How Do I Stop Repeating The Same Cycle


Morning friends,

I’m back from my little cabin in the woods where it was cool and quiet and now in my hot but thankfully air-conditioned home in the Phoenix area. I will miss it there. It’s just a tiny cabin but there was something quite peaceful about being there. Next summer I hope to spend a few months up there to get away from the heat.  

Next week I am going to be on FB LIVE every day talking with you and our guests about our 2018 CONQUER Conference in Lincoln, Nebraska on October 12 &13.  

Starting on Monday, September 17, I will be talking about Living Fearlessly in a scary world at 12 PM ET.

On Tuesday at 7:30 ET, Megan Cox, the founder of Give Her Wings will be talking about how their organization helps women get free from abusive relationships.

On Wednesday, Sheri Keffer, the author of Intimate Deception and co-host of New Life Live, will be on with me at 4 PM ET.

On Thursday at 1 PM ET, licensed counselor and one of my team coach Elise Berryhill will be talking about Boundaries – why they’re important and how to set them.

On Friday at 7 PM ET Sandra Lovelace will be talking about the Wallflower Woman and what she needs to do to stop hiding.

These will be just some of the amazing breakout speakers at our 2018 CONQUER Conference in October and I want you to get a bit of a preview on how wonderful our conference will be. Right now we have over 750 women registered and you DO NOT WANT TO MISS OUT. Prices go up October 1 so click here to register.

Question: I have recently left my husband of 26 years again for the 4th time in 4 years, due to the domestic violence. Each time I leave, he “finds God,” repents, and I fall back in again. Each time I come back home after leaving for a 4 month period, usually from a domestic violence shelter, it only takes 2 weeks of going to church and praying, then it is back again.

He is very angry, always angry with everything I do. It is never enough or good enough. The physical violence has lessened up in the past 4 years. More just pushing me up against walls or throwing things at me. The control, name-calling, accusations, and calling me crazy have increased.

Anyhow, I have recently left again for the 5th time and it has been 3 months. He has again, “found God.” I am so torn, I have no proof that he has ever had an affair, however, I cannot find any scripture that it is ok to leave for abusive reasons.

He uses it to get me to come back home, then changes back again. I get confused if it may be a real change this time. Any advice?

I have been a Christian all of my life and try harder and harder to make our marriage peaceful and happy, but cannot ever please him. This last time before I left him, I tried to commit suicide, but he came home early that day and took me down from the rope. I began feeling the only way out is death. Now, being away from him, I realize that is not the case, thank God, but I have to obey God, and do not know what to do?

I trust God and feel he has made so many ways for me to escape this marriage, but I continue to go back each time. I cannot live that way anymore, but do not know what to do. Any help you can offer would be so appreciated. I love my husband, and I love my Lord God. Thank you, Leslie!

Answer: You are not alone. Sadly many women find it hard to stay separated or initiate a divorce from their destructive/abusive spouse. There are a variety of reasons, but the top two I hear most often are economic (feeling like you can’t make it on your own) and spiritual (God hates divorce or he wants you to suffer for him).  Click To Tweet

I want to challenge something that your husband says. Despite your husband’s words, he has not found God. There is nothing in your description of his behavior that indicates any of the fruit of repentance or the fruit of the Spirit that the Bible says are characteristic of a true believer or a changed life (Galatians 5:22,23; Matthew 3:8).

The Bible also warns us that we are to have our senses trained to be able to discern good from evil (Hebrews 5:14). Why? Wouldn’t evil be easy to discern? Not always. Sometimes evil pretends to “look good” not actually “be good.” Your husband uses the “I found God” line to manipulate his way back into your home and heart, giving you false hope that this time, he’s changing.

But how many times do you need to be fooled to know that he’s playing the same game? Nothing has changed over these past 4 years. And if by some chance this time he has found God, then he would not demand or pressure you to reconcile. He would understand what he has put you through and allow time to show you real sustainable change in his life.

His “finding God” does not appear to be repentance, but rather a strategy to get you to soften your boundary and let him come home. In other words, it’s still all about him and his needs/wants/feelings. It has nothing to do with genuine repentance for the pain and suffering he has caused you or how he has rebelled against God.

You said you love and trust God and that God made a way for you to escape this marriage. Why would God lead you to escape only to tell you to go back? It’s like the Israelites who were clearly lead out of slavery in Egypt only to question if they should go back when it got hard and scary.

It seems going back reinforces the same old unhealthy patterns in your marriage. Is that what you want? Instead of going back in fear (fear of disappointing God, fear of displeasing your husband), I’d like you to go forward in faith. I’d like you to trust God – that if he led you out of bondage, you are to stay out of bondage and live in freedom.

If your husband has indeed found God this time, he’s got a lot of his own work to do to grow and get healthy as a man and as a husband. Can you not “wait” and see if God is truly at work in your husband’s life? Instead of listening to your husband’s false promises or declarations about finding God, or feeling pressure to bow into his demand to come home, simply wait and see.

Perhaps you are not comfortable Biblically with filing for divorce, but I believe you already feel comfortable with separation since God initiated it for you and you’ve done so five times. Why not stay separated for a longer period of time instead of repeating the same old cycle. Watch his actions of a changed life, not his words of “finding God.” Time will tell.

You mentioned that you were so depleted and depressed living in this environment that you attempted suicide. Allowing this cycle to repeat itself over and over again to where you would get so confused that you would think it’s more Biblical to take your own life rather than leave or divorce an abusive man is not God’s plan for you.

I cannot decide for you what the Bible says to you about divorce. Conservative Biblical scholars don’t all agree. This is something for you to wrestle with for yourself as you have to answer to God for your choices as well as live out the consequences of those choices.  

But you say that you love God and know he loves you and have seen him provide a way to escape several times. Isn’t this incompatible with you believing that God would require you to return to an abusive situation after leading you out? Even Jesus didn’t trust certain people because he knew what was in their heart (John 2). I think you’ve confused your husband’s voice for God’s voice.

Please…don't allow your husband to manipulate you into thinking that he can act like the devil and be abusive towards you without any consequences. The Bible teaches whatever a man sows, he reaps (Galatians 6:7-9).

Jesus also tells us in Matthew 18 that if someone sins against you (and harms the relationship or you) go to them to reconcile the relationship. However, if he (or she) refuses to listen, then bring it before the church. If he or she continues to refuse to listen, Jesus says, treat them differently.  They are no longer in a close relationship but rather like a pagan or tax collector.

The consequences of your husband’s abusive behaviors are that you don’t trust him. You don’t feel safe with him, nor do you want to live with him even if you still love him. And God understands that and realizes that the marriage relationship is broken. Without your husband’s true repentance, reconciliation of your marriage is not possible.

That’s why he led you out and to safety. That Bible is clear that when we live with an angry, contentious, destructive person….it affects our physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and sometimes sexual and economic health. Do you think God truly wants you to live like this just to stay legally married? Do you think he wants his precious daughter to be abused, just to say you didn’t divorce an angry, abusive, selfish, deceitful man?

I don’t believe he does, and I suspect you don’t either and that’s why you’ve left. And you said you trust God and he that he has led you out – many times. But now it’s up to you to keep moving forward in the journey God has taken you on –  away from bondage and captivity. Away from your abusive spouse.

Here is a Biblical example of God’s provision for a slave wife who wasn’t being treated properly by her husband. He says, “If a man who has married a slave wife takes another wife for himself, he must not neglect the rights of the first wife to food, clothing, and sexual intimacy. If he fails in any of these three obligations, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment (Exodus 21:10). God cares for a woman who is being mistreated by her husband.  

Now your job is to learn to stay on the path God has led you on and trust God for the outcome. Don’t return to Egypt or your destructive spouse no matter what your husband promises. Time has shown you that his words and promises mean nothing. God made a way for you to leave, now stay on that path.

I’d even recommend going no contact with your husband because it seems that he has way too much power over your thinking than he should in order for you to stay strong and get healthier yourself.

I’d also recommend you join CONQUER for some additional education and support for what’s going on inside of you that keeps you confused about God’s love for you. You can start Your CONQUER Journey that will help you learn God’s plan for your safety and sanity.

On the one hand, you love God and feel he’s leading you to safety and away from your spouse. And then you go back to your husband, thinking that God says you can’t divorce except for adultery.

God doesn’t work that way. He isn’t doubled minded, nor does he play games. God is a God who cares for the oppressed and is against the oppressor. Don’t allow your husband to malign God’s character by manipulating you into thinking that God requires you to submit yourself to more marital abuse. He does not.

Friends, when you got spiritually confused and turned around by a manipulative spouse or person, what helped you find TRUTH again?


  1. Tonya on September 12, 2018 at 7:17 am

    Separation did it for me because at that time I was more able to hear God and think more clearly. I would say the fog began to lift as I was apart from the “gaslighting”. I have been apart for 5 months and he still attempts to control and manipulate my thoughts through his text or emails. Every time we talk which is rarely because we have a house/kids together he questions that I am hearing God on moving forward in my journey ALONE. I cannot heal with him around at this time.

  2. Lisa on September 12, 2018 at 9:07 am

    I want to encourage the writer of this question to keep walking forward and don’t look back. The Lord has released you from a prison of evil and He will show you the next steps.
    I left an abusive husband for the last time January 1, 2018. (Prior to this, I went back to him at least a dozen times)
    We’d received counseling for close to 18 months. When he would have an “episode,” I’d leave my home and stay elsewhere until he calmed down. This was the advice we received from a counselor who thought I was the problem and needed to submit more and be more loving, more caring, etc, etc. I now understand that the problem lies in his heart and he has no intention of changing. He kept telling me he loved me and was changing, but his ACTIONS did not back up his claims. He said the things I longed to hear, “I love you and I will change,” over and over again. But, the violence escalated to levels that were incompatible with life. When I told him I was filing for divorce, he screamed into the phone, “You can’t divorce me. God doesn’t allow it! He will curse you!!” I tearfully responded that God looks at the motive of the heart and that I still loved him, but had no choice. He had broken our marriage vows long before this last confrontation. Since then, I’ve gone no contact other than email only so I have a record in writing for the divorce proceedings.
    I was a new widow when I married my second husband. I’d met my late husband at the age of 14 and was with him 28 years; 23 of them married. I’ve experienced a healthy relationship and know what it looks like.
    Unfortunately, my 2nd husband chose not to change. I believed with all my heart and mind that God’s love (and mine) could and would change him, but I forgot about FREE WILL.
    Leslie Vernick’s ministry was and is instrumental in my decision making to get and stay healthy emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually. I also know for sure that God has the answers you need and He WILL guide and direct you as you seek and ask. Listen to Him. He has so much more for you; dear daughter of the King! Sit at the table He has set before you in the presence of your enemies. The journey will be scary, but keep trusting Him Who loves you. He will see you through and when you get to the other side; you will not regret the tough choices you made as a result of leaving an abusive relationship.

    • Rhonda on September 12, 2018 at 10:07 am

      Lisa, I think I may have met you at a conference. Have you decided to move home closer to family in the southern part of the US? If I remember correctly, you abusive H had you in a financial bind with a new house in the pacific northwest. If this is the correct contact, I am glad you found the courage to leave. I think it is wonderful that you can savor the memories of your 1st husband and realize the 2nd situation was beyond anything your could have known or imagined. Enjoy your children and your large supportive family.

      • Lisa on September 12, 2018 at 6:26 pm


        No, it wasn’t me, but it’s interesting that my story is similar to the woman you met at the conference. Unfortunately, these type of situations are not unique.
        And thankfully my grown children (to my late husband) and their families are also extremely supportive in my healing process.
        Thank you for the kind comments.

    • Stuck on September 13, 2018 at 6:26 pm

      Your story is much like mine. Lots of promises but no consistent change. I have been married for 24 years and have lived through hell, mostly emotional and verbal with my husband. It has been a roller coaster of on off cycles due to his mood swings and unpredictable behaviors and reactions. It has destroyed our family. He has left several times only to schmooze his way back with promises to change, I love yous, gifts, etc but the patterns just repeat. My kids are grown 19 and 22 and at home. They have been through much trauma from growing up with the fighting and their dad’s behavior. I filed for divorce a few months ago and that’s when he switched gears with more counseling, more promises and more medication.

      Now that my kids are back home, I feel stuck in that I can’t and won’t leave plus I’ve been laid off also because of him (he worked at the same place and got demoted and then they laid me off). So I’m here for financial reasons as well but mostly cause my kids who he wooed into coming back. He now does the same emotional yo-yoing with them based on whatever he wants at the moment. I can’t stand to see them being abused this way and all I can do is talk to them cause when you’re young, you can take the blame of a parent’s abuse. He will not leave so I don’t know if I will ever be free. Even staying detached hurts because it is still so lonely.

      • Grateful on September 14, 2018 at 7:39 am

        Stuck – just your name breaks my heart. If I may be so bold, you are listening to the lies of the enemy. I too remember feeling “stuck” and it descended to hopelessness and soon after that is when things changed. I would pray so fervently, as I had for years and didn’t understand why God would let this continue – why??? And a counselor (our marriage counselor) told me “God is going to be the one to get you out of this” and everything changed – God became my truth, my rescuer, my Redeemer. And thus it began…I began to discern what were the lies I was listening to and what were God’s promises to me. I knew my situation was bigger then me – as one of my best friends said “You changed the trajectory of your kids life” I could not let them think this way of living, being treated, etc was okay. You are not stuck – you have an opportunity to live the life God intended and what Jesus died for – abundance. You have an opportunity to not just survive but thrive. It is scary, overwhelming, bumpy, lonely, etc but I am not just believing God Almighty, I am experiencing His truths and promises for ME. Please pray and read His word – He has a life of freedom for you.

      • Moonbeam on September 14, 2018 at 8:33 am

        Stuck, how about you and the kids get your own place or you kick your abuser out? Being Stuck is YOUR choice.I hope you are going full steam ahead with divorce. When was the last time you listened to Patrick Doyle’s lecture on Victim or Survivor? You are living in victim mode at the moment. It is time to cross over to survivor mode. Have courage, God will gift you with the wisdom you need. Your doubt comes from the abuse. Don’t let it win,

      • Lisa on September 15, 2018 at 11:28 pm

        Dear Stuck,

        I just read your post this evening. I was so afraid of being “alone.” But, now that I’ve been “alone” for 9 months, I realize that I may be lonely at times, but I am not “alone.” The Lord is my husband, the Lover of my soul. I still don’t understand why my second husband did the thing he did to me, but my hope lies in the love that Jesus has for me. He doesn’t lie and He continues to meet ALL my needs according to His riches in glory. I’m praying for you this evening. The same God (Rapha) Who rescued me will rescue you. He has all then answers you need and will show you what to do next. He really is Who He says He is!

  3. moonbeam on September 12, 2018 at 9:59 am

    I find this person’s post extremely concerning. Wouldn’t the facts stated in this case meet the requirements for mandatory reporting? I know most people post anonymously, but does some one from the site reach out to certain participants who are in danger of harming themselves?

    • Connie on September 12, 2018 at 10:58 am

      It also sound s to me that he should have been arrested.

      I might suggest that the writer, if she a still waffling, give him Lundy Bancroft’s list of what a man has to do to change, print one out for herself and then ignore him until he has done every last thing on it – that will show his true colors and help assure her that he’s a fake because he’ll probably do half of one thing at best and then expect high praises. Most likely he’ll scoff at the whole thing.

      Or, if she is concerned that Lundy is not a believer, the book “I Don’t want a divorce” outlines clearly what to do in the case of serious sin as well.

      is there open involved? That is very likely and would add a whole additional list of requirements for him to work through. ‘Finding God ‘ ….. anyone can say that, the fruit of the spirit can all be faked for a while, but true repentance is a whole new story.

      • Connie on September 12, 2018 at 1:24 pm

        I meant to say is there porn involved? I guess this tablet changed the spelling when I wasn’t looking.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 12, 2018 at 11:00 am

      No, the facts of this question is that she once was suicidal, she did not claim to be actively suicidal at the time of writing this letter. So she did not appear to be a danger to herself or to others when she wrote this blog. That is the criteria for a doctor or counselor to report. I am neither her doctor or her counselor and I did personally reach out to her letting her know I would be answering her question, but she did not say she was now suicidal in the question. She said she was confused.

      • Moon Beam on September 12, 2018 at 11:35 am

        Thanks, Leslie. N
        I had no doubt that you would take the correct action. I was just wondering. Her description of the noose around her neck was chilling.

  4. Ellen on September 12, 2018 at 10:11 am

    CAUSING divorce is the sin – the victim who decides to file for divorce from abuse, etc. is not the guilty party!

    • Rhonda on September 25, 2018 at 8:15 am

      Yes, that is a good point. I have been a victim of spousal sins and abuse and each time when I left I was blamed for leaving. I was preached too and brainwashed. I also became suicidal before finally leaving. I was labeled and libled to the common friends in our church. He had the men, who were also like him in some ways, convinced to tell their wives they could not befriend me because I was in the wrong. But God has been with me every step of the way. Unfortunately, I ended up marrying another “religious” man later, I mean a man who would twist the Bible verses around out of the context of Gods love in order to try and convince me and others that no matter what he did, I was to stay bc we were married. This man was addicted to pornography and an alcoholic and was a leader in the church with me. I finally spoke up to our overseer and asked for help for us as a couple. I knew we had to step down from leadership and we both needed healing. Pornography in a spouses life effects the other person emotionally and mentally, and even physically. It is abuse and God does not want his children in any abusive situation. Anyway, God rescued me the second time bc after I left the man soon filed for divorce and I signed his papers. He refused help and said he was going to move on with his life. I am better off – with now a sane mind again after a year long recovery. So if you are in that my sisters, Please Get Out. God Loves You! ❤️

      • Aly on September 25, 2018 at 12:14 pm

        So glad you are free and you have moved on from crazy making people. Doesn’t mean that there is grief over these painful experiences.

        My grief comes and goes as I walk out my path. But I also find it interesting that many of us have similar experiences when we do stand against wrong doing.

        You said:
        “He had the men, who were also like him in some ways, convinced to tell their wives they could not befriend me because I was in the wrong. ”

        What I understand from this is that he had others that were ‘likeminded’ in distortions and power issues.

        I find it sometimes to be another telling sign when certain individuals are allowed to not befriend because of ‘wrongful behavior’ that you were being accused of, yet where is the support for you as you separated yourself from your husband’s wrong behavior?

        It’s ok for them and their wives to judge and not befriend you based on perceived wrong doing, but you are also not granted that free choice (of not befriending) towards your husband and others I might assume?
        Clear example of a Double standard.

        Those wives sadly fear the WRONG person, their husbands and the culture and not God first.

  5. Kim on September 12, 2018 at 10:19 am

    I have wrestled with a similar principle in my mind for the past 7 years. I left my marital home, and 7 months later, filed for divorce. Divorced now for 6 years, I still wrestle with this idea that I didn’t love my former spouse enough or rightly or something…because I would have stayed if I trusted God enough to change the man I married. He is and has been addicted to pornography the entirety of our 23 years together, and to this day reveals no transformational change in his life. Yet there are days when my mind takes me down the what-if trail. I pray that every woman reading this article knows that this is true and embraces the journey into freedom. Choices do have consequences, but the choice to remain in an abusive situation only leads to death – emotionally, mentally, and sadly, sometimes physically. God has much more for His daughters that that! Thank you, Leslie for this article!

  6. Carla on September 12, 2018 at 10:53 am

    simply wait and see!
    love this Leslie!

  7. Connie on September 12, 2018 at 11:33 am

    It also sound s to me that he should have been arrested.

    I might suggest that the writer, if she a still waffling, give him Lundy Bancroft’s list of what a man has to do to change, print one out for herself and then ignore him until he has done every last thing on it – that will show his true colors and help assure her that he’s a fake because he’ll probably do half of one thing at best and then expect high praises. Most likely he’ll scoff at the whole thing.

    Or, if she is concerned that Lundy is not a believer, the book “I Don’t want a divorce” outlines clearly what to do in the case of serious sin as well.

    is there open involved? That is very likely and would add a whole additional list of requirements for him to work through. ‘Finding God ‘ ….. anyone can say that, the fruit of the spirit can all be faked for a while, but true repentance is a whole new story.

    • Connie on September 12, 2018 at 1:26 pm

      Don’t know why this posted twice. Sorry.

  8. Jane on September 12, 2018 at 12:23 pm

    God is so funny. Just what I need right now. At even the slightest glimpse of change I am ready to stop holding up my boundaries and give into this hope. Yet what I am still seeing is the control has just become more covert and sneaky. Lying and manipulative, yet I want to cave. One hour his behavior will have me believing its over, I can’t stay with him but will still second guess because of concerns over the kids and the lies he is feeding them. A few hours later he will surprise me with a little bit of softness or insight that makes me wonder if he is changing (albeit very slowly).

    I’ve been where the author of the question has been mentally and never want to be there again. I feel very sane and sometimes stronger than ever, just frustrated and confused as to what to believe and when. I know it’s not true repentance yet. He still doesn’t see his heart problem. But is what I am seeing change worth staying to see the outcome of?

    I understand the author of the question’s struggle and pray she can keep herself safe. She has already separated, I agree with Leslie, why not just wait and see for now. His pressure to come back is one I am familiar with (though I haven’t left, it’s pressure to let things back to “normal”). I find this to be just as controlling and manipulative as the “old man” behavior, which again makes me doubt real change. I hope it can help her to see she should doubt this “change” too.

    Too desperate for support to stay off. If he is reading this I pray it helps him to see the truth or to become so angry that it becomes obvious what I need to do!

    • Moonbeam on September 14, 2018 at 8:48 am

      Jane, he is playing mind games with you. His changing moods are designed to control you. Don’t doubt for a minute that he doesn’t know exactly what he is doing. He is not sincere. He is playing games with you.

      Yes, you need the support. It is hard to see through the fog when you are living in it. How is your progress towards leaving your abuser going? Set your timelines regardless of his actions. Stand up for you and value yourself.

  9. Rebeccah on September 12, 2018 at 12:50 pm

    I married him twice. Each time I should have never due to things he did prior. I hang around him for companionship. Besides he has helped me in fixing, and different areas i don’t get the help from others. I know the relationship isn’t good and told him that. I have voiced myself more as the times goes. I believe it is soul ties that bind us. We don’t have sex and haven’t in months. He wants it but knows he might not be able to. We both seem to be around each other because of our physical issues and other reasons. We both have tried leaving each other fully. I am not sure what to do.

    • Moonbeam on September 14, 2018 at 8:54 am

      This is about you not valuing yourself. You may not fully realize it, but you don’t value yourself as God values you. Do you know you deserve better? What to do is to get counseling for yourself to help you get out of this rut. This situation devalues you, shows you have been chronically abused (probably since childhood) and will continue unless you get help.

  10. pauline on September 12, 2018 at 3:48 pm

    At this point in my leaving my husband for the 10th time I blocked all calls. I moved out Dec. 9th, 1017 and he was continuing to leave long messages trying to convince me to come back or wanted to date and wouldn’t take no for an answer and continued to go on and on about all his changes. They all sounded so good, but I was getting very confused and not able to think clearly myself. The only way to have peace of mind was to block communication. I need to keep following the leading of the Lord and not take on all the false guilt he was feeding me.

    • sheep on September 12, 2018 at 5:14 pm

      Pauline, I find it interesting that he “wouldn’t take no for an answer”. That is like the ultimate in manipulation/control of another person, couched in a way that is supposed to make them feel good. Ha! refusing to take no for an answer is simply denying the right of someone else to say no to you. What he is really saying is, I’m more important than you are and I’m going to do what I want to do when I want to do it and you have absolutely no say in the matter. I really don’t care what you are feeling and what you need, we are going to do this my way and I’m going to get what I want and you will like it.

      Pauline, there is nothing for you to be confused about. His prefacing his “changes” with “I’m not going to take no for an answer” tells you that there aren’t any changes. He is still putting himself first. I would guess that he thinks that you should be flattered by his unwillingness to take no for an answer. This is because he is still the center of his own world and he feels that you should be grateful that he is showering you with his attention.

      Real change would start with him saying that he know how much he has hurt you and how much he has destroyed your relationship. Real change would recognize your right to give him a no for an answer despite his change and desire for reconciliation.


      • Moonbeam on September 14, 2018 at 9:00 am

        Yes, sheep. The behavior to look for is Contrition. Contrite behavior Is easy to recognize. Anything less than that is just more of the same nonsense.

        • sheep on September 14, 2018 at 9:23 am

          Moonbeam, That is a great word and very fitting. I hadn’t thought of that one before. Psalm 51 says,
          “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
          a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

          God is omniscient and knows our heart, but these characteristics can’t help but shine through.

          We aren’t omniscient, so we need to see the outward manifestations of the broken and contrite heart.

          Because I haven’t seen these things, I took the difficult but necessary step of telling my wife last night that we will proceed with divorce. We can either do that the cheaper and easier way with mediation or the difficult, more expensive way with me just filing and then fighting in court.

          There has been a lot of talk on these threads about feeling stuck and I sooooo get that. I have felt stuck for so very long, but for the most part, I don’t now. Do I like the situation? Not at all. Do I wish things were different? Yes, absolutely. Do I believe that God could do a miracle in this situation? Yes. But is it unreasonable for me to live out the rest of my life being abused, neglected, and cheated on in the hope that she will see the error of her ways and come begging for me to take her back? Yes, it is. She has given me absolutely no reason to believe that anything will ever change in her.

          • Nancy on September 14, 2018 at 9:39 am

            Good for you, sheep. Keep putting one foot in front of the other.

    • Autumn on September 12, 2018 at 7:45 pm

      Pauline, I really relate to your reply. I got long emails, texts, phone messages about how changed he was. Yet, the sheer fact that he was badgering me after I said to leave me alone, proves he did not change! I too blocked (actually got a court order) for no phone calls or text messages. Do, you think that stopped him, heck no, he just switched to flowers and presents. He even had our pastor call me to say my abusive spouse was a changed man. (Can’t blame the pastor here. My abuser is a pathological manipulator.)

      I agree with you, time without any contact is the only way to begin to hear your own voice.

    • Sheep on September 13, 2018 at 12:33 pm

      Hi Pauline,

      I actually responded to this yesterday, but it didn’t post. The thing you said that really stuck out to me was his attitude and words that he “wouldn’t take no for an answer”. This is really very telling. Saying that is simply his attempt to manipulate and control you but make it seem flattering. Think about it a little more, especially in this situation it is not at all flattering, flirting, or loving to say “I won’t take no for an answer” What is he really saying? He is saying that his wants and needs are more important than you. He is saying that he doesn’t care how much he has hurt or abused you, he isn’t going to let you say no. He is saying that you don’t have the right to say no and that he is going to keep pestering you until you just give up and give in.

      All of this shows that there hasn’t been the change that you are needing to see. If there was real heart change, he would be willing to give you the space you need. If there is real change, he should be able to express that without making you feel guilty. Real change results in actions that line up with the words.

      Having gone through all I have, I would still say that reconciliation is possible when their is real repentance, humility, change, and the willingness to do whatever is necessary for reconciliation on the part of the abuser. I say this knowing full well that I am soon filing for divorce because my wife will not do these things. Is this because God, in his sovereignty has not decided to “fix” my marriage? No, it is because my wife has chosen to ignore Him and continue to sit firmly ensconced on the throne of her life, screaming at the world that everything is their fault.

      • Aly on September 13, 2018 at 1:41 pm

        Wisely written here!

        So I just find it so consistent with these types of individuals that really ‘want what they want’.

        I feel strongly that at a core of these individuals that they have been taught that their choices and behaviors should not have negative consequences.

        Almost like they REFUSE to accept the reality that behaviors do affect others and will affect relationships.
        Similar to refusing to accept the answer ‘no’ or that somehow they feel entitled to an explaination of why certain boundaries are in order.
        Even when you give them the explaination it’s jello falling off the wall because no explaination will fit their belief ‘Mold’.

        And yes Sheep, they ignore God just as they ignore ‘Gods own’ expressing these attributes.
        Nothing new under the sun, but certainly not saying it’s not painful.

  11. Laura on September 12, 2018 at 3:51 pm

    Friends, when you got spiritually confused and turned around by a manipulative spouse or person, what helped you find TRUTH again?

    For me to find truth after being spiritually confused and turned around by a manipulative spouse over and over again took one dramatic, traumatic moment to finally set a clear boundary that said, “NO MORE ABUSE.” That time was as I sat on a bench with my ex. husband kneeling in front of me while his hands wrung around my neck as he ranted. The actions and especially the words sent a clear message when he exclaimed, ” If it wasn’t for God I’d kill you!” God spoke to me clearly at that defining moment. The experience required me to learn more about God’s clear view in such circumstances. I made a solid decision to leave the marriage which took time filled with many more explosive and painful moments but I kept strong knowing God spoke to my heart. Luke 6:45 ESV
    “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

    This sharing leads me to recommend to all the woman warriors to take note of guarding their hearts with lessons coming from Christian understanding. For perusal I have included a resource with an excellent compilation of information explaining what the Biblical word heart means:

    Please consider taking a look because the definitions may speak to your heart so you can better understand the heart of others and help you finally find freedom from abuse.

    God Bless and Godspeed!

  12. Mona on September 12, 2018 at 4:19 pm

    Wow! Leslie, I cannot thank you enough for this blog post. It could have been written to me with the exceptoon if a couple issues. I praise God for your heart for all of us who just need to hear “you can do this” I trust my Lord to make my crooked paths straight and lead me well. For all of my sisters in Christ, Leslie has this so right. Move forward with confidence. He walks before you!!’

  13. Barbara B on September 12, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Friends, when you got spiritually confused and turned around by a manipulative spouse or person, what helped you find TRUTH again?

    The input of friends! I think it’s important to seek perspective from Christians who know the specifics of the situation. Anyone can have cut and dried opinions when speaking in generalities, but it’s another thing to look someone in the eyes and say, “God wants you to stay married to a violent, lying man.” That’s just ridiculous!

    Maybe the original writer has heard sermons about “only adultery counts” for biblical divorce, but what do her close friends and family say? The Bible is true for all people in all times, but correctly applying the Bible in different situations can be quite nuanced. I know what I would say to this dear lady: Get out now and never go back or look back!

  14. janice on September 12, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    You say you love your husband. I would ask you what it is that you love about him and write it down. If there are some redeeming qualities then maybe you two can work it out but allowing someone to belittle, harass and manipulate you is not what God intended for us. Our relationships should encourage each other and lift each other up and help each other grow in the Lord and want the best for them. I don’t think your husband has a clue to what that means and it is not your job to try to change or fix him.

    • Aly on September 13, 2018 at 9:06 am


      I agree with your post here and many of your points.

      You wrote:
      “If there are some redeeming qualities then maybe you two can work it out but allowing someone to belittle, harass and manipulate you is not what God intended for us. ”

      For me, given the abusive or unhealthy people I have encountered often have plenty of ‘redeeming qualities’ in fact I might say that this place was often what fueled my confusing and stirred my doubt.
      Just because a person has certain healthy places that some of us might be attracted to or think is safe doesn’t mean that they ARE safe or that it’s possible to work things out with a more destructive/abusive individual!

      I often tried this in my sibling relationship (mind you no outside interventions) and what would have is that I would think we could be on the same page wanting something healthy and resolved only to find out that that person had no intention of wanting a mutual loving relationship, they are only Capable of superior vs inferior dynamics.
      What they will do is reveal a pattern of where they might offer mutual space for a short time but soon they will go back to how they are most comfortable in the relationship. Often this is due to external issues but played out against others unnecessarily.

      Someone who has the history and certainly current behavior of the abusive situations that this writer has experienced, may have some good qualities but may never be safe to have healthy mutual relationships with others! Especially if their is limited interventions or accountability.

      This victim/survivor must escape and remain at a safe distance as it’s the most loving thing they can do for themselves and for the abusive person.

  15. Beloved on September 12, 2018 at 9:05 pm

    Learning and accepting who I am in Christ has been critical in my journey. I am in the divorce process right now after 27 years of marriage. Only two days ago after a conversation with my husband I was thrown into confusion and anxiety by his subtle manipulation and condemnation. I was fine thru the whole talk which seemed very civil at the time. But then I spent half the night and most of the next day fighting my way back to a peaceful state of mind. I do that by reminding myself who I am in Christ (ie. repeating scriptural truths), listening to worship music (putting my eyes on Jesus), and praying constantly. It is a battle. But we are not alone.

  16. Nancy on September 13, 2018 at 2:30 am

    Friends when you got spiritually confused and turned around by a manipulative spouse or person, what helped you find TRUTH again?

    My answer is the same as many here. Emotional distance. I did that by disconnecting from the relationship while leaning heavily into The Lord. A tangible help in fighting the feelings of guilt that came with creating that emotional distance was Prov 4:23 “above all else guard your heart for it is the wellspring of your life”.

    Clinging to this verse allowed me to stand firm in my boundaries and maintain the emotional distance that I needed to both gain clarity in my thinking, as well as discernment in evaluating his behaviour.

    The ability to disconnect emotionally when I’m confused has changed my life. I now have a strategy that, when I use it, guards me against being manipulated by guilt, or fear or obligation. This helps with my children, too!

  17. Aly on September 13, 2018 at 8:53 am

    “Friends, when you got spiritually confused and turned around by a manipulative spouse or person, what helped you find TRUTH again?”

    I think finding Truth is one thing, yet having the strength and support to walk in Truth is another.

    It’s so hard because part of the craziness of a manipulator(s) is to twist and turn truth & scriptures all over the place. I began speaking scriptures and context of God’s word outloud to myself.
    Getting a clear understanding of what is Scripturally sound was key for me to have the strength to ‘detach’ as many here have already mentioned.

    I do think having Support and interventions such as wise counselors was essential for me to walk further into Truth and stay on my journey because manipulative people are so very experienced at spiritual confusion to the point of Bondage in my opinion.
    God had continue to show me a pattern within myself and certainly revealed that I had a more sensitive conscious about these places than even the manipulative person.

    Asking and praying to the Lord for wisdom was also essential in growing and maintaining my strength so that I could continue to get equipped with Truth and have the courage to follow it.

    • Nancy on September 13, 2018 at 9:49 am

      Such a good point about having people support, Aly.

      I couldn’t have done any of what I wrote above without:

      1) my counsellor
      2) a few trustworthy friends who knew the details
      3) a regular Bible Study where I continued to learn about God’s character 4) Leslie’s book EDM, and
      5) this blog where I could get into details anonymously knowing there were ‘wise others’ who had walked very similar paths.

      These practical ‘real world’ elements were an essential part of APPLYING the Bible to my life and experiencing Jesus as a ‘real world’ individual!

  18. Nancy on September 13, 2018 at 10:16 am

    Hi everyone,

    I’m needing some input, please.

    A bit of history: during late fall of 2017 we went ‘no contact’ with my MIL. After much prayer and discussion with our counsellor, we sent a birthday gift that she had sent our daughter, back, along with a direct yet loving letter saying that we needed time and space to heal from a series of ‘boundary busting’ incidents that escalated into a full blown attack on my h. In the letter we asked that she respect our limit and not contact us by phone, letter, email, or anything.

    At the same time I ‘unfollowed’ her on FB (this is different from ‘unfriend’. She does not know that I can no longer see her posts.)

    We have been pleasantly surprised that she has respected our limits. Recently, we’ve been letting God know that we are open to direction if He would like us to re-initiate contact.

    It seems like He has answered that prayer. Yesterday, I went into my FB timeline and saw that she has been tagging me in posts and writing things like “Nancy this is for [our youngest daughter’s name]”.

    A big part of us keeping the kids away from her in going ‘no contact’ was the realization that she blatantly favours our youngest over our oldest and pits her against her older sister. ( this is a generational sin issue. My MIL is the younger sister who treats her older sister like poop).

    Now that I have seen these posts (it looks like she started this in May) my thought is to message her, via FB, to say that I had just seen these posts and to point out that this is not respecting our boundary and ask that she refrain from contacting me, or any of us. In the past what escalated her behaviour was exactly this, pointing out her decision to disrespect our limits.

    The reason I want to do this is two-fold.
    1) to see if she will attack
    2) if she does attack or respond disrespectfully, then
    I will ‘unfriend’ her.

    My other option is to just ‘unfriend her’, but because my response is not immediately after she violated our request, I don’t think it will be clear why I am ‘unfriending’ now.

    What do you think?

    • Nancy on September 13, 2018 at 10:23 am

      And it is SO interesting that my h became hard hearted towards me about an hour after I told him about the posts that I had discovered!

      ( he didn’t process his feelings about it, instead he took them out on me – in his old pattern of passive aggressive blame-shifting).

      Yeah, God is so good in answering prayer.

      We need to stay ‘no contact’ with her!

      • Aly on September 14, 2018 at 4:47 pm

        I’m so sorry! Are you doing ok?
        Was your h able to eventually process and take accountability for what took place?
        You don’t have to answer.. since you posted I just wanted to reach back out to you.

        • Nancy on September 15, 2018 at 2:08 pm

          Hi Aly,
          Yes, I am doing well. We are still working through this. I have Peace but cannot yet see the whole thing clearly.

          • Aly on September 16, 2018 at 9:37 am

            Glad you are at peace;) Also, that there is a ‘we’ in your response as to through working together.

    • Aly on September 13, 2018 at 11:27 am


      My thoughts have a few directions, but I would ask you to really hesitate communicating to her at all over any social media.

      I think you could still consider bringing this up an yet another offense in a written way, but private between your h, her and you … maybe even the Counselor or pastoral counselor?

      So here’s also another thought on confronting her behavior with the favoring the ‘youngest’ …
      If she truly does want to favor the youngest, regardless of her motivations she is clearly not favoring at all. She is causing hurt in both daughters really, dividing them against each other isn’t really offering any true favoring, it really isn’t ‘love’ for her granddaughter anyway.
      Like you and I have said before they can’t give what they truly do not posess in the first place, the youngest is also being robbed of something authentic and being given a counterfeit version of ‘love’.
      This is just my understanding and opinion by no means am I wanting you to see it my way but maybe you want to weigh it out and continue to ask the Lord for His wisdom on how best to ‘unarm harm or covert operations’ by sharing and living ‘age appropriately of course… what real Love is encompassed by.
      Being a grandmother doesn’t mean that immediately that person can offer authentic relationship or safe love.

    • sheep on September 13, 2018 at 12:17 pm

      HI Nancy,

      I think I would just unfriend her. She will either eventually get the message you have already sent or she won’t. If she does that will become evident in her words and actions. If she doesn’t, one more confrontation isn’t going to make her see the light.

      • Autumn on September 13, 2018 at 1:05 pm

        Just unfriend her. She doesn’t need an explanation. Her behavior speaks for itself.

    • Nancy on September 13, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      Oh goodness, do I feel silly. I just re-checked FB to see how many times she did this, and it turns out that the posts were from 2017. Before we went no contact!

      Oops. Thanks for your thoughts anyways!

  19. Aly on September 13, 2018 at 11:30 am

    I responded but looks like it didn’t post. I wouldn’t do this over social media.
    I’ll respond later with what I had originally posted.

  20. Carolee on September 13, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    What makes adultery any different from other sins against wives? Because it’s singled out in scripture ? Other actions and attitudes are mentioned in other contexts that specifically go against what our Lord taught. Could adultery also be defined as breaking any and all marriage vows not just those about sex? When the writer of this week’s question says she loves her husband could she be mistaking love for trauma bonding? Just something’s I’ve been pondering.

    • janice on September 13, 2018 at 3:13 pm

      Carolee, I agree with you. I always question when someone says they love some one even though they have been abused by them. What’s to love??We as Christians are always taught to love our enemies and I think alot of women feel guilty for not loving their spouse when they are abusive. I don’t think this is the kind of love God is talking about or the response He expects from us. Sometimes we are just supposed to wipe off the dust and leave. Sometimes we just have to decide what we are going to put up and live with it or not.

      • Aly on September 13, 2018 at 3:23 pm

        Janice & Carolee,
        I agree with so much here!
        It’s true what is Loving?
        What is Love?
        Sometimes it’s the most loving thing to do .. to separate ourselves from being used, abused, mistreated and devalued. As we separate ourselves then we are loving ourselves and loving our offender, because they no longer can continue the behavior in our presence.
        I believe this is an important aspect of loving well that is not often taught in our Christian homes or Christian communities.

  21. Free on September 15, 2018 at 9:22 am

    I agree that removing yourself from the abusive person and listening to wise friends who know the truth help keep one from being repeated manipulated. Even with that, often our mind can get diverge into work holes. That is why the other ingredient to the release of manipulation is time with an individual counselor. Not just any counselor will do. Finding an expert in this field is a challenge. In my opinion they do not need to be a Christian to recognize and treat the evil dynamic so many victims have endured. I have received good and wise counsel from non Christians.

    I would also like to add that in my case, like many I imagine, the holy spirit granted me peace. Yes, the peace that passes all understanding has been my gift! I must confess I often didn’t even pray for it at times. It was just given to me freely. During times of intense hardship in my process of leaving abuse, I had what can only be described as a super power. I knew it was not mine, it was a gift from God. The presence of the Lord’s gift of peace encouraged me and assured me I was doing the right thing to chose life without abuse.

    • Free on September 15, 2018 at 9:24 am

      Our mind can diverge into worm holes…Correction please.

    • Aly on September 15, 2018 at 10:09 am

      I’m so glad you are free from abuse and you are able to experience that freedom in a healthy and peaceful way. I agree with many of your points and I do believe Leslie’s ministry is educating more Christian counselors on abuse dynamics and the type of tangled mess it is.

      You said that the Lord assured you that you were doing the right thing to chose Life without abuse.
      I like how you stated this!
      One of the hardest things I think for many is to ‘remove’ oneself from abuse. Covert abuse can also add other challenges.
      And you also said this well….
      (Choosing to live life without abuse)
      When we choose to live life ‘daily life’ without abuse, abusers don’t hesitate to lash out on this.
      Some of their very core ways of living is to abuse, its normal operations!
      When we choose to live Life without abuse, often they will become enraged because we are taking something away from them that they think they are entitled to, a person to use or victimize.

      When we choose to remove or live our lives without abuse, often that does mean these people are NO longer in our lives or close circles. The abuser certainly can feel rejected, but since they have proven that they can’t function in a loving and healthy way we are doing them a favor and loving them well by removing ourselves!
      Talk about Loving your enemies.

      This whole notion of living our lives without abuse is foreign for many of us. It’s such a journey through and it takes such support and strength to see what it is we must see in order to move forward.
      Should this be foreign to us as a Christian community?
      I think not!

      Why is it also that part of the issue is that the offenders don’t think we should have the right to choose? This to me is where some of the process begins in identifying is this dynamic abusive… because to take someone’s ‘right’ of their own choosing is to take something that isn’t theirs to take.

      When I saw this in a couple of my relationships and even a pattern, I knew I needed to separate myself in some ways and quickly saw the unhealthy behavior.

  22. Ann on September 25, 2018 at 9:54 am

    I once read somewhere that even though it is true that “God hates divorce” it doesn’t mean that you should never get divorced. God hates divorce because it is often the result of someone’s mean-spirited selfishness and unrepentant soul. It is those qualities that lead to divorce that God hates not the actual divorcing itself. Hopes this helps you in some way.

    • Moon Beam on October 2, 2018 at 7:23 am

      Ann, I have been so brain washed that a woman should stay in every possible horrible relationship because divorce is a cardinal sin. In my view remarriage in more of a sin the divorce. Fleeing a dangerous person is just common sense. It is a basic instinct of human survival. Remarriage is a choice and to me, that is where the sin lies. Short of widowhood, I see no reason but the desire for happiness in remarriage. I think singleness is called for and the discipline of single living with integrity magnifies the former partner’s sin. Remarriage seems to make it all better, yet I think it is better for society and the church, to see the open wound of the destructive marriage. It prevents sweeping the issue under the carpet. The sins should be fully exposed and the injured party can hold her head high as she did not commit the adultery of remarriage that the Bible warns us against.

      There is much to learn as a single person who escaped abuse. The life is rich and the journey with God is guilt free.

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