Four Ways To Create Emotional Distance in a Destructive Relationship

Morning friends,

I’m on my way to California to attend a seminar and meet my assistant Kim, for the very first time.  In the age of virtual, Kim has been managing the technical part of things since February from where she lives in California while I’m located in Pennsylvania.  This will be fun for us both – although we have a lot of work to do. She’s going to help me be more tech savvy so pray for us both as my brain doesn’t grasp these things easily.

Today’s Question:  I have fully read and been studying your book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.  Thank you for teaching and sharing and helping me feel that I am not alone and not “going insane.”  Thank you for putting perspective on, and giving direction to, the need to rely on God and focus on my life with Him.

While I immediately began to follow your advice and work on developing my C.O.R.E. strength – it’s a process, for sure – I see that the complex situation with my husband is also going to require me to distance myself emotionally in order to survive.  I am having trouble understanding how to do that.  How to balance acts of love and kindness with distance in the same house is confusing me desperately.  I need to get off of this emotional roller coaster and stop believing that every kind gesture he makes is a step toward healing and restoration.

I dearly love my husband, and separation is not an option for me.  He says we cannot afford it financially and he also doesn’t want anyone to know there is a problem.

Answer:  You ask the million dollar question – yes you realize that you must distance yourself emotionally from your destructive spouse but how do you do it while still being the person you want to be?  Confusing indeed. It’s a tough tightrope to walk well but here are a few guidelines:

First, from your CORE – you are going to be Committed to truth – both internally (not lying to yourself) and externally (no more pretending everything is fine when it’s not fine).  Therefore one of the first steps to emotionally distance yourself from him is to acknowledge and affirm you have a right to a self, independent of the marriage. Philippians 2:4 says “Do not merely look out for your own interests but also for the interests of others.” Note that it does not say, “do not have any of your own interests,” nor does it say you may NOT look out for your own interests.

If indeed things are that bad, then you cannot comply with his desire for no one to know what’s going on between the two of you.  It is time that you get some support and that will require telling someone.  I’m not advising that you blab to everyone, but I am saying that part of emotionally distancing yourself from a destructive person is that you don’t cater to their demands or delusions anymore.  Instead, you decide what you are going to do and how you are going to respond. Your decisions are based on truth and the person you want to be (CORE) instead of based on what your husband says or your fear of rocking the boat or losing the relationship.

The second step in distancing yourself emotionally is to accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can and be wise enough to discern the difference.  You cannot change him, but you can change you.  In the R step of building CORE strength, you will be responsible for yourself (the person you want to be or want to become).  One thing that means is you will “guard your heart, above all else, for it is the well-spring of life” (Proverbs 4:23).

You said you must stop believing that every kind gesture he makes is a step toward healing and restoration.  You’re right. His sporadic gestures of love and kindness are playing with your emotions.  When his seemingly loving actions are not accompanied by sincere remorse and repentance for the hurt he’s caused don’t allow yourself to get sucked into the fantasy that “maybe he really does love me.”  Or “Maybe now he gets it and is changing.”

My hunch is that he does these token gestures to confuse you and keep you hoping he’s changing when he has no intention to do so.  This is a very common tactic seen in prisons as well as concentration camps in order to maintain control over  prisoners.  The term Stockholm Syndrome describes an emotional attachment to an abuser.  It was named after hostages in a bank heist became emotionally attached to their captures during their confinement, because the kidnappers offered small gestures of kindness mixed in with abuse.

For you to guard your heart you will need to set boundaries on what you will listen to or engage in and what you will walk away from when your spouse is destructive. When he blames you or tries to draw you in, you will tell yourself the truth, “This is not my fault, I do not make him choose to act this way and I will NOT take responsibility for his behaviors or feelings.”  When he’s charming and brings flowers, you will need to say to yourself , “Don’t be fooled.  These token gestures of kindness are meaningless when I see no change in his heart.”

To continue to distance yourself will mean that you take responsibility for your safety and sanity. When you are feeling tense or irritable or scared you will do what you need to do to calm yourself down (like breathe deeply and leave the house) even if it upsets your spouse.  Emotionally distancing yourself means that you will no longer allow your emotions to be tightly woven around his emotions or see your role as keeping him happy or calm. You are now taking care of yourself instead of expecting or hoping or waiting for him to care for you.

You will be respectful, and sometimes compassionate and empathetic (as appropriate to his suffering outside of the suffering caused by consequences of his own destructive behavior), because that’s the person you want to be.

However, living with a destructive person day in and day out takes its toll on your emotional, mental, spiritual and physical strength even when you put on the armor of God (Ephesians 6).  You often don’t sleep well.  Constant criticism or verbal assaults infect you with poison.  It’s like entering a toxic environment with a gas mask on.  You will still have limits of how much you can take without being overcome.   So be cognizant of your limitations and when you see you are running low on internal resources, remove yourself from the environment, even if only temporarily.

Last, but not least, to emotionally distance yourself you will need to let go of your dreams, hopes, and wishes for your husband to change, grieve your losses and release your husband into God’s hands.  In the Old Testament, Abigail was a woman in an emotionally destructive marriage.  She had no expectations that Nabal would ever be different than he was – a surly and foolish man (1 Samuel 25). By accepting who he was, Abigail was freed to distance herself from him emotionally.  She did what she needed to do as his wife but she held no fantasies that he would be pleased with her, thank her, approve of her, or love her.  She did what she did because it was the person she wanted to be, not because she hoped he would repent and come to his senses or change.

You said you love your husband dearly but to emotionally detach, you have to let go of your craving for him to love you back.

Friends, share ways you learned to emotionally distance yourself from someone who is destructive towards you.   



  1. Lori Coffey on August 20, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    I lived in an emotionally destructive marriage for 24 years. In the end, the only way I could create emotional distance was first an in-house separation (I slept on the sofa for six months and would only speak with him when he was being respectful), and then actual separation. He refers to that period as “the time when Lori wouldn’t speak with me” which shows me that he still hasn’t taken responsibility for HIS actions. Because the only reason I wouldn’t speak with him was because he was being critical, condescending, mocking, belittling and rude.

    We ended up getting separated and then he filed for divorce. Throughout separation and now divorce, his actions have rarely changed. He has been verbally abusive via text and email. I now have a boundary that if he is critical or condescending in a text, I will block his texts and calls for one week. When he has been verbally abusive in my presence, I call 911. These are things I can do to protect myself.

    I remain open to God’s healing work in our relationship. If my ex would ever show humility and repentance, I would be willing to seek counseling (again) and work on restoring our marriage.

    • Emily on October 13, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      Upon reading this article, I too have an emotional attachment to my husband even after all the abuse. We have been married 2 1/2 years and I have now filed for a divorce. It has been a very emotional journey! I love my husband and I expect that one day that love will be gone (aside from loving him in Christ.) We are in the beginning stage of our divorce and it won’t be final until 90 days. I continue to pray for him and I hope he will one day get on his knees and truly repent and serve the Lord! For myself, I continue in my walk with the Lord amidst this long hurtful storm.

  2. MaryM on August 20, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    This is such an excellent article, one that I can relate to also. It was at least 15-20 years ago that I realized I had to emotionally divorce myself from my husband and build up my own person if I didn’t want to be destroyed as a person. I have long ago lost any love for him and have no desire to be around him. Yet I must; we both respect our marriage vows and he doesn’t want to upset his retirement. It’s exhausting living with a person who is hostile to one’s very being, critical, demeaning, overbearing, indifferent, etc, but with the Lord’s huge help and mercy I have made it this far. I especially appreciate the comments about the times when he does small acts of kindness, and how to take them. They still confuse me (ie, does he really care after all?), until the next outburst occurs. it’s very lonely though, and i don’t think I could do this without very good outside friends. I pray for my husband’s salvation, but have to honestly admit that I don’t think i could ever love him again. That would truly be a ‘dry bones’ miracle as Ezekiel described! Thanks for all your advice, Leslie.

    • Elizabeth Martin on September 1, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      Thank you Mary. After 50 years I no longer beat myself up for not having warm loving feelings for my emotionally and verbally abusive husband. I know it is the natural consequence of his behavior and choices over the years and even now. I focus on guarding my heart that I respect him and do not become bitter. Learning to be content with Jesus and live at peace as much as I am able.

  3. Lois on August 20, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    A relief to know that I am not alone and also to know that there are others who have to find a way to survive in an emotionally abusive marriage.

  4. Kris on August 20, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    Well, I left my husband over his abuse. Now it is my daughter that is emotionally abusing me as she has seen her father do for years. I have distanced myself by refusing to make excuses for her when she behaves inappropriately (name calling, yelling at me, and accusing me of being a horrible mother) and I have given her over to the Lord. I cannot change her, but I will not be emotionally abused by anyone. The last time I spoke with her, I let her know her behavior had hurt my feelings and now she says she will never speak to me again. I said ok and left. I will not beg or enable. I love her dearly, but I will not be emotionally abused by anyone ever again. It hurts and I am mourning my relationship with my only daughter, but I have set my boundary. I will not be abused. By anyone. Even her.

    • Roge on August 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      I had distanced myself in the home and was staying in a seperate bedroom. I found that it was really impossible for me to really distance myself while

      • Roge on August 21, 2014 at 2:42 pm

        Staying in the same house. I finally left and although it was very difficult at first, I found it was the best thing for me to do. It was mentally freeing and I can see things clearly now.

    • Robin on August 25, 2014 at 9:12 pm

      Kris, it sounds like you have made some very tough decisions. I am very excited for your future. Sometimes, when we leave an abusive spouse, it feels like ‘will things ever get better’?? When I left mine, he manipulated 3 of my 4 children to join his team. That was 7 months ago, and they are all still bitterly fighting for their dad to win. I just wanted to say, the payoff is worth it. There is a cost, and when children are raised in a hostile environment, of course they will learn hostility themselves. But God promises to restore to us double fold. I don’t know about you, but my personal life has improved so much, I am very glad I made the decision, I did. I used to think I would need to stay in a emotionally destructive relatuionship, for life. God was there waiting for me, to take the first step— and believe me, He has opened the windows wide, for me to be FREE!!! God Bless you for your COIURAGE!!!!!

    • Sara on November 11, 2016 at 6:10 pm

      We must have the opposite situation,. Kris..except my Dad mom didn”t divorce him. My mom had been abusing me for years as a child..things like beating me with an electric chord, waking me up at 3am as punishment ( something she still Brags to friends about 30 years later). I have let go of so much to have a relationship with her as she ” doesn’t want to discuss the bad things from the past, only the good.” Many times she would do repeat, manipulating hurtful stunts as an I was an adult, then expect me not to ever get mad or even bring it up.
      She called one day and thought it was hilarious to tell me about how she decided I was faking an Asthma attack at 4 so when I approached her, she “fixed my Asthma attack” by throwing a cups of water in my face. (I remember this.)Yes, she thought this was hilarious! As if I was some sort of horrible, needy child for dare invonciencing HER and she fixed me! And, then Mom got very angry when I told her this hurt my feelings for her to bring this up and EXPECT me to laugh with her at her abuse of me.
      Every time I called to discuss this, she would yell loudly. How DARE I tell her she was very wrong and hurt my feelings?!?!. Then she sent me a text telling me to “take a shit and stick your head in and take a sniff…” After 4 more calls of her yelling, a nasty letter from her, and years of crappy, horrible, self centered things she has done to me and feels NO remorse for …….the best thing I did was to let her go.

      • Kathy on November 15, 2016 at 9:12 pm

        I am so sorry you had to endure this. Your mother had to have been sick in the head to do this to her daughter. I hope and pray you come to know the love of Jesus. He will never let you down. He ‘is’ love and He teaches us how to love. May you be healed in the mighty name of Jesus!

  5. HisEzer on August 20, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    I can relate to your dilemma, sister. You are not alone. It is not an easy path to discern or walk. For now, I am simply taking it one day at a time within an approach of in-house separation. (Separate beds; no longer attending church or public events with him, limited conversation to only household matters or info pertaining to the children…) My husband knows I have felt emotionally and spiritually abused and I have communicated clearly that based on the manipulative patterns additionally established when trying to seek help, the door is closed for now on reconciliation – until he is able to reach the point of acknowledging his destructiveness. He is not there. Can’t do it. Can’t see it… And based on the number of years which have passed and opportunities I know the Spirit has had to speak truth to His heart all without any response,… the likelihood of his spiritual awakening is growing slimmer every day. The conscience seems to be seared. In his view, the issue is all about my “unforgiveness”and inability to “move on”… two of the more prominent labels given to women in our situation. These men do not seem to understand there is a difference between forgiveness and trust – forgiveness is something which can be offered to even the most vile of enemies… but that does not mean we automatically trust such a person… Trust is necessary to be able to have intimate fellowship. And it has to be restored once destroyed. I hold no grudge against my husband and continue to seek his best and pray for him. But knowing what I know about his total disregard for our relationship, his unwillingness to take ownership of harmful choices (some of which continue), and his ongoing practice of mask-wearing/double-life, deceiving everyone (including himself) as to what reality truly is, I know it would be unsafe – and quite foolish in fact – to open myself up yet again to only more of the same mistreatment… I always love when Leslie refers to Abigail, for I believe she experienced much of the same struggles we are talking about here. She handled it with dignity, faith, and perseverence. Those are qualities I want to have and cling to… It is a hard place to be when misunderstood by a large majority of friends and relatives, but just keep reminding yourself, friend, that Jesus is with you, and He is your most important ally. If you find one or two others who understand where you are and will walk with you on the difficult journey, that would be considered a real blessing. Know in the meantime, that you can always count on finding an understanding ear hear on Leslie’s site.
    Thank you again, Leslie for providing this outlet!

    • Karen on August 21, 2014 at 5:20 am

      Wise words you shared, thank you.

    • Joni on August 27, 2014 at 7:30 pm

      Dear HisEzer, Thanks so much for your additional insight to Leslie’s thoughtful article. It is a crazy dance to love well and maintain the distance needed to maintain sanity. It is so encouraging to know I have sisters in the same circumstance. I felt so alone for so long. Blessings to you…Joni

    • Elizabeth Martin on September 1, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      Thank you HisEzer. You have put into words exactly how I am feeling and what I am living. Apart from the Lord it is a very lonely journey. I am so thankful for Leslie and all of you. It is a comfort to know we are praying for one another. We need one another. Blessings to you all….

    • Vicki on July 18, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      What a wonderful blessing to have found this conversation at this very moment. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and insights. Please know that you have truly helped me in this immediate time of need. I have no friends or family to talk to about the abuse I suffer because my spouse is so charming to everyone but me. I hate myself for allowing him to have control over me. I say I am putting up with it for the children but what lies in store for them because of my weakness? I am setting them up for future failure unless I can break us free. Today, I pray. Tomorrow, I will pray. I will pray until I can free my children and myself from this negative life.

  6. Marianne on August 20, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Why, dear sister, is divorce or separation out of the question? Because HE said so? I ask because I know that separation helped me to gain perspective and get out of the Stockholm Syndrome I was in.Life is too short to continue living in abuse. You can get out of there, but you do need to talk to other key people to help your perspective. That was another move that helped me. You must be safe to tell the truth. Separation helps that too. Praying for you, girl. It’s not an easy road, but you can take that road with lots of help from your sisters and brothers in Christ – really IN Christ- not play Christians.

  7. Cindy A. on August 20, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    I would question the writer as to why separation is not an option and then she goes on to say that her husband says they cannot afford it financially. May I boldly suggest to face head on why separation is not an option. I am just wondering if that is keeping her from having the freedom to choose or is she listening to her husband’s reasoning of it is not financially feasible. Who is making that decision for her? To me those are huge red flags keeping her from having the choice as to what level of distancing herself she can take. If it is financial, there are options. If it is personal conviction, she may need to give herself permission to reframe her belief system. Having a choice is amazingly powerful! That doesn’t mean you have to choose separation…but just being empowered with options is life-giving!

    • wondering on December 8, 2014 at 4:43 am

      What options to separate if not working?

  8. […] Source:  Adapted from an article by Leslie Vernick […]

  9. Terrie Petersen on August 20, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    I also deal with this type of behavior in my husband. He is extremely narcissistic and has behavior patterns that are very destructive. I have 3 kids that are adults. One has a border line mental illness partially caused by my husband’s (her step dad) emotionally abuse when she was young. We have a 12 year old son. I try emotional distance from my husband to keep my sanity. My kids, especially my youngest son, has learned to treat me the same way his dad treats me. My son also wants, more than anything, for us to do things together and get along. He hates that I distance myself from his dad but it is the only place to be safe. It is causing his emotions to distract him from his school work and when he gets in trouble at school, all those emotions come flooding out. This whole issue has very negatively affected my son at school. Getting my son to school is becoming a power struggle and he is very emotionally abusive to me. When I try to talk to him about it he mocks me. Last year was a nightmare as I discovered a severe learning disorder in my son. He has genius level verbal skills, college level vocabulary and a writing ability of a 7 year old. I have to help a lot with his writing homework. There were many misunderstandings between the teachers and I. I knew what was going on. They thought I was making excuses for my son. I was so relieved when the testing proved what I was trying to explain about him. The worst part is that my son is very abusive to me when I try to help him with his homework. He wants me to help but he is mean to me. His dad does nothing about how our son treats me. My husband is not skilled enough to help him (or uses that as an excuse not to). My husband also will not follow through with the solutions for his learning disability to help him in school. I have already talked to people in the school (it is a Christian school and also the church we go to) about the situation at home. Most don’t want to talk about it or give support. The counselor at the church has told me not to talk bad about my husband. I have only told the counselor and don’t talk to anyone else about this subject. I even gave this counselor all the information about this ministry. Sorry for ranting but I feel very alone and stuck!

    • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2014 at 2:50 pm

      I’m sorry for what all you’re going through. But I’m glad you’ve found this community and if you need to rant a little, it’s fine. We’ve all been there.

      • lee Ann on September 11, 2016 at 5:22 pm

        I’m dealing with a notorious narc,who is very distant,withOlds love,affection,sex and use it as his control tactics,he has been emotionally,mentally,verbally,sexually,financially abusive and for a number of times was physically abusive as well. I have 3 kids with him. and knowing I’m not loved at all and that everything is just a lie is very hurtful enough. I’m still reading and learning more,and this article has helped me so much,coping with the emotional stress I’m going through everyday. It’s hard but thankful for my children as my rock and God my ultimate source of strength. It is a great relief to know that I’m not alone, that I’m not crazy,making up things,that something is going on in my noodles as what he always tells me. I am working on this emotional distance..thank you

  10. ann on August 20, 2014 at 11:37 pm

    Thank you for going over this again Leslie. I have distanced myself and also we’ve been in counseling for over a year. It is marriage counseling and it truly doesn’t work well in abusive relationships. I was encouraged to keep going because the counselor saw so many changes in my husband. Outward changes and when ever I brought up the fact that I could still feel resentment from my husband and hadn’t really seen any changers in our relationship I was encouraged to keep coming back. There was a major breach of trust and a blow up when all the old tactics were used by my husband so I said I was going to stop the counseling. I think I was still hoping things would change. I will no longer expect anything in the way of change by my husband. Counseling hindered my emotional detatchment.

    • Lisa on September 3, 2014 at 1:53 am

      I also found counseling a be somewhat of a waste. I am one of those wives who thought by dragging an alcoholic with me would fix things. Sad to say, that we 15+ years ago, the marriage isn’t fixed. Finally, about a year ago, something woke up in me and I finally realized that I didn’t have to tolerate this craziness. Sadly, I fell for the “being good” cycle thinking maybe I was loved and appreciated. We are currently struggling thru the pre-separation phase of our relationship. We live in the same house, separately. However, emotionally, it is still a drain. Sorry to ramble. Like so many others who have posted to this, it is a comfort to know I am not alone.

  11. Jane Ludwig on August 21, 2014 at 12:00 am

    Thank you Leslie, for writing this response. I will read it again! I need to do this because tonight, after a few weeks of normalcy, I was shocked to see the old H there again. Why was I shocked? I keep hoping things will be better……This letter was perfect timing. Also, thank you to the women who posted responses.

  12. Look2him on August 21, 2014 at 2:23 am

    Thank you HisEzer for your reply. You have no idea how your words have brought me comfort and clarity this evening. The description you gave of your marriage, mirrors my marriage. I, too, have lived an in-house separation over the last 4 years. My husband also accuses me of not being able to “forgive”, or “move on.” I so appreciate when you say, “Trust is necessary to be able to have intimate fellowship. And it has to be restored once destroyed.” God created us all to be loved well. When our hearts and bodies have been violated, I believe God calls us to guard our hearts from further abusive patterns.

    • HisEzer on August 21, 2014 at 5:24 pm

      I am sorry you are experiencing the same hardship but am thankful my words have brought some encouragement. What makes our situations all the more saddening (or at least in my own case ) is the knowledge our marriage/s could possibly have been saved if those counseling us had understood the dynamics of abuse/destructiveness and had been willing to call them out… had been equipped to handle the resulting lies and manipulations purposed to deflect and sidetrack issues … had been willing to take bold steps to validate the need for seeing genuine evidence of ownership and repentence in order for broken trust to begin being restored… and had given verification to the fact that trust is an essential ingredient even for basic of friendships – so, certainly that much more, then, for deeper intimate relationships such as marriage… But, unfortunately, many pastors, elders, and counselors are not equipped to handle abusers and liars, and furthermore do not understand the difference between forgiveness and trust. As a result, many Christian homes are being left in shambles.

      • Sue on September 20, 2016 at 12:12 pm

        Spot on! It was YEARS before I got a hint Christian leaders were beginning to understand this terrible abusive cycle. About 20 years ago ‘Our Daily Bread’ ministries put out a pamphlet, ‘What Does God Expect of a Woman.’ In it I finally heard the words of mercy which I accepted as being straight from God. It may still be available and if it is, please order one.

  13. Kathy on August 21, 2014 at 2:26 am

    Leslie, I was confused when I read your comment about Abagail?She did what she needed to as a wife? Does that mean sex? And does that mean that we should stay like Abagail did? Thank you for clarifying. I love your work.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      What I mean in the blog statement is that when the servants came to her and told he what her foolish husband did, she did not submit to Nabal’s foolishness but acted as an ezer – a strong warrior and developed a plan to both save her household and influence David from tarnishing his reputation as the future king. So when I said she did what she needed to do as a wife I means she acted in the best interests of her husband – even overruling his foolishness and going against his wishes, so that his life and the lives of others would be spared. She had no idea what the consequences to her would be – either from Nabal when she told him what she did, or from David when she went out to meet him. But she trusted God. Godly love acts in the other’s best interests and sometimes that means to separate so that he wakes up from his destructive ways. Sometimes that means telling the truth so that other’s can see what’s going on and perhaps step in and help. Sex may be in the best interests of your husband from his perspective because it meets a felt need, but it if by doing so it continues to collude with his delusion that he can treat you like an object and then demand you be loving and intimate with him, it’s not helping his thinking errors. But withholding sex can be used as a weapon and a punishment which I don’t think is helpful and therefore I think it’s crucial that we do our own CORE work to stay committed to God’s path for our steps forward.

      You can read more about Abigail in my book, she decided to stay and she stayed well. I used her as an example of a woman who stayed well – and perhaps she didn’t decide, she had no other choice, but she chose to stay well rather than stay bitterly. But I didn’t use her as an example of every woman’s choice. If you stay, stay well. If you leave, leave well.

      • Tammy on August 22, 2014 at 12:32 pm

        I stayed married for 10 years after my husband became emotionally abusive. I stayed so long because his mental illness complicated issues (he became severely bipolar when the abuse started). I felt torn about what to do about behavior in which mental illness played a factor. He kept telling me over the years that he would try harder with no real plan of action. We spent a lot of money on marriage therapy, and finally I reached the point of distancing myself emotionally. It became an impossible tightrope walk that ate at me, chipping away at me like a cancer. And yes, not having sex with someone who treated me this way was an important emotional boundary! Men tend to think if you are having sex with them, then everything is fine between the two of you. This is especially true if sex happens after those small gestures of kindness from the abuser. They believe they can behave anyway they want to as long as they throw in some kind deed ever so often. I finally left for good, but I have to say the first step I ever took towards healing was breaking the silence and talking to several people that I felt were WISE and would be supportive. What a reality check that was. Gather information for yourself, and start looking into what your financial situation really is. Don’t accept possible brainwashing into his stance that you can’t afford to leave. You must check this out for yourself.

        • Leslie Vernick on August 22, 2014 at 3:07 pm

          Knowledge is powerful in helping you make wise choices. I agree you must check things out for yourself

      • Ann on August 22, 2014 at 12:45 pm

        What does leaving well look like?

        • Ann on August 24, 2014 at 2:20 am

          Can anyone help me with the above?

          • Robin on August 25, 2014 at 9:41 pm

            Ann, I will give it an attempt to explain how I left well. I read Leslie’s bks and did my homework with my counselor, in building up my core. For me in simple terms that meant to learn how to take responsibility for myself and my well-being, learn how to steward myself and the gifts God had given to me, and to leave with a heart that wanted to stop destruction, but not with a wrong motive. In a sense I left kind of wildly. My husband had been on a trip, and he came home to a note, asking him to vacate the house, I needed to earn an ioncome in my at home business. After 30 yrs of continual pleading, counseling that he wouldn’t respond too, children being wounded in the home, and learning how to stand up to him and confront his destructive behaviors– I was ready to walk away. I have always had it in my heart, that soemday he will acknowledge his sins against his family, and repent and then we can be restored. To this day, it still has not happened. I have moved ahead, meaning I take full responsibility to go towards the life God has for me. Its been a process for sure- but if I could only say one thing to women in this situation, I would say go to God and don’t move, till you hear His directions. He has a plan for you. If you don’t have a counselor you trust, find one. Be surrounded by excellent wise people. And then make a decision based on truth, not on what your husband says. Truth will take you, to a place, you never could have imagined. It did for me, and I know it can for you!!

          • Cait on August 30, 2014 at 2:12 pm

            Leslie describes in detail in her book what it means to “Leave well.” Essentially you acknowledge the abuse, build you CORE strength, set boundaries… doing everything you can to show the person you will not tolerate the abuse. It is then up to them to make the changes necessary to restore the relationship. If they do not, you pursue the option to leave well…

      • Emily on October 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm

        Sadly, in my relationship with my husband sex was withheld from him. It wasn’t intentional but due to the fact that he told me on many occasions that I ‘was fat or overweight’. This hurt me deeply. I was so hurt and devastated over his hurtful words for months! I finally felt that I needed to not think on those words he said to me, but sex for us NEVER happened. We were married only 2 1/2 years and of those years 17 months of NO sex. I lost interest after he criticized me so many times. I also realize now that on my part, I was wrong.

  14. Sue on August 21, 2014 at 3:06 am

    I am in the process of emotionally separating from my husband right now. God is really opening my eyes to the truth of my situation. Especially in regards to not being able to change him, to let go of my dreams, grieve the loss and handing him over to God. For the longest time I was consumed with the pain of him not caring enough about me to admit to his abuse, sincerely apologize, repent and desire to change because he thought our marriage was worth fighting for. I am still praying that God softens his heart and there can be healing and restoration. But it is almost freeing and liberating to be able to lay that down and not let it consume me emotionally to the point of hopelessness and despair.
    My goal for now is to live together in an “in house” separation to give working on my CORE a chance. I had read The Emotionally Destructive Marriage several months back but did not put my full heart and effort into living from my CORE. I am working through this with a counselor at church and once I have been living it out consistently, I will see where we are at in our marriage and ask for further direction at that point. Excellent, timely topic for me. Thank you for sharing Leslie.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      You’re welcome.

  15. Remedy on August 21, 2014 at 3:06 am

    Dear Leslie…my question about Abigail is exactly the same.

  16. Karen on August 21, 2014 at 5:18 am

    It is a tight rope, emotionally distancing yourself, but being intentional about being forgiving so resentment doesn’t stay and turn to bitterness and hatred. This is such a struggle for me. After 20 years of emotional abuse, I don’t want to be bitter, but feel such a subtle message from the church that we must be forgiving which is Biblical, but only a person who is in this type of relationship truly understands th wear and tear on the emotions. My husband raged this week and got physical. Our Pastor encouraged us to leave for the night and after speaking with my husband at length told me that I needed to honor my wedding vows and have a redemptive intent in my decision to separate. He told me to go the extra mile in communicating (which I have done so much I have very little motivation to even try) that this is my last attempt to show him what is required for me to not separate. Maybe I’m just overly sensitive but it feels like a subliminal way of saying try harder. Thanks Leslie for the reminder of CORE. Without these blogs, your book, and other resources, I would feel so unvalidated and misunderstood.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2014 at 2:38 pm

      When pastor’s, counselors, or well-meaning friends talk about “redemptive intent” or “how does the gospel speak into your decisions right now” ask them what they mean by that? I find when people give these answers it’s like a script they’ve learned to say when they don’t know what else to say. When things feel fuzzy to you simply say, “I’m not quite sure what that looks like. Could you explain what you mean?” Then you will weed out the trying harder folks from people who want to share some true nuggets of spiritual gold.

      • Mimi on August 22, 2014 at 6:32 pm

        Good advice. Thank you!!

  17. Lynn on August 21, 2014 at 7:31 am

    This post really encouraged me since I can relate to the situation very well. My husband and I are also living under the same roof but in separate bedrooms. This was to be a temporary situation, suggested by a counselor, due to some anger issues he had. We were to continue working through things with the help of the counselor and our pastor/elders. He quickly refused to go to the counselor anymore and after another 6months or so no longer wanted counseling from the church. He would rather just pretend nothing is the matter as far as others knowing is concerned, and tells me that I just won’t forgive him and so our messed up life is all my fault. I agree 100% that there is a HUGE difference in forgiving and trusting someone again who has hurt you deeply and refuses to take responsibility for their actions and change their ways. Although he pretty much keeps his anger in check, he still treats me with little respect most of the time and tells me I am living in sin and I had better wake up and be the kind of wife God wants me to be. A lot of our problems stemmed from a very patriarchal/head of the household stance on his part, to the point that what I said didn’t matter, his way or the highway mentality. When this poured over into the bedroom, I couldn’t take it anymore. I finally stood up for myself and refused to be intimate with someone who had little regard for my feelings and just demanded his needs to be met, “because it was my duty.” I am currently reading Leslie’s book on the emotionally destructive marriage and have realized that instead of really leaning into God, I have allowed bitterness and anger to poison my heart. I am less patient with my children, not thankful for the many blessings I still have in my life, and even at times, hesitated to even spend time with God because I feel abandoned by Him.

    • Teris on August 22, 2014 at 3:33 am

      Lynn…thank you for posting this. It helps to know that I’m not alone 🙂

    • Gina on January 27, 2016 at 10:17 am

      Thank you.

  18. Lynn on August 21, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Sorry…accidentally hit the post button. I was about to say that feeling abandoned and avoiding time in the Word is something that the deceiver wants me to believe and I have been realizing more and more that crying out to God for His strength and wisdom is what I need to do most. These situations in life can indeed make you feel like you are going insane, I’ve definitely been there and still feel that way at times. Thankfully I have several close friends that know what I’m going through, let me call them WHENEVER I need their encouragement and prayers, and family that will love and support me whatever the future brings and through whatever choices I may have to face eventually. I am so thankful for Leslie and her blog/book. It has helped me to put up the boundaries I need for my children and I to endure this dark valley, and to know that God loves me and will never leave us or forsake us! That is what keeps me going. Praying for eyes to be opened, for truth to reign and for my dear sisters to feel the arms of Jesus wrapped around them. You are not alone. I am not alone. And He promises to walk alongside us and carry us when necessary!

    • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      You’re so right Lynn. If Satan can keep us from God’s presence and his Word, all we are left with is our own thoughts and the words of our abuser. Not a good place to be stuck in.

    • anniehall on September 25, 2014 at 8:46 pm

      I hear you so well Lynn, and know the tightrope of forgiving today, just to be re-injured tomorrow…on and on and on….trying with all your heart to live righteously before God in a totally ungodly environment year after year, often feeling like you’ll go crazy!

      As a left brainer, it helped me to understand the 3 concepts of Cloud and Townsend’s (I think) Chapt 6 of ‘Boundaries face to face’:

      There is a sequence to restoring a hurt in a relationship:
      A. FOGIVENESS is to ‘let go of a DEBT or a wrong that was done against me or neglect of right treatment towards me (which is often more difficult to pinpoint) in the PAST. One forgives a specific thing that was done, not the person or the debtor.
      You don’t excuse him, endorse her, or embrace them.

      B. RECONCILIATION focuses on the RELATIONSHIP with the wounder in the PRESENT, 2 people needed
      And the offneder needs to initiate…
      1. I did this….. (take responsibilty and ownership without blame, excuses or denial)
      2. It was wrong of me. (humble self)
      3. It hurt you in suchandsuch way and the consequences was this and that..
      (validate pain and harm done)
      Is there anything I left out wrt this issue that also hurt you?
      4. I’m so sorry. (remorse, sorrow)
      Remorse asks of me to set aside my own reality and way of thinking to allow myself to feel empathy for what happened to you and how you experienced it. The sorrow I feel affirms that your pain is important to me, even if it makes me feel uncomfortable to feel it. Remorse shows my love and care for you and my sincerity in wanting to make things right between us.
      LW Remorse is not the same as guilt.
      5. I do not want to do this to you ever again. From now on I want to.. (state intent wrt the future)
      This is a very important step, because only when you commit to change the hurtful behaviour can true healing take place in the relationship. When you express your desire to change from your hurtful ways, it tells your spouse that you are earnest about this.
      6. Will you forgive me?
      7. I forgive you specifically for ……..(when the specific offenses are stated, it ensure the completeness of the forgiveness and that nothing is left out or hanging in the air.) I will not keep it against you anymore.
      8. Is there something that I have done to hurt you?

      C.TRUST is about the FUTURE, it Must be earned on ongoing base, before you trust or allow to be close again. Limits set, conditions, consequences, expectations, different behaviour is needed
      Matt 3:8 Bring forth fruit that is consistent with repentance [let your lives prove your change of heart]

      RECONCILIATION takes place by speaking WORDS of sorrow when I caused injury,
      But for TRUST to be restored, DEEDS and a new way of behaving need to follow the repentant words. Trust MUST BE EARNED and it takes time.

      The problem with us (superresponsible enablers!) is that mostly WE TRY TO REBUILD TRUST – as though we caused the problem! – WITHOUT reconciliation ever taking place!, because the offender has not at all or if he has ,only ‘lightly’ said ‘sorry’ …

      This does not work, because reconciliation always needs to precede trust! That is why we get reinjured again and again …I ‘ve realized what a fool I was to go through this over and over for years.

      Thank you Hisezer, and all you brave women who choose God’s way for yourself, dealing with your own stuff, growing up , becoming strong and confident enough to not allow God’s plan for your life to be stolen! You inspire me greatly and I am so prous of you.

      Thank you Leslie, I must say these blogs are a Godsent to me.

      • Leslie Vernick on September 27, 2014 at 12:33 pm

        Thanks for giving us Cloud and Townsend’s wisdom. I’m giving away two copies of their Boundaries books in this next newsletter.

  19. Vikki on August 21, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Its really hard to emotionally detach from someone we love. The only way I did it for the 14 month separation that led to divorce ( granted this past Monday) was to look for actions that backed up his words over and over. My detachment came when I heard how sorry he was and how he sees everything – but saw no actions: no listening to me, asking how I was, no dates, no call just because. When I learned he began dating 2 months ago (!!) I asked what I missed. He said , “You never treated me as if Id changed. And you didnt give me a shred of hope.” I was waiting for actions to reattach, so we could build on a different ground, and there were none- but this is still my fault. Emotionally detaching is the survival mechanism we have been given to step back and see whats true. He blamed me to the end. Truth is, I do love him but I can no longer sacrifice my sanity for his pride, literally stunting his growth to change by standing in the way and buffering everything. Detaching just says, ” Im important too- can you meet me in the space of both of hs being important?”. Its a rare man who can if he’s abusive. The signals mine sent were demands of what he did/didnt see from me, defensiveness when I requested actions, and how they are victims in some way… those were my clues to stand and be waiting for him to meet me in a healthy place but not go down that road otherwise. Yep- I do and will miss him, but my body is healing, and my life is close behind 😉

    • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2014 at 2:32 pm

      I think men sometimes think “I’m sorry” or other gestures of reconciliation attempts means lets move on. Although I think in many “normal” marriages let’s move on is a good idea, when the same things keep happening over and over again, it’s no longer a matter of moving on because moving in means eventually more of the same.

      • ann on August 21, 2014 at 4:13 pm

        What if my husband believes I need to work on not making my family #1. He says he’s always felt #2. But when you don’t act like a loving husband what is a person to do but lean on people who love them unconditionally. Help am I going crazy here thinking this is ok to love your family? I think he wants me to eliminate them actually. what do you think?

        • ann on August 21, 2014 at 4:14 pm

          I’m sorry that sounded confusing. He says he’s always felt he has been #2 in line to my immediate family.

          • Teris on August 22, 2014 at 3:38 am

            Ann….Abusers like to separate you from your support system…it’s they way they try to control you! Don’t fall for it! Even IF you did separate yourself from your family….he still wouldn’t change…he would them find fault with something else you are doing wrong!

        • CBPP on September 4, 2014 at 1:03 am

          To a person with a narcissistic view of the world, even the addition of their newborn can be a threat to their need to command your attention. Certainly, your children, your family of origin, or anyone who is your support system, could be a threat, as well. My husband made veiled attempts to cut me off from my family beginning day one, by saying it was a money issue to talk to them on the phone (back in the day when you paid by the minute on all calls) and by not spending more than one night with my family after months of not seeing them when we had just traveled 1000 miles to see them. We had to “move on“ to do what he wanted to do, with no empathy for how I felt. To him, he had no need for his family of origin (as they severely wounded him emotionally from the day he was born) , therefore I should have no need for my family of origin. He is a wounded adult whose own needs, wants, desires and feelings are screaming so loud in his own ears that he can no hear anyone else. To a narcissistic man, THE wife and THE kids are just there to make him look good and serve him like he is the king. That makes you and the kids like servants or property with no feelings. Therefore, in his mind, he is entitled to ignore, belittle, criticize, to think he does no wrong, to never apologize or ever change, and that he should have no consequences.

    • Brenda on August 25, 2014 at 3:47 pm

      I lived in an emotionally abusive relationship in my first marriage of sixteen years. We were divorced after a year of separation. I experienced a lot of verbal abuse also. I was a Christian and he was not. During the separation it helped me see more clearly and know what was true and what was false. The time we were married I experienced a lot of gas-lighting. That is when the abuser can paint a picture so well, that you believe the lie. It leaves you second guessing your own sanity. I was very young and nieve. After our divorce about three years later I remarried to a wonderful Christian man. We have a great relationship. God showed me that the root of the emotional manipulation was from my mother. She has gas-lighted me all of my life. I thought we had a truly loving daughter and mother relationship. She used me and manipulated me terribly. I was a wonderful daughter as long as I said yes. She was very persistent when she wanted something. I had to cut off my relationship with her for some time in order to heal and gain my sense of identity back. It was very hard as she professed to being a Christian. I realize I will never receive my mothers true love and acceptance. It’s hard to set the proper boundaries. She still lies to me and I think this is the hardest part to understand. How can someone who professes to love you, continue to lie. She is in an assisted living and continues to gas-light me. It does no good to confront her. She denies and will not take any responsibility for her actions. She has selective memory and this makes things very confusing at times. I am basically the main child out of four who has seen to her physical needs. God continues to heal me and help me to detach myself from her. Sometimes I don’t want to ever see her again. She know how to draw me in with saying she loves me and what a wonderful daughter I am. Knowing who I am in Christ is first. I cling to him through the hurt and pain. I truly have so much compassion for those of you who are struggling in destructive relationships. Don’t isolate yourself. Get help even if the other person chooses not to. Surround yourselves with other believers who can hold you up in prayer. Godly friends can see more clearly to help you through what is truth and what is a lie. Pray Gods word over you and believe that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by Him. He is your ever present help in time of trouble. Jesus is near to the broken- hearted. He loves us so much, so encourage yourself in The Lord. He makes all things beautiful in its time. My children survived the abusive first marriage. My sons are married to beautiful Christian women who love God. God can take the evil and turn it around for good. I love Jesus so much! Be encouraged!

    • Yvonne on September 19, 2016 at 6:13 pm

      Your marriage sounds like mine. I know this is two years later and you may not even read this comment, but perhaps someone will and get help. Emotional abuse eradicates everything inside of you. You lose hope, you DO naturally put up your defenses…to remain sane. You blame yourself over and over again. Then when/if he finally does admit his abusive treatment you have hope. But you said that you didn’t see any change in him and RIGHT away, he turned the blame on you. Sounds like he never even considered that there are two people in a marriage and that when you repent, it means to turn away from whatever you were doing. After that happens, trust has to be re-built, but it takes consistency and a truly repentant heart for a person to change. One can only beat her head against a brick wall so many times before she stops.

  20. Lynne on August 21, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Thank you for keeping my thoughts clear over and over again. Every step toward freedom in Christ is a bold step, a wise step, and a tremendously healthy step. May we all keep going and knowing who we are in Him.

  21. Sandra on August 21, 2014 at 12:35 pm

    My divorce is almost final. I have the same question as Kathy. I tried living in the same house but his abuse got worse because I would not sleep in the same bedroom and I had told him no sex until we figured out a baseline of truth as he lied about a lot of things. Each time I tried to talk with him, he’d make a general apology and then ask me back to the bedroom, when I refused his abuse got worse. So in emotionally distancing oneself is it okay not to be intimate or is that where I went wrong? We just had our final hearing and he counted our marriage as being over when I stopped having sex with him!

    • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2014 at 2:30 pm

      It’s a betrayal of one’s self to be vulnerable and intimate with someone who treats you abusively. Yet the sexual relationship is an important part of marriage. The line isn’t always so clear but when you feel like you are objectified and the only time your husband is interested in who you are is for your body, that isn’t God’s idea of a biblical marriage, that’s taking more of the status of a biblical concubine.

      • HisEzer on August 21, 2014 at 4:09 pm

        Very well put, Leslie. In fact, discussion about the difference between a wife and a concubine would be a topic well worth raising more awareness on in the counseling arena…

  22. Brenda on August 21, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I can’t imagine staying one more minute. I had thought about leaving for so long and it continued to get worse. Emotional distance while living with someone, I don’t understand how you go about that. I was dying emotionally and hanging on to what little of myself was left. Seperation was not only an option it was a must. I do not understand why I stayed as long as I did, but I’m not looking back.

    • Emily on October 15, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      Brenda, that is exactly where I was when I finally decided I couldn’t do this anymore “dying emotionalling and hanging on to what little of myself was left.” I miss my husband even after all of that has been done. He said in court that he stopped loving me a few months after our marriage? I’m I that naive? I really believed he loved me. I continue to try and recover from our separation. It isn’t easy. I felt reading these posts where making this more hard for me, but now I’m starting to see there are many wise women out there. I will continue to read these posts and I pray for my emotional healing too! Thank you all for sharing your story.

  23. Brenda on August 21, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    There is a good one A Cry for Justice blog. If you go to the search on the site and put in Slave wife, it will come up. I can’t remember the entire title but it compares a slave wife in Moses day and an abused Christian wife of today.

  24. HisEzer on August 21, 2014 at 4:51 pm

    Some days are definitely harder than others, Brenda – like this week when I experienced being stranded on the side of the road with a car break down (due to husband’s negligence to have a particular repair done — known for a long time now to be needed… and knowing that I would eventually be in that vulnerable situation. It is not a matter of money. He has plenty). The Lord carried me through and brought me the help needed. AAA got the car back in working order and I called and scheduled an appointment myself for the repair work to be done Monday…. But it sure was hard going back into the same dwelling of the man who continues to display cold indifference to my well-being…

  25. Michael on August 21, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    My wife has called me a narcissist for the past 6 years. The Abuse in our marriage has definately gone both ways. However, I do not ever think that I have heard that I am sorry. Iapologize and change everyday. I have offered to go get pastorial counseling and the answer has been met with restraining orders and no contact. I don’t want to go into what my wife did as I have forgiven her. However, the emotional distance has been hurting me really bad. Daily mass and prayer have been the only way I can get through the day. Sometimes that is not enough. I want to make up for my sins of this marriage and have experienced change. After you have been together for twenty years shouldn’t Christians seek pastorial advice together? Shouldn’t someone have the decency to tell you face to face that it is over? Or should they completely cut off contact with that person, leaving them questioning what to do, where to go and how to raise the kids together in the future. I know I have gotton angry in the past and there has been physical violence initiated by both sides, but to cut off a person completely Seems contrary to the Bible. Am I wrong?

    • Jennifer Hilton on August 22, 2014 at 9:42 pm

      Yes, you are wrong. If you have truely repented of your sin then you will gladly give her all the time she needs to feel safe and heal.

      • Brenda on August 23, 2014 at 11:09 am

        Amen, Jennifer. Michael you should seek personal counseling and look to change yourself. Give her what she asks for. There is a reason for it. If you truly love her, you will do this without hesitation.

        • Michael on August 23, 2014 at 4:49 pm

          Thank you. I plan to give her all the time that she needs. I do truly love her.. IHave been in personal therapy for 5 years and pastorial therapy for three months. I take responsibility for my actions in the marriage.

          • MichaMel on August 23, 2014 at 4:51 pm

            Also she was convinced that I was on Bipolar, insisting I take Bipolar medication. The therapist has me off the bipolar medication as he felt it was aggitating me beyond belief and overreacting to situations. I wish she could see the new me.

  26. Brenda on August 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

    Teris: Abusers like to separate you from your support system…it’s they way they try to control you! Amen to everything you just said.

    On another note. I am not fond of your new replay area. I can’t read but only one line at a time and is hard to make sure that what I am writing is coming out clearly.

  27. Brenda on August 22, 2014 at 11:42 am

    There you go. I put replay instead of reply.

    • Teris on August 23, 2014 at 4:29 am

      LOL….Brenda same for me…I made several mistakes also 🙂

  28. Beth on August 22, 2014 at 11:43 pm

    I found being away from my husband was the only way to get out of a toxic environment and have clarity and insight. It is far better to have independence even if it means stepping out and taking a risk (with the grace and strength of the Holy Spirit). When I did He provided for my needs. I could begin to heal and find my true self instead of being under verbal abuse. Personally I think staying is not good. It is only after I have left and stopped all contact that he finally is taking responsibility to change. I am not sure if he can or not after 20 years.
    Thank you Leslie for the practical tools on how to tell if it is genuine and info in boundaries. This is the key issue for me.

    • Beth on August 22, 2014 at 11:55 pm

      My question is now how do I manage this next step of creating emotional distance whilst he begins to address changes. We have tried this step before and he reverted back to old patterns of behavour which left me exposed and I got hurt as I had got too involved emotionally again planning not to fall again for that trap). He needs to have a “heart” change as you said on webinar (thanks for that insight). I think I have PTSD from 20 years of dysfunctional angry environment. My sons have suffered greatly and will now have their own issues to address . I wish I had removed them earlier but didn’t have courage or strength until I came to Christ. I was then struggling with the submissive wife thing for almost two years but so glad of the revelation through this site. It also confirms the promptings I was getting through Holy Spirit to separate and the peace of mind I have with my own place.

  29. Kathy on August 23, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    I have been emotionally detached and separated from my husband for 4 months. Now we are starting to be back in the home together with our 4 children. The counselor is really encouraging me to hope in any change I see. He is being very once and said he is sorry for so e things, yes. But I don’t trust it I yet. Is it wrong of me to require him to read books and get into a group? Because it seems like when he goes to solo counseling, not much happens. It’s when I am there and I bring up things to discuss. He has a lot of the anger from the past towards others, but the counselor doesn’t address that yet he says because he says that behaivor change comess before heart change. ??? Is this true? And that I shouldn’t be requiring that he read or do a group if he does not want to???? Help… Pls….

    • MichaMel on August 23, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Coming from a husband who truly regrets what he has done, I can tell you it is not wrong of you to tell him to read books. Especially the good book of the Bibible. I also tell you what is helping the change is the daily prayer. It helps me more than anything else. I focuses me on the daily needs that I need to address within myself. It also helps me focus on the needs of my family. My anger comes from anxiety and the daily prayer relieves that anxiety. Although Saturdays are bad due to the fact their is no mass.

      • Kathy on August 24, 2014 at 10:06 pm

        Michael– most Catholic churches have evening mass on saturdays about 5 pm. Hope you find one and it helps.

    • Kathy on August 24, 2014 at 10:18 pm

      Absolutely not true. Heart change ALWAYS has to come b before behavior change. Matthew 15:18 tells us,” But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.” It’s not the other way around.

      • MichaMel on August 31, 2014 at 1:42 am

        My heart has always been there for my wife. I love her more than anything. However, I have anxiety. This anxiety causes me to act inappropriately when faced with angry or hurtful words that are said to me. I don’t want to go into the situation, because it is not right to, however, I have been faced with many challenges. I use prayer to control my anxiety and codepenence. Lately Prayer is the only thing I can use. Since I have been in prayer, I have not yet said a harsh word to anyone. My heart has always been and will always be there. I just have to control my reactions. It is very hard thing to do. Also reading books for my wife is something I have always been willing to do.

  30. Chiree on August 23, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    How can I tell the difference between “token gestures” of kindness meant to manipulate me versus the imperfect beginnings of lasting change? My husband and I have been separated 14 months and have a divorce pending. I am wondering whether to encourage his kind acts or to stay on guard.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 23, 2014 at 9:48 pm

      Can you do both?

      • Chiree on August 24, 2014 at 1:23 am

        I don’t know. It feels confusing and insincere to me, to say, “I really appreciate your help” or “How sweet of you!” if on the inside I’m thinking that I don’t trust him, it may be all an act, and tomorrow the tide may turn. Also, he’s been spending a little time at the house with the kids and me, and he feels he’s earned the chance to move back in, on the couch, since things have gone well for a few weeks. He want us both to drop the divorce altogether. Our divorce (I had originally filed for legal separation, and he counterfiled for the divorce) will be finalized in about 6 weeks. So as we get closer to the trial, more and more we will be on opposite sides of a battle. It feels like I have to choose one way or the other.

  31. Lynn on August 23, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    To Kathy- I don’t blame you for being skeptical one bit. When someone has continually hurt you, it is completely natural to not trust them again until they’ve proven they have truly changed and are committed to making things right. This will take much time and watching and waiting. Don’t rush into things prematurely, even if the counselor points out these good things he is doing right now. Time will tell. I remember Leslie saying recently that you just can’t wipe the slate clean and start over. Trust must be rebuilt, but requiring him to read books and go to a group really is trying to change him yourself. If I’ve learned one thing in the last few years, it’s that you can’t change someone else. You can only change yourself and your way of thinking! Work on setting your boundaries and being the person you want to be. And wait to see what effort he puts forth at making things right with you and getting the help he needs to make himself a better person.

    I’m curious to see what Leslie says about the heart change coming first vs behavior change coming first. I have always believed that a persons actions flow from what’s in their heart. I have encountered some counselors that believe it’s the other way around. If you can just treat each other the way you want to be treated, hearts will change. Therefore, change begins with just doing the right thing and a heart change will follow. But again you can only be responsible for your own actions! It is difficult to decipher motives when dealing with an abusive person. You cannot always trust their intentions. Personally, I keep looking for a real heart change in my husband, which I feel is still not there, because even though he may do nice things for me now and then, and he is not as confrontational with me as he was previously, I believe that he’s just trying to earn “brownie points” or make himself look good to others. This is because his attitude towrards me hasn’t truly changed and from other comments he makes, it is very clear that he still considers himself as superior to me and still cannot admit that he could ever be wrong. Actions must match words and they must be consistent, or the good deeds don’t really mean anything.

  32. Lynn on August 24, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Leslie-can you please offer some advice on how I can help my children learn set boundaries with their father. I am not sure how to do this, without telling them to act in away that would anger him and lead him to accusing them of being disrespectful. For instance, when he speaks to me in a condescending manner and just lectures me endlessly on what he thinks I did wrong so that I can’t even get a word in myself without him cutting me off, I tell him that the conversation is not productive and I am going to leave the room now and we can continue to discuss the issue at hand when he will actually listen to me and talk to me differently. My children have had to sit and listen to him put them down and go on and on about whatever he’s not happy about, with no means of escape. My daughter once followed my lead, seeing how I walk away from a conversation gone bad, and so but it just got her into way more trouble. I try to be nearby when I hear him correcting them about something and have often intervened but that usually doesn’t end well, even if I try to do it respectfully. How can I help or protect my kids from verbal abuse?

    • Chiree on August 25, 2014 at 2:06 am

      I would love to hear some solutions for this problem too. I’ve asked the kids privately afterwards, “Do you think what Daddy said is true about you? When someone calls me names, it sometimes it helps me to remember it’s not true.” I’ve said in front of my husband, “That’s not true! God has wonderful plans for [child’s name]!”

    • Rebecca on August 26, 2014 at 2:47 pm

      I would really like to encourage to NOT leave the children to fend for themselves. You are their mother, protect them. If they are adult children, then that is different. I would really like to encourage you to be a mama bear through this. Things are tough for the kids right now because dad is not the rock that he should be in their life. You are their only rock, and you need to go out of your way to protect them. This is an example of what I had to do with my young children. Besides setting down the boundary that my husband could not have a relationship with me unless he went to counseling and had a heart change (yes, that’s where it starts), then there is no hope for reconciliation. With my younger children, I told my husband that he is NOT to be around them. My husband doesn’t act like an adult, so he has lost that privilege to be around them. This has brought great relief to the children. Each situation will require different responses. Some may be able to have an in-house separation and some may need to move out in order to bring relief to the children. Either way, those kids need protecting and you are the only one that can do it.

      I would also start recording conversations and any written communication between the two of you or between your husband and other people and store it online. This is proof that may be needed in the future.

      Because of what I had to endure for over 2 decades, I am very thankful for my licensed Christian counselor, Leslie Vernick, Jeff Crippen, and Boncraft, that I have decided to get the education I needed to become a life coach to those who are in an emotionally abusive marriage, specifically with the Church.

      There is life after abuse, there is joy, it’s not your fault, you will heal in time. Just remember, you are the only one that can stop the insanity within your home.

  33. Kathy on August 24, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Thank you, this post from Leslie about ways to detach emotionally has been one of the most helpful. Just to lnow that even with the armour of God, living with an emotionally destructive person still takes its toll helps. I thought maybe I was just not using or receiving God’s strength and armour. I do have a question though. How do you detach or distance without becoming cold or hard hearted? It seems the more I pull away, the tighter my husband triea to hold on. It is so exhausting, playing this tug of war. Also, Iask the same question about how to differentiate between not being fooled by act of kindness and believing Iin the shakey beginnings of real change. My husband hasalso told me that I don’t ever give him the benefit of tje doubt or acknowledge his changes. I try but sometimes I just don’t see it or it doean’t seem to last. Then it’s my fault because I wouldn’t give him a break. I also really liked the “Stay Well, not bitterly” advice. Very wise andencouraging.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 25, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      I think this week’s blog post will help some and I’ll address your additional questions on this in a future post.

  34. Marianne on August 25, 2014 at 2:00 am

    What does leaving well look like? For me, leaving well meant enlisting the help of other couples to meet with us on a regular basis to help us each maintain some level of civility. If others were there, I knew he would appear nicer and keep his anger and disgust with me in check. For me, I needed the accountability to keep my heart soft and tender, but I also needed the protection. My husband was a very charming person who could twist anyone’s words and what anyone believed in a heartbeat. So I needed help. Leaving well also meant that I left the door open to reconciliation for six months. If, in that time period I did not see real heart change, I planned to go forward with a divorce, which I did.
    Leaving well also meant being kind to myself to grieve alone with God, with my sisters in Christ and to eventually really enjoy this new freedom from the prison I was in. I made a conscious decision to enjoy sleeping in my bed alone, wearing what I wanted to, waking up when I wanted to, cooking what I wanted to, spending my time how I wanted to, being with my kids the way and when I wanted to. I did not realize how little freedom I had until I experienced separation from a very controlling, demanding man. Leaving well also meant not being mean or angry at anyone, including myself. But, instead, letting people be who they truly are and letting the circumstances of that unfold and the consequences as well.
    Leaving well meant telling the truth to myself and others and not apologizing for it. It meant trusting that the Lord was and is with me and knows exactly what’s happening and that He will have His way. So I don’t have to be a policewoman trying to make things happen.
    And now I am getting free – almost there. 🙂

    • Robin Baumann on August 25, 2014 at 10:02 pm

      WELL SAID!!
      WELL SAID!!

  35. Kathy on August 25, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    To Leslie, was wondering your opinion on does behavior change come before heart change or the other way around? My husband a real anger issues that I am not sure he acknowledges yet or not? He is an island. It seems like when he goes to individual counseling, that he is not asking questions at all. As a counselor yourself, would you recommend a anger management class or reading material? Thanks a lot

    • Leslie Vernick on September 4, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      An anger management course may help him with self-control but it won’t help with what fuels his anger which is his wrong thinking and entitlement beliefs. Self-control can be a good thing, but if he is still simmering underneath, the anger may come out in more passive aggressive ways. Reading I don’t think is enough….for these situations. He needs accountability, support, and someone who will challenge his thinking. REading is a start, but will not result in the change. It’s like reading a diet book. You can see the concepts, but you often still need support and accountability actually putting it into practice.

  36. Jenn on August 26, 2014 at 4:40 am

    I’m surprised at the folks I thought I found trust during this awful process. I had a friend who I really thought would have compassion tell me ‘this has long since gone past support from the church’. I haven’t been attending with my husband because I do t think it’s right to parade around at church with him like everything is great. He’s there every time the doors open, so of course he’s doing everything right.
    He has an appointment with his attorney on our youngest ‘s first day if Kindergarten–so selfish. I sent him a copy of the separation agreement my attorney prepared, he somehow deleted it, and wants me to send it again. I told him I was sorry but I’m not going to help him. He put on the sweet talk, put his hand on my shoulder, and it almost made me sick because he just wanted something.
    I feel like I’m going crazy some days.
    Should I give him the separation agreement again from my attorney? It makes me so angry that he’s the one who ruined this marriage, he’s fighting for a legal separation, and he can’t keep up with his junk. I also found another email to a wonan where he discussed our sex life. He makes me sick, the whole situation makes me sick, and I feel like I’m losing it some days. And he said since I’m not using his attorney, that he won’t pay for mine. What to do?

    • Rebecca on August 26, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Do you have any family that can help you out financially with getting an attorney?

      If you are currently living with him, you need to get out, or do whatever you need to do, so you can think clearly again. You can’t think because of all the stress you are under. You are an intelligent woman and he has done his utmost best to make you believe otherwise about yourself.

      If it doesn’t cost extra money to forward an another copy to him, then perhaps you could consider doing that to be kind. You never want to be mean to him, whether he is your husband or not. Learning to act right when he acts wrong is really hard to learn and practice, but it is possible. Hmmmmmm…… I think there is a book out there about that 😉

      • Jenn on September 5, 2014 at 1:48 am

        He had it the while time–he’s manipulative.
        No, I have no family. I’ve been on my own since I was 18, and his mother will pay for anything he needs. It’s sickening. I have a lot of proof from the past five years in a 2″ thick binder. All of his lies, written details of his cheating, emails to other women discussing our private sex life, text records, his expressing what a wonderful mother I am and how much he lives me, and then the controlling side where he flips. He has no idea. I have a copy that I’m taking to my attorney Monday.
        I also meet with the children’s pastor Monday because my husband is volunteering with AWANA. He should NOT be leading kids in anything, much less in the church!!

        I’m praying for God’s provision.

        • Leslie Vernick on September 6, 2014 at 12:44 am

          Praying too for you and your meeting.

    • Aspen on August 26, 2014 at 4:07 pm

      Jenn, My sister’s abusive husband couldn’t keep track of anything for the 20 plus years of their marriage. She had to be responsible for where everything was – all the paperwork, his keys, etc. Well over a year after they separated he wanted stuff from their shed out back. Amazingly, he went and got it. He still had the little, tiny key to the shed!! No, he wasn’t incompetent in keeping track of things. He used that as one of his control mechanisms to make sure she always did what he wanted and a way to blame her for anything he may have done wrong. But when he didn’t have her to keep track of stuff any more, he could do it! So as far as giving him the separation agreement again, he can get that from his lawyer. Getting you to send it is just another control thing, especially if he did the sweet talk thing.
      Same with the attorneys. I would think that one attorney working for both parties is a conflict of interest in a situation like this. If you try to use his attorney, and he’s paying the bills, who is the lawyer really working for? It is another way he is manipulating the situation to his advantage.
      So sorry you are in this situation, but I’m glad you are starting to see his actions for what they are. Now to find some good support who will also be able to see it.

  37. MichaMel on August 27, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    After reading all the stories on here, and going to church and praying daily I am truly humbled by God. I know that my wife needs me to be a stronger, less angry man. I know that she will never forgive me. I cannot harm her in the pending separation that we are having. I have lost my pride, and I wish I could go down on my knees to show here my forgiveness. It has been 73 days 16 hours aand 17 minutes since I last spoke to her. I have had little work and a lot of time to study the word of God. The word has been so much more helpful than the anger managment books that I have read in the past. I never truly repented until this time. It was always excuses that I made up or things that I said were her fault. It was not until I realized that I am responsible for my own actions in the marriage and I am supposed to love her like Christ loved the Church, that I realized that I could be a more calm man. The other thing that I have realized is that since God forgave me instantly when I ask, I must continue to forgive her. Our Job as Christians is not to get what we want in the marriage, but to get each other to heaven. I pray for the help of knowledgeable CHristian women on what to do during the separation. I feel as though I cannot protect myself, but must sacrifice myself as Christ would. I am just so confused, but humbled.

  38. Karrie on August 27, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    I wish I had followed this blog earlier. I have been married 22 years – the last 12 months of that separated. Our marriage was abusive from the beginning but I lived in denial for 21 years, even when violence was involved. I thought I must have provoked it by not being the wife I should be or at least who he thought I should be. I actually went nearly 7 years without voicing a differing opinion because I believed that in biblical submission, the man should never know the wife disagreed. The last few of those years, were “good” years. No violence. Very little fighting but I died inside. At first it hurt to have an opinion and not be “able” to express it. It became easier to not even formulate an opinion because then it didn’t have to be stifled. Last summer the meanness kept growing and was even reaching to others. I gathered all of the courage I could to tell him it wasn’t right and his first reaction was to threaten to harm me. My world crumbled. I couldn’t believe that’s what was left if I had an opinion. I tell you all of this because I had to put physical distance in between us. To begin with it was for physical safety. Now, I see I need the distance for emotional safety too. I still interact with him daily. I am choosing to not protect myself out of contact with him because I don’t know what the future holds but at least this way, I can formulate my thoughts without fear of repercussion and I can voice them in ways that are healthy and safer for me. After 12 months, I am just reclaiming how to make decisions. Even simple ones. I finally have the courage to dig into solid Christian material on abuse and getting whole. I see so much of myself in many of the comments. It throws me for as much of a loop when he is kind to me as when he is not. Yesterday I passed my first test of not policing him when something seemed so obviously deceptive. I have always heard that leaving was taking the “easy” way out. Whoever coined that phrase obviously never left. It has been the hardest thing I have ever done and the hardest thing that I continue to do. Yes, God hates divorce but our God is also a Deliverer. He brought His children out of bondage and then showed them how to obey and stay free. I don’t know if reconciliation is an option. I would need to see some ownership of his role as an abuser. For today, I am standing in the crossroads, asking for the ancient path – the good path and trying with everything I’ve got to choose life so that my children and I can “live”.
    Leslie, thank you for moderating the comments. That gives your site even a greater level of integrity. And thank you for letting me know that sometimes leaving is the truly loving thing to do. Most of my world doesn’t think so.

    • Sue on September 20, 2016 at 12:26 pm

      Kerrie – Of all the blogs I’ve read, your’s best matches my story. Suffice it to say, I have definitely recognized God’s mercy and deliverance in freeing me. However I needed this reminder as I still have tended to feel I did wrong in leaving and that there ‘should have been something else I could have done.’ You’re so right, leaving was the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life.

  39. Brenda on August 27, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    MichaMel, As far as I am cconcerned you will have to figure that one out all on your own. I don’t believe anyone here is going to make you a list. Your perception that a man and wife get each other to Heaven is unfounded. The only thing that gets anyone into Heaven is a personal relationship with Jesus.

    • MichaMel on August 28, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      I agree with you the I cannot get our husbands and wives to heaven literally. I do believe that as Christians we all have to witness to each other and act in ways in accordance with Christs teachings in order to get to heaven. This means being kind to wives and husbands, and recently I learned tough love is also a way to help out.

  40. Abigail on August 29, 2014 at 2:06 am

    I am just recently married now for 10 months. My husband and I have had a long distance relationship the entire time. we got engaged and they he deployed. That is when all the anger started. He was always pushing me and asking me about the wedding, like have I sent the invites out. I had to tell him numerous of times they didn’t go out till 2 months before. I prayed and prayed to make sure this was the man for me to marry. A few weeks before we got married I found out he had lied to me about things and he got mad at me! I didn’t understand. I have been in a mentally, emotionally and physically abusive relationship before by an addict. I though I knew the signs. my husband would cry to me begging me not to leave and how sorry. Then it started happening. since we have been married it has been not stop lies! I would try and talk to him and he would get so angry at me. when there were issues I would try and talk them out and he will get in my face and curse me out and tell me to shut up. he always tells me he acts the way he does because of something that I am doing. come to find out my husband is not who I married. EVERYTHING was a lie. I feel so betrayed, I feel disgusted. and the facts are the facts that he cant deny and he still blames me. we are still long distance and I have learned to separate myself because everytime I get on the phone I get cursed at of insulted constantly. I know the things he is saying are not true but it is destroying my emtotions. I have asked him not to come home till he can communicate or based of the fact that he would call me horrible names, and he would come home anyways. I wanted to be the bigger person and say ok, I am going to try everything I got, I want to be an adult with no regrets. and I met up with him and I got cursed at and walked out on in the middle of starbucks. I get hung up on almost everytime we talk on the phone. and all it ever is screaming and yelling to the point where I cant even speak. my only option is to sit there and take it, because if I hang up the phone, I am the hypocrite. I didn’t marry who I fell in love with. I can not trust him and I have emotionally shut off. but I am 25, what is the level of enough? when can you say, you know what I am still young and I know what this turns into based off my old experiences and decide to live a happy life? I am a daughter, I want to protect her and teach her what is right, but how can I do that when I get a divorce and her father walked out on her. I know I am having issues for some reason choosing the same kind of man, but am I able to make a decision to say I don’t want to be this way for the rest of my life?

    • Brenda on September 4, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      Abigail, Get out now. It isn’t going to get better if it is already this abusive. Your daughter will not learn anything good from this type of relationship. Don’t wait 2 decades and then say why didn’t I leave sooner.

  41. sah37 on August 29, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    I’m writing for a friend who is in an emotionally abusive marriage (33 years). Over the past 2 years she has figured it out and in the last 3 months has decided she can’t continue to live like this. She has asked for counseling and has tried over and over to talk to her husband. He went to counseling a couple times but says its not helping and always turns things around and puts the blame on her. He says he’s trying or they’ll figure it out on their own. Recently he was hospitalized for almost 6 weeks. During those 6 weeks she realized just how much he controls her and how miserable she feels when she’s with him. She learned to enjoy her “freedom” when he was in the hospital. He’s home now and needs constant care. She’s giving him the care but has emotionally separated herself from him. I think he is feeling the emotional separation and knows how much care he needs because now he’s being all nice. She is beginning to prepare to separate once he is well enough to care for himself. But now that he’s being nice we are wondering if he is getting it or not?

    • Leslie Vernick on September 4, 2014 at 12:45 pm

      He’s probably not getting it, but he is getting scared and thinks that if he is nice, she will feel sorry for leaving and stop. Encourage her to validate his niceness and say that’s a good change but not enough for her to want to stay. He needs to get help for his anger.

      • Jenn on September 4, 2014 at 3:49 pm

        Leslie, you are SO right about this. My husband has read every book pastors or counselors have given him, but there is NO application. But, he can say he “read the books.” I wrote a list of everything he did DURING marriage counseling from Jan-June 2014, and it’s staggering. I’m reaching out to more ladies I can trust to talk, and that has helped me SO much to not feel so isolated. Thanks for the work you do, I truly feel that you have been instrumental, along with others that God has placed in my life, in helping me determine what’s REALLY going on within my marriage.

        • Jenn on September 4, 2014 at 3:50 pm

          I’m sorry! This was supposed to be in tresponse to your posting about anger and a husband reading about it……

  42. Brenda on August 31, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    MichaMel, You have some of the same responses as my X. Those things don’t mean diddly once you are in the same room or house with the spouse. The anxiety doesn’t cause you to act inappropriately. You have a choice. I can’t tell you how many times I heard that I’ll never do it again and when the next time came and it was worse than the time before, I was told, “if you would only do x or y or said or not said z then I wouldn’t respond that way. Prayer is wonderful and God is good, but those things along with counseling would go much farther. Why is it not right for you to talk about things? That is what we do here. However, the Christian women that post here are trying to heal from and help others who have been in abuse and don’t feel the need to tell an abuser what he should do other than to say go to websites that can help you.

  43. FELICIA KIDD on August 31, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    Thank you!!

  44. Alene on September 3, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Michael; you are reaching out. I hope it is not for sympathy but that your heart is truly serious about heart level change. All I can say is to learn, to grow, get accountability, seek God, be serious but not for change in the situation, not for reconciliation, rather for truth, for what is needed, for God, for yourself. Anything less is not enough. In the humility of that, all you can do is leave the rest with God.
    To truly repent is to know you don’t deserve for anything to change and it may not.
    Many of us are facing the truth of our situations and changing our behaviors where we enabled things to happen, where we did face the truth of what was happening.

    • MichaMel on September 3, 2014 at 7:02 pm

      Alene, The change is real, the change has been occuring for a couple of years now. I love my wife. I love my kids. I do not whant anything the allow the change. I have hired Leslie to help I attend mass daily. My anxiety levels have gone down immensely. I have accepted the fact that I needed to change. I have been asking God for years to have change enter into my life. It has finally come. I have major codependency issues that I have been forced to face all my life. Some of which fueled an unhealthy attitude. I have denied the truth for years. I have come to accept the truth. It may be too late for the marriage to work. However, I will be a better husband to whoever choses to accept me. I will be a better father. I wWILL be a better person. I have never had such a commitment to God before. Daily prayer and PUTTING HIM FIRST IN MY LIFE is the most important thing. He has the power to help me. I know I am weak but through HIM I am strong.

  45. […] Today’s Question:  This is a follow up question from the blog two weeks ago on Four Ways To Create Emotional Distance in a Destructive Relationship. […]

  46. Lois on September 14, 2014 at 5:37 am

    This must be a God thing that I found these comments tonight. I have been married for 37 years to a very difficult man and I stayed because I didn’t see any other option for me or my children. I believe my husband is showing some signs of dementia and so this has made it even more confusing. Tonight, I had a revelation and it’s been confirmed by the many writers. I thought, “How is it that I have emotional distance from my mother and yet I get sucked in every time by my husband when he is kind but it never lasts?” That was the question I asked myself and your responses have given me the answer. I have started sharing with one trusted friend and my children how much worse his behavior is. My children (29 and 32) are coming home next week for an intervention with their dad. In all honesty, I don’t feel divorce is an option because his eventual care will fall on my children. Now that I’m thinking about it, I have the means to purchase a long-term policy which will enable him to be properly cared for by professionals, if he will accept this. He does not accept that he is angrier than usual and that I am embarrassed by his behavior in public. What I need to do is to stop covering up the situation and just being honest about it. I told him 6 months ago that if he continued to call me nasty names when angry that I was no longer keeping it a secret. I think perhaps I should go further. Thank you, thank you for this blessing tonight. I feel like my mind is exploding with ideas and I feel like I can get a good night’s rest without the help of Valium. Emotional distance. That’s what I googled and this is an answer to prayer. Thank you all. I feel,so encouraged.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 15, 2014 at 9:59 pm

      Lois, I think your commitment to not pretend it’s okay or to cover for him meanness is important. Also I’m glad your children are getting involved and I think purchasing the insurance policy to be properly cared for is an excellent idea.

      • Lois on September 22, 2014 at 3:09 am

        My children led the four-hour intervention with their father last night. I have read and memorized CORE so that it is internalized. I was astounded at how insightful my kids were and how plainly and lovingly they spoke to their dad. I had such clarity of mind and purpose because of buying Leslie’s book and reading it nearly twice. My husband was sort of curious when I talked about boundaries that I was putting into place. All of his manipulations were clearly evident and confronted at every turn. I cannot believe what a difference this will make in my life. Thank you again, Leslie. I am so grateful.

        • Lois on March 5, 2015 at 5:34 pm

          It is now several months post-intervention. We all left the house, me for a month, and I believe the words he heard sank deep into his soul. He came right to the edge of the precipice and realized he was about to lose it all. He is a changed man. Counseling hadn’t worked, talking hadn’t worked, but his family aligned against him was extraordinarily effective. He has since been diagnosed with a mild cognitive impairment which may or may not lead to something more serious. I never thought it possible that he could change, but it’s almost like the anger switch got turned off. I’m not saying that his history with our children can be rewritten, but their measure of success has always been how he treats me. I had surgery 6 weeks ago and he served me every moment. It’s a God thing.

  47. Brenda on October 15, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Emily, I do not see how you were wrong. I do see how your husband was wrong in criticizing you the way he did. If you love someone you will accept the way they look. My daughter just got married to a man on Saturday who is tall and fairly thin, she is 5’4″ and over weight. He loves her as she is for who she is. You did nothing wrong. Your being hurt was all his doing.

  48. Kalyn on February 24, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    I was truly interested, but I think I’m in the wrong place. This seems go be more about abusive marriage relationships. I had hoped to get advice about son abusive adult child who has estranged herself from the family, again.

  49. Terri on April 19, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Husband came back and fafily is happy again! I want to use this opportunity to thank the great man Dr Mutuma who really made my life a pleasurable one today. This great man Dr Mutuma brought my husband back to me with just 158 dollars, i had two lovely kids for my husband, about four years ago i and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me for one lady. I felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. I tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he would come back to me, until one day i met a good friend of mine that was also in a situation like me but her problem was her ex-boyfriend who she had an unwanted pregnancy for and he refused to take responsibility and dumped her. she told me that mine was a small case and that i should not worry about it at all, so i asked her what was the solution to my problems and she gave me this great man’s email address. drmutumahouseofsolution121@gmail .com. I was doubting if this man was the solution, so i contacted this great man and he told me what to do and i did them all, he told me to wait for just 48 hours and that my husband will come crawling on his kneels just for forgiveness so i faithfully did what this great man asked me to do and for sure after 48 hours i heard a knock on the door, to my surprise i saw him on his kneels and i was speechless, when he saw me, all he did was crying and asking me for forgiveness, from that day, all the pains and sorrows in my heart flew away, since then i and my husband and our lovely kids are happy, that’s why i want to say a big thank you to Dr Mutuma. This great man made me to understand that there is no problem on earth that has no solution. if you know that you have this same problem or any problem that is similar, i will advise you to come straight to this great man. You can email him at: drmutumahouseofsolution121@gmail .com. “He always keep his word”

  50. Brenda on April 22, 2015 at 8:47 am


    This sounds like VooDoo.

  51. Tumee Says on May 11, 2015 at 5:44 am

    After reading all this posts I feel very calm that I am not the only one going through this, and have found the answers to the questions I keep asking myself. I have been married for five years and ever since then our marriage has been of abuse cheating and anger. I try all I can to keep my husband happy and satisfied at all time. I even stopped taking care of myself and put all my effort on him but he never appreciated of did the same to me. lately he is always angry calling me names spitting in my face and neglects me most of the time. He blames me for the failure of our marriage and I end up thinking to myself if it is really me that is causing all this conflicts. But now I found the answers that I’m just in an emotionally destructive marriage and need to distance myself from my husband, Emotionally. I have opted for divorce but ended up letting go of that thought. I have changed rooms and slept in a separate room from my husband but it has never felt like it was solving my problems. I pray every day and believe and hope with God on my side all will work out right.

  52. Brenda on May 12, 2015 at 7:54 am


    You put a good boundary by separating in house. If that is not working for you, what do you want to do now if you have given up the idea of divorce? Is he still treating you the same way? Spitting in your face!! That is demeaning and dishonoring his wife. I don’t believe that God looks on that as an honoring marriage.


    • Tumee Says on May 20, 2015 at 3:02 am

      That is where I need help. I cannot tell myself that I am leaving him and yet living with him is also not easy.

  53. Brenda on May 20, 2015 at 4:40 am

    Tumee says,

    What you have described so far sounds so unbearable to me. I spent a lot of time in prayer before being able to tell myself that it was ok and it was time to go. There were many things still happening to me during that time. I saw a counselor who was a Christian and I told her that I needed to leave. I didn’t have anyone human to turn to at that point. She helped me see that I was important to God and leaving was the best thing that I could do all the way around. I was getting away from my fear as I talked and prayed with her.

    One night when xh had been on an entire weekend rant, I got out of bed while he was still spewing and was getting dressed to leave. He stood in front of me holding out his arms to block my path and demanded that I get back into bed. I did so, but I knew right at that moment that it was time. I prayed that God would help me and give me strength. In 3 weeks I had an apartment, movers, my daughters were both in town to help me and I was out. For months before that I had been slowly getting things boxed up. He never went upstairs so that part was easy to do. I sorted through what I would want to take and was fairly prepared in advance, should I be able to make the move.

    Tumee, It is a decision that only you can make. We tell our selves the lie that we deserve to be treated this way or we minimize what is happening and pretend it really isn’t real. It is real and it won’t stop. I pray that you will weigh your options prayerfully and looking to Jesus at the foot of the cross and seeing Him as your true h, a woman set apart by God. You are a daughter of the King. You can love your h and yourself by telling yourself truth and even leaving him so that he cannot sin against you and spitting in the face of God. That is what h is doing when he does this to you.

    You are loved,

  54. Penny on July 30, 2015 at 2:17 am

    I am in one of these unhappy marriages. I want to leave for my own peace of mind and there is no longer any happiness between us, but I don’t know where to go. I don’t have money and am looking for a job with no luck. I have no other family to turn to. I am in my 50’s. I have started putting some distance between my husband and me by not going out with him on weekends but living in the same house makes it hard and as much as I want to keep the distance, eventually we will start talking again and inevitably end up arguing again. It is a continuous cycle that I want to break but with no job or money, I am afraid to make the move to end the marriage. Does anyone have any suggestions ?

    • Robin on July 30, 2015 at 11:25 pm

      Penny are you in a unhappy relationship or s destructive one?? Leaving isn’t necessarily a starting place when you’re first acknowledging the conflicts in your marriage. I would recommend start by reading Leslie’s book on a emotionally destructive marriage and increasing your knowledge on when is it best to leave or stay. Leslie also has several classes you can sign up for to build your core, get the support needed, and a new one starting on depression. Can you tell us more about your relationship and what resources you have read or used ? Welcome to this blog!!!!!

  55. jo on November 2, 2015 at 10:26 am

    I am going through something similar with my father. It is really a trial because, though I realize that he still cares about me; I cannot stay around him if I hope to retain any sense of self worth.
    Thank you for your comment about the small nice things that he does sometimes. I do appreciate these, but they only cause more hurt the next time he explodes. Also, I’d never thought about this in regards to stockholm syndrome, but now that I do it completely makes sense. As a whole, our relationship has been an emotional negative for us, and yet I still have concerns about breaking our relationship off entirely. From a detached and clinical perspective, the fact that I still answer his calls is insanity!
    I worry that the rest of my family is being even more damaged by him, I have seven siblings and a mother who are still subject to his violent mood swings. Honestly the day I moved out it felt like I had abandoned my troops in the middle of a war zone.

  56. Natalie on January 6, 2016 at 9:28 am

    I am so grateful to have come across this website. I am married and have only been married for 7 months. It has been the HARDEST 7 months of my entire life. My husband is mean and seems to have 0 interest in me at all. Every single day I ask him how his day was, and he’ll tell me, but doesn’t care about mine. We had a huge fight which resulting in him telling me that hes better than me, smarter than me and im nothing without him. He constantly throws in my face that he pays more bills than I do and makes more money. Constantly telling me hes going to divorce me. Very verbally and emotionally abusive. As I type this comment im at my desk consumed with tears. I feel so stupid. Because even after all he puts me through, I still long for his touch. A hug. A kiss. Just to be loved by him. Im realizing that I have to give that up. I Pray for him (and our marriage) daily. Unfortunately there are no signs of things getting better. I’m trying to find my strength in the lord, but I dont have much hope

  57. Brenda on January 6, 2016 at 10:22 am

    Your story is so familiar. Please don’t allow yourself to be consumed with his abuse. The things that he says are not true anymore than they were when the xh said them to me. He will never file for divorce, but will throw it in your face as often as possible in order to control you. It took me 22 years to file. Don’t let this happen to you. The man you thought you married does not exist. He is a fraud. You deserve better than this.

  58. confusedwife on May 8, 2016 at 4:07 pm

    Im not sure what relationship im in, been married for ten years, he thinks its okay to text other women and even meet them. Im not suppose to be angry over his infidelity. And now every sunday and holidays his family invites his ex to every event, that too isnt suppose to bother me, He is emotionally withdrawn as we never speak, except of our co ownership of our business. That is all we talk about, he doesnt attend any funerals from my family nor does he ever visit with me, that is his time to meet other people and women. He attends church every sunday as a request of his mother, cause he text the entire time he is there, his actions caused me to stop going to church, i know its wrong of me, but it embarasses me to see he and his mother act as they do in a church of god. I also tried to talk to our preacher about the situation and he is an old friend to the family so more or less told me he couldnt help me at all. So left with so many mixed feelings and confusion. I love the man, but he seems to only want my company when work is involved or sexual. And Im so at a loss, he knows most of my family is deceased and I feel he thinks he has the upper hand in that he knows I cant just run off. He keeps all the money, even though I work hard in our business, I do the ads, paperwork and website; but he keeps all access of monies from me, Im not sure what this relationship is but it surely doesnt feel of god or even of marriage to me. maybe im wrong after all he says im conjuring up all bad things with it, its all me..

    • Leslie Vernick on May 10, 2016 at 2:54 am

      It’s not you and I think you know that no healthy woman would be in a marriage where her husband visits with other women regularly and she works in the business but does not have any income from it. So your part is to get yourself healthy so you are no longer confused but crystal clear that this kind of marriage does not honor God, it doesn’t help him be a better man and it hurts you.

  59. CBPP on May 8, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    To Confused Wife: I just have a few minutes to respond right now, but I did not want you to live any longer in confusion as to what kind of a relationship you are in. YOU ARE IN A EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP, with no “Ifs”, “ands” or “buts” about it. Know that you have come to the RIGHT PLACE to get help. Leslie’s teaching and the ladies on this blog will help you through the dark valley you are in now and to come, till you can see the light of God’s guidance.

    NO ONE is entitled to adultery without consequences and no spouse should be expected to “live with” all the signs of infidelity. You have come to the right place to learn about putting those consequences in place and that you have a right to do that and should do that.

    I know what it is like to work in the family business but not have access to making decisions about money. That alone is disrespect and mistreatment of you as a human, much less a partner, and a mate. It is abuse. How long would your husband work for an employer who did not pay him? Legally, you are liable for 1/2 of any taxes or repayment of loans or outstanding invoices. So on the other side of the coin, you should be entitled to the fruits of your labor.

    I Cor 9:7-10 7 Who serves as a soldier at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its grapes? Who tends a flock and does not drink the milk? 8 Do I say this merely on human authority? Doesn’t the Law say the same thing? 9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.”[b] Is it about oxen that God is concerned? 10 Surely he says this for us, doesn’t he? Yes, this was written for us, because whoever plows and threshes should be able to do so in the hope of sharing in the harvest. ”

    If you follow this blog and learn more about the emotionally abusive marriage you are in, you will become a stronger woman with more faith than you have now. When you become a stronger person, things will change. In the end, you will learn to stand up for yourself and protect your heart and seek the money that is rightfully yours. You will need to make a careful plan and it will take some time, but you can do it and be free in your heart and mind, even if you choose to stay in this marriage.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 10, 2016 at 2:51 am

      Thanks for your wise words.

  60. Morgan on June 3, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Dear All,
    I am male and married for several years.
    …what am I doing here?
    To my great amazement, I found most of your comment to match my wife’s behavior and what you are describing is much like my marriage life.
    Several times, my wife did decide to split and preferred to sleep in a separate room; but in few days she turns to be nice and sweet.
    Most of our conflict arises when I come up with a new idea of business, school, or living location. Ideas come to my mind and want to share it with the person so close in life, my wife. I spend several days and weeks to mention that idea itself because I know for sure it will be rejected and a long week of discomfort follow afterwards if I ever try to explain, give reasons or try to elaborate. On the other, she pushes her ideas forward and wants me to do it without questioning. If I question, then it is disrespect and undermining her judgment.….
    Honestly, I get upset when she repeatedly point out that I am abusive and what I do is to deliberately hurt her feelings. The most difficult part is that I cannot speak. If I ever say a word then that will be the end of the happy day; word change meanings and reiterate in different contexts.
    She has no repentance to what she does or says, rather she demand apology. She will not take responsibility to anything happens during a disagreement.
    She is completely shut to any comment and would not listen to others. When people comment on her instead of looking inside she looks outside and project it to others or label them as conspiring with me.
    There is only one person she can listen and that is herself. I wish I can get that portal so that I can show her what I feel inside…
    …will continue

    • CBPP on June 7, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      Morgan, You are here for a reason. You care enough about your marriage that you are searching for answers. That tells me a lot about you. Your description of your wife’s behaviors also tells me a lot about her. It is familiar to me as it is human behavior that is not gender related.

      Some of your descriptions fit the real definition of narcissism. When learning about narcissism, do not use society’s definition ( people who overly love themselves) but go deeper and you will find the opposite ( they truly loathe their inner self due to early-in-life damage , so they use bad coping mechanisms to build a facade and then will do anything including all kinds of manipulations to protect that false view they project to the world).

      On Leslie’s website, find the quiz about “Are you in a emotionally destructive relationship? ” and just change the gender words to fit you and your wife. Then I suggest you read it again and see if there in one else in your life that fits that pattern as well ( mother ,father, brother, sister, grandparent) This might be revealing as to how you got into this marriage relationship because you were already used to a destructive relationship in your earlier life. At the time I took the quiz, I realized that I was in an emotionally destructive relationship with my older sister, which lead to my willingness to give up my needs to my husband’s demands, which lead to my not recognizing the manipulation of a marriage counselor, which lead me to reached out to church leaders when the marriage counselor became abusive to me. They, too, became emotionally abusive to me as one of the church leader’s personal and professional arrogance got in the way of getting help.

      Take advantage of Leslie’s free resources, especially the tactics of a manipulator, just change the gender words. Since you are a male on this typically female forum, you may want to consider personal coaching with her. She will understand that you are not just “griping” about your wife and she will not give you advice to just ” try harder, do more, etc” to change the relationship. She will help you see the reality of what you are living with and how it is distinctive. Her teachings of strengthening your CORE applies to everyone.

      You did not mention children. Be thankful that you are coming into this reality this soon in your life. Don’t give up in pursuing learning how to deal with the issues you are having. Do not let anyone minimize your feelings. .

      • Morgan on June 7, 2016 at 6:13 pm

        Thank your CBP

        Your comment is very helpful.
        What I didn’t mention is about our son who might be affected by this non-stop quarrel.
        In those bad occasions, I usually leave the place to protect my son because any word of caution would breed another argument. If it is in the evening, I will stay out until our son sleeps and when I come back mostly she will be still up waiting for me to continue on the argument. If I keep quiet she will be angry and if I speak she will be even more angry.

        Anyways, thank you for sharing your experience and will make use of your advice

        • CBPP on June 7, 2016 at 7:42 pm

          Having 4 adult children who are now old enough to talk about it and watching how their life and relationships are going, I can say with great confidence about your son that it is not ” might be” affected but totally effected who he is and what his role is, even if he is just a toddler. The baby in womb feels the argument in the form surges of hormones, heart and respiration rates, hears yelling voices and by the time they are 3 they know their role and hear all the arguments, sees the withdrawal, and learns to avoid conflict. There was no physical abuse or no sexual abuse, but lots of emotional and verbal attacks towards me and our oldest son. To our extended family, church family & community, we look like a very well adjusted family and “good Christian family”. But my son suffered depression and suicidal ideation at age 11. High school was tough with oppositional defiance and underachieving in school, when he was really brilliant. It took him 15 years after to college to finally get a good job / career launched. Our 1st daughter started with panic attacks at age 12, then at age 16, went to counseling at 17 even with a few sessions with her dad, then developed an eating disorder in college. She did not date as she would push men who were interested away thinking she was not desirable although very beautiful, as they was not what she thought on the inside since she had no affirmation from her father. She is now married but at age 31 but to someone who is also a covert narcissist. The other daughter , age 28, has major digestive issues that we know revolve around conflict avoidance and she pushes men away too. Although she was never a target of the emotional abuse she watched it go on around her all her life.
          Who my children are today is very much affected by what happened before they were age 9.

          After discovering the characteristics of a covert or closet narcissist that fit my husband, I struggled with accepting it as it seem a grim pronouncement on our life and future. It was only after reading a great article on the effects on children that I could no longer stay in denial. It seemed the author had be a fly on our wall. Google “Co-Narcissism: How We Accommodate to Narcissistic Parents by
          Alan Rappoport, Ph.D.”

          You are about to launch into some hard work. Go to God for strength to preserve in this journey, knowing you are doing it for yourself and your son.

          • Morgan on June 9, 2016 at 5:55 pm

            Thank you for sharing your story.
            Personally, I appreciate your persistence in this hard trail. I wish you and your family the best.
            The article(s) by Alan Rappoport, Ph.D. ( is great. It shades light on the question I had so long on the root cause of the problem.
            My son is a teen. Every Sunday I take the whole family to church. I and my son are very close friends. Since early on, I am able to get a few hours a day.
            One day, however, he asked me a difficult question. He asked how I survived the relationship. I had to take a long pose. I told him different people have different ways to express themselves. His mother is a good person inside and she loves him very much and that is what is most important. I know, I didn’t answered his question but it was better than nothing.
            I think he asked this due to the conflicting orders she gives him, her rigid stance, and some personal outlooks she tries to impose on him that created situations. In most cases, she fails to understand him and argument heats up. Then she will turn to me and point out that I am the cause of the problem. It is funny how often she uses me as a scapegoat to everything she fails. I am not sure whether to be caring and understanding implicate weakness!
            Whenever, he shows closeness with me there is a blame game she loves to play with me. She would try to win his respect and love through gifts such as buying electronics and other stuffs. I know that would not do him any good. To minimize the damage, I try to come up with ways to create emotional connection between them since other way round is absolutely impossible. I believe that love and attention is much needed in the family.
            My son is a good student, always in honor class. However, as you mentioned he has eating disorders and inclines to make friends with kids from broken family. The fact he persistently prefers kids from single parents, or kid living with their relatives worries me because the consistency appears to be beyond coincidence.
            Hopefully, I can help him on this journey and I am already becoming thick-skin. I always believe that any difference in gender, birth to a certain family or place is not our individual choice and every woman and man alike need love, respect,and attention. This outlook persisted me and I stayed in this marriage so long. Always, trying to understand her and find solutions. We live for each other and yet sometimes things become tough to handle and little to no change to observe.

            Thank your again CBP

          • Morgan on June 9, 2016 at 8:05 pm

            Thank you CBPP

          • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 11:49 am

            Thanks for sharing so personally your experience. The damage is real and we can’t close our eyes to the effects of these relationships on our developing children.

          • Robin on September 12, 2016 at 12:20 am

            CBPP- are you still in your Destructive marriage? You didn’t mention your husband except how it related to the children. How is your relationship today?

  61. Raquel on June 8, 2016 at 6:10 am

    I’m married 30+ years to an abusive, narcissistic man. I’ve been practicing my detachment for a long time, well for the most part – we are both retired now, but I choose to continue to work at a new job full time, plus I work out at the gym and also go salsa dancing and take additional lessons, so my time is full and fulfilling with him having no part. My only regret is having believed that I could protect my daughters from the effects of my abuse – I didn’t. My eldest demonstrates narcissistic behaviors herself, and my youngest ended up marrying a horribly abusive man. Fortunately, she divorced him before he killed her, a strong cautionary tale for those that have children and remain in these relationships. Anyway, I do live a happy life for myself despite sharing living space with this man, albeit it is a life lacking in physical forms of affection from any source, which I sorely miss in my life. Also, I did have a ‘slip’ today in my detachment, and committed a tactical error opening the door for him to hurt me so I’m feeling a bit down on myself, but I just need to get back on track and reading Abigail’s story and also about putting on God’s armor has been a help. I’m glad I found this blog at this particular time, thank you.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 10, 2016 at 11:52 am

      Thanks for sharing.

    • Robin on September 12, 2016 at 12:02 am

      Raquel, not sure what your plan is for your future. Have you thought about steps you might take, showing them you are s victor and not a victim– to help them along in their places??
      I stayed too long too- and it has been at a cost to all my children. I left my Destructive relationship and hope to model to my kids, we have choices.

      • Raquel on September 12, 2016 at 8:59 am

        Yes, I have a plan and back up plans because things don’t always go as planned. I guess I knew instinctively to keep my own accounts from the start, so I have my own credit and separate money. I control my own income while insisting he pay the major bills, so I’ve been able to stash a little nest egg for myself, even if he were to try to leave me homeless and destitute – I’d be okay. I live a very full and happy life already, between work and doing all the things I enjoy that I mentioned in my earlier post, and our present shared living situation is comfortable because I work the night shift, while he sleeps and then I sleep all day while he’s out and about, only crossing paths for a couple of hours during the evening. If he tires of the inattention to his needs and finds another as the experts say always happens, I’ll just need an address and pleased as punch to happily send the gift – this has yet to happen though. I don’t kid myself – he’s a monster despite all his claims of change and he simply waits for his opportunities to cause pain. Fortunately, I’ve sealed most avenues of opportunity and live joyfully while he remains living his miserable existence, and that’s more than enough for me.

  62. Harmony on October 4, 2016 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you for this article. It is very insightful. Until now I thought I was completely alone, so it is comforting to know that there are others living this way.

    I want to point out how ignorant it is of those people who ask “Why not just separate?” Perhaps that was an easier course for them, and that’s great; it is the better way. I am pure proof that this is not always possible. I love my husband, and I want to keep the family together for the children. Leaving will ruin my life, likely ending in suicide. I’ll explain:

    I met my husband at a very young age. I was still a teen, and still figuring out life. I remember being completely infatuated with him. At the time, I tried my best to be positive and perfect. I didn’t want to let him down. Slowly, little things would pop up.. like how weird it was that I did certain things, that I liked certain music and chose to groom myself certain ways. That turned into him snapping at me whenever I did things that he didn’t like/understand. I always blamed myself for the way he treated me, because I thought he was so amazing. I couldn’t fathom how he would ever want to hurt me on purpose.

    I realize now that I came on too strong. He was interested, but I was so invested, that he never learned to court me or respect me. He was never romantic and that didn’t bother me in the beginning. All I cared about is that we did fun things yet we were our own people. We knew one day we’d get married, and that’s all I needed to know.

    Fast forward to my first pregnancy. It was something new. Not like our regular partying and gallivanting. I changed. I was sick all the time. I was so desperate for help. He was never empathetic towards my pain and sickness. I would always have to ask for help and he would always be annoyed by it. My family is a 6 hour flight away. I was planning for our new life, but he didn’t seem as invested as he should have been. He was excited about becoming a dad, but I felt out I was missing out on all of the little things I hoped to enjoy. The things you look forward to as a child. He got upset when I needed to buy maternity clothes. I had one pair of maternity pants, and three shirts for my entire pregnancy. Did I mention that I worked full time? It was so embarrassing to work in the fashion industry wearing the same clothes all the time. He was never interested in feeling the baby kick, and he absolutely did not want a baby shower. I never asked questions at the time. I guess I thought I was the one being unreasonable. I had a very complicated delivery that ended in a c section. They tried to sedate me afterwards because of the trauma. His first impulse was to go drink with his buddy when I was awake enough to hold the baby, and he was hardly at the hospital to help during my recovery. I remember listening to my baby scream because I was still to numb to reach her and feed her. The nurses would yell at me when I asked for help and berated me for not having a support person. Soon after I wondered why marriage wasn’t coming up anymore. I expecting to at least be engaged after having his child, but he no longer wanted to get married. I would hear “it’s just a piece of paper, it’s too expensive, I hate my family, etc… This is when I started to become resentful. I felt betrayed and heartbroken.

    Things continued to get more rocky from there. He was never empathetic. He never acted like he cared. Rarely, he would say things that I would convince myself to be “romantic”, but he never really was. I was diagnosed with postpartum depression, which was later diagnosed as severe depressive disorder. Somehow despite all of this, I still craved his attention and hoped he would stop hurting me.

    I continued to wait around every holiday, ever Valentine’s Day for him to propose. His stance changed to “someday” instead of never, but he was annoyed every time I brought it up. I held on to this “proposal dream”, because I hoped it would be that ONE romantic thing he would do. But it never came. Another kid and another 5 years later, we decided to elope. It’s not what I wanted, but I was so blind with desperation to get married that I agreed. He sees the conversation about eloping as his proposal. All I can say is LOL. I am still extremely resentful how all of this unfolded. Nothing changed after we got married.. It felt like nothing really happened. He still showed no empathy or affection, unless he wanted sex. Less than a year after the wedding I had an affair. I was broken and desperate for affection, and this guy gave it to me. He wasn’t a good person and I truly regret having the affair. It was a huge mistake. My husband decided to stay and work on things, but he became emotionally and psychologically abusive. Because of this extreme stress and the stress of my job, I became severely ill. It is unknown if I will ever recover. I lost the job that I loved, and I’m trying to start over from scratch (making very little money because it is commission based, and I can only work one day a week)

    I want our family to work, but it makes me sad that I may never know romance, or have someone care about me. He does little nice things sometimes, but he is mostly over-critical, and selfish. He does nothing to help me, and when I cry he walks away. If I leave I will lose custody of the kids, and live (if you can call it that) off of the system because I have no family or friends here to support me. I could move where my family is, and say goodbye to my children. But like I said.. any of these situations will end in suicide. The stress of living off the system would also probably hospitalize me judging from past scenarios. I barely survived the last hospitalizations, so outlook is not good.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. I wish there was a better future I could hope for, but I can’t find one. I’ve looked into many resource centres and I simply fall through the cracks every time.

    • sheetal bharadwaj on March 8, 2020 at 7:12 am


    • Anna on February 13, 2021 at 1:57 am

      Hi I feel sad reading your story. I am struck by how honest you are. May Jesus really help you. May you see hope. God bless you so much Harmony. He loves you.

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