I just returned from a long weekend in Florida. The good news is I got out of Pennsylvania’s blistery weather and enjoyed some great Florida sunshine even though I was indoors most of the time for the conference.
The bad news is I’m back in the cold. More and more I prefer the warm weather. Glad I’ll be headed to California once again for winter.
Last week I wrote a blog for Christian counselors on a topic I think you’ll find interesting. I invited them to think outside the box on what it might look like to help a woman become more like Christ. Check it out and let me know what you think. You can find it at here.
Also, there will be a two-session class introduction to “Building CORE Strength Group” on Wednesday, December 9th and 16th from 7:30 PM ET -9 PM ET. For more information click here.
Over the past few weeks I’ve appreciated the lively discussion we’ve had around boundaries and today’s question is a follow up application question.
How does a wife go about setting boundaries around her husband’s control of her? I’ve offered her a few suggestions and I’d love you to give her your input as well.
Question: I’m confused on what constitutes emotional abuse. My husband is a well-respected man in our church and community. He doesn’t call me names or curse at me but he thinks he knows best about everything and he believes he should control absolutely everything as the head of the house. I have no say in our finances, what I can buy, how I decorate the house or even what groceries to purchase each week. He tells me what clothes I should wear and when I resist, he says that if I loved him, I’d want to please him in the way I dress.
I’ve told him I want to be free to make my own choices, but he tells me God has called him to be the head over me. When I disagree, or refuse to listen to him he tells me I am being un-submissive and disrespectful and that I must not love him.
I feel like I’m being slowly smothered and I can’t breathe. I wanted to go to work and he said I couldn’t because I am needed at home even though our children are in school all day long. If I do not have his meals cooked the way he wants when he wants, he withdraws, sulks and won’t talk to me.
There are times when I feel so angry I blow up and say terrible things. I feel bad for getting angry and sometimes I wonder if I’m not the abusive person because of what I say when I get upset. I find myself sneaking things behind his back and I know that’s wrong. Bottom line is I want to leave him but I’m afraid God will punish me if I do. Am I being rebellious and ungrateful or is there something wrong here?
Answer: Although we may not be able to articulate exactly what’s wrong, one of the ways we know that we are in an abusive and destructive relationship is that we feel it. Our spirit is crushed and we cannot thrive in the environment that we’re in. We’re slowly shriveling up and dying inside.
From what you describe, although your husband isn’t verbally abusive, his domineering and controlling behaviors are slowly suffocating you. They keep you afraid of making choices for yourself or when you try, you have a price to pay in his criticism and withdrawal. As a result you function like a child, not a grown up woman. This is not healthy for you or for him. This is also not what God intended for marriage.
God did not give husbands freedom to demand their own way all the time and call that headship. Rather, God calls that behavior selfishness. Biblical headship, as described by Jesus, involves sacrificial servant-hood. As the head, your husband gets to initiate that kind of service toward you. To learn more on the whole issue of Biblical headship and submission issues watch my free video here.
You can’t change your husband’s controlling behavior or his belief that he’s entitled to do so. However, the problem you must work on is your response. Right now you cave into his demands and allow yourself to be coerced into doing it his way, or you have a temper tantrum and say horrible things that you later regret. Either way you are not only being treated as a child, you’re responding like one. You’re functioning as a complaint child, a helpless child, or a rebellious child.
If you want to change this destructive pattern in your marriage, the change starts with you. First, you need strong boundaries. Remember boundaries help you define who you are and how you want to be treated. They help you take responsibility for you and steward your life and choices in the way you believe God calls you to. Right now your husband is attempting to take responsibility for you, believing that is his God-given role and right to do so. That’s not true. Only you are responsible for you. He is responsible to you but not for you.
I talk about how to make these changes in detail in my books, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, but here are some crucial steps.
First, it’s imperative that you stop and ask yourself why you’ve permitted yourself to be treated like a child instead of an adult woman throughout your marriage? This is a very important step.
Second and just as important, ask yourself what is going on in you that makes you unable to tolerate both your husband’s disapproval as well as his withdrawal when you refuse to comply? He uses both of these tactics to manipulate you into doing what he wants. If you want to make a significant change and become healthy, you’ll have to learn to tolerate his disapproval and withdrawal, at least for a season.
Next, you need to face whatever fears you have that keeps you from learning to speak up for yourself in a calm, firm, adult way. You have a typical pattern of putting up with inappropriate behavior until you can’t stand it anymore and then you blow up. When that happens, you feel ashamed and guilty so you go back to putting up with it until you can’t bear to. Now you want to run away and leave the relationship. But I’d encourage you to stick it out for now but this time from a position of strength, not fear.
God wants you to function as an adult woman, not a passive, fearful, or rebellious child. Gaining strength and courage is something He wants to give you and your marriage is the context in which you can start to learn (tweet that).
Pray and ask him for His wisdom and strength to begin to have a crucial but calm and controlled conversation with your spouse.
Last, it seems like your husband believes certain lies that hinder his ability to allow you to function independently of him. I’m not sure of all of them but here are a few that I’ve discerned in your question:
Lie # 1: If someone says she loves you, she should always want to please you, do what you want her to, and make you happy.
Lie # 2: If you say you love someone that means you should always do what the other person wants you to do and always want to please him.
Lie #3: God has given men total decision-making power in a family and over their wives.
Lie # 4: When my wife disagrees or doesn’t want to do what I want her to do, that means she doesn’t love me or love God enough to submit to my leadership.
Lie # 5: A wife’s sole purpose is to revolve herself around the needs and interests of her family. If she wants anything independent of those things, she is not loving her family or loving God first.
Your husband may mean well but if he’s attached to these lies, he’s blind to the truth. He may not be able to see clearly but you must. However, when you begin to assert yourself it will not only make him angry, it will be painful to him because your independence scares him. He also tells himself the lie that your quest to be “yourself” means that you don’t love him or God enough.
In order to break this pattern, you must begin to refute the lies your husband believes in your conversations with him. In addition, you must not allow his sulking behavior or withdrawal to intimidate you to do what you do not want to do.
As you implement these changes, I’d encourage you to have a “speak up” dialogue with him where you address not only what you do or don’t want to do, but you address the lie in order to expose it to the light of truth. It might go something like this:
“Honey I know you mean well and you are trying to do what you think is best for me and our family but I’m a grown up woman and need to make my own choices. If I choose an outfit for myself, it’s not because I don’t love you, but I want to wear clothes that make me feel comfortable and attractive and I think I can best decide how I feel in certain clothes.”
When he withdraws and sulks because you haven’t done something he wanted you might say something like this:
“I know you’re disappointed that I’ve decided to take that part time job but I need some outside stimulation and am bored at home all day. I know you think that the household chores will suffer but I think that I can still cover the basics with working these hours. The kids can help out more and I think I will feel happier as a person. I need you to respect my decision, even if you disagree.”
This change will feel very awkward at first for both of you. He won’t like your new found strength to stand up to him and you will feel uncomfortable asserting yourself without using your anger as a shield. But I promise you that if you stick with being respectful toward him, yet assertive in what you need for yourself, this path will have the best shot at helping him to see his controlling behavior as unhealthy and hopefully he will begin to change it.
If you refuse to give into his sulking and just go about your business, then it no longer works for him to do it. Pay attention. He will probably respond in one of two ways. He will either escalate into more controlling abusive behavior, or will adapt to the changes you are trying to make in the marriage. If he adapts then you have given your relationship a better shot at building more mutuality and reciprocity. If he escalates to scarier controlling or abusive behaviors, then you have greater grounds to consider separating from him.
Friends, when you realize that you are being controlled or manipulated through someone’s emotional withdrawal or hurtful words, how have you gained the strength to respond and set healthy boundaries for yourself in a godly way?
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How Do I Minister To My Unbelieving Abusive Husband?
Morning friends, How are you doing? I mean really doing, deep in your soul and spirit? Are you sensing His presence? His love? His forgiveness? His help? I hope so. Many of you here experience a crushed spirit. You are regularly invalidated, dismissed, demeaned and degraded and used as an object. This takes it’s toll…
Seems like my husband acts like the child when I confront him on his behavior towards me.
And I act like a child when I avoid any conversation with him. I have an intense physical hysteria internally when I need to discuss something with him.
Satan is working overtime in my home and my head.
The intense physical hysteria internally likely comes from PTSD after countless attempts to have these legitimate conversations and the backlash that comes from such. Likely you did not start out that way, unless you have experience from your past teaching you these conversations are dangerous.
Remedy….growing up was very chaotic. I grew up in an alcoholic home with lots of conditions, criticisms, and shame. My PTSD is rooted there. My husband is a master at blaming me for ” the state of our affairs.” That’s how he puts it. Conversation now in my marriage and then in my childhood are dangerous.
Yes I’m sure there may be that element but then how do you get help for yourself so that you are not continually triggered. It’s imperative that she work on her own healing, wherever she starts.
Thank you Leslie. I do need to remind myself that is the about him. I would love to be able to…in a loving way….. say exactly what you said to him.
And I am working on my own healing through a 27 week healing class. The goal for me is to be able to separate my current life with my life growing up. I realize that I am an adult woman, not a child and teen who lived in fear. The internal reactions get mixed up sometimes.
Be curious about what that hysteria is about? Don’t judge it. Don’t act on it. Just observe it. What is it saying to you?
Leslie. .the internal hysteria triggers thoughts of a blonde curly haired little girl, me, that no one would listen to, fight for, love unconditionally, and just be glad she was in their life. I always felt snubbed by my parents and other family members.
Now my husband is doing this to me…
On good days I can reiterate how much I am loved by God and that I am his precious daughter. I have a lot of people who love me. I can say with confidence that my husband is the one losing out. On the bad days when I am feeling the internal hysteria, I experience shame, blame, and contempt for myself and the mistakes I have made in my marriage. My husband becomes my idol.
The past two days I have felt the hysteria . My flesh wanted to verbally last out in the worst way. Instead I wrote in my journal, asked for help from my support group, and cried out to God for help. I can go to bed knowing that I have been obedient to God. Despite the pain and anger I feel towards my husband, i have honored God by the way I have loved and cared for him.
Dear Hopeful, I read your explanation of how your episodes with your husband will churn up pain from your childhood. That makes me so sad. I’ve only known abuse as an adult. I can’t imagine the agony you’ve gone thru as this abuse has gone on since you were an innocent, precious child.
Our society looks at the Holocaust with horror and rightly so. But what about the lady who’s been mistreated and shamed and denigrated for DECADES. She’s your neighbor. She’s the piano player at church. She’s your cashier at the grocery store.
I am so sorry.
Hopeful – please find a local biblical counselor that can invest significant time in interaction with both you and your spouse. God designed for us to function in genuine community for the benefit of each other. There are no quick fixed or easy explanations that will heal your marriage or the hearts of you and your husband.
we are all broken on one level or another. there is no question that your feelings are real. i was sexually abused as a child and have experienced various levels of verbal abuse. In reaction, I have also been “abusive.”
The most significant measure of power that I have received and appropriated as a result of swimming in God’s river of Truth is this: I am not a victim (as it relates to the abuse i have experienced), and I am without excuse (as it relates to the “abuse” I have extended.) This ability to respond to TRUTH – response-ability – has set me free from the lie that the FEELINGS of my desperately wicked and deceitful heart (Jeremiah 17:9) want to scream at me on a regular basis. The lie is that nothing is my fault!
The fact is that, as members of God’s family and co-heirs of God’s Kingdom, we have everything we need right now to live happy and contented lives – even if our circumstances stink. Whether its our feelings of unhappiness or of being treated like a child, or whether its the fact that we are being lied to and manipulated – we still have access to happiness and contentment in Christ. It’s not our spouses fault that we are miserable.
If we are at risk physically, we must get out of harms way. But we have far more power over “verbal abuse” than we give ourselves credit for.
The spectrum of experiences is broad. Everyone has unique circumstances and a unique lens through which they see and process everything. I am not suggesting a one-size-fits-all remedy or explanation for anything. But God’s truth and his principles are timeless and apply to all circumstances. He has given us power to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ, even the thoughts that say “i deserve better, i don’t like my feelings, i am being mistreated, this is not fair, this is not what I signed up for, etc.”
It sounds like he doesn’t even see you as an individual with needs, you are only there to meet his needs. You could set a boundary by telling him you need to be the wife, mother & woman God called you to be. When your husband’s will for you conflicts with God’s will for you, you will chose God’s will and he needs to respect that.
Yes it seems like he’s deciding the women God called her to be instead of allowing her the freedom to see what God calls her to be.
My husband has very little interest in my life or my needs. I have made it clear to him more than once that I have needs. He ignores them… Why can’t I come to terms that he has emotionally left our marriage?
He wants a trophy wife and mother for his ( our children ).
Hopeful, you have already crossed a huge hurdle when you were able to say that he has emotionally left the marriage. Accepting that is another thing but take heart in that strength God has given you. To recognize this is a sign of strength and of growth as I see it. When you say that he has emotionally left the marriage you are putting the responsibility for the abuse where it correctly lies in your case…with him. That in itself is a great step!
Coming to terms with that is another process. It often involves the stages of grief…denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. In cases of abuse it seems this process is not linear and may better resemble a pinball machine. Denial then anger, depression, more anger, etc.
Your background is similar to mine and for me I had to also work through accepting the fact that I did not fail in this relationship. I took the blame for all the issues in past relationships, including family. I was so hungry for love and acceptance that I never “chose” anyone…I connected with whomever was willing to connect with me. Their willingness was my only criteria which proved to be disastrous. I felt a sense of shame in the beginning because I thought if my marriage didn’t work it was just another indication that I was defective. But in reality I was setting myself up to fail because I set my standards far to low when it came to relationships.
Since being free from my long term oppressor (what some call a husband) God has also granted me the gift of no longer needing other people the way I did most of my life. I desire this for you to because needing others in that way is really a prison. It’s understandable when you haven’t been shown genuine love and care so I don’t fault myself for falling into that trap that I was pushed into, but once I recognized it wasn’t healthy for me and God showed me I didn’t need others approval, the the prison doors came flying open. And unlike Paul, I left! 🙂
So I think that in answer to how you can come to terms with that is allowing yourself to go through the grieving process. These are very real losses to grieve. When everything you have tried has made no positive long term difference in the marriage and you see evidence that your husband is showing no interest in having a healthy marriage (as evidenced in his long term behavior, not his words) and may even sabotaging any attempts…then it is time to grieve that loss. Be prepared for a flood of other losses to come with that grief. It is another journey in itself. BUT…at the end of all that there is a freedom and peace you never thought possible.
I liken lettting go of an abusive spouse to amputating and arm with gangrene. You know it needs to be done because the effects are killing you but this is your arm…it’s not an easy thing to let go of no matter how toxic it is. Life won’t be the same but it IS better. Yet contrary to my previous belief, I also did NOT need my husband like I needed an arm. It felt like an arm loss in the beginning but later it was more like being away from a yipping dog that was constantly biting my heels. 😉
Just my thoughts FWIW.
Valerie, your kind response to Hopeful was so wise, so well-said! I will remember your word-picture about the pinball machine. That’s such a helpful analogy. I hope I remember it when my emotions go in circles of fear & anxiousness, to despair, to anger, and to a peaceful resolve. It’s easy to believe maybe I’m the crazy one.
I’m so thankful I found this website. Leslie’s materials and the wisdom of this community is already helping me and I’ve only been reading for about a week.
Hope, when you say you have made it clear to him you have needs…….. Something I read on this blog that stuck with me-
‘It’s more important what I speak to myself than what I speak to others’. This comment taught me yes it’s good and healthy to share my boundaries and my needs- but it’s more important to know they are mine and I must walk in them. Talking to my spouse about them is necessary but it’s something he may never ‘hear’. So it makes more sense to me to make sure I know what j need and want and take action.
Robin..one of my needs is physical affection. I have taken risks with my husband and asked for a hug when he leaves for work or when he comes home. This makes it much easier for me to be sexually intimate with him. He continues to come and go with nothing but a forced goodbye or hello when he comes home. I am the one who approaches him with a hug or a touch. I am not playing his game. In the end, if he still feels like divorce is the best option for him, I will know that i made many efforts to heal my brokenness that contributed to the state of my marriage. I really think that his refusal to meet me in the Middle with everyday issues, such as paying a bill, planning the meal for thanksgiving, talking about our children’s school issues, is his way of nailing me for falling short as a wife.
Hopeful – I’m very sympathetic of your situation. The detailed advise and commentary you are receiving from others based on your limited comments and their extensive personal experiences makes me nervous. I pray you have the discernment to evaluate and apply only what is true to your specific circumstances with the help of someone that knows both you and your husband well.
To the extent that I can understand what you are intending to convey – I am very sorry. If you are taking responsibility for the positive choice to do everything you can to reach out to him and show him self-giving love, and if you are taking equal responsibility for the negative choice to react poorly to his behavior, and if he is choosing to break his commitment to the covenant – I don’t know what else you can do. Pursuing further understanding of the situation while praying for healing is a helpless but real lot. I am very sorry.
Hopeful, if I was you I think I’d ask myself the question- what do I need. If you have long term been trying to make things better in your marriage and he has stopped wanting to work on the marriage, what then? Perhaps it’s time to set some healthy boundaries and see how he responds. If he wants to move forward maybe he needs to commit to some accountability, but from what I’ve been hearing he is threatening divorce. Maybe it’s time as Leslie teaches in her books to look for safety and sanity .
Hopeful, I find it very sad you gave to take a risk and ask for a hug- as you said in your own words- to make it easy to have intimate relations with him. God never intended for a man to ignore all your needs, and give no love to you and still expect sex. There is a respectful way to handle the intimate relationship God set up for both man and wife to enjoy. Hopeful have you listened to Leslies video on her website about this subject? It changed my life . Please look it up!
Leslie said: “Second and just as important, ask yourself what is going on in you that makes you unable to tolerate both your husband’s disapproval as well as his withdrawal when you refuse to comply? He uses both of these tactics to manipulate you into doing what he wants. If you want to make a significant change and become healthy, you’ll have to learn to tolerate his disapproval and withdrawal, at least for a season.”
This paragraph hit me hard. Someone only has to hint that they disapprove of me, and I’m a mess (and can be controlled as a result). This is really the crux of what I need to learn – how to put my faith in who God says I am, and not what others say.
I always want to be “right” (even to my enemies). I want everyone who has something against me to know that they are wrong because either my motives were pure, or I was misunderstood.
I am so hard on myself, and try to be “perfect”, how dare anyone say that I’m not! 😉
Anyone see share this tendency (the need for approval) and struggle to feel “ok” in the face of someone who disapproves of you?
see was supposed to be “else” – Anyone else share this tendency…
I do. It is good to be aware of it and counter it with God’s truth, finding your approval in Him. It took me an extremely bad experience in a church with a pastor that sounds very much like the husband in the above article before I realized how dangerous that people pleasing tendency in me could be. The fear of man is also very dangerous to my Christian walk. It is a snare and will keep me from a right relationship with my Savior. I am thankful to have learned this through the trial God brought me through, nite I just have to stay alert and take every thought captive when I find myself in that negative pattern of thinking again. Thankfully it’s not an issue in my marriage. Praying for you Lee Ann
Thank you Julie for your prayers! You are so right that I need to fear God, and not man! I’m sure that the support here will help!
Yes when we bow into another human being, we risk being controlled and defined by him or her whether they are our husband, pastor, or counselor.
In response to the question, how did you cope or survive mistreatment? I found that a full utilization of my creative energies during non abusive periods was extremely beneficial. I have used artistic outlets and creative writing to remind me that I am an individual with my thoughts and means of self expression. These thoughts and actions helped counter the horrible, cruel actions of my abusive spouse. My advise is to capitalize on every abuse free moment to breath deeply and savor your own free thoughts.
I too suffer from the need for approval. My husband would use withdrawal to the extreme, often not speaking to me for weeks (4-8) and then threatening me with divorce. I would react in anger or cave in. I absolutely had no idea how to set healthy boundaries. Instead my attempt came across as controlling and manipulative, and they were! I finally found my sanity with Leslie’s amazing books and by joining CoDA. (Co-dependents anonymous). I am slowly learning how to work on ME and my understanding of my own personal issues and am learning to strengthen my relationship with God.
Lisa my husband has been threatening me with divorce since July 2014. He shuts do2n, barely talks to me, shows me no affection. Some days I can barley get through. The rejection I feel is undescribable. When I make an attempt to talk to him he rages.
Perhaps it would be easier for you to realize that his rejection of you is more about what’s going on in him than what’s wrong with you. It hurts still, but the way he’s treating you has more to do with him.
Yea Lisa, I’m so glad you realized that the only person you could work on changing was you.
What would be so bad about not being right sometimes? Or that you didn’t always have pure motives or that you are not perfect. That could actually be freeing for you to admit that you are indeed just an ordinary, beautiful but broken imperfect human being.
“That could actually be freeing for you to admit that you are indeed just an ordinary, beautiful but broken imperfect human being.”
This is tweet worthy!
Boy, I sure do understand the need for approval. I am learning that it is a trap from Satan. I have lived that lie for most of my life. So often it feels like truth and my decisions and how I feel about myself and my life stem from that lie.
I am now in the process of changing how I respond to the relationship patterns developed over the course of our marriage. Part of this journey involves examining the impact on me being an adult child raised in a family system heavily influenced by an alcoholic parent. I’m not a happy camper discovering that despite all my hard work to be emotionally healthy, there are still some areas that need attention.
My point: Counselor recommended I check out some Al-Anon groups. Between that (3 visits so far) and counseling, I’ve just discovered that one the strengths/weaknesses I learned is the ability to tolerate discomfort. I’ve pushed away that discomfort and knowing that something was wrong for far longer than I would have had I been able to act on those alarm bells.
So here I am, 30 years into a marriage, changing my steps in the dance. Will our marriage (which has many happy memories mixed in) survive? Will my husband and I find mutually agreeable boundaries? As hard as the thought of leaving the marriage is, my committment is to a healthy me, not to the marriage.
So, our marriage at the moment is a shell of civility wrapped around a core of mutual distrust. I am now consciously stepping away from those old patterns and taking the risk.
It’s a scary process, and there’s a lot of sadness in it. But it’s also a liberating process. It speaks to one’s humanity, and strength. It speaks to honoring the light that shines within you — which is a very special way of worshipping the Creator, who crafted both you and your husband with love.
Peace and strength to you.
Ann. I have been in Recovery from alcoholism and eating disorders for over 30 years. I just started attending ALANON. I can go for days feeling discomfort in my marriage. It’s awful. I completely understand the shell of civility. For me, it is incredibly lonely.
Hopeful, yes, it is lonely. It’s also a place to spend time figuring out who you are as a person, separate from relationship identities. It’s a place to begin thinking about the Hope (and the hope) that is waiting to be discovered and honored.
One of the first steps forward for me (after nearly a year of dwelling in anger and sorrow) was to realize that that year didn’t represent righteous anger and hurt. Instead, it represented the unveiling of my identity — angry — and that the anger was as old as I am.
I made a conscious decision to release that anger, like balloons. This meant that I had to consciously release a balloon about my husband, oh, every five seconds, lol. But–and it’s only been about two weeks, so I’m early in the process–I already feel better, lighter, inside.
My words sound to me like maybe I have it all figured out. I don’t, but by golly, I’m determined to grow through this and come out of it a strong, self-assured person who still makes mistakes.– but not the same darned ones!
Best to you as you bravely face and select the changes that lead you ever-closer to your true self.
Ann. Thank you for the visual about balloons.
My whole identity in my marriage has been based on what kind of mood my husband was in. I have allowed that fear to dictate the 23 years we have been together. So unfair to me and to him.
This morning has been tough. He has ignored me, no physical affirmation in days. God please help me understand that his behavior is about him and the condition of his heart.
Good for you Ann. It’s hard to wake up sometimes to our own humanity and brokenness but it is only from that place where we can be healed.
Ann: I completely sympathize with the process of understanding and pursuing God’s ultimate purpose in the world – to redeem and restore all broken things. This includes both individual people and relationships….not an easy concept to grasp when we these two categories have competing interests at times. With this in mind, I cannot help but as about this statement you made:
“As hard as the thought of leaving the marriage is, my commitment is to a healthy me, not to the marriage.”
How do you see this objective in comparison to God’s objective for creation? In the model of Christ and His Church, does either side display this mindset?
We don’t know each other so all you have is my word (and anything you can observe from digging up my past comments). No presumption or offense is intended by the question. The truth is never threatened by questions or conversation and I do not have exclusive claim on truth….only a humble and sincere voice with which to explore and pursue it. Thanks.
Edmund, short answer is, I gotta be healthy if I’m going to contribute healthy behaviors, nurture a healthy relationship. The part about me over the marriage is, I’m willing to let things shake out and the results will be what they will. I’m not going to “fight” to impose my will (marriage, divorce) on the outcome of this process.
There is, of course, the other half of this relationship. We each are sorting through our respectve boundaries and our respective desires on where to find agreement. I am clear at this point about what I will not accomodate in our future. But it’s a process, and through this focus on myself I expect change, growth, and understanding.
Ann – thanks for taking the question as I intended and for your response. I also appreciate your thoughtfulness and perspective. My honest reaction after just reading your answer is simply one of “neutral” pause…not thinking anything positive or negative about the content of your reasoning…just sensing the spirit that you are pursuing this with a sincere heart and that you, your husband, and the Lord are a good team. I pray that he gives you both wisdom and discernment. I am not “against” divorce nearly as much as I am unapologetically FOR marriage and God’s power to redeem and restore even the most hopeless of circumstances. Blessings to you and your family….and thanks again for the interaction.
I’m so amazed after reading the list of questions you posed that each one of them I was agreeing with myself as the woman that these are God’s calling as in Ephesians to us wives. I’m so confused and I feel that they reflect me as the wife that this is my purpose and should be his as well. I’m engaged and looking to marry after being divorced 10 years and have said these words to my future husband about our future marriage about loving each other and pleasing each other and sacrificing our own needs.
Please explain why these are not biblical?
Ann, mutual honesty, mutual caring, mutual responsibility, mutual sacrifice, mutual repentance are a beautiful thing when demonstrated in a marriage relationship. I’m not sure we need to always sacrifice our own needs, nor am I sure that is always Biblical. Love means acting in the best interests of the beloved. So would it be loving to sacrifice your need for sleep for a sick baby who needed your care, or even a sick spouse? Yes. Would it be loving and in the best interests of your spouse for you to sacrifice your very personhood, just so the other person in the relationship did not feel insecure or threatened? I don’t think so. God created each person to be themselves, not just an object for the other person to “need”. Therefore we are responsible to steward our lives in such a way that honors God. Does that include sacrificing our own needs and wants for a greater good? Yes. Does that mean sacrificing our own needs and wants to enable someone else to have their own way, act selfishly or unloving towards us? I don’t think so.
Thank you for the clarity I see myself in the “pre-marital” bliss stage where all I can only imagine that all will be a mutual loving caring Christ centered relationship. But maybe we should talk about how we will handle sacrificing for the other? Right now my only desire is to please and be there for my Christian husband and loving him well ! Being his Ezer Kenegdo, which is more than a “helper” so that feeds my need to please.
I am coming from a 23 yr. marriage, a man who left me for another woman and from a counselor told me he was totally narcissistic. I bowed down to living for him…and had no interests of my own.
My now fiancé did ask me what my passions were? He has a few…And I said I don’t know, I don’t have any real interests, because I just spent 10 years healing, growing in dependence on the Lord, and staying single and pure for a Boaz to come, if God saw that in my future. I was devoted to continue on struggling single parenting, and trying to survive, working, also my ex dragged me through 5 years of litigation.
I’m afraid I will fall into this trap again of living for my husband. My new fiancé because of his trapped past, wants freedom to do many things and is asking me how I will respond? I can feel myself re-coiling thinking he will have his own interests and I’ll be left home sitting alone. Now I’m scared. Anybody understand this insecure feeling?
Love is freely offered. It’s an outflow away from self and towards another person. It’s never a claim you place on another person to meet your needs or wants.
Manipulation is self serving. It’s an expectation placed on another without their choice or involvement that enables a person to get what they want. “If I do A, you must do B…If I don’t do A, you can’t do B.” etc.
One way we can majoring confuse the situation is when we mix the two. Manipulating someone while calling it love (and truly believing its love) is very destructive to any relationship. One reflection of this dynamic is the template that says “I want A. If you love me, you will give me A. Here is what I have done for you to make me worthy of A. If you don’t give me A then you don’t love me. If you don’t love me, then you’re the problem.”
A limited and simplified observation, but still relevant I think.
I would listen very seriously to those “scared” feelings. Can you slow down this relationship or put it on hold for awhile? I agree with your concerns.
I would always recommend taking “feelings” captive and holding them up to truth….truth about what God says or intends, truth about what another person says or intends, truth about whatever is in me that could effect or influence my subjective and fickle feelings one way or another.
If the “feeling” stands up to the full truth, body mind and spirit are in perfect harmony and we act accordingly. If the truth reveals a defect in our feelings, we submit our feelings to the truth.
“Friends, when you realize that you are being controlled or manipulated through someone’s emotional withdrawal or hurtful words, how have you gained the strength to respond and set healthy boundaries for yourself in a godly way?”
I am rarely am able to do it past the first steps, but I am certain the answer is to put the Lord first all the time but it is nearly impossible. People are so real and in your face (live) and the Lord is that still small voice and you have to really work hard to hear Him. It is disgraceful to me (―I know this is shaming) how I can tolerate the Lord’s disapproval way longer than other people’s withdrawal. What is the deal with that? That makes me feel terrible.
Script 1) I use variants of this with my family but when things go “live” things go off-script and sometimes out-of-control: “It is okay for you to say no to me or to be angry with me. I want you to have that freedom. But I won’t tolerate disrespect or harshness. If you persist, I will leave. This is not the path to the intimacy we both desire.”
Script 2) I use with my mother, for all the good it does me: “. . . . I have separate and equal feelings and ideas, especially about God and Jesus Christ. I don’t believe your beliefs are the only truth. Instead of mutually looking for the truth and solving problems why do you have to negate and minimize my freedom? Why can’t you value my freedom? Why are you more interested in me making the “right” decision, than in my free, heartfelt choice?”
I also realize I try to force God ―to force me to do things that would benefit me, by begging Him to do that. I can only assume He understands that I will never learn to love or respond to Him without that costly freedom. As we all know from reading Leslie’s books, marriage has more to do with bringing yourself under the control of Christ and his principles than it does with controlling our spouse. However, as you relinquish control of your partner, you are able to better love him, protect your own freedom, and provide a context for both of you to grow. [―I know that stuff is so, so easy to say. . . . Doing it. . . . well. . . . The problem is the SPEED at which the interaction takes place, even when I try to slow it down.]
Thank you for all the work you do. The amount of content is truly overwhelming. If I could just implement 10% of this content, —oh my. —So, good boundaries will help us be and choose better quality people because they help us become a better person. I love that. I need better quality people in my life, starting with me.
Wow, I have felt through the years that my husband has treated me like a child and I have found myself acting like one at times. My husband has severe control issues because of his abusive childhood. He wants our marriage and children to be so different from his family (and rightly so) that it has consumed him (not good) most of our marriage. He “falls” back into substance abuse because “we are becoming just like his family”. He has told me multiple times, “just do what you’re told!” and many times gets angry with me when I share my suggestions or opinions on a situation. If he tells me to do something and I ask a certain type of question, he accuses me of “changing things” and then gets angry with me. I know that at the heart of things, he wants a peaceful life so bad but I believe that idea has become an idol to him where he has allowed it to consume him. He has tried so hard to avoid becoming what his family was when he was growing up, that he has repeated some of the sins of his parents. I agree that we don’t want to repeat the sins of our fathers (or mothers), but the fear of repeating their sins should not dominate our actions. My husband has tried to control so much of our lives in an un-healthy and un-biblical way that I found myself sneaking around too – not to sin, but sometimes my boss would let me out of work early so I would go get a burger and soda and sit in the parking lot of a local thrift store and listen to the pastors on the radio without telling my husband. One time when my boss let me out on a half day, I went to the mall, had lunch, bought myself some make-up and some candy – I so rarely do stuff like this for myself but I actually felt guilty. Sometimes my husband gets mad and just wants me to come home. Or if I need to go somewhere, he will make sure that he sends one of the kids with me so I have to “deal” with one of them. It’s a giant mess but I definitely have dealt with a controlling husband and being treated like a child for almost my whole marriage. He has threatened to leave me, cheat on me, break my nose, burn off my hair while I sleep, take the kids away, commit suicide, divorce me, etc. And out of panic, I change to conform to his desires but then I end up going back to what I normally am which is just a normal (for the most part) human, Christian woman, wife and mother whose trying her best to obey the Lord and love her family. But it’s never enough :(.
Denise.my heart aches for you . It am keeping you wrapped in hugs and prayers.
Thank you Hopeful 🙂
Denise – I am so sorry. I have compassion for both of you. As I always try to say in these situations, I don’t know either of you well so I don’t believe I can speak definitively into diagnosing or prescribing actions or reactions. But praying and empathizing and working together to look at unchanging truth is always productive.
My thoughts on your situation took a distinct turn when you reached the point of describing the physical threats. Assuming this represents the truth about your husbands mindset, I do hope that you will seek help from someone who can learn the entire story in its context. My conviction is that verbalizing physical threats is a huge red flag that requires wise attention and consideration. If you were my daughter, I’d have you at my house in the near term and I would be pursuing a biblical method for confronting your spouses threats.
Prayers and blessings. Hang in there, and please get help.
I have gained strength by allowing others to speak truth into my life. It’s been easier for me to see the manipulation when I have people from different walks of life all saying the same thing. Staying within myself to figure out or understand was hurting and not helping me. Having others who really love me has helped me face my fears and deal with the negative repercussions of speaking up.
My husband has told me that he is planning on moving back in after moving out of our home a week ago. He said that the kids are regressing and falling apart because I am not a leader and he is supposed to lead. I have not seen much of a change in him, I see no evidence of repentance from how he treats me or substance abuse, he has not apologized for how he treats me or even appears to feel the need to apologize. He is no longer planning to enter the 2-month program for substance abuse because he feels that his 15-year old daughter is in danger and needs him and will not be ok when he comes back from the program in 2-months. He still says that he intoxicated himself because he “bowed down” and “submitted” to me but he has no problem giving that stuff up (I have seen him do it in the past but apparently I make him go back to doing it). He stopped cursing when he speaks to me but still patronized me in the conversation we had last night about all of this. He has not gone back to church but says that he will and will be taking the kids with him. He has no accountability and says that he will get it. He will not see a pastor with me for counseling because he wants to listen to God and not man. Then he told me that he is taking back his family now and will start making biblical changes. He told me that I need to give my cell phone back to my parents (its under their plan but I pay my bill) because I “change” when I have a cell phone (I shut it off and put it away every night when I come home) and because I didn’t call him the other night when I was going to come home late. Forgive me Lord, but what on earth is going on? I have been praying and fasting diligently about this entire situation but is this the answer? I don’t trust my husband…I can’t even though I really want to. He plans to eventually take over the finances which is a huge mistake because in the past he has blown finances on substances (without remorse) and I don’t care if he spends 1-cent or 1-million dollars on substances – it is garbage and not a penny of what God gives us should be wasted on any of it. Almost every time he has money or money is left in the house, he struggles with wanting to go drink – it is a foolish decision to hand money over to him. Is this a test from the Lord? I don’t understand. I know that I can trust God but I cannot trust my husband. I was looking forward to having peace in our home and even though it was going to be very hard being a single mom, I trust that the Lord was going to be with me every step of the way. Now my husband is coming back…I don’t know what to do now and I don’t want him to come back because I see very little change and no repentance or accountability. What now???
I have been and will be praying for you Denice. “He will not see a pastor with me for counseling because he wants to listen to God and not man. “ That is tortured text-twisting; God normally helps us through other people. We need each other because alone we do stupid things. These are serious matters that probably can’t get solved without professional structure (-a counselor that understands what a biblical marriage is supposed to be; a counselor that has that counseled successfully in not merely solutions, but biblical solutions.) You need to go see a person like that even if your husband will not. -And pray & pray; study and work at it and if it is possible get your husband to pray with you too; study with you; work at it with you. It is hard enough with professional structure and also try to have a solid self-care plan (-that is a world of stress you are involved with.)
. . . page 36. . . . Advanced Techniques for Counseling and Psychotherapy By Dr. Conte, PhD
Counselor: I guess it seems to me that if she feels like shes being treated like a child, she might just want to act like a child.
Client: So what, I have to start treating her like an adult?
Counselor: I’m sorry; did you just say something like, “Do I have to treat my wife like an adult?”
Doesn’t it seem to everyone that this would be horse-sense? How could that actually be a conversation Dr. Conte had with a client? How in the name of all that is holy could this person not realize they have a part in it too? I’m telling you, if people can be that unaware, we got nothing.
First, I will pray for you and your children tonight and over the next few weeks.
What you described in your comments on this topic terrifies me, for your sake. I went back and read your comments on Leslie’s last few posts in order to better understand your situation.
I strongly urge you, as soon as you read this, to contact the nearest domestic violence shelter. I hear you owning your personal shortcomings, but you cannot grow into the woman God intends if you are not safe. Your husband’s comments and threats to you, and to your children, stating that he is going to “get a new wife who will submit”, are very frightening and disturbing. So is his demand that you give up your cell phone (a potential lifeline in a crisis!).
It is hard to see the extent of the threat when living with it day in and day out. Please speak with a domestic violence specialist and tell her exactly what you have written here. She will help you assess the threat and make a safety plan.
With your husband making plans to return her me against your wishes, I think it is critical for you to act, for your personal safety and for your kids.
Anyone else reading this, if you are as concerned as I am for Denice, please chime in, encourage her to take steps to understand what she’s facing and protect herself, and join me in holding her up in prayer.
I am definitely concerned (posted higher on the page before seeing this).
Please give me grace on this but I think its necessary to say….I must leave some allowance for the fact that the husband is more bark than bite. His behavior is absolutely wrong, cannot be tolerated, and must be taken seriously. I am concerned. But we do not have enough detail about his history and character to say that he needs to be flagged by the authorities.
Having said that, I agree that she should seek wise council right away. Does Margaret think you should be staying elsewhere, Denice? What is her perspective on the threats?
Thank you Aleea. I have been to counseling before on my own but it has been a while. I see that I will need to do it again. I am so drained by my marriage – I feel as if I am living under a microscope at times with my husband watching my every move and word. His expectations are too high – I see that he expects the current people in his life to make up for the abuse and lack of love the people in his past did not give him (as they should have). He has unhealthy and unbiblical expectations of me at times and expects me to fulfill God-sized needs (the needs themselves are not wrong, but the expectation of me to fulfill them is). When I don’t, he becomes very disappointed and discouraged and turns back to substances as his default comfort. I can’t continue to live on this vicious merry-go-round of pain. I spoke with a beautiful sister, Margaret, from my church today. I have been speaking with her sharing my struggles and trials this past few days. I told her how I talk A LOT to the Lord at times and pray and pray. And you know what she told me? Very lovingly and sweetly she told me “Maybe it’s time for you to stop talking and start listening” :). I love her for this! I translated it as “Shut-up and listen, God is trying to answer you!”. I am so grateful for sisters like you and Margaret that will speak biblical truth into my life. God knows that I need it especially with the contorted way my husband can view and speak the scriptures. It makes me so sad knowing that the Lord has done some great things through my husband and he has been at times the most wonderful blessing to me, our kids and others. But his lack of healing has truly ruined the opportunity for a lasting change and has caused him to continually blame me and ask me if I’m the one on drugs or where I am getting my demonic advice from…:(. Sometimes I just stay quiet and let him say whatever he is going to say because nothing I say (even scripture) will be received – I have no credibility in his eyes. Thank you again Aleea for your prayer and wisdom.
Denice you say: “Margaret, from my church today. I have been speaking with her sharing my struggles and trials this past few days. I told her how I talk A LOT to the Lord at times and pray and pray. And you know what she told me? Very lovingly and sweetly she told me “Maybe it’s time for you to stop talking and start listening.”
. . .Exactly, God gave us brains and a body and expects us to do things along with praying. . .
“I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer until I prayed with my legs.” & “Faith is never blind when we take actions. Too many of us pray without acting.” ―Frederick Douglass, Autobiography
Denice, is there anyway you can stop him? I am scared for you. Do you have a basis to call police if he shows up at your door? You haven’t even had a break from him and he sounds crazy and scary. is there any way you can refuse to let him come back? You didn’t do anything wrong by not calling him that night, don’t take on any guilt for that. He is only causing chaos. I wish none of his words could get inside your head. He needs serious help. Don’t let him take over the finances. All your assessments are right and nothing will change if this is how he is coming back. Would people from your church be able to support you, would there be any men in your church that can stand with you and advise him to stay away and attend that program that he was going to attend? I will pray for you – don’t doubt yourself and don’t listen to anything he says because it is nonsense. Is there a local shelter you can get support from. Maybe they can help you with safety planning so you can get away from him somehow. Even if he has good or whole intentions or used to be good to you you may need to stay separate for a long time. You are not to blame for any of his issues but it sounds like you all need to get away from the craziness. My heart is breaking for all you are going through! Don’t doubt your sanity, you are the lifeline in your family, be strengthened in the Lord, he will lead you!!
Hopeful, if someone told you that your husband will never meet your need for affection would you rethink the relationship?
When I realized that my husband was never going to treat me well or stop abusing me then I stopped being confused and I knew what to do. You husband is showing you who he is everyday and once you align your thinking with the reality he is showing you then then you will get clarity and the confusion over unmet expectations goes away.
Leoni. We use to be so affectionate towards each other.
Since he asked for a divorce 15 month’s ago he has been hot and cold. We r in a cold spell with the affection. I have to initiate a simple kiss on his cheek or a touch on his shoulder. He avoids kissing my lips. My husband is punishing me because he is convinced that I am an untrustworthy person. Sickening.
I am confused why you want physical affection from someone who does not want to emotionally engage with you. That request seems like prostitution at its’ lowest most desperate form. At least prostitutes get paid.
My heart aches for you so much. It is sickening. Please don’t beg him for affection when he is acting like he detests you. You are worth feeling good about, you are worth being treated kindly, you are worth anything that restores and validates your dignity!! God has given you intrinsic value, he chose you before the foundation of the world! You are his! Don’t let anyone make you think that God is wrong.
Hold your head high and realize that your husband is not treating you the way his wife and mother of his children should be treated.
He said he wants a divorce so probably he wants a divorce. Please don’t try to change his mind anymore. I know it is the hardest thing in the world to take him at face value when he is acting so wrong and evil toward you but you really need to. I am so so sorry. I know how hard it is and have been there twice now! You get to move on and love your life again and sing in your heart with joy again and be whole and function well for your kids!! God is on your side and all of us are too! Blessings!
Thank you Leonie. I am in denial. I keep hoping that he will wake up one day and tell me how sorry he is and he wants to heal our marriage.
His new plan is to file for divorce after my son graduates in June 2016. . Can u imagine the torture I have to live with until then?
If he is not willing to work on our marriage, i am going to ask him to leave our bedroom or move out of the house in January. I need to get through the holiday’s first.
This feels like such a bad dream.
I wouldn’t wait for the shoe to drop. Get your ‘ducks in a row.’ If he doesn’t file, call his bluff. Go see an attorney, copy statements of joint things that you have entitlement to. Don’t give away your plans or talk things over, he will only hurt you and use it against you. Don’t ask for any validation from him. He already put you on notice, get ready for it or commence with your own action. At least get information to know what to do when he files or get a jumpstart and file instead of waiting in fear. It is hard, so very hard but better than waiting in fear. You are in our prayers and we care about you and know that God can and will strengthen you for what is ahead. One thing that helped me know what to do was just to put myself in the mindset of leaving and think and act as though I were leaving for sure. I noticed God always came alongside with affirmation and peace. When I changed my mind and wanted to keep trying I was in the midst of the turmoil again. He always brought me back to the point that I had no choice. I kept myself in the turmoil and in the hamster wheel always ending back at the same point. I needed to leave because I couldn’t stand what my husband was doing to me and I couldn’t keep going through the chaos and turmoil and being committed to the same marriage that was trash, garbage to him.
Hopeful – please be discerning in your consideration of the voices in this forum, including mine. I see many, many comments that are sincere and no doubt reflect the reality of the contributors feelings but seem far from a reflection of God’s truth and design for our lives.
But Edmund, an abusive marriage does not reflect God’s truth and design for our lives. Every response will not fit into a tidy biblical box which is non confrontational and politically neutral. We are talking about very real and very messy situations with people who have suffered greatly, often for long periods of time. Let’s be real here. Sometimes honest, practical advice is needed. Theological discussions are great, but they won’t stop you from being hit or get the mortgage paid on time.
Roxeanne – I really do appreciate your concerns and understand your perspective. I have never suggested that genuine abuse should be overlooked or tolerated, let alone that is has any place in God’s design for any relationship. Theology informs attitudes and actions. Attitudes and actions detached from sound theology lead to further problems and abuse.
The forum here is extremely limited. I can’t prove my character or intentions in this setting nor is that my goal. I simply want to play my role in advocating for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven in the places that God leads me to lend my voice on that objective. Nothing that is true about God is threatened by our perspectives, feelings, disagreements, misunderstandings, etc. We all have to simply work together to work out our understanding of who God is and what He would have us do to reflect His Kingdom. To your point, it definitely includes actions and not just idealogical posturing. I’ve been involved here for 4 or 5 weeks and am working to strike a balance between the two while recognizing the wide range of circumstances brought to this place. My trust in the Lord to bring his truth to the surface through our collective contributions to the forum – as limiting, and frustrating, and confusing, and exciting, and encouraging, and as wrong, and as right as those contributions can be.
I appreciate the straightforward concern more than you can know. Part of my baggage and, therefore, part of my lens is involvement in a relationship where I was silently accused, judged, and sentenced on a regular basis without ever knowing it. I place a high value on direct, respectful conversation on both positive and negative, affirming and challenging, for and against discussions.
I was just reading another post. I was wondering why you think that you are to do God’s will as it is in heaven? Isn’t that objective for Christ himself. Moral man will always need to yield to the spirit. Why not just live the life you were given and let God be God. If he needs your help, he will make it clear. Might you like Aleea be hiding behind spiritual things and scripture to avoid living in the here and now? Keeping our heads in the spiritual clouds is a great way to hide from reality and feel pretty pious about ourselves in the process. Broken, looking for Christ’s love….I say stop talking about it and do it. Get out of the introverted self absorption and embrace life! Let the spirit move in humility. It is a fabulous ride.
Roxeanne: When the disciples asked Jesus how they should pray, Jesus provided “the Lord’s prayer” as a model. Jesus tells the disciples to ask for God’s Kingdom to come and God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. He then goes on to give descriptions of what we should expect God to help us with as conduits through which He will establish his rule on earth….physical provision, forgiveness, protection from temptation, deliverance. Jesus announced that the Kingdom had arrived with His arrival, and he began the process of equipping His people to do the work to make his Kingdom rule a reality.
I believe your statements about me (and Aleea?) are misguided and untrue. I suspect they flow from a heart that has been significantly injured. That’s OK. I can handle it and I hope you will continue to engage. If you would like to ask me additional questions about what I actually do or what I actually believe, I will be glad to share. Take care.
It is a terrible feeling to realize that someone has been in the habit of trying to tell you what you think. Some power and control wheels use the term “mind reading” to describe this. I can understand a heightened sensitivity to this in the posts. The difference is that none of us are spouses or intimate partners. I have formulated my opinions based solely on the posts. I have no desire to heighten the emotional intimacy level with learning what people think or believe other than what they post for public view. This is just a forum right? I see it as an exchange of ideas and an outlet for those stiffed from the freedom to speak in any other format due to their abusive living arrangement. What an interesting group!
“Might you like Aleea be hiding behind spiritual things and scripture to avoid living in the here and now”
Shouldn’t we leave the judging of other people’s motives to God?
Thanks Maria. I am not interested in judging anyone. I am referring to their comments in a post on a discussion forum. The motive is assigned to the communication and the dynamic common in victims of abuse, not the person. I am not aware of any evidence of using scripture to deflect or demonstrate avoidance in my posts. Yet, thanks for bringing it up. It makes for great discussion. Maybe it can be another post discussion, Do we use spiritualism for avoidance or is it a great coping mechanism or maybe a little bit of both.
Roxanne, Thanks for your reply. That was a quote from your post to Edmund.
Leonie and Susan – thank you for your prayers and concerns. I am going to get myself into counseling and get back into a bible study, something I haven’t done in a really, really long time. I have a sister who has some legal resources to assist me whenever I need them. I have also begun to share a little of what I have gone through with my mom so that there is someone who is aware of what has happened. I have places to go if needed for a night or a few. I will move forward with my walk with the Lord and my kids. My husband is responsible to move forward with his walk. I’ll be honest, I don’t want my marriage anymore…that is heartbreaking to say, but it’s been too destructive. I remember a time when I would beg the Lord to save my marriage…now, I say a short, half-hearted prayer and ask Him to save it if it’s His Will. I need to focus on healing with the Lord and my kids. That’s where I will begin. I will not go through these things or put my kids through them again.
Denice, I am sure you would love a biblical marriage. You are not being offered one. I have always said a good woman will follow a Godly man anywhere. Anything less just proves the man is not Godly. I understand wanting out of a marriage, but sweet lady, you were never in a Godly marriage, you were in a evil contract perverted by man.
Roxeanne – Do you believe it’s God’s will and design for relationships and problem solving that we listen to one side of a story in an extremely limited forum and draw definitive concrete conclusions about another persons motives, intentions, and character….particularly when the accused has had no voice or say in the matter?
I would never presume to know God’s will or his design for relationships. I only know what the bible says. Isn’t it a wonderful guide for living the Christian life! I am sure much more information about God and his character will be revealed when we get to heaven. Until that time, I am thankful for the wisdom and experience that helps me understand the dynamics of the life I am living here. I “get” domestic abuse, dysfunctional relationships, and how to overcome those circumstances and live life to the fullest.
On this subject, I can speak with confidence and authority. Edmund, I am a confident survivor. To answer your question, Yes, I am perfectly content dealing with the information given. I assume the reader can think for themselves and correct or redirect as they think necessary. I don’t feel responsible for anyone else’s feelings and I am not trying to please anyone. Codependency was never an issue for me.
We all seem to have different styles and be in various stages of our healing or suffering. I like the interesting mix of personalities. Thanks for sharing with us.
Although no one on this board has walked in your exact shoes, many have come close enough to recognize real danger. The fact that your husband wants you to give up your cell phone is a sign that he is wanting to isolate you from family and friends. You shouldn’t wait until he moves back in to get sound advice, there may be a possibility that you can stop him (according to the laws in your state). In my state I can have him removed from the home if I feel afraid. Don’t make your husband your God. It sounds harsh but when we get caught up in all the lies they tell us, it is hard not to focus on those things instead of realizing who God created us to be. Our role as wives is to help our husbands be the best person they can be, and when we don’t set and keep boundaries against continual, deliberate sin, we are not helping them. The fact that they don’t see the harm they are causing, particularly when they refuse to get help, does not obligate us to let things go on as they are. If our husbands won’t take responsibility for their action, they will be held accountable to God, just like we will. It sounds like your situation has escalated and safety is now key for your health and that of your children. I pray that God will give you the strength to do what you need to do to protect yourself and kids. Maybe if he experiences the consequences of his attitude and actions, he will realize that he needs help. He is broken but you cannot put him back together, only God can do that. Please keep us informed, we are here for you.
Chiming in to add my two cents on the abuse issue. Listen to the ladies, Denise. Your husband’s behavior is escalating and statistically, you’ll be safer if you act now than if you wait for a crisis to act. Also, having once been married to an abusive man, I get how tempting it is to hope that each incident is an exception. Put the red-flag behaviors on a timeline that tracks frequency of occurrence and increase in severity or outlandishness or implication. That might give you a good visual of why the posters on this board are sounding so very alarmed for the safety of you and your children.
With all due respect, no one on this forum is in a position to assign motive to the husband. There are any number of reasons why he may want to take the cell phone. Yes – it could be because he is a serious threat trying to cutoff her lifeline. But there may also be other reasons, including legitimate reasons, that we don’t know about. None of this changes the fact that Denice should get help from her local community which it appears she is doing. Let’s not default to the worst case scenario about any person, or their character, simply because we see circumstances in their story that remind us of ours. It’s not the right, loving, or biblical thing to do.
Edmund, we ARE in a position to assign motive tot the husband. We have lived and many almost died because we stayed in such a situation. Advice on this forum comes from survivors. We are an elite tribe of warrior women who are members in a club we never, ever wanted to be a part of.
Weeeeeeeell…..I can see where this is going! My sincere apologies to you, Roxeanne, and to anyone else. I’m not here to be controversial or start problems.
Roxeanne – first things first…if I may be lighthearted…thanks for bringing Sting back online in the mental jukebox. I’m definitely a “fields of gold” guy far more so than some of his more ubiquitous hits, but one heck of an artist all the way around.
second….i doubt my comments higher up on the page did much for you. the first explanation was sincere and i wouldn’t change word. the question i asked you would have remain unspoken had I reached this comment first. It’s a good question, just not a wise place to ask had I known more about you.
and lastly….your honesty is refreshing. thank you. we all need to know as much as we can about the perspective and approach of those we are communicating with if we are going to be able to discern the content of the perspectives offered.
i think our co-existence on this forum is both beautiful and troubling. It’s beautiful to the extent that we can all align ourselves as warriors in Gods kingdom in the fight against evil while operating as skilled surgeons of love in compassion in our interactions with each other. Satan is always the enemy. The creation and the creatures are never the enemy. Everyone is broken and abused – even the people that have hurt us all the most.
Our co-existence on this site is troubling to the extent that we blur the lines between spouses who must fear for their lives and need help and those who are just unhappy or entitled and want an excuse to get divorced. Non-christian victims of “verbal and emotional abuse” don’t need this site because they have no barrier imposed by God’s design with which they have to contend.
God’s truth is never at risk. It will prevail. We all need to seek it with sincere and humble hearts and continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling – both individually and as a voluntary (love=freedom) collective.
If I may respectfully ask a few questions for discussion with anyone who wishes to reply…
1. The initial blog post question appears to be the perspective of one person. Do we know if the spouse’s representation of the home is complete, fair, or accurate? What would the other spouse say if they had the opportunity to speak on the topic? How does Proverbs 18:17 apply in this situation?
2. Is it wise and appropriate for a Christian to listen to one side of a story from spouse A and then make strong representations about the character and intentions of spouse B without their involvement?
3. What is more reliable, feelings or truth? How should the two interact?
4. Is it acceptable for a Christian to say that God’s instructions make them feel childish or unhappy, or that God’s definition of right and wrong gives them a negative feeling about their inner self? What should you do if your family law judge makes you feel childish or unhappy?
5. What is God’s purpose for marriage?
6. Robin commented on an earlier blog that healthy men would not interact on this forum. Do you agree?
. . . You know, a community of believers that is engaged and working together can be a powerful godly force but I must agree that group think can kick in and at least I can carry my “conclusions” “answers” blame & praise “advice” way too far. . . .That said, in interacting with people from this blog on e-mail, I have found in nearly every case their situation was actually far worse and they really needed to err on the side of their safety. . . . . But the larger the group, the more toxic it can become. We will do things in the name of a group that we would never do on our own. Histrionics, rending reckless advice, are all part of it because you can lose your identity, because you can render your allegiance to this thing that’s bigger than you are and that controls you, especially if you are a people-pleaser like me. Loneliness will blind you out between the wrong and the right.
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” ―John Wesley, -I love reading that man, he really seems to have been in love with Christ.
. . . . To establish a Scriptural “counseling” relationship, we must know the person to the level that they feel like they are known and to the level that we are moved by the hardness of their experience. I don’t know if we can ever do that without being face-to-face. I know basically nothing, but I believe the idea is that those who help best are the ones who both really need help and give help. A healthy community is dependent on all of us being both.
I agree with Robin regarding wellness. Healthy individuals would not relate or identify with the discussions on this forum. Thankfully, they would be left speechless.
My answer to the purpose of marriage is to glorify God. Marriages are meant to reflect the love of Jesus. If you don’t’ see the love of Jesus between a man and a woman then those people are living for self rather than God. Abusive marriages do not glorify God, they are a shameful perversion of man or woman’s own evil desires.
On your discussion questions:
1. The lady who asked Leslie the question said:
“I’ve told him I want to be free to make my own choices, but he tells me God has called him to be the head over me. When I disagree, or refuse to listen to him he tells me I am being un-submissive and disrespectful and that I must not love him.”
I don’t see how Leslie’s answer to this question would be different if she heard the husband’s point of view (unless the husband says she’s lying). From the lady’s question, this is not one isolated incident, the husband thinks he has the final say in many areas.
I think it goes without saying that on a blog like this, we are assuming the person posting is telling the truth, so the answer given is in response to the question. The answer would not apply if the person were lying.
Another point in relation to this: It is usually the bullied person who has reached a point where he/she cannot move on, and so he/she reaches out for help. The bully, on the other hand, is oblivious of the hurt he/she is causing. When confronted, a lot of times bullies believe the victim is exaggerating their hurt, that there’s no way the victim’s response is justified. Also, they may refuse to see a counselor.
Maria – i didn’t read the whole post again tonight but did recall one of the places that concerned me most about the Q & A. It was this comment:
“Last, it seems like your husband believes certain lies that hinder his ability to allow you to function independently of him. I’m not sure of all of them but here are a few that I’ve discerned in your question:”
It appeared to me like Mrs.Vernick was making a pretty strong statement about the husbands beliefs and motives based solely on the wife’s comments. It’s not hard for me to put myself in the husbands shoes in this scenario, and it’s easy for me to see how the representation of the husbands comments could be partially true but not representative of his intentions, spirit, or beliefs. The wife may be 100% spot on, Mrs. Vernick may be 100% spot on, and it could be that Mrs. Vernick has actually talked to both parties extensively and is simply trying to streamline for the purpose of the post. But my personal experience is with a relationship dynamic where the other party starts with a desired result and shapes the truth to serve it rather than starting with the truth and yielding the result/conclusion to the truth. Watching others draw such strong conclusions about a party that appears to have no input or influence in a conversation is a significant hot button issue/trigger for me. I admit.
If my premise is true, that the person submitting the question has the potential of misrepresenting the truth or that anyone reading the question and answer has the potential of misunderstanding or misapplying the limited information provided – what would be the “lesser evil?” The potential visitor who was not helped because the Q and A were not available, or the potential spouse who was discredited or falsely accused because his position was misrepresented?
I offer this, ironically, after finally getting around to digging up Mrs. Vernick’s interview on Focus on the Family from Oct 30. Anyone should be able to link to it here:
I absolutely loved every minute of this interview. It is a must listen for anyone seeking the heart of God. For double irony, it was broadcast on my anniversary and it’s the general message I have been trying to both model and challenge my wife to embrace for years. Do I get frustrated and angry with habitual deceit, manipulation, and self preservation – yes. Is there an excuse for my sinful reactions – no. Were my reactions improving with time – absolutely. Were they ever abusive – absolutely not. Have I taken responsibility both before and since she filed for divorce, many times. Were my “boundaries” ever used against me – yes. Did my uncompromising committment to truth, personal responsibility, transparency, admission of both strength and weakness, etc sometimes make my wife “feel” unhappy, uncomfortable, unsatisfied with her perception of her inner self, etc…I’m sure it did. Where would any of us be if Christ did not offend us and ignore the boundaries we naturally want to set up for Him? The ones that say “I’m in control, nothing is my fault, I will submit to you as much as I can to get credit for being a good christian but I need an exception clause or two for trust and submission.”
OK – so i just realized I was preaching to myself and to my memories of having a Christian family….not you Maria 🙂
Bottom line, I loved the FOF interview and I’m a fan of much of the content provided here. I disagree with some of the content and I have concerns about some of the significant limitations involved with the format (specifically) and the concept of mass counseling (in general). I am thankful for the site and the opportunity to participate. I recognize that people have been blessed and served and I thank God for that. The site provides significant opportunity for robust discussion and I hope to develop, refine, and maintain a voice that contributes positively to the advancement of God’s Kingdom as it relates to marriage and interpersonal communication. Whether there is agreement on specifics or not, I appreciate the healthy dialogue and interaction.
A few thoughts on your post:
The Lies1-5 in Leslie’s article are general truths regardless of the wife’s or husband’s side of the story. After I read this article, I shares these points (Lies1-5) with my kids. I don’t think Leslie is assigning motive to anyone, she’s just saying the results of the husband’s behavior may be due to his believing those lies. My pastor always says “Beliefs have consequences, our behavior reflects our beliefs”. Edmund, was wondering if you agree/don’t agree with Lies 1-5.
In your post you ask whether your reactions were ever abusive. A thought on this (no judgement intended). There are times when my motive when saying or doing something is pure, but someone is offended by what I’ve said/done. Even though I may be in the “right” , once I know that that person is offended by what I’ve done, it would now be wrong for me to keep doing that. The Bible talks about refraining from eating meat if it will cause your brother to stumble. Maybe your actions seem ok to you, but your wife may have taken offense to them.
I agree that every statement Mrs. Vernick presents is an absolute lie. I don’t believe any of them are true nor do I ascribe to any of them myself.
I can’t help but wonder how the husband would (did?) feel or think if/when he read the exchange. Do you agree that his perspective on how he was represented is important regardless of what was assumed or deduced as a result?
I wholeheartedly agree and ascribe to the statement that “beliefs have consequences” and that actions flow from beliefs. It’s a very pure, even measured truth that applies universally to everyone regardless of what side of the truth you are on.
Though not your exact words, I also agree with the statement that being right and being loving are not always the same thing. Conversely, I agree with the statement that I can “feel” unloved and “dislike” someone when their rightness injures my pride or beliefs but it doesn’t mean the other person was being unloving. Faithful are the wounds of a friend. If someone refuses to be open to examination or constructive confrontation as a result of self-preservation or spiritual pride, it won’t matter how kind or gentle or loving the friend is. Naturally, a friend that believes it is right and fitting to offer unbiased objective observations to another in hopes of spurring them on to good works for the benefit of the relationship, the community, and the kingdom better be ready to receive, if not invite and seek out, the same level of scrutiny from others about themselves for the same ends.
Let’s assume that one consistent point of contention in my marriage was my wife’s insistence on telling me what I said and what I meant, even if her representation did not line up with what I said or meant. In my humble opinion – the only reason to exaggerate information is if the truth is not strong enough to support your desired result. The only reason to omit information is if the truth threatens your desire result. An the only reason to change information is if you simply don’t agree with the truth.
Now suppose my desire was for true emotional and spiritual intimacy with my wife. Should my representation be true (and someone here in the past few days pointed out that we assume everyone is truthful on this site), do you think emotional and spiritual intimacy is possible under these conditions?
Now lets suppose that my wife is married to a transparent, honest, fallible human being. Sometimes the man ignores the problem, sometimes absorbs the problem, sometime confronts the problem appropriately, and sometimes gets angry at the problem. And lets say the husband has also tried to set boundaries as a result of the problem and those boundaries were used to categorize him as the abuser. What boundaries, you might be asking? One example: I don’t appreciate that you continue to exaggerate and manipulate my statements to serve your desired result. We clearly have a different definition of truthfulness. I will never leave you or give up on you because my love for your requires a choice to be committed to the relationship even when I don’t feel it. But I am going to sleep in the spare bedroom until we can reach an agreement on what it means to be truthful?
And finally, out of a desire to be fair and honest, what if I continued to acknowledge and admit that there have been a handful of occassions where I have become so frustrated with the barrier on what seems to be such an obvious issue that I have yelled at my wife and listed all the things I could recall where she had decieved or misrepresented me, failed to take responsibility, and insisted on blaming me for being the problem. I was wrong when I would do that. God has given me everything I need to stay calm and absorb the lies, just as he did for me. And I am not God, I have weaknesses and faults I have brought to the marriage – but they do not rise to the level of abuse or harrassment…not even close.
Love always points out to others. Fear always points in to self. I don’t believe Paul’s instructions on meat applies to the situation I just described, but I will say that I think Paul is talking to the meat eaters and inviting them to love their neighbor by freely choosing not to eat. I think its important that he does not address the weaker brother and instruct them that the meat eaters owe it to them or that they have the right to tell them to stop. That would be endorsing an entitlement to the weaker brothers while removing an opportunity from the meat eaters to freely demonstrate love by offering to refrain from a non-sinful act for the benefit of another.
As always, I appreciate you questions, interactions, and honest discussion. If it appears I avoided something, please let me know!
When a slave in Moses day escaped from an oppressive owner the word given to Moses was that he was not to be returned to the owner. I read that as God caring about how the escaped person was treated by the owner and God, who cares how people are treated, says to not send an oppressed person back into the oppression. In the same spirit of advising the Israelites to leave provison a for the widow or to allow the sojourner to live amoung you.
Leonie, I’m having a faith crisis again this morning. That verse is awesome in what it says (re: God’s tender care: “You must not return an escaped slave to his master when he has run away to you, et. al.”) and unlike so many others, it is consistent in all O.T. sources: the Yahwist source (J) : written c. 950 BCE in the southern Kingdom of Judah; the Elohist source (E) : written c. 850 BCE in the northern Kingdom of Israel; the Deuteronomist (D) : written c. 600 BCE in Jerusalem during a period of religious reform; the Priestly source (P) : written c. 500 BCE by Kohanim (Jewish priests) in exile in Babylon. . . . .The issue is that so, so many other verses about slavery in the O.T. and N.T. are not like that. If we cherry pick (―are not systematic) too much or have too much my-side bias, people will call us on it. I know most have experienced this when they have shared the gospel out in public, especially with young people. The following careful research caused me to be ill: “Slavery in Early Christianity” by Jennifer A. Glancy, Oxford University Press, 2002; How did Christians in the first 500 years of Christianity reconcile slavery with the Gospel teachings of brotherhood and charity? Slaves were considered the sexual property of their owners: What was the status within the Church of enslaved women and young male slaves who were their owners’ sexual playthings? This shows no reason to believe that Christians shied away from even the use of corporal punishments so common among slave owners. I would put in some quotes but they are simply too graphic. This is not your issue, Leonie. You are not God. . . . .I’m sorry Lord, you know how hard I have worked on trying to believe what Leonie said is true, I just don’t know how to put faith above facts (―And I am sure it was way longer than those first 500 years, I just have not looked at those periods as closely.) . . . .The noble & outstanding effort on this board re:abuse is the same fight in the church. . . . I often wonder how so many seriously reading and seriously prayerfully studying the Bible got it so wrong for so, so long if it is so clear? At times, I wonder if it is not our culture changing Christianity, not Christianity changing culture? What is the less tortured explanation?
Wandering in a vast forest at night,
I have only a faint light of my reason to guide me.
A Christian pastor appears and says to me:
“My child, you should blow out your candle (―my reason and logic and research)
in order to find your way more clearly.” . . . . I’m not seeing it Lord, but I am so listening for it:
…Lord God, —please, may my darkness be broken into by inescapable light from You.
Leonie, I think you are absolutely wonderful. At times, when I can verify them, you say the most beautiful, heart-warming things that I could just listen to forever. You have a tender, kind, caring heart. —Jehovah, I have no idea what in the name of all that is holy He is thinking about in vast sections of the O.T. Sections almost never cited or studied because they are totally depressing. . . .Oh, my, my. . . What a two-edged skill fact-checking and legal research skills can be. It can be truly depressing. —And my pastors answer: “—just don’t read this and that” which I hear all the time from so many Christians, how can that be the answer?
Aleea – I have found you to be extremely genuine and sincere, regardless of whether we “agree” on any particular topic. I suspect we agree on most areas of orthodoxy with some varying degrees of interpretation on how it plays out in orthopraxy. Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks – and I think I see your heart (though i still have not read every word of much of your thoughts prior to the last couple weeks.)
I appreciate that you interact offline with many people here. It is obviously not wise or appropriate for me to do that, but I highly respect your choice to pursue context beyond this place.
I peeked at Roxeanne’s comment below which lines up with comments made by others. What is your opinion on the premise that one’s presence on the site is a litmus test for their “health” or credibility?
I completely agree with this statement you made and suspect it informs your answer to my question: “I believe the idea is that those who help best are the ones who both really need help and give help. A healthy community is dependent on all of us being both.” I don’t presume to think that you care and I’m not here to prove anything to anyone, but I’ll make the choice to ask: do you believe or perceive that I am both a giver and taker of help in this forum? And out of necessity I must ask (though you seem honest enough that you would address it without provocation), have you read a representative cross-section of my comments here over the past 6 weeks?
Honest questions, not leading questions. I can totally see you answering either way. You are free to respond or not respond. And so as not to do or say anything to try and further influence your response to this “public” invitation, I will not say anything else to you or any commenters further down the page for the time being.
Thanks Aleea. Blessings!
“one’s presence on the site is a litmus test for their “health” or credibility”
Edmund, who mentioned this? I can’t seem to find it in anyone’s posts.
Maria: Here are the two specific posts that provoked my question. I suppose there could be more. I’ve posed the question to Mrs. Vernick as well. I don’t agree with the sentiments expressed, but I think it’s helpful to all who wish to participate in the discussions when core assumptions are identified. A person’s agreement or disagreement with a presupposition helps me (and others?) better assess the worldview and convictions of various contributors. Thoughts?
October 26, 2015 at 10:37 am
Dear Survivor, I encourage you to really consider if it’s in your best interest to take advice from men that visit this blog. They enter it with a sense if humility and then the attack comes. I think we have to be very careful who we listen too and esp if we’re already struggling with be t steps in our life. Someone who I trust and has an active and wise voice on this blog said to me yesterday – a healthy man would not come here. He would see this is a place for wounded women to get the support they need. Please be aware of these men who gave a pretense of wanting to dialog with you. I encourage you to be very careful. I don’t want you to be hurt further.
November 22, 2015 at 1:09 am
I agree with Robin regarding wellness. Healthy individuals would not relate or identify with the discussions on this forum. Thankfully, they would be left speechless.
Edmund, I don’t think anyone of us is in a position to say what type of people post here. It is possible that there are healthy individuals who have walked along side hurting friends, who offer advice here. Also, although the majority of abuse cases are women, I’m sure men are victims too. It is possible that men do not want to seek help because they may be viewed as weak.
Like you have mentioned before, there’s a very wide spectrum of people here, people with marital difficulties to people being severely abused. Most people who don’t know abuse victims personally or who haven’t been abused find it very difficult to understand what victims go through. Some of the things sound so bizarre that there’s a tendency by people not familiar with abuse to think the abuse victim is the crazy one. Also the abuser may be very different outside the home. People who know him/her may not believe he/she is capable of such behavior. Another thing that clouds this situation is when the victim responds in a sinful way. Then the focus shifts to him/her instead of the abuser. There is no point in going for joint counseling with such an individual because his/her goal is not repentance and reconciliation. He/she has no problem lying and will use what the victim shares to hurt him/her more.
Maria….fair and reasonable as usual. Have a great week.
Crap….I just promised I wouldn’t comment 🙂
Edmund you say above: “What is your opinion on the premise that one’s presence on the site is a litmus test for their “health” or credibility?” . . . . It sounds like shaming to me but I am so open I always consider everything said and thus I am always confused. . . . In my experience, even if you do nothing, say nothing and be nothing, there will still be many who will criticize, shame and blame you. What is the Holy Spirit directing you to do? Do what the Holy Spirit directs you to do.
Edmund, don’t become discouraged, Christ will meet with you anytime you want and He is far more exciting, wonderful and important than anyone, including confused Aleea, that posts anywhere on the web. The author and creator of all the entire universe will meet with you. Meet with Him. . . . . .Edmund, people, including me, would not worry so much about what others think of them if they realized how little they actually did. Christ actually cares about you in a way no one here possibly can. Every prayer time I tell Christ (-even with my serious doubts and all): I’m here to meet with You, Please come and meet with me; I’m here to find You, Lord, reveal yourself to me. A couple of nights ago, and it has been a long time since it has gone this well, I just had the most awesome prayer time with the Lord. I started praying and the presence of the Lord just washed over me with peace and joy and assurance. I just kept praising and praying. . .Now . . .This does not happen often for me but back in May of this year, I was in Vail, Co. attending an ABA/ALI conference (stuff you have to do for “continuing education.”) It was like 4am and I am walking out to the parking lot to drive the rental car back to the Denver airport. I had just been reading my Bibles (—One of the like over 50 translations/ versions on my tablet) in the hotel. I am by the car and I look up and the stars, wow, the stars. It was like. . . . .like the Milky Way just poured its galaxies of stars over the mountain ridges, flowing to the beyond. . . .I am telling you, Leslie Vernick has said before that she really experiences God out in nature but this was just awe and wonder at God (—I saw at least four shooting stars.) . . . . flotillas of fiery stars spread like sequins over the black velvet of deep space. It was really a “totally other” emotional state in its own right. I praised and worshipped the Lord the whole way back to the Denver airport (—and it is quite a distance). I felt (-and yes it was ALL 100% feelings) deeply and fully loved by Him; that I had vast value and worth to Him; That I was clean, forgiven in a close relationship with Him; That I had real meaning and purpose.
Pray that we love Christ above all else, that is all I am ever asking for or talking about. Please pray for me that I will love what God loves and that He would always be most dear to me. That I would feel His love wash over me because when that occurs, frankly, I don’t have any issues nor would you Edmund. When I feel disconnection from God, it is a bad time. I start seriously studying things. I deconstruct, I demythologize. Who we love above all else is who we worship, and who we worship controls us. I don’t want to be controlled by what others think, nor do you, we want Christ to control us.
these are some of the scriptures that I was referring to. I think they show that God cares how each person is treated. I don’t think sending anyone back into oppression is conveyed by the heart of God in these directives because a truth or law needed to be upheld. When God tells us to be perfect as he is perfect it is to be in love and mercy and justice and in humility – not with 40 lashes for not upholding a law or regulation. I like what Leslie says about marriage being for the benefit of the individuals in it. It is not a noose around your neck strangling the life out of you. God is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in love! He sends his rain on the just and the unjust. The day of reckoning is not here yet and it is not ours but his. God hasn’t settled his accounts yet, he gives time to all to repent and turn to him!! Throughout scripture his heart is revealed in so many ways:
Deuteronomy 23:15-16 Deuteronomy 24:14-15, 17-22
Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin. If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them. Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this. When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat the olives from your trees, do not go over the branches a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.
I truly love this verse. Those of us who have been abused by our spouses have cried and agonized and struggled and wept before and hung in there for years to please God and not divorce if we don’t have to …. Here is a verse that tells me that God did hear it, he did see it. Like he heard the Israelite when they were slaves. They weren’t saying their morning and evening prayers, they were crying out in pain and agony over the way the Egyptians treated them. Their baby boys were drowned, their heavy load was made heavier!
“Otherwise they may cry to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin”
Thank you for doing all that. That was very, very kind of you. I will read Deuteronomy twenty-three and twenty-four, for sure. . . .All I am saying is that we have to look at everything God says on a topic, nasty verses that impact our subject topic & all.
“Those of us who have been abused by our spouses have cried and agonized and struggled and wept before and hung in there for years to please God and not divorce if we don’t have to ….” Precious Leonie, no one is wrong for divorcing. I understand a little bit of your situation. The real question in most cases is why not sooner, not that someone divorced.
Please pray for me if you have time.
“He has threatened to leave me, cheat on me, break my nose, burn off my hair while I sleep, take the kids away, commit suicide, divorce me, etc”
Your husband seems like a dangerous individual. These aren’t things that people say in the heat of an argument. Please take these threats seriously. Have you called the authorities? You mentioned he wants to move back in. Can you prevent that? Did you say you were in joint counseling together? What is your pastor’s advice?
These are all comments made through the years (sober and intoxicated) and during these times, we had dealt with the authorities and went through counseling. He went to a couple of programs for a bit. He will not go to counseling with me but I will be going on my own. I want him to get help for himself, not for me. He is killing himself slowly and is in pain daily from a back injury along with emotional and mental injuries, not to mention his self-inflicted wounds. I appreciate the concern of all of you ladies. I am taking steps to make sure that the kids and I are safe. I’m very, very tired, I just need time away from this life of chaos to reconnect with the Lord and my little ones.
Denise, I am praying for you. Are you able to get away, at least for a little while? Sounds like you really need it.
Thank you Maria, yes, I can get away a little. Right now my husband is being civil with me so that is helping a little but I am always waiting for him to get aggravated or frustrated with me and start telling me things again. I’m getting ready to make Thanksgiving dinner for me and my kids and I’m looking forward to it. I am in church and in the Word and the Lord has been blessing me through that. I am also very fortunate to have a great job and nice people around me during the day, so that kind of alleviates some of the stress that I feel. I am grateful that even though I have pain and strife in some areas of my life, the Lord gives me peace in other areas. He is truly a very faithful God.
Praying for you Denice. Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a blessed holiday celebration. I feel trite and limited, but my heart truly goes out to you and your entire family.
Aleea – i appreciate you and your perspectives. Have you read or followed Greg Boyd? If not, I bet you would appreciate ReKnew community. Here is a link that gives a helpful overview to their approach and mindset. I suspect you would appreciate this:
Your comments and encouragements are well received. I can definitely relate to the wonder that feelings of God’s presence bring, particularly in nature, as well as the maddening fickleness that results from being intellectually curious and philosophical. I could pull any number of comments or ideas that you mention and wax on extensively about them. Even though I have some negative baggage with “feelings” due to my own tendency to be ruled by them, I continue to learn the value of feelings in their proper place, particularly in those glorious times when feelings are in perfect symphony with truth….when they enhance truth.
My train of thought just derailed. Checking out for now. Great exchange. THX.
I have been listening to, and kicking around, some interesting thoughts and observations about God’s character and how its displayed in the OT. It frustrates me to hear when pastors give weak answers out of fear or ignorance. I absolutely love guys like Ravi Zaccaria (Let My People Think!), NT Wright, and Greg Boyd who never shy away from the tough questions or content.
I’m on the verge of falling asleep so I can’t do justice to any lengthy ATTEMPT to convey an IDEA about what God might be doing in some of that crazy OT stuff – but it has to do with the way that His love and His long view of history allows Him to accomodate and meet humanity “where its at” in the various stages in the development of civilization.
For anyone that cares or is wondering….the discussion about God’s character and how it informs our understanding of history is fundamental to the discussion of marriage and abuse. As Aleea and others have mentioned….God is the author and designer of life. Understanding what makes him God, what makes Him tick, and what motivates what He has allowed us to see and understand in history will absolutely play a role in informing us all about what we should do in our individual lives.
Love it. Thanks to all for contributing.
NT Wright: I very much like Tom Wright ―his book: Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense. . . . that ranks right up with Leslie’s How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong (―Obviously, for very different reasons.)
Greg Boyd: thoughtful, but often gets the archaeology (context) wrong, and flounders on weak arguments (-or- I don’t understand them.)
Ravi Zaccaria: standard Christian apologetics argues by assertion rather than evidence; pejorative toward scholarship. We are all entitled to our own opinions Ravi but NOT our own facts!!!
I appreciate your comments. Thank you . . . You say: “Might you like Aleea be hiding behind spiritual things and scripture to avoid living in the here and now? Keeping our heads in the spiritual clouds is a great way to hide from reality and feel pretty pious about ourselves in the process. Broken, looking for Christ’s love….I say stop talking about it and do it. Get out of the introverted self absorption and embrace life! Let the spirit move in humility. It is a fabulous ride.”
Roxanne, can you give me a number of examples of how you have done this? RE: Get out of the introverted self absorption and embrace life! If you have been in counseling you know it is not as easy as “just do it.” Just don’t have idols, done???; Just be ye perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect, done???; . . . . .Often times I see the issues others were trying to solve have just migrated. They still have the same issue it is just in a different form. I’ll give you what I think I know:
“I often read the New Testament & Pray to the point of numbness because….”
Answer: “I just want to numb myself”
And I want to numb myself because…
Answer: “No one taught me how to deal with/connect with feelings…” (but I like feelings very much!)
And I wait for someone to show up and teach me how to connect with feelings (mine and others) because….
. . . I don’t know why Roxanne, I can’t get behind that; I just don’t know why but I know it is not as easy as “Just do it”
I’m open to suggestions. . . . . I use scriptures to numb/ anesthetize myself and more than that I am using God as a drug too (-yes, Yes I am.)
How does Roxanne “embrace life” (as you say: “do it”) and achieve as you say “a fabulous ride.”
Thank you Roxanne. . . To me, and I could easily be wrong, the point of our lives is to point to Him. Whatever we are doing, God wants to be glorified, because this whole thing is His, all of it. . . . i.e. How can I ever be anything more than what Christ makes me? Please pray for me if you have time, I would appreciate it, thanks Roxanne.
Hi. I have been reading this whole forum, and I am myself struggling through an abusive relationship. It is emotional abuse, although I have been hit and thrown by him, and felt frightened when he cornered me in a rage. We have been married 30 years, so that is a pretty good record physically. He does weigh a lot more than me, and is trained as a 2nd degree black belt, and national wrestler though. He can be very mean and manipulative, and controlling and demanding. I am weary so I cannot write much, but he is very deep spiritually, and says a lot of the same things Edmond does. In fact, if I get upset about treatment of someone else, he says almost the exact things, like scriptures, and that we only know the one side.
Nobody would guess he could be so mean and abusive except the children, who have completely validated me, though I feel very bad for bringing them into it. Even so, they witnessed it their whole life, so seriously?? Seems like it would be better to discuss it openly if we will ever find healing.
They do not want their parents divorced, but said they would not blame me whatever I decided. They see how bad it is.
Right now he is being totally nice, and we are living in that courteous shell surrounded by emotional shatter described somewhere earlier. I am having a really hard time feeling anything, though he wants his wife back, and can’t understand why I just can’t forgive him and move forward, because now he is “ready to change and build a wonderful marraige”. Thankfully, we have been going to counseling for 3 weeks now, something he would not agree to for years. I had moved into our spare room for a month, and am now back in the bedroom as he said I was making no effort when he was, but he has not had intimacy, nor is he asking. He says he wants to wait until we are both ready.
I am frustrated with myself for being stuck in this non-accepting, numb, and unreciprocating place. I think I will take Leslie’s course about getting over negative emotions. btw we have been home group, home school, home birth, hard after Jesus christians for 23 years. The only other time he agreed to go to counseling, was a year ago, and the counselors at the church blamed me for all of it because of my bitterness, unforgiveness, and anger, and what they said was a lack of Christian quality and biblical role as a wife. I came out shredded, and a basket case. I ordered Leslie’s book after that, and my husband hates it, but it has changed my life. Problem, I think I need more core strength, support, and God time to control my tongue, as I am now very short tempered with him and have no grace for any mistakes, almost like if he glances at me wrong I retaliate. This is not the way for me to be, and right when I should have hope lol!
I think I am afraid to trust again, when I have been around this block so many times before and not seen a lasting change. Hopefully the course we are on now (an extensive course called ” Discovering a dynamic marraige” by Joy Peterson, and things I am learning from Leslie, and our counselor will finally cause some really good things to happen. Thanks for listening. Tina
Tina: Thanks so much for sharing. I’m not going to try to speak for your husband (I can’t), or say anything to invalidate your feelings and perspective. That doesn’t leave much for me to say. I would normally default to an attempt to make some encouraging comment about our Creator or the the Hope we can have in what He ultimately promises to do – but as you pointed out with your transparency – that often serves to appear (actually be??) counterproductive in many situations. I guess I just wanted to acknowledge that I took the time to read your post, consider it, care about it, and be legitimately introspective about it. I’m neither offended or defensive about your perspective and have an honest curiosity about any number of dynamics you describe. I pray the best for you and your family this Thanksgiving. Blessings!
Tina, it’s not helpful and can wound you deeply to enter into couples counseling with an abuser. Have you gone to individual counseling for yourself?? It’s good to hear you’re going towRds Leslies materials and wanting to build up your core. I would have you really consider whether it’s wise to look at a marriage course until there has been healing in your relationship. Please consider carefully if it’s necessary or helpful to listen to his words . God and His Spirit will lead you on a path of healing. And often an abusers words are only meant to control and dominate. You have a grea team of supporters on this blog, who will lift you up in prayer and share their like experiences. I’ll be praying for you!!!
Tina, it’s normal when we live and endure an abusive relationship long term to have negative emotions. Please don’t beat yourself up for these but instead go towards materials and tools to help you, yourself heal from the abuse. There is a great price we pay for staying in an abusive relationship. But God has a plan for your life and He will help you transform those negative emotions in your life as you seek to build up your core!!!!
Robin – do you have any additional questions about Tina’s situation or information that you feel might help inform a prescription for action?
I do t have that kind of authority to think I’m responsible for prescribing anything, Edmund other than loving her, coming alongside her, and listening to the wisdom this group shares to build her up and prepare her for her next steps.
Tina: If I may ask, what do you perceive the difference to be, if any, to my consistent reference to spiritual things and that of Mrs. Vernick or the other contributors? It’s an honest curiosity. THX!
Tina, you took a wonderfully brave first step to post on this board and to find the energy to put what you have ben going through into words. I am very thankful that you are aware of Leslie’s teachings and are looking for help. Abusive relationships are exhausting, often in very subtle ways. The situation you are in is not unique and you are not alone. It is heartbreaking, yet with not guaranteed to break you. As one who has walked a similar road, may I be so bold as to encourage you to gather information. Some suggestions are the excellent writing of Lundy Bancroft. I would also like to include a power and control wheel for your review. Have you found the number for your local domestic violence shelter. Many people think that shelters are for those involved in physical violence, yet in reality, these providers are available for all kinds of abuse. Please try Focus Ministries and The Journey from Open Heart Ministries too.
This is a Christian Power and Control wheel with scriptures and a thorough explanation of concepts.
I would also like to mention that your ability to fight back and retaliate is encouraging. Not that retaliation in and of itself is good, but rather it is a hopeful sign that you have not been so damaged that your sense of personhood is gone. A person who is chronically abused develops emotional and physical symptoms from the prolonged stress.The physiology of the body responding to stress is fascinating and worth researching. The over abundance of cortisol and the constant trigger to the “fight and flight” response takes a toll on the internal organs. Hopelessness is often the result of oppressive environments and depression in the natural next step the brain uses to protect itself. Untreated, the future for those living in slavery, is very grim physiologically.
Oh, I forgot to reiterate. He, in the last year, has agreed to counseling because I was finally strong enough to give him an ultimatum. I was not contradicting myself, hope I made myself clear otherwise. I sometimes get really confused and feel like maybe I am crazy, which I now know is somewhat normal in my crazy situation when everything is turned around on me, or somehow the reason I am being treated badly is my fault. Anyway he is home now, so I am out.
Peace, out 🙂
Love it! Won’t stick up for Ravi here, but at least I know you are not careless in your opinions 🙂
PS – If I understand correctly, Ravi’s daughter chose to divorce. It’s been awhile since I attempted to research, but I recall having a difficult time finding his perspective on the matter. Do you know anything about this?
I thought twice about posting this and decided to proceed with a clear heart. I am not trying to gossip about Ravi’s family and I hope the forum is an obvious and appropriate place to pursue the topic.
Appreciate your response here, Aleea.
I thought I saw an email somewhere that alerted me to a recent exchange between you and someone else (susan?) on the site. Under a different article (not the “treated like a kid” post)?
Maybe I can look around tomorrow and find it. Take care.
I have one question… was Adam the boss of eve in the garden before the fall. I know the answer to that example. read the beginning of genesis. did god boss Jesus around and tell him everything to do? that is the perfect example to frame our relationships in our lives. stand up with godly behavior and not words or you will only engage in polemic arguments. know for yourself what god says. no where in the bible does it say that women’s relationship with god is through their husband.
controlling someone with your words is verbally abusive, emotionally abusive and mentally abusive. you don’t have to use bad words, angry tones or obviously demeaning or dismissing words to be abusive. subtle abuse is the worst crazy making their is because it almost sounds like the truth but it is the most deceptive and misleading abuse and in my personal experience the most damaging to my soul. I have had terrible physical things done to me in my life and the abuse that has been the worst is the type that is described in this post. it is so hidden and twisted. you will never be able to figure it out or relate or explain yourself enough. the intent is to control and for them to have their way. period. know what god says about you, study what god says for yourself the spirit will guide you, he already has and act as your own being with the guidance of the spirit. if you mess up a little… guess what…god will forgive you that is why he sent Jesus. because we are not perfect. do your best with your heart towards god, desiring to be like his character not like a character made up by patriarchal societies to oppress women. happy t sister.
Great words of truth Janet. Thanks for sharing them. I have also experienced this kind of abuse- you are so right. It is the most painful. That which almost sounds like the truth but is far from it!
Thanks so much for posting. Before I offer a response to your question, please allow me to make one observation. I agree with the encouragement that we should all be individually knowledgeable of the Scriptures and pursue an intimate relationship with the Holy Spirit. But those two things by themselves are not enough, and those two things only are very dangerous. Many contributors at this site will criticize and discredit pastors and church leaders who share a genuine desire to pursue these two goals. Its clear and obvious that this leads to a community with as many versions of truth as their are people to contribute their individual understanding of what God said and meant. There is not way that God intended for this to be the case. So church authority, family, community, history, tradition, etc should all be factored in to our decisions.
My answer to your question is simplistic: God, Adam, and Eve were the original reflection of God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Christ could only do what he saw God doing, and the Holy Spirit is repeatedly called the Helper that accomodates the will of the Father through the Son. There is never competition, envy, entitlement, jealousy, strife in the Trinity. They are all equal parts with distinct job descriptions in service of a singular purpose. The ultimate discussion is not one of men or women, black or white, slave or free, american or international, jew or greek, etc. The question is – what did God intend when he instituted the principle of headship and to what people did he give which job in that structure? There is no intrinsic value or worth assigned to the idea of headship or submission, authority or service, high or low, up or down, power or weakness, equality or disproportion. These are all descriptive words with neutral worth or value. They only gain their value in accordance with the plans and intentions of the Author or Creator of the context in which they are applied.
Take golf and basketball for an example. Now consider this statement – player A has a higher score and player B has a lower score. Which is better, more attractive, the winner? It depends on which game you are playing.
“Who is the boss?” is the wrong question. God is the boss. “What did God design and intend when he created interpersonal relationship” is the right question.
I Corinthians 11:13 – But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
John 5:19 – Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.
Genesis 2:18 – The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
John 15;26 – But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me
I Corinthians 15:47 – Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven.
Sorry this is not all streamlines and edited and complete. Gotta run for the rest of the night in 5 minutes, but I love the question and the discussion. Thanks!
RE: “. . . not like a character made up by patriarchal societies to oppress women.”
The earliest church was full of women in ALL the roles. Jesus’ message was and is “I want you to be free.” As the church became institutionalized, a male power grab ensued. The early church “fathers” jammed a lot of control in there: See, for example: “The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture by Dr. Bart Ehrman; WOMEN AND THE TEXTS OF SCRIPTURE; Women in the Early Church; Textual Alterations Involving Women” Look at that volume of redactional inserts to control women. My point is to take back your mental sovereignty. Ask lots of questions. Then ask yourself: What is consistent with real love, with Christ’s love? Jesus in Luke twelve says: “Why don’t YOU judge for yourselves what is right?” You have all the consequences, you have the choices. The solution for “I can’t live this way anymore” is basically, “Good! Don’t live that way anymore.” Call out double-talk, as double-talk. . . . Because woman’s subordination is deemed intrinsic to God’s original creation design, and is necessary, permanent, and grounded in woman’s unalterable ontology, it cannot be merely a “role” that has no bearing on “being.” On the contrary, if female subordination is, in fact, divinely mandated and justified for all women for all time, then it logically entails women’s fundamental inferiority in being and not merely in function. Thus woman’s subordination is contradicted by woman’s equality. It is not logically possible for woman to be essentially equal to man, yet universally subordinate to man on the basis of an essential attribute (i.e., femaleness). I just don’t understand that without going outside of logic and reason and the textual evidence. . . . .Ehrman is the foremost New Testament scholar in the world (—like a Lundy Bancroft of Bible manuscripts.) In that book he traces how the idea of women being prominent in the early church was way too much for many church “fathers” and many male scribes, and so the text came to be changed in many manuscripts. How do we know? Archaeologists have long found manuscripts that date earlier (—the people who date the manuscripts are called paleographers) and so scholars can track the changes and do track them. We should not be bitter about it but it gets me fired-up because more people need to know the facts and those facts start with the extant (—the surviving) texts. Women had huge roles in the earliest Christian church. Only Jesus gets to lovingly-control us, no one else.
This is the abuse I get…so mind twisting and convincing that every thing is my fault.
I have said numerous times that if the abuse was physical I would be able to “see it”.
“. . . .Ravi’s daughter chose to divorce. It’s been awhile since I attempted to research, but I recall having a difficult time finding his perspective on the matter. Do you know anything about this?” . . . . .Edmund I do not know anything about that nor would I know what to say. In terms of the historical record, I should also point out to Ravi that there is no account in any ancient source whatsoever about King Herod slaughtering children in or around Bethlehem, or anyplace else. No other author, biblical or otherwise, mentions this event. Is it a detail made up by Matthew in order to make some kind of theological point? —Ravi, I don’t know nor do you. . . . . Anyways, women, everyone needs to use their intelligence to evaluate what they find to be true and untrue. This is how we need to live life generally. Everything we hear and see we need to evaluate —I don’t think divorce for all kinds of things is wrong but I can easily be deceived, I live in the 21st century. My view is not what careful Christian scholarship thought of the matter in times past (—that always troubles me on so many matters.) In Matthew, Jesus declares, “Whoever is not with me is against me.” In Mark, he says,“Whoever is not against us is for us.” Did Jesus say both things? Could Jesus mean both things? How can both be true at once? —Or is it possible, maybe, that one of the Gospel writers got things switched around? Some people may think that it is a dangerous attitude to take toward the Bible, to pick and choose what you believe it means. My view is that everyone already picks and chooses what they want to accept in the Bible. . . . I have a young friend in my church and her parents were so upset because she wanted to get a tattoo, since the Bible, after all, condemns tattoos. As you know, in the same book, Leviticus, the Bible also condemns wearing clothing made of two different kinds of fabric and eating pork. . . . Why insist on the “biblical teaching” about tattoos but not about blouses, pork chops, and stoning? . . . . Praying, caring, loving, sharing. . . . . Those really are the marks of the cross, as I understand it. . . .And daring to lay down our life on the line, forgetting what we leave behind. I keep seeking Christ and I know it is more than just trying because real love is not forced. It is about giving Him my entire will —joining my will (—somehow—) with God’s will and finding ALL my identity there.
Aleea – As always, your information is enlightening, extensive, and thorough. I agree wholeheartedly with your encoragement for everyone to double check things with their own work/minds. I admit that, when it comes to your research, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt on knowing what your talking about unless/until we get to an issue that is important enough to me to require confirmation (and that we both actually choose to discuss….I’m sure you agree, I could sit here all day and try to think and work through this stuff. But as some of our fellow commenters appropriately point out, we have activities to pursue as well :)).
If I may playfully cause a little trouble (I suspect) and add some names to the list of those I respect and have read (I clearly lean popular over scholarly, but each have their benefits)….how do the likes of Al Mohler, John Piper, Nancy Leigh Demoss, and Tim Keller sit with you!! Those words may be considered obscene by some in this forum!
The truth has no threats. honest people who seek the lord with and honest heart and honest discussion always have something to contribute. I have moved in my journey from a small independent baptist setting as a child to a much more open and historically inclusive place in my consideration of god’s design for creation. You have the right goals and the right lens (IMHO). Your intellect is your greatest strength and weakness, but God knows that and bestowed that on you for a good reason. Glad you are serving and contributing here.
If I may quickly circle back to the original purpose of this specific page, would anyone agree with the following premise:
If I come to you and say “help, i am being treated like a child,” would it be wise, fair, and loving of you to say to me “Well, are you acting like a child?”
If we’re honest, we can all admit our tendency to be children at heart with much more mature and effective ways to hide it and/or get away with it. Quickly and off the top of my head, here are a list of things that I see children and adults do…the kids just don’t know how to hide it yet!
1. That’s mine
2. I had it first
3. I can do one better than that story or accomplishment
4. That’s not fair
5. It’s not my fault
6. Why are they getting all the attention
7. Why aren’t we doing what I want to do
8. I don’t like your decision, therefore your stupid
9. I don’t like what you are saying, so I’m going to refuse to listen and insist that you have a problem communicating
10. Other kids families don’t do it that way
11. So and so got one, now I should get one
12. I’m going to show you how strong i am and how I am not going to take anything from you and, if that doesn’t work, I’m going to throw myself on the floor and cry and act like you are the problem
13. Did you hear that so and so is going to Disney again…aren’t they so lucky
There is never an excuse for one spouse to treat another spouse like a kid, but there is also never an excuse for one spouse to act like a kid and then accuse the other spouse of wrongdoing when they try to set a boundary. Peace Out.
Edmund to seem to think this blog is for marriage counseling. This is a place for victims of abuse to get support they need– not marriage counseling. We are attempting to lift the down trodden and give education on taking responsibility and stewardship of our own lives- so that we can be healthy and make wiser decisions than we did in the past. As Leslue and many counselor have said- victims of abuse don’t need to do anything harder or better or think they are the answer. They are to build up their core and protect their families from repeating the cycle of abuse.
Wow, I just returned after last night. I am very blessed by all the comments. I will try to answer some of the questions I remember you all asking.
You are obviously a dear brother, and i think you deserve an answer, though frankly, I have been so devastated by many traditional bible believing Christians in the past that I would have a tendency to just be angry and stay away from you. But a part of me knows the sincerity of many dear brothers and sisters who believe the scriptures speak things I no longer believe are true. I too have studied, though not with the same scholar mentioned above. I read an awesome book by J Lee Grady entitled “Ten lies the Church Tells Women”. It is scriptural, well documented, and amazing to me”.
Edmund, I believed that women were created with the sole purpose of being helpmeet to a man. My own abilities, talents, and dreams were all forgotten about 24 years ago when I came into the submission and “created to be his helpmeet” teachings. They were quite radical, and having been verbally, a bit physically (as I mentioned above), and emotionally abused, I was looking for a way to make everything better. I wore a head covering for 2 years, and just hated it. My husband had never asked me to wear that, but I am sure he enjoyed never having an argument about anything he said or did, as i submitted to all of it for 14 years. Then, when I just could not take it anymore I “came out from under my covering”, as he puts it, and went into trying to provide, because our lifelong poverty, and lack with seven children came to a place I refused to live anymore.
I can hear an elder in the church saying that I should have just continued to pray and submit, and trust God, and if nothing ever changed, I would still get a great reward in heaven. When I finally gave the ultimatum for counseling, or I would find a way to make him leave, we went. By a year ago which was when this occured, I was so angry and upset that I did not show the church counselors a very good side of me. I thought they would understand if they heard what he was saying to me and how he behaved towards me. But because he was calm and collected, they decided I was the perpetrator in the whole situation, and they were wondering whether I was even saved in my rebellious state.
I then ordered Leslie’s book, read it, and began to see the light. I ordered Lee’s book, and realized that I was taught lies in God’s name, and finally realized that God was actually in love with me, on my side, and did not expect me to sacrifice my whole self (he created me with my brain, talents, abilities, etc) (and not EXCLUSIVELY TO BE SOMEONE ELSE’S HELPMEET. I still love to serve my husband (at least sometimes, though like I said, right now I am separated from him emotionally, though i am trying not to be. I feel nothing, and do not consider him every waking minute like I always did.) When all this became clear to me, I was able to stand up to him and take some steps to heal myself and not allow his treatment of me any longer. When I moved into the spare room, that finally got his attention, and we began our process.
I hope I have helped you see the difference between the two you asked me to compare above. The spiritual ones like you are giving me the pat answers that I have been living for 14 years. It has not worked for me. And I know all the arguments you may say, such as” Well, maybe you were not submitting from the heart, so you had an attitude, hence the poor treatment. and I would say, yes, I was not perfect, but I tryed so hard Edmund, to please him and God, and maintain a good attitude, give physical love whenever he wanted or needed, etc, though I would request for him to practice good grooming habits to help me with that. In the last 3 years or so, he has quit arguing and accusing me of shallow love because I really really needed him to brush his hair (he never did) Or his teeth. He is actually changing in some ways.
Leslie and the other posts give me answers that actually seem to be working. Time will tell. I cannot trust he isn’t going to go right back to his old ways in time, habits that have been allowed that long are hard to change. But I am trying to stay sweet and matter of fact, in saying this or that is untolerable for me anymore. So I feel empowered, and am getting some self esteem back. I know these are supposedly unacceptable things in the spiritual sense, I believe that is another lie. Jesus made me a butterfly, I will no longer crawl around like a worm, and be in danger of being stepped on at any given moment.
I was so steeped in it I threw T. D. Jakes book out because he encouraged women to take a nice hot bubble bath after a long difficult day. I believed that as Heresy;!! Wow, now I get massages!
Ha ha, and you know what, I like myself this way. My daughters were not allowed to be “princesses”, or ever read a romance book. That would spoil them into thinking they could expect to be treated in ways that were unrealistice to this life. I know all is not balloons and roses, but REALLY? PLEASE. Can I never have romance before sex? Really?
Anyway, I am ranting. Thanks for letting me. I did go to individual counseling for about 7 sessions, than quit for awhile, it was last spring. We actually each visit our counselor for about 45 minutes alone, then she brings us together for the last 30 or so. It is working out okay. If he is mean, he catches himself, or I point it out and he apologizes. We are at a truce while we go through this. Honestly, sometimes I hate him, and the anger is not gone yet. BTW during my submission years, we both did a lot of emotional damage to our children, it’s coming out as five have left home now, and rarely call. None home tomorrow for Thanksgiving, and probably all will come for Christmas. A lot of good, but a lot of bad too. If I was exceptional upset with the abuse, I usually was mean to the children in turn since I dared not approach him or would be in disobedience to the word. See what hypocrites we can be even when we are the “elite” “called out of her” home church ones. I am very cynical, now, and don’t want much to do with religion or religious people. I have been spiritually abused enough. I have my devotional ” Jesus calling”, I pray and worship, and do go to church, but am not really “plugged in to a family”. I appreciate this site, and all of you. Hope you understand a little more about me. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Tina, I was also abused by church leadership. I am healing now that I walk in Truth and Freedom in Christ. So glad you’re attending church and engaging in a quiet time. God desires for you to understand what a Loving Telationship He desires to have with you- not one with rigid rules and unreasonable disciplines. We’ll be praying for you.
Sorry I meant RELATIONSHIP
Are you familiar with Paul Hegstrom? If you live near Colorado, the stepping stones clinic might be just the thing you could benefit from. It is a one week intensive one on one counseling session with teachings. Everything you learn will benefit the entire family. Is your husband retentive at all or is he still in the cycle. Do you know about the domestic abuse cycle?
Cycle of abuse
Tina: Please forgive my brevity. I sat down several hours ago and determined I was going to systematically work through any discussion to which I had contributed until I was done, no matter how long it took. But I am running out of steam!
You took the time to give me a serious response and explain your story. Thank you! I don’t know you, i don’t know your husband, and i don’t know your histories – but I believe you and i sympathize with your situation. As I have discovered more and more of the aftermath from my last series of contributions while working down the page….wisdom says to just shut up for now. I know what I try to communicate, but it clearly does not always get heard that way nor does it always sit well.
if there is something you said or a question you asked that you truly want to interact with me on, please let me know.
Blessings, and Happy Thanksgiving!
Robin: Mrs. Vernick is the Author and Creator of the site. I’m not sure what she would say the purpose of the site is, but her opinion is the only one that matters. quite frankly, i think it’s an outstanding exercise and platform for understanding authority and submission as I will gladly submit to her intentions for the site.
The awesome thing about an open forum like this is that our responses truly serve to reveal more about us than anything else.
If I may make a neutral, non judgmental observation about my brief experience with you to make that point – consider the following: if a women comments on the site and makes a claim of abuse, it appears that you immediately believe her and invite her into a specific path of fellowship that resonates with your goals and experiences. When I comment on the site as a man and make claims of being falsely accused of abuse or make statements about truth, your response it markedly different. Your responses mean something and they shed more light on the lens through which you are seeing the world than they do on the thoughts and opinions of myself or the other contributors.
I don’t know your story. I have nothing against you. I believe taking offense is simply a choice, and I choose not to take offense to your comments. I’m sure there are spouses here who are legitimately abused. You might be one of them. If this is the case, then I would encourage you to consider me a potential friend and ally. Do you really want unhappy spouses to dress themselves up like victims, walking around and discrediting the cause, consuming the resources, or cheapening the pain of those who are truly abused?
I’m glad you continue to interact with me or my comments. As far as I know, I am welcome here. If Mrs. Vernick should decide that she does not want the voice of a man with my character traits on her forum, i will gladly submit to her wishes and it will do nothing to effect my convictions or my call to promote God’s plan to redeem and reconcile all things. Every human being is made in God’s image and holds infinite worth, even our abusers. if my insistence on promoting this truth does not sit well, it doesn’t change reality. When we were still abusers of God’s love for us, and I consider myself a chief sinner, Christ died for us.
I was extremely blessed by this presentation I heard today. I will share it here if anyone is interested:
I was also extremely blessed by the reaction of this family in my community. Here is a link to an article describing a husbands reaction just days after his wife was sexually abused then murdered in a random break in. If you read nothing else, please scroll down to the part where the husband makes his official statement:
This is the flag I wave and the message I am called to carry. If my voice and my message are not welcome here….so be it. That will be a reflection of the values of this community, not the legitimacy of the message I attempt to convey. As a leader, this is not an easy position to develop and maintain. Leaders take the heat without running from the kitchen. Women are leaders too.
I don’t like conflict for the sake of conflict, but I’ve learned to see conflict as opportunity. Conflict between two flint stones makes fire. We get to choose whether to warm each others houses or burn them down. Conflict between to blades sharpens the knife. We get to decide whether to carve up the turkey and break bread or kill each other. I vote for dinner in a warm home. Happy Thanksgiving!
I always have time for the TRUTH. In fact, to me it is what matters. Many people have built entire structures on the sand. You can fill your life with activity but that doesn’t mean you ever found the truth. The truth will set you free but it will often break your heart.
Al Mohler: He seems like a nice, kind man. I like some of his sermons but —they are often very political, —evidence-free, —archaeology-free inductive leaps. You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible, even my pastor understands that.
John Piper: In order to make a lot of his statements, he needs to ignore large amounts of archaeological, epigraphic, and reliable textual data while, at the same time, favoring less accurate, highly problematic textual data which does not survive in any original form and has undergone redactions and rewrites over thousands of years. I love it when he is just preaching the gospel, however.
Nancy Leigh Demoss: ????? I have read nothing by her but I generally prefer the work of women. They seem to be more forthright about what we know and do not know (for example: Barbara Thiering, The Qumran Origins of the Christian Church.)
Tim Keller: says things like: “Believers should acknowledge and wrestle with doubts… It is no longer sufficient to hold beliefs just because you inherited them.” . . . but then doesn’t really mean it because he will not enter into and interact with the real arguments. Obviously, a very nice person but I like his wife even better and I think she is smarter. . . . . Loved his book, The Meaning of Marriage —still like How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong better*****. . . .I will tell you if you are married and not praying with your spouse (couples prayer) you must fix that ASAP. It doesn’t guarantee anything (—what does) but it is paramount for keeping tenderness, kindness, compassion, forgiveness, et.al. in that relationship. You have to have a way to get the snakes out of your hearts. . . .My heart just cries out for God and He so seems the only way to anything real and worthwhile. I just wish God made things understandable sometimes. . . .But the things I value: A really clean heart, real love, real forgiveness, real compassion, and real tenderness. I simply do not see these happening without Christ. What is the motivation?. . . . Anyways, prayer is awe, intimacy, struggle—yet the way to reality. There is nothing more important, or harder, or richer, or more life-altering. To me, there is absolutely nothing so great as prayer, even on days I think the Christ-myth theory may be true.
***** page 10 “. . . .God understands our deeper need in the situation. It isn’t to know more of why: rather, it is to know more of Him.” —Love that. Page 75 “. . . . I once overheard a discussion my two children had about the devil. Ryan was telling his younger sister, Amanda, that the devil makes himself look good to people so that they will Follow and believe him. Amamda looked puzzled. Ryan continued. “IF the devil looked like who he really was everyone would be too scared of him.” Amanda nodded with understanding.” —I have heard very erudite scholars say that concept is way more important than it sounds (—the concept is important). They don’t and I don’t want to be an unwitting pawn of the damn devil and ALL of us are so gullible and immature. At least I know I am. Nevertheless, I care if what I believe is true.
Denying the reality that most of the women on this blog have gone through or deciding the abuser needs to tell his story fairly too will keep women who are living in abusive marriages in confusion and oppression. When I first disclosed that my husband was abusing me, my pastor told me not to nitpick. Another time I went back and he told me not to bad mouth my husband. My husband was beating me up and using prostitutes, conning me financially and exploding in rage and anger at me and my 4 children on a frequent and regular basis and I desperately needed help to get away and didn’t know how. The pastor finally did tell me the right things to do to help me get away but at first I was so confused and felt blamed. He was the first place I turned to for help. Thankfully he didn’t call my husband in and ask his side of the story and validate his perspective. When my husband was arrested and he had bail or release conditions put on him so he couldn’t come to my work, school, home or church, I was so glad that the pastor didn’t try to arrange counselling for him or suggest working toward reconciliation or tell me to go home and try to submit or try harder to get along. Last January, when I went back to the pastor yet again, (my ex had just a 2 hour explosive anger and yelling rage because my oldest son [the day before our daughter started JK – for the memories]) gave a 2 inch piece of chocolate that he got from his dad (my 1st husband) to our 4 year old child. The pastor then told me I was being abused and the next time my ex got physical or exploded in rage and anger at me, I should call police. … It still took several months but finally I could stand the relationship no longer and went to police for help. The police did ask him his side of the story and he will get a chance to tell it again in court while answering for his assault charges.
If you ask the school yard bully how he feels, I bet he feels like continuing to keep the power imbalance that exists in his favour going so he can stay the king of the play ground. That is why this forum exists, without asking the abuser for his perceptions and input.
Thank you dear friend Leonie for saying what I’ve been wanting to say but had no time today. Excellent words of truth !!!! Your words were eloquent!!!!
Leonie: It has never been my intention to speak to anyone else’s reality. Can you help me understand where I have said something that made you believe I was discrediting you?
This is an open forum. The net was cast very wide and invitations sent to anyone who wanted to consume the information. I have arrived here with my experiences and perspective on the world and I do my best to present it fairly, honestly, and with some measure of wisdom.
From a practical standpoint, spouses who are truly abused should welcome anything and everything that would weed out the spouses that pose as victims.
Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
Wow Robin, your husband listened to Leslie’s videos? They must have made him angry, especially the safety one where Leslie speaks about sanity and financial safety – they are all good and speak truth, they really helped me too.
Tina, I appreciated your posts and how you have articulated what happened to you. It is really hard to extract yourself from the craziness and step back and realize what is happening to you. Your feelings are in line with your reality. It violates your soul to be sexual with someone who has beaten and thrown you.
I eventually came to the place where I realized being shoved & pushed, backed in a corner or blocked from leaving a room while being exploded in rage and yelled at was physical abuse too but had been discounting those behaviours. We are glad you are here and feel free to share and receive validation regarding the difficulties in your christan marriage.
“From a practical standpoint, spouses who are truly abused should welcome anything and everything that would weed out the spouses that pose as victims.”
There are hardly any posts from people who claim to be a victim but aren’t – when there are, it’s usually pretty obvious, they do self identify and weed themselves out.
And as to the last comment. About us all possibly acting like children.
I am sure some women are childish a lot, as we all can be at times, this is true.
But I do not believe this is the heart of the matter.
I sincerely tried to lay down my life for him, I did wrong, he did wrong. The thing is, I am able and willing to admit my wrongs, but he hates so much to make a mistake, he sees all things through rose colored glasses. He is only finally beginning to see that for all the good things he has done, he has done some very damaging things. It is still very difficult to get him to own anything. I believe myself and most of these women have tried very hard to act like mature, hard working, self denying Christians. Sometimes that is the problem. Maybe we need to stick our lip out like a child, stomp our feet, draw a line, and scream no more! If that is a child throwing a fit, so be it. Hopefully we can behave with poise and dignity while we learn how to do this.
So if you asked me if I have behaved like a child, I would truthfully say no, I have not for the most part. If I did at times, I am forgiven when I ask. The description these above women give of yes, their side only, shows me that they were being treated as a child with no obvious reasoning. Had she once had access to finances, been utterly foolish, so now he has withdrawn privileges to her? What about all the other ways she is controlled in the situation. I understand this. I just remembered that it always seemed like he was a father reprimanding a naughty little girl (Me!). That is how he made me feel. But now more. I am not that and will not be treated as such. If this does not work out like I really desire my marraige to, btw, I know I am strong now and will survive and even thrive!
That is the difference between many years of oppressive “spiritual” doctrine, and the freedom now given by my dear Father in heaven, my earthly father and mother, who support me, a couple great friends, and my counselor, and Leslie, and this wonderful group here. Thank you all.
Edmund, on your behalf, I still believe in trying every thing possible before leaving, I still have a lot of hope, because my husband seems entirely willing to do whatever it takes. (sometimes I do have to wonder though at the many years I begged for him to listen, and he would not, so I do not trust him, but again, time will tell. ) If he pressures or rushes me, or quits trying, I will have no other recourse than to take steps for separation, though I would guess he and others and maybe you would tell me I was completely out of God’s will and in rebellion to Him. It is okay, I feel God’s presense, and I know he is for me and not against me. That is the difference between some”spiritual” advice, and the folks on this site.
btw I want to address Edmund when you said you would remove your daughter if she was in physical danger, but I, as one having lived with emotional, mental, spiritual abuse for many years do believe if you knew the damage it does to a person, would remove your daughter from that situation as well. It is a grievious, belittling, stifling, full of anxiety, confusing, subtle, manipulation, hurtful, disfunctional, horrible place to live. On top of it all, you end up thinking there is something wrong, but you don’t know what, it is that debilitating, then you are convinced you are actually going crazy, and he confirms, saying he”s worried about my mental state. I begin to have muscle twitches eye twitches in particular, but all over, I convulse sometimes when I am really upset, over and over, and a couple of times I have partially lost the ability to speak, where I stutter, or cannot seem to push the words out so talk with extreme difficulty. Maybe that means it’s time to quit talking and start walking! lol. Anyway, like stated by several, you cannot even put all of it into words or explain what it is like. I now know one thing, and it has set my spirit free already though I am still working it out. But this I know. I am done with all of that, and it will be no more! one way or another, that I know. And I have grown stronger each week, and more calm and peaceful just having made that decision. My face is like flint. No turning back. Me and Jesus, and I hope my lover, my abuser, as well. We shall see. Thanks so very much for bringing me to this place. you should see my “emotionally destructive marraige” book. It is tattered and worn, read and reread, thanks so much. My one friend was also key in telling me frankly that things were not right, and why. She is so good at keeping me strong and on track.
All for now. It feels so good to be able to write this stuff to people who understand. It’s amazing!
The whole “acts like a child” discussion posted earlier makes me want to cry. I agree with Robin, this is not marital counseling and this vein of thinking is counter productive for an abused woman.
Roxanne —That is a very good point I often forget. Marriage counseling is only for the well intentioned. . . .For emotionally unavailable, narcissistic personalities and various mental disorders (—interpersonally exploitative, psychotic, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, etc.) —I think you move right to separation/ safety/ divorce. I see nowhere in the Word-of-God where we need a guilt reduction strategy to get a divorce and leave well. If God cares more about His children than He does about marriage, and He does, then just leave. If you have Bible issues with leaving faster see: Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: by David Instone-Brewer and Dr. David Parker, Chapter 5; The Sayings on Marriage and Divorce RE: The Text of The Living Gospels. High views of Scripture, scholars reading the text, and not people just trying to justify divorce, because they don’t have to. No over-wrought emotions and ill-formed opinions. Also see: Mistakes Were Made (But Not by Me) Why We Justify Foolish Beliefs, Bad Decisions, and Hurtful Acts —that makes a nice balance.
Friends I want to make a few comments about the purpose of this blog. First I am not providing personal counseling to individuals posing these questions, I am providing, as best I can do, a godly perspective for the person posing the question. Obviously I have not talked in detail to the person asking, most of the time I have never met her nor have I talked to her husband. Therefore a full picture of everyone involved and extra details are not provided. I respond to the question asked, I don’t challenge the validity of her question, although I may pose provocative questions of my own for the person to consider.
In addition, I welcome all to participate. This is not just a victims forum, although women and men who have suffered emotional abuse can find great comfort, support and wisdom here. But as I’ve said many times, I think victims of abuse, especially women, need to learn to think for themselves. We are often told what to think and have not developed our own discernment meter very well. It’s also important to learn not respond to evil with more evil and this blog provides you practice in these areas. In addition, I think it’s helpful for you to see that not everyone thinks like you do, even if you are a victim, and just because they think differently doesn’t make the other person wrong.
Therefore, I allow various people to interact as long as they try to be constructive. When they are not, I usually catch it and ask them to stop or delete their post. You will encounter a whole host of contrary perspectives and opinions in the world and in the church on these issues. It’s a great idea for you to learn how to handle them in a God-honoring way here in this blog.
“. . . .I think victims of abuse, especially women, need to learn to think for themselves.”
Leslie, I really like what you are saying here, all of it, but is there anything we/I can do based on what you say? Would there be any action points? It sure looks like everyone (—with the possible exception of me and I am in counseling for that) is clearly thinking for themselves. —They seem to be weighing evidence, considering arguments and thinking. Me, I don’t know what to think: —go with the weight of the evidence? —go with my heart over my head? —go with my experiences? —go with my heart, logic, reason, etc. all equally weighted? . . . . I very much appreciate kind nuance but I guess I am asking what I should do. . . .My counselor is forever telling me to practice not asking others what to do. Stop “I should” “I ought” “I need to.” She says I give myself no choice. —I don’t know. I see so many points of view, they all look right at times. The unthinking acceptance of claims is literally madness but embracing rationality while denying the existence of God’s mystery is also meaningless —that is no less a form of madness than is eager devotion to unreason (re: not learning to really, —carefully— evaluate evidence, claims, conclusions i.e. —think for ourselves.)
Thanks for your input on this. Great job on the Focus on the Family broadcast. Happy Thanksgiving….a couple hours late.
Janet, if you husband is ready to do what every it takes. What action has he taken? That is part of the problem, because finding anything other than a batterers workshops is extremely difficult. These men don’t need marital counseling. They need cognitive behavioral therapy and accountability. Like Lundy Bancroft says they need to “just stop it.” Who will give them that message? Other men who abuse are the best resource to read through the deception and call one another on their own game and twisted mind set.
Well said Roxanne. I never get weary of hearing those words- as I am reminded how very long I held onto a ‘false hope’
Tina: Thanks for being so gracious. I can act like a child too. My comments were not directed at anyone. It was simply an honest, logical argument based in the core value of taking personal responsibility for our own actions and behaviors….including myself. Happy Thanksgiving!
Roxanne, were you speaking to me instead of Janet? I think so, though it could be a statement for all of us. I agree, and he will not go to an abusive men’s group, as he cannot fathom that I would actually call his behavior “abusive”. So, maybe I really have no hope.
The counselor seems to be attempting to teach us ways to productively communicate, but the trouble is, there is soooo much to deal with, and those 2 hours once a week go by sooo fast.
I am gonna perservere longer, however, I have committed to stay as long as progress of some sort towards healing is being made. Will keep you posted. It’s Thanksgiving! Praise the Lord! So many blessings to be thankful for, I am gonna have a great day cooking with my two remainiing beautiful teen age daughters!
God Bless you all. Tina
It’s wonderful to hear your cheerfulness and desire to continue to work on healing, I will warn you one more time – couples counseling for abusive relationships more often create more damage than healthy behaviors. It gives the abuser opportunity to perform and cast blame on victim. Please be cautious!!
Couples counseling was not helpful because I wanted reconciliation and my husband just wanted to learn how to get along and parent our children amicably. He would often use what I said or sobbed about as a way to hurt me we got home.
I am almost relieved to not be in counseling with him. He refuses to take responsibility for the way he treats me. We need help desperately, so in the mean time I work on myself and cry out to God .
Thank you.Robin. I will take heed to your words. I need to discern if things are going south, thankfully, I have a woman counselor who is very experienced (25 years of court ordered clients, etc, many of whom I would guess may have been abusers.) She does not disclose her faith, though she has no problem with ours. She is a professional, not from a church. I am hoping she will help, but I am also hearing you all, and appreciate your insistence and caring for me.
What has he done? He has agreed to an indepth course to go over every aspect of a couple’s life, and write “marital contracts or agreements” on morals, values, etc. like a life agreement.
One thing I am thinking about is the cognitive behavior you are speaking of. I do not know yet if he will be addressed in this way, and I know it needs to happen, And by men who have been there, done that, and been able to change would be the best bet! As you said. anyone know of any materials geared in that way? Also, while i am on it, where is the teaching of Leslie on the sex relationship someone earlier referred to? I cannot seem to locate it, but really want to hear it. Thanks for all the other links. I will be studying them as time permits. Gotta get back to cooking now.
I will look for it and get back to you Tina. When I came on board Leslie had several videos on her website. None of them are long and each is quite valuable, to gain the info on abusive, destructive relations. One of them was on the sexual relationship and why it doesn’t make sense for a wife to keep meeting her husbands desire for loving sexual fulfillment when he is being disrespectful, not meeting her needs, and not willing to move forward in their relationship. I will look for it. In my opinion when you attend couples counseling you are giving him a platform to sound good to the counselor by selecting the words in front of her she wants to hear- and tear you down and it’s obvious when he gets home he has no intention of doing any of what was mentioned. A contract you mentioned- really?– is that necessary in a healthy relationship or is it just another way to keep control. ?? It sounds you may have a great counselor and I hope it works for you. But every author of a book on abused men say do not attend couples counseling. He will use it against you . Individual counseling is recommended until he has committed to personal counseling (which they seldom do as they would need to look at them self). I believe Lundy Bancroft author of 2 great books on abusive men and has spent years working with such men- gives some possible resources for men who are ready to take the next step!!!!
Thank you so much Robin. I just got done watching most of Leslie’s videos. I found them on u tube! so the one on when trying harder is destructive really hit home! The Fantasy wife! Wow, I can see the truth in that, and now I understand why couples counseling won’t work, as we have not established safety and especially not sanity, as every time I try to tell him how much he has hurt me, the hows and whys, he wants to just move on with unconditional amnesty in building our new marraige via the course. I have had no peace, and been numb for weeks, despite hes efforts to appease me. I do notice that his attitude changes when I try to address past issues I need to get closure on, he becomes agitated and upset, and we end up shelving them and just living in this dry emotionless truce most of the time. I am now seeing why. I feel less frustrated and guilty for somehow withholding or not making any progress. I now know it is where I am at and should be. We do need healing before moving on, and the good news for me today is where he could not stand Leslie because he saw the book laying around and just assumed it was bad for us and our marraige, and I was listening to ungodly advice, he came in and heard part of her video on CORE, and said “She is a Christian and I like what she is saying” Wow! So he has agreed to watch her videos for himself. It is fine with me. I do not feel unsafe with him. He has made me very nervous, but usually never flies off the handle, so I would know if I was in danger well in advance. I want it all out on the table. I feel that maybe if he can hear his behavior from another source, he may see it! That is my hope! Will keep you posted on the progress, or lack of, whichever.
I had my husband listen to each video and it was a false hope. He heard it and knew part of what she said made sense, but not enough to acknowledge he is abusive. I’m glad you were able to hear all the videos – they certainly do inform us . Will be glad to hear of your own personal healing no matter what he chooses!!!!
Tina I just checked her website http://www.leslievernick.com and the videos are there.
WHY GOD CARES MORE ABOUT LOVE THAN SEX??
If I may freestyle here with some bullet point thoughts reacting to the conversation in general between us three but with Aleea’s thoughts as a catalyst…
*awesome discussion. Great initial thought/idea/question by Janet. Aleea…quality content – as always – with an amazing heart and spirit – as usual (I can hear some of my biggest fans on this site typing away like crazy right now….don’t accept my compliment, aleea. It’s a ruse. I’m just trying to reel you in. cue the jaws theme )
* first and foremost, women absolutely played a huge role in scripture. They were the first eyewitnesses to Christ’s resurrection which, in first century Jewish culture, was a huge deal. And in historical/spiritual context, and infinitely bigger deal. Discredit the resurrection and you discredit everything. The world is still attempting to do this. Yet Jesus revealed His resurrected self to women first. They clearly had significant roles both before and after the life of Christ. No argument, total affirmation.
* I would challenge the statement that they were seen in ALL roles. I don’t see evidence of any women serving as Priest, King, Pastor, or Elder
* What I absolutely LOVE about the intersection of those two statements is this: women in the early church did not serve in every role and they have FAR, FAR fewer rights and privileges than 21st century American women, yet they were happy, content, free, effective, useful, and absolutely essential to the early life of the church! Forget what the Dudes after those women said or did. Let’s stick with what the original Dudes – Jesus, Paul, Peter, Luke, etc. – said and did. They seemed to indicate that women were of utmost value and importance, they clearly described distinct roles for women, and all indications are that those women were totally cool with it.
* it’s only fair, intellectually, that I acknowledge the possibility of another understanding. Aleea – I don’t think your understanding is eggrediously irresponsible or misguided, I think you mean well and genuinely desire what is right, and I think you are pursuing truth with a sincere heart. I can disagree with your conclusion and still respect your process. I can even hear your arguments better and freely examine them without fear because your character creates space and freedom to do so. It’s a beautiful thing. I know someone who believe Adam and Eve were of equal physical strength in the original creation. OK – I disagree, but if I understand that and start with that premise, it helps me see where they get other conclusions down the line that build on that assumption.
* Tell me if you disagree (anyone), but I think I can boil the argument down to this: When God restores all of Creation to its original glory reflecting its original design, will women be happy because the Kingdom reflects Aleea’s understanding of God’s design, or will women stop being unhappy because the Kingdom reflects my understanding of God’s design? Did Adam and Eve (as husband and wife) have equal “authority,” therefore Eve was in Paradise. Or was Eve content and happy with her role as the “subordinate” Helper (in the same way the Holy Spirit is a Helper), therefore she was in Paradise?
* Aleea – this statement you made is very helpful to me because it gives me hope that we may be simply not be comparing apples to apples: “if female subordination is, in fact, divinely mandated and justified for all women for all time, then it logically entails women’s fundamental inferiority in being and not merely in function. Thus woman’s subordination is contradicted by woman’s equality. It is not logically possible for woman to be essentially equal to man, yet universally subordinate to man on the basis of an essential attribute (i.e., femaleness)” I almost agree with your statement as it’s written. But I wholeheartedly disagree that any biblical man worth his weight in donuts would ascribe to the belief as you’ve stated it. I don’t feel like anything I have attempted to convey on this site matches up with your statement. “all women, all time, universally subordinate.” I simply cannot relate to these statements.
* I will gladly submit to a female judge, a female law enforcement officer, a female president, a female CEO that provides me employment, and the female creator of a website
* As a husband who gets his authority exclusively from the Author of life itself, I will gladly submit to my wife as an act of self-giving love with no strings attached on many, many, many occasions
* God is the model, the standard bearer, the example for both authority and subordination. God does not control me. I willingly submit myself to God.
* What I love about God’s freedom and design for roles (as I understand them) is that He gives us multiple options within his perfect design from which we can choose. Remaining single is a blessed option. Christ can be our spouse if we don’t believe we are designed to submit to his ideas for marriage. Choosing a spouse whose understanding of His design most closely aligns with our own is also a freedom we are obviously afforded. But the bottom line is that a marriage is an organization, just like a government, a company, a gang, and army, etc. Some truths are simply self-evident to all of humanity, Christian or non Christian. People will always disagree and somebody had to play the role of the ultimate responsibility bearer if consensus cannot be reached.
*Aleea – I believe I am attempting to base my argument from the character of God as revealed in the Trinity. It seems that you are ultimately basing your argument on scholarship. I struggle with the thought that God would design His truth to function in such of way that those with the best research skills at the latest points in history (having more time to discover more evidence) would be in the best position to understand his intentions. Would that not make everyone subordinate to the scholarship community?
*Is God patriarchal by nature?
*And lastly – I absolutely loved this question, think you nailed it squarely on the head, and I can’t wait to peel away from here for a few minutes and dig up the answers that are flooding my mind on this Thanksgiving Day: “What is consistent with real love, with Christ’s love?” Or to say it another way” How does Christ love us? Let me count the ways….
1. Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
*Christ willingly suffered for me before I started being nice to him, therefore I can do that for others
2. Philippians 2:5-11 – Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
* Christ said that being subordinate was fundamental to his plan to save the world. He provided us an imperative command to copy his subservient mindset
3. Mark 10:43-45 – 43″But it is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant; 44and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all. 45″For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
* Direct connection between Christ’s love and his followers being subservient to ALL
I could go on and on, but Christ clearly makes no qualms about the fact that, in His Kingdom, love = subordination for the benefit of another and subordination is a good thing!
. . . .So, I was not referring to the Old Testament roles (priests, etc.) but New Testament roles. I apologize for any confusion. I also do not want to grieve Leslie, she already tolerates a lot (see my note below) nor grieve others. . . . I just think it important that roles get presented fairly. In short, (—Lord please help me make this short!) there were serious debates in the early centuries of the church over the role of women (—because they were in the roles from the start), and these debates spilled over into the textual transmission of the New Testament itself, as scribes sometimes changed their texts in order to make them coincide more closely with the “fathers” and male scribes’ desire to limit the role of women in the church. See the work of: Dr. Elaine Pagels, Professor of Early Christian History, Princeton; Dr. Susan Barnett, Advanced Ph.D. seminar in New Testament Greek, Oxford; Dr. Margaret Barker, Systematic Theology, Cambridge, etc. These disputes led to alterations of the text. In particular, three kinds of disputes were evident in the early Christian communities: one internal dispute, about the role of women in the church, and two external disputes, one with non-Christian Jews and the other with antagonistic pagans. —Edmund, we can easily see in each case that these disputes played a role in the transmission of the texts that scribes (themselves involved in the disputes) were reproducing for their communities. Scholars have come to recognize that disputes over the role of women in the early church occurred precisely because women had roles of significance and publicly high profile roles.
I too could go on and on and on but you can clearly see this if you do studies of Prisca, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis, Julia and the mother of Rufus and the sister of Nereus, all of whom are high profile and it goes on and on with Junia, a woman whom Paul calls “foremost among the apostles.” Male scribes had difficulty with ascribing apostleship to this woman, and so made a change in the text to circumvent the problem. In some of our manuscripts, rather than saying “Greet Andronicus and Junia, my relatives and fellow prisoners, who are foremost among the apostles,” the text was changed to. . . . . —Anyways, enough with all that. . . . . you can see all of it if you are interested in Ehrman’s books referenced below. The bottomline is: baptized into Christ having put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free; there is not male and female; for all of you are one in Jesus Christ. When in doubt give women every bit of freedom because they surely had it at the start.
What I like about you Edmund is that I clearly sense from you what I know too: we have nothing if we don’t love one another. . . . . Praying, caring, loving, sharing those really are the marks of the cross, as I understand it. Let’s not demonize the work of careful, dedicated people who have given their lives to research, even if like Ehrman (below) they are not Christains. We don’t throw Lundy Bancroft’s work under the bus because he is not a Christain or claim he is under the influence of Satan (—except for when David posts, he has said things like that “I don’t have to consider what Bancroft says because he is not a Christain.”) The path to hating people is to first demonize them.
My advice is to start off with small assertions of your adulthood. Say he wants spaghetti tonight, but you are craving a pork chop. Go ahead and make his spaghetti for him, but make yourself a pork chop. When he questions it, say you wanted pork chops. If he challenges it, calmly say that while spaghetti is delish, you are a grown woman and preferred pork chops. If he questions your love and submission, calmly say, “I most certainly do love you and my choosing pork chops over spaghetti has nothing to do with biblical submission or my expression of love towards you. If he continues or punishes you, calmly suggest calling a third party right then and there like your pastor to resolve the issue. Likely he won’t go through with it because he knows he is wrong, or if he does and maintains his stance, hopefully he can get correction.
I agree Kate, always stand strong, evoking respect tacitly.