How Long Do I Have To Keep Being Nice?


Morning friends,

Thanks for your prayers and encouragement. I have felt some refreshment to my spirit and am heading to the beach next week for 3 days of R & R. I’m bringing books and walking shoes and that’s all I want to do. Hope it’s sunny.

Monday I posted another blog called Let’s Not Call it Abuse for a Christian counseling site I write for. I’d encourage you to read it and pass it on to someone you know in Church leadership or counseling who may need to take it to heart.

You might also be interested in checking out Chris Moles' new blog, Peace Works, which can be found by clicking here.

If you don’t already know, my book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage is now available in audio. If you like to listen to books rather than read them, you can find it at The MP3 Download is only $7.49 this week.

Today’s Question: I recently finished reading The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. It was exactly what I needed to recognize many things going on in my marriage, and to help me get the courage to do something about it. I don’t know how to explain things in just a few words, so I won’t elaborate, but try to get straight to my question.

I recognize that I am responsible for my own feelings. I now see that I can do something about the way I’m treated, and it is not ok to allow my husband to treat me as he does. I now recognize that God doesn’t expect me to sit back and do nothing. My husband believes that he is not responsible for me being hurt by his words. He says people are responsible for their own feelings and how they let the words of someone else affect them emotionally. For example, if someone calls you stupid and you let that upset you it’s your fault, not the person saying it. (Unless you believe you really are stupid) I feel there are consequences for words. Can we just go around saying whatever we want to people, expecting them not to hold us accountable?

How do I go forward with personal care, boundaries, growth, etc. if he thinks it’s my fault if I‘m hurt by the words he says? I’ve explained how hurt I am after a recent episode, and that I now realize it is habitual. I’ve explained that my heart is broken & it is closed because of being hurt so often. (He apologizes when he needs to, but somehow manages to not really take responsibility for it). He wants to be physically intimate. I thought it was my duty, so I have always gone along with it. I have been emotionally detached during intimacy for a long time. I usually end up secretly crying afterwards. I don’t want it to be like that anymore. I told him I can’t be intimate with him when my heart is closed. He says I’m holding a grudge, being bitter and choosing to stay mad. I’m not mad, and I’m not holding a grudge, but I can’t continue down this path. I am not even me anymore. I don’t even like me anymore. I want to change how I’m handling things.

I guess I’m just needing to hear some truth and direction on where the responsibility lies. Examples on how to handle this. Examples of how I can talk to him about this.

Answer: I’m sorry for your pain and confusion. Your husband is right, he’s not responsible for your feelings, but the Bible says he is responsible for the way he treats you and he is responsible for his choice of words when he’s angry or upset, especially when his words hurt you. And, your husband is responsible as your husband, to care about your feelings even if he isn’t responsible for them. The fact that he’s expressed no compassion for the pain he’s caused you signals the amount of self-centeredness and self-deception going on in his own heart and mind.

Proverbs warns us that “Reckless words pierce like a sword” ([truth]Proverbs 12:18[/truth]) and “Life and death are in the power of the tongue.” ([truth]Proverbs 18:21[/truth]). Jesus also takes what we say to people quite seriously when he likens harsh or angry words to tongue murder ([truth]Matthew 5:22[/truth]). James reminds us, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” ([truth]James 1:26[/truth]). Paul tells us, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” ([truth]Ephesians 4:29[/truth]). He also says, “But now you must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” ([truth]Colossians 3:8[/truth]). Paul also exhorts husbands to “Love their wives as Christ loved the church” ([truth]Ephesians 5:25[/truth]), and Peter tells husbands, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers” ([truth]1 Peter 3:7[/truth]).

You say he apologizes, but it seems rather lame if he continues to do the same thing again and again and expects you to just bounce back with a warm heart. smiley face, and sexual appetite when he continually whacks you down like a child’s blow up doll.

Therefore, I want to encourage you to stand strong and keep your boundaries in place. From what I read, these are your boundaries: “I will not allow myself to be treated with disrespect, abuse, and contempt. When you talk to me that way, I will walk away and refuse to listen. The words you choose to express your feelings are hurtful, sinful and damage our relationship and me. You could choose other words, but you choose not to. It’s not that I won’t forgive you, but I can’t be in close fellowship with you when you treat me this way. Your “I’m sorry” doesn’t mean anything to me when you continue to act this way.

The consequences if you choose not to change the way you communicate your unhappy feelings is that I can’t feel close to you and our marriage relationship will suffer.”

On a broader note, one of the reasons you must leave his presence when he starts to verbally vomit on you is because you must be responsible for you. Therefore you must guard your heart against his toxic words because they are soul destroying.

Whether we believe them or not, when someone vomits all of their negative and toxic feelings on us, it impacts us and it sometimes also infects us with it’s poison. Our body shakes, our heart rate speeds up, our blood pressure rises, and we can’t get those words out of our head, even when we know they are not true. You said you’re not yourself anymore and the person you are, you don’t like.

It sounds like you’ve been infected and so I’d encourage you to work on building your CORE strengths. (See Chapter 7 in my book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage). You want to follow Paul’s advice when he says, “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” ([truth]Romans 12:21[/truth]). That does not mean you will be able to overcome your husband’s evil, but by doing good, you will apply a powerful antidote to the toxic effects he’s having on you.

Here are two questions you can ask yourself to get started:

  1. What in this marriage right now do I need to learn or change in order to become the person I want to become? For example, Do you need to learn more courage? How to speak the truth in love? How to set better boundaries? How to implement consequences? How to not let this person get the best of you or make you act crazy?
  2. What do I need to do to respond out of the person I want to be instead of my reactionary emotional self? Perhaps it’s to have more support, to remind yourself again and again who you are in Christ, to write the three things you most like about who you are and live from that place in the moment of temptation.

Your husband has a very immature view of marriage where he wants to have the freedom to throw temper tantrums with no consequences or repercussions. The only person who gets away with that is an infant. Even toddlers come to understand that when they throw a fit, they have a time-out or some other consequence so they learn to manage their angry feelings and use appropriate words to express themselves.

Friends, what do you do to shake off the effects of someone’s verbal vomit on you?


  1. ann on June 11, 2014 at 7:29 am

    My heart hurts for the pain I hear in this woman’s words. It has helped me tremendously to know that I am not alone ;many Christian women have dealt with and are dealing emotional abuse from their Christian husband and been dismissed by church leadership. Thank God we have a voice that is Biblically solid and very articulate in Leslie. I left my husband 1/12 ago and have clung to Leslie’s advice and the support of godly friends. I had tried everything before bringing our marriage of 34 years to an end.I pray your husband will respond and repent as you set boundaries and develop your core strength;if not,continue on with being all the the Lord has created you to be.He will direct your path and orchestrate your steps,give you the courage and strength that is needed. I promise. Also,our dear friend(of 50 years for my husband),rector and godfather tp our oldest son,essentially dismissed me for a long time. He is now passing out Leslie’s book like candy! So I would encourage you to give a copy to your pastor;he, like so many,simply do not know. But,fortunately,women like ourselves are beginning to speak up and be true to the covenant and all that God has for us.This is rampant in the Christian world today and needs to continue to be called out. Younger women are watching and learning from us. I pray they will follow us(in their difficult marriages)as we attempt to follow Christ.

    • Wendy on August 31, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      My life is a dreadful mess, powerful to read these posts. I have alloed to isolate, take what my husband says as truth … he can shred me with his words.

      • Leslie Vernick on September 4, 2014 at 12:40 pm

        So Wendy you can make some small changes that will make a big difference: 1, Stop isolating. 2. Tell the truth to yourself and others. You are being abused and although you are not perfect (no one is) you do not deserve to be abused. 3. Get some support. You need new words in your mind, soul and spirit and will help counter the toxic effects of your husband’s words. Before you ever have a confrontative conversation with your husband, you can take these 3 steps. Do it now please. Your future depends on YOU taking some new steps, as scary and hard as they may be.

  2. Peg on June 11, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Wow! What a wonderful answer to this lady’s situation! I’m printing it out for my counseling notebook. It’s filled with gold nuggets! Thanks, Leslie! Your picture selection was perfect!

    I like the term “verbal vomit.” I wish I’d known to call it that when my ex-spouse was vomiting out his sick and hateful words!

    One thing that I learned to be effective with my 73 year-old temper tantrum thrower was to say, “Well, what you’re doing goes against scripture and I cannot remain in your presence if you continue to spew out these untruthful remarks.” I also learned (very difficult process)to not get emotional in any way. As long as I could remain calm and walk away (one night I spent the night in my car to avoid his surging anger), he HAD to stop because he learned I would not remain in his presence. One night before I determined that I would just leave when he became volatile, I simply got my laptop out and plugged in my ear phones and listened to music from my laptop as I remained on the computer reading. He did not say a word after that and went on to bed. Learning how to NOT be emotional is difficult and it takes support from others (through counseling, reading, and even consulting with your pastor if he is a good shepherd), and as Leslie wrote, you need a constant reminder (maybe some favorite scriptures) of who you are in Christ. I prayed constantly for the Holy Spirit to deliver me from being pulled into the madness and the arguments and gradually I was empowered to look at my spouse as a pitiful child who was totally lost. When I began to take responsibility for MY actions and hold him accountable for his actions, things began to change and I grew stronger and more able to accept the reality that my marriage was NOT really a marriage and possibly would NEVBR be the Godly relationship I had desired. I think this lady has already made some important steps in moving away from the abuse. She’s realized that she’s no longer the person she wants to be. She’s realized that intimacy is not possible when her husband is so unwilling to consider her deepest heart! She’s learned that her marriage is not growing as she desires. The “Boundaries in Marriage” book by Cloud and Townsend was a God-send for me. I was at a Christian bookstore looking in the marriage section and it’s like that book jumped off the shelf into my hands. I began reading it in the store and couldn’t stop. I would highly recommend that book. I still go back and re-read sections of it.

  3. Brenda on June 11, 2014 at 8:49 am

    First off, a lot of prayer and reading the word. Meditation on the word. Silently thinking about the situation. I am having issues right now with an elderly friend with onset of dementia. I have been driving her to church, running errands for her (along with another lady, taking her to lunch and visit when I can. Two weeks ago her docs and daughter agreed that her car keys needed to be taken away until an in depth evaluation could take place. She knows that I agree with this decision and is madder than a hornet at all an anyone who does not agree with her. Sunday morning, she spewed all kinds of evil at me. My response was that I would “agree to disagree, but would not argue”. She said she wouldn’t get back in the car, never tell me anything again, I knew nothing about her etc… Inside the church, she refused to sit with me and treated others like sugar wouldn’t melt in her mouth. When I told her how I didn’t appreciate the way she treated me her response was that she didn’t say anything wrong. She has told me over the years about how other people have mistreated her. Now I have to wonder if it is the dementia or just her personality. She doesn’t take responsibility for her actions and her daughter and son-in-law have acknowledged this.

    While married, I spent years turning inside myself, trying to defend all of his false accusations, becoming someone I wasn’t, who I didn’t like. I have been slowly acknowledging who Christ says I am to Him. The last 3 years of the marriage intimacy was nonexistant. I could no longer give myself freely to someone who would treat me with such disrespect and no remorse. I cried out to God on a continual basis until I felt freed to leave. God has blessed me since then and feel this was the best decision I could have made. X remains unrepentant, still tries to get me to go out with him and thinks that if I would just meet with him that everything would be all better. I am not crazy enough to go there. He also still verballed vomits on me periodically and makes disrespectful comments about my daughter. Last week he brought me a box of wind chimes that I had when we were married. He had allowed them to rust in the winter and some were broken, but still thought I would want them. I felt this was just another way of quietly showing his disdain.

    I no longer think the worst thing in these situations is divorce. I don’t believe that Jesus would expect us to go on indefinately living with an unbeliever just because they didn’t physically leave us. They have left us already by their intollerable unrepentant behavior towards us. You have to decide where the boundary line is.

  4. Andrea on June 11, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Great question! Great answer! This seems to be VERY common in abusive relationships–I felt like she was describing me/my relationship!

  5. Anna on June 11, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Thank you, Leslie, for your continued helpful insight. I’ve been applying these truths for a few years now and have found that by God’s grace and power, there is healing occurring within me and in my marriage. My prayer has been that I would become more courageous and stronger in Christ so that I could better “sharpen” my husband as “iron sharpens iron”. My love for my husband compels me to keep speaking hard truth in love. I encourage others to keep growing in grace and strength with your Saviour.
    These are some of the steps I walk through after being verbally vomited on:
    1. I withdraw to a quiet place and pour my heart out to God. I tell Him exactly how the caustic words hurt me, how they made me feel, how angry I am. I’ve learned from the Psalms that honesty with God is where healing begins. God was not bothered by David venting at Him “Your deaf,,, Your blind to all the evil coming at me…make my tormentors suffer…” David’s healing began by being raw before God about his hurt and anger. He then passionately pursued God, casting all his cares before God and exchanging his negative emotions for God’s peace, joy and a deepened faith in God’s control and justice. As David received these God given gifts, anger, bitterness, shame, fear and hurt were washed away and replaced by a riveting focus on the face of his loving Creator. As he focused on God and His character, overwhelming worship resulted. I have experienced similar amazing results.
    2. I picture myself walking to Jesus with the one who has hurt me. When I come before Jesus, I look up into His face and tell him about how I’ve been hurt and how I feel. I then ask Him to give me a heart of forgiveness. When the hurts are especially deep, I ask Jesus to remind me of the countless times I have sinned against Him and to deepen my understanding of how much I have been forgiven by Him. As I allow my heart to be humbled by the magnitude of my sins against my Saviour, gratefulness for His forgiveness flows into a freedom to release by offender into the Hands of the Almighty Judge. I picture myself leaving my offender before my Almighty Judge to be dealt with by Him in His timing and His way.
    3. I take time to enjoy focusing on God and the freedom of releasing offenders into His hands. I ask Him to speak words of comfort to me. I’ll often re-read scripture that I’ve highlighted that have brought comfort in the past. Journalling my journey from pain to freedom helps greatly. Writing down what hurt, why it hurt and how God spoke to me helps create closure on the situation. Singing a song of praise or playing worship music helps. Taking a walk in nature or going to work out at the gym or swim really helps my body to release negative stress hormones. Allowing my body an opportunity to release stress, relax and heal has been vital. Emotional stress hurts my body so keeping my body strong helps keep me emotionally strong.
    4. As I go through the day and often as I have time alone during a walk or workout, I ask God to show me how I can pray for my offender. I pray through scripture asking God to grant him fear of God, a greater knowledge of God, a broken and contrite heart, the ability to repent and enjoy God fully etc. Often these prayers take time to well up in my heart as I receive God’s healing and truth.
    3. I remind myself of how Jesus learned obedience through suffering (a truth a have yet to wrap my mind around).I have an immense amount of obedience to learn. Since obedience results in blessings, I ask God to help me to keep learning through times of suffering. I look for ways to communicate with another the comfort God has given me as He’s walked me through hurts, and fiery trials. I pray for ways to speak a word of kindness to a grumpy cashier, to be alert to the needs of an angry mom on the little league field bleachers, to give to a cold neighbor and be a light for Jesus to a world filled with people who know nothing of the life changing freedom Christ gives.
    Blessing to all of you on your road to healing and freedom.

    • Natalie on July 3, 2014 at 9:25 am

      Anna, thank you for being so transparent! I have been reading blogs for months and your testimony gave me a great strength and hope. I have been married for 18 years with three children. I will not exploit my husband at his time. I know I need to honor God and not let Satan have any more power over me, my spouse and our circumstances. A few days ago I was on the verge of either a nervous break down or being almost catatonic. My husband spewed so much verbal vomit at me on our 18 th wedding anniversary that it left me completely numb! I retreated to a quite room, did not become argumentative and cried out to The Lord. I was confused with how I felt and really could not tell what the reality was. When woman are verbally and emotionally abused most of the time we are playing the victim, think we should not have pushed the spouses buttons, or make so many excuses for the man. I came to the point where I was just as bad as he was with my retaliation. I started to hate myself and who I have becomed. That’s exactly the devils plan! Girls, if he we believe whole heartedly in God the we must believe that the devil is prowling around us constantly and waiting to devour. Anna, your core strengths are biblically exact. I am going to follow them and I believe they were a sign from God, because nothing else I have done has worked on a permanent basis! Please pray for me and thank you all for sharing your testimonies, circumstances and pain. It saddens me to see so many of us struggling with the same issues. I believe I was delivered from The Lord the other day from despair. It was a simple verse in 1 Kings 19:12 that gave me a sense of peace I never felt before. “After the earthquake came a fire, but the The Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper”. When you spoke about obedience Anna you are spot on! As I listened and slowly learned to obey, I shut my ears to every other sound. Soon I discovered that once the other voices ceased, or once I ceased to hear them, ” a gentle whisper began to speak in the depths of my being. And it spoke to me with an inexpressible tenderness, power and comfort. This ” gentle whisper” became for me the voice of prayer, wisdom and service. No longer did I have to work so hard to think, pray or trust, because the Holy Spirits ” gentle whisper” in my heart was God’s prayer in the secret places in my soul. It was his answer to all my questions, and His life and strength for my soul and body. His voice became the essence of all knowledge, prayer, and blessings, for it was the living God Himself as my life and my all. Girls please don’t give up on God. We my feel defeated so many times, but be still and know God will give you strength, discernment and wisdom. It’s always on His time not ours. Like Leslie tells us stay safe, sane and remain in His Holy Spirit He is for us, not against us! He will never leave us or forsaken us! Blessings

  6. Vikki on June 11, 2014 at 10:22 am

    Oh my gosh.
    I so get this.
    I don’t know if I can add anything because THAT was an AWESOME response Leslie gave but I can tell you how to shake off the verbal vomit.

    1) Self-Compassion. What was I trying to get or need from him that I didn’t? How can I give that to myself. Ex: I wish he just felt bad he did that. I know what he did. I feel bad that I endured it. That was unfair, and I’m so sorry, self, that you took that. (I would even google how to give yourself self-compassion because we so need it). To me, I imagine the feminine Holy Spirit wrapping around me with kindness and protection.

    2) Make a list of things you love to do. Then do that. Immediately afterward if possible. (This meant to me that I matter too. )

    3) Stand firm in boundaries, or as Leslie said, walk away to get a breath (this always gave me a sense of dignity). Be careful, if he’s a narcissist, he’ll amp everything up, blame you for walking away, and possibly get physically violent. Don’t ask how I know.

    3) Ultimately, I used your hubby’s exact line of reasoning for my benefit: He’s actually right.
    We are ALL responsible for our own actions. I spent a few years conscious of strengthening myself, my boundaries, my requests. It got worse daily. So, why am I still here with someone who neither apologizes, empathizes, or takes responsibility (seriously in your same boat). And I believed God directed me to leave because in my closest relationships, that is unacceptable. He’s totally right. I am responsible for my action to stay and I choose otherwise.

    I don’t share this because you should leave or stay, but because all their twisted reasoning and logic benefits US as well!!! They do deserve all the great stuff in relationships – and so do we. They do deserve all the verses Leslie wrote above and so do we! Just start looking for it – it’s not prideful, it’s a humble acknowledgement of our dignity, our sacred-ness of being human that we offer to everyone else.

    So, apparently what I did to shake off the verbal vomit after a few years of trying was to leave. After a year of being apart, and more clarification and verbal yuck, divorce papers to be signed *this week* humbly, peacefully, and with mind-blowing gratitude.

    May your story be as God leads – with love, dignity, and grace for you dear sister I don’t know. 😉

  7. Olivia on June 11, 2014 at 3:24 pm

    Leslie, I appreciate your answer to this precious lady’s question and I’m trying to see how to apply your insight to my own marriage. My husband has the same attitude as this lady’s husband does, but with a twist. Her husband doesn’t believe he is responsible for her being hurt by his WORDS. My husband does not believe he’s responsible for the TONES he talks to me with and if I am hurt by it, it’s just because I’m “too sensitive”. Leslie, is there such a thing as “nice” verbal vomit? My husband uses “nice” words, but uses disrespectful, sarcastic, veiled angry, sneering, etc., tones. My husband never calls me stupid, idiot, dummy, but he implies these things and others by his tone that he uses with me. Real Life Example: We were getting along well and watering the flowers. I asked him a question concerning our flowers. He answered with a sneering “you are a total idiot” tone. I waited a while, and thought through what to do or say. I chose to be courageous and kindly spoke up about his tone he used with me. He sighed long and loudly like a champion eyeball roller and “apologized” with all the “nice” words, but with overriding tones that said “here YOU go again…would you JUST get over it…YOU’RE just TOO SENSITIVE”. It’s very hurtful to be spoken to this way for so many years. Again, to him it’s all just MY fault because I am just “too sensitive” and he has done nothing wrong and I just need to quit expecting “so much”. But to me the years of disrespectful tones have been just as hurtful as if he had used the unkind words. By the help of the Holy Spirit, I’ve worked really hard on not being affected by his poisonous tones. I saw more progress in this area when I followed your advice, Leslie. I started being courageous and speaking up and speaking the truth in love (not anger). But as you can see from my example, it hasn’t gone over well with my husband. He accepts no real responsibility for how he talks with me, doesn’t really apologize, and the blame is all on me. If the other person thinks there is no wrong done, how does one go further and set or continue to keep boundaries or consequences like you recommend? This seems to be turning into a stalemate. I have no scripture that says it is wrong to speak with disrespectful tones. I can’t “prove” he used disrespectful tones every time he has. Therefore, to my husband, it’s all subjective. He doesn’t think he speaks disrespectfully to me. If I think he speaks disrespectfully to me; he thinks it’s because I’m too sensitive and therefore my feelings are null and void to him. I’m not asking for perfection in my husband’s tones, but am I wrong scripturally or otherwise to expect my husband to use respectful tones with me? I am submitting myself to you, Leslie, and this community, for an answer to this question. If I am wrong, I will apologize to my husband for being too sensitive and work to change. If I am within bounds to expect respectful tones, what do I do if/when he gets angry like he did in my example and says/acts like I have no right to speak up or set boundaries and/or consequences because he doesn’t think he has done anything wrong? HELP!!!!

    • Leslie Vernick on June 11, 2014 at 4:27 pm

      I don’t know if I can give you a thorough answer here but let’s say you are “too sensitive” whatever that means. Wouldn’t living with you in an understanding way mean that your husband would be extra cautious towards you? Especially if he knew you were highly sensitive to his tones? For example, my husband is highly sensitive to cat dander. If he starts to have an allergic reaction, I don’t make fun of him and tell him he’s too sensitive, I show compassion and care, especially if I brought it in by petting my neighbors cat. If you had a sensitive spot on your body from a previous injury and he accidentally knocked into it and you said “ouch” would he say “You’re too sensitive” or would a caring person say “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Your husband is twisting things to make you the problem, but if he were caring, even if you did have a tender sensitive spirit then all the more reason to be caring and respectful to the way he says things.

      I don’t think you can expect your husband to use respectful tones with you because he’s already clearly shown you that he either doesn’t recognize his disrespectful tones or doesn’t care. Healthy people live in reality and it’s not wrong for you to desire that he speak to you more respectfully but you are setting yourself up for disappointment to expect it.

      One more thing, you may want to say to your husband, “Since we disagree on whether or not your tones are disrespectful and demeaning to me next time we talk, how about I turn on my phone tape recorder while you talk with me. That way if there’s an issue, we can both relisten to what was said, how it was said and reevaluate it.”

    • Sherry on June 12, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Olivia, my goodness I can so relate to your story! Being spoken to with disrespect and then being assaulted again for having the audacity to be wounded by hurtful speech is crazy making. I have been accused of being ‘too sensitive’ my whole life. How, exactly,does one stop being sensitive? Isn’t that a lot like being told to stop being creative or having a sense of humor? Isn’t it God who gave us our temperaments? I’ve developed a thicker skin over the years but I’m basically very sensitive. That’s what enables me to see hurts in others that are missed by people who are calloused. It angers me when my sensitivity is used as an excuse to unleash nastiness because I ‘just need to toughen up’. Hogwash.

  8. ann on June 11, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    What if you’ve put up with all this for so long,22 years, that you don’t care any more. I feel I can no longer say a thing, i am a zombie with no brain just doing all the motions. I don’t know who I am or what I like to do any more. I have 3 kids at home yet, what could I possibly tell them that their dad won’t manipulate and make me look like the bad person if I were to leave? Also, in the last 6 weeks he must’ve got wind I had had it because he’s been the best person to be with. I’m unsure if this is manipulation again or something the holy spirit has graced him with. He’s kind, and respectful so he has potential, just don’t know if it will last like so many times before. Thanks for listening I love this blog. GOd Bless all you strong, empowered women!

    • Leslie Vernick on June 11, 2014 at 5:14 pm

      Ann isn’t it interesting that your husband is capable of being a decent person when he chooses to be or is afraid perhaps of losing your relationship. What does that tell you?

  9. ann on June 11, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    So, that’s telling me he chooses to treat me like a brainless idiot? And he knows it? He never apologizes, never feels he’s done anything wrong. It’s always my fault. So do you think this has any potential for permanency? Is it ever possible for change to happen for good? I’m so burned I don’t even feel I care. I’m so far gone, I just want out. I have a need to feel justified in doing so. It’s such a strong need. Guilt for my childrens sake, guilt for hurting him.

    • Amy on June 12, 2014 at 10:14 am

      Dear Ann,
      I was with my ex for 20 years and in all that time I never, ever saw a true change in him. I too felt like a shell of a person…just no life let in me. I didn’t care anymore and only went through the motions because I thought staying for the sake of the children is what I was supposed to do.

      I heard what I now know as such wrongful teaching from the Christian community or perhaps it was all just misguided, but the things I was told also kept me staying in an abusive marriage.

      The truth is, I KNEW what I was living was not okay. I KNEW in my heart that the only way to be rid of it was to leave. But it just wasn’t that easy to just up and walk away with two boys in tow.

      People couldn’t understand why I didn’t leave. And I suppose there were many facets to the reason I stayed, but mostly because I WANTED someone to tell me it was the right thing to do! I too needed to feel justified in leaving. And of course, the Christian community would never do that because I was told how much God hates divorce and how much my children would suffer because of it.

      I don’t have a clear cut answer for you, but you know exactly what you need to do to take care of yourself and your children. I would recommend you find a Christian counselor who has experience with domestic abuse, just for you to talk to. Do not attempt couple’s counseling. If your husband is willing to see someone on his own, then fine. If not, you still go and work on yourself. And when I say that, I’m not saying you are to blame for his abusive ways. But you have been entrenched in this abusive relationship for so many years it has a way of warping the way you think and feel…I know, I am still dealing with stuff years later.

      I will keep you in my prayers today. Stay strong, come close to the Lord and listen to your heart.


      • Peg on June 12, 2014 at 7:03 pm

        I totally agree with you that Ann should find a good Christian counselor and go to individual sessions without her husband. Couple’s counseling will not bring the needed results for the abusive spouse. I went to an Army counselor as my ex-husband was a retired veteran so I managed to get free counseling through the Army base locally. I was also able to go a few times to a Christian counselor who had strong credentials in marriage and ptsd counseling. Both counselors helped me to stay resolved that I was doing the right things. They both also were so kind and understanding and supportive of my situation. The Army counselor was a very strong Christian and she used scripture and biblical support for her advice. I was so sad when she released me and said I was going to be fine and healing was evident to her. I just pray that Ann can find a good person to counsel her. It’s so important to be confirmed in decisions and actions that she might have to take. My sessions were weekly sessions and I needed that frequent confirmation at first when I decided to separate. The spirit gets damaged from the abuse and over time, if that woundedness isn’t repaired or healed, there will be a negative effect. And, the children may need counseling as well.

      • Tanya on June 15, 2014 at 10:38 am

        Amy, I can relate to your response. I feel like your words came out of my mouth. I just realized that i have been going to counseling hoping someone would tell me It’s ok. I left my counselingthis week laughing at myself. I am a professional and am viewed as highly capable. I just don’t see myself that way. I can now see that looking to someone else besides God to tell me who I am and what I am worth is always going to be the wrong road. Thank you for sharing.

        • Amy on June 15, 2014 at 4:55 pm

          I know for myself that most of the time when I’m seeking advice, what I basically want is confirmation that what I already know to do is the right thing.
          It’s hard for me to trust myself when for years I was told that everything I believed, felt and thought were wrong. I still doubt myself often to this day, but fortunately, my wonderful husband encourages me to trust myself.

          Trust yourself to know deep down what the right thing is to do and trust that God will never leave you no matter what decision you make. He loves us more than we can even fathom, He knows us by name, He sees every tear we shed and He forgives us before we even ask to be forgiven.


    • Laurie on June 12, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      I am rather surprised that no one has mentioned to any of these Very weary women that sometimes you have to remove yourself from the situation (even if its only for a time). This will enable you to sift through all these words and once again find yourself in Christ. The unkind words these women have heard and the unkind tones is abuse! Call it what it is. ABUSE!!! I also understand that sometimes a person must divorce in order to save themselves physically or emotionally, but sometimes you just need to remove yourself from the situation for a time. Be honest with your husband and tell him you are setting a boundary. You don’t need to tell him where you are. Find a safe place (friends house, family) wherever you can go and recenter yourself on God and His love. With you gone you have leverage with your husband to tell him to get some help. If he really does care about the relationship he will. If he doesn’t then you may have to make some difficult decisions. This is not an answer for everyone and it is not advice I take lightly but my heart broke when I read what some of you have gone through. My husband tried disrespectful words and tones with me early in our marriage and (by God’s grace) I set boundaries and even left for a few months. He got the picture and has never spoken to me disrespectfully since. We are still married and we are still journeying together. Please don’t suffer in silence and think you have to take abuse. If you must(and you feel God’s leading) call it what it is to your husband. God wants you to care enough about yourself to get out if you must. Ask Him to provide what you need to leave. God will work out the details but above all do not stand for abuse. You are worth more. You are a child of the King. You are a warrior princess. You are fighting the enemy who seeks to take out women because we are powerful when we have the Lord.

    • Robin on June 16, 2014 at 3:51 pm

      Ann, why—- guilt for your childrens sake?? Are you helping your children, staying in a destructive relationship? Or would your children benefit from seeing their mom stand up for truth??

      I left 5 months ago, after I realized I had lost ‘myself’.
      My husband did manipulate some of the children, against me. Thats still not worse than living with a man who disrespects me, purposely tries to destroy me, and by his actions did not show he loved me. I did what was best for me, and someday the children being manipulated- will see it. But I made the right decision, not to continue to be so dishonored.

  10. Amy on June 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    What a wonderful response to this woman’s question!

    “Verbal vomit”…wow, what a picture that is! And that is exactly what it felt like during the 20 years I stayed in an abusive marriage.

    Sometimes, well most of the time, there is no talking with an abuser. There thinking is usually along the lines of, “you’re wrong, I’m right and since I’m the head of this household you need to submit and respect me no matter what.” At least that was how my ex thought.

    I had become a shell of a person too and as this woman stated, no longer liked who I had become. It wasn’t until my ex walked out over 5 years ago that I started to see myself differently. I started to like who I am and realized that I wasn’t unworthy, ugly or stupid as he has led me to believe for 20 years. I found my worth in the Lord and started seeing myself through His eyes.

    And now how wonderful to be remarried to a man who has never, ever once verbally vomited all over me, but has instead shown love, compassion and caring beyond what I ever thought possible.

    My journey out of an abusive marriage was not easy, but so worth it! I pray this woman and every other woman who is in a destructive relationship can find her way out. Keep close to God and He will provide a way.

  11. Mavis on June 11, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    I am so sorry you are going through this. My husband also said that I was “too sensitive”. I always knew that the way he talked to me was wrong so I didn’t let it affect my self-esteem. Who I am as a person has NOTHING to do with who I am as a person. You said that you don’t have a specific scripture against disrespectful speech. This is true, but there is a lot of scripture that tells us how God expects us to treat people, and being disrespectful is not indicated at all. Proverbs is an excellent book for learning to identify attitudes and behaviors that are both right and sinful. Proverbs 18:2 says “A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions”; Proverbs 16:24 says “Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the sould and healing to the bones”. Proverbs 12:18 says “Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” These are just a few verses that give guidance.

    I pray that you will allow our loving God to guide you on your journey to recover who you are in Him, and begin to move forward with healing.

  12. Mavis on June 11, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I meant to say the who I am as a person has NOTHING to do with what my husband thinks of me.

  13. Brenda on June 11, 2014 at 7:11 pm

    Ann, You’ve got it. You don’t sound like you are ready to make a permanent decision, but you do sound like you need a serious break from all of this so you can be prepared to make decisions. Is there somewhere you and your children can go for a while? Anywhere that you can have breathing space to relax, pray and refresh your mind?

  14. Brenda on June 11, 2014 at 7:22 pm

    Amy, I am so happy for you. You are living proof that good things can happen after abuse. “Scars show where we have been, they don’t decide where we are going.”

    • Amy on June 12, 2014 at 10:23 am

      Thanks, Brenda! I would never, ever have dreamed I’d be where I am today. Well, actually I did dream of a better life, but just never thought it possible.
      My heart feels so heavy for all the stories I read here and on other abuse sites of women still so entrenched in abusive relationships. I know what it’s like to be afraid to leave. I know what’s it like to want someone to just tell you it’s okay to leave. I know what it’s like to have other Christians look down on you for even thinking of leaving.
      But also know what it’s like to have finally taken the step and been freed from a life of abuse after two decades of my life. It’s like stepping out into the sunlight after years of living in darkness. It feels so wonderful on your skin, you feel so light like an enormous weight has been lifted. You feel so…free!

      And the best part is that God still loves me, hasn’t walked away from me because I chose to live instead of stay and slowly die. Even when Christians I knew turned their backs on me and walked away, God never did. And I realized right then and there, that man will always fail me, but God will continue to love me and forgive me despite all my faults and all the choices I make.

      I love your quote…”Scars show where we have been, they don’t decide where we are going.” Amen, sister!


  15. Jenn on June 11, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    This was so good, like everything else I’ve read from you, Leslie. I have a question about consequences–what are some examples of appropriate ones? My husband continues to violate boundaries I’ve requested, and treats me so indifferently. I’m so tired of dealing with the lack of love and care, and his selfishness. Thanks for any input you or anyone can offer. I hope you have a wonderful, restful time on vacation 🙂

    • Leslie Vernick on June 12, 2014 at 9:55 am

      HI Jean, I wrote a blog a few months ago about specific consequences you might give a spouse. Look in the index on consequences. One was called Boundaries and Consequences and the other was More Clarity on Boundaries and Consequences. Those might be helpful to you. They were probably early this year.

  16. Sandra on June 11, 2014 at 10:03 pm

    God bless you, Leslie, for giving this dear woman your godly counsel and advice. I can relate so well to what she and these other sister have endured. I never thought of the cruel words My husband used against me as “verbal vomit,” but that’s a valid analogy. Thank God he’s gone and I no longer have to live with the crazy-making abuse of 57 years.

    Enjoy your much-deserved R&R!

  17. carol on June 11, 2014 at 11:05 pm

    Olivia our husbands could be twins. The tone of voice, innuendos, back handed compliments, playing the I could have done better game, or the “I believe this would have been better done this way. The conflict resolution classes he is taught at work added in doesn’t help and the list could go on.

    I am reminded that I answer for my actions and reactions and no one else’s. I have asked myself what does God want us to do to those who do evil towards us and spitefully use us – bless them, pray for them. What are we to do to our enemy – love them. I have learned what the meaning of pray continually actually means. I have learned that loving someone does not mean you have to like them or their actions.

    I have developed a sense of humor of sorts to deal with things. Not everyone gets it but to me it is better than making a scene where husband can point to and apply more condensation. I have learned to think before I react and most time not to give any reaction at all.

    As for verses that relate to being disrespectful, well Ephesians 4:29
    Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

    I have found physical exercise works for me, my vegetable garden, raising my dogs, teaching my children and working in my flower beds. Flowers are my friends, they don’t talk back, gives hours of delight, and some are dying to see you come back. lol I have also used boundaries, consequences, and I have used less contact verbally and avoiding their presence.

    I realize that abusers can even pray about what they are doing or saying, but I thank God that I do not have to judge him but God will. I admit to having a hard time when he is praying or teaching Sunday School but I remind myself to pray for those that persecute me and leave it at Jesus’ feet , then try to remember not to pick the offense back up.

    To me it is a mental and spiritual warfare that God must win for us and we need to be willing to let Him fight. I am learning to be willing to let God fight my battle, He is more just, more exact and knows when to do it better than I.

    I am thankful for a loving God that made me perfect in His sight. I live for Him.

    Leslie I will be praying for peace, rest, and renewed energy for what God has for you to do. I am most thankful that you have the courage to do Gods’ will. Your work in this blog, your books and when you have done radio shows has helped me and others tremendously. May God grant you rest, peace and clarity of mind for the decisions and advice you give.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 12, 2014 at 9:53 am

      Thank you. I also think the verses especially throughout Proverbs that refer to mockers have to do with “tone of voice” not only words. Mocking can be done with good words but a mocking tone. God hates that.

      • Lesley on July 3, 2014 at 9:46 pm

        Tone trumps content every time!

  18. Rosanne on June 11, 2014 at 11:54 pm

    With the help of Leslie’s teaching, a godly pastor and supportive friends/children, I decided to begin exiting before the verbal vomit begins. There’s clearly a “ramping up” that comes before so I exit the house in that stage. It keeps me from wasting precious energy digging out from under all the lies. I decided there was no reason to endure then try to restore myself after. This change has been good for me. It keeps me sane, safe and strong! It works now because I am able to feel my feelings again and tune in to myself again. I think this is called thriving 🙂

    • Leslie Vernick on June 12, 2014 at 9:51 am

      Yea, a godly pastor who gets it. He is a gem.

  19. Betty on June 12, 2014 at 2:49 am

    Leslie, I trust the few days away will provide the rest and refreshing that you need. Thank you for your response to this lady.
    The Word of God is the source of strength and comfort to me when vomited on. Just this week, I kept referring to what I had read in Isaiah 43.4..”You are precious and honoured in my sight and I love you.” I also memorize portions of Scriptures to repeat to myself when i can’t sleep or when my mind is too absorbed in my problems. It really helps.
    Secondly, I have moved on in my life without him although we are still in the same house. The kids and I go out without him because he ruins any outing. Even though it angers him for me to go out and have coffee with a friend, I have persevered and do it. He is now used to it and has given up ranting and raving.
    Unfortunately, I have no support from my church leaders, but it would be good if she could find help and encouragement there. One’s church is meant to represent your Christain family and you are meant to feel loved, needed and safe.
    The last help is to read good Christain counselling books to better understand your own situations and get some guidance.
    God bless and keep you all.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 12, 2014 at 9:50 am

      I agree Betty and sadly Church’s often are more supportive and sympathetic to the abuser than to the victim. It breaks my heart.

  20. Laurie on June 12, 2014 at 4:07 am

    As I read today’s question, I felt as though this letter could have been written by me. I had left the bedroom over a year ago, which has been a contention to my husband. Since then he usually ignores me, but if we do have to talk about something it ends up with his verbally abusing me. I have tried over and over to express how he has broken my spirit and that I really don’t want to be close to him. He has never apologized for anything he has said or done. I feel like his own personal slave who cooks, cleans, etc. I took a second job to not be home so much and to get my finances in order to be able to make some choices. Since then I have stopped doing his laundry, which has caused another contention.

    I am away from my husband right now, with my dad and sister, and have been reflecting on what I need to do. After I read the email that this post was included with, I forwarded it to my husband of almost 36 years. I asked him to read the question and your answer to try to understand what I’ve been feeling for so long. His response was an answer to the question of “How long do I need to be nice?” He stated, “As long as it takes for you to understand that you need to walk back things since you are refusing to recognize your faults and problems.” This just shows his attitude toward me. I’ve been keeping a journal and am accused of holding a grudge and “keeping a record of wrong doings.”

    When I think about leaving I worry about my 15 year old daughter who has a very close relationship to her dad (for now). I worry about failing in the area God has given me to succeed in. I feel guilty for quitting. I get angry about having to move out of my home since he certainly won’t go. I think he wants to make it so that I will leave and then he can tell everyone that I abandoned my marriage. When I talk to my bible study group and say the things he has done out loud, it becomes obvious that there is no other choice. I have tried for 34 years. A marriage takes two and it takes compromise. Right now, it feels like I am the only one fighting for our marriage and there is no compromise – it’s his way or no way.

    I know I am rambling… Just know that I have become stronger because of your book, setting boundaries, and your blog. Thank you for helping me to see the truth instead of being brain washed by half-truths.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 12, 2014 at 9:49 am

      You’re welcome. IT’s so heartbreaking when we think we are communicating such clear Biblical truth to our spouse and he twists it into something else. Jesus had that same problem with the religious leaders of his day so don’t get too discouraged as you’re in good company. Jesus was perfect in every way. Yet, they still didn’t get it.

  21. Peg on June 12, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I do not know your whole situation or what sort of things you have tried in your attempt to affect change in your husband’s behavior. However, if he is not honoring your boundaries as you have set them forth, then he is disrespecting you. I dealt with similar things in my marriage and the more I tried to set those boundaries in concrete and demand that they be honored, the angrier my now ex-spouse became as he resented any control that I placed in the relationship. It was all about control for him. He resented my strength and resolve in setting up boundaries. I would venture to say that this is why your husband treats you indifferently—this is one of the “control” tactics that I dealt with as well. Withholding love and affection and caring is just one of the many “tricks of the trade” as I call them. when my husband saw that I was not going to be manipulated by his “aloofness” and “coolness,” he tried some other abusive tactic. And YES, it is pure selfishness!!! My best advice is for you to get the “Boundaries in Marriage” book by Henry Cloud and John Townsend and read it. Leslie’s books helped too. There are also some good videos by Cloud and Townsend on Youtube that helped me. If you are a member of a church, I would suggest that you talk with your pastor as well. I remember feeling very much like you are feeling at one point in my marriage. I was so tired of feeling unvalued and unloved by the man I thought would be my best friend and companion. I prayed that God would give me strength to get beyond that “identity” crisis. When we hitch our identity to another person, it becomes very difficult to break that connection that we’ve set up in our hearts. So, I wept and prayed and kept reading my books and in time, I grew stronger in my resolve to break the patterns of abuse and wrong treatment in my marriage. I would say that you need to strengthen your CORE as Leslie puts it. Get stronger first by possibly getting some counseling, praying, reading and viewing some counseling videos on YouTube (that helped me a lot). Once you can gain some strength and clarity about what your marriage should look like, then your spouse may realize his behaviors are not affecting you emotionally anymore. If you can ever get that much strength as you come to realize that you ARE a valuable person and that you are lovable and you do have great assets, then you can move forward beyond this present state of despair. I sense that you want your marriage to be what God designed marriage to be. One more thing that helped me was I wrote letters to my spouse about my feelings, hopes, disapppointments and expectations. I could never get anywhere when I tried to discuss our marriage situation with him. He yelled and shouted out over any comments I tried to make. I didn’t yell back and I usually just walked away or left the room or got in my car and drove away. The “shouting” is one of the abusive tactics as well. It’s supposed to show control and cancel out any truth that the woman may be trying to speak out. So, I had to resort to letters and that became the way I addressed his behavior and the only way I had to communicate my feelings and my boundaries. It was also therapeutic for me to write everything out. And my spouse could never say that I didn’t make things clear because it was in written form. I hope you can find some hope as you attempt to move forward out of your despair and disappointment in your marriage. I had many dark days and I just kept on believing that God didn’t want me to be so disrespected and dishonored as a wife. God moved me forward and showed me HOW to gain strength and resolve. My heart hurts for you because I recognize what you must be feeling right now and I have been there as well. I am so thankful to be past all of that despair. May God direct you and give you hope and help as you make your way beyond the sadness and losses you are experiencing.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 12, 2014 at 9:47 am

      Great thoughts Peg

    • Jenn on June 12, 2014 at 4:30 pm

      I just purchased ‘Boundaries’ again (I say again because I threw out all of the books I’d purchased over the years because he wouldn’t read/heed their advice). Boundaries was the best one I read. I need to start journaling. My main issue is, I get so overwhelmed with emotion, the pain, and the sadness of how he’s treated me, and continues to do so, that i can’t stop talking about it with him. I think there is going to be a “lightbulb moment” with him where he suddenly realizes the err of his ways, and becomes the changed(Christian) man he says he is. That he’ll fully realize the damage he’s done, resolve to make it up to me, and realize what a gift and blessing I am to his and our children’s lives. In the deepest chamber of my heart, I also feel that this will never happen. I hate how he treats me, not physically abusive, but with a gross lack of care for my feelings. I only speak to a few close friends about the situation, and two have told me I should get out, that someone else would cherish me. I don’t think marriage is supposed to be good all the time–but I know it’s not supposed to be like this. It helps to read everyone else’s words of advice, and I’m thankful to have found Leslie’s guidance through her newest book (which is fantastic!).

      • Leslie Vernick on June 12, 2014 at 4:45 pm

        Jen, stop trying to get him to get it and start focusing on gaining CORE strength so that you don’t continue to keep banging you head against the wall of false hope. The lightbulb moment now is yours. He’s not going to change. He’s not going to change. He’s not going to change. Now what?

        • Lynn on June 16, 2014 at 11:07 am

          Leslie, although I agree with you, I find it conflicting because these men don’t/won’t change and we, woman, lose hope when we are suppose to have faith in what is unseen. I’ve been divorced since March because my “christian” husband chose a path of drugs and gambling. Setting boundaries and consequences still hasn’t worked for him. But my choice to say “that he is not going to change” … is that losing hope and faith?? I still struggle with the whole “giving up” concept. Until recently I was still holding on to the possibility of him coming to his senses and wanting to fix our life but he has since begun making worse choices and I do feel like I have given up on him but I feel guilty about it.

        • Tanya on June 17, 2014 at 7:57 am

          Leslie, I just had that moment nyself. He is NOT going to change. So what am I going to do? Well, when I ask myself what will it hurt to set a boundary for my own sake and speak up in a respectful way about my needs, I just see fear. I am scared of what he will do or how he will react. Well, after a recent incident that involved the safety and care of our children, I can say that this momma is done trying to save that man’s feelings and will say what is needed and set boundaries for the sake of myself and my children. God in His infinite wisdom gave me strength and power in Jesus’ name. I do believe it is time to be the Woman God created me to be instead of this messed up, manipulated and scared shell of a person.

          • Leslie Vernick on June 20, 2014 at 6:29 pm

            I”m so glad Tanya. Praise God.

  22. Brenda on June 12, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    Amy, I second with a big AMEN to every word you wrote, but I can’t take credit for the quote. I found it several months ago online somewhere and have it on front of my computer, in my Bible etc…. It has been a tremendous blessing and comfort for me.

  23. Sandra on June 12, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    As embarrassing as it is to admit, I had to refuse to submit to sex as my boundary. My ex couldn’t accept that, nor did he change, so eventually left. Now, after eight months, he begs to return, but I’m basking in the freedom and peace I missed for 57 years, and will never reconcile. Ironically, he never asked for forgiveness, but said he’ll forgive me (proverbial “blame game!).

    Bless you!

    • Amy on June 12, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      That is basically what happened to us. We hadn’t had sex in almost 2 years by the time my ex left. It sickened me literally to have sex with him and the things he wanted me to do. So, right or wrong, I felt that was the one area I had some control over.

      When my ex left over 5 years ago he begged to come back (reconcile) after a couple months. Those two months away from all his “verbal vomit” helped me gain better insight into how sick my whole farce of a marriage had truly been. And when I said no way would I reconcile (what was there to reconcile anyway??) he then let everyone at the church we attended at that time know how un-Godly of a wife I was not considering reconciliation, but only wanting a divorce. I can now laugh at how absurd the whole thing was, but at the time it saddened me how many people felt sorry for him and told me that I had to reconcile, God hates divorce and after all, he never hit you did he?? Oh, how I loved having people ask me that!
      Once I grew stronger I started replying, “yes, he did as a matter of fact…he hit me almost every single day with his onslaught of words and hateful tone of voice!”

      How wonderful you are feeling free and have peace in your life after all that time.

  24. Shan on June 12, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    When he says you are too sensitive, I wonder if you could explain it like this. Say there is a guy at work that calls you names like stupid, and has a demeaning nickname for you that drives you nuts. Say you see him several times a day and he takes any opportunity to put you down and disagree with all your ideas. This might be ok with you if everything else about the job is good and most people at the office agree with you that he is a jerk. Then say the boss tells you that you need to go on a business trip with that guy and you will share an apartment with him for 2 months. Ok, now this has gotten a little more unpleasant. Then your boss says that the guy has a note from his doctor and is struggling with some medical issues so you will need to do 80% of the work on the project. Then your boss extends the trip to one year. I could go on and on, but my point is that eventually it would get to a point where you would speak up. You would either complain to your boss about him or say something to the guy or you would quit your job. It has nothing to do with being sensitive, it has to do with expecting people around you to have a bare minimum of consideration for others. I never thought I was stupid when my ex-husband told me I was, I just very much resented being treated like a doormat for his feelings of unhappiness and anger (which were his responsibility not mine). If he is unhappy and angry what is he unhappy about and what is he doing about it? Abusers tend to feel they have no choice but to wallow in their unhappiness and take it out on others and do not see any other options, when they often have lots of choices – and maybe are afraid to make changes or take risks.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 12, 2014 at 7:07 pm

      great analogy and you’re right the more we’re around toxic people, the more it wears us down. That’s why we need to take better care of ourselves, including leaving their presence temporarily or even permanently if they refuse to change.

  25. Brenda on June 12, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Leslie, I am so glad that you are going to get away. Basking is in the sun and the feeling of sand between my toes sounds really good. Enjoy.

    Jenn, Leslie is so right about this. I can remember banging my head against the wall and repeating He’s not going to change while trying to get him to “get it”. He won’t because he doesn’t want to. You can read all of the books that were ever written on the subject. I still have all of the books that I read (both Boundries books, all of Leslie’s books, Barbara Roberts, Ps Jeff Crippen, Lundy Bancroft. You get the idea.) and they were all helpful, but the fact remained that “he was not going to change”. I had to. My changing brought me closer to my Savior, setting boundries with X and others, a legal separation and ultimate divorce.

    X would take me back in a heartbeat, but that would be the most insane move I could possibly make. He is not going to change. He believes that enough time has gone by and we could just start over without resolving the past. Why would I want to? He is not going to change. He thinks if we just have dinner together that I will see that he has changed even though he has not gone to counseling or become accountable to anyone and continued to verbally abuse me and says terrible things about my children. He is not going to change.

    As I see it, you have 2 options. You either have to leave or stay. Quite simple. Which ever choice you make you will have to accept that “He is not going to change”. Banging your head against a wall while trying to get him to understand will only give you a headache or possible concussion. Come out of the fog, let the lightbulb turn on, allow your CORE to strengthen. He is not going to change, but you can.

  26. Cyndy on June 12, 2014 at 6:22 pm

    I HAVE to leave their presence (if in person or on the phone) and refocus on the truth of what GOD says about me– often that means, go talk to a trusted someone who will speak the TRUTH to me when my mind and heart are unable to bring it to the forefront for myself. I am usually, at this point, not feeling strong enough to do this on my own. We need each other! 🙂

  27. Brenda on June 12, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    Well said, Shan.

  28. Becky on June 12, 2014 at 11:35 pm

    To my fellow sisters and Michael (who as been posting):

    This song came on the radio today (I’m a country girl). I wanted to share this with you. We all agree that we loose our identity when married to a controlling spouse, but only because we allow ourselves to. Standing up for ourselves will cost. Doing the right thing will cost. We need to remember that we ARE worth it. We ARE loved by God. We ARE NOT subservient or lower class citizens. We CAN think for ourselves.

    To encourage you:

  29. Jennifer on June 13, 2014 at 11:54 am

    I live with this too, if I don’t like how I am talked to or treated, it’s because I can’t handle the truth! Only it’s his truth, his authority. He treats me like I don’t know what I am doing or how to parent the children (I have 4)Like he needs to tell me and what he says goes and I am undermineing his authority if I don’t agree. Doesn’t take into account my feelings or opinions. So frustrating!!!!

  30. Sandra on June 13, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    I lived with that treatment for 57 years! All I can say to you is just what Leslie said above. Amen to that! God bless you!

  31. Sandra on June 13, 2014 at 6:35 pm

    Amy, how precious your reply is to my heart. Thank you! I received another letter today from my “ex parte’.” He continues to blame, saying he’s “sorry for me,” that he wants to save our marriage, but I got mad, and only taking it out on myself. Actually, all I feel for him is pity, as he’s a sick and lonely old soul.

  32. Sandra on June 13, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    To both Peg & Jen: I also read the Boundaries books, along with Patricia Evans’, and hoped and prayed for change in my husband by following their advice, along with God’s Word. However, there was no change. In fact, he even became more abusive, and finally left. All I can say now is, “Praise the Lord!”

  33. Jean on June 16, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    All I can say is thank you to Leslie and to all of these women. After growing up in an abusive home, it still took YEARS for me to accept that I was in an abusive marriage. I am new to this site, and all I can say is that I am so grateful for the confirmation, truth, awareness and support it brings. I now know I am not crazy, and praise God for drawing the veil back so that I can see clearly, trusting that He will continue to help me see clearly and walk this through whatever my “this” will be.

  34. Jenn on June 19, 2014 at 12:06 am

    We had what I presume was our last marriage counseling session yesterday. It was supposed to be where we started digging deep and discussed boundaries. He sabotaged it and declared he was done, and afterward had an appointment with an attorney. His heart was never into counseling and truly fixing this mess. Leslie, you were right–he’s not going to change, he’s not going to change, he’s not going to change.
    I have an appointment with my own attorney for next week. He seems to think he’s going to get the kids 50.1% of the time. He’s absurd–works full time, I’ve been a part time employee for 12 years, so I could’ve their primary caretaker. I could really use some advice. I have very little savings. He doesn’t care about how our precious girls will be affected by his selfishness. Awful.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 19, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      You need a good attorney asap. I’m sorry for what you have to go through but God will help you through it step by step.

  35. Patty on June 28, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    I am a little late on this, but wanted to respond. I don’t think I saw anyone mention sarcasm. When someone speaks to you in a tone of making fun of something you said that was not intended to be funny, it is a put down. The perpetrator may believe they are smarter and superior by saying something in such a tone or manner that clearly is insulting yet they want to believe they are being funny or just need to have the last word and feel smarter I guess. a loving spouse should be concerned about pleasing their spouse and being sensitive to their feelings. The marriage is clearly going in a destructive direction once communication is mostly to set the tone of one who is more intelligent, superior, or needs to be in control. sounds like patronizing too when they do that. Treating your spouse like a child is certainly not going to build a loving atmosphere either. I know my husband does this, and my father did it to my mother. A marriage shouldn’t be a competition where one is concerned or threatened because one is smart or successful. My husband is extremely sensitive about a lot of things, and thus he picks on me about a lot of things, his need really for me to be his perfect wife of his dreams. Two counselors pointed this out to him, and was the only thing they were firm about, that he was too sensitive. ?? He really is too self righteous, ETC. I wish they told him he was being abusive but then they wouldn’t be very neutral anymore…… they were not much help at all!

  36. Connie on July 29, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Several weeks ago I was away visiting grown children, praying so hard, asking what to do? The answer came, “No more excuses.” And the more I prayed, the clearer it came. It is not good for me to put up with excuses and lies, and it is not good for him (let alone the family, church, community, etc.) I was enabling him even by saying nothing and allowing him to think he’d ‘won this round’. And God gave me, over time, more strength. He had all the information he needed from having attended conferences and counselling yet was still abusive. So I let him know, and reminded him every single time, “No more excuses.” I didn’t let myself make excuses for him or for myself and when I called him on something and he started in on,”Well I didn’t know, I forgot, I had a rough childhood, I don’t understand (big one)……..” I’d cut him off with,”No excuses. That is not acceptable.” I made it clear that he needed to apologize every time I called him out, and the apology could not have an inkling of an excuse attached. And I didn’t allow myself to ‘let it go’, I had to be consistent. These guys are in arrested development, where they’re stuck in childhood and need to grow up.
    And, he knew by now that if he didn’t figure it out quick, I was going to be gone. For long enough I’d left the room and detached when he got abusive, but now it was time to stand my ground or get out completely. So far he seems to be getting it. I’m still giving it more time to see if it’s for real, but he know I’m serious. It is not good for us, we hear that, but it is also not good for him to get away with it so long, or at all. We are enabling him to remain stupid and immature.

  37. Brenda on July 29, 2014 at 10:54 pm

    You are so right. We don’t do them any favors by allowing this adolescent behavior. I have now been out of the house for 13 months and 26 days. I haven’t heard from X for 5 days. 5 days is a prayer come true. He never took me seriously no matter what I did, so it was time to truly show him I meant what I said. He’s living in the house by himself, has blown through his 401k fixing it up. I hope he will learn to be happy there, but I doubt it. Without Christ he will never be happy.

  38. Melissa on August 9, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    My abuser ignores me emotionally, refuses to respond to my needs, desires, opinions, and now has cut me off financially. No one would believe me if I reached out for help and based upon other comments I’ve read, Christian marital counseling has had the opposite effect of what the abused thought it would. I am not sure how to implement consequences to someone who ignores me, rather than causing me direct verbal vomit type behaviors. It’s hard to walk away from being ignored because he’s just not there in the first place.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 9, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Perhaps it will only be the legal consequences of separation and mandated financial support that will get his attention.

  39. Melissa on August 9, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    I would in no way be able to financially support our 5 children if we left. If I left it would just be me, and then I would be 100% responsible for all of my expenses. I am not sure if he was supporting the kids, if I would even get spousal support. A friend of mine has to pay her husband child support since he kept their children.

    Right now my husband is paying for the house and food, so I’m basically more like a tenant in my own home getting free room/board. He makes the financial decisions on his own, and most of the parenting ones as well, without consulting with me.

    I took a full time job just to get out of the house, as he works from home and I could not bare to be in the home 24/7 with him. He has removed me from so much of the parenting anyway, that the kids don’t seem to care all that much if I’m here or not. He not only has destroyed our marital relationship, but mine with the children as well.

  40. Brenda on September 4, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    He may have tried to influence the children, but you as a parent need to stand up for your rights. Do you want a relationship for your children? If so, you need to take some responsibility and not allow him to allienate them from you.

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