I hope you had a great weekend. It was my birthday weekend – A BIG BIRTHDAY. This was the first time in 10 years that I had my children and grandchildren with me to celebrate. Instead of cake, I decided to get fruit and have a chocolate fondue. It was great. We didn’t have a fountain cascading chocolate, just a bowl to dip our strawberries and melons in but it was a nice change.
I’m working on a new website that will be just for pastors, Christian counselors and people helpers in the church. It will be directed to help inform, educate and train people in the church on destructive relationships, particularly emotional abuse. Stay tuned as I’m going to invite you to share this new site with the leaders in your church so that they can become more aware of how they can best help.
Question: I've been researching how, as a Christian woman, to deal with my destructive marriage for a number of years and have never had the guts to post until I came across this site. My husband and I have been married for 7 years. I thought we had a good marriage until I found out he was addicted to pain killers when I was five months pregnant with my only child. He spent all of our savings over the course of a year. When his addiction was found out, he detoxed.
I had my baby boy and I thought things were looking up. However, things spiraled quickly, he spent the first 9 months of my son's life in and out of behavioral health hospitals for suicidal thoughts and attempted to overdose.
Through it all, I stuck by him and tried to ‘fix' everything through prayer and earthly measures including Christian counseling and the advice of my pastor. He uses a large amount of medication for his mental health issues but has always struggled to function as a responsible adult and is dishonest. I'm the breadwinner in the family and he has always taken every opportunity to work as little as possible. I am responsible for 75% of the household expenses, leaving him with most of his pay to do with what he will. He spends all of his money and has nothing to show for it. I'm constantly in fear that he is using pills/substances again but have no way to prove it.
He spends over $1,000 a month and can't account for it. I've begged him to provide receipts – he says he will, but never has. He is a chronic liar so I have zero trust in most everything he says. I've come to believe he is manipulative and only says/does things that benefit him. I know I have made mistakes in the marriage too, lashing out at him when he lies, belittling him when he is irresponsible with money etc. However, I can say that I have been the one holding everything together for a long time and I am mentally exhausted.
He lost his job earlier this month and continued to blow through money – harassing me to give him cash. Again, trigging my fear of him abusing pills. He said he needed the cash to purchase his prescription medication, so I gave in and gave him money. I later called the pharmacy and he never picked up his medicine – another lie. I told him to leave, that I couldn't take it anymore. I guess my question is, how do you know when you've done enough in Gods eyes? I love the Lord and my biggest desire is to honor him and my biggest fear is to give up on the marriage and throw my life even more off course if it's not in alignment with God's will. Looking for biblically based counsel, thank you!
Answer: My heart goes out to you. These situations can be very confusing. I hear that you have a strong heart to please God but let me ask you a question. Do you think the way you are functioning in your marriage right now pleases God? You are full of fear, you are over-functioning, providing for your family and taking care of your child. Your husband under-functions does what he pleases, and spends whatever money he earns on himself with no accountability to contribute to his family. Then, I hear you say that when you’ve finally had enough of his lying or irresponsible spending you lash out and belittle him.
The Bible says that each one of us is to bear our own load (Galatians 6:5). What do you think that means in your marriage? Do you think your husband is bearing his own load as an adult contributor to your marriage? Or do you think you are carrying your load and his load – and carrying it a bit resentfully?
Reality isn’t pretty right now for you. It appears that your husband wants someone to take care of him (his load) so that he can live as he pleases with no responsibility and no accountability. That sounds more like the mindset of an immature adolescent than a grown man.
I understand you are concerned that he has a lot of mental health issues but irresponsibility, laziness, and chronic deceit are not mental health issues, they are character issues. From what you wrote, your spouse has no interest in facing or dealing with these issues. Medication doesn’t help character issues, only chemical issues, https://holisticdental.org/klonopin-for-anxiety/.
So your problem is how do you live with a man who doesn’t want to function like a decent husband or even a healthy adult? He doesn’t want to provide for his family, he doesn’t want to be accountable for how he spends money. He doesn’t want to be honest with you as his wife. Let me just say it straight. Your marriage relationship is sick. It is not functioning as God intended it to. It’s not even functioning in a way that two non-Christians who are relatively mature would function. Your marriage does not glorify God as it is right now. So your next question is, how can you best glorify God in the ugly and painful situation that you are in?
Option #1 is to continue doing what you are doing. But does this glorify God? By your own words, you are tired of it. You react emotionally and destructively to your husband’s irresponsibility and deceit. You are not staying well right now. This marriage is taking its toll on you and probably your son as well.
If your husband was sick and dying of cancer or some other major illness he could not control, it might be noble of you to sacrifice for him right now. However, that’s not the case for you. Continuing to do marriage in this way is not good for you, nor do I believe it’s ultimately good for him. It enables him to stay immature, irresponsible, and childish.
So what are your other options?
Option # 2 is that you get help for you. You must learn how to set better boundaries both with your money and your emotions. Remember, you can only set boundaries on yourself, not on him.
You are not responsible for the choices he makes but you are responsible for the choices you make. For example, why would you give him cash to pick up his prescription when you already know he’s deceitful and manipulative? A new boundary might be “I will no longer give you any cash to spend. If you have to pick up a prescription, I will call the pharmacy and give them my credit card number and then you can go pick it up.” If he protests, refuse to give him cash. Another boundary might be, “When you start screaming at me, I will no longer continue this conversation.” You can’t stop his screaming or manipulative behaviors, but you can stop engaging when he does them.
Biblical love does not mean that you allow an irresponsible and destructive person to walk all over you. Would you allow your son to do that? No. Why not? Because you love him and you know that if you allowed your son to hit you or swear at you in a fit of anger, that would not only hurt his character development, it would hurt your long term relationship with him. Therefore you would set boundaries, “I will not allow you to hit me” and you would implement consequences, “If you hit me, you will be in a time out for 30 minutes.”
Now your husband is not your child, nor should you parent him. However, Biblical love always acts in the best interests of the other person (as best as you can discern). Click To Tweet
What is in his best interest right now? Is it to continue to indulge his irresponsibility? Give into his temper tantrums and manipulations? To over-function so that he can continue to be irresponsible and act like a child instead of a grown man? I don't think that’s good for him, let alone good for you. Therefore, change must begin with you. You have to find your voice; your strong, firm, yet loving voice and say no.
Your confusion is that you enable him until you get sick and tired of it. Then your ugly angry voice comes out and belittles him. After that, you feel guilty about how you handled yourself. Not a good path to continue.
The other area you must begin to set some boundaries on besides your money is your emotional life. We all experience negative emotions when we feel someone is manipulating us or not carrying his fair share of the load. Instead of learning how to appropriately respond, you react. You explode in anger and vomit out all your feelings and then later regret it and feel guilty. Then you go back to your same enabling behaviors trying harder to be “nice” because you feel bad.
Instead of dancing that same old dance, you must learn a new dance. Get some help and support to learn that new dance and start by setting and keeping good boundaries.
Option # 3 is that there is a very real possibility that you won’t be able to do your work while still living with him in the same house because he is so toxic and has already worn you down. It may be that you need to initiate a separation from him in order to find your voice and be able to gain the strength to have your boundaries. By doing option # 3, your husband may see you are serious and unwilling to continue to bear his load. Then he has some hard choices to make. He can begin to realize that he has a lot of maturing to do in order to function as a grown up. Or he will throw a temper tantrum and guilt trip you to try to get you to back down. And if that doesn’t work, he will eventually find another compassionate woman who has poor boundaries who will “take care of him.”
I know that none of these options feel good. They are all hard. But here is where you need the wisdom to do what’s best, not what feels good. So please, get some collective wisdom from other women on this site, get yourself a good counselor or coach, and do your work.
Friend, how did you get out of the stuck place of over-functioning and finally allow your husband the opportunity to face his own immaturity, entitlement and sin?
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I am in the process of trying to set some boundaries this fall. My hubby is the breadwinner while I homeschool 3 children and do all the household things, to include chores, errands, cooking, and paperwork. Once in awhile he might cook something, run an errand, or make a phone call for the family. He says I am a nag if I ask him to change something (like hang up his suits when he comes home) and has told me that I can’t expect him to do any chores unless I am willing to go get a job, since he is the breadwinner. I work constantly and he is not sympathetic to my need for help, rest, etc. While I am careful not to compare him to other men, in observing other Christian families, the amount of work I do seems grossly disproportionate to what other wives do. And my hubby seems to have plenty of time to talk on the phone to his friends and have meals out with his professional friends in spite of his busy career.
I’m sorry, it sounds like he thinks that being the bread winner or financial provider entitles him to ‘not have to help in other areas of the providing of the home’… which is Not ok or healthy for all in the home to witness.
Sure there can be a division of roles but the attitude he has seems to be a big issue.
What boundaries are you planning to put into place for yourself?
Aly, I have thought of asking him in writing that I would like him to do a few simple things, like get his own snacks late at night, hang up his clothes, and generally treat me with more respect regarding my time & responsibilities but I am unsure of how to list consequences. When I am unavailable, he frequently tasks our daughters with serving him, to the point of their starting schoolwork too late in the morning. I am glad they are helpful but don’t want them overtasked by an impatient dad who gives vague instructions and gets annoyed when things aren’t done to his specifications. There are also other boundaries I must set regarding both verbal & emotional abuse, getting angry in the car, etc. He has found ways to work around boundaries in the past.
I am just wondering what happens when you say the word, “No.” When he asks for a snack, can you use that word? What would happen? His response would answer a lot of questions for me. Also what happens if you ask him to get you a snack? Does he say the word, “No.”
Rebecca, I haven’t told him a flat ‘no’, but if I ask him to please get it himself because I am busy or have been on my feet, he has either kept asking me until I cave and/or he talks about how busy & tired he is and how I must not care, how I should be thankful that he works so I can stay home, etc. I hardly ever ask him for something but the response is usually that he is busy or tired. I dread the day that I get really sick or have to have a surgery. He also has some back & pain issues which are legitimate but does that mean I should wait on him this much? It’s really his whole attitude I think.
Elizabeth, your h clearly doesn’t have any idea how hard you work all day. This is the kind of situation where I would love it if you could have to go away for a day or so and leave the kids with him. 😉 What can you do to enlighten him as to how hard you work all day? At the very least, give him the same rules that the children have: pick up your toys, take your dishes to the sink, etc. Stop doing those things for him. You all live in the house, and everyone gets to contribute. Boundaries!
I am in year 20 of this same type of behavior. I would encourage you to do your work NOW. I have been through many years of asking for help and telling him I can’t do it by myself. Here is the pattern for us.
OK, I will help (with specific areas I have requested). And he does for a week or two. Just long enough for me to get distracted.
Now I don’t even want to ask or want him to try because when he falls back into his own pattern, I am even more broken.
I have one child left in High School, this is his ONLY saving grace. He is trying to self correct, sometimes it is ok, sometimes not.
I have a lot of work to do myself. DON’T WAIT!
I am a stay at home wife and mother, and my husband an officer in the military. His hours are long and physically and mentally taxing. I do not expect him to come home and do housework. I consider that my job (unless I’m sick or circumstances necessitate it). However anything relating to the health, wellbeing, and upbringing of our children is every bit as much his responsibility as mine. You don’t, or shouldn’t, get to pick and choose when you want to parent at your own convenience. So the feeding, bathing, cleaning up after, correcting, instructing, helping with schoolwork, and overall supervision is as much his job as mine when he is home. And he doesn’t just get to take off and do what he wants as long as he wants, taking it for granted that I’ve got the kids covered. If your husband just does that, he should have a lot more appreciation for your contribution to the home. It seems like he has no clue.
Cindy, Yes, I agree that he should be willing to do more with the children and I am fine doing most of the housework but I am mostly doing it all. He says it is because he needs to keep improving his career, making connections, etc., but there has to be some balance. He has begun doing a few things with the kids in the last 2 years but has a very entitled attitude toward me with most chores & errands (and sometimes with kid stuff too). He literally won’t take his plate in after a meal, complains that our budget is a mess and that I should fix it (when I can barely keep all the bills & accounts in order), he recently accidentally broke something of mine & left it in the middle of the floor for me to pick up, etc. I have tried to politely address the whole philosophy here but it does no good. I guess I must set boundaries and pray about appropriate consequences.
May I suggest? When you tell the children to take their plates to the sink, if your husband doesn’t take his, you leave it there. When he makes a mess, don’t clean up after him, even as you require the children to clean up after themselves. When he doesn’t put his dirty clothes into the hamper for you to wash, don’t wash them. He gets the same rules as the children. You can announce: “We all live here and I am not a slave. We each take responsibility for our own things.” This is good training for the children, and it is a good boundary.
JoAnn, & Elizabeth,
I agree with this Place JoAnn of letting the consequences happen like when the clothes are dropped they stay there until he picks them up.
I do not agree at all with leaving him with the children to tend to them, he has already shown Elizabeth and his kids how to cater to his ‘ unbalanced needs for special treatment’ which sound alarming to me.
I find this husband to be in serious need of a healthy reality check~ his behavior and attitude is horrendous in my opinion.
And this continuing will add further development issues to the children on what is ‘processed as normal’
Without intervention the children could have a lifetime of ‘over functioning’ being the presence of such a ‘immature spouse as him’
Elizabeth, I don’t mean this harsh but given that he can’t hear the word ‘no’ from you or probably anyone. I’m concerned for your journey. He needs intensive counseling to get to the root issues of his unresolved anger and in my opinion entitled narcissistic traits.
Boundaries and Consequences are great aspects of ways to protect yourself but he need a lot more than that for anything to ‘get better’
Most of his attitude will go underground if he’s not seeing a professional that can help him see how distorted his view of things are.
I could not imagine my children catering to such ridiculous requests. The family environment has tried to normalize this husband and he is not Leading his family like a ‘servant leader does’.
Again Elizabeth I’m so sorry for what you are in the thick of..you do have lots of options and your not alone. I don’t want my words or concern to come across harsh to you. I know what it’s like to not be a respected equal partner ~ being a stay at home mom myself and my husband needed serious core issues addressed. Rarely, do they learn by good self reflective humility skills… in fact they tend to resent and cause more harm to those around them, when met with their discomfort and inconvenience, and yes there is usually a pattern to watch and address too.
Your husband should not be left to tend and caretake the children because he is not currently a ‘safe parent’ he will parentified them.
Again I’m sorry for this scenario but I’m guessing that you probably don’t have to look to far in your family of origins to see the formings of these ‘roles’ and the behaviors he thinks is acceptable?
Joann, Good thoughts on having some of the boundaries be the same as expectations I have of the children. Thank you!
Aly, (Somehow I got my recent replies to you and Joann out of order.) He has not received any correction from previous marriage counselors or leadership at church, when I finally went to them a few years ago after some more serious matters. He seemed repentant and sincerely focused on God a couple of years ago when I forced a separation after a physical incident. There have not been any physical incidents since but he has stopped reading his Bible and verbal abuse plus other dysfunction still happens a few times per week. He does some decent relational things with the children too and has periods where he is genuinely nice to me but the problems are very problematic when they occur. There was occasional abuse in his parents’marriage and they are divorced. My parents have been married a long time and are best friends. I have read 2 of Leslie’s books and about to read a Jeff Crippen book and a Lundy Bancroft book. Thank you for your comments and concerns!
Wow, so do his back/pain issues and weariness affect his work and his ability to do the things he likes to do? How does he function on his own when you’re not around? His leaving things for you to clean up and expecting you to fix snacks, etc. is outright inconsiderate, and you have enabled it. Marriage should be give and take, but not you give and he takes. Certainly not a good example for your daughters. Definitely read ‘The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.’ Best wishes.
I hear what you say about enabling, yet I suspect resisting this H’s control will lead to the escalation of abuse. He is abusive, how far he will go to keep his reign is yet to be seen. Enabling, has worked to keep everyone relatively safe at the moment. A flight plan needs to be in place when confrontation, ie boundaries and non enabling behavior is initiated. I never liked the term enabling. It blames the victim for their survival technique.
Wow! I am not a man hater so do not take this comment the wrong way, but this whole MAN thing is absolutely out of control. I’ve been thinking about this recently as I hear more and more stories about men who are abusive physically, verbally and spiritually and take no responsibility for their actions and seemingly have this whole “man is the head of the household and women must submit” all wrong and “women” are the weaker of the two genders, etc etc….this is out of control and it’s very concerning to me. I love what John Bevere says in one of his teachings he says the only way a woman is weaker than a man is physically, she cannot bench press as much weight as a man! And that so many men use this scripture to control their wives children and marriages! It’s disgusting to me. it makes me beyond angry and esp that this is being taught in the churches all over. Anyway, I’ve been separated from my husband for two years for verbal abuse for over 20 yrs….in the middle of a divorce and eventho I know I do not want to return to this man and his ways I struggle even still with the idea of divorce. I keep thinking how can God possibly be ok with this !?!?! But yet I see so many women in the same situations. It saddens me greatly and yet makes me want to stand up and yell to all the men out there MAN UP!!!!!! Being a man does not mean being in control of your family….not even close!
Teddie, God was not ok with your marriage. Your marriage was ended by your husband. You are just formalizing it.
I was in this type of relationship for over thirty years. I worked a forty hour week. I was the full time parent. I came home and made dinner and helped kids with homework, read to them before bed, and did all their activities. I was told that when H came home all he wanted to do is chill, not talk, just relax. He would spend weekends tailgating with friends, going to concerts while I stayed home cleaned house, bought groceries, went to the kid’s games. I was not appreciated and I too felt like a maid. I was told I was not the cute girl with long hair and great body, I was disappointing in the bedroom, etc. It is an emotional abusive control by the narcissist to keep you in control. They enjoy making you crazy so they can blame you for their behavior. He had many affairs, porn, and is an alcoholic. The last straw was him sleeping with my childhood bff. It has taken four years, lots of therapy to realize that I was in love with the idea of us. However, I am no longer in love with the abuser. I connected with my faith in a more authentic way. God has put good people in my life. I am happy and am enjoying my life. I chose to be happy and working through my issues was a big part of that.H now has a new woman who has been in a physically abusive prior marriage to meet his needs and control. I hear it is a needy and abusive relationship.
A marriage is a partnership in every aspect of the word. in order for a partnership to work both parties must be team players. a man should not think that he must only work and financially provide and his work is done when he reaches the threshold of the home. if he does, then he is essentially saying to you, “I will provide the finances, while you raise, nurture, grow, develop, and shape OUR children” oh and by the way “I will not help you do any of this, I will not be a father figure and teach our children what a father looks like, yet only a provider of the finances” the way it sounds is that you could collect child support and get more support. the scripture says
The position of the husband in the home and his related responsibilities are quite clearly defined in principle in Ephesians 5:22, 28-31. “Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church; and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject to Christ, so let wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wife as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it . . . So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church . . . For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother and shal.1 be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh”.
When you read the scripture it says that the husband should cherish the wife love her as if they were one body. not stand outside his own body and enslave it like he is a master. Again, a partnership involves TEAMWORK!!! in each aspect of life and raising a family, it talks about a husband nurturing his family. Your husband is not exhibiting the example of how a man should nurture and cherish his wife or family. You yourself will find a way to not vomit on him by telling him that he is failing as a father and husband in your mature. Yet you will come to an understanding and find a Christian way to re-direct his steps in the path of your marriage. Pray and fast…God will provide you the answers (answers, plural)
I am in a marriage where my husband has been unhappy in his professional life for many years now. He takes the responsibility for providing for his family very seriously, but as things currently stand he is coming home from work each day emotionally shattered (recently looking as helpless and pained as he did in the days following his father’s death last year). He would love to leave his job but there just don’t seem to be any alternatives where we live.
This sense of sadness and helplessness rolls over into every aspect of our life as a family. At weekends he is a different person – fun to be with, emotionally connected to me and our two daughters, and super helpful at home – but the rest of the time he treats us as if we hardly exist. I work as a freelancer from home, so I also carry much of the daily burden of chores and errands. I don’t mind this in principle as I know that my working life is lighter than his is, but I do feel taken for granted when I get no appreciation for the long hours I spend between my work, caring for the girls plus all the household tasks. Beyond that, I am often criticised for not doing something well enough, and he is so tense that he regularly flares up over something very small, leaving myself and the girls on edge much of the time.
Sadly, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot expect anything at all of him on a weekday – I can only serve him and clear up after him, with no thanks, and sometimes he can’t even manage a goodnight to our girls. At times it feels like I am a single parent who is also running a hotel where people come to sleep and eat.
This isn’t OK, and I am very worried about the example it is setting to our daughters. I would love to be setting boundaries, yet it seems so unfair to pick holes in his behavior when he already has so much in his life that is difficult. Also, as he has repeatedly told me that there is no hope for him professionally, he keeps urging me to leave him, telling me that he is a failure and I will never be happy with him. I hate to hear him speak in this way (and also don’t believe it, as at weekends and on vacations he is still wonderful to be with, and I remember all the reasons I chose to marry him). I don’t feel that I can present him with a description of ways that he he is hurting me, as it will reinforce his perception that he is a failure. If I mention something, usually his reaction is ‘See? I’m a disaster – you’d be better off without me.’ Another thing is that since I know how unhappy is much of the time, I have found myself often obliging his wishes at other times, eg. letting him choose how we spend the weekends, basically letting him have his way in pretty much everything, which has turned into a bit of a pattern that is not very helpful.
I really don’t know what to do. I have been happy to serve my family, and realise that often each of needs to take a back seat when others have greater needs, but this has been going on for so long now, and shows no sign of improving, whilst also sowing potential long-term damage in all of our lives..
I have to wonder what his relationship with the Lord is like? For him to be so miserable in his job….perhaps he needs to get some help to deal with that. Does he need to learn to set boundaries with his co workers? Does he need to learn how to let things “roll off his back” so that things don’t bother him so much? This isn’t about him being a failure; he needs to learn some coping skills as well as having a deeper relationship with the Lord. God’s grace can carry us through many difficult times. If you can talk to him about learning how to deal with these things….gain strength, develop his CORE, learn better coping skills. Also, he sounds very depressed to me. What about seeing his doctor about getting some medication? Pray for him, Lucie, pray for him to be willing to get help for what is bothering him. That will be the first step. When a man says that you will be better off without him, I would be worrying about him possibly being suicidal. Please urge him to see a doctor and a counselor.
Hi JoAnn, thank you for your reply.
Yes, you are spot on with all of that. He believes in Christ, but I think gave up believing that He would choose to be active in his life a long time ago, after many years of unemployment and dashed hopes. I agree that there are personality issues that are preventing him from finding satisfaction or dealing with issues at work, and he also accepts that, but when he can’t even get through one day, it seems impossible to know where to find the significant amount of time and energy needed to do some work in that area. He has also been prescribed anti-depressants but has chosen not to take them because of the effects they can carry long-term. I think he feels there is no hope, or no time/energy to work on solutions.
But you are right that it seems that the first stage in improving our marriage has to be him managing his own issues (that I can’t help with him). But it’s been a long time waiting and hoping and praying for that first step, and in the meantime there’s a lot of very negative fall-out for the family.
Lucie, I’m not unsure what “long term effects” your husband is concerned about with the antidepressants. He will need to take them for a long time as the full benefit takes perhaps two months to achieve. Actually, the long term effects of depression are much worse if not addressed. This is a matter of getting the brain to function normally, because he is not producing the neurotransmitters that he needs to feel good and deal with life. Counseling will help him to learn how to deal with the stress of his job, or to figure out how to go for something better. It is amazing how much different life can look if you are not depressed. Please tell him that the real failure is to refuse to get help, and That you and the children love him, and you all want him to be well. May the Lord give you the words and the heart to urge him to do what he must do.
Honestly, when he came home a few months ago and told me his doctor had prescribed the pills and he had got hold of them, I was weeping tears of relief! I know that it is very difficult to tackle problems while you are stuck in the spiral of depression, and at least some medication can lift that and allow you to focus on finding solutions. But then he started to read up about potential physical side effects (largely digestive and sexual), and also about how difficult it can be to stop taking them, and he says he doesn’t want to feel trapped in a situation where he has to take mind-altering medication for the rest of his life. Also, he resents the idea that he would be ‘forced’ to do this because of his awful job and colleagues (and although it is clear that it is a very unpleasant working environment, and colleagues of his also have problems, it’s not the first time he has felt unable to cope in a work situation, or the second…)..Having said all that, he did tell me a couple of days ago that he was ‘reconsidering’ whether to take the pills or not. Yes, I hope God will help me to encourage him to take some action.
I am hoping to get hold of Leslie’s book EDM, as so many people on this forum have said it is helpful. I’m a bit worried about labelling myself as a victim, though. The best way I have found to manage so far has been to detach myself from the negative behaviours as much as I can, and to refuse to take the hard words personally. However, it’s much harder when I see it affecting our daughters (the eldest is only 8), as I can’t expect them to understand that the problem is not with them, it’s entirely in their dad’s mind. And I am also aware that detaching yourself and disconnecting emotionally is not at all helpful when it comes to making a marriage move forward.
I haven’t really come across other situations like this one, although I’m sure they must exist! I just feel constantly split between feeling loyalty, compassion and love for him, with feeling angry and upset that I’ve been so hurt by all of this. I can understand the angst he is going through, and that it can be difficult to behave well when you’re under a lot of stress – however, I’m resentful that it has made my life so difficult, and that we have missed out on so many opportunities for growth, happiness and fun as a family.
Lucie, I’m very sorry for the situation but can very much relate to a resistant spouse ‘wanting to decide’ how to steer the car carrying all of his family and his wife (me).
What JoAnn told you is SO true. Please reread her recent post to you and pin it somewhere where you find yourself seeing clearly that your husband should not be the one determining ‘the well being’ of all around him based on his obvious behavior.
We don’t let the patient in the hospital decide the treatment plan overall, do we?
The things that you both are facing are not uncommon and your husband has a lot of potentuon in getting healthier if he is willing to participate and stop listening to the depressed, shame/fear based voice in his head and listen to those around him that love him.
You can ‘as his Ezer’ can require more of him …where you don’t contribute to his choices or behaviors. Plus, you have to advocate for your children because you are responsible for their well being as their other parent who might be more ‘healthy and safe’ right now.
I could be wrong but it seems like the reason why he is ‘self talking’ him out of taking the medicine and you are not requiring certain things of him .. is because you have ‘all’ gotten normalized to the environment and patterns. Fear will play a big role here but remember Love ‘tough Love’ is necessary in these circumstances to overcome.
Praying for your strength and your courage to not let his condition and resistance to treatment of all sorts determine your own well being and the children’s.
Well said, Aly. I appreciate your wisdom here.
Sorry about my other misspellings.
Lucie, please see Nancy’s posts too.. I just read hers and see that the only failure for your husband is NOT getting help or seeing that ‘he probably can’t control how his neurotransmitters are working right now’…😜
I have read your comments and his excuses overall and he might be using those irrational thoughts to sabatoge ‘any help’.
Let’s play this out.. not going to counseling because he fears not having the income isn’t a good enough reason to begin counseling or start searching for options where you can get assistance. Many counselors will help with financial planning and it might be that other things in the home get reprioritized? So counseling gets an opportunity…
What do you think about that?
For my husband and i’s situation… we couldn’t afford NOT to get counseling.. and trust me he was very resistant and came up with all sorts of ways to run from the process.
Now he loves counseling and sees how helpful it has been overall but still is working toward being a healthy partner.
Lucie, do, please, get the book. It’s not all about being a victim or dealing with abuse, but there is a lot of help there for understanding your situation better and learning how to set and enforce boundaries to protect your own heart and that of your children. There is a chapter on developing what Leslie calls CORE strength which is helpful for any kind of situation. We will all pray that your husband will take the medication, and if he doesn’t like the side effects, there are actually many choices, and the doctor can provide an alternative. Help him to be patient with the medication at first, because it takes time for his body to get used to the medication, and it may take some weeks for him to begin to feel better.
Thank you all so much, ladies, for your advice, wisdom and understanding. It has been so beneficial to me.
So, things to do:
– Get the book.
– Bring up the subject of counseling and medication again, stressing the importance of both for the future well- being of our family, and aiming to insist, whatever excuses might appear.
– Look for the safeguarding of my and my children’s hearts.
– Pray! – and trust that God wants this marriage and family to work.
I think what you posted is a great start~ you might want to join the Conquer group of Leslie’s too.
Also I don’t want to overwhelm you with more to your list, but I do want to caution you on what I read in your ‘tone’ you can correct me if I’m way wrong… please do.
You are dealing with a serious situation ~ you have been a bit desensitized by your level of ‘coping’ with his behavior and his low level functioning/reasoning that is hurting all individuals.
Please here my cry for you;
‘Bring up counseling’ is doing the same thing and hoping for a different result.
Please change the words From ‘bring up to go to’..counseling (for yourself). Find a good Christian counselor that is an expert in all the symptoms you experience of him and your own.
Also in a previous post you wrote this:
“and I am very worried about the example it is setting to our daughters. I would love to be setting boundaries, yet it seems so unfair to pick holes in his behavior when he already has so much in his life that is difficult.”
Your clock is ticking and you are setting an example to your daughters of how to NOt to enable ‘not to do things out of fear’ a husband that needs intensive help so that you all can thrive!
This Lucie ‘is love’~ wanting and acting in the highest Good for the other;) as God empowers His own.
I know it’s scary ‘to require’ things and stand strong in your boundaries… but usually more often than not a ‘good hearted man’ will respect this, eventually.
Ask yourself; what am I most fearful of by setting boundaries for myself and requirements for my husband.
Your daughters do not have this responsibility as you are the spouse (the EZer) ~ because they are depending upon you advocating for them.
When your husband sees that you are willing to get the help you need for your part~ he might begin to consider looking at your issues. But he might not.
But mostly, you have to be willing to give the outcome to the Lord as you decide to do the right & ‘hard’ loving things for your family.
You husband has a very critical voice in his head that is drowning out health and ‘authentic healing’. His behavior and his attitude and how he responds to you is evidence that he is not in a safe and healthy place~ let alone a partnership. This is not a thriving loving glorifying marriage because intermittently he is nice and reasonable. Don’t settle for small moments of healthy and normal!! This is part of the crazy.
Right now there are ‘long term’ effects that are happening to your children in the home that are ‘shaping their own brain and how they cope’ … similar to what you and your husband also went through growing up.
I hope you hear my care for you and you entire family and my URGENT posture!
“and aiming to insist, whatever excuses might appear”
Lucie, ~ no aiming ..doing
“– Look for the safeguarding of my and my children’s hearts.”
No looking but actively choosing. There is a difference.
Much love and prayers for your courage Lucie~ 💕
Aly, you are right, there is certainly room for more assertiveness. Perhaps my tone was a bit understated!
As for counselling, for myself I actually don’t feel that it is something I need at the moment. I went through some sessions on my own last year, and it was great for helping me to feel stronger in myself and developing some survival techniques to not feel too dragged down. But until there are some changes in his behaviour (which the counselling for me can’t fix), you are right that there is an element of normalising, and I agree with you that the situation can’t be allowed to go on without any changes being made.
I do have some people nearby who know the outline of what’s been going on, but it can be difficult to speak very openly with people who know him personally, as I don’t want to prejudice them against him, and I struggle when I feel that I am dishonouring him by speaking negatively about him. It’s a play-off between being honest about my own feelings and experiences, and remaining loyal to him and respectful in the way I present him to others.
You said, “Ask yourself; what am I most fearful of by setting boundaries for myself and requirements for my husband.”
Well, I am most fearful of being another voice telling him he is failing. If I say, ‘Please try to change your behaviour from this to this’, he will interpret that as ‘I am a poor husband/father, as well as all the other ways I have failed in my life’. Alternatively, he might say ‘I want to feel uplifted by my time at home when I’m not under scrutiny and criticism at work – now it’s just as bad at home, and I have a nagging wife to add to my problems’. I’m sure it all depends how it is presented, so I need to pray for guidance not only to have the courage to speak, but to know how to speak without creating this response.
I will get the book, but then am going to have to hide it, as I think he would be deeply crushed if he knew what I was reading about. But then I feel dishonest, and that doesn’t feel right. When I went to counselling last year, I was quite vague with him about what it was about – needing to build up my own confidence, manage stressful situations better, etc, rather than ‘I can’t cope with the emotional pressure you are putting me under’. I worry so much for his perception of himself as a husband and father if he realised how damaging his behaviour is for us all. So it is a balance between getting him to understand how serious it is (and therefore why it can’t continue in this way and something needs to be done), but without giving him another element to add to his self-perceived list of failures. I think this is one of the main reasons I have held back for so long.
Ok, may I suggest…. When he does behave well, mention it: “I love the way you did that.” “That was a nice thing to do.” “The kids really enjoy playing with you like that.” Etc. Then if there is some behavior that you think could be improved, say “How about trying to do it this way. You might get better results.” Or, “Here’s how I do it and I get pretty good results.” Put everything in a positive tone. He is clearly very sensitive to any kind of criticism, so it is important to focus as much as you can on reinforcing the good things.
JoAnn and Lucie,
JoAnn I agree with affirming his behavior when Good things are experienced.
I like to offer this to my children often, but I also remind them that we don’t reward or ‘over stoke’ Expected behavior.
Lucie, your husband might need to hear more positive affirmations and that’s understandable.
I’m not sure I would be in a position of ‘hiding’ … this doesn’t not sound like a connected marriage ‘during the good times like you have explained’.
I do think you would benefit from counseling on your own and getting the professional eyes and ears on your situation is wise. In addition, you will not be able to offer boundaries and requirements without a lot of support.
My husband also ongoing heard ‘failure’ over anything~ so I get what you are going through.
Why are you so much more worried about how he perceives things than the dangerous emotional unhealthy taking place in your home?
I think you are over functioning for him and it might be added to his inability to metabolize ‘reality’. Maybe consider asking …Is this hurting or helping?
Trust me on this level.. that In an abusive relationship.. ‘tone’ and all the other reasons an abusers wants to deflect the pain of what they cause or contribute to mean little.
You won’t be able to create the perfect setting, timing, etc for him to hear uncomfortable truths that needs to be addressed.
This is what is concerning to me. I understand your weariness of this but it’s a level of co-creating the dynamic.
“I do have some people nearby who know the outline of what’s been going on, but it can be difficult to speak very openly with people who know him personally, as I don’t want to prejudice them against him, and I struggle when I feel that I am dishonouring him by speaking negatively about him. It’s a play-off between being honest about my own feelings and experiences, and remaining loyal to him and respectful in the way I present him to others.”
When you mention ‘speaking’ negatively about him’ please remind yourself you are speaking about Behavior not him as a person.
Also being dishonest about any of your situation will add to the layers of repair. Please consider being integrated and truthful so you are being a consistent person that any spouse would be appreciative of.
This just builds trust and helps a relationship overall. I’m would feel strongly that he can sense any incongruent behavior.
A good baseline is to treat a spouse how you would want to be treated.
Lucie, I agree with what Aly has been saying in the last two posts. It seems to me that you are trying to shield your husband from the truth about what is really going on in your marriage. I do understand your not wanting to speak negatively about him to others, but as Aly pointed out, it is the behavior that is wrong, not that he is bad. And yet, the effect of his behavior is very damaging, and I don’t think you are fully grasping the effects of this on yourself and your family. The boundaries you set will force him to realize that his behavior must change. You and your children don’t deserve to be his outlet for his anger about his situation or his feelings of failure. He has learned to think of himself as a failure instead of as a child of God who is redeemed and has the God of the universe in his spirit. Challenge him to live in Truth instead of his feelings.
I do think that you should have your own counselor; you will need all the support you can get to deal with what is ahead, and even to be able to support your husband as he faces the challenges ahead.
Thanks JoAnn for your comments here and your support. Lucie we are wanting to support you in the truth and into health& true peace.
I hope you hear that in these exchanges. 🤗💕
My hope and prayers are for a redeemed marriage given God’s will.
JoAnn is so correct in this:
“He has learned to think of himself as a failure instead of as a child of God who is redeemed and has the God of the universe in his spirit. ”
I’m going to add to this ‘failure topic’ since I had been in a marriage to someone similar ~ my h got help so the marriage we have today I don’t consider our old destructive one.
Not only has your h learned this failure place of self hatred.. but it works for him! It keeps you at arms length and a bit hostage to the balance ~ by the way it is a balance but you need many professional eyes on this.
My h did similar things and talked similar-ways.. this stuff is serious and you need to take him seriously.
The failure bit works at staying stuck, my own husband would admit that much of his tactics were manipulation 😥 Sadly. He knew what would work on me and used it consistently every time I got close to exposing.
But the healthier spouse has to rise up! Lucie his feelings and manipulation of feelings are trumping the health and safety of your family.
His fear of failure has ‘certainly been teaching’ you how to operate around such a controlling person ~ yes he is controlling … him being unhappy in his job is HIS to resolve and maybe ‘move out of state’ find another job etc.
*you can be supportive in a healthy way for him… but he is capitalizing on your tendency to support him in an unhealthy way.*
My hunch is this issue isn’t just the Job?’ My h used to use the work thing to explain his bad behavior or selfish choices on it too…
if you love him you will be honest and firm with not enabling his behaviors to decide the health of the family. You both will be accountable to answer individually to your choices in behavior and responsibility as the parents and spouses in this home.
Lucie~ you have a lot of choices and quite possibly a healthy marriage to thrive in? There are a lot of resources and help available.
You and your children are worth the change and the ‘real marriage of safety’ not pretending.
I totally agree with everything Aly and JoAnn have said. I also get you not wanting him to see the book. You could get it electronically. That’s what I did.
Something else that comes to mind is this:
Un confronted, sin grows.
Where I completely understand your reluctance to confront your h’s fear of failure. You must do it…lovingly & firmly.
Because his fear is controlling the entire household.
You must do it…lovingly & firmly (and consistently because it is so ingrained) This is why counselling for yourself is critical.
Yes, Nancy, I absolutely agree with you.
I have been gone a few days – a happy family weekend! Weekends and vacations can be so wonderful, that’s why it’s so upsetting and confusing that the rest of the time can be so miserable.
I have arranged a meeting this week with a wise lady I know – let’s call her a counsellor. She is part of a ministry team at a church I have connections with, but am not actively a member of. She has met my husband very briefly, but doesn’t know him personally, so I’m hoping that is enough closeness to me but distance from him to make it acceptable to talk it all through. First of all I am going to need to sound her out about how much it is appropriate to say about him. I know he hates the idea of me talking about him (and even here, where none of us know each other or our husbands, I can’t shake off the feeling that it is disloyal). I struggle with this, because if I can’t talk it through with anyone then I’m entirely on my own in this.
The conversations here over the last week have shone a different light on the situation I am in, and have allowed me to see more clearly the level to which I am being controlled and my decision-making power has been reduced. I also totally accept your point that I am co-author of this dynamic, and that it self-perpetuates, and my behaviour can be making things worse and not better. It is also clear that this is something that, to a large extent, I am have allowed to happen for some of the following reasons:
a) wanting to apply principles of forgiveness seventy times seven/aiming to look for the plank in my own eye first
b) feeling pity for my husband in his daily struggles with work, and the sense that I would like to try and help compensate for that by at least making his home life a place where he can feel he is in charge of his own life without having others tell him what to do. (In reality this could mean, for example, that I wouldn’t agree to go out with some girlfriends in the evening, in case on that particular evening he ‘doesn’t feel like doing the childcare’ and it turns out that I have placed an extra burden on him.)
c) not wanting to create a negative atmosphere at home – being afraid of a fight. I have just seen another discussion on this site, which sums up exactly how I feel too: “But I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. I’m afraid of taking a wrong step, doing or saying something wrong that could potentially set him off into a rage. I hide my mistakes from him. I suppress my disagreements and disappointments. I *rarely* tell him that I’m unhappy with our relationship, so he has *very little* idea that anything is wrong. I’ve learned how to keep the peace.”
d) as I have mentioned, fear of him feeling that my unhappiness is proof that marriage is one more thing he can’t do, and possibly deciding to give up on it.
e) fear of being misinterpreted if I tried to explain my point of view, and not having very good negotiation/conflict skills (my own parents NEVER fought or even disagreed in front of us, and I realise I don’t have good models for how to manage this)
I’m sure that he doesn’t see that what he is doing is emotional abuse, which is why I think he would be horrified if I saw I was reading a book on this subject. That’s why I would want to hide it (and wouldn’t want to get it electronically, as it happens that we share an e-reader). But yes, the ‘dishonesty’ element seems wrong to me too. Just can’t see how quite to manage it all.
But I am hoping that having a chance to talk these broad issues through with this counsellor this week will be a starting point for at least knowing which way to go from here.
So he has sent me the following messages from work today:
‘I am in a living hell. I can’t take this any more. I feel I could have a complete breakdown. If death came to me, I would welcome it with open arms.’
It is horrible, my heart is bleeding for him, and there is nothing I can do to help him at work. But it’s not the first time I have had messages like this. They are extreme this time, but I have listened to a similar tune for years and years now.
On the basis of this, how do I go about setting boundaries for how we manage our family life? How do I go about saying ‘I feel that I need more from this marriage’? Clearly my instinct (yet again) is to hold out love and compassion, not to put myself at the front of it as a person requiring his consideration and attention. I have also told him, many times, that if needs to leave his job for the sake of his physical or mental health, that I will accept that willingly. The problem then is the prospect of a potentially even deeper depression hitting him, as his image of himself as provider is also shattered.
Good morning Lucie 🙂
It sounds to me as though you have integrated a lot of the questions posed to you, and you seem to be thinking very clearly about this. That is great!
Getting counsel is so important and the fact that you are taking that step is healthy.
If you are new-ish to this blog, you may not be aware that many who are counselled by well-meaning believers end up being further emotionally abused by the ‘to love your h, you must submit more, forebear more’ mentality.
Just watch out for that and really rely on The Lord ( who often speaks to us through our ‘gut’)!
In the case of emotional abuse, the counselling should be very different from the counsel to someone in a God glorifying marriage ( Leslie’s book goes into this).
Leslie teaches pastors and helpers inside the church on how to counsel people in emotionally destructive marriages, so that these well-meaning folk don’t end up doing more damage.
I can totally relate to what you are in, and where you are in many ways, Lucie. My h was in many ways similar to yours. After, by God’s grace, being introduced to Leslie’s book and this forum, I began the hard work of applying Biblical tough love. I began to fight FOR my h, AGAINST sin.
The hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I thank God that my h chose to seek help. But I believe that we would be in this healthy place today, had I not co-operated with The Lord in the last year and a half, to bring a redemptive love to the door of his heart.
Good for you that you are committing to speak truth. As you do this more and more, things will become clearer and clearer. The Lord will begin to reveal your own heart issues as well as the destructive dynamics that you mustn’t engage in.
May The Lord enable you to turn to Him as you take each step.
Hi Nancy. Thank you for your words and it’s so reassuring to know that others have been there too. Can you tell me how your husband reacted to you before, during and after your ‘tough love’? I feel I am missing the men’s voices here – how does it feel to be the one on the other side, caught in a struggle, unaware of how much you might be damaging your wife and family?
I just saw your morning message, and want to encourage you to get on your knees and pray. I am praying for you. All the powerlessness you are feeling…cry out to The Lord. He knows your pain, let Him hold you and give it all to Him.
I can only tell you what I did. I told my h that I would only communicate with him, during his work hours, on last minute logistical changes ( ie. Could he leave a bit early in order to be home for the bus because of change of appointment, or whatever).
You could tell him simply that his message scared you and put you in a powerless position. Keep it factual and allow him to feel his own feelings. If you ‘take on his feelings’ and try to ‘fix it’, you are enabling his unwillingness to grow.
In order to not ‘take on his feelings’ I had to be constantly worshipping God. Christian music playing all the time. When I felt anxious because he was expecting me to carry his feelings ( we are to carry our own load, by the way-Galatians-) , I would continue cooking, or whatever, raising my hands to The Lord. It looks crazy, yup. But I’d rather my kids see me relying on God, than enabling my h.
I hope that this somehow helps and that you feel my support here.
Nancy & Lucie,
I did not see a morning message from Lucie but Nancy both of your posts to Lucie are so encouraging and full of redemptive truth for her heart regardless of the marital outcome.
Your last post to Lucie, is key in many ways because having healthy loving boundaries is critical in different stages of what she is up against.
I can not recommend ‘boundaries by Townsend and Cloud and especially Boundaries in marriage by them too!
I’ll continue to pray for God’s will through this and Nancy such a blessing that you have been bravely walking this journey~ Lucie you are not alone in this.
One thing I do want to emphasize ~ desiring a healthy marriage that would Glorify God is NOT having an idol or taking your eyes off Him….
one way I was re-injured in the church and my ext. family was being accused of something that was not at all my heart or my need but something that I felt God equipping me along the way to fight for our family and especially my husband’s heart.
When you are taking action and doing hard things just remember that the Lord will lead you and assist you in co~operating with Him. With Him you can trust the outcome. You can’t choose things for your husband but you can choose health for yourself.
Much love and prayers ~ 💖
Could not recommend the books enough;)
😉 Yes, I was going to ask you about that. Those books are so very helpful.
Aly and Lucie,
‘Boundaries’ by cloud and Townsend came to mind for me, too, as I was responding to you, Lucie.
When I talked about allowing him to feel his feelings, that’s the reference that came to mind. We cannot force someone else to feel their feelings, so maybe ‘allow’ is not the right word. Perhaps, “give him the opportunity to feel his own feelings”, is better.
He will not feel his feelings, if you have ‘taken them and run with them’. This is why I suggest you go to The Lord and lay them ALL at His feet. Then you might tell your h that his message compromised you and that for your own emotional well – being that you will no longer be reading any messages he sends from work.
This is one active step you can take in guarding your heart – the seat of Christ ❤️
Lucie and Nancy,
I was just now able to read Lucie’s post of what her husband wrote,
Lucie; I’m struggling with feeling that going to the counselor ‘ that you are ‘calling a counselor’ might not be your best choice especially given the heightened scale.
Your husband is saying dangerous statements that need action and professional intervention! I can’t emphasize this is way above your ability or even a few to contain ‘this’ his long term state of how he is deciding to deal with his depression.
I’m praying for Gods hand in this but I don’t think it’s wise to not respond and get the help needed immediately.
If I was in your situation,(I don’t like to speak into this- because I don’t know you personally and I don’t want to come across that way)
my response would be to (your husband) either get professional help (immediately Day of TODAY) or quit the job that he is saying is creating these feelings and desperation.
If he chooses to get professional help, medical treatment is probably necessary because it sounds like things are very unsafe with him and his thoughts.
Lucie, Aly, Nancy,
I had to go a long way back to find a “reply”…. This is a long thread, and I hope that others are reading this also, because the issues we are addressing can apply in many situations.
Lucie, as we have all said before, your husband is in a dangerous mind-set. Dangerous for both you and him. I like the suggestion (Aly, I think) that you put your foot down and say, “Either you get help for this with a doctor, or you quit your job. We are not going to stay on pins and needles forever. We love you and we love who you are when we are on vacation having fun as a family, but we can no longer tolerate who you are when you are working. Do something!” I was wondering, when you spoke of having aa wonderful weekend, can’t you talk with him about these things when he is away from work, and in a good mood? That would be the best time to point out the difference: “We are having so much fun. This is what I want for all of us all the time.”
I also am concerned about the woman you are going to see. If she hasn’t read any of the books that we recommend here, and you can ask her, then I doubt that her advice will help you much. Be on your guard. She may be well-meaning, but her advice can be off track.
To your question, Lucie, about how my h reacted to me before, during and after the ‘tough love’.
Before – He was dependant on me , not physically; emotionally, to carry his negative feelings. To absorb these and to act in order to rid us both of them. I had much boundary work to do in this area because the abuse was 100% covert. This is SUPER guilt inducing because on the surface, to everyone else and often to me, he was such a ‘nice guy’. So…how was he towards me? Good… as long as I played by the unspoken rules we had both bought into.
During – oh boy. He was confused. Hurt. Sad. Furious. He tried so many different tactics to get me to take responsibility for his feelings and dance the old dance. But I was DONE. He truly didn’t understand what was going on ( even though I had prayerfully rehearsed a monologue, went out to dinner to deliver the monologue, and given him a written letter afterwards, in case he ‘forgot’ my limits, requirements and reasons for this drastic change). I learned quickly that I wasn’t responsible for educating him on how to be a husband, let alone a grown up. Sometimes I got it right, sometimes I didn’t. This was a long, difficult time ( 9 months) of learning to leave everything with Jesus. God is Faithful, Lucie! He carries us when we can’t even walk. He pours love into our hearts as we take the difficult steps he asks us to take.
Now- I can’t say that there is no more tough love. There still is. Just last night he was furious and attempted to take it out on me, but I was clear, decisive and he readily admitted that this was ‘his stuff’, that he didn’t know what was going on and that he needed time alone. Hallelujah! This morning I got an email asking that I pray for him because he’s a ‘hot mess’. My heart sings just to write this. He now takes responsibility, and asks for help. He’s having a hard day, but none of it will leak onto me ( and I now have the skills to not allow it, if he tried). This is a 180 degree difference between where he was last year at this time, and now ( not to mention where I am!) None of this happened miraculous – even though it is a miracle. He has put in A LOT of sweat equity ( and financial sacrifice) in growing up, emotionally and spiritually.
We are now no longer in a destructive relationship. The Lord is now using us to sharpen one another and glorify Him. But here’s the key, Lucie:
Our marriage had to be placed at the foot of the cross. It had to die.
I was able to do that ( with LOTS of support) 9 months before my h was willing to do the same. He may never have made that choice ( to place our marriage at the foot of the cross). It was entirely his to make and I had NO CONTROL over wether he would choose health over destruction. But I can tell you with certainty that working on my CORE throughout the whole process enabled me to BE WELL.
Regardless of what he chose to do.
God is so very faithful. All the glory to Him ❤️
WOW, Nancy! Thanks for sharing that. You had the grace to hang in there with your husband, and now you have a real marriage. Good for your h that he was able to take the help and get on board with you to save the marriage….by laying it at the cross. When we put something into the Lord’s hands, and leave it there, the Lord can do so much more than we could ask or think. And whatever He does, it is all for our benefit, whether that means staying well or leaving well. His grace is sufficient. Hallelujah!
Hi Nancy (and others)
Thank you so much, Nancy, for writing that! It’s such a useful insight. I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to writing. I’m aware that everyone is here for a reason and haven’t had the time to follow all your stories, but am grateful for the ways that you have shown support to me. I do find it all a bit intense, so have to dip in and out, otherwise daily life would stop functioning here. Yes, I’m rather new to this, but, I think I am starting to get an idea of some of the key elements and ways in which the issues we are facing can’t be solved by traditional advice of being more loving, caring, willing to sacrifice, and so on.
So, updates from here… I have arranged to get a copy of EMD, which should be with me in a week or so. I am impatient to start reading in order to get some clearer ideas of practical ways of applying the kind of steps that I am starting to understand. My meeting with the ‘counsellor’ yesterday didn’t happen as she had to cancel, which at first was massively disappointing but now I think I can see it as a reason to approach her in a slightly different way, perhaps sounding her out about her knowledge of this area, before going straight in there.
In terms of progress with my husband, we had a discussion about ways he could help himself move out of the distress he is in. Conclusion: he totally refuses to take anti-depressants (I wasn’t able to convince him), with the argument ‘Why should I let this job force me to mess up my body and my mind with medication in order to be able to keep doing it?’ I was trying to say that the medication could potentially put the control back with him, rather than allowing the job to control him, but he was pretty wound up by this point and not interested in listening.
I don’t think he rules out the psychotherapy option, but also doesn’t really see the point as he considers the problem to come from his job, rather than from him. (I would disagree, as it’s been many years and many different jobs, and every single time it’s been unbearable, always for different reasons.) It’s also hard to see how he would find the time or energy to do it, and he is put off by the idea that it would take a long time to ‘get better’ that way.
I think I will wait until reading all of Leslie’s advice in her book before bringing this up again, as I need to find a way of insisting, but haven’t yet worked out how to do that. I am sure he would also benefit from having a believing male friend to discuss some of this with, but don’t know where that person is going to come from if he refuses to acknowledge to anyone apart from me that there are difficulties at work.
From my point of view, I am really pleased to have found this place, and hearing some overlapping stories has been very encouraging in that I can see it’s a path that has been trodden before, and there is hope for change! I feel I have more of a plan in place, and more settled within myself, which is wonderful. I hope my faith is strong enough to work all of this through…
💜 Such a warrior you are!
You are wise, Lucie, to take small steps and take breaks when you need. Staying functional is of utmost importance for you and your children. Good for you.
I will be praying for you as you read through EDM and ingest it’s content.
May Jesus make His presence felt to you more and more as you honour your feelings and walk in reality ❤️
As you wait for EDM to arrive, here’s a 7 minute video from Leslie on building CORE strength.
I agree with everything JoAnn said. I would add that requiring something of your husband ( that he seek health and wholeness) is the most loving thing you can do. His fear of failure has grown to a point where it is holding your family hostage.
Why not sit and write a loving letter that explains that; you love him and your family too much to stay silent one more day.
Ask God to reveal what requirements you should make. I would suggest when he gets down on himself you say something like, “please stop talking about my husband like that.”
Holding boundaries and requiring steps toward health is the most loving thing you can do. You don’t have to be AT ALL harsh. Just firm.
That’s what love is.
I don’t know if I can require those things though, Nancy. He just won’t take any of the steps that seem to me to be essential. He feels that taking anti-depressants would be another proof of his failure. He doesn’t talk about his unhappiness with anyone apart from me, and the rest of the world thinks that he is thriving and contented! – which leaves even more of a burden on me, as I also sort of have to continue the lie. He also won’t take counselling as he is convinced that we will be losing our source of income soon and so it’s money we can’t afford to spend, and so on.
I have tried so many methods of trying to get him to take some action to look out for his own well-being – gently, lovingly, written, spoken, harshly, confrontationally at times…, but as he just refuses each time, I simply don’t know what else I can do. The only other way seems to me to say ‘Unless you do this, it will be the end of our family’. But since I actually don’t want to leave him (because I still believe in him and in our future as a family), I am not prepared to give that option, in case he accepts it.
And I am tired – it has been way too many years of hoping for a solution that never seems to come. I know that he actually takes a lot of joy from his family and does love us deeply, so it would be terribly sad if he ended up essentially forcing our family to break up because of his inability to accept help.
I do appreciate your kind words and your care – thank you.
Oh Lucie, my heart is heavy for you. I’m so sorry for the burden that he is placing on you and am grateful that you have found this community.
You must be extremely tired. Have you read Leslie’s Emotiinally destructive marriage? She identifies a number of dynamics that are abusive, and dependance is one of them. I can VERY much relate to your heart here, as well as the dynamic (him putting on a front for everyone else, but laying it all at your feet).
I just really encourage you to take steps to build your CORE. Leslie’s resources are very helpful.
The C of CORE is being committed to truth. The more you lie to yourself and others that all is well, the less clear things will be. Speaking truth here is a great start! Can you tell a trusted person, face to face, how much pain you are in?
Happy Birthday, Leslie. The fondue idea sounds wonderful but I’m sure the best part was being all together as a family to celebrate YOU!
I can see clearly your wisdom in your answer here. Where I get confused is, what are my own “options”, with what I perceive as emotional indifference? My husband does go to work everyday. He plays with the kids sometimes. He gets things and fixes things that I need/want. In a nutshell I would say my problem is we don’t resolve issues ever and I feel a constant indifference from him towards my emotional needs as his wife. At the beginning of listening to my wounded spirit, I think I was simply disappointed in our marriage, but as I have tried to talk about and resolve the issues, it has turned into a destructive marriage. What boundaries are there beyond not having sex (because I would need an emotional connection to do that)? My husband and I are both naturally passive, but by listening to my spirit, and learning from God, the scriptures and you I am learning to speak up and not let my spirit be continually squashed by his indifference towards me and what I really want in a marriage relationship. The only times I really see my husbands anger is when I have spoken up and confronted him about something I don’t like or that has hurt me. He says I do it “all the time”. I would say it happens about once a month or so. I have written a confrontation letter and spoken to him face to face about what I need/want. He says back to me that I am accusing him of something that he thinks we are both responsible for because I’m also not being proactive in our relationship. I say I can’t be the initiator and run the whole emotional ship anymore. He puts the blame back on me because he says I’m not on board when he suggests that our “solution” is to read scriptures and pray together, go on date nights where we don’t talk about our problems, he would try to not get frustrated with me and I should try to not analyze and be critical of what he says and overall we would be more kind and affectionate. I think that if we do those things without trying to resolve the problems first, then I am just back to pretending. I asked in my confrontation letter that he find a male that he trusts to be honest with and that we do some sort of counseling. He says we need to try by doing his “list” first.
By continuing to engage with him, you are not keeping your heart guarded. You know that his indifference is destructive, so why are you still trying to convince him?
You’ve written the letter, you know what you need from him. Now it’s for him to make his choice….no?
My suggestion would be for you to go to God and ask Him to help you lay your marriage at the foot of the cross.
I think this is what Leslie means by ‘allowing him to face his own entitlement, immaturity and sin’. It means setting him free to choose, or not choose this marriage. If you keep trying to convince him, he’s still controlling you.
Give the control to God, and then focus all your energy on your relationship with Him ❤️
My husband is denying that it’s his choice and instead turning it around and saying it’s my choice to do the surface pretend stuff and then if I’m not “all in” he says I’m not really trying. So you are suggesting to not engage in this type of conversation, or not engage in talking with him at all? If I don’t engage in this type of conversation then he just thinks everything is fine. That works for him to not step up emotionally. And for the sake of my kids sense of normalcy, I do tend to over function. Don’t we all? But then if you mean don’t talk to him at all, then I’m ending the marriage? Even though I have been dealing with these feelings for a long time, we really have only been “talking” about it for a short time. I think I have grieved “the dream” and I am willing to let the outcome be whatever it will be, but I don’t want it to be premature.
Cathy, I can’t help but wonder if this may be mostly about two very different personalities and styles of communicating. The very best help would be for both of you to get into relationship counseling, but if he won’t go, then you can go for yourself. You have emotional needs that he seems unable to acknowledge, and he definitely wouldn’t know how to without help anyway. Perhaps his ideas would work if the issues that you are dealing with could be resolved by your getting counseling for yourself. At least to the point where you could talk with him in a way that he didn’t feel threatened. A lot of men just can’t handle talking/connecting on an emotional level. My husband was totally unskilled in this when we got married, but over the years, he has learned how to take care of me (50 years), mainly because I taught him and he was teachable. For sure, get help for yourself, then see where that takes you.
JoAnn I agree with you on Cathy being able to get the help she needs.
When you wrote:
“At least to the point where you could talk with him in a way that he didn’t feel threatened.”
This reminded me of some of my own journey with my husband and my continued pain in feeling ‘trapped’.. ‘everything made my h feel threatened’!
What I mean is that as long as their was an honest conversation going on and there wasn’t something superficial ‘operational’ he was a controlling spouse and would uses every tactic of abuse to end the emotional development in the marriage’
So my heart goes out to Cathy because when you have a man who can quickly twist things on you in the moment it’s hard to navigate at all without a 3rd party.
My h had to have a 3rd party because he had no value or respect for my experience let alone hold an ounce of negative disappointment from me.
” A lot of men just can’t handle talking/connecting on an emotional level. ”
Yes, this is an epidemic and they certainly should not form accountability groups with other men that are comfortable not developing this critical area of bonding and connecting.
Requiring counseling individually and possibly marital down the road Cathy is a loving thing especially if you think you are just beginning to address the issues that have been formed from the beginning.
Nancy, I keep thinking about how you said “if you keep trying to convince him, then he is controlling you.” Thank you for that insight. I do always feel “trapped” and anxious when my husband and I get into these “discussions” about our relationship, but I thought it was my passive/shy nature and just the discomfort of being open about saying what is hurting me. Plus I thought since I have held in my feelings for so long ( mostly I just didn’t understand them until Leslie, Patrick Doyle and all of your conversations on here came along to give me words to my feelings) I just figured they were coming out too strong, like a pipe that has been taped up and the tape has busted open. But I think you are right, because he continues to live in denial, he is very motivated to control me with his lack of “understanding”.
Your last post is so good!
You wrote: (something like)
“discomfort about saying what is hurting me.”
Cathy, Does he receive your feelings and what you say that hurts you?
And if he does, what does that look like?
I’m asking…. but my hunch is no, because if he did receive your experience then maybe he could see his impact on you which is a basic requirement for most healthy people ‘ at least wanting to grow’. This to me is as basic as it gets.
Since you say he lives in denial would you say he is trying to get you and your feelings to continue to be denied?
Your feelings and what hurts you in your marriage are valid. He is not the determiner of these things, you are for yourself and your experience.
Hugs and much love to you!
Aly, my husband used to just do the rationalizing, justifying, blame shifting thing when I would try to “be honest”, now he mostly just walks away. A couple of weeks ago we had a hard conversation with our 17 year old son who got pulled over only two weeks after getting his drivers licence and car.. One of my complaints about my husband has been that I am left to handle all of the hard conversations like this, so we attempted to do it together. There were two things my husband ended up saying that were, in my opinion, belittling and shameful. That is not how I want to teach our kids important life lessons, so I said something, but as soon as I started to say, “I thought when you said ____________ it was belittling…” my husband walked away in a huff and said if he can’t talk to our son the way I want then I should just take care of it all myself.
And then I just feel unheard, isolated and alone.
So no, he does not receive my feelings or feedback very well at all.
And as part of the blame shifting he keeps reminding me, that he is just as hurt with our relationship issues too. Because I won’t let it all go, forgive and forget and just try to do the surface stuff.
That’s great insight, Cathy. That “he is motivated to control me with his lack of ‘understanding”.
It took me a long time to realize that being in the position of ‘explaining’ or ‘trying to make him understand’, was futile. Not to mention his masterful ways of baiting me into ‘educating him’. I realized that educating him on how to be a husband was not my responsibility. My responsibility to him was simply this: to speak my needs and limits.
He doesn’t have to agree with you that the marriage isn’t working. If it’s not working for you, that’s plenty.
Now that that reality is ‘on the table’ between you ( in the letter) maybe the question is…how do you keep moving towards strengthening your CORE without getting entangled in the games of control. This is what I meant by not engaging him: Not going down those destructive roads of explaining yourself, trying to convince him etc.. there are likely many of these traps in your conversations…ask God to reveal them, and maybe come up with a ‘one-liner’ and then remove yourself, when you recognize he’s baiting you into going down a destructive road.
And Aly, I can relate to your post above so much. It’s like I am pushing for honest conversation, but when we have it, that is when I feel the full out abuse and denial of responsibility on his part. He shames me and makes me try to feel bad for telling him something hurts me by telling me I am just looking to complain and I’m unwavering in my opinions and this is just the way he is and I make too big a deal out of everything, etc For a long time I never had words for what these things were that were happening to me, it just felt like an attack when I was trying to get my courage on and be honest. It helped so much to learn from Leslie and also from Patrick Doyle videos the tactics of abusers that aren’t so apparent. My husband never hits me, doesn’t use vulger language and doesn’t pressure me into sex, but his blame shifting, justifying, rationalizing and spiritualizing hurt, in my opinion, just as much and because it really only happens with me in our home, it is hidden from everyone else in our lives.
I made the assumption that you had written a letter of confrontation using Leslie’s book, EDM. This is where I was coming from. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend it .
Sorry for any confusion.
Yes I have read the book and I was talking about a confrontation conversation and letter patterned after Leslie’s steps.
Sounds like your husband is in the category of the ‘Mars and Venus’ scenario like many men are. They ‘hide’ in their cave, whereas we are the ones who want the emotional ‘connection’. Even with the confrontation letter, which I have done at least three times with my husband, with not much success, as my husband seems to be emotionally ‘vacant’ in the area of wanting to discuss much of anything about a woman’s emotions.
I have come to the conclusion, through experience, and through self-help books, Leslie’s book EMD marriage included, that WE ourselves are the only ones who can change our own dilemma. Our husbands, or our OCD mothers, (my mother is one where if she doesn’t get your attention, or if she ‘thinks’ you are ‘interrupting’ her, she will say ‘LISTEN TO ME!’ as though I am a child.) This is unacceptable and they will not change even through confrontation. They act like spoiled children if they don’t get their own way, or they don’t want to face the fact that they need to change. Especially if they don’t see it in light of God’s Word either.
It is an entitlement game of wits with them, and it is more destructive to the recipient of the verbal abuse, and it is best to realize that unless they see their ‘need’ to change they won’t. Only God can melt the heart of stone, or the heart of self-satisfaction, or the heart of self-righteousness.
Their problem does not belong to us. And we have to let go of their angst, and get on with our own emotional well-being, as it appears we can talk and confront them until we are ‘blue in the face’ yet we get no where with them.
My conclusion is, grow in the Lord for yourself. If you can’t communicate on an adult level with your husband, then the problem lies with him, and it is only the Holy Spirit, and much prayer which can be the answer, in order to keep your own sanity in tact, as sometimes only God can reach the other person, and sometimes not.
Because of the on-going verbal and emotional abuse, sometimes when a wife has endured this for many years, her psyche can only handle so much of it, and when the verbal abuse from the husband seems to come out of no where in particular, it is even more disturbing and destructive to the soul. It is best to disconnect, stop confronting as the attempt has not done any good. So, establish your own heart, your own goals, become grounded and settled in your own heart with the Lord.
I look at it this way, if by now the confronting has done nothing to alleviate the verbal abuse, then proceed to the next level to redeem yourself from this chaotic ‘dance’. As it is a ‘dance’ of sorts, a circular revolving which takes one back to point A. What you want to do now is to get to point B, which is how to survive this game of cat and mouse. One has to say, ‘I am not listening to you now. Say what you will but I am walking out of this room since we have nothing more to say to each other which will resolve these issues.’
Which is basically the ‘no contact’ rule in your own house. If you can do this safely, continue on with the work in your house which the Lord has given you to do as a wife.
My husband has never cleared his place at the table. I do think there is a lack of respect in our society, as God did appoint the man to be head over his household. Respect has gone down the drain. If he is working full time, I don’t think a man should have to do the menial tasks at hand. And mine hardly ever puts the trash out either. (We do have another house, an investment where he DOES put the trash out at the street, and he rakes the leaves, and keeps things looking quite extraordinary! This is a quandary, as that house is sort of like a ‘mistress’ or ‘hobby’ to him which he dotes on and fixes it up, instead of fixing up our own home we live in. Go figure!)
It has been an ‘unspoken’ rule in our house that ‘daddy’ works hard all day at the office. And yes, I was the housewife and home-schooled my four children too. I know some people will disagree with that format of household duties. That is kind of a ‘every house has its own rules for their own family’, type situation. What works for one family, doesn’t necessarily work for another family, and all of us should not be living in cookie-cutter formats. Nor should we compare ourselves to Suzie Homemaker. Nor Joe Blow. All of our circumstances are similar yet different. My husband does other things to help, which I cannot do, the hard electrical problems, or carrying furniture or heavy objects which a woman should not have to lift. etc.
Just some practical thoughts on the matter of ‘lazy’ husbands, when maybe they aren’t so lazy in some cases. In other cases, there are some dirt bag husbands who do need reforming, and sometimes only God and the Holy Spirit can instigate that change.
I haven’t posted for a few weeks. Just keep in mind that God sees everything whether it is fair to all parties involved or not. Work out your own salvation, work out your own life, do what you have to do to be content and have your joy in the Lord in your own heart, mind, and spirit, and not expect your spouse to provide any of the eternal, supernatural aspects of living for the Lord with the fear of the Lord being at the center of everything you do. Work on your own self if there is no apparent change in your spouse, after the confrontation process is to no avail. Work on your own joy, don’t depend on anyone else to provide that for you.
God’s mercies are new every morning his compassions fail not, God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, and if God is willing to wait til the cows come home, for our spouse to change, then we need to be milking the cows and doing what he wants us to do as individuals and sometimes we need to move forward and let go of things we cannot change. That is just an allegory, as I don’t know many of us who live on dairies!
I’m sorry Many Years for your situation. I so struggle reading your words and how you reconcile your own dilemma.
Your words remind me of my mother and they lead me down a terrible path of tolerating and living in an abusive cycle in a marriage. I’m thankful that my level of tolerating and strength of spiritualizing the very upside down marriage ‘ran out’.
I have a husband in recovery for many of the things you listed of your husband’s behavior. It’s not an easy road by far but it’s work verses resigning. The Lord has certainly brought the blessings to our willingness and my ‘requirements of him through the process’.
I respectfully disagree with much of your thoughts on how to live in such a lonely &non glorifying marriage, I’m sad for your situation but I’m concerned for many women reading your post who are very ‘spent emotionally’ might reason with what you write and it could add more long term abuse and abuse to escalate.
I’ll pray for your heart and your healing.
Thank you, Aly
I appreciate your heart-felt prayers and healing thoughts.
Pray that I will see my way clear to escape this dilemma, and other women too.
I just wanted others to know that they are not alone in their situations and to rely on God, in the mean time, until they do see their way clear when God says ‘This is the way out!’
Like Leslie’s book EDM (I did type EMD!) shows how to build our CORE, and sometimes some of us are a little bit slower to perceive the way out.
I was in no way promoting women to stay in their abusive marriages.
I was just using examples as how to progress to the next level where a woman is confident in the Lord enough to leave the marriage in wisdom.
I do struggle with understanding clearly what you mean and what you are trying to speak into.
If you reread your post it seems as if you are coming from a place of being in a destructive abusive relationship.
Are you in one? Are you out of one?
Many Years, I get what you’re saying because I’ve been where you’ve been, and I’ve felt what you feel. And I’ve done some of the stuff that you’ve done and/or doing. I am confident that you are winning in Christ because I am winning in Christ.As we ALL read through ALL of the posts, the constant is or should be Jesus Christ. The Message Bible says it like this, Philippians 2:12, 14 …you should simply keep on doing what you’ve done from the beginning. When I (Paul)was living among you, you lived in responsive obedience. …Better yet, redouble your efforts. Be energetic in your life of salvation, (work out your OWN salvation) reverent and sensitive before God. That energy is God’s energy, an energy deep within you, God himself willing and working at what will give HIM the most pleasure. Do everything readily and cheerfully—no bickering, no second-guessing allowed! Go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society. Provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God. Carry the light-giving Message into the night so I’ll have good cause to be proud of you on the day that Christ returns. You’ll be living proof that I didn’t go to all this work for nothing.
In answer to Leslie’s question, all of the above suggestions is what happened over the course of my emotionally destructive relationship with my husband. You can add a title to it or simply call it sin. There are times I did nothing but observe our relationship, and times when I emotionally walked away. Times when I set boundaries for myself and times when I have broken them. There were times when I physically left, and times when he physically left. There were obvious times that we joined one another again for good causes and times we joined up for the wrong ones. There were times we thoroughly enjoyed one another and it is in those times you take notes. Through it all, after 37 yrs. of marriage I have grown to realize that we live in a broken world. We can not fix anything. Only God can give us Grace to live through it until something changes because He is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. My husband who was addicted to cocaine and heroine; then sold the substances to put our family in major danger; beat me; lied; stole; cheated; name it and he did it; is now normal as normal can be. He says, that most men that he knows, no matter the age, color or creed, will not mature until their middle 50’s. I told him that he was keeping bad company. But in fact, if this is the “type” of man we were drawn to, we have some traits that attracted them. There’s no getting around or denying sin. My definition for sin is to come short of measuring up to God. Can any of us say that we do? And because we don’t measure up we will have trouble in the world. I struggled mostly with the “be of good cheer” part. How to fake like we were okay. Did you ever fake not having pain when that beautiful baby of yours was being born? We ALL have that pain. Some more than others. My husband and I have a special needs daughter. She was born shortly before we got married but our normal needs son who seemed perfect to us died 7 yrs. ago. When I read Ecclesiastes, it literally speaks to this life that we live. We will go through most everything. The point is, keep going through. We have an enemy who wants to kill us, steal from us, or destroy us. And because I am not willing to give up anything, he comes at us from every angle. Your husband is not the enemy. He might act like he works for him but if you are a praying woman of God, then expect God’s promises to you and you will get them. My children are born again so I will get to spend eternity with them. My hope in always in God, and never man. Hubby is doing well though. He’s kicking himself for not waking up sooner. I overworked and picked up his slack and have seen the faithfulness of God. We are blessed beyond any of the friends we grew up with who do not know God. We are in the process of making new friends and the difference between the old set and the new are like light and dark (pun intended). We don’t feel sorry for ourselves because God is getting the Glory.
I’m happy that your h has finally ‘woken up’ but oh my…
What comes through loud and clear in your post is a message of forebearance ; and I strongly disagree with your underlying message that at the end of the day ‘ this is a broken world’…?
to forbear destruction, is NOT loving.
I agree that our h is not the enemy. That is why we fight FOR them, against sin. Not to forbear the sin.
The day we are married we are made an Ezer. An Ezer doesn’t stay spiritually strong by only praying, she adds ACTION. Our love is in action: The action of guarding our heart against destruction, and the action of requiring ACTION from our spouse.
It is called our ‘walk’ with Christ. He asks us to move. Yes, we move in His timing….but we move.
Nancy, wow!! So well written;)
I can so relate to this;)
Whatever we are to do, we are to make sure it is done to the Glory of God. Not from emotions; not because girlfriends tell you to; not because your mother (and dad) wants you to; not to have a cheering squad; but because the Word of God or the Holy Spirit instructions you to.
My Bible says that God hates divorce. That does not mean you have to stay, but consider why God tells us this before you leave. Be sure that whatever decision you make, that it is with the intention or purpose of showing people the love of Christ.
God is being lifted up in our marriage. We give Him credit for its healing, our healing, our children’s healing, and to future generations because we believe God.
Thanks Aly. I recently had a conversation with a dear friend who was telling me about a relationship she had, just after being saved. He treated her poorly and was a church leader of some kind.
She said that if she wasn’t a Christian (as in, only one year earlier), she wouldn’t have ‘taken that crap’, but because of ‘forgiveness’, she stayed in the relationship wrestling and trying to forgive. Thankfully, her church applied church discipline and because of that, it taught her that we don’t allow ourselves to be treated poorly. She learned what forgiveness is about, in a situation like that.
What freaked me out was that she was so clear that one year earlier, she would’ve walked away without a qualm! This area of forgiveness / reconciliation / forbearance is a playground for Satan.
I am so grateful for the work that Leslie does – shedding light on such twisted thinking!
You cannot possibly show people the love of Christ if you are not actively accepting it yourself. We don’t consider staying or leaving to ‘show’ anything to other people. Demonstrating the love of Christ has nothing to do with what others think, or how things look.
‘Make sure that whatever decision you make, make it with the intention or purpose of showing people the love of Christ’. I could not disagree more. Other people are the LAST thing to consider when you are in a destructive relationship.
Demonstrating the love of Christ has to do with the posture of our HEART. Nothing to do with other people.
Our love flows ONTO others from an in tact heart. The glory of God shines from a heart that is guarded and safe.
No, we don’t leave because of our emotions, but we listen to our emotions on a moment to moment basis because they are a gift from God and they can indicate when something is terribly wrong ( or right for that matter).
I have trouble with over spiritualizing the issue of abuse.
We have been given logic, we have been given emotions. We need to tune into these gifts. When we lean into an awareness of our own being ( body, mind and emotions), we find that He has equipped us very well in alerting us to danger signs ( example- anger is an alert of injustice.)
Jesus turned the tables over in the temple. He got angry.
Spiritualizing how we are to approach the very real issue of abuse is dangerous.
Nancy, (and Teena)
Nancy, I agree with your thoughts on the above post.
I think the umbrella issue to me is that many do spiritualize abuse ~ not usually intentionally, but it’s a wired in approach to being desensitized through abuse in the family of origin. This starts at a very young age of exposure to normalizing these relational dynamics.
Nancy You wrote:
“I have trouble with over spiritualizing the issue of abuse.”
Could not agree more and I think that’s why my internal alarms go off from time to time on this blog, other blogs and in women’s bible study circles etc.
Nancy You wrote:
“We have been given logic, we have been given emotions. We need to tune into these gifts.”
Yes you are correct, tuning in is not following our feelings or making decisions based on ‘how we feel in the moment’ tuning in gives us the awareness to get a bit more insight to take to prayer, others, & scripture to align with. It is collaborative when seeking out clarity on many areas of following God’s ways not just abuse situations.
Nancy You wrote:
“Jesus turned the tables over in the temple. He got angry.”
You are correct, he didn’t just get angry, He took action ‘in proportion’ to the situation in my opinion.
He also walked away from many who didn’t listen.
Nancy You wrote:
“Spiritualizing how we are to approach the very real issue of abuse is dangerous.”
Oh it so is.😥. and it costs not just those directly involved but yes those ‘watching’ from a distance just as the Teena mentioned the importance of showing people the love of Christ, there is important modeling of how we are to act against this behavior and that is showing the Love of Christ.
Too many innocent women (men too) have been exposed to the thinking that Love will conquer abusive behavior or patterns.
My question for those that believe that, … is not that I don’t believe Love won’t,.. or can’t be used…but let’s Define LOVE?
When you see the spiritualizing abuse ~ you see a partner thinking that they are loving their partner well (by tolerating & rationalizing the mistreatment) and in all reality they are feeding a person who needs a lot of help and contributing to the dynamic.
The longer the years go by, the more they feel ‘eventually’ this partner will wake up and see how he has been behaving and the Lord will bless me for my long suffering..
And the sad reality is that sometimes it’s just long suffering (that has grown over time because we all know that sin is progressive) and the Lord all along wanting to bless the individual for making the obedient choices that probably would entail tough love and maybe something redemptive?
Teena, my journey entailed tough love, and I was far from equipped when I said ‘I do’ in marriage… my husband today sees that commitment as life giving, and an aspect of showing the love of Christ to another~
because I was committed to seek the Lord and trust He would equip me.
I had no certainty of our outcome, I trusted that any outcome I could trust the Lord with. That gave me peace pass any understanding. That gave me strength and courage I did not have of myself.. The Lord was life giving to me and I could see how I could participate in His purposes if I chose Him over fear.
My old ways of what I thought was participating in loving well and being an example of Christs love~ was not love it was enabling more evil in my marriage.
When a brave one Looks at the pattern.. they see the dynamic and can choose something different ~ not everyone wants to look at the reality of the destructive pattern so instead often you will see many places of spiritualizing ‘talk’ to reason their pattern. For some, they choose ‘familiar’ over something far from that.
My choices and my risks (unfamiliar) has brought about some pretty awesome truths, redemptive blessings (only through him) and also painful realities (plenty of loss) but my heart is to Trust the Lord and my hope is that He is, who is pleased with me. 💜
This is good Aly.
You mentioned “was enabling more evil in my marriage…”
Do we not allow ourselves the TIME to apply The Word of God’s definition of Love? Which says (NIV Trans):
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is very patient and kind, never jealous or envious, never boastful or proud, never haughty or selfish or rude. Love does not demand its own way. It is not irritable or touchy. It does not hold grudges and will hardly even notice when others do it wrong. It is never glad about injustice, but rejoices whenever truth wins out. If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.
Or do we turn a blind eye to what love REALLY is and buy into the reality TV version?
I am hearing people talk about their spouses not loving, all the while not walking in love long enough to see a result.
Can you put a timeframe of when that other person should get their act together? Did God put one on you?
Does not the Word of God say some died in faith having NEVER received the promises (of blessings). Here is Hebrews 11:37 Some died by stoning and some by being sawed in two; others were promised freedom if they would renounce their faith, then were killed with the sword. Some went about in skins of sheep and goats, wandering over deserts and mountains, hiding in dens and caves. They were hungry and sick and ill-treated…
These are indeed HARD sayings and in fact some people turn away from God because they cannot “eat His flesh and drink His blood”.
It’s a hard walk living this life as a woman of God.
These are not the days of our parents and women who came before them. Open your eyes, these are desperate times.
Do not walk away from God and His Word. We are living in His Grace where He has offered Himself in order that we “might enjoy life.” Yes, God’s Word comes with conditions.
I agree with parts of your statement : “When a brave one Looks at the pattern.. they see the dynamic and can choose something different ~ not everyone wants to look at the reality of the destructive pattern so instead often you will see many places of spiritualizing ‘talk’ to reason their pattern.”
How do you know if I am “spiritualizing”? How would you know any other person’s motives? You can only speak from your own internal dialogue. And unfortunately, most people counsel from their pain and not their victories. That’s why you need professionals.
My hopes are that people do not mental assent to the Word of God and live with abuse with a Que Sera Sera, Whatever Will Be, Will Be attitude; but will take information from Leslie on HOW to get BEYOND being stuck in abuse, while digging our heals in (to the promises of God) for a better outcome, which is called faith.
You said that what I wrote is good. I’m confused on many of your points..
“If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost. You will always believe in him, always expect the best of him, and always stand your ground in defending him.”
I can say from my own experience I was loyal to loving my husband even if that meant tough choices and difficult costs~ many he would not have choosen himself since he was the abuser and taker in the relationship.
Also saying that love is always believing in him, I disagree. Love and trust are not the same track. I can love someone and still not trust them or believe in them. Though their behavior I can decide how trustworthy they are and if I say part of loving them is trusting them
(When they are trust breakers) then I am being foolish to trust out of this place.
Expecting the best of him? ‘Always’ as this is part of love~ hmm not sure I can even say this for myself. I can expect that his words should be congruent with his actions and when they are not, (pattern like) then I don’t think I can have a posture of always expecting the best of him … when he has shown me differently.
You also mention lastly always stand your ground in defending him. This is the real reason abuse cycles are hard to break for this very ‘talk’.
I want to always stand my ground for Christ and Christ’s teachings.. I did and should not have defended my spouse in the hole he created for himself. Defending a person that needs ‘no defending’ isn’t ‘actually help. In ways for me.. fighting for my spouse was not defending his continued ‘lack of maturity’ is was not defending his abusive mindset, it was not defending ‘wrong behavior’, when I knew what was right and healthy.
So Teena, I get quite confused at your writings and your position.. for me Teena I was fighting and defending the purpose and posture of what a glorifying marriage would and could be… I was not going to ‘defend’ a destructive one… at any cost!
That would be foolish when dealing with individuals (spouses) that think their behavior isn’t ‘that bad’.
“And unfortunately, most people counsel from their pain and not their victories. That’s why you need professionals.”
How do you know what their place of counsel is coming from?
For me, I share many places to relate to…out of both my painful experiences and especially my victories that are ‘not’ my own per se, but my willingness to do some difficult things, not knowing the outcome but trusting in His truths and yes Teena professional counseling is something I always redirect to because I feel it is essential especially given the forum of this topic.
My victories is why I am motivated to be here and also be a place of offering what was offered to me. For some, their victories may look different all together than my own but that they are living/thriving in freedom and truth, not in compartments or divided lives.
Some women don’t get free~ and have been taught to misuse scripture to self sooth a very lonely and unhealthy marriage dynamic.
Thanks for the validation.
I pray that women here don’t read these posts and decide to ‘wait on The Lord’ and enter back into the fantasy that God will ‘somehow’ rescue them.
Teena, your posts are filled with spiritual language but little application of biblical principles.
Our heart is the seat of Christ. I don’t care who it is that is compromising it. When it’s compromised and we FINALLY awaken to it….THAT is the miracle. If you have woken up, The Lord is speaking to you.
If you are here, on this site, it is because The Lord has drawn you here. Now what will you do?
Pray…YES. Then….ask Him for your next STEP. Then TAKE THAT STEP.
Prayer is AMAZING. God requires our co-operation. He does split the sea, but we need to WALK THROUGH IT.
This blog, is one of the ways that He is splitting the sea for many of us.
What STEP does He want you to take?
Nancy, & Teena
Thanks for that clarification Nancy! So true and so much about the freedom out, instead of redecorating the ‘cell’ so to speak. I got out and my husband too. But even if he didn’t I had decided who I wanted to please and fear more.
Teena, your last post I haven’t had a chance to respond.. you made a couple points I agree with (at least I think I did for a moment) and then I believe there were some areas that many get tangled up in.
I plan to reply later because I don’t want to create more confusion.. goodness haven’t we all had enough of the twisting and blurring of the lines.
Thank you for so clearly articulating your limits and struggle with many years’ posts. Your honesty about your limits encourages us each to ‘own our own limits’, and makes for healthy dialogue!
I think Leslie answered the question really well, so I don’t know of anything I’d add at this point. However, I had a thought in reading the above: What if pastors, or whoever gives the pre-marriage counseling, would lay our more carefully what is biblically expected of a spouse in marriage. Sort of a spiritual pre-nuptual agreement. I don’t think most couples have a clue. For example, if a man is not providing for his family, he is worse than an unbeliever. And God expects us to treat each other like or even better than strangers, as in being kind to each other. You can disagree without being unkind. Kindness at all times is basic. And lay out what that looks like. No lying. No addictions. And then explain that if these things aren’t in place, the person walking away is not the one breaking the covenant, but the one breaking God’s laws is. The deliberate constant breaking of these basics would make the marriage an unequal yoke.
Connie….I could not agree with you more. It seems the pre-marriage counseling needs extensive work to prepare people for what a,healthy marriage entails. Also, when it is broken down, perhaps a return to the basics of what marriage, love and relationship entails. If one or both spouses want no part of this……then perhaps they really don’t want to be a married person. So decisions moving forward become very clear.
Even when couples go through premarital counseling and discuss the roles in marriage, and acceptable behaviors etc, and seem to agree, there can be problems if one or both of the spouses is/are not being truthful (as with narcissists). It’s important to look at actions and make sure they match a person’s words. But if a person is intent on deceiving another, it is very often tough to see through. Sometimes I think it is easier for a narcissist to deceive Christians than others.
The hardest part for me was respecting the boundaries that God was calling me to.
In other words, stopping my over-functioning. Over-functioning is boundary-busting behaviour people! ( note, I am preaching to myself here )
This meant giving up my ‘dream marriage’. It meant facing the very real possibility that my h would choose denial, over me.
But the pain of that slow death became too much to bear.
To the writer: you are only 7 years in. This is REALLY good news. If and when you implement your boundaries and requirements, The Lord will begin to reveal to you if there is hope for the marriage. It may take time and it will be hard, but 7 years…! Good for you for reaching out.
When kids are involved, and the other parent isn’t doing his or her share, it’s difficult not to overfunction.
This is where I find myself. I know I am over-functioning, but with four minor children I do not know what else to do. I have considered separating just so that the dysfunction is obvious instead of hidden. I will still need to do all that I do now, but it would not be under the pretense that we are in an equitable marriage.
I agree, Maria. In my case my over-functioning was mostly emotional, even spiritual. Physically I had an equal partner ( in fact he coped by ‘doing more for his family’, which often resulted in him doing more than me).
This was really confusing for me because on the surface he was ‘such a good guy’.
The boundaries that I have to be more attuned to are inner, emotional limits…not physical ones.
So…as far as kids go. On the surface, there was no over-functioning on my part, BUT children are very sensitive, they knew something was VERY off. My emotional over-functioning spilled onto them, too. I am now starting to learn how to shift emotional responsibility to them ( teaching them, and modelling using “I” statements, teaching them , and modelling, how to own emotions without taking them out on others, telling them to “row their own canoe” when they get in the middle of what is not their business (and owning it when I don’t “row my own canoe”)
“Row their own canoe” when they get in the middle of what is not their business (and owning it when I don’t “row my own canoe”) I really love that statement. It has made my day. Sounds better than saying mind your business.
This idea is so good and concise, simple,but sadly counselors haven’t said it to me:
“….possibility that …you won’t be able to do your work while still living with him in the same house because he is so toxic and has already worn you down. It may be that you need to initiate a separation from him in order to find your voice and be able to gain the strength to have your boundaries. ”
My marriage counselors should have emphatically told me this so that I wasn’t suffering for years and dwindling away energy-wise. Thank you Leslie.
“Friend, how did you get out of the stuck place of over-functioning and finally allow your husband the opportunity to face his own immaturity, entitlement and sin?”
This is just a mess: “. . . .He spends all of his money and has nothing to show for it. I’m constantly in fear that he is using pills/substances again but have no way to prove it. . . . . He spends over $1,000 a month and can’t account for it. I’ve begged him to provide receipts – he says he will, but never has. He is a chronic liar so I have zero trust in most everything he says. . . . .He said he needed the cash to purchase his prescription medication, so I gave in and gave him money. I later called the pharmacy and he never picked up his medicine – another lie. . . . . I guess my question is, how do you know when you’ve done enough in Gods eyes? I love the Lord and my biggest desire is to honor him and my biggest fear is to give up on the marriage and throw my life even more off course if it’s not in alignment with God’s will.” . . . .a total mess.
“Through it all, I stuck by him and tried to ‘fix’ everything through prayer and earthly measures including Christian counseling and the advice of my pastor.” . . . .Your situation reminds me of the Frederick Douglass situation:
“I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer at all until I prayed with my legs.” ―Frederick Douglass, Autobiography
. . . Christianity is so, so beautiful when people are trying to outgive each other (praying, caring, loving, really sharing), but when things really malfunction, what are we to say? “. . . Colossians 3:22 “Slaves, obey your masters in everything. . . “; Ephesians 6:5 “. . .Slaves, obey your masters with all respect and fear. . . .”; 1 Peter 2:18–20, “Slaves, obey your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust and cruel. Likewise, you wives. . .” Those issues require the Frederick Douglass solutions: logic, reason, evidence about what creates human flourishing, et.al. Christianity eventually changes and gets there by vast text deconstruction and very creative hermeneutics but people don’t have centuries to wait. Logic, reason, evidence about what creates human flourishing is the true foundation of liberty. How many women are there . . . .who because of their husbands’ ________ spend their weary lives in the bond of marriage in greater suffering than if they were slaves among the Saracens? In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery. In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism (and it was almost lost). This century, gender equality around the world? . . . Logic, reason, evidence about what creates human flourishing. . . .Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another. Without a central loyalty life is unfinished.
My daughter was married at 26 to a well educated Christian man who had a secret, he was addicted to oxycontin. We had no idea. His mother did, she was his supplier. What ensured was a heart breaking marriage, that thankfully only lasted 16 month.
I learned a great deal from this experience. I stood firmly opposed to divorce to the point of what I now realize was legalism. Yet, when my daughter was living with a hopeless addict who even found ways to get drugs while in a Christian inpatient facility. Our family realized, with the counselors strong concerns that this was very going to get better. We were told the most likely outcome, in addition to going broke, was that my daughter would suffer her own physical, emotional or psychological conditions as she tried to cope in such a terrible marriage.
Thankfully, she divorced the confused, ill young man. It hurt all of us. As, I read many of the above posts, I am so very thankful she took the action she did. The addition of children to such a union seems terrible.
I don’t imagine this is exactly what some may have wanted to read, but now, many years later, it never got better. The handsome, well educated, X-son-in-law is still an addict, still can’t keep a job and lives between 1/2 houses, inpatient treatment and his parents.
Sometimes a relationship just has to end.
Thank you PT for being brave enough to share and help turn the light switches on for others! I also applaud your humble heart in confessing legalism as a parent. Well done! There is a way to leave ‘to the glory of God’ and stay ‘to the glory of God’. Sin has consequences, sometimes the best thing we can do for another human being is get out of their way. Thank you again!!!
PT, I am torn with your reply because you say my daughter was married…but also you say, I stood firmly opposed to divorce…
You seem to, I am not sure, accuse his mother for doing what she might thought was okay, all the while you were doing for your child.
We really don’t know if she gave him the drug or money for his survival. As with you, if you did not help your daughter or she would go broke.
You mention the word Christian a couple of times, but I did not see the word, God. I am curious to know if you know Jesus Christ and that He died for all of our sins. As I read this, I hope this young man truly knows this.
I don’t advocate his behavior. He is an addict. He choose the behavior and will have to live with it, change it, or clearly he is going to die.
I am not so sure of being relieved that he is not your problem any more.
Let’s intercede for his soul and go to God on his behalf asking for this young man’s deliverance and salvation. If you are not a Christian please forgive me for assuming.
I read the question and I have a very similar story. It took the birth of my only child and recognizing an addiction my spouse had to pain pills which began a journey into freedom. It has been a 4 year process. It began with a brief separation, my spouse going into rehab, leaving rehab early, continued separation and time of hoping for a change, to ultimately making the decision to divorce, which Then became a year and a half process.
I was broken hearted for several years, and had to keep moving forward facing one difficulty after another And enduring a lot of pain, shame and then frustration. It’s a very difficult process! But in the end, praise God as He rescued me from a destructive marriage!
And by me breaking free, my former spouse is now given a better opportunity for real change As he no longer has a spouse who allows And enables destructive behavior.
It’s sad and difficult to accept that destructive behavior in a Spouse is not changing. But I don’t believe we are called to live in this type of bondage. Living in reality and truth is best! I hope you find the courage to move forward into the light And away from this bondage.
Thank you Leslie for posting my story and providing such thoughtful biblical advice. When you’ve lived in dysfunction and with deception for so long it’s hard to know what is true and normal. It creates so much self doubt. I feel like your response and the supportive comments from others has validated my decision to separate from my husband in an effort to gain clarity and wisdom. After 5 weeks of separation, God continues to give me the clarity and wisdom I’ve asked for. My husband tried to guilt me in the beginning but now remains silent. I drop my son with him twice a week-and they speak on the phone daily. Other than that we don’t have any contact other than occasional random text that contains no substance. He hasn’t attempted to repair the relationship or himself in any way. In the past I would have tried to nudge him along-offering hints or suggestions on things he should say or do to make the situation better. I believe that I am setting boundaries by not doing that and letting him be. It feels very good to speak out and connect with other women.
Wow~ I’m so sorry for your situation but you are doing the right things even though they are painful! Goodness, your husband is obviously abusing drugs or substances.
I think Leslie said something like …you will see if he is interested in carrying his own load and so far ‘he doesn’t seem interested, and he might find another person with poor boundaries to take advantage of.
Of course this has absolutely nothing to do with your value and worth! It’s about him sadly, and I have found that some people just don’t value relationships because of the energy ‘real healthy relationships’ take!
I think you did a courageous and loving thing for yourself and your son..and the Lord will equip you on your path~ 💖
Both paths ‘are painful’ but one leads to restoration and healing and the other is just more pain and sometimes even deeper bondage harder to get away from.
Hugs and prayers for you precious Lindsey!
All the reading I’ve done in Leslies books and on this site have really opened up my eyes to the reality of my life. I am in a destructive marriage. My husband is verbally and at times physically abusive. I handle 90% of the household expenses. When I have asked for help, he acts angry, aggressive and abusive. I have been conditioned in my marriage to do everything in my power to “keep him happy.” It is and never will be enough. He even tells me that if he leaves me that my daughter will resent me for driving her father away. I know that I need help. I have seen several counselors both with and without him. One told me I needed to find a way to get along with him. Another told me that I needed to teach him how to be a good husband. And three others simply told me to leave him. I realize that it may be best to separate. I just dont know how. I feel emotionally chained to him. I realize I am a codependent and have tried to get counseling. Where do I go and how do I find the strength and resolve to get out of this marriage? I am full of fear, guilt and uncertainty and dont know how to even begin leaving.
The first thing I would do is look at your finances. Think about where you and your daughter would live. Contact ypur local or the national domestic violence shelter. Make another appointment with one of the counselors who told you to leave. You will need a team of people to do this since, as you say, you are being psychologically control led at this time. Don’t believe a word he says to you. Try to think for yourself. You don’t need his permission to leave. You can just leave. Better yet if he leaves and you can keep your child in her own bed. This goal may have to wait until later. I can’t stress enough that you need a team of people to help you. I had only two people and the domestic violence shelter person. I got our. You can too.
Thank you Rebecca. Its refreshing to know that others have been through my same situation and have made it out. I feel so weighed down with anger, resentment, grief and guilt. I know he will make it out okay if I leave him, but part of me feels like Im abandoning a needy person. However, the more time passes the more fearful I grow and the more I lose myself. I need to get out and it breaks my heart to say it.
Everytime Im ready to throw in the towel he tells me he wants things to change. He tells me he loves me and my daughter more than anything in the world and that we are his only family. I told him I wanted to separate because I could not stand the verbal abuse anymore. He told me that I just need to stop playing the victim. He says that if I try harder to show him that I love him that he promises he will try harder too. He is verbally abusive and often tells me he and my daughter are better off with me dead. He calls me all kinds of names and threatens to “beat me up” when I do anything that bothers him. I really dont know that “trying” will make anything better, but I dont know that Im ready to leave either.
Hi Sam, I’m just wondering why he thinks he can demand you to try harder first, before he does. First of all, I’m pretty sure you have been trying as hard as you can, secondly, since when are we exempt from doing right unless another person is doing right? That sounds a lot like, “The woman you gave me, she made me eat.” Doesn’t it? A husband being the ‘head’ is the initiator and the first to sacrifice for the family, isn’t he? ‘As Christ is head of the church’…….did Jesus say he would only be kind if people were kind to Him first?
Oh, I know he won’t listen to that logic, I’m just saying. Proverbs is clear that a fool only (and then only sometimes) listens to consequences, never words. Only a wise person hears words, and I think he’s shown himself not wise already, don’t you think?
My 1st h, when I showed him pertinent scripture, would turn his head and say, “I don’t want to read that.” Or, “Don’t you know that what I don’t want to hear, I just block out?” At least he was honest about that!
I’m very sorry for your situation but this is wayyyy beyond any point of safety for yourself and especially your daughter. His threats ‘are dangerous’ and you need serious help that can assist you to get safe.
I second that. His words are dangerous, and with threats like that, please don’t tell yourself that he probably doesn’t mean it. You have to get safety for both yourself and your daughter. If he believes he would be better off without both of you, then take him up on that and get out. Fast.! Before he does something drastic.
Sam, why wouldn’t you be ready to leave, when he has threatened your life? Go to Leslie’s blog about “Signs of danger means it’s time to flee.”
I dont know why I havent already left. On occassions after he has calmed down I have told him that I do not like his threats. He dismisses them and tells me he would never “hurt me”.He tells me I am crazy for thinking that he could hurt me. He tells me he is not like other “abusive” men and that Im lucky he is not like that. I know that many of the things he says make no sense and Ive grown weary of trying to get him to see things in a more rational way. I know that part of my problem lies in me. Everytime I have left for the night (or two or three) he tells me to come home because he loves me and wants us to be a family. He tells me that he only says mean things to me because he felt hurt and he wanted me to hurt too. I feel like Im too wound up in this sadistic web. I want out but the guilt and fear overpower me. I feel guilty for leaving someone who is clearly troubled. He has no one because he pushes everyone away including friends and even his own family. I feel like leaving him would be abandoning him. On the other hand I feel afraid of his reaction if I ever do leave him for good. I need help and I dont know how to get it. I pray to God to give me a sign and to pave the way for me and my daughter to be free of this life. Even thinking about it and making this post makes me feel guilty as if I am betraying him.
Sam, your husband clearly has some problems….he needs help, but not help that you can give him. Probably the best help you can give him would be to leave so that he will be forced to own his damaging behavior. If you have been following some of the messages on this blog, and especially the one about the husband that won’t let his wife contact her daughter (it’s running concurrent to this one), you will have read about the damage that these destructive relationships do to the children. Sam, if not for yourself, at least for your daughter’s sake, get out and get help. The guilt is false. It does not belong to you. He must own his behavior, and the only way that can happen is when you force the issue by setting hard boundaries, or leaving. If he really loved you, he wouldn’t treat you this way. We are all pulling for you. Lean on the Lord. Think about whether this marriage honors God. Is this what the Lord wants for you, to suffer like this? For your daughter?
Yours and his behavior is totally unacceptable. Tell him he DOES hurt you and please do not send mixed messages (like feeling guilty for leaving him, then coming back). He will get help, or practice total restraint, otherwise you will not subject yourself to live like that.
Do something different. During discussions, try and not arouse anger. Approach him at times when he is peaceful and after he has time to unwind from work. Not during TV watching. See if changing the times to approach him will work. Use nonthreatening tones. Try starting the conversation with, “What do you think about…?” to get his opinion. Do not expect him to hold a long conversation with you at first. Men are wired differently. If you get an answer from him, give him a compliment. Thank him for his reply.
But if he is suspicious and combative when you’ve tried to have a genuine conversation with him, then you are subjecting yourself and children to danger.
If you are in danger, but you have successfully left the relationship for two, three or four days at a time, then construct a plan during those times to be safe and stay permanently.
Sam has already noted that she is weary of trying to make things more rational with him. One thing about this man is that you can’t reason with the unreasonable!
By you telling her that her behavior is unacceptable ~ I would like you to be specific?
She has been trauma bonded to me because of what he says to get her back as she is already in a state of anxiety and fear full of emotional abuse when she leaves him.
Sam, listen to what JoAnn wrote, you can’t help him with the help that he desperately needs and even ‘that’ he may not respond to.
None of this is actually love~ this is unhealthy attachment where you are caught victim to ‘his’ character issues and any man that talks such nonsense and would treat you in such a way has a lot of development to do. He is far from any relationship capability. Doesn’t his behavior tell on him?
A person who wants the other person to hurt Because they are hurting has a serious issue with lots of their own trauma to work through. You don’t have to be the temp garbage pail.
If you really love him you will get necessary help for ‘yourself’ and require him to get professional help also.
Separately of course. He is abusive and needs lots of treatment so separation is most likely because even if he does get help his abuse most likely will escalate in other ways.
Do you have supportive strong women in your corner that can help you? This isn’t something any of us do on our own. Make sure those supportive understand what is the abuse cycle and what things he is doing to you behind closed doors.
A person who treats you like this ~ treats you this way because of how much they don’t like themselves. Not that you don’t already know that.
This is not your job to fix, reason or assist. They have not ability to reason, so attempting to create the pleasing environment will only discourage/deplete you more and my gut tells me you have attempted this several times?
Plus if your standards for ‘repair’ are low… they are happy to meet you there and make the bar lower over time because each ‘episode’ reinforces them to continue and seek more power and control. They are not seeking love and true connection they are seeking ‘comfort’ for their own internal issues that are not healthy.
You are not dealing with an adult~ you are dealing with a man that is a very very small chaotic child on the inside that needs specific care.
Choose to be willing for him to be very mad (maybe even despise you) as you create your separation and requirements for him. He doesn’t think that his behavior should have consequences ~ he thinks that by calming down and drawing you back in… that, that is enough of an apology.
Well hears why it’s not an apology.. it’s a cycle. When someone is serious about an apology ~ they do not continue to harm or repeat their behavior. They are concious about it and have awareness to change, making healthy responses.
When it is a repetition or pattern, then you are clear on it being abusive. That is the only rational response you may offer (at a distance) and with professional counseling involved.
Your bar needs to be very high especially since you have already been through so much!
And mostly too you have a daughter~
In Proverbs, we are instructed to not rescue an angry man or we will just continue to do it.
There is a lot of women here who can relate and offer support virtually, your not alone, your not betraying him. Allow others to speak love and truth into you so you can find yourself again and heal. 💖
Prayers for your heart, daughter and your journey out. God loves you!
Your guilt is not from God. Wife’s are not responsible for H mental,spiritual and financial health. My H wasn’t as threading but damage and mistrust in God from my adult kids is worse guilt that I’m working to heal from. There’s another Lundy Bancroft book Why men do what they do and the women who stay with them. My H read it looking to blame me. There were many examples of why we stay. For me and possibly you. It was fear he would spiral down financially, depression , possible suicide and spirituall anger and I would hurt him. It’s been 16 months. None of it came close to happening. He did seek help. After 3 different councelors we are making progress. Of course no one knew what they were talking about until he was ready to hear. Pastor before this was on right track but H needed more healing of his own hurts. Each time I would ask for divorce or legal separation he would get serious about counceling. I was always helping or setting up appts. I stopped and said here’s 2 places he can choose. He did then begged me to go also alone. I did he understood I needed healing also. Teach your daughter that she also doesn’t need to be subjected to abuse by anyone. Hard decision. Local shelter has resources and Focus on the Family radio show has a 1-800 number for help
Your post is so good, well written and glad that your husband is finally taking personal responsibility for his recovery work.
I can relate a lot to that path and a husband making several attempts. My reasons for staying were not the ones you mentioned but depended upon the experts along our way assisting me with the depth of our issue and my husband’s willingness to get help and remain getting help.
“Each time I would ask for divorce or legal separation he would get serious about counceling.”
Don’t they?, this is so typical it almost seems like it’s part of the path. My counselor says that the pain and cost has to be enough weight for a person to stop their spiral down. Especially when they have had numerous years learning to function and cope at such a level.
I think an important factor of energy is to evaluate what energy is producing what outcome. We all can throw energy and effort to things… being spouses of these individuals…
this doesn’t make it profitable it’s like doing an exercise the ‘wrong way’, it’s still exhausting with effort, but we might not be getting the results we are after.
Glad your husband is working his side of recovery.Praise God for this.
Aly, Thhsnk- you for response. I liked your insight on where we are putting our energies. when not Gods plan likddoimg exercises backwardsL. Gods word picture. Our pastor preaches a lot on idols of the heart . They s be obvious sins but also blessings. An be an idol;
Our Children so we don’t discipline . We have a child centered home
Marriage can be an idol or a spouse. Spouce or marriage and holding onto it even in abondonment and abuse we don’t let go.
I had to let go of H which gave me freedom to run to Jesus
Such comfort and protection I felt. Ps. 91 came alive and treat to me.
Praying for your efforts to be where Jesus wants them. Thanks to all of you for being so transparent. You have all helped give me clarity, hope, and understanding.
Dear Sam, Have you read the book, “Why Does He Do That?” by Lundy Bankcroft? He gives so many examples of how abusive men operate, one being that they are always saying ‘she should be happy she has me because I’m not as bad as those other guys”. You’ll probably find many more examples in that book that will give you ah-ha moments of clarity, too.
Read, read, read. And document everything. Record if you have to. When you are in the middle of it, it is really hard to remember stuff and to sort out the truth. There recently was an article on A Cry For Justice about how women often say, “But there were some good times!” Or the husband will say, “But we had some really good times, didn’t we?” They were pointing out that that is not even true. With an abuser, everything is about him. Even the ‘good’ times are just selfish ploys to suck you in or make you stay long enough for the next cycle to start. They enjoy causing hurt. And that is evil. Think Judas.
Leslie, I have been following your blog for a couple of years now and I just had to write and thank you so much for clearly outlining 3 options that describe our choices for this type of scenario. My journey is this: add pornography into it and the above story was my 32 year marriage, so similar to the story of many other women. With God’s help and the help of my counsellor, I began the process of option 3 and initiated a separation with clear boundaries. The boundaries were not respected. The lies continued, as did his rationalizations of his behaviour and the minimizing of his actions, among other things. The process truly was agonizing, but I eventually came to the point in time where I knew, without a doubt, that I had just done enough and God expected no more from me. I initiated a divorce in spite of the darts thrown my way, such as: I had no biblical grounds for divorce; divorce was not a just and righteous consequence and perhaps I needed to go before the elders for their “blessing”. The peace I experienced as I resolved to move forward was without a doubt from God. It has now been 1 1/2 years since my divorce was finalized, but even now, words such as Leslie’s continue to give affirmation and encouragement and are such a blessing to me. My theme verses during my process have been Isaiah 43:18-19. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”. By God’s grace, my life is both not what I imagined it would be, but more than I could ever imagine and I am so grateful for God’s redemption. Praying for wisdom, strength, and courage for those making tough decisions right now……
I realized why I stayed With my , irresposible depressed , emotionally abusive H who blamed me and dumped his emotions on me even when he admitted he did it. Don’t divorce, but fear kept me also. Fear of his financial ruin, unable to cope with life, suicide and I would feel responsible if any of those happened. I never verbalized any i of it. I understood it after I left. Separated 15 months and none of it happened. He has acquired some dept but is working more than he ever did when together. Leslie gave great advice I hope you don’t get stuck like I did. 35 years.
Good for you!! That took a lot of courage, and now that you are out, you are seeing things more clearly. I hope that this encourages some of the others here who are afraid to go.
To clarify The idea that you Dont divorce was A reason I stayed. I understand that isn’t a good reason to stay and to bring up kids in distruction. I also thought cause I was functioning in life and doing the Christian walk I wasn’t being destroyed.
Simply put, an addiction can not be trusted with money. He must be willing to not hold money, to be more responsible ible as a husband in earning a salary or accept that the marriage will break up. It’s already broken. I know it’s so easy to say and very hard to put into action, but be calm and pleasant, but firm otherwise you will end up tired, broken and with no security for your old age.
I am struggling because I filed for divorce and my husband says he has had this spiritual transformation and completely changed. Whilst some of his emails have not reflected this, he is now being extremely nice and reasonable he apologised for everything, took full responsibility (verbally) for his behaviour. But then his emails have shown that he doesn’t actually get it and doesn’t get why I was living in fear and the emotionally abusive dynamic that was there. My closest friends also say he has totally changed and now engaging with God and his faith and going to church. I am finding this even more difficult as there is pressure to reconcile but it feels like there are lots of steps missing. It feels like I’m losing my voice again because he’s so reasonable and is saying all the right things. We have a three year daughter too. There is much more but it almost feels harder that he’s making effort as I feel like he has ‘split’ off from the difficult stuff within him and not really addressed the roots so that it will surface again – which has been the pattern in our 18 year marriage. Our daughter’s birth triggered three years of relentless abusive behaviour that forced me to the point of deciding there was no other option than to file for divorce.
Hi so sad,
Listen to your instincts; not your friends, or your h.
Lean into God. You said it very well. You feel as though he is ‘split off’ from himself. This is perceptive!
Leslie has previous blog posts on how to tell if someone is changed.
The biggest indicator of a changed heart is he would NEVER pressure you, and would wait and give you as much space and time as YOU needed in order for HIM to build trust. That trust is built in his ability to RESPECT your boundaries. That means that he would give up total control and allow you to call the shots.
That’s a humble heart.
Nancy & So Sad,
Such good directives Nancy! I could not agree more.
As you choose to call the shots to healing you can test to see if he really does want to look at the roots to the behavior and address them, his response and his follow through will give a lot of clarity.
As well as any consistency of his posture.
If it’s short lived, you no his behavior is only modified and he will continue to try to ‘dance’ the old familiar pattern.
I also agree what he is emailing you isn’t what everyone else sees.
You are seeing heart truth.
My councelor and pastor always say time tells truth. After 5 months of separation 2x I would ask for divorce/ separation and H would admit his abuse return to counseling . Slowly not taking ownership for his behavior and pointing finger at my faults and expressing he’s waiting for me to change. Again blaming me for his behavior. Yes I have sinned but not responsible for his sins toward me .
The emotional neglect to me and kids not mentioned.
Ohio allows legal separation that separates assets but not a divorce. Later can be made by either partner a divorce with same custody support etc in place.
He has not changed only external behaviors.
Trust takes time to build, “So Sad.” Watch from a distance, for a long time, to see if the change is real. If he can maintain his “change” even when he thinks you won’t come back, then perhaps you can begin to recover something. Meanwhile, Please don’t attempt to go back. Not for a good, long time. Tell other well-meaning people that you are watching for evidence of real change and that is going to take some time. Then ask them to please not pressure you, as you have a lot of healing to do away from him. Broken souls don’t heal quickly.
Also, just because he has a “conversion experience,” doesn’t mean he is changed in his core. The change in attitudes and behavior, that is, the transforming work of the Holy Spirit, takes time. Real transformation doesn’t happen overnight. So, he apologized and owned his behavior….is he getting counseling to help him do the necessary work to change? your well-meaning friends don’t see this. Let your own heart tell you what to do, not other people.
My husband had multiple conversion experiences they never last very long.
I am so sad. Counselor today told me I needed to make a decision today (like during the session) that either I would work on my marriage or I would not.
That I was being unfair to my spouse pretty much. That I should not involve others to help with our marriage. Speaking of the church. I am so hurt. Husband had all the time he needed to muck things up but I don’t have time to heal and go slow.
After the session, I felt double teamed and like I am at fault all over again.
I’m so sorry, I don’t know how I can add any comment really I don’t know your situation ~ at least not familiar..
It’s sounds quite concerning though given the post you wrote about the counselors comment, is this a professional?
Maybe others can chime in to bring comfort and any form of wisdom?
Hugs dear sister 💖
Aly, I see now how to respond individually. This counselor goes to court dealing with problematic kids and their parents. On the first visit, she did a feel of us and said we were the problem. I asked her if she had experience working with abuse. She said yes.
However, last week proved she did not. I’m no expert but feel she missed several opportunities to have husband examine himself.
For example; when my hubby said he would not be ok with me going out with friends. She told me how to be respectful in informing him that I was going out. She did not question him on why he feels he is the one to decide whether or not I could go with friends or be away from him.
He stressed how he disliked this deacon at our church and did not like me talking to him. She did not question that either. Just asked me why I would talk to someone knowing my husband does not like him. Why would I give him my husband number? When I explained that he, as the pastor, wanted to reach out to him that was not acceptable. She agreed with my spouse.
I don’t know how many sessions you have had with this counselor.., but any Counseling sounds like best to be individually (regardless of the marital status). Your husband’s issues sound pretty severe and it’s getting enmeshed with the kids in a serious way.
“For example; when my hubby said he would not be ok with me going out with friends. She told me how to be respectful in informing him that I was going out. She did not question him on why he feels he is the one to decide whether or not I could go with friends or be away from him.”
I agree with her telling you that you can be respectful (even when your husband chooses to not be) I agree with you that much is needed from a professional ~ to address your husband’s’ ideals’ irrational expectations or entitlement attitude ..and his own other issues.
She didn’t say that you shouldn’t go out with your friends. To me it sounds like she supported you go out and wanted you to be respectful ‘apart’ from his immature behavior.
I’m trying to best offer any support here Renee, your husband sounds like he crosses many boundaries and a separation may be the safest place for you and the children.
I’m sorry for his back issues, wheel chair or walker … how is he able to physically ‘remove a bedroom door’?
Maybe I’m getting confused with posts, so I apologize if I’m way off here.
Renee, I think that at the very least, we can say that this counselor is not very insightful, and she certainly missed some very important pieces of the interactions with your husband. You are right; she should have called him on those points. I don’t know if you have any other options for help, but if you do, I would suggest finding another counselor for yourself. Husband has this one bamboozled. If there is no one else for you to work with, it might at least be informative to have a session with her alone and call her on those points you wrote about. She definitely has some learning to do. Recommend Leslie’s books to her. Then tell her you are not coming back and wasting your money. May the Lord lead you on the path He has for you, and give you peace.
I consulted another counselor today following the guidelines you all suggested. She sounds like she knows her stuff. This is the counselor I found last year but husband would not make the final call.
She wants to counsel me even if hubby does not counsel. I told her my insurance only covers annual women’s stuff.
However, I may use the money I’ve been trying to save toward counseling if needed but did tell her I was trying to plan.
Renee, I’m so glad you found someone else to work with. Do whatever it takes (an extra job?) so that you can get the help you need to break free. Hard work, but so worth it!
Renee, I am sorry and will pray for your situation today. You don’t give many details here, but if you are in couples’ counseling for an abusive situation, your counselor is having a typical reaction. Couples counseling does not work for abusive situations for a variety of reasons (both Leslie and the blog CryingOutforJustice address this.), and most counselors are so trained to see marriage counseling as equal responsibility that most counselors can’t effectively address abuse. If you are in an abusive situation, yes, it is important to have a few people that know the details and can help in different ways. Some of the counselors we have seen as a couple have accused me of pointing the finger at my husband, etc., but my husband was refusing to address abuse issues. The marriage can’t be fixed until abuse stops. The cryingoutforjustice blog has an article about repentance (so we can know better if our husbands are truly repentant) which may help you with your comment on needing time to heal. Yes, we do need time to heal and to know if we can trust our husbands again. My hubby moved back into our house and was only partially repentant, so the problems have resurfaced.
HI Renee, Aly and Elizabeth,
I’m so sorry Renee, for this abuse! It is really NOT acceptable. When police get involved it is crystal clear sign that he is completely out of control. It’s amazing how our survival mechanism can make us completely dull to the danger of our situation. Your situation is dangerous to your heart, your mind and your body!
From what I can gather here, you are educating yourself on abusive dynamics. As Elizabeth says couples counselling will NOT work with a man who does not take responsibility.
I think many of us ( myself included) go into counselling because somewhere we are are asking our h’s permission to become healthy, and somewhere we have a ‘you change first’ mentality.
Your h has shown repeatedly that he is not willing to ‘go first’ down the road of change. Of course this is what we want. A man to lead, to protect, to grow in Christ. But what if he shows over and over that he won’t??? Then…it’s up to us.
It’s up to you Renee. To take steps toward health. Build your CORE. Read. Stay on this blog. Dump your counsellor. Surround yourself with ‘right others’ who build you up.
Re: “. . . .I guess my question is, how do you know when you’ve done enough in Gods eyes?” I love the Lord and my biggest desire is to honor him and my biggest fear is to give up on the marriage and throw my life even more off course if it’s not in alignment with God’s will. Looking for biblically based counsel, thank you!”
. . . .Further thoughts . . .
I would also suggest you may want to ask yourself: What is the Holy Spirit telling me to do? . . . .because if you ask other Christians, you can get all kinds of different answers. If God really wants something from you, He will tell *you*. He wouldn’t leave someone else to do this, as if infinite God were short on time. . . .And He will certainly not leave fallible, sinful humans to deliver an endless plethora of confused and contradictory messages, as they see things through all their filters and biases ☑ (. . . by-the-way, biblically based counsel is all over the map. . .That “answer”is a different answer depending upon even which century of Christianity you are asking it in. That question will yield very different answers: 1st vs. 5th centuries vs. 7th vs. 13th vs. 17th vs. 19th vs. 21st century. That “answer” is floating along with what culture inside the churches is saying). . . .God will deliver the message Himself, directly, to you and to every one of us, and with such clarity as the most brilliant being in the universe could accomplish. You will hear Him and shout “Eureka!” So obvious and well-demonstrated will His message be. It will be spoken to you in exactly those terms you will understand. ☑ That’s the Holy Spirit of God for you. 😊. . .
Copied from another post and updated:
I have been here reading and absorbing but can’t seem to do it fast enough. I don’t want to make any more mistakes with my abusive marriage. I want my marriage if under new conditions.
My heart is no longer cracked but rather torn apart. I don’t want to give my spouse any additional chances. I had grieved my losses and had a made up mind of no more but husband is begging for another chance. New counselor (the one we saw together today) asked me the other day what I decided. I pretty much just said I am afraid to open my hurt again.
My husband and I have always had problems but I hung in there and adjusted. Hung in from him being an alcoholic. Tried to hang in there through the verbal/emotional abuse but so drained now.
We’ve been married for 18 years with two teens and together for 22 years. Our teens are under counseling now (17 and 14) because daughter was struggling and started to show anger and sadness behind us. She is still struggling because she see today was ruff. We have an 11 year age difference. He is in his 50’s and me in my 40’s.
Since 2014 things have gotten uncomfortable. What happened in that year? I started a job working out of town doing pca work for my parents. Paid through state. I can’t move in with them because it is part of job requirement – can’t live in same home.
Always had these problems but I’m thinking job change and illness/age made it worse. Increased anger and yelling, conflicts about everything it seems, accusations of flirting and cheating, a needing to know of my every move and contact throughout the day, intimidation, aggressiveness, silent treatment after the anger, trying to dictate what I wear makeup wise and clothing wise, name calling (although not street names as he calls it), trying to dictate who I can and can’t have as friends, guilt trips, etc.
I never labeled my marriage as abusive until my counselor in 2015 said a new life required divorce. That was after six months of individual counseling and also couples counseling with my spouse and his counselor. Yes I denied the books read in 2014, which is why I saw a counselor in 2015.
Fast forward to 2016 I was willing to keep trying and found us an online counselor. They suggested we go to work together to give him some comfort but then finally told me I needed to separate until the anger was gone. But some of the forum members (not the online counselor) got husband to thinking he was justified in his actions and to go all out investigation mode. In 2016 I was no longer in denial but could not afford to be on my own.
Here we are in 2017 going through the same stuff. Valentine was me being accused and my gift getting thrown across floor. Mother’s day was not celebrated because he was grieving the loss of his mom from three or four years ago (ok understood). But then he got angry on other occasions for different stuff. One time because my mom almost fell at church and he had to help. She is my responsibility he says and the teens don’t have to lift a finger. I didn’t want to argue the rest of the night so I closed my door. The next day when I left for work, he had removed my door. Police man was the only one who got him to put it back up.
Another incident after that when police were called and then finally a quiet month which was last month.
Always upset with me over this or that.
Right now we are doing an in-house separation.
I will update on counsel session in another post.
Oh my Renee, I’m so very sorry.
You said your afraid to open your heart again for more hurt and in my opinion ongoing trauma. Your feelings about it ‘not safe’ are valid.
Nancy gave you great directives and since you gave such background… yes your h sounds extremely destructive and has some serious unresolved places to deal with apart from the marriage.
Your afraid to open your heart, has there been any evidence of why you should?
The offender has all the heavy lifting to do for there to be even any road to restoration. He has broken so much trust based on his behavior in my opinion.
Why are you his lightening rod?
What is your husband doing to address his addiction and his character /abusive mindset?
Renee, I think it is time to stop listening to other people and start listening to your wounded heart. You want out. You are afraid of him. He is way too controlling, and you want to be free to be yourself. You have a job, so go! Even though you can’t live with your parents, perhaps your teenagers can and you can get a small apartment somewhere so you can have your own place. Healing takes time, and you will become more and more clear the longer you are in a safe place, away from his controlling. You might even need a restraining order. Please consider it. The Lord will make a way; trust Him.
Aly: There is no evidence on why I should keep opening my heart. He is not doing a thing to address his issues because I am the problem. Made sure counselor knew that as well and every other person he speaks too.
Yes it was couples counseling. I asked the new counselor to administer an abusive questionnaire since hubby always says I am provoking him so I can cry abuse.
He always denies doing certain things or says that it is not abuse. He just says things he does not mean. He says I make things up even in the session today. That’s what I wanted to discuss today but it did not happen. The counselor would not administer that questionnaire but said one would be found that does ratings.
I guess to say yes or no on who is the abuser or if.
Here I was being tagged teamed and blamed. You are not listening to him. That is not what he said. He did not say that. You have to make a decision today went on for the first five minutes it seemed. I said how can husband be given four years to get it right but chose to muck it up but I have to decide today whether to work on the marriage or not.
Counselor went on to tell me how wrong I was for having us come to session in two different vehicles. How I can’t be half-way in and it’s all in to work on marriage or all out. Told how wrong it was to have pastor and a deacon reach out to hubby to try and help and that I was going to make things worse trying to involve others. That I should just keep telling them that hubby decided to stay at home today.
Only thing he got called on was for saying stuff he does not mean. Seem like they were trying to make me feel horrible for wanting to take things slow. Then counselor says if he decided that he no longer wants to wait then you can’t come back to me talking about you want to try.
Counselor dumped before I got out door. Kids will probably also be getting pulled.
It sounds like the counselor (a male?) is telling you to get off the fence. It also sounds like you are not happy in this relationship, feeling abused, and threatened. What is there to save? Why are you hanging on? Your h blames you for his abusive behavior. As Leslie said in one of her posts, you can make mistakes, but that doesn’t give him the right to abuse you, and blame you for his behavior. If your counselor doesn’t see that, then that counselor is not worth the money you are paying him. No doubt you have a part in this “dance,” and you need to look at that, but that doesn’t mean that you have to stay and endure the abuse. Get healing for yourself, with someone who can really help you to get strong enough to do what you need to do. Praying for you, Renee.
Why am I hanging on? First it was because I was young and had lots of energy to endure. I was in my 20’s and he was in his 30’s. I also suffered in silence and not one person, including my parents, really knew the truth. That is until last year when my husband started accusing my father (83 years young) of helping me cheat. Then it was because I refused to share my kids with someone who would potentially ignore them if he was angry with me. Seen it and knew it was a possibility. Another reason was because I did not want anyone else to raise my children but me. The final reason is because I love him and had been waiting on that big and final change that would allow us to live happily ever after.
It’s true you might love him, or maybe the him you hope for him to be?
But he is not able to receive ‘healthy love’. His hands are way too full of his issues. (That he is conveniently denying~ and not sure what consequences he’s actually receiving from his horrible abusive behavior.
Glad that you found a new counselor ~ keep moving forward and focus on your healing, your worth being treated as the Lord would be pleased by!
Aly, can you explain to me more about what you mean here? [not sure what consequences he’s actually receiving from his horrible abusive behavior]
You say you “love him” but think about it: what’s to love? What are you getting out of this relationship? And WHY do you “love” someone who abuses you? Please work through some of this stuff with your new counselor. Lots of issues there that the Lord wants to free you from. Praying for you, Renee.
Time for a new counselor. This one doesn’t understand abuse. Ask the new one if they know Leslie’s or Lundy’s writing before you book. Your present counselor is emotionally dangerous.
My thoughts are that this counselor him/herself sounds abusive.
Glad you are moving on.
So sorry for the pain and heartache. Praying right now for you and your girls. Trust God to lead you each little step of the way. He is your Shepherd and He goes before you.
I agree with most all comments you have received so far.
You wrote this is your post;
“I said how can husband be given four years to get it right but chose to muck it up but I have to decide today whether to work on the marriage or not.”
You have given him 4 years to address this behavior~ is that what I hear you saying?
In four years what has he done to get help and intervention?
Also, what do you mean by muck it up? Like not really get help for his issues ‘separate’ from the marriage?
I’m sorry for all the questions ~ I just want to better understand you and what you are not being validated in~ seems like the counselor is not getting into the details but is looking at more generalized places, which concerns me (for you).
Yes, I have given him four years but never in the way of do it or else. Never stuck to my guns. It was more like this is not all on me you need to see someone. He did in 2015. He comes back telling me, whenever angry and until this day, that I got diagnosed as a narcissist. Then I got us books like his needs/* * * needs and luv busters. Luv busters were all me. I never spoke on the subject of abuse until this year.
Continue working with your counseling and seeing the dangers of what may be there .. ‘as you get healthier’ … he will be threatened by this health.
It’s important for you to see that given his ‘unhealth’ separation might be the beginning process of health for you?
I’m not trying to tell you what action to take, hope you are not feeling that pressure.
It might be worth looking into narcissistic abuse syndrome with your counselor too.. just an added thought for ‘all the spinning’ he does and how he turns the tables on you.
Can’t always take your kids away from father out if state. Do look into leagity of restraining order, shelter for you and daughter. You can call for counsel to local shelter or national domestic hot line.
You are ready make a plan for safety and take time to heal.
Praying for you and children.
Hi Elizabeth, I am a homeschooler of two. DD is on her way to finishing up this year. I do the majority of the work. Husband will help with it all except for when he is having a tantrum and withdrawal after anger episode. Help but not take the lead. The silent treatment does not last for weeks now but days. I have a job with flexible hours (just above minimum wage) which helps with the schooling. Husband is on disability but not bed-ridden, in a wheel chair, or on a walker. I hate bringing that up because that also give him a poor baby from others. Don’t get me wrong, I am here for the spinal stenosis in neck and back from day one but can’t accept that as an excuse any more as well.
JoAnn, I just stopped doing everything over a month ago. Hubby not happy and try to guilt trip every chance he gets. I no longer cook every day. I cook and then someone else has to step up. My husband believes he is the superior parent so now he has to prove it. He has been failing and relies on daughter. He told the counselor that I don’t do any cooking and that he and the daughter has to cook every day. I no longer wash for him and I don’t do all the meal planning. I just don’t do it all anymore because it was not appreciated as well. This finally came about because with every episode I get to hear I want a divorce, leave and go back to your parents, I want you to get out, and I want you out of my life. I’m not leaving this home and leaving my home is not an option. So now he gets a taste of that option he desires. We slept together once in three months because I got weak.
Since my financial contributions did not count I started disconnecting what I could like cable tv and changed password on back account.
Cathy, your post reminded me of another response from counselor. Well has he apologized? Well yes his apology was, “I apologize for what you think I’ve done.” “I apologize but if you would not provoke me.” That was good enough for her. Yes, it is a her/she counselor. Husband also today said if we don’t do counseling together that he may or may not find another counselor. To me, he may as well not because he lies so others can see him as such a great person. That is very important to him. The water works show yesterday seemed to work at least on the counselor. I hope that does not sound mean. I hope my heart has not gotten hard because it did not work for me. You have not shown any remorse when I explain my feelings but have even laughed at times.
Also Cathy, I got that memo today as well when we went on a bike ride as a family. We stopped and talked a while and he says if you focused on the positive and not the negative we would be ok. I told him if you would do as I’ve asked we would be ok but you don’t have to anymore and started back ridding. So pretty much where your post starts at, “he says back… He also wants me to pretend. Sunday I wanted us to attend service but with boundaries (like no hand holding except for alter call, no hand around waist, etc. our norm). Well he did not agree and attended service elsewhere. Maybe I was wrong but to me that would have been pretending.
Nancy, my counselor in 2015 put me in training on this one. She is retired now but asked me why am I defending myself. I still get caught up at times but not as much. I kick myself when I get drawn into the destruction. I also do the leave the home to protect myself. However, I feel that he is being rewarded every time I leave home to give him time to calm down or because he is ignoring me. The part I see him working on as of last month is the ignoring part and anger. Although anger showed back up Sunday after a deacon reached out to him. He did not appreciate me giving out his number.
JoAnn, I had made up my mind to file for divorce or order of protection this year. However, it all would fall through. Order of protection could be granted as long as I was filing for divorce at same time. I wanted to prove I was serious. I Tried going through legal aid but with our combined income I did not qualify. Consulted with another attorney who wanted $4000 (children, old cars, and home all we have). Another was said to do divorce for $1700 but will not return calls. Non-contested is the cheaper route but he says he will contest. Unsure (but sure) why when he says he wants me out his life. So that’s how we ended up doing the in-house separation.
I feel maybe God still wants me to work since divorce option is not coming together so I’ve set that aside.
Aly, the addiction part has improved. He is no longer a drink until he passes out drunk. We made it through that long ago along with smoking. However, there have been times when he will have a take that moment and do both but not to a point of passing out. Those are rare but do happen. Now I’m concerned that the pain meds may be causing the easy agitation. But I’m trying to stop taking responsibility to investigate that as well.
Yes Aly for four years I have been repeating myself. Stop yelling and get rid of the anger. Stop accusing and stop the guilt trips, etc. Why are you staying angry at me? They are like landmines. Never know when it’s going to happen. The one time he was getting counseling was in 2015 but he said the counselor diagnosed me as a narcissist. How I got diagnosed when I was not seeing that counselor? I have no idea. He has done nothing since then except for me trying to find resources, which he resists unless I participate. I’m really in whatever state and I guess counselor saw that yesterday.
What I mean by muck it up is the more I fight to just be me the harder he is going at me as Cathy speaks in her post. I can’t please him anyway so I am wearing my makeup, styling my hair, working out, getting clothes that fit rather than baggy, going to church with or without, trying to learn to dance, etc. He still says he is not going to be ok with me talking about going out. Well, I intend to do that as well respectfully. The counselor missed that as well and told me make sure I let him know where I was going and what time I would be back but never questioned him why he felt that was unacceptable to be out for a few to be with friends or even family.
I told my counselor the only time I feel afraid/concerned of my husband is when he is angry and yelling.
Thank you all for your prayers, support, help. Special thanks to Leslie for this outlet.
Let me guess, he takes opiods for his back pain too. Spinal stenosis is not a good enough reason for disability. I know many a hard working man and woman who live with spinal stenosis. For that matter there are plenty of hardworking men and women in wheelchairs, so he gets no sympathy vote from me. You, on the other hand, have my full sympathy.
It sounds as if you have tried many things and it is really only concerns about money prohibiting your ability to get free. I say go forward in faith. Many lawyers will take payments over time.
My greatest concern when I read your message, is the plight of your daughter. It seems Dad pressures and manipulates her to do things he seems your responsibility. I hope this hasn’t moved on to incest as well. Put yourself in your daughters place and imagine her view.of marriage. What kind of man will she be attached to when she had grown up in such a situation? The problems (results of sin) carry to the next generation.
Money or no money, God will make a way for truth and righteousness. House separation is still enabling the toxic environment with a new twist. Good work being strong but there is no reason good enough to expose yourself or your children to such evil.
Aly you asked on another post (I’m afraid to be honest): Does his past (childhood and adulthood) entail; Abandonment, neglect, abuse and betrayal by an x-spouse or girlfriend?
My husband has this past. Husband’s mom was abusive (especially mentally/emotionally) until the day she passed three years ago. I saw her in motion. She even caused problems between us.
However, he still cared for her and his grandmother with my help. Growing up his mom had men in and out of her life. Mentally and physically abusive men. She even had shock treatment from what I hear from him and his family.
He was the rescuer and protector with all the men. She abandoned him and neglected him until his grandmother took him in but he was kind of suicidal. His grandmother helped him stay alive. He really should not be here.
Fast forward to two failed marriages before I came along. Both marriages are said to have had infidelity on the part of wives. I can’t confirm this because I have never spoken to either.
I don’t think he has dealt with this because remember from my post above his counselor diagnosed me according to him during his anger episodes. That was in 2015.
Rebecca, yes he is on oxycodone. I think he has stopped the lyrica. I will not debate his pain because I would not want anyone to debate mine. Not even the emotional pain I am in now.
Our entire relationship he has worked and we even did quite a few self-employment endeavors together until he just could not keep going in physical labor type jobs. That is all he knows. Do I think he will feel better working? Probably. But what do I know because he would need to learn a trade outside of physical labor. He has had one surgery and all I know is they tell him absolutely no falls and no hits from like a car accident or he will be paralyzed.
I was just trying to say that I use to say ok maybe he is in pain reason he is lashing out but now I don’t allow that as an excuse but some others accept that as an excuse. They also say things like when men get that age and have a younger wife they can get kind of crazy.
Then I’m like well he should have chosen someone his age. I’m trying to get others to stop helping him make excuses if that makes sense.
Angela, please realize that there is never, ever, any excuse for a man to mistreat a woman (nor for a woman to mistreat a man, but that is a whole other issue). He may have pain, and he may feel crappy, but he shouldn’t be taking it out on you, and you can tell him that. You are also suffering alongside of him, and he needs to realize that and stop abusing you. All these other people who are making excuses for him are wrong, and I think all of us here would give you permission to tell them that they don’t have to live with him and to keep their opinions to themselves. Then get help for yourself to become stronger and get your power back; you are going to need it.
I totally agree with JoAnn, Angela.
A great starting point is holding the line that there is no excuse for anyone lashing out. Ever. Maybe you develop a one-liner, that can be said to your h, your ‘friends’, even your kids.
Something like, “I can tell that you are in pain, and you have my empathy, but having empathy does mean that I will allow myself to be spoken to ( treated) this way.” And you walk out.
To the ‘friends’, “if you were stung by a bee does that give you the right to hit me over the head, because of the pain you are in?” ( ok this is kind of silly…maybe that one’s for the kids!)
What about, “being empathetic to his pain does not mean that I allow him to take it out on me. That’s just ridiculous logic.” And laugh ( and walk away).
As you speak these types of words, you will become stronger.
Can anyone here describe what counseling should look like?
Were you allowed to show proof (text messages, voice recordings, and documents) before working on your hurts? How did the counselor work with you in regards to boundaries and building your core?
Your reply to my posted question makes a lot of sense to me. I agree fully that there is not a reason to ever excuse any form of abuse.
Since you addressed me, goodness please do be honest and share where you are coming from. I’m trying to remember my question and the context, I haven’t located it.. but I’m thinking it was to Cat, and she was describing her situation. (I could be wrong)
By no way do my questions mean.. find an excuse for behavior and tolerate them. I think getting free of these abusive cycles and patterns sometimes (for some) finding the objective places ‘to ground’ themselves on.
~Meaning when dealing with someone who is being abusive~ and he or she has a long history of these things.. it can help the victim process and detach.. seeing that the abuse for what it is.
For some this is a place of strength. Not an excuse and it can give a clear voice to the offender that their behavior is NOT ever ok and doesn’t even have to do with the person they are ‘transferring’ it onto.
For some this is critical especially if they stay longer in the relationship~ and helps the victim decide to create proper boundaries to enforce.
Cat’s examples were traumatic. Because her husband’s ‘land mines’ and unresolved issues were popping up in many places. (This is not an excuse) I was hoping to help her see that she could get the professional help outside the marriage even if he was against it.) she was allowing a lot of her husband’s junk to decide her own safety and sanity. Her husband didn’t want any intervention because he was ok with ‘misplacing his issues on a wife that would tolerate it’
I believe Cat deciding she could make other choices for ‘herself’ and her own healing apart from her husband’s liking or approving.
My question was posed to ask, rather assume because the husband was clearly ‘speaking an all too familiar language of hurt and grief to me. My question was also to help her see what ‘was not hers to hold’.
So she could kindly and lovingly give it back to her spouse to decide what he plans to do with ‘his own’ traumatic experiences that were destroying any hope in the marriage getting healthy and that they were sabatoging a marriage at all.
I don’t know the outcome (nor do I think Cat will for some time) but it’s important for her journey to hold only what is her part so she can be free of not finding this abusive cycle again or in other relationships.
Hope that clears up my question. I know I ask a lot of them. But I also want to be diligent in posting with not ‘knowing or understanding someone’s details’…
I have much love and care for many here as walking this journey out takes a lot of places to see the detail of the trees and the forest view.
Hugs to you Angela and your journey 💖
Sunshine, there is no molestation, incest, rapes, etc. This was an untrue statement he used to manipulate the counselor. She will not cook for me now daughter and I have to do all the cooking. Maybe I’m just supposed to be alone.
Nancy I love your line and it sounds honest and respectful. (being empathetic to his pain does not mean that I allow him to take it out on me. That’s just ridiculous logic.” Laugh and walk away).
I notified the counselor today. Going to let the teens (boy 14 and girl 17) continue for a while but probably not for much longer. We are in a rural area and our choices for counselors are very limited.
Keep up the good work!
There is a fourth option – submit yourself to God’s will in your life and allow Him and not your own mind or other people influence what you should do. Your husband IS SICK – addiction is an illness, it’s more than laziness or irresponsibility. We enter into a pact before God in sickness and in health. Think of your husband as sick, while still setting healthy boundaries for yourself and your child. God is permitting that you suffer this for a reason – He wants you all for himself. That is not to say that separation may not be necessary if the emotional pain becomes too much. But there is a precious gift in all of this if you will give your will and marriage over to the will of God and let Him transform that pain into pure gold! I don’t say this blindly – I am doing this in my own marriage and God is creating miracles every day. It requires a new commitment to God. It requires extensive prayer and study. You don’t need to sacrifice yourself to your marriage, sacrifice yourself to God instead and see what He does. I promise you you won’t regret it!
I’m not sure if you have followed the fuller scale~
I think the wife has been setting healthy boundaries and the husband is crossing those. To state that she needs to submit to God, I disagree with the tone of your post.
I can understand where you are coming from when dealing with someone ‘who is sick’ but the ongoing suffering doesn’t mean or produce a healthier outcome.
I’m not sure I understand your posture on this in regards to the measuring of emotional pain.
I would like to post Rebecca Davis’s most recent blog; Here’s the Joy~ I think this is valuable especially given this post and why some women get heaped false teaching about these matters.
I’m just wondering where in the Bible you find that addiction is an illness. I thought that was a brain-child of modern medicine, giving people an excuse for not wanting to be filled with the Spirit, one of whose fruits is self-control. That would then be enabling, don’t you think? What about the other fruits of the Spirit? Are hate, complaining, worrying, impatience, anger, harshness………all illnesses? Drunkenness is something the Bible lists as keeping one out of heaven. I don’t think cancer would fall in that category.
I agree that we need to listen to God and follow His leading and timing, I just don’t want to enable another person to disobey God or even go to hell because I’m helping them keep on ‘being sick’. Like on that show “My 600 lb. Life”. Maybe they are sick, but someone is trying to be nice and kind and loving, bringing them the food they want. And they are making choices every hour.
Hi Hope, Aly and Connie,
My understanding of Hope’s post is this: ( please correct me, if I’m wrong, Hope)
We are to fight for our husband’s well-being. That means exercising ‘tough love’. The extent of that ‘tough love’ will be dependant on his ability to respect whatever boundaries are set: if he crosses lines, separation will become necessary.
A paraphrase of Ephesians 6:12 says this best, for me: “our fight is not against our h, our fight is for our h, against sin’. So wether an addiction is ‘illness’ or not is irrelevant. He’s mired in sin and needs ‘tough love’ .
The part that I don’t see addressed in your post, Hope, is: what if God doesn’t work miracles in the separation? This separation may end up revealing an evil heart, or an un-repentant, hard heart. That’s when to start praying for a divorce, in His timing.
So, yes, a new commitment to God is required. Not just in prayer and study, but also in action and the application of His word. The Lord helps us strengthen our CORE, regardless of what happens to the marriage.
Let’s assume that addiction is a illness for argument’s sake. There are things a person has choice over and other things that a person does not have a choice over just like if a person were diagnosed with diabetes, for example. If I A person with diabetes would be foolish if he/she didn’t watch what he/she ate etc. Also, we know that exercise helps and so does medication. In the same way, an addiction is not an excuse to treating people poorly etc. And there are things one can do to get better-counseling, accountability etc. I do think that labeling behavior as an illness implies that the other person has no choice in the matter, and could be harmful.
Such a good discussion. We are all in a predicament cause most of us have surrendered a life to Christ and hoped our H would be changed by our meek and quiet spirit. Although not done in perfection they have chosen not to follow convictions or direct confronting from church etc. Sin needs to be exposed as in Old Testament Israelites often were judged cause they didn’t expose each others sin. Also;
As a nurse caring for patients that are uncomfortable, in pain,sadness or not getting care they expect or deserve all have choices as to how they treat others, whether it’s family or staff . Why can 2 people have similar trials and 1 treat others with graciousness and another disrespect and demanding. Choices not sickness, pain or discomfort. Praying for us all
I asked husband today if he had called the counselor. He said he made the call but he was thinking about going back to therapist office from 2015. The counselor he saw back then passed and my counselor retired. So that means all new people and our neighbor is one of them. She just came out of college.
I stated I did not like the idea. He stated I needed to make some changes. So I texted and asked if he cared to share. He says once we get real help (still insisting on couple’s therapy.) I told him you mentioned it twice and now you want to play games. He goes I am trying to control everything and have it on my terms. One of the things I need to change.
I have never been so frustrated with a man in my life. But wait he says I don’t have enough experience in relationships to know. My 1’st marriage and his 3’rd.
Creepy. Are you thinking you know why the other two women left him? Do you think it might be your turn to get free too? He is playing with your head, ignore his nonsense.
I know it was not all the fault of the wives. I did ignore his nonsense. I’m just glad to find a support system.
This is tough. Yet in God’s eyes at number three you are not really even married to him. Rather you are a mistress and free to break away from his sin.
I’m not sure I understand, maybe you know more of the husband’s previous marriage’s… and reasons for how they were broken.
Renee, you are not a mistress in God’s eyes and you have married a person that obviously has issues that are present but could also be his own historical playing out. (Not saying I know but there is a pattern)
He needs intensive help. And you need help also for all the effects of this dynamic. Get your own counselor.
He always told me both wives cheated. However, I can see how they were pushed over the cliff. Thanks Aly. If I am a mistress, I worked hard to be a great mistress to him.
You are ‘not’ a mistress in this dynamic. Roxanne said that and I don’t agree with her given the information you have shared. But you are certainly not be treated like a cherished wife.
Not to cause pain or to be difficult, you both know my reference for my adultery comment, the Bible. It was meant to remind you that you are free. Yes, a hard working woman tricked into adultery, just like his previous victims.
Husband spoke with counselor today. He will see counselor next week. I should find comfort right? Well I am uncomfortable. How will therapist know if I can’t provide documentation to show our history? I did speak with her but provided no documents.
What is my role now?
Renee, We can hope and pray that he gets some real help from this counselor. As others have already said, many times, and Leslie too, until he gets down to the basics of his abusive behavior and shows real signs of change, going together for marriage counseling is probably not a good idea. However, you can opt to see the same counselor separately to get help for yourself, to get stronger and develop your CORE. That is, if this counselor is good and understands abusive relationships. Even so, just because he is seeing a counselor doesn’t mean that you have to let down your guard. And it doesn’t mean that you have to stay in the marriage if the Lord wants to lead you out. Listen carefully to Him. When we obey his speaking, He provides the grace to obey, whether to stay well or to leave well.
Maybe the others here have more to say about what your role is now.
I would like to comment on “if the Lord leads you out”. Of course I agree. Yet, if we are waiting for a trumpet to sound or the parting of the Red Sea, our nudge may not be so spectacular. Sometimes things are obviously wrong, yet we endure with hope ( and denial). When a spouse’s behavior is so blatantly in disregard of the well being off the other, let logic prevail. God is love and truth, if the behavior is nothing like that, then you know who it comes from, Satan. We have no fellowship with darkness as the light is in us through Christ. Don’t give Satan the victory as you wait for some magical sign.
Counselor shouldn’t tell you what is said, if they are good they will see his flaws.
After a couple of sessions my husb had with counselor. The counselor asked to see me, it was private. Sent H for psyc. Eval. Treated with antidepression med. pray as I will also.
I learned I can’t help what others think of me or if I’m believed. Know your boundaries and keep growing in CORE.
GL, that is/was my concern. I did speak with the new counselor a day or two before my spouse and explained concerning behaviors. Once he called and got scheduled for next week, I wanted to provide counselor with phone recordings and my journal to see our destructive history.
Counselor called me back and declined request saying to trust the process. I tried to explain how husband has manipulated other professionals over the years. Counselor said there needed to be trust between herself and the client. A clean slate was needed. I reluctantly accepted stance.
Once off that phone, I just cried and cried. I could not stay that way long because we had a busy day. I took my anxiety pill and put on my brave face.
Some people use their cell phone to record some tirades and play those to the counselor. Save voice messages or take video when you can.
I agree with JoAnn ( as well as what Roxanne elaborated about letting logic prevail and not waiting for some miraculous sign).
We, as humans, have a tendency to just want to rest. We, as people in destructive relationship, need to rest EVEN MORE. This is why, now more than ever Renee, you need to rely on the strength of The Lord. Because your h is going to start counselling, the tendency will be to let your guard down to rest and gain strength. If you do that, you will become more depleted by a spouse that has only JUST BEGUN to seek help ( and his real intentions underneath his getting counselling will only reveal itself through LONG TERM BEHAVIOURAL CHANGE). [capitals for emphasis, not yelling :)]
So…this is discouraging, right? It will be if you are looking for comfort in your circumstances. I have found that Christ uses these situations to teach us to get our focus off our circumstances and onto Him.
It is a LONG road Renee. LONG. That’s why my advice is always to spend the vast majority of your ‘work’ energy working on yourself ( opposed to OVERfocusing on your h) and ALL of your ‘resting’ in the arms of The Lord (opposed to letting your guard down with your h).
If, by God’s grace, you BOTH can do the HARD WORK of laying your marriage at the cross, as well as WALKING with Christ to re-build, from nothing. THEN and ONLY THEN, will you be safe to ‘find comfort’ in your situation.
For now, find comfort in Christ. And ask him what your next step is.
I don’t know if this accurate, but I was told one year if healing for every three years of abuse. Yes, a long time.
Renee, Nancy’s is the voice of experience, as are many of the comments here. Please trust what we all have to say as being true in our experiences. If, after a long time of counseling, your h demonstrates real repentance and change, then you could consider reconciling. However, meanwhile, you must do the work of healing your own heart, and getting stronger, and you can best do that in a separate living situation. So many suggestions have been made for how to go about that; I don’t need to repeat them here.
In general, we don’t try to tell others what to do, but mainly to seek the Lord’s will and His power to do it. It is important for you to be clear what He is calling you to do. However, sometimes the betrayal of the husband makes it very clear that this is not the Lord’s will for your life, and in these situations, what others have to say can often open your eyes to see things differently. Leave denial behind and look at the real situation. Step back and decide if what you have is what you want. Then ask the Lord for the courage to do what you need to do. Don’t let down your guard just because he is getting counseling. I agree with Nancy: all the more you need to cling to the Lord and do the work you need to do.
I know what you mean about needing to live separately. I managed to attend church today. However, on the way home, my spirit started feeling low about not having my family with me. So I picked up lunch and found a quiet place to park. However, my husband sensed my spirit as soon as I hit the door. He wanted me to explain but I just did not want to talk. I went to my room and next thing I knew it was three hours later.
Once awake he started texting why I was quiet and had not been talking. I told him because I had passed out. He then started asking if the boxes in my closet are for packing. Why I deleted photos off his phone. Why my clothes hamper does not have more clothes as if they should have accumulated.
What upsets me about separation is having the teens leave their home. Why should they have to leave? He has a vacant home left behind when his mother and grandmother passed.
There is pain with separation Rene, but give it time. The good out weighs the bad very quickly. I can relate to the exhaustion. That is normal. I am glad you chose self care. Your teens will be fine. They are transitioning to adulthood and probably don’t care as much as you think. Be honest with them, but don’t dump your emotions. Stay strong. Ignore as many text from H as possible. Only address what you want to answer and take as long as you like. He just wants to control you, remember that.
Renee and Roxanne, Healing takes time. Renee you haven’t even processed all you’ve endured. God as he did me plucked us out of distruction and put our feet on solid ground. His truth and protection. I’ve been separated for 15 mo. H on off with Counselor a couple of repentive moments but soon follows blaming me and how I need to change. Best advice was time tells truth. We are with same counselor meeting separately. We meet together this week to discuss communication. I like how some of you posted not to discuss relationship.
Psalms came alive for me when I left His protection was evident in Ps91. I pray all you gals feel the Lords protection when you get out and those who have not left will feel his guidance for. CORE strength. Love you all and this blog. Thanks Leslie
I love Psalm 91 ❤️
I don’t see how to respond closer to where these thoughts were shared.
Aly you wrote: Too many innocent women (men too) have been exposed to the thinking that Love will conquer abusive behavior or patterns.
I don’t see where my love stopped the abuse in our case. I received a similar suggestion in 2016 on another forum (yes I was really desperate for help). Example; your hubby doesn’t have to trust you. You’ll have to behave in a manner that is considered trustworthy. So to prove my love and not make him insecure one suggestion was for me to quit my job because there would be men around (occasionally) and that made my husband uncomfortable. Not because there was infidelity but because of a possibility. The other was allowing him to be with me at all times including on the job. I did the suggestion of being together at all times and quite a few others but here we are in the same pattern. It is 2017.
Tenna you wrote: If you love someone, you will be loyal to him no matter what the cost.
I’m confused here. If there is a question of loyalty, should not it apply to both individuals? I mean for my sanity, I asked doctor for anxiety pills a few years ago and had to find something to help me sleep at night. By the end of last year, daughter was given a similar line of treatment. Also on a talk show the other day, there was a young lady who took her own life to escape emotional abuse. So, how long should we remain loyal? Maybe you mean loyal in another context.
Tenna you wrote: I am hearing people talk about their spouses not loving, all the while not walking in love long enough to see a result.
How long is long enough?
Tenna you wrote: Can you put a timeframe of when that other person should get their act together? Did God put one on you?
I think that is why it is being taught to continue doing our own work. Therefore you are not putting a timeframe on that person per say. What if change does not comes? Then what? Back to the question of how long?
Tenna you wrote: stand your ground in defending him.
Isn’t this dangerous? I just don’t see how change can take place if we both are making excuses and defending bad behavior.
This reminds me of blind Faith. Not faith in God or faith in the word of God, but rather faith in the destructive partner. That is illogical.
It is your h who is not trustworthy. It is your h who needs to be held accountable. The advice you were given on the other site (stay with him all the time so his insecurities subside) is the same type of advice that Teena is giving of stand your ground in defending him.
Destructive advice. Why? because it will entrench him in his twisted thinking that you can change his behaviour. That you are responsible for his behaviour.
Renee…get Leslie’s book. Watch Patrick Doyle videos. Immerse yourself in Truth. The type of advice that to Love is to ‘submit more’ allows evil to grow.
Build your CORE.
God Bless you
“I don’t see where my love stopped the abuse in our case. I received a similar suggestion in 2016 on another forum (yes I was really desperate for help). Example; your hubby doesn’t have to trust you. You’ll have to behave in a manner that is considered trustworthy.”
I’m not sure where you received the direct thought above:
“Your hubby doesn’t have to trust you”.
This is confusing to me.. the comment above speaks to a person who has given evidence and behavior for fracturing trust or betrayals in the marriage?
Is this you…?
Your posts have not been about you being the untrustworthy partner but that your husband doesn’t trust you. (There could be many reasons for why your husband doesn’t trust and it could have little or zero to do with you)
Please correct me if I’m wrong and have missed that you have violated trust or you act in ways intentionally that trigger him to feel your not trust-worthy.
From what you have shared about your situation your husband has trust issues ~ and that you are not the offender of these but that he is ‘placing’ this hurt and fear upon you? Is this correct?
Is your behavior trustworthy? I’m assuming yes but it won’t matter much unless your husband gets some help with the pain and betrayals that might have happened way way before you came on the scene.
This is his work apart from marital work.
I also want to mention the idea of quitting your job so that the potential for infidelity wouldn’t be there~ as you noted above.
What? Really.. the potential for infidelity could be anywhere … if someone wants and is desiring that kind of attention etc.
When two people are ‘connected and building a relationship based on trust and respect, the level of infidelity is not so heightened that you would have to ‘be together’ at all times. This seems drastic and doesn’t address the insecurity issues within your husband.
Unresolved grief and trauma might be the factors here and he needs professional help in sorting through the pain he experienced. Otherwise all of this toxic behavior (going on) that is abusive and controlling is sabatoging any strides of health.
I guess I’m wondering Renee if most of this projecting behavior of his isn’t more of ‘his own’ untrustworthy behavior that isn’t yet exposed clearly? He seems to be acting out what maybe he is unwilling to take responsibility for ‘his own behavior’ and wanting you to be the one doing the repair work for himself?
I could be way off here (please take that into consideration).. but as you see the counselor *individually*… I would make sure both your full history’s are on the table to look into.
Also, it’s not that uncommon that an individual with ‘character disorders will project what they are ‘actually the offenders’ of onto the innocent partner’ because their level of disorder is underdeveloped and won’t hold the betrayal or pain.
😜 I’m sorry not trying to be super confusing here but have had experience with these behaviors and insecurities prior.
This is a classic case of looking at the speck in another’s eye while holding a beam in your won eye. (Matt. 7:3). People ten to accuse others of their own sinful behavior. So, I agree with Aly: his accusing you of being untrustworthy is to me an indication that he is being deceitful and unfaithful. Worth looking at.
I was providing evidence of always being accused. I was giving deacons lap dances. I was advertising to people passing by on our street. I was trying to impress men who stopped by on the job to fix appliances. The response back to him was if your job makes your spouse unhappy, then you should be willing to quit. Otherwise, I was not showing care/love. They also mentioned the other trust statement. That’s when they told him he needed to investigate for infidelity.
The place where I may have violated his trust is by telling some people what has been happening in our home.
From what you have shared about your situation your husband has trust issues ~ and that you are not the offender of these but that he is ‘placing’ this hurt and fear upon you? Is this correct?
That is 100% correct.
Tell, tell, tell. Tell as many people as you can. Don’t let him keep his dirty secret of abusing you just that. Tell until you find someone who will believe you and listen. It is the same message given to children being molested. If the first grown up you tell doesn’t believe you, keep telling people. It is the first step to exposing the crime and getting help.
It’s complicated because it takes skill to work within a hard relationship.
Some people will never have hard relationships. Some have the skills to work within hard relationships and some have to develop those skills. Those who have to develop the skills (like me) take a little while, and others take longer (like me).
My message simply says, do not give up on the possibility that you will feel loved, and be cared for…just don’t expect it all from your man. Or all RIGHT NOW from your man.
Early on in my marriage, I developed a relationship with God. He is not a crutch or a method for changing into a nice person. I am not spiritualizing the Bible, I trust in the Living God because I determined that I needed Him. He saved me from destruction.
I first analyzed MYSELF to find I was insecure, and I showed it by being harsh and hard hearted. My mother was critical and she divorced my “lazy, irresponsible dad”. So I craved attention. I hated what I thought was a loving God Who did not show love to me. After all, look at the failures. Until I found out differently.
Sweetheart, WE can not fix the problems that another person has, we can only make the adjustments in order to work along side them. And I AM NOT saying be a doormat!
First, I took ownership that I chose to say ‘I do’ to a man that I really did not know. My decision to live out this relationship until death do us part was probably not the smartest decision at first, because I resisted a lot of things, and for sure my husband did.
I now work parallel to my husband most times. I have had to in the past, work harder than my husband. In learning from The Bible and people like Leslie, I learned to work smarter.
I HATED THAT I HAD TO at first because (knowing my true self) I wanted what I perceived other “happy marriages” had. Which included being taken care of, etc.
When I talk about loving this man inspite of himself, I am talking about my integrity. I refused myself to blame him. I wanted to burn his clothes, but instead I washed them, and folded them (like you see in stores).
I found peace (in God) in living out reality because God promoted me beyond my expectations due to the integrity.
I would complain (to people) that I had to come home from work and cook, clean, raise children, etc., but because I kept my relationship WITH GOD, somehow I was given energy and understanding of HOW to do it all, but first rid the complaining that was stealing my energy, my joy.
I slowly began to engage with hubby and ask his opinion about situations.
It’s funny (ironic) to me that I worked within hard relationships outside the home, but wanted my husband to be my friend, and I refused to believe I had a hard relationship within my home.
I would come home and complain about my problems at work, and instead of getting love and support, he told me that ALLL I EVER did was complain, and that infuriated me.
So I began to complain to God. But I realized I was not getting results there either. I had to “work out” situations in the manner He showed me (without complaining).
When I thought my husband was evil, lazy and irresponsible, he was. That’s what he learned at home! And I disrespected him for not being more intelligent than me. After all, look at me, and what I’m doing. Why on earth can’t this man do it? Why can’t he control himself? Be accountable? I read books and tried to tell him or teach him to no avail. When he saw that I wore that attitude, he resented me. The fight was on!
Stop trying to fix him.
My husband hit me the first time, and I swore I would kill him. I did not know to leave, because where I grew up, my mom fought all the time.
When I say to stop looking at that other person, or believe the best about him, etc., I say it to protect your own integrity. But I am not saying stay in an abusive relationship and act nice. I digress…this is false reality. It is not integrity. You are lying to cover up. I did not know my relationship was abuse until I heard it from Leslie.
Once I understood how and when to approach my husband, I began to tell him that domestic abuse is against the law. There were and are times I CAN tell him something that is truthful and troubling me. But I don’t go on and on because men are easily, negatively aroused.
Did you know that some men don’t handle confrontation well? No excuses. It is just how they are made.
I had my husband put in jail the next time he hit me, and he stayed there, and learned the way he needed to. The hard way.
I could have divorced him to protect me, and the kids, but I was slowly learning that my actions (kind of) counteract his actions.
I now know that my husband’s ego is fragile. He doesn’t have the emotional fortitude that I expected. He isn’t as strong as I thought. Not as intelligent. And I don’t say that disrespectfully.
I say that to say, he is intimidated by situations and people, and even me. But he sure can put up a good or false front!
But! Didn’t I just admit that about myself? That I learned I was insecure? That I wore the attitude of being tougher than my husband? That I had a controlling mother? He didn’t force that on me, it was in me all along.
Abuse should not be the result of our weaknesses. It just is. Until we willfully choose differently.
They (men) want to lead. Sometimes they’re decisions are sloppy and unreasonable, but we have to work along side that trusting God, that situations [husbands lead us into] will turn to our good. All the while working within ourselves learning HOW to influence (not manipulate, like he probably does) our man into making better choices.
If there’s no trust in God, where are you getting your hope from?
Like when he hit me, I allowed my husband to go to jail, stay the night, and tell it to the judge. I had to trust things would change.
Do you think I feared when he came home? I sure did! I kept my attitude light (not arrogant) and was busy doing the day-to-day. I refused to engage. AND I refused to show him the fear. All the while refusing to be a doormat. I sent him a sublimal message that he has to change that behavior toward me. I was changing. But so did he.
This is one of many examples.
I’m so very sorry for what you have been victimized through as a child and now as a wife. My prayer is for His strength and courage to assist you to safety.
You might not agree with me that’s ok, but I’m concerned at many of your comments and how that has shaped ‘your belief lens’ . (Especially with your current situation)
I hope you are working with a professional counselor that can help you see the misperceptions and the beliefs you may have formed about ‘men’ overall. Men and women interacting overall.
My heart aches for you and this hard road~ but you do have other choices.
“I HATED THAT I HAD TO at first because (knowing my true self) I wanted what I perceived other “happy marriages” had. Which included being taken care of, etc”
Please take note about how damaging perceiving can be especially if you were raised with neglect and abandonment.
A counselor can help walk you through.
Perceiving can become general statements that can be standards and strong beliefs ‘normalized’ to protect oneself from reality.
“There were and are times I CAN tell him something that is truthful and troubling me. But I don’t go on and on because men are easily, negatively aroused.”
This is one of them. Not all men are and especially safe and men in recovery are privileged to learn how to be a true giving partner not just at their own convenience.
This is a growth place in them to work on and a place of empathy to care about the things that do trouble their wife.
When my husband is troubled ~ it matters to me because he is my husband and I care for his well being. Vice versa for wives.
I have been on both sides of this example you gave above and I can tell you my husband prefers being the man he has become more and more and not staying in a little boy attitude ~ like negatively aroused or having excuses like ‘that’s just how we men are’
“Did you know that some men don’t handle confrontation well? No excuses. It is just how they are made.”
Please😩 I caution you hear on this blog to consider what you are saying and this might be true for many women here but because a ‘behavior’ is common doesn’t mean it’s normal, a standard, or something that we just accept.
*Not everything has to be a confrontation.. many times things can be a ‘conversation’.*
Dealing with an abusive mindset … it’s usually turbs into a conflict or confrontation, because the abusive person is ‘so put out’.
“Once I understood how and when to approach my husband, I began to tell him that domestic abuse is against the law. ”
Really.. does your husband not know that it’s against the law and their are serious consequences to this type of behavior.
The fact that you would have to educate him on this is scary~ I’m scarred you are in a destructive very abusive marriage and you need a lot of support around you to care for these thought processes.
When dealing with such an individual~ no doubt is it hard but you can make safe choices for yourself. Just acknowledging that your husband is clearly abusive is not taking a step toward true healing.
Your worth being loved in a safe way. Not in a cycle. 😥
Many women here would support you, love on you and encourage you to see your situation through …
“It’s complicated because it takes skill to work within a hard relationship.”
For me, I found that my skill was an ‘unhealthy level of tolerance’ to very unhealthy behaviors and attitudes/beliefs of my husband.
I had to learn the skill of understanding what drove that unhealthy level within me and what I needed to change in me.
Hi Aly and Teena,
I too, agree that it takes new skills. Once my eyes were opened, I had to ask myself why I was willing to twist myself into a pretzel because he was, as you say Teena, “easily negatively aroused”. I was allowing his lack of self-control to turn me into a contortionist!
Requiring that my h do the emotional work so that he CAN handle being confronted, was the biggest gift I ever gave him. Boundaries guard my heart, but requirements invited my h to grow into the man of God he has always desired to be (but couldn’t be, because of his own defenses and distortions).
Aly, I loved what you said: just because a behaviour is common doesn’t mean that we should accept it. So true!
The bible has incredibly high standards for a man of God. His daughters deserve nothing less ❤️
I love what you mentioned and I believe to be such an important treasure for us to remind our hearts of;
“The bible has incredibly high standards for a man of God. His daughters deserve nothing less ❤️”
This is so true! I do feel that so much of the standard has been reinvented. Whether a person is in a disappointing, difficult, or destructive marriage… this standard is still there. But when we as part of the body make accommodations for ‘normalizing behavior of men.’ we as a culture are in danger.
In the beginning my marriage was disappointing, then it became even more difficult, then it grew destructive the more I realized how ‘difficult’ set me up …and to me the ‘land of difficult’, can easily lead us to reason all the ways for accepting and tolerating bad behavior ~ thus continuing to lower the standard.
A dangerous slope.
Teena, it is complicated because you are dwelling on him and his dysfunctions. What would happen if you thought about yourself first and let him do the work to learn to live with your choices?
I read long comments that focus on dealing with his issues. You have value. What do you want? Who told you that you need to give up your mental health and dignity to be married? The truth is you should feel safe, supported and loved. Not the puzzle master of a twisted man’s drama.
That’s what reading Leslie’s book and being on this site, did for me. It made me ask myself, ” what do I want “.
It was so unnatural to focus on me. To think about my value and to set a new standard for being in a relationship with me.
Focus on our own heart and work brings such clarity. It’s uncomfortable and sometimes painful, but we are worth it.
That’s when I stopped being a contortionist, or as you say ” a puzzle master” and began standing firm in my value in Christ.
Hey Teena, I believe we have found wonderful support.
It’s complicated because it takes skill to work within a hard relationship.
I know marriage is hard work. But my word saying it takes skills sounds like ongoing training for a career. But only it is never ending and constant. Like you never get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. That makes me nauseated. I know I have only been married once but if it’s this hard then not only do I not want to go back but I don’t want marriage in the future. I’ve been saying for a long time marriage shouldn’t be this hard. Feeling stressed about doing or saying the wrong thing.
My message simply says, do not give up on the possibility that you will feel loved, and be cared for…just don’t expect it all from your man. Or all RIGHT NOW from your man.
I’m not expecting anything from my man right now except for respect. I’m trying to be ok if the other part doesn’t happen. I’m at a point now where I’m not open to receiving more.
Sweetheart, WE can not fix the problems that another person has, we can only make the adjustments in order to work along side them. And I AM NOT saying be a doormat!
I am trying to do “NO more adjusting until he adjusts.”
Really Teena, my heart aches for my situation. But now it aches for you!!! Let the people further along in their journey (surely not I) help you with yours.
Aly you wrote:
For me, I found that my skill was an ‘unhealthy level of tolerance
Guilty as charged.
You said, “I’m not expecting anything from my man right now, except respect”.
This struck such a nerve tonight with me. I believe that respect is the heart of the matter ( at least in my case). I grew up with a borderline mother whose main symptom was to engulf those she ‘loved’. That is the opposite of respect ( and love for that matter). The issue of dis-respect is so painful for me, I can fall to pieces if someone hits that button in just the right way.
To respect someone is the opposite of controlling them. It’s to see that person as a separate human being with their own interests, goals, opinions, desires etc… It is right to expect respect, from everyone. Especially from your spouse.
Recently, my teenage daughter has found this button and I go into a full blown C-PTSD reaction (dissociation). I’m worried that in her quest to ‘test my limits’ she is becoming mean-spirited. Because I don’t know which way is up when she hits that button, and I fear ThatI will over-react, I end up under-reacting. She gets away with it. She’s got a lot of anger stored up and takes it out on all of us. I call her on that but it doesn’t change anything. Logically I know she’s 13 and that her testing me is part of her ‘developmental job’, but I fear that I am drastically failing the test.
I know that I’ve always been ‘a target’ for bullies. My mother is a bully, my brother is one and now I really fear that I bring that out in my daughter (teachers, other parents tell me that she is kind with others. I’m not sure how accurately they see her. Or is it me that is so distorted because this wounding hasn’t healed yet – when, oh when God, will it heal?).
If anyone has any advice. I’m open. I’ve tried my whole life to ‘toughen up’ in the face of being bullied in my family. There’s no question that I am much stronger because of The Lord- than I was, but tonight she hit a button that brought it all crashing down on me.
I’m up because my mind is spinning. I don’t know how to be honest with her about how she hurt me, without coming across as needy – she’s only 13.
Please pray that The Lord will enable me to break this generational pattern. Please pray that it stops with me. That He will give me strength to speak to her with His discipline.
I went off on a tangent here. I’m in a world of pain, but writing it out …helps.
I would tell my daughter the truth, the whole truth in age appropriate language. Your response was probably heavily weighted by your past. She deserves a reprimand that is about 2017 only. Teenage angst is normal. She is transitioning into being her own woman and struggling to figure out her own identity. By now she caught the concepts of right and wrong from you. She needs to build confidence in herself to move forward. Be gentle with her fragile ego and be tender with her heart. It is not time for your emotions or your damaged sense of self. You can talk about how your mother hurt you at that age and that you want to do a better job and not hurt your daughter like you were hurt. Chose to be an honest team in Humility and love. Show her you are seeking God for wisdom.
Nancy, I fully support what Sunshine said. You need to talk with your daughter about this when you are not triggered emotionally. When my kids did this kind of thing, I would tell them to go to their room and wait for me to come talk to them. I would take that time to calm down and pray for the Lord to give me wisdom to deal with the offense. (It’s amazing how effective just having her wait for you can be) Your daughter should not “get away with” doing this, but you need to handle it in a calm way, emphasizing that what she is doing is wrong and disrespectful, and will not be tolerated. God requires that she treat you with honor/respect, so it is important that you teach her that this behavior is unacceptable.
I so can relate to the fear and the pressure you are experiencing. I want to remind you of how much the Lord will equip you (even if in the moment it doesn’t feel like it).
“I’m worried that in her quest to ‘test my limits’ she is becoming mean-spirited”
I’m don’t know what this means or what you see so it’s hard to give a response.
“Because I don’t know which way is up when she hits that button, and I fear ThatI will over-react, I end up under-reacting. She gets away with it. She’s got a lot of anger stored up and takes it out on all of us. I call her on that but it doesn’t change anything.”
Wow this is so very understandable and I’m sure that your counselor will have some really good feedback for how to manage and find a balanced response to your daughters behavior.
I agree with you that you don’t want to start building an unhealthy pattern with your daughter that doesn’t give her many skills with her anger.
One thing we do with our oldest ‘esp’ given his emotions is he has to write down all the things he is angry about, mad at .. basically protest.
Our child then gets to share with us face to face his feelings ~
This is a process but an important one because under anger is a lot of hurt, fear that needs a safe place to be heard.
Parents can contain this and help them walk through their feelings. ~
Think of it as then owning their own feelings and having to work at it a bit. (A developed skill I think essential prior to leaving home)
Nancy, I think you have the How we Love book etc and they also have How we love our kids;)…that is very helpful, at least we have found it very helpful.
The feeling word list is critical too when these emotions are bubbling up ~
Love and hugs to you Nancy, God will equip you, your doing great through so much ‘muck’
You and I know the ‘Muck’🤗 Be kind and give yourself the space to acknowledge what you are doing So WELL 🎉 And space where you want to grow in;) this posture blesses our children.
Aly, I like what you said about having your children write down what they are angry about and then talking about it. I am going to pass that one along to a single mother of three who needs help dealing with some angry kids. Thanks!
I think it helps (at least it did for our oldest) I have suggested to many of my ‘mom friends’ and have found that ‘they call me or text and say ..” when I remember … I have them go write it all down’ .. the hard part is the remembering😉
(It moved from timeout to time to write)
My children’s rooms~ are wayyy to rewarding and cozy;)
I do think the ‘feeling words list’ posted in the room of the most activity (kitchen) has been so empowering for my children because ‘often’ they are not sure how to articulate or what exactly they are feeling… they don’t have the words always readily in their mind to grab them in the moment.
As you know JoAnn ‘unresolved grief’ gets layered and has babies…😬 Of sorts.. talk about land minds and contortions!
The grief of our extended family issues has been and felt …’well at times unbearable’ ..for my children too. But I can’t help but thank the Lord for walking us through this process and learning how to show them how to be comforted, validated in their pain. On some occasions it has almost felt like HE prepared it for us (us not knowing what the full extent of the loss would be)
Given the extended family issues.. in the early stages of grief.. Guess who was given all of their anger! Me 🤗~ wow that’s consistent. I was the (one in their mind that had the power to change the outcome) I didn’t! It was amazing to hear how they saw things and felt things..
It was really painful.. but God was faithful & used so many people/vessels to support me in ways I probably still haven’t introspectively processed.
Aly, that is so insightful and helpful. Where did you get the feelings list? I might have one in a book somewhere, but if you could tell me, it will help.
Thanks for sharing this. I like what you said about changing “time out” to “time to write.” Super!!
Go to ‘soul words list’ to download. I have it on my fridge, in my purse and my scheduling book 🙂
This list used to really intimidate me. Now, it’s a stress reliever.
Thank you, Nancy. <3
Thanks Nancy;)… yes that’s it 💜
Sunshine, JoAnn, Aly,
Thank you so much for your words 🙂
As The Lord would have it, we saw our counsellor today and spent some of our time on this. You have each echoed very much where we ended up.
We’ll be praying about coming up with guidelines for communication. We’re learning so much about this together that we can now begin teaching our kids. Our counsellor is also a university prof who teaches communication and conflict resolution, and he gave us a model called ‘common ground’ which is really neat.
The Lord is equipping us to His standards, and I’m so grateful.
This morning, as my h and I were discussing how to handle our daughter’s recent attitude toward us, we recognized that God has called us to such a beautiful standard of how to love her.
Thank you ladies, for your wisdom, support and straight talk.
Sunshine mentioned telling her that I could tell her how my mother hurt me at that age…my counsellor also suggested something similar.
I’m reluctant…not sure why. Maybe I’m afraid to contaminate what she thinks of her grandmother…..
Any further thoughts?
Sounds like I want to distort the truth to protect my mother…..hmmmm….
You don’t have to malign your mother in sharing what happened to you. Your daughter’s experience of her grandmother is going to be much different than yours was when you were young, and you can explain that to her. Sooner or later, our kids are going to learn what it was like for us growing up. People do change, and as long as your mother is kind to your kids and not doing the same things to them that she did to you, then it’s ok to point out the differences. If she is still doing to them what she did to you, then it goes a long way to describe why you limit their exposure to her. But I think what Aly said about keeping the discussion in the present with minimal reference to the past is also good.
No, my mother won’t damage them in the same way she did me – it’s simply a matter of exposure. She tries to manipulate them and I have no trouble speaking up, when they are the target. I can even do this in a healthy, light hearted and firm way!
It’s when she does it to me. That’s when I completely disappear (dissociate). And I can’t have my kids see me change so drastically in her presence. So, she’s welcome to take them out but I can’t be involved for any length of time because I’m not yet healed enough. Speaking of healing…that forgiveness imagery/ material is so beautiful. When I allow it to work in my heart it’s powerful ❤️
Keeping my thoughts to simply this : my job is to respect (honour) my mother – has been very helpful. If I think about her in terms of having a relationship with her…I spin out. I think this is because there never has been a relationship there and so…thinking about her in that context simply isn’t a truthful thought process.
Ok…so…right…the goal is not to malign her, the goal is to speak simple truth.
Nancy, I also can identify with being bullied. Sisters yet not brothers. Husb. Co- workers. Your out lashing as mine or trying harder came from wanting to be likeable. I came to realize sisters probably don’t like me. I have distanced myself and I’m ok at this point with it. I had so much fear of loss of relationship with H kids siblings. Now I realize that just maybe the way it will be.
3 fears that cause us defensiveness are
1. Being Competent
2. Being Significant
3. Like ability
Our defense is not to protect us from others. It defends us from fears we don’t want to feel about ourselves.
Behaviors of defense helps us hide our fears from ourself.
I’m learning slowly how to use Armor of God to speak truth to myself and defend spiritually with each element of the Armor. Ephesians 6. Also in Leslie book EDR
If we don’t use Gods word of truth then there is a list of defenses we take on mine are jump to conclusions, I want conflict stopped, and confusion. All of these and many more cause me to speak untruth lash out and basically sin,
The defensive info are secular speaker TEDX SantaCruz utube. Somewhere I found a lengthy list of defensive tactics people use. Best defense is truth and word of God. Truth and Armor of God is the best remedy.
Lots to ponder and pray about. When your daughter hits that button. Turn conversation off you and ask her why she said it , listen ask for clarification and say nothing or simply say “that was hurtful”
Love your responses and will be praying.
This is very helpful, GL.
Lately, what has become clear is that my boundary work is becoming more and more internal. Your suggestion that defences are against fears I don’t want to feel about myself, rings very true. And those three are accurate. Very. Accurate.
I have EDR but have not read it. I will now. Also, the armour of God is a passage that I know has such hidden treasures for me…maybe I’m getting ready to mine them 🙂
“That was hurtful” is a treasure, too. Simple. Truthful words.
Yes…lots to think, ponder and pray. Thank you so much for your insight GL.
I am seeing the fruit of the labor, or patience, or God’s Blessings.
He just asked me if I wanted to go to marriage class tonight. We went to the spring classes for six weeks, and now the fall classes. He initiated both times. He wants to spend time with me.
Something has changed in my relationship with my husband. I know that now I get it. Leslie Vernick gave me the tools that I need to understand how to be a woman that gets her respect.
I wish you all well.
That’s great Teena
But don’t put the wise individuals or this site down just yet. We need all the help and support we can get. Right?
I agree and so wise in my opinion. Renee have you seen the ‘Abuse Cycle Wheel’?
It’s a really good example of what the cycle can look like on paper and what the 2nd honeymoon can look like too.
Part of staying well would include looking at the consequences (and level of help/intervention) in proportion to the offenders behavior and abuse. Repeat offenders are in need of very high standards and treatment and serious interventions.
I know about the abuse cycle wheel.
Husband wants me to see a counselor. So he asked the last one that I found if I could be seen as well. I agreed as long as I was seen separately. Counselor has agreed to cover me for two sessions under his policy until I can find my own coverage.
Counselor wants to see him once a week. He agreed to twice a month. I hope he changes his mind.
Tuesday will be my first visit. I am nervous because I don’t know what to expect or how to get my message across in those couple of sessions.
Renee, when you see the counselor, it might help if you have with you some documentation of the behaviors your husband has that trouble you. Be as specific as possible, even quote things he says to you. When you write things down, as accurately as possible, it helps you not to question your own experience. Even take a print copy of the things you have written here to us. It will help you remember.
You were right to insist on seeing her alone. I hope that she will be able to help you.
Renee, Go with confidence, you know what’s been done to you.
They don’t believe you or enc. you to be better wife don’t go back.
Praying for you!!!
We have been separated for 6 weeks. I’ve set the boundary that I’m no longer tending to his load or offering suggestions about how he conducts himself of his business. He sees our little boy twice a week and is always happy to see him. Yesterday was our wedding anniversary. He sent a text saying “Happy Anniversary, I miss you so much.” We have not discussed ANYTHING in terms of our marriage, plans going forward, personal work to improve, etc. NOTHING of substance – in 6 weeks! (But he did send me a text letting me know what he would like for his birthday ). He is just existing with no job, no car. I responded to his anniversary text yesterday and said that while I haven’t brought anything up about his situation that I was interested in knowing his plans for a car, job, etc. He never replied. He is giving me absolutely NOTHING to work with so I’m just conducting myself as usual sans husband. It’s a weird limbo but I feel at peace that he isn’t in our home right now – there is no tension. I want God to work on him, for him to repent and change. But I have come to believe that God will only work miracles for those that welcome the change. Just trying to figure out how long to keep this up…
Smart woman.Good job, Lindsey. Stay strong. You are absolutely correct.
Good for you. Although ours was an in-house separation, that was a firm boundary of mine, too.
We did not discuss our relationship. We were separated. There was nothing to discuss.
Now that you are safe, do you feel that you could pray for him?
Yes, I have been praying for him. I pray that God would work in my husband and save him (he says he is saved, but I don’t feel that he truly is). It is hard to pray for him but I am trying.
Perhaps the best way to pray for him, Lindsey, is to just give him to God. Out of your hands and into the Lord’s. Another way to pray for him, or anyone else, is according to the prayer that Paul prayed in Ephesians 3. A very powerful prayer, and one that you can pray for yourself and anyone else you care about, because you can be assured that the prayer is according to the will of God.
Right now, you need prayer much more than he does. Thinking too much about him will suck you back into the vortex. I don’t agree that you need to devote time to pray for your husband. God has heard your prayers all along. Again, you need to focus all your energies on you to meet this challenge to stay free.
If praying for him will somehow suck you back in, then don’t do it, I agree.
If it helps you to release him to The Lord, as JoAnn suggested, then it will help you grow stronger.
If there’s danger in it, then stear clear, and work on other elements of the CORE acronym.
Yes, Sunshine, I agree with you. Lindsey needs to stay focused on her own spiritual and emotional health.
I’m not familiar with in-house separation. Would you mind sharing a bit about how that works/worked for you? I don’t think that would be best in my situation as my h would have it made, ie not having to work or contribute but continuing to be ‘taken care of’. Curious to learn more though.
It was simply this: because he was able to respect the boundaries that I had set, we stayed in the same house. If I had found that my limits were being trespassed upon, I would have had to take it to the next step – living separately.
Thanks for asking about the in-house separation. I composed such a question but did not want to trespass lol on Nancy. If you search online, you will see suggestions. I found some that sound harsh. Do a Google search for one called, “second Saturday checklist for living separately.” Some of the ideas sound cold or maybe I am the one not doing it exactly right.
The one missing suggestion was the one of not discussing the relationship. I picked that one up on this page.
GL, I don’t see how to respond closer.
Renee you haven’t even processed all you’ve endured.
GL, you are absolutely correct. I can’t even begin to tell you, since getting space, how much I’ve remembered those painful events from our long ago past (before these last four years) that look very similar to our current (last four years).
It has been quite painful to remember. I guess when it’s not happening on a daily or weekly basis, you tend to let things slide.
Aly you wrote on post (Can I Reach Out To My Daughter)
Does your husband initiate complaints or anything that he would like you to address and how do you respond? Or does he only bring these up as you initiate your experience of him?
My husband never/ever initiates complaints. I don’t even feel they are complaints but rather untruths. I struggle to find that bit of truth. So I’m either quiet as a mouse or call him out saying bull, that’s a bunch of bull. No sentence enhancers. But still disrespectful I am sure.
Main times that I hear complaints are during an anger episode on his part or when I am trying to voice a complaint. Here lately, while he is trying to not have anger but calmness. So an example of a complaint during anger is; you haven’t paid bills here since we have been in our home or you never share tax refunds. You only started this year.
I feel stupid now cleaning out my drawers and boxing papers because I see where I started keeping receipts way back then to show I had been contributing. Checks I had written to him to show I had been sharing the tax refund. Pulling out my resume because he said I haven’t worked most of my life. OMG!!!
I had forgotten all of this but things keep flooding my mind.
This is a snip of yesterday. For example; you stay gone all day when you go to work. I have a flexible, five hour a day work day. It takes 45 minutes to and from. To me, that is a normal work day.
Other times I find his complaints only surface when I discuss something that hurt me. It really hurt me when you snatched my phone away from me in public. Well you really hurt me acting like you don’t know me in public – his reply. It is not that I do not know you; it is that I am on guard. I will walk away if he starts to be disrespectful in public.
I feel my husband has had massive training in manipulation or maybe there is more here.
Goodness, your home with your husband sounds really exhausting if your having to defend yourself on many fronts.
It doesn’t sound safe. But then again we are only getting parts of your experience here.
I’m so sorry for this pain and what you are battling.
Am I correct in saying that you will be seeing a counselor this week?
What Nancy also said is key to your safety. Are you safe? I’m trying to recall, but your husband does not work outside the home?
Your husband sounds angry and very unpredictable almost as if he is also taking medication, if he is abusing meds you need to seek help and get safe. This can be a strong boundary you can choose where you can have the space and time to more ‘selfcare’
I’m sorry I don’t understand your husband’s comments about your contributions to the finances of the home and the tax return issues.. it sounds like you guys are unhealthy roommates, let alone cooperating roommates with respect.
Not saying you should be roomies, but his treatment of you sounds so painful.
To me, the sound of what is taking place is very unmanageable, and you are going to need a lot of help and support.
Have you made contact with a women’s shelter also?
It is exhausting. At times, describing the marriage as exhausting can be an understatement. I guess when asked if our relationship is safe, we/I think physically. My response to that on another post to Nancy was, Physically? I feel safe except for when he is having an anger episode. Mentally? I don’t feel safe to share or receive. Can I be 100% sure that I am physically safe? Absolutely not. Again especially when he is angry.
I am scheduled for Tuesday to see the same counselor as my spouse but separately. Two sessions will be covered under my spouse’s plan and then I’ll have to cover additional sessions. That part, I will have to figure out because my current plan does not cover mental health.
My husband has not worked since 2006.
I don’t know if he is abusing meds. He is on oxycodone. As much as I hate that one, I absolutely can’t get him to give that one up. He claims to only take it once a day and says it is the only one that gives him pain and mental relief. Sometimes he says he does not take at all. I use to help with meds so I could monitor but he started getting upset saying I was treating him like an old person so I gave up.
I don’t understand my husband’s comments about my financial and other contributions. I don’t want to be roommates. I just don’t know how to fix this except to let it go and only be willing to go back if it goes under new management.
I have not made contact with a women’s shelter but had been trying to save for my own place.
One last thing about whether or not I am safe. My brother has had a recent conversation with my spouse and says hubby doesn’t sound like the man he once knew and said something sounds off. My dad has also said he can’t put his finger on what is going on but that my husband has something going on up there. He says his MRI did not show anything last month but banned me from the trip.
I brought that ban on myself because I said to him, “not that I desire you to be sick but I hope the MRI shows that there is a small problem because it would hurt all over again to learn that you have purposely been hurting me.
As Cathy said on a post. It is all confusing because outside of the relational part he is ok. Car not working, done. Something goes wrong around the home, done. He grills for the family every other month. He helped care for his mom/grandma before they passed. He also helps me at times take care of my parents (mom and dad). He helps with school, done.
So maybe something is wrong with me for not being grateful to have that and wanting the entire package (true intimacy of heart – as you called it).
Again, I just don’t know how to go about obtaining the entire package except to turn it loose.
I’m glad your H has good qualities now and in the past but now the distruction and unrepentive behavior and lost intimacy is exahausting. It’s normal in distruction to be burned and exhausted. It takes more faith, strength energy to leave than martyr and stay as you are aware. The clarity, healing and freedom doesnt happen unto you take a stand for yourself your daughter and your marriage. Glad you have a plan and family support. Praying counselor believes you , is educated in domestic abuse and has a plan. Praying for you. Keep us posted
Have you heard this phrase? The marriage is only as good as it’s worse day. Other husbands fix cars and grill out, but they never, ever act like your spouse does. Don’t be tricked by his good guy image. It is a mask he wears to feel good about the bad things he does.
I pray counselor believes me as well. I have to deal with this issue. You bet I will keep you all up-to-date. You all have been the best support and help me stay strong.
I understand now.
I apologize. I had no idea that I’ve been posting under two names. In the theme of trying to have some anonymity, I messed up. So here goes, I am Angela and Renee. Mind is burned.
No worries, Renee. They are both beautiful names ❤️
Hi my name is cinthia. I also have a similar situation here. My husband has always been very lazy and irresponsible but these past few months he has got worse and started lying alot more than usual. He also steals money from me and lies about it. It seems everything he says is a lie and im tired of it. We have been seperated for 2 months now and we recently had a baby girl. He still doesn’t contribute and doesnt seem to care about our daughter because he doesnt come see her. Im also a bit confused about what i need to do here… I understand that God can do anything with anything or anyone. But i dont know what to do … I fear divorce but i also dont want to live like this forever… What advice can i get from you ladies?
Cinthia, I believe that Leslie’s advice above is also appropriate for you. Read it again as if it was a response to your own letter. Those three options are also good for you. It is good that you are separated from him; that is best for you and for your baby. Keep strong boundaries. In divorce cases, if the husband doesn’t provide child support he doesn’t get to visit his kids. Your h seems to lack an interest in his child already, so this tells you a lot. Figure out a way to keep your money from him. Get a debit card from your bank and don’t keep any cash at all with you, or at best, less than $10. Set a complicated PIN for it that he can’t get access to, and don’t let that card out of your sight. Sleep with it under your pillow!
God can do anything, but He will not violate a person’s will, so unless your husband has a full repentance and change of heart, even then it will take time for him to learn how to be a proper husband and father. You are dealing with poor character, and in most cases, people like that don’t change. I wish you well. You and your daughter deserve better.
My husband works and helps around the house a bit. He wants to do next to nothing outside of that. Daily when things dint go his way he explodes and cusses.
We go out to eat and nothing is ever good enough. Now he wants to retire yet will only get $900 a month. I work full time yet dint want him sitting around every single day doing nothing and watching tv. He watches tv and plays on his phone. He doesn’t want for us to have friends, make future plans or do hardly anything. I shared with him if he is going to retire we will need income based housing and he needs to get rid of his stuff piled up in the garage and our basement. He wants to do nothing and says he can’t find income based housing. He’s verbally abusive, he calls me a B, puts me down and picks on my. I have been married for 23 years. I did help him quit drinking and smoking. He’s still lazy and how do I deal with him wanting to watch tv all day when not working and now wanting to retire and do nothing full time? I work from home. Also, he’s not really a happy guy. Mostly I feel he just exists. I’m 60 years old in the middle of a big court case/mess and I’m not sure now is the best time to leave him. Please help with some suggestions? By the way, I did take the remote away and asked him to get something done when he’s home so we can move in a year. I feel guilty about that as I feel that was controlling but I also don’t want to feel used.
Joan, Every word of Leslie’s reply above applies to your situation, too. Your husband is a freeloader, and nothing will change until YOU change and stop enabling him to be a lazy freeloader. Read Leslie’s book “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” to learn about building CORE strength, find a counselor who works with women in abusive marriages, not for marriage counseling but for yourself, and keep coming back to the blog….the recent ones, this is an old one. There are lots of women here who can offer support and good advice. I wish you well.