Have I Done All I Can To Save My Marriage?


This Week's Question:  I filed for a divorce 10 months ago, after reading your book and standing up to the abuses. I have no regrets and feel like I fully understand the depth of oppression I was living under. But because I’ve been in weekly counseling and am receiving wisdom and clarification of the pains from my own childhood, I feel like I have come to a place of full forgiveness for my husband.

I do not wish to reconcile because he has made no changes that I know of. I feel like we live on two different planes- as far as our belief systems go and can't imagine us ever living together again. But because the Lord has revealed to me my own healing and all it took to get here, I have compassion for my husband.I have not seen him nor spoken to him in 10 months. Would you recommend my going towards him with a redemptive letter, one more time?

I know what seems impossible to me, is not for the Lord. I don't want to slam any doors shut completely, until the Lord tells me so. Any thoughts? Let me say I am personally thriving. In everyway possible, the Lord has been my husband. I only ask this question, to know I have done all I can.

Answer:  I hear your sweet, humble, grace-filled spirit in your question. You wonder have you done everything you can do to save your marriage.  Let me ask you a question.  What more do you think you could do?  If you wrote your letter of redemption, what would it say?

I imagine you’d want to share with your husband that you fully forgive him. You’d want to share all that God has taught you and the healing that has taken place in your heart.  You’d want to express compassion for his own stuck and sinful places and empathy for how hard it is to look deep within and make that decision to get help.

And then what?  I think that’s where it will get a bit confusing for you and perhaps confusing for him.  Are you saying that you are willing stop the divorce and give him time to look at his own life and get healing?  Are you saying that because you’ve forgiven him and are now healed and understand that we are all sinners, you are willing to “try again”?

A letter of care and concern showing him how you have grown may be helpful to you although I’m not confident it will make much difference to him.  You have not heard from him in 10 months.  What do you think that means?

Making repairs to a marriage that has shattered takes acknowledgment of the problem and consistent effort towards healing personal and interpersonal problems.  You have taken those brave steps but has he? If not, then what is it you sense God calling you to do?

I hear that it’s important that you feel confident that all efforts to bring reconciliation from your end have been exhausted.  So perhaps this letter will help you bring closure to that worry. On the other hand I want you to be crystal clear that despite what God has done in your heart, you alone cannot fix your marriage or your spouse.

Friends, share what steps it took for you to find that closure – that you have done all that you can to reconcile your marriage.

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  1. Peg on November 18, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    My question to this person would be: What do you mean by a “redemptive letter?” Do you mean you would possibly write to state you forgive him and that you wanted to make sure you’d done all in your wisdom and power to reconcile? The 10 months while you both have been totally separated and non-communicative has been your healing grounds. If you have prayed during that time for God to help you and heal you and even possibly cause your husband to be repentant and reconciled to you, and now you find that your husband has not been forthcoming with any offers on his part to work at changing and reconciling, I simply ask how would a letter to him make any difference at this point? If he’s made no effort to assure you that he’s getting help and that he’s willing to work to change and get you back, then it’s possible that he would think this letter from you would be some kind of concession on your part. Then, you’d be opening up your healed and forgiving heart to possible be torn again. I went that route once too around Thanksgiving time last year and it worked for two days. He took advantage of my graciousness and started yelling abusively again. My ex took my willingness to have him visit my home at Thanksgiving as a victory of sorts. He misread my motives and didn’t understand that I would not reset or remove boundaries that I had established. THUS, his abusive nature surfaced and we were back at square one again! It didn’t hurt as much as the times before but I still allowed myself to be emotionally open to the abuse again. I regretted that! I finally got the message right from God—–“I’ve brought you so far and have healed you and given you grace such that you can now forgive your abusive husband, but let it go now! I’ll handle this from now on out! I know that God wanted me to totally let go and leave well enough alone. If your husband were interested in doing what is necessary to have you back, he’d be doing that in my opinion. Why would God help you thus far and stand beside you to move you forward away from a broken marriage only to have you go back and possibly open yourself up to be hurt again? I say don’t look back and keep moving forward in your newfound freedom and joy! Consider your life as a choice gold and don’t allow it to be diminished in beauty and value! I understand your desire to show grace toward your spouse but he does not value your grace if he’s forsaken the marriage covenant and not shown any willingness to change and repent. It is so difficult to let go but there’s a season for everything and I think it’s possibly your season to let go of him and enjoy your new wholeness.

    • Sandra on November 20, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      Thank you for your sound advise, Peg! My husband left a year ago, and I also have forgiven him and wondered if I should somehow ask his forgiveness for saying angry words when he broke into our house the second time. I told him he was crazy just like his mother (who, in fact was). He yelled that God would punish me for saying that, and left. Even though he hasn’t changed, and I could not reconcile, I still feel guilty about saying such a hateful thing to him. I have confessed it to the Lord and believe He has forgiven me, however, and I now enjoy peace and freedom to serve Him as I never could during the 57 years I lived with my husband.

      • Peg Gentle on November 20, 2014 at 11:12 pm

        Sandra, yes, we sacrifice so much and endure so much when we live in an abusive marriage and our service to God is tremendously diminished during that time of battle. I am so happy now to be serving God in a deeper and more meaningful way! There was a time when I thought I would never “soar” again above all the destruction and hatefulness. But I am now soaring again! I ran into my ex the other evening after church when I went to the local grocery store. I saw his truck in the parking lot and almost didn’t go into the store. But God pressed me forward and I went in HIS strength. My ex saw me and approached me. I spoke but went on to get my shopping buggy. He waited for me to do that and began to ask about how I was and how my family was doing. I was gracious and felt no animosity toward him at all. I didn’t feel anything but pity and sadness for him because he looked so awful. He is struggling with a heart condition called afib. So, he spoke about that. I think God wanted me to see how much I had healed within. And I was able to be gracious and polite. I realized afterwards that I had really been healed and I had truly forgiven him but I maintained my emotional stability and yet I was able to smile and be polite. God did that for me! I am so thankful! So, it is possible to soar above all the past ugliness and serve God with a forgiving heart! And we don’t really do that for ourselves! God does it for us!!! GLory!

      • D. on December 6, 2014 at 12:48 pm

        Thank you for referencing how long it took you were married. how many times I feel stuck because of my age, or overwhelmed by how many years are “wasted” – self-talk that robs me of energy to move forward with hope and encouragement. To hear that You are now able to serve God encourages me that my future can include what has seemed so lost to me.

  2. Brenda on November 18, 2014 at 11:26 pm

    Closure came when I left although he has found none. He still is trying even though we have been apart for 18 months to get me to just forget the past and move on. That is not happening. Last week he sent a text saying that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and he was a rotten one but now is a good one, but can’t do anything about the past. Repent, make amends, or plain leave me alone come to mind. For a week prior to this he sent texts every day telling me that my youngest daughter had mail coming to his house and he was tired of shredding it and was going to forward it to me. Just a tiny reminder of the garbage that I put up with for so many years. My last text was I hope that you have changed, but it didn’t matter as far as we were concerned any longer. I don’t believe he has changed or will. It may be easier for him not having anyone there to verbally vomit on, but that is no longer my problem. God gave me a way out and I am not going to take that lightly. I am very thankful for all that God has given me.

    For me when I got out on my own and found out how happy I was and no longer was being told how mean I was(which he told me last week) or told that I have no sense of humor, which I have been told that I have a good one I began feeling better about me. I can worship how I choose. I can go places all alone and have a good time. Since the last text I sent I haven’t heard another word. I’m not sure if he finally figured out that I wasn’t buying his story and not coming back or if he’s waiting to recharge. Only time will tell. He did none of the work, he continued to be abusive to me and my daughters throughout the separation. He alienated all of us. I don’t feel the need to tell him that I have forgiven him or tell him how good or bad my life is. It is none of his concern anymore.

    By writing a letter you could be getting yourself into a position you don’t any loner want to be in and by giving him false hope could make the situation escalate.

    • Amy on November 19, 2014 at 7:56 pm

      What you said about being told you had no sense of humor reminded me of my ex saying that to me too. And the funny thing is that I have a great sense of humor I just never found him to be very humorous especially his snide little digs formed in the disguise of jokes.
      And I was the one with the anger problem, and I too was mean, and how unforgiving I was…and the list goes on!

      When he left 6 years ago I discovered so much about myself and most of it was in complete contradiction to what he had tried so hard to make me believe about myself.

      I’m glad your free. 🙂

  3. Debby on November 19, 2014 at 2:37 am

    Let the desires of your heart rest with the Lord. remain separate and hold off on the divorce. Allow God to work in his life and let him initiate any reconciliation regarding his changes/healings. I did all I could for “our” relationship and things remain the same. I understand much more now about myself and him, but do not believe things will ever be good. It is very difficult to remain in a relationship that will never be what God says it ought to be. Wait for the husband to make any moves for you both being together.

    • Robin on November 19, 2014 at 3:21 am

      That is good advice. I so much want to separate … not just emotionally … and see if he will finally and daily initiate or fight for a change in our relationship. It’s always been me… and I am exhausted and done. Living in the same house … sleeping in separate places and remaining separated with two children is very difficult. He won’t move out as he just sees me as being difficult. He doesn’t get the boundary and at times is disrespectful … very.
      In my state, I am free to leave but need more income to live on my own. And so the kids enter into the situation. Reconciling sounds appealing but in cases of abuse like the ones we have experienced staying emotionally safe and being extremely discerning is so very important….

      • D. on December 6, 2014 at 1:01 pm

        Robin, I’m in a similar financial situation – I have consulted with a financial advisor who specializes in divorce mediation and my one session with her has given me a much better understanding of what I would get in a settlement. I will consult with her again with specific details of income and assets so I can have a clearer picture of what I can anticipate for alimony, child support, and such. This has eased some of my fears, and cleared up some assumptions and misinformation I had. She also provided some insight into the divorce proceedings that has helped ease some fears as well -(fear of the unknown and anticipation).

        • Leslie Vernick on December 17, 2014 at 2:06 pm

          knowledge is power and I always encourage those in destructive marriages to consult with attorneys and people who are smart with the financial picture before making that first step to separate (unless of course your safety is at stake).

  4. Amy on November 19, 2014 at 6:32 am

    No, nothing is impossible for God, but this woman needs to realize that He can and will work in any way He chooses despite what she does or doesn’t do.
    It’s interesting that victims of abuse can be so worried they have not allowed God to do more in their situations, that somehow if they try harder to save the marriage or choose to stay a little longer then that somehow gives God a better opportunity of doing some major miracle.
    I say this because I was one of those abused women who felt exactly the same way for far too many years.

    I think this woman needs to really pray about what result she is expecting from writing a redemptive letter to her husband — is it to save the marriage, to save her husband or simply to make her feel she has done one final thing towards restoration to put her own mind at rest.

    My abusive ex walked out almost six years ago after 20 years of marriage. It was a very calculated, manipulative move on his part which I would come to realize almost a year later he had planned out for months. We have been divorced for almost four years.

    I could not alone save that marriage. I could not change my abusive spouse. I could only move forward and take steps to leave abuse.
    Sometimes I don’t know if I ever truly got closure, I think sometimes as an abuse survivor it is easy to always wonder even if just a tiny bit whether we truly did everything possible. Why? Because I think we become so conditioned to believe that it is up to us to keep our marriage together and change our spouses. If we pray hard enough, submit more and respect him in all things then God will make all things better. But life just doesn’t work like that.
    People make their own decisions and we cannot change anyone else or keep something together that has been broken for so many years.

    This woman needs to keep moving forward and realize that while she is worried about closing a door too soon perhaps the Lord already has. Not talking with her husband for 10 months especially if he has perhaps not tried to maintain contact could be her answer.

  5. Jenn on November 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    Write the letter. But write it for yourself. Sometimes even though you have reached forgiveness, it does not mean that he is ready or even feels he needs your forgiveness. My ex thinks he has done no wrong. The entire blame of the marriage, even of my motherhood is my fault according to him. Writing a letter might leave you more open to attack, or worse he might not even care. So forgive. And write it out. But don’t give it to him. Keep it. Keep it for a later time when you can be sure that your forgiveness will be just as valuable to him as it is to you.

    • Cora landis on November 20, 2014 at 3:08 am

      That is exactly what I thought when I read this. Write the letter. It will be very healing for you. You can keep it or burn it. It is the writing that is important. I just went through this with something that happened. I wrote the letter and by the time I was half way through I knew I would never send it, but I also knew I needed to do it. Do it for you. Forgive, and let it go.

      • AJ on November 20, 2014 at 5:24 am

        The grief recovery handbook is really helpful for figuring out how to write a letter that concludes all of the emotional baggageconnected to the relationship. You write the letter and then can experience freedom from the baggagein relationship, past or present. You do not need to send the letter but you read it aloud to a safe person. There is also a companion book for helping your kids grieve that has been very helpful for my kids.


  6. Brian on November 19, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    There are men out here that feel the same way as this lady does. We have taken the abuse that is emotional, adultery, neglect, and blame. We have done some severe soul searching and looking on the only person we can change. Ourselves, and yet the more we do and the more we work towards being a healthier person. The Ex wishes to destroy us further cause they can’t see their own faults and flaws. It is sad that we see this as a Gender Issue and not a Human Issue. You work on yourself and with what you do. You feel like the other person can do what your already doing. Your living off of hope and the infatuation of starting over again. The thought of starting over is just like meeting someone new again. Especially when you have kids and Family. You wish to try that much harder to get it to work. It is not an easy place to be.

    • D. on December 6, 2014 at 1:05 pm

      Robin, I’m in a similar financial situation – I have consulted with a financial advisor who specializes in divorce mediation and my one session with her has given me a much better understanding of what I would get in a settlement. I will consult with her again with specific details of income and assets so I can have a clearer picture of what I can anticipate for alimony, child support, and such. This has eased some of my fears, and cleared up some assumptions and misinformation I had. She also provided some insight into the divorce proceedings that has helped ease some fears as well -(fear of the unknown and anticipation).

    • D. on December 6, 2014 at 1:14 pm

      “you’re living off hope and the infatuation of starting over again.” I like how you said that… So true. Holding onto that hope had drained me of energy and focus to move on. It’s a necessary ending. Steve Arterburn helped clarify for me that hope is not built on “nothing”. Hope has to have a foundation on something real. We can hope our spouses would love us mutually but if we are not seeing behaviors and attitudes that are loving, what is the hope based on? We can hope for respect, but if we are not being respected…
      My hope was based on what I wanted, not on what my spouse was capable of or willing to do.

  7. Linda@Creekside on November 19, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Sometimes a letter, a journal entry, written to the Lover of our souls clarifies all that swirls within and releases our thoughts and feelings to the One who can make something beautiful out of all the craziness …

    There’s something powerful to putting pen to paper and seeing reality in black and white.

    Perhaps that will be sufficient?

    You’ll know. He has a way of giving discernment.

    • Shan on November 19, 2014 at 7:52 pm

      I agree, write a letter but probably not a good idea to send it.
      It can be hard to accept that it is finally over, make sure your motives are not to force something to work that does not work. And he may interpret it that you are fine with what he did and that he can have the relationship back without doing any work on his end.

      My counselor helped me work through those last little doubts I had of myself (did I do everything possible, did I give him every possible chance to change, was I compassionate enough) and I don’t have those kind of thoughts anymore.

  8. Laurie on November 19, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    I heartily agree with all of these comments. The writer of this week’s question has a beautiful, precious spirit that has been allowed to grow and thrive. To give her husband a ew opportunity to possibly take advantage of her could be very destructive and negate the progress she has made thus far. Ten months is a reasonable time to wait for visible changes in your husband – has anyone else observed any positive, consistent changes? I have been separated from my husband for 10 months as well (and filed for a Legal Separation which will be finalized in February) and get occasional texts and e-mails like this: “Couldyou please lift the restraining order so I can have my guns and go deer hunting?…” Sorry. May God grant me (and all the rest of us) continued grace to keep moving forward for ourselves and our children. This has been a very difficult path, filled with more trials than I care to share but the relief and peace from the bondage of 17 years of a destructive marriage give a lightness to the new burdens I am now experiencing.

    • tawnya on November 24, 2014 at 11:41 pm

      Hi beautiful.. 5 yrs out and may I say the trial still come but not as painful as it was when I was housed with him!! Your a brave women as are all the women writing on this page! I pray everyday forward heal and bring you great wellness in your mind body and soul!

    • Robin on November 25, 2014 at 3:49 am

      Thank you ladies, for your kind and confirming words. Its been a very long battle. We were married 32 yrs. I sure appreciate all the support I have received from this website. Its been a Lifeline for me. I love hearing everyone’s stories, and so many times I have thought, man I lived all those years thinking I was the only one. Now I hear my story told over and over, on this site. I am grateful for each one of you, that has shared their story and their pain, for others of us to grow and be rescued out of destructive places. Bless each one of you!!!!!

  9. Tom on November 19, 2014 at 4:46 pm

    Thank you for this post. My verbally abusive wife left me 14 months ago. Since then, our interactions have included name calling, accusations, blame, etc. We have tried counseling – didn’t work. She is able to charm the people she needs to. I, too, have been feeling a pull to write a letter of some sort. But God has spoken very clearly to me to “Wait Patiently.” I will continue to wait. However, these posts have helped me question if it is for my own flesh that I feel pulled to write a letter and perhaps I don’t need to. I probably want some validation since I have not been public at all with the abuse I have dealt with for 30 years. However, she has been very public, in very manipulative ways, to insure that people see her as the victim. Thanks again. God is good.

  10. Loretta P on November 19, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    Sometimes we have to rest in God and know that if we’ve given and he doesn’t accept, that it’s not our choice. He has to make his choices and so far it looks like he has. You can pray for him, but only God can open his eyes to the truth of God’s healing. Maybe sharing that you have found healing would help, maybe not. Ask God for wisdom and know that God leads us and knows all. Don’t beat yourself up with thoughts that maybe there was something else you could have done. It takes two working on a marriage to make it successful! I know from experience. One can’t make a marriage. Press into God for his love for you and healing. Then let your heart rest.

  11. Cheryl on November 19, 2014 at 8:35 pm

    I have been living with a verbally abusive man for over 30 years. For several years I blamed his behavior on Vietnam and his PTSD so I tolerated an awful lot and have been in and out of Christian counseling for most of our marriage. After reading Jan Silvious’ book “Fool Proofing Your LIfe” I believe my H is a bonifide fool as described in Proverbs. He also displays many narcissistic tendencies. After reading Leslis”s book on the emot destructive marriage I understand that I cannot do anything to change my H so I have been putting his feet to the fire and for the first time I think he fears I will leave, something I should have done a long time ago. Back in July H started seeing one of the pastors at church and came home telling me that the pastor also wanted to see me. I told him I would meet with the two of them but that he would have to make the appt. We finally saw the pastor about a month ago. His assignment for H was to read the book “For Men Only” with an accountability partner. He urged me to do the same with For women only, but have I only skimmed the book. H took his time getting the book and making arrangments for the acct. partner and is not yet taking responsibility for the abuse. Last week I went in to see the pastor without my H knowing and after expressing that this is an issue of emotional abuse and listed all the books I have read and all the things I have tried to keep peace, his reply was that we both have buckets of junk, H’s bucket is just bigger than mine. He also said I need to ask God to change me in ways that will prompt H to change. I told him he is coming in on the tail end of a very long journey and that I am way beyond couples counseling and that I personally think couples counseling is not helpful in abusive situations. I’m sure he would have benn mortified to hear that we have not been intimate for almost six months. I’m finally realizing that I do not owe H sex when he has treated me like this for so many years. In Jan’s book she says that if wives choose to stay with their fools, it is their duty to be intimate. That really confuses me. I could go on and on but just want you all to know how much i have learned from this blog and how much I appreciate you all and Leslie as well!

    • Robin on April 9, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      Cheryl, it’s okay to disagree with what you read. Not everyone will have same mind. I also loved that book, but disagreed on the comment of staying in physical relationship esp after reading the wisdom Leslie Vernick shared on the subject. Take it to the Lord and see what He says!!!!!

  12. Brenda on November 19, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    That is what people have told me. I didn’t laugh at what he was saying, because it wasn’t funny. I am finally learning who I am and I am a likeable person, also in contradiction to what the X had to say and is still saying.

  13. Brenda on November 19, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    There are some men who have been through abuse, but I fear it is not nearly as common. You are correct, we can only work on ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that we have to continue on in the mess AKA marriage. As far as starting over, the X would certainly like that, but it is never going to happen. Forget the past and move on like nothing ever happened, I think not. I am sorry if you find your self on the receiving end of this scenario. Real abuse, I have found is more man against woman than the other way around.

  14. Kris on November 19, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    My guess is there was nothing else you could do. I have found journaling helps.
    Let me tell you my story.
    I too had similar questions after I left and divorced my ex. I felt like I had done all I could on my part to save the marriage (he too thought he had done nothing wrong and declined to make any changes), but occasionally I would wonder if I had could have done something different. I prayed for him and for God to give me clarity. (Be careful what you pray for) So….3 years after our divorce was final, it came to my attention that my ex had posted sexually explicit pictures of me on an internet porn site just before I left him (the website had the pics dated). As angry as I was about the pictures being posted, the clarity I had asked for had been given me. His heart was so full of hatred and anger towards me, there was absolutely nothing I could have done to make things any different. As horrible as his action is, there is nothing illegal about his posting the pics (since I was of age and consenting at the time the pics were taken, he pretty much can do what he wants with them…I have no way of retribution except to chase him down across state lines in civil court which would be time consuming and exceedingly expensive), so I have had a huge exercise in forgiveness.
    The silver lining is that I know I could have done nothing more. I know God is showing me this now (not then) because I am strong enough now. You will get your clarity when God thinks you are ready.

    • Amy on November 19, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      I really like this: “You will get your clarity when God thinks you are ready.”
      I believe that is really true and sometimes the clarity, the answer is right in front of us but until we can move past our fears and doubts it can be hard to see.

      • Kris on November 20, 2014 at 3:23 am

        You are very right….many clarifiers were there at the time…I just did not see them….time, strengthening and perspective clears up many things.

  15. Brenda on November 19, 2014 at 11:56 pm

    Kris, That is a terrible thing that he did to you. Such a man is, well, lower than a snake.

    • Kris on November 20, 2014 at 3:29 am

      Snake is kind 🙂 I have every faith that God will take care of him.

  16. Lonely wife on November 20, 2014 at 3:10 am

    I still second guess myself, but as the days and weeks stretched into months and now four years, I can honestly say that my husband has made NO effort to change. We are still living in the same house, still a “family” but we are broken, and unless God sends a miracle, this is how it will always be.
    Fours years after discovering my husbands emotional affair, he has done nothing in the way of repentance, and has once again quit counseling, after promising our youngest son he’d go. Only two sessions, and it’s MY fault because in not supportive enough.
    There is nothing I can do at this point, except work on myself, and stay well…for the time being.
    The writer of this question is like soooo many of us who live in abusive marriages….we try hard, then harder, and then even harder to make the marriage work. And we do it alone, because the abuser won’t take responsibility, for his behavior nor for the state of the marriage. When my marriage ends, and it will, even if we are still “married” I will know that I have done everything I possibly could to save this marriage…and I feel that God doesn’t require anything more from me, in fact, I believe that God has opened my eyes to just how destructive my marriage is and has given me clarity on how to proceed.

  17. Robin Baumann on November 20, 2014 at 3:54 am

    My name is Robin and I am the one who asked the question. Thank you Leslie for your great answers…… I appreciate everyone’s responses, but I think I need to clarify a little. Im not waiting for my husband to change. Im not trying harder to make him change. I stood up to him for a year, challenging his destructive behaviors, he didn’t move on what I requested. So I filed for divorce and had him removed from our home with a protection order and policemen. Everything about my life is going very well. I just wanted to ask Leslie, if there was anything I skipped maybe- before I proceed. We are going to mediation in December, and so the divorce could be final very soon. I do not want him back. I do not regret anything I have done. I have a brand new life, filled with many many blessings. I do pray for him that he would acknowledge his destructive behaviors and want help. I lived with 32 yrs of overt abuse daily. I am done. Thank you everyone!! Robin

    • Sandra on November 20, 2014 at 5:46 pm

      God bless you dear Robin! Love & prayers for you!

  18. Brenda on November 20, 2014 at 9:34 am

    That puts a better perspective on the situation. It sounds like you did all you could, and following through with the consequences of his actions. I am so glad to hear you are doing well. I am glad to hear that you pray for him. That is not always an easy task for many,. Leaving well is good.

    • Leonie on November 20, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      God has impressed on me lately that I cannot chose someone who is outside of God’s will for me and then pray and expect God to come alongside me and save my cheating, deliberately wayward husband. I can pray but God is God and I have to repent and seek his will and go alongside him in what he is doing & where he is doing it. With my ex we had been separated for over a year and he went to a ‘counselling weekend’ in efforts to reconcile our marriage. When he came back he told me he felt he should take our sons out of Boy Scouts because he felt it was satanic. I was dumbfounded, He had gone seeking God’s will for our marriage & relationship. That is when I got clarity: he would not submit to God, I thought he just didn’t get it but then I saw that he would not get it and didn’t want to get it. I realized if I stayed I nothing would change and I had to go through with the divorce.

      • Lonely wife on November 21, 2014 at 3:54 am

        Leonie I am also seeing this in my relationship. My husband has changed so much in the last 6 months, since I started implementing boundaries….and the change hasn’t been good! He’s angry, so angry inside, and he has NO relationship with God. I know I have to make a decision about my future, and it’s hard, because I haven’t worked in 29 yrs of marriage and have no idea how I would support myself. My youngest son will be 18 in just a couple of years, so I’m trying to wait until then, before I make any huge decisions, but it is sooo hard living with my husband like this!

  19. Peg on November 20, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Amy, I agree with you that so many abused women come to believe that IF they just do ONE MORE thing to help God out that God will be able to change their husbands and pave the way for reconciliation. God will do and can do whatever He chooses to do and if that’s not happening, it’s not up to us(the abused) to figure out what one more thing we could do to CHANGE our abusive partners. God is ABLE to do whatever HE wills to do WITHOUT our help! So many hinder progress by “enabling” and “catering” to the idea that it’s up to the partner/victim to figure out what steps to take to HELP the abuser change. The best course of action is to move forward with disciplining ourselves and changing our behaviors such that we DO NOT enable our abusers AT ALL. Once the boundaries are set and we are moving forward emotionally and spiritually and even physically, if the partner becomes angry, it’s a good sign he is not liking his loss of control. God will do whatever HE chooses to do! We just have to honor that God is in control of everything! If He doesn’t change our abusive partners ever, that’s God’s choice and we have to realize that we are blessed that God brought us OUT of the confusion and abuse into a peaceful place of promise!

  20. Paula on November 20, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    I have read some of the comments, though I have not had the chance to read them all. I don’t know if I will be repeating someone else’s thoughts. What I would say, though, is perhaps, the question to ask yourself ought not be, “Have I done all I can?”, but rather, “Have I done all I should?” I have gone through this myself so many times. I have experienced so much guilt and self-doubt. Is there ever a time where we can’t do more? I see in the Scriptures places where more shouldn’t be done. When the disciples are instructed to shake the dust from their feet as they leave the towns that did not receive them, is it because they couldn’t do more? Someone might say, they could witness more and share the Gospel more and pray more and beg and plead with them for their salvation and so on, but the instruction of the Lord is leave them and shake the dust from your feet. I am not trying to say that this is a strict parallel to marriage to an abusive person. What I am trying to say is that there are situations where God doesn’t do more. There are other passages that come to mind that tell us to avoid certain people and to have nothing to do with certain people – rather than telling us to pull out all the stops to save that person or those persons. So for me, I don’t see this as an issue of semantics. It is a crucial difference. If I ask myself if I have done all I can do, the answer will probably always be no. I ask myself, have I done all I should do? Just some thoughts.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 20, 2014 at 8:20 pm

      Love that critical difference you brought to light – yes we all can do “more” but should we? What is the gain, what is the cost and is God asking us to do more is always the real question. Thank you for sharing that and bring a new slant to what I didn’t cover in my response. That’s why this community is so great – we all add something to the collective wisdom God has given us.

      • Paula on November 21, 2014 at 12:36 am

        Thank you for your kind words, Leslie. 🙂

  21. Leonie on November 20, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    2 Thessalonians 3:2,3 days Pray …. that we mayt be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.

  22. Liz on November 21, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Lonely Wife, that was my experience, as I implemented boundaries, my husbands behavior got worse. He was losing his control over me and since he wouldn”t leave, I filed for separation and he has to move out. It was my last ditch effort, hoping he would see his need for change, I wasted a lot of time doing things I thought I should do to “save” the marriage. He said he will do anything, we will see. I continue to pray for God to change his heart and I know God can do anything but He also gives us choices and so far, my husband has been choosing to try to force me into submission and refuses to look at his own heart, and get right with God.

    • Lonely wife on November 24, 2014 at 6:38 am

      Liz, yes, I see that with my husband. He makes all kinds of promises, and yet, nothing changes…ever! I don’t know if separation would make any difference….he’s in such denial of how hurtful his behavior is. I’m now praying that God will speak to him…and that my husband heart will respond.

  23. Robin Baumann on November 21, 2014 at 9:37 pm

    Paula, I agree…….your words were excellent. We truly will always know we could do more. I loved the Scriptures that showed Jesus could have, but sometimes he chose not too. Talk about good boundaries!!!

    • Paula on November 23, 2014 at 3:35 am

      Thank you, Robin. God bless you in all you are going through.

  24. Hope on November 24, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Sometimes we are all too ready to offer our forgiveness to others when they aren’t ready to receive it; we want the fruits of forgiveness because we’ve come to terms with the pain and suffering; are mature enough to grieve our losses and except our circumstances. We are now ready to move forward. This is wonderful and it is how God grows us in trials, but unfortunately we do this alone on our own terms and usually others move at their own pace. With abusers rather than the abused the process can be different and the abuser will not be ready to receive forgiveness yet. Jesus Christ is always ready to give his gift of redemption unfortunately some never receive, waiting for the precise time is a must, for now the peace you have will be your reward.

  25. Leonie on November 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    You can forgive but he may never accept it. Somehow the abuser sometimes feels disproportionately angry with the abused based on their skewed perceptions of the world. My ex continued to abuse me through the court system for 8 years until it culminated in a trial. He had a vendetta against me that I still don’t understand – he abused me and cheated on me and stalked me excessively seemed to feel offended that I filed for divorce. I may never know why. I have forgiven him but keep my distance because of the trauma he put me through for so many years

  26. Peg on November 25, 2014 at 1:28 pm

    As I read and read on this site the very many comments from hearts of women who, like me, have dealt with highly dysfunctional partners whose behavior and attitudes are beyond understanding, it occurs to me that because we long for total understanding and true peace about our marriage/relationships, it becomes a sorrow that we carry deeply in our spirit as we realize how very confused and totally LOST our abusers are. It’s within our deepest hearts that God would change them and we rarely see that happening and if we do see any small progress, we fear to trust it. But it is evident to me that there has to be elements of evil and/or very deep woundedness in these men and we are just NOT equipped to grasp how they think or even how their emotions work. I know for myself that I am a “searching” and “seeking” type person and I don’t give up easily without striving to UNDERSTAND people and situations. But I have learned (the hard way) that I MUST leave it totally in God’s hands and wait and keep praying for the man who abused me. I’ve had to walk away from a marriage that was NEVER going to be what my heart wanted it to be. That’s true in many situations in this life as we know it in this world. It’s in my nature and I’m sure in many women’s natures to want to FIX things and get them right! That’s a good spirit I think. BUT reality brings us to a place where we accept that we cannot FIX people who are in the darkness. We can only strive to be more and more like Christ and shine our light and hope perhaps that some good seeds are sown and that those seeds will eventually sprout and grow in a good way! Our hearts must rest in that! I’m learning that it takes TIME to come to a place where my heart REALLY RESTS in Christ! I work at that daily!

    • Robin Baumann on November 25, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      Wow, beautiful, wise words Peg. You sure know how to arrange words so they pierce deep within our hearts. Thank you for taking the time to write such wisdom!!

    • Lisa on November 25, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      Very deep woundedness leading to acts of evil……This is how I have come to understand my ex. It makes me sad, but I have also learned that those ropes of emotion are the trick of the enemy that kept me tied to a toxic marriage for so many years. Just yesterday my teenage daughter texted me from the car as dad was driving her somewhere, “You are driving me next time.” Another outburst of anger and blame throwing from dad about mom (me) that made no sense at all to my daughter. She said it made her cry and this time not from the demeaning attitude blasted out from dad, but from her sadness at how twisted he sees things. We pray for healing in his soul, but I am grateful to God He led me out.

      • Teri on November 26, 2014 at 7:18 am

        Lisa, Could you explain what you mean by the ropes of emotion that de kept you in a toxic marriage?

        • Lisa on November 26, 2014 at 7:47 pm

          “Ropes of emotion” refer to my reactions emotionally to the crazy making, gaslighting, blame throwing, circular talking and guilting of the abuser. These tactics and my resulting thoughts and beliefs like “I’m a loser,” I’m wrong again,” “My fault let me fix it so he won’t do that again,” “maybe if I do this one more thing something will change, “I feel sorry for him, etc.” Those things that kept me in a pattern of thinking that if he were different, if I could change one more thing, if I believe God harder and better, I would have a marriage that was at least a little joyful. Instead of recognizing that I was in an unhealthy relationship and removing myself I stayed many years caught up in some kind of addiction to toxic relationships. I came to a point in the winter of 2013 asking myself “Why would anyone accept this behavior?” I realized I did not love myself and I never forgave myself for something I did that led me into abuse. I then went to a retreat for help on these issues and the counselor gave me the analogy of “The Giant of Liliput” and all those little people throwing ropes up and around the giant to keep him down. My emotions are like those ropes and that I needed to envision the ropes getting cut. Everytime I conquered a bad thought I cut a rope. Everytime I was in a similar bad thought pattern the rope had been thrown back up. I needed to keep cutting the ropes so that giant could be free. It has been a helpful visual for me as I got used to recognizing good and bad thoughts. I am now much better at not getting sucked in emotionally.

          • Teri on November 26, 2014 at 10:19 pm

            That is a wonderful explaination. I could fully relate to the analogy. I often think about young girls and women who have been cooerced or chosen abortions. I come from a childhood sexual abuse (father) back ground and the ptsd symptoms are the exact same for those who were molested and those who were “tricked” into thinking abortion would solve their pregnance issue. By the way as for a statistic. One in three women in the U.S. have had abortions – and half of those women have had several abortions 2- 7 might be an average. my point in all of this is that my core was shot from the child hood abuse and I walked into more of it via my marriage. With so many women having been violated by molestation, rape and abortion, I can see why domestic abuse is epidemic. We are women who are deeply wounded attracting men who further mistreat and punish us. I liked how you described you “spent years being caught up in some kind of addiction to toxic relationships.”
            It may have once been all I ever knew, but it’s never too late to mature and heal in The Lord! So, with that, I thank you for your response. You are a colorful writer. ( ;

  27. Brenda on November 25, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    I am grateful that you and your daughter are out, as well. She has a discerning heart and it is so good to hear that you are praying together for X/dad. We truly do have much to be thankful for this coming Thanksgiving day. God is good in all things.

    Ms Leslie, I do sometimes wish we could have discussion on the additional articles that you put in your news letter. Discussing how we become thankful in all circumstances is a good topic to cover.

  28. Mary on November 25, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    Looking at so many comments my Life resonates with so many of you. I was married for nearly 24 years ! We dated through high school so our experience together as a couple has been since our teen years. It’s hard to break free from such unhealthy life style especially the emotional abuse as its easy to question your own sanity through the conditioning of control , and manipulative behaviors. I stayed home for many years and in many ways had a great life. My husband was charming , handsome , articulate , giving , hard working etc. sounds like a pretty nice package ! Ahhh …but there is that dark side of control and isolation. As long as I saw things his way there was No conflict. I spent years doing the dance as a co-dependent I spent my days making sure things ran smoothly. We got along ok, and had many great years , except if we entered the area of conflict , that’s where the trigger was. I started speaking up, having a voice ! Basically it was his house, his rules etc. so as long as I didn’t speak up against his view points life would be fine. But secretly , I Resented him, and through the years the wall kept getting higher, and higher. We separated a few times, it was always me leaving : if I didn’t like it , I can get the “F” out . Well , let’s just say, I left and returned a few different times. I returned with the hope and promise things would change. I didn’t really face my bully and put demands on what my boundaries were, as I lost me along the way. In the heat of our arguments keys , phones, ATM cards were taken as a punitive action against my voice to speak against injustices in the house. I was wondering to myself ” what was teaching my daughters ” to stay ? When I left the last time summer 2012 I didn’t return. My husband cried , sent me cards, strawberries , gift cards in the mail or used our son to do his bidding for him , as I stopped taking his phone calls as his text messages were often raging and contradictive ? He Would give me mixed messages all the time, how he desperately wanted his family going All in back to church , bible studies , missions trip etc, yet living a double life engaging in extra marital relationships. I was pretty shut down, as I did not trust him. I couldn’t even get my mail at my own home, and he tooknr off car insurance through a text message ! Yet he involved so many peole that he wanted his marriage . Got clergy involved , countless friends to try patch this broken marriage back together. We went to several counselors , where I’ve been screamed at on the way home going 80 miles an hour. He has even walked out of a session when counselor asked him to lower His voice. Another pastor didn’t think he could help us. Needless to say, we are divorced . It’s 1 yr post divorce and it’s still really raw . Starting over on this new skin , kind of feels like a fish out of water. Its hard b/c even after the divorce he says he still loves me, it’s not too late as he has another woman living with him. It’s a divided house. My adult daughters with me . My son, and husband. It’s very sad , but there has been So much destruction, and I would have gone back if I believed sincerely he wanted his marriage. His words , and actions never lined up. It’s very difficult to get through all the Emotional damage by a narcissistic husband who didn’t take responsibility for the damage of his words /actions/and leadership of our home. I know that this wasn’t Gods best for me. The Lord is strong tower /provider /comforter and he will heal the Brokeness in my heart and has not forsaken me on this Journey. Onward !

  29. Teri on November 26, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Could Lisa further discuss the ropes of emotion that kept her stuck in relationship with a man who is deeply wounded and leading to acts of evil. I’d appreciate further development of that comment. Thanks.

    • Lisa on November 26, 2014 at 11:05 pm

      Now isn’t that just the Lord, Teri! The retreat that really helped me is called “Grief To Grace” by Theresa Burke. It was “downloaded” from heaven to Theresa and deals with the growing from the grief and other residual of sexual abuse to receiving the grace and healing of God. She also has a program for years for post abortive. A common theme in the post abortive women was the loss of dignity due to sexual abuse or assault and thus she was encouraged to create Grief To Grace. It was a really powerful walk with Jesus those 5 days!

      • Teri on November 27, 2014 at 3:33 pm

        Oh my gosh ! I also attended From Grief to Grace in Corpus Christi. Exactly . So many of the women who were attending the RACHEL’S VINEYARD retreat for post abortion healing were regularly being identified as having experienced childhood sexual abuse! I would like for many more women (and me) to know that amazing healing is available via RACHELS’S VINEYARD. For every (1 out of 3) women who lose babies to abortion, there is man. And, many are dragging girlfriends and wives to clinics. These men also need RACHEL’S. Again, point being, couples are complicit in a violent act against a woman’s body and so we have women victims and male’s who didn’t protect them. There are a lot of very guilty men who continue perpetration with no accountability. So, Lisa. That is amazing that we have both been through the program. I went 10 – 12 years ago. Rachel’s Vineyard is huge and it’s retreats in most states. Blessings to you sister in Christ’s redemptive work. Keep on journaling! You are a very good writer!

  30. Shellys on November 27, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Dear Ladies,
    Today I met my husband (separated two years) for coffee at his request. In spite of myself, I found myself pulled into all the emotions all over again. I haven’t filed for divorce yet, as I think I’ve struggled with that final closure of what would have been a thirty year marriage. After about 45 minutes of small talk, he volunteered that he had decided that since I obviously would never be able to forgive and overcome his infidelities he was prepared to initiate the paperwork. He had finally talked to a counselor a few weeks ago for a one hour session. He was told by his counselor that given his relationship history, and personality, and lack of self-reflection, that it was unlikely that he would ever be able to change, that it just “isn’t in him” to be able to do so. I reacted with frustration, feeling once again that in spite of him saying he accepts all the responsibility for the breakdown of our marriage he was still making it my fault. I just could not understand how he could say “I acknowledge that I was totally wrong” yet turn it around and say that “I just know that no matter what mountain I was to climb, you would never be able to overcome the hurts”. I said what hurt was that he never even tried to climb the mountain. I begged him to recognize and admit that he just doesn’t want to do the work. Also, he won’t face the years of subtle superiority and emotional stonewalling, and accumulated behaviors that were what finally led to my leaving. So, once again, I am left feeling responsible, and needy and over-sensitive. He ended up leaving coffee abruptly, saying he just couldn’t continue talking. Once again, no closure. I ended up feeling badly. Am I selfish to want him to take more responsibility? Did I push him too hard?
    It’s embarrassing to be in this place again. I thought I was further along. Advice?

  31. Robin on November 27, 2014 at 11:30 pm

    Shelly, I’d say if you’ve been separated for two years, you have set a excellent boundary. I also like you wS married 30 yrs and didn’t want to give up. No I don’t think you’re asking too much at all. My counselor helped me think thru this, by sharing with me it’s not one or two things he does– that is the problem. He has s damaged core. If he doesn’t see the need to have that damage repaired- I don’t think there is any hope he will be able to see and acknowledge all the wounds he has caused you. It’s hRd to walk away after thirty yrs. I like what one gal said on this blog once- yes I still love him, but I choose to walk away knowing how toxic he is. You have to realize, he doesn’t want help– and do you want to live like this for the next 30 yrs????

  32. Shellys on November 27, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Thank you Robin. No – I know I left because I couldn’t live that way anymore. I hoped he would see one day and would value me enough to fight. But he didn’t, and that’s a grief and understanding I really have to process completely. It’s the intermittent nice words, the intermittent kindnesses that rekindle a hope that I don’t even know I am carrying. No – if I was to go back, and I’m sure that’s what he was always sure I would do, it would be on his terms alone. I’ve set a strong boundary, but maintaining that emotional wall is costly. Appreciate your advice.

  33. Robin on November 28, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Shelly, I wanted to laugh as I reD your words- they sound like they could be mine exactly. I’m the one thAt asked the question on this blog, LESLIE answered. I left ten months ago, actually eleven now I guess believing he would come find me and want to reconcile and build a healthy relationship together. But I went to court with a declaration that exposed his abuses and destructive habits, and he set out to destroy me. He has never contacted me unless it was a rare email and it had to do with his money. I don’t know how long you’ve been fighting this battle- for me it was over 30 yrs, so when I served him with a protection order I really was ready to be done. The thing that helped me a lot was reading Leslie’s books and working on my own core with weekly counseling. So as I grew I to more healthiness it became easier to see his not wanting to change- wasn’t going to work for me. I did file for divorce right away as I hoped it would help him see the seriousness of what I was requesting he do. He never responded. I wS in a very abusive relationship. He controlled everything and would not stop it acknowledge his dominating me. So I left for 2 WKS and requested to the court I could move back into my home as thAts where I work. I’ve been here ever since and my life is so free from oppression!!!!!

  34. Teri on November 28, 2014 at 6:00 am

    Ah – free from oppression. What a joy. One of the bloggers said it very sweetly. She said: The peace and relief from bondage of 22 years of a destuctive marriage give a lightness to the new burdens I am now experiencing. And another blogger shared ” You will get your clarity when God thinks you are ready.” Blessings one and all.

  35. brenda on November 28, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    The interaction that you described sounds just like the X. The difference is that he kept asking me to have coffee and I have refused. The attitudes, the changes in direction from supposedly recognizing that he was to blame to shifting it to me; all of it exactly the same. No!! You are not being selfish. He needs to take responsibility and keep it. He needs to live with the consequences of his actions. He needs to realize the harm he has caused you. I realized this morning that I didn’t think about the fact that the divorce was final last week. I see that as a good thing. I’m afraid the only closure you will get is moving on completely and recognizing that he will not change and doesn’t want to. I am sorry. I have come to see reality in the school of hard knocks and the gentle, tender mercy of Jesus. I turned it all over to Him and things just keep getting better.

  36. Shellys on November 28, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Thank you Robin, Brenda and Teri – I like what you said about “you will get your clarity when God thinks you are ready”. I need to continue to pray, turn it all over to Him as you say and patiently wait for God to give me His clarity in His time. You are all so strong, and I know it has been a painful strength to gain.

    • Robin on November 28, 2014 at 7:23 pm

      Shelly, I dont know if I care for that comment, you will get your clarity when God thinks you are ready. While it is partly true, I would be concerned it might make a woman stop doing her part to get clarity. I know, I worked my program very very hard and rigorously to get the clarity needed. Being where I am today, my strongest advice would be to NOT stay in a unsafe relationship. It will cost you years of pain, you will later wish you had avoided. I am not full of regret, I know sometimes you just have to go thru what you do. Im just suggesting not to sit in a destructive relationship thinking God hasn’t prepared me to leave and stay gone. I have found God had something so much more wonderful for me, waiting for me, the moment I let go of the destructive situation I was in. I will always care about my husband. I do not care about his not acknowledging his constant path of destruction………

      • Leslie Vernick on November 28, 2014 at 7:48 pm

        I think one of the most fascinating things in scripture is the whole topic of blindness. People – religious leaders – were blind to Christ. Do you think Christ wanted them to have clarity? To see? I think so, but there is something within us that refuses to see. I think that’s the part that we have to work hard on. Denial. Closing our eyes to the truth. Avoiding the pain of reality is one of our biggest detriments in growing up – whether spiritually or emotionally and mentally.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 28, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      Perhaps you have clarity in one area – yes you are in an abusive and destructive marriage but you’re not quite clear yet what to do to gain safety and sanity.

  37. Shellys on November 29, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Yes, Leslie, maybe it is denial. And perhaps it is avoiding the pain of reality. I did feel God’s permission to leave, and His presence and blessing in the many challenges and decisions to be made following that. So I had clarity at one time. It’s been two years. I think the hard part is giving myself permission to decide to really end it and face the permanence and all the consequences of that choice. All those years of having my perception and intuition and opinions ignored or discounted means it has taken a long time to begin to trust my own voice. .But that’s what big girls must do. And that includes trusting my own hearing, too. Hearing God. Thanks Robin – I couldn’t stop seeking clarity even if I wanted to. It was a relentless need in me. But there’s a difference between seeking clarity and wanting to see the big picture. God doesn’t often let us see the big picture.

  38. Robin on November 29, 2014 at 12:50 am

    Shelley, I totally hear you. Accepting the end, is very painful. But maybe I can add a little perspective. #1. Divorce is not the end. Divorce is a consequence that happens when a destructive spouse won’t honor his wife. Divorce is final for a unhealthy marriage, and if a newer one, more healthy one is to come, the old destructive one needs to end. #2. Wondering how much reading you have done. Have you read Leslie’s books about working on our core?? Another book I highly recommend is “Necessary Endings”. Are you in counseling? In the two years you’ve been separated, what have you done, to move towards healthyness for you?? I ask these questions, as some of your answers might be hints to helping you get to a resolve. I don’t think the end of a relationship of 30 yrs is easy. Its very painful. Something I say often to myself- is am I looking at my True Reality?? Am I looking at my husband as he really is, or how I wish he was. Its easy to waste alot of emotional time on thinking how we wish things were. Instead of how they really are. These are all processes, we must go thru….. Praying for you, my friend.

    • Shellys on December 1, 2014 at 6:34 am

      Thanks so much Robin. Yes, it seems I’ve read every book I could get my hands on. I’ve read Leslie’s “Emotionally Destructive Relationship” and have ordered the “Emotionally Destructive Marriage” – looking forward to reading it. I have gone to counseling over the past three years. It was a dear godly counselor who had survived a terribly destructive marriage who gently led me to the truth about my own marriage. She loaned me a book by Norman Quantz called “It’s All About Power and Control”. It doesn’t deal with how to gain the strength to leave an abusive relationship, or the aftermath of setting boundaries but it does an excellent job of detailing all of the many subtle manipulations of an emotionally abusive man. I read it one weekend, and highlighted nearly every line. It was describing my life. By the time I was finished, I was so furious I could hardly see straight. My eyes were opened. Leslie, it struck me when you talked about how when our eyes are finally opened to the truth, we can’t go back. Things get worse, because we can no longer live in that cloud of self hatred and doubt that allows us to stay in the abusive situation without needing to defend ourselves. That is what happened to me. I was no longer innocent. I knew what was being done to me and I couldn’t tolerate it anymore. So the tension and the anger escalated because I was setting boundaries. I get it. That is going to help me with my resolve. I’ve done a lot of thinking about why we women have such a difficult time disengaging from a destructive spouse. Genesis 3:16b says “Your desire shall be for your husband,
      and he shall rule over you.” The consequences of the Fall are that we deeply and desperately long for connection and validation from our husbands, and that they will desire to rule over us. Now, some would have us believe that God desires for that to be the case – that it is God’s law for man-woman relationship. That it is a good thing. But as I read the consequences of the Fall upon the man, (painful toil, thorns and thistles) I don’t hear anyone arguing that we should welcome thorns and thistles as God’s desire, or that life should be nothing but painful toil. Somehow we realize that we work to overcome thorns and thistles and hope to avoid a life of nothing but pain and toil. In the same way, man should work to overcome the sinful tendency to domination.

  39. Remedy on November 30, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Yes, the understanding and accepting of living with ‘what is’…not what I ‘wish it is.’ It is an indescribable heartache when a lifetime has been given to it.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 30, 2014 at 5:30 pm

      Absolutely, that’s what makes it so hard to see because once we see, we are forever changed. We cannot pretend we don’t see and therefore to continue in the same patterns. The same dysfunction becomes more and more painful, yet to change them feels scary. Therefore we often stay in a stuck place because we are afraid to take the next steps based on what we now know.

  40. Teri on November 30, 2014 at 5:28 am

    Hi Leslie: Just wondering if you have any insight as to what it is in human nature that keeps us so blind to the truth? Can you speak anymore to the issue of avoiding the pain of reality? One of our biggest detriments to growing up? I’ve been reading the book of John and notice that Christ talked repeatedly to the religious leaders about their denial of who He was. He spoke to them a number of times with regard to their hard hearts and unwillingness to see the Truth of who He was. They wrangled with Him, argued, accused, abused, name called Him. They treated Him like dirt, but He did keep trying to at help them see the truth. Although He as angry and frustrated too. But. It’s not like He just dealt with them a time or two. He seems to have been willing to work hard to help them get it. Which they did not. And so, maybe we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves for working so hard to help our husbands “get it”. It’s the loving thing to do. At least that is how I see it. Christ is such good, good God and He worked hard to help the religious leaders who rejected Him to “get it”. But, they were blind and refused to see Truth. My question is — have you any idea as to what it is in us that makes it so hard to recognize we are dealing with the blind and hard hearted? Why do we keep trying so hard? You suggested that it was perhaps being unwilling to face reality. – that one doesn’t want to deal with the pain ? Granted, that is so true. Any more thought on what other factors contribute to remining blind to who and what it is we are really up against.? I know that I too became so toxic that perhaps I was blinded by hatred and bitterness? Not a pretty picture. Thanks. ( :

    • Leslie Vernick on November 30, 2014 at 5:28 pm

      Excellent question and I don’t know if I have figured it all out but I think the bottom line to us “not seeing” or “not wanting to see” is pride and shame/fear. Pride in that we think we already know everything and no one can “teach” us anything. And, fear and shame that if I see something that makes me feel stupid, or insecure, or wrong, or bad/evil, then what? Can I bear looking at my dark side honestly and trust Christ is enough to walk me through to the other side? I think this is where much of human defensiveness comes in – like denial, projection, rationalization, etc. I am going to be blogging a bit in the New Year about defensiveness and blindness and facing our shadow or dark side. Hopefully it will lead to more great discussion.

      • Lisa on December 1, 2014 at 4:21 pm

        Thank you, Leslie! This will be another awesome topic to discuss. Not only was I blind due to pride, shame and fear in a destructive marriage, but I am noticing that pattern in me in other areas and want to have a renewed mind. So, can’t wait!! God Bless you!

  41. Robin on November 30, 2014 at 5:48 am

    I will be eager to hear from LESLIE. I at one time kept thinking I was good because I didn’t give up on my husband and kept trying to get him to see. It was very difficult for me to see how deceived I was. But when I did start to come away from putting my husband in a idol position — and put God in first place, my life started to get healthy. It seems like such a good thing to encourage our husbands to do right. But when their hearts are hardened and their ears deaf , I found I was serving unrighteousness and this was not pleasing to the Lord. I do believe at times my motive was pure- I just wasn’t truly looking for God to be god and not man. These are hard questions we all need to ask, and God is so patient as we walk thru them. I spent over 30 yrs serving a man I loved, but my love was self-serving settling for a fake peace. It was hard for me to change my direction knowing my marriage would crumble if I wasn’t holding it all together. God gave me the strength and the wisdom I needed, to walk out of that deception.

  42. Liz on November 30, 2014 at 7:00 am

    That is where I am right now, just separated and it seems as though he has no plans to reconcile yet says it is me who has given him no hope. I stuck it out for over 30 years and now that I set some boundaries, he doesn’t understand why I just don’t go back to the status quo like I have always done. I do still hope he will work on himself and get right with God and want to reconcile, but I am not holding my breath. He is still very angry but can’t seem to let go for a while. He wanted to talk to me and did call but my daughter answered. I sent him a text saying that my counselor said no phone calls. It just made him mad. I hate to think of this as the end of our marriage, but it just might be/will be if he doesn’t have a change of heart. It is very difficult not to cave as I always have in the past.

  43. Robin on November 30, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Setting boundaries is necessary if there,s any hope for this marriage to be healed. But unfortunately, when spouses who behave destructively are given healthy boundaries — they often rebel and now their hard necks. Mine did. And yes it proved to be the beginning of the end. But that does not mean we were wrong to set boundaries. It means their hearts were hardened. At this point the consequence may serve a good purpose. But it’s not up to the wife . The destructive husband has hard decisions to make. I always say, it is good to keep a hope that the marriage can be reconciled. But only God can do this. We have to let go. What I did, wS work on me and strengthening my core . It gave me something positive to focus on. Separation can serve a good purpose , it helps us to see the true reality. Standing up and setting boundaries comes with a cost. But part of that cost produces a greater good. It is so worth it!!

  44. Brenda on November 30, 2014 at 8:28 am

    It is hard not to cave. I had to continually remember what it was like. No phone calls!! I was told that was best by many. If I didn’t take the calls from home, he would call me at work. I need my job. I kept hearing the same things that I had heard before and would remember incidents and how they felt. It kept me from caving in to the status quo. It got easier and easier to not allow it. My boundaries are firmer now since the divorce. I get a lot of texts from him. The last couple of days have been horrible. “Why won’t you have dinner with me:” “If you go you can see my new car.”–who cares. He is pushing and manipulating just as he always did. My NO means nothing to him. He did not stop until I told him that he was causing me stress and a migraine. He could offer me whatever he wants. I will not go out with him. He has not done one thing that I have asked of him. No counseling. No accountability. No responsibility or remorse. Just, let’s forget the past and move on. Not likely. He often texts, “have a blessed day”. That feels more threatening to me than a heart change. It is not how he speaks and using one phrase does not a heart change make. Stay strong sister. Lean into Christ and his word.

  45. Robin on November 30, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    One thing that was very helpful for me, and my counselor said definitely attributes to how I got healthy fast– was no communication with destructive spouse. I didn’t pickup phone or take emails, others read them for me. I would encourage anyone struggling, to close down communications unless they were in re: to accountability and change of heart!!!!

    • Leonie on December 1, 2014 at 1:04 pm

      The fog can’t lift on all the crazy making until you stop their voice and version of reality from ringing in your ears. This was a hard fight for me but when I stopped reading his long letters and stopped taking all phone calls & blocked his email address, then I could begin to hear the voice of God and accept the good he had for me without the cruelty of my ex tramping down every bud of hope with his version of what was in store for me the next time he took me to court …

  46. Robin on December 1, 2014 at 7:06 am

    Shelly, not sure what you are lacking. Sounds like you,ve seeked for info and received it. You asked why do women choose to stay in destructive relationships? For me I didn’t get the strength to stop wanting to perpetuate abuse until I myself was healed. I was the problem, as long Asia wanted the relationship as unhealthy as it was more than I wanted to serve Righteousness. I also got very tired of reading so many books. It wasn’t till I was in weekly counseling and taking my homework assignments to heart, till I got well enough to do what the books were encouraging me to do. Leslie’s words we don’t honor sanctity of marriage more than our own clarity helped me a lot. I think she said safety and clarity. I recommended Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud as he does an excellent job of showing, what an abusive spouse had done in the past, is likely to be his future w/o serious heart change and therapy. He helped me to see how women hang on and tolerate,because they themselves aren’t willing to change. We just Keep repeating mistakes over and over complaining instead of taking an action towards healthy living!!!!

  47. Amy on December 1, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I too had to cut off most communication with my abusive ex after he walked out. I said only emails, no phone calls because he kept calling me and I found myself being sucked right back into his garbage.

    It isn’t until you get away from all the crazy-making that you can begin to start thinking more clearly. It took me a long, long time to stop doubting myself and the decisions I made or wanted to make.

    I pray that all here who are still living with abuse or wondering whether to stay or leave come to realize how unhealthy abuse is and that it is never okay.


  48. kathy on December 3, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    I have now stopped going to couples counseling with my husband. We are separated for the second time. He still doesnt seem to think he has a problem, just that we are misunderstanding each other. The counselor is an anger management specialist and has been trying to work with him. My husband doesnt seem to want it even though he shows up for his solo appt. I recommended a domestic violence group that deals specifically with abuse and anger within the home. My husband said he would go, that was right before I told him that he could not come home. Its only been two weeks and I dont see anything different. I will see if he decided to check himself into this intensive 24 week group. In the mean time, it is soo hard. When he calls he tells me how much he loves me and wants our marriage. I am just quiet now. I feel like I have said all that I could say. Even though it seems like he has not heard me. Its so frustrating. In fhe meantime, I am home with our 3 year old and wonder if I should be really trying to get a FT job. I am praying about it. The waiting is SO hard. And then I seem to always read that abusers rarely ever change. Its like a 1% chance that he will actually change. He always says he loves me, but I guess loving me and caring for me and our familly are two diff things.
    Any advice/ Thanks

  49. Brenda on December 3, 2014 at 10:45 pm

    I don’t think PTSD is an excuse. If people want to heal, they will do it with God and counseling. Sex was never meant to be a duty. Did she say that you had to enjoy it to or just make sure he was content?

    • Robin on December 4, 2014 at 7:15 am

      I love the book on Fools mentioned above. It wS my 2nd Bible for years. I disagreed with Her statement on having to have sex with foolish husband but thought everything else she taught in that book was very helpful. I think her point was husband goes to work even when there is tension with wife- and wife should have sex if she plans on accepting his psycheck. I chose to honor her opinion while disagreeing.

      • Leslie Vernick on December 4, 2014 at 1:45 pm

        I liked Jan’s book also but also disagreed with her statement. However I don’t think withholding sex is Biblical anymore than withholding financial resources from the marriage is appropriate. However, sex is an expression of a deeper relationship – that is how God intended the sexual relationship to be – reserved for the intimacy and safety of marriage. When there is no intimacy or safety, a woman may not feel capable or safe to be that vulnerable and therefore “cannot” in good conscious or even emotionally have sex. There is a difference.

  50. Brenda on December 4, 2014 at 9:54 am

    Indeed, the X went to work everyday, but so did I. Both of our checks went in the checking account. He spent like crazy and then would say “it is our money”. That was his position, as long as there was money he could spend what he wanted. He didn’t take into account the bills that had to be paid, food, kids clothing etc. So I do not buy into the man goes to work and you receive his paycheck stuff. Even if you don’t work outside the home you do work in it.

  51. Robin on December 4, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    Good thoughts from LESLIE. I came to the conclusion when things get that bad , that sex is denied and finances are being denied- it obviously is a time of red flags that we cannot continue as if all is well and we better separate before it’s too late and see if we can get some wisdom to see if out relationship is able to be saved.

  52. Robin on December 4, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    I also would encourage those spouses in that dilemma to not depend on what someone else says but tske it to the Lord. Only He can tell you what is best for each individual situation. I look back now sadly, and feel I was very poorly treated and used for sex in a way brought much shame and loss if any respect for myself. I was so appreciative when I saw Leslie’s video on her site that speaks to this. I even had my husband listen to it but it went on deaf ears, I knew for years I was being disrespected and I wish I would have quit listening to church people say submit submit sooner. As soon as I stopped our sexual relationship I got my respect back and started having clarity about the true reality of my marriage.

  53. Sally on March 9, 2015 at 3:19 pm

    I did finally divorce my husband after he never showed Godly remorse for his actions. Even though he said he wanted to reconcile he never fokllowed through. Even after the diovrce he said he was going to do what he couold to get us together and then did nothing. He did do two years of therapy and recently (a year andd a half after the divorce) has asked for forgiveness. sent an email to my famility asking the same, then followed up with a personal visit to my parents and sister whom he hurt the most besides me and now wants to reconsile. He has “gotten right with the Lord”, “this is all he wants”, reading Christian material and has seen a Christian counselor now for us. I agreed because the forgiveness was so healing but now after a few weeksmy heart is heavy. I don’t feel he has done this long enough to prove his “change”. I’m with him and after awhile I can’t wait to get alone. I can’t identify my fear other than no trust. I value my freedon and what God has been doing with this “divorced woman” who thought she was just damaged goods. My relationship, dependancy on God is my desiore. He KNOWS that too. I feel IF this is God restoring what I had been praying for (a changed heart for God) then I should feel better, even excited, which initially I was. We are suppose to work with this counselor togethter and he found Dr Gary Chapmans book, The Five Love Languages” and wants me to do it with him. I guess I feel his discovery is too soon for me to try and reconcile the relationship. He is just started a journey with God that I have been doing even before the divorce. What do you think my feelings are revealing? I am restless.,

    • Leslie Vernick on March 9, 2015 at 3:39 pm

      At the very minimum your feelings are saying “take your time” Don’t rush into anything – especially if he pressures you to remarry quickly. You can date, observe how he treats you. Make sure you start doing things from your new more mature and healthy self – saying no, setting boundaries, speaking up for what you need. See how he handles that.

      • Sally on March 11, 2015 at 10:31 am

        Thank you Leslie. He has been respectful in not calling me but once a week. I am doing everything with other people looking for opportunities to help widows (as I was before this marriage and so was he) and looking for other service God leads me to. I have enjoyed this freedom. There is not yet any desire to date nor go back. I bought a stenciled block a couple of years ago during my divorce which I thought silly to spend money on at the time but it says Be Still and Know I an God. That rings out to me when I get anxious. You just confirmed what I feel God has been saying to me all along. Even though there are very lonely times I look back at the wonderful people I never would have met and a few I have ministered to and have ministered to me though all of this. I had changed my name back since we were only married six years, to my late husbands name that has been my name most my life. That’s who I am and I don’t want to lose that freedom to be me

        • Sally on March 11, 2015 at 10:38 am

          Oh, and I have taken classes on Forgiveness, Heal your past, Changes that heal. Plus am reading Boundaries, Safe People. I took Divorce Care twice during the divorce and that is where they referred me to your book. Your definition of abuse finally turned the light on that I was being abused. My Christian counselor kept telling me but I was in denial because he wasn’t “that bad”. I thank God for this church and supporting ministries!

  54. Have I Done All I Can Do? | faith.hope.life. on March 26, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    […] post is from the blog of the author of ‘Emotionally Destructive Marriage.’  This post […]

  55. Dianna on April 9, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    Dear Friends,

    After being separated, for valid reasons, for a year, I felt not peace from God to move on to divorce. I had not felt that way even five months ago. It is now sixteen months of separation.

    The past three-plus months had changed. I sensed the clear leading of God to “wait.” So I did. I asked God if it was possible that we could reconcile in His way and timing? Would we be able to be healed enough to honor Him in our marriage and be a godly testimony to God, ourselves and family? I yearned, prayed, hoped strongly for this to come true!

    During these past months, my husband has moved toward me. We had become caring, honest, respectful to one another. He started calling once or twice a day just for no reason. My husband had been recovering from serious illness, doing so well despite the difficulty of it. I was proud of him and inside I felt more love for him. Not pity, but seeing the strengths of character that I had fallen in love w/ long ago.
    I wanted to grow old(er) w/ him.

    He pushed too hard to be too close, too soon. My boundaries were firmly in place and he knew them and the whys. We both needed more changes in God’s ways and in plain healing from the emotionally destructive life we had been living for too long. I clearly let him know and reaffirmed that this would take time for me, because of healing and growth that I needed, not necessarily due to our relationship.

    He acknowledged understanding to a point, but he still pushed for intimacy…I don’t mean just the sexual part, but that of the closeness of a good, healed, godly relationship. We did not have that, yet. I could not skim past the issues that needed to be addressed w/ truth. Yes, we did apologize and bring up wrongs and did make amends and repentance. It came over time that was needed for healing.

    So, Sally, I could relate to that part of your story. Leslie, I could really relate to your advise. I had been afraid to spend time w/ my husband at first, but then just let the relating move, keeping my boundaries and honestly enjoying the time together. That became so fun, again, but too frustrating for him.

    A week ago, he told me that he thought it was time to go for the divorce. He had been wanting and feeling the clear need for more companionship, intimacy, sexual and otherwise. I would not so, nor not deal w/ several issues that needed to be addressed – for both of us. He was never agreed upon the course of waiting to heal and then get some good, godly counseling.

    I did all that I should. He did all that he could. It has been soooo difficult coming to losing the hope of being reconciled in a godly means. Maybe it has been more shattering that he was not willing to wait for us to face godly truth, heal and do the hard work of reconciling? I knew this would be only done by God, but I so wanted it! The thing is, since getting Leslie’s principles about facing truth, my life has completely changed. God has given me a love, desire and the peace of His truth. I have wanted to share her materials w/ him, for his healing, too.

    The reality is that we will soon be divorced, calmly (almost all of the issues have been ironed out several months ago and not so easily) and legally. It feels empty and numbing as I write this. However, I know I did everything I should and could in my flawed, stumbling, human way.

    This process of final separation (though I told him that this would not totally rule out reconciliation in the future) is extremely painful, clumsy and messy – I am certain that waiting was right. Also, it is God’s will for healing or He would intercede in some way. I am able to move on and it is painful but freeing for I can work out my healing easier.

    Thank you for all your questions, comments and of course, for Leslie’s teaching and making this blog available to us. This network is such needed support. An honor to be here.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 9, 2015 at 8:01 pm

      I”m sorry it didn’t work out. Sometimes our unwillingness to be “alone” pushes us to premature reconciliation efforts. Perhaps that’s where your husband struggled. But I’m so glad you finally have God’s peace.

  56. Sally on April 9, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Thanks for writing, Diana, and I’m sorry too it didn’t work out for you. We are to start Christian counseling in a few weeks when I return from being away (Fl) for 4 months. Again, I enjoy being able to be me but don’t necessarily want to be alone. I have no children or grand children of my own. At first I really wanted this but I fear it now.
    Still have empty trust tank and and love tank too. I care deeply for him but I don’t know if it’s enough. I feel like it would be taking a step back. An abused woman going back to her abuser. The counselor is someone I totally trust and praying that God would make it very clear to me that this is His plan and if my husband doesn’t allow the time I need…. We walk away.

  57. Dianna on April 9, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Dear Sally,

    Sounds like a good plan. I feel the same. I am sure that you will know from God (I call it the peace of God) when to stay or go. I will try to remember to pray for you, Sally.

    Thanks for writing

    • Sally on April 9, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      Thank you and I’ll pray for your healing.

  58. Leonie on April 10, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Diana, I am sad for you too, it did look promising from he way you described it. I do fear you might have been in for more abuse though because he was only thinking of himself and not respecting what you needed and pushing only from his own needs – good for you for having your boundaries in place. Yes, Leslie’s blog about living in the truth was very affirming and help me to put in everything in perspective.
    I always find that the spirit within me affirms the truth she brings to us and it is so helpful. The truth does set us free.
    My husband is behaving like he wants to stay together (I don’t see repentance though) and my heart wants my 4 year old to wake up with daddy at home everyday but the reality of the last 10 years, 5 of them married are horrific and the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour. I am scared to not leave him and continue on being married to him.
    Leslie’s encouragement to not accept non-apologies and to do the hard work of being the spouse my husband needs is scary. Her statement challenges me – “might God be calling you to love your husband in such a courageous way that you boldly confront his sinfulness, refuse to accept his excuses, and if he wants to remain married to you, require him to show that he’s repentant and truly wants to change. His words are meaningless. He repeatedly lies. If he wants to be married, it’s time that he take specific and consistent actions steps that demonstrate that he’s serious and willing to work hard to change.” That is the only way I can stay with him – the work has to be his not mine, he wrecked everything. Right now I don’t even want that, I want out & to reclaim who I once was and go back to being confident & free & a person who loved life! Every time I point myself squarely in the direction of separation that’s when I have peace and feel life will again be an adventure I can love & look forward to.
    I will pray for you that God will fill the gap in your life with Joy and contentment & Himself! Leonie

  59. Dianna on April 10, 2015 at 8:39 pm

    Letheonie –

    Thanks for the encouraging reply and prayer for healing.

    I kept nodding as I read your comment about Leslie’s advice and teachings and your own confidence in God’s peace. I pray for your healing, wisdom, comfort, peace and strength from God for you. It is stressful trying to face, stand up and live in truth and love – God’s that is! It must be more so w/ a young child to raise, too.

    This has been a hard week but greatly healing and enlightening one for me. I realize I have to feel and grieve the emotions, yet step away from them to function well. I have so much to change w/ the Holy Spirit’s guidance, in myself in facing the truth – that I keep getting ‘stuck’ in overwhelming feelings b/c of having my hopes/dream of godly reconciliation dashed. This, too, is an idol, I am finally realizing…as was my relationship w/ my husband, before w/ God.

    Waking up to this reality has been worth the emotional pain!

    After reading and listening to some christian counselors give the things that one looks for before even considering reconciliation, I have to admit there has been very little evidence of the godly change in his view and in relationship to our marriage. I don’t want to go back to how it was, which is not about emotional abuse, but in sanity in having what Leslie says is ‘mutuality.’ Godly truth and priority are too important or my life, now. I am trying to listen to God’s changes and do so and that is a major issue in my own life! Again, this is not about my husband’s abuse, etc., it is about going the same way in truth…and he does not. He has talked about how it was when we dated and he needs companionship. There were some good things from that time, but I want character change in both of us in order to walk forward together.

    Not the need to fight the feelings and grieve over what could or that I hoped to be. My dream was not based in reality, looking through the ‘gilded, fantasy-colored glasses’ at life once again. Maybe I had to go through this process?

    Leonie, I have that peace of God w/o all the anger, bitterness and sadness, now. I am sure the grief process will take me through the stages again and again, but the denial stage has gone, making it much easier to move forward and not stuck.

    God’s best to you in your freedom pursuits in this new chapter of life.

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