Do I Stay Well Or Leave Well?

Morning Friends,

It’s a 115 degrees in Phoenix today. Pizza oven hot. I’m grateful for the cool 70’s and regular rain up here in the mountains at our little cabin. It’s almost surreal how different both the climate and terrain is only 4 hours away. No sand. No Serrao cactus. Only beautiful green trees, pine trees, and flowers. If I didn’t know I was in Arizona, I would think I am in Northern Michigan or even my old State of Pennsylvania. Grateful that God allowed us to find this little slice of heaven to escape from the heat. I thought you might like to see how my little puppy Addison is growing. She LOVES it here.

I am starting an Introduction to CORE strength Class soon and it will be held Tuesday, August 13, and 20th on a conference phone line. If you’d like more information on how you can build your own CORE strength, click here.  

Today’s Question: In the 24 hours since discovering this site, I’ve read the Destructive Marriage e-book, watched every chapter on YouTube, scoured the blog posts, and read the Nine Tactics of Manipulators PDF… I’m desperate to understand how to restore my situation through any means necessary, but I just don’t know how to stay well or leave well.

Staying well means take care of yourself, don’t harbor bitterness, don’t engage in behavior that matches or retaliates the abuser… But we’re also to show the law of consequences… How? How do you show consequences to a man that disdains your existence? Who is just as happy to lecture you for five hours as to ignore you entirely for weeks? I’ve demonstrated sacrificial love and perpetuated this cycle deeper every time, so what does the balance of good behavior and consequences look like?

Leaving well means establishing a community of support (which will certainly violate his expectations of privacy and respect) so you can do so safely and sanely. But how do you kick out a man who refuses to leave, except on his terms? And how can you walk away from home to leave him to destroy everything of value to you? 

Answer: Your feelings are valid and many women (and men) in your situation feel the same. They feel desperate for answers that will restore or fix their marriage – at any cost or any price.

But that approach will never lead to peace or true reconciliation or healing of your marriage. You don’t really tell me much about what’s going on in your marriage but you are quite clear that you feel ignored, distained, lectured, and trapped. You don’t know how to stay well or leave well. Either choice will result in some pain and staying and doing nothing is also painful and as you’ve realized, foolish.  

You said, “I’ve demonstrated sacrificial love and perpetuated this cycle deeper every time, so what does the balance of good behavior (CORE STRENGTH) and consequences look like?”

Let me take you to that passage in 2 Peter to give you a couple of examples of the balance of good behavior and consequences. 

First, Peter tells us how to handle ourselves in the presence of abusive people. He is clear that believers should be respectful of others regardless of how we are treated. That’s good behavior.

Often in destructive marriages, a spouse who is verbally battered or emotionally neglected or abused can start to lob some verbal bombs of her own. Instead of responding to mistreatment in a way that honors God, she dishonors herself, her husband, and God by her building resentment as well as her explosive or sinful reactions to his abuse.  

God tells us that as godly wives, we must choose a different path. Peter encourages us not to pay back evil for evil by reminding us of Jesus, who, when he was reviled, did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:22,23)

However, good is not merely being passive in the face of evil. The apostle Paul reminds us that we overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21) and overcome is not a passive word. 

Second, Peter explains when a believer should endure abusive treatment. He writes, “For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”  

The good Peter is talking about here is a moral good, a doing the right thing kind of good and that often means implementing consequences and/setting boundaries by refusing to go along with immoral or abusive behavior. Although in this passage Peter specifically advises Christians to submit to authority, Peter himself was flogged after he refused to stop preaching about Christ even though he’d been ordered by those in authority to stop. Peter refused to submit because in doing so, he would have to stop doing good (Acts 4:19; 5:17-42). 

In the same way when a wife refuses to submit to her husband’s sinful behavior, refuses to pretend or lie, stands up for her children who are being mistreated, refuses to sign a dishonest income tax report, or calls 911 when her husband is threatening to harm her or himself, she is doing good even if it doesn’t feel good to her spouse.

Her behavior is good. It honors God, protects her children and does what is in the best interest of her spouse. It is never in someone’s best interests to enable sin to flourish.

When a wife takes these brave steps and sets boundaries and implements consequences for her spouses sinful and abusive behavior she will most likely face suffering.  

She may suffer financially as her husband sits in jail because she called the police when he hit her. She may suffer the censure from her church when she separates from him because of his unrepentant use of pornography and verbal abuse. She may suffer from loneliness, retaliation from her spouse, disapproval from her friends and family for the stance she’s taken. 

That’s exactly the kind of suffering Peter is talking about. He’s speaking about suffering for doing good instead of being passive or fearful or doing the wrong thing or nothing at all.  

Peter is saying that when we do what is right (stand up, implement consequences, refuse to go along with wrongdoing) and we get mistreated for it, God sees it and commends us.

As I’ve said repeatedly, we all have choices to make and those choices have consequences.  Click To Tweet

When a husband (or wife) repeatedly chooses to treat his spouse with contempt, abuse, indifference, harshness, cruelty, and deceit, he or she cannot demand or expect the benefits of a good marriage. To do otherwise is to lie and pretend, which is not good. 

To not implement consequences for serious sin also reinforces the abusive person’s delusions that he can do as he pleases with no negative impact. It would enable him to stay blind to his sin and colludes with his destructive ways, which is not good for him, for her, or for their family. That kind of passivity does not honor God.  

Peter concludes his teaching with these words. “Let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.” (1 Peter 4:19 ESV)

So, friend, your first step is to tuck your heart and mind in close to God and ask for wisdom and discernment for your next steps. You also need to be crystal clear on your highest values.  

You said you fear walking away from a home because you believe he will destroy everything of value to you. I’m not sure here what those valuable things are but your mental, spiritual, physical, and emotional health and that of your children should be your highest values and priorities right now, even if it means a lower standard of living.  

Friends, please share the wisdom you’ve gleaned on how to face your fear of the next step forward. 

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  1. Grateful on August 7, 2019 at 12:07 pm

    Leslie, first off you look great. As shallow as that it is – I am sure it is good to hear:). Second, I love and appreciate your honestly and biblical stand you bring this community back to. I remember always saying “I just want to do what the Lord wants me to do” I didn’t want a counselor telling me what to do, I desperately needed the holy spirit to answer me. Although, it was our marriage counselor who did say to me “you can’t manage demons” b/c I kept telling her “I thought I could manage him, I thought I could keep this together for my kids” But the Lord allowed just one more thing to happen which allowed me to never look back when I asked for a divorce.

    Leslie, I have lived, survived and beginning to thrive all your words. There are consequences for every decision but our God loves us so so much. I sat in my prayer closet over 2 years ago and He gave me 2 promises that I have held onto til this day. This journey is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and it is truly a day by day survival in the beginning and I kept being reminded just why I left. Evil was more present in my life and in my kids lives than i ever imagined. But there is not one minute or one day or one tear that I have regretted leaving. The peace in my home, looking forward to the future, seeing my kids smile and knowing I was sane was more than worth it.

    My recommendation is the Lord will direct your steps – listen and He will guide you. I have such confidence of when I left (not to early and not too soon) b/c the enemy is very good with whispering doubts in my mind but my ears NOW hear the Holy Spirit even louder. He is with you and He is for you – He is cheering you on, comforting you, wiping every tear and providing for your tomorrows in ways you NEVER could have imagined. It is a deep deep journey but I am so very thankful for He who rescued me.

    To the writer, you are so brave to have done what you have done already. You are already on your path – there is no time table. Stay in the conversation and trust your truth! I will be praying for you –

    • Libbie on August 7, 2019 at 1:09 pm

      Grateful– thank you so much for your encouraging testimony. I left my husband in Feb., but have had doubts, guilt, and confusion. I know this is because of how my husband acts and begs for another chance. All the while, he has joined dating websites. But says that I am his first choice (eyeroll). I love how you say you hear the Holy Spirit’s voice much louder than the enemy’s. That is what I pray and hope for. I just try to stay rooted in truth and lean hard into God, knowing not to make any rash decisions without prompting from the Holy Spirit. He will direct my steps. Thank you for your post. I hope you post more soon.

      • JoAnn on August 7, 2019 at 5:17 pm

        Libbie, As many others here have already done, you need to stop all interactions with your h except for coordination about children, if you have some, and then only through email. The fact that he still has your ear is the problem. Don’t play into that. You can’t hear the Holy Spirit while h is filling your ears with please and begging.

        • Chris Weiss Tranchell on August 8, 2019 at 10:45 pm

          I have been in an abusive marriage for more than 40 years. H works out of town ,which has given me a measure of peace.I have signed up for the CORE classes. My hope is to be able to stay well and If I need to, leave well.
          The latest outburst of wrath from H came after a family dinner. One daughter had to leave, my other daughter and grandsons were staying overnite. I asked H and my daughter to clean up so I could give the 7 yo twins a bath and get them ready for bed. I was met by protests of “we don’t know where things go”. I said stack it on the counter. A few minutes later H is cursing and screaming. I came in to the kitchen with my daughter saying ” mom I’ll handle it””, as I asked H what was going on.
          The litany of complaints started from H. I do too much, made too much food. Now, I’m tired and expect him to help. ( frozen pulled pork, hamburgers and hot dogs). The next morning, I went to church with the kids. I told H I didn’t want him to go with me. He didnt like that. Told me 1. If he never got angry again our marriage Still sucks. 2. HE doesnt go to bed angry, implying I do. I sleep in the next room, because he has broken fellowship.
          Now, this weekend is our anniversary. Truth be told, I don’t care.
          He somehow saw that I signed up for the core classes and was crying. Really? I told him the classes were for me, not him. And I didnt mean to hurt his feelings. ( I can kick myself off for saying that, I don’t owe him an apology. ) He doesnt show any repentance, thinks God is using him, yada,yada,yada.
          So he insists he will come home IF I say I WANT him to come home for the week end. I say, well, it’s your home, come home if you want to. It’s a long drive. I wanted him to see the grand kids and I think I’m holding on to the fantasy of having a normal family. That makes me sad. Comments are welcome.

          • Aly on August 9, 2019 at 10:12 pm

            I’m sorry to hear of your living arrangement. You both sound very separate as it is.
            It’s great that you signed up for Core classes! Not uncommon for a husband to throw a tantrum, when you chose to do something for you and he isn’t the focus.
            Especially if he might be concerned about how the class could empower and change you. Something he has no control over.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 7, 2019 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks. Although it may appear superficial, any woman likes to hear that she looks good. But more importantly, thanks for haring what you have learned and your trust in God for direction.

  2. Barbara B on August 7, 2019 at 12:22 pm

    There’s a story in 2 Chronicles 25 about King Amaziah. He hired some soldiers but God sent a prophet to ask him why he wanted to rely on soldiers who didn’t have God with them. God said if Amaziah would send the soldiers home and trust Him for victory, Amaziah would win the battle even though he was outnumbered. Then Amaziah asked, “What should I do about all the money ($170,000) I’ve already paid them?” Second Chronicles 25:9 says, “And the man of God replied, The LORD is able to give you much more than this.”

    I love this story because it encourages me to remember that when God asks me to give something or someone up, He only has better things for me. It might be hard, but it will be better.

    • Natasha on August 7, 2019 at 1:56 pm

      Barbara, thank you for the reminder about King Amaziah’s story. It is a great reminder that not only will God provide for us but will provide even greater things in exchange for the things we have had to let go of. I have to remind myself daily that no matter how uncertain my future looks right now, He has me in His hands and has a great plan for my future. I just recently fled. It was the scariest and hardest thing I have been through. Many years ago our infant son passed away from an inherited metabolic disorder, and I honestly feel like leaving my marriage, my home, my financial safety, my life of 30 years was harder. (Knowing that my baby boy has been safe in the presence of Jesus certainly helped me through the trauma of losing him.) In my situation now I remind myself daily that my Father is walking with me and my daughter along this hard road that we are traveling. But the amazing thing is that throughout this hard time we have watched God give us direction and provide each and every step at the exact time that it was needed. He has been and always will be faithful!! He is so good!

    • JoAnn on August 7, 2019 at 3:18 pm

      Barbara and Grateful, thank you so very much for your posts. That story in 2 Chronicles is a good one. Our God is faithful.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 7, 2019 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks Barbara, God shows us that he is the one who redeems and provides.

  3. Melissa on August 7, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    One of the biggest problems I have after 20 years of coping, “making the best of it” is the problem of his defining reality. Like if I have a grievance I first have to word it frame it consider how he will receive it or if he’ll dismiss it and not hear me because he feels it’s not valid, I’m not valid, I’m crazy unstable over reacting persecuting him “stop defending the kids” not taking his side not caring how he feels when I disagree or something is wrong with me mentally and my thought processes if I dont get where hes coming from, what hes saying. This takes me out at the knees. This destroys my confidence and shuts me up before I even begin to voice my difference or need. Like svengali my mind gets jumbled. I have recently been confessing and repenting for idolatry of him in several ways excluding admiration, but how do I break his defining reality in my head and in conversation? Stop the weakening confusion this causes me?

    • Moon Beam on August 7, 2019 at 8:07 pm

      It is unrealistic to bring any need or desire to him. He doesn’t care. He uses you for his benefit. You will save yourself a lot of heartache by accepting that fact. Live in truth. It will help the idolatry slip away. The fantasy is the idol, not him. He is a bad person and a terrible spouse.

    • Autumn on August 7, 2019 at 9:32 pm

      Melissa what you describe is abuse. Defining his own reality is a common trait of Narcissistic behavior. You can’t win with this. Why are you “making the best of it.” Ignore him and everything he says. Detach, detach, detach. You are being abused. Don’t give him your heart, mind or your emotions. Go through the motions if you must, but guard your heart and mind from any sincere revelations of self. He will exploit your vulnerability and compete with you. When can you leave this relationship, when the kids are grown?

      • Jennifer K. on August 10, 2019 at 7:29 pm

        I’m not sure why there is so much discouragement in this? God does not say to detach and harden our hearts….we need to remember to hope, especially in God and what He can do. He saves to the uttermost…a good question i think we can ask her is if she is sincerly praying for her husband….not making it seem like there is no hope for her. <3

        • Autumn on August 16, 2019 at 1:30 pm

          Jennifer, yes certainly pray. But take action and don’t enable a spouse’s sinful behavior. We have to be careful to not dream of a fantasy relationship while turning a blind eye to reality.

        • Aly on August 16, 2019 at 4:36 pm

          Jennifer K.
          You make a great point about sincere prayer. It’s essential as a Christian, but it doesn’t always mean our prayers are answered – of what we hope for.
          We should pray fervently for God’s will. Through the Bible where you see prayer, you see action as the next step.
          Jennifer, Autumn did not say to detach and harden the heart, she said to detach and guard one’s heart. There is a difference. Also, you might want to explore what we are to have Hope in?
          The Hope we often have in these unhealthy relationships is hope that is misplaced.
          Henry Cloud/John Townsend are great authors and professional counselors that describe this well.

          Jennifer, what do you mean by He saves to the uttermost?
          Also, how much experience and education do you have in abusive relationships, this would cover all types of abuse not just physical. Often on this blog many are dealing with emotional & spiritual abuse. Physical abuse is easier to identify and there are usually marks left to validate the facts of that kind of abuse.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 7, 2019 at 10:35 pm

      Melissa, his truth may not be God’s truth. In fact it may be very different. LEarn to discern between what your husband says God says, and what God really says.

  4. Michele on August 7, 2019 at 1:29 pm

    I agree with Leslie, the value isn’t in material things, it is in our spiritual well being. I too have spent days and nights researching topics on this subject and am thankful for these blogs and comments. Five weeks ago, I left everything behind, even my two sons. The first 3 weeks were really hard. It was 19 days before he allowed me to see our sons. With Jesus at the center, we have been civil and kind and I have the boys for 4 days and nights each week. My husband said he needed this to see how he needs to change.
    If your husband won’t leave, you’ll have to move on with out him. If you own your house, put it up for sale and start looking for something to call your own. He may see you’re serious and may even realize that he wants the marriage to work.

    • JoAnn on August 7, 2019 at 5:26 pm

      Michele, I applaud your courage to leave such a damaging situation. We would strongly recommend that you be working with a counselor to help you through what’s next. Be assured that your h will try to convince you that he has changed. Wait. Wait and see. Don’t go back too quickly. He must prove himself to you and everyone else. I don’t know how long you have been reading here, but there are so many stories from those who went back too soon and lived to regret it. I believe Leslie has written something about how to tell if he has truly changed. Read some of the archival blogs. As you stay out of the fog, your head will clear and you will be able to see things more clearly. Meanwhile, lean deeply on the Lord. He will guide you.

      • Autumn on August 7, 2019 at 8:13 pm

        I was taught that a good guideline for therapy if and when an abusive spouse shows any interest in behavior modification is one year of therapy for every three years of abuse. Remember there is no cure for Narcissism if that is his problem. The best one can hope for his behavior modification with accountibility partners.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 7, 2019 at 10:36 pm

      Such a hard choice to make. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Nancy on August 7, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Leslie, I would love you input on my situation. My husband left ME after a short marriage. He had been emotionally neglecting me for a long time, telling others about his problems about me instead of coming to me, treating me with contempt (for example he was mean to me when I was unable to make a big show of his birthday when I put in my best efforts when I was sick), and just was very controlling and accused me of being controlling when I just wanted him to consider my input in decision making. I absolutely failed at returning good for evil, and responded in ways I have since repented of. My issue now is that as we are negotiating the divorce, it is clear how much I financially sacrificed in the marriage while he didn’t. We were building a new home when he left, and I asked him before I wrote the 10 K check, “are you sure you want to do this – this is a lot of money.” He said sure, we sold his old townhome, and 3 weeks into our temporary home while our home was beginning construction he left. He posted some humiliating and hurtful things on Facebook a few weeks after he left, including a horrible post to take a date on our (second) anniversary cruise he had been supposedly planning to surprise me with. Our first anniversary, he had screamed at me that he was leaving me, stonewalled me and canceled our plans for the day, and then tried to separate. I was always the one trying to read the books, to do things different, to be more flexible to try to save the marriage. In the end, he went to the husband of my best friend, who provided the validation he needed to leave the marriage and now my best friend and I, are no longer friends. I felt betrayed on every level. He sees me continuing to engage with people that I met of my own accord at his old church as turning people against him, when I have nothing to say about him to them beyond – he left, I’m on my own now.

    I wrote him an apology letter after I saw my own faults, and his response was anger towards me for sending it. After he spoke to my pastor, I finally was advised that we believed him to be an unbeliever. The more I think about things, the more I see entitlement, and I see his acts of leaving me all day or day(s) while we were in conflict as abusive. When he said that therapy and workshops didn’t work to “change” me, his wife – it was kind of in that moment that I realized he had never had any intent to better himself for our marriage and only expected me to flex in this marriage for him. It made sense why any sacrifice on his part, was met with an attitude – and that was him controlling / emotionally punishing me because I was never “allowed” to ask anything of him that made his life harder. I was required to like his friends (“you’re allowed to dislike things they do, but not them.”) and allow them in my home when their anger made me feel unsafe, and they couldn’t greet me with a respectful hello when they entered my home. I was very much treated like a servant, and even when I complained that I had too much to do and I needed his help at home, he’d find reasons to delay or just not do things around the house. There was lots of harshness too – We once had a fight where he tried to kick me out of the car, and it wasn’t uncommon for him to accuse me of being manipulative because I cried. He demanded that I trust him to make decisions apart from me. I think that I was really mistreated, and to be honest, at abusive levels. There is much more, too much to list here. The point is that I was moving forward, and kept trying to make the marriage work. The new home was going to help us resolve some of our issues with time, by moving him closer to work, so he’d have more time to spend with me (he wanted a LOT of alone time and I frequently felt like I had to beg for attention).

    This all kind of feeds into your post now: How to leave well, and allow consequences, when he’s already left.I don’t know how to let him have consequences and not destroy my mental and emotional health here too. My lawyer has told me that fighting for the 10 K he lost, which is really a fraction of what I gave up for him – will relay for me just break even. The courts would give me 10 k, but I’d spend it getting it. My divorce costs are already at about 4-5 K. When I wrote to him asking for him to pay his debts of about 2 k, plus the 10 k (that came out of my account – we were slow on combining things- but he dragged his feet on this stuff) his answer was he’d pay the 2 k, and he didn’t think he should have to pay the 10 k as it was a mutual risk. I wrote back, a very convincing letter – and he came back at 4-5 k. Is allowing consequence here, allowing us to go to court? I could stand to lose a lot more, and I don’t know that I should do that. The bible says let the unbeliever leave, we are called to peace – but also a fool only changes in his own pain. I don’t know what the loving thing is to do here. You mentioned it’s not in their best interest to let them get away with things – how can I hold that interest alongside of my own? I am conflicted, because I have tried everything I can to make this marriage work, and I think I’m done here. He wants to be able to leave, on his terms, and leave me in the dust. I don’t know if the right thing is to allow for his consequence at my expense of moving forward in my life, and losing a lot more money to a husband that I’ve already lost. At some level, I realized I was holding a codependent mindset of, “it’s my responsibility to help him see his flaws” – so I actually think the right thing to do is to do what is “selfish” which is to accept what I can get and move on. I think perhaps in a way, I think his salvation is dependent on me allowing this pain, and I think that’s wrong. Would you let me know your thoughts on the most biblical way to handle this?

    • Autumn on August 7, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      The use of consequence doesn’t apply to your situation. Break even, cut your losses and move on. Be sure to stay in counseling so you don’t find yourself in another abusive relationship. You didn’t do anything wrong, he did.

      • Moon Beam on August 7, 2019 at 8:57 pm

        Also God doesn’t need you to save your husband or anyone else. He has been saving people long before you were ever born. You are only responsible for yourself. Step aside and focus on yourself and your healing now.

      • Autumn on August 8, 2019 at 7:38 am

        I want to clarify, what I meant by consequences not applying is that it is too late in your relationship for that. The marriage is dead and past saving. He has left. Consequences are used when you are trying to “live well” as they say. You survived a horrible, brief marriage. Is this your or his second marriage?

        • Nancy on August 8, 2019 at 10:40 am

          Hi Autumn, I have actually used the consequence concept already. He continually tells me that by not cooperating with him in this divorce that I am going to, “make him be cruel to me.” I got verbally attacked and condemned for not “listening” because I still had hope at the time(as if he could control what I thought or felt). In February, he threatened to only speak through lawyers again (there was never any activity) when he didn’t get his way for a quick, easy divorce. I finally saw his manipulative tactics of punishment to get his way.

          I expressed that if a lack of consideration/respect persisted- I would have no choice but to protect myself and block him on everything- phone, email etc. He persisted, didn’t apologize. I told him that I was going to move forward with the boundary. I acted. I have not unblocked him once, and I don’t plan to. I apologized for many things, and he still sees fit to attack and hurt me. It ruins my day to get emails like those, and then I can’t eat well or focus at my job. I have to support myself right now. I have to take care of me, not cater to him. My perception is that he wants me to consider him, but will not consider my requests- i.e. can he take down the dating profile until we are divorced vs. I must stop communicating with friends of mine from his old church. Otherwise I’m an inconsiderate and awful person trying to hurt him.

          My husband is aware I will only speak to him by mail, and only per my lawyer’s advice to try to negotiate before mediation due to his lawyer having a reputation for making things expensive. Since then, his dad, his sister, his sister’s fiance and his neighbor/new friend have all tried to contact me by phone, email or text for him, after he is well aware of how I have asked to be contacted.

          It hurts to hear from them, especially about this. I blocked each one as they attempted to contact me (they are siding with him and have already decided to treat me as an outcast – it’s very painful). I spoke with a friend in law enforcement. She advised to float the consequence of legal action if the unwanted contact continues. My last letter, sent yesterday – has my negotiations plus strong, direct words that I will take action as necessary if the unwanted contact continues.

          This is a first marriage for the both of us. I will be 30 soon, and he just turned 28. We were married for a little over 1.5 years when he left, and next week would have been our 3rd anniversary. It took him awhile to file, and then the court systems here are backed up.

          It took me a long time to see that it was an abusive relationship. We can be abusive to eachother, and we were – I can try to express my emotions at all costs, and that is wrong. However, he would praise me when I spoke without emotion. That felt demeaning, and like who I was as a person was wrong. I’ve realized that two people can have abusive behavior towards eachother- but abuse itself – oppression, is power over another. He had power over me, especially while he had one foot out the door most of the marriage. I am still sad, and I struggle with the good times alongside the bad times. I am trying to learn from this, but ultimately, I think I just need someone willing to change too.

          My point in my last few paragraphs was that I DID realize that I had a codependent, “it all depends on me” mindset. Seeing that helped a lot, but I am still struggling in what the right thing and biblical thing is to do. At some level, yes, I think we have responsibility to God to allow consequences and I failed to do that in my marriage. Currently, I’m struggling with how to balance it as the marriage dissolves. I’m 30 soon, and I have no kids, and I feel like I lost my family. There is a lot to grieve. It’s also been over a year since he left- there are lots of temptations to move on. Am I creating my own stumbling blocks to sin? All of these thoughts are in my head. I don’t want to reflect on all of this and regret how I handled it. I want to honor God. This is why I posted! I needed some good direction and advice on the most biblical way to handle this. A quote that stuck with me was, “Just because someone called the cops, doesn’t mean that they are the innocent victim.” That is how I view my situation where he left me. I did fight back to his control – there were emails where I said, “I know you want me to trust you to make decisions apart from me, and if we agree on those instances, that’s fine – but to demand me to trust you in all decision making apart from me without any of my input, when these decisions all impact me is controlling.” I felt like I had no control or say in my own life. He viewed me wanting him to confer with me as an equal as controlling and, “not letting him lead.” Anyways, it’s likely part of why he left anyhow.

          I appreciate your thoughts, thank you!

          • Nancy on August 9, 2019 at 4:08 pm

            HI Nancy (nice name 😉

            From what you have written, I think that you have done a fantastic job of implementing boundaries and standing firm in them.

            It is astounding that so many people have tried to get into the middle of your relationship! What a bunch of boundary – busters … I can imagine how painful this must have been for you to experience them attempting to ‘side with him’, but at the same time it’s just ridiculous – it sounds like high school!

            I look forward to reading Leslie’s response.

          • Aly on August 11, 2019 at 9:07 am

            I agree with Nancy above you have done a great job at implementing boundaries to protect yourself from some toxic behavior from your separated h, and his group of supporters he has pulled alongside. This can feel overwhelming!!! I’m sorry for this pain. Do you have other people in your corner or a support group?

            Even when we implement boundaries it doesn’t mean that the other person will respond with respect or even accountability. Often we are implementing boundaries because they are unwilling to give themselves the personal boundaries they desperately need to function in a healthy relationship.

            Reading your post I can relate to much of your dynamic, being in a marriage with someone who isn’t fully committed (or has one foot out the door) is a vulnerable place to be and often creates behavior that we wish we didn’t have within ourselves. (Co-dependency as you mentioned)
            Being married to a person who is not as invested in the relationship as the other, I think sets many up for this type of abuse and especially toxic dynamic.

            It sounds like you are doing your personal work and taking personal responsibility for your own choices and behavior, which is awesome and you are growing.

            Your husband also was a person who wanted you to share yourself without emotions??? Ok, on some level I understand why some men relate this way, I don’t think it is right and I don’t agree with this.
            My h had this problem & in counseling (intensive) it was revealed just how immature and void of empathy he had towards me. Which was many of the roots to our marriage issues. Hard to have a safe thriving God centered marriage when one person is void empathy and emotions.

            Keep your head up, stay around healthy caring supportive people who are truth seekers.
            Grief is hard work, but you are not alone and the Lord will direct your steps and will bring comfort in many ways.💕

          • JoAnn on August 11, 2019 at 3:46 pm

            Aly, (re: Aug 11), you and your husband must have had an amazing therapist. You guys have worked very hard, and not many men would be willing to work so hard for their marriage. I am assuming he is a very strong, loving man. I hope you two have many happy years together. We all are benefitting from the hard work you have done to save your marriage.

          • Aly on August 12, 2019 at 9:58 am

            Your words are very kind and sometimes I forget parts of the long journey my h and I have been on. Yes! we still have an amazing Christian Therapist that we see regularly and can help us with parenting and ‘my grief’ mostly from my side of the family.
            There is lots of joy and peace in our home which we are grateful to God for His truth and guidance, but as you know there has also been loss (extended family members) that came-out with the rebuilding of our marriage. God certainly is consistent with shining light on darkness when we are praying for his revealing. It still baffles me when I think on the estrangement of it all, but less and less as my husband and I focus on our individual family and what’s important. The family of origin -hates that it can’t control!

            We are thankful for our relationship today and the fruits of work, advocates, close friends who have been orchestrated. We also know it takes two people *willing* to work on their own parts with surrender hearts toward God.

            Own individual parts is what I think made the biggest difference for us. Because we had different issues internally to deal with! And we are still working because I do believe this transformation isn’t an (easy button) or instant switch.

            Dave Stoop, Author, Therapist, states that we can’t pray our way out of something we have behaved our way into!

            This isn’t to say we shouldn’t pray or pray fervently, but often times people are given this advice that prayer will bring what we think we desire or hope for even in a situation that is toxic and not safe!

            Often my prayers were for God to open my eyes and direct my action and steps! He answered, even when I didn’t like the answer. He gave courage and strength to battle – a battle I didn’t want to have in the first place.

            JoAnn, you are correct that I am now married to a strong loving man who was willing to work hard at repair. It’s sad that this is the minority. He wasn’t always in that posture. But today, he is and loves the marriage we get to share together, rather than the Destructive, selfish Controlling behavior he brought originally. For him, he looks back and sees just how much he wasn’t prepared for being a husband and the root of that was the lack of a healthy relationship with the Lord first.

            As you said in this thread, Not all genuine believers -are in a transformation process by the Holy Spirit. I understand what you mean and I struggle with this as a believer.
            From my understanding, Part of being a genuine believer is the surrendering, I think this is we begin our growth and sanctification process, which is life long recovery. My h and I included in this.
            How is one a ‘genuine believer’ and yet not surrendered at the same time to growth and change?

            Sorry for the length 🤦🏽‍♀️

    • Leslie Vernick on August 7, 2019 at 10:43 pm

      This might be a future blog post.

      • Nancy on August 8, 2019 at 10:08 am

        I look forward to hearing your response on it!

      • JoAnn on August 8, 2019 at 2:44 pm

        Am I right to assume that this is not the same Nancy who has been on the blog for the past few years? (I am confused)

        • Nancy on August 9, 2019 at 11:30 am

          I’m sure I am one of many ladies named Nancy 🙂 I only started following Leslie within the past year.

          • JoAnn on August 13, 2019 at 9:20 pm

            Nancy, While reading your first message, I couldn’t help but be thankful that your abusive h left you, and you didn’t have to struggle with the decision of what to do, as so many here have. He basically left as an unbeliever, so the next most important step for you is to protect your financial interests in the divorce. Don’t let him walk away with more than his share. Usually, the court decides this. It sounds like you need to divorce yourself from the whole lot of people around him! If you can’t move away, at least get involved with new people, make new friends who share your faith and will have a positive impact on your life. Stay in therapy, so you will be able to work your way through this with help, and to protect yourself from getting into another damaging relationship. Build your relationship with the Lord Jesus by participating in Bible studies and fellowship with other christians. Stay here with others who can encourage you and pray for you. You will get through this. It won’t be easy, and it won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. But God will use this mess for good. Don’t be foolish or naive. but don’t despair either. With God’s help, you will get through this. (Quoted from Max Lucado’s book “You’ll get through this.”)

        • Nancy on August 9, 2019 at 12:53 pm

          HI JoAnn,

          That is another Nancy 🙂

          • JoAnn on August 9, 2019 at 11:37 pm

            Thanks. I thought so. Her story and yours are so different.

  6. Sandra Froese on August 7, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    Just joined this community 10 minutes ago. I have been separated for 2 1/2 years now. H and I went into mediation in March. Seperating has been the hardest thing that I have EVER done. It has made me chose a choice against a value I held so preciously all my life. My marriage- I wonder if it can be considered a marriage- of 29 1/2 years never changed. The very first week, bawling my eyes out, I cried out to God, “What have I done with my life???” It never changed. Well, the anger subsided but I was just a toy. I see how I was manipulated, gaslighted and lovebombed all these years. The separation has given me a clear mind, and PEACE.PEACE, PEACE!! How wonderful to live in heaven here on earth. I see now how in my perspective “I was being a wonderful, extraordinary wife, – the best wife he could have ever had was years of enabling an immature boy with insecurities and traumatic childhood. All of which was none of his responsiblity. Yet having been groomed by my narcisstic mother taught me to take responsibilty for h behaviour. Currently, my heart wants to return because of the charasmatic character and the fun he could be when he was on a high. However, God divinely brings me back to the reality – my marriage was NOT God centered it was h centered and his anger created fear in me that it would remain that way. He didn’t love me. He just said all the right things to keep me taking care of his irresponsible behaviour and I believed the many lies that he would change. On the night that I yelled at him for the second time in the marriage these words came out of my mouth. “You are who you are and you are who you want to be!” These words are profound. It is the same for all of us. Who do you want to be? Are you really this person. In Christ, we are different, He empowers us to be different. I heard a minister say ” I wonder if your salvation took?” I like that. Some Christians are good at conning people – charasmatic, charming and handsome. They say what the crowd knows is “truth” and land up blinding them for who they really are. Please pray that I will keep my eyes fixed on Heavenly Father. I know Holy Spirit has told me to divorce h 2 years ago. I just didn’t have the courage to do so. Holy Spirit has NEVER said anything different. Tomorrow is uncertain where I will be. (I am in the house where we lived together with 2 of my children.) But this I can testify to: God ALWAYS takes us to the next spot right where we need to be, what we need to hear, who we need to talk to, It takes trust. I had lost this. I believed that God valued marriage more than me. H had whittled down my confidence slowly over the years. Once he repeatedly yelled across the large grocery store parking lot how full of sh** I was when he was confronted with flirting with another woman by the other woman’s daughter. Of course, this was my fault. There was something wrong with me – my hair, my clothes, my breath etc. Turned out his father did the samething with one of his girlfriend. It was then I began to realize that h had learned it from his pastor father. I appreciate reading the blog that the change needs to be evident. Thanks for being here.

    • Free on August 8, 2019 at 4:45 am

      I understand your thinking that I too valued my marriage more than myself. I took what he did to me over and over like a prisoner being tortured. Despite the decades of legal marriage it has occured to me that I was never in a biblical Christian marriage. I was an indentured servant, not a wife. Looking back, I have made the shocking realization that I never experienced marriage a day in my life. Neither have you friend. Realizing this makes the process of divorce easier. Yes, it is distasteful and God hates divorce, but in our case, we were never married in the first place. Our spouse was incapable of making, taking or keeping the words he vowed at the alter. He lied before you, God and the body of witnesses.

      • JoAnn on August 11, 2019 at 4:02 pm

        Yes, God hates divorce, but I have come to the conclusion that is is the hardness of heart that causes divorce that He hates. ( See Matt. 19:8) Most abusers have hardened hearts, lacking conscience and empathy. God”s word teaches us to be loving and compassionate. And just because a person “gets saved,” that is, receives the Lord, doesn’t solve all the problems. We still need the Holy Spirit to do His transforming work in us. Sometimes that requires professional help. There are genuine believers who are not living a proper testimony of the Lord. So, be careful with repentant abusers. They still need to let the Lord do His transforming work on their hearts.

  7. Belle on August 7, 2019 at 11:38 pm

    Wow. I thank God for you and others, Leslie who bring light to my thinking. Thank you for posting and bringing sanity to my thinking and interpretation of Scripture. I haven’t even finished the article yet a light bulb has gone on.

    Yes, we must do good. Overcome evil with good. And thank you for pointing out what good is! My shoulders will straighten up a bit more as I expect respect from my children. He counteracts that respect, undermining me, but no, I will not cave to that. With courage, I will stand for truth.

  8. Maria on August 8, 2019 at 5:05 am

    Thank you so very much, Leslie and all you other women who share about your lives here! It is so helpful to me! I can relate to most of what is written here.

    Please, Leslie, can you write about feeling to much compassion for the abusive husband (thinking I understand why he feels bad and why he has a battle in his own heart, and therefore starting fights out of nowhere, accusing me for it) and therefore having difficulties to leave. Thank you so much!

    • Autumn on August 8, 2019 at 7:11 am

      Maria, this is about your blurred sense of self. His thoughts, problems and needs are not yours. It is fine to understand his issues, but you are not responsible for them. Who told you that you are responsible for other people’s happiness? Is this Ina message you received in childhood? In the process of being overly empathetic,you are most likely not taking enough responsibility for yourself.

      Own your life and your circumstances and your choices, not his. What is best for you at this time? Let God deal with him and his issues. You never are and never were responsible for anyone’s life but your own.

    • Libbie on August 8, 2019 at 11:23 am

      I need to hear what Maria needs as well. What happens when you have too much sympathy and compassion for your abusive husband? I find myself trying to excuse his behavior or explain his reasons or feelings of hurt to people. I know I sound like I have no backbone, and am enabling him. It’s just hard to turn that off for me. And it doesn’t help that he knows this, and likely uses this to “play me like a fiddle”. I repeatedly get advice to limit conversations and talking to him, and put distance between us, but it’s SO HARD to do. On his good days, he calls and chit chats, and I just engage. I still love and care for him. I am just realizing that his wounds are too extensive and deep for me to heal….Only God can do that.

      • Aly on August 8, 2019 at 12:18 pm

        I do feel for you with where you are and your compassion for your husband. Part of Leslie’s CORE class is (empathy without enabling).
        Many of us seem to struggle in this area and our empathetic places are taken advantage of by others who tend to not want to take full responsibility for their own behaviors and areas of growth. We can become easy targets in these toxic dynamics. You can still love and care for your h at a detached place. This is your work and yes it can be very hard to do but must be done to create safety and health for (you).
        You say he plays you like a fiddle… which I am assuming you mean you are being manipulated on a regular basis with him.
        A manipulative person needs many boundaries and you need to protect yourself especially from (chit chat).
        What is it you think you need from your h? This might be hard to answer because your focus might be on ALL the compassion you have for his wounds and his hurts and how he acts out of those places.
        Do you see with this dynamic how you become far too small to exist in a relationship where both parties are of value?
        Something that my husband struggled with was a narrow minded (self centered)place of thinking his hurts or feelings were so much more
        Greater in depth, greater in validity…which left him no room to consider me his wife.
        Is your h getting professional help?
        Something that might help you is not to have contact with him (maybe only email) until he is addressing his wounds. This means no chit chat or engagement on this level because it can blur his own place of thinking things ‘are not that dysfunctional’.

        • Libbie on August 8, 2019 at 2:34 pm

          Aly–He is seeing a Christian therapist. But I’m not sure if he is opening up enough for her to address his deep rooted issues. He is a very private person, and so I don’t know what he tells her. I do agree with you about how small we begin to view ourselves…our wishes, our happiness when our husbands become such a large part of the relationship. Thanks for your input.

          • Jo on August 11, 2019 at 12:32 am

            Whether he opens up enough to his therapist or not is his responsibility. I too struggle with the balance of empathy vs. enabling. I do recognize that I am still fixing things between us for him and not living my own life. However, I keep looking to make progress. Given that these are long practiced habits, I know I have to keep working to change. Yes, I’m getting help and reading and reading and thinking and thinking… I feel like I’ve been so distant from living my own life that I’ve lost myself. I understand that many of us are coping with this kind of thing. I have made the marriage the center of my world which it should not be. After nearly 40 years together, it’s definitely hard to let go. Fortunately, I have sought truth from the Lord. Living in the fantasy of what could have been or could be but isn’t is too self-destructive. It’s such a struggle.

          • Sunshine on August 13, 2019 at 5:57 am

            Libbie, if his Christian therapist was addresses the issues you report, you would have been contacted. A treatment plan for such issues would involve an accountability process to monitor his behavior with you and others. The lack of such interaction indicates the therapist is not working on his problem.

            Having been through a number of counseling programs with an abusive spouse, the process looks something like this. The therapist meets with both parties separately. A diagnosis is made and a treatment plan designed. Realizing the dangerous situation the victim in, a safety plan is created. A zero tolerance policy for abusive behavior is presented and consequences are designed and implemented. Anything less is the abuser working the system and the victim being further victimized by both the abuser and the therapist.

      • Nancy on August 9, 2019 at 3:48 pm

        HI Libbie,

        I think it’s pretty common to over-focus on the wounds of a partner. Autumn says it well – above in response to Maria – “in the process of being overly empathetic, you are likely not taking enough responsibility for yourself”.

        That’s a hard pill to swallow. Over-focus on his issues is actually pretty self-serving.

        I would suggest that our greatest responsibility is the stewarding of our own heart, well. Exposing oneself to repeated manipulation is repeatedly abdicating that responsibility.

        So I would ask what your ‘payoff’ is that feeds the cycle of being at his disposal? What lies are you telling yourself that makes it seem ok for you to engage in this fantasy?

        You say, “on good days, he calls to chit chat and I just engage.” and later, “I still love and care for him”. I would suggest that engaging him is not loving at all. As Aly pointed out near the end of her post, engaging him only re-i forces his blurred thinking. Engaging in chit chat is not truth telling on your part. It feeds his delusion that things aren’t so bad. What delusion of yours is being re-inforced in this dance that you can’t seem to get out of?

        • Libbie on August 12, 2019 at 9:13 am

          Wow, Nancy. That’s such a good, thought provoking question. I honestly don’t know. I think it’s helping him, but it’s not truthful. I guess it’s my indecision…..not ready to completely throw in the towel? I’m not sure. Thank you for giving me something to ponder and pray for God to reveal my motives to myself.

          • Aly on August 13, 2019 at 8:07 am

            Sunshine explained a structured process well. I hope it helps you see if the Therapist is the right fit for what situation/crisis you are dealing with.
            Nancy has also given wise words to evaluate.
            In addition to what things that Sunshine listed, it’s a good plan for you to also be working with a Therapist individually on your own healing and recovery work. Your recovery work is far different than what a destructive spouse is working on. Maybe you are already doing so, which is great!
            I guess my best thoughts are to not be in a place where (you think you are the one throwing in the towel) if your h isn’t working hard and (ALL in) towards recovery then it’s him that’s the ONE throwing in the towel through not being willing to work at the level it takes!
            And often this is a case of his lack of surrendering to the Lord and a process.

            Also, since your separates a good Therapist will have a process for a ‘structured separation’ this will involve a timeline.

        • Libbie on August 13, 2019 at 10:16 am

          Nancy, I can’t figure out my “payoff” for how I’m handling him. I guess having an amicable relationship or separation? Me trying to spare his feelings? You have been on here longer, what do you suggest are some reasons or factors that I’m not considering? I am trying to be honest with myself and figure this all out. Why can’t I be the one to say resolutely to him that it’s over? Why do I feel like I’m trying to lead him into making the decision for divorce? So he will feel ok and be good with it? Where is my backbone ladies?? I really do think that’s what we need. The trust and hurt are too much to get over.

          • JoAnn on August 13, 2019 at 9:35 pm

            Libbie, maybe it would help to get an understanding of what the hurt is. Painful emotions are the result of a lie we believe. The truth always sets us free, but when we take on a belief, such as “I am worthless,” or “I’m a failure,” or “My life is over,” those are painful thoughts because they are not God’s truth. Once you understand what the lie is, you might be able to see how your behavior is an attempt to counteract that lie. Is telling him that it’s over an admission that you have failed to “save the marriage”?
            Maybe this will help.

          • Moon Beam on August 14, 2019 at 7:45 am

            Libbie, maybe saying this is over is too much to handle right now. Can you say I need a break? Then begin your break, maybe it lasts a year and maybe it lasts a lifetime. You get to choose when and if you return to the relationship. Baby steps are still steps.

          • Nancy on August 14, 2019 at 9:28 am


            You are in a great place to decide what it is that you want.

            Do you want this marriage, as it is? Would you want it if he were to step up and take care of HIS mess?

            Moon Beam makes a great point. Maybe what you need is a break. A break from a self-centered guy who has not committed to you.

            What happened in my heart was the realization that my standards had changed. I was no longer ok with his lack of responsibility. I was no longer ok with not being cherished. I had changed.

            From there I got myself into counselling to focus on me. I also came up with a list of things that he would need to do in order for me to consider re-entering the relationship (concrete things – Leslie’s material helped tremendously with these).

            This is when I had to lay my marriage down. I had to recognize that I had NO CONTROL over what my h would choose. This is the HARDEST part. No more manipulating, no more rescuing, no more listening to his issues. We were now business partners dealing with logistics around our children’s needs.

            This process was different than ‘resolutely saying it’s over’ as you say above. (I’m not saying you should do what I did….just relaying my story here)

            It firmly places the ball in his court. Do his actions show that he wants to be married? In a case like mine the decision was 100% up to him. This is a very powerless place to be, but this is exactly where my relationship with The Lord flourished – painful as it was.

            My part in it was standing firm in The Lord in upholding my new found standards for remaining married. I had complete control over my own actions and I had to decide if I would stay true to my heart.

            Are you able to do your own work…figure out what you need, what you will and will no longer tolerate….what you require in a marriage? Are you able to get honest before The Lord to discover who He says you are and what these new standards are? This is hard work because it requires you considering yourself….by yourself – instead of considering yourself in light of your husband.

          • Nancy Be on August 14, 2019 at 10:25 am

            Maybe I should say it this way:

            It requires you considering yourself in light of Christ….not in the shadow that your h casts.

          • Aly on August 14, 2019 at 10:51 am

            Well said!!! Your words here to me are words and instruction I desperately could have benefited from .. had it come from my own mother or father (stewards).
            Maybe many of us have had this scenario.
            But praise God that HE does follow through even if it comes later in life to bless His own through His people!💕

          • Libbie on August 14, 2019 at 11:42 am

            Thank you ladies for such wonderful advice. And yes, I’m ready to lay this marriage down at the foot of the cross, and stop trying to “fix” or work on steering it in any particular direction. I have tried. And then find myself, picking it back up and carrying it somehow. However, my husband says he needs to see me giving it 100% for him to do so as well…..out of fear of rejection.

            When I sit back and watch, it seems without anything being reciprocated, he starts developing a “Plan B” (joining dating websites after being separated 5 months)….

            But, I do need to work on me. And figure out the standards that I want to lead my life, and what I want in a partner. As I turn it all over to the Lord, and lean into Him. I am not in therapy, because of financial and time strains, but need to focus on making that a priority!

          • Nancy on August 15, 2019 at 1:35 pm

            HI Libbie,

            Although you are separated, you are still married. Your husband choosing to join a dating website is unfaithful.

            Personally, I would not tolerate this for a second.

            May The Lord enable you to hear His voice amidst the chaos of this time.

  9. Sophie on August 8, 2019 at 11:57 am

    I moved out a few years ago. He saw the light and realized his mistakes. So I moved back. He had only gone to one counseling session but he missed me, loved me, etc. The short time I was moved out was the best time in my life. It was peaceful. After a few months of being back he told me that he wanted me back to help pay the bills and take care of the (young adult) kids and that if it was so good when I moved out then why did I come running back to him when he asked me to. What a kick in the head! Our marriage has been years of his verbal abuse, being given the silent treatment for months, etc. The things he has done… I should have never moved back. The gut ache tells me I need to leave. My counselor and others tell me that I need to leave. I know I need to leave. I have a place to live far away. I dream of peace again. I have a plan in place but can not take the first step. I know if I leave I won’t have to hear his rudeness, deal with the silent treatment. I’m certain it will be better then this. I can’t figure out why I just don’t leave. Any thoughts on this would be appreciated.

    • Moon Beam on August 8, 2019 at 1:34 pm

      Sophie, sometimes you have to do the right thing first and then the courage will follow. It is obvious you came back too soon. You are under his spell now and have bonded with him physically no doubt. It often seems easier to just keep on keeping on. Yet, you deserve better, Enabling bad behavior makes a mockery of marriage of makes you look like the crazy one. Remember the peace you experienced? Abusers get worse over time. Your future is not bright with this man. Take the first step and begin to build your own life. What would a first step to freedom look like for you?

      • Sophie on August 8, 2019 at 2:29 pm

        Thank you Moon Beam. Yes, I did come back too soon. I’ve recently re-read emails he sent to me while I was gone and it is clear (now) that he hadn’t really changed. The first step for me would be to start getting things stored that I won’t have room to bring with me right away. I can come back for them later but I don’t want to come back here for them. I imagine doing quite well where I would move since I have family and friends there and opportunities for a better job, etc. I dream of this often but again, the hard part is just making myself do it. Things have not changed in 20 years. It won’t most likely change unless he changes, meaning salvation. Nothing else will save us. I guess part of it is what I’ve heard from him in the past: quitter, for one thing. I imagine what he will say when I go. But yes, I know that once I am gone, I will be done hearing it. I read the other blog posts and it is easy to see that someone else should leave – that she should just go but it is hard for me to do that. Depression is dragging me down.

        • Moon Beam on August 8, 2019 at 7:24 pm

          Sophie, I can see why you are depressed! I think that moving things into storage is a great idea. What do you think about New Year’s Day 2020 as a target date? Can you get your ducks in a row by then? The beginning of the year is a great time for a fresh start. If that seems too long to wait, then it is an indication of how desperately you need to leave. Set a date, make it a celebration and dream about your new space and how you will decorate it.

          • Moon Beam on August 8, 2019 at 7:57 pm

            Why in the world do you care about one word he says? Let it go in one ear and out the other. He is not a good judge of you or your character.

          • Sophie on August 8, 2019 at 8:51 pm

            Actually I’m hoping to make it much sooner than New Year’s. His insanity is so hard to deal with. I’ve been praying for God to help me with this, to give me courage. It’s hard to believe our marriage has come to this. As far as what he might say, it would be either something nasty or something to try to get me to stay, which would then force me to have to say that I am leaving. He’s hard to stand up against but I know the moment I am driving away that I will begin to feel better. Thank you for your encouraging words.

        • JoAnn on August 9, 2019 at 11:45 pm

          Sophie, read what Sunshine has to say below. Her advice is on the mark. Don’t announce your departure. Just get ready, secretly, and then do it. The Lord will be with you.

    • Libbie on August 8, 2019 at 2:29 pm

      The first step is always the hardest. I pray that God gives you a nudge that you will know when it is time to go. Just know, you CAN do it and make it to the other side of all of this.

      • Sophie on August 8, 2019 at 2:41 pm

        Thank you Libbie. I appreciate the prayers and encouragement.

  10. Sunshine on August 9, 2019 at 4:31 am

    I was so blind to my situation that I never considered leaving. I stayed and stayed and stayed. We went to therapy for years. He loved an audience to talk about his family and how wrong the world had been to him. Yes, he had anger issues, he thought, but he was justified to have them. The world just needs to do what he wants when and how he decrees.

    I listened, cared, prayed and hoped for a better future. I was isolated, berated, deprived, frightened and regularly raped. I kept my vow and pasted a smile on my face until on fateful day. The day he beat the crap out of me.

    Out of nowhere one morning he woke up and started raging. He began breaking furniture around me and started picking me up and throwing my body around the room. I was seriously injured when he threw me down the stairs. I assume I was to be killed that day.

    The story goes on and I am alive today, I left via ambulance. That is how I left. Ladies, don’t trust that your abuser will not get to this point. Realize all his behaviors are about control. Maybe he can manage you with his present tactics, but eventually, most abusers resort to being physical if you try to get away.

    Leave when they are not home. Don’t tell him! Get everything in order. Leave once and mean it. Write a note. Send an email and let your lawyer or your counselor do the talking.

  11. Tintax on August 9, 2019 at 3:24 pm

    I have been reading from this site for over 3 weeks now, and am grateful to the Lord who always meets our needs. Thank you for experiences and wisdom shared here.
    M in a different continent, been married 20 years to this outwardly wonderful, peaceful, God-fearing, loving and responsible man, save for me who stays with him behind closed gates of the house we luve in(never felt like mine)! Been seeing signs that as if i am more of a servant here than a wife; looking after his now grown siblings, paying kids’ school fees and stationery, the helper, children’s clothing, medical aid, unable to afford a car n having to use one of his fleet, which are bought without me being involved. Never knew how much he earned, much higher than me though. Major decisions were his, would say in passing and then some time later drive in in a new purchase, he decided who visited on holidays, etc. When trying to request that he involves me, i’d be accused of being controlling must learn to manage my salary well.
    I’ d also be accused of always being a peace-killer! I
    I would back off to cry privately, feeling guilty and blaming myself for not being a godly and submissive wife. Would self-accuse ‘ me and my bug mouth’- even when i had to rehearse my speech and make sure there was nothing offensive in it,
    I supported his dreams, putting his needs before mine always! What a devoted wife i have been.
    I discovered his infidelities with a number of women. At first i thought it was just a slip in character( a blindsight even, because he had a child with another woman the year we got married, never told me about until i discovered he is paying child support some years later, confronted him, to which he coldly responded, ‘we were not yet married’).
    I spoke to him about it n he apologised just so quick n lightly that i felt no remorse. His behaviour really changed, was out too often, just cordial and routined towards me. Until one day, while away on work assignment, i overheard his conversation with his mistress from where he had booked – he forgot to cut his routine call of checking on us in the morning.
    This was a major blow, atrempts by me to redeem him and deal with matrer in most respectful ways were met with rocks of cruel words n signs that the problem us deep-seated.
    I prayed fervently, weakened healthwise until i realised i was goung to die.

    To cut the story short, i have finally moved out- my second and final attempt. Next is filing for divorce. I have accepted its not my responsibility to change him, esp because he is not even true to himself. He has blamed me for everything, saying my decision is making him look like a failure to the church, community and friends. He is more vocal and potrays himself as victim to my family members- to which i respind with, ‘you all know what type of a person i am n capable of’! How on earth did he think i ‘d put up with this for ever!!! My eyes have been opened, fog lifted- thanks to my indulgence in the Word!
    Though i still feel i need to give him time before filing, i am so sure i am not going back. I am prepared to even lose everything, to start all over and enjoy the Lord filling it all up for me to the overflow!
    Thank you ladies, you’re so empowering!! I am not afraud of the future!!

    • Nancy on August 9, 2019 at 5:05 pm


      I am happy that you are out of the fog. Congratulations that you left!

      I am wondering about your statement that you are prepared to lose everything…. why?

      The Lord may have so much more of Himself for you, as He enables you to stand firm in Him.

      Please don’t throw away the opportunity to stand up for His daughter!

  12. Tintax on August 10, 2019 at 2:03 am

    Thank you Nancy! I have left and m really not going back, there’s some serious fundamentals that i ‘ve discovered he no longer holds which i cannot compromise on any more.
    M saying even if i lose everything because i know that once he really realises i am not returning and have filed for divorce, he is definitely going to make my life really hard and i doubt i have the strength to fight him. Have fought enough for my sanity, my health, my safety. So funny because the d word has always been on his lips and never on mine during our arguments!!

    • Nancy on August 10, 2019 at 10:59 am

      I hear you, Tintax. I would just encourage you to continue to pray. You finally have freedom and a safe place to heal. It makes sense that you don’t feel you have the energy for a fight!

      Often though, when we project far into the future (anticipating losing everything), that is a mindset of fear rather than faith.

      Take one step at a time, relying on the One who loves you more Han you can imagine. He will guide and protect you, both in the short term as well as the long term!

  13. Robin on August 10, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    I am so thankful for this blog. I don’t feel like I’m the only one struggling. My situation is a little different. My husband has Parkinsons Disease. He can’t work anymore and is on disability. He can still drive and get around but on bad days, he needs a little help with daily tasks. I still work full time for now. Anyway, he has been unfaithful to me for the past several years. Pretty much since he’s been out of work. I continue to pray for God’s will and for discerning ears to hear the Holy Spirit speak as to my path forward. My husband is very intelligent, but manipulative and can be charming or cruel depending on the minute, hour, day. He struggles with depression also which is common with Parkinson’s. I walk on egg shells constantly trying not to upset him. I want to leave, but I cannot find the courage. He’s threatened suicide before, and I know I cannot control him, but I would really struggle with the guilt if he were to go through with it. Once I called his bluff and told him I was calling the police to come and take him for help. Thank you, Leslie. I learned that from reading your books and articles! It seemed to calm him down. So I continue to go back and forth between being angry and leaving versus feeling empathy because of his illness and trying to tough it out. Any advice on how to make this decision would be appreciated. God bless you all.

    • Moon Beam on August 12, 2019 at 8:57 pm

      Take Parkinson’s off the table. What would your decision be if he didn’t have it? His physical and emotional illnesses are not your responsibility. Sounds like he doesn’t manage them well and leverages his physical illness to his advantage. Adultery is quite a feat to pull off in any situation. If he is crafty enough to do that with Parkinson’s, he can find some kind of job.

    • Barbara B on August 12, 2019 at 11:26 pm

      Robin, your situation sounds really hard. I’m so sorry you’re in this predicament. I don’t think there’s an easy answer but maybe this will help. Instead of seeing anger and empathy as opposites, maybe you could see them as emotions that are outside of the decision you need to make for your own safety. For example, you can have empathy for your husband’s illness but still leave for your own safety. You don’t have to be angry in order to get yourself to a safe place. I’m not saying it’s wrong to be angry, just that the emotions don’t have to be the primary motivation for staying or leaving. Hope this helps.

      • Robin on August 13, 2019 at 5:43 am

        Moon Beam and Barbara B, Thank you for your input. I agree that I shouldn’t make a decision based on emotions. If Parkinson’s were not a factor, I would want to leave. I do not think he will ever change because I’ve confronted himseveral times. He only admitted to one affair and tried to lie his way out of the others. He went to counseling a few times but I discovered later that he was talking to one off his other women on the way there. So he just made a mockery of that like he has our marraige. I guess I am letting fear get in my way; fear of what other people will think, fear that he might hurt himself, fear that he can’t take care of himself, and fear that I’m stepping out of God’s will. I’ve prayed so many times for Him to show me clearly what to do. I just can’t seem to figure it out. I believe that scripture provides us with answers that we need. I’ve studied Matthew 5, 1 Peter 2 and 3, 1 Corinthians 5:11, 2 Corinthians 2:7 and others. Do you have other suggestions that I’ve missed?

        • JoAnn on August 14, 2019 at 9:54 am

          Robin, I would say that your fears are valid; all those things could happen. Yet, are you going to let fear make your decision for you? You can’t control what other people will think….and so what? If they haven’t walked in your shoes, then they don’t really know, right? If he chooses to hurt himself, that’s his choice. He can also choose to hire someone to help him with daily chores that he can’t do for himself. His adultery has also made God’s will clear; you have the right to leave. What will happen if you choose to stay? You will be his servant, subject to daily abuse. If you choose to stay, then do it before the Lord as His slave, and because He has given you a heart to serve your husband until his life is over.

          • Aly on August 14, 2019 at 10:41 am

            You wrote to Robin:
            “If you choose to stay, then do it before the Lord as His slave, and because He has given you a heart to serve your husband until his life is over.”

            While I can see this is a choice Robin will make for herself, it’s also wise for us who make this kind of choice or similarities to be honest with our husbands,children, and those who are in our sphere of community- that this is not a God Centered Marriage with a covenant, it is a ministry offering.
            This would represent truth.

          • Robin on August 15, 2019 at 5:40 am

            JoAnn and Aly, You are so correct that I am letting fear rule my decision making. I know according to scripture, i am justified to leave. I want so badly to make the best choice though. I want to make the choice that will glorify God most. Aly when you said that if I stay, it should be known that I’m staying only to care for him not as a marraige covenant that really touched my heart. I’ve not told others my situation because I didn’t want to shame my husband or ruin his relationship with family or church, but I also feel like I’m living a lie. I fight not to mutter words of disdain but they are in my heart. For that I need to repent. I constantly pray that I won’t become a bitter person. That’s one reason I’ve thought of leaving also, because keeping my heart in the right place while serving my husband is very difficult. But if the truth was out there about the true state of our marraige, I could have someone to talk to when it got really tough. Thank you so much. You’ve given me a new way to approach staying well if I decide to do so. Either way, this is ncredibly difficult for me. I am quite introverted and will easily give up my own desires for others if I can avoid conflict. I need courage like Joshua had. I know that I don’t want my life to be the way it is now for the next 10 or 20 years. Something has to change, either my heart or my location.

          • Aly on August 15, 2019 at 8:29 am

            It seems like you have been hanging on for a long time living with your dynamic. Maybe consider for both your heart and your location to change? Nothing wrong with that. I also would ask you to consider the secret and (living a lie) that has been making you sick. These secrets will extend to your children or even adult children and how they choose to cope also.
            I wonder if you can see that you are covering for your husband yet, maybe your also hiding the truth from yourself? From your own pain and hurt.
            Betrayal is painful on many levels but it’s extremely not healthy for us to live within ‘betrayal’ and also SERVE and care for the betraying spouse. I’m not saying what you should or should not do, but its helpful to check your motives and especially be completely honest with your self!
            When someone is betrayed by a spouse, all sorts of chaos can erupt, and often the betrayed person takes on toxic shame that is not theirs. When you said that you have been keeping the secret to protect his relationships with his family and church, you are not loving well. Because this is not your responsibility of the kind of outcome those relationships have. Plus, your protecting an image (his Image and yours) that isn’t true to others. For what cost or purpose?
            Many people chose to live here and it’s counterfeit. It is not the life Jesus calls us to and one He died for.

            Personally, when we choose this way of life and protect an image over being an authentic person (no this doesn’t mean print your life on the front page etc) we suffer and those around us suffer because we are not truly living with the kind of truth that sets us free!

            Robin, I’m not trying to be harsh but offer you an option of how your secrets are hurting you. I don’t think the Lord would want that for your heart. Im not sure I would even see bitterness on the table (as you have mentioned) before you have the necessary care you need for your own recovery. There is a lot of Trauma in betrayal and those areas need special care. 💜
            Especially before you care for another person.
            You are not alone in any of this and betrayal can come in many forms.

            Truth & Love -run on the same track, without love there is not truth. Without truth, there is No love.
            Jesus is Love, because he represents both!
            And Love is what rescues us;)

          • Nancy on August 15, 2019 at 2:37 pm

            HI Robin,

            Aly is on point with what she is saying here.

            You say “I don’t want to shame him or ruin his relationships…”

            These were his actions, not yours. He is responsible for whatever shame or broken relationships occur.

            Participating in a cover up is not walking in truth.

            Take a look at all the garments in the ‘armour of God’. What is the very first piece we are to be clothed in ?

    • Karin on August 13, 2019 at 11:00 am

      Hi, Robin (Aug 10th, 5pm) It seems that what you are feeling for your husband is not empathy, but sympathy, which destructive people tend to thrive on!! Empathy is being able to understand someone else’s painful experience /feelings, and to walk alongside them in it, but not be overwhelmed by it yourself, and to keep a clear head & perspective about what going on, what you can help with, and what you cannot. Sympathy, on the other hand, is to “feeel sooooo baaaaaaad for the poor guy”, and to be pulled into their whirlpool where if you dare to take your attention off that person for a moment, all sorts of catastrophe might happen (ie he might make threats of suicide or self-harm; she might miss a meal; the person might have to deal with own feelings of loneliness or depression). Could it be helpful to examine whether it is misplaced sympathy that is keeping you bound to this situation?

      • Robin on August 13, 2019 at 9:17 pm

        Karin, You make a really good point about empathy vs sympathy. Because Parkinson’s affects movement as well as thinking and emotions, I do find myself feeling lots of sympathy for him as I watch him struggle with all of this. I’ve tried to somewhat detach myself emotionally from the relationship just to protect my sanity. I will definetely think on this. Thank you.

        • Robin on August 16, 2019 at 8:44 am

          Aly and Nancy, (Aug 15 posts)
          I obviously have some work to do. I know I need to live in the truth, but how do I do that without broadcasting what’s going on? For several years, I tried to implement consequences (no sex, no sleeping together while communicating with other women), but I eventually caved in because I was so tired of being harassed about it. Plus he just kept insisting that the other women were buddies that he talked to about his Parkinson’s. I know that was so not wise to listen to him. So if I stay, I guess step one would be to confront him again with my latest “evidence”of his betrayal. But then what? If I stay, won’t people think things are ok? I guess practically speaking that I cannot see a way to live in truth, if I stay, without constant chaos and dread. He will not let me be just his friend and caregiver. There’s no doubt that he is a sex addict. Thank you all so much for your patience, help and wisdom.

          • Aly on August 16, 2019 at 12:34 pm

            Maybe you have done all these things, but I thought I would start with some questions on your own self care. You would be wise to begin a process for your own heart and healing regardless of what your husband is doing or not doing. And this is regardless of whether you decide to stay well or leave well.
            Are you in professional individual counseling?
            Are you in a COSA support group?
            Do you have a couple of safe educated friends that are involved and are a support for just you?

            Have you required your h to be in recovery work (lifelong) for his sex addiction? This is in order for him to be living under the same roof with you and your children.

            I’m assuming but you probably have been dealing with his Sex addiction for a very long time. And the Parkinson’s came later on?
            These are two separate issues that certainly both need treatment. One being a medical illness the other addiction.
            Usually addiction comes as a symptom from another issue that needs rooted out.

            As far as broadcasting your situation, I don’t think that is what Nancy or I mean when we speak of not participating as if you are in a healthy marriage that is functioning and facing truth about your dynamic.

            There are plenty of steps you can take short term if you feel safe to do so.
            If you do not feel safe to do so, work with a professional on an exit plan. Not being safe (physically, emotionally/Mentally, spiritually) is a CLEAR sign that you need to work on removing yourself from proximity. However, many spouses often feel stuck and endure more destructive behaviors that usually grow overtime and find themselves looking at years and years of exhausting coping.

            If you decide for the short term to stay-well so to speak, then I would work with a professional on a timeline of a structure in-house separation.
            This would also include requirements that your husband would have to participate in his own recovery work. I’m assuming he is capable of this since you mentioned that he has a Parkinson’s support group.

          • Robin on August 16, 2019 at 1:27 pm

            Aly, I am not in counseling or a support group. I have one friend that knows my story, but she thinks I am being disobedient to God because I haven’t left. She says I need to stand up for what is right regardless of his illness. Even though she feels that way, she is there for me anytime. As for him, I got him to go to counseling a few times, but he won’t go to anything dealing with sex addiction. He doesn’t see that he has a problem. He has been a sex addict pretty much all his youth and adult life. His dad used to protect his porn stash from his mom and buy him condoms every week. You are correct, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s 10 years ago. I know there is a Christian counseling group near me. I’m going to pursue that. I cannot go on this way. It might take me a while, but i am determined to live a life of integrity and truth that honors God. The hard truth is sinking in that I probably can never be healthy as long as I am in this toxic, sinful environment.

          • Aly on August 16, 2019 at 1:40 pm

            Just like your husband needs appropriate counseling via his addiction you will also need appropriate care as you are the spouse.
            Going to a Christian group is fine, but I would research and find a COSA group. This is specific to your needs.
            Especially since this trauma has been going on for such a length of time.
            Is there a reason why you don’t have an individual counselor for you? This is essential.

          • Nancy on August 16, 2019 at 10:33 pm

            Hi Robin,

            I agree with what Aly is advising. Get yourself the support that you need to begin setting boundaries that will guard your heart. Be very aware if you begin feeling unsafe and listen to that.

            Your local women’s shelter may be able to give you support in the form of counselling or other resources

            Since this friend of yours thinks you should leave, does she know of resources that would be helpful to you? Is there any other trustworthy friends (even of hers) that might be willing to pray very specifically for you, and maybe meet with you and your friend regularly?

            Here’s the thing, as you tell your story to trustworthy people, you will begin seeing more clearly. The truth sets us free.

          • Robin on August 17, 2019 at 9:03 am

            Aly and Nancy, I am looking into COSA. It looks like there is one within driving distance from me. my experience with counselors has not been great. I’ve been to two. One I went to early on just insisted that I confront my husband without giving me help on how to do so. The other just sat there and listened with no helpful advice what so ever. But I’m willing to try again. My friend may be able to help me there too. Thank you all again. God bless you.

          • Aly on August 17, 2019 at 9:43 am

            Glad you are making the steps for ‘you’! Going to COSA you may find a referral for a counselor who is better specialized in this area also.
            Also, I would look into online blog communities for women who are involved with a man who is a sex addict. I’m sure there are many out there, this isn’t to replace COSA but to add to healing.

            It can also be helpful to announce to the addict the help/support that you are seeking. Rather than sneak around this, it shows that you are changing and you are taking action of how Their Problem -has affected your well being!

            If you are deciding for a short time to stay-well, you taking steps for your recovery work is a good sign that you are participating in staying well in this specific area.
            If you and your husband share finances still, it’s important that financially he is experiencing the cost of therapy, etc.
            Too many cases where finally a wife leaves-well and then she can’t afford all the recovery care based on the husband’s unwillingness to do the right thing.
            Because you’ve been dealing with a sex-addict, there is a lot of Trauma involved.

  14. Free on August 10, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    I think there is a real turning point when we can stop reporting what he (or she abuser) does. Reader, please that we on this blog believe you. Many of us have lived through very similar circumstances and struggled with the same difficulties. Destructive spouses are far more similar to one another than different. Remember their behavior is often pathological, which means it is predictable and repeats itself.

    The turning point I refer to is when we start to post and talk about us. What we need. What we are going to do and to ask others for tips on how they did it. I believe experience it is our greatest strength as a community. Sadly, many of us have much too much experience living with a destructive person. The beauty arrives when we take back our stolen lives and find a new way to live. Lets talk about steps to living the life Christ called you to live. Sometimes just considering that is enough to help us make some tough decisions.

    Oh, and don’t forget Lundy Bancroft’s book, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?.” It has great information in it.

    • JoAnn on August 11, 2019 at 4:28 pm

      Free, you mention Lundy Bancroft’s books, and there are several others that some of us here have found helpful. I wish there was a separate directory of helpful literature and YouTube videos that new people here could access. Every time there’s a new letter, there are new people who join, so they wouldn’t necessarily get the names of previously mentioned books. Of course, Leslie’s books are the reason we are here, and they are wonderful. Two others that I have found that are exceptional are: “Healing Well and Living Free from an Abusive Relationship,” by Ramona Probasco; and “Redemptive Divorce” by Mark Gaither. “Boundaries,” by Cloud and Townsend has also been mentioned frequently. Any others you’d like to add?

      • Autumn on August 11, 2019 at 6:54 pm

        Watch the French PSA entitled “Fred and Marie – the Dinner.” Google it. Leslie did a blog about it in 2014.

        Also watch Louise De Cannoville. She is Irish. She gives a you tube talk on healing from emotional abuse.

        • Autumn on August 11, 2019 at 6:59 pm

          Sam Vaknin, “Malignant Self Love.” An Israeli author who is a Narcissist. He explains how narcissists think and why they act the way they do. He agree there is no cure and reports he has tried many kinds of treatments without success.

          • Autumn on August 11, 2019 at 7:02 pm

            Dan Allendar, “Healing the Wounded Heart” Healing after sexual abuse.

          • JoAnn on August 11, 2019 at 10:51 pm

            Autumn, is Sam Vaknin the one who has the YouTube talks about NPD? I think he might be the one. Very enlightening.

          • Free on August 20, 2019 at 4:31 am

            Jo Ann, we absolutely can not forget to mention Don Hennessey’s ground breaking work. He reveals the mind of the abuser and the women they target ( kind, loyal, hardworking). His two books are a must read. His Facebook radio interview should be listened to repeatedly.

  15. Free on August 10, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    Please know that we on this bog believe you.

    Destructive spouses are far more similar to one another than they are dissimilar.

    You get my drift……..

  16. Nancy on August 12, 2019 at 9:06 am

    OK Leslie, I just have to say…..that is one cute doggie!

    • Too trusting on August 12, 2019 at 9:36 am

      Leaving or staying is really difficult.
      I know I probably should leave, or more should have left 15+ years ago, but it’s not what I want.
      My husband treats me wonderfully both in private and public. He’s a sex addict and chronically cheats, always only sex with people he doesn’t know with the exception of 1 longer affair, and often men. We’ve been to a sex addiction counselor, long story but the men part is not suspected to be because he’s gay. (No one has time for that long story)
      He’s a Christian, always, always takes the blame.
      I’ve been very understanding of his messed up childhood (1 sibling committed suicide, and at least 2 other siblings have been close) and that he has an addiction. I told him I understood and would support him, he could tell me and we’d fight it together like you would any sin in your christian friends. But my 1 boundary was that if he had sexual contact with someone that I was unwilling to have sex with him if he didn’t tell me, I would consider it rape. He’s been doing it for the last 4 years.
      I actually CAN’T leave now because our daughter has Borderline and that’s based on fears of abandonment, one of us leaving would set her back to suicidal actions, she’s only been safe for 3 months. I had a brain tumor and can’t go without insurance. We can’t afford our place on 1 income and the house didn’t sell over 10 months on the market. I’ve almost never worked so I can’t support myself and leave him with the current debt…. blah blah excuses…
      Anyway, he seems to actually be in the right place for true healing this time, but how will I ever believe him? He looked me in the eyes and lied about being free so many times. (And only ever about this, otherwise he’s extremely honest) How do you leave someone who treats you so well in every other way? We have 30 years of marriage, 7 kids, 8 grandkids so far…. it’s been a good life outside of his addiction. But he crossed that one boundary. I always catch him, he’s never once confessed.

      We are separated non-legally, separate rooms. Trying to get our daugher to make it through a year of school. (I’d be thrilled if we got her past the 6 week mark she hasn’t gotten past in the last 2 years)

      I’m almost 50. I have no retirement. I have no social security. I have no real experience except retail sales that a person can’t live on, much less retire on.

      Ideally, he would truly be healed and set free and I’d believe it. But will I ever believe it? In the meantime we are working to get to a good financial place to be able to divorce and to get our daughter healthy enough to be able to to do it. But I WANT TO STAY! I just never want to go through this again.

      • Karin on August 12, 2019 at 7:14 pm

        Hello, Too Trusting I’m glad that you have found this website, and joined in the conversation of care here!! Please keep listening, and praying, and learning to be wise in the Lord. It is sad that your daughter is struggling with the emotional issues that you named; I hope she is receiving good therapy, in addition to your deep love for her. As well, you mention a number of practical issues that you contend with (health and finances), but we do know that the Lord provides for His children…….even when we think it should look differently. That said, I am curious about your near-final statement: “But I WANT TO STAY!”


        It would seem that your husband has no intention of changing himself and his behaviours, that his repeated cycles of betrayal and destructiveness have wounded you deeply, and that this many decades into life together you have zero trust in him, because he has squandered and betrayed that trust repeatedly. What do you want to stay FOR?

        You reference an “ideal” , Too Trusting, that bears no resemblance to the “actual” facts that you are living. You say he treats you well in private and public, but then go on to describe 30 yrs of his infidelities, encounters that put you at risk, and corrode the foundation of your relationship together. Too Trusting, what are you telling yourself that keeps you in this fantasy?

        I’m not trying to be harsh toward you, so please know that these questions come from a place of deep concern for you. Other friends on this thread, what can you reflect for Too Trusting’s hope?

      • JoAnn on August 13, 2019 at 11:49 pm

        Too Trusting, I expect that you will want to stay until you don’t. So, in the meantime, you and your h can find help at Steve Gallagher’s book, At the Altar of Sexual Idolatry is exceptionally helpful, both to the addict and spouse. This is a program for sex addicts that is focused on scripture and spiritual practices. I understand the plight of addicts, and they need accountability along with everything else. I hope you will find this helpful. Your husband has to want to change, and that is the first step.

        • Aly on August 14, 2019 at 7:40 am

          JoAnn, Too Trusting,
          JoAnn this is a great post and resource as I think you have posted this from time to time here!
          Too Trusting, I agree with JoAnn and her last sentence is very critical to evaluate.
          Because you are in the whirl of Betrayal at an identity level you are experiencing a lot of Trauma!
          Regardless if your husband gets the necessary help or not, you will need Trauma care and recovery for your healing~ maybe you are already in a process.
          Trauma can keep us in a place (staying) where we are being victimized over and over.
          To say that your h treats you well in public and private is not true! This is a Lie based on the facts of infidelity you described.
          He may be cordial and kind to you because you tolerate and have put up with his addiction and his lack of facing his own truth about what he has done to his covenant.

          • JoAnn on August 14, 2019 at 7:41 pm

            Aly, I’m wanting to reply to what you said earlier in response to my post. You said: “How is one a ‘genuine believer’ and yet not surrendered at the same time to growth and change?” Good question, and personally, I fault the lack of teaching on the transforming work of the Holy Spirit in christianity. I grew up going to church regularly and never heard such a word. My Mother was genuinely saved at a young age, but it was never in her concept that the Lord wanted to change her. How can we be His hands and feet on earth if He doesn’t change us into His likeness? Hew gives us so many opportunities to open ourselves to Him to receive what He has for us, and to fill our hearts with His love, but if you don’t know that this is what He wants to do…how can you participate in His work?
            I also appreciate what you said above to Too Trusting. She will need trauma care, and I hope she can get it. A good resource to find it would be your local battered women shelter. Sometimes they have names of therapists who address these issues.

          • Aly on August 15, 2019 at 12:46 pm

            Thanks for your reply here and yes I think it’s a complex place of understanding Salvation as well as How transformation/ change is direct fruit of genuine Salvation. In the book of James, I think he touches on this. Also, Jesus taught ‘change’ through following his ministry.
            You made some really good points and referenced good questions that I think are important to all of us as being part of the body.

            Since this is off topic I’ll reach out to you via email if your ok with that?
            I think I still have it, so you don’t need to post.

          • Nancy on August 31, 2019 at 9:50 am

            HI Aly and Joann,

            This is something that I regularly wrestle with after spending any time with my mother. It is very confusing to spend time with a person who is so entrenched and yet her church life is the center of her life.

            I often wonder if she is saved. When I express my faith verbally – at all – it is ignored.

            The other day she sent me an email saying her friend (a mother in the church I grew up in, and she still attends) was dying. I wrote a prayer, praying that her friend would be overwhelmed with the Peace of Christ. She wrote back asking me to tell the girls to have a great first week back to school!

            I’m actually going to this woman’s funeral today (my mother won’t be there, she’s out of town). Her obituary was all about the things she had accomplished in her life. Many of which revolved around church life (was representative to this or that leader etc…). Maybe it’s a culture of that particular church. There was no mention of a relationship with Jesus.

            I know my mother would think that that was far too private a thing to say publicly.

            This thinking is confusing when being a witness is part of being a disciple of Christ!

          • Aly on August 31, 2019 at 10:33 am

            I’m sorry for the struggle and I hope it brings any comfort to know just how close I can relate to what you speak of as well as my own wrestling. It’s painful and confusing to not be able to connect with those we love and those that profess Christ. How is that? To me, it became a grieving process on many levels. I eventually did have to choose my faith over family of origin based on their personal beliefs of how to treat and be in a relationship with a person. It became clear to me that what they said they believed didn’t align with how they treat others and even those different from them.
            My h and I clearly did not want our children to think this was healthy Christianity, to have such an unintegrated life and be such a person in conflict with faith versus fear.

            We are called to a personal relationship not a private one with Jesus where we hide the importance of Christ in our hearts or daily lives or are afraid to reveal this kind of love and faith that is the center of our lives.

            It does sound like a Christian culture thing to elevate the ‘church’, the church functions etc and where church members are more comfortable talking about that, than the very personal Jesus.
            Not that any of us need to share our deepest personal places of Jesus with others but when it’s completely void or almost absent, it’s reasonable to wonder about the ‘knowing of Jesus’ that is talked about through the Bible.
            In past years, I would wonder about these things and try to get some clarity from my mother. It usually ended in conflict and MORE confusion. Somehow, I wasn’t allowed to ask about her relationship with Christ even though she was a proclaiming Christian and would speak of Christ, bible study etc, but never a personal relationship kind of thing. Explaining a Salvation process was what she could do and in fact she believes that receiving Christ for salvation is ALL that matters in this lifetime, even though there are some family members where she is too uncomfortable to share truth too for fear of losing the relationship.

          • Nancy on August 31, 2019 at 11:46 am

            Thanks for your kind words, Aly.

            There is no question that most interactions with my mother end up with me in confusion to some degree. It’s hard to hold both realistic expectations of her and of myself. She is not willing to take responsibility for herself, and I will always need my mother to take responsibility for herself.

            Accepting both of those realities equates to ongoing grief.

          • Aly on September 1, 2019 at 11:08 am

            I’m praying for you and the grief. I do hope that you experience the Lords comforts in this process with your mother 💜. To be ignored on an emotional & spiritual level by our moms is painful! Add that they are professing believers makes it worse (I think).
            For me, if my mom wasn’t a believer her behavior would make a lot more sense to me.

            What you described above about her complete avoiding comment is painful. I’m sorry. These types of interactions eventually exposed many things under the surface in my relationship with my family of origin. I could not go on with the dialog as if that was ‘normal’ and somehow I just needed ‘to take’ or accept being ignored or participate in that level of only one person is present.
            As Christians, we are to confront these areas with one another, so that we can all grow.

            Stagnated emotional growth is not something that aligns with growing as a disciple of Christ. This is your mother, not a person delivering your groceries.

            It’s quite impossible to be spiritually mature while being emotionally immature. But many in the church think that long time service or attendance or lots of involvement makes you mature.

            This is not a personality difference but where a person’s uncomfortable places or fear trumps being reciprocal, maybe vulnerable, and strong.

            I really had hoped that because my own mother was a ‘believer’ that things would somehow be better by now. I don’t give up entirely on the situation. I pray for God’s will and plans. I am comforted by knowing His promises and accepting that He knows my grief far more than I do some days.

            One thing I am grateful for out of this pain is that I can offer my own children connection and comfort emotionally and spiritually.

            Stay true to who God is calling you to be. It’s ok to challenge the situation. You don’t have to be a person who accepts the (ignoring) because you are the daughter and her comforts decide the interactions. Be you! You don’t have to contribute to another’s emotional stagnation.

  17. Lisa Pederson on August 15, 2019 at 12:36 am

    My husband grew up in a very traumatizing environment. He’s never addressed that stuff, he’s co-dependant and turned to addiction to deal with those issues its very text book. Now that I’ve left the marriage emotionally he really has started true self reflection and therapy. I see healthy decisions and changes.
    Outside of this area he really is honest, and giving and so kind. He is willing to support me with a litt more money and a lot longer time than legally I would ever get.
    So, yes, if he got that stuff figured out and could be the Spirit led man who was free from his traumas and addictions, I would want to be with that man. The man I’ve loved since I was 15.
    Just one trauma in his life was his 12 year old brother sitting himself in the head in my husband’s room with his gun, and guess who had to clean up the blood?
    Right now, I have to head for divorce. But yes, I desire healing and wholeness and reconciliation ideally. There is nothing wrong with desiring a healthy relationship with a man I married.
    God CAN work miracles. I have no idea HOW I would ever believe it, but that would be wonderful. Keeping our family, 7 kids and 8 grandkids so far, together and showing them God’s Amazing Grace and Mercy and Healing and Love….

    • Aly on August 16, 2019 at 7:38 am

      Lisa P.,
      So very sorry for your situation and your spouses traumatic history, that’s just awful!
      It’s good that he is addressing his issues, and I’m sorry about the outcome of the marriage currently, but like you said Miracles and healing can happen. Many couples have divorced and have reconciled after they are equipped and in a healing process individually to be able to be healthier partners to each other.
      It seems like you leaving and getting safe was also a catalyst for your h to get to work on how those early traumatic events have shaped some of his behaviors/addictions.

    • Moon Beam on August 17, 2019 at 4:02 am

      Lisa, there are many people who live through traumatic events and don’t turn to addictions. It is important that you don’t think that his past is an excuse for his present. He is responsible for all his behaviors. I am glad to hear he seems to be making an effort to address some of them. Be slow to reconcile. A repentant man will wait as long as YOU say you need.

      What are his addictions? Are you getting counseling for yourself? Why activities and interests are you pursuing? It is time to take care of you and your needs.

  18. Julie D. on August 27, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    I would encourage you to continue educating yourself. I have been separated from my husband for six months and am still learning so much. The more you learn, the stronger you will be and be able to make decisions that are good for you and glorifying to God.

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