I Feel Powerless In My Relationship

Morning friend,

I was in Gloucester, MA over the past few days celebrating the marriage of the son of a dear friend of mine. We ate lots of fresh seafood, enjoyed amazing views and every time I looked out the window or walked through the quaint town I felt like I was in a movie set for Jaws or The Perfect Storm. I forgot how quaint New England is.

Today's Question: I so love your YouTube videos and biblical sound advice. One area that I haven't come across in your teachings is when a husband is addicted to attention, particularly to attractive young women, and comes off as being the nicest guy in the world. Plus he thinks boundaries are a joke.

I have been married to my husband, who is in his mid-60's (which he acts like at home), for nearly five years. Yet, to the public, namely young attractive females, he is extremely charming and acts like he is in his 30's. He comes off as being the nicest and most caring guy in the world. I'm often told how lucky I am. These young women eat up his attention and vice versa. He will go out of his way to being seen, finding a reason to be standing by them and making conversation. He is very empathetic (which he never shows me) when they have problems, especially to his daughter-in-law that he hangs out with when he visits his son back east.

I have watched him numerous times scan a room using his peripheral (I call it shifty eyes) and then set out to make his move. One time in a store, we were walking along and then I realized he was no longer walking with me. I looked back and, sure enough, there was an attractive lady coming down the aisle and he had stopped to pretend like he was interested in an item on the shelf, while I could see him looking at her with his shift eyes. Even when caught in the action, he will deny to the hilt and tell me I am just paranoid. The reason it's so obvious to me is his whole character changes, his body movements increase, and he acts all giddy.

My husband exhibited these behaviors numerous times with a young gal who he knows has a sexual addiction. I mistakenly told him early on in our relationship as a warning of her condition, thinking he would say something like, “That's too bad, we need to pray for her,” or “Thank you for letting me know, I'll be sure to be on guard just in case.” However, he used her addiction to his advantage and even exchanged phone numbers to join her fantasy football game, to which he responded to me, when I found out, “What's the big deal…it's just a game! You have issues you need to deal with!  She is a nice person… you are just jealous of her!”  Not only was I shocked that he had her number, I also found out she had come on to him just prior to our conversation. I'm actually still in shock that I didn't bolt then! Plus, I realized later on, he saw no problems interacting, exchanging phone numbers, or hanging out with young women. This is when all my boundaries popped up that he despised but, for the most part, stopped crossing.

To give you some idea of what I am talking about how he is at home, he is often condescending, argumentative, dismissive, and acts like he is the king of our castle who is not to be questioned about anything or he will shut you down. He undermines me with our grandchildren and becomes very childlike in his behaviors. He very rarely compliments me (maybe 5 times in our marriage of 5 years), except when it comes to his meals…he is always grateful and will say how good each one is. He very rarely looks at me when I talk, but he looks at me when he is talking. He calls me baby doll and will talk all day long to me about facts and figures, TV shows, and anything else that doesn't involve an emotional connection. Sometimes I'll ask him a question and he will be so dismissive and instantly say he doesn't know. For example, “What day are you running the race?”  His response will be, “I don't remember,” using a tone as if I wasting his time and will switch subjects as if my question was not important or even asked. His great qualities at home involving grocery shopping, doing the dishes, outside chores, all of which he never complains. Plus, he is ALWAYS nice to me on the phone, like he's a different person.

I have tried to approach him gently, yet at times I have flown into a rage when he throws stuff back at me. He's used gas lighting and has told me I'm crazy more than once (which a couple times he was probably right, after all, I was at my wit's end). When trying to gently talk to him about it, he will instantly cut me off and put it back on me. I get so wounded feeling like I have no feelings at all.

Basically, I married my stepfather who was verbally and emotionally abusive.  My mom and his step kids were there to serve him and honor him as king.

Answer: You didn’t really ask me a question about your situation, but you described it so well, I thought it would help other women know they aren’t crazy or paranoid or abnormal as they see themselves and their husband in a similar situation to what we happening to you in your marriage.

One of your questions might be can a man be “addicted” to attention from young pretty women? I don’t know if it would officially be called an addiction, but certainly, you have seen your husband crave the attention and admiration of pretty young females. In his mind, it’s harmless friendliness and you are overreacting, exaggerating, and paranoid. You are not. You see what you see and it isn’t pretty from the perspective of the wife watching her husband behave as a fool.

So, let me help you gain come clarity. Your husband enjoys talking to pretty young women and gaining their respect and admiration, even if it’s at your expense. He will go out of his way to do this, and when you’ve tried talking to him about “his problem” he says it’s “your problem.” And there is some truth to his statement. His behavior is not a problem for him. He likes it. The young women seem to like it and he is getting what he wants/needs from their interaction.

The person who doesn’t like it is you. I don't blame you. But here’s why you haven’t heard me talk about his problem on YouTube. His problem and your problem are different. You cannot fix your problem by trying to fix his problem; a problem that he doesn’t even admit to or agree is a problem.

You have a problem and it’s that you don’t like feeling like your perspective doesn’t matter in your marriage. You don’t like being told that having appropriate boundaries around interactions with the opposite sex is ridiculous. You don’t like feeling like you do when you watch him so animated, excitedly interacting with pretty young women at a social event. And, you don’t like the way he treats you most of the time in your marriage. Although he speaks kindly to you on the phone and is helpful around the house, much of the time you feel invalidated, dismissed, and gaslighted by him. So even without you asking, I want to give you some things to think about regarding your problem.

Here’s where it gets confusing for many women. We think, “Well if he would just stop this behavior, (whether it’s flirting with other women, watching porn, drinking too much, being verbally abusive, or financially irresponsible) then I wouldn’t have a problem. And you’re right. But as you have already seen, you are absolutely powerless to change him or make him take ownership of his problem.

I’m not saying at the beginning a wife shouldn’t have a conversation with her husband about what bothers her. And, in a healthy marriage, when she does (or vise versa a husband expresses what bothers him) – there is respectful listening with some adjustments that make the relationship feel safe and loving for both. However, when you see again and again that talking about what bothers you doesn’t work, your focus must change.

If you continue to spend your energy trying to convince him that he has a problem, you are wasting your energy and will eventually become depleted and sick – emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically. Therefore, at this point, you must change gears and work on your problem. You don't like living this way. Now, what are your options to deal with “your problem.”

This distinction is crucial because it now gives you clarity and it gives you some personal power. Do you separate? Do you choose not to go to social events with him because his behaviors embarrass and disrespect you? Do you choose to ignore his adolescent foolishness and build your own life with other friends? Brainstorm all of your possible solutions to your problem. He may not like boundaries for himself, but you can have them.

You may not like this approach because it’s so much easier to fix his problem, but you can’t fix his problem, only your own. This is the key difference between learning to think like an owner (how am I going to grow, problem solve, and deal with my problem here) or getting stuck thinking like a victim (there’s nothing I can do, I’m helpless and powerless in this situation).

It’s tempting to stay in the complaining but powerless position. Don’t do it. It hurts you and deforms you into someone you aren’t proud of and damages the woman God called you to be. – Click To Tweet

You’ve already gotten a taste of what that looks like when you feel and act crazy because you see how helpless you are in making him stop doing what feels so horrible to you. He is not going to stop, so now what do you need to do to keep yourself from being a repeat victim of his disrespect and indifference?

Friend, when did you get the wake up call you stopped trying to fix him and took ownership of taking care of you?  What was your ah-ha moment, or what strategies did you use to own and solve your problem?


  1. Cynthia on May 17, 2017 at 9:21 am

    My husband, at age71, believed that a close friendship, with a 21 year old, female coworker, was perfectly normal. When I shared my feelings of dismay, I was shot down, and told that I was only insecure. I had read Leslie’s books, logs, and was part of Conquer. I learned to set boundaries. I wasn’t great at it, but I had had enough. So, I simply said, “I don’t feel respected. I see your relationship with this young woman, as inappropriate. I have explained my point of view, which doesn’t seem valuable to you. I am not going to beg you to change, I am not going to talk about it. I am telling you that I am making a choice, I will not stay with you, if you continue this friendship.” Month later, I found evidence of correspondence, meetings etc, with his friend.
    Our marriage was already suffering. We been separated, in house, for 2 years. He had set up an apartment in the basement of our home. I could hear his phone conversation with this woman, nightly. I divorced him in February.

  2. Daisy on May 17, 2017 at 9:29 am

    I don’t like the basic premise of your advice, Leslie. I’ve heard others say it, too. What I hear each time is “You can’t fix it, sister, so learn to live with it.” Personally, I find that advice horrible. Someone in an abusive relationship is told “you can’t change him so you have to work on your attitude.” So the wife is supposed to “work on” her “problem” of not wanting to be abused!? What about the woman whose husband is having an affair? She’s just supposed to look the other way, not go out socially with him, and accept being part of a threesome!?
    My situation was very similar to this writer. I tried and prayed for years to fix him. I tried and prayed to fix myself. I addressed it directly with my husband. The abusive words and behaviors, the actions, the crazymaking was all driving me crazy! (Literally). There was no way I could “live with it.” Despite not wanting to, we divorced. Slowly my sanity has returned. Two years after the divorce I returned to the counselor I was seeing when I was still married. The same counselor who heard what my daily life was like and knew (better than me) what struggles I was under. I doubted if divorce was the right path. She told me flat out if I hadn’t gotten divorced I’d either be in a mental institution or I would have killed my self from the stress.

    • Nancy on May 17, 2017 at 10:05 am

      Hi Daisy,

      Leslie’s advice has never been to ‘learn to live with it’. Her focus is for us to build CORE strength so that wether we stay, or go, we do it in wellness of heart, mind and spirit.

      That begins with identifying MY problem which then gives me power to choose wellness over destruction, each step of the way – wherever those steps lead. In your case (and for many others here) it is best to be out of your marriage – nothing wrong with that!)

      • Leslie Vernick on May 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

        Exactly. Thanks Nancy.

      • Daisy on May 17, 2017 at 3:22 pm

        The reason why I said Leslie’s (and other people’s) advice is “learn to live with it,” is based on the following sentences in Leslie’s advice:
        1. “you must change gears and work on your problem.”
        2. “Do you choose not to go to social events with him because his behaviors embarrass and disrespect you?”
        3. “Do you choose to ignore his adolescent foolishness and build your own life with other friends?”
        In the first sentence, I hear “change yourself” in the words “work on your problem.” But, the writer does not have to make any changes. She does not have a problem – her husband does! She is not in the wrong! There is nothing wrong with her for wanting her husband to be faithful, to stop looking at and flirting with other women. He is acting inappropriately and HE is the one who needs to change (even if he does not see that). She is not in a position that needs to be changed since she is not wrong in wanting him to be faithful only to her – faithfulness is the foundation of marriages.
        The second and third examples (for me) run very close together. When I read those, I hear advice that comes down to – just ignore his behavior, sweep it under the rug, don’t let it bother you, and learn to live with the way he is. In fact, in the third sentence, Leslie even uses the phrase “ignore his adolescent foolishness.” Ignoring his behavior and not going to social events with him will not stop him from flirting. In fact, it may make him do it more since you are not there to witness it and harp on him later for doing it.
        Nancy mentioned CORE strength. To review, I found those principles online.
        C – commit to truth and reality. I think the writer is very aware of the truth and reality of the situation. It seems to be her husband who struggles with this.
        O – Open to growth, instruction, and feedback. Again, the writer must be open since she has written in asking for advice. However, it seems like it is her husband (not her) who has to grow and be open to instruction.
        R – Responsible for our self and respectful to others without dishonoring our self. I think the writer is trying to be responsible by reaching out for advice. But, the last part of this is very key – “without dishonoring our self.” She cannot put herself in a position to compromise any areas of her health (physical and mental) by being in a relationship with a man who could potentially have an affair as a result of his actions.
        E – Empathetic and compassionate toward others without enabling someone to continue to abuse and disrespect us. If she stays in this relationship and her husband’s behavior does not change, he is being enabled to continue to abuse her and their marriage which leads to her being disrespected.

        • Nancy on May 17, 2017 at 8:48 pm

          Hi Daisy,

          You are absolutely right. There is nothing wrong in her wanting a faithful husband. And yes, faithfulness is the foundation of a marriage.

          And yes, he is the one who created this situation. The question is, as Leslie put it at the very end, how to not be a repeat victim of his disrespect and indifference.

          To not be a victim, we need to take responsibility for the protection of hearts.

          Cynthia’s words were an excellent example of creating a protective boundary around her heart, ” I don’t feel respected….I have explained my point of view which doesn’t seem valuable to you. I’m not going to beg you to change, I am not going to talk about it. I am making a choice. I will not stay with you if you continue this friendship.”

          This is an example of how someone can take their power back, in an abusive situation.

          • Nancy on May 17, 2017 at 8:56 pm

            Clarification “to not be a victim, we need to take responsibility for the protection of OUR hearts.”

      • Deborah on May 24, 2017 at 1:41 pm

        The only problem I have with that is, doesn’t that seem a little extreme to have to divorce someone because they will not stop flirting and it’s offensive to you? Maybe he’s willing to lose his marriage over something so trivial him but if you can’t live with it? No wonder the divorce rate so high.

        • JoAnn on May 24, 2017 at 6:17 pm

          Deborah, in Matthew 5:28 the Lord says that if a man even looks at a woman with lust in his heart, that he is committing adultery. Are we to hold to a lesser standard than the Lord for a proper marriage? This is why porn is so defiling to a marriage. I believe that if the husband is caring for his wife in a loving way, she would not feel betrayed if he talks to another woman, but there is a difference between flirting and social talking.

        • Anita on May 24, 2017 at 9:31 pm

          Have you experienced this same kind of abuse? Mine wasn’t as bad, but it plus other selfish behaviors caused me to constantly feel victimized and depressed. After I began to read Leslie’s book and blog, watch her videos, and practice CORE strength, I began to become more assertive and to feel more like myself. My husband actually seems to respect me again! I agree that she needs to evaluate her situation and do whatever she needs to do for her well being. That doesn’t mean she has to change but to put an end to being crushed by his bullying.

    • Aly on May 17, 2017 at 1:56 pm

      Daisy, and Original Writer,

      Im so sorry for what you have been through Daisy, to the original writer I’m sorry for what you are going through and will pray that you will make decisions for your best self care possible.

      I feel like I need to go back and re-read Leslie’s comments and directives about making decisions on how to ‘in a way’ get out of the normal relationship that is so far ‘in a (functional/operational/business format)…but NoT functional on the marriage level nor healthy emotionally for both parties, if you all understand me.

      I saw Leslie’s examples to be areas where the writer can stop participating in the husband’s comforts and usual living arrangements. Yes, is sounded like a slow boat to China method but at least it’s a baby step to empowering this wife to being to see how it feels to make her own decisions.

      Certainly, Leslie did mention separation and that might be an outcome that comes sooner than later depending on the choices of the wife. Separation might lead to divorce too, given her husband’s behavior and well in my opinion breaking a covenant by ‘not forsaking all others’ to nourish the marriage health. It seemed to me like the writer had so far only ‘confronted her husband through talking’ and not yet gone into action of boundaries and consequences for his behaviors.

      Daisy given what you have been through, I wonder how many times you heard from others ‘maybe a bit ignorant’ how you need to love him more, accept him for who he is, live with it and yadda yadda?

      The traumas that come from being in an emotional abusive situation are profound and I’m sorry for what you went through, but glad you found your life! Praise God for that!

      When I was in my destructive marriage I was also told those crazy things about why to stay and deal and live with it! It’s maddening to the person already going through such distress.
      Even suggestions for doing something different (even if it’s small or large ) can still feel like tolerating it, because the abuse is not fully exposed front and center.

      But I do believe that healthy boundaries get the steps in motion.And yes, they are not always going to feel good or sometimes seem like it does much.. in the beginning but the goal is that wife get her power back, regardless of the husband’s actions or If the marriage dissolves over healthy boundaries.. sometimes they often do.

      I do think it’s vital to weigh the behavior and implement proportional boundaries.
      For me, the husband would have to be outside/banned until I see that he is awake and confesses to what he is destructively doing to me. Then their might be a crack in the door for repair work and he would have to begin professional counseling for his ‘covetous behaviors’ and why they are there. If there is no repentance, and insight to what’s causing his destructive posture…
      He should have stayed single if that is they way he wants to behave in a marriage covenant.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 17, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Actually I didn’t advise her to learn to live with it, I told her to take care of herself, which is to set boundaries and consequences in place so she doesn’t continue to get hurt, disrespected in public and disregarded as a woman, wife, and person. Those are things she CAN do. She CAN’T change him. That’s not in her power to do, but to regain her power, she must start working on how to get herself to a place where she doesn’t live like this anymore. It’s too painful for her.

      • Casey on May 23, 2017 at 8:39 am

        I absolutely love your heart. I wish I had this help 20 years ago. I feel the pain of Daisy & why she was expressing her dislike. That pain of I already did everything I know & everything I was told & it didn’t produce the results. I think when that statement of it’s your problem is read, it penetrates the wound that’s not yet healed.
        That pain keeps us from hearing exactly what was said because we aren’t past the pain. I knew what you were saying & I agree 100%. But my heart still temporarily dropped to my stomach. For me it was because God is showing me ( partly through you) my responsibility in this destructive pattern I’ve lived in. It can become so confusing because while his treatment of me is so in your face wrong, I’ve continued to allow much of it.
        I praise God for all I’m learning through you. I’m not leaving until I’ve implemented everything you’re teaching.
        I feel so empowered. When I sought out help before, all I received was confused glances. No one knew how to help. You have given me the HOW TO know what’s next, what to expect, the warning signs, the signs of legitimate hope, etc.
        I could write a complete book just on my gratitude for you, your heart & your practical, applicable wisdom.
        God bless you & refresh you so you can continue to do what he gifted you for.
        Praying for you daily.
        Because of your obedience to your calling, I can rest.

        • Leslie Vernick on May 23, 2017 at 6:07 pm

          Thanks Casey, and to clarify – I’m not saying “It’s YOUR problem” – meaning the marriage issues are your problem, but I’m asking you to clarify what’s your problem – as opposed to what’s his problem? We spend tons of time, energy and money trying to fix, solve, help him with his problem and neglect to look at our own problem as evidenced by so many responses this week of exhaustion, poor health, and feeling like thousands of dollars have been spent with no results. So instead, it’s more helpful to look at his problem, my problem, and our problem and figure out which of those I need to address and work on. By owning “my problem” as “I dont’ want to live this way anymore” does not negate that he has a problem that he should address, or that there is a marriage problem because of it, but if he’s not willing to fix it or even admit that it’s a problem, then for him, it’s not a problem, just for you. I know this is a difficult concept because it feels so unfair that because he won’t work on his problem, it causes problems for everyone else, but that indeed is the nature of sin.

      • Alli on May 23, 2017 at 10:53 am

        Well said, Leslie! Blessings!

    • Maria on May 20, 2017 at 7:41 am

      I reread Leslie’s answer after reading Daisy’s comment. When Leslie says the husband doesn’t have a problem and that it’s the wife who does, she’s just talking about the reality of the situation. My husband gets verbally abusive when things don’t go his way. However much I try to explain to him that his response is wrong, he does not acknowledge he is at fault. It is not his problem. Focusing on trying to convince him is futile. “My problem” is I don’t want to be verbally abused. That doesn’t mean I condone his behavior. Now that I am focusing on something I have control over, I can respond accordingly. When he starts getting abusive, I leave the room and refuse to talk to him until he stops. when I do that, he does not own his behavior-I don’t have the power to change him. I’m focusing on what I have control of.

    • Janet on May 23, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Thank you for sharing your experience. I have been through nearly 10 years of the same kind of thing and despite not wanting to, have recently divorced him. Even being divorced, he still finds ways to manipulate.

      • JoAnn on May 23, 2017 at 10:58 am

        The good thing is, Janet, that now that you are divorced, setting boundaries should be easier. Guard your heart, sister!

  3. Itswell on May 17, 2017 at 9:38 am

    You right

  4. Nancy on May 17, 2017 at 9:52 am

    This is such a great question, and response, Leslie!

    The writer of this question reminds me so much of me. You are ( to the lovely writer), observant, insightful and extremely perceptive. These are such good qualities..oh and a good communicator!. I have these same qualities and they can be so advantageous, but for me, they had become out of control. What I mean is that I was so focused on my husband and his behaviours, attitudes etc… that I became completely powerless. I would talk to him about “his problem” ( like Leslie said- was in essence NOT a problem for him, but was a problem for my health and the health of our marriage), to no avail.

    What woke me up? Conviction.

    If you haven’t been convicted of your part in the dance, then I’d suggest you pray for it. I don’t believe that anyone can change without conviction.

    Once I had the conviction, I immersed myself in Leslie’s material.

    Here’s the root of MY problem: I focus on fixing other people’s problems (attitudes, behaviour, hearts) in order to avoid responsibility for my own painful feelings. [This is trespassing].

    And returning the focus to MY heart, MY behaviour, MY attitudes has been the fight of my life. It is a battle I would never win without leaning into The Lord, each day.

    One of the things that has helped immensely, lately, is recognizing a lie that I had swallowed:

    Following Christ should always look and feel Christian.

    Here’s the Truth:

    Following Christ does not always look and feel Christian.

    Lately, I have drastically reduced contact with my mother. This neither looks, nor feels very Christian.

    Standing firm in boundaries and requirements for my husband, neither looked nor felt Christian.

    But those uncomfortable places are the places where I NEED to lean into Christ. Walking with Christ in focusing on MY heart, has allowed me to see, over time, how much the fear of man had controlled me ( I was and still am, more interested in ‘looking good’ ( by looking Christian), than by ‘being good’ ( following Christ).

    So now, when I find the pressure mounting, I take this as a cue that I need to go to The Lord to ask Him to help me focus on me: to identify and describe MY feelings.

    It is very painful, and I need Christ in order to do that.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm

      I’m so glad you have learned to focus on how God is changing and growing you, including facing your feelings and processing them. Fear is such a prison and shame is a close cousin. They keep us in bondage and afraid to “look bad” in doing the right things for ourselves and even for others. It is not good to allow sin to flourish where we can help it but we are powerless to “make” someone else change. The only person we can fix or change is ourselves.

    • Dawn on May 18, 2017 at 9:41 am

      Hi Nancy,
      I love your honest and transparent response. It’s beautiful to watch as we all do the work of leaning in and deepening our roots in Him ~ letting Him define us!

      I particularly was drawn to your comments:
      “Here’s the Truth:

      Following Christ does not always look and feel Christian.

      Lately, I have drastically reduced contact with my mother. This neither looks, nor feels very Christian.

      Standing firm in boundaries and requirements for my husband, neither looked nor felt Christian.

      But those uncomfortable places are the places where I NEED to lean into Christ. Walking with Christ in focusing on MY heart, has allowed me to see, over time, how much the fear of man had controlled me ( I was and still am, more interested in ‘looking good’ ( by looking Christian), than by ‘being good’ ( following Christ).”

      I LOVED how you phrased this, as it is something I’ve been learning to distinguish myself over the past few years. Throughout my life I had held closely, and subscribed to, the religiosity of “looking good” … as you so aptly described it as “the fear of man” ~ much like the Pharisees and Sadducees. In that framework, to just “swallow the offense” , “forgive and move on”, “try harder”, “love more”, etc., etc. These were what I had internalized as “Christian” ~ much like yourself.

      However, when I began to understand, truly understand, how much Christ loved and respected us, I began to see a different picture. It became, to me, the difference between “nice” and “kind” … that “nice” isn’t truly “loving” in the biblical definition, and “kindness” isn’t usually easy but is always right … it is a fruit of the Spirit after all. :0). And it is always the place He invites us to occupy in Him in an effort to help us to look more like Himself. We all know change is never “comfortable”.

      NICE ~ is what was being purported to me in the church
      as “Christian”. However, I began to see it as it was described in Jer. 6:14, “They dress the wounds of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”
      Nice swallows ~ no matter what size the offense. That is wrong!

      KIND ~ is what Jesus was. He loved and respected. It was woven into His character. He designed us to have free will, and He respected the choices of those He encountered exercising that option. He didn’t shrink back or “swallow” their offenses. He laser focused on their heart. Think Woman at the Well, “You’re right, you have no husband.” Think Rich Young Ruler, “Go and sell all that you have”.
      This is kind. This is Christ. THIS is Christianity.

      So right with you, Nancy. It certainly doesn’t get all the “feels” of warm and fuzzy, but it is the truth. When we can begin the process of sorting out, as you have, how to truly become a Christ Lover ~ kind over nice ~ we see much more clearly how to live in our CORE strength and become the truly loving “Warrior Daughters” He designed us to be.

      We give HIM the privilege of defining us. Align ourselves to receive His love, be filled with, and internalize our identity in HIM ~ to let go of the “nice” to embrace the “kind”. It is here that we can learn to respect and love ourselves so much because we have internalized how much we mean to Him. It is from this space then we can truly begin to love others fiercely … and kindly … out of the overflow. That’s how I’m beginning to understand and define Christianity. However, it was a L.O.N.G. road of glorious unbecoming to get here.

      Thank you for sharing your story. It’s where change truly begins!

      • Aly on May 18, 2017 at 11:05 am

        Praise and Glory to Him!
        Love both of your posts Dawn and Nancy 💖

        • Dawn on May 23, 2017 at 7:24 am

          Thanks, Aly! He is truly a Redeemer ~ our Definer and Defender ~ both faithful and safe to trust. Most definitely with the darkest and scariest parts of us. I am truly learning that they are His favorite ;0).
          “I will give you the treasures of the darkness and hidden wealth of secret places. So that you may know that it is I, The Lord, the God of Israel, WHO CALLS YOU BY YOUR NAME!” (emphasis mine ;0). Is. 45:3
          He created, He gives us our new name in Him, and He has the privilege of defining us.
          Praise Him!
          “My ears had heard of you before, but now my eyes have seen you.” Job 42.:5
          Let this be the victory song of this community as we learn to mine “the treasures of the darkness” of our circumstances and glean all “the hidden wealth of secret places”.

          • JoAnn on May 23, 2017 at 9:57 am

            Amen and Amen!!!

      • Nancy on May 20, 2017 at 11:03 pm

        Hi Dawn,

        I love what you expressed about how letting go of ‘nice’ to embrace ‘kind’ is the space where we learn to respect and love ourselves so much because we have learned how much we mean to Him. From here, we can love others fiercely.

        Two days ago, I spoke to my mother. She expressed concern for our relationship and I was able to empathize with her pain and confusion over the boundaries I am setting. But when she went from expressing her pain, to calling me cruel, something rose up in me and I immediately told her that I would not accept being called names. When she began twisting things I told her I had to go….but before I did, I was able to tell her that I loved her.

        This is the ‘fierce love’ for my mother that has emerged from the space where I am learning respect for myself. I thank God that He is molding me into His Warrior Daughter!

        All of this is to Praise God. If it were not for His gift of The Holy Spirit always pointing me to Christ, I wouldn’t be on this amazing healing journey.

        • JoAnn on May 21, 2017 at 9:49 am

          Good for you, Nancy! That took courage, and I’m proud of you for setting a boundary and holding it firmly. “Tough love” is hard, but this will help her to learn to respect you and make some changes in the way she relates to you. We pray it will be so.

        • Dawn on May 23, 2017 at 7:43 am

          Nancy! You just made my day. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful example of strength and grace with your Mom.
          This is such an example to me of how we learn to do the John 6 work of believing ~ believing that He is who He says He is.
          Believing that He is the only one who has the privilege of defining us.(Is. 43:1)
          Believing that He is the only one whose name calling we should receive. (Rev. 2:17)
          Believing that we can’t truly “love our neighbor as we love ourselves” until we get the “love ourselves” part right. (Mark 12:31).
          March on, Christ Sister, Front-Line Warrior Daughter! Love is how the war is won!

    • Judy on May 23, 2017 at 8:53 am

      Nancy, your insights have really helped me today!

  5. Elaine on May 17, 2017 at 9:55 am

    I am sharing this because I felt the same way. I was married to a man 25 years my senior and was his 3rd wife and last. He loved women’s attention and acted like he was in his 20’s or 30’s but in reality was much older. He would talk to sales women on the phone (harmless), talk to young pretty waitresses (harmless) but those things and many more would make me so angry and I would tell him how it affected me. He never changed. He ended up in a wheelchair and I started taking control of the situation and didn’t take him to restaurants or places where he could interact with young women. He died a few years ago and I found a man now who isn’t a womanizer and life is so much more peaceful. I couldn’t go through that again!

    • Joanna on May 23, 2017 at 9:58 am

      Your first clue should have been the fact that he was 25 years older than yourself. Think Donald and Melania Trump.

  6. Aleea on May 17, 2017 at 10:20 am

    “Friend, when did you get the wake up call you stopped trying to fix him and took ownership of taking care of you? What was your ah-ha moment, or what strategies did you use to own and solve your problem?” . . . .I think the ah-ha moments come when we try to change ourselves. For me, so many times (not all times but so many) I have picked something I want to change and have totally, utterly failed at it. If I can’t even do that, what is the probability I can change someone else. It’s close to zero as everyone knows. . . .I just take everything to the Lord in prayer, period. Lord God help me see something, realize something I have not ever seen/realized before. This metanoia (a change of mind, or repentance) really is necessary. . . . and the Bible shows it is a mental product of love. Internal to ourselves. The times it has happened, a change of mind, or love redirected where I throw off every conceptual cloak of self-defense, I give up my fleshly resistance of my ego, it has been an expereince with God’s unseen power. And for me, it has nothing to do with self-regarding sorrow for “legal transgressions.” It is an ecstatic self-emptying. A change of mind about the mode of my thinking and my being. The times I have gone that route, my spouse changed because I had changed. Someone new, at least in that small area.

    . . . Oh, re:Aly, T.L., Joann, et.al. re: previous posts. . .I tried and tried and tried and tried again to respond to every one of you, each question. I tried so many times but the site will not post my posts in those threads. I don’t know why because I can post on this thread. Sometimes it will post, other times if will reject no matter how much I remove. I assume it is screening for length, too many links, book titles, footnotes, but I don’t know that. I don’t know why it will not post. . . . .I just don’t understand. . . . It’s not for lack of trying that I haven’t gotten back to any of you. I value people asking questions and commenting. I love it. . . . .Most often, I comment, click on the post comment button, the “processing arrow circle” appears that indicates that the comment is being published. The page reloads but my comment is nowhere to be found. The comment count on the post is still as though I haven’t commented at all. . . .I try that using editing at different times on different systems and then assume it simply is not going to post.

    . . . anyways, that metanoia (as the Bible describes it), that mental transformation, where we see something/realize something we have not ever seen/realized before that’s how lasting change occurs. . . . So for our questioner’s husband it might be this realization: “. . . . this attention I am trying to get from these young women is wrong and insulting to God and my wife. But, I have to face the fact that I want these younger women and not my wife or God. I want them and I want to be with them, that is the truth. I don’t want to connect with my wife emotionally and actually I hate her.” . . . .or whatever is really (really) the truth. Speak the truth and speak it to everyone. No one gets better (no metanoia) without the truth. You probably don’t want these younger women, but you don’t know what you want. The younger women are probably a combo archetype/numbing device. If you choose, quiet your mind, and your soul will speak to you. Let the Holy Spirit of God help you find your real bliss and doors will open where there were no doors before. People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive. That will not come from numbing. . . . Clean your heart, quiet your mind, and let God speak to your soul what that bliss is. It may or may not involve your wife but let God speak to you. God will show you marriage is not a love affair. That is a relationship for pleasure, and when it gets to be unpleasurable, it’s off and your left even more empty. We forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive in Christ. It’s going to sound nutty and mental until you “taste and see.”

    “Basically, I married my stepfather who was verbally and emotionally abusive. My mom and his step kids were there to serve him and honor him as king.” . . . . Excellent problem identification by our questioner but now you need to go after it and heal it, otherwise you will attract people like this for the rest of your days. It may mean you leave your husband. That said, just realizing what you have is progress. Remember, rejection is an opportunity for your selection, someone who deeply wants you. Ask God to show you how to respect yourself and others will respect you. One of the greatest regrets in life is being what others would want us to be, rather than being ourselves. . . .Also, we must have the willingness to accept responsibility for our own lives —that is the source from which self-respect springs. —And good for you for not staying silent. Silent is like a slow growing cancer to the soul, stand up for yourself. You will not win every battle but at least you know what you stood for—YOU. The only person that deserves a special place in your life is someone that never made you feel like you were an option in theirs —right??? The approval of God is all we need. I know that is so, so hard to do.

  7. Sandy on May 17, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    She describes what I have been through so well! Only my husband had several full blown affairs besides the constant flirting over the past 40+ years and lied and lied. I took myself to counseling and my counselor encouraged me to leave my husband. Low and behold he left me! I read Leslie’s book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. I had several aha moments while reading. I feel much healthier not living with my husband.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 17, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      There are times we must leave in order to regain our own health – spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically.

    • Charlene on May 17, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      That is exactly what I like about Leslie’s counseling, she doesn’t encourage one to leave a marriage but instead she encourages one to find that answer for themselves. In my mind a mark of a good counselor. She focuses on helping people regain respect for themselves. When that respect is put back into proper perspective it is much easier to see the truth of all that is happening around you and enables you to make a decision based on the facts.

      • Suzan on May 18, 2017 at 10:04 pm

        Thank you, Charlene. Your post says volumes about Leslie’s wisdom as she counsels.

  8. Wendy on May 17, 2017 at 12:38 pm

    Nancy, I can totally relate with your beautiful real testimony of seeing your own need. It can be such a painful process to hand over all of our broken pieces to the Lord. To come to a place where we realize all of our focus even in our good intentions, have been on changing others or protecting ourselves. I have been separated now from my abusive husband for one year. It has truly been a glorious unbecoming for me personally. Forgiveness did not come easy. I wanted to hold onto the hurt. However, I gave all my broken pieces to Him little by little focusing on the work He needed to do in my heart. I now claim myself as a single woman focused on the heart of Jesus Christ. I know claim myself to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Meaning, my focus every day is to go where He wants or asks me to go. I would hear the testimonies of Godly women who would say these things and it would make my heart sick. For I knew I was so far from this. Even though I had lived a life I felt largely for others. The truth about myself was I lived to protect and deny all the areas I had not let Christ enter into. Looking at ourselves allowing Jesus Christ to take our loaves and fishes and break them apart and multiply them and redeem them! This is the greatest work ever! Jesus Christ knows your pain He knows the sacrifices we make when we turn from those who have wronged us to look to the light and hope and healing of the Holy Spirit. Like you said Nancy, this does not look very Christian at times it hurts and God will point out the things we need to give up or forgive and that also hurts. But he takes our surrender and desire to give these things up even though they cost us and redeems, restores and rebuilds every single broken piece. He then multiplies it to feed the people around us as we stand in truth, love and hope, filled with the living water that can feed a multitude. I lived my life with a focus on the man in my life. This man became my idol and became the reasons why I could not heal. When I changed my focus completely on Jesus Christ and gave myself over to him he then lead me out of the marriage and then to healing. I now have good boundaries for myself I seek to please only one man my identity is found in the great value and precious love of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This was a work! This was a choice. Every single day to wake up and hand myself just me over to the work and truth and healing of the Holy Spirit. What Leslie is saying to us as women is not to roll over and allow ourselves to be abused. She is saying to submit to the right thing. To submit to the right work. And that work is the work of Jesus Christ in us. As our thinking becomes more Christlike we then can see as Jesus Christ leads us through our valley out to the other side. If we are focusing on our husbands or our pain we will go in that direction. If we are focusing on Jesus Christ, His healing and the freedom that we have in Him, we see the value that is ours. He then tells us who we are, stands us up, brushes us off and leads us right where we need to go. Total surrender leads to sweet freedom. This takes time we must stand in our faith one day at a time and not give up and keep our focus on Him.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 17, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      AMen sister. Thanks.

    • Dawn on May 18, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Love this Wendy. Thank you for your truth. The broken pieces as loaves and fishes. You remind me that our stories are sacred trusts ~ each tiny broken piece. Your sharing yours is such a light. It encourages me to continually hand over my tiny hidden pieces. He can define and refine.
      Beautiful! Thank you!

  9. Toni on May 17, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    The initial post was raw and real and deeply appreciated. Leslie’s decision to post as is and her response were spot on. There may be some that disagree with Leslie but I believe she is empowering women with information and choices, under God’s directive. Thank you both for your willingness to share.

    • Dawn on May 23, 2017 at 7:50 am

      Usually I have found that those who tend to disagree with Leslie’s teachings have never had their feet shredded by the shards that line the Path of Broken & Destructive Relationships.

      • JoAnn on May 23, 2017 at 9:55 am

        Dawn’s message to Toni: Or maybe the hurt is so deep that they can’t bear to open it up again.

        • Dawn on May 29, 2017 at 5:58 pm

          True, Joanne. Yes, very true.

  10. Caroline Abbott on May 17, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    Wow. What a great post! I often work with abuse victims who cannot see the difference between the other person’s problem (they can do nothing about), and taking ownership for creating their own boundaries. This is a difficult distinction, especially for women who are not taught as children how to act on the power they actually do have.

  11. Wendy on May 17, 2017 at 7:47 pm

    For me it was coming to see that I did not believe what God says about me and my worth. I did not really seek out this knowledge. After allowing Him to have my heart He began to show me that I was believing the lies that I was given from key people in my life that I was not good enough. This would come to infect every area of my life and all my decisions. I chose men who gave me the message my value was in what I could do for them, not if they where healthy for me. I allowed people to take advantage of me to the point that it hurt me because I was not worthy of boundaries and protection. I would get offended easily and my ministries for Christ would suffer because of it. Jesus challenged me with the truth. He said, Wendy I am right here as your Shepard to guide you out of this valley you have been in your whole life, will you continue to believe the total lie that you are not good enough and stay here or take my hand and trust me to lead you out. I then had to argue with him and tell Him, but I gave everything to every one and it did not make a difference why will trusting you and giving to you be any different? He then told me that was true. I gave everything to flesh and blood in the name of Jesus thinking this was Godliness. He said that was not what He wanted for me at all. He wanted me to give everything to Him and He would then teach me who was safe, how to keep boundaries in my life in place for His glory for the work He wanted to do in me. The place in the Bible where God speaks to the men on how to take care of their wives is how God wanted to take care of me. He is the husband to the church and He washes us clean and our Temple is then a royal dwelling for Him. He told me that no matter what was done to me or what I had done, He loved me and my heart, His dwelling place, was of great worth and value. The bible tells us to seek Him like a treasure and I now know why. In the loosing of all things earthly I have gained a love that seeks to tell others of the great hope and freedom in Christ.

    • Nancy on May 17, 2017 at 8:00 pm

      Beautiful, Wendy. What lovely imagery, and words He has given you.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Wow…my heart as His dwelling place. This makes me want to guard it even more ❤️

    • Dawn on May 18, 2017 at 9:55 am

      Love it Wendy. He died for the privilege of defining us. Your imagery is beautiful. How lovely to see your ascension as you take your rightful place seated next to Him as His bride … His joint heir. March on, Christ-Sister. Your walk is inspiring!

    • JoAnn on May 18, 2017 at 11:47 am

      Wendy, your post is so very encouraging and beautiful. It reminds me of a wonderful book called “Hind’s Feet on High Places,” by Hannah Hurnard. It is an allegory that actually parallels your journey and the speaking the Lord gave you. I have read it many times, and each time I am touched by how truthfully it describes our journey with the Lord. There is a young girl named “much Afraid” who is called by the Lord to go with Him to the high places. Her relatives, the Fearing Family, try to keep her from going, but eventually she succeeds in breaking free and goes with the Shepherd to the High Places. Wonderful story.
      I like what Nancy said: “Mu heart as His dwelling place. This makes me want to guard it even more.”

  12. Karen on May 17, 2017 at 7:57 pm

    Hi Ladies, I have to admit I have been lurking here for probably close to a year now as my story has unfolded. I have been married to my husband for almost 27 years. We were together for 4 years before that. He is a very well respected elder in our church and has been in church leadership our whole married life.
    It took me several years to see the covert abuse that was happening, mainly because I was given total freedom in other areas of life (I could have whatever friends I wanted to, had several in home jobs that were profitable, homeschooled my kids with freedom, etc.). As things continued to get crazier, I started to realize that my total freedom was in the things that profited him. We have 8 children that he does not relate to, so my homeschooling freely allowed him to stay aloof. My jobs allowed us extra money to spend on fun things since I never had to pay any bills with them. And my friends were not a problem as long as I took care of what I needed to at home (that is probably my own boundary, not necessarily his). Oh, I forgot to mention, he is Master Chief in the Navy, which is also the perfect breeding ground for his issues.
    What I didn’t have the freedom to do was to have a differing opinion on anything. I had to totally agree with anything that he thought, which got much worse as the years went on. It got to the point that I couldn’t even tell him what article I was reading on my phone because he would take the opposite side just to disagree with me. For instance, I was reading an article about a police officer who had badly beaten an unarmed homeless lady. His answer to my horror was that it must have just been that the officer was having a bad day. It certainly wasn’t his fault. Down became up, black became white, anything to contradict anything I said or did,
    denied things that happened or said things happened that didn’t (gaslighting like crazy). He also expected sex no matter how we were relating to each other and if I said no was immediately told that I was being unbiblical. It got to the point that he would have nothing to do with any of us, even on family outings. I pretty much became a single mom. During this whole time, he still expected me to dote on him and take care of his every perceived need (unlimited sex and blind support of everything he said, did, and thought).
    About 8 years ago, he decided to take a navy assignment that would be detrimental to our family right after he emailed me that he decided not to take it because he wasn’t going to put our family last anymore. At that point, I decided I was done trying to be the “perfect” wife, waiting for him to someday return the love and care of our family. He was immediately irate with me, begging me to pretend that everything was okay until he left for deployment (and when I said no, threatening me that if I didn’t it would be too late once he went on deployment–I asked him what he meant by that but he never answered). He kept on pushing for several more years, took me to two different pastors to make me behave (neither of which did, but both recommended counseling because they perceived our issues to be more than they could handle), and then in January of 2016, he dragged me to counseling so they could fix me. It turned out to be the best thing he ever did for me (read Joseph saying, “What you meant for evil, God meant for good”). It took our counselor about 2 sessions to totally get what was going on, but unfortunately, my husband continued to dominate those sessions until May, when she asked for me to come by myself. At that point, she explained that she had to kick him out of the room in order to get a word in with me because he would never let me talk and when he did, I was too afraid to speak up. I was so beaten down by that time. So, for the next six months, she continued to work with me, to make me realize what I should have known–that I am a child of the King and nobody can take that away from me. I have value as a person. I can’t believe that I let that be taken away from me. I was a confident person in high school, voted most likely to succeed, and now here I was, so beaten down that I had no voice of my own. My husband was given to another counselor, a man that was former navy, currently a pastor as well as a trained counselor, with the idea that my husband would listen to him because he had much of the same experiences in life. It did not work out that way. They both agreed that he had some level of narcissism and watched him spiritually and emotionally abuse me in their office without thinking twice about it and then deny that it was abuse. Two months ago, they decided to terminate couples counseling with us because they could not get us on the same page. Our head pastor and his wife have been heavily involved with the counselors since last year, so upon that conclusion, official testing was done which proved the Narcissism and our situation was handed over to the elders in our church to try to help my husband acknowledge his issues and get some healing. We are still now in that process. My pastor says that separation for the sake of healing is acceptable, and I am thinking that it is where we are headed. Both of our counselors met with the elders a couple of weeks ago and said that it went very well for them to sympathize with my situation and seek out my husband’s healing. The next step is for them to meet with each of us individually to ask us what may still be unclear to them/get our perspective. I have had no contact with them regarding any of this, but my husband has written to them a few times, stating his case and lying/twisting facts, rewriting history. Our pastor was quick to acknowledge that to them as well as the counselors. My husband says he wants nothing to do with the counselors because they are unbiblical (everyone except him is unbiblical in his eyes, so I have no idea how it will go upon the session agreeing with the counsel we have received). There is so much more, but for now my focus is on praying for the session to have the wisdom they need. I read Leslie’s book over a year ago and implemented CORE while also getting very similar guidance from my counselor. I am in such a good place right now in spite of the hurricane of craziness that surrounds me. I have what seems to be very rare support of church and counselors, and God has blessed me with great books, videos, and friendships that keep me strong. I am not trapped by my husband in spite of the abuse. I am me, a child of God, loved and valued. He cannot take that away from me!!!

    • SAM on May 17, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Karen, thank you for sharing your journey with us. I’m sorry for your pain, but so proud of your growth. May God continue to give your His wisdom and understanding.

    • Nancy on May 18, 2017 at 7:00 am


      Thanks for sharing. God is so good ❤️

    • Dawn on May 18, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Awesome, Karen! I have found that to be a “God-mark” in my life as well. There is the undeniable peace in my heart that transcends any amount of craziness that may be tornado-ing around me. It is of no small measure to be able to truthfully proclaim, “It is well with my soul”!.
      He is there, He is safe to trust. Thankful that the “right others” have surrounded and protected you in all of this.

      • Karen on May 24, 2017 at 12:22 pm

        So true, Dawn. Thank you for such beautiful encouragement.

  13. Wendy on May 17, 2017 at 10:22 pm

    Amen Karen! I’m so glad that you have that kind of support from your church! What an amazing strong woman you are. Thank you for your testimony.

  14. libl on May 18, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    One lie in Christian circles that needs to be quelched is “never talk bad about your spouse.”

    Look at the Bible. It says not to gossip or let uncleanness come out of your mouth. It also says to speak the truth. Don’t cover for him. Don’t falsely try to make him look good.

    (I am talking about a pattern of ongoing inappropriate behavior, unrepentant activities. If spouses have a tiff before a dinner party, it is wise to keep it to themselves. But, if at every office party he treats you like crap and flirts with the interns, then simply speak the truth when someone asks why you won’t attend them with him anymore.”

    More people probably see him for the fool he is than you think.

  15. Many years on May 19, 2017 at 2:26 am

    Oh! My! Gosh! I can totally relate to all of the comments, and my heart goes out to all of the gals here. It’s the phony lies and refusal to repent which makes the crazy-making game which husbands allow themselves to participate in, which causes so much heartache and turmoil in the lives of their wives.

    And yes, we have to let go of the angst which our husbands bring upon us whom they seem to have no compassion or even want to comprehend what we are suffering from as their wives. As it does end up making up sick and exhausted from it all.

    I have had a very similar problem with my husband from day one of our marriage. His dad was the same way with women, flirting with all ages of women, and if the wife is in the same room, she gets the cold shoulder and the verbal put-downs. This is the sign of a Narcissist to a T.

    And seriously, that type of husband cannot change. They can’t see that they are even wrong or that there is a problem. All we can do is to separate ourselves from the situation, even if it is just to step back and view it from outside of ourselves, as their behavior is so blatant and also nauseating. I have been in a separate bedroom from my husband for twelve years, and just that physical separation helped tremendously.

    And yes, the problem is theirs and not the wife’s. Yet the pain in our heart is excruciating.

    And yes, I know, that the ball is left in our court, (which it shouldn’t have to be) but being the wife, as we are the one who is trusting in the Lord, and no the situation is not fair at all. So the thing we have to do is to be who we are in Jesus. The husband will never be able to take the place of Jesus in our lives. But that does not excuse the husband from what he is allowing and doing against his wife.

    Because the husband will continually weasel out of his accountability, OR he will say “I’m sorry” yet a couple of days down the road, he has not changed and is doing the same thing he always has.

    I just read Karen’s post with her mentioning Narcissism. There is proof positive that the gray matter in the brain is lacking in a Narcissist, which, the gray matter area is the area in which empathy and compassion originate, which my husband lacks those characteristics in so many areas of his relational values. (He has not been tested to see if his gray matter is lacking).

    Yet, this possibility, has helped me to put a perspective of why my husband may possibly be is the way he is. Yet, it is not an excuse, as God’s Spirit is in the world to convict the world of sin. But because of this, I seriously cannot hope for much of any type of change in my husband, because he does have a possible mental disorder which has been confirmed by the medical community. And no, I doubt if my husband would ever let himself be diagnosed, but all of the symptoms are very prevalent and present.

    It took me a year and a half of searching the internet to finally get a grip on that part of my marriage dilemma. And it was just two days ago that I had found out about the gray matter connection, or lack thereof in a Narcissist. I do not have the link for that site, but a search on that subject will reveal the source of the testing which was conducted on individuals who were known to have the personality traits of a Narcissist which sometimes goes hand in hand with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

    I don’t like to paint a dismal picture, but, knowing that a person may have a proven mental disorder does prove a point that it is not the wife who has the problem.

    A dear friend of mine said to run in the opposite direction of a Narcissist as they will never change. There are varying degrees of Narcissism, including covert, where the person is very charming, etc. Which also fits my husband, and to me, this is probably the most deceptive and subtle types of Narcissism, which is a scary thought; but God can lead you out of that situation.

    • Nancy on May 19, 2017 at 6:39 am

      Hi Many Years,

      I would encourage you not to get too caught up in ‘diagnosing him’. Only God knows your husband’s heart and mind. We cannot know.

      The best chance at revealing his capability to change, or not, will be ‘tough love’ on your part – boundaries and requirements.

      As you do the action work of growing in The Lord (by focusing on your own heart and as a result, your own behaviour towards him), you would give your h the best chance for repentance and true heart change.

      • Aly on May 19, 2017 at 12:48 pm


        I so do agree with here in what we are called to do for ourselves in focusing on our own heart. I believe this to be essential but also not totally independent of the process ~while things are actually in process.
        The danger of it becoming too independent is the focus completely upon ‘ourselves’ and that can set up even more issues later on with authentic connection and real intimacy for a healthy marriage.

        You wrote:
        “The best chance at revealing his capability to change, or not, will be ‘tough love’ on your part – boundaries and requirements.”

        Totally agree here with you as you know we are seriously on the same page… and for me I found it to advantageous and critical to ‘know my spouse as best as possible’ in order to seek out what would tough love be in our circumstances.

        I believe that God designed the purpose of marriage to reveal His glory and He calls is to -one flesh, this is important because this part requires me to be a ‘Student of my spouse’ for the rest of our marriage as we are growing in our transformation process’ ..so I can know him better and as fully as possible in a a broken world.
        My husband is called to do the same of ‘knowing me’ to be a student of me for my blessing, his too, and the health of our marriage and legacy.

        Obviously, what I am describing can only take place in a safe relationship where both parties are leaning into God and growing toward one another in a recovery setting.

        I do believe being a student of my spouse served me well early on to assess the scope of the necessary treatments needed to deal with a garden battling cancerous beliefs and false interpretations since childhood.

        As always Nancy, you are discovering more and more about who you are, it’s beautiful and a privilege to witness in writing, I continue to cheer for you and pray for your journey.. one that I believe you are seeing victories amongst the grief & sorrow too.
        He will equip you and lead you… He has secured it andyou will continue to be equipped to claim it! 💕🌅

        • Nancy on May 19, 2017 at 4:05 pm

          Hi Aly,

          Yes totally agree that being called to ‘one flesh’ means being a student of my h.

          But I have to be aware of what the motive underneath that focus, is.

          I could be focusing on him to avoid my own painful feelings (although the separation time really showed me this, now that we are back together, I am by no means cured of my tendency to ‘over focus’. This ‘over- focus’ will always result in a loss of power because in it, I’ve lost sight of my heart.)

          There are probably many unhealthy motivations that may masquerade as ‘being a student of my spouse’, so I need to be extremely careful with this concept.

          I guess I would sum it up this way. The order of focus for me, is this: God, my heart, my h. God pours love into my heart and I must steward it so that I can love my h in the way he needs.

          Always nice ‘exchanging’ with you, Aly 🙂

    • Aly on May 19, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Many Years and All other ladies here:)

      I’m so very sorry for your journey so far Many years, your posting name does say at all and something that you have been coping with for some time.

      I respectfully disagree with many of your positions and reasonings.
      I think it’s important for all to get well educated on these destructive matters and these disordered individuals that do seem to cause such awful experiences in the lives of Precious Daughters of the King!
      Making prayerfullly educated choices are key here.

      My education has taught me a bit about the Narcissism spectrum and the issues associated with it, my own husband has been in deep interventions for his narc traits and attachment issues that have greatly caused him havoc in his adult life and of course our marriage health.

      I think it’s important to remember that many husbands in this category of destructive and even difficult marriages..struggle with narc traits overall, self centered,arrogant, prideful, stubborn,only one lens, and mostly immaturity! Profound immaturity!

      I’ve done quite extensive homework and been with clinicians advice that very few people are true NPD but tend to have narc character traits that can be professionally helped!
      I’m a wife that can speak up for the truth of this.

      Unfortunately, if a h has certain narc traits and mixed with family of origin deep root identity issues, being in a marriage escalates the dynamic. Also if a wife enables and is feeding (the disturbed traits) they only get larger and stronger in the brain!

      Not all women here are able to move into another bedroom for 12 years and call that sanity or staying well.
      The enormous unspoken issues would cause such distress and I think many with children would do developmental damage to their children’s safety and their own critical years as a child/teen growing up in such an environment. The fact that you can live like this in such an environment breaks my heart for you and I would believe that ‘your own coping skills’ of this detachment are very numbing to being able to feel pain of how serious the situation is for your own heart.
      Where are your healthy women in your corner? Do they know what your living with?

      You wrote;
      “Because the husband will continually weasel out of his accountability, OR he will say “I’m sorry” yet a couple of days down the road, he has not changed and is doing the same thing he always has.”

      This is common in these types of marriages, but I also see that a person doesn’t weasel out of accountability without a co-contributor enabling such a playing out. He does the same… because he can and it works well for him.

      I’m pleading for you to consider that your own coping skills are quite possibly getting in the way of true healing for your heart.
      Similar to how your own husband functions with his very unhealthy coping mechanism to push people away.

      Had I set up a roommate situation for my very nonfunctioning spouse, the impact would have been ‘tiny’ because of his history of growing up in a completely detached and disconnected home.. it almost would have felt normal and he would have more room to think to his ill-thinking.. sure there would have been a feeling of someone in the home, dinners cooked and leftovers left out.. and that would be enough to tell his undeveloped ‘self’ that it’s ok this way, at least it feels like another person lives here~ I’m not totally alone.

      I’m hoping that some of this makes sense and why it’s so important to do the necessary work on our ‘own histories’ and our own tendencies to enable which is basically rewarding bad behavior.

      My belief is that as long as I’m living and breathing there is always room to change… or make other choices that would ultimate honor God and bless my family!

      • Many years on May 20, 2017 at 2:37 am

        Thank you, Aly for your comment to myself and all of the ladies here.

        On the contrary, about a wife ‘enabling’ a husband to continue in his narc traits, I believe the ingrained reactions which the narc husband has, which he has learned to develop those coping skill to keep the wife’s logic at bay; he uses out-of-the blue tantrum fits, for no reason, than to create a false image of himself, whilst he is belittling the wife, which is part of the husband’s angst-driven mind-set which creates an automatic disengagement, which shuts down any further communication on any given important subject, which comes to a complete stand-still. Whereas, on a normal basis most couples CAN communicate and reason out things in their life when problems arise.

        Maybe your situation is different, if indeed the narc traits you are seeing in your husband are responding to intervention and counciling. As there is no way in the world my husband would ever go see a councilor.

        My husband can pretend to be on his ‘good behavior’ yet that is usually when he is ‘up to something’ and is doing it so that whatever he is scheming and planning behind the scenes, he becomes extra ‘nice’ to me, and hides most of his agenda in the process, only telling me half truths.

        When I do talk to my husband about certain things, he does not get the ball rolling in order to accommodate the flow of normal communication with a means to an end, it means that he does not want to help me ‘get there’ as it usually involves his control over the finances, which he is not willing to divulge much of anything.

        In fact he lets it slide, and if I don’t approach him again on that subject, and if I bring it up again, he will say ‘YOU brought that up a few months ago and I have the information you want’ but it’s like he is NOT really interested or he would not keep making excuses about why I need to know some things about our finances.

        When he says he has a flow chart with all of our financial history, all he would have to do is to hit the ‘forward’ key in his emails and I would have that information in an instant. This is how they manipulate our lives. It gets very exasperating as they really aren’t interested in sharing their covert life style.

        There is no ‘give and take’ with a narc. It is always ‘take, take, take.’ Except for what JoAnn pointed out that her h ‘gives her gifts’ which my husband does this too in order to appease the monster that lives constantly inside himself.

        This is no normal human man we are talking about here. The more he is confronted the worse he gets, or he plays down his emotions for a while, but it doesn’t last long. You know this to be true too.

        My children are grown and married. I was still sleeping in the same bed with my husband while our children were growing up. It wasn’t until my last child moved to go to college that I decided I had had enough, and I had at that time began reading Cloud and Townsend’s ‘Boundaries’, which helped get some sanity back into my life.

        And to tell the truth, it wouldn’t have mattered if I HAD chosen to move out of the same bedroom, even when my children were younger as my husband controlled all aspects of our lives. My children and myself lived in state of fear of him, and the church had no solution for me. Actually, if I had moved into another bedroom, it may have triggered more violence in the home. So, no. I do not recommend that to those who have younger children still in the home.

        As my children grew older they did go to the church to confront their dad with the way he treated them; and a couple of the pastors did talk to my husband at that time, yet I never heard one word from my husband as to what my children had talked to the pastors about, nor what the pastors had told my husband. Of course not! Why would my husband want to talk about himself to me?

        Attitudes have changed in the past ten years about divorce in the church. And because pastors and councilors were entrenched in keeping so-called ‘covenant’ marriages intact, the road to disavowment has been a long and winding road.

        I have not had a clear indication about totally leaving or separating, and the reason being, it has taken me so long to ‘get here’ in my own mind. There were no sites to go to for council ten years ago. It has only been of recent that there has sprung up some real truth-telling Christian sites to help women in their pathway to freedom.

        And I know I am not alone in my hesitation to move forward until I have things in place to make a decision. I have to wait on God. I can’t leave in a panic or angst-driven mind-set, or spur-of-the-moment flight. I have to plan. I have to have an agenda.

        And as I have mentioned before, IF a woman and her children are in a truly dangerous situation in which they do need to get immediate help, there are online, hot-line intervention sites which Leslie also knows what to suggest in that crucial situation.

        My husband’s bad behavior is because of his own choices. I have not enabled him, neither did my children enable their dad to be verbally and physically abusive with them when they were younger.

        If anything, I chose my words carefully when I would talk with my husband, as walking on egg-shells you learn how not to set off a bomb, and yet, no matter how I would word things, at times, he was in his own world of power, control, and angst. No fruit of the Spirit was apparent in my husband, only in a religious rhetoric display of ego.

        So, yes, we all have our own paths, our own journeys, and it is good to get feedback from others, and some of it applies, and some of it would be wonderful it situations could be changed, but when there has been years of this, with not much change, the discouragement becomes part of life, even when one knows what the problem is, and where it originates from.

        When you are the only one in the marriage willing to fix the problem, and the other party doesn’t see it that way at all, that is when there is a huge break-down of communication.

        I do know of other wives who have ‘stayed’ not because they don’t want to get out, but because the timing hasn’t come around for them yet.

        And I don’t want to use the cliche’ ‘all men are babies’ because that would be unfair, as many men do grow up and the Lord is a huge part of their lives and how they relate to their wives. Mine just doesn’t relate, even though he thinks he does. It’s just not the same as communication via the Holy Spirit. That part of the heart of the matter is absent in my marriage. I don’t have that type of ‘oneness’ with my husband. He gets a blank stare on his face whenever I talk about the Lord.

        Sometimes he ‘tries’ to do the ‘religious’ talk thing, and it’s because it has never really been in his heart. So, do I stay because my husband may not be saved and I am the only one who may be praying for him? Do I sacrifice my life for him, yet, he would probably care less if I died. It most likely wouldn’t make a dent in his character make-up, sad to say.

        I know that because I have lived in front of my husband as a believer, that he has seen what it means to be saved. Yet, there has been no change in him. I know I am free to leave if I really needed to. Any change in him has not been for the Lord, but has been superficial, only for his own so-called religious benefit.

        And those are the raw facts which the enemy of our souls doesn’t want us staying in order to possibly save another soul.

        • Aly on May 20, 2017 at 11:38 am

          Many Years,

          I wonder if there are many tears when us sisters on this site read what you have endured?
          I’m so sorry for the overall marital experience you have been victim to over many years.
          I hope you hear in my heart my genuine care for you and the sadness I have to still hear that this man is still in proximity of you and still has lots of control.

          Your marriage dynamic speaks to the devastating realities of a marriage that is not only unhealthy, but in a dangerous power imbalance!
          I’m sorry for all the years you did not have the church community support or the resources to help you navigate to a safer place. But thankfully you do Now~
          You have lots of resources available to support you;)

          You wrote;
          “It wasn’t until my last child moved to go to college that I decided I had had enough, and I had at that time began reading Cloud and Townsend’s ‘Boundaries’, which helped get some sanity back into my life.”
          Glad you have this resources, I think they are the experts in this area and wondering if you have also read, Boundaries in Marriage and Necessary Endings?

          You wrote;
          “My husband’s bad behavior is because of his own choices. I have not enabled him, neither did my children enable their dad to be verbally and physically abusive with them when they were younger.”

          Wow, I’m terribly sorry for this and that you witnessed your h abusing your children not only verbally but physically too.
          I would imagine you felt powerless given the power imbalance overall?
          Do you think that I am writing to you as you are enabling from a educated passive choice stance?
          I’m not.

          Do you think that you (not him) being the one suffering the consequences from his own choices/behavior create an environment for a standard of tolerance.
          Maybe you and I define ‘enabling’ differently.

          For me.. I was enabling many things in my marriage because I thought that by my behavior as a Christian wife that somehow this would impact my husband in a positive way.
          My past enabling was less about my h and more about me and what I was trained to tolerate in relationships. It certainly was a factor that ‘parts of me’ also needed to grow up and deal with the reality of my situation.

          Sometimes when we have lived with such a cycle and such survival mechanisms it’s hard to see other options.
          Support and perspectives is key here.

          You wrote:
          “but when there has been years of this, with not much change, the discouragement becomes part of life, even when one knows what the problem is, and where it originates from.”

          I’m sorry for this for you:(

          You wrote:
          “I know that because I have lived in front of my husband as a believer, that he has seen what it means to be saved. Yet, there has been no change in him. I know I am free to leave if I really needed to.”

          It’s your journey and the fact that you see your freedom is important and your choice is also important. You must not feel like you really need to and that your decision alone to make for your heart and care.

          You wrote:
          “And those are the raw facts which the enemy of our souls doesn’t want us staying in order to possibly save another soul.”

          I would think the opposite that the enemy of our souls wants to keep us bound to powerlessness/ helplessness and staying ~ knowing we cannot save another soul.
          But the rescuer of our Soul, wants us living in truth and being set free and guarding our heart and our position with Christ as His own daughters!

        • Nancy on May 20, 2017 at 4:03 pm

          Hey Many Years,

          When we ‘walk on eggshells’, we are enabling.

          Because ‘walking on eggshells’ is acting out of a place that is trying to manage the other person. It is not honest, it is self-protective. It is peace faking, not peace making. This is not walking in Truth.

          When we set boundaries, things will escalate for sure. That’s why most of us here take so darn long to do it. We know there will be backlash, and the fear of that backlash is the very thing that keeps us enabling the bad behaviour by ‘tippy toeing around’ the tricky areas- and so, as you say…you are not alone in your hesitation to move forward, for sure!

          I don’t remember if you have ‘real time’ support in friendships – women you can sit with and be honest with, and who will hold you accountable for your part in the dance…?

          Kevin Leman ( my favourite parenting resource) advises that it’s always better to create a blow-out, than watch a slow leak.

          A blow-out is scary. That’s why we need The Lord, like never before.

          • Connie on May 20, 2017 at 5:06 pm

            Aly and Nancy: Yup. 🙂

          • Many years on May 21, 2017 at 3:40 pm

            Thank you Aly and Nancy for your words of wisdom.
            I will take to heart your constructive spiritual insight, as I know you want relief for those of us who have trodden this path of oppression for far to long.

            Prayers and blessings to Leslie, and everyone here who are praying and giving good council.

  16. SunRiseIsland on May 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Aly, your paragraph below hit nail on the head and everything listed is my spouse to the letter especially the part about profound immaturity.

    “I think it’s important to remember that many husbands in this category of destructive and even difficult marriages..struggle with narc traits overall, self centered,arrogant, prideful, stubborn,only one lens, and mostly immaturity! Profound immaturity!”

    Hoping you and other ladies can shed insight. I struggle deeply after all stops “boundaries & requirements” (per Nancys comment) have been implemented. When the narc traits (not my diagnosis, marriage counselor pointed out traits since I had no clue what a npd was) & destructive behaviors began to worsen. I spoke very clear of my unhappiness and need for change, I gave him space (behavior worse) acted married and single like 25 yr old), 1 year in-house separation he ramped up horrible behavior even more staying out all night and with other women – my children watched in horror & questioned fathers behavior but I had no answers. After such disrespect to household and family I immediately left and stayed with friends for 6 months to save enough for security deposit then moved into a tiny cramped apartment certainly nothing like the standard of living my daughters and son accustomed (they just want to go back to our big beautiful home so we can be a family again).
    Husbands remorse or accountability for pain he caused is almost non-existent except for little small nice offerings here and there but as soon as something doesnt go his way hes angry, rages, gaslights, blames and the good behaviors go out the window and words nor actions line up.

    I have prayed and fasted and at this point after setting boundaries and requirements I dont know what is left to do. This is mentally draining and emotionally paralyzing having an affect on us all with no light at end of tunnel.

    • JoAnn on May 19, 2017 at 6:37 pm

      SunRiseIsland, Oh, how painful it must be for you and your children. Your story is so similar to many here, and I’m sure there will be comfort and advice if you just stick with us. My first thought here is that I’m very glad you got out. Good for you, and that took courage. Now you must find out what the law says about what your rights are. It may be that you can go back to your big, beautiful house, minus the husband, and with child support and alimony. It is important that you learn that the law is on your side and what your rights are. You need legal counsel, and if you can’t afford a lawyer, your local legal defense organization can probably help you. Most cities and states have lawyers who are willing to offer support to those who can’t pay. Learn how to “leave well.” And guard your heart. Prayers with you.

      • SunRiseIsland on May 20, 2017 at 5:42 pm

        Thank you for your prayers and helpful thoughts.

    • Aly on May 20, 2017 at 10:28 am


      Goodness I’m so sorry for what you have endured so far and what your children have also had to witness! I’m deeply sad for you and your situation.
      JoAnn gave I believe some great practical advice given the living arrangements.
      I’m so sorry for your heart and your situation.

      Do you have supportive women around you that know what you are going through and navigating out of? This support is key along with these blogs of women going through similar places.
      Your h’s behavior doesn’t surprise me, even though I hear how devasted you are. He is yes profoundly immature in many angles.
      Did you leave the home because of fear of physical violence too?
      Not saying you should not have left for emotion either… but the level of these places of abuse do help navigate options.
      Options for your benefit and safety for your children.

      You wrote:
      “I spoke very clear of my unhappiness and need for change, I gave him space (behavior worse) acted married and single like 25 yr old), 1 year in-house separation he ramped up horrible behavior even more staying out all night and with other women – my children watched in horror & questioned fathers behavior but I had no answers
      . After such disrespect to household and family I immediately left and stayed with friends for 6 months to save enough for security deposit then moved into a tiny cramped apartment certainly nothing like the standard of living my daughters and son accustomed (they just want to go back to our big beautiful home so we can be a family again).”

      I’m sure your children do want to go back to their home and their bedrooms, I think children would see that as a safer place rather than feeling that there is a lot of unknowns. I’m sorry for that, that is really hard.

      How do you feel about what JoAnn mentioned about you going back into the home legally and your husband being removed?

      When I was giving boundaries and requirements one of my boundaries was if you h continue to treat and disrespect me in our family home.. you will be the one to leave and go live your (single teenage reasoning life)
      He didn’t like that I was not the one leaving yes our beautiful home, but he was disqualifying himself given his behavior.
      The same conditions would be that of our children (teens as an example) if they are going to be out of control, not coming home disrespecting our home standards ~ then the consequences may be that we would have to make other living arrangements.

      Obviously if your husband is violent ~ this strategy and safety changes drastically!
      So please I hope this doesn’t get misinterpreted.

      In my opinion, there are still several options for you… just because you have left doesn’t mean things can’t change for you and the kids as JoAnn mentioned. I’m not talking about restoring a marital relationship but some security and safety for you and your children.

      The offender is the one that should be the recipient of the consequences ‘really’ if he is comfortable in any way it just emboldens the behavior!
      Have you watched any of Patrick Doyles YouTube videos.
      He references this a lot and understand a lot of the addict/stronghold issues.

      If you can stay on this site to help you with your voice, your options and your journey to healthier safe living.
      You are worthy of that regardless of your h’s immature responses. But with him dwelling in your family home it is my suspicion that his comforts are not the challenged. And legally you have the position to make some strong changes.

      Prayers for your heart and the exhaustion of it all, but that is why we are called to come alongside and carry the burden.
      Sending hugs to you💖

      • SunRiseIsland on May 20, 2017 at 12:35 pm

        Aly – sending hugs 💝 back to you & others who relate to the pain and destruction we have faced. The children and I are healthy and living safe, no worries there. I left because he was brazen that he wasnt goin anywhere, his bad behavior worsened bcuz he didnt see anything wrong with his single mentality and disrespect to the marriage or the sick reasoning with it. In fact, he is angry (is in pain and playing victim now) takes no ownership and blames me for the family being in this broken position (will not look at his own contribution, only my exiting in response of). It took me some time and courage to finally leave but after teaching my offsprings (my girls to not accept & my son to not deliver such behavior) to stand up for themselves when they felt mistreated, I had to step up and put my money where my mouth is and stop enabling this man to treat me almost like a doormat. He didnt ramp up his behavior to violence at that point (but his anger, drunkeness, disrespect and desire to control was all fairway to physical abuse next and I wasnt waiting around for it but wouldve called 911 in the blink). I was forever faithful, took care of his and childrens needs and maintained our home life well and worked a strenous job daily. Once he had his mind made up that he’d do whatever he pleased, nothing I did was good enough. Im sorting through the process to find options legally (I work but will only be able to claim child support no alimony). I held on to hope for change in him, we have marital history spanning 22yrs and its hard to watch him take the jekyll-hyde mask off and act eerily out of character after all these years almost as if our family became invisible to him. I have watched a few of Patrick videos and others looking to educate myself on destructive marriage and mental disorders. I have a very small support sys that I trust and lean on. His true motives keep me confused like the boy who cried wolf, one minute he is saying and doin things that says he wants to repair our marriage but other times actions show something different so I dont know what to think or feel. Thanks for the prayers.

        • ContentinChrist on May 20, 2017 at 2:24 pm

          The inconsistency that he is showing you is, as you know, not from God. God is a God of order and not a God of confusion, so if your husband’s actions and words are constantly shifting and causing confusion, then you can rest assured that the actions and words are not coming from a life that is living from unity with Christ. Look at the overall picture (confusion) to realize that it is not *you* that needs to try to figure this out – just guard your heart, distance yourself emotionally as much as you can (that is a progressive thing in cases where you’ve been married for so long), refuse to discuss your relationship with him until he’s ready to face his sin (otherwise, you know how those discussions are going to end!) and look to the Lord to continue holding you and revealing each new step along the way.

          Prayers for you. I know the pain. It is devastating. I’ve been very surprised to see my “family man” husband distance himself from his kids after our separation. It breaks my heart for them, and sadly confirms the depth of the darkness he is in to me more and more. Not to say that he is totally distanced, but I’ve still been surprised to see as much as he has. 🙁

          • SunRiseIsland on May 20, 2017 at 5:40 pm

            My prayers are with you also, Thank you. The one thing I need to know is thru all the continued pain and devastation, how does one not take any of this so personal? Its pure disbelief and shock to the psyche that the spouse you trusted in life the most is the one breaking your heart the deepest ☹️

          • ContentinChrist on May 24, 2017 at 1:47 pm

            You do get to a place where you realize it wouldn’t matter who he is with, this is how he would treat them. You realize how broken he is and how blind and bound he is and that helps you separate the personal part of it a little. The pain is still great, but those things do help as you process it all. And you will have to keep coming back to those truths over and over and over as you process.

        • Aly on May 20, 2017 at 9:08 pm


          I’m so very sorry for what you are going through and the pain of how devastating and yes confusing to make any sense of selfish behavior that harms the person they vowed to care for.
          Do you happen to have a counselor? One that can help you process the grief of it all … even though there are many unknowns with the marriage.

          You wrote:
          “His true motives keep me confused like the boy who cried wolf, one minute he is saying and doin things that says he wants to repair our marriage but other times actions show something different so I dont know what to think or feel. Thanks for the prayers”

          This comment and current position of your h shows it is essential for your heart to be guarded and in a safe healing and growing Place.
          Have you signed up or considered signing up for Conquer? Maybe you have already done the program…

          I found being surrounded by support and strength of people who can empathize with what I was dealing with as well regaining my true identity ~ my worth and value… something that can get messed with when dealing with such selfish individuals.

          Having the support will help to deal with your husband’s mixed messages which is painful to navigate because he’s so duplicit.

          You have done a brave thing in separation and getting safe overall, but this doesn’t discount the pure loss one goes through.

          I’m SO sorry for this;(

          Speaking a bit raw here,
          It angers me for how you have been devoted to your marriage and family and what you have received and the length of what you have describe. Your h clearly is lacking in character overall and integrity and it’s up to him if he wants to grow up and what process he would have to enter into to do that.

          I’m praying that you will trust God to hold and heal your heart, and that you will chase hard after Him … I found in my own chasing.. He had already CAUGHT me;) He just had some important lessons to teach me and treasures to discover.
          And still does;)

          In closing.. you’re not alone ever.

          • Dawn on May 23, 2017 at 8:08 am

            My heart aches, breaks, and can empathize with your journey. Sounds as if you are busy doing your part ~ creating the safe and healthy place for you and your children ~ away from the crazy making.
            After years of dealing with similar circumstances, following similar steps (my children were older when I fled), I can assure you that for me creating that safe zone was the first step in my healing process.
            Stick here, in this safe community. The “right others” make all the difference.
            This is an amazing community of “front-line” battling warrior sisters.

        • Lori on May 23, 2017 at 2:49 pm


          You asked:
          “The one thing I need to know is thru all the continued pain and devastation, how does one not take any of this so personal? Its pure disbelief and shock to the psyche that the spouse you trusted in life the most is the one breaking your heart the deepest.”

          I think it is a process over time that develops as we begin to see the “problem” more clearly.

          In an effort to “jump-start” this process I would like to suggest that when you said your marriage vows, (“I do”) you probably meant it as I will, I pledge, I promise, I will endeavor to the best good for you and the marriage. Yes? Well, perhaps when your husband said the same marriage vows, (“I do”), he meant I am entitled now, I take, I steal, I lie to get my needs met, I commit to me and however I need to meet my needs.

          Either example may be a stretch, but I hope you can see the difference in how you both may have approached “marriage” and how your view probably led you to believe he meant what you meant.

          Can you see in this example that the one spouse has a deep character issue and it wouldn’t really matter who he was saying his vows to except whoever it was, would hurt like you do? The betrayal Jesus felt at the hands of Judas may have been felt less personal by Jesus since He knew who was going to betray Him prior and what was in the betrayers heart. It was simply the character of Judas working itself out and onto another.

          That’s how I have begun to view it as not so personal. Hope it somehow helps?

          • Lidoffad on May 23, 2017 at 3:02 pm

            Well spoken. Thanks for posting this.

          • Karen on May 24, 2017 at 1:07 pm

            Yes, Lori, all of this! My h has actually held my wedding vows against me as I set boundaries–that I was not honoring and obeying him while he did not have to do those things himself. He has actually made it somewhat easy to de-personalize the abuse as he also said many times that he could be married to anybody. As long as his needs were being met he didn’t even care who was meeting them.

          • Aly on May 24, 2017 at 2:03 pm

            Karen,Lori, other sisters here,

            Anytime you set ‘healthy boundaries’ with an unhealthy destructive abusive mindset person, most often you will hear how the boundaries are not honoring or obeying.

            I heard this from my own extended family when I set healthy boundaries toward my own parents.
            Not to sound harsh or ill~ but goodness could they at least invent some new tactics! ~

            The blessing in their response is simple, when setting healthy boundaries with someone and the response is as above or similar, then you know you are dealing with a distorted ‘skewed’ individual what will (need therapy and beyond)…. Based on how they interpret many things, God’s word, life, relationships.

            Without a course of action you are left with a tree that can’t produce good fruit.

          • Karen on May 24, 2017 at 2:35 pm

            Aly, when you said: Not to sound harsh or ill~ but goodness could they at least invent some new tactics! ~
            I had to giggle a little bit because I now take comfort in the fact that the tactics are so old, overused, and easy to identify. I am no longer in the chaotic fog of trying to figure it all out. I am still trying to learn to apply the “r” and “e” parts of core to all the craziness (unless I am consciously thinking those things I tend to get irritated or snap back, or just roll my eyes with a “here we go again” attitude). The more time I spend in my Bible the better that gets. And I have been reading some wonderful things from Elisabeth Elliott that help to keep me well grounded in my CORE.

          • Nancy on May 24, 2017 at 2:15 pm

            This is so true, Aly. If someone responds badly to healthy boundaries, they have a character issue.

            As I began setting boundaries with healthy people, I was astonished at the lack of backlash! Then things became clearer and clearer, when comparing the two types of responses. That’s why ‘right others’ are so important to have in our lives. Exposure to healthy relationships shed light into the unhealthy ones!

          • Aly on May 24, 2017 at 2:40 pm


            Exactly!! So true.. so critical for the process..
            I found out that my own family was just that ‘unhealthy’ wow was I in the sand.
            I knew they were ignorant but boy was I in for a world of hurt and disbelief met with shear grief!

            HE yet again, SWOOPED me up and captured my tears! Gave me wisdom and discernment and walked along side .. reminding me of His promises all the ever more. Truth hurts, but heals🌈

            Hugs to you dear Sister Nancy;)

  17. Connie on May 22, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    So I have a question. A few weeks ago we went to Boise for a ‘How We Love” seminar. We’d read the book and h wanted to go. I went because I have a son and DIL who live there, whom I hadn’t seen in a while. We’ve been to so many marriage thingies and h would find fault and use that as an excuse not to do the work required. Or just pick one or two things to do and if it ‘didn’t work’, give up. This was a month ago and we’ve actually done this since, off and on. Last night we watched a DVD from another ministry, where a woman testified that she’d learned to ask Jesus how to respond when, for instance, her daughter spoke disrespectfully to her. My h said something like, “That’s what I need to do when you ask me to do something.” I guess it just blows me away that a simple request from someone you claim to love, is considered disrespectful and cause for anger. I tried to explain that, and he just got louder and angrier and I stopped the conversation. This morning it’s all over painful silence and Mr. Grumps.

    My question is: Is resentment and anger addicting? These guys don’t seem to be happy unless they are unhappy and can make everyone around them unhappy. With both my h’s, if I ever got a sparkle in my eye, was excited about something (even about HIM!) they had to throw cold water on it. And the kids, too, didn’t seem to be allowed to be happy. Gr-r-r-r!! It’s like joy is poison to their system!! He seemed to actually not be as depressed the last few weeks, and it’s like he had to pick a fight to give himself an excuse to get back to his comfort zone……resentful and angry.

    • Aly on May 22, 2017 at 2:06 pm

      Hi Connie;)

      I’m really excited that you have been exposed to the How we Love attachment material,
      I hope you stay with it, because most of what you describe seem to be rooted in your h’s attachment/bonding and intimacy issues.~ just a thought not saying I’m right.

      My husband has has intense help with attachment and those early on character issues ~ perfectionism, people pleasing (never me then) and on and on.

      Based on what you described today, those behaviors and responses sound very passive aggressive and fear based to me. Are you both working individually (or joint) with a counselor?

      I would wonder if when you make a request, how your h interprets ‘any request’?
      My h used to immediately hear failure because he was raised in such a fearful shame based home.

      I mean how realistic is it that you get married and your spouse has different needs or suggestions than yourself? Very realistic in my opinion! In fact for some individuals (being different from them … is an all out threat)😜
      This is where my h was at… His level of interpretation kept hitting those core Shame and identity issues.. and yes they patterns of thinking. His coping skill was avoidance and denial as his way to control and feel protected.

      Your H’ ‘ask Jesus comment’ to help him respond.. … sounds a bit patronizing and insensitive.. as if your such a hard person to deal with. It’s sounds very immature and underdeveloped overall but I will say it’s a baby step of maybe him wanting to lean toward hearing and feeding the spirit.

      Were you able to find yourself (Connie) and your h in those injured personality places and cycles?

      If a person is unwilling to deal with those injured places of attachment and value.. they can escalate to more abusive mindsets and the patterns just get harder to unravel and get away from.

      By far Leslie’s materials and How we Love compliment each other especially in a counseling setting in my opinion.
      My husband and I do love what we have learned in depth about our history’s and our Brain shaping .. and it’s critical for us as parents to do this work so we can better Love our Kids as God would desire.
      It’s a lot of work but SO worth it!
      Hugs and much love here Connie💜

    • Lidoffad on May 23, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Look up narcissistic abuse, especially pertaining to males/husbands. There are some great and some not so great videos on YouTube (Knowing the Narcissist was the key source for me-this is the abuser himself exposing their methodology and telling you how to maneuver through it. It explained it all for me and now I see the truth of it and have great peace of mind through it, despite continued covert abuse from my X (he fooled me for 20 yrs). See which ones resonate with you. Also Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas (which Leslie endorses) and Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft.

      • Aly on May 23, 2017 at 4:01 pm


        I’m glad your posting your experience I also have been victim to this type of abuse (what I would refer to the narc abuse symptoms in is victims/now survivors.

        I’m also familiar with the site you posted and would remind all here that the levels of narc are important to evaluate. As well as understand traits of Narcissism (this area is for the professionals)

        I also would share that even though my own symptoms of abuse would coincide to narc abuse, the offender doesn’t have to be a true NPD to inflict that kind of trauma and pain.
        In fact, many immature men and husbands lack many areas that seems narcissistic but are really developmental.

        Everyone must do their homework because sometimes most cases are dependent upon what level and if truly the person is a NPD or someone with strong narc traits.. formed from early childhood ego wounding.
        That was and is my mom even though she is clearly co-dependent to my father.,, her wounding of me was still the same.
        Meaning to be injured in this nature doesn’t mean the person has to be a narc, they can easily also be ignorant, immature, lack self worth and value, highly insensitive, no empathy what so ever, highly defensive and protective, highly insecure to deal with anything they can’t control such an emotions. They also have an emotional IQ of well (0) or very low.

        • Lidoffad on May 23, 2017 at 4:41 pm

          I’m so glad that listeners can find from him in some of his videos explanations of this range of narcissism [from having just a few of these traits (normal people) to the extreme (Narcs, clinically diagnosed or not)]. It is the first explanation that for me, fit all abusers, overt and covert. Really makes it understandable and helps those dealing with serious abuse make sense of it all. So needed. This empowers and greatly aids healing.

  18. Nancy on May 22, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    The book Boundaries, has been so important to me over the past 5 years. Aside from the Bible, it has been the most important book of my life. It helped me to identify that a lack of respect in my family of origin was at the root of my issues. I grew up in an environment where intrusion was considered loving.

    The concept of setting boundaries to guard my heart FOR my Lord ( loving) versus AGAINST the other person ( anger), has really eluded me. I have worked at setting those boundaries but what held them in place was anger. I was afraid of letting go of the anger….because if I did, then what would happen to my boundaries?

    But here’s what’s happening now.

    Forgiveness is dissolving the anger, and my boundaries are still in tact! Once my heart was protected from being exposed to the ‘bad’ ( and this was a long, painful, healing process) then I began praying for forgiveness ( understanding that this would not equate with entering back into relationship). I said the words, knowing I could not make forgiveness happen, but to commit to the process of forgiving.

    I had grown up with a lack of respect…my mother and brother are bullies ( one overt, one covert)- I internalized this lack of respect for myself (and subsequently found myself in relationships where I’d end up steam- rolled…every time).

    Through the process of forgiveness, The Lord has shown me that what He wants from me is not to ‘demand love and respect from others’, rather, He wants me to internalize His love and respect for me.

    He wants me to respect me.

    This has been a LONG road.

    Yesterday I called to reach out to both of those bullies, and I wasn’t afraid because I now have respect for Nancy.

    I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God ❤️

    • JoAnn on May 22, 2017 at 5:10 pm

      Wow, Nancy, a long road, but so worth it for you! Well done! Your insights and encouragement are helping us all. I thank the Lord for your part in this blog.

    • Maria on May 22, 2017 at 6:02 pm

      Awesome, Nancy. I have read a few of your posts, and it’s great to see how you have grown through your journey.

    • Nancy on May 22, 2017 at 8:57 pm

      Thank you for the encouragement, JoAnn and Maria 🙂

    • Dawn on May 23, 2017 at 8:14 am

      Thank you for so shining your light before men that they are seeing your good works and glorifying your Father, who is in Heaven! Matt. 5:16
      Healthy love wins the war!
      Many hugs, Christ-Sister!

    • Lori on May 23, 2017 at 2:03 pm

      Hi Nancy 🙂

      Loved how you said this sister:
      “Through the process of forgiveness, The Lord has shown me that what He wants from me is not to ‘demand love and respect from others’, rather, He wants me to internalize His love and respect for me.

      He wants me to respect me.”

      Yes!!! Such a hard fought for prize and thank you for sharing it with us here. Love reading of your journey as you are transparent with the process. So exciting to see you leaning ever closer into the One Who loves you and sticks closer than a brother.

      Blessings as you continue in your journey closer to Christ.

      • Nancy on May 23, 2017 at 4:57 pm

        Thanks Lori 🙂

        This is now my prayer for my girls- that they would internalize The Lord’s Love and respect for who they are. That they would love and respect themselves.

        That they would become warrior daughters of The Most High King ❤️

        • Aly on May 23, 2017 at 5:50 pm

          Nancy, Lori too;)

          I love this posture;) I’m filled with Joy!!
          Nancy, what your mom couldn’t do for you, HE didn’t keep from you💜
          You received it, embraced it and now you will be better equipped to pass that baton to those precious girls~
          I’m so thankful and so glad you are experiencing this fresh freedom and theTruth of His Love and clarity for your heart!

          Hugs and much love always in Christ sweet sister,

    • Leslie Vernick on May 23, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      Very cool, exactly – and when we can live in love and not fear and anger, we are powerful God-centered women.

      • Carolyn on May 24, 2017 at 11:14 am

        Nancy, which version of the book Boundaries, do you have?

        • JoAnn on May 29, 2017 at 9:35 pm

          Carolyn, the one that we have talked about here is by Cloud & Townsend. Excellent, and written from a biblical perspective.

  19. Missy on May 22, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    I have been reading this blog, Leslie’s books and others, and participating in the various webinars, etc. for years. This is my first post. My name is not Missy. I can’t tell you my real name. I can’t tell you anything about myself, but this: Unless God works some kind of miracle in the next few days, I fear that my marriage is over. I am walking the road many of you have walked and I know you understand. I have strengthened my CORE, examined The Word, studied, memorized and prayed fervently for God to intervene. I love my husband dearly, but because of his childhood there are issues with our marriage – there is no need to go into details. But my heart is broken and I am alone. I am very alone physically, but I know God is with me. My body aches from my physical aloneness. Because of my husband’s brokenness and his inability to see his sin, I must either choose to stay in an atmosphere of disrespect and emotional abandonment – or leave knowing that it will destroy my family and my husband’s career. Although I am not the one choosing the sinful behavior, I am the one that will be blamed for destroying our lives. I know I am not the first woman to face this, nor will I be the last. I just needed to type these words and know that there are those that see them and have an understanding of what I face in the next few days. I know that I have a hope and a future, but it is difficult to envision it now. Please pray for me.

    • Aly on May 23, 2017 at 12:27 pm

      Hi Missy,

      I see you, I will pray for you and you journey and yes I have walked a similar one, so I understand a bit of what you are describing.
      I’m so sorry, please feel free to ask or share more of what we can do to be of support to you ..
      Sometimes it’s hard to know but I’m praying that God will navigate those places for your all too neglected places that are most likely a long history that you have survived. And yes you are a Survior!
      Hugs to you Missy;) 💟

    • Lori on May 23, 2017 at 1:56 pm


      I am so moved by your post from yesterday and want to say to you that I could have written it myself, with the exception that to leave would ruin my husbands career. The pressure is tremendous upon you right now and I can see how excruciating and long you have endured the pain of being in a marriage to such a one as your husband.

      I especially relate with identical understanding to this you said dear sister:

      “But my heart is broken and I am alone. I am very alone physically, but I know God is with me. My body aches from my physical aloneness.”

      And yet it aches to remain in the relationship as it is. I am so very sorry this is your current situation. I want to say that I want to bear this burden with you in prayer. I feel your brokenness and yet it is our Lord who feels it ever more intimately than I. We can come to Him and let Him minister to us in our devastation as He is a man of sorrows, well acquainted with grief. I think you know this, but I write this as a reminder dear sister.

      And to this you said:
      “Although I am not the one choosing the sinful behavior, I am the one that will be blamed for destroying our lives.”

      Likely, yes and there may be few to none in your physical world who see or believe your story. But, Jesus sees and so do I. I believe you Missy. I know you are speaking truth and your suffering for the sake of “righteousness’.

      I am now 16 months out of this relationship that sounds the same as what you are enduring and I write to encourage you that there are good and bad days ahead. I would not go back and change my decision to separate because I don’t know for sure that I would have physically survived to write to you today. My health was being destroyed along with my heart and spirit. Not telling you this to focus on me, but to encourage you that although both roads lead to more pain, one leads to a painful healing, and the other to a painful death.

      Praying for you as you make your decisions and place your Hand in the One Who leads you safely through the valley of the shadow of death.

      My dear sister, we are prized and loved and cherished more than we could ever have hoped or dreamed for and He intends to show us this truth Himself. He is also intent on rescue and securing His own for Himself.

      Praying for you now that He minister deeply to your place of need, guide, show Himself strong to you and provide His peace to your shattered heart.

      He knows Missy, He sees., and so do I.

      • JoAnn on May 24, 2017 at 7:03 pm

        Lori, I like how you said, “both roads lead to more pain, one leads to a painful healing, and the other to a painful death.” That is such a good description of the reality of dealing with painful choices. The question then becomes, “Which kind of pain do I want to endure?”

    • SunRiseIsland on May 23, 2017 at 5:38 pm

      My heart & prayers are with you Missy – you are NOT alone dear Sister in Christ. Many of us are or have walked in your shoes! Please lean on the ladies here for continued support and to have your feelings and concerns validated.

      Hugs 💛

    • Leslie Vernick on May 23, 2017 at 6:11 pm

      Missy, how are you and how is it going? Praying for you in this time of aloneness. I’m glad you wrote in and please don’t take on the burden of you destroying your family and husband’s career. He has a part to play in all of this which he chooses to ignore and not get help for. Because of that, the family is compromised. Not because you are not willing to keep destructive secrets any longer.

      • Missy on May 25, 2017 at 9:52 am

        Thank you Leslie. That is exactly what I told him: I am not the one that is causing the problem and living the lie, but I am the one that will be blamed if I refuse to hide it any more. My children are grown and because I have hidden his sin and protected him for so long, they are feeling the need to protect him now. I don’t blame them for this. I am the one that brought them up to protect dad at all costs. I was living a codependent lie for so long. It has been a long slow process of waking up to my contribution to our twisted relationship. Now that I am fully aware and standing strong, the attacks are strong and I am alone. One minute I feel strong in my CORE and the next minute, something knocks me to my knees – but I get back up. I am determined to keep getting back up. As some of these ladies have said, I will suffer either way. I choose to suffer for the betterment of my family. To do nothing models to my children, two adult daughters, that this is the kind of life that they should expect for themselves. I am determined that this deceptive, destructive lifestyle stops now. And just so you know, we have been in Christian counseling for years. They have not been much help until recently. We have a new counselor that seems to be getting through to him this week. He has repented to me, but I have to wait and see if it is true repentance that leads to change, or repentance to save his career. I have waited more than 30 years. I can take it a few more months. God is my strength. Thank you all for your prayers and support.

    • JoAnn on May 24, 2017 at 7:00 pm

      Missy, you don’t say whether you have children to care for in all of this, but I would encourage you that if you decide to leave, go where you can find help, and friends, and support. Don’t remain in a lonely condition. Pray for the Lord to lead you to a true and safe friend. Look to Him for your material needs. Above all, be SAFE!! We are praying for you.

    • Missy on May 25, 2017 at 9:56 am

      Thank you all for your prayers and support. I gave an update in my reply to Leslie.

  20. Lidoffad on May 23, 2017 at 8:34 am

    This lady is describing a narcissist. I have found this “label” best describes the destructive behaviors that are common (be not ignorant of Satan’s schemes) across the board with these people. It’s a never-ending nightmare dealing with a narcissist. There are many resources available in books and online that teach a narcissist’s methodology. Learning it will help you gain peace of mind as you seek God for healing and direction. This is a very difficult walk and takes much time to understand and readjust. I’ve been through it and am still dealing with it, as I have children with one. Seek this out. Education and wholly leaning on God is the key. You will not feel crazy anymore. You will know the truth, and know what to do. Do NOT share any of this knowledge with your husband or anyone who may know him. That will work against you. Educate. Be on your knees. Do not react. Seek out an abuse support group such as ARMS in your area. God be with you.

  21. Tina on May 23, 2017 at 9:12 am

    I guess bottom line is do I want to expend all my energy and resources beating a dead horse? After two years of trying (thousands of dollars of therapy and hundreds of classes and meetings and counseling sessions) to get empathy from my husband for the trauma his double life has caused me, we keep going round and round in the same circle. I’m close to dead myself and really done. He says he wants to be there for me but doesn’t know how. So I try to explain to him what I need and he doesn’t do it. Then I cry and he either goes cold or furious or in a deep suicidal depression. Thanks for the support…My energy was expended the day I found out about his double life. I dug deeper to figure out if God wanted to redeem. But after two years and a visit to the hospital for what seemed like a heart attack but was anxiety…I think I’m done beating this dead horse. Now to find the strength to stand on my own two feet and make a move that really will help me instead of waste my time. I just don’t know where to go. No class, therapist, counselor, pastor, mentor, accountability partner, prayer group or support group has truly helped our marriage or us as individuals. The pain is as bad or worse than day 1.

    • Janet on May 23, 2017 at 10:30 am

      Your comment, “No class, therapist, counselor, pastor, mentor, accountability partner, prayer group or support group has truly helped our marriage or us as individuals. The pain is as bad or worse than day 1.” really resonates with me. I thought working on me would help but the pain seems to only increase.

    • JoAnn on May 23, 2017 at 11:09 am

      Tina and Janet, When the therapists and counselors don’t help, is it possible that the kind of help you have been looking for is the “wrong” help? When it comes to guarding your heart and setting boundaries in order to take care of YOU, I believe that is where you need the help. Those “helpers” weren’t able to fix your marriage, because it isn’t fixable. Both partners need to want to restore the marriage, but when the husband is not on board with that, you can’t make it happen, you can’t change him, so you are truly “beating a dead horse.” Good for you to exit that relationship. Now work on healing those years of hurt and recovering the true you. The wonderful women on this blog are here to help, and Leslie’s books are going to be your best resource. Your future is really brighter than it feels right now. Some of us have actually made it through that long, dark tunnel. There really is a light there. Go for it!

      • Tina on May 23, 2017 at 12:00 pm

        Yes I believe it has all been the wrong help. It has been very hard to find a therapist or any counselor who specializes in sex addiction. No one we have talked to has even known someone with these issues. Most people are shocked when our story is told and are left dumbfounded. It is also hard for me to find any person to be a support to me because no one really talks about it and most women leave.

        You say our marriage isn’t fixable because both partners need to want to restore the marriage. I don’t use the word “restore” because I surely don’t want what I had, I use the word “redeem”. We both would like God to redeem what has been destroyed. My husband has worked so hard to stay in this marriage. The issue is he simply cannot face all the damage he has done to himself, me and our children and for intimacy, sanity and safety’s sake I’m not going to pretend it’s not there. So we are at an impasse. That’s the hard part. We are both trying very hard but there seems to be no progress.

        Since there has yet to be any counselor to help, we are both stuck, beat up and sick of trying. I just don’t understand how two people who want to be together just can’t do it. Doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t know if I’m horribly deceived or if I am horribly stubborn but I do know I am horribly traumatized by this all. I just want some sense of normalcy back in my life.

        Thank you for your reply and encouragement.

        • Aly on May 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm

          Tina, I just read more of what you listed..
          Has your husband gone to Every Mans Battle and done the work on his issue which really isn’t to treat the sex addiction but to treat the underlying idenity issue?

          Sorry Since you didn’t mention this .. I feel the need to ask.. you don’t have to answer.

          • Tina on May 23, 2017 at 12:50 pm

            Thank you for the encouragement and reply. He hasn’t don’t EMB Conference but he has done one from Mark Laasers ministry. He’s been in two different specific support groups for this issue, both Christian and focusing on identity. He’s also read a few books about identity. They all seem to help him but he just can’t seem to deal with me. So we come back around to the same old thing: he can’t face what he has done when he hears my pain and I can’t pretend it didn’t happen.

          • Aly on May 23, 2017 at 1:14 pm


            Thanks for clarifying..
            has he done any brain work~ is he in any meds .. or assessed for ADD, ADHD etc.. Anxiety .. depression.. anything of these areas will effect the cognitive counseling approach and the penetration process.
            Developmental an expert in counseling can assess his mental age.

            I say these things because my h is not a sex addict, etc but is getting treated and successfully being treated for addiction in avoidance and early imprinting .. fragmented development.
            It usually all falls under a bigger umbrella.
            EMB addressed the deeper intimacy issues with fear and counterfeit and avoidance of intimacy really. Not sure if that makes sense .. nor do I want to cloud your journey…

            I’m still in the dark at the level of his addictions/stronghold entail and the extent.
            Are you getting the necessary treatment for your heart and your exposure to ‘his inability’ to begin to truly grieve.
            Fundamentally… ‘it’s my hunch’ because it sounds like he can acknowledge he has a big problem, but his words mean nothing if there are brain issues.
            And his words really mean nothing if he doesn’t have the structure to form the accountability to behave in a way that will align with his words.
            Hope this makes any sense.. I know and hear your in a lot of pain😩
            He is incongruent overall and that’s painful~
            If it’s a brain issue.. it’s also a maturity issue of how he connects the intellect with the character and integrity problems overall.
            Those are evident.
            I’m glad though that you know your not alone;)
            Sending you a big hug sweet sister!

        • Lidoffad on May 23, 2017 at 12:46 pm

          Ladies, I so want to help as Ive been helped. My husband also was living a double life of chronic adultery and deceit. We have multiple kids. He hid behind Christianity. I struggled to find answers. I found out it’s much worse than many of us could imagine. I soon discovered it was really true. Many of these men are intentionally abusing. They know what they are doing, and they know how to play dumb, look like a victim, and suck you back in to believe them. I did the dance you’re doing for over 20 years. I physically suffered for years from the stress and crazymaking and trying to get help. He destroyed so much
          Making boundaries doesnt completely work with many of them, especially with children, because they hoover and can punish. They make your life unworkable. There are answers…what they do, how, why…. it’s an insidious, sick abuse. There is help, education, so you can start seeing through the fog to the truth of who they are. There are answers on how to respond and stop the dance. They are at your fingertips. If you want to test this out…Many of you will see the truth in what I’m sharing…if you can contact me privately, I’ll give you some resources. Reply with your email? IDK if theres a way to. God finally led me to the answers. I have peace of mind after many years, though he’s still abusing as my x because of having kids. He doesnt even try to pretend with me anymore. He knows he’s been figured out. It’s an evil thing behind all of this. Maybe I can help save you years of pain. I wish someone had had this help for me. I can share more with you later. Many of our stories are the same or similar. That’s because the tactics are the same. This education will make things make sense. You will become stronger. I am here to help.

          • Tina on May 23, 2017 at 12:56 pm

            Can you list resources here? I don’t want to give my email address publicly. Maybe listing them here would also help others down the line who may read this.

          • Lidoffad on May 23, 2017 at 1:33 pm

            Yes I can list one to start right now. I just don’t know what Leslie is okay with. God bless you for responding! This was excruciatingly painful to go through myself and then continue to see so many innocent women and children suffering and giving these men the godly benefit of the doubt, trying to work things out, when they know exactly what they’re doing and do not​ want to change it because it serves their purposes. I am a strong believer, and have found the Bible does not get descriptive enough to understand this type of abuse or give specific how-to’s to respond​. Don’t get me wrong, God’s Word and His Way are #1. Seek Him above all. You need Him to lead you in this and trust Him. In these and any resources, chew the meat and spit out the bones (humanistic or new age thought, etc). First, NEVER share what you’re doing, reading, getting educated about with the person abusing, or anyone who knows them or could end up sharing with them what you’re doing. I made this mistake and I’m being punished moreso because of it. It is giving the enemy your strategy. It is hard, but you MUST do this privately, and keep all your websites and books private…do kindle, etc.
            They are smarter than you think and have been fooling us for many years. They watch us and study us. If they discover you are on to them, they will employ a variety of manipulations – either play victim, seduce, or punish, silent treatment, etc. These are called Hoovers (to suck you back in). Now again, this is if yours is this type of abuser. More than likely he is.
            The first resource to wet your feet is Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas (a heavier, more descriptive, and helpful resource comes after that, which was the key for me)
            Read this and see how much you can relate, ok? IDK what stage of the process your awareness and experience is in yet. It sounds like early. Maybe it takes the years and experiences it takes so many before they finally can see this. Maybe you’ll see the devaluing he’s doing. Lots of old red flags may pop up. I’m really hoping this isn’t jumping the gun. Either way, the next resource is a MUST. (BTW, my eyes first opened and that switch in my mind flipped after getting a private detective. That was the first step of my validation. If you ever do get one STAY QUIET. Never share with anyone. Get a good one. God led me to mine. However, I will say it isn’t necessary to get one and you’ll know why if you start getting educated in this abuse). I’ll help however I can. Phone calls, whatever God will allow. God lead you.

          • Aly on May 23, 2017 at 2:23 pm

            Lifoffad, and Tina,

            Lidoffad I’m so sorry for what you have been victim of and you sound like someone who has walked her Journey and been lead out. Again I’m so sorry for all of the trauma and pain.

            Lidoffad you wrote:
            “My husband also was living a double life of chronic adultery and deceit. We have multiple kids. He hid behind Christianity.”

            My question is for Tina,
            Tina, is this what you are dealing with? The same or different ~ ?
            Chronic adultery and deception, abuse and absolutely no ability to trust such a person like Tina has described.

          • Lidoffad on May 23, 2017 at 2:56 pm

            Hi Aly,
            You are somewhat correct. I was reading multi-comments and responding to those in general. Tina may have some different, but also similar surface issues, so I responded. If any of what I have learned can help any of you, I will be so happy. These recent resources I have come across hit the nail on the head as to what was the source of the symptoms. If any are dealing with husbands who are either overt or covert abusers they most likely, like me, are facing much more than we initially think. I could have never in a million years guessed the problem I was facing was exponentially beyond the issue of a husband with a sexual addiction. There may be so much more involved as there so often is. Many do not understand “about” it until they thoroughly study it. Then no one who has not lived it could ever fully “know” it. It is a process of discovery and great anguish and pain. Hope this helps.

        • JoAnn on May 23, 2017 at 3:06 pm

          Wow. I surely sympathize with you. Have you read through this blog. I think some very helpful things have been offered. Have your husband check out Pure Life Ministries online. It’s for porn addicts.
          I’m so very sorry you feel so beat up. Give the Lord your heart to heal. He can do it and He wants to, but it takes time.

        • Leslie Vernick on May 23, 2017 at 6:01 pm

          Tina have you tried Mark and Debbie Laser in the Minneapolis area? They are both counselors and also have been through it themselves. They have an intensive for couples to go to for healing.

          • Tina on May 23, 2017 at 7:37 pm

            He has been to a conference with Mark Laaser and was in one of the L.I.F.E groups from that ministry. We both have read their books. We are on the west coast. I have called their ministry and asked for a referall for a therapist or group in our area and they didn’t have any to refer me to.

            Thanks for the reference.

    • Aly on May 23, 2017 at 12:17 pm

      Oh my I’m so very sorry!
      I just read this post. I’m praying for you sweet sister💖
      I hear your heart and your wearyness, I’m lifting you up to Him and asking for comfort and tender care for your heart.
      Much love, aly

    • Leslie Vernick on May 23, 2017 at 6:03 pm

      Tina, what do you think would help you get strong and to stand on your own two feet so that you can move forward?

      • Tina on May 23, 2017 at 7:41 pm

        Probably knowing which direction to move. I feel so stuck and everyone has a different answer. I have sought God diligently but have no idea what to do. I believe I have the courage to make a change but not the strength to keep hitting brick walls.

        • Aly on May 23, 2017 at 8:48 pm

          This is where the women and the women support are critical to your strength.. God doesn’t intended or designed you to ever carry such a burden or even a maze of such misguided assistance.
          Do you have ‘educated support’ around you that know what you are experiencing?

          • Tina on May 23, 2017 at 9:13 pm

            I do not have educated support. I have not been able to find a support group for women in my shoes. I have called a few national ministries and they say they don’t have any in my area. I do attend Celebrate Recovery and the women are supportive and listen but they have no guidance for me.

          • Aly on May 23, 2017 at 9:46 pm


            I’m sorry to hear that I do know of additional support you could get.
            You didn’t answer if you are also going through repetitive adultery and deception from your spouse? Because based in what you truly are dealing with the help varies.. Like Lidoffad.
            So I’m weary in answering back with more info here..

          • Tina on May 23, 2017 at 10:58 pm

            Thanks. Yes he was lying and cheating repeatedly but since I found out about it, it as stopped.

          • Aly on May 24, 2017 at 11:36 am


            In response to your clarification.. I am So very sorry for what you have been put through and the extend of the retraumatization of the recovery process that has only worsened the pain in my opinion.
            You said your on the west coast .. have you reached out to NewLife Ministries.. they do have programs for women and aftercare for what you have been victim to over and over again.

            I’m a bit angered at the response you have so far received as ‘we don’t have anything to help you or your h situation’
            You may be able to get the help you need to guard your heart and healing necessary. And that is available in many places.

            Goodness my heart is so sad for what you have uncovered and how frustrating it is to feel like the ones with direction leave you (empty).
            I’m sending a hug to you now and I hope for your heart that you can hear in my words, I care,I see and You profoundly matter!! God Loves you and He will orchestrate your healing💖

            I do want to mention ‘stopping a behavior’ such as betrayal and infidelity is only minor, one small aspect of recovery.
            Plus, infidelity and his betrayals ‘are symptoms’ of that which is so much deeper.
            If a person only stops behavior and doesn’t treat the disease… it is only a matter of time before he reverts back to that all too familiar way of dealing with ‘anything in life really’. Sure he might not go back to cheating but his head and heart are very twisted.

            Your healing and recovery path are very separate from his.. he is not remotely ready for joint counsel based on him being too untreated for why he can’t hold your pain~
            When he is pain offender! This is what is backwards and he needs intensive therapy to get there. The fact that he shuts your pain out is a symptom of his deeper immaturity issues and his inability to look at reality. This is critical and can really pinpoint any progress or no progress in my opinion.
            Intensive recovery daily is critical (for him alone) apart from the marriage being redeemed.

            This therapy isn’t an hour a week .. this is hours a day usually with a ton of accountability and structure.

            Sending my prayers for your journey through.
            Again, I’m so so sorry;(

          • Tina on May 24, 2017 at 11:46 am

            Thank you. The therapist I now am trying to go to now is affiliated with New Life. I’m hoping that this will finally be some help.

          • Aly on May 24, 2017 at 12:00 pm


            Oh Good! 😊
            They have intensives for women who have been betrayed on multiple levels and support groups too. They also have scholarships if needed financially. You are worth this healing!

            They also have a video program avail at any time:
            Newlifetv.com ,.. it costs a little monthly because it’s a subscription.

            Sending hugs your way;) stay plugged here if you can so you can get support/comfort …at least some in this way…especially as you begin to form live support (the educated kind) around you.

            It is just too much to go it alone and depend on just a counselor to walk you through. But yes the Counselor is pivotal.
            The Body of Christ is designed by God to help with your burdens.
            Relying on God is essential, but in Gods economy He structured us in community and relationship with one another for His purpose and Glory.

            Many men lack this part because there are so few men available and in recovery themselves…and they have to be searched out intensively.

          • Tina on May 24, 2017 at 12:24 pm

            Thank you. Funny it seems quite the opposite for my husband in our area. He has found so many groups that he has to choose which ones he will go. I have found none. When he is in his male groups he has asked for help for me but they don’t have corresponding women’s groups because of the lack of women leadership and lack of need I suppose. Most of the women are unwilling to work things out or just stuck not wanting to deal with it.

          • Aly on May 24, 2017 at 12:54 pm


            Oh that is sad. And I understand why you have experienced it that way. I do think these things go underground for women. It’s horrible because they internalize the shame and it’s nothing about them.

            Stay the course.. this is for your ‘own journey’ toward healing what was clearly taken from you by your spouse! God wants to restore you;)

            It is my understanding that new life ministries promotes or has available many things for women who have been on your road.

            Besides it isn’t about sticking it out or ‘not dealing with it’ either way it gets dealt with … if one chooses, regardless of the outcome of the marriage.
            And those that choose to not deal with it.. that is a chose of dealing with it.. that in of itself brings more unhealed places that God can give TRUE Healing for.

            I would also recommend Patrick Doyle’s youtubes and Veritas Counseling.
            Arming yourself with wisdom, discernment is not for protection in the wrong way but the tools to get you equipped with what your dealing with.

            Stay sane and safe sweet sister!

  22. Sandy on May 23, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    After 37 years of s similar marriage, being married to the nicest guy, I understand these comments. I’ve heard a comment on a Christian radio program. It comparedt this type of husband to a street light but let the light go out in his home.

  23. Evi on May 23, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    Hello Leslie

    I just want to say ……thank you……thank you… thank you for your ministry. GOD has truely blessed you with divine wisdom,a clear mind, and a deep compassion for women .

    I too have been in a destructive marriage, nearly lost my life, to depression , due to fear of my husband , fear of disappointing God and fear of divorce.

    However my Abba Father provided a way out for me. I am still in recovery but a changed woman. I have become “bold and stout hearted” psalm 138.3.PRAISE OUR LORD

    Unfortunately I only discovered your website after my divorce. Nevertheless your counseling has provided me with untold comfort, validation and confirmation.

    I hope that one day we will meet on the other side in our Fathers presence.

    Well done leslie you good and faithful servant .!,

    Love Evi

    • Leslie Vernick on May 23, 2017 at 5:54 pm

      Thanks Evi

  24. Carolyn on May 23, 2017 at 3:33 pm

    Although my situation has not changed, I know now how much I am not alone in it. It’s as if every story is telling mine. I have prayed for years, looking for the path to follow. In small steps, it has been shown to me. Leslie has become one of the stones on my path, that I can step on, and feel solid ground beneath my feet. The immense pain that was consuming me, and I didn’t know what to do. Seeing clearly who my husband really is (Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde), and that I cannot change him, or get him to see how he is hurting me, or have any compassion at all for me. I am disabled, and no longer work. My disability would barley cover an apartment, let alone medical bills. I rely on him to do things that I cannot. So, I cannot leave. With the clarity of who he is, I have started understanding that his mean comments, name calling, threats, punishments, porn addiction, and all that he has done, blaming me as the reason for it all, including being physically abused, and having no intimacy at all (we get dressed in the bathroom even). I have even gotten to the point of being touched feeling so foreign, it causes anxiety. My point being though, that it is NOT BECAUSE OF ME, that he does these things. And my reactions have changed. He gets irritated that he isn’t getting the reaction from me that he used to. I have felt so lonely (he hates my friends, family, and gets upset when I am with them or have contact), and I wish that I could pursue a healthy relationship with a man, but God is giving me strength, reminding me how much He loves me, and that with the path that I am on, He will guide me around, over, and through the hurdles. That I will be resilient, that the”weapon”, my husband, that tries to make me falter, will not prosper. My days are not as dark anymore. I am practicing being confident, capable, and I am not what my husband tells me that I am. He wants me to think that. But with 20/20 vision, I know that I am not. I look at what I do, how I feel in my heart. That is me. I am a good person. I care about others. Other people like me, love me. I have purpose, talents, and I am loved. I tell myself everyday about all of the good things about me, and that I will continue to pursue who I REALLY am. Everyone, please take care of yourself. You are worth it.

    • Nancy on May 24, 2017 at 7:03 am

      Hi Carolyn,

      I’m sorry to hear that you are physically trapped because of your disability 🙁

      But I am so happy to read that you know that your husbands behaviour is not your fault! What freedom! Your 20/20 vision is serving you well. You are dearly loved by our God, and you are dearly loved by Carolyn – what a gift! ❤️

      Keep up the great work of keeping the bad out, and immersing yourself in the good.

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