He Says He’s Repentant, But We’ve Been Here Before

Morning friends,

Thanks for your prayers. I appreciate them. Our new carpeting gets installed this week and then our two bedrooms can start to be put back together. Bathrooms will still be torn up for another month or so but if at least some of the house gets put back together, I can function better.  

Our 2018 CONQUER Conference Be Brave Grow Strong is coming up in October. I would love for you all to be there. For more information go here.

It seems that I’ve gotten a lot of questions around this same topic over and over again. Am I wrong to divorce and how do I know if he’s repentant? I’ve addressed it in various ways before, but in this blog, I’m going to take a slightly different approach in answering her question.  

Today's Question: I left my husband of 27 years after yet another episode of out of control rage, this time witnessed by our 24 yr old daughter. It was because of her that I was able to get away from him that night.

I later read your book and it confirmed to me what I had thought over the years that he is an abuser and it's not going to stop. I filed for divorce.

My question is this. He says he has repented and wants our marriage to get help. He says it's not just him but I have issues too. All the same stuff I've heard a hundred times.

Am I wrong for going ahead with the divorce? We have tried counseling and lots of intervention over the years. It always seems to work for a while and then the same patterns start all over again. He says I'm disobeying God if I divorce him. I've been gone almost 4 months. I can't imagine going back. Every time I have in the past it makes it harder to leave again?

Answer: No, you are not wrong going ahead with the divorce. You have given him plenty of time over the 27 years you have been married to prove that he is committed to changing his abusive ways but he keeps returning to them.  

His goal right now is to make you feel responsible for ending the marriage instead of him seeing that it was his consistent lack of change that has brought you to this point. He also wants you to feel guilty and afraid so you will question your decision to end your marriage. He does this by injecting confusion into the narrative with bits of truth and lots of conjecture.

For example, he starts by telling you that he’s not the only one with issues so therefore by implication, you have no right to say, “I’m done being abused.” Of course, you have issues. Everyone has issues. But he wants you to question your boundary around “I will not allow myself to be abused.”

The other misleading thing that he says is that “he’s repented and wants your marriage to get help.”  What he’s implying is that his abuse is not the real problem here. The problem is your marriage and your issues. And if you got help for your issues and your marriage improved the way he wanted, then he wouldn’t abuse you. What he’s saying without saying it is “See, it’s your fault and the marriage’s fault I acted that way.”  

It’s so sad. After all this time, he still does not own or take responsibility for his own entitlement thinking or abusive behavior.  

His mindset and even his language is very typical of the “Christian-ese” abusers as well as some well-meaning people helpers use to keep a Christian woman confused and stuck. If they can get her to question her decision to end the marriage and get her fearful that God will disapprove of her decision to end the cycle, then she will stay put and give it another chance.

Please understand this pattern is an observable cycle. Lenore Walker, a psychologist, and originator of Survivor Therapy designed a cycle of abuse that has been a standard over 30 years to help women develop a safety plan.  It looks like this:


Here is where I want you to pay attention. On the right side of this cycle soon after the explosive incident an abuser often appears contrite, remorseful and willing to change. He may promise to counsel, to go to church or anything else she would require in order for her not to leave or call the police.

Here’s where a wife becomes convinced that her husband realizes that he crossed the line and of course he’s repentant and won’t do it again. But then in a few days or weeks or months, the cycle starts up again within the tension building stage. And then there is another explosive incident. The tension can be real or imagined like “you’re having an affair.”

And round and round and round the cycle, you go. How many times have you been around it? For someone who has been married as long as you have, probably hundreds of times.

Sadly many pastors and people helpers mistake the right-hand side of the cycle, the contrite or remorseful stage to be signs of growing awareness and repentance but in most cases, it is not. It’s the honeymoon phase of the same abusive cycle.

The abuser can be quite charming, loving, and kind during this phase of the cycle. It doesn’t mean he’s changed just because on the right-hand side he’s behaving better. It’s still the same abuse cycle. Click To Tweet

That’s why when you’ve been in counseling, things got better for a bit because the honeymoon phase lasted a bit longer than previous times because of accountability. However, there wasn’t genuine internal change in the way he sees things. We can tell by the way he is talking to you now.

When you look for the fruit of repentance look ONLY at the left-hand side of the cycle. Pay attention to what happens when the tension stage starts up.

In every marriage, there is tension at times. There are days of stress, kids leaving a mess all over, dinner not being ready on time, clothes not picked up from the cleaners, financial difficulties, marital fights. But there isn’t abuse that follows. There may be a timeout, a marital fight that doesn’t result in abuse, or sloshing it out until some agreement is reached.

In a non-abusive marriage where both partners are respectful and loving with one another, there is still tension at times. But they would own it. “I feel stressed out today, I need to go for a walk” Or, “I’m crabby and it’s probably best we don’t have this talk right now.” They don’t use abusive behavior or speech as an outlet for their stressful feelings.

And you might even notice that your spouse doesn’t ALWAYS use abuse when he gets stressed. For example, how does he handle himself when someone is visiting your house or when he’s out in public? He has a lot more control over his abusive behaviors than he takes responsibility for. Abusers abuse because they can.  And when consequences come down hard on them like the death of a marriage through divorce, they are the first ones to blame the divorce on the wife who wouldn’t just continue to put up with it again and again and again. Don’t be fooled.

In summary, if he is truly repentant we want to see an abuser begin to catch his own self when he is getting worked up and tense. We want him to pay attention and self-correct just like a healthy man would do if he was getting a little loud or gruff or disrespectful. 

A second thing we want to see is this. If he was not paying attention to himself but you started to notice that he was getting tense and short-tempered, he would now be open and grateful for your feedback. You would have the freedom to say, “You’re scaring me right now.” Or, “I think you need to take some time out and cool down.” And he would listen to you and do it instead of repeating the abuse cycle with a new incident of abuse.

If these two things aren’t in place on the left-hand side of the cycle – a growing self-awareness and a willingness to receive the feedback of others, repentance and change are not happening. I’m reminded of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians where he says to other believers, “Dear brothers and sisters pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example. For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ” (Philippians 3:17,18).

New conduct is what you are looking for, not words or empty promises.

Friends, have you been fooled by your abuser's charm on the right-hand side of the cycle but saw no real changes on the left-hand side?  


  1. Jeanne on May 2, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Amazing how you post these topics that hit so close to home for me. I’ve been separated for six months after 32 years of a marriage with abuse and I still struggle with the “what if he’s repented” and how would I know if I am not living with him any longer. Then I think back to how many times he did have the chance to repent while I was with him but this cycle just continued at least 100 times! Thank you for these great articles!

    • Nancy on May 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm


      Google ‘Patrick Doyle video repentance’. He explains very well, what true heart change looks like.

    • Nancy on May 2, 2018 at 3:28 pm


      Not sure why my comment to Ann posted here.

      You would KNOW if your h was repentant. If he were he would have gained the mind of Christ and would reach out to you in a tender, humble and peaceful way. He would have no expectations of your response to him. He would become a different man.

      You don’t have to be ‘looking for this’. If ever that happened, you would know it without a doubt – he would come to you.

      You can totally release him to God. Don’t give it one more thought!

      • Jeanne on May 3, 2018 at 7:52 am

        Thank you for your response. I will check out that video also.

  2. Amy on May 2, 2018 at 12:24 pm

    It makes my stomach turn to read this. The abuse cycle was the reality in my marriage and my reality still as I am trying to get through the divorce more than a year later. Then on top of the cycle, he shouts from the rooftops that it is all my fault. Thankfully, my sons see the reality of the abuse and the “craziness” of their father as he slanders me, accuses me and tells boldface lies about me. I wish I had been able to see the abuse for what it was, but the abuse cycle confuses us and our empathy keeps us hooked and then the” God hates divorce “ keeps us in a vicious cycle of guilt and confusion.
    Thank you again, Leslie, for validating us and giving us hope.

    • Kim on May 9, 2018 at 4:16 am

      I so identify with your testimony. I have four kids ages 27,25,23,21 and 3 of the 4 see the craziness of their father. One of my sons who is at the house with his father feels sorry for him and is so hurt that I left. He’s not against me but he’s not for the divorce. My husband constantly feeds him lies about me and I don’t know what to do to stop that. I don’t feel like I should defend myself but let him come to his own conclusions as to the truth. Advice??

      • Seeing The Light on May 10, 2018 at 12:32 am


        “I don’t feel like I should defend myself but let him come to his own conclusions as to the truth.”

        Why do you feel this way? I don’t think I would recommend a sort of he said – she said back and forth drama thing, but can you not speak simple truth about the lies he is fed. I would be concerned about your son coming to his own conclusions without at least simple statements of fact from you. I don’t mean anything that unnecessarily cuts his father down or insults him, but just the truth as it is spoken by you.

        • Kim on May 10, 2018 at 6:23 am

          I just want to be careful that I don’t make it about my own agenda but want him to see clearly the manipulation his father continues. Good advice though and I will give it some thought. He’s a very quiet kind of person and doesn’t like to discuss his feelings. I meet with all of my children one in one and try to give them opportunity to speak openly with me. I need to pray For God to show me how to reach him

          • Seeing The Light on May 10, 2018 at 11:50 am


            I’m glad you have open lines of communication with your children. Your son sounds like my oldest son – quiet, not keen on discussing his feelings. For him the moment of revelation was when his father suddenly took control of our finances and other things in coup-fashion and started saying some very odd religious things that my kids knew were off-base and self-serving. This represented a more obvious ratcheting up of control and further spiral downward for my husband. My son has told me that until then he wasn’t sure about whether it was his father or me that was “the problem”. I pray that God provides some way for the truth to become obvious to your son. God bless you.

  3. Lynn on May 2, 2018 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you for this article. It really spoke to me.
    God bless you!

  4. Mel on May 2, 2018 at 12:52 pm

    I’ve never had anyone advise to look at the left hand side and see how the husband reacts in the tension phase. I always say that my husband shows who he is when he is stressed, pressed, or sick. Even though sometimes he can be calm in tense times, so consistency is also key.

  5. Ann on May 2, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    Is it enough to simply stop the abuse? What about a spouse who stops the name calling, manipulation, and neglect, but never acknowledges what he’s done, apologizes, or tries to repair the relationship?

    • Amy on May 2, 2018 at 1:44 pm

      That is abuse!!

    • Nancy on May 2, 2018 at 3:14 pm


      Google ‘Patrick Doyle video repentance’. He explains very well, what true heart change looks like.

      • Ann on May 2, 2018 at 3:19 pm

        Thank you Nancy! I’ll do that!

    • T.L. on May 5, 2018 at 2:36 am

      Hi Ann,

      I guess its up to each woman’s standards, but I would say that no, that would not be enough, because that would not be true repentance–it would only be behavior modification. That has some merit, but it does not go deep enough, and in my well-earned opinion, it won’t last. It does not repair the damage done to the relationship and to the spouse. It does not value you the way you should be valued. Repentance looks like contriteness and sorrow over sin, and a desire to make amends and repay what has been stolen–like Zacheus. He didn’t just stop stealing–his darkened heart became full of light, and he was beside himself to repay what he had taken.

      • Ann on May 8, 2018 at 12:44 pm

        Thank you TL!

  6. Doris on May 2, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    After 38 years of this endless cycle, I’d had enough. I’m out and while we’re still going through the separation process, life is so much better. He kept throwing out quotes from “The Crazy Cycle” to “prove” to me it was my fault. If I had just respected him more, then he would have loved me. Thankfully I was seeing a lovely Christian counsellor who assured me that I wasn’t the one who had broken the marriage covenant, he had by subjecting me to the abuse. She was the one who recommended I read “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.” It was in reading that book that I gained the courage to stay away. That, and the love and support of my adult children and my friends. He continues to attempt to abuse and control, but his power is greatly diminished.

    • Free on May 2, 2018 at 5:36 pm

      I like what you said, “the courage to stay away.” The courage is herculean. Only those who have lived in similar situations can fully understand what it takes to erradicate oneself from such a mind saturating form of evil.

      • Amy on May 2, 2018 at 8:42 pm

        Mind saturating form of evil. That is so perfect.

    • Aly on May 4, 2018 at 9:10 am


      I’m so glad you gave the support and the Christian counselor to validate the cycle of what is taking place.
      You wrote:
      “He kept throwing out quotes from “The Crazy Cycle” to “prove” to me it was my fault. If I had just respected him more, then he would have loved me. ”

      Even this example above proves that your h or (x)h thinks ‘bent’ about the issues.
      He thinks he needs something ‘more’ from you in order to love you the way he should.
      This example also shows he doesn’t take personal responsibility for his love of you and that it’s dependent upon ‘feeling more respected’.

      The common theme in abusive dynamics as you probably are well aware of: is lack of taking personal responsibility for behaviors etc.

      I think the excuse your h gave for his reaction to not be loving is also an example of how the victim gets blamed or somewhat convinced that they ‘can fix’ this problem within the spouse. When in reality the problem is a ‘separate issue’ colliding with another person, that often has nothing to do with the other person.

      Enjoy your support, your accurate accounts and your freedom from someone that isn’t and wasn’t probably ever going to be ‘ready’ to be a marriage partner. 🌈

  7. Caryl Ann on May 2, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Please listen to what she said. I have heard all of that myself and he always goes back to the abuse. My divorce should be final on June the 7th. We have to have a trial because he won’t agree to what I am asking for. He won’t even counter. Up until last week he was still trying to play me saying how much he loves me and that he doesn’t want the divorce. All he really wants is to get off Scott free and not be accountable for what he did to me. He was still playing games with me, lying, manipulating, and blaming me because he went to jail twice.

    I know that if I called it off he would go back to his cruel behavior and hang me out to dry.

    I have to say that I dread the trial because I know that he will lie on the stand and it will be an ugly event, but I am so ready to be done with all of it!!

    • Free on May 2, 2018 at 2:54 pm

      It will be a privilege to pray for you on June 7th. I pray that the judge will be wise and your lawyer will be gifted with wit and vigor for the debate.

      May God bless you as you move forward.

      • Caryl Ann on May 2, 2018 at 3:41 pm

        Thank you so much. I will be most appreciative of your prayers on June the 7th.

        Little by little I am feeling like my old self and it is a blessing in itself. It does take time to recover from an abusive relationship. I know I will eventually get there with God’s love and guidance.

    • Aly on May 2, 2018 at 9:37 pm

      Caryl Ann,

      I’m so sorry for your abusive situation. I don’t know your story but you sound as though you know the horrible cycle! Glad your getting your way through and free;)

      You said you dread the trial because ‘he will lie’…
      something that really helped me in counseling too is understanding that liers~ lie, manipulators~ manipulate, etc but the greatest blessing sometimes is the ‘predictable behavior’ you have already posted here as to what ‘will happen’.
      Believe it or not, there is freedom in that ‘for you’ but not for them.

      • Caryl Ann on May 3, 2018 at 11:12 am

        You are so right!! I know him and his tactics so well at this point. He know I have his number but he still lies and tries to manipulate with his cruel and hateful words.

        I will be happy to be completely free of him and his crazy world.

    • Rebecca on May 3, 2018 at 12:33 am

      I understand exactly how you feel… and I have to tell you – you give me strength to hope that I will get to the end and see my “final” date out there too. Been 2 months since I filed, and nothing has been accomplished except money being blown on this and that tactic to try to slander me (claimed misuse of RX drugs and had me tested) and we had to go to mediation to even get temporary orders in place…. I just see him dragging this out to a trial for the very reasons you stated. That way – he has the “platform” to tell everyone all about how bad I am. No one will know if he just comes to an agreement in mediation and there is no satisfaction in that for him.

      Sometimes I just have to stop and shake my head and be so darn THANKFUL that I made the decision to file. The crapfest now stinks for sure. But I do not doubt my decision… that confusion and fear of letting God down is all gone – and THAT is such a massive relief.

      Take care. You got this. Home stretch!!

      • Caryl Ann on May 3, 2018 at 12:39 pm

        Thank you. We have been separated for 10 months because of all of his crap. It will be a blessing to be done. I will be praying for you.

        God will show us both what He has for our future.
        He has a plan for all of our pain and heartbreak. We just have to trust Him.

      • Caryl Ann on May 3, 2018 at 12:39 pm

        Thank you. We have been separated for 10 months because of all of his crap. It will be a blessing to be done. I will be praying for you.

        God will show us both what He has for our future.
        He has a plan for all of our pain and heartbreak. We just have to trust Him.

      • Andrea on May 6, 2018 at 2:19 pm

        Is it weird that I find comfort that I am not alone! I too have filed after 24 years of abuse the first 11 years was physical and I went back. These last 5 years have been a struggle for me because the emotional abuse is even harder to deal with…..I filed in April for divorce this is a second time because the year before I never went through with serving him. He went to counseling after I begged him. And now he holds it against me saying that the counselor said he was perfect and that I need more counseling for my anger issues. My husband never responded to the paperwork so I filed a default. He did not respond to that as well so now I have to wait until I can schedule a court date. It has been the longest and hardest challenge for me because I have not been able to move out due to financial reasons. This last week he has been “nice” and checks up on me and tries to kiss me before he goes to work and says he loves me. And yes!….. let my guard down last night and when he didn’t come home until 2am I asked where he was he threw everything in my face how I am throwing away my family among other awful things I dare not repeat. I am so done and yet so thankful for blogs like this and the women who are willing to share their stories! I have read “who burnt the house down” https://flyingfreenow.com/who-burned-the-house-down/ and every day when I go to work we have a white board that we have to place a check mark to say we are in….I place a cycle with a dot outside….because that is my reminder not to get sucked back into this abusive cycle…..I pray for all of you brave women.

    • Sara on May 3, 2018 at 8:31 pm

      Caryl Ann, I’ve added your court date to my calendar. I will be praying for you, too. Keep a few scriptures or words of affirmation in your mind or before you on a slip of paper. Focus on those. Nothing else.

    • Renee on May 3, 2018 at 9:35 pm

      Caryl Ann your post from May 2, 2018 @ 1:53 resonated with me. [You said: I have to say that I dread the trial because I know that he will lie.] My plan was to file by the end of this month. But every time I think on it, my nerves run high. When my hubby and I communicate by phone or text, I hear how he has rewritten history.

      I almost prefer to just keep going on with my life and not worry about filing for divorce for this reason.

      I hope you will update us next month.

      • Aly on May 4, 2018 at 9:21 am


        I can see why you can feel a reprieve of sorts by not having to file.
        By no means am I saying file or not file.

        But you do mention that you both are communicating ~ and yet the same old ‘things’ are replaying.

        Something that helped me from my counselor was to acknowledge that the more a person is allowed or entertained to rewrite history and cycle through those brain pathways (defensive postures) the more entrenched that pattern ‘can’ get. And especially if a person isn’t getting any counseling or ‘challenging help’ with their thinking and choices.

        For me, being a ‘broken record’ to a person who was still trying to manipulate was my only option if I was to engage. This was not easy for me.

        • Nancy on May 4, 2018 at 10:45 am


          I’m assuming that you mean ‘a broken record’ of setting boundaries and stating requirements… Am I right about that assumption?

          (Not a ‘broken record’ of engaging in the same old dance)

          • Aly on May 4, 2018 at 2:00 pm

            Yes you are right. I expanded a bit in my comment to Renee.

            Hope that’s much more clear~

        • Renee on May 4, 2018 at 11:30 am

          Aly responding to your post: May 4, 2018 at 9:21 am

          Aly you are one of many (Nancy) who has been with me from day one. I welcome your thoughts. These are our latest happenings. Just haven’t made time to post.

          Yes Aly the same “old ways.” “That is how I know how to handle things” he told me this week. My broken record was that he could but leave us out.

          A week ago he did yard work for us and broke his phone. It happened in front of me because he tried to be ugly a few days earlier and God does not like ugly. However, I had a similar phone and offered it to him. He accepted. Four days later he called really early, before anyone was up, saying I finally got you. Whose number is this? You two have been back and forth with each other. I told him I had no clue and hung up. He started with text and I still did not engage.

          He later found it was a number to a divorce attorney that I had consulted last year. Did he apologize? No.

          But what really got me is that he pulled out on plans with our daughter because I did not engage (go into a confession) with him about that number. Told her he did not want to be around me and because of me, he had to not follow through on their plans. So I had to watch her mope around almost all day until it passed over.

          Then couple days later, he was ready but I asked daughter to give me until next week. I guess she told him because he texted how I was trying to keep everything. I told him he could not have anything else until I file for divorce and would file by end of this month.

          Instead of getting help so we could have a life together he has just been offering me all kinds of scenarios that I will not accept. Just being friends, being friends with benefits, being a family but in separate homes, or just giving him more time until he can deal with his insecurities and feel safe to be with me. Imagine that.

          His time is up with or without divorce papers. I have been enjoying life and trying to get so I can do more and more. It is up to him to step up.

          I hope I don’t sound bitter.

          • Nancy on May 4, 2018 at 1:51 pm

            Hi Renee,

            Just one thought here. He asked you for ‘more time to deal with his insecurities and feel safe to be with ( you).’

            This is not a ‘time’ issue on your part, but an ‘action’ issue on his part.

            I would suggest you let him know that it’s not up to you to give him time. It’s up to him to take action toward taking responsibility for those insecurities – which involves an intensive individual counselling commitment on his part.

          • Aly on May 4, 2018 at 1:54 pm

            You don’t sound bitter to me.

            I think as far as not engaging the ‘opportunity for him to rewrite history’ a broken record phrase could be: something like….
            ‘When you get help to work on those issues, let me know and we can begin again with communication.’

            So really communication is pretty much void until he gets some interventions.

            Then you don’t have to expose yourself to the rewriting of history and he doesn’t get to also reinforce his manipulative tactics to stay stuck.

            I say this based on above in your comment that you said he could have gotten help thus far but continues to not, so that to me seems to simplify why it then becomes ‘ a broken record approach’.
            Like a boundary that’s healthy for you and grace filled for him.

          • Aly on May 4, 2018 at 2:05 pm


            You wrote:
            “But what really got me is that he pulled out on plans with our daughter because I did not engage (go into a confession) with him about that number. Told her he did not want to be around me and because of me, he had to not follow through on their plans. So I had to watch her mope around almost all day until it passed over.

            Then couple days later, he was ready but I asked daughter to give me until next week. I guess she told him because he texted how I was trying to keep everything. I told him he could not have anything else until I file for divorce and would file by end of this month.”

            This whole scenario is concerning?
            Your daughter I would think feels completely powerless and is ‘waiting’ until adults are ready? Ready for what?

            I must misunderstand what’s taking place.

          • Renee on May 4, 2018 at 6:48 pm

            Aly I’m responding to your post May 4, 2018 at 2:05 pm. This is one of the ways my husband likes to punish. The only thing is our children do get caught in the crossfire.

            DD goes to work with me at times. Since coming with me, she has grown fun of the client’s (elderly parents PCA) dog. She wanted her dad to come along and help her walk big boy as he has done before. He talked to her off and on Friday about going. She woke up singing and was so excited. But I knew he was not going now because he had called me early Saturday with the mess about that phone number. Sure enough it happened (another of his patterns). Her heart broke and my heart broke for her (the singing stopped and the sadness kicked in). I pleaded and pleaded on her behalf through text to no avail. Instead he blamed me saying I was the reason DD was now feeling bad.

            So once I got there, I asked her to let me help her walk him after my shift but she just could not pull herself together. He texted her, the couple days later, asking her to forgive him and making those same old promises. So at first I told her we would do it the following week but started feeling guilty. By morning, I had a change of heart but she said that it was ok. So we walked the dog on our own or should I say the dog walked us.

            I know she feel helpless because she still struggles with our separation or possible divorce. Our son not at all or so it seems. I just don’t know any other thing to do. When she wants us to do something together, I suck it up. I’m trying to keep down damage but it is so hard.

          • Nancy on May 4, 2018 at 9:26 pm

            Hi Renee,

            I wonder if it is a good model to ‘suck it up’ because your daughter wants to have you both together?

            Isn’t this just engaging in pretense?

            I wonder how this is helping your daughter to walk in CORE strength. Aren’t you, in essence, throwing the C out at your daughter’s request?

      • Caryl Ann on May 7, 2018 at 4:45 pm

        Renee, He has done this to other women and no one has had the nerve to stand up to him. I have nothing left to lose so I decided to be the one.
        Although I dread it because mine too always rewrites every conversation.

        I have to remember that God is on my side and He knows the truth and the outcome. I will trust Him with all of it.

        Also, after the 7th I will be completely done with him and all his cruelty. No matter the outcome, that will be a day to celebrate.

        I will let you know what happens.

  8. Trish on May 2, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    After 11 years of being divorced, this topic still makes my skin crawl.
    I was married for 39 years to a man everyone else saw as near perfect. Our children, his family & co-workers. I’m the only one who knew what he was really like: controlling in all ways where I was concerned; a master of sarcastically humiliating comments in private & public; “gaslighting” me whenever I tried to confront him about his behavior; destroying my love & respect for him as the years went by. Our “lovely Christian marriage” was a farce, and I had to fight my way out of it.
    He declared he had changed, but the old manipulative ways slithered back into our home time and time again.
    He’s remarried and I’m told he’s a totally different man. He was “broken” by the divorce and what I did to him.
    But, I was at an event recently and heard him respond to his new (improved, sweeter, kinder, more Christ-like) wife, when she asked him a simple question. His response to her was in the same cruel, sarcastic, venomous tone he used when he would be irritated with me. Hearing it made my stomach turn.
    A changed man? I bet my life, literally, that he wouldn’t change. I was right, and I’m so very thankful to be out from under his control.

    • Caryl Ann on May 2, 2018 at 3:46 pm

      You are out but the new wife isn’t. I can almost promise you that she could use your prayers.

      My soon to be ex husband did the same things to the wife before me. We have formed a special friendship. She calls and text me often to encourage me and to pray for me. I am so grateful for her.

    • Sunshine on May 2, 2018 at 5:40 pm

      Was there a part of you that wanted to warn the next woman? My counselor says that it is in my interest that my abuser would find a new target. Yet I pity the next target. So far the targets have not been other women but rather the very public rescue of the hurting, infirmed, elderly and needy. It all works to build his propaganda campaign of super Christian.

      • Caryl Ann on May 3, 2018 at 11:19 am

        Oh yes. I pray for his next victim daily. He is so charming and good at what he does. He is also a nice looking man. He has the ability to sweep woman off their feet and they never know what nightmare lies ahead for them.

        I am really burdened for his next victim, but all I can really do is pray for her.

      • Seeing The Light on May 3, 2018 at 4:37 pm

        On the topic of the next victim…I think about this quite a bit. I have not left yet, but hope to in the next few years once custody is not an issue. When I think about unleashing him on some unsuspecting woman out there, it is unsettling. So I sometimes pray that if he does find another woman, that God would protect the innocent and that the new one would be on his level and that it would be the kind of situation where they truly deserve each other. I don’t mean this to be in any way spiteful or vengeful. I still wish he could find true healing. If, however, he does not, I just hope and pray for him to be evenly matched so that he doesn’t hurt anyone innocent. It seems like the most just and merciful outcome from my limited perspective.

        • Maria on May 3, 2018 at 6:32 pm

          STL & Others,

          Hopefully the lady who dates him will be wise enough to contact you.

  9. Caryl Ann on May 2, 2018 at 3:32 pm

    Run as fast as you can and don’t look back. I have been there and had all the same questions.

    Leslie is spot on with her advice.

    He will never, ever change!!

  10. Randi on May 2, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    that vicious cycle – I hated it.. for 35 years I walked on eggshells trying to keep this guy from punishing me with his silent treatments or his rages – he only wanted my paycheck – after 4 years of separation , my divorce finalized last July- In April, I hardly blinked knowing my 40th wedding anniversary happened- it’s a day i am glad I never had to celebrate— no more vicious cycles for me- God delivered me from the pit of my marriage step by step giving the courage to move out, buy a house, and take care of the 2 youngest teenagers—Without Leslie’s help and book, I don’t think I could have done it!

    • Fun on May 2, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      One of the things I am free from is the two to three hours every day when I listened to his lectures about what was wrong with me and the rest of the world. I called it his monologue. A long uninterrupted diatribe about him and how others should treat him.

      Aaaahhhh…. relief! I hear you sweet sister!

      • Jeanne on May 3, 2018 at 8:02 am

        Wow! I never labeled them that way but I am also free from those “lectures”!

        • Free on May 4, 2018 at 7:14 am

          Along the same lines of discussion, a change for me is that people are not correcting me. By that I mean I am not subject to someone responding to my comments and declaring the incorrect.

          I realize this more and more as people listen to me and say something like, “what a great idea” or “good thinking.”

          Even the slightest comment to my abusive spouse was subject to his editing and approval. Now I think, “Who in the world do you think you are correcting my comments?!”

          • Nancy on May 4, 2018 at 9:16 am

            I can really relate to your comment, Free, around your realization of how often you used to be subject to correction.

            The same is true for me. The way I can best describe it is that Grace is now prevalent, instead of ( my h’s old and twisted) rules. It’s as though, the light is shinning in and illuminating our interactions. (this has not just ‘magically occurred’)

            And as a result of this, I find myself so grateful to God that I am now being valued.

          • Caryl Ann on May 4, 2018 at 2:42 pm

            After I married my abuser, I found out that I cleaning glass wrong, dusting wrong, making the bed wrong, not even cooking things the right way, which was HIS way!!

            I was told that I would NEVER be as intelligent as him and that he was ALWAYS right about everything.

            I have 3 girls from high school that I go out to dinner every other week. When he would be mad about something he would say that all I cared about was my friends and being with them. He told me the same thing about my family. I never had children. I only have one brother and he has one daughter and 2 grandchildren. He loved throwing them up in my face. If I was lucky I get to see them maybe 3 times a year.

            The truth is that whatever or whomever I cared about, he had a problem with. Not before we married, only after.

            I was NOT going to let him isolate me from the people that I care about, so I continued seeing them. If it didn’t set well with him I just let him rage.

    • Caryl Ann on May 4, 2018 at 9:06 am

      Bless you. Mine also did the silent treatments, Slamming doors and drawers, and he also loved throwing things at the back of my head and would sleep on the couch to hurt me.

      it is hard to understand the depth of their cruelty!! Once they know what really hurts you,they use it often to show you who is in charge. They will do anything to try and break your spirit.

      • K (who's posted before, different from K who posted in early April) on May 4, 2018 at 2:48 pm

        Caryl Ann, I’m so sorry to hear of how you were treated by the one who had made promises to love and cherish you. And I’m so glad to learn that our loving Lord has led you to a place of freedom and health now!!!

        It’s astonishing that you, and so many women here share stories including things like “he also loved throwing things at the back of my head.”

        Ladies…….that is nothing other than physical abuse/violence. It’s not ‘just one of his things he does’, or ‘part of his silent treatment’. It is physical abuse, and it is violent, even if he doesn’t ‘hit’ you with his hands, or with whatever he is throwing at you.

        Human beings are not for target practice, and family members are definitely human beings. Throwing something at the back of someone’s head (interesting what a sneaky way of approach that is!!!) because he is displeased or pouting or selfish, or ‘making a point’, or asserting the fantasy of ‘authority’ is NOT an ok, or even normal behaviour! It is on the spectrum of violence, and there is nothing to stop him from ‘upping his game’ to throwing something heavier, sharper, more lethal or repeatedly……except he hasn’t thought of that yet. One day he might.

        If it is happening to you, please think well on Leslie’s clear and Biblical teaching, and the encouragements of Caryl Ann and these other ladies. Your marriage is not meant to be a place where you experience abuse of any sort, including having things thrown at you. Be prayerful, wise and strong of heart.

  11. Ann on May 2, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    From Pilgrim’s Progress… CHRISTIAN: “You are pretty near the root of the issue, which is the lack of a true change of mind and will. They are therefore like the felon who quakes and trembles before the judge, and seems to repent most heartily; but the reason is his fear of the noose, not that he has any true remorse for his crime. This is evident, because, if you but let this man have his liberty, he will continue as a thief and a rogue. Whereas, if his mind and heart were really changed, he would be far otherwise.”

    • Seeing The Light on May 3, 2018 at 8:04 am

      Excellent. Thank you for sharing this, Ann.

  12. Robin on May 2, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    I’ve been divorced for 3 years and have never looked back. I lived with an abusive – destructive relationship for 30 years and thought I was doing the right thing, staying. The longer I’m divorced the more abuse I am aware of. I went thru all those confusing feelings after I filed, and he worked hard to destroy me during the divorce process. But God was Greater. He provided abundantly for me, and I live a very peaceful life. Just ask yourself- is this what I want to be doing 5 years from now???
    I pray you will find the strength to stand up for yourself, and live the healthy life we were meant to live.

  13. FLGirl on May 2, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I am in a 25 year marriage with an abuser and I’m planning my exit. The covert evil and unpredictable chaos, emotional neglect and indifference that I and my two children have lived through has been insufferable. We have been through counseling and intervention and lots of prayer. I have not left for fear of my children hurting and not having a home but my 18 year old daughter is going through a crisis and has revealed that her father’s impulsive leaving on and off caused her so much anxiety growing up not knowing if he would be home when she got home from school. My son has described the constant anxiety as well and will not come home anymore because of the fighting. I realized the fighting was due to my trying to fix it by expressing my feelings but he just got rageful and defensive and walked out. My son is graduating college now and I fear losing him. He has buried alot and will not come to grips with who his father is. I don’t want to lose my children and I realize that leaving may give me a chance at a relationship with them since they are not comfortable being around both mom and dad. It just breaks my heart to think about what they have lived through and want them to be healed.

    • Aurora on May 3, 2018 at 12:22 am

      The best thing you can do for your children is leave their abuse father. Yes, you read that correctly. They can’t be safe until you show by example that you will not tolerate being treated in such a manner. They will not respect themselves until you respect yourself.

      They have to continue in the same roles until you break out of your role. If you want your kids to believe they deserve better you have to show them how to do it. Your action will cause them to grow and change. Step forward in faith, respect yourself, leave, and watch your children heal.

      • FLGirl on May 3, 2018 at 11:07 pm


        Thank-you for speaking what I know is true. What you said confirms my decision and is so validating. I already see my daughter growing and learning about the need to feel safe and having boundaries. I really don’t know how my son will take it as he has prayed for years for God to heal us. I found a note in his room that was a prayer that he wrote years ago. He has been so heart-broken every time there was a threat of us splitting up. He is graduating college tomorrow with a degree in ministry and leaving on a missions trip for several weeks. I am terrified of what this may do to his tender heart and faith. I’m not sure how and when to tell him, perhaps after I file.

        • Free on May 4, 2018 at 3:03 am

          The children have their own work to do. The realization of the situation will at first be a painful shock. Yet, they must have that hurt to heal. They need to live in the truth.

          It is important that you go from protector to mentor. Your example will lead in love. Certain aspects will take time for them to acknowledge. Your job is to tell the truth in love as incidents naturally unfold.

          Your son will most likely not turn from God, but rather turn towards him. Once your son grows and realizes the depth of the marital distortion you lived he will slowly come around to peace and understanding.

          Meanwhile your disturbed husband will get worse without your role of trying to protect your kids and your efforts to maintain the fascade. Yes, it will hurt them as they realize their own loss of the fantasy. Yet, it was only a contrived fake marriage all along. A living husband was never never offered to you. You will be their only healthy parent . They will need you.

          Also, there is no hurry to tell everyone your business. Be wise in revealing information to anyone. Talk more openly with those you trust siting examples, of the restriction and abuse you endured when appropriate. Most people can not grasp abuse. It is really that terrible, so pray for wisdom. You may need to play the game a bit longer with your spouse to get the most in your legal arrangement.

          • Free on May 4, 2018 at 3:10 am

            I would like to add FL girl, that your were not “fighting”. Your kids did not witness “fighting”. They say abuse. They saw their mother being abused. You were never the psychological agressor. He was. Please clarify that with your children.

          • FLGirl on May 5, 2018 at 1:01 am

            Free, your words and advice are so wise I feel in my heart they are from the Lord. You are right, my husband was never living, like dead bones walking. I never was the psychological aggressor although the children have seen me at times frustrated and hurt from his apathy, indifference and lack of protection or loyalty, even to the point of taking sides publicly with those who offended me, or at times I was angry or irritable because of his self absorbed behavior, distance and lack of emotional connection. His controlling, aggressive behavior has been covert. Most of what they’ve seen is the lack of connection and bonding so to children they see mom crying and shouting at dad and don’t get it. And he has said, “oh mom isn’t feeling well.” I feel guilty for not being more in control of myself at times and allowing him to push my buttons. If I say I wasn’t the psychological aggressor, I’m not sure they would understand given the passive-aggressiveness of their father. Since they learned that dad needed to be appeased and nothing could be challenged, anytime I responded to clarify or share my feelings, it was seen as mom getting upset again. It’s so insidious. Bottom line is I am praying they have a breakthrough and see their dad for who he really is. What did you mean by playing the game longer to get the most out of the legal arrangement? I am worried that if I leave, I could lose the house.

          • Free on May 5, 2018 at 2:26 pm

            FL, I am posting out of sequence to answer your question by what I meant by “playing the game.” At some point you formulated some appeasement plan that let you function as long as you have. What I meant is that abusive people often up their game once they find out you are really leaving. For me, I had all kinds of plans and ideas that I never expressed to anyone until after settlement. I continued the “yes, sir” exterior and then all I kinds of things after I got free.

            Here is an example. He said, “Of course you can have the house, but leave it to me in your will like we have it”. Me….”Oh, yes sir” …then changed the will as soon as we separated.

            Now, you might say that is lying, yet I see it as protecting myself from evil. I had to be shrewd and play smart.

            Tell your lawyer you want the house and have them write a proposal that supports that request.

          • Free on May 5, 2018 at 2:34 pm

            FL, it is way too soon for you to expect any change in your children. Take care of you now. They will need at least a couple of years and they can’t start healing until you are not in an abusive relationship.

  14. Aleea on May 2, 2018 at 7:35 pm

    “Friends, have you been fooled by your abuser’s charm on the right-hand side of the cycle but saw no real changes on the left-hand side?”

    . . .I certainly have been fooled, more accurately willfully blind, in terms of my own mother’s abuse, —although she isn’t even charming about it in any part of the cycle. In my life, it has happened again and again and again with my mother because I walk again and again straight into that situation. It seems very easy to develop an action plan of what to do when it is not our own situation, our own problems. That’s why people need each other, we can’t see/act on our own issues very well.

    . . .Okay, so let’s say the abuser is your husband and let’s just bracket off the entire New Testament for a min. Let’s look at this through the lense of logic, reason, evidence-based practical advice about what consistutes human well-being and flourishing, as well as decades of women just wasting their precious lives praying/waiting for “change.” If you really think you are being fooled, played, etc. —why deal at all in some waiting game (—even if children are involved)? Why would you ever wait for anything to “change?” —Especially given the recidivism rates re:abuse. How would you ever even know what had sustainably, actually, —really changed? People can repent all their lives of all kinds of things, where is the evidence-based data (out-of-sample) for real metanoia? The kind described here for example: The Great Meaning of Metanoia: An Underdeveloped Chapter in the Life and Teachings of Christ –by Treadwell Walden. Nothing looks statisticaly significant in terms of it being sustainable. I mean, look at the described cycle it is the model of no sustainable change.

    I would think supportive and trusting relationships, high levels of warmth would make for low levels of repeated abuse but that is just not the case (re: The Endless Cycle of Abuse). . . .Just understand you and your children’s financial and legal situation, file a divorce and get away from the person, as far, and as much as possible. If he is triggering your insecurities and making you question if he has really changed, then honestly, —what are you waiting for? I understand some (not all) of the complexities with the children (—what a total mess) but honestly, how much can you really help them if you are angry, bitter, resentful and constantly tormented by his abuse. . . .If you worry about what the Bible says, maybe realize/research that the final redaction of the New Testament is not treated in current texts of the New Testament. This creates the very false impression that a final redaction never occurred. However, all the evidence provided by the extant manuscripts indicates that the history of the New Testament is the history of those redactional editions. You can just rest safely in that for starters, and that’s just for starters (re:The First Edition of the New Testament re:Throckmorton-Hayes) there is plenty more you can stand on.

    Now, let’s say you just can’t get beyond the say KJV-only, fundamentalist perspecitives and you assume every single word is God-breathed, and you ignore hundreds of thousands of equally textual variants, say you assume no textual variants, and you further assume every last word is contextually valid. Now, in this scenario, you have to treat the marriage as a covenant; assume God wants to make us holy, not necessarily happy; obey God’s word not just resort to logic, reason, evidence-based solutions. . . .So, maybe this is why some women have wasted away their lives in the past, . . .because sans massive text-twisting, context-shifting, flat-out text-deconstructing, etc., God doesn’t use our logic or our reason. (In fact, logic, reason and evidence-based solutions deconstruct the Bible very quickly). He is God, we better not be able to figure Him out. Corinthians 7:15 totally conflicts with Romans 7:3 and so it goes for dozens of realted passages. —So what do we do? Could it be that morals come from inside us and we learn over time??? . . .We learn and not always from the Word-of-God which has slavery, et.al. in it. —I have never come to peace with that. In my mind, it is either timeless truth or it is not. “Truth” simply floating along with culture doesn’t seem like it is from God. I mean this is supposed to be God Himself, not people just writing down what they thought with all their errors, redacting it along the way and having a document needing lots of amendments. —But that is what we observe. Once you use advanced scripture text deconstruction and hermeneutics to take apart what the church fathers and *more importantly* the actual texts/ contexts really say (—to get where you want to go with divorce, remarriage, et.al.), —you realize that applying that approach fairly (without cherry-picking) deconstructs lots of other “truths” too, sans special pleading. Generally, people just reflect the values of current society with a lag-time as Christianity reinterprets texts.

    . . .So, sometimes in counseling, up comes the idea that my mother was/is doing the best she could/can. I always think, wow, if that is true and my mother is doing the best she can, I would be just more grief-stricken. She, again, is never even charming. I’d rather be angry than sad because it’s easier to believe she’s letting me down on purpose than grieve the fact that my mother is never going to be who I need her to be. “Can I help you?” —she always says, but in a manner which indicates very clearly that you have to start protecting yourself, because not only does she not wish to help, but she even seems to hate the implication that she ought to. . . .From my side I think: okay, kindness that turns to bitterness when it is not appreciated was never really kindness at all. That was just condictional kidness. Love, gratitude and forgiveness, what else is there? That Shulamite lived by a different set of values. Re: “One of the most horrible frauds perpetrated on western couples is ‘trust your feelings’ or ‘follow your heart.’ A wise Shulamite does not make life decisions based on feelings. . . She takes God’s point-of-view: ‘She that trusteth in her own heart is a fool; But whoso walketh wisely, she shall be delivered.’ The hard (Proverbs 28:26) lesson to learn: Our hearts lie to us. re:Michael Ben Zehabe, Song of Songs The Book for Daughters (pages 3-7)

  15. Alene on May 2, 2018 at 8:02 pm

    Have I been fooled: a lot.

    I am thankful for CORE strength.
    For clarity on fantasy thinking (this is it, it will be different now)
    For clarity on boundaries.
    For clarity on truth.
    For other women’s stories; I am not alone.
    For clarity on my responsibility.
    For a clearer relationship with the Lord in part because of these.
    For slowly gaining my voice.
    For blogs like this that I need to here for continued and growing clarity and strength.

    • Pamela on May 8, 2018 at 5:42 am

      Wonderfully stated. My sentiments exactly. I would add
      For the description “Emotionally Destructive” when I couldn’t quite get myself to accept the label of “abuse”.
      The allowed me to further investigate Leslie’s wisdom where I’d have shied away otherwise.

  16. Paulinek.33@gmail.com on May 3, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    This was so helpful. So true to my situation with my husband who I moved away from for about the 10th time in 16 years of marriage. Just moved again the 9th of Dec. and he was trying with words of remorse and showing up at my bible study at the church parsonage after the Pastor phoned him the message from me that I didn’t want him there, letting note in my car. I bold printed a TXT to not stalk me at church events and by putting letters in my car or in the support check he sends me. I agree words are cheap. I’ve had no contact with him since and hope and pray I don’t need to file a PFA like I have for abusive behavior 3 times within the 16 years I tried to live with him. Be strong and don’t let him or anyone else put the guilt trip on you for divorcing him. My husband tried that many times saying divorce wrong, Quoting God hates divorce using other verses of the Bible against me. My daughter help me see the light after she moved to the home area from Utah 2015. I left him Dec. 2018. Never to trust his word again.

  17. Aleea on May 4, 2018 at 4:52 am

    . . . .Now, it may be that you can’t do anything “morally optimal” with a set of hard and fast rules like you find in the Bible. But that is very confusing to me because this is supposed to be God making the rules, not humans. It always has seemed to me that God is saying: pick up your suffering and bear it nobly. Marriage is to make you holy, not happy, et.al.

    Your real God is your values that you embody. That you act out/ that you live out. . . .Not my talk, not what I say, what I embody by actually living it out. It could be, however, that this concept of “what glorifies God most” overrides anything commanded in the Bible. —I very much like that concept; however, when we operate that way, logic can be used to just justify almost anything. I can claim: well, I believe this glorifies God the most not what was said in context using normative and historical hermeneutics and exegesis. . . .Not what Christians, many whom gave their lives for Christ, said for a thousand plus years. More than this, I think we can tell what our God is by simply looking at the highest value that we embody/ that we act out. —That is our God. The thing that always hangs me is that if the Bible needs amendments, needs text-twisting, needs cherry-picking, I don’t think we have an absolute moral standard, but a free-for-all. Hermeneutics, exegesis, text-deconstruction can be used to logic to whatever conclusion we like.

    More than this, to think that we are not massively biased (including me, maybe especially me) is naive. . . .What appears to me to be the way to find “The Truth” (As best we can, given our limitations) is to make an iron-man out of arguments we don’t like, not a straw-man. Then we see if we can honestly deconstruct those iron-men, —if we can! We make the strongest case possible for what we don’t want, what we don’t like to do and we see if we can honestly make a better case than that.

    The purpose of life in Christ, it certainly appears, is finding the largest burden that you can possibly bear and bearing it, —not saying this is too hard, God couldn’t want this for me. We cannot be protected from the things that frighten and hurt us, but if we identify with the part of our being that is responsible for transformation, the Holy Spirit, then we are always the equal, or more than the equal of the things that frighten us. Christ bids us adopt the burden of self-conscious vulnerability, and accept responsibility. It means willingly undertaking the sacrifices necessary to make our marriages work and generate a productive and meaningful reality (—it means acting to please God, not saying this is too hard and not God’s will). God would not possibly want this for me. . . .I hate God’s thinking on that too. . . .But, could it be that the things that pose the greatest threats to our survival, like marriage, are the most real things in this world. Every person is seriously, deeply flawed. Everyone falls so short of the glory of God it is almost beyond comprehension. That fact can’t mean we have user-defined responsibility, that simply cannot be the proper path forward. Unless that is wrong. . . .Maybe it is wrong, but I say if you are in a situation where your marriage isn’t of sufficient quality, you might ask yourself: Am I doing absolutely everything I can to fix it? The Lord God only knows how many doors will open if we are seriously doing everything we can to recreate our marriages. That seems always worth pursuing (—sans actual DSM-5-style issues that have been cross validated). Is God able to reverse irresistible forces? Is God able to transform what appears to be unconquerable obstacles into pathways and expanding opportunities? Maybe He is not but that means we have the whole foundation wrong. Don’t ever underestimate the destructive power of sins of omission. I can only find out what I actually believe (rather than what I think I believe) by watching how I act. I simply don’t know what I believe, before that. We are all too complex to understand ourselves. Our beliefs are our actions. That’s why Christianity is not true unless it is embodied/ acted out. —It’s a way of acting in the world.

  18. Susan on May 4, 2018 at 10:33 am

    We who deal with h that’s passive/ indifferent deal with a version of this. How many times have I talked to him about serious emotional needs, he says he will have to think about it and get back to me, and never does either even when reminded?

    This probably seems minor to those with physical abuse but the emotional results are same.

    • Nancy on May 4, 2018 at 4:28 pm

      This is not at all minor, Susan.

      The result of this type of avoidance is neglect, and that is a crazy making type of abuse. This is where you have to really develop CORE strength, and embrace a ‘zero tolerance’ of avoidance. Someone who is avoidant to that extent will have very ingrained ‘escape routes’ and will become creative in developing new ones when confronted. That’s why individual counselling, for you, is critical.

      My individual counsellor affirmed that emotional abuse is just as destructive as physical abuse, and when it’s covert, it can result in destabilizing the victim because they form long-time habits of questioning their own perceptions of reality.


      • Aly on May 4, 2018 at 6:16 pm


        Thank you so much for writing this post!
        It’s written very well as it describes such crazy making and yes neglect is abuse!
        The questioning of the perceptions is often such a key point of what gets the long term patterns going on for years and years.

        Thanks for being so clear and concise!

        • Nancy on May 4, 2018 at 7:49 pm


          Perception is SO key! Our counsellor asked my H to replace the words ‘I feel’ with ‘I think’ or ‘I perceive that’. He explained that if the perception is incorrect, then the feelings associated with that perception are not valid. That’s why it is so important to check our perceptions. My h did not like this at all.

          It’s incredible how often my h uses “I feel that you….”. This statement isn’t a feeling, it’s an assumption, or a judgment about me! But when I would respond with, “no, I’m not ( whatever)” he’d claim that I never listen to his feelings. This was crazy making.

          In just a couple of days, my h has caught himself a number of times saying, ” I feel that…” and then having to self-correct. He spends so much energy ‘reading’ me ( incorrectly) and then getting himself all twisted up about his incorrect perception.

          This is painful for him because it is forcing him to operate in reality – instead of responding to me, or others based on the stories he creates in his mind.

          • Aly on May 5, 2018 at 12:09 am


            So so true!!
            I absolutely agree with your counselor’s change of words to be helpful! Probably quite dynamic changing I would think.

            Lots of growth and work. But well worth it if he’s willing to make the adjustment.
            Praise God!

      • andrea dearnley on May 8, 2018 at 10:41 am

        so struck by what you say here.
        ” Someone who is avoidant to that extent will have very ingrained ‘escape routes’ and will become creative in developing new ones when confronted”
        My avoidant husband of 27 years who is a pastor took the creative escape route of walking out on me two years ago!! never a word of divorce or separation prior to this. Suddenly accused me of emotional abuse for years of trying to get him to engage!!
        in my case this book was the key to his creative escape route.
        a little knowledge is a dangerous thing…

    • Aly on May 5, 2018 at 10:07 am


      What did you think of Nancy’s post ‘reply’ to you?

      The Indifference version is very painful and damaging. Harder sometimes for a person to unravel what’s really going on.

      In a healthy marital partnership, if a person has a problem or is not feeling emotionally safe or cared for…. then so does the other partner in the marriage ‘have a problem to care for’.

      My husband would say; if my wife has a problem or is dealing with something, I also have a problem or concern to help solve or comfort, because of who ‘she’ is in my life. Mind you these are healthy dynamics~ with balance.
      An attitude opposite of this is SELF centered and sets up a one-sided relationship often of superior vs inferior places.
      This opposite attitude or posture isn’t a marital dynamic at all and honestly I do think often it’s these places and attitudes that the ‘marital covenant’ gets broken.

      In abusive situations, the abuser often is the ‘one’ with a problem to address individually.
      But often an abuser wants to make it a ‘joint problem’ ~ this way they can continue to escape Full responsibility for their bent behaviors and patterns.

      Being indifferent towards another spouses pain or legitimate need is cruel and unhealthy. Often it’s hard to see clearly the unhealthy indifference in these types of individuals because they are so good at ‘functioning on the surface level of things’.

  19. Sue on May 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    Let me just say, change CAN happen! My husband was a verbal and emotional abuser for 27 years! But God got a hold of him. He is now in counseling and recovery and that left side of the cycle has changed. He is not perfect and it took a couple of years of my own healing to admit he has/is changing. Our marriage is still not what we both want it to be but in time it will be. These changes don’t happen overnight. Trust takes time to build, healing takes time but I’m grateful I no longer have to live in that abuse cycle.

    • Pamela on May 8, 2018 at 5:31 am

      Hi Sue,
      Yay! Love to hear your positive results. I know there are probably more than we hear about; those women don’t read a post like this. As my husband is also changing and healing I almost didn’t read it.
      I’m so grateful for Leslie spelling out how when we see changed ways of handling the tensions and the left side of the cycle that that is change we can trust. I was starting to question whether or not I should be hopeful despite feeling hopeful so much. We have had upsets and crazy talk again but he is recovering so quickly now! And taking responsibility, seeing his reactions honestly and apologizing. Rising tension that used to result in a blow up and a day of the silent treatment is now 30 mins of “I just need to not talk for a bit” followed by a man restored to sanity, self-aware and ready to be loving again.
      I get it now, I will be looking for the changes on the left side of the cycle. Those tell the truth.
      By the way, like one of y’all said above, I too am so grateful for understanding “fantasy-wife thinking”. I was striving for being that fantasy wife, down on myself when I failed, proud of myself when I could stay godly through the storm of emotional abuse
      (read: not blow up in reaction), and then I woke up. I learned that trying harde does not work in some relationships. It blew my mind and has been continuing to do so ever since. I can’t stop preaching this to every woman I know in this type of marriage. Leslie has true insight from God! I’m so grateful!

  20. Beatrice on May 5, 2018 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you for VALIDATING, once again, that apathy/indifference is abuse… it feels especially harsh when you’re in the season of trying to raise children together. Being a single parent within the marriage is hard. It’s part of the facade that must be disassembled.

    • Sherry on May 5, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Beatrice, you are so right about being a single parent while married. I raised 3 sons while my husband hid in his ‘4 walls’ what he called his bedroom upstairs. He came down occasionally to get something to eat or rage at us. I knew I should have left before I did but I couldn’t see a way to support my sons by myself. When they went off to college my husband tried to develop a relationship with them but it was rather late by then. I am thankful they are great sons and we are close but kids need both parents. And I am thankful for my peaceful freedom after 32 years.

  21. Aleea on May 5, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Redecision, Rescripting -vs. Biblical Repentance

    . . .So, I was thinking about why most repentance is ineffective and it may be that we really need two types of repentance combined to get any sustainable results. Maybe three, but two that I clearly see. The first type of repentance is God calling your husband into his own real relationship with God for his salvation, as in Luke 13:3, “Except you repent, you will all likewise perish” Mark 1:15 too, “. . .The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel.” . . .The other use of the word “repentance” is in calling upon him to turn from sinful, dysfunctional behavior to healthier, godly behavior. Luke 17:3: If your husband trespass against thee, using truth in love, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him; —and Luke 24:47 too. The later repentance only sustainably works when nested in the former. Re: “If It Really Was Repentance” . . .What makes it hard to verify is that both types of repentance involve bringing our actions and our emotions into line with reason. So, both types of repentance involve actions as well as emotions, all in line with reason. . . .Oh, but in biblical context, reason mean God’s reason, not our reason. . . .Our actions and emotions need to be brought into harmony with the revealed will of God and not with human reason, which cannot take us far enough and often is an ally of the flesh and the devil and everything rotten rather than of the Word and Spirit. So, that’s three that have to be working together (authentic repentance).

  22. Aly on May 5, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    I agree with your comment. I think that our culture has tolerated and normalized, Indiffernce and or Apathy as ‘they way a person just is’ rather than seeing it as unhealthy and not normal.

    Things that are ‘common’ should never mean ‘normal’, but sadly that is often the overall message that gets interpreted.

    • Nancy on May 6, 2018 at 8:31 am

      I agree Aly. And to go one step further, if a spouse articulates the discomfort of the neglect, then they are often told that they are failing to love their spouse well.

      After all, we are called to love others for ‘who they are’ and ‘where they are at’. Otherwise it is us who is being selfish. Backwards.

      • Aly on May 6, 2018 at 9:00 am

        Wow! You definitely brought the critical step further~ how true is that message to many who ‘have tried’ to speak up and even inquire about the experience of ‘neglect’!
        Boy is that shot down and turned on the one who is the recipient of the ‘indifference or apathy’.

        Just wrong and yes very backwards Nancy, that’s why I think the recovery for the backwards takes some unraveling and new healthier nutrients…. and especially the surroundings and environment of those who are the ones telling the ‘brave one’ that they are selfish and they just need to be more patient loving them right where they are. When in reality it often reinforces the unhealthy behavior and dynamic to continue to spiral down even if it’s not so obvious at first.

        I think oftentimes what is reaped ~ doesn’t show up for many years and sometimes the next generation of even more difficult issues to face.

        Doing a critical inventory of who are in our corners and offering any perspective is a must!
        What you wrote Nancy (often the enabling and sowing message) can describe what many recipients of abuse are surrounded by and sometimes don’t even realize it!
        It’s often their family members who have those ingrained messages of tolerance and not exposing any unhealth in a family system.

        P.S. sorry for my previous typos..

  23. Loretta on May 7, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    I’m in process of getting a divorce from my husband of 17 1/2 years. First 5-6 years were best any marriage could be.
    However, several years ago he started all kinds of verbal/emotional abuse. Calling my stupid, dumb, and then the physical abuse started. I’ve been told by a friend that it will only get worse. Am reading book “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage”. This book was written for me and is helping me cope. I’m releasing my husband to the Lord’s care and guidance because I will probably always love him.

    • T.L. on May 7, 2018 at 3:58 pm

      Hi Loretta,

      It’s not too common here to have it be the case that the marriage started out great and changed. For most of us, there were at least troubling signs or even clear serious red flags we ignored.

      Do you know what precipitated a change in him? Do you think he was faking it all that time? Or did he get into some addiction or something that caused him guilt he had to dump on you?

      • Loretta on May 7, 2018 at 11:07 pm

        Initially, I think he wanted to impress me and was on his best behavior. There is or wasn’t any addiction in his life. I think I just overlooked a lot of “red flags” until he started trying to control me. I had been taking the verbal/mental abuse until the physical abuse started and then I said “No More”. I deserve to be treated better.
        A friend told me “better to be miserable alone than to be miserable with someone else”.
        I pray for my husband every day. We are still living together until he can get an apt out of town in 11 days.
        I’ve turned it all over to the Lord and ask for strength every day.
        Any woman who encounters any tiype of abuse (verbal/mental/physical) needs to read “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage”. Good Christian counseling and answers in that book..

        • Free on May 8, 2018 at 8:13 pm

          For a every minute you pray for your husband, pray two minutes for yourself. You are far more abused than he ever was!

          • Renee on May 8, 2018 at 8:53 pm

            Yes, yes, and yes. Don’t forget that special prayer just for you Loretta.

            Thanks for the reminder Free.

  24. Just saying on May 7, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    I’m reading this while my h has locked me out of my bedroom because I don’t agree with him. But, in his mind he’s doing better because over the course of our 30 yr. marriage he doesn’t take my keys, credit cards anymore. He just trys to intimidate me. He too, say a he’s sorry when he feels I will leave him -that’s been over 100 times.
    After reading these comments I know I can’t keep this up. I’m going to see an attorney this week. Thank strong women of God!

    • Free on May 8, 2018 at 8:12 pm

      Keep us posted. Stay strong. Crazy town for sure! Set yourself free. Who in the heck does he think he is ordering you out a room?!!

  25. Katlyn on May 8, 2018 at 10:17 am

    I’ve been married 31 years to a man that was very controlling and emotionally abusive for 15 of those years….it was at that time that I found out he had been addicted to pornography . He repented and we began to rebuild our marriage. Things are better and more peaceful, but there is very little true intimacy in our marriage and I am not sure what to do. As long as I leave him alone and don’t bring up serious issues he is fine….but the minute I discuss something I might need personally, or a way that he could show love to me….he always feels like I am attacking him and shuts down for days. I try to say it respectfully, but he most always takes it the wrong way, so for years the past several years I have said nothing. We are pretty much roommates living in the same house, and come together once or twice a week for physical intimacy. I’ve tried many things and often just end up sitting next to him and snuggle with him, while he is watching tv. He loves this….but shouldn’t marriage also be giving and not just taking. TV and the computer seem to be his outlet. I get that, but he often demands I meet his needs when and where he wants it, yet he is not willing to show love through his actions so that I can. This makes it very difficult to reciprocate in the bedroom….Although, I do try and I never say no, so that he is satisfied. I don’t need much, but just a little effort would be wonderful. What can I do, if anything? Should I just learn to be content and be thankful he is not out doing something much worse? I feel lonely in our marriage and am not sure how to help him see that this life is too short to spend it in front of the television :(. Any ladies have this problem….if it is a problem……maybe it’s normal? Should I just be happy and get over it? Any advice?

    • Free on May 8, 2018 at 8:21 pm

      Sadly you are living with a very selfish man. No, you should not just endure this kind of relationship. What happens when you say “No” to him. This a litmus test to check his true character.

      Why do you give your body to him? You are to be valued, not used as a dumping ground.

      I think you have a ton of real problems here. Have you talked to a counselor, you, not both of you.

      • Katlyn on May 8, 2018 at 10:21 pm

        No, I’ve not been to a counselor. We don’t have the extra money eight now. When I have said no in the past, he usually now just ignores me and doesn’t talk to me for a week….if he does its how much he needs me to show him attention. So I don’t get why I’m the one that needs to meet his needs, but when it comes to mine he doesn’t get it. The Lord has become my dearest friend and I have learned to just find other things to do. I just get lonely for attention and affection outside the bedroom. I give my body to him because I feel like that’s what God would have me to do….I don’t want him looking elsewhere.

        • Aly on May 8, 2018 at 10:29 pm


          This is really painful to read.
          Do you think unhealthy Influences or people with unhealthy beliefs have shaped your perspective on this?

          • Katlyn on May 8, 2018 at 11:22 pm

            That may be part of it. Reading this blog has helped me to begin to understand that these things are not ok. I’ve always been taught from a strong submission standpoint and felt like if I just loved him unconditionally he would eventually change and if not my treasures would be in heaven.
            It’s hard to know where to draw the line, because he is not physically or verbally abusing me as long as I meet his needs.

        • Aly on May 8, 2018 at 10:33 pm


          You wrote:
          “So I don’t get why I’m the one that needs to meet his needs, but when it comes to mine he doesn’t get it. ”

          You are not in a healthy thriving marriage, you most likely are trying to survive living with a very selfish ‘boy’ like person that thinks marriage is about his needs being met and no ~ one has been able to teach him some important principles about life and relationships. The first important principle is :
          Healthy relationships are two sided.
          Unhealthy are one sided, or lopsided!
          One person over-functioning and givingand the other ‘taking’ and thinking that’s how it should play out.
          Not so.

          • aurora on May 9, 2018 at 6:09 am

            Kaitlyn, this is a great place to start on your journey. It seems you are just awakening to the seriousness of the abuse in your marriage. Although you say you can not afford counseling there are many opportunities for you to get educated. Read Lundy Bancroft’s books,” Why Does He Do That?” and “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” You can get these titles from the library.

            You local domestic violence shelter might not seem like a place you think you would fit in, but you would. They offer free counseling sessions in groups and for individuals.

            Search the internet for educational lectures on the subject. In addition to Leslie’s teachings, try Patrick Doyle’s videos. You really need more teaching about the concept of boundaries. Are you familiar with that term?

            So far, you have described using appeasement to deal with your destructive situation. This approach hurts you and allows the destructive spouse to continue their abuse. If you have asked politely for change and your requests are being dismissed, it is time to create consequences for your partners disrespect and lack of attentiveness to your requests. Are you ready for that?

            Kaitlyn, you need a support team to move forward in greater health. It is likely that your husband will never change. Yet, Kaitlyn you MUST change. At the moment you feel that you have things under control, but in time your maladaptive behavior will take a toll on your emotional and physical health. The body and mind can not remain in such a perverse state without internally crying out for justice. Please, take better care of yourself. You deserve it!

    • Seeing The Light on May 8, 2018 at 8:26 pm

      I agree with Free. I am saddened at the thought of you giving your body to a person like this just so that he can be satisfied. That is not what you or your body were made for. You are not a tool or a toy.

      • Seeing The Light on May 8, 2018 at 8:26 pm

        The above comment of mine should have said I was responding to Katlyn.

    • Renee on May 8, 2018 at 9:12 pm

      Katlyn, I never say no.

      Is it because you can’t or because you feel it is your duty? I don’t remember the blog page at this point, but I remember us having this discussion a while back.

      Should I just learn to be content? No.

      Regardless of how much you try, it will not work. You’ll always find yourself restless and wondering.

      • Katlyn on May 8, 2018 at 11:07 pm

        If i resisted i would feel guilty for not meeting that need. He’d also ignore me and act like I didn’t exist, so at least in the bedroom I have his undivided attention for a few min. Although, he’s usually the one beimg fullfilled and just rolls over to fall asleep afterwards. I’m not sure what kind of boundaries to set. I know if I do speak about up, he will shut down even more.

        • Aly on May 9, 2018 at 1:04 pm


          What Aurora wrote yesterday was very good and she spelled out a lot of areas of which you can begin taking action for your own ‘personal and emotional safety’.

          You also said that as long as you meet his needs then he is not physically or verbally abusing you. Does this seem reasonable?
          As his wife, if you don’t do what he needs or wants ~ it doesn’t give him the right to behave destructively toward you and I would think that ‘that’ trickles down to the children in additional destructive harming ways.

          Do you think he has trained you ‘out of fear’ to meet his needs s you won’t have the ‘fallout’ abuse?

          Biblically we are called to be ‘mutually submission one to another’.

    • Aly on May 8, 2018 at 10:17 pm

      You describe a lot of early years of my marriage ~ what I also refer as my past marriage.
      Currently, to try my best to say it gently but firmly… you are NOT in a marriage married to a Godly man, but you are married or joined as roommates to a ‘boy’.
      He hasn’t grown up and certainly won’t most likely unless confronted with his self-centered ideals.
      He needs intensive therapy most likely and if you do a history on the Family of origin, you may find a lot of neglect in parenting in his past.

      • Nancy on May 9, 2018 at 7:19 am

        Good morning Katlyn,

        Welcome! As Aurora says this is a great place to come as you allow the Lord to gently open your eyes to the reality of your marriage. Please stick around. We are each at various places in our journey toward emotional and spiritual health.

        You are a precious daughter of the most high king! A good Father wants their daughter to be treasured. He wants his daughter cared for, respected and valued.

        Here, Katlyn, you will learn ways to protect and care for yourself, as well as go to war for your h’s health, too.

        Our God is so awesome. He has walked with so many here from destruction into new Life!

        May He bless you.

        • Nancy on May 9, 2018 at 7:20 am

          Have you read Leslie’s book, Emotionally destructive marriage?

    • Pamela on May 9, 2018 at 5:46 am

      Sue says
      May 5, 2018 at 1:21 pm

      Let me just say, change CAN happen! My husband was a verbal and emotional abuser for 27 years! But God got a hold of him. He is now in counseling and recovery and that left side of the cycle has changed. He is not perfect and it took a couple of years of my own healing to admit he has/is changing. Our marriage is still not what we both want it to be but in time it will be. These changes don’t happen overnight. Trust takes time to build, healing takes time but I’m grateful I no longer have to live in that abuse cycle.

      Pamela says
      May 8, 2018 at 5:31 am

      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      Hi Sue,
      Yay! Love to hear your positive results. I know there are probably more than we hear about; those women don’t read a post like this. As my husband is also changing and healing I almost didn’t read it.
      I’m so grateful for Leslie spelling out how when we see changed ways of handling the tensions and the left side of the cycle that that is change we can trust. I was starting to question whether or not I should be hopeful despite feeling hopeful so much. We have had upsets and crazy talk again but he is recovering so quickly now! And taking responsibility, seeing his reactions honestly and apologizing. Rising tension that used to result in a blow up and a day of the silent treatment is now 30 mins of “I just need to not talk for a bit” followed by a man restored to sanity, self-aware and ready to be loving again.
      I get it now, I will be looking for the changes on the left side of the cycle. Those tell the truth.
      By the way, like one of y’all said above, I too am so grateful for understanding “fantasy-wife thinking”. I was striving for being that fantasy wife, down on myself when I failed, proud of myself when I could stay godly through the storm of emotional abuse
      (read: not blow up in reaction), and then I woke up. I learned that trying harde does not work in some relationships. It blew my mind and has been continuing to do so ever since. I can’t stop preaching this to every woman I know in this type of marriage. Leslie has true insight from God! I’m so grateful!


      This is an emotionally destructive, abusive marriage. It’s time to start embracing that I may need to end. The book Concsious Uncoupling gave me peace about how a divorce could be okay. Leslie presents the idea that God does not care more about marriage than about the individuals in the marriage. Makes so much sense.
      The place where the bible says “God hates divorce” is Malachi 2. Read it. He’s saying God hates when a man cheats on his wife then divorces her and leaves her destitute. It’s hurting her upon hurting her and that is not okay with God!
      Women seem to have more leeway:
      “Now to the married I command, yet not I but the Lord: A wife is not to depart from her husband. But even if she does depart, let her remain unmarried or be reconciled to her husband. And a husband is not to divorce his wife.”
      ‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭7:10-11‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
      Mostly the command is to men.

      Your husband has some internal stuff going on that has probably developed in him a long time ago, before he even met you.
      You didn’t cause it, you cannot fix it. Stop trying. You’re doing him no favors.
      In our types of marriages, trying harder does not work. It only feeds their delusion that they are entitled to the fantasy wife. The fantasy wife can be treated badly and forgive immediately bounce back ready to love, serve, have sex. I used to think this was being strong and godly. I can handle any storm he can dish out and still forgive and believe our marriage is one of love. I don’t even need him to apologize. That’s what the most godly people do,right?
      Wrong. I was doing my husband no kindness. Once I started leaving the room and sometimes the house when he got ugly he had to face himself and decide what he really wanted.
      This actually caused him to cross the line and grab my phone one night. He had done this once before so I had changed the passcode. So He tried to break it. I wrestled it back from him and was just so appalled at him I ran out of the house to my car screaming in fear. He was chasing me to stop me (probably quiet me) and it just made my fear worse.
      I drove out, turned off my gps and realized I couldn’t go to any friends houses because I really thought I’d endanger them. I met a friend at Starbucks to help me calm down, feel some love and make a plan. Having started reading about destructive marriages (I was not down for the word “abuse ” at first) I had a bag packed in the car already.
      He called many times. I answered once but he was so mad and blaming I just put my phone in airplane mode. I finally went to my parents house and woke up to 30 messages and texts of anger and to claims of painful torture. He had had to spend the night with his worst fears, without control.
      He woke up willing to see my therapist together and do whatever she recommended. He started individual counseling and is now blown away that what he resisted for years has now given relief from anxiety and depression. He is not yet seeing his need for God but he is so much happier. And so is our marriage.
      He handles stres with meditation is is open to wisdom he would never listen to before.
      He used to say he’d never apologize and he’d never forgive. While I was fervently teaching my kids these crucial skills he was stubbornly refusing to do either for 25 years. Somehow my kids are okay at it thank God and now my H is too!
      But it took him really believing he would lose it all. Everyone has to make their own choice about how to respond to abuse. Having kids in the home complicates it. I’m not sure I could have been open to divorce when kids were small.
      And it’s super hard if you are not working. Get help and make a plan. Try getting more secure and independent before you consider leaving. Leslie’s book outlines a great godly method.
      But know this, risking it all is what gave me the chance to gain so much more than I ever had. It was worth the risk.
      I still have to be aware of over functioning. He still gets moody at times. I do too. But we give each other space respectfully (although sometimes there is some healthy anger) and can calm ourselves to resolve differences quickly for the most part.
      I had to embrace truth and give up my marriage to have hope of getting it back.
      “Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?”
      ‭‭Luke‬ ‭9:23-25‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

      All the best,

    • Pamela on May 9, 2018 at 1:23 pm

      So, my last comment was super long but my short comment is READ AND RE-READ Leslie’s book. Especially chapter 10, esp pages 55-56. You are stealing an opportunity for your husband to face his own heart and heal. If you aren’t motivated for the sake of your own soul, take action, learn and stop trying harder for the sake of your husband’s soul. It could be the kindest, most loving action you’ve taken for him.
      Feel free to contact me at prhoyt@gmail.com. I’d love to connect if you want help.

  26. Keesha on May 8, 2018 at 3:55 pm

    This truly has blessed me because some of the same behaviors I have seen and heard from my soon to be ex. I left in January 2018. I have stood firm with not returning to this cycle of abuse. I have heard that I have no compassion, I have no morals and that what I am doing is dangerous. I have also been told that I am heartless. All to make me feel guilty and fearful to stand firm on my filing for divorce and ending the marriage. I am at peace and feel so relieved that I have left and made the decision to divorce. It is so irritating and hilarious at the same time when I am attacked because I will not yield to his demands and pleadings. I am moving forward. I am in grad school and I have joined a new church. I am determined to get my life back on track and I don’t care what he tries to do or say to me. I stand with anyone who is enduring the same in prayer. It will pass!

    • Free on May 8, 2018 at 8:24 pm

      Good work! Don’t you think it is necessary to live apart to really see how ridiculous these men are? The longer we stay, the longer they have to groom us into their pet.

  27. Loretta on May 9, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    Free’s comment about the longer we stay with the abusive spouse, the longer they have to groom us into their pet. My husband and I will be separating soon; he is moving to another town and I don’t think I can live w/o him. We been married 17 1/2 years. The first 5-6 years were wonderful but he has become so abusive: emotionally/mentally and now physically. His first remarks in the morning are “put downs”. Why do I still care? I need to release him to the Lord’s care. I am praying daily for him and myself.
    Reading this blog has helped me see how bad my marriage has been. Thankful for this blog.

    • Free on May 10, 2018 at 6:26 am

      You still care because you are a loving woman who bonded to her husband in marriage, just as she was designed to do. It is a shock to you that your husband has given into rule by the evil ine. Your subconsious brain is using denial to protect you from this horrible. You are fully engaged in fantasy if you think you couldd ever live well with your husband in his present condition.

      Continue your counseling, as you need your frontal cortex, the thinking portion of your brain, to lead you to safety. It will take time to get out of denial. It happens gradually in different domains of your life.The truth is that it is illogical and disrespectful to your soul to expose yourself in the company of an evil man, and yes Loretta, he IS evil.

      You will do absolutely fabulous without your destructive spouse in your life. Yet, you have been grromed to obey and will need a support team as well as some time to fully heal. You have taken an important first step. Don’t look back.

  28. Loretta on May 10, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    I have support of so many people at church and friends. I’m being told that I am doing the right thing in divorcing him. Have spoken with pastor couple of times and he told me I was not bound in this marriage.
    It just hurts to think about living w/o him but I cannot live with someone who doesn’t respect me and is always tearing me down emotionally. There has been physical abuse. He has lied to me.
    He totaled my car back in Jan. and said he would give me $$ when I purchased another; it never happened. He tore my garage door up and then tore one of my lamps up. Said he would replace blind and repair lamp. All talk.
    In due time, I will recover and be a stronger person.
    I’ve turned him over to the Lord.

  29. FLGirl on May 10, 2018 at 11:10 pm

    I have a question. My h has shown awareness and ability to take feedback sometimes. The problem is it’s not consistent, sometimes even in the same conversation. He will own his behavior, apologize and then get defensive. It’s crazy making. I never know what to expect from day to day or in the same conversation. He never owned it at all before so is he improving or not?

    He does not tear me down emotionally right out but his random argumentative, defensive spirit, blame shifting and aggressive responses turn my stomach and make me feel beat up. He also lacks empathy and the ability to connect emotionally. I don’t know what to make of this. Sometimes I think he’s honestly trying as I’ve seen him read books, pray, go to counseling but simply can’t change.

    • Aly on May 11, 2018 at 9:53 am


      I’m sorry for your situation, have you seen Patrick Doyle videos on line? They might be helpful as you describe ‘being confused’ and manipulated it seems when you are interacting with your husband.

      If he can only take responsibility of his actions or attitudes for a brief moment only to soon turn the table ~ then your back to square one.
      Have you asked your counselor about this pattern you are experiencing with your husband?

      I’m sure it’s confusing to see him pray, read and ‘look like he’s invested in changing’ but then in the real process with you see the old coping skills crept up?
      Is the counseling individual or joint? Is there a lot of reading and homework about shame too?

      I say shame because you say he doesn’t aggressively come at you but if he’s challenged you do get all the behaviors as a shield and that can get exhausting.
      I wonder if you also might be feeling trained ‘not’ to challenge him and have any real emotionally involved conversations where maybe you have different connection needs?

    • Free on May 11, 2018 at 11:39 am

      The lack of empathy is a hallmark sign of a narcissist. It seems it is time to research narcissistic personality disorders. The effort will reward you with a great deal of wisdom. Your H is not special or unique. His behaviors are typical and easily diagnosed.

  30. Rebecca on May 11, 2018 at 10:15 am

    “Behaviors as a shield”… I wondered if others got this like I have. Has he physically hurt me? No. Does he follow me into small rooms/closets and block the door? Does he refuse to let a conversation end and I find myself defeated and exhausted for all the circle talk! YES.

    I’m curious how shame comes into play on these type of behaviors?

    • Free on May 11, 2018 at 11:33 am

      Blocking an exit is abuse which is punishable by improvement. You need to call the police the next time he does that and don’t back down from your stance when the officer arrives. Have the abuser taken away in handcuffs. We live in a land with laws to protect us. Please untilize them.

      • Free on May 11, 2018 at 11:33 am

        Imprisonment not improvement

  31. Michelle on May 18, 2018 at 1:41 am

    Can an abuser change? If so what can they do?

    • T.L. on May 18, 2018 at 7:34 pm

      How Michelle,

      I agree with Aly’s comments. From the vast research I’ve done, and from personal experience, I would say that they CAN but it’s extremely rare, because they don’t really want to (even though they may say they do.) They have to want to change (repent: change of mind and direction), and then they have to humble themselves and submit to those who can help them re-learn how to relate to others from a position of equality, respect, and mutuality. It takes a lot of time and investment, because their best aim pathways have been deeply entrenched by their repeated bad choices. Abusers generally have deep pride and entitlement issues: they think they are more important than the people they are abusing, and are simply entitled to respect (because they are superior), even when they do not earn it.

      So as Aly said, that heart of pride has to be broken, humbled, surrendered. And they are very resistant to that: they want to win at any cost.

      For more insight, I would recommend reading or listening to: Lundy Bancroft, Dr. George Simon, Chris Moles, and watching Patrick Doyle videos.

      • T.L. on May 18, 2018 at 7:36 pm

        ** brain pathways, not “best aim pathways” 😊

      • Aly on May 18, 2018 at 8:41 pm


        I agree with you. And yes to the super brain highways! Goodness those have to be dug up and never built again.

        You wrote:
        “hat heart of pride has to be broken, humbled, surrendered. And they are very resistant to that: they want to win at any cost.”

        So true!
        When you said the thing about winning, I remember my h telling me that (in his previous mindset) there was a winner and a loser…
        I said, what about both people winning?
        He said, “I never considered that an option.”
        He was taught that if there was a winner there was a loser and the winner has the power.
        This obviously is an immature thinking pattern but it’s amazing what roads get laid down.
        Praise God for his recovery & cont. recovery.

  32. Aly on May 18, 2018 at 7:02 pm


    I think they can but there are some essentials that must be evident.
    Surrendered Heart being key
    They also have to show that they have insight that ‘they need drastic help to change’ and that their behavior is unacceptable in a serious way and thus needs a transformation!
    I believe it takes long term interventions for real change and character growth to happen
    In basic terms, it’s almost like a reparenting process as God is their authority.

    Often abusers (users) have a lot of authority stuff going on at a deeper level ~ just my opinion based on power and control issues.

    • Aly on May 18, 2018 at 7:07 pm


      Also I just want to clarify the God being their authority as important but also they must have several people ‘safe healthier people’ who they are accountable to in addition to God being the core authority.

      I didn’t want to mislead here as many abusers like to only answer to God, and use that often to avoid accountability and the process of growing toward maturity.

  33. Brian on May 21, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    As a husband of over thirty years, the right side or honeymoon side is good intentions. These intentions are real – but they do not always translate to good execution. As a Christian husband, I know that it requires growing in Christ and growing in spiritual maturity. For the wives who long to see good intentions really make it all the way to good execution, encourage (insist) that your husband gets engaged in a discipling relationship with a godly mentor who can build deep into his life and help him grow and mature into a godly man who will learn to love you as Christ Jesus loves his bride. This will be a process and will not happen in isolation. It is not intended to happen in isolation.

    • Aly on May 21, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      Essential! Could not agree more with your points on a husband needing to surrender to a godly mentor to help the maturing process.
      Not sure I understand what you meant about the honeymoon side?

    • Jan McNulty on July 21, 2021 at 11:22 am

      My experience is men do not like it or receive it when women encourage, insist they do anything. That is the whole thing……they are not receptive or mature enough and want to do things their own way. Not sure how that would work.

  34. Brian on May 22, 2018 at 7:23 am

    Thanks. The honeymoon side is the right side of the diagrsm.

    I pray your church is building godly men – for the benefit of others.

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