I so appreciate all your support and comments to one another. We are building a great community where women can feel safe and deal with hard marriages and heart issues. This week’s question came directly from the blog but I thought it deserved greater attention and discussion.
Before we get into the question, I want to remind you to stop by my home page at www.leslievernick.com to watch this week’s new video, What is Emotional Abuse in Marriage and When is the Line Crossed? I sure appreciate your tweets, Facebook posts and likes.. And, don’t forget if you like visuals, visit my new Pinterest page.
Question: I’ve been reading and participating on this blog for a while now. All of our stories are of what our husbands do, but I have such a hard time letting go and forgiving myself when I have reacted poorly. I know I’m forgiven but I can’t help but grieve because I feel like I should know better, that maybe I’m no different than him sometimes.
Why can’t I always control the anger, frustration, the sadness? Even when I try to walk away to pray or just praise the Lord in my head so I don’t say anything “unloving” I feel he badgers me until I “give in” and fight with him. Then he points the finger at me saying “see look how you act.” A lot of times I don’t like myself. Sometimes just the anxiety of him being around sickens me. I know that’s not the Lord’s plan.
Does anyone else have problems sometimes responding in the right way when he’s treating you wrongly? Perhaps retaliating in abusive ways or being as destructive as your husband? It would be helpful to know I’m not alone.
Answer: You are not alone and I’m quite confident that some of the other women in this community will reassure you that they struggle too. We all do. Even when a spouse is not abusive, it’s still a challenge to respond rightly sometimes. That’s one reason I wrote my book, “How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong”.
The Bible is very clear that people who are closest to us have a strong influence on our attitudes and actions. For example, we’re told not to associate with angry people because they will rub off on us and we’ll become angrier too (Proverbs 22:24–25). When we keep company with those prone to violence, we will also be more prone to those paths (Proverbs 1:10–15; 16:29). The apostle Paul tells us that when we hang around people with low morals, they will drag us down to their level (1 Corinthians 15:33). When we’re married to a destructive person, we too may become destructive toward ourselves and others.
When you’re a victim of abuse, it’s tempting to blame your spouse for your reactions to him. But if you want to change things and get healthy, it’s crucial for you to see clearly. You must see not only what your husband is doing, but also your own part as well.
For example, some women realize they’ve been way too passive and allowed themselves to be captured and controlled. Others realize that they’ve over functioned and allowed their husband to under function but they’re not happy with that arrangement. Instead of stopping their over functioning, implementing consequences for their husband’s under functioning, or putting some boundaries in place, they start criticizing and belittling their spouse in the hopes of waking him up or getting him to change.
When we live with a difficult and/or destructive person, it takes its toll on us. Over and over we get hurt, angry, worn out, and afraid. If we are not extremely careful, it’s quite likely that we will start to become destructive too. Why? Because serious sin not only affects us, it infects us with its poison. If we don’t guard our heart, we can become like the very thing we hate.
Once we recognize that we have been infected with evil’s poison or are spewing out some of our own we will take care of ourselves, or get help so that resentment, indifference, and our human tendency to pay evil back with more evil of our own does not become part of our character. It’s important for our own well-being that we treat our husband with respect even when he doesn’t deserve it because we understand how we treat people is much more a statement about who we are rather than how they act. In the same way, how your husband treats you is not about you, it says something about who he is.
When you choose to treat people with respect because that’s the person you want to be, you will gain self-respect, which enables you to respond wisely when your husband doesn’t treat you well.
That said you will still sometimes fail which is part of being a human being. What troubles me from your question is that you have trouble forgiving yourself for these imperfections, faults, flaws, and even sins. The difference between you and your husband is that you see when you have failed. It grieves your heart and you want to do better. That is the heart of a Christ-follower who has not yet become what God has called her to be (which is where every one of us is at) but wants to grow, to change, to repent, and to submit to God.
On the other hand, from what you wrote, your husband blames, accuses, and refuses to own his sin or wrongdoing. It serves him well to provoke you to lash out or strike back so that he can deflect the attention off his own sinful behaviors and blame you. It’s much like our teenagers do when we overreact to their provoking disrespect and then they tell us what a horrible parent we are. It’s easy for them to focus on our sin all the while being completely oblivious to their own.
So accept you are not going to do it perfectly. When you mess up, talk to God about it. He knows your heart. But stop expecting that you SHOULD always do it perfectly ALL the time. No one managed that feat except Jesus and that’s why he could be the perfect sacrifice for our sin. We can’t do it.
Don’t let the accuser Satan beat you up and stop beating yourself up.
Here are two recent blogs that may also help you with this.
Help, I’m turning into an abuser
Friends, can you share your own struggles in this regard and ways you have learned to guard your heart and tongue?
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Am I Being Destructive Also?
Morning Friends, My niece, Kristen and her husband Sam, are visiting us from Chicago. It’s been fun to hang out with them and have some fun. Pray for me as I head to Dallas, Texas tomorrow to speak at First Friday. It’s an outreach ministry to about 500-1,000 women that takes place in a movie…
How Do I Forgive Myself?
Morning friends, I so appreciate you – you’re the best! I have great news! My new book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope is going to be available a month early on September 17th instead of October 17th. I’m so excited about what this book will offer…
My Wife Disrespects Me in Front of the Children
Question: My wife is extremely disrespectful to me and often uses four letter words in front of our children when she’s mad. I’ve told her it bothers me but she tells me to grow up and quit being a baby. I’ve tried just loving her in the hopes that she will change but so far,…
I stayed quiet for many years until one day I couldn’t do it anymore. I spewed awful things back at my husband. It wasn’t just a few words, it was what felt like an hour spouting out all kinds of negativity. I felt awful when I was done. I had always been the peace keeper, tiptoeing around his anger and rage. Anger had built up in me without my even being aware of it. I couldn’t get to my knees fast enough.
We all react poorly at times. It is a matter of is it constant without repenting or is it something that makes you feel the need for forgiveness quickly and seeking that forgiveness. There are times that I want to repay anger with anger. Sometimes I control that anger with prayer, others it just all hangs out there and need to seek forgiveness. I am not perfect by any means, but my husband doesn’t think he has done anything wrong and words don’t hurt. As long as he doesn’t hit me, all is well. Those slamming doors, punching walls and throwing things don’t count. Accusing me of having other men, being glad that my wedding band doesn’t fit (stress eating) and just everyday spewing over anything are all ok. They don’t hurt.
Forgive yourself. You are human. More than that a woman who is hurting by the one person who should be striving not to hurt you. My husband is still doing these things, but now he does it from across town. It has taken me several weeks to realize that I don’t have to read his emails and I can turn the ringer off my phone. What a revelation!
i too have had the same feelings as you have described. you are not alone. the difference between you and your husband, is that you see it! Hallelujah the spirit is still working in you! and you are listening to the spirit. Remember the first time you went to god and admitted you were a sinner and received his forgiveness. god asks us to admit and change. what i see is that you are admitting and you are changing and consistently moving forward toward growth. i don’t recall anywhere in god’s word that we have to be perfect. i believe that if you carelessly used god’s forgiveness, you would know it in your spirit. i don’t see that in your description. Jesus work on the cross covers all. it is still so mind boggling to me that i can go back to god. the more i go to god for forgiveness, the more i see HIS spendor, ;HIs magnificence and HIS grace. the more i go to HIM, the more i see his grace. when i see his grace towards me, it helps me to trust God more fully. Don’t rob yourself of HIS immeasurable grace because a person is playing mind games with you. you are on your way my sister. hang in there.
I like what Miss Leslie wrote: That said you will still sometimes fail which is part of being a human being. What troubles me from your question is that you have trouble forgiving yourself for these imperfections, faults, flaws, and even sins. The difference between you and your husband is that you see when you have failed. It grieves your heart and you want to do better. That is the heart of a Christ-follower who has not yet become what God has called her to be (which is where every one of us is at) but wants to grow, to change, to repent, and to submit to God.
One time, just one time, in the twenty years I was married to an abusive man did I let loose on him spewing hateful, horrible words, screaming at the top of my lungs until he actually cowered in the corner of our bedroom.
I honestly felt as if the devil had gotten ahold of me in that moment and although initially it felt good to back him into a corner, I felt so repentant afterwards and really, really terrible. 🙁
And unfortunately, I began to see myself acting like him too in little ways. Being hurtful and very impatient towards my children, and I hated myself for it.
We will all fail, whether in an abusive marriage or not. That’s part of being human. But it’s in those times we need to turn to God asking for forgiveness.
I have been in a destructive marriage for over a decade. My husband’s angry verbal tirades and spiritual abuse have confused me greatly since he is in church leadership and maintains a good relationship with most people. I found it very helpful to understand the cycles that he moves through in his relationship with me. After a time of being very tense, he will eventually go into an angry tirade triggered often by something insignificant, then he will become withdrawn followed by a period of time during which he is relatively calm, charming, and shows many acts of kindness toward me. The charming phase can last weeks or months but it always cycles back to tension and abusive behavior. I’ve had many sin-filled responses as my husband moves through this cycle. Through Leslie’s books, God has reminded me how important it is for me to remain connected with Him. I have found that maintaining this connection with God takes discipline. Without daily time in God’s Word, seeking Him to encourage, convict and speak to me, my heart quickly wonders away from His freeing truth. Times in nature, listening to worship music, fellowship with friends who strive to remain connected with God complement my personal “prayer closet” times with God. Memorizing Scripture helps to wash away destructive thoughts as I meditate on God’s truth throughout the day. When I’m struggling to forgive, I often ask God to remind me of the seas of sins I have committed against Him. Remembering the magnitude of God love for me, and how much He has forgiven me helps forgiveness for others flow more freely. I’m learning to take thoughts captive that are rooted in condemnation, navel-gazing introspection, deceitful forms of pride (self-pity, self-hate, self-absorption), negativity, and hopelessness. I still often choose a sinful reaction/ response or choose to be selfish instead of Christ-like. I’m learning that it is helpful when I ask God to show me if this sin has a root of bitterness or other stronghold that I need to repent of in order to be free to respond right in the future. The fiery trials of my marriage have brought many “impurities” to the surface allowing me to see sin patterns and lies I was living in long before I met my husband. As I’ve heard it said, “Dysfunction attracts dysfunction”, as was the case with me and my husband. During the early years of my marriage pointing the finger at my husband was so much easier than seeing my part in our destructive dance. Growing freedom has come from staying connected with God. God has been faithful to keep reminding me that I am seated with Him in the Heavenlies, I am more than a conqueror, I am filled with His grace – the power and ability to do His will, my Heavenly Husband cherishes me and sings songs of delight over me, He has called me to be a discerning intercessor standing in the gap between my husband and God, He has promised to provide me with the wisdom to train up my children to be emotionally and spiritually healthy. I marvel at how God is changing me into someone I don’t recognize; from one who was fear-filled, shame-based and self-consumed to one who is learning to listen to His still small voice, responding to my husband in humility, respect, wisdom, grace and truth. As I learn to listen to God’s promptings, I find myself sometimes walking away from angry words in silence, while other times I respond with great boldness in strength as God speaks through me to sharpen my husband and hold him accountable for his irrational words and behavior. I marvel at what God is doing in me and share with each of you that God is bigger than your confusion, hurts, bitterness, anger and sinful responses. In the midst of abuse, God can form beauty within you as you respond to Him.
i like what progress you have made and how you stated things. your maturity shows in the fact of you observing the “cycle” in him. you are on the right track in developing a deeper intimacy with God through this. i would say that my marriage is emotionally abusive, but it does not seem intentional. he’s ALWAYS tense, the anger is repressed and NEVER expressed – not even acknowledged to himself (i believe), never yells, ALWAYS is withdrawn, and during 2 years of counseling repeatedly tries to “perform” well. i notice that sometimes i do not respond positively to his efforts. there are various reasons…for one, i think because i am trying to protect myself emotionally. i do feel bad about that. however, God is my Savior and the main thing in my day is spending time in His Word. He is the Most Wonderful Counselor to me! Like you, ann, i enjoy the beauty of nature, worship in song, pray, meditate, and remember His love. thank you for sharing your thoughts! the one great thing that has resulted from my marriage is that i am aware and pray for other believer’s – especially in china, who are in the same situation as me, but whose circumstances (poverty etc)are even more difficult.
Debby, I like how you mentioned that a result of your marriage struggles has been an awareness and prayer for other believers like those in China. I have been greatly stirred by Voice of the Martyr ministries and the reports of Christians around the world who are suffering greatly for their faith. Deepend and more fervent intercession for others certainly is a blessed outcome of your personal suffering. Thank you for sharing, Debby.
Ann, THANK YOU for sharing your story. It is also my own…I just have never written it out as you have (you’re a much better writer than me ;)) I can relate to most all of what you’ve said. The difference in our husbands is that mine is not in church leadership. In fact, he was not a believer for many years, though he did not discourage me from attending church or Bible study. We have been married now for 26 years and it is ONLY by the grace of God! The first ~20 years of our marriage was riddled with times of his angry outbursts and verbal lashings. I only made it through with counseling, Godly girlfriends and leaning on the Lord. My husband now attends church and reads his Bible (!!) and I can see a change. He does still occasionally struggle with his temper but, thank God, I have learned not to absorb his anger and to take it to our Father. I’m still learning….
I admitted to God that I hated my husband (transparency) and I said I have no ability to love him. You love him through me. It was a very freeing prayer. I have been able to love my husband so much better and God is working on all of my issues. Many days I say this prayer…Father, I give up, I quit, I cannot live the Christian live, I simply cannot. I now believe you are the Potter and I am the clay. You are the Creator and I am the creature and apart from you I can do nothing. And now Father, I acknowledge by faith that You can. I believe that I am a new creation, that I have been exchanged and that Christ is my life. I now allow You to live your life through me. By faith I give You all my idols and I thank you that no matter how I feel you have taken them. By faith I chose to live in Your strength moment by moment in Jesus name. It has taken months, but God has taken the hardness out of my heart towards my husband and I no longer feel that I am pretending or acting my love. My husband is becoming kinder and gentler and instead of being a destructive marriage…we have lessened it to difficult. God is faithful to love through us in the manner that we need to love. Love always does what is best for the other person. Sometimes that is confronting, sometimes it is by serving. By asking God to live out His life through me…things are better. I am becoming healed and whole.
Leslie- I needed this post. I believe some prayers were answered through it this evening. Thank you for being such an amazing help and encouragement in my marriage and most importantly, my walk with Christ. Mary- I love the prayer. Thank you for sharing it. I, too, have felt hate towards my husband and have had horrific thoughts and fantasies about him because I am in such pain at times. With that said, God is working on my heart. I am growing more and more confident in my relationship with him and in who he says I am regardless of who my husband says I am or anyone else. It is so freeing to be in this place. I am freed to love my husband for who he is and freed to love me for me. My prayer is that I will begin to have a positive impact in my marriage and my life and words will begin to point my husband towards Christ rather than away from him.
These words are refreshing my spirit this evening. There are others on this journey.
When my husband made a heart wrenching, life changing decision, I had to seek the way to overcome. I could see the direction of I Peter 3 pointing wives to beauty but I hear the practical living it out in one of the replies and I need that fellowship of knowing someone else who is overcoming and finding God is creating something in her that she could never develop on her own. It encourages me to keep going.
When I had to find the way to go on, my heart unheard, in the midst of loss and broken dreams and facing an old nightmare, I heard ‘sacrificial love’ and I prayed to be able to be ‘warm and welcoming’ as I saw deeper and could care for the rejection wound in his heart. God has enabled me to be warm and welcoming, though I wonder if it will sink deeper into my heart. I believe it is this year as He is calling me to a deeper, humbler servant’s heart. Isaiah 54 has beautiful words about a heavenly husband and promises to a wife and children. When I listen deeply to the last verse, I hear, “this is the heritage of the servant’s of the Lord” and my heart responds, Lord, make me a servant.
I also sought the Lord very recently about Daniel. Three times a day he knelt to pray in a foreign land living a life he would not have chosen. I realized it was the only way he could make it through. Every day, For the rest of his life. I can’t get there on my own. I asked the Lord to draw me to my knees. And He is.
All that He is doing is beyond my strength.
I carry a little geode in my purse, and sometimes cling to it in my hand, it is my promise, “God will do something beautiful in the midst of this pain and mess as I trust Him and seek Him.”
Thanks for sharing. You and others may also find another blog I wrote this month helpful to read on When and how an abused wife is to suffer according to 1 Peter. You can find that blog at http://www.christiancounseling.com and then click on the blog tab and go to my name. It’s my most recent blog. Again 1 Peter has been misunderstood to mean passively suffering rather than actively suffering. There is a difference. Check it out.
Thank you for this link, Leslie. There is such a difference between suffering for the cause of Christ and suffering at the hands and will of a husband that should be loving and supporting you. I surely wish that Ministers would not preach about Peter’s words in reference to marriage. Marriage and persecution for Christ and standing for what you believe are not the same thing. Marriage is where you should be able to go for positive reinforcement for those things. Standing together for what you believe. Marriage should never be used to persecute another person just because you have a piece of paper that says you are bound together and now “I can do whatever I want”. I heard those words recently as I try to get a restraining order. Until you have it “I can do whatever I want”. The hearing was postponed until August 19 as the judge is away. Ugh! My husband is starting or least going to an appointment with a counselor. We’ll see how that goes and for how long.
When he let me know that he had this appointment it came with mixed emotions. I have been at peace with my decision to divorce my husband and it should be final next month. One of my first thoughts besides for being grateful that he made this step, was NO I can’t go back. I cannot take that risk again. But what if he changes, am I required to go back? I don’t believe that I will ever be able to trust that he has really changed. In my mind seeing myself walk through the door of his house again makes me feel discouraged, sad and having to watch everything I do and say all over again. I don’t feel that way going into my little apartment. I feel happy, at home, free.
Miss Leslie, I love this post that you recommended about 1 peter. I have read it before, but just like the Israelites in Deuteronomy, I had to be reminded again to remember. thank you! it is encouraging and strengthening to know that I will be obeying god by acting with allowing consequences to the other person. It was also a good reminder that this won’t feel good for me and that I will suffer for doing the right thing. I then had to ask myself, am I not moving forward with healthy behavior because I don’t want to suffer the consequences and the outcome. I am not sure of my heart yet, but if the answer were to be yes, then I would say that I am not truly loving my spouse, because I am more concerned for my own pain and loss and suffering. that is actually selfish of me. i will have to prayerfully consider this. i thought i was waiting for timing, sometimes i can see how i am prolonging the inevitable pain that i will experience from the rejection, ostracization, and the ugliness from my own family that i know i will endure. my grown daughter now treats me like my husband does because i stayed and my husband would encourage my daughter to talk to me just like he talks to me. with disgust, disdain, disrespect, and anger and rage. now that i know what is right with what god says, it is almost paralyzing to move forward. i fear that i will have no family and from the past experiences if will probably be true. i feel paralyzed to make the right decision, but i am slowly coming around and I thank our good lord that he is truly patient with me. He knows I am trying. Throughout the bible, god also allowed his people the consequences of their own choices. At one point God was silent for hundreds of years. God still loved his people, but he allowed them to suffer their consequences. that is the real example to me. thank you again. This site and information is invaluable to me and helping me to be discipled in the real word of god. Janet
Thanks Janet and Brenda. Those who read that blog from 1 Peter at http://www.christiancounseling.com please consider leaving a comment there too. The site is read by Christian counselors and pastors and they need to hear from women who are in the trenches and what they struggle with in real life.
Consider it done.
Thank you, Leslie, for the blog on I Peter. You clearly expressed in writing what I wish someone had explained to me during the initial years of my destructive marriage. I grew up in Christian circles that stressed submission to the point that it was imbalanced. I married a man who controls using scripture in long angry tirades. I’ve found that in order to have the strength and grace to do the “good” deeds that may lead to suffering, I’ve had to allow God to expose in me the fears and shame based thinking that prevent me from walking in grace and truth. I’ve learned that truth involves taking a realistic look at the destructive dynamics in my marriage, repenting of my sin and reactions, and asking God to show me the necessary steps I need to take to protect myself and my children as well as to confront my husband regarding his anger and sin. As I’ve hungered and thirsted more and more after Christ (I appreciate your blog re. being Christ-centered balanced with Biblical) He has drawn me closer to Himself, revealing to me more of His character, made Biblical truth came alive, had scripture pop out at me in order to provide wisdom, placed people like you in my path to provide truth and confirm the “good” yet difficult steps I need to walk in, and showed Himself strong in so many ways that my worship of Him keeps deepening and joy keeps flowing. Your balanced message is so vital. Since my husband has been in the ministry for almost 30 years, I’ve witnessed much “double-mindedness” in his ministry as well as the ministry of many of our friends. I’ve yet to meet a radiant wife of a man in ministry who has a healthy marriage. Leslie, you are in my prayer as you often must standing alone with truth that is not popular. Keep on in Christ.
This is truly sad. The wives of men in ministry should be some of the most radiant anywhere. How are we suppose to believe that a man in the pulpit is speaking to us the word of God as He wants it told, when he doesn’t even have the basics of a loving family down? It is no wonder that many walk away from organized churches.
I love how you wrote your words Ann… thank you…
I often have thought how it must be difficult for Miss Leslie to stand alone also. recently she asked me to post my comments on the Christian website for Christian counselors so that pastors and other could read them… I think this will help Miss leslie.. you write well Ann. and I love how your wrote about experiencing more and more of your deeping worship and overflowing joy. it is amazing to experience this with god isn’t it. just like 2 cor 6:10 says, our hearts ache but we always have joy. (NLT) god is so amazing. I try not to confuse Christians, this world and its ways with who god is. it helps me to see clearly and guides me on the right path. thank you for your post.
Leslie, thank you for your comment. I read the blog you recommended on I Peter; good strengthening encouragement.
I have been seeking to grow in strength to interact directly with truth and strength when needed and not give way – that is the other part of my journey. I went from being too nicely, quietly, patiently passive (though never giving up or giving in), to trying to speak up with limited success and finding my efforts to reply and bring truth tending to slip into negative shades – like I was losing something even while I was trying to gain, to stepping apart and seeking to grow myself to gain strength and stand strong with boundaries and truth. I sought practical help and outside support for me last August in the midst of watching our unhealthy patterns replaying in my oldest. I found a need in January to build some support outside the home so I could stand strong enough and hold my ground. Honor has always been a key thing in my heart; I want to both honor and speak truth. To suffer well. To humbly grow in the LOrd as I expressed above while growing in strength and truth seems to express my current journey.
in the church i grew up in, the pastor’s wife was RADIANT! her showing christian love to me as a teen changed my life…gave me my first taste of loving kindness ever! not sure how to rate their marriage, as he eventually had an affair and the church put them out. she refused to divorce, stayed with him, and they are still together today. i believe, people in ministry have the same situations as the rest of us. there is always adjusting and growing and maturing and forgiveness involved in a relationship. this all requires time. few people go into a marriage with a complete understanding of the kind of depth of bondedness in marriage that God intends. it is a lifelong journey of lessons for all of us so greatly affected by sin. i’ve been married 40 years and am gaining an understanding of my responses and issues and learning how to be more Christlike. i believe, the point of my marriage is to honor God in this life. after all, it is a picture of how He loves us, right where we are.
Thanks for sharing your example of a radiant wife. Sometimes it is through the hardest times that Christ’s radiance can shine the brightest through our lives – and for many women that includes staying with an imperfect yet repentant spouse and working through the problems but for other’s it might also involve making the tough choice to leave because a spouse is continually unrepentant and destructive.
I wanted to thank you all for the encouragement in reading these posts, as sad as it is. I know that God wants to work through us in these processes. I praise Him for being the one constant in life. Remaining the same loving God when we’re in the prison or the courtyard. I try to remember that I’m not going to always be perfect with my responses to my husband, but to just keep seeking His face and thanking Him for his forgiveness. I’ll never understand my husband and why he does the things he does. The confusion he makes. I pray that God will help me to see him and love him the way He does. That my heart breaks for what breaks His including my sin. I can do this with the Lord’s strength. But for me to be effective for Him, my children who suffer, and for us to be healthy I know I need to do it from a distance. He is unwilling to acknowledge his part in any of the destruction let alone seek help. He claims his only authority is God and his personal life is no ones business. Since he has free will to make those choices, I see that to him our marriage must not be worth it, so I too have decisions to stick with.
Your article on I Peter 3 was a gift from God to me. I reread the whole book and it ministered to me instead of beat me down. I would love to leave a comment on the site, but it asks for more information than I would like to give out.
I have sinned greatly in my marriage in response to the criticism, blame shifting, not taking responsibility, mind games, etc… It used to be so hard not to get angry. I would pray and try so hard to be patient and reasonable, but I always seemed to get wrapped up in the verbal fray and would eventually blow and yell even if I had had success patiently responding for a period of time. At one point it seemed that me getting angry was a good way to get out of the mess. Then it was my fault. I could apologize and we could move on.
After MANY years I wisened up to some of it and realized it wasn’t worth responding to. I also realized that things went better if I didn’t submit to all his whims and desires and stood up to him. I just couldn’t understand why submission felt like serving the Devil when I was supposed to submit to obey God. I read about verbal abuse and recognized the tactics. I quit getting angry. Maybe because I realized what was going on was not only wrong, but unreasonable. There is no reasoning. And I understand it now instead of taking it at face value.
I think I have also sinned by letting the relationship take over. Too often I have been overcome with sorrow about the relationship. I have been overcome with confusion and hurt. My mind has been full of trying to figure out what is going on and how I can remedy it. My heart has been full of anger. God is teaching me that He is my God, my healer, my comforter, my strength and my protector. I have God and he can’t take that away. God is my number one relationship. While he watches t.v., I can ta
And to Ann, I am married to a pastor as well. I have experienced a different kind of abuse (if my perception that I have been abused is right) than you have. However, I have known some good ministry marriages.
I am not a pastors wife, but have been abused. What about other people under his counsel? I would hate to think that I was going to ask counsel from my pastor and he himself was abusing his own wife. That is scary to me. He is not under the Lords direction if he is doing these things without any remorse to his own wife. He is to love, protect and honor his wife. Is there someway that you can get counsel from an elder or someone who can call him on this? By him not being sploken to about his lack of compassion and verbally attacking his wife, he could be damaging to someone else who would be reliant on his help. I have a hard time believing that God calls such people to shepherd his flock.
I have taken the steps I can take of Matt. 18. And, in my case, he would see abuse as a problem in someone else and probably stand up for the right. He is just blind to himself.
Very much loved the article on IPet. 3. And am enjoying the videos.
Mine too. He doesn’t see anything wrong with anything he has done, but would not hesitate to condemn someone else for the same thing.
I can’t believe I found this blog today. Today is the first day I lost my temper to my husband and actually told him I hated him. I have hated him for a while but have been faking the good wife and trying to guard my heart. I married a man who is not a Christian and he was raised in a disfunctional family so I have no one to blame but myself. I am sorry for my outburst and feel horrible because I try so hard to be wise, calm and a Godly example to him. I will try to ask for his forgiveness and apologize for my behavior but I know he will become the victim and be even more mean and degrading then he was earlier today. He will make me pay for my outburst and I will end up hating him even more. He is never satisfied until I am broken down and he feels domination. I try to feel compassion to him because of his childhood and ADD/OCD issues, but sometimes I just lack the patience.
Tracey, My heart goes out to you. It is difficult to have to pretend that you truly love someone when you no longer do. Is your husband getting help for his issues and past? If not he should be. It is not healthy for you to pretend or hold in your feelings. I did this very thing and my anger blew all at once. I suppressed my feelings for many years. It made me feel guilty for lashing out and didn’t help the marriage at all. My husband refused counseling without “marriage counseling”. I knew that would be the wrong route. He needed to straighten himself out first. I started independant counseling, but he didn’t. We are not seperated. He told me last week that he had his first session with a counselor, but then fired him because I knew who he was. He told me this morning that he had found another counselor. No headway is made if you switch after one session so we will see how that goes. I no longer answer his calls or emails. He is far too verbally abusive and trying to control even now. He does not even see what he does even though I have told him on many occassions. He feels it is his right to do these things. He even uses hurtful situations to upset me and then says “I was only joking”.
I can’t make decisions for you, but what happened to him as a child doesn’t have to affect him now. If he wants to change and do the hard work it will take, he will. If he wants to save his marriage, he will. I was raised by a stepfather who was abusive in every way and a mother who made excuses for him. You can overcome your past if you trust the Lord and really want to do it.
I will pray for you. I know you hate the things he does and I don’t believe anyone will tell you you shouldn’t, but I think somewhere in your heart you love him as you should love everyone. You should create boundaries and consequences for his behavior. They may be painful for not only him, but for you. If you ever want freedom from the bondage you have been in, with or without him, they are necessary. Love you girl, big hugs!!!
i was wondering if it seemed like control and manipulation on our part to believe that if we behave a certain way that it will bring about a change in our husbands? to me it seems that is what is being advised. that if stop participating in his craziness then everything will change. i am here to tell you that is so untrue. you can stop participating in the arguing and you can let everything roll off your back. that is good. but the person doing the yelling etc, wont stop their behavior and it will grind away at your heart and mind and whittle away your soul little by little. it is true and good not to behave in the way the aggressor is acting, but to think that you won’t be affected by it IS COMPLETELY A LIE! if you change your behavior, then good for you, but you have to do more. you have to allow natural consequences to take place and those are all actions that have to be taken by the one being victimized. please don’t think that just sitting there and taking it is going to change the person. and also i am not responsible for my husbands actions towards me or his mental health or his well being. he is an adult and responsible for his own self. and I am not his mother.
If you read some authors/pastors they truly believe if you behave in a wifely way, this will change your husband. I suppose if he is truly following Christ perhaps you may be able to get him to pick up his socks, but not in an abusive situation. These men never address abuse like it doesn’t exist. If you speak quietly and respectfully all will be ok. I agree it won’t be. We can are are better than sinking to the level of the abuser. We can let it roll off our backs, but why should we. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away and I too feel like a piece of me was being destroyed one day at a time until I became unreconizable. We are not responsible for the sins or actions of another person no matter how much they try to blame us.
I left my husband 2 months ago. He is still trying to blame me for what he does. He still uses hurtful things to attempt control and then when it doesn’t work says he was only joking. I have set a boundary for myself. I will not react or respond to phone calls or emails. They only sink me right back to where I was. The Lord rescued me from that and I will do everything I can to honor what He has given me. I cannot allow him-the husband to bring me back to that place. I’ve gone too far to turn back now.
thank you for your kind response and for understanding what I was trying to say. again, I believe it is important for me to have godly behavior and I am responsible when I behave ungodly. I also recognize and was trying to point out that our godly behavior cannot control a person by changing them. (god has perfect behavior for example and he doesn’t control us with it, he allows us to participate and decide to participate and he allows us to suffer the consequence of our wrong choices and because we live in this world be often suffer from wrong choices other people make) often times it does the opposite. for me, saying I don’t want anyone of your friends to come over and smoke pot in our backyard, yielded all sorts of rage. my behavior of not going along with it and turning a blind eye is what changed and saying I won’t do that anymore caused him to have rage because he wasn’t getting his way anymore. (actually a Christian counselor told me that I was being too controlling and everyone has the right to make their own choices. thankfully i didn’t listen to her foolish talk and stood up and told him I would call the police if you do this illegal stuff on our property. ( I think that most people including many counselors (but not our Miss Leslie, she is awesome) do not know how to deal with any of this. most don’t know what godly behavior is and most don’t realize that god is the compass to follow and he sets the ways. it is not judgmental to say I cannot do this or that if god says I can’t do this or that. I am simply obeying. if the other person wants to do the wrong thing, that is up to them. my godly behavior has not changed my husband, caused him to soften or to see a different way. what my godly behavior has done is to suffer for doing good. (I am fine with that, not complaining) but to say that if I act right my husband will change and come around is advising someone that they have the power and control over another individual and that is witch craft. my father was an extreme alcoholic until the day he died, my godly behavior never changed him one bit, but it sure did cause suffering for me. I also acknowledge that perhaps there were changes in both of these men and in their hearts that I can’t see and won’t see, but in their actions I did not see anything, except more anger and hatred towards me. sadly I too Brenda, will possibly be moving out in the next few weeks. I do not want a divorce, I don’t want a separation. I married with the idea in my head and heart, until death do us part. AT THIS very moment i still believe that this could all be resolved if both people wanted it to be. i want things to be resolved but I cannot make the other person want it. I also know that being my husbands personal assistant keeping him afloat so he can continue to take his drugs, work and barely manage is not honoring to him or to god. watching someone slowly destroy themselves with drugs is extremely painful to watch. I watched my father do it until death and now I am doing it with my husband for 27 years. I didn’t even know that he took drugs until about 15 years into the marriage. the Christian counselor didn’t even know how to handle anything when I did find out. and I didn’t know what to do either, but god showed me all the craziness and that is why I am this far. god showed me and taught me. it took a long time and often I questioned god in his slowness. lol. but god has been so faithful to me. I cannot wait until one day being in my real home with god where all of this ugliness will never be and I am hoping that my husband will be there too. anyway, thank you for listening… I will have a difficult few weeks but I am so grateful…thank you again Brenda.
Isn’t it so easy to focus on the major, obvious, thorny issues around us or just whether we blew up or gave a sharp retort or not.
I’m finding I can grow in wisdom, strength, humility…like layers of an onion, time peels more areas to grow.
Does anyone struggle to avoid pride? focusing more on the problem and pain than my own clear strong loving persevering wise growth and unshakable trust in the Lord…it is so tempting to slip in subtle ways into looking down on the other person…to cross boundaries into their areas of responsibility by trying to help or fix…to be more concerned with their speak/beam than my own…to focus on their negative without a balance for positives…to lack the humility to praise where you can. To hold oneself aloof in a critical or self protective way (obviously not when wise distance is called for) or self righteous way…to question why they don’t stop doing —…to find you’ve mixed up expectations of God with expectations of a person and having to realize you slipped into some idolotry…to find you’ve given in to self pity…to find the depressing relational focus distracted you from the balance of blessing and reaching out to others…to find your own wound has distorted some of your perspective more than you realized…to call something sin in their life and miss the compassion that is also needed for a deep wound it is entwined with…to wait for them to change instead of serving them first and also serving through your own growth and strength and overcoming fear to speak up appropriately and give consequences. To find you’ve waited for him to change and fear was holding back your serving him more fully. To find fear masked some of God’s voice and some of the possibilities…. To find you’ve prayed but needed a more active faith. To find your best efforts allowed yourself to participate by listening to gossipy words when you should have left the room, being used as a buffer when you should not have taken his responsibility, to try to fix things in the family when you needed consequences, and to have been lacking in strength to stand stronger and humble enough for greater goodness – that our best efforts are filthy rags.
Does anyone struggle with self righteousness? it is so tempting to focus on principles and doing things right and fall into a self righteous trap. Some personalities lean toward what is ‘right’ others toward ‘work’ and we mix up our perspective with God’s and like the pharisees we misunderstand the law and interpret it without love, using it to look down on others and even beat others with our ‘right’ words and good intentions.
Has anyone slipped into it being about themselves? wishing they would apologize to you or things would change so it would be easier or better? Has anyone found that they slipped into thinking “I’m holding on for my children” instead of for God?
Has anyone spoken too many words when they should have been quiet?
Has anyone fretted?
Does anyone struggle with having complicated the picture by buffering for this person? trying to keep the peace instead of make peace?
Has anyone failed to take the beam out of your own eye, even if it feels like a speck?
Has anyone missed God’s still small voice because of living too close to the prickles and words or the swirl of emotions in our hearts? has anyone justified giving up in any way? Has anyone thought they were following God and found that some of these things unintentionally fell into Satan’s hands (I think Peter could relate)
Has anyone found that when they had courage to consider the other person’s perspective that they found ways they had unintentionally added to the problem?
Has anyone found they could have listened more?
Has anyone put off apologizing?
Has anyone put off speaking up?
Has anyone avoided the problem in any way, thus contributing by choosing to do nothing.
Has anyone let household responsibilities go?
Has anyone failed to be strong enough to hold on.
Has anyone found the opportunities to grow in humility and wisdom are countless thus admitting imperfection?
Has anyone failed to fall on their knees knowing there is salvation in no one else?
Has anyone not given thanks in all things?
Has anyone doubted God’s goodness? felt their trust in the Lord get weak?
Has anyone spoken when they should have been silent and been silent when they should have spoken?
I am thankful that life is hard but God is good. Where would I be without Him? I think I’ve done all these things; so I stand humbly empty on one hand and determined to grow with God’s help into healthier strength on the other.
Hello there alene,
Thank you for sharing the extensive self evaluation list.
Another question to add to this list is where am I getting the information to evaluate myself from?
Is it from my husband’s responses? Falsehoods read or from false teachers?
Is it from my own extensive personal study of the word?
Is the self evaluation based on the relationship between god and his people, Jesus and his disciples and followers and family and what god says is true and correct. Or is the self evaluation based on the opinions of Christian circles and what is the opinion of others?
What and who’s words am I comparing the self evaluation too?
An additional comment to this list is, when comparing behavior whether godly or ungodly, that in itself is not judgmental. To make a stand for godly behavior is also not judgmental. If god says don’t steal and someone steals, it is not judgmental to use god’s standard to call the person a thief. If I use my own evaluation, my own opinion and ideas then it is judgmental. But using god’s ways and standards to establish truth and know how to handle a situation, is not judgmental. If my husband is verbally and emotionally and at times sexually abusive, saying these facts does not make me judgmental. (the definition of judgmental, adj of or denoting an attitude in which judgments about other people’s conduct are made). my evaluation of my husbands treatments is not based on my opinions, it is based on how I read about god’s relationship with his people and what he accepts as healthy.
Self righteousness or phariseeism is a great point and something we all must be careful not to fall into a trap with. In my personal experience, when I stand for god’s ways so that I do not participate in sin or assist another person to sin, I am blamed and called names such as I am self righteous or miss perfect. This is not self righteous when acknowledging a realistic truth, whether or not the truth is godly or ungodly. I mention this because I would often get confused by half truths (for example, just like Adam spoke the half truth in the garden when he blamed Eve)and I am called names for standing for god’s truth.
(For example, when my husband wanted to smoke pot, I was self righteous according to him because I said not on this property, it is illegal) Even within Christian circles it is often not popular to stand for the real truth of god’s word. (Once I told my small group, not to email me any messages that discriminate and put down welfare recipients because you don’t know how they got there and you don’t know there story and god tells us to help the widows and orphans and the church is doing nothing)The small group was very offended and so was i. I knew people in the system and I knew their stories and here were Christian people putting them down and calling them names and not helping them. I mention these things so that during self evaluation one is not caught in a trap and is genuinely evaluating based on god’s real truth, not on what a pastor thinks is a real truth, or an author of a book thinks is a real truth, but that the truth is found when we genuinely seek god and do our own responsible part of studying and learning. I still love my brothers and sisters in Christ. We are all still a work in progress. But we must be careful in this self evaluation on the standard we are comparing it too. Is it god’s standard or the worlds standard. Is it the standard of what my pastor says, my husband says or what I have spent a year studying on a specific topic.
I hope the addition to this list is helpful and is meant as a caution to prevent further deceit from our enemy.
I have just read a few of your comments to Leslie’s answer to our sinful responses to abusive husbands and am so encouraged. Thank you all for your courage to persevere and grow in Christ. I too have grieved over my responses of arguing and condemnation toward my husband when he has been verbally and emotionally abusive. I have been learning about God’s grace in His Son’s sacrifice to know I am already forgiven, “It is finished”, 2000 years ago. That same grace, when I humble myself under God’s hand (not my husband’s) is sufficient to repent and seek forgiveness from my husband. I do not beat myself up as much anymore. As I look back over almost 50 years of marriage I see so clearly how God has taken what has been meant for evil against me to be used for His glory and my good. I live out of Romans 8:28-39 and have used this passage to help many other hurting women in the Celebrate Recovery program at my church to know that God is for us and we are never separated from His love regardless of what is said to me and about me.
I too have come to identify with my brothers and sisters around the world who are persecuted for their faith. They encourage me and keep me going. I love you all and need you in this walk of faith.