Have I’ve Done All That I Can Do Or Has My Marriage Died?

Morning friends,

Sheesh, I’ve had a whirlwind week. I was at a conference for a week and I am just catching my breath. I hope you’ve been watching the short little nugget videos I’ve been posting on my FB page. If you enjoy these blogs, these little videos will give you some truths about questions you ask, but in a different format. Share them with others who you think might benefit.

Pray for me. My life is getting a little out of balance and I need to regroup how I use my time. Thanks.

Today’s Question: How can I be confident that I’ve done all that I can do and nothing is going to change in my marriage? When will I have enough evidence that it’s time to leave? My husband says lots of “right” things, but his belief system, which drives his actions, reveals that for the most part, he doesn’t really care for anyone but himself.

Answer: I’d like to rephrase a common myth. The myth is that it takes two to break a marriage. That’s a lie. One person can kill a relationship effectively all by himself or herself.

The truer reality is that one person cannot keep a marriage together all by herself. It always takes two people to keep a relationship alive or to put a marriage back together especially once it has suffered broken trust.

A marriage is more than a legal agreement or a piece of paper. It is a living relationship that needs regular maintenance and sometimes, repairs. Click To Tweet

I was talking to a man this week at a business meeting I attended and he told me how unsuccessful he’s been in marriage. The problem was that he hadn’t found the right person yet.  

I asked him what he meant and he said he’s been divorced three times and when he finds the right person, he’ll know. Meaning…the right person will make it easy for him to stay married long term.

I challenged his thinking. I said, “If you built a brand new house – one that you loved and thought was amazing, and you never maintained it, never took out the garbage, never cleaned it, never repainted the walls, or cut the grass or weeded the yard, or only did those things once in a blue moon, how would that house look and feel in 10 years? 30 years? Horrible! Like a stinky dump.” He agreed. Then I went on to add…

“A house needs more than regular maintenance. It also usually needs repairs over time. What if you ignored the leaky roof or the black mold growing in the bathroom, or the infestation of termites? How would it feel to live in that house?”

YUCKY!  TOXIC! Exactly.  

This man lived with a mindset that if love is real, or I find the right person, then keeping the relationship alive will be easy. I shouldn’t have to work at it. But that’s not true.  

Therefore, I’m curious about your mindset. I wonder if you believe that if only you do more, somehow you should be able to change your marriage into something enjoyable and safe.

From what you wrote, it sounds as if you’ve been doing the heavy lifting of maintenance and repairs in this relationship with dismal results. You’re tired and worn out. You feel scared because you see the marriage dying and you’re worried that maybe you haven’t done enough.

How do you know?  

Your question reminds me of ER professionals who work hard to save a person who’s had a heart attack or was brought in after a terrible automobile accident. As hard as they try, at some point, they have to accept that they’ve done all they can do.  When that time comes, they don’t try harder. They stop and call the time of death. They accept their limitations. They cannot save everyone. Nor can they always bring someone back when seemingly dead, no matter how hard they try, because the patient is really dead.

As Christian women, we’ve often been blamed and blamed ourselves when our marriage feels dead. “What else could I have done?” we ask. “How can I do more to get my spouse to see? To change? To repent? To stop doing destructive things.” And the truth is, there are some things you can do to open his eyes to the dying marriage problem. But only he can decide to change.  

Here are some things you can do. Speak to him about your feelings and concerns.  You’ve probably done that hundreds of times over the years. He gives you back the right words, but over the years there has been no meaningful change. Some people will never wake up with words alone. That takes you to the next step.

You allow your spouse reap what he sows (Galatians 6:7-9). In other words, he doesn’t get the perks of a happy wife and good marriage when he sows abuse, indifference, deceit, selfishness, and/or other destructive behavior. Often times that consequence is separation, whether an in-house separation or asking him to move out. But understand this: even with painful consequences, some people still refuse to wise up or change. Proverbs 1:28-30 says,

“Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord,
Would have none of my counsel,
And despised all my reproof,
Therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way,
And have their fill of their own devices.
For the simple are killed by their turning away,
And the complacency of fools destroys them;

You don’t know the future. All you know is the past and present and those are pretty good predictors of someone’s future behaviors. God doesn’t expect you to be omniscient and know everything. He is asking you to walk in truth and faith, not fear and condemnation.

Please don’t put your hope in your husband changing his ways since the past and present show no indication that’s going to happen. You trying harder will not get him to change because you have no power to get him to change no matter how hard you try.  

Trying harder to love him more, forgive him more and enduring more destructive/abusive behavior only feeds his entitlement. It feeds the lie he believes that he is so special and wonderful, so unique, he doesn’t have to do the regular work ordinary people have to do to maintain and repair relationships. He believes he’s entitled to a loving partnership even if he behaves in selfish, unloving ways.  

Trying harder doesn’t help him face the truth. It also doesn’t help you, nor will it help your marriage to get better.

So you have three choices.  

You can keep doing what you’ve always done and getting the same results, which is the definition of insanity.

You can decide to stay well, which means you let go of your desire to have a loving, mutual relationship, and live your life as best you can with a selfish man.

Or, you can decide to leave well, and say, “I don’t think God is asking me to lie and pretend we have a loving marriage when we don’t. I’m going to work on me, to get healthy and strong, and I invite you to do the same.” And then see what he does. Probably he will do what he always does by giving you empty promises, but as you get stronger, you won’t fall for them as quickly. John the Baptist wisely challenged the religious leaders of his time when he said, “Prove, by the way you live that you’ve repented of your sin and turned to God” (Luke 3:8).

Friends, when did you know when to say enough is enough?  How did you come to realize that trying harder was only repeating the cycle of insanity and it was time to stop that cycle?

Have you heard about the BRAND NEW group coaching program?


This small group coaching program is the culmination of 25 years of private practice and hundreds of hours helping women just like you.


  1. Sheep on April 10, 2019 at 11:12 am

    Hi Leslie,

    Thank you for this post. We are all at different stages in this journey and this is a good reminder. I know that for me I labored for soooo long under the belief that I had to do more. If I just did more, showed more love, more kindness, more patience, more understanding, more vulnerability, more intimacy, more Christ likeness, then she would all of a sudden wake up, repent, and change. But in hindsight I realize that all it did was encourage more of the same behavior. There was no incentive to change, there was no pain or consequences for sin, bad behavior, or attitudes. There was no reason to stop manipulating, controlling, blaming others, or denying things because there were no consequences.

    It is a huge wake up call when a person realizes that the only attitudes, actions, and changes that we have any control over, is our own. When you have observed a lifetime of excuses, denials, blame shifting, and abuse in your spouse, there is no practical reason to believe that anything is going to change.

    I think that your statement “One person can kill a relationship effectively all by himself or herself.” is so true, but so hard to accept. Our society (and church) has so conditioned us to believe that if there are marriage problems or divorce, then both parties are at fault. Nobody wants to take sides and actually look deeply into the situation to determine where the problem lies, because that might mean that they have to make a hard choice and tell someone they are wrong or living in sin. It is so much easier to say that it takes two to tango and nobody is perfect, so both are at fault. Then nobody has to do the hard work of confronting someone that is wrong.

    In the end, continuing to do the same thing and staying well were going to be impossible in our situation for a number of reason. That meant leaving well was the only option left. I thank God so much for the peace and comfort He has given me in this difficult time. As difficult as the process of divorce is, so far it has not measured up to the fears that I had about it.

    • JoAnn on April 12, 2019 at 9:01 am

      Sheep, I like your last statement: as difficult as the process of divorce was, so far it hasn’t measured up to the fears I had about it.
      Leslie cautions about letting fear make our decisions, and your statement bears that out. If we weren’t afraid, what would we do? Fear gets in the way of our obedience to the Lord.

      • graceiscome on April 12, 2019 at 9:33 am

        Oh how true that is: that fear gets in the way of our obedience to God. Thanks JoAnn!

      • sheep on April 12, 2019 at 11:53 am

        JoAnn, Graceiscome,

        Maybe there is a reason that some form of the command “do not fear” is by far the most frequent command given in scripture.

        • graceiscome on April 12, 2019 at 12:37 pm

          Absolutely, and probably because God knew we would struggle with fear/that would be a tactic of the enemy to separate us from God and to contribute to disobedience (when we respond out of fear), and that the world would become a place that would tend to generate fear. Thank you Lord for knowing, for warning/commanding, and for giving us a way to NOT live in fear (YOU!). (Heart)

          • JoAnn on April 13, 2019 at 11:36 am

            What He wants instead is for us to trust Him. We are in His loving hands, and EVERYTHING is under His control.

          • P. Marie on April 25, 2019 at 12:17 pm

            Sheep, thank you for your words. I am at the beginning of my baby steps, realizing that I cannot stay well, and I needed your post to remind me I don’t have to fear how bad a divorce will be. I am asking for prayer also from others reading this for my journey. I have just transitioned my middle son into using his insulin pump. It is such a blessing from God! I have also just finished my first step study at celebrate recovery, and it has been life changing as well. Now I feel my next steps are to get a job and save up a rent deposit and small emergency fund. Please pray for me as I haven’t a lot of access to our family money, and am playing my cards close to the chest because my spouse has very outrageous reactions to things sometimes (verbally, emotionally; also refuses medication for his mental health problems). I have been a stay at home mom for 22 years, and I am nervous about working, being fast enough/having enough energy. I feel like a toddler jumping into the arms of my Papa Jesus, jumping in faith. I am grateful that He gives me this image in my mind for comfort.

  2. Janice D on April 10, 2019 at 12:38 pm

    Agree completely with you,Sheep.Glad to hear your worst fears have not come to pass.Praying for you and your children as you continue to heal and move forward.I lived in the basement of our home for 2 years and began to sense it was time to”make public “ what was privately true.I moved out and got an apartment last summer after 26 years of marriage.I recently saw my husband for the first time since our separation at our daughter-in-laws graduation.We then met for lunch because he wanted to share with me how his counseling was going. His real agenda was to get me to agree to marriage counseling ( we had tried that many times and for many years before) and wants reconciliation.All the right words without any change in his priorities. I was expecting this pressure so was able to address it without reacting.I pray for him from the peace and safety of my own place.He doesn’t appear interested in dealing with his long-standing issues which have heavily contributed to our legal separation.I wasn’t able to figure out how to have a marriage relationship and remain coolly and calmly detached and unaffected by his behavior.He professes to be a believer,yet refused to allow me to speak into his life.My spirit was being crushed with no possibility of relief from heavy grief and pain. I am in individual counseling and attend a weekly women’s bible study/life group.I am healing and at this point am content to remain legally separated,including financial independence.

    • Moon Beam on April 10, 2019 at 7:04 pm

      About the legal separation, did you file joint taxes? Married joint or married single? The draw back I see to legal separation comes at tax time. How did you keep your finances private from your spouse?

    • Aly on April 10, 2019 at 10:31 pm

      Janice D,
      I really appreciate your words here and I do hope that it adds blessings to many who read them.
      “I pray for him from the peace and safety of my own place.He doesn’t appear interested in dealing with his long-standing issues which have heavily contributed to our legal separation.I wasn’t able to figure out how to have a marriage relationship and remain coolly and calmly detached and unaffected by his behavior.He professes to be a believer,yet refused to allow me to speak into his life.”

      As a wife and helpmate , I believe given the biblical context of scripture… it’s very TELLING when a husband won’t allow his helpmate to speak into ‘his’ or their lives as a couple.

      This to me is a critical aspect of Marriage, respect, and the marriage unity that is sacred for trust.

      I spent far too many years coping not having this, it took my husband a lot of intense counseling to see a clearer understanding of the area of walls he had developed before ever meeting me.

      Continue to pray from your safe place and know that the Lord has your heart💜.

  3. graceiscome on April 10, 2019 at 4:57 pm

    Sometimes I feel guilty writing a reply, especially when it involves my situation (because it means I am also indirectly speaking of my husband). But WOW, was this a very appreciated (and timely/needed) post. I first want to thank you Sheep and Janice (and all those who will follow) for contributing to these conversations. I have been separated from my husband for almost five months (and ended up feeling – again – very guilty because of the reference to that I had abandoned him). I recently went to visit because truly what I have been counseled (and what I would like to see happen) is that I should as a Believer work on the marriage (even if it may not have originally been God’s will for us) AND I would like to see something wonderful come out of this! I like the idea of fighting for something/for someone (but of course if it’s not the fight God wants you in, then it’s not a good fight…and I have to consider my own selfishness and co-dependence in that possibility). I have tried to help (I think) in many ways, including encouragement, organizing, financial…but things on his end haven’t changed that much. I do think he is responding more patiently with me and in general and that makes him that much more beautiful (which makes me glad for him…and for me too – smile), and because of that I sometimes am hopeful that things are changing and that we are “working together” on the marriage. But some of the other things that contributed to great anxiety in me (problems with holding onto jobs, not being willing to submit…truly submit…to godly counsel, making decisions that didn’t seem to be taking an “us” into consideration and which tend to compromise my sanity and well being at times, some verbal harshness and blaming me a lot for things) end up making me wonder if things are changing or will change. I am back where I was when we were separated and intended on making the final move back with him…but I am nervous. I am currently looking for jobs in both locations (where I am staying and where my husband and I live – which I’d truly love to go back to!) and he feels I am keeping him hanging again due to this. But what do I do? I want to enter back into our situation, but can’t go back into the insanity of wondering if he truly is working for the “us” he sometimes wants to accuse me of not cultivating (and yes, I am ashamed to admit that does also include wondering if I will be expected to carry the financial load mainly because of wondering if I am getting the real truth if he is really putting forth as much effort as he could to provide for an us). I just don’t know anymore. I hate being in between places, I hate not trusting, I just want to do what is right. Again, thank you so much for these posts so I know I’m not alone.

    • Karen on April 10, 2019 at 5:33 pm


      Thank you for your transparent post. It can be hard to know whether our spouses are “really” changing -true, substantive change. If you take a poll in our little “Vernick Village” here, I’ll bet you find that the probability of his changing is quite low. I know my spouse is proficient at spewing Biblical platitudes and trying to make me feel guilty for not remaining in relationship. There is a BIG difference, however, between knowing the theory and walking the walk. Leslie has some information and gives great concrete steps to consider to make sure you are safe before re-establishing relationship with your spouse. I urge you to read, ponder, and pray over her information. Re-engaging will just prolong and intensify the pain if he has not truly embraced the changes he needs to make. You didn’t mention whether you have children (either with him or another), but I believe it is especially important not to move too quickly where kids are watching. They need you to be their rock because their emotional stability, in great measure, comes from you right now. Walking in CORE strength is something you do not only for yourself but also for those you love. “The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children.” Our “right” decisions are too. Will be praying for you.

      • graceiscome on April 10, 2019 at 9:10 pm

        Thank you so much, Karen. Thankfully, children are not involved (I feel badly enough that a shared pet is involved – and has been “used” at times to remind me that I am “shirking responsibility”). I guess that in itself should be a signal that things are not right in the interactions. Another question for you (and maybe others): is it a common thing in these situations for some of these men (or women) to know scriptures from the Bible (and use certain ones a lot) but not be walking in them/in so many of the others they don’t bring up? How do they know the Bible so well yet not seem to have that relationship that would lead to real conviction/repentance/humility? Is that part of a personality disorder of some type maybe? It’s just very disturbing when the spouse is stating that he/she wants to connect on that spiritual level, quotes the Bible, prays, etc. yet many of the actions/reactions don’t show that fruit of the Spirit (and sometimes the opposite) and so that connection is very hard to make. Thank you again Karen. No, I don’t think he has fully embraced the changes because it still too often comes back around to what I am doing or not doing, and how that is keeping the marriage from being successful. ) : I know I need to change in areas, but I don’t like being made to feel like most of the lack of togetherness is on me.

    • SteVee on April 10, 2019 at 8:37 pm


      You are anxious, doubtful, and distrusting for -GOOD- reasons based on years of experience. If it was time to go back, you would probably have peace. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts”. Colossians 3:15

      If he is pushy, he hasn’t accepted the gravity of the situation. He needs to accept that he can only deal with his issues, not pressure (aka control, manipulate) you to meet his needs. You are the only one that can take care of you. That isn’t selfish. A drowning person can’t save a drowning person. Let him prove that he is taking care of himself, and that he doesn’t need you. Only then can he want you from an unselfish heart of love.

      If he is still wearing “pull-ups”, he isn’t marriageable material.

      • graceiscome on April 10, 2019 at 8:57 pm

        Thank you SteVee. This is one of the reasons these blogs and resulting conversations/encouragements are so invaluable. When you are “in the midst of” this type of thing, it is so much harder to actually see clearly what is happening. Add to that if you want so much to believe something can work (and yes, some for selfish reasons I’m sure), you become that much more easily manipulated (and it’s that much easier to end up asking those questions: What could “I” do better? Am “I” doing the wrong thing? Am “I” the one who is responsible for this not working?) – whether the manipulation is intentional or just because that is the way the other person is used to interacting. Thank you so much for this. Have a great rest of the week.

    • Aly on April 10, 2019 at 11:58 pm

      I’m so glad that you are here and evaluating many things that you are in the thick of. You mentioned the ‘us’ issue and I think it’s important to take your time here especially if you would identify with being married to a man who is actually married to ‘himself’ versus the adjustment of other.
      This is critical to marriage on many levels. Your husband being more patient with you is not an indicator or someone committed to an ‘US’ marriage.

      Also, please know that stepping aside and taking good care of yourself if your in a very unhealthy situation/relationship is NOT Abandoning someone but choosing to be a healthier person to give distance and separation from someone unhealthy.

      Oh and also just to confirm it is very common that these individuals will pick and choose scriptures (often out of context or sound bite theology) that best meet their needs or agenda.
      The Bible isn’t a salad bar, we must be willing to consider the whole counsel of scripture in context as believers.

    • sheep on April 11, 2019 at 12:27 am


      I had a couple of thoughts/questions for you,

      First, I think it is good that you want to work on your marriage. You also said that you wanted to fight for it. I would ask who or what are you fighting in this quest to save your marriage? If he is not actively engaged in working on his part of the marriage, in some ways the battle is against him. If both of you aren’t fighting for the marriage, then one of you is fighting against it.

      Second, you said “(and ended up feeling – again – very guilty because of the reference to that I had abandoned him)”. Who is making the reference that you are abandoning him? Is he saying that? If so, did you explain to him why you were separating from him? If you did and there has been no change in him, then that sounds like manipulation. If you moved out for your own safety and to set good boundaries to protect yourself, then an attempt to make you feel guilty for “abandoning” him is manipulation and he isn’t “getting it”

      Third, you said that you think he is responding more patiently to you. That might be a start, only time will tell. Just make sure you are living in truth and not imagining what you want to see. I know that I did that for a long time, I wanted so badly for their to be reconciliation that I would take any little thing and turn it into something that it was not so that I could convince myself that something was happening. Be sure to watch the big picture.

      Fourth, you list some pretty big things… not responsible in work, not submissive to Godly counsel (authority), Selfish decision making, verbal harshness, blaming shifting. These are big things. Has he been told these things? Are you seeing concrete ACTION on any of them? You say “(and yes, I am ashamed to admit that does also include wondering if I will be expected to carry the financial load mainly because of wondering if I am getting the real truth if he is really putting forth as much effort as he could to provide for an us). ” Why would you be ashamed to admit this? That is a very valid question. You shouldn’t have to wonder if you are going to have to carry the financial load because he is too busy playing video games or whatever. You are afraid you are being lied to about his effort in finding a job. That one is pretty easy to answer… Does he have a job? More to the point does he have a job that will support a family? Or does he say that he is “looking” If his job situation has been a big issue in your marriage he should’t have a problem letting you know everywhere he has applied in a week. But even with that, I wouldn’t be in a hurry to move back in if he doesn’t have a job. Without a job, he can’t support a family.

      • Nancy on April 11, 2019 at 6:57 am

        When we were separated, I clung to a paraphrase of Ephesians 6:12 “we are not fighting AGAINST people, we are fighting FOR people, against sin”

        This is what separation is. The choice to no longer enable, and to stand firm against sin.

        It was OBVIOUS when my husband had submitted to God. His whole demeanour changed. There was no question in my mind. If this happens, you will know it, you will not have to convince yourself of it.

        He went from fighting against me, to fighting with me for our marriage.

      • graceiscome on April 11, 2019 at 2:47 pm

        In answer to your questions, Sheep (and thank you for them). When I say I am fighting for the marriage, I guess what I am saying is that I am doing things that are definitely going against my flesh (which is often wanting to run due to the pressure and stress caused by the things occurring within the marriage). Instead of begging God to get me out of it (which initially was my response), I am trying to give Him my fears and doing more praying for my husband, for me, for the marriage (even though I still wrestle with the doubt that it could ever work). I am seeking godly counsel and trying to remain true to it (that a Believer should try to make the marriage work as much as possible unless of course there is danger, etc., and then one should at least not be physically in the situation). But it is so hard, because “I” want to find a good job, to have someone who can provide for me a little (take some of the burden off of me), and who will lift me up more than make me feel like I am something negative. Also someone who will see the good/hope in others instead of the negative. So for me, I guess it is more fighting against my flesh and doing anything that seems realistic/possible to stay true to the marriage. Bottom line (what I am telling folks) is that I just want to do the “right thing” going forward.

        Yes, I know the whole “abandoning” accusation is manipulation (though one of his family members took the word literally and told me that that was in fact what I did). Worse, the enemy used/uses it as well. Yes, he did know why I had to leave; and at times, amidst the accusations, admitted that it probably was the best thing. I had to heal from a physical injury, and being “at home” just exacerbated anxiety that was already increasing due to the whole situation. A lot was lost/changed due to it. It surely didn’t help being told that I had abandoned — making me feel like the bad guy in the whole situation.

        Thank you; I will watch the big picture. I’m trying to do that without being judgmental, suspicious, mistrusting. It is very hard right now. My trust level is so low and my fear level (of the situation, of the future…) way too high for someone who says she trusts God.

        I’m not sure if there are concerted efforts to work on those big issues that would say to me, “I really want this relationship to work…to prosper…to be used by God” — but again, I have been so in the midst of all of this, my mind becomes cloudy and I want to think the best…so again, I get confused. And I’m not sure why I have an overarching fear of going back (well, yes I know some reasons why). No, the job won’t support the family – and I surely don’t mind helping! – but I would like to feel secure that he is trying his best and not leaning on me more than needed. Again, I believe he is working on it? But like you pointed out, I am looking for anything that looks positive and probably minimizing any still-existing negative.

        One other thing I can share (and maybe this will help others) is that I feel like I am too consistently battling disappointment: with things undone that are said would be done…of job losses…of complaining about jobs and people…of very small requests not being met or being argued that it’s my problem that I am even making the requests. But maybe I am having too high expectations! All of this just makes me want to run and find a “happy place.” But I know there is beauty in him too, and God loves him…and it’s in that vein I keep trying to pray. But I feel like I personally am stagnating and maybe not doing what God wants ME to do, which is a terrible feeling. Again, I am pretty confused at this point and am consistently asking God for His direction. Thanks Sheep. And Nancy, yes, I am so much wanting to see that demeanor-change. Sometimes it seems like it is happening, and then something happens and it seems like it’s just the same old same old. Add to all of that, folks at home keep asking when I am coming back home; they don’t understand the gist of what is going on. I so want to go back home, but I do NOT want to make a decision that might bring further stress/anger/problems/etc. Thanks to you both, and have a great day today.

        • Autumn on April 11, 2019 at 4:18 pm

          Claiming “abandonment” is a classic red flag symptom of Narcissism. Say no more. You have your answer. There is no cure for Narcissism. There will be no lasting change.

        • Nancy on April 11, 2019 at 4:27 pm

          HI graceiscome,

          Thanks for sharing all of this. As to your always ‘battling disappointment’ that you talk about in your last paragraph – maybe you can go back and read Leslie’s blog post a couple of weeks ago on emotionally detaching. My sense is that this is the next step that you need to take.

          Emotionally detaching means letting go of all expectations of him, so that you don’t NEED anything from him.

          This takes grief work. (If you know of an emotionally healthy spirituality course being offered near by, that is one way, or maybe a divorce care group or Leslie’s conquer group?)

          • Nancy on April 13, 2019 at 10:35 pm

            I just watched Lysa Terkeurst interview. She talked about having several ‘funerals’ for the expectations she had of her life. Only she attended these funerals.

            I think this is the grief work that allows us to step out of our fantasies, and into reality – where Christ operates.

          • Sheep on April 13, 2019 at 11:25 pm

            Nancy, Is that a recent one? I had heard they got back together. Is that still working out?

          • Nancy on April 14, 2019 at 4:40 pm

            Yes, March of this year. They are together, but she is extremely careful about separating redemption (our individual relationship with Christ and His renewal of us) from reconciliation (dependant on two people doing the work). She talks about how those funerals were about letting go of the outcome SO THAT she could cling to the hope of redemption – regardless of the outcome. I think she’s extremely sensitive in discussing this.

            It’s on YouTube.

        • Connie on April 11, 2019 at 11:57 pm

          Talk is cheap, actions can be faked. It’s attitude that we are looking for.

          • Aly on April 12, 2019 at 8:54 am

            I think attitude can also be faked. Disturbed and yes very very broken individuals have a false self that they tend to operate in. It’s foreign to many of us that this is how some people function in relationships but they do.

          • Nancy on April 12, 2019 at 9:50 pm

            Ya, when someone has their heart transplanted by The Lord, there’s no mistaking it. They have been broken. They can accept criticism. They accept responsibility. They can reflect on themselves. They expect nothing of the one they’ve hurt because they are accutely aware of the damage they’ve done.

            This is not a one-time event, or conversation.

            If you are unsure, saying ‘no’ on a regular basis is a great way to see how much freedom they are willing to give you. Healthy people respect another’s right to say ‘no’….anytime at all. This is still surprising to me.

        • Free on April 12, 2019 at 2:22 am

          Grace, I read that you want to go home. I just wonder how are you spending your down time while separating? Might I suggest you challenge yourself to do something that you wouldn’t normally do, just for fun, nurture yourself. What is it YOU like to do? Go to a museum, walk in the park, paint, sew, write, bike, swim, sing, draw whatever that is, do it. You may have to force yourself at first, but it is time for you to live free, enjoy you and celebrate being alive. You have proven you can endure. Yet, Christ died so that you would have an abundant life. Seek abundance in peace, joy and love. There is no need for another you to sacrifice your life to appease your spouse’s disturbing behaviors.

          • Free on April 12, 2019 at 2:30 am

            No reason for another martyr to cling to a destructive marriage

            Or no need to sacrifice your life for another person’s sin

            Either one, same thought

          • graceiscome on April 12, 2019 at 9:06 am

            You guys want the truth? I’m scared to just enjoy life “just me.” (And right now it seems like the input I am receiving both on this blog and from dear friends/family is to right now do just that so that both I can heal more and that my husband can maybe do the same). I did it (or tried to) for so many years and ended up feeling more and more sad that I didn’t have a partner, children, etc. That person to “go home to”…”share life with”… So I am scared, yes scared, to possibly have to go back to fighting back those stupid fears and feelings again. And I do know the wisdom of that you can’t be happy with another person if you are not happy with yourself. I like my solitude and myself — but I also love sharing life with others, and have for so long wanted to do that on an intimate level with a special other person. I also know that Jesus is our “ultimate intimate” and so maybe this is also a time in which I am having the blessing of getting pulled even closer to Him. But it still entails those darn “feelings”!!!

            I feel ashamed to admit the fears and apprehensions about this sound advice you guys have shared, but maybe it will help someone else and evoke another thread of helpful conversation amongst others who maybe feel similarly! God bless you guys, and thank you.

          • Nancy on April 12, 2019 at 9:21 pm

            I think it’s normal, grace, to be afraid of ‘those feelings’. No one likes pain. But as Cloud and Townsend say in their Boundaies book, it’s important to recognize that not all pain is bad. We endure the pain of surgery, or having a tooth filled, to deal with decay or injury.

            Grief work is the same thing. It hurts, but brings us into reality where the fog clears.

        • Jolene on April 12, 2019 at 3:54 pm

          Grace, I am reading that you had to leave your home to heal from a physical injury because your home that you have created with your husband was not conductive to your healing. Your home, which should be your sanctuary, was not a place where you were allowed the vulnerability of illness because your husband made it a place of mental unrest. The person who vowed “in sickness and health” to you, did not step up to cherish you and take care of you in your time of need, but instead behaved in such a way that caused an environment that you believe did just the opposite. He appears to have *abandoned* you during your injury. I once needed someone to point out to me that it is in fact possible to abandon someone and still be sitting right next to them. Emotional abandonment is real. You were smart in leaving to take care of YOU. When these family members ask when you are going home, if you feel you owe any explanation at all (which you do not), you might say “When it is safe and healthy to do so.”

          Your home does not sound like an emotionally safe or healthy environment. If past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior, how do you think your husband might treat you in other situations? For example, during a difficult pregnancy that requires bed rest? Healing from a c-section when your newborn needs to be fed at 3 a.m. and you and your husband are both sleep deprived? What about if you were diagnosed with a chronic illness and will one day face disability? If you have a sick child that needs extended care? You may think any one of these things are unlikely to happen, but I faced them all within the first year of marriage. Alone. Living in the same house as my husband, as he became proficient in idleness and I became an expert in overcompensating. It proved disastrous for me. Please consider other times you may have been emotionally abandoned in your marriage, and recognize if there are any patterns there.

          • graceiscome on April 13, 2019 at 7:20 pm

            I think I was having some kind of PTSD type of reaction. And I am so sorry to hear what you had to deal with in your marriage; it makes my heart hurt as it does when I read many of these entries. He did actually try to be there, but I didn’t trust; mainly due to his highly emotional and sometimes caustic responses to me even with the injury. Plus it was almost like me allowing him to be there was a demand, which then ends up not ultimately being from love. I don’t know; maybe that is over-analyzing it. And it didn’t help with the injury that I couldn’t go out to find the quiet place that someone spoke of when the mind starts feeling twisted and foggy (thank you to the person who shared that). I wasn’t always there for him either, though. Just so many of our interactions produced so much anxiety that I started to be out of the house or just in my own thoughts when in the home that it was like, as he said, I was just living my own separate life…which after a while became increasingly what I was doing. Almost like trying to get out of the relationship without fully exiting – how unfair is that?

            Anyway, thank you for your wonderful reply here. I wanted to respond back as soon as I read it. God bless you.

          • JoAnn on April 15, 2019 at 12:20 pm

            I like what Jolene said: “I’ll go back when it is safe and healthy to do so.” That is a good mantra to hold onto as you make decisions. Also, to Grace; You have admitted to your part of the “dance” in your relationship, so I’m wondering if you are working with a therapist to make some changes in your way of relating? It’s good to own your part, but if you see it, then for your own health and well-being, you need to work through that. Also, you talk about the loneliness, and someone else recommended getting involved in activities where you can meet people. I would also recommend getting a dog for yourself. Not a puppy; they’re too much work, but a mature dog from the pound who needs someone to love it. Dogs give unconditional love; they are perfect companions. And their presence is so comforting.

      • JoAnn on April 12, 2019 at 11:08 am

        What is fear, after all? First of all, it is a tactic of the enemy to keep us in bondage. Also, it Is our imagination of what the consequences might be if we take a certain action. So then, you ask yourself, “what’s the worst that could happen if I do this?” Then you think of all the ways you might deal with that “worst thing.” Keeping in mind what Was said previously that things never usually turn out as badly as we expect. When we look fear in the face, it loses its power over us.

  4. SteVee on April 10, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    I love your blog, Leslie. I wish you had a book for men of abusive wives, but your book has been very helpful to me. CORE is a big deal, and an easy grid to evaluate my health, behaviors and motives on a daily basis.

    “Friends, when did you know when to say enough is enough?”

    After the I became aware of what codependency and narcissism look like in a marriage. First from a radio broadcast, then online videos, counseling, an endless diet of books, this Blog, and support group meetings (CoDA). I saw that I had developed numerous codependent behaviors and began working on me. I was beat down in a narcissistic, alternative reality fog.

    “How did you come to realize that trying harder was only repeating the cycle of insanity and it was time to stop that cycle?”

    Amos 3:3 “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?” As you stated above, it only takes one to ruin a relationship. It takes two agreeing together to make it work. C – Commitment to reality, the truth. If one spouse is never wrong, and if every discussion (in one spouse’s mind) is win/lose, I cannot not agree with that because it isn’t true; it isn’t real. Like so many have posted, this alternate reality made me feel crazy. After a 5 hour baseline cognitive assessment at a major university, I know I don’t have a bad memory, nor am I likely to significantly misperceive reality. I have a Borderline Personality Disordered wife that I deeply love in a dysfunctional way. It has only been getting worse for years, and I have been getting less mentally healthy. I will no longer “agree” to “walk” in her toxic direction. I will pursue my own mental health, and “agree” to “walk” with her if she comes along. Otherwise, it’s over.

    As of a week and a half ago, I confronted her with specific examples of her toxic behavior in our counselor’s office. If she owns those behaviors and starts working on her issues, we’ll have a chance together. If not, I’ll need to file for divorce.

    Per your request, I’ll pray for you to recover your balance, so to speak.

    • Suzanne Birch on April 12, 2019 at 4:03 pm

      SteVee, I experienced similar symptoms; I thought I might have early Alzheimers. My fog was so thick I was practically bumping into walls. Yet outside of my home I seemed to be a normally functioning adult as compared to me inside of the home. Eventually, my covert abusive husband threatened me physically. The lid blew off of my head and I saw him for the person he was. No more pretending that more trying was going to improve the marriage. Within just a few short weeks of that incident and subsequently, learning about covert narcissism and emotional abuse, the fog had dramatically dissipated. I was shocked. Up to that point, I had no idea I was in an abusive relationship nor recognized that allowing myself to be the subject of his mind games was making me physically and mentally ill. Within six months, my memory returned, the emotional numbness began to recede and I began to feel like my old self again; someone I’d let disintegrate over the course of a 25+ year marriage.
      All that to say, may I make the following suggestions:
      Find a safe place to go to when you feel your head spinning. It can be anywhere but it should be somewhere quiet so that the noise in your head can leave and you are left with just YOU. It might be a library, art gallery, park, church. It doesn’t really matter. But as you get healthy again, you’ll find the difference between your healthy self and how you feel when attacked by her will be notably different. You need to be able to recharge and get rid of the cobwebs that abusive people shoot into our heads. The stronger you get, the less effect her words and actions will have on you. Good luck.

      • SteVee on April 13, 2019 at 5:24 pm

        Thank you Suzanne. It helps so much to hear that someone identifies and has ideas. I spend as little time as possible with her now.

        I know I need to divorce her. It is just so hard to not be wishy-washy and stay the course. I am still processing her admitting that she has often done things to deliberately hurt me. Proverbs 31:11,12 immediately came to mind. I don’t expect my wife to be a perfect Prv 31 woman, nor do I live up to loving her as perfectly as Christ loves the church. But her willful intent to harm me, combined with her rages, pursuit of me when she is angry (and I am trying to get away), and that her punishment of me is justified in her mind doesn’t allow my heart to “safely trust in her.”

  5. Diana Clendenin on April 10, 2019 at 6:22 pm

    Dear friends…I struggled with being married to a man who projected his unfaithfulness (one-time affair) onto me for 17 years with veiled accusations of infidelity, untruthfulness, daily interrogations about who (what MEN) I talked to (at work, at the store), when, where, etc. After a while, I got so beaten down that I gave up hope of our marriage being anything more than a function. I’m not proud of my behavior – I lied on many occasions because a simple, appropriate interchange with ANY man could turn into a tirade/talking to/interrogation from my ex, so I would lie about conversations, interactions, meetings, etc. I cried out to God through the ebb and flow of his behavior towards me…we tried counseling, prayed together as a family, but his behavior never changed. After YEARS of trying to be the wife and mother I needed to be, prayers, tears, Godly counsel…I received a release from God that said HE loves ME more than my broken marriage. That my worth was not determined by my marriage – good or bad. That I needed to be healthy and whole, and so did my ex. I am working on me – staying in the Word, active in my new church, attended DivorceCare, shared my journey with a few friends for accountability. I’m trying to find my “mojo” again. My kids have begun to see me…the REAL me…not the downtrodden me afraid to stand up to an unreasonable tyrant. It’s been a long hard two year process…but God is so good. So faithful. And He Loves Me. I stand amazed at his love and grace.

    • Nancy on April 12, 2019 at 9:24 pm

      Praise God, Diana, that He spoke so clearly into your heart!

    • Lynn on April 14, 2019 at 11:18 am

      You give me hope with your story as it sounds similar to mine. I am happy for you. Thank you for sharing. God Bless.

  6. Janice D on April 10, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    Hi Moon Beam, We did file our taxes jointly this year as per our separation agreement.Next year I plan to file my own taxes.We are in the process of selling some joint properties but all our other assets have been divided at this point.

    • Moon Beam on April 11, 2019 at 1:18 am

      Thanks Janice. Filing State income tax as separated seemed such a nightmare, in my state. The accountant fee was crazy as every asset had to be split in half and created double the work. Filing married single could work yet, I bought a car and didn’t want him to know I have a safe get away vehicle .I couldn’t claim the taxes I paid on the car because he would know I had the car. Also, filing jointly allowed him to salivate over the money I socked into my own savings account. Thanks for your reply. I wonder what others have done regarding filing taxes when separated.

  7. Annie on April 11, 2019 at 12:05 am

    Leslie has encouraged women to set some money aside even if its a little so if you need to leave you can, but if you earn extra he does not know about, you have to declare it on taxes and if they are joint he will know. If you divorce then you likely have to reveal all your money. Cant hide this from the lawyers. How do you keep this money ?

    • sheep on April 11, 2019 at 12:39 am

      Annie, I think some of that would depend on how you earn it. If it is something from employment, then it would obviously have to be reported. If it is something from garage sales or eBay or getting a little extra a walmart, then not.

      As far as this extra money coming out in a divorce, I think that it would likely have already been spent between the time of separation and the time that there would be “discovery” in a divorce proceeding. I don’t really think we are talking about giant amounts of money. It is more of an emergency fund that can get you through until more permanent arrangements can be made.

    • Moon Beam on April 11, 2019 at 1:29 am

      I think 2019 is the year to take the plunge into leaving a destructive spouse permanently if one would be the recipient of support in a divorce. This year and hence forward, support money will not be taxed to the recipient and the provider can no longer claim a write off for the payment. Although a smaller support may be battled for, the recipient will not be taxed for support. The provider of the support will carry the tax burden. Something to seriously consider.

  8. Autumn on April 12, 2019 at 8:03 am

    I am reflecting on the phrase the “marriage died.” What is the definition of this phrase. I am not sure I like the term.

    • Nancy on April 12, 2019 at 8:15 am

      Good point. This assumes that the marriage was alive at some point. In some cases it is a slow death, from disappointment, to destruction, to death. Other times it was a sham from the beginning

      • JoAnn on April 13, 2019 at 11:56 am

        A good marriage has a vitality of its own. There is love and care and energy that flows into and through the relationship. Hence, as Nancy said, usually there is a slow decline leading to death. According to scripture, especially in the Old Testament, the Lord commands His people to avoid anything dead. A dead marriage creates sickness, and as was discussed above, fog, that makes it hard to see clearly.

        • Nancy on April 14, 2019 at 4:55 pm

          Gosh JoAnn,

          That is great insight about avoiding anything dead. I often wonder about those Old Testament laws. No wonder the fog is so dense and confusing in a destructive marriages! Our God is a God of clarity, peace and order. Marriage should MAGNIFY these things.

  9. Karen on April 12, 2019 at 9:35 am

    Free- Well said about spending time doing what gives us joy and makes our lives abundant! We can get so wound up fretting and thinking and feeling that we forget to let go and let loose and laugh and smile and dance! Thanks for that encouragement and reminder!

  10. Teena on April 12, 2019 at 10:14 am

    Leslie, from learning that God prizes the people over the marriage, I choose to stay well, in peace, AND I continue to desire (by Faith in a Loving God) to have a loving, mutual relationship, and live my life as best I can with a selfish man. I trust God, not man. But I have to love man, be it my husband or others; if they’re selfish or not.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 12, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      Agreed, loving even an enemy, but most people would not choose to live with an enemy because it is too dangerous or toxic for you and your kids.

      • Aly on April 15, 2019 at 7:49 am

        How might you define what Loving another is? To a selfish spouse and certainly to others who are selfish?

  11. Jolene on April 12, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Leslie, I will be praying for balance over your life, as you ask. I am remembering the early days with a new puppy, and what a joy they are, but what an incredible amount of work they are (even reminiscent of the human toddler years at times!). Praying you all sleep through the night, and that routine and rest come soon.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 12, 2019 at 5:23 pm

      Thanks so much. The puppy is great, but it is so time consuming.

  12. Lynn on April 14, 2019 at 12:47 am

    I’m so glad someone asked this question. I have been wondering the same thing. I was separated from my husband and even filed for divorce a year ago and we ended up getting back together. I thought he had changed and we even had another baby(not planned). Shortly after our baby was born I found out he had been “talking” to a woman at his work. He assured me nothing physical had happened but it was an emotional affair. After all we had been through…after years of abuse from him and still working together in counseling he did this. He told me this person is his “best friend” and that I wouldn’t understand. This bestfriend is also 12 years younger than him. I told him I was done and filed for divorce. We have been working on building trust in counseling and trying to repair years of major problems. I had even asked him if he was talking to someone because he seemed off to me. He told me he wasn’t. I am not even sure nothing physical happened because he had plans to see her one night when he had a hotel booked…and told me that he didn’t end up seeing her because he knew the friendship had gone too far at that point.
    I am now staying at my parents with our kids…figuring out how to leave and to be strong. I still find myself thinking what if I had not complained so much, or what if I had been more affectionate and so on? It wouldn’t have mattered though…nothing is ever enough for him. We moved our entire family during my pregnancy because he wanted a fresh start for our family. Our children changed schools and we moved away from our family and friends. I even quit my full time job because I was going to be able to stay home more with our new baby. He had promised me when we got back together he would finish his DV classes, continue counseling on his own…and instead he slowly quit everything. Stopped reading his bible, continued to have friendships with men who were not good influences…and once we moved he started yelling at me about our past and things I had done wrong and that he was still angry about. Nothing changed and then I found out he had a woman at work that he was “only friends” with. And now he’s sorry…begging me to work it out and give him one last chance. He said our marriage an heal if only I can forgive him. I wonder what it’s all been for? Getting back together, having another baby…moving. I struggle with what God’s plan is for me and my family. To go through all this and get a divorce? My family and close friends want me to leave him for good. They tell me I need to be strong and get away this time. I wish I had more confidence in my decision to finally be done.

    • SteVee on April 14, 2019 at 4:17 pm


      I am so sorry for your misery. If I can be a mirror here, you said: “My family and close friends want me to leave him for good. They tell me I need to be strong and get away this time. I wish I had more confidence in my decision to finally be done.” It sounds like people who care for your best, share your values, and aren’t in the same emotional fog are saying what you would decide if you could keep the fog at bay… like this … “I still find myself thinking what if I had not complained so much, or what if I had been more affectionate and so on? It wouldn’t have mattered though…nothing is ever enough for him.“

      Praying for you.

  13. Moon Beam on April 14, 2019 at 3:05 am

    Lynn, all your feelings are very normal. The back and forth pull of emotion reflects the consequences of abuse you are suffering in the relationship. There is nothing wrong with you. You are yoked to an abuser. As you unyoke you will no longer be plowing eradicatly in life. Grieve the loss and pull yourself together for the kids. One day they will understand and bless you. Manipulation is not part of marriage. You are being manipulated not married. Marriage is nothing like the situation you describe.

    • Robin on April 14, 2019 at 6:53 pm

      Lynn, I understand for you and several others who find it very hard to completely let go. I really believe I couldn’t have done it alone. I so wanted to be faithful to my marriage and stay together. It was the people around me who had supported me that helped me make that big decision. I knew God was guiding me, but still didn’t want to break up my family. One thing that really helped was all the education I received from this blog and many many books I read. But it never became easy until it was done and I was free . Then I knew for sure. I have empathy for those who struggle with these very hard decisions. One thing that helped me was whenever I got away for a week or a weekend, I literally did not want to go home. I felt like a child, running away. But it helped me too see how awful the home environment was. God Bless you and your children, this blog will support you in prayer.

      • Aly on April 15, 2019 at 8:10 am

        Praying for strength and courage for you. I’m very sorry for the very difficult feelings you are experiencing.
        You are worthy to be loved, cherished and cared for with respect and honor. Sometimes there are people who won’t offer this in a healthy way and often it’s ourselves who begin treating ourselves with this kind of caring way especially after we have received the Love of Christ and Just How much HE loves you;)

    • Lynn on April 19, 2019 at 11:46 pm

      Thank you all for your supportive responses. I feel like some days are better than others. Some days I feel stronger than others. I believe God is leading me away from him and I am grieving the loss of my marriage and what I had wanted it to be because the reality is so much different than what I make it in my head. I have become very good at turning my emotions off and on and choosing to not see my marriage for what it is and to not see my husband for who he really is. I do believe he is trying in his own way but his anger seeps through and he is only able to maintain the facade as long as I am going along with what he wants. When I am with him it’s like I fall under his spell and then when I stay away as some of you said the fog starts to clear and I can start to make sense of it all. This last round of infidelity was really it for me though and if I can stay focused on reality and the knowledge that trust has been broken so many times in our marriage it’s beyond repairable. I don’t know if any of you believe in signs but I do believe that God did send me one…
      I have an angel hanging in a window in my home….and in its path is where I found the letter written to my husband from his “friend”. Just laying there in plain site in the direct path of the angel. I believe God wanted me to find that letter and now it’s up to me to follow through with what I believe is the path God wants me to take. Thank you again for all your support. This blog is truly a God send for me.

      • JoAnn on April 19, 2019 at 11:52 pm

        Remember, Lynn: the Lord is with you every step of the way. He loves you and He will supply all your need, as He promises in His word. Keep your eyes on Him.

      • graceiscome on April 20, 2019 at 10:24 pm

        Hey Lynn. Ditto on this blog being a God send. Man, what you posted here is so raw and so insightful; and it surely ministered to me. Thank you. Your admission that you “fall under (your husband’s) spell” and that you try not to see the realities right in front of you — I can so relate. Sometimes I will be on the phone with my husband and, although there’s a more “objective” part of me that still questions what he is saying (the validity, whether he will in fact follow through…and maybe he does believe/mean what he says…but things never seem to come to a place of peace), there’s another part that feels like it’s going numb (or going “dumb”) because I SO much want to believe what he is saying and thus that there is a chance for our marriage to work. But I know that one reason this occurs is because of the fear of the alternative and some of the losses. I often feel like which “fear” is worse (returning to the same thing vs. having to make changes I don’t feel ready to make)…and am still grappling with that…and am still tempted to go back in order to avoid the fear of change/the unknown, hoping that it will be different. And this keeps not only me hanging, but him as well. That’s the shame in it. And as far as signs – yes, I tend to look for and believe them as well. I do believe God will do things, show things, etc. in ways which He knows we will interpret as communication from Him…because it is. Of course one has to be careful with that; but again, I do believe God will do that and it’s up to us to receive what He is saying through the sign(s) (very hard if it’s not exactly what you want to see or hear; that’s where the trust has to come in). God bless you Lynn! And thank you.

        • JoAnn on April 21, 2019 at 7:00 pm

          Grace and Lynn, I just want to repeat what Leslie has said, and that is not to let fear make your decisions. Fear is often created by our own imaginations about what will happen if we do something, or even threats by others, but in either case, it’s not trusting our loving Heavenly Father to provide for our needs. Fear is a tool of the enemy to keep us in bondage and prevent us from taking God’s will. Reject the enemy’s spirit of fear and ask for a spirit of trust. Our God is faithful.

      • Autumn on April 21, 2019 at 9:28 pm

        Lynn, the more time that passes the more the fog will lift from your brain. The ambivalence will be replaced with discernment. It takes time though, counseling with someone who understands and specializes in abuse is essential. Add to that a couple of friends who believe you and know the whole truth of your situation. Ask them to be real with you, like a reality check group. Listen to them and don’t spiritualize any aspect of abuse or try to explain that you have a role in it. You don’t. You are the victim. Claim your Victory and get Free.

  14. Free on April 15, 2019 at 3:30 am

    Hope I think you feel paralyzed because you are trying to deny what is obvious. Isn’t there logic and order in the works of the Lord? When we force our brain to think that someone who is consistently cruel will someday and somehow get better or change, it is illogical. People who are transformed by the Lord don’t exhibit partial or gradual behavioral change. They are remarkably and consistently repentant and humbled.

    Hope, he hasn’t changed. Your only hope is to let him experience the natural consequences of his behavior. That is logical. There are consequences to sin, you are not his savior, that is why you feel paralyzed. Someone is trying to make you think that you are responsible for another person’s healing and don’t deserve to be grieved and mistrustful over that sin. Only Christ can carry another man’s sin not you. Set yourself free for guilt and live YOUR life.

  15. Aly on April 15, 2019 at 8:02 am

    What Free posted is right on point. I’m very sorry for all of what you have experienced and what loss you are going through. But you won’t always be here where you are right now.
    Your husband saying he’s not comfortable sharing his plan is basically in other words-he’s not motivated in the slightest to get a plan to help him mature and grow and take responsibility for his neglect and misuse of commitment to you and your children. He’s not that interested in being who he committed to being for you and for The Lord! Never really was and certainly his parents are not coming along side both of you to bring about change and healing… only more reinforcement.

    You have made some really hard and courageous decisions to separate and tend to being a healthy advocate for your children.

  16. graceiscome on April 15, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Dear Lynn. I so understand the mixed feelings you are experiencing,and so appreciate you sharing them. There is such a need to think/hope the best about another, and especially when it comes to a marriage with someone. It’s so easy to want to believe that “this time” it will work, as time keeps slipping by and it isn’t ultimately working. I recently went to go visit my husband; and for a few days it was o.k. But then the same type of interactions, fears, and feeling like my mind was being somewhat twisted started happening again. So now I’m back in the place where I am staying during separation (also my family), but STILL wanting to hope that somehow it can work. Part of that for me too is not wanting to try to figure out a new “what’s next” (it’s scary), but at the same time not wanting to live in a situation with my husband that is vague, mistrusting, and feels chaotic at times. And I too still struggle with “If I was only more trusting…more willing to take chances…more…”. So I pray for both of us (for all of us in this type of situation) that we can find that place of peace…that “right place” where we know we are supposed to be…and in which God says, “this is where I want you in this season.” And that we have the courage and love to walk in it.

    “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,”
    Whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.” (Isaiah 30:21)

  17. JoAnn on April 15, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    Grace and Lynn, Both of you have been married to controlling and manipulative men. That’s why it is hard for you to make these decisions, because you have been told what to do for so long that you lose a sense of who YOU are. So, may I suggest, based on what some others here have reported in the past, that you determine a period of “no contact” with your husbands. Probably at least for a month, no contact with him whatsoever. (I suspect that he is harassing you to get back with him, and how can you think clearly in that kind of environment?) Then, in the freedom of that space, you can get out of the fog and begin to see things more clearly. Those of your family who are supportive can help to enforce this separation. But as long as you allow him to continue pleading and cajoling, you will continue to be confused. This is a very strong boundary, but also a necessary one.

    • Anna on April 16, 2019 at 2:12 pm

      This article from Rick Thomas, a Christian counselor, might be helpful.

    • Lynn on April 28, 2019 at 11:39 am

      JoAnn how do you go no contact when you have children? I wish I could but with the kids it’s impossible. He is constantly asking me to cancel the divorce and give him time. Our situation is unique in which we have older children and a baby. He has refused to stay somewhere else and my family lives in another town. I can’t leave my older kids and take the baby and leave. I try to stay with family when I can and they tell me to keep getting stronger, to find the real me, that he will never change and if I go back I’ll end up here again. When I at stay at home with my husband and kids I feel like I just want to cancel everything and stay married and give our marriage yet another try. I feel so lost.

  18. SteVee on April 16, 2019 at 12:12 am

    (Disclaimer: I’m a guy)


    I haven’t read any of your other posts, so I am only responding to the post above.

    A few questions:
    Is your husband assertive in his work environment, or diligent in any areas of responsibility?

    What are his parents like? Did he marry is mother and is he acting like his father?

    What does your therapist say?

    Are you angry? Should he feel safe enough to be emotionally connected to you.

    The picture I get from your description of him above, is that of an adult child of a dysfunctional family. I picture a low performing, over eating, video game playing, mama’s boy who grew up in a home where initiative was discouraged, so that mama was needed by her baby, and her baby was discouraged, even disciplined for initiative. That CERTAINLY doesn’t make any of those behaviors you described justified. It does mean that the path forward is way different than it would be for someone with an abusive husband that is isolating his wife from other relationships and controlling her.

    In my marriage, we went through an emergency c-section, and I was there before, during and after for my wife. I still cook, clean, do laundry, clean the kitchen after cooking, maintain our vehicles and train our son to do the same. If he doesn’t keep his room clean, clean up after himself in the bathroom and kitchen, he doesn’t go out to play. I expect him to be loving and and respectful toward his mother too. So, please don’t think I am justifying your husband’s behaviors.

    But, I didn’t hear anything about boundaries you have set, his responses to those boundaries or what the Lord is revealing to you about your personal areas of growth. I hear everything he has done wrong, but what are you doing to “leave well” as Leslie puts it? Have you set boundaries with “I” statements? And if so what has his response been? For example, “I cannot keep up with the children and all of the housework. If you don’t help out, we’ll have peanut butter and jelly for dinner and I won’t wash your clothes.” “If you touch me sexually after I go to sleep, I’ll sleep in the other room.” A consequence without predisclosed boundaries isn’t love. Have you disclosed the requirements for reconciliation?

    Regarding him not feeling comfortable sharing his plan for recovery, is he fearing you like his mother, is he lazy and has no plan, or is he being coy?

    Again I’m only responding based on your post above. In my marriage, my Borderline Personality disordered wife has been physically and emotionally abusive. One of my problems (among many others) has been that I enabled her behavior by not having firm enough boundaries, with clear consequences, consistently enforced. That has never made her behavior right, but I’ve only recently begun to communicate to her that no matter what was acceptable in her family of origin, I will not tolerate any unwanted touch (aka assault), nor will I be in her presence when she speaks to me unkindly. Also, if she is unwilling to calmly discuss and work out a disagreement, I will not talk to her about -anything- until we work out that problem. All of these are controversial and painful for both of us, but they are loving, because she knows what is required for successful reconciliation. She doesn’t have to do any of these, but we don’t have to stay married either.

    “If you leave, leave well.”

    • JoAnn on April 16, 2019 at 1:32 pm

      SteVee, I heartily endorse every word. Great observations.

    • Nancy on April 16, 2019 at 9:49 pm

      I relate to this last boundary, SteVee. “I will not talk to her about – anything- until we work out that problem.”

      This is so critical in ‘stopping the madness’. I found that this boundary went A LONG way in just slowing us both down. Things were immediately less confusing.

  19. graceiscome on April 16, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    This is just for everyone (a resource) since brokenness was mentioned at least once, and how one can most likely tell if someone has been broken and is really ready to work together in a marriage (and I’m not even saying that I feel I am – either to fully invest in the marriage or to fully let go if that’s what God sees is best). The book is “The Blessings of Brokenness” (1997) by Dr. Charles Stanley. In the book I have, on page 134 (it’s in chapter 9), there is a wonderful description of one of the elements of the fruit of the Spirit (gentleness) that reminded me so much of our discussions. That once we realize that Jesus is our source for what our spouses may seek too much for in us (or us in our spouses…or both), it is easier to be gentle with our spouse (or for the spouse to be gentle with us) because he/she is not turning to us to meet all of his/her expectations/needs. It was beautiful and made me so much long for that day (in myself AND in my husband). I would type out the whole portion here, but I am not sure if that would be kosher to do so.

  20. Moon Beam on April 18, 2019 at 11:13 pm

    Anyone want to comment on the difference between legal separation and divorce? I am thinking legal separation doesn’t allow for full healing from abuse. The tie is still there and the abuser can still assert attitudes of ownership. What have others experienced? I am thinking a clean break is really the best way to get full emotional healing. This gets harder when we consider the tax breaks for married joint vs single. I think maximum freedom from abuse has to win.

    • Karen on April 21, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      Hi Moonbeam,

      I just left a message for Chuck that I am moving from a one year + in-house separation towards living in two separate homes and fully separating our debts and assets. Your question about separation versus divorce is anguishing to me because, honestly, I’m still not sure I understand how the Scriptures support divorce when we have been in non-physically abusive marriages. Our relationship is cyclical, probably like most relationships on this blog. During the really bad phase, I want nothing more than to escape him and never see or hear from him again. When the tensions settle and the cycle is less awful, I can envision “just” being physically separated in different homes but working together amicably to get our last two kids into college. I assume, however, that the cycles will continue even when we are geographically separated because he is inherently emotional and unstable. I don’t know for sure yet. Ideally, he would rebuild his life and move on regardless of our legal status. I can’t count on it though.

      Legally, I know that in my state (Virginia), if we are still married, he would be legally entitled to 1/2 of everything I, individually, own. If we divorce, that spousal-share entitlement disappears. I don’t like the idea of keeping his name or doing taxes together, but I confess to being torn.

      I, too, would love to hear others’ thoughts and experiences.

      • Moon Beam on April 21, 2019 at 9:08 pm

        The cycle you speak of is the abuse cycle. It is well documented, measurable and pathological in the clinical realm. Also, I don’t see anything in the Bible about physical abuse. Why do Christians see that as the ultimate definition of abuse? I know it takes legal president in many cases, but countries like Ireland for example and France are changing their laws to recognize all forms of abuse. Maybe the me 2 movement can help us living in the USA. Abuse is a slow growing torture that raids and invades the heart and mind.

        I ponder your point with you. I still feel that freedom from all abuse is essential. However, another sticking point is the need for health insurance. Many are bound to their abuser due to the need for health insurance coverage. Big, big problems with both separation and divorce.

      • Nancy on April 22, 2019 at 8:59 am

        HI Karen,

        Why not ‘work amicably toward getting your last two kids through college’, being divorced? Your legal status to one another should not affect putting your children first.

        • Karen on April 22, 2019 at 9:24 am

          Hi Nancy-

          That is a good point. I suppose I don’t trust him to work amicably with me- regardless of our status honestly

          Thank you for your thoughts!

  21. Chuck on April 21, 2019 at 8:15 pm

    I just saw this thread and read it from beginning to end. Right now I’m in the midst of the divorce process. My wife has noted that I haven’t spoken to her in a long time. She’s right. I left in July 2018, and my head started to clear, and my stress level started to go down. The times we would meet to talk I had the same feelings that I needed to stay away. I have spent literally hours and hours in the word and in prayer, and have never been led to return. As many of you have attested to here, I heard the words, but felt that’s all it was. The technical term is, cognitive dissonance. I don’t talk to her much because it usually gets to her getting angry very quickly. My feelings are wrong, i misinterpret things, don’t remember things correctly. While I will admit I am not perfect, I have come to realize I’m not crazy. These things did happen.
    I have been seeking answers to prayers for the past few days and reading this blog has given me answers, comfort and peace.

    Sheep is right, that the divorce process is not as painful as staying in a toxic relationship.

    Grace, if he is physically abusing you, get out. You have done all you can, take care of yourself. You are worthy of your sanity and health, something I have had to learn. God bless us all.

    • Karen on April 21, 2019 at 8:22 pm

      Glad you checked in Chuck. It is important to stay in community with others who understand and can validate what you are experiencing. I separated after a 27 year marriage in March, 2018, but it has been an in-house separation. The year has had its vicissitudes of relief and guilt and grief and fear and about every emotion under the sun. Now that we have been separated one year, I am moving toward living in separate homes and trying to get a settlement agreement. Just a warning: It brought up all the worst part of my spouse. I doubt I am alone in experiencing that. The point is, be encouraged. We will be here to process and listen with you as God carries you towards wholeness and healing.

      • Moon Beam on April 21, 2019 at 9:17 pm

        Settlement is extremely difficult with a narcissist. They can only think of themselves even on a good day. I wonder if the process might be going better for Chuck and Sheep if they are the higher wage earner. I agree that emotional safety takes priority. God gives peace in the storm and there a wisdom and clear discernment that comes once removed from the abuser.

      • Chuck on April 21, 2019 at 10:09 pm

        I have learned that I cannot do this on my own. The Lord has shown me places like this where I can talk to people who have an idea what I am going through. My relationship with God has grown to that point where I can honestly say he is my best friend. I can be happy, fearful, praising, and angry with him. He knows what is going on. A lot of days I’m just along for the ride, cause I can’t think on my own. I have learned, he will make a way and see you through it.

        • P. Marie on April 30, 2019 at 12:43 pm

          I can relate to the not being able to think for myself some days. For some of us who do all of the parenting, it is tough mentally to have a clear plan of what we are doing. I love my kids so, so much. It takes a lot out of me to be the only parent who spends any time speaking into their lives. I praise God that my older children speak into the lives of the younger quite a bit. They aren’t perfect, but they love the Lord. Thank you all for your stories and insight, all of you and Leslie!! So helpful, I believe the Heavenly Father is pleased with our supporting of each other in this way.

  22. graceiscome on April 22, 2019 at 9:32 am

    Thank you Chuck. The physical was sporadic, and is a result of his own hurt and anger. I just wish he would submit to help for it (one of the conditions for my returning, which I so wish he would take folks up on — for HIS sake). Thank you JoAnn for the reminder again about fear (can you keep sending them? Smile). This morning is a harder morning as I am still so indecisive about where I need to be and also the need to work is killing me). God bless you all!

    • Autumn on April 22, 2019 at 1:51 pm

      Grace, the physical should be never. Listen to yourself. Husbands never, ever hit their wives, never. The need to work can be great if you find the right job. Keep looking and praying. There is a flexible job out there for you. Nanny’s make great pay for example. Sometimes it is hard to imagine just how amazing our God is when he guides us away from evil. Give him a chance to show his love for you. Just lean in and let it happen.

    • Aly on April 23, 2019 at 8:53 am

      It’s ok to be in a place of not knowing or being indecisive. In fact, give yourself the space and time as long as you need to, knowing that given what you have been through… indecisiveness is expected. Be patient and kind to yourself and to your healing process.
      I wonder if it would help you read some of your own responses and see where you have used the word ‘wish’, also as you stay further away and get the help you need you will see how you are verbally minimizing your husbands choices which won’t help you contribute to the overall health and healing of the marriage.
      You wrote:
      “ The physical was sporadic, and is a result of his own hurt and anger. I just wish he would submit to help for it (one of the conditions for my returning, which I so wish he would take folks up on — for HIS sake).”
      Sporadic or not it’s still violence. It’s unacceptable on any level and your husband has choices in how he wants to conduct himself regardless of his hurt and anger.
      Many people struggle with hurt and anger and choose other ways of treating those around them.
      It’s great that you have this as one requirement as to not return, but what so far are his actions in taking responsibility for his behavior and patterns?
      Allow his actions and choices over a long period of time be a guideline to ‘vet’ the process as to whether you have ‘real evidential hope’ or wishful thinking.
      Praying for strength and courage for you!💕

      • graceiscome on April 23, 2019 at 9:01 am

        Thank you so much Aly. Particularly for the “space” to be indecisive (I so needed that! I am being very hard on myself about this). I am just craving a job, though, at this point; and where I stay is where I work. If in your prayers, you would pray for me for that. Because I do have to consider not just the marriage, my husband, but as God leads myself as well. As for the staying away, I am still weak in that area because I don’t like where I am right now; it too is having a negative emotional impact at times (though that could maybe be eased if I was productive/serving others in a job, and bringing in income again). So I am very ready to go back NOW (or soon), and am hanging onto that too. Because it was home in many ways – and so I have had to leave home. But home can be where the heart is (where love is, where God is…) so I am just in consistent prayer about all of these things. You Aly, and you ALL are awesome. And my heart goes with you all as we all continue on this journey – with HOPE and love!

        • Chuck on April 23, 2019 at 12:15 pm

          Grace, you write and communicate well. You are well read, and obviously a very intelligent, caring lady. What would you tel someone in the same position/situation you are in. Open you eyes and look around you. You have done all you can at this point, your mental safety is a priority, your physical safety has been jeopardized. Please don’t stay indecisive to long. You cannot change him, and he will only change if he heeds Gods call to do so. Please be careful, And take care of yourself. If you don’t care for you, you can be no help to others.

          • graceiscome on April 25, 2019 at 7:31 pm

            Thank you Chuck. I just wish it weren’t so hard! I know “with God ALL things are possible” and “I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me”…but the emotions that wash over me at times are like tidal waves which want to wash me back to what I call home. But you are correct, the indecision is probably at this point the utmost worst part of all of this, and dwelling in it is perhaps worse than some of the stuff that was going on in the marriage! Thank you again for your encouragement.

    • JoAnn on April 23, 2019 at 9:19 am

      Grace, a clear, legal separation/divorce may be the only motivator for him to get the help that he needs. Once there are signs…real signs…that he has changed, then you can always remarry if you still love him and he loves you. “Once it is safe and healthy to do so.”

      • graceiscome on April 25, 2019 at 7:47 pm

        Thank you JoAnn. I’m just praying at this point for God’s intervention, mercy, and strength to do whatever it is that needs to be done. Right now the pull to go back home (and particularly the push due to the emotions I’m dealing with where I am currently – a lot of old memories here, depression, it doesn’t help) are just almost too strong to resist. I’m emotionally drained but need to get back into a routine, which includes a wonderful job (which I am longing for!) and a more stable living circumstance. And of course on top of that I’m selfishly keeping my husband hanging by not making a decision to stay where I am or return to home. It just sounds like too much sometimes, and I’m largely responsible for being in this place (even though I know that does not justify his abuse). I think he is truly starting to “work on things,” though my intelligent part knows it hasn’t been enough time. That intelligent part may not win out though. Sigh. God help me ( : Thanks you all. God bless you!

  23. Rice on April 24, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    Grace’s story sounds like mine. 🙁 Except I am still in the same house as my hubs. It is still too hard to separate for some reason. I feel guilty, ashamed. But I hurt everytime I see that we’re the least of his priority. I mean he plays computer games whenever he wants to while I work 2 jobs. When I finish one job it’s a signal for him to start with his computer games instead of taking care of our 2 year old son while I catch up on some sleep. It is taking a toll on me. Not having intimacy, not be the priority, not having a partner to plan things with, not being provided for and so on…

    These past few days all I can think of was leave him but I don’t know how. Not for financial reasons, but for guilt reasons because I feel like if I leave him his life will be ruined.

    • Autumn on April 24, 2019 at 7:44 pm

      Rice you have two children. You need a spouse and a husband. It would seem it is time to kick the adult child out of your nicely feathered nest. Only you can change this situation. I would see a counselor who could help you make a plan. Get legal advice too. Your only hope with these kinds of children in adult bodies is to make and deliver consequences.

      • JoAnn on April 24, 2019 at 8:19 pm

        So true, Autumn.
        So, Rice, is it ok for him to ruin your life but not ok for you to ruin his? Leaving him to grow up and take care of himself will be the only way for him to change. You have described him as lazy and uncaring, while you and your baby can’t possible be living a healthy life. Have you read Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage? That will be a good place to start. Get stronger in your CORE, so you can make healthy, clear decisions. This guy is not a husband; he is a child in a man’s body. Treat him as such.

        • Aly on April 25, 2019 at 8:17 am

          What you have described sadly is not all that ‘uncommon’.
          This doesn’t mean that it’s healthy or normal but you already are feeling the pain of over-functioning it sounds like. I agree with JoAnn and Autumn comments because they are reality given what you have described.

          I actually think you ARE contributing to actually ruining both of your lives by operating at the level you are and enabling your husband in his very unhealthy lifestyle. Working 2 jobs while your husband plays video games is sending a clear message to your husband of what is acceptable to you… and soon your child will receive a message about your role and what ‘seems’ normal in your home.
          As long as you continue what you are doing each day, you will continue to be the least of a priority in your husband’s life. Work with a professional counselor to help equip and grow you to see and discover your worth in Christ and especially uncover why these choices have developed. It’s the most loving and responsible thing you can give yourself, your spouse and especially your child.
          Have courage and walk your journey knowing you are loved and worthy to be in a loving partnership with a spouse.

          • Nancy on April 25, 2019 at 7:01 pm

            HI Rice,

            I have to agree with Autumn, JoAnn and Aly.

            Would it be loving to give your husband a drink, if he were an alcoholic? No, it wouldn’t. Love does not tolerate sin – in any way.

            Your husband is refusing to take responsibility. That is sin. And you, Rice, are enabling that sin to grow. That is not love. That’s fear.

            Love looks out for another’s best interest. It’s in your husband’s best interest to grow up. And it’s in your and your child’s best interest for you to say ‘no’ to enabling his immaturity.

            Sorry to be harsh here, but you are really contributing to the destruction in your home.

  24. graceiscome on April 25, 2019 at 7:22 pm

    Hi Rice. Although I agree with the hard reality of what others have said/suggested here, I do (I think) understand and almost like feel like saying, “Whoa there” to some of the comments (please forgive me! I know it comes from a place of caring). I know you don’t want to feel like you are doing anything to harm your husband or child, but I also know how hard it is to consider the profound and most likely uncomfortable changes that would need to take place within and outside of you to start doing something different. But it would most likely make things better in the long run. Counseling is a very good suggestion/first step – someone who may be willing to “walk with you” in this. And perhaps making changes gradually would be better than anything abrupt (unless of course there is physical abuse and/or emotional/verbal abuse that harms you/your son). Those are my thoughts. But please, please don’t transfer the guilt of harming your husband if you decide to leave (he does need to learn how to take responsibility) with any guilt of harming him by continuing to stay for now. But truly, for yours and your son’s well beings, it probably is a good idea to begin looking for help in making changes. But treat yourself gently and with love in this, o.k.?

  25. graceiscome on April 25, 2019 at 7:24 pm

    It just occurred to me to want to add this: thank you, thank you, thank you Leslie for starting and facilitating these blogs. (Can I say it one more time?) ( : Thank you! And God bless you.

  26. Chuck on April 25, 2019 at 10:23 pm

    Grace and Rice, someone on Talkaboutmarriage.com gave me sage advice about a year ago. You will leave when the pain of leaving is less than the pain of staying. I am so sorry you are in this situation, a man that ignores his wife and child to play video games is selfish, narcissistic, and really not a man but just a boy. I’d love to sit around and do what I want, but my love for my wife and child spurred me to go to work and provide for them. Although my wife and I are divorcing, I still have a love and respect for her, I can’t be with her though, we aren’t good for each other. A real man knows his responsibility and puts childish thins aside. A real man will love you and be crazy about his baby. Rice you are a responsible, hard working lady, and deserve better. You will be fine on your own, you haven’t figured that out yet. Grace and Rice, keep praying and stay faithful, even when he seems far away God is there, he does not abandon his children. You will both know when it is time to make decisions. It’s scary, but there is life, peace, clarity of mind, and love on the other side. Praying for you both.

    • Aly on April 26, 2019 at 9:09 am

      I agree with so much of your post here. I am sorry for the outcome with your marriage so far but you seem to have the clarity and peace that sometimes comes from a lot of work in your journey. I’m thankful that you have had the Lord with you and the Courage He can provide is often essential in these steps out of destructive relationships.

      As far as the sage wisdom of someone leaving when the pain of staying is greater than the pain of leaving, this is not always the case for many of us here.
      I do agree with the logic here and I myself have experienced the pain of this and the freedom of stepping aside and not investing in these painful relationships.
      However, I was raised in a home where I tolerated a lot and it took me along time to sort out what was my responsibility and was not. This also contributed to not clearly seeing what I was deserving of in any relationship, especially marriage.

      For some in a confusing place it takes time and often interventions to develop a voice and the ability ‘to know’ what God already knows about our worth and what is acceptable treatment.
      This confusing place can also be a place of familiarity especially if we have learned how to over function in relation to someone dysfunctional or destructive.

  27. graceiscome on April 25, 2019 at 10:57 pm

    Thank you Chuck. It does boggle my mind what has happened to the man/husband role over all these years, and it seems like there are so few men who understand it. But I suppose that can be ascribed to the woman/wife role as well. I am probably an example of that sad to say. But God knows (and is very saddened by it I’m sure), and surely there are many reasons for the decline of both (and of course the enemy is tragically thrilled by it). Ultimately it’s just sad that something God created to be so beautiful has become so incredibly marred. Thank you for your prayers. God bless.

  28. Michele .Armstrong on April 26, 2019 at 3:12 am

    I was in an abusive marriage to a minister for 30 years. I knew it was time to leave when he nearly killed both of us by chasing me in a vehicle and nearly killing us both. I knew then that he would control me to the death if that’s what it took. I’ve been gone for seven years and have been blogging about my experiences. Writing about it all has opened my eyes to so many things. I was recently invited by a book agent to write my story.

  29. Wife on April 26, 2019 at 4:07 am

    Thank you for your wisdom, Leslie.

    I am now in the phase of deciding if I should stay well or leave well.

    (Controlling husband who refuses to allow hot water to kitchen sink, access to his cars or money, and ac/heat).

    I’d love to hear from anyone who decided to stay well so that their children didn’t have to deal with custody and financial issues.

    Are you glad you did it? Would you have chosen differently in hindsight?

    Is anyone able to direct me to someone I could speak with about this?

    • Free on April 27, 2019 at 6:36 am

      Wife, I would start with visiting a few child psychologists and a pediatrician to explore the impact either choice would have on your children. Start there and then visit a lawyer or two. The initial conversation with a lawyer is free. Also call the national domestic violence hot line and visit your local shelter.

      • Aly on April 27, 2019 at 10:28 am

        Such wise and clear directives!

        Your post is awful!!
        I’m SO sorry for your circumstances, but you do have choices. Free gave you great steps to make and given the small amount of details of abuse you gave regarding your husband, please call your local domestic service, some cities have women’s only programs that also provide legal assistance as their program.
        My additional concern is that there is other abuse you are experiencing and certainly are not wanting to expose here. Which is totally understandable.

        Your husbands behavior that you listed is not that of a husband at all! What you are describing is someone thinking they are entitled to control and treat another (you and your children) as inferior objects in the home.

        Let’s say your h doesn’t get any help and doesn’t think he needs to make changes with his mindset, and statistics will show you his mindset and control will only get worse and worse if it’s tolerated.
        Esp. If it’s tolerated by his sacred equal heir spouse (you)…. and you may find that you become even more isolated.
        If you choose to stay and cope living with someone like this, you may find that your children choose abusive partners, friends, bosses because it’s familiar. And continue the generational patterns of abusive dynamics. You may find that your children receive truth and love realizing that you did NOT advocate for them as a parent and they grow to separate from you and your unhealthy tolerances of your husband.
        (This is some of my journey as my mother is reaping what she chose – and her ability to make healthy choices continued to deteriorate).
        There is also the possibility that your children grow to behave more like your husband and then treat their own family, friends etc with a similar mindset.
        Your children also could develop, other symptoms:
        Depression/Anxiety, developmental learning stress, and many other secondary symptoms due to living in this kind of environment.
        I will pray for you to have courage greater than any fear to get Safe and find advocates near you to assist in bringing interventions.
        The more healthy wise people you bring in, the safer and more responsible you will become.

        • Karen on April 28, 2019 at 10:31 am

          Free and Aly-Fabulous advice and thoughts.

          Wifie-I hope you will consider wisely your options. I will just pipe in that I thought, for 27 years, that I was finding the best possible balance between living with a dysfunction husband in a destructive relationship and providing a healthy, stable home for my children. I tried to “stay well” for their entire childhoods, but imagine a car with two flat tires and two good tires. The car just can’t run properly. Their dad did not take the opportunities he could have to get well.

          The children are and always have “thrived” from external measures. (school, friendships, etc.) They are kind and warm and loving and respectful to me, but they are only obedient to their father. It seemed the natural outgrowth of their lives. As they become young adults, however, I see Aly’s concerns playing out. Some are having to grow through the tendency to repeat the behavior they saw modeled by either me or my father (2 kids struggle one way; 2 go the other). All are being empowered and growing in awareness because of my decision to stop the bleeding and insanity at long last. I knew they always hated the cyclical tension in the home, but it was very telling when I read a college essay one son wrote describing his experiences as a child and the night he finally realized I was not going to stay any longer. You will not see the effects for years. That does not mean they are not being affected.

          Wisdom and courage to you!

  30. Connie on April 26, 2019 at 3:28 pm

    My h is doing an online men’s group. The psychologist leader told them to watch a marriage talk by Kevin Lehman, who is a long time speaker and author on marriage. I was angry after listening to it, as he several times said, ” You know, you ladies just need to realize that we men are just 4year-olds who shave”. Haha. I asked h if that was what the main Bible men were and if that is what the Bible teaches? I’m just so done with that stinking thinking.

    • Free on April 26, 2019 at 7:07 pm

      As much as I like Kevin Lehman, he made a rotten comment that waswas actually very disrespectful to men.

      Often marriage support suupportgroups have no practical application for those living in abusive situations. The availability of successful programs which rehabilitate abusive men (and women too) are few and far between.

      • Aly on April 27, 2019 at 10:40 am

        Connie and Free,
        Connie I’m glad you posted this! I wonder if you feel that writing a letter to the Psychologist who recommended K. Lehman as well as a letter to Lehman would be a way to expose this.
        I think there are many people like Kevin Lehman ‘entertaining people with some biblical thoughts and expressions that can actually DO more harm with immature men/women’.

        From your comments above, I see K.Lehman contributing to the de masculinity of men in our world rather then calling them up to what scripture reveals. This does more covert harm to their gender and reinforces the immaturity that many men are struggling with. This immaturity is one of the biggest contributors to marital issues that are difficult to uproot.

        Unfortunately, your h doesn’t have the insight or biblical insight for that matter to see the problem with being fed this posture from a K. Lehman.

        My husband and I went through something similar.
        I was thankful that the Lord continued to expose the issues, even though it was painfully exhausting.

  31. Lauren on April 26, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you for your wise words, Leslie!

    I’m attempting to choose between staying well and leaving well.

    I’d love some feedback!

    For those that chose to stay well and let go of the desire to have a mutually loving relationship: Are you glad you did it? How were you able to cope? Was it worth it for your kids?

    Those that left: any regrets? Did you find you were better off? What about your children?

    I’d love to leave but find myself stuck financially, and brokenhearted at the idea of shared custody. I’ve never had access to his money, but gave everything I had financially to our family.

    • Roxanne on April 26, 2019 at 6:59 pm

      Lauren, I was glad I stayed. So much of the most damaging abuse was sexual, which meant sleepless nights for me and learning not to scream while being abused. It also meant it happened behind closed doors at night when the kids were asleep. I did mental gymnastics for every thought word and deed. I obeyed my abuser with a smile. I pretended and created a happy home.

      So, I did not stay well for anyone but my husband and the kids. Personally, I do not believe in the concept of staying well. The only true way to be well is to cut all ties with an abuser. This can’t often be done when you share minor children.

      I lived as a slave. I grew my prayer life. I suffered and suffered and suffered for someone else’s sins. Yes, the kids turned out great. Yet, I waited to leave until the kids left and got married themselves. My abusive spouse traveled for work so me got a break from him every month and that helped the fog lift and gave me a week without abuse every month.

    • Simply Peaceful on May 3, 2019 at 2:21 pm

      Lauren, I just recently left my husband of almost 6 years, who is verbally, emotionally, and mentally abusive. I just couldn’t deal with the roller coaster of his emotions, drinking, and anger any longer. I felt like I was losing my sanity at times. Although I’ve only been gone 3 months, and I’m still being somewhat manipulated and controlled by his mind games, the moments of peace and clarity are so wonderful. The distance has allowed me to find pieces of myself that I lost over the last few years. I have a 2 year old and an 11 year old, and they are thriving. I always thought I was staying with him for them, but now I see that they can sense the change in me, and they are enjoying the new, calmer environment. Even though they didn’t see most of our fighting, they felt it’s strain. Kids are resilient! I encourage you to pray, pray, pray!! And ask God to show you if it’s time for you to leave. I believe He will start opening doors for you if it’s time. And as far as finances, it is more difficult. But I promise, God will provide. So, the answer to your question, is No, I don’t regret leaving. Not for a minute.

  32. sheep on April 26, 2019 at 5:53 pm

    I tried to stay well, but it really didn’t work. The problem for me is that once the lights came on and I realized what what happening and what life had become, I just couldn’t burry my head in the sand and continue to live the pretend fantasy. I also realized that this wasn’t loving her. So, I had to bring things to an end and offer her the choice of engaging in marriage in a way she never had along with working to fix all the damage she had caused, or that she could leave and we would most likely divorce.

    She chose to leave. It has been almost a year now and the divorce is almost finished. I don’t regret it (I have lots of regrets but this isn’t one of them) As difficult as things are, I believe it is easier than it was trying to stay and living a lie. I am personally much better and hoping that some day I can experience what a real, truly intimate, mutual, and loving marriage is like. It has been difficult on the kids, but no more so than living the fantasy lie.

    I would argue that you aren’t necessarily as financially stuck as you think you are. Just because you have never had access to “his” money does not mean that you won’t in the future. That is up to the court to decide, not him.

    Sorry you are going through this.

  33. P. Marie on April 30, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    I could use some input here… for those who’ve experienced abusive relationships or at least disappointments. Can you dear sisters and brothers think of any good reason why a person who is officially wanting to stay married should see any honor in keeping their phone calls/ texts private from their spouse? (I am talking about across the board most phone calls with friends or work people, and even some family members) — Maybe a brother in Christ could help me with this one because I don’t have a man’s point of view. This is something that has damaged the trust for me so badly. I will add, though, that it is only one of the severe breaches in my relationship. However, without this problem, some of our confrontations (with blame shifting, crazy making and verbal abuse resulting ) would probably have been avoided.

    • Aly on April 30, 2019 at 9:37 pm

      Who is wanting to keep their phone calls and texts private? You or your husband?

      • P. Marie on April 30, 2019 at 11:54 pm

        I meant my husband has always wanted to keep his communications with others private from me for the most part.

        • Aly on May 1, 2019 at 8:39 am

          P Marie,
          Maybe others will add here but I would think private ‘texts’ especially would be an indication that a person is hiding or would not want you seeing something. Private phone calls also, yet sometimes this needs further explanation because I take phone calls on occasion where I go into another room so it’s not disrupting things my husband is working on etc.

          As you mentioned above trust is damaged in your marriage, I wonder what kind of help you and your husband have received so far.

          Personally I believe especially if there has been past breaches of trust or even if there hasn’t in a healthy thriving growing marriage, all things should be available to each spouse: phone, text, emails, iPads, bank accts etc.

          If you have a spouse that has passcodes etc where you can’t access activity, this is not a good sign of transparency and safety for a marriage, especially if you are being a faithful and trustworthy spouse on your end.

    • Sheep on May 1, 2019 at 1:53 pm

      Hi P Marie

      Unless your husband is always in a state of planning special surprises for you (and I’m guessing he is not), or if he has a job that involves a security clearance or other privileged information, Then I don’t see any good reason to keep his communications private from you. This is especially true if trust has already been broken.

      If he has already had issues communicating with people that he shouldn’t or in inappropriate ways for married man, then he shouldn’t have any secrets. If he is desirous of repentance and reconciliation, then he should be doing everything within his power not only to earn your trust, but to comfort you and put your fears at ease. If this is the case and he is outright hiding his communications from you, then he isn’t desirous of true reconciliation, he is just milking the relationship for what he can get while doing what he wants in his “private” life.

      I would go on to say that even if he hasn’t done anything that you know of to break trust like this, but still insists on keeping his communications private, I would say that it still points to some pretty big problems. And yes, this is coming from a man.

    • Free on May 1, 2019 at 4:45 pm

      I disagree that “without this problem” your husband wasn’t going to be abusive. The two issues are not linked. His behavior is abusive, it doesn’t matter which activity you called him out on. He wants control over you, not cooperation with you. The phone is a mute point. The call to repentance is a lark and a fantasy. Don’t believe a word he says. Contrite people act very differently and the difference is obvious.

  34. Michele Armstrong on May 1, 2019 at 6:17 am

    I was in an abusivemarriage to a pastor for 30 years. I watched his deception and his covert ways trying to believe that because he was in the position he was in the things he was doing would be right. Keeping things from me was his way of keeping control and also hiding his immoral and secret behavior. I have been married to a wonderful man now for 5 and 1/2 years. There literally isn’t one thing I don’t know about him or what he’s doing or his phone calls or texts. I never have the feeling that he is hiding something from me. Ever. When I was married before I was constantly feeling like I needed to be a detective. There’s something wrong with that. Now being in a healthy relationship shows me how messed up it all was.

    • autumn on May 1, 2019 at 9:08 pm

      Michele I am glad you are happily married now. Did you have to get over the guilt of divorce and being married again? Did you wrestle with the adultery passage about remarriage. It seems many of us have such a huge hang up about divorce, I just wonder what others think about remarriage which to me is just as wrong as divorce. I am not saying I am right, I am just struggling with the concept. Talk me through your thinking here if you don’t mind.

      • Aly on May 1, 2019 at 10:16 pm

        How do you define adultery?
        Also, neglect or abandonment?
        Breaking the sacred covenant of marriage?

        A person who marries biblically and only offers a portion of themselves and or has a private portion that is immoral or secret has broken the marital covenant of which they took to be of ‘one flesh’, to forsake all others (including themselves) has vowed to a sacred place where safety and trust flourish.

    • P. Marie on May 2, 2019 at 11:11 am

      Thank you, Free, Sheep, and Michelle for your viewpoints. I always believed that this lack of transparency or lack of trusting me in his social life (& did I mention screntime) was a huge problem, and something has always felt off. When I would confront it; I would be blamed for being too judgmental, or told I was crazy pretty much. Also he would at times say I wouldn’t understand. Funny, I am not really the outwardly judgmental one in the relationship. I now believe it to be crazymaking and playing the victim (his controlling, trying to make me very hesitant to want to talk about that next time). Michelle, I am so happy you found a safe person and have moved on! I rejoice for you, my sister! Seriously, praise God for this! God bless you guys.

      • Anna in SC on May 2, 2019 at 8:59 pm

        P. Marie,
        Based on what you have said about his lack of transparency with his phone and screen time, could he possibly be viewing pornography?

        • P. Marie on May 3, 2019 at 9:14 am

          Anna, good point. There have been little hints that that could be part of the problem.

  35. Autumn on May 2, 2019 at 4:31 am

    Aly, I am struggling with the concept of remarriage. I can see a strong argument for divorce. Then, I think, one is to accept the loss and broken vow. I don’t see the indication to take another another vow unless one is a widow or widower. It seems we are to remain single and not take another man’s wife as the scripture says. The reference to adultery, from what I read means, anyone other than your spouse. Then again, if one is going to lust in sin, it is probably better to take a spouse, rather than sin.

    Lots to think about.

  36. Brigitte T. on October 1, 2020 at 3:09 pm

    I just read thru this. Lyn, did you break free?

Leave a Comment

Ask Your Question

Have a blog question you'd like to submit?

Read More

He Wants To Try, But I Don’t

Morning friends, This week I am in Texas with a group of lovely women ministry leaders. We’ve been coming to this place for about 8 years to refresh, recharge, exercise, and encourage one another. I’m blessed to have a group of women who know the pressures and responsibilities of ministry who can speak words of…


Does Biblical Love Call Me To Share My Financial Assets?

Q. I am searching for Biblical truths in regards to an emotionally devastating situation in my marriage of 14 years. In short, my wife has called our marriage to an end if I do not include her name on all assets that I and my forefathers have worked for for the last 100 years. We…


I’ve Lost Myself In My Marriage. I Need Help

                Morning friends, Would you pray for me? I am at Focus on the Family today (Monday). I’ll be taping in the morning, teaching counselors over lunch and taping in the afternoon. I will need lots of mental, physical and spiritual stamina. Be sure to watch the twelfth…