How Do I Take Back Control Of My Own Life Without Hurting My Spouse


Morning friends,

This time of year can be particularly hard for many of you in destructive and/or broken families. Holidays often mean more family time or expectations of family traditions and making of memories. Sadly for many of you, memories of past holidays are painful and the pretense that things are fine when they are not feels unbearable.

Please take good care of yourself during this season. That doesn’t mean heading to the spa for a mani and pedi (although it could). But it does mean making sure you are getting enough sleep, that you have a support system in place for prayer or venting when you need it. And that you are spending meaningful time alone with God. Isaiah 45:3 reminds us that He will give or show you the treasures hidden in darkness.

There are good things to be found even in the hard things, even in the dark things but you have to look for them. That can only be done when you are quiet and still before the Lord. Let him show you how to find things you can be thankful for even in the darkness or desert of life. Click To Tweet

This week’s question: How do I say no to my husband without hurting his feelings or making him angry? I’m trying to take back control and he is not having it.

Answer: Your statement “He’s not having it” reveals a deeper problem. However, the problem isn’t in your marriage or in your attempt to say No. It’s in your husband’s head.

Your husband has some internal beliefs that control how he sees your “no.” One belief might be, “If you love me, are loyal to me, and trust me, then you will always agree with me and do what I say.”

When you don’t agree with him or you challenge him, he reads that through the filter of “You don’t love me, you aren’t loyal to me or you don’t trust my wisdom or my leadership.” And that hurts his ego and he reacts in anger.   

Another internal belief might be “I’m the man. I’m smarter and better than you are. How dare you question my decision or authority as your husband.” When you start to say no or assert yourself, he sees that as an attack or as disrespect of his authority thus riling up his anger.  

Healthy adults do not believe they are entitled to control another adult unless that adult is incapacitated in some way. The fact that your husband refuses to honor your freedom to disagree with him, respectfully question his decisions or thinking, or you saying “no,” suggests that he doesn’t see you as an equal partner in your marriage. To use a different metaphor, he’s the warden and you’re the prisoner and how dare you try to break free. Power over someone is never God’s way but your husband has made it clear to you that he’s not going to let go of that power without a fight.

“Is your freedom of choice worth the fight?” is the question you must grapple with. Is your God-given responsibility to steward your life, even as a married woman, something you are willing to go to the mat for with your spouse? It will make him angry because it threatens his belief system and his power over you. You can’t get around that.

So what happens when you assert your “no”? Is he dangerous? Violent when angry? Do you feel unsafe or just uncomfortable with how he expresses his anger and hurt? If you feel unsafe and/or there have been any threats of harm, then there is no fight to be had. You must come to accept that your safety is your #1 priority, not asserting your right to say No. Your husband will never accept your right to do so and if you push it, you put yourself in danger. A separation will be the only way you will ever be able to have boundaries or be able to say no safely.

However, if you can calmly and respectfully assert your right to make choices and speak your thoughts and feelings without fearing for your safety even if he is hurt and angry, then it’s worth pushing forward to see if he can begin to respect you as an adult who has her own power instead of demanding power over you.

You can be empathetic with his hurt – even speaking to his false beliefs with truth and grace. For example, “I know it upsets you when I disagree with you but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you or I don’t have your back. It just means that two heads are better than one and I think you need my input on this decision.”  

Or “I know you believe that it’s your right as a man to control me, but I don't believe God calls me to abdicate the stewardship of my life or my mind just because I’m married. I believe that as your Biblical helpmate, I am to give you my thoughts and opinions on things even if you don't like it. I’m not doing it to hurt you or get you angry, I’m doing it because I believe it’s in your and our best interest that I function as an adult in this relationship.”  

Trust me. He won’t like it one bit. But he may come to respect it far more than if you simply acquiesce to his bullying control over you and die a slow death to the person God made you to be. Don’t give him that power or control over you. That is not God’s best for you.

Friends, when you started to wake up to the fact that you were not functioning as a healthy adult in your marriage and started to assert yourself, how did you handle your husband’s hurt and anger?


  1. Stillhere on November 21, 2018 at 9:05 am

    I’m getting to the point of not caring if my husband is hurt. We’ve been married 36 years. A little over three years ago I began to suspect my husband was having an affair.

    The circumstantial evidence was all circumstantial but ridiculously there and real. After him trying to convince me of no affair for 10 months, I discovered he was hiding our savings and left him for 2 weeks.

    I came home with the promise that we would find another counselor. We had gone to one real counselor who was beating his wife. She wrote me to tell me and a man from church who meant well but really couldn’t counsel.

    For two years I’ve tried to live with answers that don’t make sense from him. He won’t go back to any counseling. We have been at a different church for two years and he won’t get involved in anything.

    He’s not in the word. He used to be a Strong Christian man. He can be very indifferent at times.

    A few months ago I discovered another number on my private fb settings. I wrote it down, deleted it and called it. I got the voicemail of a woman from our old church. Not even the same woman from before.

    I told him late that night. He was very indifferent. Got up in the morning and picked up his phone to check the weather. He was outside.

    I turned his phone on and her name was coming across at the bottom of the screen in typed blue letters. I knew I was seeing it. I went to check messages and it disappeared. There was no message or text. He came in and I told him. Of course he had no idea.

    I did call her two days later to let her know what I found. Of course she had no idea and said she doesn’t even have fb. I’ve looked and can’t find one for her but she could have a fake one. I want nasty but told her I didn’t appreciate it and got off quick.

    Fast forward: We saw them recently in a restaurant. Only her and adult son. She didn’t see us. I told my husband that too bad I didn’t have my iPod as I would hand it to her for her to put her number on.

    He threw it in my face a few days later and we had an argument over it.

    I told him I wanted to know why her name came up on his phone like that. He doesn’t know.

    I also found the gmail app on his safari history that day. He and I only shared a yahoo mail. He has no idea! Of course.

    I’ve asked 3 people and phone carrier. I was told that can’t happen unless there has been some kind of contact. Of course he has no idea how!

    We have grown kids coming home for Thanksgiving! I’m literally faking it until they are gone.

    • Moon Beam on November 21, 2018 at 5:15 pm

      Good plan, fake it to get through Thanksgiving. You may need to do it through Christmas too. No need to ruin a holiday, but this nonsense has to stop.

      Plan your exit strategically, don’t act on emotions alone. Pray. Get legal advice. Have a safety plan. Stash asside some money and make copies of all your important documents. You have a rough journey ahead of you, but you are so very wise to choose truth. Trust the Lord, he loves you and never intended for you to be so disrespected, ever.

      • Aly on November 27, 2018 at 8:04 pm

        Moonbeam, Stillhere,

        I’m not sure I would agree that a Holiday gets to take priority over choosing truth, or disappointing family members.

        I agree with your list of tangible action items for Stillhere.
        But if I were in her situation I would be confused by your post.

        Still here, I’m so sorry for what you are facing and exposing!
        Betrayal is heart wrenching. I hope you have some close women who can come alongside you as well as professional care for your heart.
        Your husband needs serious help is sounds. This is Stuff is above your pay grade. Not saying that in an ugly way but for you to have confidence that you need outside resources!
        I will affirm you with your bravery to call that woman! You did the right thing there.

        Have you discovered any porn abuse also in your marriage to him?

        I would be surprised if you said no and absolutely no. Evidence can be hidden easily enough but not the outer behaviors and secondary treatment toward the spouse. The behavior reveals a lot.

        Some of the behaviors you describe seem common amongst those that have serious character and integrity issues playing along side.

    • Autumn on November 27, 2018 at 8:21 am

      Still Here, How did Thanksgiving go? Kids still home? Hope you come up with a good and safe plan.

    • Kate on December 6, 2018 at 10:46 am

      Still here,
      It seems you’re in a quest for the truth. I hope you find it.

      I haven’t read the other responses, so maybe this was mentioned.

      Asking a husband for a polygraph test as a way to build trust with you is a gift to him, and is a legitimate thing to do. Obviously, the desire to ask for one is a marker that there is something not transparent between the spouses.

      Also, there are many apps which may be used to make contact on electronic devices. It looks like you think he’s possibly been using an email account via “gmail,” (google mail) which is easy and free. However, when you were searching for why the letters with a woman’s number came up as a notification on h’s phone, there may be notifications coming in that he is receiving email from her (if he has email account set up to send notifications). With gmail, one can have an account with them and access where to log in via one’s browser instead of an app icon.

      The notification could have been from a phone call or text message also—on apps that you are unaware of, you may be unfamiliar with, or are hidden.

      Trust your instincts. My counselor frequently says that a woman doesn’t need all those ways. That over time, the h’s behavior will show his intentions toward you and your extended family.

      May God comfort and guide you.

  2. Maddie on November 21, 2018 at 10:01 am

    For more than 20 years my husband would give me the silent treatment whenever I spoke up or disagreed with him. Sometimes it was a day or two and one time it lasted for over two months. He saw this behavior growing up and didn’t know how dysfunctional it was. Because I am a people pleaser and like to keep the peace, I would often think twice before saying anything and weigh the cost of doing so. After finding this website and others, I began to slowly become honest with myself and him. It was not easy and he pushed back often. But I learned this…I am strong and when I prayed for wisdom and courage, I got even stronger. I know that I ultimately have to answer to God and try to use that as my guide before saying something that could potentially upset my husband. Jesus didn’t agree with everyone just to keep the peace. As I think back about how I should have stood up and been stronger over the years I have feelings of resentment that I need to work through. I am so thankful though that I have support from this website to know that I am not wrong to speak up for what is true and right and good.

    • Aly on November 27, 2018 at 8:08 pm

      Praise God for this!! 🌈💕🎉!
      So glad you no longer feel responsible for another person’s response or making them upset. We all must own our own behavior and responses.
      Did your husband get professional help?

      • Maddie on November 28, 2018 at 8:44 pm

        Yes. I am seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. My h did not get professional help but he has read some books and has started having a change of heart. It took about two years for him to see that what he witnessed growing up was dysfunctional. He truly didn’t know what he didn’t know. I’m still on guard some of the time and it’s going to take awhile to rebuild trust. But I feel like I can be myself more than I ever could be in the past. I’m still praying that I can soften my heart towards him. I have angry feelings when I look back over the years and can see the abuse from more of a distance. Why could be not see that the way he treated me hurt me and our marriage? Taking it a day at a time.

        • Aly on November 29, 2018 at 8:45 am


          I think reading books can open awareness and depending on your husband’s coping skills a lot can still be revealed over time.
          Professional help became a requirement for my h because he would only ‘soften or change for a short period of time’. In fact, relapse became a huge indicator for all the interventions we have had. I’m telling you this to caution you in your one day at a time.
          I also think it would be wise to get a professional involved with you and possibly your husband since it’s sounds like you are still dealing with anger (righteous hurt and probably very reasonable fear) from what you had experienced in the marriage when you h was treating you so poorly.

          I would caution you that if your h is calling the directives on recovery and rebuilding trust, then you know he might only choose what suits him and his comfort which isn’t a mutual process.

          If you fear asking for more interventions then the relationship may still be out of balance and someone is holding more power than the other in a unhealthy way.

          My husband had lots of false starts and I had a tendency to have A lot of hope in small changes which didn’t help our dynamic. I am also a recovering pleaser.

          My husband had to face all the past regardless if he didn’t know any better and then he had to repair and bring additional restitution for what he took from God, me, our children and our marriage of which he continues to rebuild.

          Wise counsel is essential which individuals like this and I hope & pray for the best repair for your heart and family.

          • Maddie on December 1, 2018 at 10:24 am

            Aly, Thank you so much for your wise advice and prayers. I am trying to decide if going to a counselor is what I need to do. I am a very private person and I think it would be hard for me to open up to someone about very personal things. It is something that I will keep in mind for the future, if things between my husband and I don’t improve.
            I will keep you and the other hurting women and men here in my prayers as well. God knows each of our hearts and He can use everyone of us for a good purpose. He has used you to give me wise encouragement. Thank you.

          • Aly on December 1, 2018 at 11:49 am


            I appreciate your prayers and encouragement here on this blog!

            You said you have been dealing with this situation with your h for 20 plus years!

            That’s a long time and often longterm patterns rarely change dramatically or by spiritual intervention alone. We must participate in the process.

            You wrote:
            “I am a very private person and I think it would be hard for me to open up to someone about very personal things.”

            This is confusing to me because counseling is just that ‘private’ especially if you are focused on individual counseling for yourself and for your husband.

            Have you read or heard of How WE Love?
            It might interest you to learn more about what you believe about privacy and counseling concepts.

            Many women who find themselves are often isolated based on thinking that things can get repaired by not coming out into the light.

            Many many people in our close circle of friends know my husband and my marriage history, Shame can creep in if we are not working through our growth and being reminded that the Lord is the one who we care most about what he thinks of us.
            We will always be a work in process.
            When it comes about being loved authentically it’s impossible without being known.
            Being known is one of the essential ways God has designed us.
            Consider all the scriptures that challenge our vulnerabilities.

            Again I am talking about this in the context of sharing or being in counseling with SAFE people.

    • Debbie on November 28, 2018 at 9:19 am

      Maddie, I so relate to your story. I either getnthe nasty sarcastic, turning it around on me or the silent treatment. Too many years I just thought I was keeping the peace. I’m now at the level of being honest with myself. And starting to speak up. I did tell him once I haven’t told my true feelings about things and I want to change that. Henjust looked at me no words. I’m starting to speak up and he doesn’t like it. Thinks we are fighting more. I need to proceed to being able to tell him what all these years of his behavior has done to me. I will get there. Leslie and this group has helped open my eyes.

  3. Melissa on November 21, 2018 at 10:29 am

    This is great advice. I know that too many times well meaning Christians who don’t want to see a marriage in defeat, tend to circle back to the wife submitting to her husband, practically no matter what. Those in abusive marriages eventually rebel against this generalized teaching and then THEY are seen as the instigator of their marital dysfunction. This is so dangerous to those spouses. Even if not physically, most certainly emotionally and spiritually. We need to do better when we give spouses advice when they are in an abusive marriage,

    • moon beam on November 21, 2018 at 5:07 pm

      There is usually not a marital problem, it is an individual problem. The abuser has the problem, not the spouse. They may have .learned to survive in ways that are dysfunction yet what I see over and over again is that the non abusvie spouse is perfectly fine. They overfunctioned to deal with the abuser. It is not a marriage problem because the abuser was never capable of being married. They never entered into the covenant. Their vows were all lies from the start.

      • Ruth on November 21, 2018 at 6:46 pm

        Well said!!
        Moon beam is right. In abusive marriages, the abuser’s SIN STRONGHOLDS are the issues! No accommodation by the other spouse will change that. Sadly, most abusers like their strongholds and they don’t want to give them up! It’s like their special status.
        Another angle that Christians tend to give poor advice on is how to pray for an abusive marriage. Praying with wisdom is targeted, knowledgeable prayer.
        I love my pastor, but this statement he made from the pulpit a couple of weeks ago bugged me. He said: “Just pray and give your marriage to God.” Then he said something like “Bam! It might be healed; you never know!” 🙄
        (Now, I can’t remember what the context was for this statement) I wish Christian leaders wouldn’t give women false hope when God doesn’t force repentance on anyone. Then when their H doesn’t stop sinning and abusing, the woman thinks: “I guess I just didn’t pray HARD ENOUGH or have ENOUGH FAITH.”
        Yes, we pray and interceed for lost persons but THEY are the ones who make the choice to reject or accept freedom from sin.

        • Sherry on November 21, 2018 at 8:55 pm

          Moon beam, you are so right about the abuse being the one with the problem. And Ruth, your point is so true also. Those of us that were in abusive marriages can pray till we turn blue but an abuser who won’t listen to God is not going to change. So sad but true. I still pray for my ex to change because if he doesn’t he will never be happy.
          And my experience seeking help for my abusive marriage from 2 churches was not very helpful. My BSF group completely turned their backs on me but God led me gently to 2 counselors who immediately understood my situation. I read so many books including Divorce and Remarriage in the Church and my conscience was clear before God. His opinion is all that really matters in the great scheme of life.

          • Aly on November 25, 2018 at 8:24 pm

            I am so sorry for what you have been through.
            I’m thankful you are now free but it does ignite healthy anger/protest, when I hear about another victim/survivor have their own church and BSF church group also turn their backs on those that ARE REAChing out for help!

        • Aly on November 25, 2018 at 5:50 pm

          I agree with your post here and you have highlighted a very important thing about what was preached at your church also.

          You wrote:
          “No accommodation by the other spouse will change that.”
          I agree Ruth! In fact I believe it reinforces unhealthy behavior and destructive people overall.

          Have you gone to your pastor with your concerns of what he said and how it can be interpreted?

          That type of preaching sounds like the magical Gospel where Jesus does everything and we have no participation other than to conceive of ‘false hope’.

          I’m a firm believer in laying a marriage that is unhealthy at the Cross and surrendering to God’s truths, but not asking God to
          equip me in How He wants to change me might be a problem.
          By change, sometimes it’s allowing consequences to fall as they do and not overfunction for a spouse.

      • Debbie on November 26, 2018 at 10:00 am

        I needed to be reminded of this today. Things have been awful with my spouse for weeks during our
        move. I am finally trying to take steps to speak up. He takes every single comment that I don’t completely agree with as a personal attack. He has pain and health issues he won’t deal with. And complains constantly. I was feeling guilty that I wasn’t being empathetic enough. I needed to be reminded he has a huge problem. I’m still not sure how to move forward. But I will continue to speak up no matter how uncomfortable it is. I get the silent treatment too. Or the very sarcastic comments. I’m so very tired of this. 😢

        • Autumn on November 26, 2018 at 6:20 pm

          Is there a domestic violence center near your new home? How about inquiring about the group or individual counseling services. They are usually free.

          • Debbei on November 26, 2018 at 8:04 pm

            Autumn I really don’t know. We haven’t been here long I don’t know where anything is yet. I feel like it would just complicate things right now. He’s not going to react well to counseling because of his behavior.
            I’m just not ready to deal with full on facing him with all this.

        • Sunshine on November 27, 2018 at 8:24 am

          Don’t bother to speak up Debbie. it is useless. Take action.

      • Heidi on November 26, 2018 at 11:47 am

        Thank you so much for this comment Moon Beam. It made so much sense and lifted some kilos off my shoulders. This blog has been my lifeline to understand my self and the situation I live in. Thank you for sharing.

        • Autumn on November 27, 2018 at 7:05 am

          Debbie, the counseling isn’t for him. It is for you! Never do marital counseling with a destructive spouse. It only gives them more intimate power over you. Seek out the shelter telephone number before you unpack another box.

  4. Robin on November 25, 2018 at 1:16 pm

    How do I take back control of my own life ??
    I believe it starts in how I think about myself, and less about will it hurt him? We just can’t control what he’ll feel or do but we can choose to be in charge of ourselves. As an abused spouse I cared way too much about his feelings. It was when I learned to love myself, and begin to choose the life I needed, that things got better.
    My ex didn’t want to let go of me having choices and freedoms, so we are no longer together. I believe when women start to believe in their own worth, and are willing to work on their lives being healthier, they will find ‘his feelings’ aren’t the main goal. Being healthy and making healthy choices are.

    • Free on November 25, 2018 at 5:09 pm

      And his “feelings” be come evident as very creepy and sick. Getting out of the relationship is the only way to see the depth of the abuser’s depravity. While under their spell, it is impossible to think clearly. The more education you get the more obvious the abuse becomes.

      The next tricky part is accepting that your spouse has all the same behaviors and thoughts as incarnated rapists, murders, and sex crime predators. Yup, that is their true brotherhood. They think just like your abuser thinks! That takes much longer to sink in. We deny that one for years.

      Don’t let the Christian facade fool you ladies ( and Sheep). It is all an act.

      • Free on November 25, 2018 at 5:11 pm

        Incarcerated not incarnate. Ha!!!

        Except they certainly think they are incarnate!

      • Debbie on November 26, 2018 at 10:04 am

        Boy that’s what it feels like!! A prisoner held in all this doom and gloom. I have no idea what it’s like to live in a house with joy and laughter. There’s a constant dark cloud here.
        I just constantly lean on the Lord. It’s my only hope.

        • Moon Beam on November 26, 2018 at 6:17 pm

          Leaning on the Lord is great as long as you take action to remove yourself from living with a fool.

          • Hope on November 26, 2018 at 6:42 pm

            I could really use some prayers. I’ve been very slowly and privately planning for the past two years to live apart as I feel I can’t stay and stay well.This has been gut-wrenching beyond words for me. My husband has told me he will not change.There’s been no repair. We’re like married roommates.Then last week he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. What?! It’s so difficult to be in this place in our relationship and now be facing a major health issue.I’ll there for him in practical ways but this is hard…I don’t really know how to act or what to say…Jesus, help this girl!

  5. Sherry on November 26, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    Hope, I am so sorry about your situation and your husband’s diagnosis. I understand how you feel because I have been there. I had been secretly planning to leave also and was very close to walking out the door when so many unbelievable circumstances popped up! After months of everything around me falling apart I ended up in the hospital with knee replacements! Things did calm down and my marriage was just as miserable, and then God opened a big door and miracles happened. I moved to a new city and someone rented an apartment to me without my having a job or knowing anyone in town!
    I learned to be patient and trust in God’s leading as He worked it out!

    • Hope on November 26, 2018 at 11:06 pm

      Thank you, Sherrie, your story does help me. Can I ask you–did you end up leaving the marriage? Do you feel like the circumstances that popped up were God’s way of helping you wait for His timing? Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell if delays and things like this diagnosis are God saying, “Stop, wrong direction” or if He’s saying, “Wait…not quite the right time yet”…

      • Hope on November 26, 2018 at 11:07 pm

        Whoops, sorry Sherry, I misspelled your name ):

      • Sherry on November 27, 2018 at 8:46 am

        I did leave him and we are officially divorced. I left the town we lived in because I knew he would spread lies about me.
        I knew in my heart that the circumstances that popped up was God’s way of showing me the time wasn’t right yet. Then miraculously the time was right and everything came together and now I am free.
        But while I was waiting I did continue to grow and change and I felt very often that it would be good if my husband would change and we could make our marriage work but he refused to even listen to me. It was his way or the highway so I chose the highway.

  6. Debbie on November 26, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Hope, I’m praying for you. I understand my husband’s health isn’t good either. Hip, feet and leg issues can barely stand or walk at times. And I think all the concussions he had playing football have caught up. He is so forgetful and mind doesn’t work as well. Hard to think about leaving.
    Praying God will give you wisdom and strength.

    • Hope on November 26, 2018 at 10:57 pm

      Thank you, Debbie. I pray the same wisdom and strength–and comfort–for you too in your marriage. I don’t feel right leaving when he’s facing this–but honestly I don’t feel like I’m just to abandon the preparation I’ve felt that God has been leading me in either.I guess it does come down to trusting Him a day at a time!

      • Autumn on November 27, 2018 at 7:02 am

        Hope, prostate cancer is very common and easily cured. It is not a major health issue in today’s health world. Don’t let the diagnosis stop your escape.

      • Debbie on November 27, 2018 at 8:18 am

        Hope, I agree keep praying and trusting God one day at a time. If you know God has led you to this point in your plans. Maybe you should keep working that way. And take it a day at a time as yiunfeel led. You could still provide some support if you lived apart. But be away from the toxic environment. Praying.

    • Free on November 27, 2018 at 8:29 am

      I think it is interesting that we value the abusive spouse’s physical health issues over his very obvious mental health issues. Why? The destructive spouse is just as sick as any cancer patient, the illness is just of the mind and spirit rather than the body. What would happen if we put mental health issues at the same level of physical health issues?

      When I read healthy victims talking about their abusive partner’s physical issues, I can’t help but think, so what? The mental health issues are just as bad if not worse. Does anyone think this too?

      • Debbie on November 27, 2018 at 8:38 am

        Free, it’s not that simple. When you have lived with someone 27 years there is a history. And not all of it is bad. And being an older woman (61) I’m from the generation that strived to make a cozy home and provide everyone’s needs. Even when mine weren’t being met. You take 20+ years of living that way. You can’t just turn on a switch to change everything. It’s a real process. And a process of just getting up the courage to make the changes needed.

        • Free on November 27, 2018 at 11:53 am

          Debbie, you are not going to like my reply,but yes, it is that easy. There are logical steps to take and wise planning is imperative, but yes, it is easy to remove yourself from abuse. What is takes is counseling, courage and patience with the process. The healing process takes time but the leaving should occur immediately, as soon as you can establish a place to live.

          Imagine if you were in your home when a fire broke out would you try to explain it away or try to reason with it? An abusive spouse is just as dangerous we victims just don’t fully realize that while we are living in the middle of it.

          Don’t be afraid of change. You can live Free.

          • Debbie on November 28, 2018 at 5:26 pm

            Free I understand what you are saying. And I appreciate your experience.
            The thing I liked about Leslie and this group is that we are
            In different stages in this process. Some not realizing they are in abusive relationships and thinking trying harder will make it better. To the end, where apparently you are after leaving.
            I think it’s important we support each other through every level and phase of this process. There is also levels of abuse. In my case I haven’t fully confronted my husband’s behavior to see if he’s willing to make changes to keep me in this relationship. I first had to establish there was a problem and it wasn’t me. And work towards speaking up. I think my husband at least needs to be given the chance to change. Even though the chances of that are slim. I also don’t have instant courage to make major changes and confrontations. But I will get there.

          • Maddie on November 28, 2018 at 6:36 pm

            Debbie, I understand where you are in the process as I have just recently gotten brave enough to speak up. It took me more than 20 years to understand the abusive pattern and call it abuse. Then it took a few more years to get up the courage to learn about myself, read books that would help me gain courage, and to finally just get so uncomfortable and fed up that I really, truly didn’t care about the outcome. If we stayed together, then change was going to have to happen, but if we didn’t, I was also good with that. I think my husband realized that this was a different me and knew I wasn’t backing down as I had in the past. I got strength from reading my Bible, reading books by Leslie and Cloud and Townsend, and also from reading other women’s stories here on this blog. Keep up the hard work of change.

      • Aly on November 27, 2018 at 10:42 am

        I think similarly. Because I think that these ‘mindsets’ brain etc and behavioral issues are a metaphor like cancer. And my h has had cancer.
        It was treatable. We took action. I also took additional action and created requirements.
        What you are describing above about putting them on the same level of response is a good way of seeing where requirements come in.
        Some cancers are treatable some are not.
        Regarding destructive individuals and how they treat their spouse etc, their situation is often Treatable but they choose to not treat and get the assistance needed for growth and change. Nor is it something in their household where it’s required for them to get the help needed.

      • Aly on November 27, 2018 at 10:47 am

        I also think it’s because many don’t consider how important abstract thinking and reasoning come into play here.
        Many see only a physical aliment that is TANGIBLE, when many of the signs of a sick person are intangible and somewhat covert because it stems with their core being and internal beliefs about themselves.
        Destructive people have destructive mindsets and belief patterns.

        • Free on November 27, 2018 at 11:57 am

          Aly, and like Debbie seems to say, she is in a routine and has a certain comfort level at times.

          We are creatures of habit and change is hard for many people, even if it is good change for the right reason.

          • Debbie on November 27, 2018 at 12:35 pm

            I wouldn’t say a comfort level. More a familiar level. Some good times somyiu get a break. During the bad times you kind of know what to expect innhe pattern. The hard part at least for me. Is to be completely honest about how unhappy I am. Because I know things will get horrible. And I’m not in a place to leave. And right now don’t have the courage for that kind of storm. I’m trying to speak my true feelings more and work up to it.

  7. Janice D on November 27, 2018 at 10:36 am

    I agree that leaving the relationship does not mean you can’t offer support and practical help from a safe and sane place. I am also from the same generation as Debbie and understand the feelings expressed.I am separated 4 months now after a long marriage and no matter what my husband will or won’t be diagnosed with in the future,it will not “ guilt” me back into what God has brought me out of. I would be willing to help( with appropriate boundaries) but it wouldn’t change the fact that our marriage relationship is not reconciled or restored and therefore unsafe for me. It isn’t an “all or nothing,either,or” situation.A troublesome medical diagnosis doesn’t make someone safe,it makes them a person in need of prayer and help which you may or may not be able to provide.The important thing is you get to seek the Lord in this matter,he knows your heart.Getting healthy and healing is a big part of our maturity,our “ growing up in the Lord” what the Bible calls sanctification.For so long this process seemed to me to be so “religious and mysterious “ sounding. I have come to realize God is really rather practical and uses all of our life to move us along in our journeys. To me, the most mature,wise Christians aren’t the ones with the most “piousbabble” to quote Kathy Keller,wife of Pastor Tim Keller.They are the Leslie Vernicks and the Patrick Doyles that I want to listen to and learn from. I am so thankful for this site and the wisdom that I have received here from so many brave women(and a few brave men)

    • Free on November 27, 2018 at 12:04 pm

      Janice, I think there will always be a relationship of some kind, it just shouldn’t be a marriage.

      I understand the hurdles. Talk is cheap, action shows growth. Action show psychological movement from victim to survivor. Eventually we all hope to advance to thriver, something we can never do with the destructive spouse.

    • Aly on November 27, 2018 at 12:08 pm

      Janice D,
      Agree here with your post and very well articulated.
      I have enjoyed Tim Keller’s books through the years. Maybe for the benefit of those reading this blog you can expand on ‘piousbabble’. Give specific examples of what this can sound like.
      I think that this babble is common amongst those very hypocritical professing Christians that try to sound spiritually mature and certainly are given places of leadership that can be additionally harming to victim/survivors searching for direction and wisdom. Not all are trying to intentionally cause harm but many refuse to get educated on these types of behaviors or marital dynamics that are destructive and unhealthy to be in proximity to.

    • Nancy on November 27, 2018 at 1:52 pm

      Janice, Free and Aly,

      I so agree with what you said here Janice – “I have come to learn that God is really rather practical and uses all of our life to move us along”

      We are called to action. Prayer, planning AND changed behaviour. Not just prayer….When we have a victim mindset it is way too easy to get caught up in magical thinking (which allows us to abdicate responsibility once again).

      We must trust that it is exactly our real life circumstances that The Lord wants to use in order to grow our relationship with Him.

      We are sanctified through obedience – not by thinking, praying or speaking Christianese.

    • Hope on November 27, 2018 at 10:29 pm

      Thank you everyone, your insights are really helping me sort this out.

      Janice D, you expressed exactly how I feel: A troublesome medical diagnosis doesn’t make someone safe; it makes them a person in need of prayer and help, which you may or may not be able to provide.

      I feel like this diagnosis doesn’t fix or repair anything relationally. I’m asking myself and the Lord what help am I able/willing to provide him without slipping backwards into my old patterns of overworking and enabling and ignoring my own needs? I don’t want to give him the message that everything is fine now between us because he has a medical issue and needs some extra care.

      I guess how to do empathy within boundaries and not be enabling? It’s very emotionally confusing to me.Everything still needs to be dealt with at some point. I’m seeing this as just a temporary detour right now or a “pause” in the direction I feel God’s been leading me. I’m not in immediate danger (never physically) or I would leave to keep myself safe.

  8. Free on November 27, 2018 at 7:57 pm

    Here’s my tweet.

    Victims talk about it. Survivors act upon it. Thrivers get beyond it and live!

    • Aly on November 27, 2018 at 8:20 pm

      I like this! Well said.
      How long were you a victim?

      • Free on November 27, 2018 at 10:18 pm

        Too long.

  9. Aly on November 27, 2018 at 10:41 pm


    What do you mean?

  10. Free on November 28, 2018 at 7:22 am

    Any moment, any hour, any day we stay after the first incident is too long.

    • Aly on November 28, 2018 at 8:46 pm

      I wonder if you speak from a place of physical abuse? Covert and emotional abuse is something that takes a lot more time and patterns for some dynamics to reveal.
      Where as physical abuse is very tangible.

      I’m sorry that you were treated so horribly but thankful that you got free and chose to leave the environment physically & legally.

  11. TheStruggleIsReal on December 4, 2018 at 8:30 am

    I didn’t use to handle it well at all. But now, I’m stronger & able to face it confidently. I leave if needed to give him time to think. I take a shower to get away if he’s on a rant & won’t stop but the subject isn’t too serious. Use to I felt very responsible for his anger. We were so young when we got together and when we married. I was determined to be married because I made choices I was ashamed of and felt marriage would somehow make it all ok. So my fears and determination to stay married were fueled by shame. Once I repented & had a change of heart, I could no longer handle the treatment at all. Where I use to tell myself I deserved it, now I was having breakdowns. I tried so hard to do everything he wanted and I catered to him in nearly every area. It caused nothing but greater bondage. He did whatever he wanted & I had to do whatever he said or there was hell to pay. No one knew how to help. Nor did they want to. Especially in the church. Now, I am in a healthier place & I can better decide the things to let go or stand my ground. And I’m able to do it most of the time with a calm, loving tone. But he is very combative so I still have to walk away much of the time of leave the house if he’s on a rant. The hardest one is if it happens in the car. I can’t get out or away. I’ve thought about refusing to be in a car together but I’m giving that one a bit more time because he’s had some major changes in his behavior recently. I’m praying the cycle is over & we are actually progressing forward. Only time will tell & that’s the hardest part. When there’s been a cycle so long, lots of discernment & wisdom are needed. Because people will hurt us & let us down at times, these we choose to give more time, they will hurt us again at some point. We have to make sure we are healthy so we know how to navigate through it & recognize if it’s the same old pattern or if there’s a heart of repentance in place. And what does that actually look like? What’s the behavior or response he gives me when I once again explain the behavior is not acceptable? Is there repentance or excuses?
    Thank you Leslie for helping us walk this out in a safe loving environment. Praying the Church gets hold of it & creates a safe space as well so the Body of Christ becomes strong & healthy.

    • Aly on December 5, 2018 at 7:55 am


      Because you can clearly identify the cycle, you can admit to yourself that you in a destructive marriage and you are trying to navigate in a destructive marriage… would you agree?
      You wrote down a lot of important things.
      Is your h getting professional help and accountability?

      The cycle will never be over if there are not enough interventions in proportion to what your husband is trying to control himself and you.
      It’s sounds like he needs a lot of help and maybe even underlying chemical issues too going on that a professional can assess.
      You cannot help him, and you sound very desensitized and as if this problem is a ‘WE’ problem. It sounds like he lacks core respect for you and that will ensure the cycle will remain.

      You say you care what his response is to you telling him that his behavior is unacceptable… (I’ve been there) but please see the cycle as he doesn’t care that his behavior is unacceptable ‘in the moment’ he knows it’s wrong.. he DOESNT CARE that it’s wrong.

      Is he able to admit he is abusive and needs a lot of help? Is he surrendered to a program of developing character? Is he wanting to repair the relationship damage that he has caused?
      A person can repent everyday unhealthy behavior and still remain stuck.
      The cycle is about power and control and many abusers will admit to unacceptable behavior (from time to time) but deep down they often believe they are superior to control and many things don’t apply to them that might apply to you. If this is part of your dynamic.. the cycle will continue and will get worse as the years go by.

    • Debbie on December 5, 2018 at 8:52 am

      Sounds like you have made progress in this journey.
      I can identify with the car. My husband is so impatient and annoyed all the time driving. I have thought about refusing to go anywhere with him. It’s so stressful just going on a little errand. I can do identify. I’ve been weighing things too

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