perfect and was right on time for me. Thanks for all that you do. God bless you.
Thanks for your encouragement. It blesses me.
When I finally decided to separate, the abuse got worse which just confirmed to me that the outward changes were just that. I think it has to get worse before it gets better but I know God is on my side because I am revealing the truth about our emotionally destructive marriage. I was tired of just going through the motions, walking in fear daily, not knowing how he would react to things, not being able to talk about anything, especially how I felt about things he did that caused me pain, tired of being blamed for everything. I decided to be me and not his fantasy wife and he couldn’t accept that. God has given me strength and a strong support system and soon it will be decided who has to leave the home, but either way, I will get relief from all the stress and hopefully this will cause him to repent and seek real change, but I have no expectations, I just know this will be best for me right now.
I’m so glad you are naming what is happening and facing the reality. It is hard, hard, hard. Also, as you start to speak truth in love, it probably will get worse. Have you escape plan ready for you and the children. But also know that God goes before you and prepares the way. He has done it over and over for me! And I’m nobody special – just on of His children as are you. God loves us more that we know.
I see my attorney Monday to set the mediation date and plan for the legal separation. Does anyone have any good resources, or a “Divorce Checklist” ? God has provided in abundance–Leslie, I thank you so much for your work, and guidance. You replied to one of my first posts about my situation, and your words have stuck with me as TRUTH. I needed to hear you tell me “He’s not going to change.” You’re right, and God has truly placed the right people and circumstances, even financial help during this time. I’m so grateful!
[…] SOURCE: Leslie Vernick […]
I have so appreciated reading all your comments. I, too, have been part of a fear relationship in my marriage. My husband and I have been married for 38 years and for 34 of those years I was physically, verbally, and emotionally abused. I thought that I wasn’t being obedient enough and that was why my husband would get so angry at me. But I could never do enough or change enough to stop the abuse. I went into survival mode and strove to try to try to hide the abuse at least until the children were out of the house. Unfortunately the abuse began to increase in frequency and intensity until I feared him and what he would do to me. I left him 15 months ago and for the first time in many years, I felt safe and like I could begin to live again. We tried to meet together at times, but he continued to verbally abuse me when we met. I continued to be very nervous and shaky around him. Two months ago, he said that he would go to a marriage intensive with me for 5 days. At the intensive, we worked on the abuse issues, but then when asked by the counselor about whether he had ever been involved in pornography, he admitted to have been addicted to pornography for all of our marriage. I was shocked, devastated, and felt totally betrayed. We are continuing to stay separated from each other until we can now deal with the abuse and the pornography addiction. Trust is a huge issue with me as I need to be able to know that the abuse, lying, and pornography have stopped. I have not stopped praying for my husband and I am hanging onto the fact that God is a God of miracles. We do need one.
Lynn, this is a very long term problem for him. Make sure he is committed to doing the work he needs to do over the long haul before you reconcile. Words are not enough.
Thank you Leslie for your wise words. I continue to pray that God will give me the discernment and wisdom that I need to know when my husband has truly changed. I do not trust him at this point in my life, which is hard to admit. I know that our whole marriage relationship needs to be rebuilt.
Lynn, your comment about the relationship needing to be rebuilt reminds me of a recent post on another blog entitled “Please Don’t Pray that my Marriage be Restored”. The author of the posts talks about her frustration with people saying they are praying this for her and why in her case and many cases of abuse there was never a healthy marriage to hope to go back to. I don’t know what your situation is but based on your assessment of having 34 out of 38 years being abusive I thought that article might be of interest to you. Too often people on the outside (in blissful ignorance) treat abuse as though the one abusing is just “having a bad day”. As a result they give more chains to the victim than keys to freedom. Here is a link to that article if it is ok for me to post it: http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/10/03/please-dont-pray-that-my-marriage-will-be-restored/
Thank you so much for the link to that article. I had never thought about restoration in that way before. The part about the pious man sitting on the pew in church who goes home and terrorizes his family was my life. You are so right. I don’t want that marriage to be restored. It was never built on a foundation of God’s love; but of control, anger, lying, and manipulation. My husband has to turn to God for a complete heart makeover. He does not know how to have an emotional or spiritual relationship with anyone. I am going to share that article with my pastor as well. He is trying to learn more about abuse and its consequences. Thank you again.
The fact he admitted the porn addiction is positive (many, like my husband, lie straight to counselors faces denying it when that question is presented… Only until discoveries are made with indestructible evidence do they finally admit it… but then often only with an attitude of, “So, …what man isn’t viewing it…”). I would venture to guess greater than 90% of the destructive/abusive marriages in this forum have porn addiction as a hidden element… Hope I’m wrong but I’m basing this guess on all the outflow characteristics which have been proven to be connected with the addiction (selfishness, cold indifference, lack of empathy… etc.)
Take Leslie’s advice for sure. Trust behavior, not words… True repentance is not accompanied by inconsistencies and confusions. Confession and full ownership are the first signs of genuine repentance and are encouraging if that is taking place with your husband, but know also that they (tears/remorse) can be faked for the purpose of achieving certain goals (rebuilding a damaged image and getting back to status quo)… If your gut is telling you something is not right, listen to it. If he is truly repentant, you will feel no pressure from him. He will be demonstrating an understanding that trust-rebuilding takes time. You will see in him humility and a drive to be totally transparent with you…
Thank you for the encouragement. I too feel that a great number of abusive marriages probably come from a root of pornography. As with the abuse, I have been waiting to see positive changes in him and I know I will have to do the same with the pornography. At this time, my husband seems to have a shallow repentance and shows no need to discuss the issues surrounding his addiction and my feelings of betrayal, etc. I am waiting to see if he is going to be willing to go to counseling.
Individual counseling for him would be great, but if you mean COUPLES/MARRIAGE counseling… beware… It sounds like he is still in denial mode that there have been any destructive/abusive behaviors, so that is ill-advised until he does reach that point. It could end up drawing you into a much more difficult scenario where he succeeds in manipulating the counselor (and you are abused all over again…) I don’t want to speak for Leslie, but this is a warning she has given in many of her posts/writings, and I can concur that it is a fact I have had to find out myself the hard way…
After reading your experience, it reminded me of my husband and my family. I have a question for you? Are you afraid to be alone? I was. And that fear is what drove all of my decisions. When I started to really believe and trust how much god loved and cherished me I began to have strength. I then started to really enjoy being with myself. I went to dinner and movies and walks and just enjoyed being satisfied and happy with all of who I am. I found that I really liked being with myself and that I was a fun person even when I was along with myself. I know that sounds strange but it really helped me from being afraid of being alone. The opportunities to my life opened and I began to have more hope in my life. Although I am still in destructive marriage, I no longer believe what my husband or family says about me because of the work that I did on myself and in my relationship with god. I will with the right timing approach my husband and let him decide on his own if he wants to have a healthy relationship with me. Whatever happens at that point, is not in my control. But I will know that I did the right thing. Waiting and trusting for HIS timing. In the meantime I am still growing!
For the first time, I felt that Leslie’s reply was incomplete. What I think she missed is the concept of courage. Courage isn’t the absence of fear. Sometimes it means doing the right thing even when you are afraid. trusting that God is faithful and that he loves YOU infinitely more than the institute (of marriage) he created for our benefit.
It may be hard in temporary living conditions while he decides if he wants to play nice in the new sandbox. and if he chooses not to, the divorce settlement will likely give you enough to create your own life. one of simplicity and peace. There’s nothing to fear in any of that.
Pray the kids will see the truth. IF not…. hey…. they aren’t the ones living in the dysfunction anymore.
All change is scarey, but we CAN “do it afraid”. it’s my new mangra.
Michelle, courage is absolutely walking through the fear, not the absence of it, but I think it takes faith to take those steps of courage. But thanks for the clarification.
[…] post at Christ-Centered Counseling last week about faith vs. fear and how it relates to marriage really […]
The woman asking the question wants to know if it’s wrong to “just want peace and rest?” Not at all! But unfortunately those things will not come by keeping quiet and by just hoping that by not speaking up and rocking the boat things will improve.
I lived in an abusive marriage for 20 years and could never speak up without being shut down, so eventually I just kept quiet instead. I tried not to rock the boat. Was there peace and rest? Only a temporary superficial ‘peace’ when my ex was having a good day…and then things could actually be really good. But a majority of the time he didn’t want there to be peace and rest, and so there wasn’t.
I used to believe the saying that God does not give us more than we can handle, but I firmly disagree these days. I believe He does give us more than we can handle and that is why we need Him during those times. Facing our fears, especially within an abusive marriage is very, very hard and the only way to gain strength to stand up to the wrongs being done is to lean on God and hold strong to the truth of who we are in Him.
They say that hindsight is 20/20, which is very true. And since it’s too late in my case to go back and do things differently (fortunately I’ve been out of that marriage for almost 6 years and happily remarried for 3 years) I figure I can use the hindsight I gained to help other abuse victims.
What did I learn in those 20 years? Well, perhaps I’m still figuring all of that out, but for the most part I learned that not speaking up did not help and continuing to stay hoping it would all change if I prayed hard enough did not work.
Many abusers do not change and I clearly see now that I was not responsible for his behaviors towards us even though he told me over and over I was the cause of what he did and how things were. He was the only responsible one for the choices he made.
I also know for certain that joint marriage counseling does NOT work in abusive relationships because abuse is NOT a marriage problem, but an individual issue which that person needs to resolve before any marriage issues can be dealt with.
The main thing I learned is that I’m a worthy, beautifully made, competent woman and God loves me no matter what. And this is what I meditated on after we separated so I could relearn who I am and gain the courage and confidence to stand firm in not reconciling and putting myself and kids back in an abusive situation.
Life is too short. Do not waste it on someone else who does find you worthy enough to treat you the way God wants our husbands to treat us.
For what it’s worth — I used to think that what I lived through was normal, but I’m hear to shout from the rooftops that being treated the way I was for two decades of my life was not normal — it was abusive! And I can say this will confidence because the man I married 3 years ago has never, ever treated me the way my abusive ex did. I always say, I’m in a healthy marriage now and even with our ups and downs, there is mutual love and respect, and absolutely NO fear!
I wrote about this very thing on my blog and plan to share my story of abuse. Please check it out.
Love yourselves dear sisters for God does. He does not want to see His children suffering needlessly.
Should have read — “do not waste it on someone else who does NOT find you worthy…”
This post has really made me question my spiritual life. Yes, I live in fear, and I have always lived in fear of my husband. I know without a doubt that I would be out of this marriage if it were not for my 10 year old still at home. I have so many fears, I wonder if the love is all slipping away ,,, out of me. I am not the loving person I used to be, who called and kept up friendships. As a Mom , I became more selfish as the years went by ,,, and now as a wife, my switch has gone off ,,, I feel nothing for my husband, as a previous poster said……I knew as the years went by that it would happen,, I just know that by living in fear, I have lost myself, and I can’t be who I need to be. The fear has cost me my peace, my health, my independence. I know that I have been living a lie. Thank you for this post, It has really made me stop and think, and it has convicted me of living a pathetic cowardly way of coping.
Fear destroyed me too. The abuse took a toll on me slowly over time stealing my joy, love and who I was. I was too fearful to take a real stand. Oh sure, I would try to speak up, but usually very timidly because I knew I would only be knocked back down as being ‘too sensitive’, ‘not having a sense of humor’ or ‘causing problems’. My words to him never mattered and they usually don’t with an abuser. They see no wrong in what they do or will never admit to it even if they do feel a tiny bit of remorse.
Truly, the only thing an abuser will respond to implementing true consequences such as leaving or asking them to leave, filing for separation, or divorce. Those things usually get them stirred up, but whether they choose to truly change because of any action we take is only for them to decide.
Living in an abusive marriage for 20 years I became a shell of a person. I stopped laughing, I stopped smiling, I stopped loving…I stopped living. My now 20-year-old son once said to me when he was about 10 — “Mom, you never smile anymore.” If you don’t think that got my attention! And he was right.
Yep, I stayed too because of my boys. I felt that it was better somehow that they at least have a two parent home, even if not ideal. I think back to that now and realize how warped that thinking was especially since they were the target of their dad’s abuse too. Although we were thankfully never physically abused, the emotional, verbal and mental abuse took a terrible toll on all of us.
I know the fear well. I know how it can entrap us to stay in a situation which is so very destructive. And you want to know the truth?
I still fear my ex.
A situation with my oldest son (23) has brought him back into my life even just from a distance and the thought of running into him makes me shake. Crazy huh what kind of control they can have over us.
Lynn, only you know your situation but please know that abuse is so very wrong and waiting until your child is older is not necessarily the best thing. And even worse, is using that as an excuse to stay and keep your child there too.
Fear is so immobilizing to us, but I would encourage you to find a Godly counselor who deals with abuse and/or friends and family who can all help you see clearly what is truly happening to you. No one can tell you what to do, but sometimes just having that validation that we are not crazy, that what is happening is real and wrong can give us the push needed to do something to make changes for the good.
Sorry, this may sound somewhat jumbled as I’m sick this week, and I hope some of it did not sound too harsh. I’m been there and know how difficult it is to leave, but having finally gotten through it, I can say with certainty that you can survive and can have peace, health and dependence again.
There is life after abuse — but first we have to take a step towards it.
You will be in my prayers — please contact me if you’d like to chat.
Lynn, thanks for your honesty, Now what could we do as a blog community to help you move out of fear toward faith and courage.
FAITH COMES FROM HEARING THE WORD OF GOD Romans 10:17
-speak it out loud!!! Proclaim the Scriptures..OUTLOUD- our ears need to hear it.
-make Truth cards- mine are a spiral-bound 3 x 5 card that I can carry and read over- even while in the grocery store from aisle to aisle.