I don't normally do this but I was so disturbed by a recent pastor’s blog response to a woman in a destructive marriage that I wanted to respond both to him and her publically on this forum. I have been in communication with this pastor, Dr. Mike Lawyer, and he said that he has read my material and doesn't disagree with much of what I write however his answer to this woman does not reflect an understanding of domestic abuse or a destructive marriage. I also posted a response to his blog on his blog which he has yet to approve.
My concern is that hurting women go to their pastor for advice. Studies show that most women who are in an abusive marriage will first seek spiritual guidance from their place of faith as the first step of getting help. His advice to her is grossly inadequate and borders on ridiculous. I’ve included the question the woman asked and a link to his response. Read it. My response to his response is posted on this blog. If you think it would be helpful, print it out or forward it to your pastor so that he can be better informed on these issues.
You’ll never believe the terrible state of my marriage. I was raised in a Christian family. My father and mother never fought. I wasn’t rebellious as a teen and my husband and I went through all the “proper” courtship process before getting married. Now, five years later, everything has fallen apart.
Roy, my husband, who was so loving and kind in the beginning has become rude, surly, and angry all the time. The good thing is that he doesn’t hit me or the children (one boy and two girls), but he gets really quiet and spends a lot of time in the basement. Every once in a while, he does blow up and wowser, what a blow-up. He curses, yells, calls us all kinds of names and throws things. We never know when he’s going to blow and what is going to cause it. We’re all walking on egg shells all the time.
Can you fix him? Can you help us?
Hurt & Confused
You can read his response to her here:
Dear Pastor Lawyer,
I disagree with much of what you offered this woman. You started well, pointing her to Christ and telling her to put her marriage in its proper place. However, from there, I think you missed the essence of helping her by telling her that if she became more aware of her own sin she wouldn’t mind being verbally battered by her husband. In addition, you did not attempt to help her think through whether or not she and her children are safe.
First, I do not think it was this woman’s pride or sense of entitlement that is being injured by her husband’s cruel words. It is her spirit. The Bible is clear, “reckless words pierce like a sword”(Proverbs 12:18). “With their words, the godless destroy their friends” (Proverbs 11:9). “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:21).
James reminds us that words harm people. He strongly warns people about the power of our tongue and how wrong it is to use it to attack people. He writes, “It is restless and evil, full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, that is not right!” (James 3:8-10).
This woman is a precious daughter of God. She is created in His image and God hates what her husband is doing to her. Why did you not speak to that? Her heart breaks not because she is a prideful woman but because of her husband, the very one who has promised to love and cherish her, verbally batters her (Psalm 69:20). His cruel words have a significant impact on her physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. (See Psalm 55:2,4,5,13).
Second, this woman mentioned that in his anger, her husband not only verbally assaults her but also throws things. She is not just in pain, she is afraid.
What if he starts punching her, or the children? She said they are walking on eggshells around him. You completely ignored the potential danger she and her children may be facing. It’s important that you know that abusive behavior in marriage increases in intensity and severity over time. Every day we hear about women who are battered and murdered by their spouses or boyfriends.
Instead of addressing her safety, you encourage her to build him up and compliment what he does well. But what about speaking into what he is doing that is destructive and sinful? God’s word has much to say about how this wife is to deal with this and I don’t think it is to be silent and pretend it isn’t that bad by building up his already inflated ego.
The Apostle Paul tells us “Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). You said nothing to indicate to this woman that her husband’s behaviors were sinful and evil even though God’s word clearly indicates that they are.
Here are some Biblically sound things she could do to overcome evil with good.
- It is good that she protect herself and her children from his violent outbursts. The prudent see danger and take refuge (Proverbs 12:17). When Herod was seeking to kill baby Jesus, the angel didn’t tell Joseph to trust God and submit to Herod or build him up, he told him to flee.
- It is good that she expose the unfruitful deeds of darkness (Ephesians 5:11). She tried to do this with you. You could have encouraged her to tell her own pastor, her small group leaders, or others who might be able to help her develop a safety plan for when her husband is getting violent as well as how to plan a confrontation with him.
- Instead of pretending like nothing is wrong like the Kings advisors did in the story of The Emperor’s New Clothes, God’s word says is good that we speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:25).
- It is good to stop someone from sinning against you when possible. Jesus tells us that when someone sins against us we are to go to him and talk with him to see if we can be reconciled. If he will not listen, Jesus said to bring it to the church (Matthew 18:15-18). For her to silently “endure” his treatment of her is not good for her, nor is it good for him, their children or the long term survival of their marriage (James 5:19-20; Proverbs 19:19).
- It is good for her to allow her husband to experience the consequences of his behavior (Galatians 6:7). If she needs to call the police when he is punching holes in walls or file a protection from abuse order for her safety, this may wake him up to the destructiveness of his ways, which may lead him to repentance. That would be very good indeed.
- It is good to see the fruits of repentance before reconciling. When Joseph’s brother’s treated him treacherously, Joseph forgave them and was kind to them when they needed food, but he did not trust them nor did he expose himself to them until he saw they were changed (Genesis 42-45).
- It is good to pursue your own good and the good of others (1 Thessalonians 5:15). She is not wrong, sinful, or prideful to want the abuse to stop and her husband to change. You are right in indicating to her she can’t “make” that happen, but she can certainly do some things for her own good, that might make it more likely that he wakes up and recognizes that he is not entitled to the perks of a good marriage when he acts like an enemy.
- It is good to be gracious to your enemy (Romans 12:20). A woman in this situation is tempted to be overcome by evil and retaliate against her spouse in sinful ways of her own. It is good that we help her not to do that but also encourage her to stand up for what is good, right and just instead of passively enduring evil within her own home.
As Biblical counselors, we are to help her understand her role as his Biblical helpmate. I already established that it is not in her best interests to pretend and placate with him, but do you think it is in his best interests? I don’t believe so. Rather I believe it is in his best interests that he comes to Christ, repent and change his ways. He will only see his sin when he is confronted with it or experiences the consequences of it.
This will not happen if she is silent about the sin done against her and her children and just tries harder to please him.
Domestic abuse is not a suffer for Jesus moment. – Click To Tweet.
Suffering for Jesus should be done to bring about someone’s good. The suffering that enables sin to continue without consequence is not good for her, for him, for the children, or for their marriage. It’s bad all the way around.
Proverbs 25:26 says, “If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.” This woman may suffer more as she speaks the truth, holds him accountable for his abusive behavior and exposes his deeds of darkness. But those action steps are for his possible good and for her and her children’s safety.
Also, we must ask ourselves what are the children learning about a Biblical picture of marriage? How are they being affected by what’s happening in their home? Studies show that children are neurologically affected by the emotional climate in their home and that impacts their entire future. As their mother, she is a steward of her well-being as well as her children’s. To encourage her to stay passive and silent in the face of such damaging behavior is not only foolish, it’s sinful.
Proverbs warns us repeatedly about the consequences of living with an angry and contentious person, but one verse sticks out, “Do not befriend angry people or associate with hot-tempered people, or you will learn to be like them and endanger your soul” (Proverbs 22:24,25). The Bible warns that the sins of the father are passed down to the children.
Please rethink your advice to her and other women who seek help regarding angry and abusive spouses. God’s word is so rich on how to handle these issues and it’s much more robust and redemptive than to simply try harder to build him up and make him happy.
Friend: What has been your experience when going to your spiritual leaders for help? Have they given you similar advice as this pastor did?
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Oh mighty woman of God!!!! thank you for your study of His word and allowing God to use you to shatter the darkness with the light of TRUTH! Great article. Much needed in the Christian community and beyond. Our son is narcisstic sosciopath and we have battled this for years. He will turn 40 this year. I read your book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship and it changed my life. I have given and recommended it over and over again. We stood with our daughter-in-law in a horrific divorce and am saddened as I think of the years of “trying harder”. She is walking more and more free each day (she read your book and is working with a Godly counselor, who recommended the book) She now seeks to protect herself and her children in the difficult and challenging situations that arise, with their father. Again thank you and may God richly bless you and grant you the desires of your heart! I stand, Eph 6:13. LBB.
You are exceptional parents. May God bless you and comfort you in every way. My husband was convicted of physical and sexual abuse of our children and his parents chose to side with him in ways that can only be destructive to him and hurtful to their grandchildren.
I am overwhelmed by your honesty. Like Valerie, my former in laws abandoned me and my children despite police reports detailing abuse, despite the damage they themselves saw their son to do our home, despite how much they saw him drinking and despite a restraining order against him. Colluding with him has only harmed him more, fast forward two years- his drinking worsened and he lost his job. His relationship with his children is worsening. You are brave, and honest. I pray God brings you peace as I know you are suffering as a parent.
I was once told by a pastor well all spouses fight this was after we had been seeing this pastor from counceling and the pastor knew the fighting was not normal conflict that all marriages go through i left that church and I divorced him he became more angry and it got worse the more I confronted him about his behavior sometimes exposing their sin leads to further abuse
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you; reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Proverbs 9:8
Thankfully, this was not the direct advice I received from my pastor once I revealed my husbands abusive behaviors. However, this was the message from the pulpit! So it has to get so bad at home that I was in constant fear for our lives before I found the strength to tell my pastor. For four years of severe abuse, I heard how we as wives could win our husbands by being Christ like, or how we should give our difficult husbands to God and not worry or fear, or how we are all called to suffer for Christ. Those messages, without proper explanation, kept me bound in a physically, mentally, verbally, and sexually abusive marriage for too long. It’s dangerous! I wish more ministers could understand. Thank you, Leslie, for speaking truth!
Amen 100%! that’s exactly where I was for way too many years, during which much damage was done to our poor children (and myself of course, and other marriages he was breaking up with his affairs… ) the fruit of “working it out” and “unconditional love” was NOT good fruit in that season…
It hurts that the real truth and walking in True obedience to God’s Word here makes us marginalized and an offence in the church at large.. 🙁
But alas, in the end, we only answer to One!! 🙌🏼
Oh my!! I am soo saddened by this pastors advice… it surely reminds me of the kind of direction I got from a “woman pastor” at my church 7 years ago.
I went in to share some of the same things in my marriage that this woman wrote… except I shared that they were “sexual issues” too along with outbursts and I had just celebrated my 20th year of marriage… in which the last 2years were quiet different than the 18 previous. Here is my advice..”as much as possible, go home and live in peace!” Wow! I knew that was something to put before the Lord.. we went to counseling with a different counselor in same church for two months and he too sent me on my way with my husband by my side after he shut down my honest talk about my husband abuse. His quote..” we are out of time now, we will have to talk about this next time.”…. 2 days later, I fleed from my home with my three children with the help of my off duty police officer neighbor. I got a protection order and my husband became “unglued”… as if the Lord exposed his heart and allowed his mental state be given over.. such as king Sauls demise!
I have been on a intense, amazing, Gods faithful and hopeful journey with The Lord ever since.
I call it.. “The great exodus!” And “Gods Rescue”… for a rescue it is!! My kids and I are overcomers!! Thank you Jesus for your great “rescue” in my life! I have found a much safer and healthier church too!
Thank you for standing up to this pastors/biblical counseling advice!! I’m soo grieved that he believes he is giving sound advice!! Praying for your work you do!! I refer many women to your website/blog for direction and advice every week! God is a God of Rescue…
Praise God for His work on your behalf! So has He done for us and we are now far away from his abuse and living in health, peace, and joy! He is the Great Deliverer!
I lived that life for over 25 years. We have eight children. The consequences of not confronting the anger, swearing, intimidation, and verbal and emotional abuse are this:
1) My adult children have a surface relationship with their father. They are able to have polite, even friendly conversations with Dad, but they don’t trust him emotionally to share with him the scary things about being a young adult in today’s world.
2) My teens at home treat me with grave disrespect because they’ve grown up seeing Dad do so. My teen son is verbally abusive to me and his younger sister. My 12yo son is beginning to speak incredibly rudely to me, because Dad does, and because Dad tells me that if I did a better job of being a mom and wife, I wouldn’t be in in this situation.
3) My husband and I have no relationship. I began practicing boundaries and CORE about 2 years ago. My husband calls it rebellion and tells me I’m crazy and a narcissist. However, I choose joy. He no longer goes into rages with me, because I don’t accept it. He is desperately sad, alone, lonely, bitter, and unaccountable to anyone, as he’s no longer in fellowship at any church nor is he in counseling.
4) I choose joy: I have found a Christian fellowship that is becoming my church family. My adult children and I have amazing relationships. I have a warm circle of close friends. I have purpose and dignity, regardless of what my teen son and husband say. I will never again live in the shadows.
5) The damage being done to my youngest children is immeasurable. But my God knows, and He will deliver and He will heal. The children know my position. I believe that part of why my teen son attacks (and the attacks are lessening both in number and in ferocity) is because he knows that I’m safe for him to express the emotions he’s dealing with. I will tell him when he’s out of line, and I expect him to make amends. I will not accept him screaming at me or calling me names. But I will listen through his anger and calmly respond in love. He is beginning to understand.
We have 8 children too. They’re a huge reason I finally left. It’s really difficult for sure, but there’s so much more peace, and the children are doing so much better.
I’m amazed you’ve stayed. It was totally destroying me. I had to separate to survive.
I forgot to mention the part that grieves me the most:
Only one of my children is in regular fellowship with any body of believers. I feel that’s because they saw the church sitting back and doing nothing while they were young. Their experience was “going because we have to,” not because there was any love or joy in the meeting or in our fellowship. They feel betrayed and unsupported, and I understand.
And yes, the standard preached from the pulpit was that of a wife’s submission to her husband, of winning him through her quiet manner, of letting God convict him of his siin.
I also have 8 kids. I am still living with my husband, sort of. I have turned off most communication for now to stop the spinning. So far, only one of my children has left the faith. I pray for her daily and she knows and says she doesn’t mind. I still have 5 at home. I will add your family to my prayer list. ❤️🙏
I, too, have 8 children. He has always been a manipulator and could be quite charming when it suited his ends. He became a grouch when he didn’t get what he “needed.” He also depended on my emotional and physical and psychological intimacy to make him feel good about himself. I was broken when I came into the marriage – he knew it, I would spill all my thoughts and burdens to him – and stayed broken in fundamental places (despite some growth in some areas) – with his manipulation and attempts to micro-manage the emotional & physical environment of the home.
The last few years, I finally went into full defense mode and stopped trying to make things work according to his expectations (I have since found out he was already getting his emotional needs met by another woman), and protected myself emotionally from him (oh, the ways he could twist my thinking to work for him) and mostly physically. He was miserable, we were mostly miserable.
And after 28 years of marriage, he finally found someone else to meet his emotional – and physical – needs.
It’s all still fresh. It’s only been a month since he consummated his new dependence & I found out. He is still trying to play nice with me. He “still loves” me. And he still believes his new relationship is just a consequence of me shutting him out, while he had done everything he could to “make things work.”
My 3 younger children have particularly suffered over the years, somewhat wild & selfish. My 14 yo son is particularly discouraged about his life, overweight and uninspired – depressed. I seek daily prayer for their healing. I believe we are already happier since he moved out, even if just to his mother’s 5 miles down the road. Most of my older children are angry with him, although he doesn’t see that his actions betrayed them, too.
Valerie! I’m so sorry you are walking this terrible road! I don’t know anything more gut wrenching than affairs. Certainly, it devastated me far more than anything else life brought.
Don’t believe a liar… don’t surrender yourself to someone who is hurting you and your kids… Psalm 101: 6-7
so did you stay or leave? Are you still there and working through it while being there?
Leslie, I simply want to thank you for championing those of us that have been in destructive marriages , trying to seek the Lord in the midst of the pain and crazy making only to be told oftentimes that we are the problem. God has raised you up to speak truth in love not only to those of us in the hard places but to those with spiritual authority who misuse it and/ or simply do not understand emotional abuse. Thank you , thank you, thank you!
Amen to everything you said
Amen and Amen! So thankful! It has been an wonderful validation and blessing to me!
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!
I wish I had seen this post several years ago.
I wouldn’t have felt so desperate and alone.
When experiencing a similar implosion of my marriage after 6 years, I reached out to every pastor, former youth pastor and godly friend I had to assess what God wanted me to do.
I found quickly that whether speaking to confidential prayer groups, church leaders, our pastor or even my family or his only had one result.
They either intentionally or unintentionally overlooked my desire for truth and healing to save my marriage by asking me to “pray harder” or “honor my husband” “respect his authority” and “submit” all while allowing his scary, painful and unusual behaviors that drove me to pain and loneliness while home with a young son.
Even biblical counselors I sought to help save our marriage forced me to placate and ignore the behaviors of my husband. I was told once by a man my husband selected through a discipleship ministry to leave the room while he spoke with my husband alone and was forced to sit humiliated outside the door. On another pivotal visit he told me to “shut up” in a session in front of my husband who said nothing. I never went back and was accused of refusing to seek help.
On a second try, a woman at a local church would allow my husband to speak for the entire hour, setting his story and even lying as I sat silently, afraid to object or interrupt. Once the time was over, she had never stopped to ask my needs or allow me to speak but instead said we would pick up next week and sent us back into chaos without hope and in fear for another 7 days.
When I finally found biblical boundaries in your book I ordered online, I was berated for exaggerating and lying and shamed into fearing the book would cause him to leave if I sought it for help.
Even our old youth pastor who married us traveled to our sides his general message, though the most prayerful and compassionate toward me I had yet, still missed the mark. He left and I felt scared and alone.
After a two more years of escalation of anger and turmoil and of my trying to take every pieced together piece of advice: stay and try harder and respect him and pray harder, divorce is wrong:
an incident of physical abuse occurred between my husband and my son after we spent a month with my family. I finally felt I could leave at this point as my instincts and worse fears finally came true and physical abuse had begun. I remained clear that I desired to heal our marriage as we separated.
By this time, everything went downhill after this. Because we hadn’t shown anyone how bad things were, I had no support and was accused of losing my mind and going “crazy.” His parents even changed the locks on the home we rented from them and rumors spread in the church where his father was a deacon. I took my son to a friends home a mile away and begged my husband to be honest, to fight for us and to get help. Everything only got worse as our truth was exposed to everyone.
After finally finding a biblical boundary filled professional counselor that spoke tough truths to my heart and his, my husband shut down and refused to return.
He didn’t like the truth she had for each of us and for us as a couple while I clung to every word, no matter how difficult the changes she asked me to make, as my spirit knew we had finally found Godly counsel.
My husband had a breakthrough exposed to him early on but quickly resisted. By that time the stakes were so high and his family involves and when he went, he made no changes, complaining about her integrity in public. He ultimately raged in our last session, in front of our preschooler, claiming she was into witchcraft, spouting scriptures, throwing things across the room and even calling us “emotional lesbians” all while our young son begged him to stop yelling at mommy.
His lies were protected by his family and his church and I was left abandoned in shame. Another year later we divorced and I started over with nothing.
I will always wonder if my marriage of 10 years by the time it ended could have been saved if we had found the boundaries and truth that you and our final counselor extend upon our and my first desperate tries before it was too late.
Susan, you did everything right! I don’t think finding boundaries sooner would have made a difference. The problem lies with the abuser, not the abused.
Oh my gosh, Leslie! This makes me so angry! It is absolutely unacceptable that this pastor should advise this woman along these lines. So unbiblical and ungodly.
Your response to this pastor was right on! I (we blog followers) are so grateful that God has raised you up and given you the insight and wisdom to combat this ungodly mindset in the church.
When a man acts like this woman’s h. is acting, it’s been my experience that it is highly likely that there is hidden sin being harbored–very often porn–that causes him to vomit his guilt and shame onto those around him. What is he doing in the basement? That’s one question I’d be asking, and asking God to reveal.
This woman needs support to put healthy boundaries for safety and sanity in place, just as you advise. She needs to get help, and expose the sin to the light, just as we are instructed to do in God’s word. Not enable. Not cover up. Not pretend.
I was one of the lucky ones: when I finally reached out for help, I was heard and supported. My husband has been confronted with interventions, exposure and consequences. Still praying for a heart change, but standing firmly with Christ, against sin. Not with my unrepentant h.
Thank you Leslie!!
Hi, T.L., we haven’t heard from you in a while. Welcome back!
I fully agree with your suspicion that what is going on in the basement may very well be at the root of the problem. There is sin being harbored there (I doubt he is doing anything healthy), and it would be enlightening if she had a way to investigate that, but must keep herself safe if she has to confront him about it. We must remember that the Enemy is always looking for ways to destroy and kill, and he sets traps in front of us to try to ensnare us, so when there is anger or fear, those two things give him a lot of ground to ensnare us. We have to keep our hearts clean and our souls washed in the Word as a shield against his tactics.
JoAnn: Thank you! I was traveling for a month, am in the thick of critical interventions in my marriage, and now am in the midst of moving countries, so have not had time to drop in much. It will be awhile still before I can be present much. I’ve missed you and many others. I’ve not worried a bit about the women who badly need support, because you, Ali, Connie, Nancy, and so many others are always present with excellent insight and advice. Such a wonderful community!
We’ve missed you.
Thank you, Ruth. You are one whom I have missed, too! ❤️
TL, I would be interested I. Hearing about the critical interventions as I am currently going through the same. Our counselors are teaming up with our pastor and church elders to see if they can be more effective as a team. It is going to be very interesting because my husband has worked very hard to keep those parts of his life very compartmented but now it is coming together and he won’t be able to hide. He has started spiraling down in the past month and I am just praying that it brings him to a point of repentance before he spirals so far that the damage is too much.
Hi Karen. It’s so good that your counselors are teaming up with the pastor and elders. (As long as there are no weak links on the team, like a pastor who holds to the permanence of marriage at any cost) A team approach will be helpful for exactly the reason you mentioned: nowhere to hide. Yes, these guys compartmentalize and pretend. But no more pretending for you! Expose the resistant sinner to the light.
I’m wondering what you mean by your husband “has started spiraling down” and that you hope he repents before “the damage is too much?” Could you explain what’s going on a bit?
By interventions, I mean getting multiple avenues of accountability on board: counselors, pastors and elders, other men who really get what is going on and aren’t afraid to call it out and deal with it.
Your involvement in terms of firm and progressively firmer boundaries is key. You speaking the truth, to your husband and everyone involved in dealing with him is key. Expose it all. They need to know. And he needs to know that you are not hiding and pretending, that you are exposing to this team.
You are the one who has been abused and stolen from in this relationship. And therefore you can figure out and communicate what you need in terms of safety, sanity, and restitution. For instance: if he is an addict of any kind (porn, alcohol, work, etc) you can require that he enters an intensive therapy program, and long term counseling and group therapy.
I hope that helps. If you can give more specifics about what’s going on (sorry if you posted earlier and I missed it or forgot) there might be more I could recommend.
The person who can help you tons about avenues of interventions is Aly. I have learned so much from her.
I will pray for you, Karen. May the Lord strengthen you and give you courage.
Hi TL, by spiraling down, I am talking about his behavior becoming worse as he starts to feel that there is nowhere to turn. The lies, rewriting history, blame shifting, denial, and making up things out of the blue have all increased to the point that it is almost the only communication I have with him. No regular interactions. He tried to take control of the finances (I have been paying the bills for almost all of our nearly 27 year marriage). For the past few years, he kept writing “new budgets” that he wanted me to abide by, none of which were realistic in any way. He is very naive in that he thinks that once the bills are paid we don’t need to spend any money on anything that comes up throughout the rest of the pay period (we have 8 kids and 2 grandkids). Interestingly, after I ended up paying the bills anyway, we had 2 cars that needed state inspections, one of which needed a new tire, a new windshield, and 3 or 4 mechanical things. It was also one of our daughter’s birthday this week.
Upon me showing him these kinds of things that come up every pay day, he still denies that we need to be spending any money beyond the basic bills. I am sure he understands, he just won’t give me the satisfaction of knowing what I am talking about. He also tried to take control of the home in several, “I am the leader of the home and you will all obey me,” sort of ways. It didn’t last long because we all kind of found other things to do, mostly outside of the home. It pretty much left him here talking to himself. He has also written several letters to the session (board of elders at our church) with all kinds of crazy accusations and lies about me as well as the counselors. He sent those ahead of meetings so that he could control the narrative and get a leg up on all of us. Fortunately, our pastor put it in proper perspective to them. I have yet to meet with the session yet, but my counselors did and because they had been working with my pastor, it was a very productive (and very long) meeting. My husband goes before the session this Tuesday evening to answer any questions they have of him at this point and hopefully to try to get through to him in some way. I will meet with them sometime in the near future for them to ask me anything they still are not sure about. My counselor will be with me. My husband has said he is not taking anybody with him to his meeting because the counselors are all unbiblical and he does not want them to tarnish his “Biblical Perspective.” (Oh, and as a side note, he was on the session himself until he abruptly quit about 2 months ago, he said because I am not properly submitting to him and not because he is no longer qualified.) He does have an addiction to porn that I never saw that way until this past year. Then about a month ago, my counselor said that both my pastor and my h’s counselor reported to the elders at my church that my h is excusing his porn use currently because I am not providing for him physically. He had been telling me how proud he was of himself for remaining pure in the face how horribly I was treating him by refusing a sexual relationship until I could see some progress in our emotional relationship. The porn has caused his expectations of me sexually to be very unrealistic but he denies that is the case and claims that it is his biblical right to have sex whenever he wants it and however he wants it regardless of how we are personally relating (or not) or what is going on in our life. I will say he has never asked me to do threesomes, or any other twisted types of things. It is mostly the demands and lack of empathy for me as a person and not just a prostitute who is there to provide only one thing for him.
I shared my story (at least a broad picture, it was already too long to give many details) in last week’s blog post comments. Aly, Nancy, and a few others were amazing in their support. As I said last week, I have been reading all of the blogs and all of you ladies’ responses for quite some time now while I gained strength in the Lord, in my home, and in counsel I was receiving.
It sounds like you are on the right track in terms of getting the help and the support you will need to deal with your very immature husband. I’m very glad that it appears your pastor understands. It does sound like your h. is showing classic signs of addict behaviors (lying, blame-shifting, etc.)
I am so sorry for the deep hurt you bear being married to such an immature, selfish man who sees you as an object to meet his needs instead of a gift from God to honor and cherish. You can be sure your Heavenly Father is not pleased with your h. sinful behavior (and unrepentant, obstinate heart), and He will take care of you.
Judging by your h. behavior and our collective experiences on this site, your h. is limely not heading toward repentance in the near future. And when/if he does repent, it will be a long time of recovery before you can trust him with your heart again.
Somewhere along the line, my posture in prayer changed from mostly, “please change him,” to “show me what to need to know, and help me walk bravely in what I know.” It has helped me to allow God to reveal heart conditions in the process: my h.’s, mine, and even others engaging with us. My hope is in God, not in my marriage or my h.’s repentance. I do hope and pray for his repentance still, but not in the same way (like if it didn’t happen, all is lost. Not true!) The Lord of Hosts is with you, Karen. He is teaching you, growing you, equipping you. He is arming you and protecting you. He is supporting the humble and the oppressed (you) and He is calling your wicked-hearted (in his current condition) to account–I hope and pray he repents. But the current trajectory doesn’t call for optimism.
It is good to keep increasing the interventions. I hope you can also increase your boundaries; i.e. separate from such a nasty man so you can have more peace–safety and sanity. So impirtant for our mental and physical health.
Be strong and courageous. (You have heaven behind you, as you are a daughter of the King.) Make wise choices to protect yourself and your children from this childish and surly man.
Praying for you. ❤️
I appreciate your prayers (as well as the other ladies on here). God continues to bring the perfect Scriptures, sermons, friends, articles, and many other sources to allow me to continue to grow in spite of what surrounds me. I unfortunately have to agree with all you have said about the journey ahead of me. Leslie had a really good blog a while ago about hope vs. wishful thinking. It was one of the biggest things to bring clarity to my situation. So as of now, I am trying to think realistically while also keeping in the back of my mind that my h. Professes to be a Christian and if that is the case, then God can do great work in him if he submits to God’s authority in his life. I know that God could change his heart in an instant, but I do not know if God wills that for my life. I also know that God does not desire for me to be my h’s doormat/enabler but I can also see the good that has already come out of this in the past year. Our church has never handled something like this and yet they are trying their hardest to do what is truly Biblical. They have not done everything perfectly and at times have given me bad advice but have expressed an openness to dialog with me when I feel it has not gone the way it should. Their hearts are truly seeking after righteousness and I am grateful. If my situation brings our church to a place of being a haven for me and the many other women that are enduring even more, what a blessing this trial in my life will have become!
Again, thank you so much for your prayers and your kind words.
Just one other thing that was not sitting with me well. This is just my opinion..,
But your husband didn’t resign from (the church elder board) because you are not submitting to him and therefore his house is not in order…
He resigned because having stayed on the board the elders could have more leverage in holding him accountable for his behavior and his ridiculous irrational thinking patterns and horrible treatment of his wife and family all in the name of a Christian man. (He knows this intellectually)
Your husband is currently not ‘surrendered to God’ nor dies he have an understanding of what that looks like,based on his behaviors, yes, he is claiming being a Christian based on eternal salvation understanding only but not on sanctification and character change to be more Christlike.
Continue to call him and require the standards to what he claims as being a Christian~
Don’t fall for the old messages of well he must really not be saved… only the Lord knows that truly. I see a lot of wives fall into this, and the behavior just gets more entrenched. Treat/Rewuire him as he claims it’s really the best posture. I’m guessing you wouldn’t allow any of your children in your home to behave in such a way (disrespectful, using porn, controlling money etc, being fed unrealistic expectations) so there are healthy requirements that you uphold for your own children for everyone’s safety and sanity.
Goodness, I’m so sorry that you are having to go through such a process and I SO agree with everything T.L. said!
The truth about who God says you are and your value is going to be key for your ‘long list of requirements ‘ if there is any chance of your husband seeking truth and freedom, and it will be key for your healing regardless if the marriage can be redeemed On Gods Terms.
It sounds like you have a counselor, which is wonderful and possible elders in your church that are being informed of the real nature of what your on the first lines against.
I do have some thoughts based on your last post and there certainly was a theme.
The theme being your dealing with a person that is UNREALISTIC every which way possible. Like T.L said, immature! Immature people are
Very unrealistic and very contradictory and controlling. And yes the outrageous lies are when they are doing everything possible to not face their truth.
Writing letters to your elder board, typical addict behavior trying his best to find who will be an accomplice to his destructive irrational thinking.
So at least he is consistent in this form of unrealistic and irrational thinking but if your commitment and plan is to live a marriage that will honor and glorify God, your h will have a long road of intense counseling and re-wiring of his brain and thinking patterns. Sometimes true repentance doesn’t happen until much later down the road.
Do you plan to require professional counseling and intensive treatment for him?
Is your counselor well equipped to deal with such a distorted and unrealistic thinking person that has also been ‘using porn’?
It is my hunch (not saying I’m right) …that the porn use or really his wired posture in objectification is a long history formed from his own childhood based on how irrational his thoughts are about finances and such domineering control.
His theme /lens processes are unrealistic and irrational and this will effect how he interprets many things and people. See.. because he’s so stuck in his own head ~ many healthy voices and truths are already discounted!
I’m not sure what consequences you are willing to put into place but if he is not having any consequences and you are the one suffering, this pattern will continue. (And could get even worse)
And a one-sided marriage in my opinion is really far from the definition of marriage at all.
Your h’s betrayals are not only a toxic threat to your health and soul but to all the children involved based on how he treats you.
He is modeling for them all a role of a husband and they are being impacted daily.
But as you know you have choices. And it sounds like you are taking action.
What other outside support do you have? Do you have a few ‘educated women’ in your corner to help your burden and process? This is critical, they will also help you gain some strength that you may not of had in the past in crucial places.
“My husband goes before the session this Tuesday evening to answer any questions they have of him at this point and hopefully to try to get through to him in some way. I will meet with them sometime in the near future for them to ask me anything they still are not sure about. ”
Karen, this is critical in nature here. I will be in prayer over this.
I am concerned that there is not a very quick date right after for you. This feels vague to me. And your h is going to do anything he can to discredit you in front of people that you will need in your corner for the journey. How well are these board elders ‘educated’ on the severity of his behaviors, his betrayals with porn use and his overall immaturity and addiction to staying immature?
It has been my experience that just because you sit on a board doesn’t qualify you of having maturity, Christian mature integrated beliefs either.
*(Please be cautious because any reinforced belief that he aligns with his mindset is emboldening his irrational thinking) *
Even if there happens to be a form of repentance from him, it is important that you have done your homework and written out your list of requirements before moving on together.
He has taken ALOT, and if he’s serious about repair it’s going to take a lot to do that.
Him acknowledging his wrongs is not him rebuilding TRUST.
Or bringing restitution for what damage he has done to everyone involved because of his choices.
This comment you wrote,
“My husband has said he is not taking anybody with him to his meeting because the counselors are all unbiblical and he does not want them to tarnish his “Biblical Perspective.”
Again he has defined something as ALL counselors.. his thinking is very narrowed infant like. That statement probably scares me the most because of the arrogance and wired in false belief.
I’m sorry this is long Karen and I hope you are able to see and feel the support here on this blog. I do feel strongly that God does equip His daughters regardless if the marriage will be pulled together in a healthy way. Aside from Prayer, gaining a landscape of what you are dealing with will best help you to know what to require so that your husband can get all the urgent care and necessary long term treatment for developing into the kind of Man God desires! Only God knows he outcome of your h, but you’ll get through this. Stay connected;)
Lifting you in prayer and here to support in ways that you need~
Hugs from afar to you precious Karen🌸
Aly, thank you for your responses this morning. I read and prayed over them, knowing that it would be a while before I would have the time to answer.
I love that this has been my life for the past 25 years and yet you are the one who was able to so succinctly capture exactly what is going on. My mind still feels fuzzy sometimes, maybe over time I will be able to communicate these concepts as clearly as you do.
The very first thing my counselor worked on with me was my value in the eyes of God. When I got to her I was so beaten down as a person.
Yes, my husband is very immature, but I didn’t really see it until we had been married for several years. I always used to think I was just misunderstanding him when he would say and do the craziest things (lying, stealing, then denying it when we only had babies in the house and nobody that could have done those things except him, yet he would insist that it was the truth and that he would carry that to his grave, how dare I not believe him and how judgmental of me.
His letters to the elders were so full of lies and contradictions that my counselor said they were able to see it immediately. It is amazing to me that he can’t even see how preposterous most of his craziness is.
So at least he is consistent in this form of unrealistic and irrational thinking but if your commitment and plan is to live a marriage that will honor and glorify God, your h will have a long road of intense counseling and re-wiring of his brain and thinking patterns. Sometimes true repentance doesn’t happen until much later down the road.
Do you plan to require professional counseling and intensive treatment for him?
Yes, we have already been in intensive counseling for about 18 months, but when they said couples’ counseling was over, he decided to stop all counseling. I am still going, and I know for a fact that our session (board of elders) will be requiring it of him. Right now he says he won’t go because they are being unbiblical, but they have met with our session and proven that to be untrue. And the whole first part of that paragraph about the long road ahead of us and what that will entail is exactly what my past 6 months of personal counseling has been about.
Our counselors are incredibly well equipped to deal with problems stemming from child abuse (the source of his trouble), porn and other sexual sins, narcissism, and just about everything else because they have several specialties in their office and they work together as a team. It is truly an amazing counseling center, all while being central to the Word of God! I can’t even tell you how blessed I am that this is where we ended up.
You are absolutely right about the porn use. I know it started for him around the age of 9 but he always made it sound like it wasn’t a big deal, just something that he fell into once or twice every few years. I am now learning from both my counselors and my pastor that this has not been the case and that a lot of our issues are stemming from extensive porn use as well as abuse in his childhood home.
What we are all so stuck in is how to convince him that what is in his head is wrong and not all of the people trying to help him. He has a perception that everyone, including me, is the enemy and will win over all of us. The intense need to win everything is so deep rooted within him. It is actually heartbreaking to watch, maybe the biggest reason that I am still here trying to bring him to a better place.
My counselor has also recently been working with me on keeping the kids and I mentally and emotionally safe. My husband goes out to sea (Navy) on and off, which allows us some respite. When he is home, we are very busy, usually outside of the home. My counselor says we are doing a great job with it. She also says that while she cannot tell me what to do, she does think that separation at least for the sake of healing would be in order. I agree fully and plan to ask the session to bless that decision. My pastor said it is certainly a biblical request. The one problem I have right now is that my husband informed me this past weekend that he is working on our budget to see how much he can have for his own rent to move into his own place. Like all of the other times that I placed boundaries, his first response was that he would hold out forever rather than try to reconcile the issues, which makes me fear that he will leave and not come back. That is so hard to even think about, but I also know that if it does, I am accountable for my life to God and will act accordingly. I also have great support and am currently looking into ways to earn some money to help our household out if that turns out to be the case.
I have tons of outside support. My counselor as well as the whole office there, my pastor and his wife, who knows everything, and three other friends now know. My pastor also has assured me that the session will be a support to me in emotional and spiritual matters as well as any physical matters that come up out of this.
I appreciate you praying for the session as they navigate this. They are not experienced but they are listening to counsel that is experienced. It is not quite as vague as I made it sound. While I don’t yet have an appointment, my counselor will make sure that one is made soon. The session spent 3 hours with the counselors 3 weeks ago after my pastor had spent at least 10-12 hours with the counselors in conference calls. At counsel’s request, my husband was to meet with the session first and then I will meet with them in the next couple of weeks. I actually found out about the extensive porn use from my counselor because she said that my pastor, and the session talked about it at length at that meeting 3 weeks ago, so I am confident that I was advocated for during that meeting. My counselor also said do not ever meet with them without her so that she could step in if anything did become precarious.
Everybody involved has said that repentance will have to be proven and not just spoken, so no worries there for now.
Every counselor he has spoken with as well as our pastor/pastor’s wife have picked up immediately on how he thinks he is the only one that has the correct Biblical perspective, so that will be taken into account and has been already. The arrogance and wired in belief is well recognized by all.
I truly feel blessed by all of you here on this blog, and that is why after so many months of reading I was comfortable joining the conversation. I don’t know what my future holds, but I am still in such a good place and feel that I am exactly where God wants me right now. I feel loved and supported now more than ever before (I suffered silently for 20+ years). I am still hopeful because I know that God can do anything, but realistic at the same time. Elizabeth Elliot says that nobody was ever changed by God that didn’t want to be.
As for the resignation from the session, I feel that he thought they would perceive it as a great sacrifice from a godly man and that they would come to his aid and reinstate him. That is not how it will play out. They did not fall for the false piety, and will need to see true healing before they ever allow him back into such a position in our church.
I have no idea whether he is truly a Christian or not, but I can easily see that he is and that the abused little boy has never been able to come out of the shell of protection that he so tightly formed at such a young age. Regardless it is not mine to judge but if he does profess Christianity, then according to Galatians 6, I am to gently nurture him back into fellowship. You are absolutely right about all of that.
Thank you for your lengthy response and love for a sister in Christ. I covet your prayers over the next couple months as things are starting to roller coaster on me.
Hugs right back at ya!
So glad you have the support and I’m sorry for the past years.
Glad that you will be getting some space too!
Thanks for writing all that out above, sometimes it can be hard through writing to understand, but you really do have some good excellent counsel!
Such a blessing to have the church support, which can be rare.
Hugs and yes continued prayer for your strength, clarity and courage Karen💕
Thank you so much for your prayers. 💕❤️💕
Karen, T.L and Aly,
I just want to say that this is a lovely conversation to read. It has blessed me ❤️
T.L. Your wisdom here is missed! You are loved and upheld in all that you have going on, Sister!
Thank you, Dawn! I’m grateful for your encouragement and example. Xo
T.L., you are correct with the sin of porn as being a probable culprit for the Husband being discussed in the blog.
For years, I lived with a man who had little regard for me: he traveled a lot, would stay up to the wee hours every night, spent considerable time in his basement home office, and who increasingly became more distant and uninterested in the things going on at home. He began to show the classic signs of a midlife crisis, with weigh loss and purchasing new clothing. He was demeaning, snappy, and our sex life non-existent which I blamed on his 40 year cigarette addiction. I was so sad, as he wouldn’t talk to me, never wanted to go places with me, and I felt invisible and unloved.
After 32 years of marriage, he announced that “he no longer loved me and he wanted a divorce.” He wasn’t interested in
marriage counseling and I knew that this would never work; his mind was made up. I suspected he was having an affair, but I didn’t see any evidence of one. However while my husband had separated from me, we still lived in the same house as he was unwilling to move forward with a divorce. After 8 months of this, I finally pushed him to file as the limbo state was even more difficult. Several months after he filed for divorce, I found out the truth as to what was going on when the “other woman’s husband called me” to alert me that his wife and my husband had been having an affair for 4 years. The pieces fell into place as I learned that she was a stripper in another state! Then I started looking closely at the credit card he used for business and discovered over $35K spent in strip clubs in a 10-year span, an extra charge on our cable bill for some porn channel I didn’t know we had access to, and many extravagant gifts for this woman. Now that I knew the truth, I confronted my husband and he admitted to giving her $30K of our joint income! He finally turned in the discovery (financial) paperwork for the divorce, and I saw that he had written this woman $40K worth of checks in a one-year span after our separation! Later I put the pieces together that he used the UGMA (college savings account) of one of our children to fund this woman! The stripper’s husband said my ex gave her $2500-$5000 a month! Trust me, we are very middle class and I pinched pennies and cut coupons, never understanding his rants that we “didn’t have any money”. Of course we didn’t — he was giving it all away! My attorney said it was “her most salacious case”. A psychologist I spoke to said it sounds like my ex suffers with bipolar and maniac depression.
My minister once had a sermon where he said that ” if we open the portals of our mind to Satan, he gets a foothold into our soul.” I believe that this is what happened to my ex — he turned to strip clubs while traveling, and he became addicted. Unfortunately those addicted to porn can never have meaningful relationships with real women. The stripper was using him, as she only wanted his money. She was 17 years younger, with enhanced assets. The stripper and her husband are in the the process of a divorce, and I have been divorced over a year. Two families with children destroyed by this addiction. My adult children are wearing battle scars…. my daughter is eloping rather than have her father be part of her wedding, as he is not the father she though she had. My son, whose account was destroyed by my ex giving away the funds, has a very awkward relationship with his father.
In hindsight I can see that the porn addiction destroyed our marriage. I caught just a few glimpses over the years that there may have been a problem, such as when a video rental store called be about delinquent videos with x-rated names being outstanding. The ex acted as if it was a one-time thing… I never saw subsequent evidence and so I forgave and forgot. I think I was very good about just putting up blinders, all in the name of persevering and trying tto be a “witness” to him. I prayed and prayed, and while I never would have thought divorce was the answer to my prayers, I now believe it was. God has taken me out of Egypt. I am still in the desert, as I try to move forward, but there is the promise of a Holy Land. And trust me, while being alone is hard at times, I am free from his demeaning hostility and anger. I no longer lick my wounds. I no longer justify his actions. I am free.
Dear Lynn, I am so sorry for the pain and destruction you endured with life with an ensnared and unrepentant man. But I do rejoice with you that the Lord has led you out of abuse and into His freedom. May He continue to draw you near, bless you, and show Himself to be the best of husbands. You are His precious and dear one. And He loves your battle-scared and wounded children, and I believe through your faithfulness He will call them to Himself and restore them.
I prayed through this passage for you just now: (Isaiah 43:1-7)
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush[a] and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
Thank you, TL. A beautiful passage and so healing. I will claim it as a promise for my children.
Lynn, How are you doing now?
Thank you for asking.
People tell me that I am so strong, but I often don’t feel that way. Leading up to the divorce, (prior to finding out about the stripper) I was depressed and prayed to die all of the time. The pain was visceral; I could barely function. My ex kept telling me that “no one knows the REAL you.” It was gas lighting, but it left me so confused as I thought I was a really nice person . While I knew I was kind and overly considerate, the ex told everyone I was this wicked witch. I felt hopeless, a failure, was terrified about the future, and I struggled with my faith too. I had prayed for years for my husband’s salvation; why hadn’t X been saved? Yet, while walking out the separation and divorce, God has answered so many prayers. The most significant being the sale of our marital home and the purchase of my new home — my old home was sold in a matter of 3 days, and I purchased a new one within a few days, so I literally sold and bought a home in a week! Financing worked out perfectly too.
It was actually a relief when I found out about my ex’s double life and I had a money trail to follow. How pitiful and sick the ex was to think that this other woman loved him and wanted to spend her life with him? As far as I am concerned, he threw away a treasure for trash, and he threw away his family. He isn’t even with the stripper, as she wasn’t interested in him; only his money. He is living with a woman who resides nearby.
But it is still very hard to realize that my life is so different than I pictured. It is difficult to know that his character was so flawed, and that I missed the signs or ignored them. I still struggle with not being “good enough”, and I am distrustful. I miss his family whom has drawn very distinct “lines in the sand” where I have been dismissed. Yet, my minister pointed out that X has no one, but me, to “stand in the gap for him”. So I pray for X’s salvation, for the stripper, his current girlfriend, the stripper’s now ex husband, etc. A whole new cast of characters have unwittingly entered my life and they all need to know Christ.
I was looking forward to 2017 as being the year in which I wanted to consider dating….
however, God has different plans for me. Last October, my granddaughter came to live with me and I received full legal and physical custody of the child. My son and his ex-wife have struggled with addiction, although thankfully my son is doing better. The child is 2. I don’t have the energy to even think about dating.. I am barely able to keep my head above water, as now I am paying for daycare on top of a mortgage and lingering legal bills. I make just a tad too much for any kind of state assistance. But God… the things I have received in order to care for this child are amazing, from a car seat, stroller and boxes of beautiful clothing, a toddler bed and toys. I know , without a doubt, that this is my purpose for now.
I do yearn for a Christian man…. for a mutually supportive and loving relationship. To serve together in ministry or at our church…. But I am trusting that God will bring the right person to me in His time. For now, providing a safe house for this child, and to give her with security, is my calling.
Lynn, I love your reflections about how God provided for you! Selling and buying a home in a week is unheard amazing!! It seems caring for a toddler is another gift to keep you from looking for a man before you had a chance to heal and get more counseling. I am told that sometimes women in our circumstances start into another similar problem relationship unless we hunker down and do some more work on ourselves. I have been told that I will know I am doing better when I spend more time thinking about myself and my interests and less time thinking about my abusers and the dynamics of my life related to him.
Blessing to you, Lynn.
Thank you for the insight that God may be using my grandchild as a way to further heal me. That idea really hadn’t occurred to me! I do think that as women we have so much love to give, that we want to pour that into others. Or even a pet! And you are correct that we can fall into another relationship too quickly. This child is a blessing! Thank you!
Thank you, Lynn, for sharing your story so vulnerably and honestly. I really appreciate it.
I pray for God’s continued healing in your life and for joy-filled days ahead for you.
This woman’s marriage is so like mine. I went to 2 different churches for help. They both told me to work on myself and gave me no help. But God did help! I learned to take my children and leave the house when my husband raged at us. He no longer rages but his abuse is still there in subtle ways. We really have no relationship because I cannot trust him. I am working on a plan to leave.
Leslie, thank you for your voice for women, for your stand to help us who are in destructive marriages to find our way to legitmate truth. I too have been told the very same things- that since I’m seeking the help nothing can be done about my husband, but we can just look at what you are doing as a wife and let’s see, you are probably not being respectful enough, you aren’t building him up enough, just serve and treat him like you would if Jesus were in your home, don’t nag, etc, etc. You get the picture. I’ve lived with immense guilt for many years because I’ve never been good enough to produce the changes that the Bible claims should happen if I only practice a quiet spirit. Only recently have I come across your material and for the first time in 20 yrs of marriage I have realized that God is just as heart broken over my marriage as I am – that He isn’t in heaven shaking his finger at me saying- you really should try harder, this is all your fault. I don’t know where our relationship is going from here – I still struggle with setting boundaries and how to speak the truth in love as it often doesn’t seem to matter what I say or how I say it- it just goes in one ear and out the other. At any rate please continue to carry the torch for us ladies who are in these relationships that we so often don’t understand.
Thank you for responding to his blog, Leslie. When I got to the part in his response when he accused the woman of pride, I gasped in horror. All too familiar. I am less enchanted with religion the longer I live; I’m so glad that God is real and living and not bound by the philosophical rules of men’s religion.
Thank you, Leslie, for your words of rescue for this woman. Every time I read these stories, I wonder how many of these wives husbands have Aspergers, like my own husband does. The diagnosis came 3 months ago. Knowing about the Asperger’s is helpful, but at the end of the day, I still need to care for myself in the same way you tell ALL wives to, Asperger’s or not. God loves me. He does not want me emotionally abused! It’s hard enough explaining to pastors “normal” abuse. With Asperger’s, the pastor NEVER sees that side of your husband that you tell him about. It is maddening!!!
Hi Elizabeth, I was at a counseling course at Elijah House in Spokane last February. The director of Elijah House has Asperger’s and is doing very well. I’m just saying that you can be understanding but please do not use that as an excuse. Maybe you could even set up a week of counseling with Mark Sanford there. He and his wife Maureen are truly walking with the Lord and would not sanction the sort of abuse that is talked about here. Our minds and bodies may be broken, but our spirits are whole and can mature in the Lord as well as anyone else. Maybe a bit differently, but still.
Twenty-some years ago my first husband and I had a week of counseling with Mark and it was so wonderful how he has such a simple way of hearing God’s voice. He’d stop talking to us, say a sentence or two to the Lord, listen a few seconds and have new insight. Or he’d say let’s go back home and pray and hear God and come back tomorrow, and we’d have answers. He had a woman with him who was in training and the three of us usually came up with the same answer at the same time. Unfortunately my h chose not to listen. In fact, on the last day Mark said he’d had a dream where he was in a building watching my h be chased by wolves. Mark was calling to warn him but he wouldn’t listen.
Awesome Leslie! Thanks for speaking out in defense of women and children in abusive situations!
This is indeed upsetting! Grrrr….
I posted a reply on the site, too.
Thank you Leslie, for confronting the twisted thinking.
You know, it’s this kind of ‘doormat Christianity’ thinking that kept me from Christ. I threw out Christ 🙁 because I saw that no matter how involved in the church my mother was, the problem was only worsening. The adults were all so busy being ‘nice’, they ignored the hard work of being kind. She needed to be confronted, not allowed to continue in her bullying. I saw this as hypocrisy. To do all this work for the church, while sin abounded and consumed us. It didn’t make any sense.
So this kind of ‘peace at all costs’ mentality can do serious spiritual damage to children who are living in it. It’s very confusing.
Thank God He kept on pursuing me, and is busy unraveling those lies ❤️
The advice I received was equally destructive as church leadership attempted to place the responsibility for my husband’s destructive and unrepentant behavior on me, and to this day, after clear communication, refuse to take responsibility for their own behavior or to hold my ex-spouse accountable for his. This is not only destroying lives but the testimony and reputation of our Lord as the world and community around me watches and condemns “Christians” for such conduct.
I could have written the original letter from this woman – my experience was just like hers (except, I was married to a Pastor). Since my husband was my Pastor, I had no one to turn to, no one to get “religious input” from – besides my Christian counselor. I don’t know what Pastors would have told me since I did not seek their advice. We ended up divorcing because the Pastor in this response is right –
there is nothing you can do to “change” the husband (the rest of the advice is better from Leslie’s viewpoint).
However, through my experience, my current Pastor has been able to see the effects of abuse, so I hope that is able to shape the advice he gives to women who come to him in the future.
Love love your response to the Pastor. I been in a verbal, emotional abused marriage for the past 10 years ,and soon it will be ending
I confess that some pastors are not equipped or skilled to Consuela but they choice to do so which makes matter worse
I been with 3 different pastors and they all treated me without no understand and simpathy
They ask me to forgive and love anyway sending me home with nothing but myself again
I realized that the pressure for the victim to forgive and forget is bigger than abuser to change and seek help
They won’t help at all if they are not willing to go deep in the root of the problem, which in my husband case and many others marriages were already there
They call to check on him but o never got a call to ask how am doing
I confess that seeking help with Church that I thought would help me to save my marriage was as great disappointment as my marriage is
My husband says he is a Christians but lives like the devil at home, but for everyone else he is nice and gentle
I have no hope right now but no place to go with 3 kids 6 and 10 and no money or resources , no support church and family
Deise….I just read your comment. I can only imagine the desperation you feel. I am going to pray for Gods miraculous provisions for you. You are not forgotten by him. Hr will make a way. Can you speak what is true out loud? One day at a time… Just one day. What is the next thing g the Lord is asking you to do?
I UNDERSTAND THIS ALL TOO WELL….
“They ask me to forgive and love anyway sending me home with nothing but myself again
I realized that the pressure for the victim to forgive and forget is bigger than abuser to change and seek help”
I AM PRAYING FOR YOU!
GOD IS FAITHFUL!
Thank you! 🙏
I’ll never forget the weekend we spent counseling with.a couple from our church (he was one of the pastors we had counseled with before). The focus was repeatedly on my emotional state due to hypothyroid. I remember finally being in tears, saying “You misunderstand!” In my heart I KNEW that the hypothyroid condition was caused by the anxiety I dealt with in my marriage, not the other way around! Later, a doctor who helped me get off the medication that my labs showed I clearly did not need, told me that, yes, a hypothyroid state can be caused by a traumatic life situation!!
Leslie, as a guy who has learn a lot from you about overcoming my abusive behaviors and learning to love my wife and family as Christ love the church, I respect your and uphold the message you speak to Women. I think it’s needed far more in the Church. Now that I am learning how to not be the abuser, I can affirm that it’s not right women or anyone should be treated this way.
Leslie, it’s obvious that you had a very strong response to Dr. Lawyer’s post, “Rising Above: Wives”. I read your response and agree with it in light of the original post. But I also looked at Dr. Lawyer’s other posts on his blog after this one to which you responded. He has since added two other posts that seek to add clarification this original post. The first entitled “From whence the letters come” seems to be a quick attempt to respond to some of the feed back he must have received. The second response on May 23, 2017, entitled “Rising Above—Where Christ Is” seems to be more of a reflection and true explanation or an attempt to clarify his original post. http://www.cbcmoscow.com/2017/05/23/rising-above-where-christ-is
Leslie, as a guy, I would like to hear your thoughts about Dr. Lawyer’s followup posts. As both of you are respected Christian counselor’s, I think there is room for disagreement at times. But in learning how to think with humility and patience, you and others have taught me to give others room for reflection and grace to recognize our wrong behaviors or mistakes. Even when good intentions have bad results or cause confusion. Perhaps Dr. Lawyer should have given the followup context at the beginning of his original post. Either way, I would love to hear your followup in context of the extended conversation which this blog post of yours has yet to address.
Paul, I haven’t read his follow up posts but I will. I had contacted Dr. Lawyer privately as well as put a response (almost word for word what I have on this blog) on his blog as my response. We corresponded about my concerns. He was very affirming and respectful, however he chose not to approve my comments on his blog. That concerns me as a blog is out there in internet world for all to read and therefore, open to disagreement – just as mine here is. I felt he needed to allow a healthy dialogue about the way people might take his advice since women would take it to heart as he is a well credentialed pastor. He did say to me he was writing some follow up posts so I will definitely head over there to read them. I put my concerns about his blog here on my blog ONLY because he did not post them on his own site.
Thank you Leslie. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. As I read more from counselors like you on the subject, it becomes easier to spot what true and healthy relationships should look like and how the church should always affirm the people in a marriage and not hold the institution of marriage higher than the people in it.
Sorry, but this man’s overall attitude toward women is condescending, never mind his words. And he is very presumptuous. He gives the impression that a wife can change her husband, that if she hangs in there with her perfect behaviour, he will eventually change. Sorry, that is the philosophy of the world, not the Bible. Not even God or Jesus can change people against their will, because that would be breaking their own established law of free will and He doesn’t do that.
“Be nice to people and they will be nice to you.” Implying that if they aren’t nice to you, you must be doing something wrong. Especially if you are a woman. So what about Judas? And all the others that walked away from Jesus? Jesus must not have been nice enough? And why did Jesus walk away from people and rebuke them? Why did He not stick around and ‘suffer’? Only when the time was right did He suffer, and that not because someone told Him to, only because His Father did.
This pastor’s article first implied that the wife was not drawing near to God, then that she was prideful. Most of us here have done nothing but draw near to God, lay down all our rights, serve, ‘submit’, and do the ‘without a word’ thing, trust him, praise him, build him up to others and the children…….. and it did not get worse before it got better, it just got worse……and worse……and worse……. because enabling addictions never makes anything better, even the world knows that. Justice and mercy go together. Mercy is for the repentant, justice for evil. If this pastor wrote other articles ‘clarifying’ this one, I don’t want to read them until he takes this one down.
Ya, his follow up posts are defensive. Neither professional, nor respectful in their tone and content.
I did read the follow up remarks and I think he didn’t adequately address his answer to his original blog by saying it wasn’t a real person but a made up story and each person can interpret it in various ways. As the author, even of a made up story – he put in certain elements and left out certain elements. He put in the husband was verbally cruel, that the woman felt she was walking on eggshells, and that her husband was throwing things around the house. He didn’t put in that she was a shrew, or an ungodly woman or anything of the sort. Therefore his original answer was biased toward the traditional way women have been advised in this situation ‘ try harder to make him happy. Try harder not to upset him. And if he verbally abuses you, if you saw how utterly sinful you truly are it wouldn’t bother you as much. I saw that counsel as totally inadequate and unbiblical and asked him to retract it. He chose to handle it how he chose to handle it. It’s his blog and he’s allowed to do that. Therefore, I felt compelled to speak up about his response on my blog since he did not change his own words nor did he allow mine to be posted on his blog. I wanted men and women to see a very different Biblical approach to these kinds of situations.
I so agree, Leslie. I think it is both cowardly and proud of him not to allow your response. I responded to the first post. And then at Paul’s suggestion read the other two. And then I responded again. Since he won’t post it, I will post it here:
My initial impression and opinion of your answer to the woman in your “made up story” remains unchanged. It reminds me very much of someone teaching another how to play a board game, and then changing the rules as they go along to ensure they win. That’s what you have done here. You first represented your character one way, gave that character terrible advice, and then instead of humbling yourself and admitting it was bad advice, you justified yourself by changing your character in the story. I cry, “foul!” It is disappointing to see such a lack of integrity and humility.
Obviously, either give your readers the full picture in your mind, or relate and stick to the partial picture you paint. No cheating, please!
It is interesting that you have not had the humility to post the comments you are receiving, especially the one sent by such a clear voice as Leslie Vernick.
You trifle with a very serious matter of abuse in God’s house. Scores of “Christian” men who are called to love and cherish their wives are doing them violence in attitude and action, whether physical harm happens or not. For you to write the post you did, and lay the burden on the wife, and say nothing regarding the man’s treatment of her, was negligent at best. But I think worse. You are charged by God, Himself, Mr. Pastor, to shepherd the flock of God, to care for the weak and oppressed, to chasten the unruly. You did none of the above in your post. We are not fooled by your fictionalized excuse.
I wonder if you have heard this pertinent message from Dr. Diane Langberg? I wonder if you are able and willing to listen with a humble heart to the message?
Both your response and Leslie’s were spot on! You are more gifted than I am in getting your point across. 😊
That was excellent. I hope he reads it.
Of course you felt COMPELLED to dispel his teaching in the same ways if Paul tells us to ALWAYS ready to give an answer for the gospel. You were CONTENDING FOR THE TRUTH! After all, what struggling soul could hear this man’s terrible teaching and be sunk further into deep despair? What about her innocent children? What about the millstone tied around the neck of the person who offends them? Bible scholars? Was Jesus referring to there to an abuser in general or to a church person who had damaged a vulnerable one’s faith?
The most ridiculous and lacking of discernment statement this man made was to accuse abused wives of pride. (I’m not saying we’re without sin) but most abused women are broken-hearted and crushed in spirit. They’ve been rejected by their husbands. Their self-esteem and their hope is destroyed. For this counselor to flip that and say to that weary broken lady “you’re just too full of yourself” is the height of pharisaical teaching. If he doesn’t retract his statement, he’s going to give a HEAVY. account before the Lord one day.
Ruth, Leslie V., And many others here;)
Wow, I feel like I’m still taking this all in and trying my best to understand what seems to still be confusing to me~ regarding a made up letter.
I agree with you all and the ridiculous advice Pastor Lawyer gave to that post. I did go back and read his other posts regarding the issue with (Hurt & Confused)
I was unable to view any comments ~ not sure why.
I’m apologizing in advance for me length here.. but P. Lawyers last posts were even more concerning.
I’ve been in a counseling process a long time and one posture that I believe is the most loving to take is this regarding P. Lawyers weak defense… of that many things can be interpreted 1000 ways.
This is not a untrue stance but what is unhealthy from him is the attitude about overall communications. I was surprised he didn’t write more things out like;
“I’m sorry (if) or about (your) hurt feelings”
I’m mean the best defense for these prideful, non-ownership people when challenged is usually a disguised offense.
As my husband and walk our journey out.. we both feel that many things can be misinterpreted ~ as human beings and as past survivors of toxic family of origin. But that isn’t a defense nor does it have space in how we resolve miscommunications.
But the posture we both take is in healthy relationships (no walls) the communicator is responsible for how it comes across and how well they offer communicating. (Yes this can take more energy)
The communicator is to be sensitive that the receiver may interpret very differently.
One of the signs of an abusive or unhealthy relationship is lack of ownership by one party and given this example. (Superior vs inferior) The more unhealthy the communicator, you will see a response such as P. lawyer, where he places the blame on everyone else for misinterpreting his story or his advice.
There is nothing wrong with saying wow, I really botched that one and didn’t fully weigh the overall impact and I need to rethink how to write such made up letters and then reply with (undisclosed) information that influences my advice greatly,
I mean really IS this not basic areas we learn early on in giving space ‘for others’ and how we can look through another lens as best as possible.
His pride and ego (perfectionism) is stealing these growth areas from him and I will pray that the Lord will convict this pastor of such a posture and attitude.
I believe there are many of us wounded here that have been given such additional mis-directives within the church body and positions in the body.
For me… this seems to be a THEME, and although I think many ministries are awaking … there are many others set in (well not growing in knowledge or space for maybe we’ve been going along the wrong track with these marital issues)
It’s 2017, and if any of you can look around… we are living at a pace with technology that has ‘double downed’ on the core issues within the family of origin and the addictions/strongholds taking place.
We have children in our world and churches going to rehab for electronic addiction and 7 yr olds being treated for porn addiction!! How bad does it have to get~? Before people see a pattern and desire action.
For me, I believe it’s imperative that as a body of believers we understand the deeper truths that God wants to reveal to us.
As part of the Body the weight is not just on the counselors, lay leaders, pastors.
I agree with Leslie, that the numbers show that many women living in such dynamics within a marriage. Reach out first to their church for help and wisdom. I would like to know if the first reach is to their fellow sisters in the church? Or women in ministry positions before it gets brought up the chain to pastors and leads in the church?
There are also a large number of women in the church setting that are living and I guess surviving such long term toxic marriages, that they are SO desensitized overall to what they are living with and have little or no outside support to speak truth to their reality. And if they are surrounded by similar marriages that internal space gets shut down quickly as it gets normalized in the church community.
I believe counselors, pastors, and many ministries have a high calling as to best help these traumatic situations and as part of the Body we ourselves will be called to give an account too!
Yes it can be messy and not easy, and it takes TIME and energy,but if Gods WORD says the older women are to teach the younger then let’s do so.
In my journey early … I went first to the Christian older women in the church and was pushed down deeper into a toxic role as a wife.
These women were either very ill informed by their own way of life or they themselves were living in a destructive marriage but had settled in and felt I could do the same.
So I guess to me.. i see something similar to Pastor Lawyers advice and that his unwillingness to take some healthy feedback and acknowledge another point of view … clearly shows a deeper issue with this man. And his brothers and church that support him!
~Again let their response reveal their character and he certainly did!~
I’m also so very saddened that he would have to make up such a story, I mean there are 1000’s of real stories available to use so why make one up and especially make one up to …(in my opinion) .. Further an agenda.
Glad you brought this to light LeslieV and So SO grateful for your ministry!
How best can we support you and your team?
Thanks for asking. Prayer support is huge and I will take all I can get. My team, Martha, Jael and Cassandra – who help me so much with all the technical aspects of this whole internet world would also appreciate your prayers. Friends, there is a huge spiritual battle going on – light and darkness. Pray that I am loving and truthful in these kinds of confrontations. I hate to see what women are told that is Bibically shortsighted and harmful, especially from those called to protect them but I also know that pastors are often not trained at all to recognize these problems nor know what to do. So pray that there is an army of men and women who rise up and collectively cry out NO MORE!
Leslie…..a HUGE spiritual battle, you are spot on!! We do need to be praying for you and all who are standing up and speaking get out on this insidious evil happening among people in the church. How can we ever be salt and light when troubles so deep and dark run rampant within our ranks??
Please keep speaking about and articulating what countless numbers of us are experiencing!! You are shining light in dark places !! Thank you. My love and prayers are with you!
Leslie, I wanted to let you know that a year ago I sat in my pastor’s office where my husband had dragged me to make me blindly submit to him. Those first few sessions were full of telling me that I needed to go home and do a better job, even though I had for 20+ years. Before long, however, my pastor started seeing my husband’s behavior as well as our counselors that did almost from the beginning. This is a very new area for our church leadership, but they have been open to the instruction of our counselors and have come along nicely. I pray for continued wisdom as they continue to navigate. Also, I showed my counselor your book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, and she really liked the concepts. Then recently, my husband’s counselor gave us both the test in the beginning of your book, but my counselor smiled at him and said we had already done it several months before.
Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that there are churches and counseling agencies that are getting good use of your knowledge and materials. That brings me to this question: Is there some way that those of us that have found the support we need could find a way to form a network that would allow those that are in need of better support to find it in their respective geographical areas? I know that for some, privacy is necessary and would have an effect on the ability to share some information.
In the Kimmy Schmidt show on Netflix, her abductor (the reverend) constantly tells them they are ‘garbage’. That is how this mans response read to me.
There is so much evidence around us that speaks to how damaging domestic violence is. It has a negative impact on generations. Why would anyone in their right mind make up a story like this man did? And if he is of sound mind, why is he so cruel? Real people have suffered much at the hands of bullies and he takes it so lightly. I wonder if someone yelled at him and demeaned him if he would respond the same way he’s advising the woman.
Thank you Leslie for taking your time to communicate your followup of this conversation with further explanation. I too would now agree with your response to Dr. Laywer’s post. It is affirmation for me that I am beginning to truly understand how to move from an abuser to protector in the Love of Christ. I was not thinking this way 6 months ago as I was the abuser. With the help of your resources, my wife had the courage to stand up in love for me and enact strong boundaries. Eventually this lead to a season of separation which God is using to change my hear for him as I learn about my sin of Abuse and allow God to bring about true change through, conviction, confession, and repentance. I’ve read some of your books and posts also which has confirmed what I have been learning from other counselors and my support team. I do have hope for restoration in my marriage because God is working in me and my wife. This is not a fast process but God gives us patience as we submit to Him.
I don’t see a lot of men posting on here so I wanted to write affirm you Leslie that you are helping us men also through your work. To bring about true repentance and change which is the most Christlike Loving thing one can do even if it is difficult and painful. When we begin to lean to love our wives for doing this, it is God’s grace to us that he is going to complete the work of change he has started in us because he wants us to be in right relationship with Him and our spouse.
Bravo, Paul! That sounds like humility and teachability. May the Lord’s grace be multiplied in your life, and your wife’s too.
“Friend: What has been your experience when going to your spiritual leaders for help? Have they given you similar advice as this pastor did?”
My experience is that they give this type of advice because they don’t want Christianity to “fail.” If “Christian marriages” are no different than secular marriages, it may be that they themselves wonder if Christianity is a distinction without any real, quantifiable difference. Also, it is certainly not the advice given by reliable pastors and scholars for most of Christianity’s history and thus it may be that they feel like they are “changing Christianity.” But, obviously, I don’t know, —who knows, —what a total mess. Most of it involves the “psychology of God” what He would think, what He would say, what He would do and in that case all you can do is not let clear passages be outweighed by less clear passages. You can just imagine how easy it is to get God’s psychology totally wrong. —Available at no cost just by Goggling it: Re:“The Living Text of the Gospels” Maybe see Chapter 5, The Sayings on Marriage & Divorce. . . Dr. Parker is Cadbury Professor of Theology and the Director of the Institute for Textual Scholarship at the Dept. of Theology, University of Birmingham. He is a very reliable New Testament textual Greek and Latin scholar, technical but pin-point accurate. . . .How is it that all of a sudden we 21st century folks know what these verses and passages really mean and not what 2000 years of faithful Bible teachers/ scholars confirmed? Especially when, early on, scholars had access to Bible manuscripts no longer extant. . . .To me lots of “process theology” is simply floating along with the culture and modern psychology (—And that may actually be God’s plan, but I don’t know how we know that given the texts we have.) Is the Bible teaching timeless truths (—except where it is unworkable) or not? I don’t know the answer to that, obviously. I find myself agreeing with both sides. —The “stuck-in-the-middle-with-you” hermeneutic.
I certainly could not live with myself telling a women to stay with an interpersonally exploitative, psychotic, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, etc. man —but I bet God could! I don’t think people weigh God’s psychology in the Old Testament the way they should. Anyways, some men make normative responses just unworkable. . . .So, I’ll take a psychologically healthy, ethical agnostic over neuropsychological measures outside the norm residing in a Christian *any* day. Now, could it be that these issues are just issues and actually the overlay of the Bible and what God would or would not say, think, or do is unnecessary overhead??? —I used to think I knew, but not anymore. Research and evidence and data really have a way of changing one’s mind.
Finding a loving, psychologically healthy, caring, human being or staying single until you do, seems to be the only answer. . . .Biblical Christianity is just so delicious to me, but I don’t know that those attitudes are not just feelings I have that have nothing to do with practical *real* *live* human interactions. This approach of just “trying harder” simply exhausts your significance. Trying too hard will just detach you from yourself. Take some time out, and let the Holy Spirit decide for you! By the time we meet our Maker, and may it be a long, long time from now, I hope we can close our eyes on a life where we honored God at our best.
I have recieved this very same advice repeatedly for 41 years. Always from hyper fundamental pastors or their wives. Even when my husband committed adultery , I was blamed and shamed by clergy.
I read your book and left the fundamental ideology behind. My husband of 41 years admits he was practicing religion for selfish gain and the permission it gave him to be controlling and selfish. My husband admits he has not chosen to love me for all these years, and he struggles greatly with his negative thinking and insecurities and need to be in control. So here I am 61 years old and literally numb and emotionally bankrupt. I find little hope in the fact that my husband has begun to see some faults with his actions.
Change needs to be long term and progressive. And I will never attend any assembly ever again that teaches the corrupt ideals that this pastor vomited over a woman in need. It’s satanic ritualism perpetuated by his lack of identity in Christ. Certainly judgmental and not loving.
Dearest Peggy, I, too, have been married to an abuser for 41 years and am 61 this week. The difference with me is that I only recently realized that I was being abused. I thought all these years that I was being raged at, hurt emotionally, financially abused, neglected, etc. because I was a bad woman, a bad wife and a bad mother.
When I finally confronted this man whom I’ve served and submitted to and sacrificed for all of these years that I am terrified of him and his rages and that he needed to stop, he told me that it would take another 41 years to get me to not be afraid and he didn’t have that much time left. My pastor refuses to get involved after I shared some of the more recent events that involved his anger.
I so totally agree with your statement that you find little hope that your husband has begun to change and that you will never attend any assembly that teaches what this pastor told this woman in need.
Advice like this pastor spewed makes me wonder why any sane woman would want to become a Christian and be subjected to having to submit to an abuser for her whole life just because she’s married to him. I thought we were all equal in Christ.
Linda Lou, are you safe now? Remember you abuser is not a reputable authority on your character. He does not speak the truth.
I recently read in a trauma book that abusers tell you what to think and try to devalue your opinions and beliefs. Your thoughts matter. You have value and you were never, ever a bad woman or a bad wife. Just an abused woman who suffered a grave injustice cloaked in the twisted distortion of marriage.
Thank you, Free. I’m still married. It is only by God’s grace and love that I’m still hanging on. But things are changing. I’ve been learning a lot by reading blogs like this one and reading comments from so many hurt women. You are correct that my opinions and beliefs do not matter and I have not had a “voice” in decades as I knew if my opinion was different from his, there would be an eruption and damage.
Oh, yes, I am familiar with intimidation too. It is abusive.
I add my gratitude to Leslie and this site for being a voice for truth and hope in the chaos. I cannot imagine questioning a child that had lived with abuse (for example) in any way. It would be wrong to suggest ‘pride’ or ‘self love’ on the part of the child. Yet, frequently this is done to women in the church. God is not like that. He is grieved by abuse and lack of love in marriages. It is so empowering to remember that God decides our worth and value. No one else gets a vote. And if our spouse behaves in a way that is AGAINST our worth and value, we have choices in how we respond and how we live. God is not glorified in me cooperating with evil.
AMEN, Leslie! Thank you for your Godly, Biblical response! Unfortunately, I heard advice similar to “Hurt and Confused” for 20 years from Christian counselors and pastors. With 5 kids, I didn’t believe I could leave. I thought it was practical and “Christian” to stay and pray for the best. Even when we were getting hurt. Finally, it took my son’s youth pastor, a counselor, and the police all telling me on the same day that they were going to report the abuse that was going on and that if I didn’t leave with my kids I could lose them because I was not protecting them! What a wake-up call! That day, my understanding changed. I realized we could have died had we done the “Christian” thing and remained in a threatening and violent situation. After that day, did I receive condemnation and back-turning from Christians who looked down on me for leaving? Yes. But, this time, I had pastor support and police support and that changed everything between my own ears. If you’re in an abusive situation, get out! Get out! Get out! Jesus never intended for women and children to have things thrown at them, to be beaten, threatened, and emotionally tortured. Praise God for pastors and counselors who get that and offer support, help, and wisdom! Thank you, Leslie!
This woman’s story is much like my own– I took the advice and counsel and tried harder. In my 32 years of marriage to an an emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually abusive man, my Christian heart has always been to “try harder”, see my own sin first, deny and die to myself, love my enemy (husband), believe the best about him, always reconcile, and wait for the Holy Spirit to change his heart; so when counselors, pastors, friends and family gave that advice I believed I was pleasing God by giving up my autonomy, any desires I ever had, and allowing my spirit to be crushed. During the course of the marriage, I have been asked what I’ve done to make him so angry, I’ve been made to read Psalms 51 for 30 days and take the log out of my (black) eye before trying to remove my husband’s speck, that I should get a job (even though I had explained his controlling desire to be with me and that I needed to be available for him at a moment’s notice), I was told to give up my desire to be a counselor/minister because my husband wasn’t mature enough to handle it and my first responsibility was to his desires and level of security, that I should pray that God corrects him as I submit myself to God and him (as long as he wasn’t “physically” abusing me, letting God correct him).
After 25 years of marriage, I finally separated from him 8 years ago and worked with Biblical counselors, ultimately, reuniting with him– during the course of the 2 years of pastoral counsel (which I am eternally grateful for) the Pastor finally called him the most arrogant man he’d ever dealt with (needless to say, my husband didn’t want to continue counseling with him). Looking back, besides the initial repentance and forgiveness session, my husband refused to see his own sins. Discouraged, I realized had made the biggest mistake of my life letting him back into it, but continued trusting that he would change as he grew and yielded to the Holy Spirit (my husband was/is a proud, defiant, and rebellious man all the while attending church and serving). Fast forward to today. God was and is faithful, and during the course of the past eight years -one of the perks from the initial separation was that I got back some autonomy- He has brought amazing people and ministries (such as this one and Celebrate Recovery’s Life’s Healing Choices) into my life. After his latest physical abuse, I have left him for good and am seeking a divorce. I am stronger..and wiser!…with the correct thinking about how God views abuse, neglect and divorce, I am moving on with my life. It’s hard, and it hurts…death of any kind is painful, a marriage death is not easy…but living with a person who ravages the spirit in a person is not pleasing to God. A wise counselor asked my friend, whose husband is a verbal abuser, what does God feel about her marriage? She said at first, He’s sad, but then realized, God was angry with what her husband has wrought in their family’s life, and He was also displeased with her endurance of it- wise woman! God does not want us to endure the darkness, He wants us to shine light into it. Light is truth and righteousness. Truth is light and righteousness. It all begins with God. His ways are just and right. It’s we humans which get that screwed up. We interpret through too much grace…or too much truth. My Pastor (who is amazing) has said, Grace without truth is sentimentality and Truth without grace is judgmental. Leslie, you speak truth in love and have found that all important balancing point, thank you!
Yvette, I used to say, well I vowed “in sickness and health”, I just got the sickness. Endure, suffer, submit I did. What a horrible existence. What a crime against my personhood.
Wow.. I am having a lot of emotions overall given the nature of this situation. It grieves me much as I can see in your response.
I’m wondering, and hope it’s ok to ask.. but did you receive a response from this Pastor?
Thanks again Leslie for all you do to bring healing and direction for many of us at very difficult places.
Two years ago I went to my pastor and his wife for help in our destructive marriage. They gave me the name of a Christian therapist they had been to 160 miles away from our town. Our pastor never called my husband and never asked me how I was doing or if I had sought counseling. I did drive weekly to that therapist for almost 4 months. My husband would never go with me. The counseling was good for me in a lot of ways. The therapist told me to leave my husband several times. A year and a half went by and things were deteriorating even more in our marriage. Finally he moved out on his own. I went to our pastor again and told him everything that had gone on and asked for help. He said he would pray for us. Since then he has not asked me about it or even how I am. One Sunday morning at church there was an altar call for anyone struggling and needing prayer. I went forward weeping. So did several others. My pastor went to everyone except for me and prayed with them. My husband still goes to church occasionally and acts like nothing is wrong etc. I guess my pastor is uncomfortable with the situation and doesn’t want to mess up the friendship he has with my husband. We’ve been separated for 6 months now.
Sandy, I am SO sorry your pastor was such a coward! At least my pastor would talk with me and tell me what he believed about our situation. But to be avoided like that is sometimes more hurtful! So glad he at least sent you to someone who was speaking truth into your heart!! ❤❤❤ It is not you, dear one, who has the problem…just receive that deep down in your heart. You did well in each move you made…much love and prayers!
Thank you for encouraging me Cyndy 🙂
You’re worth it!! ❤
I don’t have words to fit my outrage. But this is just horrible~ I’m so sorry that you have been yet again treated with such dismissal!
I’m so sad and so sorry for that and additional experiences you received.
Have you considered writing a letter to that pastor of what you experienced from him?
I wonder if this is frightening at that you might receive more rejection, but I do think it might be a good start and speaking up into a very crippled system.
Biblically, we are called in Matthew to bring these offenses to our brother. The letter would not be in haste or even in reaction but in response to the mistreatment.
It’s his decision how he responds to being given this information.
It’s my hunch.. that you staying silent would contribute to more of the behavior and other women in your community. Expose it and see what he chooses to do to acknowledge and reply.
Again I’m sorry for what you experienced such layered pain.
Hugs and hope for your strength and the truths to heal you;)
Thank you Aly! Maybe it would be a good idea to write a letter to my Pastor. I have emailed him a couple of times to update him about my situation. I never get a response. Maybe I should make an appointment with him and his wife. I’ll pray about that. I really appreciate the support and advice 🙂
I just read your reply here and it’s news to me that you have already reached out through email to receive a non response. Actually sounds like 2x.
Anyway, I can’t say he received and decided to yet again dismiss or at least not take the 5 mins to reply.
However, the non response does seem consistent to his other dismissive behavior toward you.
Reaching out again concerns me, first if you choose to …I would copy others on the email and maybe not the wife.
Copying others helps validate its received at least and known by others in the church of the treatment.
The Pastor may be very avoidant ‘overall’ to well….unfortunately the messyness of ‘real lives’ and will only respond if you talk about whatever is good and easy on the ears.
If you get a response from the pastor then at least you have spoken up for yourself and now you can see he possibly cares more what others think of him~ rather than an exchange between you and him only.
That qualifies him clearly as not just a busy pastor but an unsafe person to look for support from.
Have you considered another church?
You could also write a positive email about how much you are learning and growing in Christ, keeping it highly spiritual and comfortable( not mentioning your marital issues at all)
If you receive a reply, then you have a confirm answer of how unhealthy the culture of the church could possibly be especially if the pastor is teaching and preaching how to ‘peace keep’.
Just a thought if you are trying to discern where you should be and where you should be investing your spiritual food and journey overall.
Blessed are the ‘PeaceKeepers’!
There are blessings that come but it’s usually through much pain and reality of who we are surrounded by.
Hugs and much love to you!
Sandy, that is honestly horrible and bizarre behavior from a pastor. I agree that you should handwrite a letter, or go in for a visit, and recount all of these ways he has not “shepherded” you at all, and instead left you alone, hurt and confused. I’m wondering how big the church is? Are there other pastors on staff or church leaders (like elders or a women’s ministry leader) you could trust and talk to? Have you considered going to another church?
Thanks T.L. Our church is about 600 people. There are youth pastors and the worship pastor. Yes there is a women’s ministry leader. I could talk to her but I have a good little support group for myself. When I told my pastor everything I was hoping that he would go along side my husband as an accountability partner or at least go to him and ask him about what he heard from me. Part of it is adultery so I felt he should have gone to my husband to confront him about his sin. Pastor just told me that maybe he would go golfing with my husband. He has said from the pulpit that he is not a counselor. He said he is there for us and will pray for us but he isn’t a marriage counselor or addiction counselor. He has not gone after my husband or sent anyone to him. He is an excellent preacher and teacher and administrator. Just not a counselor.
Hi Sandy, if he is a pastor who lacks the gifts to shepherd people (as he admits) then he should have others on his ministry team that possess that gift, so the sheep are not left to the wolves, as you have been! If I were you, I would write a lovingly confrontational letter, telling him how you feel. You can say things like, “I came to you, needing help. I know you are not a counselor, but you are my pastor. And as such I would at the very least expect you to confront my husband who is sinning against me grievously, or appointing someone in your ministry to do so. You are my brother in Christ; I am you sister. I am asking my brother for help.” Do you think you could do that? You could also send him today’s guest post on Leslie’s blog. It’s very good.
I’m so sorry you have been neglected. But don’t give up! Jesus is in you, and the Hily Spirit will help you. God loves to come to the aid of the oppressed. I’m praying for you.
I pray they grow the ministry team to have ‘lay’ counselors. People in the congregation who get trained to come along side and hold people accountable. I would be interested in getting involved with a team like that. In the mean time you have given me very good advice along with the other gals 🙂
I really like how you said all of the above in how to speak to a pastor who definitely needs to be aware of his response.
I would hope that others in the future within the church community would be cared for at least enough to direct where best they could get some help or resources.
Sandy your pastor doesn’t have to have the spiritual gifting or the counseling degree to at least show some empathy, & initiate direction of who you could talk to as ‘a fellow brother in ministry in your church’.
I feel there are far to many of us out there that have been cared for in this manner and it just adds more hopeless and confusion upon someone being victimized.
I found through my own journey that lay leaders are far not trained and some that sign up for lay positions or very unaware of what some basic comfort care and compassion can bring to a wife under so much pain.
I’m and glad to hear Sandy that you do feel you have some healthy support around you.
Sending my prayers for your heart and for the very broken church communities out there.
It’s makes me so sad😩
Ladies thanks for your help and encouragement yesterday. Last night at bible study I had the opportunity to visit with my pastor. I asked if he had talked to my husband. He told me he hadn’t and was looking around nervously. I asked him why and who was going to go along side of my husband and confront him about his sin? Then he looked me in the eye and said, “Look, it’s been my experience when I’ve done that it just pushes the guy away and makes things worse.” I told him that biblically my husband needs shepherded, help in correcting his behavior etc. I told him I don’t have any help that way. I have my little group and Conquer for support but my husband doesn’t have any help with someone holding him accountable. We have been separated for 7 months now and NO ONE has confronted him. I doubt my husband has even told any of his friends. I told my pastor that my husband wants to come home. He said, “Well what’s stopping him?” I said, “Me! He needs accountability and therapy and then IF after that we want it, marriage counseling.” I told my pastor that I can’t make those kind of decisions without some help from someone who knows both of us can help with direction. If I had to make a choice today I would divorce. My pastor said, “Well I’m hoping and have been praying for a miracle and great testimony of God restoring your marriage.”
I’m glad you spoke with him!
I am outraged at the response from him and very angry that I want to be careful here with my post.
His response to you is common, I wonder if he grieves over all the marriages that end up in divorce or a horrible stagnate one… ? It is my experience that when men in the church respond that way especially pastors that they are the contributors of more evil and destruction, yet they are probably the ones who will be upset at the divorce rate in the church!
I’m sorry, I’m very upset for you and your church community.
Hugs and Love Sandy,
Stay sane and safe! Keep up your direction and hold the boundaries firm!!
Sandy, I am so conflicted emotionally right now! I am SO proud of you for speaking directly and clearly to your pastor. Now you have freed yourself of that responsibility and the responsibility of his response is squarely on his shoulders. He will be accountable to God for this. I agree with the others that you have done what you can. This is how I felt when, over the years of separation and even after the divorce was final, I spoke up to my (then) pastor and my husband on different occasions as the Holy Spirit led. I know I did what I could to confront sin and fear. It really grieves me and angers me that this pastor is going the way of many men and not looking for a way to come alongside the men and women in their congregations who need them. If their hearts were in tune with God’s they would at least seek the Lord fervently for guidance on what they should do. He is MORE than capable to guide and give understanding and skill to meet the challenge. Thank the Lord there are pastors who are listening…may God give us wisdom in speaking and as many open doors as Leslie can handle to share her experience and expertise as well!
Good for you, Sandy. You stood your ground and communicated clearly.
You couldn’t have been more clear, that it is your pastor that is failing your husband. You have done everything you can to do for your own safety and sanity. Now, you are seeking help for your husband, and the response is that the pastor is praying!
I bet he never heard the joke about the guy stuck on the roof of his house by a flood. He prays for The Lord’s deliverance. Three separate people come by to offer help ( a canoe, a raft and a helicopter). In each case the guy responds, no thanks, I’m waiting on The Lord. Finally the guy dies and asks God where He was? Why had He let him die?
The Lord responds that He had sent 3 people to help, but the guy had refused His help and God respected his choices.
God uses people. This pastor doesn’t get that.
That’s a good one!! Sad but true that we don’t always see the help in front of our noses. It sure has taken me a long time to come out of the fog.
Sandy, just wanted to add my voice of praise to the others that you were so brave! Good job confronting your pastor in strength, truth, and love! His response will show where his heart is.
You might consider following up by emailing him “Shepherding the Destructive Marriage” by Leslie and Chris Moles. You can find it on YouTube.
Patrick Doyle speaks a lot about pastors who only teach and refuse to shepherd in several of his videos. Touches on it in the excellent video, I think it’s a new one, just watched it this morning.
Grace, strength, and peace to you, sister.
Thank you T.L.! I’ll do that!
Leslie, I thank you for your wisdom and your faithfulness to the calling that Christ has placed in your life. I have the image of the woman with the issue of blood who had to push through the crowds to get to Jesus. As we push through the crowd there are many voices on our way. Many voices along my healing journey that wanted to help, yet would have kept me trapped and unsafe. Leslie, you have been the voice standing next to Jesus encouraging me to push through all the voices and the crowding in my head. You have been at beacon of hope to me as I searched for my healing through the power of Jesus Christ. Thank you for standing up for us. Thank you for pushing through your crowds.
What a great analogy!
How I wish I’d have been in touch with your words of wisdom years ago. You are a radiant jewel for spreading the teachings of Jesus. Thank you for all you do to help others.
I must say I heard things similar to what Pastor Lawyer wrote to Hurt & Confused and sadly that advise was just part of the reason I continually doubted what I felt deep inside. I was gripped tight by the loss and the affect in my spirit nearly destroyed me. And now it upsets me to think this unsound advice was suggested by a clergyman to a woman suffering from the insufferable behaviors of her husband. Thankfully what he wrote was not what was suggested to me by the clergy, or my Christian and secular counselors. The sad thing is I was trapped by not relying completely in God’s direction. Pastor Lawyer did in that regard make many good points about drawing closer to God. Sadly that lost true value because it was followed by suggestions of measure that would only bring additional hurt and confusion to Hurt & Confused. It is no coincidence that my own lack of immediate response to a similar abuse situation years ago has come back to repeatedly haunt my children. Just yesterday was my ex- husbands 60th birthday, we have been divorced for nearly 7 years but the repercussions of what happened to me and my children still lives on at times. Just yesterday my daughter called me in a state of hurt and confusion because she feesl sad that she feels conflicted about how to handle her situation with her father. He has turned his unacceptable behaviors on her and to a great extent her troubles come from my attempts at placating the harsh situations when they were happening long ago by using some of the same unproductive suggestions Pastor Lawyer stated. Those bad habits spilled over to the children who now have difficulty with setting healthy boundaries for their own good. Hurt and Confused can step out of the cycle of abuse by following your advise here and those of the Core steps you offer. And in return she will be blessed as the apple of God’s eye! I praise the Lord Jesus for the gift of you Leslie!
Laura, I wonder if your daughter would be willing to listen to some Patrick Doyle videos on relationships and boundaries (you can find them on YouTube). H’e’s got a bunch of really helpful ones, and not just for marital relationships.
God bless you Leslie. So sad to read the words from the pastor. Unfortunately that kind of advice to women suffering domestic violence is very common here in Latin America, too. I am sure all you have shared today will be very useful for us who have to help and teach othet women Thank you.
Thank you so much for your response to this blog! I read it the other day and badly wanted to reply, but I didn’t have adequate words to express my objections and fears for the author of the original letter. I greatly appreciate your post and the way you so clearly laid out the problems with his response.
THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for taking time and courage to respond so Biblically to this man. You are a role model for us, and I learned so much just from how you chose to handle this.
We all need to RAMP UP OUR PRAYERS FOR LESLIE AND HER MINISTRY. This battle needs to be fought on our knees.
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!
I would tell this pastor that the abuse my husband put me through was verbal, emotional, and sexual. I was one who took advice to build him up, find anything he does right and praise it, love him to Jesus, etc…. I stayed for two decades when I more than had reason to leave after only 5 years. My support and praise of my abuser only served to create a monster who has spent the last decade planning to destroy me. Just two years ago I was praying for God to permit me to die rather than continue living with him. I long ago swallowed all of my pride and became a doormat he wiped his filthiness on. I never exposed him, never allowed him to face the stark reality of his behavior. I am alone now cleaning up the messes he created and trying to fight him in the court system. My three children are broken and have no idea what a Christlike marriage is. It is not for lack of love, lack of effort, lack of forgiveness, lack of chances, lack of hope, lack of respect…. It is because his soul is evil. And where is he now? He has turned to another church (that does not know him at all), another woman (his fifth in the past two years), another family to destroy. He is wolf in sheep’s clothing making his way through another congregation, because “men of God” covered for him and were gentle with him. I hope Hurt & Confused will not listen to you. I hope she will listen to reason and to those who have walked this terrible path before her. May the Lord God take up her cause where “men of God” have failed her.
Ilene, stay strong sister. I feel your pain.
Susan, you did everything right! I don’t think finding boundaries sooner would have made a difference. The problem lies with the abuser, not the abused.
Ilene, they do see Christ like marriages, just not in their own home. Some amazing strong Christians have come from rough circumstances. In fact kids with unsafe homes often aspire to live differently because of their trouble at home. I know I did.
Where is the share button? Excellent repy. Thank you Leslie again for sharing your wisdom.
Maybe there’s a good reason why the Bible says for older women to teach the younger how to grow up and stuff. Not the men. 🙂
Here’s another thing – I believe The scriptures to women who have been unsaved husbands about “be quiet; don’t nag them, etc” applies to non-abusive sinner men. Not men who beat their wives. Crush their wives. Terrorize their children. Blow all the family’s money on alcohol. Those bible verses apply to relatively decent man who just happen not to be saved but that you can manage to live with. That marriage may not be for fulfilling and indeed that’s disappointing but you can live through a disappointment.
An abusive marriage is its own civil war. We have rules for length of deployment for soldiers who are in active duty, but many wives have endured this fight for decade upon decade with no break.
Totally agree with your perspective Ruth. Thankfully, our Captain will be victorious in the war. And He fights for the oppressed, against the oppressor.
That’s another thing I Respect about Leslie’s teaching – she distinguishes between a disappointing marriage AND a destructive marriage. Many so-called biblical counselors do not.
When I hear this blind guide type of advice, I think of the poor spiritual discernment of the priest Eli who mistook Hannah’s broken cry as drunkenness. 😔
I LOVE your analogy, Ruth, about destructive marriages being their own “civil war”. It is so true.
Didn’t realize, until I was away for quite some time just how damaged I was after years with no support and no relief.
T.L. is right. Christ is our victory, our Defender, and our Definer. Once we align under His standard, the healing can begin.
I was given much the same advice from numerous pastors over the years and had the responsibility placed on me to change things in our toxic marriage/family life. No one ever mentioned the word”abuse”. My husband was a preacher and many saw him as a family man. My 4 kids and I left in police cars after 16 years. Three and a half years later we attempted to reconcile. However, when I became too ill to work within months of moving in together, his facade was dropped. He refused to provide for the family and withheld rent until the family was evicted, then staged a dramatic exit on moving day that culminated with him driving away and leaving the rest of us stranded in a mostly empty apartment.
He stashed his money and left me in a financial crisis that continues 2 years later. Ironically, I learned just 2 days before the move (he had placed a hold on my mail for a month prior) that I had a tiny retirement account from my former job and could request a transfer if needed. I explained my situation to the investment firm and the money hit my account as he was ranting and driving off. God knew what my husband had planned and made sure that my kids and I had something. We moved to a hotel for a month before the money was exhausted.
You are right about the effect on the children. My eldest has rejected God, convinced he is abusive. My second daughter whose strong personality drew her dad’s ire the most left at 18 to live with her abusive boyfriend, has a 9 month old, and is still in rebellion/confusion in many ways. My sons (17 &18) go through phases of disrespect towards me since they were trained by dad to treat me with disdain but we are very close and they continue to be active in church. Those pastors that told me to read my bible more, pray more, etc., are nowhere to be found. We have struggled through the 7 year aftermath mostly alone with certain people God has sent along the way.
Thank you for being so open Juanita! I am so sorry for the chaos. I too have children that have been effected by all the brokenness. We have to remember that Jesus saves and keep praying for them. The last chapter isn’t written. My husband got wrapped up in someone from the church. They were better than me! Better Christian! Better looking! Because I was from a very broken family, it was always my insecurity and my jealousy that were the problem. So I ended up being very hurt and aware of my husband’s attraction, AND guilty for my ‘response’. We were forever counseled to just hang in there and try harder. Well, it almost destroyed me and us. We finally found a counselor who told us to RUN out of that fire. (In fact if we didn’t he would not meet with us again). It was exactly what we needed. Now we are on a very very very slow road to healing. I wanted to write to say that God is at work in all of our life circumstances to teach us that HE alone speaks to our worth and value. I am slowly learning that parents and spouses that reject me have no authority to testify in God’s courtroom. HE only gets to determine my worth and value. And this is precious and beyond compare. Only I have only ever ‘learned’ to apologize and try harder. NOT NOW….now comes the shedding of all the crap and lies and embracing TRUTH. Praying for you today Juanita! ❤️Because even though our circumstances are different we are in the same classroom of God with His children. And He always gets the final say. And He loves with an everlasting love!
Leslie, thank you so much for addressing this issue!! I am appalled….though no longer surprised…..when I hear these sorts of replies to women in abusive situations. I have heard them so many times over directed at myself. I KNOW that no amount of trying harder brings change. Truth be told, most of the people who give this advice would not be willing to do half what most of these women do for someone who treated them this way. The only thing that stands a chance of bringing real change is calling the perpetrators to accountability for their actions and giving them the opportunity to surrender their lives to Christ and His work……and providing a healing environment for the wounded spouse and children.
Thank you again for being and advocate for the oppressed and for speaking out to educate more potential advocates!!! Blessings!!!
You bring up 2 very good points.
1. People that dish out this kind of advice usually do not follow it when faced with a similar situation.
2. To fix the problem,, one must address the root of the problem. If that is not fixed, nothing will change. If I have a problem with a certain part of my car, for example, the engine, replacing another part or working on other parts of the car say the oil filter or brake pads, even endlessly, will not fix the car.
Thank you for your advise to this woman. I remember being married a year and being so miserable because my husband would yell at me and control me. I asked my mother-in-law how she stood her husband who yelled at her and she said his bark was worse than his bite. I told my friend I couldn’t be in this marriage because I was miserable and listening to sermons and going to church. I was told that I couldn’t divorce and needed to stay committed to my marriage. I had three sons and 9 years later after much fighting and anger and yelling and not being able to take the criticism anymore I divorced my husband and have been so free and later found another man who didn’t yell at me when I made a mistake, etc. What freedom and peace and joy
I recently found courage to speak with the Care Pastor, who in the middle of my describing my abusive home situation, interrupted me, saying that he had to take an Emergency call and that I need to tell him one thing I want him to do for me>> I wasn’t finished describing the situation that brings me to utter despair and then to abruptly stop and figure out THE ONE THING that the Care Pastor could do for me>> FELT exactly how my “husband” interacted with me >> “JUST THE FACTS” …”I DO NOT WANT TO LISTEN TO ANOTHER SECOND…I HAVE OTHER IMPORTANT BUSINESS TO ATTEND. STOP BOTHERING ME. YOU ARE MANIC. etc.” My “husband” plugs his ears. The “Care Pastor” was effectively dismissing me, even though I originally asked if I could make an appointment to speak with him, since what I needed to say would take some time, and I WOULD RATHER make an appointment to talk with him. The Pastor had given a sermon on manipulative people and invited people to the front for prayer. A couple had prayed with me and instructed me to call the Care Pastor about my destructive home life, and that he could definitely help me. It took two weeks to have courage to call. When I could not put into words THE ONE THING I needed help with, he said, “Are you in any present danger?” No I wasn’t.. this has been a nearly 25 year old problem, until finding out that God doesn’t want me to continue living like this. The Care Pastor told me to attend their Celebrate Recovery Group. I did and it will be very wonderful. The Group is not strictly for only those who are members of this Care Pastor’s Church, though it is led by their Elders. I like these Elders. The Care Pastor was not like Jesus. His “Emergency Call” must not have been such an immediate “emergency” since I broke down into a torrent of tears attempting to figure out the ONE THING i needed help with>> realizing this Church was like every other one I had hoped to find support from. “HANDLE IT THROUGH COMMUNITY AGENCIES.” But these agencies are not faith oriented and will not offer spiritual support. It’s as if CHRIST is hanging on the Cross saying to me>> I can’t help with your broken home life>> bring it to the government based organizations (being your low income and cannot afford to pay for privatized expensive help). According to the Care Pastor>> Celebrate Recovery was the only help he had for me because my “husband” doesn’t want help, so I MUST CHANGE MY “HURTS, HABITS, & HANG-UPS”. My “husband’s” won’t be changed by my joining a Christian Support Group. I recently thought Christ’s dying on the Cross and His rising from the dead and sending the Church HIS HOLY SPIRIT meant Church Leadership had Christ’s Authority to help me confront an abusive husband, who is a Christian, whether he wanted that confrontation or not. MOST abusive Christian husbands won’t welcome Church Leaders to confront them. But “my” Care Pastor said they will NEVER confront my husband because he doesn’t want that and he doesn’t attend this Church. (I’m thinking they wouldn’t even if he did, since I told him that he did talk about wanting to attend and could they come and invite him to Church, as a welcoming gesture. NO was his answer. He would need to want to attend on his own. They don’t do that. But they have an entire “missionary” arm of their Church>> just none to be a local “welcoming” committee. THE ONE THING I want is to NOT BE ISOLATED. Ghandi said something like, “I’ve no problem with Jesus, just his followers.”
You need to lodge a complaint against this so-called “Care” pastor. He’s probably slighting other women.
Sadly, I suspect you’ll need to end up leaving that church if you feel THAT unsupported. 😔
My experience was the same. I confided in my pastor and his wife. My husband and I were members of that church. The pastor did not have the guts to confront my husband. He told me to read Power of a Praying Wife and sent me on my way. I was very dissatisfied with his answer and went to another church and confided in 2 pastors. One of them did not keep my confidence. I told another pastor in the same church and he didn’t have the guts to confront the gossiping pastor. I haven’t heard a word from these guys over the years, nothing about them praying for me, asking how we are doing etc. However, if I pretended that all is well, put up a front of a great family, they are all over us. Sadly, the church has become like corporate America filled with people with cliques and pretense and its share of politics.
That’s not at what the body of Christ is supposed to be like.
Last time after adultery, I called a relative who was a pastor. He talked to h. After verbal “repentance”, we went to counseling twice with another pastor who was a psychologist. I thought h was changing. None in church offered any further help. This time after enduring yet another 16 years, and things escalating greatly, and affecting me and the children greatly. I went to our pastor (different pastor and church). He talked to h once. H didn’t get back to him. Pastor told me, “Do what you’ve got to do”. The end. No help. No support. No checking on me and children to see how we are doing. I tried reaching out to pastor to see what they could do to help me. Basically was told could take Dave Ramsey classes at church and talk to my Christian girlfriends. — Backstory, my pastor who I went to 32 years ago told me, Divorce him. I should have listened back then.
Mike Lawyer is the Discipliship/Counseling pastor of Christ Chrurch, Moscow, ID
Certain reviews of the church are very disturbing.
Ah!! Doug Wilson’s church! That explains everything. I wouldn’t even try to comment on that then, there is some awful history there.
Beliefs have consequences. His article shows his inferior view of women. Thus the problems linked to the church.
Doug’s and his church’s issues have far more history than just articles and sermons. There has been a lot of scandal from that church.
Before divorcing my husband, we went through counseling with four different counselors over a period of several years, including a Restoration Ministry for ourselves and our marriage at a local church ministry. We met once together as a couple with 2 “counselors”, then had several individual sessions with the 2 counselors. We were supposed to have a final session together, but divorce papers were filed, as things were not improving in the marriage. The Restoration Ministry was the last straw for me, and through the process, I realized that he was not willing to work on himself or our marriage. Anyway, instead of being helped through this ministry, I felt judged and blamed, especially when I was told by one of the counselors that I was looking for a savior when I got married. I was offended and revisited the comment at a future session, because I wanted to understand why she said this. When I confronted the “counselor”, I was met with a denial and a claim of not remembering that she had said this to me. I was told that I should ask Jesus if there was anything behind the comment that I needed to personally work on, and that I should choose to forgive the “counselor” if this was said. All of this coming from a ministry that teaches that in order to “stop the pain”, we should not judge or blame others. I felt very judged and blamed by this ministry’s “counselors”. I have used quotation marks around the word “counselors” because they are not trained counselors, and certainly not individuals who can understand the pain and suffering caused by being married to a narcissistic man who blames everything on his wife. It troubles me that there are people who are not qualified (but pose in a ministry setting as people who can help) and are only heaping guilt, blame and shame on women in a very vulnerable position. I left feeling worse rather than better after seeking help from Christian people. I am, however, most thankful for Leslie’s wise counsel. I may not be here today and surviving had it not be for her. Thank you, Leslie, for responding to this man in such a wise way. He clearly should not be counseling, especially women who are in destructive marriages. He, and many others like him, can be potentially dangerous to many who seek counsel.
Wow, thank you for posting your story here and exposing a very common but painful pattern out there in the (ministry help areas)
I’m so sorry for your situation and the divorce, but I do understand to the best I can as I also was heaped with pretty toxic messages early on in my marriage when I began to see some problems revealing themselves and my husband’s resistance to acknowledging any problem in the marriage.
If you feel lead to, you might want to reach out to Cry for Justice and give them the ministry you were lead to.. they can investigate further and could possibly post them as not a good source (the blind leading the blind) on their website. They have a tab /link they provide.
As part of the Body when we discover these ministries and their approach and (belief mindsets) that we EXpose this as clear as possible, because this is where it can get very confusing to someone who has been on the receiving end of abuse for a long time. Especially narcissism or even narc traits.
It is my understanding and personal experience that a spouse with ‘narc traits’ or some ‘levels of Narcissism’ requires a min of intensive therapy for how they view the world and their mindset. That means a min of 156 HOURS with a prof. to get anywhere with them and this doesn’t count the hours of additional structure and requirements for them.
You wrote this:
” All of this coming from a ministry that teaches that in order to “stop the pain”, we should not judge or blame others. I felt very judged and blamed by this ministry’s “counselors”. I have used quotation marks around the word “counselors” because they are not trained counselors”
I agree with you on this and why it would bring turned upside down to actual poor false blame and false responsibility upon the one suffering. I don’t think that their ministry ‘of in order to stop the pain’ is to not judge or blame… this does NOT align with scripture of what even Jesus taught throughout the Gospels.
Especially with how he exposed the Pharisees.
I believe many out there are redefining the definition of words.. it’s critical we understand what ones defined version is.
Our culture is now messaging that being responsible for ones own behavior is now being defined as blame..or as someone is feeling blamed. Common in narc traits and immaturity that many definitions get Twisted and redefined to meet their non-feeling world view. Remember, to not feel (bad) is survival for them! They have YEARS of investment in this pattern and it’s not something they give over easily. My h did not hand over his narc traits easily because they were foundational to his everyday functioning.
With individuals such as your xh, their denial is high and they are highly against ‘feeling bad’ for anything, let alone how their behavior impacts another.
They are truly living in their own bubble world or sorts to protect themselves from pain at any cost. (Asleep)
These messages are continuing to be fed in our culture and our Christian communities ~ ‘about feeling judged’ what I have found it’s really about not wanting to be responsible for themselves.
This is why the treatment the ministry offered was minimal compared to what he needed overall,and who knows even if he had received good therapy he still could have rejected it and the same outcome based on his character deficits.
I like the quote from Bryant McGill,
” truth that exposes your denial can feel like judgment. If you feel yourself being judged don’t always trust those feelings. Look for what you may be denying about yourself. This is how to heal and grow !”
I’m sorry for what you have been put through and I will pray that a God will use it for His glory and His purposes, I pray that He will heal your heart and you will feel the peace & provision in your journey.
Much love and care to you🌷
Thank you Leslie is a bless for me to see your block and read all the information you give to us, God be with you, bless you and give all the wisdon to continue helping us in the lies of falce christian life, I been married for 23 years and now I’m making the desition to get divorced, I say no more, my son suffer the consequences of this destructive relation, but I confess, I’m afraid of wath is going to happen after, but is better than wath I am living now, thank you soo much because your block help me to acknowledge my situation and have the courage to live, I speak spanish but you speak so clear that my spirit reseived all the information, GOD BLESS YOU
I’m still reeling.
Like Aly, i’m amazed that this counselor would use a composite story for his Blog. As Aly pointed out there are 1000s of true painfully real examples he could have used. As Aly said, there are sadly, thousands of true stories of abused ladies. 😔
Has a real abused woman never written to him for help?
Was he trying to cover his rear-end, in case someone harshly criticized his professional advice – potentially leading to a lawsuit? ( for example, if it led to a wife staying with a violent husband who eventually beat her into a vegetative state)
This counselor chose a “pretend” abused woman to stage his professional advice. Is this why it’s so lacking in compassion? It’s strangely almost as if he wrote out a blanket statement to all women: “shut up your whining or else!!”
Bro. Jeff at A Cry For Justice has said (I’m paraphrasing) there’s a Spirit of arrogance in Christian leadership ESPECIALLY the big names. They very, very rarely will back down from statements they’ve made which are unsupportive to abuse victims. And if they DO come around to the idea of supporting abuse victims, these particular leaders usually don’t admit their past hurtful statements or will they apologize to victims, if anything, these BIG GUNS of the CHURCH can get pretty ugly to anyone who challenges their positions.
But they need to be challenged! They need to be challenged because they don’t need to hurt anyone else with erroneous teaching. Just like a good journalist would print a retraction once it came to their attention that they had printed a falsehood – all the more a Bible teacher should RETRACT false doctrine once they have come to understand the truth!!
✝️Consider this scripture:
Matthew 23:23New International Version (NIV)
23 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.
God has heard the cries of the neglected and victimized. He’s seen His Shepherds re-abuse the downtrodden and twist His Word. And now God has finally had ENOUGH. He’s on the move, raising up ones who will speak for the LEAST OF THESE. Leslie is one of these. 😊
Sister Leslie is trodding into the good old boys club. It will not make her lots of friends. It will make her unpopular. It will draw harassment. Attack from the conservative Christian establishment. Attack from the demonic world. But someone had to fight for civil rights and they paid a price. Leslie is paying a price.
She is paying for me.
Her words have paid for my peace of mind. They have brought me relief from the attack of condemnation. I think it’s neat that one of her ‘background’ assistants is named Jael. Think about what that mighty woman of God did to assist ANOTHER mighty woman of God. (Jael and Deborah) Deborah, who also trod into good old boys club to do be used by God. coincidence or God set-up?
✝️ Here’s another scripture. I know it’s long, but it’s so good that I couldn’t decide where to cut it. It’s a translation called the Voice, which I like for these verses.
Ezekiel 34:2-12The Voice (VOICE)
Eternal One: 2 Son of man, preach against Israel’s shepherds! Speak directly to the shepherds and tell them this is what the Eternal Lord has to say: “Woe to the shepherds of Israel whose only concern is to protect and nourish themselves! Isn’t a shepherd’s job to look after the sheep? 3 Yet you exploit them in every way. You devour their fat, make soft clothes and blankets out of their wool, and slaughter the best sheep for your table. Meanwhile you don’t take care of the sheep at all. 4 You have not sought to nurse the weak. You have not gone out totend to the sick. You have not bandaged the injured. You don’t bring back the strays or look for the lost. You have led them with neglect, ruled them with harshness, shepherded them with cruelty! 5 They had no realshepherd, so they have scattered; the entire flock was prey for wild beasts. 6 My sheep drifted aimlessly through all the mountains and up and down every hill. My flock was scattered all over the world, scattered like the stars in the night sky, and not a single shepherd went looking for them.”
God condemns the shepherd-rulers of Israel for neglecting their duties and exploiting their human flock. Heaven will not remain silent at this injustice. A change is coming.
7 Now pay attention, shepherds, to My word: 8 As surely as I, the Eternal Lord, live, because My sheep are without a shepherd, because they have become prey for all the wild beasts to feed upon, because my shepherds have not gone in search of My sheep but have only looked out for themselves and not watched after and cared for My flock; 9 I encourage you, shepherds, to listen to the word of the Eternal.
10-11 Those self-centeredshepherds are My enemies! As far as I am concerned, they are no longer shepherds. They will not help themselves to My sheep any longer. I will recover My flock from those corrupt shepherds. I will snatch My sheep from their mouths! My sheep will no longer provide milk, clothing, or meat to them. I will personally go out searching for My sheep. I will find them wherever they are, and I will look after them. 12 In the same way one shepherd seeks after, cares for, and watches over his scattered flock, so will I be the guardian of My sheep. I will be their Rescuer! No matter where they have scattered, I will go to find them. I will bring them back from the places where they were scattered on that dark and cloudy day.
Oh! This SO coincides with what I have been becoming convinced of, lately. The church institutions of the US (at least) must suffer some major restructuring in the coming years – closings and collapses – there must be a cleansing to remove the great black marks on the witness of The Church – God’s true people.
I am truly convinced as well that the Lord is rising up a generation that will come valiantly to defend Him in truth and honor. Many of those will be women. There will be a cleansing of this stain of abuse that has permeated His house for far too long.
It will be an epoch battle as the enemy has thrived in this culture of ignorance as pastors have “dressed the wounds of my people lightly” as Jer. 6:14 describes, “saying, peace, peace, when there is no peace”.
I am thankful for Leslie and the truth that has been imparted to her to begin the cleansing process.
Prayers up as we all begin our journeys to health. Along the way, as many here do, may we turn around then and “strengthen the brothers (sisters) behind us.” Luke 22:32 style.
Amen, Dawn! My spirit senses the same thing! Fearless warrior women, valiant for the truth!
. . .In thinking more about this, providing pastors with corrective information could, by and large, not work and amazingly could even *strengthen* their original beliefs (re: Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me): Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts and so many similar books.)
When people receive new information, their existing beliefs and feelings (―especially feelings) have more influence over whether they believe or reject that information than any rational, logical, reasoning evidence or data. . . .Christ cares dearly about everyone. He loves us, we have the greatest value. He gave His life for all we are worth! —And so, Truth serves Life. . . .But in many places, the Bible seems an all too human book. As everyone knows, in Matthew nineteen, Jesus is alleged to have said the following: “And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.” ―Probably only humans could construct chains that look like that. The problem is that once the picking and choosing, cafeteria-style Christianity starts and then goes into full swing, you have self-generated Christianity that matches our psychological trait profiles. We tend to arrive at our beliefs for reasons that normally have little to do with empirical evidence of the beliefs success and helpfulness in human flourishing or even common sense.
Do we dare limit God’s grace or God’s action by our creeds, our Scriptures, our theology?
I would say NO but the only churches that seems to be growing are those selling certainty; selling “the truth”; saying the “know.” Could it be that the certainty and the “I know” is what is so appealing. I know it is for me, who wants to hear about things that are talked about in levels of confidence and probabilities. Generally, any confidence and certitude we feel is something that happens before we deeply *truly* understand the situation. The certitude seems misplaced because all beliefs are historical and highly contingent (re: The Search for the Authentic Words of Jesus; The Quest of the Historical Jesus; etc.) It is so appealing to “KNOW” but we are dealing in incredible levels of uncertainty.
Truth serves Life vs. timeless truth vs. “unchanging truth” vs. the myth of our certainty
. . .And that’s why the standard that may work and promote personal responsibility, despite what texts say, may reduce to “Truth serves Life.” In other words, what promotes human flourishing??? ―Certainly not abusive marriages. Inside most fundamentalist structures is seriously inflexible thinking in black-and-white (I so love that stuff. It is so appealing “to know” –vs- flexible & contingent rainbow thinking. The problem with black and white thinking is it gives us the illusion of certainty and security. Most “truth” comes in levels of probability of it being correct (confidence intervals). That said, the certitude of black-and-white thinking, while fallacious, is highly appealing. All my life, I have only considered the opposite but like those pastors I must consider the possibility that our Christian certainty and certitude, our “knowing” joins the gods of Olympus as a footnote in the history of the human race.
Some partial answer may be in deidolizing the Bible (“The Protestant Pope”) and also demythologizing which allows deweaponizing those texts. It’s very, very hard to be open-minded (―I try but I so fail, usually due to fear and shame). We want to deconstruct little “safe” areas that *we* want to deconstruct but the same principles apply across the whole of our belief structures. In all questions, it’s a healthy thing to hang question marks on the things we have long taken for granted, ―me too. We see sincere people claiming Christ but still manipulating others with fear, superstition, threats or promises of things they “know.” When you let go of certainty, the opposite isn’t usually uncertainty. It’s openness, curiosity and a willingness to embrace paradox, rather than choose up sides. The ultimate challenge is to accept ourselves exactly as we are, but never stop trying to learn and grow, ―not easy. I want to know I’m doing the right things but salvation comes inside unknowing and uncertainty. Inflexible thinking in black-and-white (I so love that stuff it is so appealing “to know” but it is mostly illusion and fantasy) vs. flexible rainbow thinking. A pastor clinging to a narrow “certainty” about all kinds of matters is a total disconnect from the probability distributions that are the facts. Honesty, our first CORE “C”. . .honesty will cause pastors and the church as an institution to massively lose power. I am also convinced that churches that give up the claim of certainty in so many matters will decline, and that church leaders who dare to face these issues openly and publicly will be attacked and abused by people who need what an honest church, honest pastors, honest people cannot give. It has taken me a long time to understand that certainty and knowing have never been our possessions, but rather, our illusions. We offer companionship on a journey and the hope that the reality of Christ will be at the journey’s end (―hope, but not certainty just like in those divorce, marriage and remarriage issues). In this life, the journey will never end.
Leslie I applaud your direct response to those put in a place to preach the word and direct us, his followers based on God’s teachings. It is a difficult thing to do in today’s world but I thank God for you!
I myself am in this middle of a heartbreaking marriage that is now ending. After 15 years of marriage (first 10 emotionally abusive) The last 5 toned down emotional abuse but massive lies were exposed. ONe month ago I found out my husband lied about having Cancer (which I was told from the beginning of my marriage), lied about his job, college, businesses he had, houses he bought, etc. He continues to lie, lied to our oldest about having cancer and just the other day when discussing divorce threatened his life and I had to call 911. He is now out of the house and I am proceeding with a separation agreement. I have not worked in over 12 years as I am a stay at home mom. I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know I have to protect myself and my 3 beautiful kids from this cycle of abuse. We had separated 5 years ago for a period of one year in which I did see change and he did come clean with 2 lies, but boy did he have me fooled.
Leslie, you are 100% right in your guidance… but if someone refuses to see their wrong we must make a choice to protect ourselves and our children who have no voice!
I have found that the Lord knows your needs and will provide in ways you can never imagine. Each week I am apart from my abuser, I have something to praise God about. I live with fear for the future, week after week, I have been not only ok, but better than ever.
I am so thankful for your boldness in speaking truth, not fearing what the world will say because many do not agree.
Because of my own unhealthy marriage I, too, sought biblical counseling – for years. And, most biblical counselors did not call out what was truly happening in my marriage. It was my mentor who spoke biblical truth to me and a male Christian counselor outside of my church. This was after seeing countless biblical counselors and counselors with an M.A.
Just recently, because I am considering getting my M.A., I sat down with the biblical counselor from my church to learn and understand what her role is.
After sharing my story (she asked and I felt safe to share)she looked at me and said, “There is nothing in the Bible that talks about emotional abuse being grounds for divorce, only adultery and abandonment.” I paused and shared how I was attending the Divorce Care class that the church supported — and that a counselor on the video was who empowered me too see truth and take healthy action. I could tell she was perplexed. We finished, with both of us embracing each other – truly the Lord gave me strength to do this as I was stunned with what she believes and counsels. And, I did not want to harbor bitterness yet I was angry. Way too many women are given unhealthy counsel!!
I am blessed, Leslie, by your grace and love in how you have helped me – and continue to. It has empowered me to further my education and help other women in this situation.
Many times I came across counselors, authors and the like who stated that only adultery and abandonment are grounds for divorce. I was so confused. Then the Lord guided me to do a study on covenants in relation to the abandonment provision. In doing so, I had to revisit the vows we exchanged years earlier that formed the marriage covenant. After exchanging these vows, we knelt before the Lord in front of witnesses and asked Him to seal the covenant. As I looked back over the years of abuse of me and our children, I realized that he had broken every vow except literal adultery. The flip side “let not man put asunder” is that God can put asunder, which is what happened. It took a couple of decades for Him to get this through to me as it debunked much of what I had been taught from childhood.
Juanita, good insights. I would add that your husband ignored “let not man put asunder,” as he put his vows asunder. He did violence to your covenant, and he destroyed your union. Not acceptable to break your vow to love and cherish and then try to hold your wife hostage to “till death do us part.” He is the vow breaker.
Thank you for the affirmation, T.L. I truly appreciate it.
Absolutely! Thank you for speaking this truth, Aleea! I have experienced this black and white thinking twice recently in close relationships. And it always makes me stop in my tracks for a moment. Then I see again the wisdom and freedom I have living outside of that box and being ok with the question marks, the paradoxes until more truth is revealed. YES! This is a very good way to live ladies!!!
Thank you Cyndy. You are very good encourager/ Truth seeker warrior. . . .It must be so hard being a pastor and life is so, so hard in general, for everyone. It’s hard to be open, authentic, and honest. It’s hard dealing with theocratic shunning, everyone wants to belong. . . .What if the church would be less concerned with creating saints than creating a world where we do not need these saints? A world where people like Mother Teresa, MLK, Leslie Vernick would have absolutely nothing to do. . . . .That requires lots of rainbow vs. black and white thinking, on everybody’s part. A true Christian pastor attacks systems of oppression against women, men, everybody —and fights for people’s spiritual health AND a better world even though that new world will negatively affect his own position of power. . . . In order to destroy the scapegoat mechanism, a different strategy must be adopted. Instead of trying to create a community where there is no outsiders allowed (black and white thinking), the real answer may lie in understanding that there is a sense in which we are all outsiders in Christ. Christ dies outside everything: outside the religious system, outside the political system, etc. In concrete terms, this means that a community faces its own lack of certainty and unknowing (—on marriage issues, etc.), rather than ignoring them (—or even worse, telling women to “try harder”) and thus creating a scapegoat who must carry the burden. I would rather be a person full of serious paradoxes than a person just filled with prejudices (black and white thinking). But it is so hard because I gravitate toward certainty like a fish to water.
It is with sadness and concern that I read so many posts from women being treated terribly. Tell me again, why are we living like this? I know I had my reasons for staying, but now that I am out of the abuse, those reasons don’t seem important enough for me to have ever been treated so terribly.
I think we all do as human beings. Certainty is a secure spot in our flesh. My wus-band is a pastor/ missionary. I see a lack of love (we love because we are steeped in His love)and courage (taking risks out of our boxes as the Holy Spirit leads) in him and many in leadership positions. Leslie asked me once to really think and pray about the characteristics of the man I want to be married to in the future. I keep coming back to those two things as the root of what I want in a man: love and courage. And that is what God is also growing in me!!
Currently experiencing some back sliding in our relationship. We are in couples counselling and have dropped down to once every two weeks. Most of the time in each our sessions has been the counsellor working with my h (and once a week was good). But now, once every two weeks is NOT enough. Please pray for Holy Spirit guidance in how and when I communicate my need for him to go into individual counselling ( on top of our couples counselling) He’s just so avoidant of ‘leaning into’ this process (except, that is when I challenge his defenses!)
I’m so sorry, I do agree with you;) My h went through this also a long time ago when beginning counsel.. remember the unrealistic thinking tends to fold over to many areas, and for most men particularly… they have an ‘preconceived ideal’ of how long and many times they need therapy. My h has this belief. But his behavior and reactivity continued to reveal his course of treatment.
I feel your heart 😞And I’m hoping I understand your concern about the avoidance?
I hope below is helpful….
Going 1/per week (individually) is key until counselor feels there has been enough places of break throughs and consistent behavior change to go 2/month(individually) usually this takes a long time because of those behavior patterns and both of how you and h have created your own cycle.
It’s also helpful to have at least 1 couples session per month while h is going the other times.
So if your h has more avoidance tendencies~ prob shaped in him long before you came along, counseling and intensives can be a longer road just because they themselves are learning more ‘about themselves’ and how to feel or even what they feel.
For me; because of the long journey and the resistance of my h earlier on.. I came to the point that if my h wanted to do the work necessary and earn trust, that I would be (with the advice of the counselor ) to decide when to adjust sessions.
His behavior, attitude and treatment toward me, and his profound avoidance (from feeling) .. that made him disqualified from being the decision maker on such a critical place in our journey.
I know that sounds harsh, but truly it was what our marriage needed and he hadn’t yet developed that part of introspective work in seeing ‘himself and his choices.
This was how I guarded my heart and my process too;)
It’s common that when things begin to get better, than many think that speaks to lessening the course, but usually more work and consistency means the interventions are working!
It important to remember that your concerns requests and fears are valid.
Your working toward a healthy Marriage where it is being a team overall and you have a concern overall for the process as there might be a threat to the marriage …
then it’s a marriage problem and there are solutions.
One thing that our counselor helped with us was to write out or verbalize what we fear in sharing these concerns or things we are feeling weary of.
Just a thought.
Will pray that you feel a direction soon and can and appropriately act on it if needed.
How he responds is his responsibility. Be committed to truth and honesty even though that may feel risky because of past pain.
What helped me at times was to remember my role as a loving helpmate.
And ‘to love ‘…is offering up the ‘highest good’ for the other!
I’m standing with you as a sister and for you Nancy (your such a jewel of His)!💖
Thank you, Aly. Especially for the reminder that how he responds is his responsibility.
I spoke to him about this a number weeks ago ( him going into individual counselling) but in the form of ‘planting a seed’ kind of a way. Back then it wasn’t a need of mine. Now it has become my need.
My need is pretty simple: I don’t trust that he can even identify his own needs and limitations, let alone bring them to me in a loving way. So our communication ends up going back to the surface as it always has done and after a time, when I push him a bit, because I sense something is up, he blames, manipulates etc….
It’s really good that you can identify what you need and what the pattern is.
I would take this to your counselor.
I guess I would wonder if your better off speaking directly ‘rather than planting seeds’ given his avoidance tendencies and probably less developed interpreting skills.~ which is what will get better developed in counseling with a good counselor.
Yes, I’m better off speaking directly , Aly, thanks for the reality check. I guess the ‘planting seeds’ is rooted in tippy toeing around him as well as a ‘wishful thinking’ bad habit.
Thank God His mercies are new every morning!
Praying for you now, dear Nancy! You are strong and brave and true in Him. I know the Holy Spirit will give you this wisdom. It is His promise in James 1:5 to you! 💛
Aly & T.L.,
Imagine being married to a pastor that is protected by other church officials. You are told they need physical evidence to do anything. Emotional, verbal, and spiritual abuse are almost a daily thing.
I couldn’t even read all of the pastor’s answer. It brought back so much pain! I hope you are in contact with this woman. She must have felt so desperate when she read his response naw to her. I was told that the only way out of my
Destructive marriage was if my husband cheated on me. No amount of abuse, even physical was grounds for divorce. Fortunately the Holy Spirit discerned for me that I should get out of that church! Funny thing was my ex HAD cheated on me!! A lot!!!! But this pastor believed him when he said he had not. I was told to pray for God to reveal proof. I honestly feel that these pastors are being deceived by Satan. It breaks my heart.
I think many wanted to be pastors, not counselors. I think they inherited the counselor job so to speak and are unprepared for it. That is why we get such bad advice.
Go Leslie!!!! What a wonderful response!
Absolutely . . .and Cyndy that is very beautifully said. Love is our strength to overcome the evils in ourselves and of the world . . . .and courage, real courage is when you know you’re licked before you begin (—because people are locked down in black and white thinking) but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. It is also very curious that physical courage should be so common in men and moral courage so very rare (—you know what I mean!) . . .Real, pure love is going to generate everything else that is good. I so try to keep the world crucified to me, nothing in it really fascinates me, not really. . . .my goal is GOD HIMSELF. Not joy, not peace, not even blessing but HIMSELF . . .my GOD. —Who is this God and what can I really know of Him??? Who is Jesus, —really. —Real Jesus. Oh, how great is the infinite wisdom of God, source of every life and every thought. How do we really, truly, sustainablely access the limitlessness Love and the very Life of Christ??? Who can fathom the mysteries God has concealed??? . . . .I believe (—I don’t know this but I believe) that what Jesus wants most from you and I, is relationship and friendship with Him. He wants to be involved in the big and small moments of our lives. So, we go deeper with the Lord and I think the way there comes from an unquenchable love for holiness (—as He is Holy), deep cleaning our hearts and keeping them clean. Dying to ourselves and daily living wholly to Him, walking the road of love and deep compassion for ourselves and those who are suffering. . . . .But my mind, —my mind is so dark at times and I am so easily deceived and even God’s shadow is too bright for my eyes on most days. . . Real, pure, Christ-like love living in a person should generate all those other qualities you seek. . . .but I have no idea how to relabily detect it. One thing I have deeply learned from the women who post here is how easily we are deceived. The easiest person to fool is ourselves. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself —and you are the easiest person to fool, —me too. I try so, so hard to be a critical thinker using logic, reason, hard evidence but emotion can get the best of me in a snap. To me, it all comes down to: How do I stop my emotions from hijacking my intellect? . . . .I absolutely love emotions, but they shut down my rational reasoning abilities, full stop. Then they rewire my brain and I start defending what I know isn’t empirically valid. When you “believe” you shut down the logical, rational, reasoning abilities God gave you to spot abusers, especially in the church where so little critical thinking is taking place. . . .Anyways, I’m praying for you.
Thank you Aleea for your prayers! There have been times when I have tried so hard to hold onto my brain in a relationship! Then my good Father says, “Just let go and let me handle it”. In trusting Him over myself, He has never disappointed me! Praying the same protection and rest for you. ❤❤❤
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I see “be still and know that I am God” differently…actually right now, it’s quite impossible to ” be still” at all.
There is no way that I can “be still” before my Lord. There are far too many feelings boiling under the surface. “Being still” just results in me stuffing them in the name of trying to be holy, or something.
Right now, my passage writes something like, ” be furious and know that I am God.” Maybe once I’ve practiced bringing that into His presence, maybe my mind will come off the hamster wheel of running from the storm that is just below the surface. Maybe then I’ll experience just a glimpse of what it is to be still before Him. Cause right now…there’s no stillness. Just a bleeping tempest.
Practicing “Being still” before God right now would be more of the same…pretending. I’m so sick of discovering layers of my own self-deception.
I sit there “being still” and somehow think The Lord doesn’t know what is going on in my heart? It’s as if I’ve convinced myself that I can control this storm.
I can’t. I surrender trying to “be still” before You. I’m exhausted trying to keep it from You.
I am so sorry that you are struggling so much right now. Can you share more about your feelings? (Only if it would help you–so glad you have a good counselor to process with.)
It’s ok to feel all your feelings, and take them all honestly to your Heavenly Father, because He knows you better than you know yourself, He loves you unconditionally, and He is for you. Yes, sit in His presence and talk to Him about your anger, rage, fear, whatever. Explore and analyze all that you are feeling. The Holy Spirit, who is called our Counselor, Comforter, Helper and Teacher will guide you. The Psalms are full of every human emotion, people in anguish complaining and crying out to God in anger, fear, confusion. The Scripture you referenced is from Psalm 46, in which the Psalmist speaks of all sorts of calamities and injustices on the outside, and yet, he affirms that God is in control and He will be exalted. He will bring about justice and deliverance. He will vindicate. That’s why, after confessing all our feelings, sorting through it all with the Holy Spirit’s help, we can arrive at a place of stillness: we can watch our mighty God bring about His will in our situation.
Nancy, you are in the midst of a great process of God testing hearts: yours and your husband’s, to see what is there. It is hard, but very kind of Him to do so. It is information you need to live your life authentically for Him, as I know you want to do. One of my constant prayers is, “Show me what I need to know, and help me walk bravely in it.”
Praying for you this morning, dear sister. ❤️
I so agree with both T.L. And Maria and such loving reminders of who you belong to! He can hold your Pain, your anger and any fear.
I’m sorry for what your experiencing and being angry is NOT an unhealthy emotion. Some people misuse this but my hunch is that’s not what you are doing.
In fact for many on here, (including myself) getting upset was an important voice for me to feel all those emotions that I wasn’t allowed to respond as a little girl let alone learn that there is healthy anger in injustice and especially hidden injustice. Even though anger is secondary from the other important grieving places of sadness , hurt and fear… anger gave me messages that alerted me in critical places that I don’t believe God was calling me to sit still. We all have different places of this journey and God knows the final outcome overall so that I could have that inner peace with.
“Practicing “Being still” before God right now would be more of the same…pretending. I’m so sick of discovering layers of my own self-deception.”
I agree with you that God doesn’t guide us to pretend or placate for another’s deception or to contribute to their behavior.
So I’m confused at what you feel your own layers of self-deception?
I could be way off…. but your writing sounds as if you are describing being fooled, dupped, or someone has broke trust?
Or you were expecting something and received quite the opposite…
These traits are quite common with individuals that lack core integrity skills and character traits that are the basics of a safe relationship.
Again, I’m sorry for your pain, being angry can be understandable and people around you can be there for you, but I’m wondering if your furious anger is about you being hurt in the same past place? A place that hasn’t had all the healing He will do for it over time.
Many are here that understand you Nancy and want to understand you.
Love & prayers for your heart from another sister;)
My own self deception is realizing that I have been pretending with God. In skipping over anger, in an attempt to ‘be still’, I am only fooling myself. And yes, I am angry that my h broke trust in throwing exaggerated words around in defensiveness. My running from anger is what keeps me silent, when I should be direct with my h.
Last night Forrest Gump was brought to mind. Specifically the scene where ‘lieutenant Dan’ is perched atop the Bubba Gump’s shrimp boat mast, amid an incredible storm, screaming at God.
I am that angry.
Then, I remembered how changed ‘lieutenant Dan’ was, afterwards.
I think a good scream is appropriate in this case. Yet, I don’t feel anger towards God. It is your abuser who sinned against you, not God. You have been used and exploited in marriage. That is maddening for sure.
I don’t appreciate you dehumanizing my husband by referring to him as my ‘abuser’. Our situations are completely different. Please don’t project your experiences onto me, that’s not at all supportive.
Thanks, Nancy. I would have never thought of that perspective. I have switched to the term abuser at the advice of Lundy Bancroft. I attended one of his lectures and he recommended that using that term helped us get out of denial. Like others have said here, the marriage vow was broken the first time our husbands chose to abuse us. It is heavy stuff to contemplate. Anyway the teaching I received was that it helped women get out of denial by using the correct term. Husbands behave very differently. What do you think?
Thanks for asking. I think that this advice is good for a specific period of time – which will be different for each individual. This term would definitely help a person distance themselves emotionally to get objectivity on the situation in order to take the steps of establishing safety and sanity and to begin healing.
I haven’t read or heard any of Lundy’s stuff, but I’m going to guess that referring to a person as an abuser past the point that this is needed, would impede the process of forgiveness (I DO NOT mean reconciliation, here)?? I don’t claim to know this, just guessing.
As for me personally: My h and I are in the process of creating a new marriage (after 9 months of separation). Calling him ‘my abuser’ is not appropriate for the shift in my own mindset that I have had to make, since committing to building a new marriage with him.
Thanks, Nancy. That makes sense. We too did much of the rebuilding you refer to, decade after decade we tried, but the cycle always returned.
Counselors tell me know the my husband is pathological from all the counseling he received and incorporated into new manipulation strategies. I was told his repentance is fake and he is involved in a propaganda campaign to remain delusional and promote his image as the entitled man he is. Yup, born again Christian too.
Again Free, our situations are different. The men we are referring to are individuals. I don’t appreciate you likening the rebuilding that my husband and I are involved in, to what you were involved in.
I’m sorry that your husband chose to use the counselling sessions as further manipulation strategies. That really sucks 🙁
Sorry to hear you are in such turmoil. Being still does not mean stuffing feelings. Being still does not mean we are at peace either. To me it means knowing God is sovereign despite what we are going through. What you have written reminds me of my feelings after some interactions I’ve had with my husband. He loves drama and has a need to create confusion every so often. At those times, I feel so angry about his treatment of the kids. I’m not sure what you are going through. At times like these, it’s especially important to take care of yourself. My angry feelings are a result of his toxicity. So I try to stay away from him as much as I can. Pay attention to the feelings and decipher what they are trying to “tell” you. If you have a trusted friend, it helps to share with them. Praying for you.
Hi T.L. and Maria,
Thank you for your care and concern. Especially your interpretations of this Psalm.
I am walking through the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Bible Study with two trusted girlfriends. One intimidating component of the daily office is “silence, stillness and centring before God”. I cannot do this.
Then I read about the way the author started this journey was simply to bring his emotions before The Lord, and then to journal about them. What I wrote at 4 am was a ‘journal entry’ after having a tantrum in God’s presence (I was woken in the night by my spinning mind, but what ultimately turned out to be, rage).
My h and I are walking through A LOT right now. We are in the process of doing some positive counselling homework which I launched into with hope and optimism and my h is sabotaging. He is taking responsibility for this, as we oh…so….painfully….move along each step, but It’s very tiring. For sure, some of my rage is this invisible force that sabotages good things (subject of our next counselling session).
The other part though, is my rage at God for making walk through all of this – not to mention feeling as though I was totally set up for this, with my family of origin. I get, intellectually, that this is for my best, but I’m tired of doing the work. My work right now is clear.
With my h….to speak my needs and limits directly, gently and respectfully, on a moment to moment basis. That means being more in touch with my feelings.
With The Lord: Sitting on His lap and trusting that He will hold me through the tantrums and rage that I am experiencing.
I guess I’m in the process of getting real with the two men in my life.
So it’s one day at a time over here. I need to keep speaking up with my h, and telling The Lord how much I hate all of this.
So healthy, Nancy. I love your honesty and your child-like trust that your Father’s arms will hold. He’s that strong, and you are that loved.
I get the weariness, too.
Thank you T.L.,
I am exhausted, but my Hope is in Him ❤️
I admire your persistence and willingness to work things out with your husband. Why do you think he is trying to sabotage this? Do you generally have a hard time expressing your needs or is it just to your husband? (Please don’t answer if you don’t want to).
Speaking my needs in any situation is a challenge. My h’s sabotage is because of his avoidance mindset and fear of failure – he is increasingly aware of this (our counsellor challenges him).
I hear you using terms like “avoidance mindset and fear of failure.” I hear so much compassion on your part for his condition. Do any of these terms just seem like psychological terms for selfish?
I have been an expert in my husband emotional needs, yet it was never reciprocated. Now, I know he thought his needs were my responsibility. It’s all about him, always has been, always will be.
For sure he’s selfish, Free. The question is, can he take responsibility when he screws up?
In his case, he can.
Cyndy, thank you so much for the prayers. —Prayer is the best thing EVER! . . .usually, for myself, it just amounts to me saying to God: “change me, —Lord, change me and I don’t even know which change is best Lord!” I guess that’s my version of “Just let go and let me [the Lord God] handle it”. . . .And I think letting go means never hating. Everything and everyone that we hate is engraved upon our hearts; if we want to let go of something, if we want to forget, we cannot hate. . . . .“Praying the same protection and rest for you.” —Thank you again. He invites us to enter His rest, but we are often too busy. . . . too busy BEING God to become LIKE God. . . . Your claim is that as we abide in His rest, God Himself solves our problems for us. “Just let go and let me handle it”. . . . Hmmm, I bet that is true, *somehow* because it is like the curious paradox that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change. . . . People, . . .people are just as wonderful as sunsets if we let them be. When I look at a sunset, I don’t find myself saying, “Soften the orange a bit on the right hand corner.” I don’t try to control a sunset. I watch with awe as it unfolds. If I let myself really understand another person, I might be changed by that understanding. —And we all fear change, especially me. So as I say, it is not an easy thing to permit oneself to understand an individual but I think I understand what you are saying: “In trusting Him over myself, He has never disappointed me!” —and that’s extraordinary!
Awesome response. I read the pastor’s suggestions and found myself very angry. He obviously has no understanding of the dynamics of abuse. Here is my response. It remains to be seen whether it will be accepted or not. But, I can share it here:
While I appreciate your sentiments, I am sorry to tell you that there is one type of husband who does not become a better man when his wife acts more respectfully. This type of man is called an abuser. This type of man has such an incredible sense of entitlement that when his wife (who he sees only as his property, not as a person), accepts his poor behavior, and indeed, gives him more and more respect no matter how disrespectfully he behaves, he thinks, “Well, that is my due.” This person will then treat her even more harshly, because after all, it is working for him. The worse he behaves the better he is treated.
This goes against God’s teaching in Galatians 6:7: “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Instead, his wife would have more success instituting the Matthew 18 (verses 15-17) process with her husband. In this process, she first talks about his sin to him alone. No doubt this poor woman has done this hundreds of times. Next, we are told to tell it to two or three others, so they can hold him accountable. If that doesn’t work lastly we are to bring the sin before the church. This is what this person has done by writing to you. But instead of encouraging her to hold him accountable, you tell her to ignore his sin, and (in essence) increase it by submitting to it.
I would love to see the church rise up and hold abusers accountable. I believe if the church did that, there would be less divorce, and less children growing up in abusive homes. This is my fervent prayer.
I agree. When my husband threatened to bring my sin before the church, I begged him to follow through. He never did. I offered to stand in front of the congregation and detail my shortcomings but he backed off. I was too entrenched in the mindset that submitting to my husband meant that I was to accept his emotional and verbal abuse to even see that I could have applied Matt 18 to our situation from MY perspective. And when I’d read Boundaries and Emotionally Destructive, and started applying those principles, and it came to the point where I *did* bring his conduct to the elders, all of a sudden, we quit going there. That happened twice. So now, he has no church family or authority and I have no recourse of accountability.
However, I now have a new church family of my own that he will not take from me. I will soon be starting counseling with the staff, because I find myself slipping into bitterness and lethargy. I need to know how to move forward…
I don’t know what to do anymore. The only thing I am sure of is I don’t want to disappoint God. My husband told me back in Sept. 2016 that he no longer loved me and wanted a divorce. He started talking to this married Christian woman. He will not file for divorce but expects me to stay in the house with him while he goes out at night to see or talk to this woman. He took his ring off and has been sleeping on the living room couch. He even distanced himself from his daughter. He doesn’t see anything that he has done as wrong. I just don’t understand how someone who one day loved me just stopped and now every chance he gets he uses every weakness he know about me against me. I don’t know what to do anymore…..
I am so sorry and very angry that you are being treated so terribly. It seems that you are feeling blindsided by your husband’s destructive behaviour.
What I want to convey to you that it is ok for you to get angry about this. God is angry that His daughter is being disrespected and demeaned! This is simply NOT ok.
Start talking to trusted friends about this – let the light shine in. Read Leslie’s book. Watch Patrick Doyke videos. As you allow yourself to FEEL, you will begin to get in touch with the righteous anger that will not allow this kind of treatment of your person.
God is not ok with this, Ang. He hates to see His daughters treated poorly. Keep reading this blog. Go back and read through as many as you can. The Lord loves you and does not want your heart trampled.
Time to guard your heart ? Prov. 4:23
Ang, I am so sorry! I agree with Nancy! Your husband is out of control and so far out of line it is appalling! But he will keep up this behavior just as long as you tolerate it. By allowing it, you are hurting yourself and him. Destructive to you both. Don’t allow this! You need to act decisively.
Are you a part of a church? Does he claim to be a Christian? Is he violent ever? Do you feel safe? Do you have children?
Either way, you need to gather help and support around you immediately. You need to expose your husband’s sinful, wicked, selfish behavior. I would immediately tell the woman’s husband–today! And I would call my pastor or elders today, too, and get them involved.
Praying for you.
Goodness I’m terribly sorry for what you are being victim to. Your husband is taking his time by not having to face any of the financial consequences that come with ‘wanting a divorce but not acting on a divorce’ .
I hear your heart in that you don’t want to disappoint God, and I don’t think God wants you to feel that you are disappointing Him by drawing boundaries and consequences for your husband’s appalling behavior and treatment to you.
I’m so sorry for the heart pain that you are in and for a husband to say he doesn’t love you anymore and for that it justifies him to behave horribly.
It’s common unfortunately that many spouses come to the conclusion that since they no longer have those ‘in-love’ feelings for their spouse, that … that means they are out of love.
This is a lie, because many couples don’t have the ‘in love feelings’ and still choose to love well and invest in one another to gain back the passion that healthy couples can have in a healthy thriving marriage.
Having this takes a lot of investment and energy and frankly sometimes many spouses get comfortable and take one another for granted for the gift they do have in a spouse and in a marriage.
Your husband’s understanding of this is pretty immature and unrealistic over all but you probably know that. Im hoping to validate that for your own truths.
Some others here have already asked some great questions for you so I won’t duplicate.
And I also agree with the immediate action necessary..
This action is part of guarding your heart.
No it’s not comfortable and not going to feel natural but your husband is violating the safety of your marriage and that means he needs to begin to experience the true consequences of what he’s doing. (This is being wise)
Sleeping on the couch, is not impacting his realities enough…
and it’s my hunch that your marriage overall has maybe been disconnected for quite sometime.
It’s my understanding that he wants you to file so he doesn’t have to feel the guilt of what he has done. (Thus far)
Somehow men with these very ‘skewed mindsets’ have thoughts that the blame lies with the one who begins the filing and that is not the case.
By no way am I saying file, but it would be a good idea to seek out an attorney and what things you have to prepare for.
Sending hugs and support!
LEAVE! I am so sorry if this sounds totally naive or callous. I’m not meaning to be. We as women have been so shamed into thinking that if a marriage is not working, it must be our fault. If my husband is beating me and/or cheating on me, it must be our fault! That we, and we alone must change to meet every single selfish and narcissistic need of a man. And why is that?! My sister stayed with her abusive/cheating husband for almost 25 years! I was liviid when I found out that she had kept it a secret from us! Just because we are Christians and long to follow Christ doesn’t mean he’s calling you to be a punching bag, a doormat, a sex slave or anything else like that! He calls for men to “love their wives the way Christ lives the church”! What about that commandment?! I thank God every single day for my husband! He is not perfect, of course, but he has a willing heart to learn how to love and to be kept accountable for those things that are hurtful. I just can’t see staying in am abusive marriage for years and years! I mean, what ru waitIng for? It’s only a matter of time until things escalate to the point where someone loses their life.
Gretchen, sometimes I think it is really good for us to hear from women who are not in abusive relationships. We in the trenches have lost the shock factor. Our ideas have been belittled and we have been blamed so frequently that we have forgotten to be outraged. Thanks for reminding us what a normal reaction should be to such horrible behavior.
I think the first people we ran to is our Leaders at church and some are not fully equipped to understand what damage abuse can cause to someone including the kids.The word states it very clearly that we need ask God for guidance so some people rely on their Leaders approval whereas Leaders are there to guide us and not know everything .God is love and I noticed signs of abuse to her and the kids.I will not recommend divorce as I dont know the full story however as a Mother I will make sure that I create a safe environment for my children.They notice everything and they are too young to understand.Whilst my friend your husband is working on whatever issues he needs to be alone and allow him to do that without causing anyone harm.You can ask him to leave if you are not in a position to stay somewhere you can even say that Daddy has to be away for a while as he is not well and clearly I don’t think he is in the right emotional state right now.Help can be offered but he needs to accept that he has a problem.I will rather ask my Leader or family member to come to my house and talk to him and ask him to leave until his resolved his own issue and go through counseling.She needs a peace of mind she cant operate and think clearly with him around.The kids are afraid.Abuse is abuse
Ladies, Have you seen this French short film? It proves why just being nicer doesn’t help. Hooray for the French! Great public service short film to raise awareness of domestic abuse.
Seems like my link didn’t work. I encourage you to paste it into your browser and watch it. I have forwarded it to a number of spiritual leaders in my life who seem to indicate that only physical violence is abuse.
Yes! Saw it when Leslie shared it awhile back! Excellent!
Oh, sorry, I must have missed it. Watching it this morning has me triggered for hours. I still can’t shake it. The pain of domestic abuse goes deep. Ugh.
I understand, Free. I felt it too. It’s a scourge in the church as well as the world. Hope you saw the new blog post. Really good.
I’m sorry for how this has affected you with triggers.
I do want to thank you for posting it, because I hadn’t seen it. I think the acting was profoundly accurate and I do think there are multiple ways to dipict emotional abuse as I hope they do more for victims that struggle identifying abuse in all its forms.
What impacted me the most was when Marie’s mother called her and urged her to bring more effort to work it out and reminded her daughter that she didn’t have a job!
This impacted me greatly and reminded me of many people (my own mother) that continued to convince me something was wrong with my rather than my husband who was very covertly abusive and sometimes obviously verbally abusive when challenged.
So I just want to thank you as it was helpful to me, especially since my mom and I are estranged and it’s very painful.
Even my husband has fully admitted and has been in long term treatment for his ways of behaving and thinking and how that has impacted us.
It’s sad how many family members …. urge the victim to work harder and go back with the abuser rather than help them.
Ok try this link. Believe me it is worth your time to watch it.
Leslie, I can’t thank you enough for speaking the truth in love, for standing against such harmful and damaging advice, and for proclaiming that GOD IS FOR HIS DAUGHTERS, NOT AGAINST THEM! Your voice is so valued and so needed. Sometimes we just need to hear that our crushed, broken, battered spirits are treasured by God, so much so that he sent Jesus to die for us.
I want to comment on the difference between “Biblical Counseling” and “Christian Counseling.” I believe that the entire philosophy and belief system behind Biblical Counseling is extremely UNBIBLICAL and very damaging. It did not surprise me at all that this pastor wrote what he did to this poor woman, because any biblical counselor would have said much the same thing. Whether you are suffering from abuse, depression, anxiety, childhood trauma, etc. a “biblical counselor” will tell you the same thing in all cases– that you are suffering because you are responding sinfully to your situation and you must repent. They will always point to a person’s sin without guiding them to face their traumas and move forward. In fact, biblical counseling tends to be very anti-psychology and considers Christian Counseling to be too worldly.
Anyway. I have been communicating with a trusted Pastor about the emotional and spiritual abuse in my home. He is also speaking with my husband (who tells him a VERY different story) and we have met with him together a few times. I was actually surprised to learn that he is not completely closed to the idea of separating or divorcing, but it seems that the church would only approve that action if he receives hard evidence that the abuse is real and that my husband refuses to repent.
This is problematic and discouraging on a couple of different levels: first, that emotional and spiritual abuse tend to be a bit of a gray area and I can’t provide hard evidence (like a black eye for instance). I’ve already done months and months of research, read books, talked to therapists, wrote on this blog, in order to find out if the abuse is real or if I am just going crazy. I now know that it is real, but how can I prove that to the pastor? He is not the one who’s been living for years with a crushed spirit.
Second, it is problematic because I am positive that, IF he does get the evidence he requires and asks my husband to repent, my husband will say “yes okay absolutely.” And then nothing will change. My husband views the church and church leadership as an absolute authority in his life and will always do what it takes to believe that he is playing by the rules. But I have little to no confidence that would actually bring conviction to his heart or inspire lasting change.
It seems to me that (according to this pastor and church tradition, Reformed Calvinist)– in order for a marriage to break up, one of the two spouses must essentially be excommunicated and declared an outsider of the faith. Either my husband is declared an unrepentant abuser (in which case I am free to go– but only after the evidence and steps are followed), OR I am declared an unrepentant wayward woman abandoning her marriage without cause.
It’s very intimidating and frightening to think that I could be “officially” excommunicated by a church if I determine that it’s best for me to leave my marriage. It’s the core of the reason I’ve been stuck for so long. My heart cries out and knows what it needs, but my hands are tied. For now I’ve set boundaries with my husband: verbal communication is off-limits in regards to religion, politics, feelings, and our relationship. All of those topics are unsafe. He can write if he has something to say. But I have no idea what is the next step after boundaries are set, honestly, and I am a little discouraged that this Pastor is requiring “evidence” just to acknowledge that the abuse is real.
For now, I so appreciate this blog and the community here. I’ll keep checking in.
Hi Day by Day,
Are there other churches you could check out? If being ” frightened to think that you could be “officially” excommunicated by this church” is the reason you are stuck, then you’ve just identified the obstacle.
It concerns me that this pastor wants ‘hard evidence’. That is impossible with covert abuse. Shouldn’t he be relying on The Spirit more heavily than that? That brings me to my next question. Is it possible that all this ‘looking to prove” it’s abuse and oppression that you are under, is keeping YOU from relying on The Spirit, for next steps.
God has a plan for you, Day by Day. It’s not going to be revealed to you in an overt way. The abuse you are under is invisible. There are two sides to it: it can be crazy making ( because there is no black eye). The other side though, Day by Day is that to fight it, we must rely on The Spirit that He has given us. It sounds to me like the church you belong to isn’t nurturing this type of reliance? Just a thought.
I would encourage you to really lean into quiet time with the Word. Ask God to meet you there.
Taking a period of time exploring other church options might be really helpful. What if you spent the next bunch of Sundays just visiting other places?
And also. Good for you for settling those boundaries! You have identified areas that are unsafe- this is BIG.
Have you asked for requirements from your husband ? ( that he be accountable to you, as well as a men’s group…that he go into individual counselling to face his issues, and whatever else you feel he needs to do in order to grow in responsibility).
Have you read Leslie’s book? ( EDM). She lays out specific steps that are VERY helpful in the journey.
Also Patrick Doyle videos are helpful (in journaling feelings so that you can identify what your needs are with regards to the relationship).
God bless you Day. It sounds like you are strengthening your CORE.
Nancy and Dayby Day,
Such good dialog going back and forth. I’m sorry Day by Day for what you are up against but also grateful that you are seeking out direction and willing to lean into God’s truth for your steps and your overall healing for your heart.
I think these reply below from Nancy is very good and makes me pause longer to understand;
“It concerns me that this pastor wants ‘hard evidence’. That is impossible with covert abuse. Shouldn’t he be relying on The Spirit more heavily than that? That brings me to my next question. Is it possible that all this ‘looking to prove” it’s abuse and oppression that you are under, is keeping YOU from relying on The Spirit, for next steps.”
Your pastor wants ‘hard evidence’ of behavior that well is difficult to get but as many of us here have been victim to we can describe the patterns well.
Would it be reasonable for me ask your Pastor to produce hard evidence that the emotional abusive ‘is not happening’?
Not that I would entertain your pastors request of hard evidence but I would begin to document the cycle and the interaction between you and your h. This is the hard evidence overall that things are not healthy.
Most abusive/destructive people do seem to respond in ways like this:
What they say doesn’t align in action. (Document)
They respond in entitled ways and struggle seeing another’s perspective or needs. (Document)
They are not about ‘repairing’ … they are more about the other doing all the emotional work and it usually is about their terms and conditions.
As you document you see the patterns develop over and over.
The main one is no responsibility for their behavior.
Our counselor was very good at helping us navigate these cycles and it became very clear who was ‘working on repair’ and who was avoiding out of control and manipulation.
I’m not sure if that helps but I did document a lot .. even the tiniest of interactions.
As far as being excommunicated from a church, sometimes God does allow church’s, people,ext. family, jobs, etc to be excommunicated for a greater purpose and His path.
We don’t always see it when it’s happening but later on we see He does want us in environments where we are surrounded by the right kind of people for strength and support.
Much love and hugs to you both;)
Aly and Day by Day,
Your suggestions for making the patterns more concrete through documentation are great. It will also alleviate, on a day to day basis ( Ha! No pun intended) the feeling that you may be imagining the one-sidedness of your relationship (crazy making)- daily steps into safety and sanity.
Great practical advice 🙂
I need some help here—my daughter is in an emot destructive marriage, she does not see it. Her h beats the kids to the point of bruises, the local child protective has been called twice-once by me, once by other grandmother. In exchange for that the grandparents who called get their visitation yanked by the h and by my daughter. In a case like this where I would love again to confront him it would only serve to not be able to see the grandkids and then my daughter may not see things anyway. What to do?
Oh Helen, that is heartbreaking!
I think Ledlie has a blog entry on this topic; you might check. I’m at a loss on how to advise you, but I will say that some day when the children grow up they will be glad you tried to do all you could for them.
Leslie, can you help her with advice?
This family needs to be saved immediately. Are you familiar with the term mandatory reporter? There are various occupations in which reporting suspected abuse must be reported to authorities. Mind you, abuse does not need to have produced evidence, only the concern of abuse is enough to warrant the requirement to report such concerns to authorities. It is also for you and the other grand mother to report anonymously in many states. This family MUST be reported before your grandchildren and daughter are killed. So here are some of the occupations for which you can enlist help and have THEM report the abuse, teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, day care workers, police, fire officials to name a few. Get all of them involved until someone protects your daughter and her precious at-risk family.
I would also like to add that you should take pictures of the children’s bruises. Forensic specialist can identify each scrape and mark for causation which great accuracy. Record telephone conversations, take pictures, use baby monitors and if you must grandma, leave a camera in their house next time you visit and collect evidence against the abuser. This will help authorities take swift action.
Following a very serious situation about the physical abuse of children makes me feel self-absorbed, however Iam in a rough place. My husband is very good at hiding the emotional and spiritual abuse and neglect he has subjected myself and my adult sons to for the past 25 years. Things had gotten so bad (my sons and I are suffering from depression and anxiety) that it is affecting my ability to function through my day. My sons have suffered in many areas of their lives. Two pastors have given me the “try harder” and “stop being so critical” speeches. “Be submissive, etc.” Meanwhile out finances are awful, my sons are on meds, and my husband escapes through immoral behavior and seeks attention from others in narcissistic supply sense. Even my own father blames me because I wouldn’t go to a marriage conference with my husband. He was basically forced into agreeing to go by my father. I would not seek reconciliation with someone whose behavior has not changed. My husband acted as if he did not know about the marriage conference until my father called him but I was told by mutual friends that they encouraged him to ask me to go months earlier. I cannot seek to reconcile with someone who is not being honest in many small and large ways. Yes, I am angry. My sons don’t understand and are resentful towards me but I cannot denigrate their father by telling them his offenses. I feel alone. I have reached out to pastors and family but he is very charming and avoids taking any responsibility and blames me as well. I have basically tried to be the disciplinarian, budget keeper, peace keeper, counselor to no avail. Just getting resented more and more. I’m sick and exhausted. Thanks for hearing me out, Angela
I hear that you don’t want to denigrate their father. Yet, how will the children feel when they realize you lied to them about his behavior. They must sense something is off and you need to tell them the age appropriate truth. You know your husband will not speak the truth. The boys will imagine all kinds of things until you share the truth with them. They may think you are the problem which, of course is not true.
You have over functioned, no wonder you are exhausted. It is my opinion that the resentment comes from not telling the truth about his behavior. Some people want evidence. Document incidents in your journal. Too many people are telling you that you are wrong. You are NOT wrong!
How long do you want to remain in this destructive relationship?
Thank you. Your reply means much as I feel completely alone. I need to be strong and take steps towards independence, It is so difficult when you have created a facade so believable. My sons admire a father of my own making. I never allowed the “chips to fall”. Then to dismantle and come clean takes strength in face of the unknown. My deepest fears are being realized in a greater sense day after day. From where does my help come? My help comes from the slots, the maker of heaven and earth. I am not getting help from pastors or family. I will search elsewhere. Please pray for my sons, They are deeply suffering.
*Lord, not slots
Most of us here know all about facades. Most of us functioned behind one, some for a very long time. 30 years for me.
Can you take a few days or a week to get alone with the Lord in a quiet place? In the midst of the abuse, things are terribly foggy. You start to think you are crazy or to blame. If you can get away alone with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and lay your heart bare; the triune God will begin to minister tender love, clear truth, and deep courage to you. You need to know how much He loves you and that He is deeply grieved at the way you and your sons are being mistreated. You need to let Him give you His strength to get clear and strong, to stand against the sin and devil’s values that have invaded your home.
You can find a way, with God’s help, to repent of your enabling of this sin, and make a stand against it. You can find a way, with Christ’s humility, to speak to your sons, tell them that you are sorry for not being truthful, ask their forgiveness, respectfully admit your husband’s destructive behavior, and tell them you will no longer allow them or yourself to be subjected to it. They know he isn’t healthy or good; it’s why they are depressed. Hopelessness leads to depression. And they can see no way out because their father is abusive and their mother allows it. If you speak truth to them, you will validate and honor their pain. That will help them begin to heal.
Please know that I say all this with deep love and empathy, as I was in your place, too, and largely understand how you feel.
Have you read/listened to Leslie’s teaching on Strengthening Your CORE? No more pretending. You must step away from the facade. It’s a prison for you all. Freedom lies in knocking it completely down.
There are many beautiful ladies here to support you as you move forward in courage and honesty. Courage is not the absence of fear, but doing the right and just thing in spite of the fear. Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. Be strong and courageous, dear sister.
I want to also remind you that you are not alone (ever really) even though I can so relate to feeling alone and frieghtened.
God never designed us to go it alone anyways, it’s just not how He calls us to be .. independent.
He calls us to be dependent on Him and gather those that can help with our burdens.
Burdens are not our own load, they are too much for our capacity and how we were designed.
You received some great advice from others, so I won’t repeat. But I do want you to be encouraged by something;
“Then to dismantle and come clean takes strength in face of the unknown”
This is true, but when you go with the One who is ‘all knowing’ there is courage that is from Him and the fear of the unknown gets gobbled up by the faith of the ALL Knowing one.
Many of our individual journeys are more His Story for how He does rescue, give us a strength to stand in and give us a wing to be comforted by.
He Loves beyond what you or I can truly comprehend.💖
Your worthy of the healing and your family is worth the truth of your situation. It is in His love and truth that we find our path of daily recovery until He returns again!
Hugs and prayers for courage.
Thank you so much. I will work follow your advice. When things get so difficult, I begin to believe that I’m causing it in some way or that I can avoid the conflict but the person who should be protecting and leading us is actually harming us and it goes against all of your instincts of trust and hope. I do hope that I will be able to look back on this in better days. Thanks again.
Goodness I hope I didn’t confuse you? 😬
Maybe I’m reading your response wrong, I’m sorry;(. But I feel like I should verify.
When you say it goes against your instincts to trust and hope,
I’m not clear if you mean your husband, God or the marital outcome?
I was not speaking about trusting your husband in anyway or form. We don’t trust or give false hope when the person called to protect & lead us is in fact harming us and our families. You said he is acting immoral and escaping (not sure what that exactly explains) but I’ll take your word that it goes against a safe and loving marriage.
Your husband’s past and current behavior have created the trust and false hope places for where the state of the marriage is. He is not currently trustworthy given his pattern of choices, nor should you try harder to believe that there are reasons to trust. Let his behavior reveal his character.
Leslie had another article on False Hope … maybe a month ago. It was really good.
I’m wondering what you need most from us right now and best we can support you?
I’m wondering if you feel that you are owning the Shame of your husband’s choices and character?
I hear you saying in other posts that you were the one protecting his (h) image for your sons. But clearly they are suffering anyways from the neglect and the (non-reality). It’s hard to grieve where truth has not been affirmed/discovered.
Your husband’s choices in life are ‘his’ responsibility, just as yours are yours. But sadly as the leader and protector of the home, his choices will impact others in a negative way especially if he is making poor decisions.
If we save our husband’s from behavioral consequences (even if we think we are doing the right thing for our children) we still reward bad behavior and run the risk of over-functioning in an living in an unauthentic way.
They (husband’s that are escaping or not making healthy choices) really don’t reap what they sow. This is where healthy boundaries and requirements come in. As well as the action you will need to guard your heart.
Will continue to pray for you to lean in toward the Lord for comfort and for courage;)
His Truths are for your healing and as Leslie V. Says often be kind to yourself as you walk your journey.
Thank you, yes, it goes against our nature to NOT trust the man I married, but when his actions consistently betray me and my children, it’s time for a wake up call, no doubt. Thank you for your kindness and your time. I so appreciate all the help. These things make us doubt ourselves. God bless, A
I lived with an angry controlling husband who was emotionally and verbally abusive to me and to our 4 children. When I finally had enough, I shut down. He freaked out and said we needed to talk to the pastor. So we did. The pastor and his wife gave advice a lot like this pastor – – – they really had NO IDEA of how bad it was in our home. Their home was full of love and respect. How in the world could they even relate to what was happening in my world? They sided with my husband when I said I wanted to separate. It all went south after that. It’s been 10 years since I’ve been divorced and I HAVE A WONDERFUL LIFE NOW! My adult kids and I are great friends. Only one of my four kids talks to my ex-husband.