I’m in San Diego getting ready to speak at the American Association of Christian Counselors Marriage America Conference. Please pray for me that I am able to communicate wisely with the counselors and pastors who are attending. I will be presenting all day Thursday at a preconference on Domestic Violence and then giving a keynote address for Saturday’s luncheon on The Three Common Mistakes Marriage Counselors Make working with People in Destructive Marriages.
In last week’s blog I answered a woman’s question about her fears about premature reconciliation. One of the responses that followed that blog asked what to look for in order to make a wise choice about when to reconcile, so let’s look at some basic criteria about how to make that decision to reconcile or not reconcile.
First I think we must come to accept that we are incapable of knowing the future so the best we can do is make a wise decision based on what we know are the facts right now. Two years from now you may have different facts, but today you don’t know those facts. All you know is today and you know yesterday. Your marital history is important because the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Therefore when someone tells you to forget the past and start with a clean slate, that’s nonsense. You can forgive the past but you must not forget. Remembering your history helps you to be wise.
Second, strong emotions don’t necessarily indicate repentance. They usually represent pain, either the pain he is in or the pain he fears because of the consequences he’s experiencing. Sorrow isn’t repentance although it does trigger our compassion, therefore we must be wise when someone is crying and pleading for a second chance. Ask yourself what specific changes have they made in their actions and attitudes and are these changes consistent over time? In other words, are they building a new history with you, or is his charm kicking into high gear to win you back? The only way you’ll know that is with time and testing.
Time means that you will give yourself enough time to watch what he does with is free time, his money, his children, his treatment of you and his spiritual life. You will not ask him to do things or require him to do things. You want to see what is in his heart to do without you prodding or threatening. Is he seeking help? Is he making repairs and restitution to those he’s harmed? Is he willing to be teachable and accountable? Is he developing different attitudes and actions or are there still those underlying attitudes of entitlement and power over you?
When working with abusive and destructive individuals a change of heart must precede a change of habit. As my friend and colleague Chris Moles writes, “If we just cut off all the apples on an apple tree and duct tape bananas on it instead, sooner or later, the apples will come back and the banana’s will fall off. That’s why you need time in order to see if the rotten apples grow back.
Testing means that you will set boundaries, say “no” to things you don’t want to do, stop over-accommodating, or giving in to his requests. See if he can respect you as a separate person who has different needs, desires and feelings than he does. If not, then reconciliation is not appropriate. If so, continue to give it time to see if he’s truly changing.
The following are three heart changes that you must see evidence of because they form the foundation of the change of habit that must occur for reconciliation to be successful. You want to see:
Humility rather than pride
Willingness rather than willfulness
Gratitude rather than entitlement
Finally, the Bible warns us: “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:13)
Recently, I was driving down my country road and noticed all the tares among the wheat field in my neighbor’s farm. It reminded me of the story Jesus told in Matthew 13:24-30 about the tares growing right along side the wheat. That reminded me that evil isn’t only out there, but it is among us. It is in the church masquerading as the real thing, but it is not.
Jesus says, “By their fruit you shall know them.” (Matthew 7:15)
Don’t be fooled by duct taped bananas. Wait and see what fruit is growing on your spouse’s tree before you reconcile.
You will find my You Tube video on “How do You Know Someone is Truly Sorry” helpful.
Friends: When you have reconciled or chosen not to reconcile, what specific things have you looked for?
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In my 33 years of marriage I have often been faced with this question of reconciliation. In the early years I tended to listen for the words. In the middle years I waited for the emotions. Now,I wait for the actions/fruit. My husband doesn’t even pretend to say he’s sorry anymore. And if he does, It takes a long time to get there. There was an incident in January where I actually felt threatened by his actions. He claims I shouldn’t have taken the words and actions that way, and that I had no right to feel threatened. In his mind, this incident is in the past and he has forgotten about it. In my mind, it stands as a real breech in our relationship and I have not reconciled with him. There are consequences for his behavior, but I’m not sure he understands. I’m willing to talk about it, and have done so in the ensuing months, but have gotten nowhere. I continue to look for true repentance and humility in my husband.
When I stopped telling him what I wanted, he didn’t know what to do so I wouldn’t leave again.
I know, I know. Nobody can read your mind.
I just felt like I was giving him the answers, doing all the thinking FOR him.
I mean . . .how many years do you say I want to know you really love and care for me…. SEE ME. Show me you understand.
He had no love or words or honor if I didn’t give them to him.
Why? Because his love was an illusion.
He was abusive in every way. I had left him several times. He left me twice. I filed for divorce & talked to him every day, several times a day for 60 days without telling him what was happening. He gave me nothing to show a change had happened in his mind or heart. I had my answer.
Teri, I can identify with your statment about having to tell your husband what to do, think, say, to make it up to you. Today I am sorry that I have done his thinking for so long. I actually asked him if he saw our kids and talked to them todY. He hesitated and thought about it then waited for me to tell him what to do next. That was an eye opening moment for me. I feel like I am his momma directing him how to behave. I do not want another child. When my husband pouts and gives me the silent treatment, I walk away and have to repeat to myself that it is his behavior. Then….I cannot try to coax him out of his mood so that we all feel better about his attitude and maturity problem. I am starting down the path of letting him suffer his consequences. It is time for me to grow up and set some boundariesand stick with them.
After 29 years of marriage, which btw has been the most confusing and frustrating experience of my life, I insisted on a separation when my husband looked straight at my sons and I and lied. I was appalled. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 28 years and as my sons were nearing adulthood I grew increasingly anxious about my future alone with my husband. I THOUGHT we were on the same page…at least that’s what he’d always be able to convince me of when I shared my concerns with him. Within 7-10 days though we were back to dealing with his mood swings, contentious behavior and emotional sabotaging.I’d suffered a deep depression 7 years ago because it seemed as though nothing I did ever changed anything in regards to the health of our marriage, parenting strategies, financial goals…it was all smoke and shadows…him telling me what I desperately wanted to hear but absolutely zero follow through on his part. I felt like he expected me to be his life manager/caregiver/lover. There was no constructive conversation, no change, and only increasing financial instability along with his declining health. he refuses to take personal responsibility for anything other than his job. Anyway,he moved out but continued to barrage me with guilt about being ‘shut out of the house he was paying for’ as well as extreme clinginess physically. I began to realize I would need to move out and somehow support myself in order to get out from under his oppressive ways. Seven weeks into our separation he announced at our counseling appointment that he was moving back home after the appt. to ‘fight for his family’. I was shocked! I hit the road with$145 and a 17 year old car and two teenage sons in tow. We stayed at friends homes til my parents sent me money to get my own apartment. I had several part time jobs to keep our heads above water. Nine monts of this only served to excalate his behavior towards me. It was so confusing becuase things would go well for a week, then if I didn’t oblige physically or asked for emotional space he would become very angry and spiteful of burst out crying like I was breaking his heart. Finally in January his behavior was so disturbing that I contacted the women’s shelter, an attorney and a police officer. I couldn’t believe that I could actually be in danger, but the Holy Spirit led me to watch him one night as he left my apartment angry. What I witnessed shook me to the core. i was advised to leave the area asap before his instability became dangerous. I quietly left the state and am living with my mother, trying to rebuild my life. He blames me for breaking up the family and claims he will always hold true to hold vows. He’s never even asked why I left, yet he emails me weekly telling me he’s praying for me. I checked into his past (arrest records, colleges, etc…) things he’s told me about himself since BEFORE we were dating and I discovered he’s been lying to me all this time!!! I can’t even wrap my mind around this. All I can say is this:
1. God REVEALED his deceit after I’d exhausted myself trying to be a good, Christian submissive wife. I feared conflict and was a people pleaser.
2. God has provided for me, maybe not in the way I’d like, but my needs are met.
3. Jesus is closer to me now then I’ve ever known. I’m learning to trust Him, learning contentment and gratitude.
4. What I desperately needed and wanted to believe all those years of marriage was that if I just tried harder, got more submissive, etc…kept everyone happy, not only would I earn their love but I’d keep our family together. I would finally BELONG! I came from a broken family and I wasn’t willing to accept defeat. Now I realize it really does take 2 people.
5. My heart is broken cause my family is broken. My kids have pretty much all turned away from God due to the hypocrisy in our home. My lack of trust in God only empowered and enabled this dysfunction to continue.
I’m a 54 yr. old displace homemaker, living with my parents and trying to navigate how to rebuild my life. It’s pretty overwhelming to say the leas, but I am assured that God loves my kids more than I can even imagine, God rescued me and He will sustain me, and I have FREEDOM FOR A NEW LIFE!!! I would rather be poor and have peace than have financial security and live under oppression and confusion. I was hoping by this time I’d see some heart change in him, but there is no evidence of this. There’s been no apologies and no disclosure. It’s painful but I think it’s time to move on.
You’re still in my prayers, Kay! God has you and won’t let you go.
There is freedom for you after all these years and I pray that God will make clear to you the direction for you to go as you work at rebuilding your life.
Thank you Amy! I know He is with me and I’m getting glimpses of my new found freedom in Him and joy for life. 😀
“it was all smoke and shadows…him telling me what I desperately wanted to hear but absolutely zero follow through on his part.”
This is my life! Almost 4 yrs after he had an emotional affair…and he’s done nothing towards healing our marriage or himself!
Two weeks ago he told me he’s tired of living this way, and will go to counseling…and yet, he hasn’t found a counselor nor has he even looked for one….even though he did spend an two hours online looking for a car for our son!
This morning I listened to a conversation that we had 11 months ago…I recorded it for my own benefit….and in that conversation he said the same thing….he’s tired of living this way….he will go to counseling….I sat there and cried as I realized what a fool I’ve been…trusting and believing in a man who has lied to me and betrayed me for so many years!
I’m now making plans for separation. I’m done with all of this because it’s never going to change…my husbands heart is hard, I see that now so clearly.
Thank you Leslie for the confidence you’ve given me to make decisions that I now know I have to make….and for knowing that God will walk beside me…and not turn his wrath on me…which is what I’ve been taught for so many years!!
You are brave ! Go you!
God bless you, Leslie, for this helpful and encouraging message. I will also pray for you at this conference in San Diego. I’m sure your ministry there will be a blessing, as it is to us ladies on this blog.
I relate to you, dear Donna. My husband, as well, will never say he’s sorry or even admit he did anything wrong. However, he said he’s sorry for me and that I’m the one who needs help!
Love & prayers for you, Sandra <3 +
when someone tells you to forget the past and start with a clean slate, that’s nonsense. You can forgive the past but you must not forget. Remembering your history helps you to be wise.
I have heard this since day one of the marriage and for the just over a year of seperation and divorce. Since about 10 days ago he called and in his angry voice told me that he was getting rid of more of my things that I left behind–had to downsize–and last night called and in a very sweet voice asked me how he takes care of his annual vehicle and house insurance, I would say there is no change in him whatsoever. If it is something he needs from me, he is nice, anything else–pure evil. No thoughts of reconciling whatsoever.
PS I can’t hear that story about the apple tree too many times. It is quite telling.
Your story sounds similar to mine. For 32 yrs I lived in a marriage that was more like a prison. He did many things to keep me deceived and staying in the marriage. Then a year ago last June he did an action that scared me worse than I had ever been threatened and fearful before. I didnt realize initially, but it was the beginning of the end. As I finally saw who he was, how he didn’t care about true repentance and change, and how he revealed so little respect and value on my life. He told all my family members a minimized version of what happened. But my eyes were opened. 6 months later it was obvious to me I needed to quit tolerating and be empowered to create a better life for myself. I have never turned back to try anything again, and I don’t regret my decision. 32 yrs was long enough for me to realize this is not what God intended for his children. I am happier than Ive ever known, I live with great peace, and God has provided for my every need. I am grateful for this site also, it has given me great courage to move on!!!
This statement jumped out at me: “…when someone tells you to forget the past and start with a clean slate, that’s nonsense. You can forgive the past but you must not forget. Remembering your history helps you to be wise.”
My ex used to say to me that I chose not to forget anything and only did so to hold things against him.
It would make me feel so bad and I’d began to think he was right. Perhaps I hung on too tightly to the past. I knew I was to forgive and if only I could forget, but the reality was that nothing had changed. What had happened in the past was still happening in the present.
So it finally occurred to me one day that perhaps God allows us to remember the past so we can grow wise and work to change what isn’t right or good in our lives.
And I realized that my ex saying that to me was just another ploy of his to cause further doubt and guilt in me so I would again deny the abuse still going on.
Oh how grateful I am to be free from all of that!
Thank you Amy!, this is EXACTLY what I have experienced! Your insight into his using your remembering to guilt you made the light go on for me. Thank you!
I’m glad that the light has gone on.
I don’t know where you are in your journey, but I pray for wisdom and discernment as you continue walking this path.
Leslie….what if you are still living with your spouse? Can you still apply this to that situation?
I think separation is down the road, because 3 yrs after infidelity (an emotional affair) I’ve seen no REAL change in my husband.
Yes he’s sorry…yes he knows he was wrong…but that’s all I ever get from him.
I read your newest book and I am working on my CORE…and I have also asked him the three questions from your book.
He had very short answers, trying to turn it back on me…he refuses to talk with me about our relationship, other than to tell me he’s trying…and just because I can’t SEE any changes, doesn’t mean he isn’t working on himself.
He’s been diagnosed as Passive Aggressive by our therapist (he only went 3 times and quit).
So can I use this now, while we still live together, but are not a “couple.” I stopped sexual intimacy after reading your book, because I realized just how broken we are, and that I’m not “required” to have sex just because we are married….thank you for that, BTW…I feel so much better about myself now…I no longer feel used then tossed aside emotionally.
I am going to seek separation in the next few months if things don’t improve….but I would like to try these steps to see if he will truly change his heart towards God…and me.
I’m in a very similar situation to yours, Teri. My husband says he is sorry (later, after he blows up at me), then when I try to talk to him about past issues (he physically and emotionally abused our infant son), he will become angry at me because it is ‘in the past’ and I am ‘holding a grudge’ and won’t let go. It is confusing because it does make me doubt myself… However I need to remember what he has done. The slate is NOT clean if he never truly repented!
He told our counselor he had repented… I asked him later about that, and he actually told me he was “healing from repentance.” What?!
When I type these things out it seems like complete nonsense. It is hard to think through sometimes when you’re constantly living with someone… He is a “good guy,” much of the time, but now that I have begun to stand up for myself, the blow-ups are getting more frequent. He blames me for all the stress that caused him to abuse our son in the first place. He says I am rude and mean and take everything too personally.
I am contemplating separation, but two things are keeping me at home: first, my baby girl is about 9 months old and still nursing (my son is 2); and, second, I have no money since I am a SAHM. I’m starting to save and plan… I’m so thankful for Leslie’s book and blog.
Cait, my experience tells me two things: 1) As you stand up for yourself more and more, your husband’s behaviour will become more and more intense, blatant and out of control, putting you and your two small children at risk. 2) Your husband will likely not change with you there. In fact, he may not change when you’re gone either.
My STRONG advice to you is to go to the police, the law, whoever knows about domestic abuse and can give you (free) advice and find out about getting a restraining order against your husband so that he will be removed from the home, allowing you and your children a safe place to live. The law can also require him to provide financial support while he’s gone. Tell them exactly what he did in the past against you and your son, and everything that he is doing lately. Record everything in writing somewhere, dates and all if you can remember. Email it to yourself if you have to and it is safe there. Take pictures of evidence if there is any. And be very aware of what is going on around you – you and your children are precious lambs in the lion’s den, so BEWARE. Don’t wait too long to leave. The next time he blows, he may cause permanent damage. The little you have written gives me cause to be very concerned for you.
Before I left my husband I was telling a close friend what he had done a couple days prior (cut up a bunch of my stuff with the band saw), and she said this to me: “Kari, if you had a 2 year old toddler in your home with you and he was doing these things, would you still be there?” I was shocked, and realized that I absolutely would not be there if I felt there was ANY danger to a child, but I was putting myself in danger every day. He had not hit me, but his behaviour was escalating, and had escalated even more in the past. So I went to the police that same day and began the process of getting out and getting safe.
Cait, God has put you in a position to protect your children from further damage. Be strong and courageous. The Lord is with you, sister. I am praying for you.
This advice frightens me… I am not sure it’s so serious to take the the police right now. The times when my husband abused my baby boy were all during the night when he would have trouble sleeping. (Almost a year ago) Since I finally became aware of the enormity of the problem, I completely took over the sleeping routine. My son sleeps through the night now. As for my little girl, I have taken 100% care of her from Day 1. Only once since that time, my husband threatened to hit my son, and I stepped in, telling him to leave the room. I have been the target for his anger now.
Almost a month ago, though, I got very scared when he threw our baby’s exersaucer at the kitchen and hit a box and yelled at me (in front of the children). I wanted to leave right then. But I feel trapped because I have no job, no savings (my husband is terrible with money, we have no savings at all). Just a tiny bit of cash.
I have a job pending… But it might be a year or so until I can get it. It would be ideal, working for family. I rationalize that I can make it until then… His outbursts are mainly targeted at me, and about 1-2x per month. Is that normal? Or, I suppose, no amount of abuse is normal. Right?
I am so appreciative of your prayers!
Cait, I have been where you are now (but without little children in my care) and can understand your fear and trepidation re: going to the police. I tried to rationalize my husband’s behaviour – that it wasn’t really that bad, he wasn’t really doing anything illegal, and I really wasn’t in any immediate danger, therefore going to the police was going overboard. However, when other people looked at my situation from the outside (friends, family, even the police), they saw clearly what I couldn’t see: that it was worse than I thought and would admit, that he had done many things I could have charged him with, and that things would only get worse.
Cait, I don’t know if you have anyone in your family & friends who truly understands what you are going through, so please forgive me if I offend you by attempting to speak truth and warning into your situation. It appears that you, too, are rationalizing your husband’s bad behaviour that has been long term and as recent as a month ago. Don’t fool yourself into believing that was the last time, or that was the worst of it (been there, done that). The police told me that an abusive person’s abusive behaviour doesn’t get better – it only escalates.
Outbursts against you once or twice a month is too much. It is NOT normal, and NOT good. (You truly won’t understand this until you are out of the crazy making and looking back on it.) What happens if the next time he blows up on you and your children accidentally get in between? What happens if he seriously hurts you – who will take care of your children when you can’t? You don’t need to live in fear because God is your Protector. But you should have a healthy fear. God gives us wisdom and expects us to act on it – that’s how we “walk” by faith. Don’t stay just because you don’t have money or a job. There are safehouses for women in your exact situation, and they will help you. Take that step of faith and trust God to provide for you. Praying for you.
I agree with everything Kari said.
Please do not wait to have everything in place before taking yourself out of a very destructive situation.
Your situation is abusive and may never get better, but why wait to find out especially when you have such young children involved??
I stayed in an abusive marriage for 20 years and watched how it affected my boys, yet I was scared to leave.
Once the opportunity arouse for me to break free the fear I had built up over the years of the “what if’s” was not nearly as bad as I had built up in my mind.
Anything can become more and more frightful to do the longer we wait. Sometimes we have to just step out in faith…sometimes we just have to do it.
Do you have family or friends who can help you?
Maybe call your local women’s shelter. There should be some resources in your area to help you get out.
You are right that no amount of abuse is okay. It doesn’t matter how often it occurs it only matters that it continues to occur.
I know what a healthy marriage is now since I’ve been remarried for 2 1/2 years to a loving man. What I experienced for twenty years prior was not normal or healthy, it was abusive. And I can say that with all certainty now. I now know how a normal man treats hiw wife.
My husband has never once done anything resembling what my abusive, crazy-making ex did.
What you are experiencing is NOT normal and NOT okay…it is abuse and not just involving yourself.
Dear sister, please, please, look closely at your situation. I pray for God to cover you in His grace and give you the wisdom and discernment to do what is necessary for you and your children to live a healthy life free of abuse.
I am praying hard for you right now. I’m very afraid for your children. It is never okay to physically abuse a baby and physical abuse of children is always a crime, whether it happens in the day or night. Its never okay. You pointed out that it is hard to think through when you are living with the person and I believe that is exactly what is happening.
You said your husband is a “good guy” most of the time, yet he abused a helpless infant? Good guys do not abuse infants ever. You know he is dangerous, because you now provide 100% care for your babies so he doesn’t have the opportunity to harm them, but Cait, what if something happens to you? You aren’t a full time security agency. I’m assuming he is faster and stronger than you – what if he doesn’t give a verbal warning in enough time for you to step in front of your son? Or what if you are running across the room to be the human shield and you don’t get there fast enough? What if you are sound asleep and he wakes up and abuses the children? There are emergency shelters out there for women and children. There is financial assistance for women and children.
A good resource for you that probably would not raise suspicion with your husband could be your children’s doctor. I assume with a 9 month old and a 2 yo, you take them in for well-baby check ups fairly often and the office staff knows you. Doctors are mandated reporters of child abuse and if you reach out to them, they have to help. I am praying that you find someone, a friend, family, a pastor, a social worker, someone who can help you.
Cait, I too had very small children and struggled with leaving. Unfortunately I never thought to put away money or sharpen my job skills and now find myself struggling to get those things inplace. Keep saving and make copies of all your bills, tax returns, insurance policies, bank statements, investment account papers. Have someone you can trust hold onto them for you. If you need to research things on divorce go to the library making sure to clear the history on the computer. At home it’s possible for your husband to put a “key logger” on the computer–it records all your key strokes so he can see wht you’ve been typing. Also ask someone how to turn off the remote access” to your home the computer. Remote access
Remote access allows for viewing of what’s being done on your computer from another location. Again it’s best to not use the home computer for searches on abuse or divorce etc…because of the possible key logger program. Those programs are not detectable by the average computer user. A professional tech can tell you if it’son there.
Your situation with the children touches me as I was 3 weeks pregnant with my third when I finally began to face the truth of my reality. Everything I read then was terrifying. I wanted a family, my family. I was pregnant, and did not want to deliver alone. I had no in state family, no community and a church that was MIA, though they knew of my situation.
As horrible as all that was then, I am SO much better today, nearly two years later. I’m in the middle of a divorce I never wanted, but he drove us to that point by his actions. I don’t have a job lined up yet, there is still so much unknown.
In the movie, The Lion King, the young lion, confused and terrified, finds himself running through a dark and tangled forest. Its unknown, he doesn’t know where he is going or what will happen, but he has to do it. Then he break out into the clear and sees a vision or appearance of his father. His father tells him who he is. It is then that the young lion accepts how his father sees him and becomes the bold, future-king, ready-to-fight, Lion that he has always been.
I urge you to think on these things: for those who are God’s children, His Spirit is a Wonderful Counselor; the Spirit instructs our hearts while we sleep, the Father commands His angels concerning you to protect you, His words instruct, enlighten and comfort a tired and confused mind, making wise the simple; Jesus’ love is trustworthy because though he could have left you while on the cross, in the words of TIm Keller, “he didn’t, he stayed”. God’s children are sealed with the Holy Spirit, no man, not even ourselves can thwart God’s plans.
This means that you can’t make any claim or decision that would wreck your life forever nor convince God to abandon or reject you. You are safe when all else around you feels unsafe. The challenge – how to make the surroundings reflect God’s kingdom and His ways, if He has given you power to do so – which I think He has. None of us are puppets. And what’s more, we have the Spirit in us, and therefore we have full access to the same power from God that raised Christ from the dead.
The fact that I am a SAHM with preschool children, and no family around still does not mean that I have to stay stuck. My counselor told me that she has seen scores of adult men and women who are healing from the trauma they received and/or witnessed from their abusive fathers. They share one question – “why didn’t my Mom do something?”
Even though I was pregnant, and hanging on to dreams for a better husband and a better home life (with my existing family), I could not deny the terror (real terror) that was my home life. No matter how many times I thought, “He’s such a good guy most of the time”, I could not deny my eldest child not sleeping through the night, not going to bed well, waking up screaming in the night, the delays in potty-training – all signs of children witnessing abuse.
Here were three helpless human beings totally dependent on their mother for life, safety, security, protection. And if Daddy wasn’t going to do it, then it was up to me. God had given me authority, His authority and I was representing Him and his ways. I was not going to let them grow up one more day thinking that that reality was ok. No matter how scared I was.
And so, I did what I never thought I was capable of doing. I pulled a couple men from church who knew him, a woman to be there for me, and they supported me as I asked him to leave for three weeks of healing space because of the terrible pain the girls and I were in from his treatment of me. I gave him three options for a counselor to see and told him he had three weeks to decide what he was going to do to help save this family and this marriage.
My CORE strength wasn’t as strong as it probably could have been, but it was strong enough to know right and wrong and act accordingly. TIm Keller says, “courage is facing your greatest nightmare and doing the right thing anyway.”
In the weeks that followed, my husband’s behavior was very clearly not repentant, no matter how many tears or pleas. I knew I had civil authorities if I needed to call for protection. There was so much I didn’t know, but I just had to run through the dark forest to get out in the clearing to see my Father. And God honored that. He was the one who put that desire for safety and sanity in my heart to begin with, otherwise I would have remained a captive.
I continued separated for months, a little over a year, before I filed. During that time, I never let him back in the home. And we went through couple therapy (a big waste since he wasn’t repentant), but I was hopeful. God led me every step of the way leading up to separation, and then to filing. I had one friend who walked closely with me and her husband actually repented and they just had their fourth child, after years of terror had once consumed their family. Change can happen. But, she also drew a line in the sand. Her steadfastness forced him to decision.
As for where I am today. The kids sleep through the night, they are so much more secure. Within days of separation the eldest was sleeping well. In a matter of weeks the potty training began to catch up. My pregnancy got much healthier. The cloud began to lift in the home and I could live without constant criticism. The preschool said, nearly a year later that the eldest had come so far and that I was doing so much better. I think more clearly, make decisions more easily. I can distinguish truth from deceipt in my husband’s behavior and words. I can better withstand his disdain. I am eating and sleeping and exercising again, I have hope. I don’t feel so stuck. My home feels like a little taste of heaven – something it never did. My children are experiencing real love with me, and a portion of God’s kingdom in our home. I wish my husband were leading the banner on this, but he’s not.
I don’t have my future all mapped out, but I have God, and that is more than enough. Legally, I have rights to half of everything in the marriage, as a citizen of this country. I have rights to rehabilitative alimony, per the length of the marriage, the fact that I’ve been unemployed while his career has advanced. So, I plan to take that time (1-2 years) of his paying the bills, to get my degree, while still be at home with minor children, so that I can go the best job that will help me care for the kids and I. RIght now, my husband legal fees are getting charged on credit. I have some help with mine.
I say some of that because I want you to know that you are not trapped. THough you may feel like it. You have options. You have strength. You have been living in crisis for so long – and there is nothing weak about that. If you could survive that, and think clearly enough to recognize abuse, you have so much potential for life and wellness and hope in front of you.
I will pray as I go to bed, that whatever your decisions, that your husband will repent. I appreciate your reading so much of this. I so wish that words like “separation” or “divorce” weren’t part of my story, but I had to get safe, I had to get safe so that I could think clearly. I couldn’t do it with him in the home. And I then I had to hold him responsible for his behavior. I had to be the grown-up.
And though my heart aches, sometimes physically, for dreams lost, and a family changed, I believe in resurrection. That all this nastiness will one day be swept up in more beauty than was ugliness. This is will all have been more than worth the fight for freedom. And God will repay the years that the locusts have eaten – in His way, in His time.
I love your heart, your bravery, your sweet tears of pain, your love for your husband and children. I am so sorry for all your pain, for all that you are going through and have gone through. I’m sorry that your husband has sinned against you in such a deep and grievous way. I wish I could give you hug and wipe your tears. I wish I could give you some rest. But, as I can’t, I pray now that God will do this, instead.
All my love,
Check out: http://email@example.com
Thanks for sharing your journey and your heart so transparently.
I am simply in awe at this response. I have been following all the responses Cait’s received here, per her request, and am thankful to see each one of them. This last one was particularly perfect in its timing.
I have been through much of what Cait is going through in the past, back in what seems like another lifetime for me. To all of you here going through all this heartache, the Lord is faithful to provide for you, and He will be there every step of the way guiding your steps and even carrying you through this rough time.
I was divorced in 1992 after five years of a terrible marriage. I had a two-year old daughter at the time I left. I was living overseas, which meant a huge deal in terms of how to get away, cost, and logistics; left in June of 1992 and was divorced by September of that year. The process to leaving was long, starting early on in my pregnancy when my ex-husband told me he wanted me to have an abortion… after numerous threats on my life, I got the courage to leave.
I now have been married for almost 20 years, have three more children. My daughter turned out very well, all things considered. She now has her own precious two-year old daughter and is expecting another baby in a few months.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you are damaged goods, or that second marriages don’t work out statistically, blah, blah… You are not a statistic when you follow God’s Word and He is the light onto your path.
I agree with what the other women have posted. For a long time, I was also afraid to involve the police. I told myself it wasn’t that bad, and also feared that if I called, they would not be able to do anything and I would be left with a very angry husband. (my husband used countless manipulative threats of suicide)I was afraid it would ruin my husband’s reputation and justified why things weren’t so bad. His behaviors only escalated and he also began to be physically threatening. I finally realized that I was only protecting him and allowing him to continue his abuse. I also realized that in my desire to keep things together, I was actually allowing more damage to be done with my kids. I finally got the courage to call the police, and the world did not end. I gained strength, and he found there were consequences for his behaviors. Recently I spoke with a friend who had been through an abusive marriage and left. She told me how much better it was to have removed her children from that environment, and how she wished she would have done it sooner. I know it has brought a new peace to our every day life because of it. Please don’t try to rationalize his abuse. You need to protect yourself and your children. Don’t wait until something terrible happens. Stepping out is very, very scary. I can only say that God has walked with me each step of the way, providing in miraculous ways for all our needs and beyond. Don’t get me wrong, it is still frightening and I worry about the future, but I always try to remind myself of what God has already done in my situation and He will continue to provide. Praying for you!
Dearest Friend/Survivor: I am so blessed by your heartfelt, honest and tender response to Cait – I hope she is blessed and encouraged too. You have lived it, and yes, survived it. Your words show much wisdom gained by experience totally leaning on the Lord. May He continue to bless you and your children. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you so much to all of you ladies that have spoken into my situation. I have carefully read, considered, and prayed over each response. They have lit a fire under me to get my act together and face reality. I have also been encouraged to see how God has watched over each one of you and have hope He is with me now and my children.
I am studying now to pass my nursing exam to become a licensed RN so that I can provide for my kids. I am also trying to get things in order so that I am able to separate as quickly as possible.
It has taken me quite some time to get to this point. A year ago I still wanted to stay to make it work.
Some fake repentance, a new baby girl, and many abusive outbursts later… I am finally beginning to see what I need to do (much thanks to A Friend who has seen me through so many difficult times).
Cait, your response brings me to tears! I praise God that He has answered the prayers of many on your behalf. I have been praying, as I read each response to you, that the Lord would give you WISDOM to know what is best, and COURAGE & STRENGTH to take the necessary steps to get safe, trusting Him to protect and provide for you and your children. Please keep us posted on your progress. We want to rejoice with you when you are free!
I have gotten the same thing from my spouse. “I said I was sorry lets just move on.” He has worked on a lot of personal issues but after almost a year of couple counseling, our communication has not changed. He said from the start he has been doing everything he can for this marriage and I have been doing nothing. He says there is nothing else he can do. He finally admitted he can’t change me so he has to accept that, but the way he said it made me feel as though he doesn’t like me very much. It has never been stated outright by him, but I get the feeling if I’d only have physical relations with him, everything will be fine.(for him maybe)I’ve tried to explain how so many times in the past I have felt used, but he doesn’t understand at all. He says “you are my wife, the Bible says you should submit.” I was on a guilt trip about that for years and reluctantly gave in and he kept telling me something was wrong with me. I’m thankful for Leslie’s teaching on that,it has relieved the guilt. It has been almost a year now and he says he just wants a hug sometimes and I still can’t bring myself to do even that. There is no emotional connection any more. I need that before I can get physical again, is that too much to ask? (we started our relationship by getting physical too soon and I really don’t think were were ever emotionally connected, so I think he expects it to be the way it was)
I hear that all the time also. “Stop living in the past” and “You never let anything go! I said I was sorry!” This after he had an emotional affair with an old GF…
And I too was racked with guilt when he used scripture against me…which is rather funny because he NEVER reads his bible at all…but can use scripture as a weapon when it suits him! Go figure!
I stopped all intimacy about 6 weeks ago…and I feel so much better about myself…Like you, we have no emotional connection at all..and I dreaded sex because I felt used.
Leslie’s book has opened my eyes to just how broken our marriage is…and what steps I need to take to stop being a Peacefaker!
I would suggest that instead of couple counseling that your husband get into individual counseling…I believe Leslie addresses that here on her blog.
If your husband is blaming you for not doing your part and insists that you “move on” he needs to deal with whatever his issues are before you can even get to couples counseling.
My husband and I went to couples counseling three times before he quit…and to be honest, I was glad he quit….because he used those sessions afterwards to point out all my faults!
Hang in there Ann….get your CORE up and running, and stand firm!
God wants healthy marriages for us…not broken ones…
Since 2007 my ex-husband (as of only 3 weeks)has been embroiled in his sexual addiction, which brings with it emotional and physical abuse. I have had to pay very close attention to his actions and not his words. His words would start the dance to bring me into his world of deception. At one time I wanted my marriage so badly and wanted his words to be truth that I would willingly dance the dance, but that only led to chaos. I eventually realized that none of the heart changes had been apparent so after 7 years of affairs, blame and abuse I had to let go.
Your words reminded me of Joseph and his brothers in Egypt; he tested them to see if there had been a change of heart, more than once.
Leslie, I so appreciated the clear delineation of how to know if reconciliation is appropriate. It gives me such confidence knowing that my choice NOT to reconcile with my husband this time is the right one. In 12 years of marriage, I can count on one hand how many times my husband actually said sorry to me. I can ADD to the same hand how many times he repented (at least I thought he did at the time).
During the first separationS in our marriage, when it came time to sit down and discuss whether or not I would move back to the house, I gave my husband a written summary of how he hurt me, why I left, and what changes I needed him to make (at the time I considered moving back reconciliation, but I know now that it was just a location change). Each time he basically looked at the piece of paper and said something like, “NO, I won’t do this,” effectively crumpling it up and tossing it in the garbage like useless trash with his words. Each time I went back anyway. I was wrong to do that because he never respected my boundaries and there was never any TRUE acknowledgement of specific sin or repentence. But at the time I didn’t know I could live apart from him long term, and I didn’t know it was the better option for the health of our relationship. This time I have drawn a very thick, solid, concrete line in the sand that will prevent any reconciliation until there is a visible change of heart (through his words, his actions and his attitude) that can be seen by everyone, and that shows he is repentant, humble and willing to be accountable to others including me (like pastors, counsellors, family, etc). And I will definitely not rush into anything. Time may not heal all wounds, but it certainly does prove character.
In the past my husband asked me on several occasions to “forget the past and wipe the slate clean; let’s start fresh.” Balony! He brought all his baggage with him and then made it look like I was the one with all the baggage that I just refused to let go of. And then he proceeded to bring up all of my past sins and failures – from before he ever knew me to boot! So much for forgeting the past.
During the last separation (not this one), he finally agreed to go to counselling, said he would be accountable to the counsellors, began making changes in his behaviour, and I really thought he was changing for real this time! He would often check his anger, refusing to give in to it. He initiated studying the Bible together and would often initiate prayer together. I really felt like IF we kept going in that direction, continuing to do what we were doing and continuing to make positive changes, we would be okay. He agreed too! BUT… I didn’t WAIT long enough to make sure the changes would “stick.” So I moved back and his behaviour began to digress very quickly.
I realized that he had a really hard time acknowledging SPECIFIC sins or faults. He would sometimes say things like, “I’m not pround of some things I did.” But wouldn’t really say WHAT things he wasn’t proud of and didn’t want to repeat. That should have been a bigger warning flag for me.
Hope this helps someone else.
Kari…yes, it helps me! My H never lists his faults, and always insists the past is in the past…and gets angry when I bring it up.
You said “He brought all his baggage with him and then made it look like I was the one with all the baggage that I just refused to let go of.”
That is soo true! Oh my word!
Your words are encouraging me to stand firm on my boundaries. 🙂
That does help. We are recently separated, and in our counseling sessions with our church leaders, my husband is apologizing even with tears, but mainly in general statements. He isn’t confessing or acknowledging specifics. And even today when I brought up a specific way he had mistreated me, he said he “doesn’t have a perfect memory” and wasn’t sure if he had done that. This is a red flag to me.
Stand firm, ladies. STAND FIRM! If there is anything at all that makes you uncomfortable, unsure, confused, dismissed, or afraid, WAIT! There is no harm in waiting to be SURE. But there is much harm in “reconciling” too quickly. I learned that the hard way – don’t repeat my mistakes.
Thank you for the encouragement. I was wavering but will stand strong.
Ann and Kari…when I start to waver, I come here and read Leslie’s strong words of advice, and also I read the advice of others here on this blog!
My H and I are still living together..but I now have boundaries in place….last week my H said he’ll go to counseling…I’ve been down this road with him so often, I no longer believe what he tells me, so I will wait and see!
I *think* the offer of counseling is so I will soften towards him like I have in the past when he’s thrown a small bone my way…I have been so desperate for intimacy and connection that anything he threw my way, I gobbled it up…even if the “bone” later stuck in my throat!
Well, not any longer! I am stronger now, more sure of myself and what God wants and desires for me…and I do know that I am hurting my husband and myself by living this lie…and it must stop! Thank you for your encouragement!
L, I’ll bet he has a perfect memory about things you did wrong. I see the red flags too.
My ex never had any memory of anything he had done. And then he would accuse me of just never forgetting and continuing to hold the past against him.
Hmmm, makes you wonder that if he never did anything then what would I be holding against him??
This is so helpful and exactly what I needed right this minute! I’m currently separated, its been bad for years and I thought when I left for just a few hours or over night it was “re setting him” he would be great for a few months sometimes even half a year or so. But its been getting worse lately and closer together, stress brings it out. I was just staying away a few days or week at a time, but then went home for two weeks and it was hell! So now I’ve been doing a month by month thing, watching and waiting but I feel that is giving him a deadline so to speak and he is being somewhat reasonable. Well, first he demanded we stop individual counseling (he blames my counselor for giving me strength to stay away longer) and he said if I don’t stop seeing her he will file for divorce immediately. He also said if I don’t come home soon and start “working on our marriage” then its over, he cannot live in limbo. He sees the separation as a bigger wedge between us. He says we have “marriage issues” to work on. I’m staying away and he flip flops each day, one day its “do this or else” and the next day its “I see where I’ve been wrong, I’m sorry, I don’t want to do the things I do that drive you away, I’ll go to separate counseling” etc. Its very hard when he seems repentant and reasonable. But a lot of his conversations are still very much centered around getting me back in the house. So I will wait and watch. Do I get a more “permanent” living solution for this waiting? Are we saying 3-6 months here? What should I be planning for do you think? If they seem to show these good changes how long should watch and wait before believing its ok?”
Thank you to everyone who is sharing, its is just so incredibly helpful
Thank you so much for this post. The message is extremely timely. I am currently separated (just a few weeks)after the boundaries I put in place were overlooked yet again. I am so weary of waiting for true change to happen and have struggled with this decision because of my children. It seems that I am the only one willing to hold my husband accountable for his actions, in spite of being in counseling. I struggle with the fact that it comes down to me being in that role rather than it being done by our counselor and pastor. I am grateful for your ministry and I pray that your conference will go well this weekend. I pray that the counselors you will be meeting with will be open and receptive. Thank you for your ministry.
My pastors and husband asked me yesterday what has to happen for me and the children to come home. I said there has to be acknowledgement and repentance for mistreatment of the children and of me, as well as humility. A comment was made that in Christ our sanctification is a gradual process — that a person could be growing in faith, in willingness, in humility, but not yet be able to see the past accurately, and not be in a place to repent for past actions, because their sanctification is gradual and their process of understanding the past is gradual as they grow in Christ. And they asked just how much does he have to agree with me about the past in order for me to return? I wasn’t sure how to respond. But I will continue to hold on to this point.
Sounds like they are pushing you to get back home with hubby too soon. Again this proves that pastors are not equipped to handle abusive marriage problems. Please see a Christian licensed counselor who understands the real issue. You are to precious of a lady to submit yourself to more abuse.
L, I find this comment very interesting, and wonder what Leslie has to say about it. It makes me think about how we come to Christ: in total repentance, not fully understanding the fullness, gravity or consequences of our sin and total depravity, and yet coming to Christ in total humility knowing that we are sinful and in need of a saviour, seeking His forgiveness and cleansing. And isn’t “repentance” agreeing with God about our sin and choosing to turn from it? If your husband doesn’t “have an understanding” of how his past selfish and abusive behaviour has affected you and your children, I would think that you could help him understand that, don’t you?
This sounds like they extend plenty of grace to the offender, but are making you the heavy—‘just how much does he have to agree with you about the past in order for you to return’ This sounds like more crazy making. What is this a discount version of all you’ve been through?! He needs to take 100% responsibility for whatever he did.
I find that counsel highly disturbing and it shows a lack of understanding of the abuser’s mindset and tactics…or even biblical correction- such as holding HIM accountable. It’s really OFF. “A Cry for Justice Blog” has a lot of good info on counseling that hurts and counseling that helps.
1 cor 5:11 comes to mind:
But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who bears the name of brother if he is guilty of sexual immorality or greed, or is an idolater, reviler, drunkard, or swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
No word on them gradually stopping these sins…”do not associate”…many churches will force a woman to live with a man who is breaking the law by harming her and her minor children. THAT is the greater sin…the weightier matters of love, justice and mercy.
L- Correction…I did not mean to say “greater sin” implying that the abused wife is in sin. (No sin leveling here) My point was a Pharisaical interpretation of marriage that is itself abusive. (And I’m a super conservative bible believing lady)
Spot on—these three signs to look for–
Humility rather than pride
Willingness rather than willfulness
Gratitude rather than entitlement
Every Christian counselor and pastor should be closed in a room and given this to study.
So many pastors wrongly believe that because, truly, God hates divorce and because reconciliation and restoration should be at the heart of their endeavors…it must follow that anything OTHER than reconciliation is therefore ungodly—ignoring reality in so many cases, placing an unbearable burden upon the spouse being victimized.
Unwittingly, well-meaning but untrained pastors have the victim “by the throat” with spiritual intimidation. Scripture-verse quoting intensifies. Spiritual blackmail is the result.
Already paralyzed by fear of angering an implacable mate, now the victim cowers in fear of displeasing a disgruntled God. She cannot look imploringly to her “Abba Father” any longer…because her spiritual leader—her pastor—has implied that she is displeasing and even disobeying Abba because she is not properly submitting to her head—the abusive spouse.
If only pastors could see the havoc they are wreaking…the untold emotional damage on confused women, betrayed by the one who once made a covenant to “love, cherish, provide for and keep,” women who are fragile and vulnerable.
Unintentionally, it is another level of abuse.
I love Leslie’s blog. May her number increase. May those attending the conference have ears to hear.
I have been struggling with: is reminding myself of the abuse wrong. God says love is not keeping a record of wrongs and so I thought by reminding myself of all I have been through and continue to be subjected to, I was doing wrong. Everything has always been swept under the rug by him or given a “drive by” “I’m sorry.” One of his favorites: “I’m sorry it makes you feel that way.”–such manipulation–NEVER naming his sin and taking responsibility for it. I always tried to start over (20 years worth), but over the last 2 years as the crazy cycle of abuse and neglect continues I felt I had to think over the whole picture. Remembering has been one of the keys for me to seek help and start making a safety plan. Please pray for me that I would having physical healing so I can seek employment and get out from under his control. Thank you.
May, I addressed this issue specifically with my counselor, and he advised that he interprets this to mean throwing ‘wrongs’ back that have been repented and turned from. Our men have not and are still committing the sins, therefore, the ‘wrongs’ are really who they are. It’s not keeping a list, it’s recognizing the sin and not enabling them by ignoring it. I’m currently trying to separate from my husband, he’s not making it easy, but I’m pressing forward. The lies and betrayals over the years have become too much, and I don’t deserve this horrible treatment. You don’t either. As Christians, we’re taught to put others first, but that does not apply to abusers. As Leslie states, even God doesn’t offer unconditional relationship with us–He expects us to grow in Him and turn from sin. Or else, face the consequences.
Thank you Jenn. It’s refreshing to get a proper perspective instead of being guilted with Scriptures, and diminishing the harm he has inflicted and the resulting damage to my whole person.
I wish there was a “like” button. Click!
Dear Robin: I relate to your heartache. Although I was with my husband 57 years, rather than 32, like you, his abuse only got worse. He didn’t want me to mention his past, but kept bringing mine up. He was insanely jealous, and even ruined our granddaughter’s wedding for me last year by becoming angry about her sister’s husband greeting me with a hug & kiss. He later kept bringing that up as well. Praise God that you & I no longer have to live with that abuse and can serve the Lord with peace and freedom. Blessings!
Cait, He abused your child. He threw your childs saucer across the room. If he threatens to hit your child, there will be a next time. Maybe you won’t be in the room next time. The fact that he threw anything shows he has no control. Your safety and that of your babies is at risk. It only takes one time for it to be the last time.
Thank you, Leslie, for these words of wisdom. Today is my 22nd Anniversary. My husband and I are separated and he just came over to take out our youngest daughter. He doesn’t know it’s our anniversary. He has promised me that we will pray together every morning and that he will call. The other morning, I was still asleep and his call woke me up in the midst of a difficult dream. As I shared it, he became very angry and started yelling at me. I hung up, knowing I have set a boundary against verbal abuse.
I texted a blessing to him and said I would not speak to him until he apologized. Drama ensued, more angry texts, which I ignored. It continued the next day and I restated my position, that I was unavailable to talk until he apologized.
Day 3. He finally called and started the call with an apology and took responsibility for his actions. He asked me to forgive him and I did. But I am so tired of the pattern, the length of time it takes to submit his heart to Christ, etc.
We are separated due to this behavior worsening over the years. In February, he became physical and attacked me. He is in counseling with a Christian therapist and has maintained 8 appointments in a row for the first time in his life. I have given him a deadline of August to determine whether I will remain in relationship. That’s two weeks away and the raging at me and the lack of emotional regulation is just the same.
I have shared your material with my Christian therapist here in Newark, Delaware and appreciate and honor your ministry to the Body of Christ!
Leslie, is there a daily Bible that you could recommend to us for reading (not reading in a year) that would be easy to understand (like a New living translation) but teaches the correction meaning of headship and submission? Could you provide a link like at Christianbook.com? I was looking at NLT Everyday Matters Bible for Women, but a certain large church endorses it. One of the topics covered in this Bible (articles) is submission and this church preaches no divorce except for adultery and abandonment (in other words, abuse is something a women should tolerate to glorify God).
I don’t know of a bible compilation that specifically is sensitive to those in abusive relationships but I would think that the Life Recovery Bible may have lots of good things to say about boundaries, and getting healthy in it. Other than that, why don’t you just read the NLT without the additional commentaries in it so that you can see for yourself what God’s word has to say. I also like Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. Although not a substitute for daily reading of your bible, it is an anointed work of how God speaks to us in our every day situations.
Jesus Calling, great devotional!
I like that one too.
You got me, now I am crying. I have felt like damaged goods most of my life. It has only been the last few months that feeling went away. I am so glad that you were able to get away as quickly as you did. Hug those grand babies for me.
So many of the testimonies here have spoken into my life today. My situation is similar to many that have shared. I have been in an emotionally destructive cycle for the entire 21 years of my marriage. I had many red flags–but I always chose to believe things would get better, and that Christians must work things out. My husband is a workaholic–has held “day” jobs, and then would retire to his home office all evening. He has basically ignore my need for communication and relationship since the beginning. He says he is a private person, and that you can’t “manufacture” scheduled times to be together. Although he has never physically abused me, the manipulation and neglect have been present since the beginning. Everything has to be done his way and in his timing. He will tell me how I am to relate to others. In the beginning he would alienate me from my friends. He wanted me to be near him while he worked (he’s a CPA). We began with our first counselor our first year of marriage. My husband is a charmer, and he would just “shoot the breeze” for most of our hourly sessions.
We have cycled through crazy, quick if any apology, to my just accepting/ignoring the pain. We have lived in this crazy cycle for 21 years and 3 children because I believed I needed to forget the past and move on fresh. He would say, “Let’s just be nice to each other.” Just typing this makes me see how crazy things have been.
After a recent family vacation, I have seen that I need to enact some real boundaries and change–for myself and my kids, aged 15, 13 and 12. They have lived in a home of constant fighting, and the effects of the stress are evident. My husband loves his kids more than anything, but they are starting to witness and identify his manipulative tactics. My daughter, the middle child and “favorite” of Daddy, uttered these words on vacation after Daddy blew up at me in the car (he got out). She said, “That’s why I suck up to him. I don’t want to be known as bad.” Those words seared my gut–
I have made an appt. with a counselor, and I am going through the steps to place boundaries with a possible separation. Reading this encouragement today has helped to empower me to move forward and to be vigilant. I especially love Leslie’s comment about “God not offering us unconditional relationship–He expects us to grow in Him and turn from sin.” I think I have misunderstood unconditional love as being the same thing. I know God will guard my path and I feel lighter just knowing I have enacted a real plan. Thanks for reading–sorry so long.
Colleen, thank you so much for sharing your heart and your experience. You are correct in wanting what’s best for your chidren and yourself, and I pray that God empowers you to get off the crazy train and find freedom. I have a couple of comments though. You said, “They (your children) have lived in a home of constant fighting, and the effects of the stress are evident. My husband loves his kids more than anything, but they are starting to witness and identify his manipulative tactics.”
1) Your kids have not just “started” to see what he’s like: they have been witnessing his abusive behaviour and the “constant fighting” since they were born. Your daughter’s response shows how deeply he has manipulated (poisoned) her thinking: to the extent that SHE is avoiding conflict to “keep the peace” and “be liked and likeable”. In other words, her father has deceived her by his ungodly behaviour into believing that is how you live. And believe me, Colleen, unless she is lovingly and consistently taught (not told) the truth soon (that she deserves and can do better), she will likely end up like I did: unwittingly marrying someone just like her father and being abused herself. I was the only girl, the middle child, “daddy’s little girl”. I wanted my daddy’s love and attention so badly that I tried to make sure I wasn’t the one he was mad at. I ended up giving myself away at age 16, looking for what my father didn’t give me. I pray that your daughter learns a better way and doesn’t follow the same path I did.
2) The fact that your husband treats their mother with disrespect and manipulation and likely teaches them to do the same (do you ever feel like your children treat you that way too?), shows that he does not really love them. If he really loved them he would set the example as a godly husband and father, showing respect and honour for the wife God gave him, and teaching them God’s unselfish ways.
May the Lord grant you swiftness for your feet and safety for your path. He is with you, and will guide you. Blessings on you, Colleen.
Thank you for your insight, Kari. You are correct in saying that they are only now seeing the abuse. I guess what I meant is they are now openly acknowledging to ME that they see it.
My husband is very openly loving and affectionate with all of our children. HE believes that he is father of the year. I am not deluded enough to think that his skewed way of thinking is correct. He has heard many a sermon about the need to love and respect his children’s mother–that that is the most influential habit of showing love. Thank you for the encouragement and well wishes.
Thank you ladies for your responses. I have been in an abusive marriage for 17 years with 4 young children. My husband believes he is a bible scholar and has used the scriptures to hold me prisoner. Within the first couple of months of marriage he had hit me, threatened to take a belt to me and pushed me down on the street/…then followed years of neglect and emotional abuse as well as twice striking our daughter when she was five months old….I was so deceived I thought if only I prayed more, submitted more etc things would change. Two years ago I finally found the courage to call him out on his behaviour and the brown stuff then hit the fan. His aggressive behaviour has only escalated and although he has not hit me he has shoved me and been aggressive in front of the children.After another blow out two weeks ago which ended in him locking our 1son in the bedroom whilst he told him how his mum was out of order etc…our son was obviously distraught. I will be leaving in a couple of day s to a women’s shelter. I still wonder if I am overreacting but I. Know this is right. After years of counselling (he finally left our local church after the pastors held him to account and he didn’t like it), the abuse remains. He still denies ALL abuse, claiming its my lack of prayer/word that makes me see/feel as I do.I feel afraid but I know God is with me. Thanks for letting me share and I pray every lady in a similar situation will know the peace and comfort of the Lord and find their way of escape xx
Kay, having recently been through a separation myself, I am keenly aware that what you do or don’t do NOW is of utmost importance. Go to the police TODAY. Do not wait. Tell them exactly what has happened – both in the past and most recently. I am almost positive that as you share details with them they will tell you all the laws your husband has broken in doing these things. Shoving is assault. And I found out when I went that things like spitting in your face or throwing milk at you is also assault (that happened to me). Barring the doorway or locking someone in a room is unnecessary confinement. These are serious legal charges.
ASK the police to get a order (restraining or protection order) to remove your husband from the house so you and your children have a safe place to live without him there. You should NOT have to relocate. However, IF you and your children are in immediate danger go to the women’s shelter until your husband can be removed from your home. Get a restraining/protection order against him that will prevent him from contact with you AND your children – both of whom he has harmed in the past.
Praying that you would have wisdom & courage. God will protect & provide.
Kay, you are NOT overreacting. Your husband is abusive and God does not want you to be treated this way. Please use the legal authorities God has put in place to protect you. By doing so you might help your husband by confronting his delusion that his behaviors are appropriate and it’s only you who “see” them wrongly. When the police press charges and the judge puts him in jail or allows you to have a restraining order, that may be the only thing that “wakes” him up to his own blindness.
You are not over reacting. That is your mind telling you lies that will keep you and your children in harms way. You would have been well to have left him during those first couple of months. After striking a baby, I probably would have been in prison for murder. There is never an excuse for striking a woman or an infant. Now he goes out of his way to try to alienate your son from you. None of this shows any godliness in him. I pray that you get out safely and consider not waiting a couple of days to go.
You are not overreacting! Do not wait a couple of days, go now if you can.
You and your children are being subjected to abuse. Period.
It is not okay and you need to get yourself and your children to safety.
Praying for you!
P.s. Please keep in touch here so we know how you are doing and if you have gotten out.
The women’s shelters may be able to help push a restraining order, as well. The police may write up an incident report and tell you to get an attorney.
Thank you everyone. I am out of here tomorrow morning and not a moment too soon. I will get help from the shelter to get a restraining order and other things in place. I cannot thank you all enough for your support. I will keep you posted. God bless.
Please be sure to let us know. We will be praying for your safety and smooth transition and favor with the courts.
So glad to hear this! Echoing the prayers of Leslie, Amy and many others too!
I’m lifting you up in prayer.
I hope everything goes smoothly and quickly.
Praying for you Kay! Please let us know how you are doing when you can.
It is wonderful to hear that you are gaining strength. It is good to hear that you aren’t going to continue on with the lie. It is so refreshing and empowering to get to that point.
Kay praying for you as you make these difficult moves and decisions. I pray you will be safe.
Brenda, Thank you! It’s hard to finally admit that I’ve been living a lie for 28 yrs…but I can no longer be a Peacefaker!
Two emotional affairs in 25 yrs…and maybe more that I’m not aware of…pornography…but only once…so he says!!
Last week he said he’d go to counseling…and he hasn’t mentioned it since…and he won’t, I know that now. He tells me what he thinks I want to hear, to keep me “calm”…
My boundaries are in place, I’ve got a few friends and family praying…that’s all I can do at the moment.
If things don’t change…if I don’t see true humbleness and repentance, we will have to separate.
Thank you all. Fled today. Refuge was full so staying with a friend. Will take steps to get an injunction tomorrow as the children and I are now technically homeless. I don’t think its right for us to go round looking for accommodation whilst he stays at home. Praying fervently for God to make a way for us. Glad to be out but sad that refuge organisation has let us down a bit. They did not deliver on what they said,but that’s another story. Tomorrow is another day. Thanks again
I’m glad you got out safely.
I will continue praying that all will work out perfectly for you and your children.
My situation was a little different because my ex left me. So our boys and I continued to live there while my ex had to find another place. He balked at that but my attorney told me that most any judge would allow the woman and her children to continue living in the home during a separation.
I’m so glad you have a friend to stay with and sorry the Refuge let you down. I hope everything gets worked out quickly and easily.
Blessings dear sister!
Kay, I’m sorry! But remember, God is in control! And yes, get that injunction so you can move back home and your kids will feel safe! Praying for you!! Please keep us updated!
Kay, So “glad” to hear that you have fled. I am praying that the injunction would be immediate so that you and your kids can go back home. Praying that God would provide food, clothing, shelter, money, safety, etc. during the wait. Praying that a bed, a room, an apartment, whatever you need, would be opened up for you. God WILL provide. He is Jehovah Jireh – the Lord, our Provider. Blessings.
Kay, I am so glad you are safe and out of there, no matter where you had to go. I will continue praying for you.
Praying for everyone today–I’m not sure if any of you have ever heard of Ann Voskamp, but I love her. She has a blog that is fantastic, and today’s post was very timely for me. You can also follow it on Facebook to see her daily posts. Her blog, like Leslie’s gives me strength in WHOSE I am. http://www.aholyexperience.com/2014/07/5-truths-when-you-feel-tired-the-worlds-broke-your-heart-a-bit/
My husband has flipped again but I’m standing firm. Now, he’s committed to being the man God wants him to be. I’m exhausted.
I like Ann’s blog too.
I have read One Thousand Gifts, but had no idea of her other books or her blog.
In court tomorrow morning to file for restraint order.My kids have been staying with some very kind friends for nearly a week now. He waited 48 hrs after I’d left with kids (leaving behind a note saying I was leaving as I and the kids no longer felt safe due to his volatile behaviour) before attempting to contact me. He then sent an email stating that he did not understand my note and asking me to clarify! He has been bombarding my family members with calls but has scarcely tried to contact me nor has he once asked for his kids!Roll on injunction, please Lord
Praying for you even now. He is trying to gather allies. I pray the judge grants what you need and you will feel safe again and back with your children soon. (((((HUGS))))
At court yesterday he lied saying that I had been verbally and physically abusive towards him, that my family members had harassed, threatened and intimidated him and he denied all allegations of 17 years of physical and emotional abuse. I was stunned by his ability to lie. We left court with a joint undertaking. My consolation is that he is legally barred from threatening/intimidating/hitting me which gives me a bit of breathing space whilst I look for a rental property for myself and the children. His continual denials and lies and amazing ability to twist reality has left me no alternative but to seek separation and possibly divorce
Kay, my advice to you would be to always have someone on the phone if/when he comes over….a witness to his abusive words…also if you know he’s coming over, maybe have a friend there, as a witness…just make sure they stay out of sight, so his true nature comes out.
Once you have witnesses who are NOT family…the judge will take things more seriously!
Praying for you….you’ve shown great courage in taking steps to end the abuse!
Your journey gave me courage to stand up to my husband in mediation this week. We’ve been married a little more than ten years. Standing up for my legal rights and for more provisions and not letting lawyers or my husband convince to accept less – even with no other offer for provision in front of me – well it was so hard to turn it down. In the end my husbands true colors shown through. He cares about money over the children’s needs and he walked out, mediation failing. The whole process tested my faith in God’s unseen but faithful provision for me down the road. As I followed your story early this week, God used your courage to inspire me to stand my ground and protect the girls and I- and I did. The experience did so much to boost my confidence in my independent decision-making and break any power my husband thought he had over me. Thank you for sharing and I continue to pray for you. God promises in I Peter to restore, confirm and establish us after we have suffered for a while. What a gift and what a promise. I leave you with this definition of courage by Pastor Tim Keller: “courage is facing your worst nightmare and doing the right thing anyway.”
Thanks everyone for the continued support. I’m blown away that my story gave someone courage. Also great advise Terri. As you all know I’m back home under a joint undertaking whilst I try to sort finances and find a rental property for me and kids. The older two have already said they would much rather stay with their mum, which is as I expected. He knows I plan to leave and has barraged me with emails about how I was wrong in fleeing with the kids, wrong in taking him to court; how he’s tried again and again to get help for the marriage (as we say in London, Craze-balls!),how he feels that the marriage can survive if I just accept the help offered by a (very questionable) pastor, who is not my pastor but someone who my husband exchanges an email with once a month and they call that counselling. In spite of all these emails he has never once taken responsibility for his abuse, either outright denying it, ignoring it or trying to deflect attention from it. After (to my regret)I responded to a couple of emails, I then asked him to stop emailing me as I would see this as harassment and a breach of the joint undertaking. His response? Another email of course. I am going to continue to attempt a no contact as much as possible seeing as we have four kids. Anyone have any advice on dealing with child visitation once kids and I leave? As it stands he spends about 3hrs a week with them (as in being in the same room, putting them to bed a couple of nights a week, taking them for the occasional walk/bike ride) and that’s with us all living in the same house, and that’s on a good week.
Bless you all. Back home now with the flimsey cover of a joint undertaking as legal protection. He lied so bad in court it was ridiculous. I didn’t have the strength to take it to a long drawn out trail so I accepted the joint undertaking which means we are both under court order not to threaten/intimidate/be violent to each other (he denied ALL allegations and he’d painted myself and my siblings and support group as the abusers!!!). I am meeting with government agencies to help me get a place to rent for me and kids. He has shown ZERO remorse, continues to blame me, deny everything he’s done, claim to be fighting for the marriage, its just crazy. I have asked him to communicate with me only by email as any conversation is stress inducing, even reading his emails are stress inducing. My hope is that soon kids and I can be away from his oppressive influence…he knows now I’m looking for a place for me and the children (he refuses to move out), but I suspect he’ll kick up a fuss once I go to leave with the kids, will probably try to stop them going with me ( although the older two aged 11 & 10) don’t want to live with him, younger two don’t know what’s happening yet.Not sure what I can do about this legally or otherwise when the time comes. I cannot believe I married someone like this…he spend the whole day in his bedroom listening to preaching tapes whilst I attended to the four kids who are on summer vacation all day…nothing new there though. I’m exhausted and leaking emotionally everywhere but just asking for God’s help day by day. Thank you for the prayers and encouragement, may God bless you all
P.s. I found out that on the Friday after we’d fled (left on Thursday), he’d gone to a party,(knowing his wife and kids had left him, having not tried to even contact us, not knowing where we were, he went to a party!!) . He only attempted first contact and flimsey attempt at looking concerned/looking for us 48 hours after we’d left; 48hours after he’d read the note I left saying I was leaving because he had turned my home into an unsafe place due to this threatening and volatile behaviours…..sorry for ranting.
Good evening everyone,
I meet with our pastor tomorrow. There was a meeting two weeks ago that my husband never told me about (big surprise) that I initiated, but his secretary called my husband, and he never told me! I reached out to the pastor to find out when the meeting might happen, and he said he was surprised that my husband came alone, he was expecting us both. I meet alone tomorrow. I have a binder going back 5 years detailing everything, so hopefully that will be my “witness. Please pray! Thanks, hope all of you found blessings this week.
Praying for you today, Jenn.
Jenn, I will be praying for you. I hope that you pastor sees that your husband not telling you about the first meeting and your binder in its proper light.
I am so grateful to have found this blog. I just recently finished reading Leslie’s book about emotionally destructive marriages. My heart is aching so much right now and I am feeling intense anxiety. I just recently left my husband two weeks and two days ago bringing with me our 4 month baby girl. It has been a challenge. We have only been married for two years and 1 month. He wants us to come home, he has been experiencing panic attacks and anxiety which was finally confirmed yesterday when he went to the doctor. He broke down on the phone yesterday about the pain he is feeling over not being able to see the baby. I feel extremely guilty and very sad for him. I love him and hate to think that he is in pain and experiencing anxiety and panic. It hurts my heart. But is that enough to go back? Since we haven’t been married as long as some of the other women on here, did I leave too early? He said he’s been praying and God has shown him some things, but he refuses still to go to counseling and to get any help. I left because he is verbally abusive and refuses to get help or counseling. He believes that no pastor or counselor can help us that they don’t know us and that since we are both Christians, have the bible and the holy spirit we should be able to work things out together. He barely goes to church because of his work schedule, has not accountability no friends etc. in his life. Which is one of the suggestions that is sign of change. When he does goes to church he heads straight for the door right after. He prays, reads his bible and listens to broadcast all the time. He believes that he is right about everything and has this idea about him being the head of the family the household and what he says goes. When he feels like I have disrespected him or undermined him thats what evokes his anger and explosive temper that leads to him belittling me and calling me names. Later he apologizes only to do it again. I left because I sensed myself falling into victim mentality and I don’t want to be in this situation for years before I do something about it, I don’t want to get too far gone as my self-esteem is already eroding. As I mentioned earlier we have a four almost five month old precious baby girl who was born 15 weeks premature, I was 25 weeks when I had her (I now think it was probably due to the stress of arguments with him.) I don’t want her growing up around that. Several weeks ago I was sitting in the living room with her and he is very into protection of our family and is a firm believer in self-defense via gun. He had been telling me he wants to make sure I can use it properly since he works at night and its just the baby and me at home. He entered the living room with the gun and wanted to show me something, I asked if we can please take her into the bedroom and he said “no” when i made a facial expression that I was disappointed/not happy with his answer he immediately attacked me calling me the B and N word. (We are a bi-racial couple he being white and me black.) He said he had to go there to get my attention as the leader of the house he has to have my undivided attention when he said no that meant no. I believe in the biblical model of marriage with the husband being the head of the household however I don’t think his way is what the bible meant. I’d been threatening to leave for a while and after calling me the N word he knew he went to far and apologized and even said that to show me he’s serious about us he’d go to counseling. I picked one out only for him to refuse because of the office being in one of the buildings at his job which is at a huge hospital and surrounding buildings. I didn’t have the patience to wait to try to find another counselor. (which is why I think I should have bee stronger to stay and endure so that we could go to counseling) but as a clinician/ professional that works with people with mental health / drug addiction issues, I know his issues run deeper than us going to counseling together)
The entire time that I have been gone he has been calling and texting either out of anger and threats with a brief moment of being sorry and wanting to work things out but only on his terms. The biggest thing is that he says he misses our daughter so much and wants to see her. I am at my moms which is an issue to him because he detest my mom over an incident that happened at our home where he had inapropriate anger over my nephew roaming around the house while my mom and cousin were visiting the baby right after she came home from the NICU. My mom left because they felt uncomfortable and because of that he feels that she insulted him and my daughter by leaving instead of staying and making my nephew sit down. He believes that she owes him an apology and that I have thrown him under the bus by not telling my mom that she was wrong for leaving and also was wrong for telling him that as the baby gets bigger he’s not gone be able to have his eyes on her at all time. He curses and calls my family names calls my mom names etc. so it infuriates him even more that I am at my moms of all places. He wants me to denounce my family, don’t know how much he really means it or just talking out of anger. He refuses to come over here to see her. None of my family believes that I should go back to the house alone because in his anger he makes threats. I have said I will take her to him but the only vehicle I have to use is my parents old vehicle that has no air in it so I would need to leave early in the morning, but since he doesnt feel its a reliable vehicle, we are in another city about 40 minutes from him (even though my step dad had it fixed and said its fine to drive) and so I have to obey him, he expects that my parents are supposed to let me use their newer vehicles to let me bring her to him, but my mom says if he wants to see her he will come see her or meet me somewhere, but he says since I took her away I should bring her to him and he also says having to meet somewhere makes him feel like he some sort of craigslist stalker or something. Also our only working vehicle doesn’t have air in it either. My family thinks he’s just trying to manipulate and control me, that its not about the baby. I’m confused and torn because I want to go home or to a fantasy life but I’m also scared to go home because I know better, I don’t trust him. My family got involved or found out what was going on because one night he was going off on one of his tantrums and out of my nervousness I picked up the phone and called my sister and got her voicemail, well I thought I hung up but apparently I didn’t and she heard him yelling on the message and said it hurt her heart and noone should be spoken to in that way. (her son was the nephew that was at our house) so her and my brother -n-law that are godly people have been part of my support team. Also my dad lived with us for about two months and he spoke to me and yelled and had tantrums in front of my dad and when i got mad because my dad did not intervene he said that obviously I want my dad to get hurt. Noone thinks I need to go back to him, and I agree but I can’t help but wonder if I left to prematurely. I never attempted all the things that Leslie suggested in the book. but I don’t feel strong enough to stay in that situation like some of the people I’ve read about who are staying and distancing themselves emotionally. I have had a mental breakdown before and been in a bad depressive state. I’m also a breast cancer survivor and reading the information about the affect of stress etc.on the body and health, I fear it leading to it coming back. I sorta feel like a wimp because I don’t feel strong enough to be with him and work on myself and refocus on God and my “issues” that make me vulnerable to him and his tactics. I am really struggling. Yesterday after he told ,me about the anxiety and panic I told him I’d come home but later talked to my sister and brother–n-law who are in town, and was reminded that he has not shown any fruit of repentance or willingness to see he needs help and get the help he needs. I think this is so hard because I so want him to not be feeling anxious and panic and not be able to see our daughter. He accuse me of holding the baby over his head to get him to change and since I’m not the leader of the house its not gone work on him. He said his ex-wife did the same thing to try to get him to change and it didn’t work. she left him also. I know this is long but one last thing, I also compare some of the things that i’ve read to him and think its not that bad, because he just has the temper and anger problem. He said he will work on his anger but the fact of him being the spiritual leader and me doing what he says when he says it as long as it is not immoral and goes against God will not change. I work with women in these kind of situation with drug addictions etc. so I know better on a lot of this but its different when you’re the one in it.
Monica, you did the right thing by leaving. Pulling a gun out then calling you names, blaming you for everything–even the fact that he yelled in front of your own dad yet somehow it becomes your fault?? That is abusive!! Do NOT feel as if you needed to stay for some set amount of time to complete all of the steps. If you feel you are in danger (or especially your baby girl), run! It is very hard, and very confusing, and I understand all the doubts you have. My husband and I have only been married 3 years, and I am filing for a divorce because of his abuse and unrepentance. It took me quite awhile (about a year) to get to this point, but I had reasons to leave him from the very beginning of our marriage. You need to protect that little baby. Don’t subject yourself to his abuse if you don’t have to. You are doing the right thing.
Also, He needs to meet you halfway to see his daughter. Don’t let him guilt you into driving all the way out there, as a punishment for leaving him. He must suffer the consequences of his own wrong-doing.
You seem to be a very smart woman, and you know the right thing is to protect your daughter—just like I felt about my two little ones. Trust those instincts. Stop listening to his abuse. Don’t answer his calls or respond to his messages, unless it is about your baby girl. Talk to your sister and brother-in-law for support, and surround yourself with only those who will build you up.
Lastly, seek the Lord in prayer and study of his Word… The realization (and truth) that the Lord cares for you and your daughter, for your safety, for your dignity, for you to be treated with care and respect, can make the biggest impact and give you the most strength.
Thanks for the reply and words of encouragement. Things have changed a bit and my husband no longer wants to have anything to do with ME anymore. He wants a divorce and wants to move on with his life because I left him and abandoned him when he has done nothing wrong but called be a b and H and an N a few times. He gave me several opportunities to come home within the last few weeks that I’ve been gone. It hurts me that he has no desire to fight for our marriage or to make things right. I guess I didn’t think things all the way through. I had been feeling like I shouldn’t have left that maybe things weren’t so bad and feeling guilty for taking his daughter from him. Up until just a few minutes ago when he just called yelling at me about my cousins horses that are at our house. Just talking to him my body was tense and I felt very anxious. I know deep down that his behavior is wrong and that there was a lot more to it than calling me a few names, it was his overbearing demeanor the yelling, threats and demeaning my family, etc. Also because it continued to happen even after he’d apologize and do better for a few days. This is not a good situation to be in especially since he doesn’t believe in counseling. I know that God doesn’t make anyone act a certain way, but I want to think that maybe it was a good thing the horse got into the neighbors yard so he can call me and I can be reminded of WHO and HOW he is. I was starting to think that maybe I shouldn’t have been listening to my family and went back to him. I was thinking that they have ruined my marriage because he wasn’t abusive all the time (remembering the good things about him) – And of course a lot of these thoughts are things that he has said to me, that “I’m letting my family ruin our marriage. He has also told me that I’m doing the same thing his ex-wife did. She started listening to her family and she told him she left him initially to get his attention. I’m amazed at how much I take on some of the things that he has said to me and make it my truth instead of just his justification for what he says, I’M doing wrong in our marriage on how I handle things. I read about how so many of the ladies husbands are trying to get them back, being manipulative etc. though no repentance. I don’t know if its a good thing that he is not doing this because I’m so vulnerable to going back if he was this way, maybe its best that he wants to move on. Its just hurtful that he has no interest in reconciliation, even if for the simple fact of wanting our daughter to grow up with both parents. I feel rejected and this adds to a sense of insecurity I already have He says he has prayed and has peace and regrets ever marrying me because I have never been a team player, that all he has wanted was for us to coming into agreement because where two or more agree……… He says God will bless him with the right woman for him and me the right man. Anyway I can go on and on exploring my thoughts feelings and emotions which are many about my situation. I’m out of town now and he doesn’t know it. He texted this morning that he wants to pick up our daughter, I’m so nervous to tell him, I feel guilty for not letting him know, but he has been so angry. I needed a vacation, to get away and clear my head. But the anxiety and worrying about him only follows me where I go. Ladies please pray for me and I will do the same for you. I don’t know what the future holds. I feel so vulnerable and unable to make any sound decisions, I feel the need to ask everyone around me what I need to do. It makes me dislike this about myself and it confirms some things about me that he said as being true. I need deep level healing from God.
I know it doesn’t seem like it, but the fact that your husband wants to divorce YOU may be a blessing in disguise… Right after I called and told my husband I wanted a divorce, he immediately began to call my friends and family, spreading lies and telling them that it was their “Christian duty” to influence me not to make this decision. He has wrangled up a pastor on his side who called my church and told them that my divorce is unbiblical. He essentially stalked me and came to my home when I asked him not to, sobbing uncontrollably. He has sent me emails asking for dates and sex. He is crazy! I understand that you feel rejected and unloved… but your husband probably never truly loved you to begin with. And it not because of anything you have done or who you are as a person. It’s because these kinds of abusive men objectify women. They see them as servants, someone below them who needs their ‘perfect judgment’ and ‘genius mind’ to guide them. My husband basically treated me like a servant. I took care of everything, and he neglected our relationship completely. Once I came to this realization, it was very hard to swallow. Perhaps these are the steps that you are now going through… but thankfully you are away from your husband so you can think more clearly, like when he called you to complain about the horses.
Concerning your daughter, be careful. Your husband may be able to call the police and charge you with kidnapping. If you are scared, get a restraining order. Otherwise, he has the right to know where his daughter is and to spend time with her (legally).
Thanks again Cait. I talked to a lawyer before leaving town, she said I was ok to leave town without his permission. His wanting a divorce might be a blessing in disguise but rightnnow none of it feelsllike a blessing.YYlYou seem so different from the person whofirst posted 2 months ago.WWhat has helps you the most? I know ultimately God,but were there any specific Scriptures, actions etc.?
I spent a lot of time in the Psalms (around 50-70s), and I started to take very seriously the warnings I was receiving from others, including the comments on this blog. I also have a very dear and close friend who has been an immense help to me. She has been through a similar situation where she had to flee with her young daughter. In addition, I read Leslie’s books and blog and Lundy Bancroft’s “Why Does He Do That?” Each one of these things helped me to strengthen my own resolve and take a hard look at reality. I also had to trust my own instincts to protect my children and stop rationalizing my husband’s behavior or buy into his crazy-making. It took me many months (approximately a year) to come to a full and complete decision on what I needed to do, even though I should have fled months ago. However, once I came to the decision to divorce him, I have not looked back. Since he is not living with me at this time, I can see how badly his manipulation and condescension really are. It will also become more clear to you.
I also was able to move closer to my family and get into a better church where I felt encouragement from other believers. I started preparing for the worst, getting my own credit card, bank account, and cell phone. I started trying to save what little money I could. I began to plan what to do for a job. I interviewed a nanny for my kids. Each time I made one of these steps, I felt a sense of freedom. Take it one day at a time, and you will get there too. You ARE strong enough! You ARE a good mother! Don’t believe anything else.
You are better off setting boundaries now than waiting until you have been married decades and your baby is also crushed by her father’s abuse. If you go back, it will continue. You’ve made mention that his verbal abuse has continued since you left. It will not stop and he refused counseling. There is no progress in what he is doing. He is trying to manipulate you into going home. That could escalate the abuse. You need to make sure you and your baby are safe. He needs to seek help. If he won’t do that, you have made the best choice that you could have possibly made in leaving now before if destroys you. My prayers are with you.
Thanks Brenda for the encouragement. my roller coaster ride seems to keep mounting. This is hard.
Monica, take it from me. My husband first started cheating when my youngest was only 2 months old. He’d make promises that he stopped, and I discovered 2 more times over the course of 9 months that it didn’t. We separated twice, and each time, I ended up regretting allowing him back in the house. Flash forward to today–he sabotaged 6 months of marriage counseling, and I found out AFTER he ended counseling at the end of July that his affair didn’t stop after 9 months. It lasted 3 years, and for all I know could still be going on–based on how he’s treated me, I would believe it. If he’s gone, use this time to work on you–as my pastor told me, lift your eyes to a plane above your husband–try not to focus on him, but stay focused on God and His word. That will keep you focused on the truth of what’s really happening. Be shrewd, and be careful. But most of all, don’t be afraid to reach out to people you trust, and be honest about what’s really happening. Hiding the truth does NOT help you, and especially not your husband. You can do this. Yes, it’s terrible hard and painful, but you can do this. It’s the right thing–we have to be the REAL Jesus to our children because we can’t depend on the men we’re with.
Hi Ladies, I’m writing again to update you all on my situation. Much has changed. As of Sunday, Aug 31, my husband moved out of the home.
I was getting tired of the “nice guy” routine while he stood there and blamed me for the lack of progress in our marriage. I had enough, and I tried to instigate a fight with him Sunday, yelling at him and even throwing a glass of water at him. He didn’t take the bait. He looked at me like I was crazy. Finally, I asked him to leave for a couple hours so I could think. While he was out, I packed all of his bags. He texted me after about an hour, “I’m not going to stay out much longer.”—Again, disrespect. I called him and told him that I needed more time, approximately a week, and that he could pick up his bags at the door. When he arrived, he was angry and told me that I was depriving him of his children and he would only be gone only a few days. With that, he left. I can’t express the relief!! It has been like a cloud was lifted from my home. It is becoming my HOME once more…
Wednesday morning he texted and said he would be coming home Thursday morning so we could talk. That day I met with a divorce attorney. I called my husband that afternoon and told him I wanted a divorce. He began sobbing on the phone, saying that we need to work through this together, that we’re Christians and divorce is the worldly solution, not ours. I told him that he could not come home, but I could arrange for him to see the kids. Like many of you have said, I feel like I am the grown-up in this marriage. That night (Wed) he proceeded to call my family and friends, begging them to use their “influence on me” to change my mind. He even had the gall to tell my FATHER that it was his “Christian duty” to influence me. My parents, praise God, are on my side, and have been horrified by his actions. My husband called me, crying, Thur morning, saying he didn’t realize things were so bad. I told him I almost left him twice, and he wouldn’t take it seriously at the time. Then, even though he had just briefly seen me when I let him see the kids for a little while, he came to my home and said he wanted to come in and “talk as a family.” I refused to let him in and told him he could talk through the door. He said that he “truly has repented this time” and “went against the advice of counsel” in coming to see me (as if that was supposed to comfort me!). He said he called the pastor at the church we have been visiting and requested marital counseling for us to “talk it out.” Through this whole time he was sobbing on and off. Eventually he left, and I was relieved once more.
I am planning on sending him an email either today or this weekend to tell him we are separated until the divorce is final. That he lost his opportunities to repent and seek counsel. That it is over, and my decision has been made.
It hurts my heart that my family is broken, but I’m not sure it was ever whole. I know many of you have been praying for me, and I am so thankful! I believe because of my support and the grace of the Lord, I finally gained the courage to go through with this divorce. I will update how things are going!
I fonally started reaching out to more people I felt I could trust–the large group leader of the women’s Bible study I attend, and my children’s pastor at church. I spent a total of 5.5 HOURS with both this week. The children’s pastor was positively disgusted when I told him everything that’s really been going on. I have a binder that I’ve kept for FIVE years from when the first affair started, and that is my witness. My husband is in church every Sunday morning and volunteers on Wednesday evenings with AWANA (KIDS!) and he shouldn’t be, due to how he’s treated me and our marriage. I feel like I’ve finally reached the right people. It’s not a vengeance thing, but my husband needs to know that he can’t just do whatever he wants, mock God’s house, and think everything is okay for him.
I asked my counselor yesterday, on a scale of 1 to 10, based on his experience, how bad was what I was dealing with w/mu husband–he wouldn’t give a number, just looked me in my eye and said, “It’s VERY, VERY bad.” I knew that, but it does help when my husband tries to minimize his horrible behavior, to combat that.
He’s fighting for 50/50 custody. He lied to his employer and told them that I “infiltrated” his work computer and work phone. NO, he gave me the password in a brief moment of accountability, doesn’t remember doing that, and is now trying to get me into trouble with his job. If anything I hope they START monitoring his emails now, because that’s how he’s been unfaithful–using his work resources to contact other women and cheat!
I’m in fopr a long battle with him. He’s still in the house, and it’s horrible.
IN addition to church support it sounds like you need some good legal advice. I encourage you to watch our free webinar Wednesday night with Maryanne Modesti who is a family law attorney talking about what you need to do if you are thinking of separation or divorce.
I’d like that very much–I have a meeting Wedbesday night, will it be accessible afterward?
Amen and Good For You. I’m glad that the right people are hearing what you are going through ane maybe he will be held accountable. As far as his work is concerned. They can tell where emails are coming from and sent from. You are not responsible for his email at work–he is. Maybe with church accountability you will get more than 50% custody. I will pray for that end.
During a separation, how much contact should you have, phone and in-person? I’ve been gone for 40 days and he is agreeing to go back to individual counseling (with yet another new counselor, he didnt like the last two), he says he is sorry etc etc and is nice on the phone when we talk lately and wants to do something on the weekends and talk on the phone during the week. I don’t know how to respond or if we should be doing that? I want to sometimes, when he is nice like this. And if I say no, what do I say the reason is? He sees it as a wedge and driving further distance between us instead of working on things.
You can decide whether you want to “see” him but a date night will not fix your marriage. So don’t get sweet talked into changing your boundaries or letting him move back home until you see real and consistent change – as well as his ability to receive feedback from you when he’s slipping into his old behavior and he willingly “self-corrects” so abusive/destructive behavior does not continue.
I was on this site last year, having attempted a flee with four children. Long story short is the flee was unsuccessful, and my husband refused to leave our home or even to acknowledge his 17 years of abuse. After sleeping on the floor in my child’s bedroom for a year (while my ‘devout’ Christian husband slept in our end suite bedroom) I was able to get a new job and save enough to rent a lovely new home for myself and the kids. When we left he took a court order on me stating that I was a child abuser, that I had abducted the children and that I had abused him during the marriage financially and emotionally. All lies and complete projections of what he had done. Thankfully the Judge was able to see through this and made me primary carer for the kids. He gets them one night a week and every other weekend which, with his track record, I still feel is too much. During this time period I had two people I considered good friends turn their back on me. I am grateful to God to be away from him and am trying to build a new life but I’m finding processing all the feelings of anger and betrayl very hard. I will not consider reconciliation and want to divorce him as soon as possible once my finances are more stable. It has also effected my walk with the Lord quite negatively. I am trying to find myself. Any words of advise greatly appreciated.
Trying, You ask such a good question, but it is so individual. I tried to have no contact, but that was made very difficult even after the divorce it has been hard. Does he find reasons to talking with you? Does he freak out if you don’t speak for several days? Who is initiated the contact and why? Do you have to speak because of kids? 40 days is not very long and he hasn’t gone to a new counselor yet. They can say a lot of nice words and then go right back to their old ways as soon as you are with them for even a weekend. So far, it doesn’t sound like he has shown a serious commitment to change. You need time to work on yourself. I have been working on that for 3 years prior to separation and divorce and almost 2 years after. It was just last week that I drew a line in the sand and said no more. I have said “No contact” before, but it was not heard. I do not reply to any communication and feel so much stronger now. I am being scripture bombed via text. The funny part of it is that the scriptures he sends are comforting to me, yet I know he doesn’t intend it that way. He no longer has any control over me. Look to God for everything and know I am praying for you. We cannot make decisions for someone else. Find who you are in Christ. The more you allow without true repentance and doing the hard work, the less inclined he will be to follow through.
Kay, I am so glad to hear that you had a judge with eyes. I agree that he is getting too much daddy time, which might be harmful to your children, while he is using them as a pawn. I hope that this judge also granted child support? Keep in the word. We serve a jealous God and he wants to be loved above everything else with all our heart, mind and soul (Matt 22). God did not cause your H’s abuse. We live in a fallen world with people who have free will and often their free will is to choose evil. We can’t control them, but we can control our own free will in God’s strength. If I had to rely on mine, I’d be dead in the water. You are surrounded by people who know your pain here and are praying for you and your children to be set free.
If it is your desire to go back then you need to take things one day at a time., but look at your future as just you. The chances of real change are very slim. Do you want to go back to that? You are the only one who can answer that question. When I separated I took a year lease on an apartment. The former H knew that I meant business. I would not be coming back for a year. He lied and said he would seek counseling. There was always a reason why it didn’t work out, We were divorced by the time I signed a second years lease. My future is my own. There is no going back. No one can tell you how long it will take for your H to change. You can plan on 3 to 6 months, go back and most likely it will go back to the way it was. I see very little change in abusers. They can change if they want, but they don’t want to more often than not. They like there sense of entitlement. Reality is that it may be best for you to hope that he will change, but live each day as if he won’t. Work on becoming the woman that you want to be and see yourself as Christ sees you.
Dear Trying: My heart and prayers go out to you for “trying,” however I’d be very surprised if you’ll receive any lasting change in him. My H has admitted he “acted like a jerk,” but the said, “I’ll forgive you for all you put me through.” So what does that tell you?! I will not reconcile and give up the wonderful peace and freedom God has given me to serve Him, that I never had for 57 years of marriage! Leave now while you still have some good years left is my recommendation.
Thank You so much for the replies. To answer a couple of the questions, we do not have kids, been married 11 years. The emotional/controlling abuse comes out when stressors and we use to be able to go 6-8 months without any real craziness but the last 6 months have been horrendous I’ve left several times but this has been the longest, its actually been longer than I thought (time flies) more like 70 days. I have found much peace being gone and I found it probably took me 40 days just to “come down” and relax and get out of my crazy head. So that has been wonderful. During this time he has been up and down with getting angry and or trying to demand certain things to get me home, I have resisted as that obviously is not going to work with me anymore. He seems to have come to terms with that and realizes I’m not coming back until I feel comfortable doing so. I’m waiting to see how long that lasts or if he will get angry as more time passes. When he calls me its daily, because he just wants to see how my day was and talk…usually very pleasant and when he wants to see me its so we can spend some quality time together and he wants to show he is trying. I was shocked this weekend he did “catch himself” starting to say something that was controling comments and he said “I should not have said that, that was not right, I apologize” I was very shocked because it was things that I may not have even caught had he not pointed it out. He did speak with a counselor a month ago who pointed out the abuse and it was hard for him to hear but she said he seemed to take it to heart. She was very shocked at his receptiveness and willingness to work on his abuse. He still finds it difficult to think about himself as an abuser but he said he is trying very hard and would never want to make me feel the way he has. I now see what abuse is as well and never would have had it not been for my counselor (who he spoke with) and Leslie’s book and blogs/articles. I know it is not typical for abusers to change and it takes a lot of work. I have a very hard time when he seems to be acknowledging the controlling behavior and catching himself….it does give me hope but I don’t want to be stupid either. He is starting another individual therapist this week, I guess I will see how long he continues with it and if the change and “catching himself” continues. It is just so hard when he seems so good and truly repentant, he takes full responsibility and knows I’m not there because of his actions. My fear is going back and him feeling safe and forgetting all this, so I will take your advice and continue watching and waiting….sustained change. Sorry so long, just many thoughts from the weekend. Thank You All Again, so very helpful!
Why is he changing therapists if the first one was helpful in him seeing his controlling behavior as abusive? Second, it was great he caught himself and stopped. Now you just want to give it time to see if that becomes a pattern and a regular change in his life.
Third, before you move in completely if you every are thinking it’s time, try long weekends first. The extra stress of living together may reveal some things that “date nights” do not. Before you fully commit to moving everything home, take it in small steps.
Thank you Leslie, yes that is a bit of an issue. We were seeing separate therapists, he decided his was not “doing him any good” and he offended him at one point. So he asked if he could see mine. In hindsight, maybe that was not good idea. He liked her at first and they seemed to making progress and one of his “stressors” happend and he stopped everything, got angry, said no more counseling, “they don’t help anyway” and blames her for my leaving for this long. He said she was just my “cheerleader” and a man-hater, unprofessional and not really there to help us etc, etc. He also said if I go back to her he will file for divorce. But he is open to me and him going to new therapists. I’m unsure of how to respond this, I mean I’m not afraid of him filing for divorce that is empty threats like others he has made. But if I keep going to her he will continue to fight over it. The Dr Jeckyl and Mr Hyde when stressers arise is just so confusing. I’m not sure if he is believer or not, he has started going to church with me and I believe is struggling with some issues and convictions from God. Leslie, I know the chances are slim for so many of these men, have you seen success with ones who were able to surrender and get the supernatural help needed from God? The not knowing and living in limbo is so hard, I’m doing a month to month extended stay hotel and I seem paralyzed at the thought of taking steps for a 3-6 mo apartment lease, seems so long but then again its almost been 3 months and seems like we cant past 30 days without an angry outburst of some kind. He says thats because I’m not there and his anxiety is up and down.
Leslie, I’m curious to hear your feedback to Trying in regards to her husband justification of ongoing anger outburst and behavior being due to her leaving and not being home with him. It’s a familiar tune for me.
So we have had more moments of repentance for things he has done and seems so humble but then the manipulation stuff is happening. We are separated and when we see each other he wants to have sex, I said I’m not comfortable with that and I wont be until we have prolonged period of good change and my feeling safe. Last week he agreed but this week he got mad and said I’m not being biblical, and what about his needs and asked what I was doing to make changes I needed to make, said I don’t show respect and other things a good wife should…it escalated very quickly due to his anger and I could tell he would not let it die so I left to go back to my temp living space. I just read Leslie’s articles “Moving beyond the Manipulators tactics” and “9 common tactics of manipulators” and wow!! Exactly what I’ve been experiencing he has used pretty much everything on the list.
I know you say there is no point in confronting the manipulative tactics head on, but its so tempting to point it out especially when it seems so obvious now. He thinks he is just ‘stating his feelings or the facts when its clearly a tactic. And if I would have stayed it would have been one of our 5 hour long “discussions” that just drains the life out of me, as it is I have a migraine ever since I left. I don’t know how to explain to him my side without pointing out his tactics when he does not get his way.
My husband and I were happy as far as I could tell and I never thought that we would break up. When his cousin died in a tragic car accident he went back to Sweden for a week to be with his family. I could not go because I was in the middle of attending out of town clients from work. He did not seem to be upset that I could not go so I let him be. The next thing that I know, he reconnected with an old friend from high school that he had a crush on years ago and they started to have an affair! I had no clue what was going on until a month after he came back from Sweden. He proceeded to see both her and I until I caught him testing her one night. I confronted him and he told me the truth about what happened. We broke up and went our separate ways. Neither of us fought for our relationship. I was angry and decided not to be upset about it and just keep it moving. Then after about a month of not speaking to him I became sad. I wanted him to tell me that he wanted to be with me and not her. I contacted Sorceress Mama Jaja from Spiritual Coven for a love spell and she totally helped me! she was able to get him to miss me to where he wanted to get back together again. He had a lot of regrets and felt bad for not fighting to keep me and for cheating in general. He values our relationship so much more now and we are together now! You can also get your spouse back with the help of Sorceress Mama Jaja contact her through firstname.lastname@example.org
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