I just returned from a wonderful weeklong work/rest trip to Aruba. I had the awesome privilege of speaking at New Life Church on Friday and Sunday. I also keynoted an all-day Saturday seminar for Family First Foundation of Aruba, an organization with a mission to strengthen families for a prosperous Aruba. There is an astounding 90% divorce rate in this tiny island of beauty and brokenness. Leaders from many venues gathered together to learn how to help people have healthier relationships.
For fun we rode for several hours through Aruba’s north side on an ATV (got filthy dirty). Another day we went snorkeling and took a banana boat ride – and I was the first to fall off. I know now I am too old for that. A big thank you to De Palm Tours who gave us complimentary tickets for these lovely excursions. I also sat in the sunshine, soaked up plenty of beauty, read great some great books. I feel refreshed and restored.
Thanks for all your prayers for me. They are deeply appreciated.
Today’s Question: Some of the friends that my ex-husband and I had together in church left the church where he attends and joined together with our pastor to form a new reformed church. My ex, however, still goes on backpacking trips with them. These friends know that he was abusive in our marriage and they also know that he refused to cooperate in seeking counseling for possible reconciliation. They also know that he hurt me deeply.
I am working to forgive these people for “associating” with an unrepentant abusive man. I do hope that he will gain something from being among them; however, I cannot help but think that in his self-centered mind, this is a victory for him.
I am working to just let God handle it but I have moments when I feel betrayed to some degree. How do I steer away from thinking that this is really not right? Should I distance myself from this new church or learn how to accept that they may never know the depth of what I experienced and they are just not equipped spiritually to know how to handle this situation. I know they love both of us.
Answer: Let’s start with the fact that you know your friends love both of you and go from there because if you know that’s true, then you know they are not going backpacking with your husband to take sides or to intentionally hurt you. It might be he has invited himself to go with them and they don’t know how to graciously tell him no. It is also true that they might not be equipped to know how to handle this situation. However, they might have tried to handle it as best they knew how and your husband remains blinded to his own sinfulness.
When a couple divorces, especially when there has been a betrayal of trust or abuse and there is no repentance, it is natural for the injured spouse to want their friends and family to take their side. We want them to bear witness to the reality of our betrayal and the sinfulness and injustice of the situation. It hurts when it seems to us as if they are acting like it’s not a big deal anymore or that both sides were equally at fault.
You asked how to steer yourself away from obsessing about the injustice of it all. Excellent question because steer away you must. Please don’t allow yourself one more moment’s angst whether your ex considers backpacking with church friends a victory for him. You don’t know what he’s thinking. But when you continue to link your well being to him or his thoughts about things, you still give him power to torment and hurt you. Don’t do it.
I’m so glad you recognize that it’s important to forgive your friends for associating with your unrepentant abusive ex-husband. Have you considered the possibility that your husband is not only unrepentant, but he is not even a Christian? Perhaps your friends realize that despite what he professes, his actions do not reflect the heart of someone who knows God.
For example the Bible says, “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in darkness” (1 John 2:9). “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister.” (1 John 3:10). “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20).
Your church friends may see these backpacking excursions as “neutral” ground to have deeper conversations with your spouse about his relationship with God precisely because of their awareness of his abusive relationship with you.
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Good morning friends, Thanks for all your prayers. I am back home safe and sound. We drove five days cross country with our dog, Gracie, but she was great through it all. It’s weird, but it already feels like a long time ago. I miss the grandchildren and the warm weather, but I am excited…
I never had this issue. All of the friends and family were all his. I didn’t have my own friends. It wasn’t allowed. Now I am making new friends and it is good. Where God leads you to be in church, that is where you should go. Turn it over to him. I want Godly friends. I also want to be there for those who need Him and maybe haven’t found Him yet or need a reminder that they are not alone. Jesus is always with them.
I used to joke about my divorce, “He got all the friends but I got all the money.” It amazed me that our friends did choose him. Only one reached out one time immediately following my husband’s arrest for assaulting me and when the subject came up he said he “couldn’t judge because he wasn’t there.”. Thanks. I’ve never had contact again with high school lifelong friends that he brought to the relationship. They were ” our crowd.”. For them it was a no breainer though. He had been isolating me and seeing them without me for years. I started noticing that when I saw people that had contact with him still, they acted strangely around me, a kind of disbelief when I looked good and was with my new fiance. It dawned on me that he had been telling all kinds of lies about me and they believed him. They probably thought I was psycho or something. I’ll never know. That was twelve years ago. My ex is dead. I miss those friends. Even in his death they are still loyal to him. Never even reached out to find out if his young children were OK.
I am so sorry, Lisa. It is amazing how easily manipulated people are… either that or how ready they are to turn a blind-eye just to avoid any potential discomfort or loss of the status quo…
It sounds like you have held up well, but I am sure there have been some really hard days…
Take care, and thanks for sharing.
Totally believe able!
Awww, you guys are so nice. I don’t think it’s funny but it is kind of amusing. Since then I
understand how rampant denial is and how low discernment in the general population. Even among highly educated people like my old friends. Yes, I’m OK.
I totally get where this person is coming from although mine was just a friendship. I had a friendship go sour. This “BFF” was in all my ministries and my bible study group. She became totally indifferent to me. I tried to reconcile, but nothing worked I was totally broken hearted and I eventually left the church.
One of our mutual friends said “she’s using you” but but they still sat together at church. A ministry leader said “God protected you” by ending the relationship. This leader I hear is still praising her for her ministry work. Also a secret was kept from me for two years I found out from a friend who had been told not to tell me that my “friends” husband told lies about me. So I find it very frustrating that she is doing her thing like nothing happened and it’s like I never existed. I am at a new church now with new friends, I still talk to a few of my old friends occasionally but what can they do.. they aren’t going to treat her bad and they can’t make her leave church and yea they probably do like her.
Personally, I find that church relationships a a little different. Not sure how to say it but I am cautious with church relationships because I find some people are “faking it” to look good. So now I am very cautious to understand who is really my friend.
It sounds to me like God was protecting you by having you go to a new church. There is no excuse for that type of behavior in the body of Christ whatsoever. I have made one true friendship since being at my current church home in 4, almost 5 years and have heard others say they are having problems making friends there. The church was founded 78 years ago and there are still a few that were there from day one or their parents were. Not that should matter, but it seems that people don’t want to go out of their circle of friends. New people not allowed. I have better relationships with clients in my business than I do in my church. Not good.
This was absolutely for me today since it’s exactly what I have been deeply struggling with. Thank you, Leslie!
you know, I lived such a lie with regard to my life ( I didn’t know I was playing house and in deep denial. Anyway, one friend who has been with me t h rough thick and thin and knew how unhappy i was just dropped off the face of the planet. She is enormously busy and has a big family. She is a dear woman, but for some reason just can’t deal with this decision to leave this abusive man. She is so caring that I think she has checked out because she is overwhelmed with her own life, and doesn’t have the energy to get involved in mine.
i have to forgive her and know in my heart she deeply cares about me. In fact she has told me via text that she releases me into the arms of Jesus every day. But she clearly wants no, I r epeat no relationship with me at this time. She is against divorce at all costs – (as was I) – which is why i remainded so long in a very destructive marriage. We must learn that life is a series of gains and losses, and that part of becoming an independent ans whole woman is to let others make decisions that may affect our hearts – hurt us. But, that we have another chance to further lean on Him who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Extend mercy to those who just don’t get it. I have discovered that what my heart wants so much is to be validated. Other people can’t fill that need. They each crave validation as well. And, we often can’t give it to them. In fact, we may not even know one needs to be validated and we miss opportunities. That is why this site is so wonderful. It validates the painful reality of a destructive marriage and helps me to know that I am not alone. Thank you Leslie for setting up a forum for those of us who need to be heard, understood and loved – validated! Blessings to all you who work so hard to bring glory to God through forgiveness and mercy toward those who intentionally and unintentionally wound us.
Someone needs to reach out to him and show him God’s way. He needs missionaries to him! It’s easy to want everyone to pull away from the abusive one, but God wants to bring him into relationship with God and change his heart. Redemption can happen but takes prayer and peers reaching out. It’s hard to watch, but hopefully they are acting as God’s missionaries to him. My husband is being reached by men in the church who are coming along side of him and holding him accountable and reaching out to him. I don’t know what will happen long term, but am thankful God is giving him a chance to make things right. Your friends may be sadden by your Ex and the abuse to you and deeply care about you, but still want to see God work in your Ex’s life.
You need close friends as we heal in a community of loving support. Let your “safe” church friends love you and pray God gives them wisdom when dealing with your Ex.
Press close to Jesus and let his love fill the wounded places in your heart. He does bring healing, but it’s a slow process.
Prayers for you in this difficult place you’re in.
This is really good for me! The past week has been exceptionally difficult in dealing with other people and their opinions! Husband finally acknowledges how destructive he was and people are telling him to stop taking so much responsibility and telling me that they believe that I am the one who is abusive. Currently seeking a new church home with more stability where we can learn and grow without being held back by people’s false beliefs. Our current church has been without a pastor for about 5 years and the other members don’t have enough experience with the dynamic to know how to help–or even how to recognize it. Trying to focus on the positives in life, and ultimately our Saviour!
My old friends also continued to associate with my ex. I would like to think that these friends are trying to lead him to the Lord, but in all reality the ex can be charming and manipulating. I felt my ex was trying to control me by manipulating my friends and eventually, I parted ways with them all for my sanity. I have forgiven them all, but I have come to find that it is just not healthy for me to be involved with any of them to the point of even blocking them all from FB. I felt my ex to be making harassing statements on FB (in a joking kind of way) and these friends would chime right in. Even though some of these decisions have been gut-wrenching, I am in a new church making new friends and am much more at peace than I ever thought possible.
This is tough, because there can be a lot of dishonesty involved here. How do you know for certain your husband is being honest with these people, doesn’t sound like honesty was one of his qualities. I’ve come to realize when God is showing me to step back from a relationship it isn’t long before that person is in some kind of spiritual mess that they got themselves into, that he alone can fix and doesn’t need me. I’m glad I moved when He indicated. I also have learned that people who think they are “helping” are “hurting” either themselves, others or the person they think they’re helping in the long run. Maybe your friends need to get out of the way! Pray God will show them their role. Being hones about your hurtful feelings, is truthful and healing for this whole situation, if they’re your friends; honestly and humbly tell them how you feel and let God work. Maybe it’s all too much for you and later you can resume the friendship, tell them you need time. The truth will make you free.
We have recently seen headlines of pro. sports players admitting to their abuse and still suffering consequences after apparently seeming remorseful. I feel for this woman it’s like this woman’s friends are neglecting to understand the offense. It sounds like there is no question about this man’s guilt and unwilling acknowledgement of sin. When watching this past summer’s Fred and Marie videos, it was clear how uncomfortable and upsetting Fred’s behavior was to all. I’m sure these friends are hurting some. It would have been very inappropriate for those short films to end with Fred on a hike with his friends. It ended with Marie rebuilding and friends supporting. That’s my feeling on this. I have to let people I love suffer consequences it’s all beyond my control. We need to make a stand because the Church is a place to heal and learn from these situations.
As I read these comments I am struck by the injustice of these situations. We are the harmed parties in these relationships. We are controlled, dismissed, belittled and sometimes battered to the point that we feel we are no longer even a person. And then the person who does this to us continues the pain by stealing our friends and family. What kind of evil is inside these men? Really! What kind of evil? I am going through this now, not with friends but with my parents. My parents know that my husband has belittled me for years. They know he has come at me in fury with clenched fists, thrown furniture, called our son stupid, told our daughter to shut up. And still, they cant resist his narcicistic charms — they live out of town, but we saw them this weekend and within two hours they were cozying up to him, clapping him on the back, telling him how smart he is, laughing at all his jokes, while I just sit there, ignored. My Mom herself was in an abusive first marriage to my Dad, she knows the truth, and she still gets sucked right into the trap. I am in the true vortex of the crazy making right now, with my husband acting like nothing is wrong, even though I have opened his eyes to the abuse, he is acting as if I am the cause of the problem because of my “coldness” toward him, turning on the charm with my parents, being Mr. Family Man all over Facebook, and I am left looking like the crazy, cold, vindictive wife. I am praying almost constantly right now, asking God to keep me surrounded wtih his peace and grace so I can continue to live my truth amidst all this chaos without becoming or acting angry, bitter or vindictive as we go into the holidays. I have decided I will tell my parents when they visit at Christmas that if they start their gushing I will leave the room and do something else — take a walk, read a book, but I won’t be around their behaviors when they fawn all over the man who they know is emotionally and verbally abusing their daughter and grandchildren. I guess there’s a whole different set of boundaries to think about and explore with friends and family who wont reject the evil in these men.
And I don’t mean reject the man, I mean reject the evil in him by calling him out and making him accountable for his behaviors, and if possible, walking with him toward redemption. But not allowing him to continue on his way with no consequences.
My soon to be ex husband was invited to be a small group co leader in our church. Since the leader was aware of our marital trouble and separation, I was surprised yet surrendered it to God since He may be using this as an opportunity to bring repentance in my husband. That was several months ago, he hasn’t changed a bit and we are still getting a divorce. That does hurt somewhat that he was given that responsibility when he has been emotionally abusive towards me and so unrepentant,ETC. I am planning on talking to the Pastor probably after our divorce since I absolutely do not want to “rock the boat” until then. Of course, my husband wants to look like the innocent one and keep up the appearance of godliness. When in fact he is a lying narcissist who is compelled to protect himself. I see these men as wolves in the church and want to warn my Pastor about him and speak up against the lies I know he is telling about me. I want to speak up to my Pastor so that other women will be not be deceived by him when he is single and looks like a godly leader in the church. I will be moving out of state so it is not vital to defend myself to our friends unless they approach me. The good friends will seek you out and have compassion. I am glad I have a lot of friends that come and go in many seasons of life and we have to let them go when life changes come for both of us.(I try to keep in touch) I would rather live and love then never to have loved. I look forward to the new friends that God is going to bring my way through my next season in life. My husband does not know how to have real, intimate relationships with others. I feel sorry for him, a lot of “friends” are just acquaintances and not solid friendships. He has lost some good friends because he is so selfish. There are a number of people in the church who have heard the gospel and profess they are believers but are not lovers and followers of the truth. These I would be wary of and would rather invest my time reaching out to the new people, children and the those who truly do not know Christ. I believe Leslie said it is wise to let go of our ex husbands and trust God and the consequences of their sin will be present in their lives and relationships. A lot of people will not understand how horrible the abuse is when someone continues to live with it. I understand of course and was married to a physically abusive man before and it is not so easy to up and leave a marriage especially with kids. I do clearly see that many minimize emotional abuse because they need to be more educated about it. One of my very best friends could not fully understand and felt “divorce” was such a sin since scripture speaks of how God hates divorce and they leave it at that. But once I asked her to read some of Leslie’s materials and book, she started to understand and have compassion and become a good support to me. It is such a blessing that Leslie is educating the masses as best she can and she needs all our help. This crime needs to be addressed in the church and it needs to be confronted with all wisdom, boldness, and God’s help! Thank you God for Leslie, her resources and all the lives that have been changed with her help! Hang in there Leslie, we are praying for you!
Friends that continue to support the abuser as they are reinforces their delusion that they are OK. But according to Lundy Bancroft’s book, friends that learn about abuse so they understand the dynamics in the relationship, and then tell the abuser – as his friend – that he has a problem and he is the one that needs to change, apparently are one of the best ways for abusers to see the truth. Unfortunately, not a lot of people go that route. While wanting to “listen and be there so they can help” they just reinforce him in his abusive mindset. The reality, however, is that when a friend does this, the abuser retaliates on the “friend” or cuts them off entirely. Many people are not prepared to take the consequences of confronting the abuser – to everyone’s detriment.
“when a friend does this” – meaning “when they tell him he has a problem and he is the one who needs to change.” My writing was unclear.
I am going through this same thing, except it is not my friends that have distanced themselves, it is my very own children completely rejecting me. My soon to be ex admitted to my children that he has verbally and emotionally abused me for years and has told me that he is “sorry and a failure” and wept in their presence and made himself out to be the victim of a vindictive and unforgiving wife. I have told him over and over that I forgive him and harbor no ill will or retaliation. I have seen no effort on my husband to change or seek help or do anything to reconcile with me. I was a stay at home mom, raised my children in the Lord. I am still in shock over the twist and turn of his manipulating the children against me. Because I filed for the divorce, and told my children that I did because their dad threatened me with it for years. They view my filing as the sin, an ubforgivable sin. My husband encouraged my children, ages 16-21 to sit me down and tell me of all my sins and demand that I seek their forgiveness. I told them all the relationship problems were between their father and me, yet they have been encouraged to emotionally stone me and all have told me that they will have no further contact with me unless I drop the divorce and ask for forgiveness. Even though this is rending my heart to shreds, I feel that God does not require for me to maintain a covenant with a man who has broken it over and over and shows no sign of changing. I beg those of you who understand where I am, that you pray for the hearts of my children and that God have mercy on me and allow me to be reunited in Christ with my children. This is where the rubber meets the road…..do I love God and place Him above my love of family/children. Please pray for us.
I will pray for you too. Do you think you could get them to read Leslie’s book, or watch her video series?
I experienced this with my daughter for a time. I freaked. It was the most heart panicking feeling and I went into self condemnation that I had waited too long to get out and away from the toxicity of it all. The encouragement I received at the time was to try to remain calm and cool; keep my eyes on the Lord; and trust that God is more capable than I am. I had to really get myself to the point of letting go of the idea that this is a marriage and grieve and mourn it all so that the emotions didn’t continue to keep me tied up in the bondage. I also kept in mind “you can’t reason with the unreasonable” (a phrase I read somewhere along the way) which kept me from adding fuel to the fire. Eventually my teen did see the difference in characters (just as I was told would happen) and she now has learned to put boundaries with him. She has also become adept in discerning his cycles of emotional manipulation. The brainwashing thing is awful. We spend much time living in denial and not only don’t see what is happening to us, the mom, but all that time the kids are being affected. That really helped me to make the decision to end it and go. Living in a toxic home is not better than living separated or divorced. But, we are all on a personal journey and pace. God is with us and will open our eyes to each detail as we become ready. Once ex moved out my daughter and I both calmed down and the tension is gone from the home. So thankful. Will be praying for you…
Sharon, I’m sorry for what your going through. I did the same thing with my mother when i was a kid. I thought if she would just stop doing what ever it was that made my dad not want to be home he would stay and she wouldn’t be mad and upset all the time. Now I’m 45 and I live in a would with an angry man. I know why my mother did the things she did. I’m using her life as a road map on how to trust God . But she aloud my father to treat her that way. Hold on to the Lord he will be your strength to go on. I will pray for you ,I’m going though it to my husband meets with his family alone he’s been doing this for over a year now. He never did it in the past .He hated them. I’ve let it go I can’t change it and you can’t change your kids. one day they will see their dad for who and what he is. Just love them but be strong it’s going to take time. Love in Christ !
Praying Sharon for you and your children. Asking Him to open the eyes of your children.
I would love to be able to call your children and talk to them about the manipulation they are experiencing of which they are unaware… about how so many other children are experiencing the same thing…. Sigh.
I couldn’t forgive my friends or understand. I was hurt deeply. I was the vulnerable one and as far as I am concerned I was betrayed by everyone. I know that sounds bitter. I’ve told people coming into my life that they have to choose. I can’t have people in my life that seem to be alright with me being mistreated, abused, controlled and manipulated.
My heart aches for you. I am so sorry. But thank you for your honesty and for addressing this issue. I have experienced some of the same things as you, but the extent of your husband’s emotional and spiritual manipulation is shocking. I am/was married to a powerful and influential man. During our marriage, I supported and covered for him, and tried to be submissive. I now see that the children saw him as the one with it “all together”. Goodness knows they witnessed him override me time and time again, and take their sides in discipline issues. I was the one who looked weak and beaten down. If you can look at their behavior as them mimicking the power tactics of their father, perhaps it can help you to deal with some of the pain. They saw your husband issue ultimatums – “do it my way or you’ll pay” and that’s what they are trying to do to you. Also, because they desperately want things to stay just the way they are, they will do anything to try to make you stay. They may have watched you give in to unreasonable treatment in order to “keep the peace”. Maybe you’ll do it again? You are staying strong though – good for you. I just know that eventually they are going to miss you and need you.
In the months after I left my husband I was shocked when my kids took his side. They knew about some of the things that he had done. Of course, he said that he didn’t want a divorce and that I was leaving because I was “unforgiving”. I had been the stay at home Mom, and Dad the workaholic. Yet when I left, they felt sorry for him, and blamed me. It was so painful! My son’s rejection was the deepest. However, in the past several months, he has come to see things with more balance. We are close now, and have a healthier relationship than we have had in many many years. I am still waiting for my relationship with my daughters to heal, but I am praying. We get together, but it is not easy. I know that the stronger and more confident and resolute I become, the better chance I have of building a healthy relationship with them.
I would encourage you to just be yourself, keep extending your love (which I know you are), and not try to explain things unless they ask. I found that my kids could not understand and did not want to know the particulars of why I left. Trust that they will eventually see the truth for themselves. Psalm 37 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him and he will do this:
He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn,
your vindication like the noonday sun.
Amen! Sister Shelly, I love Psalm 37, God will vindicate the innocent and righteous! I will pray for you Sharon. I have a friend whose ex also turned three of her young adult children against her. When parents divorce it is such a loss for children and they need time to accept it and grieve. I highly recommend to postpone dating until you have healed. I have heard a formula from some mental health professionals of one year off for every 5 years you were married. I think most children would prefer their parents not to remarry because it is so hard for them to accept a new spouse. So better to wait until your kids are given a good amount of time to adjust to single parents and are open. Kids especially older and adult ones will eventually see your strength in character and the truth about the guilty parent. There is a wisdom in a lot of the divorce counsel today, to not condemn or criticize too harshly the exspouse in front of the children because it does hurt the children emotionally and I think in many situations, force the child to defend their parent. The LORD will redeem you and your children!!
One for 5?? Is that just for women with children? How was that ratio mathematically come to? It I have to wait for 2.5 more years to date I will be 60. I already feel like the dating pool has dried up. The only men that I have met that are marriage material are already married. The rest have all of the qualities that I left behind, drink or have never had a relationship, which leads me to believe they are either afraid of commitment or gay. So if I wait until 60 and someone comes along that might be dating quality and have to wait someone is going to scarf them up. I do understand the point if there are young children involved. That would make the woman younger, I think, and the kids do need to be top priority. Not that anyone has come along in the first 1.5 years worth spending more than 1.5 minutes with. One who I have been acquainted with for about a year and then found out that he drinks, threatened our neighbors in my defense and told me he loved me after this incident and now realize that everything that we’ve talked about for the last year is a lot of garbage. No offense to these specialists, but aren’t some people ready at 1 for 5 and others maybe 2 for 5 and some maybe never?
I think it is mostly a suggestion as to the recommended healing time to recover after a divorce and especially I would think an abusive relationship. I know after my first marriage it took a good 5 years to feel healed and free of that abusive relationship. There will always be scars but wounds have healed. Now I realize for myself that I need to learn more about my childhood in an alcoholic home and learn how that impacted my thinking and the way I allow myself to be treated especially when it comes to men. Celebrate Recovery and Al-Anon are great recovery programs that help you learn about yourself and get some great support. Of course, Leslie offers great support as well with her coaching, small group therapy to build core strength.
I thought perhaps if I started dating the X would go away. He has been texting me all day. I’m not responding, but that doesn’t seem to matter. The abuse doesn’t seem like it will stop no matter what I do.
Brenda it sounds like you might need to get your number changed or block his texts.
There wasn’t alcoholism in my childhood but their was sexual, physical, spiritual and other kinds of abuse. It affected every aspect of my life until recently. I am now much more aware of red flags and am not looking for a man to make me complete. I have wanted a man to really love me my whole life. I had it for a very short time and he died almost 30 years ago. I had finally started to get better and went downhill big time when I lost him. I didn’t care what happened to me anymore. I am alright with being single, but there feels like I have missed out.
I think a lot of women including myself are disappointed in their marriages because it didn’t turn into “Happy Everafter”. I think romance and being truly loved and honored by a man in a marriage is wonderful but I think it is rare. Again, I have to examine my heart and think am I looking for a man to complete me? To be responsible for my happiness? to be my goal in life? This is impossible for any human being and only the Lord can complete us. A biblical, God honoring marriage is a gift from the Lord and a lot of hard work. I think it is better to give this desire over to God, and His will. I am not going to go hunting for a good husband besides I am not wanting to take on this role of wife probably ever again but it is better to ease anxiety and hopes by just letting go of the hunt mentality and give this to God. I plan to continue to invest in girlfriend and family relationships and be extremely cautious with the opposite sex and keep them in group situations.
I think that is wise Patty. I have a blog coming up on when do you know if you are ready or healthy enough to enter into a dating relationship and I think some of your points are excellent.
I am glad to hear this post on dating will be coming up. I really need it.
I am calling tomorrow to see about blocking. Changing phone numbers is a lot of work.
Leslie, you made a great point. You said “steer away you must.” When we leave an abusive relationship, the hardest thing for us to do is learn to forgive, yet it is the most important for our healing, I believe. Forgiving your ex will be the hardest thing, so, you can start by learning to forgive others who have hurt you, like these friends. Good chance they didn’t hurt you on purpose, but you do feel hurt by them. In working to forgive them, you can begin to learn how to forgive even your abuser. Once you do that, you will be free.
I want to thank all of those who responded to this situation that came about with my friends and the backpacking trip with my ex. Leslie, your advice is especially helpful and right on target! Yes, I have considered that my ex is not truly a born-again Christian. I have studied much scripture and I have concluded that my ex is not controlled by the Holy Spirit and perhaps is not truly saved. So, I have changed my way of praying for him. And I do still pray that he will be changed and convicted of his wrongdoing. In the past few weeks, I have realized that God is indeed healing me to the point that I was gracious toward my ex when I ran into him at the local grocery store. He began asking questions about my family and my grandchildren (we do not have children together). I was gracious and replied with politeness but did not desire to talk at length. So, after I left the grocery store, I realized on my way home that I had no animosity toward him and I just felt pity for him. As my heart is healing, I am feeling greater peace and have realized that I am beginning to be able to dismiss the hurt that this whole issue caused in my heart toward my friends. I sense that they have come to realize what an awkward situation it has become and they chose to not talk about the backpacking trip to me or in my presence. I appreciated that! I am so thankful that God is helping me to forgive and move forward past these confusing issues. Yes, steering away from the old habits of thinking about the abuse and hurt requires strategies. I am working hard to keep applying those strategies and that is helping me. But as Leslie wrote, steering away must be done! And I am learning new ways to do that! Thanks again for all who have cared to respond to this issue. The support and wisdom is greatly needed and appreciated. God bless you all!
I lost almost all of my friends through the divorce. But you know what? It has been one of the best things that has happened as a result of the divorce. It certainly didn’t feel like that at the time but the gift of reflection has allowed me to see it.
The “friends” that I lost either openly rebuked me or sided with him (by not taking a stand bystanders are actually siding with the abuser). I have made several observations through this process.
I was clueless as to the level of deceit and slanderous evil my husband was willing and eager to share with our “friends”. Of course these things were said behind my back so I never had a chance to refute his claims. I reasoned that it took me over 20 years to realize the abuse my husband, who I lived with, was capable of. Is it a stretch to be surprised that those who only saw the most manufactured Jekyll husband never saw or even knew the Hyde who coexists?
To admit there is a problem means they also have to address that problem. So just like you are in a hurry to get to an appt, you ignore the light flickering on the car dash. “I’m sure I will be fine to get where I’m going”, you reason. “These lights are much too sensitive. If I notice anything that really seems to be a problem then I will get it taken care of.”
In her book “Trauma and Recovery” Judith Herman states that “the perpetrator appeals to the universal desire to hear, see, and speak no evil.” The abuser doesn’t want to hash out the issues, instead he likely does what is little more than gossip (I’m so concerned about her…she is just not herself…blah blah blah). I don’t think it is common for the abuser to ask the bystanders to actually take a stand against the target, whereas the target rightfully does. The abuser just asks them to not judge him or asks they possibly even feel sorry for his plight. I have evidence that my husband actually used the exact words I spoke of as my experience with him (in counseling and in private) to tell others HE was the one experiencing these things. Talk about manipulation!
From the targets of abuse I have spoken with, the vast majority of them realized that their husband started a smear campaign against them long before the breakup occurred. They are adept at getting to any potential “witnesses” first to sway their opinion with the finesse of a politician. To the friend with 6 children he talks about his concern that his wife seems to be bitter towards children. To the friend who places great importance on daily bible study he “expresses concern” that his wife no longer cares to do this and falsely claims she has taken to “strange teachings”. To the friend he can’t sway he may offer to scoop snow off their driveway for the winter…after all, he would ENJOY doing that! By the time the target starts being vocal about the truth the witnesses have been tampered with or bribed so justice is not served.
Just like I never could have imagined the freedom and peace that would come from living without abuse, I never could have imagined the level of friendships…REAL friendships…that were possible had my anti-friends not abandoned me. Their absence allowed me to explore other possibilities and this has opened a whole new world for me as far as relationships are concerned. If these lukewarm (or in some cases openly hostile) friends had given me lukewarm support it would have never forced me to look elsewhere for true fellowship. That is the key word really- fellowship. With my old, anti-friends we had time together but really no true fellowship. Even though at the time I thought it was…I just didn’t have anything to compare it to, much like the marriage. This is the kind of fellowship that is possible when believers…make that followers…are gathered in Christ’s name. Those who are followers of Christ (as opposed to just believers, as the devil himself is one) also have Christ’s heart and these are the people I’m now able to choose to spend time with. I no longer have to settle for lukewarm friends who aren’t devoted to following God’s word.
Granted this whole process is not one that came with great joy and rejoicing. It has come with excruciating pain and heartache. However, I hope anyone who has experienced abuse and has had to do some mild to heavy housecleaning of their friendships can also take this as an opportunity to experience the kind of connection that God has always desired for His children.
Just like I no longer miss my husband (there is truly nothing to miss) and can rejoice in the peace I now have, I am also much more selective in who I chose to fellowship with and rejoice in these new friendships. At the end of the day I can CHOOSE to only spend time with those who have Christ’s heart and not those who do no more than profess to be Christians.
Valerie! Your response is so wonderful and it made me realize that I, too, have given up associations with people who claimed to be “friends” who turned out to be the opposite. Also, it truly has amazed me at how deceitful my ex could be. His motives have become so evident to me—-do anything to drum up support and cast shadows on my ex-wife so that I can save face and look like I am the “poor” mistreated man! He did those kinds of things when we were separated and like you state, folks just couldn’t SEE what I had told them was there. They saw the charming, likable man that I thought would be my husband. And it something abusers seem to be able to master—-fooling people to keep their “image” in tact. I had to give up on informing people and trying to make friends SEE who he was! As you did, so did I! I have found other friends who do seek after Christ’s heart and are really “followers” and not merely professors of Christ. The Scriptures tell us to not associate with those who are gossipers, slanderers, etc. I am finding that my spiritual growth has deepened as I have cast off those who are false believers. I also cast off any of his family members (which turned out to be all his siblings and his children). The realization that I had to distance myself from the whole picture of his life gave me strength! Valerie, I am going to copy and print out your comment because what you wrote is so precious to me! Thank you for such a thorough and truthful response. I value it greatly!
I didn’t pay attention to who the poster was upon beginning to read this, but half-way through, my thoughts immediately started blinking, “This has to be written by Valerie,” so I scrolled back up — and sure enough, there your name was! You have a real gift for identifying and clarifying the often subtle/hidden tactics which accompany abuse… like explained in the paragraph which ends with, “By the time the target starts being vocal about the truth the witnesses have been tampered with or bribed so justice is not served.”
I very much appreciate your passion for truth … for seeking to follow God’s heart and spirit rather than to twist His Word to meet the approval of celebrity pastors…
Thanks again for sharing!
HisEzer, it is interesting that you mention celebrity pastors. The more I learn about abuse and God’s heart toward it, the more I am growing intolerant of hearing the love-fest doctrine reminiscent of the hippie era. A new friend recently disclosed her suspicions toward any churches that are substantial in size. “There’s a reason they are large.” she lamented. In our age of embracing what our itching ears want to hear, I, too, am becoming highly suspicious of Miracle Grow churches (regardless of size). The more Jesus and subsequent apostles spoke the truth, the more controversy and resistance they experienced. While they certainly added to their number, they didn’t do it with free lattes or light shows during worship. I think too many services use Costco sized bags of sugar topped with only a dash of salt. IMO any service that does not leave you feeling convicted has not been a true worship service for when we truly see El Shaddai as He is the only real response is conviction and humility.
“IMO any service that does not leave you feeling convicted has not been a true worship service …”
I couldn’t agree with you more, Valerie!! Definitely feel like a misfit these days in church as I am not able to embrace the ear-tickling views popularly promoted by most of the celebrity pastors… It seems more and more Christians are just swallowing what they hear without question… I often get a “deer in the headlights” look whenever offering countering verses and points for consideration … Certainly, if there was any concern raised about the reality of deceit, immorality, and abuses going on in the church (and the false teachings enabling it all) – yikes, I would likely get the right foot of disfellowship pretty quickly. So, I find myself in a position of having to be somewhat of a “closetChristian” at church … keeping comments of disagreement to a bare minimum and sharing f2f fellowship pretty much only on a surface level. (Isn’t God good? Let us pray that JoAnne’s cat returns unharmed and that George and Diane’s trip to the Bahamas is safe and meaningful… Oh, also that Ebola stays away from our town…. Please pass the coffee). I am so thankful online forums like this exist where connections can be made with likeminded believers on a much deeper level…
Valerie, I would be so interested in communicating further with you if you are interested as well. On Facebook, I am Peg Gentle. If you want to message me there, that would be fine. If you care to write to me via email, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s ok if you choose not to contact me. But I wanted to just let you know that I would be interested in corresponding with you if you so desire! Thank you!
[…] By Leslie Vernick […]