Thanks for your prayers. My home chaos continues during the renovations but I am more conscious of my “inner game.” What does that mean? Well, I’ve been reading in Philippians how Paul stayed positive and upbeat even while in prison.
His outer circumstances were rough, yet Paul was confident, even joyful that God had a plan. That God was at work and that good things were happening despite Paul’s personal suffering.
How did Paul do this? Here’s how. Paul paid attention to his mindset, his thought life, his inner game. It was something he regularly worked on learning to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).
I’m reading the book of Philippians as a challenge. I want to work more intentionally on my own internal mindset. We know we often have very little control over our outer circumstances. Nor can we control other people. But we are mandated to learn how to control our own selves. To think on things that are true, good and right and make it a discipline to practice this way of “seeing” so that it becomes second nature (Philippians 4:8,9).
Our mindset has a lot to do with our mood and even the choices we make. When we stay stuck in a negative, helpless, victim mindset, we will create a much different outcome in the circumstances we find ourselves in than when we learn to think like a daughter of the King, a woman of strength and dignity, and a good steward of our one precious and sacred life.
This leads me to respond to this week’s question with that idea in mind.
Question: How do I tell if my husband is being emotionally abusive to our children? Things have been said to them, often, that if they don't stop doing whatever they are doing, such as misbehaving, that he will: lose it, make them be his slave for the day, throw their toys away, make them sit in a corner at a wedding, etc.
He has also said their words are like acid and venom and that they need to shut up. Questions have been asked if they enjoy causing trouble?
They have been called brats and feel like they are stupid. They have been sent to their rooms and threatened that they would stay there for long periods of time.
There is yelling. I have confronted him for years for the way he talks to them. The kids are now afraid to be left alone with him when I leave.
Our oldest daughter turned to self-harm, which thankfully is in the healing process of that.
What am I supposed to do as a godly wife to help my husband but yet protect my children?
Answer: First I think you already know that what your husband is doing is considered emotionally abusive. This is not God’s way of parenting or helping your children to feel safe and secure. He’s trying to control their behaviors using fear rather than love.
God knew that a father might use harsh methods to get his children to comply. That’s why he warns them, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them” (Ephesians 6:4). Also in Colossians, it says, “Fathers, do not aggravate your children, or they will become discouraged” (Colossians 3:21).
But here is where I think you’ve gotten confused. You asked, “what am I supposed to do as a godly wife to help my husband but yet protect my children?”
I sense you are asking those questions as if they are two separate questions. Like if you choose to be a godly wife who helps your husband, you won’t be able to protect your children. Or if you choose to protect your children, you won’t be a godly wife who helps your husband.
But what if you could be both a godly wife and protect your children? That is God’s will for you. It is what God calls you to do. The problem might stem from how you are defining a godly wife. Perhaps you see it from a very narrow and incorrect mindset.
I wonder if you define a godly wife as a woman who never questions or challenges her husband. One that puts her husband’s feelings first regardless of the damage he causes in the family. One that helps him “Be the head of the home” regardless of whether he does that in a godly way or a cruel and abusive way. One that doesn’t interfere with his poor parenting so that you support him no matter what. So you don’t look like you have a divided parenting approach or marriage.
I’m going to make some assumptions about things you may have already tried. You already said you’ve confronted him for years about the way he talks to the kids. Have you suggested that the two of you attend parenting classes or asked him to seek help to know how to connect better with his kids without using fear or force? You probably have.
My guess is that deep down he wants to be a good dad. No parent sets out to be a jerk to his kids. People usually parent as they were parented, without much reflection. Or they do try to do better than they were parented, but in your husband’s mind, he might think he’s doing better because he’s not beating them like he was beaten.
Has he been open to your feedback, confrontations, or suggestions? With your daughter’s issues, did he reflect at all on what he has done to cause your daughter so much pain? Has he been involved at all in her healing process?
If the answer is no, he hasn’t been open to your concerns then what’s your next step?
So dig deep and ask yourself another tough question. If you are called to love your husband in a way that no one else does (as his wife), what would be your husband’s biggest need right now? If you could look at you husband from God’s vantage point, what would God say he needs the most from you?
Is it for you to be submissive and silently support the way he thinks and acts, especially with the way he mistreats your children? Or is it something much more radical and risky?
Like Queen Esther, God may be asking you to stand up for your children and even for your husband in a redemptive way. Your husband’s greatest need right now is to wake up to his destructive parenting and repent. God wants him to change and become a better man and a godly parent.
How can you participate in that process? You’ve already tried talking to him. That hasn’t worked. You are not God’s Holy Spirit so it’s not your job to keep “telling” him over and over again. So what is your next step?
When someone doesn’t listen to words, usually the next step is experiencing some negative consequences. Your daughter’s consequences didn’t impact him. So what consequences can you implement that might wake him up?
When there is physical abuse, calling the police and being arrested can be a huge wake-up call. Another consequence might be separating and filing a protection from abuse order not only to protect your children but wake him up to the consequences of his own actions. However, with emotional abuse, there isn’t that legal protection and some people might argue that his behaviors aren’t severe enough to warrant breaking up the family unit through a separation.
I also understand that some mothers feel they can protect their children from their father’s poor parenting by being present in the home. Marital separation causes it’s own set of problems, especially if he gets unsupervised visitation rights with the children where you can’t see what’s going on with them.
So here is what you can do to both be a godly wife and protect your children if you’re not ready to separate or don’t think it wise at this time.
First, you communicate to your children that their father doesn’t treat them the way God would have them treated. You don’t disrespect your husband, but you do tell them the truth. That daddy has some issues that keep him from being a good father (And if you believe your husband wants to be a good father, you can say that too). It’s not their fault that he acts that way and together you can all pray that daddy will listen to God instead of being caught in his angry feelings. That even when kids do things wrong, parents are supposed to discipline their kids in a loving way.
This is not being disloyal to your husband but helping your children face the tough reality of their current living situation. It’s important that you help them “think” truthfully or see what’s happening clearly. Children always internalize their parent’s words as if they are true. Children also feel responsible for their parent’s anger and bad behavior, especially when that parent blames the child for the sinful way they behave.
“It’s your fault I lost my temper because you didn’t do what I said,” is common.
It’s imperative to your children’s emotional, mental and spiritual health that you give them the correct view of what’s happening. That daddy doesn’t know how to handle his emotions very well. Or daddy didn’t learn how to be a good daddy from his daddy. Yes, kids do things wrong, kids don’t always listen or obey and parents are supposed to help kids learn to obey and listen, but not scream and yell at them or call them names or scare them.
Second, it’s important that you try to develop some sort of safety plan with your children when dad starts with his verbal vomit. Whether that means all of you get in the car, or go for a walk, or do something in another part of the house you are going to do what you can to create a bit of space to give dad a chance to cool off.
Third, you might need to have a heart to heart with your husband that goes something like this. “I love you too much to allow you to continue to ruin your relationship with your children. I know you think you are doing better than your dad did (if that is an issue). Or, I know you don't think what you are doing is that serious but our daughter has already suffered the consequences of living in this environment and I won’t allow the others to continue to be beaten down.
From now on when I see you getting frustrated or angry, I am going to take the kids for a timeout (whatever you agreed to be your safety plan) and give you a chance to cool down and control yourself before you speak with them. I know you want to be a good dad (if you know this to be true). This is for your good as well as theirs. It is not okay to berate them (or whatever else he does), just because they misbehave. They are children.”
The last resort is separating. That may be the only wake-up call that he will listen to. I’ve had so many men call me in a panic because their wife finally followed through with what she said she would do. Before that, he never took her words seriously. But I know for some, it’s just not possible or you are not ready.
However, if you start doing what I suggest and he escalates and you or your kids feel unsafe, then it may be time to move toward separation. I know this is the last thing you want, but that might be the only thing left that keeps your children safe and gives your husband an opportunity to wake up to his destructive ways. What you are trying to communicate is, “You don’t sow a crop full of weeds and then expect to have a beautiful garden” (Galatians 6:7).
Remember, seeking your husband’s good (helping him to become a better dad – i.e. repentance with grace-filled truth) is being a godly wife, just like disciplining your kids in love is being a godly parent, even when they don’t see it or appreciate it. Click To Tweet
Friends, what other ideas do you have to help this woman be both a godly wife and a good mother?
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I do think I understand your family situation. I had a similar one. I did all that Leslie suggests, but nothing got better.
At 15 our middle daughter ran from home !
Social care got involved. My husband had to stay over night at the policestation and an investigation toock place. Our daughter did not want to talk to me either, because she saw me as a mate to the enemy.
These were awful years. I felt like a knife was sitting in my heart for every breath that I took. Every second was a suffering when our daughter was away and noone knew where she was, not even the Social care!!! After seven month she returned to me. Thank God!!
Now I and my husband are separated and our daughter lives with me. She is 19 now and still thinks I should have divorced him when she was younger. She has nightmares about her dad being angry and abusive to her.
My advice to you – plan for a separation..
Talk to you pastor, so your congragartion knows why you separate.
When you live apart you can easier think clearly and hopefully work on your relationship.
Hopefully you can get single custody, so your children do not need to stay alone with him.
I pray for you and your family! I do think I know how you feel.
God is with you! He will make a way where there seams to be ni way!
If you want to you can write to me. Ask Leslie’s team for my email.
Although your daughter’s fifteenth year of life was difficult. Image how difficult her fifteen years of life had been leading up to her actions. I am glad she acted out. She was fleeing for her life in some measure. She knew something was terribly wrong. Good for her to fight and not become another future brainwashed, compliant “good girl.” I hope she is thriving today.
Part of being a godly woman is speaking the truth in love. As she lovingly (i.e., not resentfully) speaks truth to her children, as Leslie suggests, and validating their feelings, that will comfort the children and give them a healthy perspective. But they should be cautioned not to respond back to him with what she has told them. That will cause things to escalate. They do need an exit plan, but without the typical teenage response, of “whatever!” or some such disrespectful reply. In other words, get away safely, without giving rise to further rage in the father.
Additionally, it is dangerous in some aspects, because some men, like my spouse, would interrogate the children for long periods of time when I was not present until they broke.
Leslie, I agree with most everything you said, but I do believe emotional abuse is reason enough for separation. I was this mom, I stayed and tried to be a Godly wife and protect my children. I thought the emotional abuse was not a reason to leave. Now that my children are entering adolescence and adulthood, the consequences of enduring and witnessing psychological abuse are monumental. My eldest is now in a psychiatric hospital because he had a mental break. My daughter is in an abusive relationship and my younger children also suffer from depression and anxiety. I did give him firm consequences. I carried out Matthew 19, and I left and when he would get help, I would let him back. This occurred 8 times. I had a pastor tell me I did not have grounds for separation, even after my daughter disclosed sexual abuse. If I left when he was emotionally cruel to my children, then maybe they would be healthier individuals today. My children are suffering, and they have grown discouraged and lost their faith.
Irene, I hope you didn’t hear me say that emotional abuse is not grounds for separation. I believe it is. But I am also realistic enough to know that emotional abuse will continue if the children have to visit or stay with their father – often 50% of the time. Some mom’s feel that they can do a better job of protecting their children knowing what happens rather than allowing him sole access during a weekend or week without their input at all. So I’m all about empowering women to make the best choices in their particular situation and one size does not fit all. That’s what I so love about this community. There is lots of collective wisdom from those who have been there.
Was your daughter sexually abused by her father? If so, isn’t the pastor required to contact the authorities by law?
Thank you so much for this post. I have been in need of advice on how to handle my husband’s harsh parenting. We are in the middle of separating because of his emotional abuse of me, but I have struggled to figure out how to talk to the kids when his behavior is bad toward them (and me too, I suppose). Most divorce advice says don’t talk bad about your spouse to your kids, but I’ve been wanting to know how I can teach them that his way of relating is wrong without harming their relationship with him unnecessarily. Thanks for putting some helpful information out there.
“Friends, what other ideas do you have to help this woman be both a godly wife and a good mother?” . . .Possibly, and she may already be doing so, but I would start/radically increase prayer for her husband, her family and herself. How much time do you spend deeply praying for your family, your husband’s issues specifically, —your children? She should also ask herself what is the Holy Spirit telling me to do in this situation, and if it is clear she should do it.
. . . .I know talking to her husband has already been done and seemingly failed, but instead of “just talking to him” how about reading/discussing with him the negative effects of his language longer-term re: he says things like: “make them be his slave for the day (I mean really?), throw their toys away (??? Really), make them sit in a corner at a wedding, etc. (Shaming; Humiliating, et.al.)” see: Childhood Verbal Abuse and The Risk for Personality Disorders: Jeffrey G. Johnson, Patricia Cohen, Elizabeth M. Smailes, Andrew E. Skodol, Jocelyn Brown, John M. Oldham [From the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons; and the New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York, NY.] How about showing him some real evidence of the damage his words to his children cause? Re: The Effects of Parental Verbal Abuse: O’Toole S.K. Ph.D. dissertation California School of Professional Psychology -Fresno. Does he really want his precious children ending up like those children?
Leslie said: “This is not God’s way of parenting or helping your children to feel safe and secure. He’s trying to control their behaviors using fear rather than love.” —So true, if we bracket off the Old Testament [see: The Crucifixion of the Warrior God: by Gregory A. Boyd, “Nothing shakes the faith of the morally sensitive more than the shocking violence of God as depicted in Old Testament texts, and yet nothing confirms the faith of the same people more than the love and peace of Jesus in the New Testament.” Re: —Chapters 7, 8, and 9: The Dark Side of the Bible: Taking a Hard Look at Scripture’s Texts of Terror; Wrestling with Yahweh’s Violence, Part 1: The Dismissal Solution; Wrestling with Yahweh’s Violence, Part 2: The Synthesis Solution] . . . .but in the New Testament, yes, it is true love is the motivation. . . .Anyways, fear is always an unsustainable motivator. See: Love as a Replacement for Fear in the Workplace —I know the home is not a workplace, but all the principles still apply pp. 27-33. © 2014: “. . . .fear has long lasting negative effects that outweigh the motivation that it produces.” Also, see any inner texture exegesis of 1 John 4:18, it totally supports the move from fear to love. Love produces long lasting effects of inspiration and heart level motivation, increased creativity and effectiveness, et.al.
Leslie also said: “Remember, seeking your husband’s good (helping him to become a better dad – i.e. repentance with grace-filled truth) is being a godly wife, just like disciplining your kids in love is being a godly parent, even when they don’t see it or appreciate it.” —Absolutely. The husband should ask: Do I want these kids coming back grieving me or blessing me. . . . .The New Testament calls for a very nauanced form of self-examination. I think it does that so that we might repent intelligently. Not just “repent.” . . .Of course, there is always disagreement on the sufficiency of Scriptures to diagnose and cure souls: re: “There is no place for the concept of sin in psychotherapy.” (A. Ellis – Journal of Counseling Psychology, PsycINFO (c) 2016 APA).
Also, for the husband: Generally, you’re never upset for the reasons you think. —Maybe you can be determined to understand why and see things differently? —Everything that infuriates you about your children/spouse is actually a log, a beam, in your own eye that you may want to be working on. . . .Christ gave us our children/spouses to remind us to work on the logs in our own eyes. You may want your family to be fun. In fact, this may not even be about love, it may be about trying to have fun. Having children should be fun for them and you too.
Also, for the wife: Telling the truth is the most powerful technology e-v-e-r. . . .It is as simple and as hard as just r-e-a-l-l-y, deeply telling the truth. Telling the truth is unbelievably effective in guiding our lives because it puts our lives right back in God’s hands. —Right where we want them. We have no real idea what is best for us. When we are outcome engineering by shading and slanting the truth, peacefaking, making excuses —for anyone, we can’t move forward. We need to tell the truth, even if our hands shake. Your doing that, just keep doing that.
A mix of this with the kids made me worried what he would do when I wouldn’t be there, and in real truth, he has cut out some of the treatment, mainly because he doesnt have to parent. He gets to do the fun stuff. We have been separated since the end of December, and if anything, he is trying to make me look like the bad mom, and now I’m under a microscope with my children, for anything I might do, or perceived now as wrong, all the time. I find it hard to parent not knowing what to expect. I asked him to leave for going out on me, and lying and doing things in secret. That was my last boundary and it finally hurt enough to let him go. I pray, and pray, but four months in to separation and he hates more, me only, and tries to ruin my relationship with my older children and children he sees every other weekend. Instead of running to God, he is running from, and dating and says there is nothing wrong. That’s what my kids get to witness. So now that the secret things have been exposed, he is blatantly in my face doing more things to hurt. There is a PO and he has left the house, and all of it is my fault. No repentance. Nothing. I dealt with more than emotional problems, verbal attacking, financial cut off, lying, alcohol, and yet I still believe there is a hurting person, needing prayer and love. I’m healing with the daily chaos removed, but still hurt deeply every time I hear of another person who my spouse would rather pursue than to do the right thing, do the hard things and restore what’s been broken. Pray for me and my kids and as I am standing in the gap, to pray for a heart change in my spouse.
I can relate to some of the things you are going through- my husband has gone through phases of making me look like the bad guy to my kids. Although I have spent a lot of time developing my relationship with them, it did change how they viewed me. This was especially true when I had to discipline them. During this time, I focused on their good and was very open with them about what was happening. Fortunately because of our relationship prior to this, they have realized that I am looking out for their good. In my situation, the less time they spent with him, the better it was. This is a tricky situation. It is important that your CORE is strong so that you are not part of the problem.
Aly, what is the name of the book you use that deals with abandonment issues?
JoAnn might have resources too.
How We love, focuses on attachment injuries and in those are abandonment injuries too.
We are ‘all’ affected by attachment injuries while being raised in our family of origin homes~ positive & negative attachment injuries. Certainly on a spectrum.
Those injuries get played out in our most significant relationships in adulthood ~ paraphrasing here. (Marriage, close friendships etc)
Family of origin is not just mom or dad, but siblings, grandparents and other regular influences to a child’s emotional development and security.
They have revised the book so that’s why I’m expanding here. The original looks like a book to enrich marriage ~ which it most certainly can if both parties are working on their own issues.
Not all people really want to do that kind of injury attachment work.
Abusive dynamics need more than attachment injury even though many abusers are rooted in attachment injuries of neglect (-abuse) and abandonment.
The reason I’m asking is because in our church we have a family with 3 children aged 4, 8, and 12 whose mother has gone off the deep end (drugs, gang, etc.), took the children from the dad (bio dad to only the youngest) and now after months of trauma the youngest is back with dad and the others with the dad and grandmother of the oldest. That dad is a registered sex offender…….etc. etc. We have been helping with their care, etc., but they are so out of control. Youngest swears, spits, screams, calls his aunt names, won’t listen……this morning he said, “mom left me. ‘when we were at the Y she left me for long times in the room”. I was wondering if there is something out there that would help us to help him, and the older ones as well, though we don’t get to see them often. I know this is not on topic here, sorry.
Google- TBRI -Karin purvis.
Trust based relational intervention. Karen purvis was a Christian researcher / author ( the connected child). Her work is mainly with adopted kids. Lots of videos on YouTube. I got her book years ago -before I was a Christian – when we were adopting. She’s amazing and had a passion for ‘kids from difficult places’.
God Bless you and your church family for what you are attempting to do.
Glad you posted Nancy what you did. And Connie yes this is a serious issue you bring up in ‘real time’ for those children.
I’m so sorry!
What you expanded on is awful and certainly not the area or book I was referencing.
A professional in this area would have interventions in my opinion, but also since you mention the ‘dad’ who is a registered sex offender… is concerning & scary because I would imagine it would be hard to do intervention help and create safety while the children are ‘in an unsafe’ place.
I think it’s also hard to say via this blog because there are so many other variables that CPS would need to investigate.
This just breaks my heart for those innocent children😥
I will pray for the Godly love,nurturing and help they deserve.
Nancy, TBRI sounds a lot like attachment therapy, which is what I learned to do. There is a residential school in Evergreen Colorado where they work with kids who have attachment issues. It’s effective, but the school is expensive. I wish I could have taken our adopted son there, but I learned about it too late. I’m glad someone has written a book that parents can use, so they don’t need to pay for expensive therapy.
Connie, the children you mention are clearly suffering from attachment issues, and rage is a common response to being abandoned. “Holding Time,” by Martha G. Welch, M.D. Is a great resource for anyone who is trying to help these kids. Allowing them to express their rage while being held in a strong and safe hug can be very helpful. My daughter is the principal of a preschool, and when they have kids go out of control, that’s what they do. They have a comfort room, where the teacher can sit on a bean bag chair and hold the child until he is done raging. It is amazing how well that works. She tries to teach the primary caregivers to do that, too. Another book that can help the caregivers to understand what’s going on with these kids is “Don’t Touch My Heart,” by Mansfield & Waldmann. These children would probably do better in a therapeutic foster home, but resources for CPS in most states are very limited. My heart goes out to them. They are going to have a rough life if a good foster family isn’t found for them.
Thanks so much, everyone. This is all really helpful. And thank you for the prayers.
Kim, clearly your h doesn’t realize how much he is hurting the children by telling them lies about you. By trying to get them “on his side,” he is forcing them to distance themselves from the mother that they love. They need to hear you “speaking the truth in love,” about how wrong their father’s behavior is, how ungodly it is, and how he is presenting a bad model for them. This isn’t telling lies, and it isn’t “bad-mouthing” their dad. You are simply identifying the sinful behavior. Nurture their relationship with the Lord by reading the Bible with them, praying with them, and demonstrating God’s love to them. The truth will win.
I couldn’t agree more with what JoAnn is suggesting about speaking truth in love to your children. It is essential that you verbalize for your kids, the dynamics that they are experiencing. I heard lately that ‘children are amazing experiencers but terrible interpreters’. They are experiencing all kinds of tension and drama, sadness, anger etc… and it is very important for you to interpret these dynamics correctly for them. This will save them lots of confusion and destructive pain, now and own the road.
I would also ask you to consider, Kim…is it time for you to get angry? I hear the sadness and that is appropriate, and I think it’s healthy that you are praying for him, too.
But do you allow yourself space each day to vent to The Lord about the ridiculous choices your h is making? About what a weenie he is being?
I also wonder from your post if you are not enmeshed with his pain, if that’s the case, it would be healthy to bring that to The Lord and ask Him to heal that. Enmeshment can really stop a healthy grieving process.
Nancy, I agree with what you posted and such great questions to consider.
Kim I agree with Nancy on the venting place~ personally I think it’s ‘more than ok’ to be outraged by betrayal!!!
Being outraged won’t keep you stuck there but it might help process the reality and pain? (Just a thought)
Kim, your story IS painful and I’m sorry. I can relate to being hated, rejected and made ‘the offender’ when I chose to do the healthy right responses for myself and my family (children, husband).
The grief of it all is that unhealthy people ‘in bondage’ choose unhealthy behavior and have quite the knack for making it look ‘normal’ ~ especially to their own children. They also don’t always want to chose ‘different’ and turn away from what they want to do and sadly ‘be’.
I’m so sorry for your pain and the continued lack of repentence you have scene play out as you have drawn your own boundaries for yourself.
Doing the right and healthy thing doesn’t always produce the outcomes we ‘desire’ most. Leaving the outcome to Gods overall Will can assist in the grief process.
You mentioned ‘he is the non-parent and gets to do all the fun. I can relate once upon a time. It’s really agonizing!!
Be kind and patient to yourself and get lots of support for your journey. None of us trek alone.
Expanding on Nancy’s recommendation to Connie:
http://www.child.tcu.edu for the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development at Texas Christian University
http://www.empoweredtoconnect.org (also part of the Karyn Purvis legacy of research and hope)
In addition to the book The Connected Child, Dr. Purvis also wrote a guide to go with it for Christian parents, “Created to Connect”
You may also want to expore Dr. Dan Siegle’s The Whole Brain Child
“Friends, what other ideas do you have to help this woman be both a godly wife and a good mother?” . . . .Also, if your husband is speaking death instead of life, make certain you *seriously* consistently do the opposite with the children: making your mouth “a fountain of life” (Proverbs 10:11); encouraging them way more (James 1:19); seeking opportunities to speak kind, εὔσπλαγχνο †ރ☧❣(tender-hearted) words to them(Ephesians 4:32); saying something affectionate to them at unexpected times; seeking to only speak words that are “good for building up,” that “give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29); . . .Being a women whose mouth is full of life. —Maybe soak in Matthew 5, and Romans 12, and 1 Corinthians 13, and Philippians 2, et.al. —Or just flat-out memorize them. . . .re:be both a godly wife and a good mother? —Lord God, let us awake each day and *forever* in the likeness of You(Psalm 17:15)!
I had a conversation with my husband a couple of days ago that some of you may relate to. He asked me why I have rejected him. I told him I have distanced myself from him for sheer survival. I told him I am not able to have a relationship with him because of his put downs. He dismissed that like it was nothing and told me I have done wrong by ignoring my wifely duties. He said he has no bad intentions when he occasionally puts me down. It’s usually because something I do/don’t do sets him off and I am over reacting. The reason I wanted to bring this up here is because we have heard from counselors and other people who say one of the spouses is using Leslie’s material to break up marriages. It is important to really, really listen to what this spouse is saying.
I’m sorry for the continued painful dialog you just had another reminder of.
Something that helped my dialoging was, ” what are you trying to accomplish husband by putting me down?”
Do you think it draws me nearer to you? Do you think it motivates me to please you and things that I have ‘not done’ or things that you easily get upset over?
Not saying Maria he is capable of that conversation but just putting it out there.
You mentioned that there are people or counselors who have said that one of the spouses is using Leslie’s material to break up marriages. And you said “it’s really important to really, really listen to what this spouse is saying”… when you say ‘this spouse’, can you expand because I don’t want to misinterpret your point?
So back to the notion of spouses ‘using’ Leslie’s material to break up marriages, for me it’s simple.
Yes! The destructive marriage or dysfunctional dynamic gets ‘broken up’ often when one person chooses to do ‘healthier and different from the past cycle’ and people need an external reason to blame rather than the sin and destructive behaviors that cause distance and broken trust.
I can relate directly to the blame game. My own father has a belief that counselors, just are in the business to break up families and create divorce.
Asking my counselor about this belief, it was confirmed, (YES, I guess I do contribute to break up destructive dynamics that certainly don’t align with Gods heart for His people.)
I like this heart attitude, Aly, that says YES I have no problem contributing to the break up of dysfunctional dynamics.
I’m sorry I can’t post directly to your most recent, so I will copy and paste;)
“Do you think that the unrealistic expectations that you are describing (I would describe it as high standards of intimacy for oneself and low standards for the other) are tied to depression as well?”
Not sure, but I’ll try to expand here…I think many things contribute to depression and if we narrow in on the marital context then I tend to lean more for ‘realistic expectations’ being important and having realistic expectations doesn’t mean a person will experience or be a receiver of them.
In the context of marriage… you mentioned ‘intimacy’ I’m assuming you mean emotional & spiritual intimacy? But you might need to clarify.
Realistic expectations (in marriage) would be to have a mutual growing learning posture towards intimacy and trust building.
Maybe one party is stronger than the other here, but that doesn’t mean that both can be working together.
(I am not describing a destructive marriage in action here)
Here is something more tangible and something I experienced in my marriage,
My h was capable of being kind, respectful, giving, flexible and had such a serving attitude in his work ‘world’.. in our world that button switched off and I was not treated as well as co-workers.
(There’s more about that but you get the Jist)
This went on for a long time. I was sad, lonely and feeling confused about the mistreatment and misalignment!
I also did not feel respected nor cared for, my feeling were dismissed immediately with all sorts of destructive behaviors. Immaturity fueled this often to simplify here.
I came to the conclusion that if my h was capable of these healthy postures at work, he was capable of them at home.
So then, it would be a ‘realistic expectation’ that I be treated with value and respect also.
For me to say it’s an unrealistic expectation for him to treat his wife well, would be…’not truthful’ because he is capable and it’s a choice how he behaves.
I have other examples but I hope that answered your question.
I do think our culture is continuing to lower the expectations of compassion and growing ’emotionally and spiritually’ in general I also think this bleeds into marriages that are painfully struggling and trying to survive but not being equipped on how to Thrive!
Early in my marriage I was given advice by a family member to ‘lower my expectations’ of my husband.
The marriage was clearly one-sided unhealthy and on and on.
This was the worst advice because this was how this person ‘coped’ with being disappointed.
This is also the person that believes in faking life and plenty of acting.
My h is thankful I didn’t resort to those places because not doing so gave us an opportunity for a ‘real marriage’ where we can place God in His appropriate place for our lives.
I think that unrealistic expectations are also fueled by the media, and especially movies. When I was growing up, in the 50s and 60s, we had “Father Knows Best,” and “Leave it to Beaver,” etc., shows which modeled healthy family dynamics. I’m sure I don’t need to rant about what’s available now, but suffice it to say that kids these days are growing up in a different age with unhealthy models everywhere they look. Men, especially, are not encouraged to connect in healthy ways. I’m sure you get what I’m saying. So the Enemy has his ways of undermining the fabric of our society, and they are working very well, unfortunately. Aly, I am so very glad that you did not “lower your expectations”!! Praise God!
The way I see it is that both situations ( yours and Maria’s) involve embracing reality and adjusting expectations accordingly. This is health promoting (for those who are open to health).
I meant the spouse who is being put down. Instead of dismissing their complaints, counselors need to listen to them. I’m in a hurry, so I hope I’m making sense.
Yes;) you are I just wanted to make sure I understood.
I have come to the conclusion that he behaves the way he does to get out of doing house work and helping with the kids. In my opinion he doesn’t think that such things are worth his time. He uses the wife/husband roles to get out of chores and helping with the kids. He feels important when he works. I wasn’t hurt by the conversation- I have accepted who he is.
I talked to a guy at work last week who told me his wife is not happy and he does not understand what’s going on. After my conversation with my husband, I realized I should have told this guy at work to really listen to what his wife is telling him. He may be dismissing what she is saying.
Earlier I shared that I recently learned that unrealistic expectations play a big role in depression.
It sounds to me as though you are pretty consistent at not allowing yourself to be hurt or disappointed by your spouse because your expectations are very realistic about him ( you say that you have accepted who he is).
I’m grateful for your grounded responses, here.
The Lord is beginning to show me what a roller coaster ride my own expectations create in my emotional life!
When I first realized I was in an emotionally destructive marriage, I thought he behaved the way he did because he just didn’t know any better. So I tried my best to help him learn. Then I realized that there was a reason he did things after reading Lundy Bancroft’s book- to get out of house work etc. After realizing this, grieved for a while. It is easy to accept when he behaves badly. Every so often, he can be very charming. I have learned that he usually has an agenda then. But the charming times can still be confusing because it is natural to hold on to hope for the kids. But usually those good times don’t last thankfully. Now I have to help my kids navigate through this. As I mentioned, when he is charming is the most difficult because deep down they want a good relationship with him.
I imagine that him being charming is what could easily fuel their unrealistic expectations, because as you say, it’s natural for your kids to want a good relationship with their Dad.
Maria, it is similar here. He insults me and puts me down a lot, but appears to see nothing wrong with it. It’s like that is a normal and appropriate way to talk to me. Yet – he has apologized for yelling at me or calling me names a couple of times when he did it in front of our son and wanted to be seen as “good” to our children. He can say worse and treat me worse – and as long as the children didn’t hear it – nothing. So he knows it’s not acceptable to others, though I think he believes within himself that I deserve nothing betters and it’s okay. However, if I even mention an area where he had given his word and is not following through, and ask if he will now follow through, he is so extremely offended – how dare I accuse him of not having integrity?!?!?! Please tell me, who is over-reacting?
I should add: One of the times he apologized because my son heard, it was so that he could then go to the son and say that what he had done/said was inappropriate, that the son should not have had to hear that and he make mistakes like other people, and that he has already apologized to mom (me). The second time this happened, I called him on what he had done previously and challenged the sincerity of his apology. He lost his temper and took off out of here.
It’s interesting that our husbands have the same view of wives- that wives should put up with illtreatment and continue to serve their husbands. My husband says he hasn’t done anything wrong so he doesn’t have to apologize to anyone. He has concluded that I have rejected him. He does not treat anyone outside the immediate family badly. People think he is a great guy. There would be hell to pay if I treated him the way he treats me.
Exactly. From what you have written about your husband over time, I sometimes am in wonder that they are not actually the same man. Everybody thinks mine is a great guy. So nice, such a servant. They always come first. How lucky I must be to have someone like him.
Seeing the Light,
He’s training you to ‘under ~ react’ to his bad behavior!
I like Aly’s reply to this. She said to ask the husband, “What are you hoping to accomplish by talking to me this way? Do you think it endears me to you, makes me want to be with you?” Very good questions.
Honestly, the outburst would get worse if I did. I usually remove myself and don’t interact with him. It seems like he has unhealthy patterns of emotionally vomiting on immediate family periodically. If his goal is to improve the relationship, those questions would apply. Maybe if we have a conversation when he is calm later on.
Sorry I can’t post directly.
I can relate to a pattern and the emotional vomiting towards certain family members.
I had a close friend who did this cycle rather often and when your on the receiving end ~
It’s in many ways understandable while many people around ‘such an individual’ make many bends to avoid ‘vomit’.
I don’t believe its conscious on those who are victims of it.
I eventually accepted that this person didn’t not have the emotional regulation necessary to be in an adult relationship.
Nor did they hav any desire to look at the unhealth and destructive nature of these vomits.
The vomiting person~ feels better and can’t see why everyone else is wiping off sludge and confusion.
Nancy you bring up a good point about expectations and one I have tried to work out and grow in for my own journey. For me it’s been a little different…
My h and I have explained to our children that it’s healthy to have realistic expectations and there are such things as unrealistic expectations …a realistic expectation: that people ‘especially adults’ are to treat others as valuable people, not objects to be used.
I believe I was brought up lowering my expectations of others to survive my surroundings. I do believe we can have unrealistic expectations indeed but I think it’s important to place it in proportion to the kind of relationship that is established. For me, I found that I was often advised an someone trained about having far too low of healthy realistic expectations ‘from adults’ specifically.
I carried this into my marital dynamic.
What helped give me greater freedom was to see that it was very reasonable to have realistic healthy expectations from my marital partner and esp. close friendships that wanted to be significant relationships in my life.
I also think healthy expectations are linked with healthier boundaries.
Yes, if you spoke to him at a calm time, do you think he would listen to you explain the impact that his behavior is having on the children? If he has any care at all for their well-being, this might be an approach that would work. Of course, you know him well, and for sure, you should pray before having such a conversation.
You make an important point about realistic expectations. When expectations are lowered and one person does more in that relationship, it becomes dysfunctional.
The problem is he doesn’t think his behavior should affect others. If it does, it’s their problem
Maria, his perspective is a very unrealistic one. This requires you to help the children to learn to shield themselves from his attacks.
Do you think that the unrealistic expectations that you are describing (I would describe it as high standards of intimacy for oneself and low standards for the other) are tied to depression as well?
This is my first time to comment but I have been reading the blog for about a year and a half. It was revolutionary to me in the beginning to see that the odd/strange conversations I had with my husband of almost 30 years were “normal” in the world of emotional abuse. The nature of this week’s question has prompted me to jump into the comments for the first time. We have seven children. There are five still at home. Our marriage has been disappointing for about the last 10 years and, I believe, destructive, for about the last five years. The question of how all this affects my kids is what has me in such turmoil the last few years. My husband’s anger (no physical abuse) began the destruction. When he would have an episode I would begin to distance myself because I didn’t want the kids to think that I thought what he had done was OK. But I would tell the kids we needed to pray for daddy and he would almost always apologize. In the mean time we had a pretty normal sex life. But as I became more and more disappointed and frustrated over his treatment of the children and lack of intimate conversation with me I began to say “no” more often. One night he wouldn’t take no for an answer and this began several months of negative situations in our bedroom. About this time he got to where he rarely apologizes anymore. I began to go to a counselor alone and he is the one who made me aware I am in an abusive situation. I went to counseling for about 4 months and I never told my husband. I was afraid of his reaction to my going to a male counselor (he had been recommended by a dear friend). I give all this background because we are now in a sad sad situation. We have been “in house separated” for about 2 years (with a couple of short periods of being back together). It has now been over a year since we have touched at all (hug, hand hold, kiss). This happened after he had a big blow up. He went from abusively not taking no for an answer to absolutely nothing at all. However, we attend church together every week and look the part to those around us. We have only one daughter and her dad completely ignores her. She is fifteen and it has truly shattered her. My older teenagers have no respect for their dad and my youngest two are very protective of me. I am so sad that this is our life and I am so very SAD that this is the example of a marriage that my kids are seeing. My husband’s anger is less now but it has been replaced by almost total apathy. He has an abusive background and his mother abandoned the family and he was sexually abused as a teenager by a female teacher. I am gripped with fear of what living life as a broken family would look like. But I am determined to do what would truly be best for my children. He has no friends for me to appeal to. For our first 17 or 18 years we had a very happy marriage. Then something began to change. The stress of so many children certainly brought out the anger that I guess had always been there. This blog is a blessing to me. There’s probably not anything new anyone can say that hasn’t already been said. I read it all. If I’m ever able to finally stand up for myself it will be because of the damage I see to my children. Thank you for “listening”.
This sounds like someone who is into porn. The anger, because any needs of the family interrupts the fantasizing. Also the guilt and false short highs make them defensive, disrespectful and angry. Any addiction does this, but since you didn’t mention drinking or drugs, porn seems likely. So many men are into that secretly, and it’s so readily available. There are so few resources for men in this addiction. My h has been looking for resources and was told that men don’t like to volunteer, and few men want to mature in Christ, so keeping a men’s group going is nigh impossible. Most enjoy the power and control they’ve had and don’t want to give that up. It is the biggest lust of the flesh.
Sheep has been there and gotten out, maybe he can give better insight.
Connie, that was my thought, too. There is a web site called Pure Life Ministries that is available to help porn addicts, and a treatment center in Kentucky near Cincinnati, Ohio, just across the Ohio River. They have some books available, also, that can be helpful for family members who are affected by this insidious addiction.
Whenever there is a sudden change in a man’s behavior, I think it appropriate to ask, “what caused this change?” Often it is porn. The devil’s tool to destroy families.
Thanks for sharing, here.
What strikes me about your post is that you are going to church together, pretending that all is well. Although this is not at all unusual for many of us, it is very damaging -to you ( and to the children, also to your spouse).
Jesus is truth. Pretense at church is the opposite of what church is about. If- once you begin to speak truth at church – you find that your community cannot handle it, it’s time to find a new church.
As you likely know, the C of CORE acronym is committed to truth. You will begin to hear The Lord much more clearly as you walk in truth- not just at home, but throughout your entire life. The hiding only contributes to the problem.
May God bless you, Beatrice
Welcome;) and so glad you have been following along on this blog.
I agree with what Nancy posted. It is wise and will aid in clarity. I say ‘clarity’ because your post had some confusing aspects.
You mentioned being married for 30 years and in those ‘years’ you see now that what you have been in is an ’emotionally abusive dynamic’.
You also describe things as getting worse too and I can validate from my own personal experience often destructive relationships get worse and progressively do once ‘one party’ awakens to what is not healthy or ‘normal’ as you put it.
You also mentioned that the first 18 years was very happy? So very happy but with emotional abuse throughout?
I don’t repeat the importance of what Nancy offered but it’s so so true and can often give children a ‘split’ of spiritual life verses everyday life when they see their parents pretending.
This makes their adult life of bring ‘integrated spiritually’ a hard journey throughout.
Some people have called this:
‘Confusing Christianity’ and I have heard some within churches say it’s where many children can be drawn further away from the Lord even giving them a misapplication of who God & church community really is to be to a person in need.
You mentioned your only daughter is ‘completely’ ignored by her father, this is so SAD and painful.
This to me is abandonment & neglect of a parent and I also believe it’s worse because ‘he is physically present’ versus ‘gone or out of the house’.
This can do a lot of emotional damage for him being physically there but ‘ignoring her’.
What do you think the 2 year in house separation has aided to your situation?
It’s common that many men (women sometimes too) can live ‘as roommates’ as they are more compartmental and separated emotionally.
And some do this even sleeping in the same room too.
You said you are gripped with fear of what living in a broken family would look like, but yet it is very broken from what you describe and you are ‘surviving’ currently.
What messages and beliefs could your children be forming about God, parenting and marriage?
Also, I’m very sorry for your husband’s traumatic past, this is awful and it would be loving ‘of you’ as his helpmate.., to require for him to get professional help for those injuries!
Because by not getting help, he is bleeding all over your home and causing more injury to you and your children.
I absolutely affirm what Nancy and Aly have written. Emotional damage is not easy to address, so knowing the truth and speaking the truth to your children is very important, because they probably see more than you realize. Begin by talking with the kids, in an age appropriate way, about how what is going on in the house is unhealthy, and you want things to change. Get counseling for yourself (and maybe even them) so you can have help to do this. Lots of good advice here on the blog, and especially in Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. If you haven’t read it, please get a copy right away. Much help there. God will lead the way, but you must open to Him, lean on Him, and learn from Him. He cares for you.
“Confusing Christianity” is exactly what I experienced as a child and the precise reason that my h and I made a conscious decision to turn our back on the church, and seek God in all kinds of ‘trendy’ ways ( Buddhism, Native American beliefs etc…)
We ‘threw the baby out with the bath water’
And this ‘confusing Christianity’ is a button that is really being pushed right now in me, as our larger church body enters into discussion about re-defining marriage.
This is extremely painful for me on so many levels because of the compassion I have for LGBT community ( one of my best friends ‘came out’ when I was a teen and I walked with her through some very painful places).
I believe, though, in the sanctity of marriage.
Because this has not yet been resolved in my larger denomination, I am feeling unsafe because it is pushing that ‘confusing christianity’ button in a big way. Do you happen to be able to see why this is the case? I can’t see it very clearly.
I really hope this post doesn’t trigger anyone.
If it does, then say to yourself, “this is not about me”, “this is her story”.
Beatrice, just to quickly reply to your admission to fear of a broken marriage and home, I’m sure so many of us can relate. In my own journey, God took me to a place where I could truly sing (along with that powerful song by Bethel “No Longer Slaves”) that I was no longer a slave to fear. He brought me to a place to complete trust that I was hearing His voice, that I had value, that He was *not* happy with the way I was being treated and that I could trust Him if I just stepped out in faith. I did; there were a ton of unknowns. I had no job at the time, I had no plan in place for months as some do, I just knew that it was time to separate and I did. I still am amazed at how God continues over and over to show up and prove that He is faithful and for me in this process.
The grief was horrendous – I will not sugarcoat that. I thought it would never end. I thought that my life was doomed to darkness and sadness forever. I guess that’s what grief feels like for all who experience it. I had never experienced grief on any level like that and I was a mess for a good 14 months or so.
But, one day – it was almost like overnight – I woke up and the grief was gone. It was the weirdest thing, but, let me tell you, I *LOVE* my life now. I am free. Free to be me. Free to make my own decisions. Free to shop at a grocery store and “take too long” and not worry about my husband’s reaction. Free to give of my resources as God leads me. Free to be who I am in Christ. (Just to clarify, I experienced a lot of that freedom immediately after I separated, but without the grief, it is even better!)
My kids were sad and devastated at first. But, my situation was different from yours. They thought our marriage was great; they had no idea. So, everything was shattered for them without any “notice” other than periods of increasing silence around the house when we were doing badly. I have a feeling your children will adjust very quickly as it seems they themselves need *you* to be strong and get you and them to a place away from your husband where you can be safe emotionally and spiritually.
Tell your Father, who loves you more than you can imagine and who will never, ever let you down, that you are willing to do whatever He asks of you. Put your life in His hands and trust Him. You will not regret it.
Love and prayers –
The Lord gave me the song “No longer slaves” in February of 2016 after my h and I had a huge fight. The Lord used that fight to show me just how destructive our dynamic had become. The following morning I set some hard boundaries around my communication with him. That Sunday, the band at church played “no longer slaves” for the first time. I looked it up on YouTube and that song was a buoy during some extremely rocky times.
Thanks for the reminder.
Content, Your words are so near to my heart. I love how you say you are free, free to be YOU, free to make decisions, free to take too long and not worry about his reaction.
May I ask, did his reaction sometimes differ or was it always you would “take too long”? I am asking since so many on here have situations similar to mine but it seems like mine isn’t ALL of the time, there are pockets of “him being nice” or “OK” with me taking my time at the store. Cyclical, I suppose- so I easily get caught in the “oh everything will be OK, or “he finally gets it” trap. Sometimes the situations I read about seem so overt, where my dealings with H are more covert. Just wondering if you have any other thoughts, or if any of you wonderful ladies do really! I do a lot of things to be hyper-vigilant to avoid certain reactions and to avoid being hurt by them. Anytime, I see the words free to be me or free to make my own decisions I REALLY see how much I want that life. Am I being selfish? Thanks for listening.
Your situation sounds like many that have been in more of the ‘covert controlling dynamic’.
You mentioned it being ‘cyclical’ which is important to take note of.
Do you have a counselor? I am meaning an individual one for your own heart to help you navigate?
One thing for sure that maybe some of us deeply relate to is the ongoing pattern of: being
‘Consistently Inconsistent’ on things and it can feel like the floor is always shifting?
You wrote that you do a lot of things to be hyper-vigilant to avoid certain reactions and to avoid being hurt by them.
Would you be able to give examples of what this ‘doing a lot of things are’ or what is hyper-vigilant?
I’m sorry for all the questions I just don’t want to make assumptions.
Would you say that the relationship feels like a top-down
‘Superior & inferior dynamic?
Do experience that certain things are ok for Your h, but those same things don’t apply mutually to you?
Meaning that the rules are different or adjusted for your h?
Covert abuse can be very confusing and hard on the emotional areas of the relationship. It’s good to have plenty of eyes to help you define what IS going on.
Thanks Aly! Yes, great questions. I have a counselor and some seriously amazing friends. I love your observation about consistently inconsistent- very accurate – that walking on egg shells feeling but not every time (but most but i never know) just seems to depend on how in control he feels. Hyper -vigilant – i would describe my actions like this, doing something in advance because I know if it isn’t done just right he will get upset. Also being incredibly aware of the vibe of the house, easy to know when things aren’t going the way he “wants” so I quickly try to fix (not as much anymore,as I am much healthier now). Does that help?
Yes, to things that are OK for him, but not for me! Similar to parent/ child. I have read all the books, and have been reading this blog for quite some time so I know what I am experiencing isnt healthy – but at times it is hard to get a hold on it – he is very good at turning it around and making it “not a big deal” — as I continue to type I am saddened about how this all sounds!
Leslie’s new post today nails so much of what cycle you refer to.
I couldn’t post directly to your last (May 2, 10:28), but you said some important clarifying things and asked a good question.
You said your h has refused to do any work on the issues.
There can be plenty of reasons why a person won’t work or even look at how their behavior harms another.
The refusing for me is a clear indicator that he is telling you ‘he doesn’t see a problem’ nor probably does he feel or experience consequences.
Often pain can get our attention.
I didn’t have any space for my husband ‘to refuse’ working on things. Sure he could refuse but then that also meant other alternatives I would pursue for my own well being. For me, he didn’t get to have it both ways~ refusing and living as a marital union not in crisis.
Was he willing?
Such a good question. I can’t answer for him exactly, but in the early stages his definition of ‘willing’ and my own were very opposite!
This very thing of how we each would define a lot of things .. such as, ‘healthy’ or willing, or respectful etc..
became yet another pattern to address an really ~ demolish and rebuild.
A big culprit was his thinking patterns becoming his behaving patterns.
He had to be willing to address his thoughts and beliefs.
This was intense for him and it was a process that really was ‘alot’ of character and maturity work the Lord had set out for him~ regardless if the marriage survived.
The marriage was a good motivator for him but overall I have mentioned before he had to be willing to put a death or demolition to our old marriage technically and rebuild a new one.
This is to reply to your 5:59pm post.
I’m so glad to hear you have a counselor and supportive friends! That’s sometimes half the battle not having the kind of support necessary as you make changes and face the obstacles, that often grow ~ but I do believe the Lord equips and counters ‘his Daughters’ with His courage and Strength to not only match the challenges of your journey but claim victory for your freedom!
I’m sorry for His blame shifting tactics that seem to go well for him.
This is sad, I agree.
I’m wondering, have you experienced any healthy righteous anger?
By anger, I don’t mean acting out on in a sinful way, but in an healthy fueled way about the situation.
For me, getting fed up was a helpful place for me~ especially when your dealing with someone … who is inconsistent. Almost someone who expects you to predict how they are doing ‘that particular day’ and often it can feel like they want others to be responsible for managing their own unregulated emotions. Talk about crazy making!
When you mentioned a ‘YES’ to the double standards and things Ok for him, but not ok for you~ I can deeply empathize.
I’m so sorry for the painful dynamic this is and I’m also grateful that you are getting educated on how unhealthy that posture is to have in a marriage or any relationship for that matter.
My h was modeled this in his home and it was hardwired in his belief system that this was how things should be in order for him to feel in control and not vulnerable.
This was a deep heart issue that had to be dealt with at a core level if there was to be any hope for us.
I guess I want to encourage that the voice saying ‘it’s not a big deal’ IS his destructive voice trying to minimize your experience.
It’s also not a big deal ‘to him’ because he is not the recipient of his behavior or his entitlement & attitude.
My encouragement to you is that he doesn’t get to be the decider of your experience and determine what is a big deal!
You can decide that it’s a big deal because it matters to you. It mattering to ‘you’ is enough for it to matter! 💕
Thanks Aly, I love what you said about the heart issue, that is key to my h as well. Was your h willing to do the work? Mine thus far has refused, he has made effort in some areas but we know how far that gets us. thank you for the encouragement!
Yes, my husband’s abuse us extremely covert. We’ve been married 25 years and I just discovered I was in an emotionally abusive relationship about two and a half years ago. I think that all started because I googled something like “why won’t my husband ever apologize to me” and I read something on narcissistic behaviors and emotional abuse. I had no knowledge of emotional abuse whatsoever before.
Anyway, yes, it is extremely confusing to be in a relationship with someone who is very covert. Because the good times seemed to be so good. My (for now) husband was very physically affectionate (and proud of that about himself if I might add). He complimented me semi-regularly but looking back, I can see that those compliments were really meant to train me in the things he wanted more of. He never complimented me as a person or spoke to me as a real friend would. Just complimented my physical looks mostly or that I was a good mom (But then, he’d accuse me at other times of being a bad mother especially during or after seasons of growth when I had really worked on patience with my kids and had really changed….insanity).
There were many double standards and just an always overarching sense or feeling that I was lesser than him, that he knew best. I could never express any disappointment or frustration even if said extremely carefully because he would almost always twist what I said into something else (the most common being if I asked for support with the kids or expressed frustration in his lack of helping me parent or set healthy boundaries for our children, he would accuse me of calling him a bad father).
We could never talk things through because he would use a few lines every time “oh, here you go again” as he threw his hands up in the air and walked away. This was laughable because I was a doormat wife who was not by any means a nag but on the rare occasion I’d try to bring my hurt to him, this is what I got. Then he would proceed to ignore me, mostly by getting the remote and zeroing in on the TV as if I wasn’t even there or leaving and ignoring my phone calls pleading with him to please talk to me.
He really convinced me over the years that I was unreasonable in many ways or overly jealous (he ogled other women constantly through our marriage and then would deny knowing what woman I was talking about if I ever tried to bring it up to him….even though he had stared at her for most of an evening). He gaslighted me on those issues and when we’d argue he might call me a b*** or just be verbally abusive and literally deny saying it just a few minutes later.
But to everyone around us, they thought we had a great marriage. I thought so, too, for many years.
We have been separated for about 19 months and what everyone here said has come true….it’s painful at first but as you heal and get away from the abuse, you will experience freedom and joy. It was hard to believe that I would ever reach that point, but here I am. Couldn’t imagine ever returning to him and I honestly do not miss him at all. I realized early on, though, that I didn’t miss him but that I was grieving the death of a dream and grieving our family being torn apart.
I hope you see my response since this is so late. Let me know if you have other questions or if I can help in any way.
My husband’s abuse is so covert I told several people that his settlement offer would sound really great at first but would in fact be abusive and in his favor. And that’s exactly what I got. My attorney was confused about the way he’d written and approached it (of course, shifting numbers around in his favor, too) and over and over said that it was a bunch of cr**. I think it actually made her mad. He’s pretty predictable now. His MO currently is to try to get at me by showering our kids with expensive vacations, a boat to have fun in all summer etc. I just hand it all over to God. I have more peace and joy without those things and him in my life and sadly, he will not experience true joy until the day God gets his attention. I actually believe God has told me he will save him one day and that my divorcing him is the most loving thing I could do for him.
I so agree about the death of a dream. I added to that the commitment to death. Unfortunately, I didn’t know it would be him who might cause that death. Go figure?
ContentinChrist, I am so glad that this has worked out for you and that now you are enjoying the freedom that God has wanted for you. Thank you for sharing so eloquently. Remain strong and let the Lord guide your path.
Not sure you will see this.. but thank you for responding. You and Aly both have been a huge help to me. You situation sounds almost exactly the same as mine. Especially, when trying to talk to him you get “oh here you go again” and then being ignored. I have to fix, so then I try to move closer to him, such a silly game. I have mostly stopped doing that and just let him be and not try to fix — so I can relate to that and also the overall feeling of I am less. I am wondering how you got out? did you give him the opportunity to get help or did you just say “that is it, I am done?” How are your kids? that is another fear of mine, will I forever ruin my kids? I mean the alternative isn’t much better i suppose. I am just very afraid of losing them emotionally. I just know that my own sanity is on the line as well and I don’t think this is sustainable. thank you again for your response!
Content you have described the journey out very well. My journey is some what similar although I did not experience grief. I went straight to elation and I haven’t left the roof top yet.
This is in response to your post on 5:56pm
I agree that often it’s the hardest things that are the most loving!
It’s ironic yet the way it seems to play out~
I have found that fools are not attentive to Gods’ways and His desires.
It’s a loss indeed but the joy is there and the Lord is there to hold our grief all the more. Something fools who remain in their place of pride and shame ‘never’ get to receive!
This is a painful reality.
Nancy, I surely support your position, and I understand why this is so painful. “Redefining marriage” in the face of biblical truth is very confusing. It’s fine to treat people with respect while not condoning their lifestyle. This, of course, is my opinion, but I believe it matches what we see in scripture. That any church would even consider this matter for discussion is, in my mind, very troubling.
Thanks for your affirmation, JoAnn. And that is exactly what is troubling – that it’s up for discussion at all.
I keep asking The Lord where this is leading. He has me leading Bible study and Emotionally Healthy courses in this church, but at the same time, with this on the horizon, I’m feeling confused.
His answer is to stay close, and trust Him at each step.
I suppose that’s all I can do in the face of anything upsetting.
By the way, Nancy, and others, Are you planning to go to the conference in Nebraska? I am registered and looking forward to meeting some of the ladies on this blog, but I haven’t seen your name on the list (unless I overlooked it). I am looking forward to going. We have friends in Lincoln, so my husband will come with me and we will get with them on Sunday. (My h knows this is a women only conference.)
Although I would love to meet you in person, JoAnn ( and so many others here), I am not planning to come. I will be praying that God works in a mighty way, through your time all together.
Ladies, Thank You very much for caring so much about a “stranger” to take the time to offer your insights, advice, challenges, and encouragement. I know all the things you say are true. I just keep convincing myself there are so much worse situations. My husband is a steady provider. Porn is certainly an issue I have wondered about but have never discovered any evidence. However, he has barely been able to talk about it with our sons. Our second oldest was discovered, by me, to have an issue with porn at about 14 years old. I assumed my husband would handle it. But he never did. At 18 this son left our home partly because of the reactions of his dad over the years. He is still making bad decisions. The counselor I went to alone for a while told me I was a very trusting person. About 3 years ago I was able to get my husband to go to couples counseling for about 4 months. In the first meeting we were asked if there were any affairs or addictions. My husband’s response was “By God’s grace, no” My counselor thought that was odd. He doesn’t talk to our teenagers about porn at all. However, I am very upfront about it with my sons.
Thank you for calling what my husband is doing to my daughter neglect. I needed to hear that. I know she needs counseling. I’m afraid she will decide she doesn’t care about anything, after using that mechanism to protect her heart.
The confusing Christianity is also a major concern. I try my best to be real and authentic with the kids but I know they are getting a mixed message. Our son that moved out does not attend church.
I am lacking in the area of strong friends around me. I have shared some of our story with a few people. They either don’t see the seriousness of the situation or just don’t want to get involved. Emotional abuse is very hard to explain to people who have not experienced it. I do have several journals full of conversations. At one point I began to realize that his responses to our conversations were so bizarre I could not repeat them so I started writing them down immediately an interaction.
Yes, our marriage did seem good for the first few years. I think there is a connection to my husband “losing” me to our children and the stress of raising so many. We certainly have “walked on eggshells” around him for many years.
I have not worked for 22 years. Our youngest is 9 and I homeschool our youngest two. I am trying to gain confidence in myself and see myself as a separate person and not just a wife and mom.
I love the Lord and have enjoyed a very intimate relationship with Him for many years. I need to lean into Him even more and discern His directions for me. He has used Leslie’s ministry to shed light on a path. I REALLY appreciate the caring comments. I will keep you posted…
Sadly your story is not all the uncommon even at the extent of the abuse and the dynamic of you mentioning being ‘at home’ while your husband is the steady provider.
I do want you to know that you have lots of things to consider and just being able to look at them takes great bravery on your part! God will reveal meaning ‘just what you need’ but often it’s our responsibility to walk our ‘talk’. He doesn’t step in and do what He equips us to do. I hope that makes sense. You said some important things that concern me with how you might interpret scripture and spiritualize being rescued or compromising.
One example you wrote is:
“I know all the things you say are true. I just keep convincing myself there are so much worse situations”
I do hope you can bring this specific comment back to your counselor who has aided in the revealing of your destructive marriage.
Your lifestyle is somewhat of an example of ‘why’ I finally had to separate from my extended family ‘on my side’. I couldn’t handle the hypocrisy and I couldn’t place my children in such mixed and confusing place about so many issues that want to take our marriages and our children’s future.
One ex: My extended family is basically anti-growth and education on protecting our children from the very harming and damaging things of this world, such as Porn.
This is sad but also epidemic in our culture and even younger teens are more willing to see the problem and take a stand.
Last year I was at a public place where many people were dressed nicely and this teen boy was wearing a t-shirt ‘in LARGE print’:
I think he was courageous and made a simple of factual statement by wearing something that made so many turn to read it!
Dobson recently came out with more statistics ‘frightening really’ and also is taking this education to a level that was needed exposed a decade ago.
~ even 40% of pastors are addicted. And they believe tha number to be actually higher.
Beatrice, I realize that your husband provides but I hope you can hear the truth that you don’t have to be ‘a hostage’ or compromise your values and safety of your children because of this.
Providing doesn’t equal having a safe marital partner!
Many of us were raised with this type of belief that because the husband provides then we should not expect or require other adult and parenting behavior. Just not true and just my responsible from both adults in the room.
Beatrice you have a role, and Gods power to take action to protect what needs protecting and take action to advocate for the what needs revealing and dealt with.
Your children may walk away with many beliefs that the Lord isn’t that significant, is an untrustworthy God, is a God who doesn’t step in for righteousness, is a passive God who doesn’t care about their hearts nor hurting families.
God doesn’t measure hurt and pain. He grieves for all hurt, sin and betrayal! He cares about the large and the small issues.
You have a choice, really we all have a choice of where we stand and if we are going to be contributors to the ‘problems’ or if we are going to be a part of the solutions!
Hope for our children, and our marriages. We all have a choice in the matter on what we ‘really’ believe in.
I’m will be praying for your family Beatrice and your strength from the Lord! 💜
None of us trek alone.
I just wanted to make one comment. You said, “In the first meeting we were asked if there were any affairs or addictions. My husband’s response was ‘By God’s grace, no’ My counselor thought that was odd.” I agree. That is quite odd. If someone asked the average innocent person this question, I believe strongly that the obvious answer would simply be “no”. This sounds like a red flag.
I am sorry for your very difficult situation. May God give you daily strength and guide you.
Beatrice, first of all, I want to address this statement: “Thank You very much for caring so much about a “stranger” to take the time to offer your insights, advice, challenges, and encouragement.” Be assured, there are no strangers here on this blog. You are welcome here.
You said you haven’t worked in 22 years, but in fact, you have. You have raised a large family, homeschooled your kids, kept your family healthy and together. If you really think about all the skills required to run a household, you can put them into a resume. I did once for a class I took. My professor was impressed. I had no “official” job experience, but I did a lot, including being “general contractor” for a house remodel we did. Those are what’s called “transferable skills,” and they can be translated into a lot of different jobs. So, my message is to you and all the other women here who think they can’t get a job: you can do more than you think; you are smarter than you think; and you are worth much more than you have been conditioned to believe. Think about it, and pray about it. The Lord will guide you.
Thank you! I really don’t feel like a stranger here. There is a sweet connection in shared suffering. I know what you say is true about my skills. I have a very hard time envisioning me doing anything else other than what I have done for most of my adult life – especially since I have 2 I am still homeschooling (I have 3 in private high school). But as I am getting my thoughts down on paper that I am going to present to my husband soon I am realizing this is all a choice he’s made and now I MUST make mine. Thank you for the encouragement.
Although I admire many things about home schooling, it seems a perfect breeding ground for child abuse in a dysfunctional home. I wonder if those in abusive marriages would consider the heart wrenching decision of sending their children to traditional school.
Looking from the perspective of the child. They are trapped in high risk environment and authorities have no access to rescue them. Abusers usually isolate. Their tyranny is dangerous and vulnerable children become troubled teens and disturbed adults.
In extreme cases, such as the starved children recently rescued in California interaction with “non Christians” may have saved them sooner.
So agree here with this national tragedy made ‘national for very good awareness’ I believe!
Did you read Rebecca Davis~ Here’s the Joy post on this?
She highlighted the need for greater ‘community vigilance’, which I also agree.
The Turpins, lived in a community with neighbors day in and day out. This just breaks my heart for those children!
I also wonder what kind of hospital records there are because I think some red flags should have gone off.
Regardless ~ neighbors could have stopped long enough and did the math to see something is ‘wrong wrong’. My mind would have gone to the ‘daughters’ eventually giving birth to the other children?
The silence of people today just gets old!
I agree, various outside influences are what helped me recognize my parents were abusive. School officials detected odd behaviors in my parents that I was too young to understand. Family members voices we’re Turner away or silenced but clear thinking others really helped me.
I remember a girl scout leader who asked to meet with my.mother.My mother exhibited all her behaviors and nothing came from the meeting. Yet, I was encouraged that some other adult knew their was a problem. I came to understand that I could find other adults to model myself after.
Sorry to hear that you had such a difficult childhood. What steps have you taken toward healing?
Aly and Hopeful,
Thank you for the last couple of posts. They describe us, too. I have been told by others that our marriage must be all new at this point. I am in the process of figuring out how to set forth the proper boundaries and consequences to see where my husbands’s head and heart are.
I’m glad that the dialog was helpful to you. I would like to give you something to really take a deep look at.
‘They describe ‘us’ too.”
Maybe there are similarities of what Hopeful and I were chatting back and forth on, but from what I have read about your situation I would not place a similar close situation. Maybe you meant that there are parts that are similar?
I went back and read your post and your situation is clearly abusive, your husband is abandoning and neglecting ‘the only female daughter’ you have together and you also mention porn as being an issue.
I guess what I am trying to ‘plead’ to you is that I wonder if you are trying to ‘normalize’ your situation again as not that bad because others have other parts of these destructive dynamics?
I really certainly wouldn’t put these scenarios in the same neighborhood ~ in fact I believe them to be in different States all together!
I think it’s possible that you have been desensitized over a long period of time at making space at tolerating such abuse and such unhealthy living.
I don’t mean this to be harsh I wish you could hear my tone and my heart, I guess I don’t feel it would be caring of me to not challenge you on what ‘you do have the rights and authority to advocate for yourself and your children.
My plea to you is to look at the proper proportional response to the injustice and the abuse that has been taking place.
What has been your response to any porn use by your husband? If that was what you were agreeing with some of the other earlier dialogs…
Thank you for taking the time to respond to me. When I said “it describes me too” I was referring to the sometimes nice times and how that can make you feel like things really aren’t that bad. Also, I did want to be clear that I do not know if my h is a porn user or not. Connie responded to my initial post that my description sounded to her like he is using porn. Then I talked about our son who had a porn issue (and I’m sure still does) and my husband’s lack of dealing with that and not engaging our other sons about the issue. But I do not know for sure. I have never found any evidence. Many times I have wished I would discover something awful because I felt like it would explain why he has treated all of us the way he has for the last few years.
I can’t explain why it seems impossible for me to see myself as a single mom. I met my husband at 16 and all my dreams seemed to fall in place for several years. When I first began to admit that his anger was a significant issue, it was occasional and he quickly apologized. Little by little it increased, he rarely apologized, and began to isolate himself. I would pursue him in conversation, carefully thought out and use the pronoun “us” so it didn’t seem I was blaming him for everything but every conversation ended the same way: he would label me as a complainer and always end up saying to me “well, I guess I just can’t do anything right.” Nothing was ever solved. I began to recognize a pattern – major anger outburst then he would remove himself from us (always emotionally but often physically, too). It was like he was punishing himself but we didn’t talk about it. Like for the last several months he sleeps in our “bonus room” which is a partially finished space without heat or a/c. During Dec and Jan he refused to put a space heater in the room. It was freezing. It was like he was punishing himself.
I could write on and on with examples… The bottom line is that I have accepted this wrong and damaging arrangement for too long. I really don’t think he believes I would ever actually do anything drastic – like a real separation. Our youngest son is very sensitive and anxious and I feel like most of it is because of our mess. I would really like for all of the kids to have some counseling.
Thank you, again, for “speaking the truth in love”. You’re not going to offend me 🙂 I need to hear REALITY!
Thanks for posting and clarifying. I do think on some things it’s important to detail because some of these things~ are not so general.
But some things are very ‘across the board’ type of things.
You said you don’t see yourself as a single mom. I’m wondering what you do see yourself as?
Your h sleeps in the bonus room ‘without’ heat and you think it could be to punish himself.
Personally, the pattern you describe is one of great immaturity (my opinion) this doesn’t discount that it’s abuse!
He goes away when you challenge him on his behavior, hoping that you will feel bad about the situation.
Consider it a pout -fest!😔
I say great immaturity, is because that is what often we see in toddlers when they are told ‘no’ etc.
Meanwhile, I’m thinking it is you who steps in the mom/dad role and orchestrates being the adult parent with the adult responsibilities of the home, while h is at work or in the pout room?
I’m not saying I’m right, just wondering if I understand better?
As far as Porn goes, especially IN today’s access, I think if you can’t have an ongoing conversation with your spouse about this horrible epidemic ‘then red flags to me’. Not just a conversation but certainly the room to confirm that there is not any use? And that the other spouse is just as involved in protecting your children.
If it’s not a conversation a father will have with their sons and or daughters, and help them with tools and protect them too, then MORE big red flags to me.
Once a parent is educated on the dangers and the seriousness of this, almost the most significant posture they can have is to help their children learn ways of navigating with God and others so that they don’t become victims or casualties.
You say you don’t have the evidence, and that I get, I do.
But what about the evidence of his behavior?
Being in house separating for 2 years is a long time.
Plus, you said you all go to church Sunday mornings.. is there any conversation?
I can’t imagine Beatrice how lonely that must feel for you?
Beatrice, I’m glad you don’t feel like a stranger here, your not! Your story matters and women who ‘get it’ care much for you and your well being as well as your h.
I realize in a previous post you mentioned your husband’s past and if that doesn’t get addressed I don’t see how your marriage could ‘be an actual marriage to thrive’.
Like many here have mentioned before, the type of marriage you are living out right now gets torn down and it must in order for a healthier one to be built.
I guess maybe a simpler way of saying this is that your husband in his condition, is not available for marriage unless he does his deeper work. And he’s probably learned a lot of destructive ways to continue to avoid dealing with those places.
My h and I have been married nearly 13 years. Before we married, he mentioned having ‘found’ some ‘old’ porn tapes in the house and destroying them. The way he said it made it sound like that was in the far past and forgotten and no big deal. I sometimes would look for and even pray for evidence of porn use because of red flags, but even though the computer was right out in the open, he was still doing it. And he is very computer savvy, in covering his footprints. In house separation also shows possible SG with the porn so he doesn’t even care about sex with you, in our case it didn’t even work anymore because the SG is so different, etc. And I was ‘no fun’.
Also, when my son was still home, I found some evidence on his computer, but h wouldn’t talk to him about it either, or get Covenant Eyes for him. Now he says yes, that was because he didn’t want his computer monitored.
I’m glad that you are away from a ‘person’ like your h who continues to show himself & you that he lacks the responsibility to take care of a ‘wife’ that God has entrusted to his care.
Real ‘healthy growing men’ understand this responsibility deeply and God equips them with the courage to not only grow in character but to pass it on to their growing sons.
The cycle either gets reinforced or broken.
Men surrendered to God~ Break the cycle and move into authentic intimacy with God and their wives.
They are over pretending and living double lives.
They are courageous and get the dangerous threats. Mostly, they are sold out on loving and bringing security and reassurance to their wives hearts!
My husband and I battle for our children’s hearts and protection daily, they clearly know we are equipping them to battle and mature ‘sexually in the way God desires for them’ so that their future spouses don’t have to ‘battle for them’ or be casualties.
It is our responsibility of being their parents to help equip them as a parent, NOT their future ‘spouses’.
What is SG? Also I understand most men use their phone rather than the computer to view porn. It is always available that way.
Self gratification (gay light).
Beatrice, You can pray that the Lord will bring to light “the hidden things of darkness.” (1 Cor. 4:5 and Luke 8:17) However, I think that others will agree with me that his behavior is pretty strong evidence that there is something “hidden” going on, and because of his refusal to talk with his sons about this, it’s probably porn. If that is indeed the case, then he is committing adultery agains you (Matt 5:27-28). You can go to Leslie’s archives to see the blog in which she (and we) addresses the matter of porn addiction. It’s an ugly practice, and very damaging to the fabric of our society.
I agree and the more people that are willing to call it what it is~ the greater awareness it can bring to the next gen.
Beatrice, you also said at times the ‘nice times’ makes you believe that things are not that bad.
I do think that this a lie. Often a lie that binds wives for years in this cycle.
The environment that you have described is very far from what God would desire for your family, especially since ‘you all’ profess Christianity.
Anybody can be ‘nice’.
Your h’s niceties are one thing, but God calls us to be faithful and live our faith out.
Sometimes that means confronting the destructive behavior.
Hi. I got out of the house as soon as I could. I got an education and started counseling. I grew in Christ as church was some place my parents couldn’t find me.
I chose people with healthy homes and families and cast off my own dysfunctional crowd. It can be lonely at times, but I broke the cycle.
Well done, Aurora! May the God of peace grant you His peace as you pursue Him.
Aly, You hit the nail on the head when you talk about my husband’s immaturity. I have known this for a long time. However, I’m aware it’s a choice because “somehow” he is a successful salesman during the day. He has mostly been someone who is either making jokes/sarcasm or anger/frustration. There is not much regular, normal conversation.
I went to a counselor a few years ago. I only went once. I tried to summarize my life and what I saw as my husband’s concerning issues in the short hour I had with her. She made an observation that has been shown to be so true. My husband experienced mother abandonment, dad and stepmom abuse, and then at 13 he was in an inappropriate relationship with a female teacher (who lost her job over it). The counselor said that often when we go through a traumatic event we get stuck there emotionally. So her thought was that he is stuck at around 13. So as the kids get older they actually pass him up in their ability to communicate and engage about life. As the frustrated, confused, and sad mom (that I felt like I was losing my husband as a partner on this parenting journey) I grew closer and closer to my kids – mostly boys (6 sons ages 22-9 right now).
He has always been someone who thought people would use their broken background as an excuse for bad behavior. But he went to the other extreme in not being willing to admit that it DOES affect who we are and how we deal with life. Particularly when you have some pretty severe issues as his. I’ve always felt like he was kinda messed up with equating sex and love. When things were better in the early years I would often ask him for nonsexual affection. He never seemed to understand what I meant. Especially with seven children along the way, I began to hold back any affection because it ALWAYS led “to the bedroom”.
He has always joked about women in derogatory ways and has rarely been able to be friends with my friends. So in our home so dominated by boys, my daughter and I have not felt respected on many levels. HOWEVER, because the kids are aware of his angry, immature, negligent behavior they do give me lots of support.
Also, you asked me how I see myself… I guess honestly I see myself as trying my best to be a great mom and now a grandma, too 🙂 I have a college degree but didn’t work very much before I quit to start our family. I do not see myself as good at things out in the world – except that I LOVE people and relationships. I’m probably “off the charts” in that area. Which probably explains why I have held on for so long…
Thanks again for your investment in me and my situation 🙂
I think you have a lot of clarity on you situation and certainly the destructive nature this has brought to your family.
Regardless if it’s immaturity or a personality disorder~ he has shown you he is capable to modify his behavior. And most likely given his field of work he is required to have a higher standard for conduct. But is that also something he is required in his home? A far more precious environment!
Often people remain and or chose immaturity ~ because it’s accepted and there isn’t much of painful consequences to ‘really’ face.
You do have the place and role as a wife ‘to invite him’ into health and growing in maturity, not saying he will but if he chooses to continue his destructive behavior then shouldn’t he be the ‘one’ earning those consequences rather than you, your sons, your grand-children and especially your daughter?
I agree, Aly, with all you have said. “Often people chose immaturity because it’s accepted and there isn’t much painful consequences to really face”
As spouses, we have tremendous God-given authority in this area.
Submission to man is always limited by our submission to God first. And so where a spouse is not growing in Christ, we are called to hold them accountable so that they face and feel the entirety of their own sin. And to not allow them to place this sin on anyone else.
This requires the Holy Spirit. As I write this my H is outside pouting because he interpreted my asking for time alone with our daughter, as having something to do with him.
Interestingly, his homework this week is to ‘check out his perceptions’. My job in this case is to let him sit in whatever story he is telling himself, without allowing his pouting to steal my joy ( or affect me). He’s gonna have to figure out that he needs to come to me and communicate in order to check his perception. I have to allow him to do that emotional work, in his own time, while maintaining my boundaries.
Well written example!
I can say I have been there multiple times almost identical examples as you give.
Eventually the pattern revealed itself in counseling and the counselor intervened and ‘put a time-limit’ on him. Because of the abuse of the pouting.
He’d go for so long that he would wait for an opportunity to avoid ~ where things left off for him. Plus, the avoidance and pouting gave him a false sense of control.
Perceptions are our own responsibility to confirm and get understanding.
This is very adult behavior rather than pout -fest and hoping that someone else will ease the uncomfortable vulnerability places.
My h grew in this over time but also I got to the point as much as I could not have my joy taken ~ the whole household still didn’t have the peace and safety it was well deserving of. Because he struggled with the inconsistent follow through and abusing his time limits, the counsel I received was to acknowledge what I saw. Not fixing, but announcing. For our home it was him ‘stealing’ from me and his children our safe place of our refreshing environment~ the home.
As the other adult parent and protector ~ this was my role.
I addressed the reactions to the perceptions and ‘announced’ the pattern to him. This was helpful to him because his behavior was SOooo ingrained.
The counselor also helped him see that he didn’t get the luxury to pout or AVOID, that once it was announced he was up for a ‘choice’ of how to problem solve and repair his part, or not and yes … lose more trust.
Eventually they are asked to go back to their goals in repairing the things that originally ‘broke’ the safety and connection in the marriage.
You make a good point, Aly, about putting a time limit on him by ‘announcing’ (as opposed to rescuing) what is happening.
For my H, the loss of connection is often enough to motivate him to ‘figure it out’, and so the pouting doesn’t last long. ( for example, he’s already reconnected with me). But there are times when he can get really stubborn, and those would be the times I’d have to ‘announce’ his avoidant behaviour.
I can’t post directly, but to your last statement about he doesn’t pout long.
That I am thankful for … for you an the girls.
Hopefully he will get to a point that that coping skill doesn’t serve him for even~ a few minutes because he will have found that there are some many more healthy tools to communicate with!
My husband’s journey was lengthy in that the disconnection ~ ‘was’ his attachment injury and the disconnection felt like the ‘mother ship’ or norms so to speak!
Hugs and Christ’s continued abundant love to you!
His Faithfulness and strength continues to shine through as you have also surrendered to be such the participant. 💜
I agree with Aly. The thing about the “nice times” or, rather, not so bad times, is that they are part of a cycle that keeps you hooked. Start recording in a daily journal what is happening and how you are feeling about it. After a while you will be able to look back and see things more clearly. Others have done this and it really helps. Writing about your feelings helps, too.