May is my birthday month! I am choosing to celebrate sisterhood in 2023. As Christian women, we know that our faith is our anchor in times of trouble. But when we find ourselves in emotionally destructive relationships or marriages, it can be hard to hold onto that faith. Fear, shame, and self-doubt can cloud our minds and make it difficult to see a way forward. However, I am here to remind you that faith can overcome fear. With the help of God and our sisters in Christ, we can find the courage and strength to face even the most challenging situations. Let's take a deep breath, hold fast to our faith, and walk together towards healing and wholeness.
Reading the emotionally destructive marriage, I, in a very long term marriage, thought I was in a disappointing one, but your questions came up with an absolutely destructive one. He has never and would never cheat, hit or speak to me in a disparaging way. There is very little concern for how I think or feel and most decisions have been his. Apologies and thank yous are not part of his dialogue. Maybe a short fight once a decade, you can't discuss or fight when one literally walks away. Wanting to be a sweet Christian wife I did not deal with this well. I lived “Count your blessings…” we have actually had a pleasant marriage and no one we know would think otherwise. Counseling brought short term results. I realize that there are many much more difficult marriages, yet my heart would love to speak and be heard. What would you say to those of us in this type of marriage?
Dear Sister in Christ,
I know the pain and frustration that comes from being in an emotionally destructive marriage. I'm sorry to hear that you're struggling with communication issues in your marriage. It can be difficult to recognize and address, especially when there are no overt signs of abuse or infidelity. However, I am here to tell you that your voice matters, your feelings matter, and your needs matter. You are seen, known, and heard here in this space. It takes so much courage to lean in and explore the truths in your relationship.
I see you and hear you. Thank you for finding your brave, and asking this important question. The quiz we offer in our Quick Start guide is enlightening.
First and foremost, it is important to understand that dismissing you as a human being to cherish is emotionally harmful. Emotional violence can take many forms, such as verbal put-downs, controlling behavior, and neglect. If your husband consistently withholds physical affection or intimacy, this is a sign of emotional neglect and can contribute to feelings of devaluation. These actions chip away at your self-esteem and leave you feeling worthless, hopeless, and powerless. I am here to tell you that you are not worthless, and you are not powerless. You are a beloved daughter of God, and He wants you to live in freedom and joy. Hope is found in Christ Alone.
Let's look to the Bible for guidance on how to navigate our key relationships. One helpful passage is 2 Timothy 1:7, which says, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” This verse reminds us that we do not have to be afraid to speak up and advocate for ourselves. This passage reminds us that we have a responsibility to speak up for ourselves and others who are being mistreated. We must not remain silent in the face of injustice. We have the power of the Holy Spirit within us, and we can approach difficult situations with love and self-discipline.
Thank you for trusting us here with your question. You do not have to go through this alone. Find someone who will listen to you without judgment, and support you in your journey. Having a support system can help you feel less isolated and provide practical help and advice. Choose someone who you feel safe talking to and who will respect your privacy.
Consider seeking professional coaching. A trained coach can help you process your emotions and develop empowering strategies. A coach can provide a safe and confidential space to talk about what you're going through and offer practical guidance on how to navigate difficult situations. Look for a coach who is experienced in dealing with emotional violence and who shares your Christian values. We have 5 coaches on our team here at LV and CO that would be honored to share a coaching conversation with you. Learn more about coaching here.
Learn to set healthy boundaries with your spouse. Let him know what behavior is not acceptable, and be prepared to enforce those boundaries if they are crossed.
Remember, boundaries are about creating healthy and respectful relationships. They should be communicated clearly and consistently, and should have consequences that are appropriate for the situation. Communicate your needs clearly.
You might say something like, “It's important to me that we have open and honest communication in our relationship. When you ignore me, it makes me feel dismissed and disrespected. I want you to be willing to listen and engage in conversation with me.”
- Set consequences for violating boundaries: You might say something like, “If you continue to ignore me when we're having a conversation, I'm going to take a break and walk away. I want you to respect my need to be heard and valued in our relationship.”
My friend, what might be possible for you if you focused more on building your own network of friends and life rather than trying to fix or change your marriage or your man?
Focusing on building your own network of friends and life can have several potential benefits, regardless of the state of your marriage or relationship. Here are a few possibilities:
- Increased independence and self-confidence: When you have a supportive network of friends and a fulfilling life outside of your relationship, you may feel more confident and independent. This can lead to greater self-esteem and a stronger sense of self-worth.
- More fulfilling social connections: Having a diverse group of friends and social connections can provide a sense of belonging and fulfillment. You may find that you enjoy spending time with people who share your interests or values, and this can lead to more meaningful and satisfying relationships.
- Greater emotional resilience: Building your own life and network of friends can help you develop emotional resilience and coping skills. When you have a strong support system and a fulfilling life outside of your relationship, you may be better equipped to handle challenges and stressors in your life.
- A sense of purpose and fulfillment: Pursuing your own interests and passions can give you a sense of purpose and fulfillment that extends beyond your relationship. You may find that you feel more fulfilled and content when you're actively working towards your own goals and dreams.
It's worth noting that building your own life and network of friends doesn't mean that you are giving up on your marriage or relationship. It is a healthy way to prioritize your own needs and wellbeing, and to create a sense of balance and fulfillment in your life.
In conclusion, I want to leave you with this verse from Isaiah 43:2: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Trust in the Lord, and He will carry you through this challenging time.
How has your faith in God helped you cope with the challenges of being in an emotionally destructive relationship? Have you found any particular Bible verses or prayers that have brought you comfort and strength?
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