He Refuses to Hear Me or Change. Now What?

Morning friend,

Our 3 month Walking In CORE Strength coaching group is now open for registration. If you’ve tried all by yourself to get healthier and stronger and have not had great results, maybe it’s time for you to join WCS. In it you will find the support, accountability, and step-by-step guidance to build that internal strength you need to live your life with courage, authenticity, and confidence. Learn more and sign up here.

Today’s Question: All the articles and blogs I read regarding divorce seem to frown upon it. Many talk about trying to work things out and repair the damage that has been done. However, I am married to an individual who does not think that there is anything wrong, who does not see the need for change or even communicating about our problems. He believes in a higher power but is not spiritual or religious. With that said, he does not think that we should see a counselor and gets bothered if I even mention it. 

The last time I brought it up he asked me to give him the chance to change on his own. I disagreed but went ahead and gave him some time to see the changes. The changes he made were all superficial and nothing that would have an impact or show that he is going to change long-term. 

I am tired of being the one always trying to make things happen. He shuts me out every single time I try to discuss anything. He is dismissive and everything I say he makes it seem like all I do is complain.

 I don't know if divorce is the answer, but I know that our marriage is a destructive one according to the assessment I took on your website. Any advice? I know I need to start by strengthening my core and replying in a loving manner while setting boundaries and that's what I plan on doing for the time being until I can figure out if I can get out of this marriage.

Answer: You sound tired. I’m sorry you’re going around the same old circle of asking him to change with nothing happening. It is exhausting. I’m glad that you’ve decided to switch gears and work on strengthening your own self so that you get healthier and clear on your next right steps forward regarding your marriage. That is something you can change. Our 3-month walking in CORE Strength group coaching program will be starting soon. I hope you join. 

From what you wrote, there are two things I see. One is that the two of you have different ideas and expectations for marriage. And second, when he’s happy or content with how things are that’s all that matters to him. For example, when you’ve communicated or complained that you need things to change in order for you to feel closer, safer, happier, and more secure, you say it’s fallen on deaf ears. What does that say to you? As long as it’s good for him, he's good. But what about it being good for you? Does that matter? 

Here is where things must change. For you to get healthier, even if it doesn’t matter to him, it must begin to matter to you. Therefore, what are your options if he refuses or never changes?

Marriage was never designed by God as a one-way relationship of giver and taker. You mentioned that you took the test on my website, and it indicated that you are in a destructive marriage. By now after all this time I imagine you’ve evaluated the areas where he’s dangerous or destructive and developed a safety plan for yourself. If not, start there. Are you physically safe? How about being financially safe? Emotionally safe? Spiritually safe? Sexually safe? The Bible says love does no harm (Romans 13:10). Marriage was instituted by God to be the safest most trusting relationship we have. (Proverbs 31:12). Romantic love may wax and wane over the lifespan of a marriage, but trust and safety should be rock solid, and when broken, repaired. Only you can evaluate where things stand for you in these areas, but it’s time for you to face reality. James Baldwin wrote, “People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction.” 

Divorce is never the first choice, but sometimes it is the only choice one can take if there is a pattern of broken trust and safety in a marriage with no repentance or repair. Because there is no perfect person or marriage, a long-term relationship may experience major and minor ruptures to safety and trust at times. But when the person who causes that to happen refuses to look at it, talk about it, or change it, it’s like ignoring termites or a leaky roof in your home. Without repair, over time these problems will completely wreck the structure of your house. You are not wrong or sinful for not wanting to live like that. It’s toxic and dangerous. 

Start the change process by doing your work to get safe and healthier. Draw close to God and he will direct your next steps forward (Psalm 32:8). If you eventually decide to divorce, be aware that divorce has its own set of challenges and hardships. Last, you will never get 100% approval from everyone on your decision, whether you choose to stay or leave. Listen to the Holy Spirit (John 16:13). Consult with wise others (Proverbs. 11:14), but ultimately you, not another fallible person, can decide on what’s best for you.

Friend, what helped you to make the tough decision, to accept the things you cannot change, and the wisdom to change the things you can change?

9 Comments

  1. Caroline Abbott on February 21, 2024 at 10:02 am

    Such true words. No matter what you choose, there will be pain. For me, the pain of staying far outweighed the pain of leaving. I wasn’t able to find any physical or emotional healing until I left. Since I did, I remarried, became a counselor, and have a beautiful life I never dreamed of. It was a hard road, but so worth it.

    • C.K on February 22, 2024 at 10:46 am

      Thank you for sharing- may I ask how long did it take before you felt good with your decision (grief settled down, if any)

      • Caroline Abbott on February 28, 2024 at 9:51 am

        I would say a part of me felt good with my decision right away. I did struggle with sadness for my kids, and pain in having to co-parent with my abusive ex. I think I did most of my grieving during the marriage. By the time I finally left, all my sadness was gone, replaced by the confidence I deserved better.

  2. Suzanne Birch on February 22, 2024 at 9:37 am

    I lLOVE Leslie’s opening sentence: “You sound tired.”
    It is such an affirming statement, you absolutely see it!
    Thank you for all the courses I took from you over the years as I tried to get well. It enabled me to move from exhaustive hopelessness (&occasional wishes to die) to a healthy, full, safe, post-divorce life. I’m not where I thought I’d be in my 60’s but I have more energy, joy and peace than I did 10 yrs ago when I was worn to the bone by a selfish, destructive spouse.
    May God continue to bless you & this ministry!!

  3. K Manley on February 22, 2024 at 10:22 am

    All very solid advice from Leslie. God did not allow divorce because he hates divorce, but because he loves and values the wellbeing of the unloved and abused women trapped within destructive marriages. See Dr. David Clark’s website and many books on the subject. I too am freed by a loving God from a destructive former husband, and now thriving in a new Godly marriage relationship. Forgiven, redeemed and renewed daily! He loved us enough to sacrifice his son for us, and he loves you that much too!

    • KateA on February 24, 2024 at 1:47 am

      1000% about p***n’s impact on a marriage. I am newly divorced, and am realizing the extent that this material had on my marriage. There is a raging violence against women that is depicted on the screen, but also in the hearts of the people who consume this stuff that then gets released onto those closest (ie- their wives). Leslie, thank you for your ministry. Without it, I would have remained stuck believing all of the lies – that if I only looked different, acted differently, or did more for my spouse, he would change. I finally began to see myself as God’s beloved daughter. This has given me the freedom and confidence to boldly step out in faith, and to leave a destructive marriage. Thank you for getting me to a place of healing and freedom!!

  4. Connie on February 22, 2024 at 1:29 pm

    First, there have to be consequences. Like, If you don’t get proper therapy, I need to leave. Make sure he knows that’s not an idle threat. For me, knew it was a good therapist when he refused to go. They are few. The bad ones are a fun game. They can be BS-ed so easily.
    Second, let’s address the elephant in the room. P*rn. Almost for sure, and nearly everyone agrees that adultery is reason for divorce.

  5. Vicki on March 26, 2024 at 12:30 pm

    I prayed and prayed for years that my husband would see the light, that he was also responsible for our relationship. All the while he just kept getting mad at me, saying he didn’t see anything wrong with our marriage. I finally started working on me. I read books during the pandemic, and started personal counseling a couple years ago. Once I started to change, and he had a major breakdown when I put my foot down, he finally got some counseling of his own. Eventually he agreed to marital counseling with my Christian counselor, and after another breakdown the end of last year, he started with a better Christian counselor of his own. I’d say it’s looking up now. But I’m very cautious. And keep praying and do what the Lord tells you to do both for yourself and for the marriage.

  6. Ann on March 26, 2024 at 12:39 pm

    For those unsure about what the Bible says about divorce, podcasts 316 (OT) and 318 (NT) ofThe Naked.Bible are amazing: The Naked Bible Podcast | Naked Bible 316: Divorce and Remarriage in the Old Testament on Podbean, check it out! https://www.podbean.com/ea/dir-kgr2w-85f9f65

Leave a Comment





Ask Your Question

Have a blog question you'd like to submit?

Read More

My Spouse Is A Chronic Liar. What Can I Do?

                  Morning friends, I’m heading off to Nashville this week for the American Association of Christian Counselors Conference. I will be speaking several times on The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. Please pray for me. Pray for stamina and strength. The week looks to be very busy. Pray that…

Read More...

I Chose To Leave – A Real Life Story and Game Plan

Morning friends, Thanks for your prayers. My poison ivy is getting better and my yard is looking better. Next week I’ll post some new pictures. I’m so glad many of you responded positively to our blogger who wrote about staying well. Next week I’ve invited another woman who is walking that same journey of staying…

Read More...

Controlling abuse verses reactive abuse

Morning friends, I’ve been writing all weekend for my new book on Emotionally Destructive Marriages and because of that, I did not write a new blog for this week. But I want to share a blog I wrote for American Association of Biblical Counselors, and much of the content will be included in my new…

Read More...