He Is Alienating The Children, What Do I Do?

Morning friends,

Wow, we’ve had a lively discussion this past week and you all are learning how to speak up for yourself, ask compelling questions and challenge one another while staying in CORE. Please continue to be careful about jumping to conclusions or making assumptions about another person’s motives. Healthy debate and disagreement invite us to reflect and think but it’s crucial that we first listen respectfully to one another. 

Nobody is right all the time. What we think the Bible says just might not be what it means. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought they had the “law” nailed down. They were confident that they understood the Holy Scriptures. Yet when Jesus came on the scene, he turned much of what they thought and believed upside down. Sadly they refused to listen and learn a new way of thinking or being. It was too threatening and challenged their entire religious power structure. It was easier to kill the messenger.

I’ve always invited and respected a healthy dialogue even when we disagree. This is the only way to keep our own mind from getting cobwebs of our own making. Let’s continue to stretch ourselves to know God, his Word and one another.

Today's Question: I have only recently accepted that my marriage is fully abusive and I am struggling with the concept of needing a safety plan but considering I check off 6 of the 9 “DANGEROUS” attributes, I guess it is true. I am afraid that at some point in the future I will have to separate in some way.

The problem is, I know my spouse is actively recruiting my children, 19, 18 and 15 years old, against me. Telling them how much I am hurting him by setting boundaries. I don't want to speak negatively about him to our children but I am so afraid to lose my kids if I need to separate. What do I do?

Answer: I am so glad you are waking up to the danger for you in your marriage and also the possibility of your husband alienating your children against you. Unfortunately, this tactic is common in abusive marriages and sometimes it is very effective.

It sounds like you have been a woman who has “put up” with everything that has been dished out to you, with no protest or boundaries, believing it was the right thing to do. Now you have learned how unhealthy that posture is and have begun to use your voice and set boundaries. However, your new voice is foreign to your family and in using it, you will likely be labeled as mean and uncaring.

Why is that? Because their history and definition of a good mom, even a good Christian woman is that she has no boundaries. She never says no and always accommodates everyone else despite what It costs her. And from what you wrote, you have silently aligned with that picture as your children have watched you over the years.

When you raise your children to see the role of wife and mom to be one of sacrificial service, where a good mom or wife has no needs, feelings, or boundaries of her own, it now plays into the storyline your husband will begin to create about you. In everyone’s eyes, you have changed. You are being selfish by asking for something or expressing your feelings. You are being ungodly by refusing to go along any longer. You’re the one who is breaking up the home because now you have these boundaries.

I don’t say this to hurt you but for the benefit of the younger women who read this blog. You must recognize over-functioning not only hurts you, it hurts your children and your marriage. When you have young children it’s important to teach them that you are a person, not just a role. You must begin to establish the importance of mutuality, reciprocity, and freedom in your household.  

When a woman values her own self, she speaks up for what she wants or needs, even with her own kids. Click To Tweet

For example, you might say, “No I can’t do that for you right now, I’m busy doing my art project, or studying for my class.”

As you regularly practice this, your children begin to learn that you are not just a mom, but you are also a person who has your own life and needs and goals. They learn that you do not exist just to serve them, but to glorify God by your life and that includes doing things that may have nothing to do with your role as wife or mom.

But that does not help you where you are right now. So let me give you some ways to begin to mitigate the possible alienation of your children.

1. Commit to telling the truth, which is the first component of my CORE Strength teaching. Own and confess your problem with your children. You said you don’t want to disparage your husband and I applaud you for that but you still must speak the truth to them.    

For example, you might say to young adult children, “I’m learning something about myself that I need to change. I’m learning that I’ve never been honest with myself or you guys about what bothers me, or what I need, or how I feel.

I’m learning that you can’t have loving or healthy relationships with people who don’t really know you. I also am learning that to have a good relationship with someone it requires both people to give and both people to receive.   

I think I’ve taught you as kids that it’s okay to receive good things from dad and me but not to give back and I don’t think that’s been good for you. So I’m changing and it might look like I’m becoming mean or selfish but that’s not what’s happening.

I’m just trying to be more real and honest with how I feel and what I need. I love you and want to have a good relationship with my children and in order to do that, I need to hear and respect your feelings and thoughts, and likewise, you need to hear and respect mine. I need to be available to help you out when you need me to and likewise, I need you to be willing to help me out when I need you to.”

You can’t control what your husband tells them about your changes but you can control what you tell them about your changes. You have some say in the story they hear so make sure they hear the truth. You can’t control what they choose to believe but you can give them enough information to believe something different than what their father may tell them.

2. You can be truthful about your marriage and your husband without being disrespectful or disparaging, especially when the children are older. For example, if dad is acting threatening or scary you can say, “Sometimes I’m scared of your dad. He doesn’t handle his temper very well and it scares me.”

If he only does this with you, it will be harder to say this because they have no evidence so instead you can say, “Dad and I are having problems and I’m not sure I will be able to continue to live with dad unless he or we get help.” Again, you are giving your kids enough information to contradict their father’s version of you being an uncooperative or ungodly woman breaking up the home.  

You cannot control which parent your children choose to believe but you can give them a different version of things to think about (without all the gory details). Here’s another example. When your kids accuse you of “taking all dad’s money.” You can respond. “I don’t have the power to take all of dad’s money. The judge decides what is a fair and legal distribution of our joint marital assets.”  

You can factually explain things without saying that Dad is a liar or a bad person.  

Remember, even if he’s been a lousy husband to you, if he’s been a fairly decent father to them, your kids won’t want to take sides. And most kids do want to love both of their parents, even when the marriage ends.

Work hard to empathize with their feelings, while holding firm on your boundaries.  For example, “I understand this hurts.” Or “I know you never imagined that dad and I would get a divorce.” Or “I know you don’t understand all the reasons why I’ve made this decision but I don’t want to put you in the middle.” Or “ It’s okay for you to love both me and dad, even if I can’t stay married to him.”   

The more you can stay in CORE, showing your children your own strength and stability, coupled with empathy for the pain they are going through, the more your good character will reveal itself to them regardless of what their father says. It may take time and a lot of patience on your part, but continue to work on you and pray for them. The alternative is to return back to the voiceless, choice-less woman you were, which does not help you or them.

Friends, what have you done when you sensed your spouse was alienating your children against you?


  1. Anonymous on June 27, 2018 at 7:20 am

    Thanks for this blog post. This is such a real issue for me post divorce with my kids. It is his way of still trying to control and manipulate. I would love to have more blog posts, resources, conversations about effectively handling this issue. My ex was in the ministry which was just part of his cover. He still uses Christianity as a cover to my kids which is hard for them to reconcile. If he is a Christian,if he prays, he does devotion with us…then he would not make bad choices or do bad things.

    Thanks again Leslie for all your resources. I left an abusive relationship over 4 years ago, am divorced and still read your blogs! They have been so helpful to me in my journey.

  2. Angie on June 27, 2018 at 8:05 am

    I didn’t always make the right choices but I did try to speak vague truths that I hoped would at least cause them to think about. It’s been 6 long years of being emotionally alienated from my children. But over the last 2 years, we have made amazing progress. I had to learn to weep privately over it, rather than share with them how much it hurt me. Their dad exploited it when I broke in front of them and they saw it as weakness. I HAD to stay strong, even when I didn’t feel it. And I continually showed them unconditional love, no matter what they said or did to crush me. We still have a long ways to go but I have hope and will continue moving forward, hoping and praying a lot. God has the power to take what seems like a nightmare and turn it around. It takes patience though! Patience with yourself, your kids, and the situation. 6 years of no “I love you” and no affection (from 9 to 15). Haven’t heard those 3 coveted words yet but he’s told me in other ways. And 2 months ago, he gave me a hug. And several since. I’ve been given an opportunity to show the never ending love to them that Jesus has for us and I know that God will make this whole situation into something that’s magnificent and better than if we’d never gone through it! Keep the faith. Don’t quit. Pray without ceasing. Through Christ, you’ve got this.

    • Ruth on June 29, 2018 at 11:10 pm

      Sweet Momma, I bet your son still loves you VERY much. He’s just been confused by his dad. But what’s in his heart hasn’t changed – he’s just been taught to deny it. Hang in there!

    • Carrie on July 10, 2018 at 11:42 am

      Prayers for you and your children. You have had to be so strong! God restores what the locusts have eaten. Bless you!

  3. Lee on June 27, 2018 at 9:35 am

    ‘ The alternative is to return back to the voiceless, choice-less woman you were, which does not help you or them.’

    This really struck a cord with me. I have just returned from a family reunion to celebrate my parents 65th wedding anniversary. There were about 50 of us there and I did a lot to prepare and make it a memorable time for everyone. My husband had been very negative to me about this reunion and would make disparaging remarks and say awful thing about my family since the beginning of planning so I paid for the whole trip for my 2 kids and their spouses, my 4 grandchildren and my husband and myself.

    I didn’t tell my kids that all the payment was from me so I assume they think their dad paid for it all. He makes a good living but is financially irresponsible (not putting money away for taxes so we are always in a financial bind) I work part time and have put money toward this reunion for 11 months and had it all paid for before we left. My son came up to me and gave me a check for $500 to cover part of his family which really was wonderful but my daughter. whose husband is not making a lot did not contribute anything towards the week. (which was fine as she wasn’t asked to)
    The problem came as we shared a 2 bedroom timeshare villa with my daughter, her husband and 2 children. From the beginning there was constant disrespectful barbs thrown at me from my daughter her husband and my husband. If I had the television on they would walk up and turn it off,and basically treated me as if I was not there or reprimanded me if I spoke too loudly, I tried to let it roll off my back and yet it felt as if I was being continually verbally beaten up every day. Fortunately I had wonderful family there that I could be with and enjoy times with but I was not included in much of my own children’s week. Both my husband and my kids were totally different with their relatives and it was like a 180 degree change when others were around. On the last day I went to use the bathroom which was nearest my granddaughters bedroom and my daughter reprimanded me to not make too much noise in the bathroom and wake up her baby. I turned to her and said “what exactly do you think I am going to be doing in there that will make so much noise.?” This just set her off and she went storming out of the villa and said she wash’t going to be ‘yelled at by me’ and sat on the ground outside and when her dad and husband came by told them some story that I was being mean to her and my husband told me that I had to apologize to her.
    I told him what had happened and he still said that I was at fault and needed to make things right with her. I truly felt as if my heart was broken. I feel as if there is no way to go as my daughter is 30 and has repeatedly shown that she doesn’t want a real relationship with me. She takes and takes but rarely says thank you to me just to her dad. Her dad pitted the kids against me most of their lives and I have always been on the receiving end of being told I am a bad mother . I am in a lot of despair and feel hopeless that things will change.
    It feels that the more I stand up for me I will lose everything especially any kind of relationship with my grandchildren but by husband has free access to them. (he goes to their home after work when I am not with them.)
    I would like to have a real dialog with my daughter as you laid out above but she literally walks out of the room if I bring anything up. I feel voiceless and helpless in this relationship. and very very lonely.

    • JoAnn on June 29, 2018 at 10:37 pm

      Lee, my heart breaks for you; I know how painful it is to have a tense relationship with your children. I can honestly say that as my daughter’s children have grown up, and she has been on the receiving end of some of that disrespectful behavior, her attitude has softened toward me. I doubt that is the only factor, as now that she is approaching 50, I’m sure that maturity has something to do with it as well, but I also remember my own attitude toward my mother changed once I had children. I applaud you for your patience and continued efforts to remain loving and kind. The hard part is that your h is actually contributing to the hostility, and I don’t know that I could have lived through that. My h has been wonderfully supportive the whole way.
      Truth is your ally. You can say, “your words and your attitude are very hurtful. Please stop/leave.” Or you can simply walk away. Put a boundary in place to protect your heart. That is your job. You can’t change them, but you don’t have to put up with their meanness.
      God be with you.

    • Nancy on June 30, 2018 at 7:14 am

      Hello Lee and JoAnn,

      Your post, Lee, struck a chord with me and as a result, I have been thinking about my own mother.

      My mother has been voice-less and boundary-less mother to me. Now, in my case, my mother has been highly dependant on being loved by her family. Highly. Dependant. It is normal, to an extent, that a mother wants to feel loved by her family, but to NEED that is another story.

      As a daughter, that put extreme pressure on me. Lee, I’m not assuming you are in the same boat as my mom, I’m just telling my story here and wondering about some possible similarities…?

      My mother would not have required me to contribute to a family reunion financially, either. She would have paid. The problem for me in that is that it would set me up to have an ‘uneven’ relationship with her during that visit. The unevenness financially would have created a parent -child dynamic, instead of an adult to adult dynamic. This would have put me in a pressure cooker, emotionally speaking. Maybe you could ask yourself what kind of unconscious expectations you had of her, because you paid?

      This of course in no way excuses her for the way she treated you!

      I’m just wondering ( and this is coming from my own story) if your daughter might desperately need to see you choose yourself first, before your family. If she is anything like me then she might need to see you model self-respect. She may buck up against that at first, but maybe deep down, that’s a need of hers. She may actually need to you require something from her.

      Do you allow your friends to treat you the way your family does? Maybe your daughter needs you to treat her the way you treat your friends…? Again, I’m just wondering these things based on my own story.

      If you NEED your family’s love, they know that. If that’s the case then I would say work very hard on your relationship with The Lord. Find your strength in Him and do what you need to do for yourself. I know the cost is high – you could lose your grandkids for a time. Ughhhh….

      But here’s the thing – my good friend tells me all the time- ‘you cannot give away what you do not possess yourself’. If you do not know how to show love and respect to yourself first, then what is it exactly that you are giving away to your family?

      • JoAnn on June 30, 2018 at 10:06 am

        Excellent insight, Nancy. I like this: You cannot give away what you do not possess yourself.” Respect for others begins with respect for yourself. I hope that Lee, and the others here, will consider carefully what you have said here. Pray for the Lord to shine.

        • Michelle on July 11, 2018 at 10:17 am

          Agreed, My. H and family dynamic was like this and I spent a lot of time pleasing my family and needing that affirmation. I received similar treatment in my family and esp. during and after the divorce. During therapy, I found my family of origin had influenced this need. Read the book “Boundaries,” at the time, I clearly lacked them. Also read up on Narcissism, my h and daughter preyed on my weakness. I felt total blindsided the first time. I feel my ex planted small seeds and she was always Daddy’s girl. After five years, we are talking but I have firm boundaries in place and I am not emotionally tied to validation

          • Aly on July 11, 2018 at 11:10 am

            Such a great post and such clarity.
            I’m really not big on labels but often we see patterns that show consist behavioral traits. I’ve also heard it said that Narcissism is shaped/created versus more of a brain neuro organic thing.

          • JoAnn on July 11, 2018 at 2:25 pm

            Michelle, It seems like you have done some hard work….good for you! To have “firm boundaries” and not be “emotionally tied to validation” shows how far you’ve come. Thanks for sharing.

    • Aly on June 30, 2018 at 3:46 pm


      Your situation is sad and I’m very sorry for the loneliness and certainly the pain of rupture you have going on with your daughter.
      Is there also a marital dynamic of your own marriage that is fueling any of this?

      I guess I’m wondering about this part where you ‘pay for this trip’ and your motivations for doing so? do you and your husband have separate money?
      If your in a destructive marriage often money is misused and the spouse that isn’t interested in investing physically, emotionally, relationally ~ rarely sees the financial reason to either.
      Not saying this is the situation but just wondering if it contributed to the tensions.

      You wrote this:
      “I have just returned from a family reunion to celebrate my parents 65th wedding anniversary.”

      Ok~ these are ‘your’ parents, does your husband Support you in supporting or doing things like a celebration for your parents? Do he do these things with enthusiasm for his side of the family?

      I ask because You wrote:
      “My husband had been very negative to me about this reunion and would make disparaging remarks and say awful thing about my family since the beginning of planning so I paid for the whole trip for my 2 kids and their spouses, my 4 grandchildren and my husband and myself.”

      About your grandchildren too??

      Ok, so did you think that if he didn’t have $ invested that it would lessen his negative behavior? Or it would in some way avoid any accountability or legitimacy of complaints he has about your ext. family of your side?

      You also wrote:
      “I didn’t tell my kids that all the payment was from me so I assume they think their dad paid for it all. He makes a good living but is financially irresponsible (not putting money away for taxes so we are always in a financial bind) I work part time and have put money toward this reunion for 11 months and had it all paid for before we left.”

      This sounds like a more serious marriage issue and I can see why you don’t want to involve your kids directly but are you pretending or trying to protect your adult kids from something?

      Maybe they see the upside down dynamics of the marriage and they are angry about what has gone on like this, maybe for a long time?

      Again I go back to the part of you planning this all out and the financial cost you took and what was possibly the reason why?
      We’re you thinking that if the trip didn’t cost anyone financially then everybody would all be happy about being there? Especially your husband and he would have less of his power to complain? Maybe he might even be willing to participate and be present to be of help or someone to enjoy company with?
      I’m not saying he should have any power like that with mutual finances, by the way.

  4. Sandra Anderson on June 27, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    I wish I’d had your advice as a young mother, dear Leslie. I simply “looked the other way” so to speak regarding my h verbal abuse, partying and adultery during my two daughters’ childhood. He at least worked and provided a home for us, and I feared leaving, and possibly needing welfare. I finally did set boundaries later in my marriage, but, of course, too late for my daughters, who were affected emotionally.

  5. Loretta on June 27, 2018 at 2:51 pm

    I grew up in a home where my mother had no needs, set no boundries (for herself). She waited on everybody and she always came last. I saw my father push her around and being physically abusive to her.
    Now I’m in the same type of relationship (marriage). Through reading this blog and listening to a friend, I’m trying to learn to set boundries and take care of myself. My abusive husband has been telling me how much he loves me, he wants to get our little family (him, me, & my puppy) back together. I’ve been verbally/mentally abused and then physically abused. I’m not saying “NO more”. Since he left here, I’ve got peace and quiet. And I have freedom (no longer having to tell him where I’ve been, etc). I’ve always been faithful to him. Even his sisters and daughter are supporting me.
    Good luck. It’s not easy. I’ve lost lots of sleep and weight in worrying about him. I need to let him go. I ask the Lord to guide him each day and guidance for myself, as well.

    • Jane on June 27, 2018 at 4:24 pm

      Thank-you for posting this. I continue to struggle with following through with developing my CORE, trying to set a few boundaries and eventually moving towards loving confrontation of the abuse. I don’t want to lose my kids in this, but even more I am terrified that I have shown my daughter that it is okay to live like this. Worse yet, set the president that this is what it is to be a Godly wife. Two of my three kids are also afraid of him, including her, but like me she does not understand it is a problem really, just tip toe around it, stay out of the way, etc. I struggle enough with guilt issues but to see what I may have allowed to influence her future devastates me. I have a responsibility to my children and to this point have failed. Your experience encourages me to push on and set a healthy example for my daughter. She deserves better!

      • JoAnn on June 29, 2018 at 10:43 pm

        Jane, why don’t you tell her that? Talk to her and tell her that you want more for her. Be honest about the mistakes and the things you wish you had done differently. Tell her that she must be careful in choosing her relationships. Time for truth telling, in love.

        • Jane on July 2, 2018 at 7:41 pm

          It’s hard. She is every bit a daddy’s girl as I was and still am. I have many fears. I don’t want to hurt her or her love for her dad, nor do I want anything I say to her come back to him, it is not safe at this time for that type of situation. She is a very sweet and vulnerable girl who, unfortunately, takes a lot of her attitude towards others from her dad now because she thinks it is strong. I need to show her strong rather than speak it I believe, at least for now. God will hopefully guide me to the right time to cross which bridges. Thank-you for the ideas though

    • Nancy on June 27, 2018 at 7:27 pm

      Hi Loretta,

      Praise God that you have your freedom! There must be such peace in your home now 🙂

      May I suggest something? You said, “I ask The Lord to guide him each day, and guidance for myself as well”

      What if you flipped that around and made a small change ….” I ask The Lord to guide me each day. Occasionally I ask for his guidance as well”

      This might lead to a more significant change of releasing your h altogether, to The Lord- as JoAnn had suggested to you in a previous post ( if indeed you are the same Loretta that I am remembering!)

  6. Loretta on June 27, 2018 at 9:50 pm

    I’m the same Loretta. Just a couple of weeks ago, my ex-husband to be, was asking me to call everything off so we could be a little family again. I have found that he calls on me when he gets in a “pickle” or mess. He told me he loved me, always would. Just a bunch of crap. He was in hospital for blood pressure issues & anxiety. He says he can’t face divorce. Told him to be a man; we are divorcing @ way he has treated me in past. It’s over, it’s done with. He sweet talks me when he wants something. It has taken me months, and help from a friend, to be able to say no more and I’m not playing your game anymore. I loved that man and he has broken my heart. I no longer cry myself to sleep at night.
    I will continue to ask for Lord’s guidance each day and ask him to help my ex-husband, as well.

    • Free on June 28, 2018 at 6:06 am

      Loretta, you are on the path to freedom! Life without abuse is so very sweet. Stay strong my Siser in Christ! The life that awaits you is full of joy and intimacy with God. Enjoy, and keep us posted on your journey out of darkness.

    • JoAnn on June 29, 2018 at 10:47 pm

      Loretta, I applaud you for taking that important step. May I suggest that it might be a good idea to limit contact with him? Since you are in the process of divorce, you can insist that all contact be through the lawyer. Don’t subject yourself to his manipulations anymore. This is about protecting your heart.
      God bless you.

  7. Aleea on June 28, 2018 at 5:56 am

    “Friends, what have you done when you sensed your spouse was alienating your children against you?” . . .I don’t have any children, so no experience there. . . .Leslie says: “The more you can stay in CORE, showing your children your own strength and stability, coupled with empathy for the pain they are going through, the more your good character will reveal itself to them regardless of what their father says. It may take time and a lot of patience on your part, but continue to work on you and pray for them. The alternative is to return back to the voiceless, choice-less woman you were, which does not help you or them.” . . .That sounds correct to me, working on our modeling behavior; not becoming bitter, angry, resentful, etc. Everything flows from the inside, from your relationship with Christ. Everything flows from the inside out, our CORE;

    “C – I will be COMMITTED to honesty, internal and external – no more pretending.” . . .Telling the truth is an u-n-b-e-l-i-e-v-a-b-l-y effective technology. You are not outcome engineering; you are not peace-faking, —you are telling the Truth, as best, as honestly and as carefully as you know how, making corrections along the way —and keep telling it. Telling the Truth puts your life right back in God’s hands. Right where you want it. . . .Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was thrown into a forced labor camp in the former Soviet Union after giving his entire life to his country, he had become expendible. The horrors in the forced labor camps just beggared his imagination. 100 million plus people “lived” and died the most horrible lives in those camps. . . .But Solzhenitsyn started deeply examining his life and started routing out *any* places he found any partial-truths. He wrote a book telling the entire truth about the Soviet Union (see: “The Gulag Archipelago” by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) . . .about the Soviet economy, about the forced labor camp system that killed 100 million plus people. . . . Solzhenitsyn’s book simply told the truth about the Soviet Union, it was just that simple and it was *the major contributor* to bringing the entire system down.

    . . .The Truth is the most powerful thing ever. Anything that can be destroyed by telling the truth deserves to be destroyed. That book definitely brought down the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn just telling the truth as best, as honestly and as carefully as he knew how and he kept telling it.

    “Bless you prison, bless you for being in my life. For there, lying upon the rotting prison straw, I came to realize that the object of life is not prosperity as we are made to believe, but the maturity of the human soul.” ―Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

    “If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?” ―Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago . . .Romans 7:15 . . .The one we feed is the one who lives; The one we starve will get weaker and weaker.

    “In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.” ―Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

    . . . .Speak the truth and see what happens. There’s no better way to bring a better Being into our Realtionships than to speak the Truth about them. . . .And you will know when you are speaking the truth because things will be *on fire.* The truth is something that burns, it burns off deadwood. Remember that what you do not yet know is often far more important than what you already know or think you know. Be grateful in spite of your suffering. . . .But plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationships because you are going to need to as you are speaking the truth. . . . .And speak the truth even if your voice shakes. The truth brings the best possible relationships into existence.

    “O – I will be OPEN to wise others and the Holy Spirit to teach me new ways of thinking, feeling, responding, so that I can grow whole and healthy.” . . .Holy Spirit, YES! Weak women can NOT be virtuous, we have to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might re:Isaiah 40:31.

    “R – I will be RESPONSIBLE for myself and RESPECTFUL towards others (including my destructive spouse), without dishonoring myself.” . . .It’s amazing how many problems you can solve when you decide you are a responsible human being and that the Holy Spirit will help you, rather than saying every problem in your life is caused by an external force (―husbands; ―various “devils”; et.al.) It empowers you. You can’t change the external forces, but you can change yourself and your own actions.

    “E – I will be EMPATHIC and COMPASSIONATE towards my destructive spouse without ENABLING the abuse to continue. “

    —Just tell the truth, it will bring most everything wrong with your relationships of insufficient quality down. We generally lose by holding back. Jesus IS about *radical*, sweeping, encompassing empowerment. We never lose by deeply loving. . . .I’m just saying that if/ when we are harmless, we are not virtuous at all, we are just harmless. By becoming courageous we increase our potential for being virtuous.

    And in the process, treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. Wisdom cries for all to read: Psalm 19:7-11, 33:11, 119:105. Nothing in the heavens or the earth can stand against prayer (―so we keep our own hearts clean) and telling the truth, about everything: Ezekiel 22:30, 1 Timothy 2:1, James 5:16 ―The Bible; ―Christian Origins; ―everything. [“C” – I will be COMMITTED to honesty, internal and external – no more pretending.”]

  8. Free on June 28, 2018 at 5:59 am

    You are responsivle for yourself and how you treat others. You are not responsible for how others treat others. The truth will set you free. Your children will see the change in you and be drawn to you. It may take time, yet that will be up to the Lord in his mercy, not you.

    Speak the truth when asked. Yet, don’t grow bitter. Be joy, salt and light. Go heavy on the “light.” The spirit within you is calming and attractive. Trust it and trust God’s work in your situation.

    Move forward in confidence and.validate the children’s concerns. Don’t use the kids as communication vehicles for messages. Don’t continually fret and cry. Be the healed, strong, loving woman you are.

    Take care of YOU. Dress nice. Use good posture. Smile and laugh. Believe me, your kids will notice! You will be their only healthly parent in the years to come and they will need your example for their own healing.

    Talk about your value in Christ with the kids. Tell them how he helps you daily. Don’t waste your precious time with them talking about their father. They can see that for themselves even if they have not come to a place that they can verablize it yet.

    • Jane on June 28, 2018 at 6:32 am

      Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you. These are God’s words spoken to me today!! They are truth, love and compassion and have encouraged me. God bless you.

  9. Loretta on June 28, 2018 at 12:27 pm

    It’s not easy leaving this marriage. I loved him more than anyone I’ve ever known and when he was saying how much he loved me and wanted us back together, I almost fell for it. Then he did some things that proved otherwise. As a friend of mine says “Love is actions, not words”. I even setup a marital counseling appt. for us but realized it is going to take a lot more than counseling to change his ways of thinking.
    His daughter has always been #1. Bibically, your wife 9spouse) is to be #1. I’m tired of being in 2nd place and being called stupid, brain dead, and you don’t know what you are talking about.
    i’m enjoying peace and quiet and will get my self-esteem and self-confidence back. praying the Lord will guide me and also praying for Lord’s guidance for my ex-husband to be.
    Life can be good. We have so much to be thankful for. I try to be thankful every day.

    • K (who's posted before, different from K who posted in early April) on June 28, 2018 at 7:04 pm

      Hi Loretta

      You have a wise friend; her loving action toward you was to share the truth!! It’s good that you are becoming clear eyed and clear thinking about the situation of your marriage. You have realized that all the honeyed words your soon to be ex-hsbnd poured out weigh nothing when his actions and toxic words weighed so much more to the negative. And continue to.
      Blessings, Loretta, as the Lord continues to lead you in wisdom, truth, and HIS LOVE.

  10. Loretta on June 28, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Gals, thanks for the encouragement I’m getting from you and this blog. It hasn’t/isn’t easy leaving this marriage but I know I’ve got to in order to save my sanity.
    I’ll probably always love him (from afar) but we cannot stay together as husband & wife. And, I’m looking to the Lord for guidance each day and listening to a wise friend who went through a similar situation many years ago.
    I’m gradually adjusting to living alone, with my little doggy. I’ve had to make a lot of adjustments (financial & social) but I will survive.

    • Autumn on June 28, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Loretta, you have a bond, but it is not love. Love does not behave as you have been treated.

      Stay strong. Glad you have a dog. Now, there is love for you! I bet your pup has more loving behaviors than the man you lived with.

    • Aly on June 29, 2018 at 8:38 am


      Courage doesn’t mean there isn’t pain and loss but you sister in Christ are taking wise steps for your heart!

      Autumn’s words are very important to really digest and allow yourself to process that truth.

      You wrote this:
      “I’ll probably always love him (from afar) but we cannot stay together as husband & wife. ”

      I believe you in that you are capable of love and very much capable of being a ‘wife’ to him. Sadly, it seems that he is not capable of being a husband.
      I think there are so many people out there incapable of being a partner/spouse in the way that would glorify and honor Gods design.
      But for your own heart and healing make sure you know you were more than capable to offer what was needed.

      Why does your family not want to be involved? Are they afraid? Do they only allow you to be ‘happy’ and have no real issues?

      In another post you mentioned almost falling back into the cycle with your husband with more counseling … one thing that is a common theme to destructive relationships is women tend to not have the support externally to get safe and sane. (This external support is so key and helps in not getting manipulated further, it’s easy when we are lonely and unsure) I’m so very glad that you have this blog to share and receive support in addition to God’s Word and care for your heart!
      We are not designed to do ‘even healthy life alone’ and getting away from the toxic life, takes a lot of supportive loving sisters/brothers in Christ.

      Your husband can certainly get counseling and recovery apart from the marriage and even earn himself back into a relationship even after a divorce if he so chooses to do the character work.
      (It’s not common that this happens, but sometimes it can help with the second guessing) It leaves it up to him to decide if he wants to learn and follow what it would mean to be a true godly partner.

      Prayers for continued safety and sanity.

      • Loretta on July 1, 2018 at 1:54 am

        Thanks for the encouraging words. I really needed them tonight. I’ll be 67 in a few days and today I started feeling like nobody really cared. Received on Birthday card from my youngest sister in S.C. today. I just feel I have so much going on in trying to make it to court date on Aug 9th. And I can just see him saying he can’t afford Maintenance or anything however, his mail still coming to my house and he has been spending a lot of money foolishly.
        We’ve been living in my house during our marriage. He had been renting for years prior to our marriage.
        Wish me luck in keeping my home. Also, he totaled 3 cars in short period of time. Wrecked my car twice (totaled it last time and said he would give me money toward another car). Never happened. just hoping my Attorney will be aggressive and take care of me.
        I feel I was a good wife to him. Faithful, trustworthy, felt we were compatible, etc. He has 3 children from a previous marriage but you would think he only had one — a daughter. His daughter has always been #1 in his life. He made her his beneficiary.

      • Loretta on July 3, 2018 at 12:00 am

        My family doesn’t want to hear anything about my abusive marriage. They think everything should be fine and dandy. I’m the oldest of five and all of us are divorced or in process of. the one sister has been married to her husband 43 years. Wonderful.
        Told them I would let them know when I got my maiden name back. In other words, I don’t have much support from siblings. However, I have a female friend who is helping me a lot. bless her soul. Think she went thru a bad relationship sometime in the past. She is happily married now.

  11. Loretta on June 28, 2018 at 8:45 pm

    If you have an animal (doggy or kitty) you know what unconditional love is. And my puppy is good for me. Sometimes she is like a little shadow. And she follows me to bed at night when I prepare to do my Bible reading, for strength.
    Thanks, everyone for your encouraging words. My family doesn’t want to get involved so I am in this alone, except for a female friend.

  12. Jane on June 29, 2018 at 10:15 am


    Thank-you for your advice and counsel. I am floored at how you pegged me so easily from a couple of sentences but I guess there is often a type of person that ends up in this situation maybe, and you have done this for a while now.
    I have been truthful with my children and now I have even had to explain to my middle one that the reason my husband is not allowed at my office is because the other business there, those employees are afraid of him and they asked him to not come back! I hated having to do that but when I originally told him that I knew he didn’t understand and that it was ok, this was not helping his pain in anyway. I did not disparage his father, I did not tell them how he behaved or how they had noticed that I am apparently a shell of a person as soon as he came through the door (boy that was embarrassing to learn), I just told him they were the ones that asked him not to come back due to fear and that when my husband asked how I felt about this, I told him it is probably best for our marriage anyway because of the tension it creates for me to have to ask him to do something as his employer, which he refuses to do anyway and gets angry that I asked him to do something differently (this makes things even harder at home). My son seems to be understanding and accepting more of the situation now. Please keep praying. I love my husband and pray God will do His thing in our lives!

    • Autumn on June 29, 2018 at 4:09 pm

      Jane, how can you love someone who abuses you? I just don’t get that. Who taught you that what you are involved in with him is love? The office staff’s fear is normal. I am glad other people see you and speak truth into your situation. They will be good to have when the police come looking for your missing body. Feelingng anything but fear of him also is dangerous.

      Are you getting counseling for yourself? How can you get out of this business arrangement you have with this man?

      I challenge you Jane, to ask yourself if you love the fantasy of marriage and the hope of what your husband could be, rather than the reality of your true circumstances. No one in the world could “love” such a circumstance unless they had such low self-esteem that they thought in some twisted way that they deserve it. In that case, there is a need to get ones true value aligned with scripture.

      • Loretta on July 1, 2018 at 2:05 am

        Autumn, you hit the nail on the head when you said “if you love the fantasy of marriage and the hope of what your husband could be rather than the reality of your true circumstances. I liked being married when things were good BUT they weren’t always good. After several abusive situations: emotional/mental and then physical abuse this year I decided life is too short for this. I’m getting out of this mess. I have value, I am a worthwhile person even though he didn’t treat me that way. I’m slowly building my self-esteem. I have nothing to be ashamed of. Of course, my financial situation changed drastically but a friend keeps telling me “better miserable alone than miserable with someone else”..

        • Nancy on July 1, 2018 at 11:07 am

          This is so important to recognize:

          Loving the fantasy of marriage…rather than reality.

          Personally, it was only when my fantasy started to ‘peel away’ that I had to admit that I never loved my h for who he was.

          I loved him for the fuel that he provided for the fantasy that I was constructing 🙁

          • Autumn on July 2, 2018 at 8:39 pm

            Oh, that’s good Nancy, the fuel. Excellent!

        • Free on July 2, 2018 at 8:45 pm

          I too struggled with finances, Loretta. Yet, what I have found is that God has supplied everything I need. I have just the greatest stories of how things just “happened” to work out. In addition my application level has soared. P,B&J tastes like prime rib in a place of peace and safety. I couldn’t be happier!

          Like Jo Ann said, a journal is a great idea. It records the journey and allows for reflection.

          • Free on July 2, 2018 at 8:46 pm

            Appreciation not application.

          • Loretta on July 2, 2018 at 9:30 pm

            I know with the Lord’s help I will get by. It just seems everything has torn up, needs repair, trees to cut down, etc. Yes, PB&J makes pretty good sandwiches. I do enjoy the peace and quiet. however, I don’t if it will ever end. Sheriff’s Dept. here today @ him taking off w/o paying last month rent on his apartment and since we were still married I am to go to Small Claims Court with him if we ever find him. When will it ever end? When will I ever be free of him? I’ll continue to pray for him. Lord, please help me.

      • Jane on July 2, 2018 at 7:57 pm

        I can understand the disbelief. But just as God loves us, even when still in sin, it is possible to love the person and hate the sin. I have come to grieve the marriage I have never had and never will, I have come to the realization, though not the acceptance, that there may never be change in his heart. Believe me, there is no fantasy left, just fear (which needs to go away, I need to trust God and not fear man!!) and a small sliver of hope that if I do this God’s way, just maybe he will wake up and be willing to get help. I am not expecting him to no longer be him, just not abusive. I know this will take years of work on his part so he has to want it.

        I believe strongly that no matter what happens I will always love him. I am a people lover anyway, but it is even deeper for my family of course, including him. No matter the hurt, the manipulation, the gas-lighting, the lies, the anger… I have found I still love him. I have been laying down the idol of my husband, marriage, being the perfect Godly wife, and am now struggling with laying down the kids.

        I know he can not truly love me right now and he may never. Only God can effect this work and only if my husband allows it and wants it.

        I have been seeing a counselor for a few weeks only now and it is one of the hardest things I have ever done, but I know it is very needed. The hardest thing is finding ways to sneak away the cash to pay for her as he knows every dollar I bring home or spend. I hate being sneaky or deceptive in any way but understand and appreciate the scriptures that Leslie points out in her books about this. It is also scary to think about being caught. Truthfully I fear more for the safety of my counselor than for myself, though she says she is ok with this.

        In the end God will guide the direction of this journey, and the love he has given me to give away will not leave me. I am trying to trust Him fully through this process.

        • Free on July 2, 2018 at 8:50 pm

          Can you change your living arrangements? Do you have a safety plan in place, Jane?

          I know the fear you speak of. It is real.

        • Free on July 2, 2018 at 8:54 pm

          Jane, I am going to say something controversial. I am not a big CORE fan. If you are in as much danger as I was, CORE would have gotten me killed. I needed carefully calculated deception to get out
          Be sure your counselor understands domestic violence. I recognize the cues in your posts. You are in a lot more danger than you think.

          • JoAnn on July 2, 2018 at 9:49 pm

            Jane, I agree with Free. It sounds like you are in danger, and you need a safety plan. Free has been down that road, and you might look for her post about what she did in a previous blog. I don’t know if she can repeat it here, but her plan was brilliant. Please be careful.

          • Free on July 2, 2018 at 10:10 pm

            Wow, Joann. Thank was nice. Thanks.

          • Nancy on July 3, 2018 at 7:41 am


            Thank you for speaking truth here about how you feel about CORE.

            Would it be accurate to say that for the ‘C’ part, you had to be committed to truth in your own mind, yet in action had to keep up the facade with him? Or is that have just too confusing?

            It’s really important to acknowledge the entire range of abusive behaviour. I’m glad you are here to ‘see’ and speak up about the danger signs you see in Jane’s post!

          • Jane on July 3, 2018 at 1:08 pm

            I thank you all! Yes, I have a safety plan, though have a hard time believing I’ll ever need it, yet you guys, my counselor and Leslie’s post on DANGER say otherwise. THIS is where I need my CORE. I need to be: Committed to the truth and reality- the truth is it may be worse than I know as far as the danger goes and I need to be ready (wish my mind could actually believe this); Open to change and others suggestions and thoughts, etc which is why I am on this post; Responsible for my own behavior and responses including to his button pushing and Respectful of those around me including my husband while not just staying around for the abuse or just agreeing with him; Empathetic that he has come through his own junk and is hurting but not enabling the abuse to continue.

            I believe in THIS way CORE applies even now. My counselor is well versed in DV and trauma which is why I picked her. She has been amazingly helpful to develop a safety plan, how to squirrel away money safely, insisting I get access to my accounts from the banks directly (that was humbling as stink), how to adjust my business to gross more income and get my spouse more out of my business, and she adamantly opposes my confronting my husbands abuse while I am living at home! This is where I struggle because, at least at this time, I do not believe God has called me to leave.

            So to say, no, living arrangements can not change at this time. I feel called to stay at this time but to stay well. Unfortunately right now that is mostly “voiceless” and “powerless” but at the right moments God is giving me a voice, the words to speak, and an insane peace to speak the words. This seems to be at the brief lucid moments in which my husband may be receptive to very peripheral truth and love. He is still not willing to go to a counselor and this is eventually likely going to be the sticking point between us when I do confront him, but I don’t know when that will be. For now we are working on me getting healthy and figuring out the brokenness that allowed me to get myself in this mess to begin with. Once I am well, maybe I can confront in a safe public place with my safe person at the ready.

    • Nancy on June 30, 2018 at 7:54 am


      I think the way you handled telling your middle one about the reality of the office situation is very healthy. In this instance, you kept yourself out of it and told the truth about your employees, and how you had to protect them.

      When situations- that don’t involve third parties – come up, you will have to figure out how to tell the truth to your kids about how you have to protect yourself.

      Keep walking in CORE and the Lord will guide you 🙂

      • Nancy on July 3, 2018 at 7:42 am

        Hi Jane,
        Please disregard . See Free’s response to you.

        Take care of yourself!

    • Shelly on July 9, 2018 at 10:17 am

      My dear Jane,
      I just wanted to respond to your comment from today about “what if the children are hurt” as you contemplate what to do going forward. There are a couple of things I’d like to say to that. My sister who has experience with addictions counselling said something to me early in my own process that stuck. I resisted at first, but those words came to be so true. When I expressed my desire to “stay to protect the kids”, or because I was “afraid of wounding them” through a divorce she said “Shelly they already are damaged because of what they’ve seen and experienced!”

      Your children have witnessed inappropriate relationship behaviour for most of their lives. If your co-workers are afraid of your husband, and you treat that situation as normal, they will believe that to be normal. I am so sorry that you have had to live in that atmosphere for so many years!

      At first, my children were so angry with me. I had changed the situation. I had left their father. I had disrupted their lives. They could not see their father’s responsibility, because they had grown up that way and it was normal. Even knowing about his infidelities had no impact on their choice to take his side.

      Deciding to leave was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Giving up on the dream/need/desire to wait for my husband to change and see the light is something that has taken another several years. When I knew I could leave was when God gave me a verse that spoke specifically to my situation. I can remember where I was, and the exact moment. However, that does not mean the journey has been easy. I had to learn to listen, really listen and trust the voices of my precious advisors. Choose your support circle carefully. Women and men of godly character who you know revere marriage and the Lord. Proverbs says “plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisors they succeed”. My advisors/friends were clearly telling me it was time to leave. When I was tempted to go back, many many times it was the voice of one of my wise advisors calming me down, reminding me of the shell of a woman that I had been when I left, and the progress they had seen, that made me stay firm. I couldn’t see it, but a girlfriend saying lovingly “but Shelly, has he changed? I remember you in those early days and I see such strength now” that kept me strong.

      I had to let God reveal my husband’s character in His own time. Again, whenever I was tempted to attack him, or make the children see his manipulation, or reveal a detail of his behaviour, God gently chastised me. No, God would reveal my husband’s character over time, and He has!!! My husband, the strong, capable man who had it all together, who was “right” and blameless….has sadly begun to exhibit the fruit of his behaviours over time. Life has caught up with him. Trust, dear one, that God will reveal the truth over time. It takes time. In the meantime, meditate on the truth that God loves YOU as much as He loves your husband, and your children and your marriage. You have put others first for so long that you have forgotten that your happiness and safety is as important to the Lord as everyone else’s. Remember – when you do not love or value yourself, you grieve the Father who loves you and Jesus, who died for you – just as much as if you fail to love or value another person. Can you see that? If you can just put yourself on the same level of importance as everyone else, you will have made progress.

      • JoAnn on July 9, 2018 at 11:42 am

        Very wise counsel, Shelly. Thank you for sharing. 2 Cor. 1:3-4.

      • Jane on July 9, 2018 at 6:51 pm

        Thank-you. Hard ideas to digest but very helpful. I hear God telling me to walk this out right now. For today that means staying while I work on my core, see a good therapist, and strengthen my wise counsel group. I don’t know what will happen in the end, but for now I am trying to learn to stay, but stay healthy. That’s a slow process too.

        What stinks is I hear these words and know they are truth, and really straight from God, but fear is a sneaky liar and keeps holding me down, I will continue to fight him off with Gods help, then one day, maybe I will be strong enough to do what is right (regardless of staying or going) and find a loving, respectful and honest voice with which to stand up for myself and my family.

        It sounds like this journey has amazingly matured your walk with God. Again, thank-you for the love and encouragement

  13. Nancy on June 30, 2018 at 7:43 am

    This post and some of the responses have struck a chord. It’s the ‘voice-less, choice-less woman’ quote that resonates.

    Growing up, my mother was extremely dependant on her family’s love. Extremely. To the point where she endured my father having multiple affairs, over about a 5 year period. She did not have the resources ( extrernal or internal) to set any kind of boundaries. My Growing up in an environment where she did her best to cope ( Denial / fury / pretense – the opposite of CORE strength) was very confusing.

    The emotional pressure of knowing that she needed my love so desperately was debilitating. And when I wasn’t debilitated, I was furious. Furious with her for not having any self-respect. Furious with her for needing me more than she needed Jesus himself ( all this in a Christian home that looked- for all the world – perfect).

    I had also developed very poor coping skills ( denial / fury / pretense) and as a result have treated her very poorly 🙁

    Now ( in the past couple of years) as I learn to walk in CORE strength, I am lovingly setting boundaries against being her ‘fuel’ while maintaining minimal contact. I am her only child nearby, with her only grandchildren nearby. I know that she expected very different things from being a grandma, but I can’t continue to be the one who fulfills her dreams.

    And so, while I feel for the moms in these threads ( I am a mom too) who desperately don’t want to lose their children, I also really feel for the children who are living in the confusion. The biggest thing you can do is to tell the Truth, in love. Develop your CORE. Your kids need that more than ANYTHING else.

    They need to see a woman who is dependant on The Lord – not on them. This is FAR too much pressure.

    Don’t make your children’s love into an idol. That is so destructive to their personhood. It is confusing and hypocritical and it is damaging to the very thing you so desperately want to preserve – your relationship with them.

    • shelly on July 8, 2018 at 11:27 am

      Dear Nancy,
      Thank you so much for your excellent explanation of what it has felt like to be loved by a mom who needed you too much. This is wonderful insight for me, and echoes the painful lessons I have learned over the years. I think we choose men who will help us relive and hopefully resolve issues from our family of origin. I felt unsafe, emotionally abandoned, and unloved as a child. When I met my man, he was a successful executive, an involved and attentive father to two children, handsome…and I thought he was everything my father had not been for me. Dad was sadly an alcoholic; so consistency, and financial security and attention were something he couldn’t provide. My husband was going to provide for me, didn’t drink!, was going to be a wonderful parent, and was so marvellously self assured and in charge. Yes, his wife had left him, and there were red flags, but I know now I wasn’t in the place where I could have recognized a healthy potential mate. As my confidence was further eroded over the years by the deception, stone walling, and power inequity, I poured myself more and more into being the perfect mom and wife and christian woman involved in ministry. I had my own interests – my husband was immersed in his career which was always inviolately the highest priority. He “allowed” me to be involved in my projects and side interests. For that I am grateful. But the power imbalance was heavily in his favour. It was always clear that his career was vastly more important than mine, and he didn’t let me forget that he made much more money than I did. Like the frog in water, I didn’t recognize as my identity became whatever would please those around me, and as I accommodated myself to whatever freedom my husband decided to grant me. I became very dependent on the love of my children and the family. I tried everything to build unity, to build closeness and to nurture memories together despite having very little “say”, and buy in from my husband. When the truth finally came out, that he had been casually and repeatedly unfaithful to me in our courtship, engagement, and for the first several years of our marriage, I was devastated. The marriage had always felt impossible, but I had thought “well at least I can count on him to be faithful”. Add the tired old story of the church backing him because the problem now was my “unforgiveness”. I didn’t recognize it at the time, but after he saw my devastation and blinding anger, and realized that I wasn’t just going to “get over it already”, he began to subtly align himself first with our son (taking his side during discipline situations and sympathizing with him that his mom didn’t love him when I tried to correct his behaviour) and then with our daughters. As I tried to parent in the way I had always parented, with limits, he became the understanding buddy. It took several years for me to realize that I could not continue to live in the atmosphere of hostility and with his lack of true heart repentance. During that time the alienation and rebellion of my oldest (son) became complete and my daughters to a lesser degree. When I finally had the strength to leave the marriage, I was unprepared for the hostility directed at me by my children. I had been the one who loved them to distraction! I had been the one who stayed home, who prayed over them and with them! To lose their love was the deepest scorching pain I have ever experienced. The sympathy has been for poor dad and two of my children have spent years being his caretaker.

      It took me years to begin to accept and understand my own dysfunction, and make sincere efforts to grow. I thought following the formula was going to produce the loving christian family. After all I had done and given – how could God do this to me? Oh the self pity!! That was sin too. I continue to learn to lean completely on Jesus accept His precious and sufficient love for me. God has graciously provided the love and support of my sister, and dear friends. I have continued to reach out to my children and to be loving and supportive in whatever way I can and whatever way they will allow me to. It has taken years to wean myself off of NEEDING their love. But as I’ve backed off, lived my life, and waited for them to reach out when they are ready, God has graciously brought the girls back around. Our relationship now, six years later, gets better all the time. My older daughter has repeatedly said how much she admires my strength, and that it is inspiring to her. They call me spontaneously to ask advice on numerous topics, or when they are hurting. My letting them see how desperately I needed them was not healthy for them. But I think its an easy trap for those of us who do not have true intimacy in our marriage. We are wired for relationship and intimacy, and if we don’t find it in our partner, it is natural to attempt to find it in our children.
      Thank you for a daughter’s perspective. Your comment about how hard it was for you to feel your Mom’s need for you echoes my own experience. I pray you and your mom continue to grow together and that you will both find a richness in mutual love and healthy (not dysfunctional) interdependence. Those of my friends who have a close relationship with their daughters and grandchildren are the richest of the rich!

      • Nancy on July 8, 2018 at 12:57 pm

        Praise God, Shelly! I can see why your daughters call you. What a journey you’ve been through!

        Thank you so much for sharing your story so transparently.

        I think you are so right, “…if we don’t find it [intimacy] in our partner, it is natural to find it in our children”. This is spot on and why we so desperately need this kind of forum, and teachers like Leslie to help us look to Jesus for healing and strength, as opposed to our loved ones.

        My relationship with my mother is quite minimal, but what we have is good. We both respect one another and are being careful. I don’t think I’ll have an ’emotionally close’ relationship with her because she has not done the heart work that would make it safe for me to open up to her. But you know something? Mutual respect IS something. Even if our relationship is pretty superficial, what is there, is mutual. For me, that’s my minimum criteria – respect and mutuality. I no longer need her to be growing and changing ( she never did choose to grow or change) I just need respect. She gives me that, and I am grateful.

        I do pray for her to be able to receive from The Lord. I can pray for her in ways that no one else can ( because I’m her daughter), but am getting less and less hung up on wether and when He will do this. That acceptance is a gift from God 🙂

        Thank you for your prayers, Shelly.

        • shelly on July 8, 2018 at 6:40 pm

          Dear Nancy,
          Yes, it is so hard when someone we love isn’t able or willing to do the heart work to grow! So hard to understand and takes years to accept, right?

          You have reached such a mature place with your mom. She is blessed to have a praying daughter!

      • JoAnn on July 8, 2018 at 4:17 pm

        Shelly, Thank you for this very touching and transparent account of your experience. You have demonstrated strength and resilience and faith, and you are now in a much better place. We can hope that you son will not follow in his father’s footsteps, but now your daughters are opening up, so thank God for that! Your story isn’t over yet, so keep on enjoying your new life and an intimate walk with the Lord.

        • shelly on July 8, 2018 at 6:37 pm

          Thank you JoAnn! I’ve always appreciated your comments on this forum!

          • JoAnn on July 8, 2018 at 10:07 pm

            Amen. Thanks.

      • Aly on July 8, 2018 at 5:01 pm

        Yes I’m praising God with Nancy here!!

        Your story is so impactful and your daughters will be blessed as they grasp and learn from your our journey.

        I’m sorry for the pain you have been through and even the layered pain of how others respond to ‘us doing what’s the right thing sometimes’ I can relate closely to not being prepared for yet another rejection of those we love and hope they can understand ‘what is taking place at a forest view’.

        You wrote:
        “Dad was sadly an alcoholic; so consistency, and financial security and attention were something he couldn’t provide. My husband was going to provide for me, didn’t drink!, was going to be a wonderful parent, and was so marvellously self assured and in charge. Yes, his wife had left him, and there were red flags, but I know now I wasn’t in the place where I could have recognized a healthy potential mate.”

        I can see my own past false beliefs arise as I read this above and the the bag that my family of origin taught me.
        The big one for me, or maybe it’s better to call it a formula like you said was, “if I marry a man who says he’s a Christian, then I can have assurance that he will be trusting and caring of my heart and our marriage”.

        It was not taught that many say one thing yet, behavior says a lot of other things.

        Our power imbalance didn’t exactly show itself until a year into the marriage for me.

        I guess my heart is most definitely for those women who need healing and comfort but also we as older women need to equip the younger women about those false beliefs or things we tell ourselves before they take similar paths or maybe even get themselves into a more severe relationship dynamic.

        I’m thankful you showed your kids the strength given by God, even if it meant it could cost the relationship ‘for some time’, which is scary and sad.

        I sometimes have to ask myself when it comes to these relationships that if ‘not following’ God means I have a sliver of a relationship with another, and following God means that I’m rejected in relationship, then is this going to be a good path?

        Sometimes it’s in these moments where we see if a relationship is actually ‘one’ of health and mutual balance.

        Praises for your continued strength and courage from Him💜

        • Aly on July 8, 2018 at 5:04 pm


          “I can see my own past false beliefs arise as I read this above and the the bag that my family of origin taught me.”

          I’m sorry, it should have said ‘the beliefs’
          Not, the the bag.
          Goodness please forgive me for my horrible typos!

          • shelly on July 8, 2018 at 6:34 pm

            Oh not at all Aly,
            Thank you for sharing and for listening to my story. You expressed it so well – the “formula” was to pick a Christian husband, and do all the “right” things, and voila – happy Christian marriage. I also don’t remember hearing a message encouraging me as a young woman to exercise discernment. Just because a man called himself a believer did not automatically mean a rosy future. I was so naive!

            The challenge I have found in passing along my hard earned life lessons is to communicate the need to be careful and discerning, while at the same time not to become hardened or fearful of trust and intimacy.

            You said “I sometimes have to ask myself when it comes to these relationships that if ‘not following’ God means I have a sliver of a relationship with another, and following God means that I’m rejected in relationship, then is this going to be a good path?”

            At the risk of misunderstanding your comment, I identify with that dilemma. Many many times over the past few years I’ve struggled with the question “Am I compromising my beliefs and myself in order to hang on desperately to a sliver of relationship”? I have to confess that I’ve done just that. I now believe its a mistake. I’ve had to examine my heart and repent of making my relationships with my children an idol. The more I manage to quiet my heart and put myself in the care of my Lord in that regard, the better things have gone. It helps that God has NOT given me success in any efforts to fix this situation in my own strength. The more I settled and appeased, the more I reached out to try to fix or explain, the worse things got. When there are unhealthy or dysfunctional relational patterns in a family, if one member decides to do things differently, there will be a tremendous amount of push back. Any one member of the system disrupting the family script destabilizes everyone else. I’ve learned that I must resist the urge to defend myself and resist the urge to control or change things. Its been a huge challenge. But as I have quietly stepped back, and cried out to God instead, I’ve given Him room to work. Its a journey!

          • Aly on July 8, 2018 at 6:49 pm


            You communicated it so much better!
            You said:
            “Am I compromising my beliefs and myself in order to hang on desperately to a sliver of relationship”?

            Can also do relate to the pain of the push back, the system acts on and the system does not tolerate healthy ‘individuality or boundaries’.

            I’m glad you are experiencing God work and risked taking the journey!

          • Jane on July 9, 2018 at 4:50 am


            Thank-you for your comments on the family dynamics and your children as an idol. This is where I am struggling the most and your words are encouraging my soul that has already heard from God what I need to do, to lay them down, but then comes the second guessing, is that really what I have to do? What if they get hurt? What if I lose them? Thanks for being so honest and in this forum and being a mouth piece for God to speak through. This encourages me that even if there is pain and a time of loss, God is a restoring God and my provider and He will supply ALL my needs, and that includes the need for relationship with my children.

          • Nancy on July 9, 2018 at 1:36 pm

            Hi Jane,
            I hope it’s ok to interject here. You asked, “what if they get hurt?”

            Please re-read my June 30 th post that Shelly originally responded to.

            Believe me, what they need is to be released from that bondage. Being someone’s idol – especially their own mother’s – is very, very confusing. It feeds pride and steals security and comfort. Even for adult children.

            It might hurt them. If it does it’s the pain of their pride being squashed. That’s a gift.

            Have you read Cloud and Townsend’s ‘boundaries’?

          • Jane on July 9, 2018 at 7:07 pm


            To answer your last question. Yes. It is the journey I started 18mo ago with a marriage counselor we briefly saw who actually opened my eyes, I am married to a narcissist and diagnosed sociopath as well. It took me months to read that book and even longer to figure out how to start implementing even the smallest of boundaries out of fear of my husbands anger.

            As far as the kids, it is very hard for me to set boundaries and enforce them when I work for 12 hours a day while my husband is at home, not enforcing anything, just suddenly flying off the handle days after he asked for something to be done, and somewhat randomly. I hope I have not made my kids an idol in the sense that you mentioned. They do not have to be or do anything for me to be fulfilled. My first hearts cry is that they know the Lord God and love Him with all their heart and my second is that they find their purpose and passion in life. Unfortunately, their true happiness and wellbeing I thought was my idol, but now I second guess what I have done all these years. My daughter echoes the words and attitudes of my husband at times and it destroys my heart, my middle child has some of the controlling tendancies but he and I have been safe enough to talk about it and he is trying to watch, and my oldest, who fears my husband the most, I just learned, claims we are not a family! That killed me. I have always tried to do things as a family, and talk with my kids one on one, but when he comes home he hides upstairs in the bonus room and doesn’t want to participate and I am afraid it is because he is afraid of his father. This is all breaking my heart and crushing my spirit. Did I do this to them by not realizing the problem sooner? By not protecting them from his bullying?

            Yet they are still protective of my husband being hurt. And if I am being honest, I am too. In part that it saddens me to see him hurt, I love him so much and I want to see joy and fulfillment in his life, but also because I am afraid of his reactions when he is hurt, the gas lighting, manipulation, blame, withdrawal, and stalking really escalate then.

            I hope that clears things up. I don’t think my kids are my idol in the same way but that me being a good mom is my idol! I just realized that! I am going to have to pray and set that down to. I can only be the mom that I am and do my best to love them the way God leads me. Thank-you for your post here as this was just a V-8 moment.

          • Nancy on July 9, 2018 at 7:58 pm

            hi Jane,

            So glad that your processing brought you to a V-8 moment (I’ve never heard that before – I’m assuming it’s a positive thing )

          • Jane on July 10, 2018 at 6:08 am

            yes, the old V-8 juice commercials. Someone gets the snackies and eats something unhealthy then sees a V-8 drink, pops themselves in the forehead and says, “I could have had a V-8”. ie: The realization of something better or important. so yes it’s a good thing, not always an easy thing but a good thing.

        • JoAnn on July 8, 2018 at 10:06 pm

          Shelly, your insight into the family dynamics is so right on. The family is a system, and when one element of a system changes, it destabilizes the whole system. Yes! So, as you grow in CORE, develop boundaries, and exhibit self respect, all the others in the system will react. Be prepared for that. Lots of “push back.” But that’s a good thing, because that’s when others have an opportunity to change, too [or not 🙁 ]. It gives the Lord an opening to inject Himself into the system, and that’s what we can pray for.

          • Nancy on July 9, 2018 at 1:27 pm


            Thinking about the family as a system is interesting. My siblings all live about as far from one another as possible while staying on the same continent. I’m the one who is geopgraphically close to my mother. Much of the time, each relationship is completely separate.

            I had a nice conversation with my mother the other day. Near the end she talked about treating us all ( kids plus grand kids) to a vacation in Cape Cod…renting a big enough house for all of us etc… She talked about it as though it was a done deal, without asking if that would be something we would like. Very typical – as if finances would be the only reason for not going, and her paying makes it a guarantee, right?

            Anyways, when there was a pause I said, “you know mom, I think we’d be open to considering that idea, but if we participated we would have our own separate cabin.”

            This seemed fine with her. I’m pretty sure that she took that in. But Time will tell. It felt really good to speak my needs, even if this thing doesn’t go anywhere. And if it does, we’ll be doing an awful lot of discerning because there is a reason that our family system is spread across this continent!

          • JoAnn on July 9, 2018 at 2:05 pm

            Nancy, my first reaction to what you shared is to feel sad. Sad for your Mother and sad for all of you that you do not have a happy relationship with each other. I sympathize with the painful dynamic that you have shared about your relationship with your mother. Really, I do. And I understand that you have worked hard to set boundaries to protect your heart. However, you also made some assumptions about her motive for doing this: “as if finances would be the only reason for not going, and her paying makes it a guarantee, right?” As a mother yourself, can you project into the future and imagine how you would feel if your own children did not get along or want to be together? Perhaps she just wants to see her family together again? The presuppositions that we hold about other people are often wrong, and they definitely affect our responses and interactions with them.
            Now, I know that there is much more to this than I know about, but as a sister in the Lord, I encourage you to practice believing what is positive (Phil. 4:8), and even to be aware that the Christ in you loves your mother and your siblings. The Lord has brought you so far, and it’s possible that He would like to use this vacation for you to bring some fresh life into your family. It could be a time for you to demonstrate His forgiveness, and His love toward them.
            I’m not going to say anymore at this time, but I will gladly fellowship more with you, if you want. And i will pray for you.

          • Aly on July 9, 2018 at 9:24 pm


            You mentioned that you work 12 hours a day.. ..so does this mean your husband stays home and does not work or does he work from home?

            I ask because you said this:
            “I am married to a narcissist and diagnosed sociopath as well.”

            Did the therapist give this diagnosis to you and to him? Is he aware of this?
            I ask because I always understood it difficult for narcissistic people to be officially diagnosed because they often are not in the room long enough to allow a professional to evaluate?

            Not saying I’m right, I could be so far off and hoping you could help me better understand this?

          • JoAnn on July 9, 2018 at 11:53 pm

            Nancy, I’m grinning about the V8 thing…Have you seen the commercials about V8 juice? I think this is what she is referring to. The idea is that a drink of V8 perks you up and sets everything straight. An appropriate metaphor for her reaction to your fellowship. 🙂

          • Nancy on July 10, 2018 at 6:40 am

            Good morning JoAnn,

            Thank you for speaking truth to me about my unGodly thoughts about my mother.

            Recently He has been speaking to me about trading ‘defense’ for ‘protection’. More specifically trading my habit of defending myself, for resting in His protection of me. Psalm 91 and 1Peter 1:5 have been my ‘homework’.

            As I think back to that conversation with my mom, there was very little defensiveness that crept into my mind during our conversation. I spoke what I needed to, as the Spirit led. It was AFTER, that those thoughts about her motives crept in. My mother has used money for control in the past – it’s wise to not forget that. But that’s no excuse for allowing the caustic attitude / thoughts to creep in. Those are two separate things.

            Thank you for Phil 4:8.

            And yes, I’d like to hear what else you might have to tell me. I trust you.

          • Seeing The Light on July 10, 2018 at 8:27 am


            You are leagues ahead of me in dealing with your borderline mother. I don’t know what stage your relationship is at, but I completely understand your suspicions about her motives.

            My situation with my borderline mother is still a very high drama situation coming from her side and was very recently in such high gear with other family members that it has been very difficult to tolerate – to the point of causing significant physical distress for another family member.

            I agree that you are wise to not forget the way she has used money to control in the past. Unless there has been a significant moment of epiphany and repentance in her life, she is not a safe person and any attempts to love and have relationship with her require watchfulness and discernment.

            I say all this while having a tremendous amount of empathy and love for my mother, but also knowing that I need to keep my guard up in that relationship. I guess I just wanted to say I get it.

          • JoAnn on July 10, 2018 at 12:32 pm

            (July 10) Aww, thanks, Nancy. I have to say that I have learned much from you and Aly, in particular, as well as the others. My clients have gotten a lot of help as a result of my participation here. You all have become very precious to me.
            Regarding Phil. 4:8, I believe that the word tells us quite clearly that we need to bring our mind under the control of the Spirit. “The mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Rom 8:6) So this is a good litmus test: If our thoughts are making us feel badly (a sign of death), then they are, at the very least, fleshly, and sometimes even lies. That is when we must turn to the Lord in our spirit and speak His truth. That chases away the dark thoughts. Thanking and praising the Lord for the situation or for the person will transform our thoughts and bring in life and peace. This practice has helped me a lot.
            Hugs to everyone here.

          • Nancy on July 10, 2018 at 1:16 pm

            Hi JoAnn,

            Romans 8:6, (in particular the second part) is my verse for 2018. So appropriate that you bring it up. And Phil 4:8 is a practical application of that reality. Very helpful!

          • Nancy on July 10, 2018 at 1:42 pm


            I wrote you a reply, but it failed to post. Will write later 🙂

          • Aly on July 10, 2018 at 3:12 pm

            STL, Nancy, JoAnn and others;

            This is mainly a response to STL’s response to Nancy not sure if it will post.

            Maybe I missed something in Nancy’s example of her conversation with her mother?
            So please correct me.

            I didn’t hear anything about putting motive on her mom but more about dealing with the reality of how things are ‘somewhat’ fractured in the ext. family unit.

            I saw Nancy’s dialog as one about facts not necessarily emotional context but from factual experiences of history.

            STL wrote something so important as any of us try to walk closer to a person who has proven through past behavior that it’s wise of us to tread carefully.
            STL wrote this:
            “I agree that you are wise to not forget the way she has used money to control in the past. Unless there has been a significant moment of epiphany and repentance in her life, she is not a safe person and any attempts to love and have relationship with her require watchfulness and discernment”

            If a person (mom, sibling, friend spouse) is UNSAFE and hasn’t done any restorative work to repair the relationship, then it is not having a ‘preconceived motive’ that one is putting on the other.

            But it is being wise and healthier to guard ourselves of not being pulled back into an old pattern.

            I guess as a mother I feel it’s not my kids ‘or adult kids job’ to make me feel happy about everyone all getting along and liking one another.

            I enjoy my kids together just as much as individually.
            Maybe more individually because I get to have more attentive time with them and discover more of their unique ways and personality.

          • Nancy on July 10, 2018 at 3:38 pm

            Hi STL, Aly and JoAnn,

            Thank you STL for your understanding and encouragement. Please, though, be careful not to compare.

            A psychologist of mine ( who specializes in PD) told me that she believes that my mother has ‘a flavour’ of borderline. It was very important for me to understand what that was so that I could understand the effects on me. Although her symptoms may be ‘watered down’, they are damaging for sure.

            I appreciate your warning about her not being safe and indeed, this is true. It would be unwise to open up to her. And yes, if this family vacation ever does happen then I would need to be discerning and relying heavily on The Lord, because the drama you speak of escalates quickly, especially, the more of us are together. And we are not used to being together, anymore.

            You’re right, Aly. It would be unwise to ‘forget’ that my mother uses money for control, but as I wrote to JoAnn that is a different matter than the attitude that I have towards her. My attitude was the thing that JoAnn picked up on.

            I had a good coversation with my mother where the Spirit led me to say what I needed to, in order to begin setting the boundaries that will be needed if this vacation goes ahead.

            What happened afterwards was darkened thoughts about her. JoAnn, I need to remember what you said, “Christ in me loves my mother and my siblings”. So. Critical. But this, in no way means that I stop guarding my heart.

            As I wrote to JoAnn, operating in the reality that my mother uses money to control is not the same as having a bad attitude about her, and feeding that attitude by thinking negatively about the past. Thinking Realistically, yes.

            I love what you said, Aly “it is wise to be guard ourselves to not be pulled back into an old pattern”

            I love this because staying in reality and setting boundaries externally will prevent the old pattern. But I am also realizing that internal mind patterns also need boundaries. Phil 4:8 is the practical way to do that.

            These internal mind boundaries will also really help me not be pulled back into the old pattern, with my FOO.

          • JoAnn on July 10, 2018 at 4:33 pm

            Nancy, Aly and STL, each of you have made some very important points, and I appreciate all of them. Nancy seems to have gotten the point that I was trying to make, realizing that while focusing on the positive doesn’t mean that she would stop guarding her heart. Keeping boundaries in place, while at the same time manifesting the Love of Christ, is a balancing act that is important to learn, though not easy.
            I might add that a consideration that I have learned is that people act out of their own woundedness. That helps me to empathize with those who are acting badly. It would seem that in your case, Nancy, your mother’s behavior has driven her children away from her and each other. How tragic. She must be a very wounded person to have caused so much damage to her family. And how sad that she seems to not even realize it. Heartbreaking.

          • jane on July 10, 2018 at 5:07 pm

            internal mind boundaries! brilliant concept, thank-you.

          • Seeing The Light on July 10, 2018 at 5:21 pm

            Nancy, JoAnn, and Aly,

            I just wanted to say that there is so much good insight in each person’s comments on this part of the dialogue. I won’t list each thing, but I appreciate what each of you has had to say.

            Nancy, thank you for the reminder not to compare. My goal was the encouragement and understanding, based mostly on the sense I had gotten on past posts – I think around January to March or thereabouts – that our mothers had some significant similarities. I am finding it true, though, that as much as some situations are the same, they are also different. Billions of people in this world and down throughout the years and no two exactly alike – it’s mind-boggling. I have found a lot of comparison and likeness between my husband (soon-to-be ex-husband, I guess) and my father, as well as the ex-husband of a friend of mine. Some of it is so uncannily similar, it’s spooky. Yet even then, there are very prominent differences. Oh, life.

          • Jane on July 10, 2018 at 5:32 pm


            I don’t want to reveal too much here just in case my husband finds out about this site, I don’t want him to know its me, that would get ugly. Suffice it to say he has never been able to hold down a job, either due to his temper, his intimidating behavior or his misogynistic attitude. Unlike someone that is strictly a narcissist who can charm everyone else, due to his sociopathic side, this charm does not last long at all (though I somehow stayed charmed for so long 🙁

            Because my son became suicidal due to the tension around the house my psychiatrist (treats my ADHD and knows my life situation very well) suggested this force us into marriage counseling as a way to get my husband into counseling. He went, participated with blatant disdain for it and overt gaslighting, dismissing, excusing, etc. The counselor asked me on the next one on one visit that he and I had after his one on one with my husband,” is your husband a narcissist?” I said “no, because really he is actually insecure” (duh, had no idea- that IS the root of narcissism). So I started reading up on it, learned what gaslighting was, what crazy making was, and spent the better part of 3months in shock, disgust and pain, knowing that this had been and still was my life. I asked my psych and she was so kind, she never pushes things your not ready for. She just pulled out the DSMV and we checked off every single requirement. Every one. She did not mention the other diagnosis because I was already reeling from this narcissism thing. This was about 18 mo ago. Only 2 months ago was I enlightened that my relationship was frankly abusive. I was sick for days and still can’t eat. I have discussed this at length with my doctor who finally added that he also meets criteria for sociopath as well, which means sometimes the abusive behavior is flat out intentional and that he takes pleasure in causing fear and pain in others. Its not just needed for him to maintain control but actually brings him pleasure sometimes.

            Another bomb! And yes, reviewing the DSMV, he does meet criteria for sociopath (antisocial personality). Sucks!! Yet I get glimpses of the normal personality that God gave him. The good man that he can be.

            I know, I know, I know. I can’t count on that to win the personality battle. But until I do my part to heal and be committed to truth, how can I expect him to behave any differently. I have enabled it to this point, why should he change anyway. It is scary setting boundaries, for both me and for him. He does not know how to process this and is choosing to significantly cross other boundaries in response, so we’ll see what happens, but like I said, I have only been processing and learning about this for a couple of months and have only been in counseling with a DV counselor for 1 month. I’ve got a very long way to go!

          • Aly on July 10, 2018 at 5:32 pm


            Much to your last post I agree with.

            I also agree that many people often do act out of their own woundedness.

            Survivors do also and sometimes it’s the very difference between surviving and not being victimized ‘yet again’.

            This above is general in context and not specific to Nancy’s situation.

            Nancy has described a mother that is not safe,
            So I guess for me I can relate with that via my other family members and a few friends in my journey and vacationing would not be a reasonable place I would put my time of that kind with such individuals.

            Now Nancy’s situation is different and for her to discern.

          • Jane on July 10, 2018 at 5:43 pm

            oh, and no way does my husband know about these diagnosis. He can’t even accept that obvious trespasses that were intentional and extremely harmful were truly wrong on his part. Let alone accept he has a full blown disorder! The man won’t even see a doctor when he is obviously very sick (he thinks he is invincible or that God just needs to heal him) though I beg and plead with him (he is especially nasty when he is in pain or doesn’t feel well). Man has nothing to offer him (never mind God gave us to each other to help each other!) I keep wanting to say more but that would reveal too much, sorry.

          • Nancy on July 10, 2018 at 6:52 pm


            “She must be a very wounded person to have caused so much damage to her family.”

            Yup. This is something I’ve known since I was very small.

            I’ve had to learn how to stop allowing my mother ‘taking from me’ – this is the ‘guard your heart’ proverb.

            Now He is showing me that I can ‘give’ to her. Both situations involve her receiving from me. The difference though is that the latter situation involves my choice; my choice to give to her, as the Spirit leads.

            Freedom. That’s the difference.

          • Jane on July 10, 2018 at 7:03 pm


            This was so eloquently put and so encouraging! Thank-you.

            I think I am at that place finally with my parental relationships, but I struggle to figure it out in my marriage. It’s a heart thing, this helps me understand that better, thank-you

          • Nancy on July 10, 2018 at 7:27 pm

            Also JoAnn, I heard a guy talking about forgiveness and he said that it literally means ‘to send away’. I thought I had forgiven my mother, but I think this very well might be a life long process. A process of allowing the mind of Christ to govern, by taking each thought ( about her, or my sibs) captive.

            So forgiving her is an ongoing process of ‘sending away’ those negative ( not realistic) thoughts.

            Forgiveness then is a very active, and ongoing attitude of mind.

          • Nancy on July 10, 2018 at 7:36 pm


            I agree with you 100%. The first priority is to assure that we are not victimized yet again. Safety and sanity are always #1.

            None of what we are discussing here is worth a thing if safety and sanity are not secured!

            Thank you for your honest input ❤️

          • Aly on July 10, 2018 at 8:11 pm


            I’m responding to this below and sorry this is out of alignment with the dialog.

            You wrote:
            “I think I am at that place finally with my parental relationships, but I struggle to figure it out in my marriage. It’s a heart thing, this helps me understand that better, thank-you”

            If you can or feel you can expand on this above?

            I’m wondering because a common thread is subconscious unresolved parenting or family of origin wounds of why we marry who we marry.
            Not saying this is fact for everyone, but it certainly applied in my situation and my journey.

            Marrying someone similar to that unresolved parent issue or pain or even a lack of parenting, protection and nurture?

            I had older siblings who were allowed by my parents to ‘parent me’ from a very destructive place. Not always but enough daily wounding and shaping can do a lot of things to a child who is trying to have a voice and speak up about things ‘not so right’.

          • JoAnn on July 10, 2018 at 11:53 pm

            Jane, your h sounds dangerous, and I think we talked before about having a safety plan in place. I’m glad you have a therapist that you are working with. Please be safe.

            Aly, you said, “subconscious unresolved parenting or family of origin wounds are why we marry who we marry.” So right. Harville Hendrix writes about this in his book “Getting the Love You Want.” He developed Imago Relationship Therapy based on that premise. The book is very insightful about why we marry the people we marry, so you might consider getting a copy. The Imago Relationship Therapy would not work, however, for abusive relationships, but it does provide tools/strategies for couples who want to improve their relationship.

          • JoAnn on July 11, 2018 at 12:08 am

            Regarding Nancy’s comment about forgiveness, I’ve also heard it referred to as release. We let go of the offense and release the offender into the Lord’s hands. Sometimes we “hold on” to the offense as a way to try to punish the offender, but we really can’t do that (we really only hurt ourselves), and when we release that person to the Lord, then He can deal with them according to His righteousness. That is real freedom, as Nancy said. And yes, sometimes we have to keep on releasing, every time that person does something hurtful, but the Lord is always ready to give us His peace in return.

          • Jane on July 11, 2018 at 7:07 am

            Aly and JoAnn

            Yes, I lament frequently that I married both my parents. My mom is still insecure and is a lazy narcissist as well and I was her negative attention and could do nothing right, my sister her positive attention (not that this was good for her either). My dad was the quiet angry controlling man, was an alcoholic though still won’t admit it to this day, and was over disciplinary (I was spanked or grounded on a regular basis). He has grown a lot since I was a kid but still struggles at time with control and anger, etc.

            My sister is also in an abusive marriage unfortunately. We live worlds apart because she saw my family’s dysfunction well before I did and chose to live far away, and we barely talk due to life and time schedule, but when we do I see she has learned so much. She has apologized for the controlling and demeaning way she treated me growing up, she doesn’t excuse it, but knows that it came from her trying to make my parents happy, and since I somehow was always a problem she was constantly trying to fix my behavior to where my parents would be ok. Apparently in the past year she just learned about narcissism and negative and positive sources and recently told me that as a kid she didn’t understand why I couldn’t deal with our family the way she did, staying under the radar (she was the golden child to my mom so thus also my dad and could do no wrong even when she did), but now she realizes that no matter what I did, it would have been wrong and I would have been in trouble. This was amazingly freeing to have her admit to me, because I actually felt justified in the way I felt growing up, that I wasn’t all that bad, but was made to feel that way and was punished that way (my dad only knew what my mom told him anyway about my behavior).

            Needless to say, I understand the family of origin thing is a big part of this choice of a marriage partner. I was still in high school when I met my older in age husband and was still a teen when we married. I had not yet dealt with my past. I have other trauma and abuse history as well that I will not go into, but this also contributed.

            In college I would have dreams where I would be so angry with my mom and I actually found my voice in my dreams and told her how angry I was and then I would wake shaking and crying. This was the first time in my life I realized I was angry with her. (I always knew I was afraid of my dad yet am a huge daddy’s girl and want him happy and tried so hard!) I dealt with this anger and hurt in my heart and prayed hard and found forgiveness for her, my dad, and eventually my other abuser. This did not mean the scars were gone though. My mom can still (about once or twice a year) really dig the dagger into me. I know it comes from her brokenness and I have been her source for support and encouragement and venting and whatever she needed for a long while now. In junior high and high school this was not given it was taken with very inappropriate boundaries, but now it is given, and when I need to, I can choose to not give. I think this is easier when you no longer live with the person.

            So the why we marry, makes sense to me and should help me give myself some grace, but I still feel like an idiot as all the red flags were more than visible while we were dating! Now I need to figure out my heart change in marriage. Not let my husband take all of me, but for me to be able to choose to give myself as I feel it is safe (don’t know when that will be).

            I do have that safety plan and I hear over and over that there is a real danger, but I still feel there is more danger for those counseling me and for those on my support team than for me myself. Not sure why that is, whether he is really not likely to hurt me (this may just be because he has trained me to be submissive) or if it has to do with the same base problem that will make me dismiss a serious health issue for myself, yet I will attend to the health issues of others at the drop of a hat, so I am more concerned about their wellbeing and safety. Not sure where that brain issue comes from.

            Part of what comes up at my job on a daily basis is to counsel people. I tell them, if you don’t take the time to take care of your own health (sleep, nutrition, meds, therapy, etc.), you will be less effective at the laundry list that you are telling me is why you don’t have time to care for yourself. Ironically, I counsel currently and previously abused women as well and turn them to various resources for help and try and help them see what is in front of them. One yesterday was trying to explain why it was ok because her husband had come so far from where he was, “He is not AS controlling as he used to be.” Not that he is no longer controlling. I had to ask her if she heard what she really just said. (These counseling sessions are unnerving because I am basically counseling myself at the time, I might as well be sitting in that chair with the same lame blame shifting, excusing, and enabling).

            To be totally honest, I just really want one of two things at this point. Either my husband has that V-8 moment and finally gets the Godly counsel he needs and we work together to trust and love well, or for crying out loud, just deck me one solid time. Then it will be clear what is not safe. I know that sounds dumb and if you saw the size of my husband you would know it is a near death wish because one deck could take someone out permanently, but I am exhausted emotionally trying to figure this out, dig up my own issues and heal them, find money where it doesn’t exist to pay for counseling and find it in cash so I can keep my counselors name and location secret from my husband, work hard enough to pay for my kids to go to school, keep the house up as best as I can, run my own business now that my husband is not allowed at my office because the other company here does not want him present near their employees (not that he did much here to begin with, usually played games on his phone and otherwise tyrannized other employees), try to keep my kids healthy mentally and physically, stay involved in activities at church that God has called me to that my husband tries to isolate me from (I have been strong with that boundary because these are things God clearly told me to do). I am just tired and want perfect clarity NOW, but God keeps making it clear that I need to WAIT on Him.

            I appreciate everyone’s counsel and input here and the freedom to just flow in what comes while I type this, there is a lot of insight gained during these times. I pray I am not dominating the conversation but do ask that, even though you don’t have any real contact with me, that you pray for me and my family.

            Thank-you all! And thank-you Leslie for having such a place where we can support each other safely (and at no cost, this is huge as I have no money left!)

  14. Maria on June 30, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    For a long time my husband more or less ignored the kids, unless he felt like engaging with them, and focused his time on his career. Over the past few years, he has started bad mouthing me and treating them well. The only hold he has on me is through the kids since I have worked hard to free myself of him financially. Fortunately, this doesn’t last long and they figure out what he is doing. I think it is very important to be truthful to the kids. For a little while, I tried to protect my kids by hiding or ignoring my husband’s selfish behavior. My counselor at the time told me this wasn’t wise- it was important for them to see my husband for who he really was. Although it hurt them at the time, this has helped them during the periods that he is ‘nice’ to them. Having a strong CORE is so important. If I reacted to my husband’s verbal jabs negatively they would have no respect for me and side with my husband. Also it is important to look out for the kids good even when they don’t see it or when it is difficult. Like Nancy has written, looking to the kids for emotional fulfillment is dysfunctional. It’s important to find security in Christ.

  15. Loretta on July 1, 2018 at 2:39 pm

    I loved the idea of being married to my husband when he was good to me but over the years that goodness began to peel away and I started seeing the reality of what I was living with. I was giving a lot and just getting crumbs in return.
    I’m praying the Lord guide me each day and that He pursue my soon to be ex-husband until he realizes what type of person he has become. H seems to enjoy alienating people and always looks for their faults & failures. Whereas, I try to look for the good in people, and I’m a person who believes in giving people second chances rather than seeing them as failures.
    However, I know this marriage will be over one of these days when we go to court. And I’ll continue to pray for my ex-husband.

    • Free on July 2, 2018 at 10:43 pm

      Loretta, this is a response to your post above. It will end. The terrible stuff will stop because you are not terrible
      When you are only responsible for your own actions it will all be better. You my friend are NOT the problem. Eventually, the tree work will get done.

      I have found that the power of choice has come in small increments. I have also found that even the worst disaster isn’t really a disaster after what I lived through.

      Someone posted about the importance of patience. Slow and steady wins the race.

  16. Nancy on July 2, 2018 at 7:41 am


    How are you?

  17. Robin on July 2, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    There has been a lot of good suggestions and advice given on this topic of ‘husband alienating children’. I would just like to point out that building up your core and walking in Truth are not easy fixes- they take much hard work. I think it’s important this is a process; us learning what’s in our hearts, and being ready to make those changes. It’s good to look back and remember where you started and where you are today. Be kind to yourselves, surround yourself with wise people, and if you can find a awesome biblical counselor experienced in destructive relationships. Know there are a lot of baby steps to take, but your faith and belief that God is guiding you will get you thru. I’ve been divorced for 3 years from a malignant narcissist who very much was successful in alienating my children. It’s not because the truth wasn’t spoken, but because he had sociopath tendencies and knew exactly what and how to say, to alienate the children. What I learned is do everything possible to get well myself and God will handle the rest. I understand how painful it is to have your children deceived – but I also know the Joy of getting my own life cleaned up and knowing the children will be restored .

    • Jane on July 2, 2018 at 8:01 pm

      thank-you, situation same here with spouse. The truth is not something that can be easily seen when there is someone with those kind of manipulation and deception skills in play. Thank-you for the encouraging words to work on my CORE and to give myself grace as it will take time. There’s no magic pill for this, just time, work, Godly council, and the Holy Spirit.

      • Autumn on July 2, 2018 at 8:35 pm

        I was just listening to a podcast from Lundy Bancroft.
        It was an interview he gave on the subject of healing after abuse.

        In the interview he reminded the listener that there is no quick fix for the destructive spouse either. In fact when they say they are soooo sorry, it is an excellent sign that they have no intention of ever changing or getting better. They often think the depth of their dramatic apology is good enough. In fact, people with this nature think, it is time for everyone to get over this and leave them alone.

        Now, I am of course paraphrasing here. But the point is someone who wants to change is more likely to say, I have acted this way for years. I want to learn how to think differently. I am trying to find someone who can help me with this. It will probably take a long time for me to unlearn the behaviors I developed to manipulate and mistreat people. Anything less than this response is just more pride and manipulation.

      • JoAnn on July 2, 2018 at 9:40 pm

        Jane, I agree. Patience is your ally now. The Lord will make the way clear as you grow in inner strength.

    • Nancy on July 2, 2018 at 9:06 pm


      I love how you said that building CORE is not easy and to be kind to ourselves.

      It occurs to me that being committed to truth also encompasses being committed to the truth of who we are in Christ. Having spent years being so hard on myself, the truth of accepting my value, and extending myself kindness, is a battle.

      • Robin on July 2, 2018 at 9:45 pm

        Nancy, I’m so so sorry for all the hurt and pain your Mom caused you. Have you had some counseling for this pain? My eldest daughter went thru some of what you did, but she was able to get counseling as I was and we are healing from those early years and have a good relationship today. Yes yes yes on kindness to ourselves.
        We have to remember while we are trying to build our cores we must of us are living in complete chaos. I just wish and pray for every woman on this post to receive mercy.

        • Nancy on July 3, 2018 at 7:32 am

          Thank you for your kind concern, Robin.

          I have had a ton of counselling over the years. I am now with a Spiritual Director and this is where significant healing is taking place. I am also no longer in a destructive relationship, so I have a safe and loving environment to do the healing work that He is calling me to.

  18. JoAnn on July 2, 2018 at 6:29 pm

    Well said, Robin, and I congratulate you on all that you have accomplished over these past years. Not easy, but you did it!
    I’d like to highlight a couple of things you said.
    One was: building up your core and walking in Truth are not easy fixes- they take much hard work. Yes, and the Lord’s work in us is to transform us into His image, so He will honor this effort by supplying you with His “all-sufficient grace.”
    Another thing you said was: It’s good to look back and remember where you started and where you are today. This is why it is such a good idea to keep a daily journal of your process and the experiences you are having along the way. This allows you to really see how far you have come.
    Lastly: do everything possible to get well myself and God will handle the rest. It is His will to supply you with everything you need for this journey; the key is to receive the supply. Keep your heart and mind open to His Truth and He will bring you through. Truth prevails!

  19. K (who's posted before, different from K who posted in early April) on July 3, 2018 at 2:52 pm

    Jane, to your post of July 3, 2018 at 1:08 pm.

    It is not your concern or worry whether your husband chooses to seek counselling or not. That is his decision, not your responsibility, and not within your ‘power’ to require. Please don’t get hung up on this as a sticking point (as you write) in addressing the abuse you receive from him. Getting stuck in hoping/wishing that he’ll chose a wise and reasonable path will keep you from moving forward in the wisdom and truth you are learning about your situation. If he chooses to go to counselling at some point in his life, great. If he doesn’t, no big surprize (he’s resisted it up until now). Don’t let your ‘next steps’ be determined by his stonewalling.

    Be well, and be wise, Jane; the Lord is showing you much truth!!!

  20. ~ Pam on July 10, 2018 at 9:30 am

    Thanks so very much for pointing out this book title in your post this morning Leslie.

    “Boundaries For Your Soul”: https://info.thomasnelson.com/p/boundaries-for-your-soul/

    After living a life-time of marital abuse which progressed into alienated children, your posts on establishing boundaries and speaking the truth have been very encouraging to me. But as you’ve said, practicing CORE begins with learning to speak the truth to myself and this book seems to aim at the rudiments of that. Thanks.

    • Nancy on July 10, 2018 at 6:57 pm

      I agree Pam. I am praying about getting this book 🙂

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