He’s Sorry Now. Do I Wait?

Morning friends,

We had a great response to the live webinar last week with attorney Maryann Modesti.  It can be tough to navigate through the legal issues and our system is not always just or fair but it helps to know what you are up against if you decide you must separate or file for divorce.  Here’s the link if you’d like to watch it or share it with others.

I’ve posted a brand new video with Chris Moles (the pastor who is also a Domestic Violence Batterer Interventionist), on Am I really That Bad?  If you’d like to watch it, click here. We will be posting new ones regularly in the future.  Stay tuned.

I was encouraged to see that the NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, reversed his position on the Ray Rice situation and was humble enough to admit he got it wrong and that he was wrong. What changed his mind? I believe it was massive peer pressure.  Social media frenzy.  People who were outraged at the way the NFL initially handled the incident of abuse.

Do you think as the Church, we could do the same thing? Do you think we could mount a massive peer pressure campaign on pastors, church leaders, and theologians to do things differently when an abuse victim goes to them for help?  I’m going to be posting a wealth of free information, videos and articles during October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month and would love for you to tweet, share, and create a massive push of positive peer pressure on church leaders to open their eyes and to do things differently.  If you have connections to any media outlets and would like to schedule an interview on this topic, please let me know.


Question:  My husband has had several affairs. One sexual and the others emotional. After each one I have tried to work on me and felt they occurred because I needed to fix things in my own life. I needed to be more loveable, appealing and easy to be with. In so many ways I have been completely humbled and broken, but despite the changes in my own life I recently discovered he had resumed calling the woman he had been having an emotional affair with 4 years ago. In addition, he has confessed to having a sexual addiction or integrity issues involving pornography and pleasing himself sexually. Yet, even while he has been doing this, I have felt loved and cared for by him most of the time.

My biggest concern has been however, when we have discussions, I feel very intimidated by him and end up backing away or apologizing profusely because I’m afraid of his anger and intimidation. I’m not perfect and see so many of my own faults and insecurities but I desire to have intimacy with God.  I’m fit, I have a great profession, close relationships and work at being a good parent to my son (16) and daughter (18).

So here is my dilemma. My husband and I are separated. After the last affair, it was agreed if he ever did this again it would mean automatic divorce, no more counseling, etc. When we first separated I felt scared, but now after 5 months I’m fine and our children are fine.  They say they prefer him gone and we have needed time to heal. Before, I tried so hard to rebuild my marriage that our children took a back seat. Now I’m enjoying the peace of our home instead of always being anxious that I would make a mistake that would drive him into the arms of another woman.

I’m thriving, going to a great Christian counselor and reading and trying to understand sexual addiction. However, my husband wants another chance and feels he now understands why he made so many hurtful choices. He periodically meets with a pastor from our church but has not sought counseling or a recovery group. He seems softer, has realized much and constantly says he misses me and loves me, but I have lost my desire for him. I almost would be embarrassed to put myself through this again but feel guilty or unsure if I’m disobeying God. Isn’t God a God of second or fifth chances?

I have never been good at discerning when my husband was betraying me how can I ever trust him. How do I know if he is fully recovered? Am I being disobedient by not giving him another chance?

Answer: Oh how we wish life’s decisions could be black and white and that God would just tell us what to do. I struggle with the same dilemma of “not knowing” the future, or the reliability of a person’s words.  Talk is cheap and insight, even good and truthful self-awareness, is still a long way off from faithful and consistent change in a person’s heart and habits.

The good news is you don’t have to decide just yet about whether or not to follow through with divorce. Although you certainly have biblical grounds. You indicate you are getting good counsel so I’m going to give you some things to talk about with your counselor to make sure you are moving in the right direction.

First, pay attention to your feelings but don’t allow yourself to be ruled by them. You feel anxious about his anger and intimidation. Is this true in other relationships or mainly with him?  You indicate your own insecurity issues and sometimes people who fear rejection are easily intimidated into compliance because they fear disapproval or loss of relationship even when the other person isn’t intentionally trying to be controlling.

This season of separation can be a good test for you to observe the fruit of your change as well as his.  Are you able to speak up and say no, even if you still feel anxious or intimidated? And, can he hear and respect your “no” the first time, without arguing, trying to change your mind or threatening you with loss of potential reconciliation? If you’re still not able to be clear and direct with what you want or don’t want because of fear, you need to figure out why.  Is it him or it is your need to please, to not disappoint, to be a good Christian girl, and/or to always be the accommodating one?

Your husband has done great damage to your family and marriage yet he doesn’t seem to be working very hard to make sure he never does it again. That does not sit well with me at all. Why has he not gone to personal counseling, joined a recovery group or taken other steps to deal with his problems? You say you’re reading about sexual addiction, but is he? You seem to have done lots of work to mature, grow, and become a more godly woman but what exactly has your husband done to identify his problems and change them?

From what you describe, it seems to me that your husband has been ruled by a selfish and a lazy heart. (These are defined more fully in my book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship).  Pornography is a selfish and lazy way to have sexual pleasure and release without the responsibilities of relationship or mutual giving. It’s all about him!  From what you describe, most of the marriage has been all about him and what you’ve lacked or not done to make him happy or keep him faithful to you.

Affairs are also selfish and indulgent. He wasn’t thinking of you or your children, only about what he felt and what he wanted. From my vantage point what you describe as your husband’s change is really just more of the same but now instead of the other woman, you’ve become the desired object he wants.

Yes, God is a God of second chances, of fifth chances, of hundredth chances, but you are not God. You do not know his heart.  Only God can discern his true motives. However, you can use the growth you’ve achieved to speak the truth in love, ask him to do the work required in order for you to be willing to consider reconciliation and build trust again and see what happens. If his heart is truly changed, he will. If not, he will get angry, blame you and want you to do the work to trust him. You’ve already been around that bend several times and you’re wise to not repeat it.

Friends, how did God show you that you were not being called or required to “give him another chance?”  

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  1. Brenda on September 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    It took me a long time to realize that “I’m sorry” is not the same as real heart repentance and after several years of the same sin over and over again it is not my fault nor should I forget it. My first husband cheated repeatedly and made it clear that it wasn’t going to change, after 6 years his bags were packed and waiting outside. We didn’t own a home so there was nothing to divide. His out during the marriage was I’m so sorry and move. Then all would be better–‘NOT. There were new women in a different place. One day I felt like this is the end and at peace, so I packed up his things and went to legal services. At that time low income people could get a divorce for free.

    During the first marriage I lived right through the fog and had no idea that beyond adultery there was also abuse. I was very naive and thought my body was his and he could do whatever he wanted no matter how humiliating or hurtful it was. The second marriage was a different kind of abuse. Much more subtle and I realize now that part of it was bringing me down to build him up. It just got worse and worse until I no longer thought I was worthy of decent treatment. It took years for me to get over “No divorce for any reason other than adultery”, misquotations. Until I slowly cried and prayed it all out for 3 years. The final straw was me trying to leave the house after his ranting for 2 days. He refused to allow me out the door and demanded that I go back to bed. In short order the Lord had allowed me an apartment, moving men and my daughters home to help. I had been slowly going through things over several months prior just in case. When the perfect apartment came up at the right price so quickly, I knew it had to be God’s intervention. It didn’t get better right away. For almost a year it was much worse as far as verbal, emotional and spiritual abuse or his attempts at it. I found these things only made me stronger and closer to God. I know I have told this story many times before. It helps me to remember where I have been and where I am now. I hope it benefits someone elose.

    In 16 months, I have been through legal separation, divorce, a significant raise in pay and still live in my lovely little apartment. X drops in once in a while, but I don’t allow him in and close the door quickly. I have made it clear many times that I am not a part of his life anylong. He tells me that he doesn’t have much time left. He has been saying that he is at death’s door for the last 5 years to keep me feeling sorry for him. I don’t any longer. I pray that he will give his life to Christ, but he will do it without me.

    • Sandra on January 12, 2015 at 5:14 pm

      I relate so well to what you’ve endured, dear Brenda, as I’ve had a similar experience, although I’m yet to file for divorce. My ex doesn’t know my new apartment address, and I’ve warned my children and others not to reveal it. He broke into our house several times after he left me, and I had to get a Protection Order, that I haven’t renewed. He said he “made a big mistake leaving,” but I believe it was God’s way of getting me out of the pit, so to speak, and I’m now so thankful for the peace and freedom I now enjoy. I also pray for his salvation, but as you said, it would be without me. God bless you!

  2. Peg on September 24, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    Your response is right on target. I especially agree with the statement that she isn’t God and therefore does NOT know if her spouse’s heart is in the right place when he asks for this new chance. Time is the best test! What will he do over the next months to “AMEND” what he has done to her and the children. Until it really sinks in to this man’s heart how his actions and mistreatment of his family has caused, he will not be remorseful and truly repentant. He’s wanting what he wants. He needs to be asking her what she wants him to do in order to be reconciled with her. When separated from my now-ex-spouse, he would try to gain ground again with gifts and small temporary changes in his behavior, but he would lose control when I would not do what HE WANTED me to do. He would lose control and begin his yelling routine and abusive language routine. The test as you write comes when she doesn’t agree with him and doesn’t do totally what he wishes her to do.

    • Jenn on September 24, 2014 at 1:25 pm

      This is exactly how my husband acts. No heart change, says he’s sorry, but because I don’t immediately act like everything is wonderful because he “apologized,” he blames me for not being nice to him. It’s an exhaustive cycle. He doesn’t yell, but he refuses to answer questions and is neglectful of my needs, and passive aggressive.

      One of my mentors reminded me that I can’t be his Holy Spirit, and continue to tell him what he’s done and expecting change from that. After all, if he loves me, he’ll change, right? No.

      This past week I’ve stopped talking about what he’s done and keep things surface and civil as we navigate separation details. I can feel the difference. Only the Holy Spirit can change my husband’s heart. It may not happen if he insists on remaining hard and deep in his sin.

      • Liz on October 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm

        I can so relate to his- one sorry and suddenly I’m supposed to act like everything’s okay or I’m being “hard-hearted and unforgiving”

  3. Brenda on September 24, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Leslie & Peg,
    So true. I have not seen one sign of repentance in any man I have known. They have all wanted what they have wanted and nothing else. Until they have a heart change there is nothing we can do but move on.

  4. Cindy on September 24, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    I can so relate. My husband has been into pornography, staring at women even when I’ve asked he not, and of late discovered he was having a totally inappropriate sexually based conversation on private chat on Facebook with a former girlfriend – long time ago but still. He does not see it that way – “it was silly banter”. This man has crushed my spirit and hurt me beyond belief yet I continue to try. I’ve been through a lot of counseling and have just returned to my Christian therapist. I’ve spoken with my pastor – he advises couples counseling. I am married to an agnostic Jew (shame on me for going out of God’s will years and years ago). I’ve read Leslie’s recent book – excellent and insightful. I asked him to leave 2 weeks ago – he said no. He starts counseling, goes 2-3 times a quits. He claims he wants me and the marriage yet does nothing to prove that – and like a couple other ladies, it is ALL about him. I’m at depression point now, can’t eat. And for him not being a Christian it makes it harder – he doesn’t get it. I pray and pray but I cannot change him. I pray for all of us going through this and that God will speak to us all of what we need to do.

  5. Shellie on September 24, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Wow. This post sounds so familiar, I could have submitted the question myself. I can relate 100% to every concern this wife has. But I am encouraged today, Leslie’s answer is the one I would have given too. It’s how I am living life now. What affirmation to the fruit of my recovery! Thanks Leslie!

    Though Leslie’s answer is complete, she invited us to answer. So here is my response and my story:

    God showed me that I had not been called or required to give him another chance in many different ways. One, is by assuring me that no amount of my own healing and growth in recovery can make him change. It is His job to change my spouse.

    Secondly, God showed that I am not required to give him another chance by Him healing me and giving me peace and wholeness – even while my spouse’s emotionally destructive behaviors and attitudes were present and active. God showed me that my healing, safety, and sanity were not dependent upon reconciliation. You see, I used to think that my healing was dependent upon my husband’s healing – that if he would stop cheating, I would be healed. So I suffered too many years of “waiting” on him to change – waiting on him to stay stopped from acting out. I didn’t know I needed recovery because I thought my wholeness was dependent on his. But God showed me different. When I did find recovery, God began to heal me – independent of my spouse.

    What a miracle!! To have peace of mind and confidence of spirit – even while my spouse was still acting out – is a miracle to me. This miracle is my assurance that God is in control; God will direct my path (including my marriage). God knows I trust Him with my life, with my spouse, and with our marriage, and He will decide if ever and whenever my spouse and I reconcile.

    After being married for 15 years, my spouse and I are relationally separated. We have three children under the age of 14 years. Though living in the same house, we are not engaged in any physical, emotional, or spiritual intimacy. This is the boundary I executed after I found out he was at it again – lusting by fulfilling sexual fantasies with other women through social and digital media (He has had full blown affairs in the past.). My spouse sought out pastoral counseling 4 years ago, and has been and continues to be in personal counseling and 12-step recovery, starting 3 years ago (At which time, he realized he was a sexaholic and had been since age 11). We both grew up “churched,” are professed believers of Jesus Christ, have a loving and accepting church home, and have served there (I’m still serving.).

    Through recognizing and accepting my past – the repeated patterns and cycles of addiction – and by experiencing the fruit of recovery, God showed me that there was simply nothing else I can do, except, to focus on my own recovery and deepen my intimacy with Him.

    My spouse appears to be showing signs of change. He and I are able to co-parent well, and the children are benefiting. He even had what seems like a huge breakthrough. He finally came to the realization that what he has done is abuse, no different than the professional athlete who physically punched his wife in the casino elevator. He courageously asked me if I ever felt punched, even though there were never any bruises. I humbly said, “Every time you cheated, every time you lied about it denied it or hid it, every time you blamed me for it…I felt punched. My bruises didn’t show, but they were there. I still have the scars, though they cannot be seen either. Yes, I can relate to that woman and even to her desire to want to work this out. This is why I have my own program [for healing and healthy and living]. This is why I am need of my own recovery. This is why I need God.”

    He broke down crying like he has never done before. He heard my story – quite possibly for the very first time. Has he truly accepted that truth – that he is an abuser, or will he come to deny it again?

    Friends, only time will tell. In the mean time, I know I am not required to do anything different. In fact, a few days later, he attempted to manipulate again by crossing a boundary (Although, I don’t think he realizes what he is doing. He is simply used to relating to me in that way because it used to work.). It didn’t work. He was seeking intimacy that I was not ready nor trusting to give. So I said “no.” He pushed, trying to change my mind so he could have his way. I said “no” again, feeling the strength of my recovery.

    One truth that Leslie shares time and time again: God values the sanctity of marriage but not more that He values and cares about the safety and sanity of the individuals in it.

    Clearly, this separation thing is helping us both. God has showed me that I need to stay out of the way so that He can complete His work in my husband (and in me!). God has showed me that the separation has really helped me too. I see my past stinkin’ thinkin’ which still tries to creep into my present circumstances, even without provocation. These experiences continue to assure me that the separation is necessary because God is still at work. It is evident. It is good. It is healing.

    Finally, IF I am disobeying God by not giving my spouse another chance, then I trust God will let me now. I don’t believe He will condemn me for it. I believe He will be patient and persistent with me, because He understands what I have been through. I remind myself I can trust Him with my life. In other words, I believe that God would not require me to reconcile if my spouse’s changes are only temporary, nor if I am not ready. Since He does value the sanctity of marriage, I trust He will lovingly stir my heart and make it clear if and when it is time for another chance. Until then, I’m staying right where I am, doing what I’ve been doing: trusting God who is teaching me how to relate to my husband in a healthy, God-fearing way. Why? Because I have peace. The peace that only comes from fearing God. And I trust that God wouldn’t give me His peace if I was out of His will.

    God has showed me that I am not called nor required to give my spouse another chance by giving me His peace that surpasses understanding and confidence of spirit that I seek from Him each day.

    • Jilly on September 24, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      What a wonderful explanation, Shellie. I do appreciate the detail and the depth of your thinking.
      You said, “I believe that God would not require me to reconcile if my spouse’s changes are only temporary, NOR IF I AM NOT READY.” My, my! How I needed to hear that! It seems many of us feel that as soon as the spouse is contrite or repentant enough, then it is our duty to forgive and reconcile whenever he is finally ready.
      But what about our just-as-valid right to be ready ourselves? I had not even considered that before. If I’m not ready, and I am respected as an equally valid person in the relationshp, then me being ready should be just as important a criteria for moving back to reconciliation, too.
      So, next time I may just answer, “Because I’m not ready, yet.” His response may just tell me what truly is going on in his heart.

      • Shellie on September 25, 2014 at 4:15 am

        Yes, Jilly! Yes! I agree completely! “I’m not ready yet” is a phrase I have had to use when my spouse has attempted any type of intimacy or reconciliation. It is so freeing.

        I’ve had to learn the hard way about reconciling too soon. So I’m taking a different approach now. I’m allowing God – and the wisdom He has given me through recovery – to let me know when I am ready. My participation in the repeated pattern of addiction has proven that I am not the most reliable source to determine whether or not it’s time to reconcile. But I know, believe, and trust that God is that source. He’ll surely let me know.

        Along the lines of your comment, part of knowing if and when to reconcile or wait is by observing my spouse’s response when he doesn’t get his way (when I say “I’m not ready.”). And also, part of knowing is observing my own responses. As I grow more in my CORE strengths – more assured of who I am, unshaken by my value to God, myself, and the world – I can trust myself more and more to make healthy choices for my life and marriage.

    • Linda Jo on September 24, 2014 at 10:27 pm

      Thank you for sharing your healing journey. Not only is God working in you, He’s working through you as you share your story with so many other women who are struggling with when to let go and let God. When I finally surrendered my dysfunctional/abusive marriage over to God, I felt amazing peace. The Lord opened doors and gently provided a way out for me (the 3rd and final separation over 16 years.) My divorce was final 3 weeks ago and I thank God for His provision. (By the way, my ex said he was sorry a million times, but his apologies were empty. “I’m sorry IF I hurt you…..I’m sorry BUT…..
      and more often than not ” But I didn’t mean to…..” Stay strong in your faith, God will guide you and give you the wisdom to make a decision when it’s time. Blessings to all the women on this blog!

      • Shellie on October 2, 2014 at 4:51 am

        Thank you! And thanks for sharing your story!

    • Lori on October 10, 2014 at 11:22 pm

      Shellie, I am so proud of you and your ability to trust God with your spouse. You truly are a witness to me and so many. Thank you for speaking the truth.

  6. Holly on September 24, 2014 at 8:34 pm

    My husband has not (to my knowledge) had an affair but we have been separated for two months now due to his continued emotional and verbal abuse. He meets weekly with our pastor and I hear him saying a lot of good things but… I’m just not convinced yet. I really believe the issues he has are deep so I find it hard to believe that in two months’ time he’s become a new person. When we spend time together, I see hints of his old thinking and controlling behaviors and this concerns me. No matter how sorry he seems, I feel like I need a lot more time. He asks me all the time to move back home but I have no intentions of doing so at this point. My feelings for him have definitely changed too and a lot of the time I feel so free and happy that I don’t want to get back with him, ever. Is that terrible? I do feel like I’ve given him plenty of chances in the past. Now I’m very unsure what to think.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 27, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      Sorry guys I have been a little out of the loop here. I have been pretty ill this week with a bad cold or bronchitis and I’m just starting to catch up. I’m so proud of you all for encouraging and supporting one another in these things. We need this little community because there aren’t too many people who really understand all you are going through.

      • Andrea on September 27, 2014 at 5:59 pm

        Yes Leslie! I hope you are feeling better! Thanks for creating this community for us–it has truly been a life-saver for me!!

    • jessicamarie on December 22, 2015 at 8:03 am

      I would love to hear Leslie’s response, and anyone else’s, too, to Holly’s post, her question. Thank you so much.

      • Brenda on December 22, 2015 at 9:36 am


        If you are talking about Holly’s question: My feelings for him have definitely changed too and a lot of the time I feel so free and happy that I don’t want to get back with him, ever. Is that terrible?

        IMO it is not terrible at all. When we come out of the fog and can feel the chains of bondage come off it is perfectly normal to be happier.

        I think it is totally up to Holly if she wants to go back or not. I don’t believe she is in bondage to vows that her h did not keep. This is completely my opinion of how I read scripture and having both Leslie’s books and Barbara Roberts, “Not Under Bondage”, I feel there is Biblical cause for divorce and does not appear that Holly’s h is truly repentant.

        That is my 2 cents worth for what it is worth.

  7. Sandra on September 24, 2014 at 10:20 pm

    Thank you, Shellie & Jilly. Even though my husband begs to reconcile, He keeps blaminging me, and has not asked for forgiveness. I cannot relinquish the peace & freedom I now enjoy, nor do I believe God requires it, As He is a God of love & wants peace for His children. (I read a cute quote on a t-shirt: We have been through a lot together, and it’s all your fault!”) God bless!

  8. Sandra on September 24, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    Thank you & God bless your for all you do for us Sisters in Christ.

    • Sandra on September 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm

      The above is thanks to you, dear Leslie! <3 U!

  9. Chuck Sigler (@AnselmChuck) on September 25, 2014 at 1:16 am

    After reading and thinking about an article Leslie wrote in her July 22nd newsletter, I posted “Where’s the Repentance?” on my own blog: http://faith-seeking-understanding.org/2014/09/19/where-is-the-repentance/

    Even the biblical call to forgive in Luke 17:3-4 doesn’t require you to take this man at his word—especially with the pattern you described. “I’m sorry” without turning from wrongdoing is pseudo-repentance. I’m not hearing that he has done more than say he’s sorry.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 27, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      Thanks Chuck for providing this link.

  10. Marie on September 25, 2014 at 2:45 am

    Thank you Leslie and all of you that have posted! I am getting very close to leaving my husband of 33+ years. Though there has been no physical abuse, the emotional abuse is terrible and has been for many years. It’s just over the last two years that through counseling and a wonderful Christian friend, that I have become aware and strong enough to decide I cannot live like this anymore!! I am making plans to leave in a couple of weeks and although it’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I know I have to do it for myself, before it’s too late. I have lived in bondage way too lpng. Please pray for me as I prepare to leave my husband and my home. Once again thank you Leslie for your wonderful books and blog. My prayers go out to all the women who live or have lived in abusive homes. We can definitely relate to one another!

    • Sandra Babcock on September 27, 2014 at 8:26 pm

      You’re in my prayers, dear Marie. Separation isn’t easy, but worth the heartache and stress, in order to gain blessed peace and freedom from abuse. Stay strong in the Lord — He will never forsake you!

  11. Terri on September 25, 2014 at 4:05 am

    This is exactly what I needed for today! My husband starts counseling this Friday, and since he made the appt. last week he’s been kind to me, bringing me flowers, wanting to hold hands, and now wanting to be intimate again. I had to tell him, very nicely, that just because he’s made a counseling appt. nothing has changed in our relationship. It’s made me very uneasy this last week, thinking that maybe I’m being too harsh…but I need to not be swayed by his “acts of kindness” and just wait and see. I pray everyday that he will allow God to soften his sin hardened heart, before it’s too late for us.

    • Sandra on September 25, 2014 at 5:10 pm

      Yes Terri, there can be no compatibility in an unequally-yoked marriage.

  12. Bonnie on September 25, 2014 at 5:42 pm

    Our struggle is not with affairs or porn. My husband is an alcoholic and our marriage has been a tumultuous one for the past 20 years. He recently started AA, back in June and was 90 days sober.

    To answer Leslie’s question, I have to say that I knew he wasn’t truly repentant and probably wasn’t going to stay sober because he still had alcohol hidden in his closet and his verbal amends to me were wrapped up in blame and ‘well, you did this so I did that’ statements, etc. It was very clear to me that he wasn’t changing in his heart. He was managing to not drink, but I just wasn’t feeling it from him.

    He wound up binge drinking again and I told him I want to separate after the holidays. Honestly, I have no attraction to him anymore and it pains me to say this as a Christ follower. I know I contributed to our problems, but I just don’t have anymore emotional or mental energy for our relationship. I remember writing in my journal many years ago saying that my marriage was soul sucking and that I was heartbroken and how I wanted God to just come in a fix it like with a magic wand. Now, I see that I have to put work in and I have done exactly as the writer of the question has done: counseling, support groups, reading all of Leslie’s books and others from Cloud and Townsend, and pastoral counseling, too.

    I have to trust God that I will know when it is time to leave my marriage or if I should give it one more chance. I’ve given many chances, I’ve been long suffering and patient, so now I’m stepping back and taking care of myself and I’m waiting to see what God’s plans are for my life and seeing how things will unfold!

  13. AB on September 25, 2014 at 10:11 pm

    Bonnie, I am at that point too. today is our aniversary and I met with an attorney to file for legal seperation. I’ve been initiating counseling of and on for years and he always goes but doesn’t follow through and says he won’t change until/unless I change. Last round he went into alcohol treatment and was sober for at least 6 months then I suspected he started drinking again. Then I found the evidence and he flatly denied it, got angry and acused me as the abusive one and it went on and on. All that after over a year of counseling. Lots of outward changes but the resentment and unforgiveness wasn’t there. I have done all I can do and this is the last thing, seperation and if nothing changes or he wants, divorce. I have no hard feelings and if our marriage was as bad as he says, he can get out and I’m fine with that.

  14. Lynn on September 26, 2014 at 3:48 am

    Leslie, I couldn’t agree with you more. I was in a similar boat even though my husbands sins were differed from these sexually sins described here. Nonetheless he never sought out help and continually blamed me for everything. Therefore, we are now divorced but I still battle with words such as those you posted “you aren’t God”. Weren’t we created to be Christ-like? Where does “what would Jesus do” fit sin. I read the scriptures, I see very valid points but sometimes still feel as if I let my husband down in someways too. Maybe because he always lays a guilt trip!!

    • Leslie Vernick on September 27, 2014 at 12:31 pm

      What would Jesus do? That’s a great question because sometimes he just let people go, like he did with Judas and the Rich Young Ruler. We always think that Jesus would chase after people, pleading and pleading and pleading for them to change, but not always. The example Jesus gives of the Father’s heart is the story of the prodigal son and he let him go. When the son returned with a humble heart, the Father gladly welcomed him home. But I wonder if the story would have been different if the son’s heart was entitled? In fact, we see that very element in the older brother’s story. The father invited his older brother to come to the party – to change his mind and heart but he did not and we don’t know the end of the story with that son.

  15. Brenda on September 26, 2014 at 8:29 am

    I also get the guilt trip from X. He sent a text to me yesterday saying, “even though you won’t talk to me I still love you and miss you.” I went back and forth saying, “I could have done more” and “No only God can help him” and he won’t go for help. He refused counseling and I remind myself of what has happened, especially what has happened since I moved out. I feel much better this morning, but last night I struggled. Today I move on. It has gotten down to about every 2 weeks that he tries to make some form of contact. I can forgive him, but I will not forget or return to that life. Praise God He set me free.

    • Lynn on September 27, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Brenda, sounds like you’ve become ver strong. You should be proud. my ex stays away, for the most part, seems like rejection is the part I battle with. He’s a drug user who believes it’s a disease that I failed to help him with. I stated for almost five years and he thinks I felt him when he needed me most. Very complex situation. Im learning to deal with it. Slowly but surely. Glad to hear you’re putting on your armor of God and pritecting your self and heart. Hope you have a beautiful day.

      • Brenda on September 27, 2014 at 3:13 pm

        Lynn, Drug abuse and alcoholism like any other form of abuse always seems to be someone elses fault. I do not believe that abusing drugs and alcohol is a diseased. It is a choice. They may loose control, but it is still a choice.You cannot help him with his drug problem. He has to do that on his own. He has to see the problem as his and take ownership of it. Remember, you are not rejected by Christ and he is always there for you.

        • AB on September 27, 2014 at 9:36 pm

          My husband has been in alcohol treatment three times and every time he fails, he blames me. Once he went into treatment saying if I didn’t change he would start drinking again. I can laugh at it now. He started again and that among other things has prompted me to file for separation.

  16. karen addison on September 26, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    Hello ladies. First of all, I can totally relate to this woman’s plight. It is extrmemely confusing, daunting and terrifying to consider leaving a marriage, especially if we are believers, and if our marriage/spouse is a “believer”. I was married for 22 years to a “godly” man. Nothing was ever good enough, and I spent 22 years trying to please him and make him love and like me. Just like my relationship with my father. Several years ago I realized I was in an abusive marriage. It wasn’t physical or sexual abuse, it was emotional and verbal, spiritual and financial. I kicked him out after 20 years of marriage when he threatened to hurt me. I desperately still wanted my marriage to work. For the next year and a half, we had a few separations and reconciliations, and went through 6 counselors! He would refuse to go back after a few months, when teh focus turned to him.

    Here’s the important piece: During the last 6 months when my ex and I were together, I felt under huge conviction to try and give everything I possibly could to my marriage. So I did: I graced, humbled, encouraged, sought help, … I did everything I possibly could to save our marriage. But one person can’t save the marriage. I was seeing absolutely no change in my ex, his heart remained hardened and cruel to me. I still really wanted my marriage to work! We hvae 3 children together, and I feared a “broken” home. But after the 6 month period, I was praying over my marriage yet again, and God clearly spoke and said “You are free to go.” I filed for divorce a month later, to which my ex replied “I’m relieved.”

    You see, I know God knew the heart of my ex, and He knew his heart would not change. To this day, 3 years later, my ex is the same person, and is emotionally and verbally abusing our children. So God, our Protector and Defender, gave me the permission and peace I needed to leave. And I believe a huge piece of that was the 6 month “conviction” period, because now I can look back and I absolutely have no regrets. I know I did all that I coudl on my part to save our marriage.

    But God hates violence more than He hates divorce, and He absolutely released me from a very destructive and dangerous man.

    My advice: let God show you when the time is right. He will give you strength and peace and open doors. We, ladies, are created with dignity and strength (Prov. 31:25). Stand up and expect it! Christ expects it for you. 🙂

  17. Brenda on September 27, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Holly, I don’t think how you feel is terrible at all. It is easy for a man to say he has changed when you are not there 24/7. If you are at peace, that is such a blessing. I know how you feel. If you are seeing the little signs when you are together, they will only turn into big signs if you go back.

  18. Andrea on September 27, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I am facing the same question with my husband–what does true repentance look like????? He has been in counseling for years, and is learning the ‘lingo’. I am afraid he is just manufacturing it and yet if I don’t trust EVERYTHING that he presents to me, I am accused of being ‘unforgiving’ or ‘holding his past against him’. To me, this indicates that he is NOT truly repentant because he is not ready to make restitution for the damage he has done. And yet, when I separate, I feel so incredibly guilty . . . . . Grrr!!!! Crazy-making at it’s best, I suppose . . . .

    • Ann on September 27, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      Here is a list by Barbara on the site, Crying Out for Justice which she adapted from Lundy Bancroft’s list; he is the author of “Why Does He Do That. CHECKLIST: IF THE ABUSER IS GENUINELY REPENTANT, HE WILL: 

      Stop all blame-shifting. Stop blaming their spouse. Stop making excuses.
      Commit to going to a professionally run Behaviour Change Group for spouse-abusers.
      Admit, confess and accept responsibility for all their abuse, in full detail.
      Identify the attitudes that drive their abusiveness.
      Relinquish their attitudes of entitlement and superiority over their partner, even the last bastion and stronghold of their selfish sense of entitlement.
      Be accountable to group leaders, probation officers, courts, and any others who are overseeing their actions and attitudes.
      Accept the consequences of their actions.
      Resist feeling sorry for themselves if they have to pay consequences.
      Be honest and non-manipulative in their communication.
      Be empathetic to the multiple and long-lasting effects of their abuse on the partner and children.
      Attempt to right the wrongs by restoring losses which they’ve caused to their victims.
      Allow the hurt partner and children to take as much time as they need to heal.
      Not attempt to use behavioural improvements as bargaining chips.
      Not demand credit for behavioural improvements.
      Carry their own weight in all matters, including parenting.
      Develop respectful, kind, supportive behaviours.
      Change how they respond to the grievances of their partners.
      Accept that overcoming abusiveness will be a decades-long process.

      Adapted from Lundy Bancroft’s article Checklist for Assessing Change in Men who Abuse Women, 2007.

      • AB on September 27, 2014 at 9:47 pm

        I showed that list to our marriage counselor and he showed it to my husband when I wasn’t there and said no one can be expected to do all that. Of course my husband agreed and said he would never take all the blame and do those things. That is when I realized the counselor never really thought our marriage was abusive so I quit going. I went to a new Christian counselor and she heard me, found a list of abusive behaviors and we went over them. She agrees I am in an abusive marriage and perhaps separation would be best since nothing else has worked.

        • Ann on September 27, 2014 at 10:59 pm

          The counselor should have never showed it to your husband. It’s for the victim to have solid knowledge of what true repentance looks like. The counselor saying no one can be expected to do all that shows he is out of touch with understanding the dynamics of abuse. You were wise to find someone competent.

          • Leslie Vernick on September 29, 2014 at 1:28 pm

            I agree. The list is extensive and I have a list that is similar but we’re looking for the fruit of repentance and if that isn’t happening, no reconciliation of the relationship is possible. I think where marriage counselors get confused is they see things that the other spouse is doing wrong too. There is no perfect spouse. But if you make it about her changing in order for him to stop abusing, or drinking or doing porn, then he is not taking responsibility for his way of coping with being disappointed or unhappy and it turns into the wife’s job to make him happy all the time so he won’t take it out on her. Once a husband takes full responsibility for his own stuff (and a wife takes responsibility for her stuff) then marriage counseling may be appropriate if there is safety.

          • Sandra on October 30, 2014 at 2:21 am

            I have been separated from my husband for a year now, and even though it has been difficult alone, both financially and taking care of selling our home (that I simply couldn’t afford alone, or keep up). I then applied for a senior apartment, and stayed with my sister while waiting for a vacancy (which took two months). I now have a lovely apartment, keep active in my church and mentor a dear second-grade girl at the local elementary school. God has blessed me, and I praise Him for the freedom and peace I now enjoy. I would like a Christian companion, but prefer being alone, versus living in a destructive marriage, and know Jesus will never leave me alone. Blessings & prayers for you all!

      • Shellie on October 2, 2014 at 4:36 am

        Great checklist! Thanks!

      • Cynthia on October 3, 2014 at 11:33 pm

        Hello my sisters,
        Please know that as I read this blog, I’m am praying for each of you.
        Thanks for posting. I just read Lundy’s book and would strongly recommend it. It callows you apeak into the mind of an abuser – very eye opening. It has given me powerful knowledge and insight as to how to now relate safely and sanely to abusers in my life – my ex husband of 36 yrs and abusive father. Both are resisting change.
        Leslie – what do you think about lundy’s book?
        Also, any tips on how to communicate to my father about my new-found

        • Leslie Vernick on October 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm

          I like Lundy’s book and recommend it. I think it helps a woman get an idea of all the different kinds of abusive strategies a man might use. The rest of your question got cut off – communicate to your father about your new-found ? that word is missing.

  19. Brenda R on September 27, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Leslie, I hope you are feeling better. I’ve been coughing for weeks and it turned into a sinus infection. There is so much junk going around. Praying for you.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 29, 2014 at 1:21 pm

      I know, I’m still coughing like crazy and I may have to go to the doctor.

  20. Sandra on September 27, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    You’re in my prayers, dear Leslie. Get lots of rest and get well soon! God bless you, <3 +

    • Leslie Vernick on September 29, 2014 at 1:20 pm

      Thanks so much. I have been pretty sick this week so I hope I’m getting better soon.

  21. Sandra on September 27, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Brenda, your comments are such a blessing and encourage to me! Thanks and God bless!

  22. Brenda R on September 27, 2014 at 9:38 pm

    AB, Your husband threatening to start drinking if you do or do not do what he wants is childish.. I am glad you are separating. I will pray for you.

  23. Brenda on September 29, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Leslie, Don’t put it off. I have been coughing for about 6 weeks and am on the 6th day of antibiotics to get rid of the infection–I’m still coughing. I go back to the doc again on Thursday. Take care and I will pray for your swift healing.

    • Leslie Vernick on October 1, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      Thanks Brenda, I should have gone but didn’t and am heading to Branson tomorrow. If I don’t feel better by the time I get back I will go get some meds.

  24. bb davis on September 29, 2014 at 2:54 pm


  25. Caroline on September 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

    You asked how I personally handled this with my husband. For me it was easier. He never apologized. Whatever happened was always my fault. I agree with what has been said above. He needs to SHOW signs of repentance by his ACTIONS, not just by his words. That for me would be going to a group for men who suffer from sex addiction, and having friends in his life hold him accountable to not view porn. It is possible to have what he sites he sees on the computer sent to friends. A friend of my husband is doing that, and my husband is holding him accountable. There are many things he could be doing above and beyond telling her he is sorry. The other thing I would mention is the peace she and her children currently are experiencing WITHOUT him. This is no small thing. When a man causes so much chaos in the home, bringing him back in is no favor to her and her kids. She would want to be VERY careful before doing that. Hope this helps.

  26. Cora on October 1, 2014 at 9:08 pm

    It is so hard to understand all the pain and sorrow in this world. But as I read through the comments I can see that God works through the pain and sorrow – and I guess that is His intent. When I start feeling sorry for myself and ask God why, I try to remember Jesus on the cross. If God allowed His son to suffer that way, I realize that ‘my best life now’ is not really His plan for me. My best life now is going to be sitting at my Savior’s feet and learning all He has for me to be the best mirror of Him to the rest of the world – and that may include my husband and/or ex-husband. Someone told me a few years ago, just be Jesus, and I’m learning that truly is the answer. Isn’t an easy answer, but it is the ONLY answer. And Leslie is right, Jesus didn’t roll over and He didn’t chase after anyone. He stated truth very clearly and wasn’t afraid to speak it to anyone. He is the creator of CORE and lived it out. Be Jesus – and follow the path He has you on. And that may be a very different path than someone elses. Like Jesus told Peter – what is it to you if John lives until I return? My path is not the same as yours and finding and following that path isn’t easy. And if you get it wrong, just trust God to set you on the right one.

    • Jilly on October 1, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      SO right on: “My best life now is going to be sitting at my Savior’s feet and learning all He has for me to be the best mirror of Him to the rest of the world.”
      I remind myself also that having a happy marriage and contented life is not the goal. The goal is to be like Jesus. And that takes hard work, testing, growing… Instead, I do better to take joy in suffering, because it will make me mature and complete, lacking in nothing. And although I grieve the current situation in which a happy life seems to elude me, I count it as joy that I will be mature and complete. Because in the end, that truly is where I want to be.

      • Shellie on October 2, 2014 at 4:47 am

        Ah…yes ladies! I am walking out these principles too. What a daily process and a lifelong journey! To be honest, if I was the author of my life’s story, this is not how I would have written it! BUT, I trust in the One who loves me so much He died to save me. He has what’s best for me, which must mean my story has a pretty awesome ending! It certainly is a miracle to have joy and to regain peace even in the toughest of circumstances. I am so glad to experience them.

      • Vicki on October 28, 2014 at 5:22 am

        So beautifully expressed, Jilli. What you said made me

  27. Danielle on November 20, 2014 at 8:13 pm

    I knew about my ex husband’s pornography addiction before we were married. But 25 years ago, it was the general concensus that marriage would “cure” that problem. The anger and raging started on our honeymoon. I tried and tried to be “what he wanted” or at least what I thought he wanted. But it was a moving target. And I knew that what he had seen in magazines and movies was in his mind and would never go away. It was confirmed over and over again by what he would ask me to do. I was so embarrassed, felt degraded and belittled. And I was slowly dying inside. He continued with the porn use, continued being anrgy and me and the children, with out of control rages. My kids were afraid of making him angry. When he felt good about things, he was a great daddy. But I was a terrible wife. His parents knew about the anger and pornography, but always had to “pray about it” and didn’t want to hurt his delicate psyche. They encouraged me to stay, for his sake and for the sake of the kids. Both wrong moves. Finally after 25 years of marriage, I was done. The kids were out of the house, and we barely spoke to one another. I never knew what person would come in the back door or out of the bedroom – the angry one or the ingnore me one. He ended up running up a $17,000 credit card bill of nothing but pornograpny – all of it online. He bought a brand new computer with speakers to play his porn on. He would turn the volume up so I could just hear it. I overheard him one time telling someone he was on line with that he did it to make me angry. He kept alcohol under the bed. He would mood swing from very religious to deep depression. I was paying bills one day and realized that I could live on my own with just my salary if I didn’t the mortgage, and other bills to pay. And I didn’t want to have any part in paying his bills either. Sudden release of a weight on my shoulders. I went to an attorney that a friend had used for a messy divorce and filed. He refused to file out of “principle” so it was uncontested. I paid for it, went to court to testify and was the first to move out of the house. I dreamed of things being different, of a miracle in our lives. I seriously considered suicide many times over the years. My kids kept me from doing it. I can never trust him again. He says he is doing things to “get better”, but I don’t believe him. Waiting for the pendulum to swing again. The grieving process for all of this started years ago when I realized that he was addicted and didn’t realize it. I lost me as a person. I’m trying to find out who I am now, with the life experiences I’ve had. I’m so grateful that the Lord got me through those dark times. But even more, He is with me in this new stage of my life.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 20, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      Thanks for sharing your journey Danielle. Its not easy to go against the conventional “church wisdom” and leave but it sounds like it was the best decision for everyone, including your ex husband if it motivated him to look at his addiction and seek help.

  28. […] SOURCE: Taken from an article by Leslie Vernick […]

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