Why Can’t I Let Go?

Morning friends,

So good to be back with you this week. Thank you, Dawn, for your thoughtful and helpful posts on alignment. So important. When we are misaligned, our entire gait is off and we cannot walk in CORE strength or in God’s truth.

I want to give you an early head’s up that my Three Month Walking in CORE strength group will be starting again in September. This group class is only offered twice a year and it always quickly fills to capacity. I value you and want to give you the information on it before opening it to the public. If you’re interested in hearing more details when it is open for registration, click here.

I mentioned to you that for the month of July I am taking a semi-sabbatical from coaching clients. What I am doing with my time is writing, studying, and marinating some ideas and asking God how to wisely steward my resources. It’s been interesting having no set schedule for these first two weeks. I’ve loved the freedom, but I find myself a little sloppier than usual with sticking to my routine because there is no routine. My personality does better with some routine so this has been a little challenging to find a new routine for my days.

So I appreciate your continued prayers that I would use this time wisely and finish all that God has for me to accomplish and learn during this little break.

This week’s question: I have so enjoyed reading all your information and feel ‘understood' and have more hope as far as a strategy goes now.

I chose to leave our home. I felt so unsafe because my husband of a few months was going into the most horrendous rages  I have ever seen. No particular thing would trigger him, it was whatever made him angry. He would get so angry that his teeth became loose from grinding them. He'd be swearing and saying the most disgusting things to me and threatening to kill me one day.

He apologizes and cries but it hasn't changed. I went back for a week after he had quite a bit of counseling only to have a huge outburst again. The problem I have now is that normally he would be contacting me loads of times a day but since we've been apart it's gotten unbearable.

I finally had to block him but he's found other ways of making contact. Sending me scriptures or just saying how much he loves me etc. He does not listen to reason or boundaries. He just bulldozes over everything no matter what we've tried to put into place. What do I do?… I don't feel up to speaking to him at all right now as any response from me is a hook back into the dance. I'm exhausted. Please help?

Answer: Speaking up to him is long over. You have spoken up to him in the past. Numerous times. His counselor has spoken to him, a lot. I’m sure other people have spoken to him and spoken to him and spoken to him and he hasn’t changed. His constant barrage towards you shows me that he still feels entitled to contact you despite you asking him to stop, as well as your boundary of blocking his calls.

Not only does he verbally bully you, but he has scared the daylights out of you when he threatened to kill you. He is not a safe person to be with, probably not ever. He has demonstrated that he isn’t teachable. He’s sorry but that’s about it. He’s not learning what he needs to change in order to handle his feelings in a more constructive, and appropriate way. He's still trying to put the focus on you by throwing scripture at you or telling you that he loves you. That’s not true. He doesn’t love you. If he did he wouldn’t treat you this way. What he loves is you loving him. He misses that. He wants that. He demands that. You are his supply and without it, he feels desperate. He’s clawing to get you back.

Everyone gets angry. But his inability to handle his anger is not only harmful to him (his teeth may fall out) but also terrifying to you. You do not need to continue to subject yourself to his continued abuse.

You said you blocked him so how is he continuing to contact you? And, are you responding? I would suggest you go “no contact” at this point. Do not respond to his e-mails, texts, or phone calls. I would also strongly suggest getting a restraining order against him since he threatened to kill you. This will put legal consequences into place if he continues to harass you. You said, “he bulldozes past boundaries no matter what you put into place.” Why haven’t you put a restraining order on him up to this point? If he bulldozes past a restraining order, he will end up in jail. As Henry Cloud writes in his book Necessary Endings, “Jail does some people good.”

But safety is only your first goal, healing yourself is your second. Of course, you are exhausted. I’m sure you are also traumatized by all of this. Sanity is your next goal. Not his sanity – you have no control over that, but yours. What is it about you that gets hooked back into this destructive dance with him again and again? What’s going on with you that you didn’t immediately file a restraining order when he threatened to kill you? What’s going on with you that you are still speaking to him at all? These questions are not meant to shame you but to help you take a look at your part of this destructive relationship. Yes, you are a victim of his abuse, but when you are a repeat victim again and again and again, you must begin to ask yourself, “what part do I play here?”

Let me explain. You play no part in his abusive behaviors. There is nothing you have done to make him treat you this way. You may have upset him – that’s normal in marriage. Spouses upset one another. A wife doesn’t always respect her husband the way he wants her to. And a husband doesn’t always cherish a wife the way she wants him to. There will be times of pain and sin in every marriage. That is part of normal.

But when someone responds to disappointment or another person’s sin in a destructive and abusive way, that is totally his responsibility.

We respond to what’s happening to us (good and bad) from what’s within our heart and how we choose to respond is totally on us (Luke 6:45). – Click To Tweet

Most husbands who are upset with their wives don’t threaten to kill them. Most husbands who are disappointed with their wives don’t cheat on them. Instead, a husband talks with their wife, explain why he is upset, and they work the conflict through to a win-win solution.

But here is where I want you to take a look at your own dance steps in this destructive relationship. In order for you to grow through this experience and gain greater sanity, you must ask yourself these questions: What’s going on with me that I have allowed myself to be treated like this again and again and again? This man has repeatedly shown me that he has no regard for my feelings, my boundaries or even my life, yet he says he loves me. What’s going on with me that I keep engaging with him? What’s going on with me that I can’t go to no contact? What’s going on with me that I’m tempted to give him chance after chance after chance even though I know nothing has changed? What’s going on with me that even though I know I am depleted and exhausted, I will question my decision to stop engaging?

I have some ideas about what’s going on. We’ve talked about it again and again on this blog. The shaming. The guilt trips. The feeling unworthy to stand up for yourself or the biblical teaching that is slanted toward a wife sacrificially giving up herself only to enable her husband’s sin to continue without consequence. Obviously, you’re somewhat through that or you wouldn’t have already separated and put at least some boundaries down. But what else keeps you hooked? Or stuck? I would suggest that you might have a trauma bond with him that needs to be addressed and broken. And, the first step is going “no contact” and working on you, not on his needs or his feelings or what he wants.

This is the work you need to do now if you want to move through this experience and end up a healthier person. If you don't do this work, sadly you are much more likely to repeat the same patterns in a future relationship. Don’t let that happen. You were made for much more than to be a victim of repeat abuse.

Friend, when you answered those questions for your own situation, what did you discover that kept you getting hooked back into the same abusive dynamics again and again and how did you break free?


  1. Susan on July 12, 2017 at 7:45 am

    Where can I find more information about breaking the trauma bond?

    • Bestill on July 12, 2017 at 9:11 am

      I am interested in this as well.

    • Aly on July 12, 2017 at 12:07 pm

      Dear Leslie, Susan too..

      So glad you mentioned the trauma bond as a very apparent possibility here. I find that more victims of abuse are in such trauma bonds and that’s why it’s a repeated pattern. I was for sure.

      Leslie, you wrote;
      “What’s going on with me that I’m tempted to give him chance after chance after chance even though I know nothing has changed?”

      I believe this question to your writer is key! When we give a person chance and chance with NO evidence of consistent change than we are not making our decisions based on the facts and it is more about false or wishful thinking. It’s isn’t actually hope that something ‘is changing’, it’s ‘our feelings’ deciding over the facts of the situation. And this clearly can contribute to engaging in more of the trauma bond cycle.

      Many can confuse these things with wanting to give someone the benefit of the doubt, wanting to offer forgiveness and this being an action of that, or just plain hoping that ‘our behavior will foster health to both parties’ ~ does not work with someone continuing to reveal the depth of immaturity and abusive mindset that obviously is dangerous to life threatening.

      I have heard other women who clearly are trained in victim mindsets with twisting scriptures (such as my mom) claim that giving more chances or grace is what we are to have hope in and that not having the evidence is having ‘faith’.

      Actual true evidence of hope is what we can look for to make safer choices given these relational dynamics.

      It’s good that the writer is questioning her thought process on why cant she let go. This is evidence that she is willing to explore what motivates her own ‘part’ as you noted.

      Prayers and Gods’ will for this precious woman who is getting untangled💕
      From a destructive husband who is currently unteachable heart.

      • Nancy on July 12, 2017 at 1:56 pm

        Hi Aly,

        Last week in counselling, I had an image of an invisible thread between my mother and I that I just can’t seem to cut. I’m really wondering if it’s a trauma bond. Is this possible when it’s ‘only’ emotional abuse?

        • Aly on July 12, 2017 at 2:49 pm

          Dear Nancy,

          I would refer you mostly to your counselor to give you best professional directive.
          For me, I believe the emotional trauma bond is one of the worst to first recognize (especially when it’s by those we deeply want to believe that love us, and can love themselves by first receiving the love of Christ).
          Second, to bring the trauma bond to light and hope that the other person can acknowledge their own reactions and their part to in the relationship.
          Usually you might find control .. being a motivator or a parent not willing to see themselves as a separate person from their own child..healthy individuality isn’t really granted and certainly not celebrated.

          Recently, I had quite a heavy dialog with my inlaws where they tried to tell me from their point of view that they have a ‘close relationship’ with their son. How much they like their relationship with him and how much they feel they know him.

          I challenged this perception with them because well I’ve been walking the long painful recovery with him and his attachment/maturity issues.
          As he has with me too.

          When I explained and gave some examples of things of why they don’t ‘really know’ him, they considered that maybe they do have an extension of themselves and their own feelings of things that they place upon him.

          I say ‘consider’ because how they choose to grow here is up to them and it’s up to them if they want or even desire to know their own son for who he is. Some parents don’t. In fact some parents see being the parent as the ultimate right they have rather than a beautiful privilege of peering into a life that God planned Himself.

          Praying for you always Nancy, you are doing such difficult work. You are being courageous and brace and I see you continue to bring yourself into His lap so you can receive an accurate view of who He really is! In doing this you open yourself to receive the Love like no other, and when you continue to receive this love from Him… it’s evident that you can offer it to others in a healthy way.

          It’s natural we want our mothers to have this! Their is nothing wrong with desiring this and it’s that much troubling when our mothers think they have it, but what they have isn’t the authentic Love of Him, its religion.

          I’m sorry that was a long answer. But I’m grieving too from something so unnatural and painful from my own mom. Being a mom myself continues to shine light on what things get extended out from dysfunctional legacies. I’m continuing to ask God for His strength and wisdom as I swim against the current.
          Much love and hugs to you sweet precious Nancy🌈

        • Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 4:26 pm

          Yes. Trauma bonds are especially strong between abusive parent and child

          • Julie on July 24, 2017 at 10:23 am

            What creates an abusive parent? Denial of their own abusive childhood? Do you think demonic oppression or possession plays into any of this?

        • Nancy on July 13, 2017 at 7:06 am

          Yes, Aly, swimming against the current. That’s what we are doing when we are parenting in a way that does not rely on the blueprint we were provided as children.

          Thank God that we are made in His image and that this blueprint is the most deeply embedded one of all ❤️

          Leslie. Thanks for the confirmation.

          • JoAnn on July 17, 2017 at 10:47 am

            Nancy and Aly, Regarding “we are parenting in a way that does not rely on the blueprint we were provided as children,” I chose to do some things differently when we were raising our children, and I believed that taking Christ as my model was what was needed. Not so much in a “what would Jesus do?” kind of way, but allowing the Christ within me to deal with the issues as they came up. One thing that was important to me was to model forgiveness for them; not holding a grudge, because that happened a lot in my family. Another was to validate their feelings, not ever saying that what they were feeling wasn’t important. Unconditional love: I may not like what you did, but I still love you, and you need to deal with the consequences of your actions. Parenting is a scary job, and we don’t always get it “right,” if there is such a thing. By God’s mercy and grace, we muddle along, hoping and praying that we don’t load our kids up with our baggage and that their hearts will be open to God’s love and truth.

          • Aly on July 17, 2017 at 1:44 pm

            Dear JoAnn,

            Thank you for your comments here on parenting and how best you navigated.
            I’m not sure I totally understand you completely (please correct me if I’m way off here) …or that you can relate to what Nancy and I were discussing when it comes to the breaking the unhealthy patterns that get passed down in dysfunctional family systems. Some obvious and I believe some not so. This is where I think your comment on putting ‘our own baggage’ upon our children might apply? This is not the baton I would want to offer my children when it clearly is right now my responsibility.

            I don’t ever believe there is such thing as a perfect parent (or getting it right) but only a growing one.

            *Anti -growth/anti change (and unable to take responsibility for behavior and harming behavior) was more of my family of origins motto and unspoken rules, it’s almost as if they couldn’t shake the idea of accepting that… God does ‘change and grow us’ (upon receiving His love & free eternal gift) and thus grow us into more of the character that he would be pleased with*~ this being His work alone in our hearts.
            There is nothing wrong with having Christ in our hearts and still dealing with our sin and our immaturity ~ it’s like a package deal, but there are those individuals that think they are above this behavior change because Christ did it all on the Cross~ well yes and No. we still have to be in a posture of change if we are willing?

            Many of us don’t have parents that desire to grow~or remotely a posture to have a teachable spirit… and don’t see their children & (adult children) as individuals which just fuels a dysfunctional system and any idolatry that the family struggles with. This is where I have had to draw myself away from the influence of these individuals. When you are surrounded by subtle negative attitudes and family members that are not centering themselves around the Love of God and loved by others… it hinders ones growth and can easily teach our children that this posture is normal of a Christian attitude.

            When the family is consumed with family image~ (Idolatry) or also unconditional love ~ how they might define it from their own defensive lens, this terminology can be dangerous.

            You wrote:
            “One thing that was important to me was to model forgiveness for them; not holding a grudge, because that happened a lot in my family.”

            In my family holding a grudge ~ was a person holding another accountable. (Which rarely happened~ eventually I had to submit to the family culture because I was a child after all)

            You wrote:
            “Another was to validate their feelings, not ever saying that what they were feeling wasn’t important.”

            I agree with you JoAnn! This is critical to a child’s development, but growing up I was constantly told something was wrong with me because I ‘had feelings’ the rest of my family learned to not feel, they are all quite avoidant and don’t like the idea of emotions~ not the safest place for my children to hang around.

            Also, I agree with you on the imp principal in forgiveness but it’s also imp to teach them how to forgive and that forgiveness isn’t about reconciliation always, which this was taught subtly in my family of origin … which lead me to learn very unhealthy boundaries in relationships and core co-dependent skills that caused me more abuse as an adult. This baggage I do not want for my children.

            You wrote;
            “Unconditional love: I may not like what you did, but I still love you, and you need to deal with the consequences of your actions.”

            I agree with you in that there are consequences but in dysfunctional homes the unconditional rule is that it’s a requirement and as Leslie has continued to comment ‘unconditional love does not mean unconditional relationship.’ Also is imp to see that in these family systems not all children have the same rules Equally applied.

            We can parent our children with the love of Christ and by learning what this looks like through His Word and his love for us…we can parent them by showing we love them (who they are) apart from their behavior and their choices.
            Love and approval are not the same track.
            Same as Love and trust are not the same track.
            We can parent them that they are accepted and cared for and mostly unconditionally loved by the Lord!
            My husband and I also desire for them to learn the value and principal of growing and learning from their mistakes ~ this is not just a child’s role it’s a family member role in our home because we are all wanting to become the people that God calls us to for His glory only.

            I’m sorry this is long JoAnn but many things you noted I felt lead to respond because so much of what you said I agree when dealing with healthy and accountable people, sadly many of those biblical principles especially when given by emotionally and spiritually immature parents can lead to lots of confusing Christianity.

          • JoAnn on July 18, 2017 at 10:56 pm

            You are right, of course, Aly. There are different degrees of dysfunctionality in families, and I have to say that mine was actually a pretty good family. However, there still were things that my husband and I chose to do differently, based on the baggage that we did have to deal with. I was simply identifying some of the issues that we wanted to focus on in our family. The principles may be the same, but the application will vary from family to family, depending on the issues. We are all doing the best we can with the resources we have, and when we discover that what we are doing isn’t producing the desired outcome, then we need to find more resources. This blog has provided many more resources for all of us than we would have without this fellowship. I thank God and Leslie for that.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 4:14 pm

      You can google it or Patrick Carnes has a good book on The Betrayal Bond which is more about being betrayed and traumatized, as in when your husband is a sex addict, but he covers trauma bonding too. It’s when a “victim” becomes emotionally bonded with her abuser. It happens through fear, intermittent reinforcement (the abuse cycle when he’s Mr. Nice Guy), and an imbalance of power in the relationship. Trauma bonds happen in a good way for example, when combat soldiers are in a foxhole together or survive a natural disaster together.

      • Susan on July 12, 2017 at 11:56 pm

        Thank you, Leslie!

  2. Sophia on July 12, 2017 at 8:34 am

    A recent new aquaintance said ‘we teach people how to treat us’ . I find it difficult to learn new patterns because I am used to the unhealthy patterns! So, I am learning to go against my feelings in this. Boundaries! Also this week in counseling, me 😥”I guess I just have to accept this reality.”
    Counselor “NO! Accepting says it is ok with you. You can ACKNOWLEDGE the reality, it may or may not be ok.”

    • Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Very important distinction, acknowledge reality – and then decide how you are going to handle it. Accept reality implies your consent.

    • Dawn on July 15, 2017 at 6:38 am

      What a great thought. I might even consider the option of both first acknowledging and then accepting the reality.
      I think of the line in the serenity prayer that says to be granted the serenity accept the things I cannot change.
      It is impossible to accept them without acknowledging they are there.
      Once we have done both, I believe we are then positioned to decide a best course of response action on what we do with that acceptance and how to move forward in and through our CORE strength.
      Wisdom and revelation to us all as we walk these things out. He is there and safe to trust.

  3. Sophia on July 12, 2017 at 8:37 am

    Ps praying for you Leslie! and thank you for your ministry and calling here.❤️

    • Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Thanks so much

  4. D on July 12, 2017 at 10:35 am

    What if I have responded to my husband’s anger, withdrawal and aggression with strong emotions? I have broken down many times crying and yelling in front of the kids saying horrible things to him when he has pushed my buttons and I know this has hurt them. I feel terrible about this and I know its not the best response but he says that I then abuse him. Is there such thing as mutual abuse?

    • Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 4:18 pm

      D yes there can be mutual abuse, but it sounds as if you are not taking good care of yourself with boundaries that would protect you from his continued abuse. Instead you are still trying to get him to change by crying, yelling, and saying horrible things hoping he will wake up and change. How about instead of doing all of that and allow yourself to be pushed into a frenzy, you set better boundaries for yourself (R – of CORE STRENGTH) and work to deactivate your buttons so you are not such easy prey. Then you won’t feel the guilt of being abusive yourself, you won’t allow yourself to be
      overcome with his evil but you will overcome evil with good (Romans 12;18)

      • D on July 12, 2017 at 5:44 pm

        Thanks Leslie. I definitely need to work on stronger boundaries but I’m not sure what you are saying about overcoming evil with good. Should I overcome the evil with good with strong boundaries and stay in a relationship with an “evil” person who does not change?

        • Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 6:07 pm

          No I don’t mean that. I mean that YOU don’t allow evil to poison your own spirit which is what seems to be happening right now. When someone is toxic towards us and we don’t have good boundaries, they shoot their arrow of evil straight into our heart. If we’re not careful, the toxic poison starts coursing through our veins and makes us react in sinful, destructive ways too. That’s not what you want to happen to YOU. You can’t control what he does, but you must guard your heart and help yourself by overcoming evil (in you) with good. So when Jesus tells us to love our enemies for example, he’s not telling us that we must be friends with our enemy. Impossible. Because he’s our enemy. But he is saying that when your enemy has hurt you (that’s why he’s your enemy) you must counter that negative emotional reaction with good – or love your enemy rather than hate your enemy, otherwise your enemy will get the BEST OF YOU. Don’t let that happen.

          • Aly on July 12, 2017 at 6:38 pm


            I believe this is well explained but it can also feel confusing when your in the thick of it or at least in the cycle of it when dealing with some who is quite destructive or at least shows signs of ‘patterns’.

            Sometimes I can see it better when I see two siblings fighting and ~ one sibling being more the antagonist and the other trying to deal with it.
            Usually not always the antagonist is the most insecure and immature~ if they can get the other to react then well in their mind they are leveling and feeling equal in behavior. Both are then at fault, right? Not always crystal clear.

            Overcoming evil with good gets pretty complex but not impossible or God would not have called us to its place.
            We behave and respond in a responsible manner and mostly a higher place in how we treat another human being.

            I think the tough part is that the ‘destructive person’ has a very underdeveloped place (a core) where it’s almost as if they are ‘not given similar treatment’ they have a tough time imagining it unless it actually happens to them! This is maddening.
            Development of empathy is at a negative or (0) and yes it goes way back to childhood patterns and many patterns of not taking account for behavior. Investigate the patterns don’t happen out of the blue.

            So it’s so difficult in dealing with an adult body in this place of such immature behavior.

            Some of this is much of my journey with my husband and it was very difficult getting ‘anything healthy across’ to someone so cut off of empathy and especially accountability for such behavior.

            As if I would have it in me to possibly treat him the way he was treating me… I didn’t have this nor did I want to~
            I wanted to defeat evil with good, and this is a complicated task in ‘any relationship’ let alone a marriage!

          • Dina on July 13, 2017 at 4:22 pm

            That’s something I will pray about and work on but What about expectations? I end up being vulnerable when I am kind and then get hurt again by unchanged behaviors.

        • Jes on July 18, 2017 at 11:45 am

          I identify with your question FULLY! My husband was spiritually and psychologically abusive, and I didn’t understand what was happening as my rage increased and increased. After getting out (separation and a protection order) and LOTS of work on myself, I came to understand the difference between “abuse” and “anger outbursts.” I can’t answer this for you, but for me I deeply wrestled whether I was the abuser that my husband told me I was (and tried telling my friends and pastors I was). I was scared he was right because I was so ashamed of my repeated ugly behaviors. But I through study I learned that I was having anger outbursts, I’m not a manipulative controller. And once I got out of the toxic relationship, those behaviors vanished. I don’t struggle with anger outbursts at all anymore, and I didn’t prior to the toxic relationship.
          So give yourself permission to look yourself honestly in the mirror and ask “am I abusive or am I having anger outbursts?” And I suspect you’ll discover that just the willingness to ask this question shows you’re not the abuser he wants you to believe you are. But you are still responsible for you, and if you cannot get healthy in that relationship then you need to get out and get healthy and be safe.
          Leslie says in her book, “if you stay, stay well. If you leave, leave well.” Figure out what it takes to be well. That’s where I am. I don’t know if I will file for divorce or not, I’m just working on being well.

      • Susan on July 12, 2017 at 11:40 pm

        This is what I have had to learn to do because I used to allow my buttons to be pushed and then I would join my husband in the abusive behavior! So thankful for learning how to walk in CORE strength. I no longer appear to be the “crazy one” like I used to when I would lose it.

      • Ana on July 14, 2017 at 9:11 am

        What does that work entail? What are the steps?when you advised her to “work to deactivate your buttons so you are not such easy prey.”

        That statement spoke to me because when my husband and I recently engaged in a conversation which got heated up, my buttons were pushed, i was so angry And in a split second I responded with such hurtful words. They gushed out of me like a dam bursting through. I want to learn how to de-escalate in heat of the argument.

        • Nancy on July 14, 2017 at 12:12 pm

          Hi Ana,

          Have you seen Leslie’s YouTube video on CORE strength? This is the work that will strengthen you- developing your CORE. I also recommend Patrick Doyle from Berta’s counselling – YouTube videos. He has many.


          • Nancy on July 14, 2017 at 12:13 pm

            Veritas counselling – not Berta’s …lol

          • Ana on July 17, 2017 at 8:57 pm

            Thank you for that info!

            Blessings Nancy.

  5. JoAnn on July 12, 2017 at 10:45 am

    I appreciate Leslie’s emphasis on safety first. This man is dangerous. He probably won’t honor a restraining order. Is it possible for you to move away? Please think about that.

    • Free on July 17, 2017 at 7:30 am

      I have experience with a man/husband/abuser who does not honor restraining orders. Upon reflection, he doesn’t honor any order what so ever. He makes his own rules and acts as if all are entitled to follow his decrees.

      The beauty of the restraining order is that you can call the police and put him in jail when he violates it. Be careful because a wife can get sucked back in and violate the order by contacting him. Abusers try many ways to get the spouse to break the order so he can get free.

      • JoAnn on July 18, 2017 at 11:02 pm

        Good point, Free. That sounds like the voice of experience.

  6. Starlight on July 12, 2017 at 11:32 am

    It is hard for Christian women to go against the no divorce no matter what teaching that has been engrained in us in our churches for our entire lives! I love the questions Leslie suggests that we ask ourselves along with her scriptural teaching! It is so freeing your know that we can separate from evil repeatedly being done to us whether we are married to a person who repeatedly chooses to do evil toward us. For me breaking the trauma bond entailed telling myself the truth about who my now ex husband is, that he brought the chaos into the marriage by himself and that I was not a willing participant to being abused, do not deserve it and I realize that I am not responsible for his continual choices to abuse, not his choice to explode in rage, cheat on me, shove me around, threaten me financially and other destructive behaviours and that I do not deserve such treatment.
    Many unbelievers do not treat their spouses this way, they honour them and live peaceably with their families, love and care for their wives and families and do not trick and take advantage of others just because they can or feel entitled to exploit others.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Thanks Starlight. Breaking the trauma bond starts with facing the truth – that this is a destructive relationship and I am being repeatedly abused. Then it requires you to work on YOU, not trying to change him, so that you can get strong enough to have boundaries and stick with them and change your own thinking about who you are and how you are to be treated.

      • Susan on July 12, 2017 at 11:44 pm

        Believing ONLY who God says I am has been the best decision I have ever made. I took a blue chip at Celebrate Recovery almost 18 months ago and committed to start only believing God. Best blue chip I have ever taken:-)

        • Dawn on July 15, 2017 at 6:47 am

          Beautiful, Susan! Acknowledging that reality of allowing only His thoughts to define us is truly receiving the foundational truths that will then enable us to love ourselves in that identity and teach others how to love us that way. We are then best equipped to enter into healthy, loving relationships where we can extend that love to others.

          • Susan on July 15, 2017 at 9:02 am

            Yes, exactly!!!!

  7. SaraJane on July 12, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    I kept getting sucked back in trying to support and encourage him. Giving him yet another chance to show if he’s repentant.

    My mindset had much to do with me wanting to fulfill my marriage vows, even though he broke his long ago. I know in my heart that I made mine without contingency.

    I don’t know if I’m totally free, but I have broken away. This time away from the abuse has helped me see that I am healthier and stronger than I knew. And that our old life was not normal or healthy.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 4:21 pm

      Can you fulfill your marriage vows to love him in a much more risky and redemptive way by refusing to pretend anymore and speaking the truth in love? Isn’t that good for him and good for your marriage? I

      • SaraJane on July 12, 2017 at 7:31 pm

        Yes! Pretending is a good word for what we did. The happy family, the spiritual head of the house, etc. I even pretended to our children, trying to make him look good. Thinking he’d eventually live the part.

        Now I try to find ways to love him that don’t require me living in the same house. He does not like it and says he doesn’t understand, but my daughters and I are safe and healthy and happy.

        • Dina on July 13, 2017 at 6:04 pm

          I have asked my husband to leave but he refuses but said he won’t fight the divorce if I file. Just another way of blaming me for his behavior. I am living in another room of the house now just the protect myself but I know this is not a true resolution of the problem. I am still hesitant to file or leave because of underlying guilt. It’s like cutting off a limb to save your body. It still hurts. I am still hoping for a miracle but know deep down after 23 years the indifference and anger will just repeat. Such a difficult place.

          • Nancy on July 14, 2017 at 12:10 pm

            Hi Dina,

            Is separation not an option for you? Can you leave having communicated clear boundaries, and expectations of him? Is this a possibility for you?

          • Dina on July 14, 2017 at 2:03 pm

            Nancy, I have set verbal and written boundaries more times than I can count. I am waiting for my youngest to leave for college next month if I am going to move out. That was one of my stated consequences if I did not see consistent change which he promised. He also wrote a long letter of confession with promises he has not kept. It is unfair that I am having to pay for a place of my own rather than him leaving so he gets to stay in the big house even though he makes way more money. He said he can’t afford to leave. It’s a way to keep me trapped and controlled I know again baiting me to look bad. So yes I can separate but it also keeps him in control. I don’t care about that so much as the financial and how it will look to my kids.

          • Aly on July 14, 2017 at 1:08 pm

            Dear Dina,

            I’m very sorry for what your situation reveals itself to be and at what point things are at.
            I’m posting here because I specifically can relate
            to being in similar places with such ‘indifference type’ behavior from a husband and a (family of origin sister).
            It’s VERY difficult because it’s a bit more covert but it’s still emotionally abusive and unacceptable. And from my experience some individuals can live and breath indifference for a lifetime because it’s how they cope best.Very sad.

            Are you in counseling? And do you have supportive women in your corner too?

            Self care and the women in my corner became critical to me seeing not only my abusers patterns but my own response patterns. Feasting on Gods truths in His Word for my heart and my identity in Him alone, was key in seeing that many abusive people ~really don’t have a secure identity in Christ first.

            All their inner and outer behaviors and character issues continue to point to the truth of this missing authentic vertical relationship with God (which is the fruit to examine).

            For me it was important to continue on my journey in growing a relationship with the Lord and doing good self care & grief for my heart. (Which I’m still continuing to do)
            Realizing what things I am in control over and what things I’m not were helpful in me getting back my, life, my healthy power and places I needed to be assertive and responsible for.
            Those people in my life that could function with ‘indifference’ as if it was normal like air they breathe could have their indifference all to themselves.

            As for my journey I wanted to discover more and more about living life to the full~ and what God has planned for His glory in my path.

          • Dawn on July 15, 2017 at 7:27 am

            Ahh girls – I love the support and love that this sweet community offers. Dina – I was in the same place two years ago that you find yourself today. Waiting for my youngest to graduate. Perplexed and racked with indignity as to the unfairness of it all. In all that unfairness I packed my car, my dog and cats and left… with $300 in my checking account and no access to any of our monies. My salvation, self-preservation and sanity demanded it. Two years later I can share my experience. Where He calls you, He keeps you. He is faithful and safe to trust.
            I can now see how the enemy used “fairness” as the bait to keep me languishing in that environment. For me, I was petrified of living without, pictured myself destitute and homeless etc. these were all ploys of the enemy.
            It wasn’t until I could look at the unfairness of it all – acknowledge and accept those terms that I could actually find my freedom. I had simply reverenced and empowered the idols of “fair” and “money”.
            Jesus justice system will sort it all out. I have to stand on that. I am choosing to believe when He tells me that He will give me a double portion for my shame in my land (Is 61:7). He does that. In a way that only He can. That’s fair. I simply needed to give Him the space to do the work and align my vision my in terms w His economy (which, by the way, I still believe I will never fully comprehend here). Ultimately what I did find was that He replaced the temporal with the eternal. Praying for us all as we align in Him.

          • Free on July 17, 2017 at 7:36 am

            Dina, I found that my husband/abuser got worse after the kids left for college. He could run amuck because there was no reason to restrain his yelling and language because the kids were not around to hear him. In his mind he is wonder Dad, so he couldn’t compromise his opinion of himself by talking down to me when the children were around.

            Dina, make plans to leave. If he gets better you can always return. But I beg you to begin an escape plan.

          • Dina on July 17, 2017 at 10:46 am

            Thanks Free. I had this gut instinct that he could get worse after the kids left. It is so hard for me to step out as it puts a period on the marriage, although like you said I could return IF he changes which I know is highly doubtful. I don’t trust him enough at this point to be open to it. I am grieving for the loss of my hope.

          • Donna on July 17, 2017 at 11:56 pm

            Dina, When I expressed the same feeling like you that there was a period at end of marriage also feeling like a period to end if my life as I knew it, My pastor said, “put a coma at end of marriage. “. That was freeing to me as I continued to move away from my husband emotionally and fast to Jesus. My life isn’t over. I’m closer to knowing Jesus than ever. He has a plan for me better than my plan to keep trying to be better and waiting for God to change husb. I went on a mission trip with 17 others from our church 11 months after I left. Legal separation not completed yet . I’m freer to serve the Lord now that we’re not together.
            Praying for you Dina.

          • Free on July 17, 2017 at 4:39 pm

            Dina, you say you are greiving your loss of hope. I think your leaving is the beginning of hope. This marriage, if it ever can or will change needs consequences. Be brave and take action.

          • Jes on July 18, 2017 at 12:02 pm

            Dina, your husband has such control (he is much like mine, and my heart breaks for how you feel). My kids are younger, but what I have discovered after leaving, is that I’m teaching my kids what’s RIGHT. Who cares about fair? What’s right is far more important, and that you see yourself as worthy to stand up for yourself will be a powerful thing for your kids to learn. The longer we stay, the more harm our kids are exposed to. Our kids should learn healthy boundary setting (and not just using our words or written boundaries, but acting on them.)
            When we use our words to set boundaries but our spouse violated them, it means we have no boundaries. There have to be consequences when he violates. And you have options! Contact a shelter for abused women in your area, they can give you local resources and legal advice. For example, in the state I live in (Idaho) you could file a protection order and the judge can order a move-out decree where your husband has to allow you to have the house. Or Legal Separation which separates all common property and the judge would order spousal support and divide your property (just like in a divorce, but with a comma at the end rather than a period).
            Don’t let yourself feel stuck, we are never stuck. Being stuck is a lie the enemy delights in. We always have a choice.
            And say this boldly bc I get stuck for too long, and I blamed my being stuck on my abuser and I allowed me kids to be subjected to it longer than I should have.

          • Dina on July 18, 2017 at 2:07 pm

            Dear Donna, Free and Jess,

            Your comments and support came at a time I felt I was losing my mind thinking of all I had done to make my h who he is today. I don’t say this lightly–he had a dead end career and I encouraged him to get his doctorate. Now he is a university administrator. I have held him up financially, spiritually and emotionally, managed the home, kids, vacations for 23 years. He did nothing and then abused me on top of it. So this is where I was this morning. It hit me hard. I got nothing but pain in return. Your posts encouraged me to call a lawyer for a consult. There is no legal separation in my state but I will find out my options. I pray my kids will forgive me and that I will find the strength to follow-through and stop feeling victimized.

  8. Mary Ann on July 12, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    What is it about women that it is almost a compulsion to take care of and consider everyone else but themselves? Is it the way we are raised?

    I so “feel” with this poor, sweet woman! I was there! I did the same things, although I wasn’t told he wanted to kill me. But I still wondered and wondered when I would hit bottom, when I would save myself and walk away for good.

    I LOVE your response Leslie! It made me understand what happens to the man that is like this when we finally walk away. Truth is you never really see who they are because they are practiced in hiding it for years and years before you even met them.

    No one is entitled to our love. It is a free gift. We must always continue to remember that God calls us to love Him ! first! Then love ourselves in a healthy way. If we cannot love ourselves in a healthy way, then we have no capacity to love others. God also calls us to be Christ-like. How can we possibly honor and represent our Savior if we allow ourselves to be depleted, exhausted and broken? We have this responsibility to Him first.

    I hope this helps you re-align and heal. It takes a long time. Perhaps a lifetime, but it is so worth it!

    • Mary Ann on July 12, 2017 at 1:03 pm

      Oh and please remember, dear readers, our paths are made straight by God, not by man. Living a life such as this leaves no room to follow God’s path for your life.

      There is no change without true repentance. Repentance means to turn away from. In other words, a total about face! This requires both diligent effort and massive amounts of time (perhaps years). So move along. Follow the path that God makes straight before you and honor Him with your life not someone who does not treat you with the Biblical mandated respect of a child of God. You are WORTHY of this respect! You are God’s child!

    • Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      And we can even “love” him as an enemy which Jesus calls us to do. What would that look like? It might mean praying for him, but not enabling him to continue to hurt us. Precisely why he is an enemy.

      • Dawn on July 15, 2017 at 7:02 am

        Yes, Leslie, agree. For me loving as an enemy is a commitment to prayer over him fighting at root level not reacting tat the fruit level of his behavior. In asking the Lord, He revealed that these responses I am encountering while having to interact via settlement execution are due tohis being bound in fear … which leads to the need to control.
        I am now free to war at the spiritual level on his behalf against the spirit of fear that binds him. I ask for release, I beg the Lord to “give him no rest, to pursue him relentlessly until he finds his rest in Jesus”. I ask for his healing etc. all after two years of no contact.
        I feel that this is loving him, honoring both the Lord and him and most importantly, myself. Not to mention, the quickest pathway to peace for me, not having to engage but entrusting all of this to the one who does have the power to effect change.

        • Aly on July 15, 2017 at 1:08 pm


          Loved what you wrote and I do believe with you in where you are fighting that true battle and also finding your peace.
          I’m thankful your not in proximity of him either. Prayers for His will and that His will be that your husband awakes to see his bondage and also for your continued freedom.

          • Dawn on July 15, 2017 at 8:39 pm

            Thanks, Aly. There is just now the executing of the settlement agreement to deal with. Most importantly, the heavy mantle of darkness and fear of scarcity and “not enough” has departed.
            In aligning under Christ He has finally helped me to see and understand what it means to be loved well, cared for, treasured and adored.
            I care much less now about material things and realize the strength and faith and growth I’ve acquired through all of this are worth all that I paid for my freedom.
            To finally be out from the bondage of 54 years of yuck in relationships and have the ability to create my “Home of Shalom” 😉 is priceless to me. To Him be the glory.

        • Free on July 18, 2017 at 3:28 pm

          Dawn, in a previous post you wrote that you left two years ago with $300. What happened next? Do you have lodging, a job etc?

          • Dawn on July 19, 2017 at 9:20 am

            Hi Free.
            Yes. I left for a summer home we owned in a small town of 400 in a land of wilderness frontier. I had no idea if I would be provided for there as the situation I left was extremely volatile and unpredictable. I had a fledgling business that on paper would never be able to support me.
            However, I knew that staying was sin. I had been released by the Lord two years before I left, but was not obedient to go out of fear of scarcity. That was aHUGE mistake.
            Here’s what I found. The Lord took that business and blessed it. It supported myself and my attorney 🙂 ever since. He provided in other ways and like the widow in the Old Testament. I never wanted for a single need. They were all met. And there was meager reserve. My flour and oil never ran out. I certainly did not live in the lifestyle that I had been accustomed to, but I see that was part of His plan as well to show me full reliance on Him. I call these two years my Season of Sanctuary. Mark6:33 I would have never chosen to stay here. I thought it was to be a few months at max. But He had other plans. This is where He healed me after a breakdown, this is where He provided for me, this is where He drew me to Himself. He did that in mysterious ways – they weren’t mine. I just needed to lean in and believe that He was who He said He was (John 6 )… and learn to receive from a Good and Faithful Husband as His Bride!
            An amazing road. On paper it never added up, but I guess that’s what faith is. I still am learning to lean in and trust. In some amazing circumstances. However, they are backed by some even more amazing Stones of Remembrance. And when I have a moment where I look “on paper” and wonder, “How is this all going to work out?” He whispers to me, “Look back… look back!” Touch My faithfulness to you. I have never depended on your husband to provide for you. I may have used him, but I am not dependent on Him. I, yes I, am enough”. So I stand there. In amazement at what He has done both in me and for me and now coming back to an unprecedented level of wholeness.
            Ahhhh…. even when I can’t see … mainly when I can’t see. I can still believe. He is faithful and safe to trust.

          • caroline on July 19, 2017 at 6:39 pm

            Hi Dawn!
            Thank you so much for sharing your provision story here.

            Women need to hear these testimonies. We can get so caught up in our worry over not having “enough”, we forget HE IS ENOUGH!

            I especially love to part you shared about the Lord telling you so clearly that He was NOT and had never been limited by your husband’s provision in any way imaginable.

            This was similar to a crossroad experience I had some years ago. My situation differs a bit because I was not exactly fleeing danger, but was in relationship with a sex addict whom I was financially and emotionally dependent on and I was deathly afraid what any confrontations and boundaries might cost me. .

            God spent a season gently wooing me and showing me everyday that He truly owns the universe and all that’s in it, and IF my children and I had been taken of by my husband’s labors thus far, that too was HIS grace.

            Rather than leave, I was able to rest in HIS protection and authority and I started making demands of my husband. Tough ones. It was very uncomfortable at times, but he did chose repentance and recovery and we are still moving forward together years later. Not perfect or “finished”, but definitely living in a marriage of glory.

            I think even when we stay, as Christian women we need to first come to that place of knowing exactly Who has got our back: that broken place where we become willing to lose everything for the sake of Truth. Otherwise, we’re part of the mess.

            Dawn, I would like to invite you to share your beautiful provision story with another small community of women who are often taunted by the fear of “not enough”. http://restoringgodsdaughters.ning.com/

            Thanks for sharing this encouraging testimony.

          • Aly on July 19, 2017 at 10:05 pm

            Dear Caroline;)

            This is so well articulated!
            “I think even when we stay, as Christian women we need to first come to that place of knowing exactly Who has got our back: that broken place where we become willing to lose everything for the sake of Truth. Otherwise, we’re part of the mess.”

            Talk about freedom and not being a contributor regardless of what this parameters of addiction are…this pretty much says, all in with you Lord!

          • Day by Day on July 19, 2017 at 1:48 pm

            Hi Dawn, I am curious how you knew that you had been “released by the Lord.” This is what I’ve been searching for but I don’t feel it has been given to me yet, and I’m miserable.

          • Free on July 19, 2017 at 4:13 pm

            Thank you for your reply Dawn. I read every word and am greatly encouraged.

        • JoAnn on July 19, 2017 at 4:30 pm

          Dawn, your story is both inspiring and encouraging. You stepped out in faith, and the Lord honored your courage, and what little faith you had was able to grow. Praise Him!

          • Dawn on July 21, 2017 at 10:50 am

            Sweet Christ Sisters,
            Thank you. Thank you for your encouragement. He is faithful and safe to trust.
            Caroline, I am happy to use this sweet Balm of Gilead wherever the Lord wants it poured. I prayed for a different ending – one of restoration in my marriage but it wasn’t to be. The Balm I acquired throughout all of this, I have purposed in my heart to be used to help those behind me in the church that are struggling in this arena.
            At the beginning of this journey Leslie had me craft what the finish line would like like. The third tenent was the above. I am happy to share.
            I am also so very grateful for your restoration. That is His heart at work knitting together that which was so broken. What you witnessed was what happens when we align, arise, and ascend out from the weight of the carnage to take our rightful place of honor at His right hand. Quite simply … the atmosphere shifts.
            In regard to knowing when it was time to go, I can tell you two very distinct markers.
            First was when I was returning after Labor Day from this home here about 4-5 years ago to our marital home. That home represented the entirety of my life — it was a home dedicated. Dedicated to ministry, dedicated to my family with close to two decades of homeschooling. As I walked up the path and set my site on the door that would open and usher me back into that life after a season of refreshment away, I heard in my spirit, “It is finished here”. Wow! At the time I didn’t know what that meant. In hind site I see that everything that home represented as I knew it — the mantle of anointing and blessing on it was being lifted — never again was that home the same. In an instant , it turned into house.
            Secondly was after a family meeting and intervention where one of my sons extended forgiveness and the offer of reconciliation in grace to my husband on behalf of our family and he refused it. I had already extended that to him moments before. The refusal had not completely finished leaving his mouth and I felt a literal weight of about two tons heaved off of my shoulders. I can explain it in no other term than “release”, for that’s what it was. In that split second I knew that I and our family had completed our side of the “street cleaning”. There was nothing left for us to do. We were then not only free but obligated to seek Him to move in a different direction.
            I wish I could say I immediately set the systems in place to do that. However, I couldn’t really find any “systems”. So I floundered for two more years under the excuse of getting my last one out of high school. That was a mistake.
            I bumped into some walls fell into a dark pit and was literally dragged.
            At any rate – seek Him, He is not a God of misery. We create a lot of that ourselves by trying to make old operating systems continue to function. We refuse to align fully under Him away from that old system. We are then unable to use our CORE strength to arise and ascend.
            At least that’s what I found for myself.
            When I was able to throw off the bow lines that tied me of scarcity and injustice and was willing to accept those terms in full faith that He would justify all in His economy if I would just participate, the. I could walk in freedom. In a new mantle.
            Ultimately, it did take a while to seek that all out and for the confirmation and affirmations to be delivered. That was about one to two years.
            Lean in, ask Him for that wisdom – recognize it for the spiritual battle that it is and ask Him for wisdom, discernment, disclosure, and revelation … and protection of your Spirit.
            May we all continue to seek out and walk in that covering.
            While this is the most difficult assignment I’ve ever been given by the Lord, He has shown up exponentially in beautful ways that far surpass anything He has required of me. I have traded almost everything for that, and I am now able to say that I have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

  9. Aleea on July 12, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Today’s question brought back so many memories of a woman in my church. I would almost be begging her to do something: “You can have him arrested under California’s stalking statutes.” “I know!” “So why don’t you? —I’ll help you.” She would sigh—these huge sighs: “I just can’t seem to leave him and make it stick. I’m like a zombie, it is like something has taken over my mind and body. I promise God over and over that I’ll never go back to him—yet the next thing I know, I’m with him again. We’re happy for awhile, but he always starts beating up on me and the kids again.” Her husband had been in prison over the years for breaking her nose, both collarbones and I think her arm. She actually had head trauma as a result of the last beating he gave her. It never got better. . . .I would say: Your children are already deep in crisis because of your husband’s violence and the DA could easily charge you with child endangerment if you go back to him. ‘‘I know.” “I know.” . . . she would say. “If you leave him, you can start over.” “I know, I know—that’s what I want.” —but that is not what she wanted. She didn’t want to use logic, reason or evidence. It seems so crazy since most attachments usually grow stronger in response to nurturing, not abuse —but in an abusive relationship, I guess at some level the bond is based on violence and if anything, the bond created by aggression can become far stronger than anything based on kindness. . . . I know that seems just crazy but the cognitive confusion could be created by intermittent good and bad behavior, just like in her situation.

    . . . .When that happened, that really threw me. A disorder, it seems just like Stockholm Syndrome. Seeing that showed me how irrational all this can really be. It showed me how much of the time this is not about logic, or about reason, or any amounts of clear evidence. God gave us our very strong, rational, logical reasoning abilities to keep us healthy and safe but we can and do shut them down. This woman would listen to all the evidence, all the peer-reviewed studies, all the logic and do the opposite.

    “. . . .Yes, you are a victim of his abuse, but when you are a repeat victim again and again and again, you must begin to ask yourself, “what part do I play here?” —That is THE question! But it assumes people will use logic, reason and evidence to make decisions. I don’t think churches teach people critical thinking skills (logic, reason-based decision making based on evidence). I think that is a *huge* issue. Once you learn non-logic bonding, et.al. it can set in and I think it is very hard to break that spell. Once you abandon reason, abandon logic, abandon using evidence, . . . well, you can justify staying with/doing anything. One of the surprising discoveries of psychology is how easy it is to be ignorant of our own ignorance, —me too.

    “. . . .Most husbands who are upset with their wives don’t threaten to kill them. Most husbands who are disappointed with their wives don’t cheat on them. Instead, a husband talks with their wife, explain why he is upset, and they work the conflict through to a win-win solution.” —Absolutely. That’s what you do when you really love. Talk, explain, work through.

    . . . .Oh, and finally, all those “What’s going on with me” questions, well, to me at least, they can indicate that a person has not healed and that, as Leslie says: “. . . .you want to move through this experience and end up a healthier person. If you don’t do this work, sadly you are much more likely to repeat the same patterns in a future relationship.” —Absolutely. As hard as it is, the work has to be done, otherwise we repeat old patterns. It could be that our questioner had abusive parents but lacked the life experience to imagine a plausible alternative to her parents’ violent ways. As a result, ultimately, she will probably end up identifying in many ways with aggressive adults who abuse or exploit her, just like her parent/parents did. . . . But if she does the work, she may be able to understand her parents and in so doing learn to identify with what they could have been, and what she can still become. If those are the roots, that may be the place to work. —And besides being ungodly, there is no need for us to curse our abusers. Our abusers survive only to learn that it was themselves that they longed to be rid of. —All hatred is probably self-hatred.

  10. Sophia on July 12, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    Thank you Aleea! It is legitimate for me to FEEL hurt, betrayed, sad…but the tools here help in how I respond…sometimes in the heat of the battle…it is helpful to call a personal time out…and get separated from the fire. The feelings are legitimate, but cursing the attacker will not help me or them. Our freedom comes from the true identity we are given in Christ. But yes it is work to get there…slow slow slow journey for me but inches closer to the truth that sets me free!

    • Aleea on July 12, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Thank you Sophia.

      “. . .Our freedom comes from the true identity we are given in Christ. But yes it is work to get there…slow slow slow journey for me but inches closer to the truth that sets me free!” —Absolutely. . . .All our identity rests in the knowledge of who we’re created to be. His workmanship. His image. Matthew 10:39, Luke 9:62. . . .The hardest for me is that it is not about trying, it is about giving Him our will (so, so hard —joining our will with God’s will) and finding ALL our identity there. I hear Christ say: “I know you’re tired but come, this is the way.” For me, I have to keep breaking my heart until it opens, it is the hardest thing, you know, the cure for pain being in the pain, —through the pain.

  11. Lynn on July 12, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    I feel like your post is the exact way my life has been. I separated from my husband and he has never left me alone. I am now back to working things through with him despite all the advice I have been given to leave him. At this point I do wonder what is wrong with me? That I have allowed so many horrible things to happen and am now taking the chance to allow them to happen again. Its a cycle I can’t seem to get away from. I feel in my heart that he is truly sorry and is working on changing himself and his ways but sometimes I have this niggling of doubt that I question my decision to try again. I am trying so hard to listen to my heart and do what I believe God wants me to do but I get so confused. He is always telling me that God wants us to heal and to forgive and that my heart is getting hardened. That God would want our family to remain intact and that his heart is changing. I find myself being drawn right back to him. He has been staying over again, and now we planned a family vacation. Pretending all is ok again. And now I am back to being isolated from my friends and family because I am ashamed. I even find myself wishing I never would have told anyone because I don’t even know how to validate why I am giving him another chance. I feel alone in this now. I feel like I can’t survive on my own financially or even emotionally. I also struggle with the guilt of what I have done to contribute to our failed marriage. It’s so easy for everyone to say just leave him, that you will be ok. I wish I could believe them. I have come to the conclusion that I am just not strong enough to do this and I pray that my marriage will get better and we will not end up in the same cycle we have been in for the past 17 years.
    My advice is to surround yourself with people who love and support you and don’t let him back in your world. And don’t wait to get the restraining order. I waited too long after my husband threatened me. You have to act fast because the system is still broken. God bless.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      And Lynn your work right now is to get strong enough to stay away. You can do it. Get the support and love you need as you talked about.

      • Lynn on July 14, 2017 at 2:56 pm

        Hi Leslie,
        Thank you for responding. How do I get strong when he is there? He told me our family needs to heal and that with God we can…and his family says imagine the testimony you will have to share with others once you get through all of this. My family and friends are angry with me. He tells me our boys don’t want this, even our daughter who has hurt over and over he says she doesn’t want this. Every step I have made since last March I feel like is now washed away and I’m right back to where I started when I filed for divorce. He’s doing an saying all the right things and I feel this hope that maybe this time will be different. But then warning bells go off time to time…just today I read a story about a man who killed his girlfriend, baby and then himself. That could have been in that same situation 3 years ago and then last fall he threatened to kill me because I wanted to call the police when he was being angry and stating he should have finished what he started three years ago when he tried to kill himself in front of me. I know all of this is crazy and not how God wants my life to be or the life for my children. But now that he’s doing the work since I filed for divorce I feel guilty for not giving him more time and chances. I wish I could just go away from it all. Thanks for listening and for all of your support. This blog has really been a lifeline for me. God bless.

        • K on July 14, 2017 at 5:59 pm

          Hi Lynn
          When you posted on July 14th at 2.56 pm you wrote toward the end, “But now that he’s doing the work since I filed for divorce I feel guilty for not giving him more time and chances.”

          Dear Lynn, that is FALSE GUILT being hurled at you by the evil one (who thinks he has the power to oppose God’s word of truth), in order to confuse and damage you!! Although members of your family may be helping to through those false accusations against you, that does not mean that they are speaking truth. Your decision to seek hope, help and healing is not a wrong thing…….it’s life giving!!!!, And angry words spoken at you because you’ve dared to make a change like this do not make you wrong. Your statement that ‘he’s doing the work” does not align with the truth. Let me explain….

          In your earlier post, you described how your husband “has never left [you] alone” even after you placed clear distance between yourself and him. At the very least, that is disrespectful, and intentionally ignoring of your request /action toward peace. It’s more of the same abusive/destructive pattern of old.

          You tell of how he nags at you that God wants your family to heal and forgive, and that you have a hardening heart. You say he claims God wants your family intact, and that his heart is changing, and yet……all that you are receiving from him Lynn are ‘the right words’, not clear evidence of active change from the way he used to be. He is still pushing you to do the things HE wants (let him stay over, go on a vacation, pretend all is well), to accept the descriptions HE has of you (hardened heart, the one making the family hurt), and to “trust me” even though you recognize in your heart and gut and mind that you still do not feel safe.

          Dear Lynn, this is NOT the evidence of a man who “is doing the work” to pursue his own healing and change of heart and build respect and trust with the wife he has emotionally battered for so many years.

          Please pay attention to your needs, Lynn. As Leslie said, work on getting strong and healthy yourself, and keeping yourself in a safe place, surrounded not with the ones who accuse and hurl anger at you, but with people who actively love and support your prayerful pursuit of healing. The Lord knows your heart, and desires to set you in peace and hope. Let Him lead you into those pastures.

          • Dawn on July 15, 2017 at 8:42 am

            Agreed. The work it appears he is doing is to get you to return under the same parameters. All of the above described are actions that are contradictory to the right “work”.
            Lean in to Jesus fasting and praying. He will show you.

          • Aly on July 15, 2017 at 2:03 pm

            Dawn, K, Lynn,

            Lynn I also read what K wrote yesterday or so.. it was quite eye opening in my opinion. I thought her points were well explained.
            I had a thought to share of my own journey.
            You said, your h is ‘now doing’ the work!
            Not sure what type of work that would entail.. but given his past behavior I would think it would be HUGE! Huge work being done so much so that you are a bit unsure (but in a good way)
            Let me explain, I think when your feeling confused it’s imp to also look at facts as best as you can.
            Look at the proportional work being done given to the long history of abusive and violent behavior.

            Measure it, is the work he’s doing blowing you out of the water~ or do you still see a resemblance of the old husband trying on new clothes only? Those clothes being temp.

            This is some of my journey below….
            Many times, given the abusive cycle the abuser will do ‘cookie crumb work’ and the victim is so starved for any chance of possible real work, that the past victim feels like they are finally ‘getting it’. (Or at least hopes so)
            An abuser in authentic long term recovery will be doing huge work at getting to the root of their issues! By huge, I mean in proximity to a Cookie crumb, a SHEET PAN of cookies;)

            There won’t be confusion, it will be clear that the pan is full of cookies… so to speak and if there is doubt or fear from the offended which would be normal given your history… then you husband is kind and patient with your fear and comforts you in that. He goes out and buys a cookie factory to show you he is serious about being in the cookie making business of recovery!
            There will be no space for him to be frustrated with your process and your feelings, all he wants to do is be who he should have been all that time ago~ this is the posture.

            I’m not sure who said it earlier~ but there will not be any Christanese talk’ one bit.

          • Donna on July 15, 2017 at 9:02 am

            My counselor says time tells truth. He is using Gods word to make you feel guilty. Never should that be done to us. You have given him time and he hasn’t changed. I’m separated from my husband and didn’t understand the no contact. After a year I see how it keeps us both engaged good or bad contact.
            Kim Saeed utubes explains narcissistic abuse. Not Christian based but factual.
            Lynn Don’t be embarrassed to tell others you went back to him. You can get healthy and strong again.
            Praying for you and children.

          • Donna on July 15, 2017 at 9:05 am

            Time tells truth. He is using Gods word to make you feel guilty. Never should that be done to us. You have given him time and he hasn’t changed. I’m separated from my husband and didn’t understand the no contact. After a year I see how it keeps us both engaged good or bad contact.
            Kim Saeed utubes explains narcissistic abuse. Not Christian based but factual.
            Lynn Don’t be embarrassed to tell others you went back to him. You can get healthy and strong again.
            Praying for you and children.

        • Content on July 14, 2017 at 10:19 pm

          Lynn, Hold him to high standards to earn your trust back and you may see very clearly what you are really dealing with. Do not feel guilty. You have nothing to feel guilty about, but I would bet money that you will feel guilty if you go back into the relationship too quickly and then have to start the separation process all over again shortly (emotional yo-yo’ing for you and the kids). I would be more worried about that scenario than feeling guilty about not giving him the second (third, fourth, fifth, twentieth) chance he seems to be manipulating you into giving him.

          There are way too many red flags in your comment that show he is NOT really changing. Real repentance will mean he is very, very sensitive to your hesitation to even think about working through things with him at this point. You don’t have that. He is manipulating you with Christian-ese talk and it’s working.

          Real repentance would mean that he wouldn’t pretend that all is suddenly and magically better. It would take into account that you will be struggling through healing for several years. It would look like him coming to you, on his own accord, to ask you how you are feeling about things and what you might need to talk about with him…and he would be willing to assure you a hundred more times if he has to and take whatever reasonable actions he needs to take to earn your trust back. You don’t have anything close to that.

          Ultimately, you seem to have said that you know what God is telling you to do. Honestly, that is a fearful thing — you know what God is telling you, but you are choosing to listen to this sinful man over God. No…….choose God. Yes, it’s scary. I get it. I do. But, ultimately, your obedience is to Christ first. I pray you will take a look at the two choices standing before you in the distance. Your husband and Jesus. With wild abandon, I pray you will sprint and race to the one who you know will never let you down, who will never forsake you. The choice is clear. Don’t be afraid. He will hold you through all He asks you to go through for His name’s sake.

          You (as we all) are weak, but He is very, very strong. Trust in Him and throw all of your life and everything into this “bet”….it’s a sure bet. You can’t lose.

          • Sunshine on July 18, 2017 at 3:50 pm

            These posts have been great! Hard earned wisdom, surrounded in truth and caring. You women are wonderful!

    • Barbara on July 12, 2017 at 6:42 pm

      Lynn, your situation sounds so painful and I feel heartbroken for your suffering. I’m praying for you today and I want to share some of my prayers for you.
      1 Corinthians 2:16 – You have the mind of Christ, that’s what God says.
      Romans 8:1 – Jesus took away all condemnation from you; He says “be gone” to shame and guilt.
      Romans 8:38 – Nothing can separate you from God and that means you are never alone.
      Philippians 4:13 – you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength!
      These verses are not a magical cure but I know I have been helped over time by working daily on developing a mindset guided by the encouragement and truth of Scripture.

      • Lynn on July 14, 2017 at 2:58 pm

        Thank you Barbara. You kind words, thoughts and prayers are much appreciated.

  12. many years on July 12, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    Dear friend,
    The situation you are in is a diabolical one. From my own experience. When I attempted to get help from one pastor from our church, his answer to me was ‘The ball is in your court.’ This was no help at all, as I needed someone, rather than myself, to talk with my husband.

    My husband would not allow me to share my feelings with him, when I did, he would either shred what I had written down, and say ‘This repulses me’. The reason he said that was because he did not want to address his own accountability. I was ready to address mine, and went to the source of the fact of him being raised by a very, verbally, and physically abusive father.

    My husband did not want to address the source. He did not want a solution. He did not want to discuss my feelings. I was just another one of the objects which he owned, and was destroying with his words and lack of wanting to communicate with me.

    As far as he was concerned, there was no problem. This is how shallow a person who is so involved with their own lives can’t seem to relate on a personal basis.

    They do not desire to get to the bottom of the problem. Even though they ‘appear’ to have God in their life, they do not pattern their own life after the life of Christ, which is to love the wife, and honor and respect her, and also cherish her.

    No, it is always, and ever shall be about what they can get from you, whether it is the physical aspect of sex, or whatever they can get from you financially, or your taking care of them.

    How many times does he help you around the house? Even though he works all day long to bring in the money? Is it only ever ‘his’ money, and he controls all of it? Are you allotted an ‘allowance’ for necessities and groceries and you have to ask to ‘borrow’ the credit card and give it back to him immediately after using it?

    Does he buy extravagant things for himself, and in the mean time you have two dresses to wear for your entire 9 month pregnancy, even when you let him know you don’t have enough clothing to wear, and his retort back to you is ‘It’s only for 9 months’, when he goes out an buys himself a brand new motorcycle?

    This is the type of craziness that happens when a man cannot let go of ‘his’ things, ‘his’ money, ‘his’ possessions, and you and the children eat the same types of economical meals week after week, while he has ten pair of pants in his closet and thirty shirts, and three pair of the most expensive Niki shoes so he can go play his sports with his co-ed teams at work? Including new tennis racks and volleyballs? And your children’s clothing has holes in the pants, and the shirts are too short, and they only have one pair of shoes to wear? And your little daughter wears onsies all day long, and two, day outfits, and you grew up in the era where the babies only wore cloth diapers?

    This is NOT the life you want to have for 30 plus years!
    Get out of that marriage and end it! You don’t want to continue living a life of hell with this man.
    I don’t know how clearer I can be than this is the hell I lived for many years.

    And there comes a time when, even though your faith is very strong in the Lord, and you are doing your CORE strength, that it is Satan who trips us up, and gets us down, because the enemy of our soul does not want us to be successful in serving the Lord. This is a daily battle of the spiritual realm against the worldly ways of Satan.

    I still go around in circles in my mind about how I can penetrate into my husband’s soul…BUT I CAN’T! There is a barrier of self-defense so ingrained in my husband’s psyche that ANYTHING I try to get him to change in, he uses that as an insult to his own ‘supposed’ integrity. He cannot be wrong in his own eyes.

    When I confront him, he always twists the words, or creates half-truths which never fit the circumstances of abuse toward myself. Fear is so ingrained in him, the fear of failure, or being found out, that he will give me a ‘little’ apology, and think that will pacify me.

    And if he feels like he is loosing me, because I have asked for something which is reasonable, and it hinges on how much control he has over me in his mind. If I begin to lay down the boundaries, it makes him panic and he says ‘I don’t want a divorce’. But see? It is still all about him, and not about our relationship. All I want is a true, heart-felt commitment to share our lives together. Not this back and forth power struggle about who is in control.

    My sincere desire has always been to serve my Lord. And when the husband is ‘religious’ yet it doesn’t proceed from his heart, and especially when he refuses to really share his every part of his soul with you, then this is no relationship at all. It is not about the Lord at all with him.

    The husband is seriously afraid of offering himself up as a servant to Christ. He is his own little god. He may appear to have a very consistent life, yet the anger, and the angst shows that he doesn’t even know how to trust the Lord in his own life. I think this is a failing in men in particular as they want to show people ‘who is boss’. And when God is not the boss of a man’s life, he is set up for failure.

    He cannot let go of his perceived control over your life, as that also triggers anger and violence in their attitude when they think they are loosing any aspect of control over your in their life. “In Love serve one another’ is not in their agenda.

    This is SIN. A terrible sin against another person, and God will hold them accountable.
    And I would say that, if a woman, or a man, who has been in a marriage such as this, for years, the wearing down of the mind, body, and soul, can contribute to PTSD. This happens with people who have been in religious cults. The pain continues for years, even after you have done all you can. The fight against evil never stops.

    Prayer and daily meditation for your own anxieties and support such as is found here, is what helps to balance and maintain a healthy relationship with the Lord, which is what is so crucial to the well being of spiritual battles such as this.
    Praying for you dear sister, and all who are on this site.

    If I had had the wisdom I do now, I would never have had to go through what I have gone through. But no one else was there to help me, and I was the ‘good little wife’ who obeyed her husband and kept her moth shut for 32 plus years!

    God knows the aching of our hearts! And he is against all abuse that wounds his sheep.

    • Barbara on July 12, 2017 at 7:15 pm

      Many Years, you nailed it.

      • Sunshine on July 12, 2017 at 9:40 pm

        Ditto. Brilliant writing!

        Please tell me you are longer in the relationship you described.

        Yup, nailed it!

        • Sunshine on July 12, 2017 at 9:41 pm

          No longer in the relationship

    • JoAnn on July 17, 2017 at 11:48 pm

      Many years, it sounds like you are still in that relationship. I surely hope not!! If you are still there, then please examine why you are. This is not a marriage, it is hell.

    • CJ on July 20, 2017 at 7:06 pm

      Wow, this description of a husband could be about mine. I have read much about why wives stay, being enabling, trauma bond, etc. I am disabled, and though I could live on my own, I can no longer work and support myself. I am doing all that I can to keep boundaries and stay safe. I wonder how many are in my situation. I want to leave, but I am getting older and I have no way to support myself.

  13. Leslie Vernick on July 12, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Thanks Aleea.

    • Aleea on July 12, 2017 at 6:36 pm

      Thank you Leslie for providing all this wonderful content and this space where we can think and work through our issues and give them voice. . . .I am praying for everything you have on your plate that God will do exceedingly abundantly above all that you could ask or even think. I love to see God overwhelmingly bless people, it always increases my faith.

  14. Day by Day on July 12, 2017 at 5:44 pm

    “…what did you discover that kept you getting hooked back into the same abusive dynamics again and again and how did you break free?”

    I am curious, along with others, to understand more about what exactly a “trauma bond” is, and how that keeps a person stuck in abusive situations.

    As I consider my own answer to this question, I echo what some of the other women said here. I think that there are a lot of *very serious* eternal threats hanging over many Christian women (and other religious communities) over the idea of leaving a marriage. For many of us, it is fear that keeps us stuck. I have even heard it said that the story of Abigail and Nabal in scripture is an example of how a wife should remain faithful, even to an abusive husband, and “God will take care of things.” So I think there are a lot of messages that are being given in the church, with generally good intentions, that are proving to be super harmful to women in these situations.

    For me, I have definitely remained in the cycle out of fear, mostly out of a fear of God, a fear of eternal wrath and punishment. Also, while I have gained more strength and assurance through this blog, I still feel my situation is a little vague and murky. It is not completely black and white — there have not been any death threats or name calling, and definitely no physical danger. The emotional and spiritual abuse has been subtle, but nevertheless soul-crushing. This regularly makes me question whether I am just suffering from typical marriage struggles, or whether it is a situation that would warrant me leaving my home.

    I will hopefully be breaking free from this dynamic in the coming week, as I have identified the key world-view/ philosophy that is the root my husband’s abusive behavior (and also the reason that he does not believe it is abusive). I am going to confront him about it, and if he is not willing to change that particular belief, I will have no choice but to leave. For his current world-view does not allow me to have my own thoughts and feelings, and if I am not allowed in the marriage, then I cannot be in the marriage.

    I am so curious how women in more “black and white” abusive situations (with safety threatened, infidelity, etc.) get stuck in this dynamic. For me it has been the confusion over whether this is actually abusive, on top of the spiritual fears of leaving.

    • Starlight on July 12, 2017 at 6:52 pm

      My ex had been physically abusive and I also found out about his addiction to erotic massage parlours, he hid this and lied a lot to me for our entire relationship, about 7 years in, once we married and had a child, I stumbled on the evidence of such blatant evil over and over. I waited and hoped and prayed for help and deliverance from the constant abuse and anger but it was so over the top it also made it easier to leave. I really was able to disconnect and not take it on as my fault because to me it was all so obvious that he had this problem, he brought it with him into the marriage and would take it with him when we separated. Reading through the OT (God’s deliverance of his people from Egypt) and 1 Corinthians (God’s desire for his own to speak out and remove themselves from immorality) and watching Lundy Bancroft’s “inside the minds of angry and controlling men” on you tube really helped me grasp enough truth to realize I had to end it and get out and that God was on my side and against my abuser. Because of Leslie’s teachings I felt biblically supported to separate myself and my children from the oppression and terrorizing being done to us. It was so difficult and scary at the time! Pray for God to open your eyes and also show you the truth and show you how much he cares for his own, those in whom His Holy Spirit dwells and how much he hates oppression and when his own are subjected to wrong and oppression. Leslie’s article “5 indicators of an evil heart” was a very helpful article for me too! May he give you peace Day by Day as he leads you!

    • GG on July 13, 2017 at 3:07 am

      I also feel the confusion of is it or isn’t it? It is subtle. More on the side of neglect. My friends tell me to get out.

      • Nancy on July 13, 2017 at 4:14 pm

        Hi GG,

        Have you read Leslie’s book Emotionally Destructive marriage? She makes the more subtle forms of abuse – indifference, dependance – tangible.

        I highly recommend it!

      • Free on July 18, 2017 at 3:32 pm

        If you have any doubt, the answer is, yes. Women who are in difficult marriages do not live like you. There is a difference between destructive and difficult. Believe me, if your marriage was God honoring, you would never have to ask.

  15. many years on July 13, 2017 at 1:49 am

    I think it is the subtle little shifts the husband makes when confronted, which makes the husband ‘appear’ like a trodden-down little boy, is what used to get to me as far as making my husband look like he was going to change, yet when I really began figuring out why he was pouting, and feeling sorry for himself, I began to realize it was never about ME, it was all about HIM loosing control OVER ME..This is the ONLY reason they ‘appear’ to be on their ‘good behavior’ for a very limited time, then they go right back into their same pattern of mental, emotional, possibly physical, and financial abuse of the wife.. And this is a mind-game that does not resolve itself. It is repeat, and repeat, and repeat, with no end in sight.

    That is when it gets scary for the wife, because all she really wants is PEACE! And the scenario goes no where in that direction. ‘Peace, peace, when there is no peace.’

    Yes, when they refuse to acknowledge their Porn addiction, or whatever addiction they have, even when you have solid EVIDENCE, it is apparent that we as wives are dealing with a different kind of animal all together, the other-worldy, evil spiritual monster.which destroys homes and lives of all concerned.

    When you begin to see traits and characteristics which do not add up to a normal Christian characteristics/saved/born-again man, and you realize they DO NOT THINK LIKE A NORMAL CHRISTIAN MAN, then you begin to analyze all of the scenarios you have been through where something just never ‘added up’ and I know that sounds terrible, but if they have Narcissistic tendencies, they will NEVER GET IT! They CAN’T.

    It is such an ingrained part of their psyche that, I have seriously got blank stares from my husband at times, like he is in another land full of guises and lies, which he thinks is the way life is! He thinks everyone thinks just like he does. And this is just not the case. Especially if there is a strong possibility that he isn’t even saved.

    They don’t THINK like you either. They will NOT see your point of view, because they can’t. Their brain is only wired to protect themselves either by deceit, or by manipulation, or abuse, or through their own fears and failings, which they won’t admit to, in whatever form or guise that takes. I have seen all of the above in my marriage.

    I have been to sites talking about how to discern if a man is even a born-again Christian or not. If Satan is transformed as an angel of light, then men too, can have an appearance of having and living in a false sense of ‘religion’.

    But part of true and undefiled religion is ‘the love we show one another’, and when that element of love is so glaringly missing, there is a very strong indication that the Holy Spirit has not been allowed to enter into that person’s heart through the blood of Christ.

    They may have scriptural knowledge, but it isn’t put into shoe leather, they don’t walk in it because they CAN’T. Only a true believer in Christ can walk in love, and obey what God requests for the husband and wife to have the kind of love they are to have one for another.

    And this is where the confusion sets in, because it is held over the head of wives, to ‘stay with the unbelieving spouse, as how do you know that you may save him by your own manner of (Christian) life?’ I think this is what has kept many women in abusive marriages, and the story of Abigail and Nabal is the story of the case in point, like Day by Day pointed out.

    Yet it does say, ‘If the believing wife, does depart’ she IS allowed to do that. So there is a clause in the scriptures which DOES excuse a wife and allow her to leave.

    A woman can wish and hope with all of her heart that the man she married is a Christian, yet when little nuances begin creeping in to the marriage which show to the contrary, and there is no peace, and there is no Christ-like, caring love, then it is a strong indication that God probably never sanctioned your marriage in the first place, because, unknowingly, through subtle ignorance, you actually married an unbeliever.

    And that is the heart-breaking truth, I believe, that dooms many marriages. It’s not an excuse to excuse our ignorance, by marrying the inadequate man we married, but he really doesn’t have a clue as to what is really wrong with him, because the Holy Spirit hasn’t REACHED him yet.

    And so we pray. But we are not bound, and I would say THIS is a type of a ‘trauma bond’ but it is not a ‘spiritual’ bond at all in any given sense of the word. So, we can basically say ‘Be not yoked together with unbelievers’. And that is a heady statement, but God himself says it.

    My next thought is, what if the husband is saved, yet he has chosen not to walk in God’s Word. Does this make him an unbeliever at heart? That is a good question, because God is not pleased with those who begin a good fight of faith, against evil, and yet they begin, or never did walk in the truths of God about the sanctity of marriage and all it entails. So the husband is totally accountable by default and forfeit. He has basically given up his God-given right to be a husband to his wife, if he doesn’t obey the rules set forth in God’s Word for marriage. There is no excuse for the ‘default mode’.

    Just some thoughts that flew into my head, most likely prompted by the Spirit of Truth. ‘You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.’ And the Lord wants his Daughters to be free to serve Him!

    • Gigi on July 13, 2017 at 5:39 am

      Thank you, Many years!

    • Nancy on July 13, 2017 at 6:24 am

      Hello Many Years,

      You have tremendous insight into his behaviour and have obviously spent a lot of time trying to ‘figure him out’.

      What if you took that same amount of energy and re-directed it to your own heart? Your feelings, your experiences …etc?

      What might happen then?

      • Hurting in Texas on July 13, 2017 at 12:13 pm

        Nancy, your response to “many years” damaged (in a struggling reader’s mind) the validity of her very valuable and incredibly insightful writing. Your comment appears to scold her and indicate SHE is the one with the problem. The point of this ENTIRE set of posts is to examine the abuser and that is what she did. I hope other readers do not discount her words of wisdom, based on your attempted “redirection” of who is at fault in her writing. Sure, we should all look at our own part in things. But you’re saying exactly what my husband (the abuser) says to me when confronted: “you need to work on yourself. You’re not perfect.” I think you should be careful with your comments.

        • Leslie Vernick on July 13, 2017 at 2:21 pm

          Hurting, I think you misunderstood Nancy. Many years had some great insights, but even in my response to the blog questioner, I asked her what is she doing to get healthier? There is a place for “figuring out what your husband is doing or not doing as best you can.” But the only person we can work on is us. I think Nancy sensed that Many Years had spend lots of time researching what her husband was doing or not doing and why, (with great insights) but again the only person we can change is us. So she was asking her if she’s also spending time and energy on her own work. That is not to imply she is “at fault” for what her husband does. NO WAY. I made that clear in my blog. Yet, when we continue to be repeat victims of bad behavior from other people, we can study forever their bad behavior, it doesn’t change it. So then it only makes sense that we must turn our energy towards our own healing and growth.

          • Aly on July 13, 2017 at 3:27 pm

            Could not agree more with what you wrote Leslie,
            When we turn to our own examination it is the greatest chance of changing ourselves out of our own pattern and ‘part’ as you might say. Why is the victim in a repeat destructive relationship and why are victims/ourselves motivated to continue to be drawn to such a type of person~ or even be in proximity to that unchanging person.
            Most often & sadly there is a history of emotional trauma bonds.
            The dysfunctional abusive person sees nothing wrong as its ‘normal operations for them’ this is where confusion can set in.

          • many years on July 13, 2017 at 3:57 pm

            Thank you for this clarification Leslie, as I agree with you too. And I believe Nancy is being supportive in wanting the ladies here to move forward with their own lives and circumstances getting beyond the circular reasonings, having the evidence in front of them, but staying stuck, and not moving forward. That is why we are here to get help getting ‘unstuck!’.
            I did just write another longer post, yet it seems to have disappeared. Oh well, God knows!

          • Nancy on July 13, 2017 at 4:07 pm

            Thank you, Leslie. Your clarification explains exactly where I was coming from.

            It was in no way meant to place blame.

        • many years on July 13, 2017 at 4:45 pm

          And I appreciate your loving support of what I chronicled on my post. As it is what is so devastating in our lives to have ever had to try and figure out how to survive, as it is not an easy road by any means.
          I think Nancy just wants us ladies here to move forward in our own lives for the Lord, and leaving behind those things that are in our past, pressing forward to the high calling of Christ. Always, lots of prayers needed!

          • Nancy on July 13, 2017 at 9:08 pm

            Hi Many years,

            I’m glad to know that you see that I am for you 🙂

            You said, ” I think Nancy just wants us ladies here to move forward in our own lives for the Lord, and leave behind those things in our past, pressing forward to the high calling of Christ.” This is true; and I want this for us all 🙂

            You mentioned frustration over not being allowed to be your h’s helpmeet. I found out that the only way to be my h’s helpmeet was through action – not words. He could not (or would not) process my words. When I began behaving differently and talking MUCH less, things began to change – but not for the better. That’s the scary part. Holding your ground when he will do just about anything to draw you back into the dance.

            Separation was the only way that I could hold my ground. I strengthened my CORE, and prayed for him regularly, with a prayer partner.

            That was how I was able to be my husband’s Ezer. That’s how I went to war for him, against the sin he was enslaved by.

            An Ezer (I like this word so much better than helpmeet) is a warrior. Standing your ground against a Pride that has ruled your household for decades, requires the strength of The Lord. Don’t wait for permission from your husband to be his Ezer. The Lord granted you that priveledge on the day that you were married.

            Many prayers for your heart, many years.

          • Aly on July 13, 2017 at 10:01 pm

            Nancy, Many years,

            Nancy well said with love and care;)💖

        • many years on July 13, 2017 at 4:48 pm

          My post at 4:45 p.m. is for Hurting in Texas. Thanks so very much dear sister in Christ!

          • many years on July 13, 2017 at 9:23 pm

            Thank you Nancy.
            This is so very helpful about the word Ezer and being a deeper description of what a wife is to be.
            A prayer warrior against the forces of evil where they have invaded our very lives.

  16. Nancy on July 13, 2017 at 6:48 am

    This article has floored me. As I wrote above, last week in counselling I had an image of an invisible thread between my mother and I that I can’t manage to cut. Because of this article, I know the name of this thread – a trauma bond.

    I’ve read this term on this site before, but I guess I wasn’t ready to know that it applied to me.

    It explains so much. Why a benign email can send me into a tail spin for days. Why I hid when she came to drop off food, when my husband had a surgery a couple of months ago. Especially the part that it’s the intermittent re-inforcement that makes the bond so difficult to break. She occasionally displays signs of a softened heart and I have continued interacting in the hopes that I would happen upon a ‘soft’ moment. In fact, I have tried to control that happening. That’s like beating my head against a wall.

    Talk about crazy-making.

    So..I’m not out of the woods yet, but I thank God for His Word which is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” ❤️

    “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of my Lord, “you are my rock and my redeemer, my God in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

    • caroline on July 14, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Hi Nancy.
      I think i may have similar trauma bond issues with my mother. So hard to fathom it because she is a pretty non-abusive lady on the surface. A really sweet little manipulator, and from time to time I still get stuck trying to walk through her relational mazes. I cant please her and end up being called legalistic and harsh for having moral/ethical standards.

      My husband of 20 years has been actively pursuing recovery form sexual addition for several years now and has admitted his secret life to my family. My mother loved him dearly and didn’t want to believe it was true. She even thought I had some how tricked him into accepting a narrow minded definition of sexual sin, and forced the confession!

      She has finally accepted it as true, but she still does not give me any credit for working through the difficulty of staying in marriage ravaged by betrayal. She sort of even blames me for not fixing him when we got married.. She tries to goad me to “put it all out of my mind” and “never mention it again” on the grounds that he’ll get discouraged and burdened and he will go back to his acting out!

      I have had more support for trauma recovery from my addict husband than from my mother.

      I speak truth when I can, but she has the power to trigger me more that anyone else in my life. I have found the only way to prepare for an encounter is through prayer and empathy. If I can see her as a truly broken person, then I can then I am free to be gentle but remain in my integrity.

      There is a reason she sees the world as she does. I would love her to seek the same freedom I pant after, but I know I cant force her to change her ways after all the years.

      The last conversation we had about it seemed to be more fruitful. I didn’t get mad but i asked her “And you know because you’ve done this? You’ve confronted and set boundaries and moved through the recovery process with someone? You’ve stayed after betrayal?”

      No. She has always pretended everything was good. Well I’m doing it differently and you may watch what happens.

      • caroline on July 14, 2017 at 3:15 pm

        I meant “she may watch”

      • Nancy on July 14, 2017 at 4:16 pm

        Hi Caroline,

        Thanks for sharing. It’s pretty amazing that you have more support from your addicted husband than from your mother. Well, it’s astounding on the surface, but actually makes total sense emotionally. Your husband is living transparently as a recognized sinner. Your mother is not. And so the image of perfection ( sweet little manipulator, as you call her) is projected at all costs ( mostly the cost of reality). Denial is so strong – at least this is the case for mine.

        I get the ‘maintaining integrity through empathy’ example you gave. What has become clear to me these last couple of days is that I have to work extremely hard for my empathy for her, not to turn into over-empathy (co-dependance). As soon as I begin thinking about her brokenness, my own emotions disappear and I disconnect from myself ( I’ve experienced some successes in not crossing that line, but it takes a lot out of me). Keeping myself ‘together’ in her presence is just too much energy at the moment. I can’t be fighting on two fronts at once ( 1) re-building my marriage as well as 2) to work so hard to maintain my integrity in her presence).

        Because my work right now is to re-connect to my own emotions (healing emotionally – the biggest part of which is grieving the lack of a mother), and because my co-dependence with her is so strong, I have a choice to make.

        For now I have to choose to allow myself to heal alongside my husband.

        My biggest fear is; what if she dies before I can ‘get it together?’ but then again, that’s me- once again – taking all the responsibility for our relationship. She could choose to do her own work, but she doesn’t; and that’s out of my hands.

        • Nancy on July 14, 2017 at 10:01 pm

          Also, your comment, ” pretty hard to fathom since she’s such a non-abusive lady on the surface” is really validating.

          This describes my mother so well and is precisely what made accepting that I was abused, so hard. And now why I was floored by realizing it’s a trauma bond.

          Jesus is gradually showing me how to see with different eyes. I thank God that He reveals the Truth as He makes us ready. If it had all happened at once I’d have not survived!

  17. Rachel on July 13, 2017 at 8:40 am

    I think the major thing that kept me in my destructive marriage for so long was my desire not to divorce for unbiblical reasons. I remember thinking, if only he would have an affair. There is so much marriage advice for Christian women about how to be a good wife. I just thought I had to be a better wife, clean more, have more sex, not nag, keep my kids in line, stay pretty, etc. I thought I could save my marriage on my own and that the Bible wouldn’t allow me to divorce because he wasn’t leaving me and hadn’t cheated. I feared judgements from others if I left him. Covert emotional manipulations are hard to explain to others and although there was much more, it was the “little things” that were the worst. Thank you Leslie. Your book and blog have been so helpful to me.

    • Connie on July 13, 2017 at 1:49 pm

      I think that about covers most of us here.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 13, 2017 at 2:15 pm

      You’re so right. The covert stuff is much harder to see and pin down as “wrong” because it’s more subtle. Like 1,000 bee stings.

      • Susan on July 13, 2017 at 7:14 pm

        1,000 bee stings sums it up:(

    • Susan on July 13, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      I completely identify with what you are saying! You described the struggle so well. Thank you!

    • many years on July 13, 2017 at 4:28 pm

      This is where I am still at, and this is why I have not left yet. Still putting the puzzle pieces together. As I know there will never be that ‘perfect’ moment for leaving. It doesn’t work that way.

      • Rachel on July 13, 2017 at 5:23 pm

        God’s timing is perfect. I didn’t understand til it was over why it took so long to know one way or another whether my marriage would last. I was hoping to have a great story of redemption to share. But God had been preparing me for a new life without my husband, one of freedom. I am so sorry for your struggles. Its not fair, and is so hard.

        • Aly on July 13, 2017 at 6:13 pm

          Dear Rachel,

          Your story already sounds like the great one of redemption;)
          Prayers and hugs for your journey.

          • Rachel on July 17, 2017 at 10:31 am

            Thanks I needed to be reminded of that. So true.

    • Day by Day on July 14, 2017 at 1:13 pm

      Rachel, I identify with you so much!! Thank you for putting it into such honest and clear words. I have been right there with you, hoping that he would just have an affair so that I would be allowed to leave with a clear conscience, knowing that the Bible explicitly allows for divorce under those circumstances. Something that really helped me was when a friend told me about the 3 A’s which make divorce acceptable in God’s eyes– adultery, addiction, and abuse. So then the challenge for me has been admitting or identifying my husband’s behavior as abusive, but it is so so challenging when the abuse is covert, and when my husband professes to be a strong believer who is fiercely devoted to the marriage. Me leaving him makes it appear as though he is being faithful to the marriage vows while I am the “wayward wife” who needs to be brought back. But when he is abusive, his devotion and loyalty to the marriage vows becomes more like bondage/ chains than promise/ covenant. And I hear you that it is so hard to think about the judgments of others, and all of the narratives that are being told. I already know that in my case, my husband is painting a picture of me not being willing to reconcile with him now that I have set boundaries. It is so hard. I have been trying to focus on the communities and people who have shown me love and support, rather than the communities that don’t know the full story and are showing judgment. But it’s still insanely hard, and we must move forward knowing that God sees the truth. All the best to you!

      • D on July 14, 2017 at 4:57 pm

        I can so relate to this ladies. It’s like the names are changed but it is the same person and scenario played out over and over. We need to stand strong and do what God tells us and pray that our children will be drawn to the light. Only we know the hell we’ve been through and God’s word does say we can leave a husband although we only get pounded with the adultery scripture. “But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband.” 1 Cor. 7:11. Separation can often bring reconciliation. Verse 15 of this chapter also says that God has called us to peace. We need to take the heart of God into consideration with his hatred of oppression and abuse of his people and that he has called us to peace not just one scripture about adultery. There is also the scripture about husbands not being harsh with their wives. That is a commandment which is broken and thus they are in violation of the scripture to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. This is not the self-centered version of love we get. Let’s consider these scriptures and the heart of God when other Christians, mainly men tell us we are sinning by leaving. However, at a bible study last night, the woman leading it was saying that because she submitted and was a helper to her husband, she now has all her needs met. I just cringe that this is the message woman are hearing, GUILT and not being enough. Bottom line is it is God we need to please and we need to do what we know in our hearts to be His will for us.

        • Aly on July 14, 2017 at 5:29 pm


          Beautifully written here, thank you;)

        • Day by Day on July 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm

          Thank you, D. Do you believe that only separation (not divorce) is allowable in situations of abuse, and that the abused must remain single for life?

          • D on July 14, 2017 at 5:42 pm

            Not if he moves on which is a sure bet 🙂

      • SaraJane on July 14, 2017 at 10:13 pm

        Day by Day: you are not alone. I walk alongside you in confessing how hard it is to seek only the acceptance of God. NOBODY else sees all and knows all. We are living in a complicated mess and need to find our clarity only in Him.

        I will pray for you as I hit “post.”

        • Starlight on July 15, 2017 at 3:51 am

          Leslie has an article about biblical support for separation and divorce. It is very good and helpful and it shows that separating and divorcing from abuse is biblical.

          Barbara Roberts from A Cry for Justice wrote a book called Not Under Bondage – Biblical divorce for Abuse, Adultery and Desertion. I found it very helpful. She goes into why the believer is free to remarry.

          • SaraJane on July 15, 2017 at 11:48 am

            Thanks so much. I’ll look up both of them.

  18. Connie on July 13, 2017 at 12:06 pm

    Why can’t we let go? A thought: Is it possible that the reason Eve took that fruit was because she knew (or sensed) that Adam really wanted it, and she wanted so badly to please him? That she was ‘submitting’ and ‘following’ Adam first instead of second?

    I’ve seen so often that my h will push me to make a decision so that when it goes wrong, he can blame me. But I’ve sensed what he wanted and so I’d go with that to please him. Somehow that doesn’t usually go well.

    Is that why we ‘can’t’ let go, because we want that ‘love’ more badly than we want Christ?

    • Leslie Vernick on July 13, 2017 at 2:16 pm

      Interesting perspective. We want love more than we want Christ but Christ’s love is the only love that will fill us where we feel secure because his love never changes.

      • Dawn on July 18, 2017 at 3:09 am

        And it is oerfect. He is faithful 1,000 percent of the time, never deserts us and always acts in our best interest.
        It is a love trade worth making. He is a great new husband.

    • Healing in Him on July 22, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Interesting thought indeed. It reminds me of one of the results of the fall. That a woman’s desire will now be for her husband. I have seen in my own destructive marriage of almost 30 years, that has indeed been one of my sins. I have desired to please my husband above God. I didn’t even realise it all that time. I actually thought I was being a godly submissive wife, but only now can I see that my desire was for my husband (pleasing him) above God. Such a subtle thing, that I find it hard to even explain.

  19. Cynthia on July 13, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Dearest Many Years, how I appreciated your 7/13 response posted at 1:49. I agree with everything you said and plan on making a copy of it and putting it in my “book”. There is one thing I would disagree with and that is your remark about the man who is saved yet chooses to walk in disobedience. Yes, I think this can be true for a time but God’s Holy Spirit brings conviction as well as comfort. How can a believer walk in continual disobedience, having been told his actions/words are destructive and are hurting his loved ones and he pays no heed and writes that rebuke off as “she’s crazy”? If we are to know them “by their fruits” then that man is not saved. This knowledge brought a measure of clarity with my abusive “saved” husband in my confused mind.

    • many years on July 13, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Thank you, Cynthia
      I hope I didn’t get carried away with too many details.

      Actually, I thought my husband was saved too, and this is why I wrote that post, so women can discern if their husband may not actually be saved, as I highly question if mine is saved or not, yet only God can know their hearts.

      I think when a person who is not saved, begins to fill their life with materialistic things, they are trying to fill the void that can only be filled with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

      I think this is one thing that has kept me from leaving, which is the purpose of Leslie’s blog post here, is ‘Why Can’t I Let Go?’ I’m still trying to figure out if my husband is saved or not.

      • Gigi on July 13, 2017 at 5:11 pm

        Many years, I struggle with the same sorts of questions, but I have come to the conclusion that it is not my place to say how God will deal with my h’s soul in the final judgment. That is God’s job, and I am so glad it is not my job. I can see, on the one hand, my h’s behaviour toward me, which is destructive and manipulative and dismissing. That’s the fruit I see and have to deal with. Other people look at him and see “fruits” of his “ministry.”

        But after many years (yeah, me too :-P) I can see that my behaviour is never going to cause him to change. Only the Spirit of God can get through to him, if anyone can. And as long as I am enabling him to remain in the position where he is, he has no reason to change. Even though I have set and enforced a lot of boundaries, he’s still pretty much got it made! Patrick Doyle often says that people don’t change until the pain of staying the same.is greater than the pain of changing. In other words, our best bet at giving our h a chance to get real with God instead of staying in his denial is to get out of the way. Still preaching to myself.

        • many years on July 13, 2017 at 7:05 pm

          When I did begin learning how to confront my husband, and when I did tons of research on how to get to the bottom of my dilemma of trying to reach him in order to have a normal conversation with him, instead of him blowing up at me at any hint of exposing his Narcissist traits, it was then, that I began to realize that no matter how I approached him, in love, in confidence through the Spirit, in prayer, that it was not going to make a bit of difference as his mind had already been made up to how he was going to run his own life. And no, I have never called him a Narcissist to his face. Not a good idea!

          And to realize that my opinions aren’t going to make any difference to him, that is what has been so frustrating as I cannot even begin to be the intelligent help meet the Lord wants his daughters to be in the marriage. So we are being robbed by our husbands by not being able to bless them which God intended all along.

          So, just recently, I too, have come to the conclusion that all the talking in the world that I can do will never change my husband.

          And for the Narcissist, any attempt at asking for certain changes in their control over what you would expect to be reasonable changes, in any way, shape, or form, will trigger their angst, and anger, of their imagined self-worth, including you setting boundaries, as that takes the control out of their hands. They are scared to be exposed for what they are, and they will do everything they can to not let that happen. So an impasse results and there is no progress in resolving differences with them.

          Yes, I agree, only God can have a ‘face off’ with the husband. I know this too.

          • Aly on July 13, 2017 at 8:39 pm

            Dear Many years,

            I’m so sorry for what you have been victimized over and over by your own husband.

            You wrote:
            “And no, I have never called him a Narcissist to his face. Not a good idea!”

            Please be careful, he has already begun to train you in such a way that might make seeing your freedom clearer than you do in moments.

          • Free on July 18, 2017 at 3:40 pm

            This post was extremely helpful to me. Thanks.

        • Aly on July 13, 2017 at 11:28 pm


          How might you describe ‘getting out of the way’….?

          You said that even though you have set boundaries and enforced them, he still pretty much has it made~

          I’m confused, maybe you can explain this to me?

          • Gigi on July 14, 2017 at 9:12 am

            Aly, thanks for your concern, and sorry to be confusing. I can’t really explain here but currently I am not in a position to set any really major boundaries, though I did move out of the bedroom, and set some other boundaries in place that make my life more bearable and minimize my enabling behaviours. I am working towards being in a position fairly soon to be able to have boundaries with a consequence of something more distancing than an informal in-house separation. I appreciate prayers for wisdom and timing.

      • Aly on July 14, 2017 at 5:44 pm

        Many Years,

        I’m not sure I clearly understand where you are coming from? You noted that only God knows a person’s salvation (eternal outcome) and then you mention also trying to figure out if he is saved or not and leaning into that as weigh against your decisions.
        I’m sorry but I just don’t understand?

        I wonder if it would be worth examining that maybe the question isn’t about salvation but sanctification?
        Does your husband show signs of what gets fed? The spirit or the flesh?

        When we feed the flesh, it goes. When we feed the spirit and the sanctification process of growing in maturity and character .. it grows.

        The more time and investment we make in a relationship especially a marital one, the harder it is to break away and get healthier ourselves… completing the race set before ourselves.

        • Aly on July 14, 2017 at 5:45 pm

          Not goes but grows;)

  20. many years on July 13, 2017 at 4:47 pm

    My post at 4:45 p.m. is for Hurting in Texas. Thank you dear sister!

  21. Sandi on July 13, 2017 at 10:05 pm

    I was always so afraid of disappointing God, my church, my kids, my mom and dad, that I stayed out of fear for over 35 years in a destructive marriage. the Lord sent me a book called the verbally abusive relationship by Patricia Evans and then came Leslie’s book onthe emotionally destructive relationship and then the marriage book and I felt so validated and understood . I could never put it in words to explain what I lived with ; weeks of silent treatments, crazy making, twisted words, cycles of walking on egg shells, manipulation.. he only ever wanted my paycheck – I was a nurse and he used me to keep his standard of living up!! this was my supposed ” Christian ” husband hurting me over and over.. I never wanted to ” judge” him… but God gave me the strength to finally move out 4 years ago.. He gave me a place to live , a great job, support group with Leslie’s first conquer group… each step was a confirmation… I relapsed and went back one more time in my weakness… but soon realized there was no long term deep change or repentance.. my divorce will be finalized any day now after 40 years of marriage- 2 of my 5 kids are very angry with me for leaving their dad… I just am looking forward to what the Lord has planned for me— I never believed he ” saw” my pain , but over these past 4 years I am convinced He has saved me from a miry pit and praise Him everyday !

    • Aleea on July 14, 2017 at 4:58 am

      Hello Sandi,

      “I was always so afraid of disappointing God, my church, my kids, my mom and dad, that I stayed out of fear for over 35 years. . .”

      . . . And it’s really OKAY to be really scared. Being really scared means you’re doing something really, really brave. There is no illusion that Christ would want us to conquer greater than fear. Fear that just ruins our lives. . . .That’s the why those 350 plus “Fear nots” in the Bible —one “Fear not” for like every day of the year, including Leap Years, etc!

      “. . . . 2 of my 5 kids are very angry with me for leaving their dad… I just am looking forward to what the Lord has planned for me. . . .”

      . . . .Absolutely, but when you’re scared, you stay as you are! It’s important to understand that the fear will always be there, that’s what makes us humans, and it seems that those that end up leading successful and fulfilled lives have just learned to better tame and dance with all those fears more than others. . . . .One way to be brave is being the really honest, authentic expression of yourself. Think about how audacious it is to really be yourself. Overcoming what frightens you the most strengthens you the most. . . . .I know lots and lots about fear. I always think: “I can’t say that!. . . .I can’t deeply/ meaningfully question that, if I do that, that it might destroy other people’s faith, my own, et.al. What would happen if I said/ if I asked/ if I did. . . . .” I know what a relief it feels like to give into FEAR, at first, because people will deeply target/ shun you: “For the love of God, Aleea. . . .Why are you doing that/ saying that/ asking all these questions?” (re: 2 of my 5 kids are very angry with me for leaving their dad). . . . .It’s not hard to persuade yourself that you’re doing the right thing—that you’re making the Christ-like, smart, Godly, safe decision when you give in to fear. But fear is insidious. It takes anything you’re willing to give it, the parts of your life you don’t mind cutting out, but when you’re not looking, it takes anything, —just everything else, it pleases, too.

      I’d like to write a song for our worship band at my Bible church: “. . . .you did it my friend! . . .even with them ALL in your ear, and sounding so sincere, —you realized they kept you in FEAR! . . . .” . . .They couldn’t use it, it would deconstruct too much that is holding together with very slender threads. . . . . Sandi, you can lose your identity, because you can render your allegiance to this thing that only looks bigger than you are and that controls you (fear), especially if you are a serious people-pleaser like me. I hope we never lose the core of Chrsitianity, it is so, so beautiful. . . .the rest is just fear: re:“I was always so afraid of disappointing God, my church. . . .” ➡ —me too! 🙂

    • Susan on July 14, 2017 at 9:40 am

      You story is so much like mine. Recently divorced after 35 years. Was separated once and went back only to see it fall apart again. I took a blue chip at Celebrate Recovery to start believing ONLY what God says about me on March 21, 2016. Best commitment I have ever taken. My two adult daughters are not currently speaking to me and I can’t see my grandkids. Former husband continues to control and manipulate through them. I am praying for restoration and being God has a plan and a purpose in all of it. I know God doesn’t waste our pain and heartache. Attending the Conquer conference was such a wonderful experience and helped validate all of the craziness I have felt for so many years. Blessings to you on your journey, Sandi!!!

    • listening ear on July 14, 2017 at 4:45 pm

      You are a beautiful example of an OVERCOMER with your beautifully honest testimony. I pray that the Lord will bless you in all areas of your life.Thank you for sharing.

  22. Aleea on July 15, 2017 at 7:08 am

    . . . .So when the basis isn’t Faith, when it is Fear —And again, everyone should do what the Holy Spirit tells them to do— but, if you are miserable and unhappy find what’s really, really valuable and sacrifice it to God. . . .Usually the reason that we are suffering is because we just won’t let go of the thing that’s biting us. “—Why Can’t I Let Go?” (—And you usually know the reasons: How will I. . . What will my church friends, children, parents, et.al. say) . . . .And notice God is not even on the real list (—let’s be truthful, now). But if you really don’t know, ask the Holy Spirit to show you!. . . .Unless we are willing to let it go, to *sacrifice* it, we make no headway whatsoever. So one of God’s rules seems to be: If people are impeding your development, you sacrifice your relationship with them. —That frightens me even to just say that! . . .Again, do what the Holy Spirit tells *you* to do. . . . .But sometimes, we must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that Christ has waiting for us. . . .If you deeply follow Christ (—really quality sacrificing/ risking for Him) you put yourself on the kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living. . . .Loneliness will blind you, out between what’s wrong and what’s right. . . . . It’s so, so hard to let go. Even when what you’re holding onto is full of thorns, it’s so, so hard to let go. —Maybe especially then (—trauma bonded to fear, even “religious” “holy” fear). I always totally convict myself when I post here! . . .Sometimes, on our travel through hell, we meet people that think they are in heaven, but the Holy Spirit is the only guide, with insight and strength as countless as the stars.

  23. Nancy on July 15, 2017 at 8:39 am

    Thanks, Aleea.

    I’ve discovered this week, that I need to sacrifice my relationship with my mother. My attachment to her is not a physical one, it is emotional (precisely the place of my deepest wounding). Giving that attachment to God is my act of submitting to work of The Healer.

    I’ve been trying to allow myself to grieve my ‘lack of mother’ while simultaneously holding onto / predicting, the outcome. This is not letting go.

    • Aleea on July 16, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Hello Nancy,

      “. . .Giving that attachment to God is my act of submitting to work of The Healer.” + “. . .I’ve been trying to allow myself to grieve my ‘lack of mother’ while simultaneously holding onto / predicting, the outcome. This is not letting go.”

      I understand, —deeply. . . . when we clutch the past so tightly to our chests, it leaves our arms too full to embrace Christ in the present. . . .And it is so, so hard because it is our mothers, after all! But when we can’t let go of the past, I know for me, painful moments accumulate in me; metastasizing in my consciousness like an emotional cancer. God needs all that out of our minds and hearts. I know you know that the Gospel does not call us to receive Christ as an addition to our life, but as our very life. That can really help in clearing the decks. The most dangerous prayer we could every pray is, “Lord, make me like Christ. I don’t care if you have to dethrone me, I don’t care if you have to tear my career apart, I don’t care if you have to destroy me, I don’t care what happens —just make me like Jesus Christ!” It’s really asking for trouble but then again, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it abides alone, but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit. . . .Really letting go is like that dying.

    • K on July 18, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Perhaps ‘relinquish’, rather than sacrifice?

      • Aleea on July 18, 2017 at 5:43 pm

        Hello K,

        Re: Perhaps ‘relinquish’, rather than sacrifice?

        . . . .Yes, perhaps that is better . . . .I was trying to pick-up on the difficult nature of “letting go” and also link the concept to the Old Testament (Abraham’s ultimate call from God was to sacrifice his son Isaac and Abraham’s willingness to give everything to God, hoping entirely in God.) and in the New Testament (Jesus’ sacrifice is really tied to the personality of God and what God asks from us in order to more forward). You have to sacrifice an idea (marriage is _________) that you hold dear to progress because the ideas that you hold dear are exactly what are making you suffer. —e.g. Take a proper attitude toward sacrifice. . . . . So K, ask how you could sacrifice a bit of who you are for who you could become. Because what you value can obscure the nature of what you could do to make things better, it’s useful to examine what you value in order to figure out what to relinquish.

      • Aleea on July 19, 2017 at 6:06 am

        Hello Nancy,

        [smile] . . . .This is what I think when I think about you: “A woman who is intimate with God is not intimidated by others.”

        “The Gospel doesn’t call us to add Christ to our life but to BE our very life . . .That’s Radical…and to achieve that, I need to ‘relinquish’ some attachments, and ‘sacrifice’ others.”

        . . . .hmmm, so now I agree with you. . . . .I can never make up my mind. Ha, ha, ha, ha. Hmmm, I’m too agreeable because I just don’t know. . . .What I am trying to say to women is attain a psychological balance between the nice and tough parts of your psyche. —Don’t be harmless! That is not godly. You will get eaten alive by the interpersonally exploitative, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy persons (male or female). . . . and that is not virtuous, or Christ-like. Let all of your being coexist instead of trying to be the absolute nice girl or dragon girl! . . .Be powerful in the Lord but be power under control —power that is humble but power that is downright dangerous and can deconstruct srongholds if it has to. Use logic, use reason, make evidence-based decisions, have boundaries, speak up, tear down ridiculous unsupportable arguments about women’s “roles”, demand evidence for claims made at church. Experience has taught me that my harmfulness was a consequence of the feeling of powerlessness that being harmless instills in you. To be powerful, you must also be dangerous, and when you know how dangerous you can really be, you will have the awareness to be powerful without being destructive (—yes, I’m still working on the balance). If you belong to Christ, it should be your Light not any darkness that should most frighten you. We generally lose by holding back. Jesus IS about *radical*, sweeping, encompassing empowerment. Our deepest fear should never be that we are inadequate. . . .our deepest fear should be that we are powerful beyond measure. . . .But we never lose by deeply loving. . . .I’m just saying that if/ when we are harmless, we are not virtuous, we are just harmless and become “marks” for the interpersonally exploitative, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy persons (male or female).

        “We are called to be ‘crucified with Christ’ – extreme.” . . . .Absolutely. Is the world crucified to you or does it fascinate you? . . . .Who or what takes priority over Christ in your life? What I know from spending untold hours studying early Chrsitianity: Christianity today is so subnormal that if any Christian began to act like a normal New Testament Christian, she would be considered abnormal. . . . . And before we can be clean and ready for Him to control us, all my self-seeking, self-glory, self-interest, self-pity (—I have so much self-pity), self-righteousness, self-importance, self-promotion, self-satisfaction—and whatsoever else self I have —must die. It is unbelievably extreme! Please pray for that for me. . . .Repentance is not tears. . . .it is not emotion or remorse or reformation. In the N.T., (μετάνοια -metánoia, met-an’-oy-ah) seems to be this ongoing awareness that leads over and over to a death—rebirth sequence. Re: Personality and its Transformations. Transformative change by awareness of Christ in our minds and hearts. We can really live if we are dying everyday: 1 Timothy 4:12; Ephesians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 15:31, et.al. 🙂

  24. Donna on July 15, 2017 at 8:45 am

    When my counselor said “our bantering is an addiction.” I repented and understood (light bulb moment). I liked the arguing and stating my views which made no difference. I argued to defend myself but anything I said never mattered to him cause his core belief was his anger and results of his anger was my fault. I also argued in desperation to “reason” with him to ensure a healthy happy marriage. Which had become an idol of mine.
    Jesus set me free of my sin and I realized He knew the truth and I didn’t and don’t have to defend myself. There became an unhealthy idol belief that I alone could change my husband and because we were Christians we were soppose to have a happy loving marriage. That takes 2 being committed in action not just words.
    Suffering in an abusive relationship isn’t Gods plan. Psalms 55:12 talks of an enemy being a companion and friend. A prayer to be rescued from a personal enemy.
    I also for years couldn’t understand the irrational anger. Road rage sports and politics rage. Trying to minimize his anger to these things resulted in his anger towards me as if I now was the enemy. I stopped watching sports politics and minimized driving places with him. It didn’t change him but gave me more peace.

    • Aleea on July 18, 2017 at 12:21 pm

      Hello Donna,

      ‘ . . . but anything I said never mattered to him cause his core belief was his anger and results of his anger was my fault. I also argued in desperation to “reason” with him to ensure a healthy happy marriage. Which had become an idol of mine.” Donna, what you said never mattered to him??? . . . .Well, that is a major structural issue. Leslie has said “put your marriage in it’s proper place” behind your relationship with Christ. . . . —I would say well behind that relationship with Christ and it sounds like you are doing that.

      “. . . .Jesus set me free of my sin and I realized He knew the truth and I didn’t and don’t have to defend myself. There became an unhealthy idol belief that I alone could change my husband and because we were Christians we were supposed to have a happy loving marriage. That takes 2 being committed in action not just words.” . . . .In my limited understanding, what is coming out of people’s mouths has very little to do with the way they really feel and what they really believe. Real beliefs are not at the level of our egos. Real beliefs are the highly nuanced cognitive biases that are encoded deeply in our actions and symptoms, —not our words. Words are so often pretty worthless in really knowing people and you see that in the divorce rates and “married divorced” rates we see in the churches. I think it is true that the real “you” is formed before verbal memory was fully developed and then defensively dissociated later on but that causes all kinds of disconnects.

      “A prayer to be rescued from a personal enemy.” . . . .But don’t be a victim, self-rescue. What if no one is coming to save you? What if the saviour was always supposed to be you? What if that’s why it hasn’t worked out? We step out in faith and the Holy Spirit carries us from there.

      “. . . .I also for years couldn’t understand the irrational anger. Road rage sports and politics rage. Trying to minimize his anger to these things resulted in his anger towards me as if I now was the enemy. I stopped watching sports politics and minimized driving places with him. It didn’t change him but gave me more peace.” . . . .We need to forget what hurt us in the past to grow, but never forget what it taught us. However, if it taught us to hold onto grudges, seek revenge, not forgive or show compassion, to categorize people as good or bad, to distrust and be guarded with our feelings then we didn’t learn because God doesn’t bring us hard lessons to close our hearts. He brings us hard lessons to open them (—and that is so, so hard for me because of all the hurt), by developing compassion, learning to listen, seeking to understand instead of speculating, practicing empathy and developing conflict resolution through communication. If He brought us great people, how would we ever learn to spiritually evolve?

      “. . .Jesus set me free of my sin and I realized He knew the truth and I didn’t and don’t have to defend myself.” Donna, that is truly beautiful. —I love that!!! It is so beautiful. . . . .I think angry people want you to see how powerful they are . . . .but loving people want you to see how powerful You are, —and You are. If you belong to Christ, it should be your Light not any darkness that should most frighten you. Our deepest fear should never be that we are inadequate. . . .our deepest fear should be that we are powerful beyond measure. That allows us to deeply, truly love.

  25. Content on July 15, 2017 at 12:39 pm

    I have something I need to hash through….I’ve been separated from my husband for 8 mths. We are in major, major credit card debt. Basically, my husband controlled and made financial decisions for us for all of our marriage and it wasn’t until the past few years that I started realizing that something isn’t right with this scenario. Everytime I’d bring up the fact that we were in a lot of debt, he would assure me by saying that we could sell our small condo and pay everything off so the debt wasn’t really that bad. Or he’d say something similar to that. I begged for a budget for years and also asked him to please let me know anytime he made big financial decisions. Which he didn’t like as I started to be firmer in things I was asking him about. I was so self-deceived and bought into the dangerous so-called Christian teaching of submission that I saw what I was doing (by continuing to use the credit cards for all of our purchases) as submission. I can honestly say that I don’t think I lived in a lavish way. I never get my hair cut (cut it myself), I don’t get my nails done, I’m not a shopper (but yes, I would shop occasionally and get a few things at the beginning of the new seasons at Target or places like that).

    Anyway, all this to say that as I haven’t filed for divorce yet, we are basically still living the same way. He is paying the bills, I currently don’t have a job (had one for a few months, but don’t right now and will be working again once school starts at the school our daughter goes to).

    There’s a lot of things that concern me about this but one of the things is that through the years, whenever I’d call a credit card company or even an electric company to make a change or something, I was never on the account listed as someone who could do that.

    Even the other day, when I went to call the insurance HSA account, they wouldn’t talk to me.

    My first question is….is that normal? Do most spouses who are the primary person to pay bills and manage the finances forget to put the other spouse as someone who could make decisions or was this intentional on his part?

    The next thing is that I think I need to let him know that he needs to make sure that he calls every credit card company and put my name as someone who can call and make decisions. In the state where we live, I am legally responsible for these debts and in my opinion, if I’m legally responsible, then I should be able to call and talk as freely as he can with these people.

    I don’t know what to do about this situation. I know that my next step is to file for divorce. There is no legal separation in my state. In the meantime, every time that I’ve had some anxiety about this issue, I am finding peace by putting this matter in God’s hands and resting in the fact that He will defend me and protect me.

    • Connie on July 15, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      You might want to call the Dave Ramsey site and ask for counsel there.

      • Content on July 15, 2017 at 1:54 pm

        Thanks. I did talk to a couple of friends who said it is probably normal that if he were handling accounts and setting up different accounts, he would be the only one listed on some accounts.

        I hate being in this situation where I have to question everything. My husband has lied to me through the years and so therefore, I find it hard to trust ANYTHING he says or does; on the other hand, I know that my imagination can come up with scenarios that aren’t true and then I let that become “reality” in my head.

        I guess that’s why the best option is to just get away from someone like that because you can’t be healthy always wondering if this person is telling you the truth or about what they might be hiding.

        Thanks, Connie, for the suggestion.

        • K on July 17, 2017 at 3:50 pm

          Content, I think your question of ‘is it normal?” is not the right question in this situation.

          You have already stated that the debts are enormous. You have already stated that in your jurisdiction, you are equally responsible for marital debts, even if you have no knowledge of how the debts occurred. You have also stated that you have brought up the subject with your husband many times, and that he would always have a ‘magical’ answer (ie. sell property, also not discussed with you) to fix it, IF the time ever came where it had to be fixed.

          If he had been simply unaware of the debts, or that you should be included in the management of finances (including company accounts), THOSE conversations would have been the “oh, ya” moments for him. But you say he continues to leave you out of the loop regarding a critically important area of your marriage.

          You have also described how your husband ‘gaslights’ and lies to you — a continuous pattern in your marriage.

          I’m sorry to disagree with some of the other wise and prayerful women here, but I don’t think this is a situation for you to chalk up as ‘i don’t want to think the worst of him.’

          Rather than asking “is this normal?”, perhaps you should be asking, “Lord, what are you trying to get my attention about in this area? and who/what agency should I consult so that I have clear, certain, current information about my circumstances, regardless of what my husband tells me?” (ie bank, lawyer, etc).

          I pray peace for you, Content!

          • Nancy on July 17, 2017 at 5:18 pm

            Hi K and Content,

            K, your perspective is much more specific to Content’s situation. I think your response is thoughtful and wise.

        • Dawn on July 19, 2017 at 9:40 am

          Dear Content,
          Having just exited very similar circumstances, I can tell you you are aligned for a perfect storm.
          Yes, I would be seeking legal counsel on this immediately. You need clear directives on how best to protect yourself. These directives will go against almost every evangelical teaching we have ever heard. However, this not a “normal” playing field. You can’t think “normally” but rather have entered a very different system. Be as wise as a serpent and as gentle as a dove. I would also get counsel on setting aside funds that only you have access to in case of an emergent situation.

    • Nancy on July 15, 2017 at 1:35 pm

      Hi Content,

      In our case it has taken quite a few phone calls to the various companies to ‘give me a voice’ in our finances. This is something that takes intention, time and energy on his part.

      My personal opinion ( based on my own experiences – so flush it, if it doesn’t fit) is that you should not assume the worst of him. It could very well be that he just didn’t prioritize these tasks,

      So when you speak to him, keep it light, ” hey, would you make these calls ASAP so that I can have a say in what I’m also responsible for? I’ll give you a list of the various companies, cause it’ll be super easy to overllook some of them. I’ll need to know the progress your making as you make these calls.” Or something to that effect.

      If he resists, then you stand firm knowing that this is a very important in finding your voice and taking responsibility.

      God Bless

      • Content on July 15, 2017 at 2:31 pm

        Thank you, Nancy. Thank you for your personal opinion. 🙂

        I will say it’s tough to not “go places” in your mind when your husband seems to be able to lie so easily and gaslight you with not a care about how it affects your trust in him. But, I do agree, there’s no sense jumping to conclusions of things we don’t know. I just constantly ask God to show me what needs to be revealed and just keep trusting that He can defend me better than I can defend or protect myself by taking rash steps when I don’t really know what the real story is.

        • Nancy on July 15, 2017 at 9:42 pm

          I love what you wrote, “… and just keep trusting that He can defend me better than I can..” this is just so key when we are under attack, or even under the threat of it.

          From where I sit, Content, I see you doing the hard work that He is asking of you. It’s a priveledge to be a witness to The Lord’s transforming power in you, these past months 🌷

    • Sunshine on July 18, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      No it is not normal that you, an adult, was treated like a child in the realm of finances. This was/ is a calculated maneuver associated with financial abuse. You must get full access to the accounts as you are liable for his sneaky debt scheme. Having been a victim of similar abuse, one thing I did (at an attorney’s advice) was to get a free credit report. I would recommend this to start. Next try your local bank, go in person and ask for a copy of your last statement. They will do this. I also got forms for me to bring home to have my husband add me to the accounts. Some I forged his name and some he submitted to. Regarding the HSA, I have one too. If you have a claim, they will let you talk about YOUR claim. You can also go online to every credit card company and set up your own password to have access to your own account.

  26. Aly on July 15, 2017 at 1:38 pm

    Dear Aleea,

    You wrote:
    “If people are impeding your development, you sacrifice your relationship with them. —That frightens me even to just say that! . . .Again, do what the Holy Spirit tells *you* to do. . . . .But sometimes, we must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that Christ has waiting for us.”

    This is so well written above about what impedes! I agree with you that you do what the Holy Spirit tells as well as look for it in Scripture to affirm it.
    I have had to do this for my own sanity and for what I feel has been lead and confirmed over and over by the Holy Spirit ~ nothing I ever wanted to do and I will never say it is a good feeling thing, it’s pain lots of pain. But Jesus does provide the other places of fruitful healing and peace that I could never have experienced within those relationships that are (always unraveling) what is being sown.

    Jesus continuously reminded his disciples of what following Him encompassed.
    He also spoke clearly to the man wanting to go back and bury his father first before following him.
    I believe the jist of the situation is that ….
    ‘Your either all in or not’ we are either serious about putting Christ in His authority place within our hearts (pleasing him first, others second) or we are not.

    My husband and I were just talking about this not long ago and it’s sad that the epidemic of ‘men’ don’t have this integrated in their lives in order to lead their families. The epidemic is what men are surrounded by~ other men of this level & maturity. If they themselves don’t have it, they won’t have it to pass on to the next gen. Or other men in their circle. The peer influence is critical and I believe this is what you were referring to.

    The next gen have to seek it out and choose to abandon the family of origin and yes plenty of trauma bonds most likely.

    Aleea, you also mentioned lonieness causes blindness, i also think ‘familiarity’ can be a big cause too and many don’t see the family and social environment that is shaping ‘what is normal or not so normal’ …similar to the frog in hot water example.

    Didn’t mean to write so long but I really like how you mentioned the danger of things that impedes our development.
    Hugs and continued prayers to you Aleea!

    • Aleea on July 16, 2017 at 1:31 pm

      Hello Aly,
      Thank you so much for the comments!
      “I have had to do this for my own sanity and for what I feel has been lead and confirmed over and over by the Holy Spirit. . .” . . . Absolutely, I understand Aly.

      “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” + ‘Your either all in or not’ we are either serious about putting Christ in His authority place within our hearts (pleasing him first, others second) or we are not.” . . . .The peer influence is very critical and that is what I was referring to. Always surround yourself with people who really, deeply love Christ and want a deeper relationship with Him.

      “Aleea, you also mentioned loneness causes blindness, I also think ‘familiarity’ can be a big cause too and many don’t see the family and social environment that is shaping ‘what is normal or not so normal’ …similar to the frog in hot water example.” . . . .That’s really, deeply true. Excellent point!

      “Didn’t mean to write so long” . . . .Ha, ha, ha, ha. . . .I love long, as you know from my posts.

      Thank you for the prayers, they are the best gift ever and many prayers for you and your family too. . . .If we really long to be in Christ’s presence, we will always find the way. In fact, so many times when I am in utter confusion, I merely start to walk with Him, a few small steps on that way and boom, the way appears.

  27. Dawn on July 15, 2017 at 8:53 pm

    Thank you for such continued care and concern for that sweet Christ Sister.
    It sounds so terribly sad. It took me a very long time and some very costly lessons (ones that will have life long consequences) to realize that all my love and well meaning cannot inject logic into insanity. No way shape or form. It was a very costly lesson. However, it was the one that really cemented home to me the fact that “not everything can be fixed”. That was a lot of pain later.
    Thanks for reaching out to her.
    Critical thinking skills seem to be sorely lacking,often times, in the church.

    • Aleea on July 16, 2017 at 2:54 pm

      Thank you Dawn. . . .

      “not everything can be fixed” . . . .Absolutely. I understand. We cannot solve problems with the same level of thinking that created them and worse yet, many mental disorders, like you see in the DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) . . .well, God have mercy on us all. . . . There you can only know when to walk away and know when to just run.

      . . . .So, we are in this re|engage Marriage Enrichment Program now at my church and I just absolutely love how the whole thing is just focused on our relationships with Christ not marriage, per se. If we displease Christ, does it even matter whom else we please? If we please Him does it matter whom we displease? Who or what takes priority over Christ in our lives? Are the things we are living for worth Christ dying for? . . . .I’ll tell you Dawn, you get this vertical stuff right and many marriages would self-correct, sans mental disorders like in the DSM-5.

  28. Rebecca on July 17, 2017 at 7:25 am

    What kept me hooked you ask? MONEY

    Ladies, let’s do everything we can to ensure that our children have a means to support themselves before they leave our home. Education is power.

    Money, money, money.

  29. Free on July 17, 2017 at 7:26 am

    I appreciate this direct reply from Leslie. I think this is by far the best response I have read to date.

    • Nancy on July 17, 2017 at 10:56 am

      I agree, Free. Leslie makes a very clear distinction between what we are not responsible for (being treated poorly) and what we are responsible for (examining our own hearts as to “why I can’t let go?” of a person who continues to treat me poorly).

  30. Content on July 17, 2017 at 5:39 pm

    Regarding trauma bonds….yesterday, was doing some thinking as I definitely resonate very strongly with this feeling of being unable to let go of this relationship.

    I think Nancy mentioned the intermittent “nice” reinforcement that she gets from her mother and I’m sure we can all relate to that. It does make it so confusing. My husband does that all the time. Verbally cuts me down, never apologizes, but the next day will say something nice to me. Or, in the past, would bring me flowers or up his game to be nice to me. No apologies and talking things through, though.

    Anyway, yesterday, was just realizing that I need God to sever that bond with my husband so that I can be bonded properly to *Him* — a true love bond. I want to be bound to Jesus and well, I already am. But, I want to live in it and Him to complete the severing of this very unhealthy bond I have with my husband. I like the picture in my mind that I get as I think of being bound in real love with Christ.

    I’ve spent some time reading cards that my husband and I have given each other over 25 years. Wow. I sound so pathetic in most of them. Always saying things like “thank you for putting up with me; I don’t deserve you or your love; I can’t believe I have a man who is so patient and loving with me.” ???????

    Along with these very eye-opening declarations from me (about my obvious low view of my self-worth) was a letter I wrote to him one year after we got married. In it, I discuss my extreme hurt about his living like a bachelor (he took two week-long trips plus two or three other weekend trips away with his buddies plus he went to all the home football games of his team in one year). I mention that it hurt that they went to bars all the time, that he called from bars or that he came home trashed and that when I brought those hurts up to him, he basically told me “You knew what you were getting into when you got married, if you don’t like it, ______ you, do what you want to do.” It was actually good to see that because last night, I was feeling confused again about the relationship. But, God always seems to bring me back into reality within 24 hours and He did it again with that letter. Because very little has changed with how my husband handles conflict. 25 years later, he still says “_____ you” if I stand strong on an important issue that he doesn’t want to look at or change.

    But, my husband was right. I did see all of that before we got married. He was an alcoholic before we got married (he would totally deny that he is an alcoholic because he is a very high functioning alcoholic) and I should have also never expected him to change just because we got married (as far as him going out with the guys and a big part of their time together revolving around drinking, gambling, etc.). I threatened to leave the marriage in that letter – one year after we got married.

    Then, came all the cards in the subsequent years declaring how lucky I was to have him, how good he was to me and patient.

    When I read cards to him before I got married, I was pretty self-confident sounding. I didn’t sound so pathetic. I wonder what he did so subtly to pull me into his game. 25 years later, I look back and wonder where the covert abuse started and how he was so good at it to get me to think I was such a loser – or that I was such a winner to have him still be with me.

    Weird that I didn’t see it until God literally opened my eyes to it all, but I have to keep believing in His plan.

    Anyway, thanks for letting me vent here.

    A prayer for us who need these trauma bonds severed:

    Father, Thank you that you are aware of where each one of us is and that you are loving us completely and perfectly right now. You are OK with where we are. You have us safely in Your hands. You are teaching us and revealing truth to us in your time. Lord, many of us here feel stuck in the place where we need to be able to move forward and put the past behind us and let go of relationships that have proven to be unhealthy. We don’t know what to do. We can’t heal ourselves, Lord. But, you can heal us. We offer ourselves to you and ask that you complete the severing of these unholy bonds that we are in and that have entangled us for far too long. We are aware that the severing could produce more pain. But, Lord, for many of us the pain of remaining bound is starting to outweigh the pain that we might have to go through for this to be fully done. Let us live in Your freedom and light, Lord. Go to war for us and sever these bonds. Let us be bound to you in true love, Lord, and let us never again accept cheap and false substitutes for as long as we live. Your perfect and pure love for us is more than enough for us. Show us what lies we are still believing and thank you for your gentleness to your children as you walk us through the valley.

    • Aly on July 17, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Dear Content,

      Wow! Thank you for such a beautiful prayer~
      Goodness I can say with almost identical behavior what you described I lived similarly in my marriage (not the highly functional alcoholic part of a h, but married to a single man staying in his independent world).

      Yes you described clearly an emotional abusive relationship with the emotional traumas weaved in.

      I also have an album of the cards!! Thankfully I was a saver~ it is eye opening time to scroll through the repetitive cycle, is it not?

      Your husband words are terrible and unacceptable, they are not healthy nor normal~ but then why is it that the cycle goes on so long? Overtime I believe the cycle ~ (look up the abuse cycle), gets well worse with time because it begins to feel normal be desensitization of the victim and harder to see the level of tolerance rises.

      • Content on July 17, 2017 at 8:09 pm

        ” it is eye opening time to scroll through the repetitive cycle, is it not? ”

        Oh, wow. You’re right. I hadn’t even picked up on that, but yes, now that you mention it, there are cards that I wrote him apologizing…..which I know now that probably the majority of those apologies were from incidents where I had said something to him about him hurting me and then him getting mad at me. Then he would manipulate the whole situation and I would apologize to him for the whole thing!!! Yes, there are many of those cards of apologies from me to him. Another card I gave him I was thanking him for “sucking up to me” about something (this was from years back, I have no idea what it was for), but I did notice in that card that I had obviously been hurt about something and then was recognizing that his behavior was “to make up” for whatever it was that he did.

        Here’s the thing with those cards. I’ve considered several options. Give him the ones that I gave him because they are officially his. However, I don’t want him even reading any of them anymore, I feel like he will read them and be like “yeah, she was such a ____ to me” (because of all of the times I apologized to him) and “yeah, look how much she complimented me and affirmed me, I am such a great guy” (because if I wasn’t apologizing to him, I was idolizing him in the cards/letters). Option 2 and 3 is burn all of them (his and mine) or take them to the dump. Option 4, keep them — which I believe would only be because I am having some sort of false hope that we will be reconciled. Even if we were, that marriage is dead and I don’t know that these cards should be saved at this point.

        On the other hand, some of them seem really sweet (from me and him). That is what is confusing about these relationships!!!!

        I really just want them to be gone, honestly.

        I know these are decisions I need to make for myself, but I am enjoying processing these things out here with those who understand. And like to hear others’ views and how they handled things like this.

        • Rebecca on July 18, 2017 at 9:06 pm

          I am pretty sure like most men, he couldn’t care about the cards. Haven’t you seen the comedian Kevin James do his bit on cards? Women labor over the messages and men zip the envelope open, shake it to see if any money comes out and then throw the card away, often unread.

    • Nancy on July 17, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      Thank you for allowing us to see into how you interacted with your h, Content. I can so relate to having had to lower myself in order to feed his ego and elevate him, so that I could have a saviour. Neither of us knew that we were engaging in the re-enactment of some imagined fairy tale. The delusion and twisted thinking we engaged in was actually extremely hard work!

      What you wrote about being bound to Christ reminded me of something Aleea said a bit further up the thread, to me:

      The Gospel doesn’t ask that we add Christ to our life but that he become our very life. This can help us to clear the decks.

      This prayer you wrote asks him to do just that – clear the decks.

    • Sunshine on July 18, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      I am struggling with the concept of a trauma bond. It just seems like a made up term to continue in unhealthy behavior. Like, I can’t do X because of my trauma bond. That kind of thinking just makes way for excuses and labels to my way of thinking.

      • Aly on July 18, 2017 at 4:33 pm


        I think you might be misunderstanding the description, I’m sorry I have used the term Trauma bond often here as a way to describe why we find ourselves repeated in a cycle, emotional trauma is a complicated matter, it creates patterns in places that can be us more harm and can even lend more confusion between parent child relationships ~ as Leslie has also noted.
        I was trauma bonded but it wasn’t as a form of excuse it just helped me define what was taking place (crazy making) and how I needed to get out ~ given the bonded/bondage nature.

        • Nancy on July 19, 2017 at 2:24 am

          Hi Sunshine,

          Any label can be used as an excuse, for sure.

          Recognizing the ugly truth of what keeps me enslaved to my mother (trauma bond) has enabled me to take a significant step toward my own healing.

          The same thing happened when I read Leslie’s book – my feelings were validated that my marriage was emotionally destructive (which was initially shocking). Acknowledging and then accepting that reality was my first step in taking responsibility, and therefor action, toward my healing.

          • Nancy on July 19, 2017 at 2:37 am

            An example of label used as an excuse,

            “I’m an alcoholic so I can’t take responsibility for what I do during a black out.”

            Or at an AA meeting:

            “Hi my name is …. and I’m an alcoholic”

            Maybe it depends upon a person’s readiness to take responsibility??

    • Free on July 18, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Wow! Your reflections are profound. Making a timeline can be another helpful activity. Put memorable experiences on a time line and see key events unfold.

      Another thought. Hooray for saving 25 years of cards and letters. Being a collector of nostalgic items really paid off.

      I was looking at pictures of my grandmother a few months ago. I saw photos from her honeymoon. She was happy. She smiled so big and had such hope in her eyes. I had never seen that look ever in all my years as her granddaughter. What happened to her, that marriage took away that smile?

  31. Dawn on July 18, 2017 at 2:51 am

    So true. When we get the vertical aligned, we arise in that power and ascend to take our positions next to Him beginning to understand the power and authority that we are free to truly love ourselves and others with … yes! We love differently. Most of these horizontal relationships would be a lot different.
    Your class material sounds great. I believe you are right. Once we come out of the burdensome confines of religion in regard to the marriage being the holy grail of the church , we are free to begin the process of healing in our own souls.

    • Aleea on July 18, 2017 at 10:54 am

      Wow, Dawn. . . . “. . . .we are free to truly love ourselves and others. . . .” —I see it and that is so, so important!

      . . .What I am trying to say to women is attain a psychological balance between the nice and tough parts of your psyche. —Don’t be harmless! That is not godly. You will get eaten alive by the interpersonally exploitative, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy persons (male or female). . . . and that is not virtuous, or Christ-like. Let all of your being coexist instead of trying to be the absolute nice girl or dragon girl! . . .Be powerful in the Lord but be power under control —power that is humble but power that is downright dangerous and can deconstruct srongholds if it has to. Use logic, use reason, make evidence-based decisions, have boundaries, speak up, ask deep questions, tear down ridiculous unsupportable arguments about women’s “roles”, demand evidence for claims made at church.

      “. . . .marriage being the holy grail of the church. . .” I know and I agree. At the same time, I love marriage!!! It truly is wonderful but as Leslie has said “put your marriage in it’s proper place” behind your relationship with Christ. . . . —well behind your relationship with Christ. Experience has taught me that my harmfulness was a consequence of the feeling of powerlessness that being harmless instills in you. To be powerful, you must also be dangerous, and when you know how dangerous you can really be, you will have the awareness to be powerful without being destructive (—yes, I’m still working on the balance). If you belong to Christ, it should be your Light not any darkness that should most frighten you. We generally lose by holding back. Jesus is about *radical*, sweeping, encompassing empowerment. Our deepest fear should never be that we are inadequate. . . .our deepest fear should be that we are powerful beyond measure. . . .But we never lose by deeply loving. . . .I’m just saying that if/ when we are harmless, we are not virtuous, we are just harmless and become “marks” for the interpersonally exploitative, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy persons (male or female).

    • Dawn on July 19, 2017 at 9:29 am

      Yes, Aleea, Yes! Amen to your powerful words.
      When we understand that ALWAYS, ALWAYS, fight FROM victory through Him and never FOR victory we are so much better positioned and equipped !
      We can begin to align and understand that Elohim created us in Gen 1 as “Ezers”. These are warriors. They are not weak. They battle for their husbands not against them. They have much power afforded them. When we throw out “nice” in exchange for being biblically “kind” that is where the beautifully grace charged power is unleashed.

      • Aly on July 19, 2017 at 9:49 am

        Yes! Praise God for this;)

        Those that prefer ‘the nice’ prefer the enabler in their life and the kind and boundary loving individual empowered and strengthened by God is not welcomed~ in fact usually blatantly rejected.

  32. Melissa on July 18, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    I hope a restraining order works for her because in my case I have a restraining order he still showed up the cops arrested him for a warrant but not for violating the order the good thing is since then he has stopped contacting me and showing up at my house but he wasn’t charged with violating the order

  33. Diana on July 18, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    I too have separated by moving out. I have school age children. Because of the children, I feel I must keep having visits with him so he can’t claim in court later that I denied him access to the children. I could let the children go with him alone, but I feel safer being there too. There is no custody order in place, so if he took off with him he would legally be in the clear in our state. I keep trying to buy time as he is acting nice for the moment. He has just begun counseling with a man who does anger and batterers intervention work. I don’t know if he will stick with it. Time will tell whether he will change or not. Meanwhile I question whether it is better to divorce and have the children live with him half the time, or stay and deal with him myself.

    • Sunshine on July 18, 2017 at 8:46 pm

      I made the decision to stay with the children. Thankfully he traveled for work so we would get two husband free weeks a month. You are right that they can be abusive to the kids and that having you around deflects and can these his actions. I was an appease and would bait him to go for me when he started on the children. It was the life of a prisoner of war, sex slave, domestic servant and therapist rolled into one. Do you want that for your life?

      • Sunshine on July 18, 2017 at 8:49 pm

        Can reduce the impact of his actions by protecting the children

  34. Ella on July 18, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    I loved reading all the posts , you ladies are amazing ! I have a question to ask. I have been married for 17 years to my alcoholic husband , finally , after reading Leslie’s book I made the decision to seoerate. We’ve been separated for a year. Nothing changed, he made some halfhearted attempt to talking to a godly man in our church for a few months, but then he stopped as soon as he was confronted. He went to an outpatient treatment for six weeks, but 2 weeks later he went straight back to drinking. ( he’s been an alcoholic for about 25 years, have never had serious consequences , apart from a job loss so now he works for himself as an attorney ) I have not seen any significant change ,in fact things have been worse. His drinking had been more frequent and longer lasting. When he’s not drinking, we have great conversations, we are like friends go on dates, walks. but then he drinks and my heart keeps breaking.
    I also discovered a year ago that he has been going on dating websites, multiple times, throughout the years, in order to get affirmation from other women !!! This has been one of the main reasons for us to separate. He claims that he hasn’t been doing it in the past six months but I have no way of proving it.
    my question is, how long do we stay separated until I file for divorce? I have been praying and praying and seeking God’s leading but I have not heard anything from the Lord. During this past year I have grown tremendously, I feel much stronger and have a lot more CORE strength , I was even able to share and encourage other women in similar situations. But the question remains: how long does one waits until they file for divorce because nothing changes? Or do I continue to stay married until my husband divorces? I have been able to stay in our condo, I’m able to support myself and recently my sister moved in with me so I’m not even that lonely anymore. it seems that this separated situation is good enough for my husband…
    my dilemma is that I’m not hearing anything specific from the Lord. And I really don’t want to divorce unless God says so…
    any input in this matter would be greatly appreciated. I’m not expecting you ladies to be the Holy Spirit, but I really would like to know if you have been in the situation and how you heard from the Lord.

    • Rebecca on July 18, 2017 at 9:01 pm

      One thing I thought about was that you can always remarry. Are you happily separated and how long can you retain that status in your state? Are you sure he isn’t incurring debt for which you could be held accountable? If he were to find another woman he would have connections as an attorney to make a divorce proceeding weigh heavily in his favor. Acting first might be more strategic. Finally, is this arrangement God honoring? Can you fully serve the Lord as you were designed to when much of your brain is occupied by a dysfunctional spouse? Does that burden stop you from yielding to God’s utilization of your spiritual gifts? If so, I would say you are enabling Satan a sneaky victory which needs to be put to a stop.

      • Rebecca on July 18, 2017 at 9:11 pm

        Occupied by the antics of a dysfunctional spouse

      • JoAnn on July 18, 2017 at 11:54 pm

        Really good points, Rebecca. Well said.

  35. Nancy on July 19, 2017 at 3:38 am

    Hi K and Aleea,

    This term to ‘relinquish’ just doesn’t cut it when it comes to a trauma bond (no pun intended!). Maybe for other acts of submission, but not for what is required to sever such a deeply twisted pattern.

    Abraham is a great example. It’s extreme. Christ says, “do not expect that I have come to bring peace to the world, I bring a sword…” Matt 10:34. We are called to be ‘crucified with Christ’ – extreme.

    As you said Aleea, The Gospel doesn’t call us to add Christ to our life but to BE our very life 🙂

    That’s Radical…and to achieve that, I need to ‘relinquish’ some attachments, and ‘sacrifice’ others.

  36. Aly on July 19, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Dear Aleea,

    You wrote:
    “What I know from spending untold hours studying early Chrsitianity: Christianity today is so subnormal that if any Christian began to act like a normal New Testament Christian, she would be considered abnormal. . . . . ”

    Could not agree more with this example and others that you shared regarding radical love behavior~ transformation truly in my opinion.
    I think it’s considered ‘abnormal’ because many in the Christian culture have redefined what it looks like based on their own personality injuries and those that they are surrounded by, such ex: ‘that’s just my personality excuse’-which is a big road block for many to see the beauty in what Christ truly holds for His own! Freedom and Love💜
    The death part is the (bondage… not free part)

    Those that want to chase after and rest in Gods lap-were considered radical then and I believe also here today…they see the benefit and the power of doing so, they are not ashamed to want God this way nor ashamed for others to also want this personal safety with Him!

    You might enjoy the recent blog articles of Rebecca Davis about the addressing the ‘false teaching of dying to self’ 3 parts total so far.
    Here is the link:

  37. Ella on July 20, 2017 at 5:44 am

    Thank you Rebecca , appreciate your insight. I’m not happily separated -since there’s no change happening , it’s rather discouraging. I talked to an attorney friend and I’m confident any debt my husband is incurring during this time will be his. In fact, He has been financially very generous at times e.g. when I asked him to pay the full mortgage for 5 mths so I can pay off my car much much earlier. He has a good and generous heart and the problem is his addiction which is selfish in and of itself. What a contradiction ! He doesn’t seem to want to divorce and find another woman, he’s a creature of habits and is pretty comfortable in the current state of things. I’m not.
    As to your questions about if being sepersted hinders me from fully serving God… I’m fighting against it, and in a lot of ways no, it hadn’t been. In fact it has helped me to grow, to serve others. But my preoccupation in my thought life with him and how our future will look like.., yes. For periods of time it does hinder it. And that’s my biggest struggle that’s why I’m praying , asking the Lord how long do I wait? At this point all I feel I can do is laying down my desires, my worriesat the cross, but also start seeking godly counsel from my pastors – who have been very supportive in a healthy ,God honoring way before – as to when is it time to stop fighting for my marriage if I’m the only one fighting for it… and let it go.

    • Rebecca on July 20, 2017 at 11:05 am

      You are a wise woman. Thank you for answering my questions. Would you say you husband is manipulative? If you think his sole problem is addiction, I do not have any wisdom to impart. I have no experience with addictive behaviors. I hope others who do will lend an ear.

      The only thing I can contribute is the concept of golden handcuffs. Because he does pay for things, maybe the entanglement seems less toxic. Yet, are you in anyway being manipulated financially? Just something to think about.

      You ask a difficult question.

      • Ella on July 21, 2017 at 7:01 pm

        To answer your question , I think all alcoholics and addicts are manipulative , that’s part of their addiction. But at this point I think it was more like a soul tie I was feeling . Well I did the hard thing, Snd drew the line in the sand yesterday. I told him over the phone that I would like him to make a decision : either he seeks serious, ongoing help for his addiction if he would like to give this marriage a chance , or if he chooses not to, I will respect that but then he chooses to end our marriage and we will file for a dissolution . I asked him to think about it and give me an answer in a week. He was willing. I felt like a huge rock rolled off my shoulder. Now I wait and trust God with the outcome.

        • Rebecca on July 21, 2017 at 10:26 pm

          Brava, you brave woman! I hope he does a complete 360 and devotes himself to a new way of living. He has one amazingly loving woman for a wife.

        • Free on July 21, 2017 at 10:30 pm

          i imagine this will be a hard week for you. Many of us have been in similar circumstances. We feel your pain.

        • Nancy on July 22, 2017 at 10:22 am


          I will pray this week for His comfort and Peace to surround you. May you rest in Him, knowing that He knows the outcome, and that whatever it is; it is for your eternal good.

        • Aly on July 22, 2017 at 12:33 pm


          Wow so brave and yes you are correct you did the hard loving thing! You gave yourself, your husband and the health of your marriage the greater opportunity for ‘change’.
          It usually is hard uncomfortable thing that is the right thing.

          Your post clearly speaks this to me;
          ~ God grant me serenity to accept the things ‘I cannot change’ (others)
          The courage to change the things I can (myself) and the wisdom to know the difference. (Prayer and guidance from the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures).

          I will pray for the continued courage as you walk out the next few weeks in what the outcome will move into. You mentioned your husband being an addict (not sure what specifically)and either paths are very hard but one path is real hope and healing and you did the healthy thing to invite him to that;)
          In my opinion God is reminding you that you’re his daughter, daughter of the King, and he is already saying well done in this very courageous step.
          Blessings and hugs sister in Christ💕

          • Aly on July 22, 2017 at 12:34 pm

            I’m sorry.

          • Ella on July 22, 2017 at 10:24 pm

            Thank you for all your encouragements and prayers! You’re all such sweet women! May God bless you all richly for bring there for those of us needing it.

  38. Confused and hurt on July 21, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    I’m 56 years old and don’t have a voice. I am an adult child. I’ve read what everyone is saying. I know what must be done, but how do I force my mouth to voice what my brain is telling me. It amazes me that I’ve been married 3 decades and fast approaching number 4. I’ve trained my h well in allowing him to control everything. I even have to have permission to use the dish washer or when to do laundry. I’m about to have a nervous breakdown. My slow awakening has come over the past decade. I need change. When the opportunity comes for me to stand up for myself, I wilt and fold like a house of cards. How do I get unstuck?

    • JoAnn on July 21, 2017 at 4:46 pm

      Oh, My dear “Confused and Hurt”, Your letter breaks my heart. You are in a very difficult and unhappy situation, and there is no easy way out. Can’t turn on the dishwasher without his permission? What would happen if you did? Maybe you can’t say anything, but you can DO something. Find a counselor who can help you. Read Leslie’s book about developing CORE strength. Are there dangerous consequences when you act on your own? Then you have to figure out how to be safe. It sounds like the situation is beyond anything you can say, anyway. Time to take some action. Is there a safe place where you can go to get away from him? Maybe the best way to “stand up for yourself” is to get away. Fast.

    • K on July 21, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Hello, dear Confused and Hurt

      Do you realize that you have already taken a step toward change? That you have already found a place to use and practice and exercise your voice? That you’ve begun to get ‘unstuck’?! You’ve done that here!!!

      Somehow, you found Leslie’s blog. And finding it, you came back (probably more than once?!?). And coming back, you started reading……….and not just Leslie’s very Godly teaching………. but the stories and encouragement of the women in these conversations. And in reading, and reading, and reading, you began to think……”maybe I could just chime in a little bit, maybe someone will read it and have an idea or encouragement for me.”

      Like JoAnn who, less than an hour after you posted, has written you a very loving, encouraging, truth-speaking response!!!! Even my two cents’ worth here is a response to some changes YOU have begun to make for yourself.

      Confused and Hurt, dear sister……….you may be 56 years old, but you HAVE begun to make some changes!! :c) (that’s a happy face!) Nurture this little seed of hope within you. Let the Lord show you when and where and how your voice will be heard. Keep your eyes on His indescribable love for you, not your h’s deeply habituated controlling ways, or even your deep habit of passive acceptance. Do the wise actions JoAnn has encouraged. And begin to walk out of the darkness and into His marvelous light……even if there’s a lot of blinking as your eyes adjust!!!

      Take good care of you, Confused and Hurt. You don’t need anyone’s permission to seek the Lord’s wisdom, and believe that He sees you and cares for you, His daughter!

      • JoAnn on July 21, 2017 at 11:54 pm

        Oh, K, what beautiful and wise encouragement! You are so right: she has already begun to find her way out of her situation. “Confused and Hurt,” we invite you to come along with us. We will pray for you and help you along. The Lord loves you and wants to set you free. Let Him do it!

    • Nancy on July 22, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Hello confused and hurt,

      I am praying for you, too.

      Is there a local woman’s shelter that you can contact? They often have free counselling – they know a lot about controlling spouses and can advise you.

      • Confused and hurt on July 23, 2017 at 2:16 am

        Hello Everyone, JoAnn, Nancy and K.

        I lost my thread. I thought I was writing on “He treats me like a child.”

        I’m reading Leslie’s book a second time. I’m on chapter 9.

        It’s eye opening.

        In chapter 6 I had an aha moment . . . Do something “risky” . . .

        I thought oh my gosh what if God is using me to get to H?

        What if God, in order to get his attention needs me to separate
        Get out of God’s way so He can work on H so H will make amends with God?

        What if I need to lose H so he can find himself and a relationship with God?

        God, is this what you are asking of me??? I’m praying a lot about this and for wisdom.

        But I can’t just blindside my h. I feel I need to stand up to h when he’s hurting me or walking over me. There were a few opportunities this past week that would have been perfect. But the words wouldn’t part past my lips. I began to cry silently and fought the feeling trying to not let the tears run off my eye lids. I was terrified to tell him what he’d said hurt my feelings.

        On the bright side I did run the dishwasher without permission for the first time and it felt liberating. He did notice and asked when I ran it. I said while you were mowing. See his expectation is for me to do hand washing because it saves money. Recently I read where newer models are more energy efficient than hand washing dishes. I’ve not shared that news yet.

        We just bought our home within the last two months. We moved here from out of state. We’re recently retired and we’re a one car family. No kids.

        I’d like to speak with a lawyer, get my ducks in a row and protect myself. I’ve hidden away numbers for emergency shelters and stashed some cash. I don’t know if he will flip out when I have a talk with him. But if I’m afraid of telling him when he hurts me, how do I gather the courage to have “the talk?”

        I feel we are nearly conjoined. I don’t have space or friends and finding time away by myself is nearly impossible. Plus with our new home I’m expected to pitch in and help get things in order. We’ve been working hard and have a lot done but a lot more to go. I’m feeling the pressure of the move and being micromanaged with all I’m doing wrong is wearing me out. I can see where I’m becoming more resentful and a temper building because I’m tired of the constant criticism. I’ve been a huge sinner by filling my soul with bitterness. I really just want to run away. I was in church near tears. I briefly told the pastor some of my stuff. He’s praying for me and would like to speak with me again when I can find the time. He seems to genuinely care. I can see God is preparing a path for me. Things are happening. I’ve been reading these blogs for a while. I see a lot of brave and courageous women and their inspiring stories.

        I know my marriage is very sick. I’m glad there are all these wonderful women I can reach out to.

        I could go on forever. Suffice it to say, most of my life story is in Leslie’s book. My story is also in Patricia Evans book The Verbally Abusive Relationship.

        No dangerous consequences, just years of verbal sludge.

        Thank you ladies for your love and support and words of encouragement. God lead me here. I’m ready Lord for Your direction. Be my Compass and lead the way. Amen!

        😃 🙂 I do have the number for the women’s shelter. Getting time by myself is difficult. I have faith God will work me though my darkness.

        You’re right, I’d lost my focus. I await the joyous light of the

        • JoAnn on July 23, 2017 at 8:41 am

          Progress already! Good for you! The courage that the women here demonstrate has not come easy, and it won’t for you, but it will come. You express yourself well in writing, so may I suggest a letter? Since it is hard for you to speak what you want to say, write a letter to him, and if you are afraid of his response, leave it behind as you go out the door. You can give him the option of changing his ways through counseling, or just say that you’ve had enough and want out. Whatever is in your heart, but writing is a good way to express yourself without fear of his reaction. The Lord’s grace is sufficient for you. He will provide.

        • Aly on July 23, 2017 at 10:05 am

          Dear Confused and hurt,

          Wow you really are making some steps and healthier choices toward solutions for you! Way to go, I know this is very hard but the Lord will equip you with the courage and the strength needed~ even if it’s leaving for safety in a dash.

          JoAnn gave some great direction and suggested a letter which is probably wise given what you have shared about ‘going into freeze mode and not having the words to speak your experience and his impact on your life’.

          As you know your h is used to being in a marriage arrangement where Only he exists’ his needs, his preferences, his control over not using too much water during a dishwasher cycle.. 😜.

          I wonder if he’s worried about how much ‘gas’ is being used for the Mower as he mows the grass ~ would is seem reasonable for you to ask him to take scissors out to the yard? Leaving the mower covered in the garage for special occasions…

          Your h sounds like he has an engineer brain (no offense here to be generalizing but I’ve experienced this personally’ and those brains can get ‘fixated and be very controlling’!!

          My father in law once wanted to tally how many coffee pods a drank in a week! I told him his son (my h) says, “To have as many as I would like~ that he will always make sure there is plenty” 😊

          I will continue to pray for you and the amazing places God is going to reveal Himself more and more to you as you rest in Him and follow His truths🌈

        • Starlight on July 23, 2017 at 4:51 pm

          Dear confused, I am so sorry for the pain and isolation you are going through. Do you have any friends in your new area? Thankfully the pastor has been safe for you so far.
          Could you find opportunities to volunteer in your new community. That might help with your isolation but also give you some space to visit or call a shelter or get some time to get some counselling. You are terrible micromanaged and I sure you feel very stifled. During my marriage I was not allowed to use the dishwasher either and only allowed to do laundry at certain times, I have so been there, too scared to say anything but almost exploding from the injustice being done to me in my own home. When I started talking to those close to me, my christian neighbor told me to hold my husband’s “toes to the fire” (she says her ministry is to young moms but it turns out it is only ones who stay with their husbands) as she suggested, my ex gets physically abusive with me dpi could not follow her advice. I pray you find a way to get done support and a way out! Thanks so much for sharing with us.

        • Free on July 23, 2017 at 9:00 pm

          I just wanted to say that I can relate to the dishwasher story. I have so many to add, Don’t open the window, touch the thermostat, park your car there, fold the towels that way, put the lid on the trash can like that…etc. Only to be topped off with a favorite, “What is that I smell?” as if i could was responsible for the smell of the refrigerator, car, garage, bathroom, smoke, grass cutting etc… I could go on and on.

          Yet, I want to shout out a glimmer of hope. I just read about laws in the UK identifying coercion control. It speak to the everyday exploitation of a partner in events of daily living. Thank the Brits for making this a punishable crime among persons in relationship with one another. May be all need to move to the UK for justice.

        • Content on July 24, 2017 at 9:16 am

          Confused and hurt,

          I’m praying for you. I wanted to share this link to a song I discovered after I heard the phrase “wide open spaces” three times in a row in a dream. It prompted me to look up to see if there was a Christian song one day with that phrase…. And I found this song. Interestingly, the first line or one of the first lines says “You are the compass, You lead the way to wide open spaces…”


          So since you mentioned God being your compass, I thought you would like the song.

          I know God is doing the same thing for you. Leading you – and all of His children – to spacious places (do a search and you will find several verses that have this phrase, they’re beautiful).

          He is your Shepherd, your compass. Let Him lead you and know that He is totally trustworthy. We don’t have to fear with a perfect loving Father like Him.

          Step by step, He’ll make a way.

          • Aly on July 24, 2017 at 11:51 am

            Thanks for posting, very beautiful lyrics and so encouraging to Confused and hurt.;) and us all!

          • Confused and hurt on July 24, 2017 at 2:52 pm

            That was beautiful. Thank you.

  39. Kandi on July 23, 2017 at 6:15 pm

    Jes from Idaho,
    I am in Idaho as well and recently went through with the divorce from my husband of 29 and a half years. I did not have a good experience with my lawyer and wonder how you know about spousal support and such here. I did not receive that or any real fair settlement.
    It would be great if someone could reassure me that after years of abuse from my husband, I wasn’t also treated poorly by the attorney…

    • Free on July 23, 2017 at 8:51 pm

      I have learned recently that we can’t control the outcome. It is very likely that our outcome will be bad. Yet we must flee abuse. The abuse is worse. The abuse is wrong. The abuse damages our heart, mind, body and soul. Yes, lawyers and judges can and will be uncaring and mean. The outcome can be terrible, but the abuse is always worse. I take comfort that the true judge will have the final say in heaven. For now, we do the best we can and trust God for provision.

  40. Content on July 25, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    I need more advice/thoughts….

    Interestingly, I feel so much more emotionally separated from my husband than I was a few weeks ago. It is really crazy how quickly God seemed to answer my prayer of “severing the unholy bonds” that tie me to my husband. The shift that has happened in just two weeks has been very noticeable and I don’t even think I could say I love my husband in the same way. When I think of him, I see a very unhealthy man who I don’t want to be in relationship with at all.

    Aside from that information, my husband is in a hospital waiting to have back surgery. In the last couple of days, his back went out so much that he couldn’t stand or even get into a car to get to the hospital. His family is in a different city and I’m sure at some point, they’ll come to see him. I am planning on taking my youngest daughter over there now to see him now, but I don’t have the slightest desire to go visit him. I don’t think this is out of revenge, but of course, I can’t say that it’s not because I don’t feel extremely uncomfortable around him. Every few weeks, he throws some kind of crud my way to try to make me feel guilty or bad. I have not responded at all as I felt God very clearly told me a few months ago to stop responding to him, to stop trying to talk to him in any other way than the necessities (children, etc.)

    I am texting him and being compassionate (but very guarded and non-emotional) with him “I’m sorry for that news, I hope the drs can help you” ….that kind of thing. I think that’s about as far as I am willing to go right now.

    I believe God has been trying to get my husband’s attention for a long time — between major fires next to his condo bldg just last week to several years ago being held up by gunpoint, having appendicitis that almost killed him, a sinkhole in the place he’s currently staying in that had to be worked on. It has been one thing after another.

    I also believe God has told me that he will be saved. That I needed to be removed from his life until he (my husband) will come to God. (That was a very distinct “voice” I heard in my spirit a couple of years ago that caught me off guard).

    So, this could all be part of that. I don’t know. It could be 25 years down the road that my husband comes to Christ. I don’t know.

    In the meantime, I’m feeling some pressure from a friend who thinks I should go visit with him.

    I see this as a “if you go see him, he will see the love of Christ”. But, I’m on the side where I **know** I have shown him the love of Christ and really don’t feel led to go see him. However, he could be going into surgery under anesthesia soon. (But, so what….I’m not going to go in to see him and declare any earth-shattering news to him).

    So, there’s my very quickly-typed latest news to which I’m open to hearing suggestions and thoughts. If I’m off-base, I’m willing to hear it…or if I need to stand strong in what I know (which is what I think I need to do….I think I will know if God is leading me to go see him and right now, that is not what I’m feeling).

    Thanks for listening — again. This has thrown me a little as I was just starting to really enjoy that freedom of more separation from him and was within a month or two of starting to file for divorce. It feels like everything shifts now.

    • JoAnn on July 25, 2017 at 4:59 pm

      Dear Content, I have only a couple of “thoughts” in response to your recent message. First, if you are taking your daughter to see him, it might be a problem for her if you don’t at least go into the room with her. You can be there and stand back and watch, even to protect her if necessary. Be cordial, as you would to a friend. You don’t have to interact beyond wishing him well, but I am concerned that the children will wonder and maybe be stumbled if you can’t at least be in the same room with him. Remember, the separation is within you. Physical presence doesn’t have to be maintained for you to be inwardly separated. I don’t know if this will get to you before you go to the hospital. Another thing to keep in mind, is that as long as you are still married to him, you are “next of kin” and have certain responsibilities while he is in the hospital. Do that in a responsible, godly way. I trust this will all turn out for his salvation, and your peace.

      • Content on July 26, 2017 at 4:49 pm

        “Remember, the separation is within you. Physical presence doesn’t have to be maintained for you to be inwardly separated.”

        Thanks. This is pretty much where I landed. I did end up staying in his room much longer than I thought I would, mostly because that same friend of mine is reaching out to him through this time and she came at the same time as I did (she says hard things to him and he knows she is praying for his salvation). In the end, though, I did not feel pressured at all to be in there. It ended up being fine, and I am still surprised at the emotional distance I have from him. It was good to be in there and do that, it was almost empowering in a way. I was just being myself and free. I might have seemed a little “cold” as I didn’t dote on him at all and I refused to try to offer him any medical or health advice even though it seemed he was trying to get me to do so (not about his current back pain, but about hypothyroid condition they told him they found after doing some lab work). I’ve tried to play that role for a lot of years in his life and he never wanted to hear much of what I said. I’ve decided that he is a grown man who can handle his health however he wants. It is not my place to offer him advice or help in that way anymore.

        JoAnn, what specifically do you mean by having certain responsibilities while he’s in the hospital? I have not been involved at all. He hasn’t asked, and I haven’t offered (other than him asking me to call the insurance company before he called 911 to make sure if there was a specific hospital he needed to go to).

        • JoAnn on July 26, 2017 at 6:13 pm

          Content, first of all, I commend you for taking the time to be there and for discovering that you are no longer stuck in bondage with him. Praise God! It is a free feeling.
          As to responsibilities in the hospital, at the very least, the doctor is going to want to report to you on how the surgery went. It will be your choice whether to go to see him in the recovery room afterward. He will be required to sign some documents before the surgery, and specifically if he should arrest, he will have to decide if there could possibly be a DNR (do not resuscitate) order. It’s probably different for each hospital, but you will want to know if they require you to do anything related to his surgery, as his spouse.
          This surgery could be a real “wake up call” for him. Even so, you are still not under any obligation to return to him. Let freedom ring!

          • Content on July 26, 2017 at 6:46 pm

            Huge smile after that last sentence (Let freedom ring!)

            Thanks, JoAnn. Really appreciate those points to consider.

            Now they are saying they don’t think the pain he’s having should be from the herniated disc and they did a bone scan this morning to determine if there was another cause. No results yet, as far as I have heard.

            Thanks again. I am glad to be able to process things here and get some good advice from those who understand. 🙂

    • Sunshine on July 25, 2017 at 5:30 pm

      Good to hear from you Content. I think you need to savor every moment you have away from your H. A few days without listening to him, will give you a chance to hear your voice and if you pray and listen, God may speak to you too. I agree that you need to do your minimal duty, nothing more. His illness doesn’t change anything. He can be a mean whether he is ill or well. Has the friend who have you the guilt trip been in an abusive relationship? If not, it is impossible for her to understand what you are going thru. Although, well meaning you can let other people’s opinions go in one ear and out the other. The emotional distance you are feeling is healthy, strive for more clarity and freedom, not submission back into the vortex of absurdity.

      • JoAnn on July 25, 2017 at 5:41 pm

        Well said, Sunshine. I like this: “The emotional distance you are feeling is healthy, strive for more clarity and freedom, not submission back into the vortex of absurdity.”
        Content, when someone tries to give you advice, simply say, “I appreciate your concern, and I will pray about it. (Or, I am praying about what to do.)” This should stop all but the most aggressive opinion-givers. Don’t hedge on this. The only voice you need to listen to is the one in your heart.

      • Content on July 26, 2017 at 4:58 pm

        Sunshine, I didn’t say in my comment, but we have been separated for 9 months.

        But, as you can see from my comment to JoAnn, I did end up going in to see him, but I can say that it wasn’t from feeling pressured. I think that is a way we *all* need to grow in – making decisions that are strong and grounded in knowing what God has called us to do, not in trying to please others.

        As I left my house, I knew that God would lead me when I was there and sure enough, it ended up being a very natural thing to do and it was o.k.

        Thank you both for your thoughts! Sunshine, I can’t remember – where are you in your journey? I was reading through some old blogs – from a couple of years ago – and at that time, you were with your husband. I’m just starting to come out of my major grief from my separation and maybe I’m at a point where I can learn some names and situations a little better. So, forgive me if you’ve addressed this and I should know.

  41. Day by Day on July 25, 2017 at 6:39 pm

    This is such an amazing community. Thank you, everyone, for honest and vulnerable stories, as well as encouraging words and prayer. I’ve been sleeping on the couch for the past week (and not sleeping well as a result…) but it has been a relief to stop pretending, at least. My husband is very upset about it and thinks that I am doing it just to punish him or prove a point, but honestly it is just me living authentically, refusing to pretend there is intimacy where there is none.

    Anyway, ever since I’ve been on the couch, I’ve had more time to spend reading the Bible there before I fall asleep. I came across some chapters in Isaiah the other night that felt so freeing and relevant, such beautiful promises from our Lord, and I wanted to share a few of the verses here. They are from Isaiah 51 and 52.

    The Lord will comfort Israel again
        and have pity on her ruins.
    Her desert will blossom like Eden,
        her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord.
    Joy and gladness will be found there.
        Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air. (51: 3)

    Soon all you captives will be released!
        Imprisonment, starvation, and death will not be your fate! (51:14)

    Remove the chains of slavery from your neck,
        O captive daughter of Zion. (52:2)

    Get out! Get out and leave your captivity,
        where everything you touch is unclean.
    Get out of there and purify yourselves,
        you who carry home the sacred objects of the Lord.
    You will not leave in a hurry,
        running for your lives.
    For the Lord will go ahead of you;
        yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind. (52:11-12)

    • JoAnn on July 25, 2017 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you, Day by Day, those verses are beautiful. I especially like this: Get out! Get out and leave your captivity,
      where everything you touch is unclean. Our God is a God of recovery. Let us all allow Him to recover us.

    • Content on July 26, 2017 at 6:50 pm

      Day by Day,

      So glad you are hearing from the Lord and being encouraged. That’s a beautiful passage.

      I’m sorry you aren’t sleeping well and I remember well those days of drawing new boundaries and starting to live in truth.

      I know God will sustain you and lead you as you walk forward. I pray for wisdom, strength, comfort and for you to feel His love in a very real way during this time.

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