I had a wonderful time speaking to a church in Valencia, CA last Friday on how to care for victims of abuse. My heart is more and more heavy to help churches know how to competently and compassionately help those in destructive marriages. My new people helpers website (the old one will still be there too) will be opening up next week with free resources for church leaders and counselors.
Next week I head to the American Association of Christian Counselors Conference (AACC) in Nashville and will be speaking Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Please keep me in your prayers.
Today’s Question: Thank you for all your blogs and books–I have learned so much since discovering them! I especially appreciate the sample conversations you include; they are so helpful in illustrating what a healthy one looks like.
Nine years ago our eldest daughter moved out in part because of my husband's emotional and verbal abuse of her. He disowned her and coerced me to also. I agreed in part because I had had an alliance of sorts with her and felt guilty about it.
My husband forbade me and our other children to talk about her ever again. I told him recently that I want to try to reconcile with her, and he said he would leave the marriage if I contacted her. He sees it as being disrespectful and disloyal to him. I doubt he'd actually leave, but I would be made to pay somehow. I also doubt his heart will ever soften towards our daughter.
For the past two years, I have been working on my CORE, but I am unsure of my responsibility to him in this situation. Would it be wrong to contact her anyway?
How does “forsaking all others” from our marriage vows apply to this situation? I also am concerned about how the resulting unpleasantness would affect our teenagers still living at home. I could sure use your insight! Thank you.
Answer: Wow, what a horrible dilemma your husband has put you in. I don’t believe that your marriage vows include forsaking your own children in order to stay loyal to your husband or to preserve your marriage.
I do think marriage needs to be a priority, and in many homes, children take center stage. But I also don’t believe that being “marriage-centered” is any less problematic or unwise than being child-centered. We are called to be God-centered people.
Therefore, one question I usually start with when I feel spiritual confusion around an issue is this: What course of action honors and glorifies God the most? Click To Tweet
Does it honor or glorify God to go along with your husband’s decision to disown your daughter and refuse to allow your other children to speak with her? To look at this question Biblically, let’s not just look at submission passages, but other examples in Scripture as well.
For example, the Bible tells us a story about a father who had two sons who both disappointed and disrespected him (Luke 15:11-32). Each son exhibited attitudes and behaviors that were dishonoring to their father. The first one demanded his inheritance before his father died (pretty insulting), and then squandered it all on loose living. When this younger brother came to his senses and returned home, his father didn’t disown him, but welcomed him and planned a big party to celebrate.
However, his older brother felt indignant at the kindness his father showed his wayward brother and refused to attend the family party. The older son didn’t sin like his younger brother, but his pride and self-righteousness was sinful, and his refusal to attend the family party insulted his father’s position and his kindness. The father didn’t disown this son even as he pleaded with him to welcome his younger brother back home. Both sons disappointed their father and behaved sinfully. Yet the father remained a devoted father, an example of love and truth.
So let’s fast forward to you and your situation. It’s been nine years since you spoke to your daughter. Do you think this honors or glorifies God? You’ve acquiesced to your husband’s request not because you believed he was right but because you felt guilty about your own unhealthy alliance with your daughter and were afraid of the repercussions. Does that glorify God?
Here’s another story in the Bible may shed some additional light on your dilemma. Abigail was married to a wealthy but surly and foolish man named Nabal. Everyone knew how ornery Nabal could get. David (before he was the king) was traveling in Nabal’s territory and requested hospitality and kindness for his men. He reminded Nabal how he and his men were gracious to Nabal’s shepherds when they were traveling near him. But Nabal refused and David became enraged and threatened to kill everyone in Nabal’s entire household. When Nabal’s servants heard what he did, they ran to Abigail and asked her for help.
Abigail knew just what to do. She prepared food and drinks and loaded them on donkeys and went out to meet David’s men as they were heading her way to seek revenge. She didn't make excuses about her husband’s character. Yet she humbly asked David to accept her apology and the meal she prepared for his men.
There are many lessons we can glean from Abigail’s courage, David’s uncontrollable anger, and Nabal’s foolishness. But did Abigail dishonor her husband by going against what he said? She was not submissive to his order. But were her actions glorifying to God? I think they were. And, later the story tells us that when Abigail told Nabal what she had done, Nabal had a stroke and died.
Let’s now look at the submission question. Does God call a wife to give unquestioning submission to her husband even if he asks her to do, or cooperate with something wrong or hurtful towards other people? No. The Bible qualifies submission as “unto the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). When a husband asks his wife to do something wrong, I do not believe she should feel obligated to submit. She might feel afraid to dissent, but the Bible does not call her to submit.
Colossians also warns fathers not to provoke or aggravate their children because they will become discouraged (Colossians 3:21). It’s sad that your husband doesn’t take any responsibility for the problem with your daughter.
I’m glad that you told him already that you want to reach out to her. He said if you do that, he will leave the marriage, but you doubt he will follow through.
However, before you take your next step, make sure you are ready to deal with the fallout if you move forward with your resolve. Make a safety plan, make sure there are consequences set up if he gets abusive or if decides to leave the marriage. I hope you can let him go if it came to that.
He is positioning himself as a god in your family, not a husband. He believes he has the right to judge and control everyone around him and if they refuse, he will punish. That is not his role but as long as you cater to that, the delusion stays intact.
Let me give you some ideas about how you might approach him. But it’s never all about the right words. Jesus had the right words and he was still hated sometimes. You have to be ready internally to challenge him and stick with your resolve because he will not like it and may escalate his abuse.
“It’s been nine years since we have talked to our daughter. I sense God wants me to reach out to her. I know you don't like that, but as I read the Scripture, I feel called to be a minister of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). God wants me to be a peacemaker and to love other people, including our enemies, including our very own daughter.
You may have different convictions than I do but I have to listen to God first and am going to reach out to her. She has hurt us, but we have also hurt her. You feel she is wrong, but we have also done wrong to her. I believe as a woman of God, as much as it depends on me, I am to do all I can to bring about peace and healing in our relationship” (Romans 12:18).
Ask for some prayer support from friends who know what your life is like, even from the women on this blog. And then do what is in your heart to do.
Friends, if you were a mother in this situation, what would you do?
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Leslie, Thank you for bringing this dilemma to us for our discussion. It is a difficult one.
I will be praying for your time in Nashville, and I expect to see you there, as I will attend. Grace be with you,
I have lived through something similar -our daughter became transgendered and my husband wanted to turn everyone away from her. God showed me how she hated herself so much she was destroying her identity. But I still believe it saved her from taking her life. I did not turn away. I told him , his relationship with her was his own-but I could not and would not turn away. It has NOT BEEN EASY! But over the years – around 7 years – through the ups and downs I’ve never regretted going against my husband in this. My daughter is now reidentifying as female and I’m still waiting for her to turn back to God. I praise God for the strength that He gave me. Generally I have been too afraid to stand up to my husband and his anger wins. But this is my daughter!! God will not turn his back on us. How could we? You will not regret reaching out to your precious child. May God be with you!!!
Good for you Sonya. I simply cannot imagine the pain of gender confusion. I love Romans 2:4 for don’t you know that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance.
I’ve never heard a testimony of someone being shamed into the kingdom of God, or judged into the kingdom. We walk in the tension between grace and truth. That’s what love is ♥️
Yes!!! It’s never condoning. (Even though some like to perceive it as that) Truth in love. Grace and more love.
I did not have a situation exactly like this one, but it was definitely similar. My husband was very abusive and as I see now, put himself as a god in our home. There was one time when my college-aged daughter was in a car accident out of state and my husband refused to let me go to see her as he did not feel that she was that badly injured (she had a broken foot and many other serious bruises). I suffered great emotional distress wanting to be with her (as I know she wanted me) and yet feeling I had to obey my husband. I was so confused in how to deal with this awful situation. I felt so guilty as a mother and I tried to speak with my husband about it, but he said that I had to obey him as he was the head of the home. As time past and I spent time in the Word, I began to see that my husband was actually asking me to do something wrong and hurtful and that was not Scriptural. I made the decision that if this ever happened again that I would have to follow what I believed that God wanted me to do even if it meant having to face my husband’s anger. It did happen again when my son was in the hospital out of state and very ill and my husband again said that I was not allowed to go. I made arrangements to go and see my son and to spend time with him. My husband was furious, but I knew I had done the right thing.
Hello, what a painful struggle
you have. I am so sorry. It greatly saddens me to hear your plight. I want to share some thoughts, Scripture and my experience as a Christian therapist. I have heard from many embittered, angry, deeply, deeply hurt adult children of Christian parents. These young people believe that their parents taught them ,”God is love”, their whole lives. However, their parents didn’t act toward them in love.
From what these precious young people said, they did not feel the love in the church was real and authentic. Millenials are leaving the Church in droves. Perhaps, this is a wake up call to Christian parents to examine their ways. And when, I say that to you, I, equally, say that to myself, too.
What about Psalm 126, though father and mother forsake you, I will never forsake you, God says.
Certainly, a husband is Never to be above God. If a husband asks a wife to act in unloving and uncompassionate ways, He is asking her to sin. A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another as I have loved you.
I will never leave you or forsake you, God says.
Remember the fall, the curse is that the woman’s desire shall be for her husband and he shall rule over her. But we are NOT under the curse for it is written, He made mockery of the curse, nailing it to the tree.
I believe women have a tendency to worship men, or at least their own husband. This is not good, God make woman to be a helpmeet, not a worshipper. Husbands can become idols. Paul said follow me, as I follow Christ. If a husband isn’t following Christ and the wife follows him instead of Christ. Who is she following? Who is she obeying?
Laura LaPointe, LMFT
Friends, if you were a mother in this situation, what would you do?
The wise teachings from the Bible that Leslie shares stand tall to providing the reason for being a, “minister of reconciliation”. My story though not the same bears similarities. I am a divorced woman who lived through watching the manipulative tactics of my in-laws infest my nuclear family. I can attest to the fact that the acquiescence to these sad character traits caused much pain and separation where a loving unity should have prevailed.They actually set the stage for what would be the end of my own marriage, because these coercive tactics trickled down into the fabric of those who were in close relationships because of the fear and a false sense of loyalty that became a set standard. Unfortunately more often than not the sins of the father are recurring and generational if no one puts their foot down to end the histrionics. In my case my husband treated his dad as a god, and so I in turn through the years was drawn into the fray and habit of treating my husband as a god too. I had come to a place of choosing avoidance to keep peace because when I didn’t follow the rules set into play there was hell to pay. It was akin to what could be dubbed bad law enforcement. In the long run these unhealthy character traits are highly damaging because they are abusive and so dangerous to all of those involved. My own children at one stage became victims of the skulduggeries because it was a common occurrence that evolved to stand its ground as a benignly acceptable way of life. It is how things have gone all along so it’s how things should go now. Ultimatums can be harmful when not dealt with properly so the ultimate test is the one we put to ourselves. Honoring God’s will is the way to combat these bad behaviors. The route to root peace and to reestablish proper boundaries is by drawing into and being the example of what the one and only God teaches. Be all that you can be…..be GOD STRONG!
Dear sweet wife and mom, My heart bleeds for you in this situation as I was in the very same one.
I made the mistake of not standing up to my husband who was definitely a character-flawed person. The marriage eventually dissolved and I could have lost my son in the process.
If I had it to do all over again, I would give my husband the ultimatum – not my son.
I hope you don’t make my mistake. Address his narcissistic behavior now. Be proactive not reactive. Tell him if he doesn’t get help then you will leave the marriage. I cannot stress strongly enough that this type of personality does not respond to weakness. Only strength. Enlist the help of the Spirit of Jesus and stand strong.
MaryAnn…. “this type of personality does not respond to weakness. Only strength. Enlist the help of the Spirit of Jesus and stand strong”
Woah. So. True.
I totally agree with your comment. My fears kept me from standing up to my husband for a long time. My children still bear the emotional scars of his behavior, but praise the Lord they are healing and so am I.
Good to hear healing is happening.
Very true. Strength does not mean you have to be mean, but you DO need to be FIRM.
Wow! This hits pretty close to home for me. I will probably have to re-read this post several times.
Nine years is a long time.. and I can only relate to feeling like my own situation has been a very long estrangement.., and it’s only been a couple years.
The writer wrote;
“Nine years ago our eldest daughter moved out in part because of my husband’s emotional and verbal abuse of her. He disowned her and coerced me to also. I agreed in part because I had had an alliance of sorts with her and felt guilty about it.”
Goodness I can’t help but emotional resonate with this dynamic. My father didn’t disown me, I stood with healthy boundaries and requirements for what would need to happen in order for reconciliation to occur. He refused and also my mother had to make her choice to.. even though she didn’t feel like she had a choice. She did.
She tolerated his behavior and though I also needed to.
I’m wondering about the word ‘coerced’?
As a daughter in a similar situation … it breaks my heart to see that a mom doesn’t feel she has the freedom to reconcile with her own daughter. Her destructive marriage has cost ‘immensely’ in my opinion.
The writer acknowledges the emotional & verbal abuse by the father in writing but not in action.
My mother was more loyal to her fear and her image of marriage than to the circumstances that I believe are critical to our overall health and faith in who God is. As you said Leslie, being ‘God centered’ rather than child centered or marriage centered. When things are aligned with God first those things fall into place.
This wife ~ sounds ‘husband centered’ and not even close to marriage centered.
I’m wanting to come across as loving and truthful in this place because I just don’t see a problem with a mother and daughter having an alliance that would be healthy given boundaries of a destructive individual in the family.
We are not called to align with the abuser~ that being the husband. We are called to align with Christs truths and freedoms.
So I don’t see the problem being ‘forsaking all others’ or the husband’s false blame tactics of coercion, but the mothers choice of what to align to. The motivation of what drives that decision is at the core of the problem and most likely the growth of dysfunctional relationships.
Sounds like the daughter is getting free.
Thanks Aly. I think there can be unhealthy alliances between a parent and child against other children or another parent. From the victim’s standpoint, parental alienation is done when the perpetrator forms an unhealthy bond with a child against his or her mother. However, it sounds as if this husband is jealous and insecure of the mother’s normal relationship with her children and perhaps makes it sound as if it’s abnormal or unhealthy and shames her because of it, making her “feel guilty” because she isn’t putting all her energy into her spouse. We don’t know all the details of that statement but you’re correct in that healthy relationships between a parent and child should not be disparaged, but we can also get into an unhealthy relationship with our kids in many different ways also.
Thanks for that and I agree in terms of the family unit and minors. I was speaking more from the standpoint of aligning (as an adult). Myself being the adult child of my parents.
I should have clarified that.
I can also see how in destructive marriages the unhealthy partner will try to form an unhealthy alliance (with a minor) to dismantle and breakdown the partner getting stronger and healthier.
My father did this between the ‘adult siblings’ as his junk was getting exposed. If everyone in the system are fighting against each other than the eyes and focus can be taken off the perpetrator.
I was in an abusive marriage with an alcoholic and sex addict for 27 years. My H triangulated my daughter and she became as abusive as he was. I think the dog had a higher status. The last two yrs. after he had an affair with my best friend while they were working out their infidelity issues, I ended friendship with my bff of forty yrs. our kids grew up together. My ex and children have been a part of their weddings and he now takes his gf. I was isolated from affection from my husband as a result of ending the friendship.. My older daughter also became distant and abusive. I feel the dog had a greater status in my home. During the divorce, My daughter dictated custody of my youngest daughter via dad and she was increasingly judgmental, and the distance was so apparent except she needed me to pay half her college so until graduation there were tidbits. We may exchange emails once or twice a yr. She was “mean girl” cruel .
Now, I have boundaries and will not tolerate that kind of treatment. Nor will I be here ATM. I am sad and keep trying to be the parent that forgives 7x 7 but I also will not let people treat me like this anymore. Grateful for living five years without my self esteem being tied to them. Knowing I am a good person and do not have to be bullied into submission.
I agree with everything Leslie said. Being more submitted to God than anyone else and having a greater fear of him, I believe, helps break one free from the fear of man.
To answer her question: “what would you do if you were the mother in this situation?” I would have to reach out to my daughter and seek to have a relationship with her. Any person, no matter who they are, who tries to prevent or block a relationship with your very own child is completely wrong and out of order. The scripture never instructs to forsake or abandon your children. To have a parent forsake their child, is probably the most hurtful thing a child can go through. Please obey the Lord. If he leaves, I really doubt his love for you and the family. Sounds like a huge issue of control and manipulation which is not healthy for anyone involved. Many prayers for you and all who are in a similar situation.
I want to add an amen to what DJ said above. Well said.
Because there has been so much control and manipulation, I highly encourage you to make a plan of how you will approach this abusive husband with news of contacting the daughter. Be prepared for an atomic bomb, therefore have your protection in place, have your cell phone in your hand with people on speed dial who know to show up immediately if you call, and that may include the police. Make sure you have cash in hand and access to money and transportation. Have a well-thought-out Escape Plan even if you don’t think you will need it. Just knowing it is in place will give you CORE strength.
I have the police (don’t like saying) listed as number one under contacts. You could also set up speed dial. Of course, may be better way. My normal feelings were to dial the regular number because I felt my domestic issues were not that bad and was nothing physical (yes I know denial for a while). However, when I finally got an opportunity to speak with an officer about my situation, it was stated always call 911 period.
I too wonder about the word, ‘coerced’.
I think Leslie’s answer makes it clear. I would add, very delicately, that this mom owes her daughter an apology.
Nine years 💔
I agree Nancy….I had to do the same as a result of a similar situation….and the effects of my humbly acknowledging my part (of withdrawing in fear & not boldly standing against the mistreatment for long) and apologizing for it….has greatly improved our relationships…. and their healing…..
Also, our grown children have opened up much more now, feeling safer to speak more honestly with us & have praised and thanked us for our hard work in “breaking the cycle of family dysfunction” because of these particular ‘generational’ issues.
God bless her with courage wisdom and discernment!
Deb, good for you! 😊
“Friends, if you were a mother in this situation, what would you do?”
. . .I would pray (a lot) and beg God for wisdom. . . .Next, I would use logic, reason and evidence as to what is right. . . . .because, ultimately, that is what any loving, compassionate, caring, rational person really does. What is right and moral is coming from people’s brains and they cherry pick or *create* what they need from the texts of the Bible to support that.
. . .Very early Christians continued the barbaric Jewish practice of stoning adulterers. But logic, reason and evidence was used to modify the Bible. . . . The story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery is arguably the best-known story about Jesus in the entire Bible. Amazingly, despite its popularity, the account is not found in any of the originals, ever, not once. Not in Koine Greek (the language the New Testament was written in), not in any Coptic editions, Syriac editions, et.al. Despite the brilliance, compassion and empathy, it was not originally in the Gospel of John. In fact, it was not originally part of any of the Gospels. It was added by later scribes (who realized it was necessary because people were stoning adulterers) . . . .That naturally leaves us with a dilemma: if this story was not originally part of John, should it be considered part of the Bible? Not everyone will respond to this question in the same way, but for the textual experts, the answer is clearly NO. . . . .But does it even matter??? It is a beautiful story of empathy and compassion and we know it is right, holy and true. ―Does it even matter where it came from??? . . .Morals are coming from people’s brains. Use logic, reason and evidence (I guess we can call it our hearts if we need to) as to what is right.
“My husband forbade me and our other children to talk about her ever again. I told him recently that I want to try to reconcile with her, and he said he would leave the marriage if I contacted her. He sees it as being disrespectful and disloyal to him. I doubt he’d actually leave, but I would be made to pay somehow. I also doubt his heart will ever soften towards our daughter.”
. . . .Using Prayer (asking for wisdom), Logic, Reason, Evidence and Your Safety, establish what is right and then tell your husband what you are going to do and ask him to support you. Then after a time of trying to get his support, with or without his approval, ―do it. . . .Always, take back your mental sovereignty. Always pray and ask God for wisdom. Ask lots of questions. Then ask yourself: What is consistent with real love, with Christ’s love? Jesus in Luke twelve says (Here is one with NO textual issues): “Why don’t YOU judge for yourselves what is right?” You have all the consequences, you have the choices.
No woman can turn her head off (I hope). . . .Again, morals are coming from people’s brains. Use logic, reason and evidence (you can call it your heart if you need to) as to what is right. . . . I have come to regard with some suspicion those who claim that the Bible never troubles them. If you are looking for verses with which to support slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to abolish slavery, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to oppress women, you will find them. If you are looking for verses with which to liberate or honor women, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to wage war, you will find them. If you are looking for reasons to promote peace, you will find them. . . . . . This is why there are times when the most instructive question to bring to the texts is not “what does it say?”, but “what am I looking for? . . . .So, ―how do you know? . . . .Resentment, . . .resentment is a woman’s inner signal that she has been ignoring an important God-given responsibility and that responsibility is making choices. . . . I would say to try to get your husband on-board, if you can . . . .but if you cannot. . . . submission is mutual and all are free. . . .And as far as trying to copy another woman, even a woman from the Bible . . . .well, I say be a first rate version of yourself, not a second rate version of someone else. —The privilege of a lifetime is being who *you* are in Christ. . . . As a Christian, our highest calling is not submission, motherhood, et.al.-whatever . . . .our highest calling is to follow Christ.
Totally agree Aleea. What you are looking for, you will find evidence to support. We need to be keenly aware of our own heart ( first, take the log out of your own eye, then we can take the speck out of our brothers and sister’s eye). And only THEN to approach the Bible -as rhema – for an answer.
Resentment is the inner signal that a woman is ignoring her God given responsibility to make choices ( paraphrasing here).
That’s interesting. For me I know that resentment comes when I have allowed my heart to be violated…for example saying yes to what I should have said no to. ( my yes not being a yes, my no not being a no)… So I suppose I have abdicated responsibility in a choice in that case….the responsibility to guard my heart. Is that what you mean?
“… So I suppose I have abdicated responsibility in a choice in that case….the responsibility to guard my heart. Is that what you mean?
. . .Yes, that is what I mean. . . . but Nancy, you know, . . . .you know life is really, really hard and I understand why people do not always do that. So always have compassion, especially with yourself. . . .But I’m starting to get this theory that it is *as easy* and *as difficult* as just telling the Truth, —always. . . . Again, when I started counseling, Dr. Meier asked me: “What do you want me to help you do?” . . .Dr. Meier, I want you to help me to stop lying, to start fully articulating my truth, carefully, precisely and I feel we are going to have our hands full just accomplishing that. I have spent my life: peacefaking, being nice, glossing over, trying to be an “outcome engineer”. . . . I want you to help me tell the truth about everything, —even about God and Jesus, as best I know. . . . .And I certainly do not always know anything near “THE TRUTH” but I sure know when I am peacefaking, being nice, glossing over, trying to be an “outcome engineer”.
—I want my life in God’s hands and the only way to do that is by clearly speaking the truth, as clearly and as precisely as I know how, to everyone. —That means I don’t use my language to manipulate, control situations —no outcome engineering. —Why? Because I have no real idea what is best for me, only God does. When I speak my truth *clearly* that self-selects people into and out of my life. . . .If we use our language to try to get what we want, we destroy God’s path for us and we don’t really know what is best for us anyway. —I certainly don’t. Again, only God knows what is best for me and the only way to be on that path is to be careful to, as clearly and as best I know how, tell the truth always. I then let God decide the outcomes. That lets God run my life, not me deciding what outcome I am trying to control/ engineer. . . .always, of course, in love and care because life —for everyone— is really hard. . . . .Actually, here may be a better way to say all that: The truth speaks the best possible world into existence.
This question is mine, and I appreciate all your comments–even the ones that were emotionally hard for me to read. Your comments help me see things from a “normal” perspective outside my destructive marriage.
Nine years ago, I was not strong at all and believed all that my husband told me. His coercion of me consisted of threatening me with the loss of our younger children by having me committed to a mental institution. I regret my weakness then and am angry at myself for my continued cowardice now. However, I am slowly finding my CORE and getting stronger. It is difficult to change a mindset that has been taught to me my whole life by first, my mother and then by my husband.
I appreciate Leslie’s advice of asking myself what course of action will glorify and honor God; it’s not about me or my husband being right, but about doing the right thing.
Thank you, Leslie, for taking the time to answer my question and for giving me a better understanding of what a healthy marriage looks like. And thank you for giving me hope.
You are so welcome. Please reach out to her and let us know the end of the story. Someone just asked me if we ever know what happened after someone took action. Please let us know so we can pray for and encourage your growth.
Violet, you are not a coward. You are quite brave and strong, actually. Look how you have reached out and how you have had the courage to write down the truth of your situation. It takes great courage to look in the mirror as you are doing. Many women on this site, including myself, are strong Christian women trained in the word of God. When we say make a safe plan to cut ties with this ungodly and unchristian man, ask your daughter for forgiveness, and start over with the Lord Jesus Christ as your head, you can believe we are telling you what a normal Christian viewpoint is. When your husband tells you he will divorce you or put you in a mental institution if you don’t do what he says, that is evil and demonic. That is not how a Christian man acts and he does not get to hold you to some (supposed) Christian or biblical standard of submission when he himself is opposing Christ’s will. I pray in Jesus’ name that you will become safe and free.
Barbara, Thank you for your kind words, encouragement and support. It has overwhelmed me and given me strength. I am working on building courage and resolve as I will need megadoses of both to see this through. Thank you for your prayers, and please keep praying!
Thank you for clarifying the ‘coercion’ part. I was thinking – before knowing the details- that the word was a bit strong. Now I’m wondering if it’s not strong enough!
My heart goes out to you as you begin to ‘thaw out’ and feel the feelings you likely have surpressed for so many years. We can all here, to some degree or another, relate to a time of awakening to ‘our part’ of the dynamic.
It’s extremely painful 🙁
Take heart though, Violet. Our God is an awesome God. Draw near to Him. Ask Him for a support system (you already have one here!), be ready for escalation of your h’s bad behaviour, and be prepared. May you be aware of His presence as you walk this new way.
Thank you. I wish I knew a better way to express my gratitude for your touching post.
The last time my Dad beat me up I was 23. It was fist pounding and damning me Christianity to hell. I escaped that night through an upstairs window. But the most painful thing that night was the absence of any response or intervention from my Mother. For the first time I realized that this was a pattern. It has been decades now, but I must say that something inside of me was severed that night as I realized where I stood with her.
So sad. I’m so sorry. Mom’s we need to protect and stand up for our children against abuse, including abuse from their own fathers.
Thank you for this.
I believe this post is very timely for me as I have been trying to discern when I can respond to my mother who continues to choose her dysfunctional marriage and other relationships at great costs. Spiritualizing her choices and continues to speak as ‘I am the one with the issue’.
As mom’s we need to stand up and protect our children from abuse and abuse from fathers, I believe the mom’s who are in destructive marriages out of fear should be reminded of the other forms of abuse, emotional, verbal and spiritual. These forms are easier to ‘deny’ because the abuser is constantly the victim of sorts and won’t take accountability and most certainly will reject and battle anyone in the family standing up to the behavior.
Having a ‘wife’ on his side (even if perceived) only reinforces the evil of what is taking place.
Nancy, I agree with you on the apology desperately needed but.. in my situation my mother did apologize only to then right after tell me she didn’t believe she did anything wrong😩.
A wife who has to orbit around this level of control of a spouse is completely unavailable to be a ‘mom’ let alone a friend.
It’s painful. But the dysfunction must be broken somewhere.
What a painful situation, to be apologized to and then taken away 🙁
Praying for you as you consider a response to your mother. May The Lord give you His Peace.
Thank you for that, right now the only thing that seems to bring peace ‘is distance’
Thanks for your prayers and care.
I agree wholeheartedly that as moms we should protect our kids even if it means consequences for us when we do. It just seems so unnatural not to step in when our kids are being bullied. When a parent does not treat his/her children well and demands that the other stay out of it, that should be a huge sign that the marriage is unhealthy, and siding with the abusive spouse will not only damage the child, but also the marriage.
I’m so sorry for what you went through with your Dad, Sophia,
and the lack of support and intervention from your Mom. I so hope and pray you have healed from that terrible situation. I think about Psalm 27:10 that says, when my Father and Mother forsake me, then the Lord will take care of me.
Prayers for you and all who have experienced any type of forsaking from the parent(s).
This is SO TRUE;)
Thank you for posting this scripture and I am so thankful to experience this love of His 💜
Sophia, you escaped and did the right thing I do hope you are experiencing His love and His promises. I’m so very sorry for what you have been through. My heart goes out to you. 💕
Love your answer. Thanks friend.
Leslie, I very much appreciate you letting me post here. It is so, so meaningful talking with people here and from this blog. These people here are *amazing* to me. . . .just amazing. . . .There are things way more important than knowledge, like paying attention! . . .and I do because there is always somebody who doesn’t agree with me telling me something I couldn’t have ever figured out on my own! It’s a completely different way of looking at the world. It’s the antithesis of opinionated! . . .speak/ live the Truth even if our voices and hands shake.
Yes!!! Bless you ladies!!! God’s love always goes deeper than sin, loss, and suffering. Now, I am slowly learning that God glorifying love includes boundaries and inner strength!!! I had too much shame back then to reach out to authorities for help. But I am not that person anymore. I really believe some of the extreme events (not allowed to speak with daughter) should turn some lights on and cause us to question other patterns that keep us in prison. The truth always sets us free! That is what I am learning here. Being quiet and keeping secrets, keeping peace in the face of evil is not ‘holy’ and helps no one.
I have not read through all of these responses, but the ones I have read have been wonderful.
Such a painful and pain-filled situation. Something that I think is missed in this is the fact that the daughter made the courageous choice to extract herself from her dad’s emotional abuse! The daughter has had to walk a tough, and possibly lonely, road to protect herself. She did nothing wrong, but was actually working for the her welfare and the overall welfare of her family.
By God’s grace, Mom is now sensing the nudge to make her tough choices. I think it will be a wonderful thing for Mom to reach out as her heart is leading. Counting the costs. yes. But choosing the right way. Perhaps this is the beginning of a huge step of healing for the entire family. The Lord reckoning with the dad, and perhaps freeing him from this destructive way of living.
Nine years is so long in our economy. But, in God’s economy, the timing is right. Take courage, Mom and reach out to your daughter. I will be praying for this venture to happen and for tons of grace and love to cover the multitude of wrongdoing that has transpired.
Dear sister, I think you have confused the phrase “forsaking all others” in a couple of very critical ways!!! Firstly, that phrase does not actually appear in Scripture, but was written into marriage vows in order to summarize Biblical teachings about fidelity/faithfulness between marriage partners. It was about choosing FOR the covenant marriage and partner, and turning away from adultery and the temptations it holds. Secondly, it is about ADULTERY, not parent-child relationships. I can’t be strong enough in my encouragement to you to dig into the Scripture passages Leslie has written of here, in order to understand very clearly what God’s guidance is for you in this situation; I fear your misunderstanding of “christianized words” (ie from the historic marriage vows) have led you to assume things that are not true of God’s Word. Please be strong to reexamine your belief and actions, dear sister. Seeking peace and restoration with your child may be the spotlight that brings your husband’s destructiveness into focus..
Dear K, and Violet, I also noticed the confusion regarding “forsaking” which is intended for Marriage Partners, and has nothing to do with your own children. Thanks to K for articulating that so well.
For those who live with a narcissist, having alliance with other members in the household is partially for survival and sanity when there is constant crazy making and manipulation and coercion. There are times that I taught and confided in my oldest daughter when I should have been speaking with a counselor, but since money was a controlling factor that was not an option. After trying many years to talk with my husband in private about behaviors that were detrimental to the children and he gave no heed, I ended up calling him out in front of the children, which went against what I thought was ” right “, but I did not want them to grow up thinking these things were normal. Violet , your guilt and ” Alliance” was probably the product of manipulation and was created in your mind by a very selfish person.
Aloha sister, I left home after I graduated because my father was physically and emotionally abusive to my mother, me and my brothers. When I left my father disowned me. I was not walking with God at the time. During the two years I was away, God (even though I didn’t know at the time) worked on my heart and showed me where my father had come from, the abuse he encountered from his own father and the generational sin he carried. I am not condoning what he did. My mother secretly continued to communicate to me and helped me along the way. I finally made the decision to reach out to him and when I did, so much had happened to him, and I don’t know if he found God during his time of illness, I just know his heart had changed. The long-story short is that God redeemed him and our relationship. He died a few months later, but I thank God for that time. I thank God for my mother who was willing to be there for me when I needed her most. I will be praying for you, and your husband’s and daughter’s hearts and the redemptive reconcilitation that will take place.
Praise God for your story Islesouljah! As long as there’s life, there’s hope. Allowing an abuser to determine your response to evil isn’t freedom and your story is full of the freedom God provides. \o/ Praise /o\ God! \o/
If my husband ordered me to do something like that with accusations of my being disrespectful, and his threatening to leave if I don’t comply, I would tell him very calmly that if he is so confident that that is the actions of a Christian husband and father, then go before the Lord right now with it and see what He says.
I would also recommend that if he is so confident that that is the right thing to do, then he would have no problem saying as much to a counselor or third party.
I am convinced that women NEED to be well versed in Biblical truths and boundaries rather than beaten over the head with submission and husband-honoring propaganda. I am also convinced that at premarriage counseling, disagreement stalemates need a pre-arranged plan…go to counseling, have a trusted third party on speed dial…
I also now fully believe that every wife ought to be capable of supporting herself, and yes, I even will go so far as to say every wife needs an escape plan. I have seen and experienced FAR too many abusive, controlling, neglectful, and/or deceptive husbands whose wives have had to endure and make hard decisions, and are often trapped.
“Go home to mother,” used to be the old standby.
Very interesting as this has also been a pattern in my marriage. Reading this made my blood boil as I feel the injustice so keenly. My own mum felt torn between my dad and me when I got married. They didn’t agree with my choice of husband (well they were probably right there) but my dad told my mum that if she came to the wedding their marriage would be over. She wanted to come but didn’t. Funny how she’s never apologised for that. And funny how I couldn’t see fit ages what was now repeating itself in my marriage. My husband being angry with me when our second daughter started her period and that I’d got into a pact with her to keep it from him!! And accusations of me siding with her over him. Knowing what I now know I wouldn’t feel any guilt! The jealousy that you would prioritise your child over your husband is just wicked. As if the kids are competition! Mature parents should be able to discuss these things and as wives we would be willing to compromise, right? But this is so cruel. I’ve often said to my husband, I can’t be a mother AND a wife. It’s impossible.
So yes with all your heart reach out to your daughter. I’ve told mine sorry for not standing up more for her. She understands. I pray your daughter will do too and that your relationship will be restored to its rightful place. Maybe then your husband will see what his rightful place is. Alongside you. Not above you.
I would reach out to my daughter. When we lose relationship, we lose all influence, so regardless of her choices she is still your child. Jesus was not afraid to get close to the sinner (woman at the well, woman caught in adultry, etc.) and we shouldn’t either.
I’m so confused with your analogy? Can you expand or help me understand better…
Maybe Terri assumed that the daughter made some bad choices and the father responded in an emotionally abusive way?
I guess I still don’t understand? Yes children do make bad choices but that doesn’t have to entail abuse from a parent or reason it. It’s wrong period.
And likewise parents also do make poor reactions …but this father saw nothing wrong with his posture on cutting his daughter out of his life and requiring the entire family to do the same.
Doesn’t that seem a bit extreme?
Also Violet hasn’t said much about what the daughter had done but none the less this issue is by far about the abusive marriage based on how Violet has responded (or allowed certain things to continue) via her husband. She is getting stronger and waking up to her responsibilities and the cost of those.
Violet, Maria and others here;
There is not much info on what the daughter did, not sure that would be relevant when we are speaking of parent /child dynamics.
Maybe the daughter stood up to the dictator and modeled what her mom needed to do, andvif that is the case then the daughter did the right thing! Even though it cost her much. Many times doing the right thing towards unhealthy people is the healthiest healing thing we can do for ourselves and all involved.
Because this hits so close to my own situation i have a gut feeling that the daughters truths and courage were a threat to her dad and his controlling the household rather than serving the home as a servant leader he is called to.
You are right Aly, a child’s behavior does not warrant emotional abuse. I was trying to to understand what Terri was saying.
Yes, thanks for counseling firming that above. 😊
I was trying to understand where that analogy from Terri was in reference to Violets story, that’s why I asked & needed more clarification.
Hoping that Terri would clarify here;)? thanks it would be appreciated if you can Terri.
Oops ‘ confirming’ not counseling ( auto correct)🤣
While expecting my tenth child, I became chronically ill. When I could no longer both father & mother our children and my husband remained unwilling to co-parent, our children essentially began ‘being raised by wolves’ (at least that’s how I came to think of it) and all of them began to ‘act out’.
Leslie mentions two ways of ‘acting out’ in Luke 15. Some of our children become prodigals while some became elder brothers. All of them desperately needed us but unlike the fatherly example of truth & love in the parable of the prodigal sons, when I could no longer enable the abuse to continue in our marriage, the focus of power and control shifted to the children and became parental alienation.
Cautionary Tale: The abuse within our marriage has a rip-tide’s invisible deadliness. Like the ice-berg that sank the Titanic, although the destruction was hidden beneath the surface, the reality ripped our ‘family ship’ apart no matter how frantically I justified, minimized, rationalized, spiritualized and denied what was happening.
Our son was desperate. Instead of meeting him where he was, his father kicked him out. Trusting him implicitly, I went on juggling chronic illness with the needs of the rest of the family thinking what my husband did had the goal of restoration.
My son’s desperation became animosity and then hatred. Eventually he pulled out a knife and I began to be afraid of him. My husband needed a scapegoat but more than that, his hatred, cruelty and contempt was contagious.
Parental alienation [P.A.] compels children to violate the only commandment with a promise by forcing them to choose to honor one parent & dishonor the other or risk not belonging themselves (Exodus 20). As I understand it, P.A. is one of the most destructive dynamics of abuse because it uses a child’s deepest fears of not belonging to tear them in two, making them as dependent upon the alienating parent as the former victim was until (as in my case) the children took my place in the cycle of power & control while compounding my victimization many times over…
Abuse crafts ‘no-win’ scenarios for it’s victims. As the focus of the abuse shifted from our marriage to the alienation of the children, it was just as invisible as the marital abuse had been, but the tips of the icebergs were very real and every one had a waving red-flag on top: When my husband stepped up and initiated family activities, he had a definite agenda: The activities excluded me and began to set me up for my new role as ‘scapegoat’. My guilt at not being able to continue to over-function with the children caused me to excuse their growing animosity and continue to enable what was happening until the pattern of abuse had duplicated itself in the lives of our children and I could no longer deny the reality of what was happening.
As I lost my voice as a partner, then as a parent, and then as a person, I told myself this was what it felt like to ‘lose my life for Christ’s sake’. (!!!) By the time a daughter’s suicidal ideation finally woke me up, parental alienation had been our default setting for over ten years. When I finally I took my marriage to the church and asked for a formal custody evaluation in order to acquire counseling to address the P.A. it was too late. My ex-husband used the children’s alienation as proof of his point-of-view: That I was the abuser, not him.
If abuse depends the lies we tell ourselves? Jesus is the Truth. Truth is: God is the One Who wounds & heals. He puts to death & makes alive; He causes forms light & creates darkness; causes well-being and creates calamity (from Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 45:7). Although I’m way better at denial than facing the harshness of my current reality? Being courageously committed to the truth compels me to get to know the God Who takes intentional evil (on both sides of the cycle of abuse) and intends it for good. The God Who comes face to face with those in the unusually hot furnace of parental alienation…
Pam, Our God, who is love incarnate, does not INTEND evil, He ALLOWS it (there are so many things that he allows that we cannot understand), and then uses it to accomplish His purpose, that is, to cause us to turn our hearts fully to Him, to allow Him to fill us with His life. When we suffer, parts of our being get opened to Him that couldn’t be opened without the suffering. Now “the God of all grace, He who has called you into His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a little while, will Himself perfect, establish, strengthen, and ground you. To Him be the glory and the might, forever and ever, Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10-11) Thus, He is able to turn all the evil into something good.
I am so very sorry for all that you have suffered, with your abusive husband, your chronic illness and the parental alienation. Now, allow Him to work in you His good pleasure. Strengthen your CORE, lean desperately on Him, and He can make a way for you to be restored to your children. But if He doesn’t, or you have to wait a long time, the important thing is to cultivate an intimate, loving relationship with Him. Then you win and He gets the glory.
One of my “complaints” about my husband is that he not only does not have an emotional relationship with me, but also doesn’t have one with our children. He plays and jokes with them. Asks them to do things. And like with me, stays very “on the surface.” So when it comes to spiritual training, life lessons, discipline and especially dealing with anything emotional I have realized that I am the one that handles it all. When I have tried to talk to him, his excuse is he is at work all day and I’m the one mostly home.
One of my other “complaints” is that he tries to be funny with sarcastic, snarky, and what feels like (to me) belittling comments. When I have tried to tell him this his excuse is that I’m too critical and why can’t he try to have fun and joke around with me and the kids?
I know now why these “conversations” about my “complaints” never went anywhere because they were met with blame shifting, justifying and minimizing from him. Thank you, Leslie, for helping me see this through your ministry. And from Patrick Doyle videos that you sisters on this blog have suggested.
Anyhow, a couple weeks ago we needed to have a serious talk with our 17 year old son who was over reaching his new found freedom because he just got his drivers licence. In an attempt to try to include my husband instead of handling it all myself like I usually do, we sat down together with our son to talk and make clear the rules which we actually agreed on. But then in the delivery, I felt like my husband made 2 belittling comments to our son. I said something privately to him that I didn’t think was critical, it was just speaking my mind. His reaction? “If you think I am always belittling then why do you even ask me to be a part of this? Just do it yourself next time!”
If I do it all myself, then I feel like I am over-functioning, and I feel like I am always the “bad guy” who gives and enforces consequences and has to have all of the hard conversations. But if he is a part of it and does his sarcasm then I don’t like that either because I know how I am wounded from the sarcasm and I feel like I need to protect our kid’s hearts from it too.
But probably the hardest part of our dysfunction is when the snarky thing is said, I just walk away and go cool off, but then nothing is ever really said again about it.
The “old me” used to be willing to sweep it under the rug and forgive and forget without acknowledgement or apology. I genuinely thought I was just not patient enough if my spirit continued to be bothered. So the “new me” wants to operate in CORE, but it is not natural or easy to change from my old ways. Honestly every time we get into one of these places where we butt heads, it feels very hopeless because I can see that he will not acknowledge responsibility on his end and I imagine he is subconsciously fighting for it to go back to the way it used to be, when I didn’t have any “complaints” at all, and everything was “fine” all the time.
Cathy, when you were writing about your story, you were also telling my story. I could have written everything you said. You talked about situations with the children in regard to sarcasm ,belittling ,and snarky comments. With those kind of behaviours, I would think that you have suffered from comments directed at you that destroys the marriage relationship. Just like me, you “have no voice”, not because you haven’t spoken up in CORE strength but because he is unwilling to see anyone else’s viewpoint. Another way to state that is not having the capacity to have empathy for someone else, which is a clear mark of a narcissist. From the sounds of your story, I would think your husband would be considered a covert or a closet narcissist. Outside the family , they can have absolutely impeccable facades. It is hard to tell anyone else that knows you about what goes on inside your house because no one would believe you, because they only experience the facade. I suggest you Google Alan Rappaport PhD for an article called “Co- narcissism”. It outlines the effects of this on the children, and I felt like this man was writing my story as well. But it took me several years to realize that I was no better off than the children as I was being treated like a child and had no voice.
Prayers for your journey and a change in your story. Your story will change when you change but it’s very unlikely that he will change.
A word of caution about diagnosing your h. It could be that he’s narcissistic, or he could be exhibiting those traits that come from an ‘ defensive controlling’ posture.
Either way, if you take steps to develop your CORE, and focus mostly on your own heart, then time and his responses -to the boundaries and requirements you set, and make – will reveal if he will be willing to submit to The Lord.
The most difficult change in this, for me anyways, was changing my focus from his behaviour, to my heart. You can only control your own behaviour.
I think I didn’t see a post but read some others that Cathy wrote.
I agree with you Nancy and I also read that it sounds like you Cathy are making changes and speaking up rather than shoving thing under the rug. Good for you not pretending that the home is ‘just fine’.
There are many reasons of why you husband reacts this way, like Nancy said..and yes he very well could be a narcissist. Would he prefer you to think he was and there is no hope for him. Regardless you do have plenty of bridges to cross without him or maybe with him?
It might be helpful since your husband can’t hold anything negative or a complaint/request creates a land mind… that you write down your boundaries and what you require of him.
My husband acted the same way and was quite immature overall ~ it was not a marriage nor was he parenting in a healthy way. (time was of the essence).
As you write out your expectations of how you expect to be treated (during times of bringing these imp. matters to light) write out to him and yourself of what you will and will not tolerate … in any reaction.
Also write out what is reasonable to you.
Write out what the consequences are if he chooses to not respect you and most likely it is my hunch that you will have to have a 3rd party involved. (Part of a consequence of his inability to not tolerate the reasonable places of marriage and raising children)
Does your husband initiate complaints or anything that he would like you to address and how do you respond? Or does he only bring these up as you initiate your experience of him?
Aly, you said, “There are many reasons of why your husband reacts this way, like Nancy said..and yes he very well could be a narcissist. Would he prefer you to think he was and there is no hope for him?”
Good question. At the beginning of me trying to say “something is wrong in our marriage” when I would just ask for more personal connection, his excuse would be “this is just the way my brain works, it’s really hard for me to have conversations with people, including you.” But then I would wait and wait and wait and there was no attempt for any change. I have always believed that, with God’s help, we can change and grow and that we are meant to do that in this life. Although he is a Christian, the way he lives it out is also very much on the surface and not relational.
And now anything I say, no matter how I say it is just seen as a reminder that I think he’s doing it wrong. So I’m not sure if he doesn’t want to change, or if he just truly believes he can’t, so why try?
You also asked, “Does your husband initiate complaints or anything that he would like you to address and how do you respond? Or does he only bring these up as you initiate your experience of him?” He doesn’t bring things up unless I bring up first what I want to change. I have written a few letters trying to explain my side, and then after I read Leslie’s book, a confrontation letter, but his reaction to these is we are both at fault and since it’s just as much my fault and therefore responsibility to change (to “stop being so critical, and looking for ways to be offended”), but I really appreciate your detailed description of what to really think through on what I will tolerate and what I won’t in our future discussions.
Thank you for sharing some of your story through this blog. It helps to see what others are dealing with especially those of you that are several steps ahead of me.
“So I’m not sure if he doesn’t want to change, or if he just truly believes he can’t, so why try?”
This is really important because I believe a common behavior in many of these men and their attitude is this;
Is it that he can’t change? Or is it that he wants ‘you’ to believe that he can’t?
How convenient would that be for the non changing this is my brain etc.
In counseling~ my husband was met with this block many times.. the I can’t verses I won’t. There is a big difference.
The counselor pinned it every time.
See change is what happens when we are in relationship with Christ and influenced by other Christians especially. We can’t help but transform as an authentic growing Christian, change is to me one of the ways that we know the Holy Spirit is working with our hearts and our behaviors.
Oh and if your husband interprets the concept of change ‘as trying to be perfect’ .. that’s not what is being talked about on here.
“He doesn’t bring things up unless I bring up first what I want to change.”
Yes typical but not healthy .. why? Because then the topic gets deflected. The deflection is now about the two of you and this takes away from what he needs to focus on.
Similar to a leveling example of you are both at fault so the impact isnt as painful or remorseful for him to feel.
It’s a form of avoidance.
And again as you wrote below;
” I have written a few letters trying to explain my side, and then after I read Leslie’s book, a confrontation letter, but his reaction to these is we are both at fault and since it’s just as much my fault and therefore responsibility to change”
Here Cathy you see the pattern. And why I found my self feeling crazy and ashamed of being critical … in truth I wasn’t being critical by exposing what was wrong in our marriage. I would have been wrong for not ‘exposing’.
Your exposing your experience and reality of him in marriage. Of course he’s going to accuse you of being critical.
Another comment that can help~
Is..’husband how do you think you are doing with our connection and our ability to come close emotionally and spiritual?’
Get prepared for (a shock look and the foreign language battle) maybe I’m assuming.😜
On tolerating ~ I had to tell my h I would not tolerate the ‘leveling’ or the shifting the complaints back at the time I was initiating something that I needed resolve on. I told him verbally and in writing that he has any moment any time to bring whatever he has to me and initiate what his complaints are… I am not a mind reader. And this was HIS responsibility to act on his own.
When he faces this.. his response was well I don’t really have a complaint. Ok, well you can’t only choose to have a complaint when I do because then you are not walking in honesty and it is not a good place to work through things to better ourselves.
This is a pattern that was a poor coping skill that began early in our marriage I had no idea or tools to understand what was taking place. I needed serious help.
(Now above the dialog is for dysfunctional marriages) healthier marriages don’t have to have this type of dialog. The person receiving the complaint or request has respect for the other to consider and ‘care’ how they are impacting their spouse. It’s not a Ninja battle to be heard or regarded.
I had the same issue, and limit, Aly.
I would bring something up and he would ‘piggy back’ on my initiation to talk about what was bugging him. This did a couple of things for him:
1) shifted responsibility to me ( or levelling as you called it Aly)
2) absolved him of the responsibility to initiate any issues he did have with me.
Stopping this was vital for creating an environment of change. He, of course, fought me because this posture was very comfy for him!
Maybe you, Cathy, can just make it clear that he’s welcome to initiate a conversation any time. When you initiate, it’s to deal with the specific thing you’ve brought up and you need that respected.
Develop a one-liner that re-in forces this boundary (because IT WILL get challenged). If he doesn’t respect the limit, tell him that you need to end the conversation and you’ll try again later on. Try to keep things factual in his presence and then go for a walk to rant and rave with God. This is what I did when he crossed lines. Kept cool with him, and freaked out with God!
I had to do this over and over. The amount of times I had to walk away from a conversation got really old and frustrating. But giving it to God was very healing. This is the ‘guarding your heart’, part 🙂
Good luck Cathy!
So I’m wondering…. since I haven’t had to deal with this kind of behavior personally….if you are going to stick with the “facts,” what would happen if you simply said, “That was unkind,” or “That was hurtful.”? then walk away. Then you are defining the behavior, detaching yourself from the emotional response and leaving. These guys think it is okay to be sarcastic and snarky, but instead of trying to tell them it’s not okay to say those things, just let him know, “I don’t like sarcasm.”
Have any of you tried this, and if so, what was the outcome?
My point is that saying “That was unkind” isn’t criticizing, it’s just calmly stating a fact.
Guys that behave this way are very angry inside, and they will take any opportunity to dump their anger on anyone and everyone that crosses them. Eventually, you can say, “I am not willing to allow you to dump your anger on me anymore.” I advised a friend to say this, and it caught her husband up short and he stopped. Just labeling his behavior as anger made him stop and think about it.
When I have called out the sarcasm by saying it was hurtful, or I don’t like him joking in that way, my husband usually just dismisses it by saying. “You are too sensitive.” Or “You make too big of a deal out of everything.” Or “Why do you have to be so serious about everything? Why can’t I joke around and have fun?” He isn’t open to talking about it or really listening to me. That’s why one of my biggest “complaints” is that he doesn’t really care about what I think, feel, need or want. He is convinced that he does because on the surface it does look that way. He goes to work every day and he helps around the house and with the kids sometimes. If I need something from the grocery store , he will get it. If my phone or computer isn’t working, he will fix it. If my car needs loaded or unloaded, he will help me. All without complaining. It’s really just the relational level where all of our problems lie. And he thinks we talk about it a lot because I am speaking up more, but he never admits responsibility , apologizes or attempts change. So in his mind, I think, it all seems good when he is doing things and I’m not “complaining”, but then if I need to tell him something that he said or did hurt me, his reaction is to get angry. I guess it works for him because that usually gets me quiet again.
Your last comment below is correct to me.. he’s TRAINING you how not to speak up because he doesn’t want to even consider you guys have no true intimacy of heart. In his mind he is probably quite satisfied because its function and not much work for him.
Once again I can say I could have written every word that you wrote about family relations. Obviously he is not interested in a heart-to-heart and face-to-face intimate relationship with anyone in the family. Doing some good assistance helps him maintain the helpful husband facade to convince himself he is okay. In reality, at least on a subconscious level , he is working against self-loathing and woundedness.
You describe the way my h and I used to relate. To. A. Tee.
Requiring more of your h is a gift. As long as you only focus on externals, you will feel guilty. We are not only physical creatures, Cathy. We are emotional and spiritual beings and these aspects are being completely neglected.
I agree with Aly. He’s training you.
Yes mine too to a tee!
Nancy so agree;) and Cathy, he might have had success prior with this dance but not longer~
Because you are choosing to change, expect him to struggle with your ability to get better equipped to deal with you h in a new way. Just as Nancy has said expect him to Challenge, he will!
Sometimes you have to see it on different levels~Sad I know but for me it helped me get perspective. For ex;
A child never having a bedtime then being required to have one.. they don’t adapt well to something they think they are entitled to.
There are plenty of analogies but maybe that might help.
One of my one~liners was..
“Ok I’m happy to hear and resolve your complaints, but right now we are focusing on this_____.”
Redirect right back.
And I would also say, well h you are not the one initiating this so let’s resolve this that I am currently initating and then ‘you’ can initiate what needs you have.
Honestly, it was scary to me to see just how intelligent my husband was at keeping a laundry list for such occasions.
It is not used to problem solve, but misused to dismiss, deflect, disregard (deny) every ‘d’ word you can name .. mostly it was to make something DYSFUNCTIONAL when the other person is making something ‘functional and healthy’.
Cathy it’s a long road but a road you will walk regardless. God is strengthening you and you won’t be able to do it alone.
It has helped me a lot to distinguish our marriage as destructive and not just disappointing or difficult, as Leslie talks about. And with the talk on the blog I have wondered if my husband is narcissistic or even Asperger’s, but honestly I’m not worried about the labels as much as I am worried about trying to fight the temptation to try change him and only focus on him rather than keep the focus on myself and my reactions. But I would like my reactions to have some kind of positive result in waking him up to the destructiveness, and I feel like I need to keep at least a glimmer of hope in that or else what is the use in trying? My husband is very passive most the time. The sarcasm, I think, is just his immature way of trying to relate to people to try to get a laugh out of them and because we are the ones he talks to (sometimes), we hear it. I really only see his anger come out when I am challenging him or bringing up one of my “complaints”.
Yes Cathy that is true. The minute you start making changes the husband will long for how things were before. Mine says that too even after I’ve asked for a separation! With teenaged kids it is very tricky and I’ve found myself in difficult situations because of my h’s way of dealing with stuff, making a mountain out of a mole hill, confronting, being suspicious, always being negative. There is a no win scenario when we try and appease. We have to stand up for what we know in our hearts to be right.
So your husband makes a mountain out of a molehill and is suspicious and negative? My husband would say that about me because I am the only one that gives rules to our kids about the phone and internet use, checks their phones for inappropriate views or talk and has the discussions and gives out the consequences for bad choices. I would just call myself involved and if trust is broken, as Leslie points out, it needs to be regained, not freely given. Like I said, it makes me look like the “bad guy” sometimes and my husband is the “fun guy” with jokes and sarcasm.
Maybe more like ‘grandpa’ or one of the teens?
My husband is like that, too. Any criticism, no matter how gently, lovingly, and carefully put, is responded with a flying leap and damaging reaction, usually an abdication and grudge holding. It feels like I am training an abused pit bull in that I have to ignore bad behavior and reinforce the good just to make it functionable, but I will always be on my guard and never fully able to trust the safety of being with him.
I was denied a kiss and an I love you simply because I tried explaining a difficulty women face in receiving health care. He said it was feminist bunk and a whole lot of made up whining. I didn’t argue or anything. I know better. I just dropped it and tried sharing cute dog pics I found on facebook, instead. He wouldn’t even look at me!! Seriously!!
This is why I try to remember to just stick with truths.
Libl, I also described my husband as an abused pitbull. An extremely loud one. I told my father he doesn’t get to see the pitbull side.
My previous attempt(s) at training has failed. The pitbull is still training me. I am out of strength to fight right now.
I’m so glad you are here gaining strength and clarity.
I hear what you are saying about being out of strength. I think of people in denial ( of their own pain) as masters. We’ll NEVER ‘win’ by playing by their rules. After all, as you say, that’s how he’s been training you.
Focusing on CORE strength is a whole new way to be. It’s totally new, and exhausting in it’s own way, but it allows the strength of The Lord in.
Are you safe, Renee? Are you in touch with a women’s shelter?
Nancy you asked
Are you safe Renee? Are you in touch with a women’s shelter?
Physically? I feel safe except for when he is having an anger episode. Mentally? I don’t feel safe to share or receive. I haven’t been in touch with a women’s shelter but have been saving for my own place just in case.
I don’t know how things will go once our counseling really kicks in for us.
Based on the behaviors you have listed in conversations here, expect the counseling to go very badly. He is already shown he does not have a heart for your needs, he does not take responsibility for his behavior or what comes out of his mouth, he uses intimidation and anger to the point you don’t feel physically safe. Expect him to not like counseling, to try to convince the counselor that you are crazy, and to escalate his drama behaviors to make you back out of counseling. He can do this even if he acts compliant in a session but then takes it out on you when you get home The counseling will probably make things worse at home before things will get better, meaning you become stronger. Do not expect him to invest himself into the process and use many excuses including money to make the counseling stop, all the while blaming you. .I have experienced how counseling made it worse and I have read many stories on this blog about that happening because often counselors don’t see and understand what goes on at home or they dismiss the wife in preference for the husband , because they have the wrong definition of “head of the home”.
I would advise you to find a counselor for you to help you work on your CORE strength and understanding the dysfunctional dynamic that has been going on for years, how denial has played a part, how your accommodating his demands has played a part, how your family of origin may have set you up to accommodate, how it has affected you at the heart and soul level for yourself and any children, and with intamacy (or lack of it ) in the marriage relationship.. You have probably lived with a false sense of intimacy from the beginning because he is not capable of that level a relationship. Not until I found a really good counselor for myself, did I get the help to change and become stronger and establish boundaries on behavior.
You are right in protecting & defending your children from what I would call emotional abuse and on going neglect.
I reread your post:
“But then in the delivery, I felt like my husband made 2 belittling comments to our son. I said something privately to him that I didn’t think was critical, it was just speaking my mind. His reaction? “If you think I am always belittling then why do you even ask me to be a part of this? Just do it yourself next time!”
Self sabatoge works well when a partner really doesn’t want to be involved in the thicker places of parenting as if they feel entitled to pick and choose what places of parenting they are interested in. He is trying to continue to train you to do the hard parts of parenting without a partner. This actually harms the child in other ways because the child see a 2 parent home and is confused at the lack of the other parent? They don’t feel loved or valued … and this is even more critical because you have a same gender parent thing going on.
My husband grew up in places like this and it made him believe he was ‘not significant’ and it sabotaged/hijacked his relationship with the Lord.
“I am wounded from the sarcasm and I feel like I need to protect our kid’s hearts from it too.
But probably the hardest part of our dysfunction is when the snarky thing is said, I just walk away and go cool off, but then nothing is ever really said again about it”
The fact that that above is where it cycles and doesn’t repair is as much of the problem as the other corners.
Cathy I’m so sorry for this but I think the best avenue given this dynamic is a counselor. I don’t see your husband making any progress outside of interventions given what you have shared and the length of how long these patterns have been going on.
Do you have a counselor now? You are your children’s advocate and I don’t want you to regret getting help when you are aware of your dysfunctional relationship with your husband.
Thank you, Aly, for your reply. And for caring enough to re read my post. It does feel good to be heard in a different way. I have come to the same conclusion that I need to just get counseling myself to try to break these patterns and I did make an appointment today. She is a professional counselor through my church and when I called to ask her some questions first and to see if she is experienced in dealing with emotional abuse when the husband doesn’t really see the need to work on things or change. She said she recently has dealt with 3 of these same scenarios where the women are first learning to stick up for themselves. That encouraged me that she will be a good place to at least start. Even if my marriage never gets better I at least hope to heal myself enough to be a better advocate for my children and to be able to teach them about healthier relationships.
Good for you that you are getting help from a counselor! Sounds like you are making some important steps of change. The more healthy support you have around you the clearer the steps can become even if they are scary. Getting out of an abusive cycle takes (a team) in my opinion. It isn’t something where we read a book or study certain scripture or pray for our husband to change, it’s a process and journey that is life changing and life defining & freeing. It’s day and night.
Your husband may never join you but my prayer will be that he chooses to if that’s Gods will.
And besides it really isn’t about our husbands, it’s about us and our Lord’s purpose & kingdom.
You can ‘invite’ your husband into recovery just as God invites us into life, but stay on the path He is bringing you to;) He loves you and He will equip you.
Having that motivation for your children is powerful and that is something that has helped me along the way and it is something God has blessed me with. I have no idea how God plans to use them for His glory~
Blessings and hugs 💕
Regarding this phrase “Your husband may never join you but my prayer will be that he chooses to if that’s Gods will.”
Aly, it is God’s will that all ,including this husband, would submit to but needed change to become the spiritual leader of his marriage and family.
It is God’s will that there be a functional marriage for this sister. If he chooses not to change, it is because he is choosing to remain in sin when he has a wife who is trying to point the way. Choosing to remain in sin is never God’s will. He is acting as an unbeliever while putting on the facade of a follower of Christ , if he calls himself a Christian.
I could not agree more with you on many things you noted. But maybe we see differently in places of being a professing Christian and behaving like an unbeliever. The Bible gives a few examples of how to handle this.
“Aly, it is God’s will that all ,including this husband, would submit to but needed change to become the spiritual leader of his marriage and family.”
Maybe it’s a non essential element here. But if God wills it, then it must be.
I pray that my prayers, my lens and my heart will honor the Lord and will align with what is His will over the Kingdom.
God is sovereign. What He wills is what He has willed.
Did God will sin.. or does He allow it in the overall plan of His story?
Of those that are His, He loses none of them.
Choosing to remain in sin is never Gods will. I would agree. He calls us to Him and wants us in process of growing each day more and more in His image.
Becoming a believer doesn’t wipe away the flesh or the sin.
A professing Christian acting like an unbeliever needs confronting for the health of their own heart and the body of Christ.
My prayer request was that the husband would accept the wife’s ‘invitation’ to follow the Lord with her and be committed to growing in Christ in their marriage. An Ezer has a pretty important role and unique leverage that many others don’t have weight toward a man or husband.
Redeemed marriages come out of Gods will and our participation that the Lord invites us into.
A husband who remains unwilling or is stubbling the wife in her ability to grow in Christ has some difficult places of truth to look at.
Maybe the husband is quite comfy with how the health of the marriage is? Maybe there is not a reason for him to think they are in trouble?
If he claims to be a Christian and part of the Body of Christ, yet doesn’t have the heart or action to align with this.., then we all are suffering in the body because of his lack of integration with what he says he believes and yet what his behavior reveals.
As ambassadors of Christ we are called to repentance, growth (not stagnation, not deciding being a baby Christian for decades is what God has inspired~ see Hebrews) but for perseverance in carrying Gods love and truth to building of the Kindgom!
Thank you Aly, Nancy and others for sharing some of the specific words you have said to your husbands. It is so helpful to have a glimpse of your interactions. I think part of my blindness for a long time was when I would be hurt by something my husband said or did and I would question in my mind “is this normal?” that I really didn’t have any up close and personal couples that I knew handled conflict in a healthy way to compare it to. And so my normal was “normal”. It is amazing how God will speak to us in our spirits, if we will listen.
There is a reason the Holy Spirit is described as a still small voice though. It was a whisper vs the louder voices of “I was sinning more for not forgiving, etc.”
As one of my motivations is to help my children not fall into the same repetitive patterns , I’m wondering when did you tell your children and how much did you tell them? Did you sit them down individually and tell each one as their age and maturity allowed? When I was under the illusion that my husband would want to work on things, I didn’t think I needed to disrupt my children’s security to talk about this but now I feel like my older ones (teens) know but it’s like an elephant in the room and my younger ones (8-11) are oblivious, but at the age where I really should tell them.
Cathy, one of the hard doses of reality is that your 8 to 11 year olds are not oblivious. The experiences they have seen in heard and the dysfunction of the family is already branded into their heart, soul , and mind. They have their own critical inner voice that says I am not good enough to be loved in the way that I want from my father. They have no voice to express their feelings and ask for what they need and want. Our first images of a father God relationship is based on our Earthly father relationship. It is possible for you and your children to work through finding new identity based on God’s unconditional love, but it is a slow long journey. Your children need to hear from you that some behaviors are not normal and you will need to defend them and give them a safe place to use their voice. Just like you they would like to have a loving safe relationship that is being withheld by a very wounded man. I suggest you seek out a counselor very quickly , especially to help your teenagers before they start acting out in confusion and hurt.
I’m not really sure what the exposure is for your children. But most children can feel tension at many levels and internalize.
As you work with a counselor you will be able to get more directives since the counseling will entail much more details.
One thing based on my children’s ages was we did not hide the help we sought. They have grow up knowing that we reach out to others (pastors/classes/counseling) and are in community close friends in our process. Growing and learning is a normal in our home for adults not just children.
I say this because you mentioned normal was your normal. For me, I wanted reaching out, being in a growth process and getting help to be more ‘a normal’ to our children, regardless of where my husband stood because He came from some pretty dysfunctional beliefs (more avoidant) so we had a long road ahead. I also did too, and my road entailed tolerating far too much of someone’s norm.
“There is a reason the Holy Spirit is described as a still small voice though. It was a whisper vs the louder voices of “I was sinning more for not forgiving, etc.”
So true here in your example, I can remember feeling this way in many of circumstances. But it’s hard because you can’t forgive something that is ongoing. If we forgive too soon, we can actually continue an attitude in the offender that they don’t have much to change or think about or some loose their motivation to seek real remorse.
See Patrick Doyle and others on this: but many of us were taught to forgive quickly as an act of Christ, and yes we are to forgive but not while it’s in the ‘present’. Forgiveness is a process and as you may also agree … forgiveness does not mean their is a reconciling.
“As one of my motivations is to help my children not fall into the same repetitive patterns , I’m wondering when did you tell your children and how much did you tell them?”
Early on children are taught how to be in relationship within the family unit for sure. They learn a lot of modeled behaviors. You mention repetitive patterns, and I’m not sure what you mean by this without more detail? Are you speaking about you and your spouse?
The best thing I think we can offer our children is that rupture or conflict is bound to happen~ but teaching them how to ‘repair’ is critical.
“When I was under the illusion that my husband would want to work on things,”
What other outside help have you saught to work on things? What interventions were taking place that was giving you the illusion of this? This is imp Cathy.
“I didn’t think I needed to disrupt my children’s security to talk about this but now I feel like my older ones (teens) know but it’s like an elephant in the room and my younger ones (8-11) are oblivious, but at the age where I really should tell them.”
What are you wanting to tell them?
All of your children are aware that this is taking place even though each of them will normalize to cope to some degree. I think it’s healthy given the situation that children are affirmed of their reality. When we are in reality we can better help them grieve and process than give them different pictures to confuse them. (Not saying your doing that)
How might you acknowledge the elephant in the room with each age?
Most kids want to know they have parents they can count on and trust and where they feel safe and secure they feel loved. Be trustworthy and consistent with them, is the best I can offer here… you will get a lot more help in counseling as you get into more daily details. Hope that is helpful?
Cathy, Both Aly and CBPP have offered very wise counsel. Please pray over these things, and learn from the Lord how to handle each situation. I want to offer one observation: When children feel unsafe, confused, or threatened in any way, or when they are angry about what is happening in their lives, like divorce, they tend to act out against the parent that they feel safest with. That would probably be you. If they feel unsafe with their father, they could not express their anger and frustration and hurt. So, when this happens, it is important to validate their feelings, just hug them and let them get “all the mad out.” You must be their “port in the storm,” their safe haven. I like what someone, Aly I think, said about having the children write about their anger. This would be especially helpful for the older children.
This is a great question, Cathy. Our girls are now very close to 14 and 10. I started paying attention to that still small voice when they were newly 12 and 8 (with a major wake up call by Leslie’s book!)
I’ll just speak from my experience and what I think, and hope that others will chime in here, too.
I have never sat either of them down and I wonder if that is a good idea to do so, at any minor age. The most powerful agent of change in their lives will be- I think- seeing their mother respectfully disagree, stand up to, set limits with, their father.
As you begin to practice CORE strength, there will be turbulent waters. That’s why clinging to Christ is essential in this process. Transparency in your communication and behaviour AS IT’S HAPPENING will remove the elephant from the room. Not by talking ABOUT your husband to your children, but by communicating authentically TO your husband in front of them.
If you talk to them in private I think you will be placing a burden of secrecy and perhaps a feeling of being torn, onto them…?
There is nothing wrong with children and teens seeing disagreement. I know I thought it would damage them. Seeing their mother confront in a self-controlled way is a GIFT.
At some point along the way, you may want to acknowledge the change they are experiencing in a lighthearted way ( in front of your h, if it’s safe for you to do so). If they give you a baffled look or seem surprised by something, maybe you say, “I know, right? Mom’s using her voice a lot more these days!” And leave it at that,
Children and teens -I think- need to have their feelings validated ( as in the example above, by validating their confusion over the change), but don’t need to know our history or too much detail.
I think all of this will depend on how rocky things get in your house as you set limits and require change of your h.
I look forward to what others may say on this.
I think it’s really important not to underestimate the healthy and life-giving changes that will come into our home, as a direct result of us walking in CORE strength.
We need to put on our own oxygen mask first, before we can help our children with theirs.
As we grow in CORE strength we, by default, become much more of an emotionally safe place for our kids. Yes, they have been damaged, true. But this is an opportunity to show them what ‘dependence on God’ looks like. So many kids grow up in homes where ‘walking with Christ’ is talked about, but not applied.
As we grow in Christ He walks us through our own healing process and we become more and more equipped to help our kids with their own wounding.
If they need counselling, get it for them but right now -I think – you need to focus on your own heart (using your voice, setting limits and making requirements).
Thank you all for taking the time to write your stories and supportive words and for taking the time to pray for me. It all has been helpful and uplifting–I have never felt this much love and support. Thank you.
You are not a coward bc little bit by little as you have the strength you’re willing to have the courage to face the truth about your family. That makes you brave.
Most women in you situation would go in denial.
From what I read in your post, you grew up being indoctrinated to be completely obedient to your husband, like some lightning bolt would strike you if you say a cross word to him. But remember Sapphira? She submitted to her husband and look at what it got her? If the people who preach absolute blind submission would THINK about it for awhile, they would realize you can’t give that kind of submission to a flawed human being – you have to use DISCERNMENT and BALANCE. When a broken, angry man gets power over a wife and children, people can get hurt. You unfortunately, are one of the victims. It may be too late for your marriage to be fixed, but as far as your own personal healing and understanding I would recommend reading the books: “Mending the Soul” by Stephen Tracy,
“How We Love” Milan &
Kay Yerkovich, and
“Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bancroft.
Your husband has a dictator style of running your household. So, the oldest daughter pushed him too far. Now, he’s threatening to leave you if you don’t ‘tow the line’. I am so sorry for your situation.
Have you kept up with your daughter’s life through social media or mutual acquaintances? Has she married or had children?
Violet, you were in a terrible situation. You were groomed to submit and obey. You thought that was always God’s will. Now, years later like many of us here can say in hindsight – that wasn’t God’s will.
I’m sure you’ve agonized over missing your daughter.
I would encourage you to pray and then reach out to her, but sometimes an estranged daughter takes along time to feel ready to reconnect with the mother they feel betrayed her. So, don’t be surprised if at first she rejects your offer of reconciliation. Just leave the offer on the table.
The saddest part of the story is how your husband has portrayed God the Father to this daughter (and the other children). If we truly get our image of God from our earthly dad, then those kids see God as someone to hide from, to reject, or to be angry with.
I would encourage you to pray specifically for the Lord to you give a support team. You need people you can share your situation with. When my marriage was exposed as abusive, I had to switch churches. This got me out from under the burden of teaching Sunday school which I normally enjoyed but not during that stressful time. It got my teenagers in a more vibrant youth program. I was able to join a ladies Bible study.
Violet, as you pray about your next steps and consider changing churches, perhaps you could investigate:
1. locating a church that’s going to build you up in God’s Grace, rather than a gospel of works. Not liberal, sin-tolerant body but one that’s still a very-loving church. NOT a condemning church!
2. A church that will support abuse victims and says that abuse victims can Biblically divorce. (verbal and emotional abuse too, not just physical)
I know reading all our responses is overwhelming. What you are doing is brave, you are breaking the cycle of abuse.
Leslie’s website is good. There’s another website that would be good for you to read on especially since you’ve been heavily guilted into submission-
To answer some of your questions, yes, I have kept track of my daughter through social media and through family members I can trust. My daughter is married and has a precious daughter of her own! I have learned that she struggles with mental health issues and alcohol abuse–this saddens me greatly. I do owe her a huge apology, and I hope it will help her to heal regardless of whether she will allow a relationship with me; I have hopes but no expectations of her.
I am blessed to attend a Catholic church where our priest has been so empowering and encouraging of me even to the point of advising me to get a lawyer. He has no tolerance for bullies. Now I have to learn the same! Building my CORE has been a daily challenge for sure. My husband is very clever with words convincing me black is white and up is down. I often come out of our arguments with my head spinning, and it takes time to sort out exactly what tactics he used in order to be able to address them respectfully and firmly. I am trying to STAY WELL as I put together a safety and an exit plan.
Thank you for the book recommendations. I have read Lundy Bancroft’s book, but will have to look for the other two you mentioned. I’m sure they will be helpful additions to the knowledge I am gaining.
Violet, I am so glad that you have kept in touch with your daughter, so you won’t be coming back into her life “out of the blue.” May I suggest? that when you do re-establish contact, you might offer to have a few sessions together with a counselor. This could get you both back on track to a healthier relationship with each other and healing for yourself.
The “head spinning” thing is a good indication that he is playing with your mind and manipulating you. This is sometimes also called “gaslighting,” making you feel like you are the crazy one. Open your eyes to see this for what it is: damaging and manipulating behavior. This may not be worth hanging around for. What it is doing the the other children in the family?
I’m so glad that you have the support of your priest.
Violet, if it seems like you’re moving out of your comfort zone a bit then that’s probably GOD! He’s gently leading guiding you into more and more truth bc (it’s obvious to us) you have a tender heart. ❤️ Unfortunately your abusive husband misused your goodness AGAINST you. What treachery! To stay well, you’ll have to develop a firm resolve to say NO and be ready to live with his pouting or his fury.
He sounds so toxic that staying well would be difficult.
Do you want to stay married bc you love him, or for the stability of the younger children, or for the financial support?
Or do you feel that staying married is what God is leading you to do?
The most important thing is really praying over such an important decision. I’m sure you have. We’re rooting for you.
Can anyone help me remember what book this tiny story came from ?
I’ve been reading from so many books I can’t remember which book it came from- here’s my quick summary of the story:
a woman comes in for counseling. She tells the female counselor that several years earlier she spent $50 without asking her husband first. When her husband found out, he gets angry. He said that God in his Righteous anger punished Israel for their disobedience by (I don’t remember which specific plague or famine etc that the husband named). SO, he (the husband) was going to punish his wife. From then on, she had to earn her grocery money by babysitting even though there was enough from his paycheck to cover their groceries. She was forced to scrimpt and save every penny and felt guilty and shameful for spending money. Many women would have just gotten furious right back at this jerk, but this tenderhearted lady took her abuser’s shame and internalized it.
As the counselor, told her of God’s great love for her and His unfailing mercy, the woman’s wounded soul simply soaked it in.
When I read Violet’s story, I thought of that excerpt from one of my books. I spent 2 hours combing through them bc I wanted to direct quote it bc seemed right for this thread but I couldn’t find it.
Does this ring a bell for anyone?
Sadly it sounds like too many similar stories that are real life for some women.. but I don’t know of the book. I’m sorry.
Also, not sure I interpreted Violet from wanting to leave her abusive destructive marriage to her husband? Maybe I missed something .. but from what I remember, she was wanting to reach out to her daughter and reconcile but also in terms of staying the marriage she currently has.
I think it might be quite unrealistic to want both given the betrayals that the daughter would feel and the state of the abusive marriage?
I don’t remember we her wanting to get out of her marriage at all … so please correct me.
I wasn’t assuming she was pushing for a separation but I can see how my comment made it seem like that was my assumption. I was thinking from Violet’s husband’s statements that seemed prudent for her to surround herself with WISE OTHERS. If she is to continue to grow in CORE strength it’s practically impossible to do when you’re completely isolated and unsupported. Plus, if Violet does want to ‘stay well’ in her marriage, she will need to attend a church that doesn’t feed toxic messages of: “wives just put up with your surly husbands sinful behavior bc great will be your reward in heaven”
My favorite LOL:
“One day sister if you just persevere your love (sex) will change this mean ole toad into a prince; don’t give up tomorrow might be your break through!”.
At this church if Violet’s husband were to speak to church leadership about their marital problems, they will chide him a bit about manning up but still they’ll come down hard on Violet for not supporting him and being sensitive to his needs – now, let’s all forget and forgive.🤢
If Violet goes to ‘THAT CHURCH’,
she just needs to find a new church NO MATTER what.
What I was saying about her estranged daughter is this – Violet needs to prepare herself for the possibility that her daughter will not be ready to resume a relationship with her with when Violet first makes the offer. Maybe after some time passes it will come to pass. I know Violet should still offer her love and relationship to her daughter. That’s what Jesus does to so many to reject Him. But the woundedness and anger this daughter must feel are huge.
Maybe Violet could with the help of a counselor start writing letters to her daughter, ones that validate the abuse she experienced without making excuses? (I know it’s so hard not to make excuses)
This is such an important issue and I’m glad you’ve chosen to address it, Leslie. I’m very sad for this mom. It’s not easy being a parent when your kids are pretty good; when they struggle and make unwise, harmful, or sinful choices, it’s often very painful and much harder to know what is best for the child. I have raised seven children with my late husband, and honestly, there were times a couple of my children struggled so much, their sinful choices nearly shipwrecked our marriage. What saved us was asking ourselves the very question you raised: What will glorify God the most in this situation? I am so thankful that my late husband and I were both equally committed to each other and to seeking how best to glorify God as we navigated some turbulent teen years. I miss his influence in my children’s lives, but thankful for the years God did give us together.
Sadly, when I remarried five years ago to a man who, although he is a believer, had never been married or patented a child, I found myself in very difficult waters with him concerning my youngest children, particularly my youngest child. He was 14 when I remarried, and although my husband said before we married that he did not want to parent my kids and verbally delegated that responsibility to me (since they were my kids, he said), whenever he encountered something he didn’t like my kids doing, he interjected his opinion. I would try to hear his concerns and address the issues out of respect for him, but over time I found he became more negative, demanding, and controlling. I had this growing sense he did not genuinely care for my children, but cared very much about his own comfort and stress level.
These issues with my son, who was struggling with some pretty normal teenage issues – poor time management, forgetting to do a chore, and occasionally speaking a little disrespectfully to me (he never did to my husband) – affected our marriage. Several other issues affected us much more significantly, which would take too long to address here, but my husband would repeatedly say it was my son that was hurting our marriage, to which he would add that if things weren’t right between us (because of him), it would affect how he treated me. And did it! He ended up leaving home 18 months ago, and told me he would only come home if I kicked my son out of the house. Based on my son’s behavior, which wasn’t blatant sin, I had no legitimate reason to make him leave home, and told my husband I would not do this. I knew that if I capitulated to my husband’s demands, not only would it encourage him to continue to manipulate me, it would also seriously damage my relationship with my son. I prayed and fasted for him and longed for him to see God’s power to help him work through his weaknesses and struggles, and know all the while that I loved him deeply.
Leslie, the price of standing strong for my son and growing in core strength myself (after reading your book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage last year) cost me my marriage. My husband, who valued his own comfort and stress-free existence more than our relationship, divorced me early this year. Although I had hoped and prayed he would change and move towards God and me instead of away from us, after two years of trauma from his emotional manipulation and controlling behavior, I have hope again in the Lord and I am finally starting to feel like me again. And, praise God, I am thankful that my son is growing and maturing, having worked through much of his issues and is confident of my love and support.
Preach, Leslie V, Preach!
. . . .One other thought for our questioner . . . .you say “. . .Nine years ago our eldest daughter moved out in part because of my husband’s emotional and verbal abuse of her. He disowned her and coerced me to also. I agreed in part because I had had an alliance of sorts with her and felt guilty about it. My husband forbade me and our other children to talk about her ever again. . . .” . . . I would ask your teenagers, your husband and whomever else you think is helpful to meet at a certain time each week (or more frequently) to pray for and discuss that shattered and fractured situation. If certain ones refuse to come, hold the prayer and strategy meeting with whomever comes and if no one will, then hold it with yourself and God. . . .and “forsaking all others” has always meant excesses in work, hobbies, emotional relationships with other persons (of either gender), yes, it can also include children. Actually, nurturing your marriage relationship is even more important than being a parent because everything “family” flows from it. . . .Just never surrender your hopes and dreams of a healthy, God honoring family. . . .We all are going to pay a price for every last thing we do and everything we don’t do. We don’t get to choose to not pay a price. We get to choose if we want to pay that price now (—being totally honest with husbands, friends, children) or “x” years later. —That’s it. . . .the Truth is something that burns. It burns off dead wood. And I, like others, don’t like having my dead wood burnt off because I’m like 75 percent dead wood. —And believe me, I’m not being snide about that. It’s no joke. When you start to realize how much of what you’ve constructed of yourself is based on just what others say, that is a horrifying realization. It can easily be 95 percent of the things people say and the things people act out. Those things aren’t even them, they are parroting what they hear in church, what their families told them, what society tells them. If we are not using our own words, we are the puppet of an ideology or other thinkers, or parents or our own impulsive desires. . . .and it’s very hard to find our own words — but we don’t actually even exist (—I don’t actually even exist) until we (I) have and are speaking our/my own thoughts. . . .And it is so, so true, Glorifying God is The Path. . . .it is the right path and it is the one that is hardest for us to follow. But the hard path is also the one that is the most fulfilling and satisfies. . . .Again, just never surrender your hopes and dreams of a healthy, God honoring family. Family, friends and relationships are the blessings of God. In some real sense they are the best way to access God. . . . .And if your daughter has been abused by her father, she doesn’t stop loving him, she stops loving herself, you are right to want to reconcile that. . . .And spread love. Make sure you hug those teenagers, your husband and your people and make sure they know that you care and appreciate them. Make it known to your friends and family that you love them. What makes a family is not the absence of tragedy nor the ability to hide from misfortune, but the courage, with God’s help, to overcome it and, from that broken past, write a new beginning. . .Maybe just make sure those children aren’t a way to rekindle the dwindling magic in your own relationship, again, it seems everything family flows from that.
Tracy, you sound like a great mom. You did the right thing even though I know I’m sure it was very painful for you.
I believe premarital counseling for blended families needs to REALLY step up to the plate. They need to be a wake up call for just how difficult step-parenting is.
Thanks, Ruth. It wasn’t hard to stand by my son when my husband made me choose between him and my boy. If my son had been in major sin, I probably would’ve handled the situation very differently, but no spouse/stepparent, regardless of the issue, should force the biological parent to choose between them and their child. I just feel badly that I didn’t know about/practice core strength sooner. I put up with being manipulated and being given ultimatums by my ex-husband for three years of our marriage. It was Leslie’s book that opened my eyes to considering responding differently. It was still very scary for me to graciously draw the line with my husband and hold him accountable for his manipulations, but God used it in his life. Sadly, it wasn’t toward reconciliation, but even in this is God’s overwhelming mercy.
Amen Tracy! God’s mercy truly wears some painful disguises…
What saddens me about your story is that your ex husband was asking you to kick out your son after the boy had lost his dad. So, essentially your ex husband’s plan was to take away the only parent the kid had left?!?
I’m so glad you you were strong for your son. You are a warrior mom! 💕
Traci, Ruth has clearly pointed out the heartless, unempathetic nature of a totally immature person who demands and coerice in order to get his wife’s full attention. This is more than jealousy and self-centeredness. It is is the work of the devil to divide, kill and destroy. Obviously, your ex-husband was a wounded man but he also has a responsibility before God to work through that and let it go so he, who was a victim, does not become the perpetrator, which he was in this case.
I don’t use Twitter but Leslie often says ,”retweet this.”so I will highlight you’re very good statement Aleea.
“What makes a family is not the absence of tragedy nor the ability to hide from misfortune, but the courage, with God’s help, to overcome it and, from that broken past, write a new beginning. .”
Amen, CBPP! Aleea has said it so well! I was just talking to a friend about this very thing last night. Sin and hardship are guaranteed to exist on some level at some time in a family. How we respond, the degree to which we look to God, with humility and honesty, is a big determiner of a family’s strength and success in overcoming the potentially destructive forces of sin and hardship.
Absolutely!!! . . .In my life, I have found it best to *not* pray for an easy life. I pray for the strength to endure a difficult one. That keeps me right on the edge. . . . .The gospel is like water making its way through every crack in all the evil of this godless world and my *own evil heart* too. . . .And I think we thrive, not even by being assertive, we just adjust ourselves to God’s will and we find a way around or through the difficulties. We can do that if nothing within us stays un-surrendered, if *everything* is on the altar, if we are fluid for God. . . .Then, outward things that seem impossible will dissolve themselves right in front of us. . . .Don’t ever fear failure because in something as glorious as restoring our families for Christ’s Kingdom, it is glorious even to “fail”. . . . .In the beginning God did not make a church or cathedral, He made a family. He did not appoint apostles, or prophets, or pastors etc, he appointed a husband and a wife in the covenant of marriage.
Much love and prayers, Aleea
I am having problems with the question. Of course you talk to your daughter. It’s YOUR daughter! Who does he think he is?!! What a disturbed, jealous man! Run, flea, shake the dust off your feet and get out of Dodge with this one.
Flee, not flea, but in this case it does seem fitting for such a louse. 🙂 Getting out of denial makes everything so crystal clear. No more excuses or rationalizations for creepy men and their twisted behavior for me.
I hear you PT. Getting out of denial does make things clear for us.
We each though, have to walk our own path of awakening to the painful feelings we have stuffed for so long. Some of us need to flee, yes. Others have to take deliberate steps as we slowly build our CORE and allow God to strengthen us as we do so. The Lord has a different path for each one – only He knows the outcome. We need to encourage one another to listen to His voice as we learn to walk by faith and not by sight.
I appreciate your wisdom here, Nancy, and it is good for all of us to be reminded that our own path is unique. Here we share our stories and encourage each other to get clear before the Lord about what steps to follow. He is our strength and our song!
Oh, yes, each person’s journey is very different. In reality, some things resolve very slowly. Listening to God and using playful consideration is important because if we act without the peace of God in our decision, it thwarts our healing. We waste time with negative self talk.
I was just giving my opinion which is to flee. I believe we heal better and faster when separated from the constant irritation and manipulation of the destructive person. The destructive person is more likely to change when they receive consequences for the inappropriate actions.
Oh, yes, each person’s journey is very different. In reality, some things resolve very slowly. Listening to God and using prayful consideration is important, because if we act without the peace of God in our decision, it thwarts our healing. We waste time with negative self talk when we don’t sense God’s blessing in our actions.
I was just giving my opinion, which is to flee. I believe we heal better and faster when separated from the constant irritation and manipulation of the destructive person. I also believe the destructive person is more likely to change when they receive prompt, sharp consequences as a result of their inappropriate actions.
The idea that “forsaking all others” applies to this mom is a horrible twisting of the Scriptures. It refers to not finding another romantic partner, and only to that. To use this to keep a mom from her child or isolate her is abusive.
I appreciate this forum and the opportunity for people to receive feedback, who may otherwise be confused and isolated.
I am, myself, up against a decision to stay or go. We tried counseling, but in his words, I “did not change”.
The change he is looking for is for me to accept the “truth” about him, and stop making him out to be someone he’s not.
If I have a complaint about any of the bullying, controlling, manipulation, minimizing, broken promises, refusal to discuss big decisions – why, he had his reasons, his motives are “right”, and I am “judging” him. My feelings and perspectives are “wrong”. I am contentious, or not submissive, or psychotic. He is right, and has the “truth”.
When I didn’t agree, he stopped sleeping in the same room – at first, for a week or two. Then for months. Currently, we’re going on 4 years of sleeping alone. On occasion, he would appear to want to get back together – but on his terms, including the right to remove himself “for his own sanity” if I continue to point out issues we are having.
I went from having suicidal thoughts (not now), to long-term depression (at which point he fired me from the family business, since I admitted my production had dropped somewhat) to drinking. A lot.
In other ways, he can be a great guy. Works hard, cares about our diet, helps around the place and even with dishes. Has helped with my adult children (step-family). I had full access to the credit card and he never questioned me about purchases (though I was frugal).
If only I could settle for him ruling the roost and treating me like a 6-year-old when making decisions. Well, and agree that my feelings and perspectives are “wrong”, and his “right” – we’d be fine.
He is willing to let the marriage go, rather than, for instance, go see a set of videos on Healthy Marriage at a church down the road.
I can see why women stay in these situations. Financially, it will be a struggle – in my 60’s. After the years of controlling, confusion, and depression, making even simple decisions is incredibly difficult – much less, figuring out where and how to live on Social Security and maybe a part-time fast-food job.
The Lord has intervened for me many times. But the guilt of a failed marriage – knowing that I was, indeed, sometimes hot-tempered and disrespectful and unloving – makes resting in God difficult at this point.
Ah, well. Almost Home, now.
Ann you are right, there is a cost to leaving, but the cost of staying is much worse. You are actively being abused. The coping mechanisms you used make sense, but they really didn’t fix the problem. The problem is him, not you.
Ann you are living with a very manipulative, evil person who twists reality to control you. That is not marriage. You are a prisoner trapped in a jail that you can get out of today.
Take the first steps to plan how to leave. Your life has value. The things you sight as you faults are not. When you get away, you will think much more clearly. Stop wasting your precious time with this bad man.
Walk bravely out. God is good and he will make a way. Create a team to help you. See a professional who is knowledge in domestic abuse. Yes, it is time to get out of this destructive relationship. Fear of the future without an abuser doesn’t make sense. You have a great mind, use it. Ignore everything your abuser says to you. He won’t support you. He is not trustworthy.
I read that, and cried – really cried. First time in a long time.
Thanks. Moving forward. I already know God brings beauty out of ashes.
Now Ann, that makes me cry too.
I can only write such things because I have lived a life just like you live!
It has taken unbelievable strength to leave my abuser. I think just like you think.
He will try tricky ways to get you back, that is why you need someone to trust and help you.
Each day away you will get stronger and stronger. The holy spirit will speak quietly in your ear and give you direction at every turn. You will know what to do and when and how to do it.
Life will be better than you ever imagined. You will reflect the glory of the Lord in your health and joy when you are free from the evil oppression.
Ann, this is a time to open your heart fully and absolutely to the Lord and His Word, and lean INTO Him. Let Him guide you through these days, and even guide you to the help you need. He will take care of you.
Grace be with you, Dear Sister.
Hello Ann. I want to add my voice of support to Sunshine and JoAnn’s.
I am praying for you, Ann. For strength, for clarity, for courage and for Trust in Him. You are daughter of the most High Kng: absolutely precious in His sight. He loves and values you beyond measure.
I want to add something I learned yesterday. You know the passage in Matthew when Jesus teaches about turning the other cheek? I think some of us have interpreted that to mean we have to take what it done to us and remained submissive and victimized.
What I learned yesterday is that turning the cheek was very specific to the time. Romans were punched on the right cheek, yet Jews who were considered less than the Romans would be back handed across the left cheek. In the instruction to turn the other cheek it referred to a person’s value. Turn the check like I am a Roman so to speak. The message was much deeper than I ever knew. Which teaches me a lot about taking scripture out of context.
So the message was really, you have value and don’t be afraid to show it. Don’t be knocked down by oppressors and bullies, stand strong and know you are just a worthy as any one else created by God.
Thanks for sharing this, Sunshine. I was talking about this very scripture earlier today.
Over the past while I’ve identified that I don’t speak my needs and limits because doing so is an invitation for them to be trespassed upon ( when I was a child, by my mother, as an adult by my own guilty conscience that has been shipwrecked by this whole process). It’s as though speaking my needs and limits is like holding up a red flag in front of a bull. It’s an invitation to be violated. And so disappearing is the best way to protect myself.
Today my counsellor asked me if I thought this might be a religious belief, and…oh yes, it is. To persist in using my voice would be to put myself above others. The lie I have believed is that loving myself is a sin. And that is the exact passage that came to mind. The other being forgive 70×7.
This lie got twisted up with repeated negative experiences of me trying to differentiate and I came to the very wrong conclusion that the most loving thing to do for others, was to disappear.
This is a deeply rooted lie in me: to care for myself is sin.
The good news is that I can open myself to Jesus Christ, for healing.
It’s incredible that the very passage that reinforced my submissive / doormat mindset is actually an illustration of how to stand up for ourselves in the face of being controlled / oppressed!
Then you will know the Truth, and the Truth will set you free.
I was taught the same thing Nancy. Showing the slightest self worth was labeled as not knowing my place. It reminds me how this has been exposed in the polygamist cults. They tell their women to “be sweet.” It is all convoluted.
You must be enjoying being free from that lie and thinking and acting in a new way!
Yes, I am enjoying the freedom as I take VERY small steps, with safe, Godly people.
He is SO patient with me ❤️
I was able to pinpoint some lies I had believed, and cognitively see the truth, mostly in the Word. But some of the lies were also rooted deeply, in a place I couldn’t seem to access using only my understanding.
That changed when I encountered a ministry called transformation prayer ministry. I learned how to follow an emotion to the memory, find the core lie in the memory, offer that lie to Jesus and ask for His truth, in it’s place (the essence of “repentance”, if you think about it).
I’m at a loss for words. “Incredible, tremendous, freeing, amazing” – all understatements, for the results. Highly recommend it – if you can find a trained facilitator who really understands it. That’s the tricky part.
This is the sense that I get around some of the lies I have believed for so long….they are simply beyond me, or more specifically, beyond my cognitive mind, to get at.
I will keep this TPM in mind. If I hear it from another source, that’s usually confirmation of where The Lord is leading.
Ann, you are right about Transformation Prayer Ministry. I have been involved with it, both personal healing and helping others, for many years. The web site (tpm.net) is set up so that you can learn to do this yourself. Getting a Truth directly from the Lord is so liberating. Wonderful!
Though I haven’t checked recently, they used to have a listing of practitioners on the web site. You might be able to find a facilitator that way.
Thanks for the affirmation and encouragement, JoAnn.
TPM doesn’t seem inclined to recommend facilitators anymore –
I think too many were insufficiently trained. I’d love to get a
prayer group going to practice on each other, in Indiana near the
CBPP, Aly, Nancy, and others
Counseling has been interesting this time around asking me to really dig around into my feelings. My homework is to read boundaries in marriage. Counselor recommended we start couples therapy (seen us individually twice). Hubby says he declined couples session requesting another session to work on just him. He also said he asked the counselor to let me know because he didn’t know how I would feel. I feel he has/or is trying to work his charm or maybe it is just me not trusting.
He has, I feel, convinced the counselor of his love for me. The counselor keeps saying there’s hope and that hubby doesn’t know how although behaviors are not acceptable. I was also asked to work on my negative view of my hubby.
I’ve been reading a post on here about others with counseling and I just feel uneasy.
I will try best to give some feedback. I do think Boundaries in Marriage is a great resource. Something my husband and I used together digitally where we could highlight and write notes to ourselves and to each other. This helped us narrow in on some areas where it became essential to talk about the patterns that take place. My husband knew how to spin and deflect like a master so for me it was a resource he could see and relate to where he would show ‘in his choices and behavior’ that he wasn’t trustworthy.
Again, this was one resource of many in our journey.
Maybe you already have but I would give your counselor the info about Leslie’s new website.
Also I’m wondering what the counselor’s response was toward your husband and his mood altering drug abuse? If I’m remembering correctly he is using medication? Abuse of meds can go both ways sometimes he may need certain meds to help regulate him and if he’s not using those~ problem. And sometimes he might be over using meds that are changing his brain chemistry~ still problem either way.
“He has, I feel, convinced the counselor of his love for me. The counselor keeps saying there’s hope and that hubby doesn’t know how although behaviors are not acceptable.”
I heard similar things I think you are being wise to meet separately for now and maybe for along time. Hopefully the counselor is taking notes from both of your sessions…This is critical too.
Ok, so you say he has convinced the counselor of his love for you? Hmm saying a person loves another is one thing.. acting the way he does reveals a conflict. I do think a majority of Christian and non Christians have a very confusing expression of what Love is. Many can’t define it, and if you ask them to… more often than not a destructive non teachable spirit is offended by the question. I’m not trying to be totally general here .. I just think your husband’s behavior is screaming out that ‘he doesn’t know how to love’ he doesn’t have a baseline, he was most likely raised with many attachment issues and bonding that has contributed to his distorted view of ‘love’. I think many of us have been recipients of this ~ not saying it to blame but as adults we can now choose to take responsibility of what we will do with Learning How to love and especially love our children well and break the chains of dysfunctional love.
“I was also asked to work on my negative view of my hubby.”
Ok so I’m wondering what you feel when told this? This is important.
My response since I have lived with a destructive marriage dynamic is that a negative view of the husband’ BEHAVIOR is what is taking place~ a negative view to ‘his behavior’ not him as a valuable person, is the issue.
You are not placing the unacceptable behavior on ‘him’ as a person, but on his choices and behaviors toward you ~ which have continued to violate trust.
People who tend to be more ‘shame based’ will think that when you give boundaries or requirements to them that you are attacking them as a person when in fact you are guarding your well being ~ which is love.
I feel I could write a longgg time about the shame based individual and the super brain highways (brain pathways) of how they REACT, usually destructively but they do have to surrender themselves to learning about how valued and loved they are by Jesus before they can offer any regard and respect outwardly.
Aly, he uses pain medications. Our new counselor stresses that it is not a counselor’s place to judge or label. The counselor did say no suspect on medication abuse. Most of his doctors feel this way.
Counselor also said because there is no physical abuse, infidelity, drug, or alcohol abuse on either side that it is ok for us to work. I think that’s where the hope message is coming from. The counselor does believe our marriage is riddle with conflict still not using the word abuse.
I don’t mind that because I do not like acknowledging I’ve been abused. It makes me angry at him and at myself for staying. Don’t want to be a victim or at least remain one.
I think that’s what the counselor is trying to shake me a little on Aly your quote, “I just think your husband’s behavior is screaming out that ‘he doesn’t know how to love’ he doesn’t have a baseline.”
Back to meds – I don’t think he abuses meds but can’t confirm because he doesn’t let me in that area any longer. Last week, the new pain management doctor told him to set aside two meds and replace with this new one. He relayed this message to me. So I asked him to let me give away the others or dispose of them in the trash. I placed the pill bottles by my side. He grabbed the bottles and said he will place them in his drawer or get rid of them himself. New pain management doctor is still recommending fusion surgery on his back.
I know the counselor takes some notes during my session. I have no idea what takes place during their session or what is discussed. Aly, I can’t absord the I love you or he loves you. He still tells me he loves me but I haven’t been able to return those words since he really hurt me emotionally a few months ago.
Aly you asked: I was also asked to work on my negative view of my hubby. Ok so I’m wondering what you feel when told this. This is important.
I was thrown off and felt like what have my husband been saying to you. The counselor provided me with an example of her marriage at one point. How this can, in a way, impeded progress. Then I was like in my head saying well if the shoe fits. Out loud I said with all I have been through, I can’t help how I feel –
untrusting of spouse.
You don’t have to offer trust to a spouse that isn’t behaving trustworthy. Let alone a spouse that has behaved in very unhealthy and emotionally abusive ways. Trust isn’t just reinstated.
*Renee, this reply post will focus on the medication for a moment because I think it adds an element that fuels some critical areas* just fyi~
The ‘behavior’ that your husband has about his medication is concerning!! This isn’t me saying he doesn’t have pain and needs a path through. This isn’t me saying he shouldn’t be taking any meds. The issue is his attitude and lack of respect toward you and the medication. Why because in a healthy marriage a partnership can discuss and respect the dangers of any form of drug use that must be managed. His response is not that and doesn’t want you involved ~ that’s a problem because he’s thinking he can have a private corner….. when this private corner is going to effect you & the marriage it isn’t ‘that private’. Also transparency in marriage is the healthiest baseline, meaning we don’t want or think we are entitled to private corners. (This goes for all imp areas, money, sex, drugs, etc)
Please don’t get this confused with ‘the importance of guarding your heart’ when a spouse or any person has violated trust.
The offender isn’t warranted a private corner is basically what I’m trying to explain here.
In a healthy marriage even the most uncomfortable topics can be sorted out and both parties can work through how both parties behavior effects the other especially in hard a difficult conflicts.
(You don’t have this safety with him currently, not saying you will or won’t. But it’s imp to see that even medication that is known to *change his brain chemistry*, is going to impede the process.. just like the counselor may suggest your negative view (of him) could impede the process) I would challenge the counselor on her position of this not being a contributing factor to the marriage not being on any safe ground. She also needs to see how much control your h has when you get involved with his meds. His response says a lot to me.
I disagree with the counselor’s view on the medication and I’m sure I sound judgmental (to her). The facts are he is using a highly addictive mood alterning drug, I think it is not wise to take a passive approach to these drugs or any drug use given the unhealth of the marriage. To give the facts, is not to label him. (I know you were relying the position of the counselor here below)
Renee you wrote;
“Aly, he uses pain medications. Our new counselor stresses that it is not a counselor’s place to judge or label. The counselor did say no suspect on medication abuse. Most of his doctors feel this way.”
Ok well I find it pretty premature of the counselor to make that kind of assessment ~ and being that she has seen both of you individually~ maybe a couple times?
I have even had to tell my own counselor to consider and not forget that ‘they are only seeing an hour’ of a individual in a 168 hours per week. That’s a fraction of face time. Most counselor’s know this Renee, but i still would find it hard to hear the premature assessments about his medication especially given what he takes and all the facts about the medicine.
This doesn’t mean the counselor is not going to help, but I do think it should be brought up again and stress the importance of the drug use (or abuse) as a factor.
Also, there are many, lot and lots of people who can’t even begin effective counseling without proper medication because their brains are needing some regulation so they can actually absorb the cognitive counseling process. So it goes both ways of impeding and a wise counselor is going to be able to assist addressing the issues.
Renee, Aly has written a great response to you and I wanted to give my support to what she said.
If your husband will continue in individual counseling, that is the best while you continue to get stronger in your CORE. Couples therapy does not work ( becomes a battle zone) if there are not 2 willing hearts, backed by new knowledge to understand what is and is not acceptable behaviors.
I suggest you take all of your writing and the responses that specifically apply to your situation and copy and paste them into a document to take to your counselor. This can cut through a lot of talk time to show your real daily problems and hurts and concerns. The counselor needs to know of your concern, either through the document or by your telling the counselor, for your husband’s manipulation of the counselor’s image of you. This is a classic narcissistic defense. The favorite is “my wife is crazy, unstable, moody, hormonal, etc.”. (I have experienced this. The counselor and my husband colluded and I was eventually sent to see a psychiatrist because I was supposedly “bipolar”. But the Lord prevailed and the diagnosis was “adjustment reaction to bereavement”, as I was grieving the loss of the stability of our marriage and the loss of my expectation that the counselor and the spiritual leaders I reached out to would help, not harm as they did.)
Without going back to your writing to check, I have a perception that the counselor is a woman. My experience, and now my belief, is that a man with resistant bad behaviors will not accept counsel from a woman counselor, period. There is an arrogance that they can dominate women and manipulate what they think, and he will try. I think your gut feelings are telling you this.
This info is given for the benefit of all who are reading this. I am not saying your husband is a narcissist but you have expressed potential to manipulate the counselor in his favor. I have been there! Counselors rarely get to see narcissists in office as they do not seek help on their own, as they have no ownership in the problems. They will show up for a time to “help save the marriage” but they normally do not “invest themselves” in the process; they are in counseling because YOU have a problem. Any counselor must be able to “hold his feet to the fire” for change to happen, if the husband is truly want to improve the marriage. When the counselor begins this, the husband will usually begin to “question the counselor’s abilities, credentials, etc.” and find some excuse to quit counseling. A true narcissist will begin to “attack” the counselor.
Before starting a couple’s therapy relationship, ask for an “interview” with the counselor to make sure they understand emotionally destructive marriages. Even if you think narcissism is not the problem, ask the counselor about their understanding of narcissism. Many counselors do not. I had to do a deep study into narcissism and covert narcissism to uncover our true situation. Leslie’s Facebook Live presentation this week (Oct 3, 2017) was EXCELLENT. I needed that information 42 years ago, but most especially 10 years ago when life was falling apart.
Leslie, have your ever written a blog article on questions to ask a counselor in an interview process?
CBPP You wrote: Couples therapy does not work (becomes a battle zone) if there are not 2 willing hearts, backed by new knowledge to understand what is and is not acceptable behaviors.
I write: That is my fear – the battle zone and the fear of the counselor taking sides because of his abilities. I worry about this because everyone always takes to hubby instantly. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want everyone to hate him. He has been to this new doctor office twice. Once to ask for a referral and the second one for the actual visit. I stepped in momentarily for this second visit and the front office staff was interacting with him as if they were all best friends.
It’s crazy but I feel jealous of the warm and fuzzy feelings that others portray they have of him while I have these not so warm and fuzzy feelings.
Lol I know about the hormonal (that time) and moody. Our new counselor is another woman. I know he will try to manipulate. But whom is he trying to manipulate? Is it me or both?
CBPP you wrote: Any counselor must be able to “hold his feet to the fire.”
I write: I wonder how this will work. The calling out. For example, another accusing situation (I know this has become habit for him) happened last weekend and I asked the counselor for advice on what to do when this happens. It was put back to me on how I felt when that happened and if hubby obeyed my truth and boundary, and some other things I’ve can’t recall at this moment.
I think the counselor feels that it is not her place to say what is or isn’t appropriate but more or less want me to own it…
I mentioned other happens from the week related to finances and that’s how we ended up on starting couples counseling. Things to discuss together in front of a third party.
I did do a brief interview from suggestions made I think by Aly and Nancy on another post. I did not ask about narcissism. I missed Leslie’s presentation this week. I’ll find it though.
I want to add my support of you, to Aly’s and CBPP’s.
Here’s how I see things: Trust is a foundational issue of any relationship – especially a marriage. If trust isn’t there, then there is no foundation on which to build.
It seems to me that you don’t trust your husband.
Now here’s the crux of it. A counsellor can have you look at your ‘trust issues’ and as a result have you doubting yourself, thinking things like, “oh maybe I DO have a ‘negative view’ of my husband”, This will lead you down a path of thinking that if only you trusted him ( or were more positive) he’d behave better. Or maybe you start thinking that it’s you who is untrustworthy. And with all the blah blah that goes on in counsellors office, it’s easy for everyone to get confused by all the TALKING.
Or….you can stand firm with your counsellor, in HEARING what his bad bahviour is SAYING:
That he is not trustworthy.
If your counsellor agrees that his behaviour is bad, then it should automatically follow that it would make sense that you SHOULD NOT trust him, AND knowing that trust is something that is earned, that he needs to start working on that.
It seems to me that you need help gaining more confidence in what your gut is telling you. Do you feel stronger and more confident when you come out of the counselling office? Do you feel like you are increasing in CORE strength? Do you feel like this counsellor is helping you to guard your heart?
I really like the suggestion, Aly’s I think, of giving your counsellor Leslie’s new website for counsellors.
I just looked a bit at Leslie’s site for counsellors. There’s a written article called, “let’s not call it abuse” that talks about why a counsellor NOT labelling ’emotional abuse’ is damaging to their client.
Nancy, Renee and others here,
Nancy, what you noted is important for Renee to gain the strength in ‘any counseling session’!
“If your counsellor agrees that his behaviour is bad, then it should automatically follow that it would make sense that you SHOULD NOT trust him, AND knowing that trust is something that is earned, that he needs to start working on that.”
This is key, and I would also add that Renee ‘it’s enough’ that you agree his behavior is unacceptable and has chiseled away trust in the marriage. You giving any opportunity for your husband to get serious about his issues (drug use/ abusive behavior etc) and possibly begin a process of earning trust back ~ is beginning form of forgiveness and love..
then maybe down the road after a long amount of consistent behavior change of your h, your negative view of his behavior might to begin to shift to a more positive one (in behavior). And likewise maybe the trust can begin to repair but that is ALL on the person who has removed the trust by their own choices and abusive behaviors.
Now this isn’t to say that maybe their are places where you have also not been trustworthy as a partner (I’m assuming you have) but even if there are areas that you need to work on where you can build trust then that’s still your own side of the track, but most often your recovery & process is going to *be different *than your husband’s.
I’m also not bringing this part up to equalize offenses. Not at all. That’s not my point here, it’s to just note that there are ‘different places’ where we can choose to see our own behavior more objectively and be challenged by safe people to grow into the process and transformation that God calls us too as Godly women. Sometimes the behavior change and growth might be strength and following through with consequences in our circumstances that we don’t always want to follow through on for our spouse or another family member~ because it is painful but sometimes it’s the most healthy loving thing to do.
One thing I know for sure is my husband never trusted me. My trying to show/tell him he could trust me changed nothing. Now I’m learning this is not my issue to fix. I have always trusted (as much as I could) my husband. But with the last incident (a few months ago) I found where he was going to throw me under the bus if I filed for the order of protection. He was prepared to say I was physically abusing him.
How do you recover/trust from learning that information? How do you recover from his telling everyone his misbehavior is caused by my cheating or this or that?
I know, maybe with time. People have recovered/appeared to recover from worse.
I was feeling I was making progress with you all and Leslie’s offerings. Right now I feel stuck in neutral. I like how you all call things out specifically on each person. Asking me how I feel when something happens is not helpful. I don’t like that part of the counseling although I’m sure it’s an important process.
I’ll continue for a while and better gauge the process. I don’t know but hubby doesn’t appear torn up behind his sessions and appear to be not shaken. So I know something not right.
My gut feeling just got confirmed. Communication, according to him, is our problem. He has told me many times about his frustrations and I would not listen. I said how can there be communication when we have an even bigger issue. I texted him after cleaning up the kitchen that I was sadden about the belief that communication was our big issue. He texted back I just want to blame him for the failed marriage and I think my hands are clean – that’s the biggest problem of all.
I did not have another appointment with the counselor bcs we both assumed couples counseling would be accepted. Since he did not, I will see if she can see me.
You said, “how do you recover from him telling everyone his misbehaviour is caused by my cheating or this or that?”
When you say ‘recover’ do you mean reconcile with him, or that you have to somehow just suck it up and forget about it? Because if that’s what you mean then I don’t believe it is in your power to do ( not if you have committed to the C of CORE which is to be committed to walking in truth). If reconciliation is to take place he has to prove himself trustworthy to you. He has to earn your trust back. And that involves a decision on his part to take responsibility for the lies and other bad behaviour and then work to earn your trust. Have you watched Patrick Doyle’s you tube video on reconciliation? He explains this exceptionally well.
If he won’t take responsibility then this is where stronger boundaries are required.
If by ‘recover’ you mean: to do your own healing work then, yes, this IS up to you to do. We are each responsible for the heart we have been entrusted. Working on developing CORE strength and walking in that is the ‘recovering’ we are all engaged in, here on this blog.
I’m so sorry that you are feeling stuck. Renee, Jesus Christ knows your pain, confusion and loneliness. He knows what betrayal feels like. Lean into our Lord of compassion and strength.
I am praying for you, sister.
I’m really confused by this that you wrote,
“, “how do you recover from him telling everyone his misbehaviour is caused by my cheating or this or that?”
Is that a true fact that you were unfaithful when you say cheating? Or am I misunderstanding you completely and he is making stuff up to give justification for bad behavior.
We are all responsible for our own responses.
I Renee have never ever cheated on my husband physically or emotionally. The only thing I am guilty of in that regard is wondering if there is a better life out there for me free from yelling, accusations, and more. On that thought, guilty as charged. Talked about that with counselor.
If a classmate comes up and says hello, I am flirting (even if he is there). If a stranger speaks and I speak back and keep it moving I am flirting (even if he is there). If the pastor says hug your neighbor, I better not hug a man (I’m guilty). One day we all went bike riding. My daughter and I set on the back of our truck while hubby and son continued to ride. While we set, a man spotted us. I didn’t know this until my daughter went to saying oh no, oh no drive on bye please. Her anxiety went up and so did mine because some how it would have been my fault this man drove by us.
Our daughter is afraid to speak to the opposite sex now. I try to say you are only speaking. We have to interact with others. But who should she believe? The mom who gets yelled at about this or dad who says that’s a form of cheating/flirting.
He is making stuff up to justify his bad behavior. The reasons are constantly changing it seems and depends on who he is speaking with. When he spoke to our pastor and a deacon at our church, it was because I was the yeller. When he spoke to my brother and father, it was because I was cheating. Now with the counselor it seems to be because of communication and him feeling unheard. When he spoke to the police officer it was because I did not ask him nice enough.
I can work with him on feeling unheard because I feel that way.
Thank you for your reply and clarification. I’m sorry it is hard sometimes to follow what is said tongue and cheek and what is meant to be straight forward, thank you for taking the time to express where you are and offer that clarity.
I’m so sorry for what you are in ….my opinion a bit engulfed in by your husband’s profound issues and insecurities.
I am so sorry for how you have tried to cope and also how your daughter has been affected.
Being falsely accused is not only horrible trauma but it creates such an impact on another’s well being and can seriously wear a person out.
You will need to lean on God and others for a lot of support through this~ ‘this’ meaning if your husband chooses to not address his own issues and this meaning if there is little hope for anything healthy to come of such destructive ‘ongoing’ present daily (I’m assuming’) chaos.
I hear you when you say you feel ‘unheard’ and I hope you are feeling heard in counseling, here on this blog, and hoping for other support where is it safe for you to express and feel understood.
This is really important to your anchoring. It’s really hard when your in the thick of it and your husband treats you like an offender ~ when he is actually doing the offense! This is the crazy making. His false accusations are part of his own serious issues that have gone unaddressed, some might refer this to clear self sabotage behavior.
I agree with JoAnns post to you and I hope her words brought encouragement to your heart.💖
Maybe the counselor can assist in a structured separation so you can get some space and rest~ where God can equip you with what you will need for your journey through.
Sending my prayers for your heart.
Renee, I agree with Nancy about addressing your CORE strength, and I would add, that since C is about being committed to Truth, it is important that you clearly examine your own behaviors in the marriage. Be careful that you are not excusing yourself; you need to own your part in the “dance.” This is hard to do, but check within yourself to see whether any of his complaints have justification. The counselor may be trying to help you to see something that you have avoided looking at. Perhaps re-read Leslie’s book, with fresh eyes and an open heart. This is important whether you reconcile or not. I would also encourage you to ask yourself whether you really want to reconcile. Only the Lord can show you whether your marriage can be saved or not, but you really do need to go to Him with an open heart, allow Him to examine you, and the truth will set you free.
I have not excused myself by any means. Because husband complaints are so loaded, I often don’t know where to start. Tonight, I tried to use some teachings. Avoid the word you, use truth, don’t overload. I said I’ve given thought to what you said. I said I appreciate him feeling he could share but it sadden me about the saying of communication being our only issue.
So text number two comes back hours later saying I should have left like I thought about a month ago, I am using him and the kids to buy time to leave him, quit playing with his heart, you using work to do as you please. On and on. My phone is going off now and so is my computer.
This is the part that makes me say…
How very sad. He is putting you into a no-win situation, and no matter what you do, you are wrong. What is there to save? He is hurting you and he is hurting your daughter. You have not seen any evidence on his side that he recognizes that he has wronged you. Therefore, I doubt that there is really any hope for change. People don’t change if they can’t acknowledge that they need to. Renee, you have my deepest sympathy. I hope that you can get free of this terrible situation. May the Lord strengthen you for what is ahead.
I agree male counselors only. O also agree and experienced the attack of counselor’s credentials when they get to husband’s issues. Also, I used his attitude that everything was my problem to get him to counseling. It was the con I used. Yes, you are so right, everything you say about me is true. (Sic) it got him through the door. Once there, I could not get a word in. The narcissist talked and talked and talked about his favorite subject, himself!
How helpful are your recommendations! You wrote:
“They will show up for a time to “help save the marriage” but they normally do not “invest themselves” in the process; they are in counseling because YOU have a problem. Any counselor must be able to “hold his feet to the fire” for change to happen, if the husband is truly want to improve the marriage. When the counselor begins this, the husband will usually begin to “question the counselor’s abilities, credentials, etc.” and find some excuse to quit counseling.”
This is exactly what happened in my situation. He did all the talking (mostly complaining). When the marriage mentors started to address what they perceived was his problem, of a lack of commitment to our marriage and conditional love (I would experience “good behavior/words” from him only when I faithfully meet his demands/stipulations), he admitted to nothing. When they recommended we get individual counsel for a season, he left home, never returned, and never followed their recommendations. He is not a violent man, but he is ferociously lazy and self-seeking. I felt God’s rescuing power when he left and later divorced, but I desired reconciliation and would have been willing to do the hard work necessary to restore our marriage. Sadly, he clearly was not willing or genuinely interested in this.
Do any of them admit? Do any of them apologize according to what it takes for true reconciliation? Mine still holds on to it was just a heat of the moment spilling of hurtful words that he wishes I just would forget.
Hugs to you Tracy!
Sometimes it is that, and this shouldn’t discourage us to the point of feeling hopeless about our marriage. My ex-husband had never been married before, and while I was only a “weekend wife” because he worked in another state during the week, I tried to give him a lot of space and grace to work through the challenge of being married to someone for the first time. I knew that he might say words he didn’t mean in a moment of impatience or frustration, and tried to let love cover them.
But when he exhibited repeated patterns of behavior and language (threats, stipulations, etc. aimed at control) without any attempt to change, despite however gently I tried to talk to him about them, that’s when I became utterly discouraged. That, along with several other issues which all communicated that he did not need or value me as a person brought on depression and physical illness.
After four years of this kind of talk and behavior, whatever words he said as an attempt of an apology, without any effort to actually do ANYTHING differently to help our relationship, made me feel hopeless for our marriage. Crying out to God, again and again for His help, a co-worker led me to Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, which really helped me to take steps to be strong in the Lord Jesus and not allow him to continue manipulating me psychologically and emotionally.
It was scary for me to even gently take a stand against some of my ex-husband’s manipulative behavior, but for my own mental and spiritual health, I knew I needed to do something. So I stepped out in timid faith, trusting God I was doing the right thing, even though I had no idea what the outcome would be. The end, as I’ve already shared, was that my husband, when realizing that I would quietly refuse to give in to his self-centered, manipulating demands, left home my home and our relationship, and ultimately our marriage.
CBPP you wrote: Leslie’s Facebook Live presentation this week (Oct 3, 2017) was EXCELLENT. I needed that information 42 years ago, but most especially 10 years ago when life was falling apart.
I Write: I missed this presentation. I tried doing a search for it on Facebook but could not find one for that date. Do you remember what it was about so that I can check again?
CBPP you wrote: Leslie, have your ever written a blog article on questions to ask a counselor in an interview process?
I Write: I did find this blog post called, “I Found A Counselor – But Is She Right For Me?”
Thank you for the blog link you sent!
Here is the link to the FB LIve that Leslie did on Covert Abuse that I was so was good.
Thanks for the link. Yes, I started live on the presentation but had to leave and did not finish. I will try to finish it up tonight. TY
Oh, you are right! He is trying to manipulate the counselor. Who is he to recommend sessions and who should be in them? Does he have difficultly with yielding to authority in other areas of his life?
Nancy you wrote: If he won’t take responsibility then this is where stronger boundaries are required.
I write: The next stronger boundary I can think of is to go “no contact” whereas now I limit our contact. If I do this while still living at home (no contact), it feels to me (my feelings) it would be like having the two teens visiting a zoo on a daily basis to see two monkeys locked in cages. Lol, Rofl.
The strongest one of all will be to separate and live in different homes. We do not have legal separation in our state. Therefore I would have to file for divorce, and try to obtain exclusive use of our home. He is not going to go willingly and has made that know many times.
This is hard to conceive, the last option, even if I feel right now this is where we are headed and this is what needs to happen. I have been with this man since 23 and I am headed for 45 at the beginning of Dec.
One of the boundaries I set was that I did not engage in any discussion about our relationship. We talked about practicalities: schedules, kids, homework etc…. For me these were safe issues. Discussing our relationship was a mine field. In our case there was 9 months of living completely on the surface with one another, while I prayed and watched for signs of repentance. This forced me to rely HEAVILY on the Lord for all the emotional turmoil that this caused me.
You may be physically separated, but have you separated emotionally from him? I would suggest that if you continue to engage in the relational drama, then perhaps you have not….?
I haven’t done CONQUER but feel as though it would be an excellent choice. Maybe someone else has done it?
Nancy, I’ve followed that boundary since you mentioned it on another post. But Sunday I slipped after he said communication was our big issue. I posted about that on this page.
Since I did not keep it going Sunday, Monday and Tuesday were more attempts to get me engaged in discussions (war) about the relationship. Monday I told him I didn’t want him in the car with us after he started in on me about my attire. I guess that is a form of boundary.
So then Tuesday he tried again texting the teens saying he was not going to start school with them until I left for work. So I went in late to work and got them started with school. Then left the rest up to him.
Thanks for that on conquer. I think I know what needs to be first from the responses.
I highly appreciate all of you so, so much for sticking with me.
I just want to say that I agree with Aly who she said that “you are doing a really good job gathering resources and seeing what good options are for you!”
It’s a steep learning curve this ‘walking in CORE strength’ stuff! Especially after so many years of functioning in an entirely different way.
Keep up the great work!
Aly you wrote: You will need to lean on God and others for a lot of support through this~ ‘this’ meaning if your husband chooses to not address his own issues and this meaning if there is little hope for anything healthy to come of such destructive ‘ongoing’ present daily (I’m assuming’) chaos.
I write: I was wondering if any of you used Leslie’s program CONQUER? I was considering this in addition to couples counseling or as a replacement for individual counseling for now. Right now, I do not have health insurance that covers mental health so would have to pay out of pocket. Husbands insurance will cover couples therapy as part of his treatment. I see he put on the calendar couples counseling for Monday but has not mentioned it to me.
I really like how Leslie and you all explain things. Just in her email today, I found things to journal about. I receive the same thing here. If I go ahead with the couples counseling, I feel with you all and maybe CONQUER, I will have enough support to go through…
Aly the chaos is not on a daily basis (husband loves saying this) but it is happening enough to cause distress. So mon., tues., and wed., was tense. Today, it’s like nothing happened.
Renee, you mentioned earlier that you think you are probably headed for divorce. May I suggest that you discuss this possibility openly with the counselor when you go? Bringing it out in the open, that you can’t/won’t continue to live with him as long as he is abusing you, will certainly change the direction of the therapy, and the counselor will see how determined you are and can help you to negotiate the terms. That could be the “wake up call” that your husband needs.
Well written! I could not agree more. It’s hard when the counselor only gets the husband’s side or version and Renee is key in bringing th light in to what ‘her husband’ doesn’t want to deal with (drug abuse, relational abuse etc).
I will discuss (well stress) divorce again with the counselor. I brought up divorce on our second visit (just myself and the counselor). She stressed how divorce gets messy and expensive. We went back and forth with me saying it was not what I wanted but probably best for us both.
I sensed she didn’t want that as an option since we just started counseling with her. Guessing that’s where I need confidence as Nancy suggest. I am just one that does not like to argue or challenge. It takes a lot to get me firing on all cylinders.
Is this something I should do again during an individual session or during the couple’s session I see on calendar for Monday?
Renee you said, ” Is this something I should do again during an individual session or during the couple’s session I see on calendar for Monday?”
My opinion is to hold that thought till you can discuss this with the counselor alone, giving the counselor a chance to help you get stronger first, and making well thought out decisions and considering the ramifications of each on you, you spouse and your children.
I think mentioning it in a couples session will be like adding gasoline to the fire.
I meant the counselor and I went back and forth and I said it was not what I wanted but probably best for us both.
I think you are doing a really good job of gathering resources and seeing what are good options for you! Support and getting equipped are so key;) regardless of the outcome of the marital dynamic.
Just to help clarify, my ‘daily chaos reference’ should have been more in relation to the issue being maybe not each day, but often enough that it is a continued ‘unresolved pattern’.
Like if I pick a weed in my yard and I only get the top of it.. I’m going to see more of that weed in a couple days.
As opposed to getting my yard tools and digging the root system out.
I want to add agreement to gathering resources, making a detailed plan for safety, finances, support people, law enforcement and legal counsel. Some might say, “Oh, I don’t intend to…” or “I don’t think _( you name the behavior)_ will happen” but you do not know and you must be prepared for the outcomes even when you do not want to divorce. KNOW that someone who does not accept the responsibility of what comes of out of his mouth and heart can escalate when you start laying boundaries that include leaving, even for a temporary separation. It shows “his world”(church, work, friends, family) that things are falling apart and are not the pretty facade he wants his world to see. The attacks may become more vicious than you ever thought possible.
Even if your situation does not involve narcissism ( but if anyone is on this blog, they are dealing with some forms of this type behavior), read the books on divorcing a narcissist to get a picture of what can happen and how to navigate the legal system with knowledge. I know there is a lady lawyer on the internet who guides women contemplating divorce and empowers them with the legal info they need to know.
All of this said to say, do not let your husband know what you are thinking about separation until you are truly ready to act on it and you have your “escape” plan and finances in order. Make sure your counselor is not in a counseling relationship with him to leak that info.
I have not had to deal with this but I have read enough on this blog and other places to know that there are many here that would agree with this. After being betrayed by those who were supposed to be helping us, and realizing it was affecting my mother’s blood pressure spikes, I did have to leave for a week to be alone at a hotel to sort out what was happening with some abusive people helpers, but it totally spooked my husband.
I agree with you and good that you listed that out. It’s helpful to get at least a scope sometimes because it can help with gaining clarity and objectivity.
Plus, I think it empowers someone who as been on the receiving end for a long time.
CBPP I can agree with your narcissistic warnings here~ they are valid because even if someone isn’t an official ‘npd’ the behaviors are similar and so is the trauma.
Since Narcissism is on a spectrum I highly value a professional in directives, which I think we are on the same page here as many of us have been in relationship or been exposed to this type of dynamic and injury.
You said something that I had meant to say but it is worth giving a ” second” to your thought.
Doing the homework and having the plan, knowing your options, is empowering even if you never have to use it. I would hope you would not have to use it but the confidence it brings to strengthen your ability to find and use “your voice” to express your feelings, your boundaries and your intent to not be bullied is worth the effort.
We are seeing the same counselor but she stresses she knows how to counsel us both without leaking information to the other. So far I don’t question that although I can’t guarantee.
CBPP, It seems like my advice and yours are at opposite ends. I advised telling the counselor that she wants to divorce, while you suggested that Renee wait until she has a plan and some safety measures in place. Those two can work together, if she can get her safety plan in place before the meeting with the counselor. I may not be remembering well, but I think she said that she can have only a few meetings with the counselor.
To Renee, be sure that we are all here pulling for you and praying that the Lord will supply you to get through this.
Yup Renee. We are all praying for you.
JoAnn, I am not sure our views are at opposite ends. We both agree that she should talk to the counselor about her feeling regarding divorce and create a plan. This can be done in individual counseling as I suggested and let the counselor help her set out a rock solid plan for safety and finances.
Renee said, ” Is this something I should do again [mention divorce] during an individual session or during the couple’s session I see on calendar for Monday? ”
My advice was just not to mention divorce in a couples session (assumed in the presence of her husband) this coming Monday. From Renee’s writing, I do not think she has a plan in place, and I think it would take more than 6 days to formulate one on her own before the meeting on Monday and be ready and have the fortitude to ” show all her cards” to her husband on Monday.
She needs time with this counselor to build rapport for assurance that she is strong enough and will have a support system in place when that big conversation happens. I identify with Renee ( and others here) who have suffered years of having “no voice”, her feelings dismissed, no apologies for the verbal darts and sarcasm, no resolve to the big issues of marriage and parenting. After years of not being allowed to think for herself, it will take time and a validating counselor to help her have the confidence to make and potentially execute a plan of leaving and living on her own.
I just wanted to warn her about the potential of escalating reactions once she mentions divorce, especially if her husband cares about what others (church, family, friends) think of a separation/divorce. He can create a bigger storm in moments once her hears the D word. It might even be a matter of safety. As long as she is not fearful of impending physical violence against herself or her children right now, she should not rush into this volatile encounter.
RENEE, you are doing the right thing by being open and honest on this blog. You have created conversation not just for yourself but for all those who are reading this. Many good points have been made that will bless all who are on this tumultuous journey. It is healing for all of us.
I agree with every point you made, CBPP. Thank you for your insights, and we all hope that the session on Monday goes well for Renee.
Hi all, I don’t want to take you all away from helping others so I’ll try to be quiet after this post. I’ll accept corrections and do the best I can next Wednesday. This will be my last individual session (paying out of pocket this time) unless we start couple counsel.
I just wanted some input. These are questions I would like to present based off responses received here. I don’t want to talk about my feelings next week.
1. It was concluded that my husband’s medication(s) are not contributing factors in our marital problems. Although there are no signs he is abusing them, one is known to cause problems. My husband’s behavior toward his medication is concerning.
I’ll give the example I posted here about not letting me help.
2. We’ve discussed not labeling our partners because it is not helpful. How can someone be held accountable if the pastor or counselor can’t say that one’s behavior is abusive? Would not that hinder their growth because it would cause one to think their behavior is normal? Wouldn’t that cause damage?
3. What is your understanding of narcissism?
4. How would you label the behaviors of my husband? How would you label my behaviors after talking to us and reading some of our interactions?
Here I will be listening for some key words.
5. Have you assisted a couple in structuring their separation or reconciliation? Do you have any beliefs toward either?
6. I feel my husband is putting me into a no-win situation, and no matter what I do or say, I’m wrong. What is there to save? He is hurting me, himself, and our daughter. I’ve not seen any evidence that he recognizes he has wronged me but want me to confess. Still being accused in one form of another. I can’t continue to live with him as long as he is abusing me and I’m considering divorce.
I’ll talk more about why if needed.
Those are all really good points to bring up, Renee. Perhaps in #5, you could use the word bias instead of beliefs. Marriage counselors are taught that the “marriage” is the “client.” Their goal is to take care of the marriage and not be biased toward one or the other. However, this doesn’t always work, especially if one member is abusing the other. I think you are right to try to assess her position and perspective. It will be good for you to hear what she has to say. May the Lord strengthen you. He will be right there with you in this session. Remember that!
JoAnn and Renee,
This is really important and good dialog. Renee, JoAnn is right in saying your are there with Him in the room.
I might also suggest to take notes or ask the counselor if you can do voice text if what she says.
I do this from time to time with my counselor when things/issues are very emotional so I don’t miss important pieces~ also when I see my counselor individually it helps me recap to my husband what we discussed.
(Not dating for you to do the above) just why I like to have the reference points. Plus, in my sessions our counselor and I have so many areas to cover in a short time.
This just helps me stay clear and gives me my areas to look deeper at with the Lord through the week.
… we live in a VERY distractable world. Slowing down through this process is so beneficial I believe. Plus we need to give room and time for the tears and emotions to come out.
Praying for you Renee🙏💜
Lots of spelling errors im sorry!
Not dating ~but Saying 😂
Hoping the other errors are explanatory
To ALL, there is an excellent Android App you can find in Google Play Store called SMART RECORDER that records and can be saved with a file name. Just touch record, then set your phone aside and it will do the job. There is an option to check to skip the silent spots which is handy if you forget to turn it off.
If you are having a difficult discussion with a family member, it is good to record for hearing how you sound to others. For some, it might be legal documentation of abuse.
I think this is a good resource given destructive cycles and abusive people in general~
I was suggesting for Renee to ask permission of her counselor out of courtesy, I would want the same (knowing I’m being recorded).
Aly, I agree with asking a counselor’s permission!
I was just highlighting a tool that can have multiple uses and is more reliable than a “voice text” that someone mentioned and is designed for more lengthy conversation. Other than the one use already mentioned, the counseling session with permission, I was just adding other applications of how a recording could be helpful.
1. to hear how you sound to others
2. documentation of abuse ( of which permission is not requested! )
But I thought of one more — as someone starts to “go off” on you. Pick up your phone and say, ” Would you repeat that so it so I can be assured that is what you said.?” or ” Let’s record this so we can share it with the counslor next week” . Saying, “Let’s record that ” could change some people’s demeanor and words. It might stop some of the future “I didn’t say that ” and other flip-flopping and crazymaking.
Good advice, Aly: “Slowing down through this process is so beneficial I believe. Plus we need to give room and time for the tears and emotions to come out.” We have to give ourselves permission to cry, especially if we have been forced to stuff our feelings for a long time.
You’re not being too much. We all benefit from each other’s input.
Hi everyone, I wanted to give an update on the couple session this week. The individual session for me is tomorrow and I will report how that one went. So as you know, he did not take responsibility. He tried to convince the counselor I was sole problem. Of course, there were lies (he is not a yeller). He threw out many examples. Hopefully counselor saw them as being controlling. He even threw in how the kids are so unhappy with me.
I don’t know what happened but I had calm the entire session. Maybe it was because I was sleep deprived from the loud music playing neighbors. I know at times he was trying to make me come unglued. When I heard the blame, I was not shaken. When I heard the lies, etc., I was not shaken. Maybe I was calm because I knew more of what to expect. I asked for God’s help. I read CORE meanings again while in the waiting room. And in my head I keep saying listen because you’re the one who gets to make the final decision.
I just had to tell myself not guilty don’t defend. Not guilty don’t defend. I had to explain in a way that would not sound like he was telling the truth and I had explaining to do. I hope that makes sense.
Oh, I decided to use old fashioned pen and paper today. But of course, I have that sound recorder app.
Renee, praise God for the strength and peace of mind He gave you in the midst of accusations, blame-shifting, and unaccountability on his part. I’m praying that your counselor is given special grace by God to see through his controlling tactics. I am so proud of you, even though I don’t know you, for reminding yourself to stay calm and not defend yourself. That is SO hard to do when lies, distortions, and misrepresentations are made. I have failed again and again to resist the urge to “set the record straight” when my ex-husband would do the very same things your husband did. ☹️ My sense of logic and justice is so strong in me, and while I have cried out to God a thousand times for His help, that was a hard battle NOT to engage in when he spoke like this to my grown children (they are mine from my first marriage to my late husband). I had such hopes for my 2nd marriage and I chose not to leave him, but I was in anguish for over two of our four years together. Ultimately, when he would do absolutely nothing our marriage counselors recommended, he left home and divorced me 10 months later. It was God’s mercy, plain and simple. Even though I was going to stay committed regardless of whether or not he changed (because some of my children believed his lies), I honestly don’t know how I would have emotionally or physically survived. I hope your time alone tomorrow with your counselor gives you the time and space to be encouraged and affirmed in the Lord. God bless you and keep you strong in Him!
Praise God, Renee!
“The Lord will fight for you, you need only to be still” Exodus 14;14
I pray for you, along with Tracy, that your counsellor will be given special grace by God to see what is going on.
And I pray for His continued Peace and clarity in your heart today.