Yesterday was my granddaughter Amaya’s 7th birthday. I am in California to celebrate all week her preciousness. We are going to paint pottery and our nails. We are going to the bookstore to read books and buy a special new book for this budding reader. We ate birthday cake and sang Happy birthday to her last night. And we gave her a new suitcase so that she could come visit her Nana and Pop Pop in style.
As I delight in her, I can’t help but think how this gives us a glimpse of how delighted God is with us. I am anxious to see the woman she becomes and how she develops her gifts and abilities to become all that God put inside of her. I would hate if anyone hurt her or crushed the beautiful person she is. I believe my feelings in a small way teach us a little bit about how God feels about us. It gives us a picture of how God feels about you all – his precious daughters being abused, crushed, silenced and ironed flat so that you can’t develop your fullest self.
And, as we are God’s representatives on this earth we are called to help the oppressed and abused. We are called to protect and speak out about this kind of squashing and silencing and I’m thankful for each of you. I love how you rally around one another to nourish and nurture and remind one another just how precious you are.
Today’s Question: My husband is a pastor who is narcissistic, emotionally reactive and verbally abusive, but on the milder side. He controls this for the most part with others in the church, but a couple people in leadership at our last church got a “taste” of his anger, bullying, lack of remorse, and he was eventually asked to step down. Of course, he feels those individuals were in the wrong.
Those who have never seen this side of him see him as caring, a gifted teacher, strong leader and charismatic, which he can be. We recently completed six marriage-counseling sessions. There has been some attempt at change, but I don't sense it is a “heart thing.” I'm working on my CORE, but I find that as a pastor's wife, the concept of living out the “C,” that of being committed to truth with no pretending, is almost impossible, unless I plan to ruin his reputation, his career and place additional stress on our marriage (we have an 8-year old son).
In ministry, how you and your spouse are perceived is directly tied to your livelihood. In the meantime, he started a “new” church of about 25 people that “support” him because they haven't seen the “other” side of him. My heart is not in this, but since I am a stay home mom, I have “gone along” with him. I have asked him to find someone else to lead music, but he says, “So what are you going to do for God?” and “This is how we make a living.”
I sometimes think about going to a different church, but I know the backlash I would get from him and questions from those in our current church. How do I NOT pretend?
Answer: You do have a dilemma on many fronts and I appreciate you reaching out for wisdom and help. It’s not easy being a pastor’s wife. Even with a godly husband, being in ministry takes a toll on a pastor’s wife. There is little support and often no one to confide in. It’s scary to be up front in ministry and to let yourself be vulnerable and expose your brokenness because people do judge. And, it’s true, your livelihood depends on people thinking well of you both.
So here’s what I see. You have a marriage issue, you have a “perception” of us as a couple issue, and you have an integrity issue because you don’t want to pretend in front of the folks in this new church but if you don’t go along and play the nice pastor’s wife role, you may harm his reputation and/or ministry and you don’t want to do that either.
Let me answer first by saying there is no perfect person, no perfect leader. God does use flawed, broken people to do his work (Click To Tweet).
We only have to take a quick look through the Old Testament to see how very flawed some leaders were.
For example, Moses murdered a man in anger early on in his life but continued to struggle with his temper and angry outbursts throughout his ministry (Numbers 12:13; Exodus 2, 32:19; Numbers 20:11).
King David raped Bathsheba, one of his trusted soldier’s wives, when her husband was out to battle. He further covered up his sin by having her husband put on the front lines of the battle to be killed when he found out she was pregnant (2 Samuel 11).
Sarah used her trusted handmade Hagar to “give her a child” and then when she had one of her own, tossed Hagar and her son aside (Genesis 16).
Abraham was a coward and encouraged his wife to sleep with other pagan leaders to save his own skin (Genesis 12, 20).
Solomon, the wisest man ever, was also a sex addict and had sexual relations with over 1,000 women (1 Kings 11).
So what does that mean for you? It means that God sees your husband’s flaws and still may use him for his purposes. Shocking huh? But your question is, how do you practice the C step in CORE strength which is being committed to the truth, no pretending. Let me share some ways you can do this with full integrity.
First, I don’t think to live in CORE, being honest and not pretending means that we disclose publically our spouse’s flaws, sins, blind spots, and failures. I sure wouldn’t want my husband to do that to me.
I want you to see yourself as your husband’s greatest ministry partner, his best asset to become the man God calls him to be, and his most trusted advisor. God has you in his life for a reason.
However, it isn’t to prop him up and pretend all is well when he’s about to fall off the cliff, taking you, your kids and perhaps other followers with him.
Your role as a wife is to love, encourage, and support your husband to be all God calls him to be (just as a husband’s role is for his wife). Considering your particular husband with his unique blind spots, that includes you speaking the truth in love to him about his bullying behavior, his unwillingness to listen to constructive feedback, and his inability to see where he might be wrong. These blind spots if left uncorrected, will hinder his ministry in addition to making a good relationship with you impossible.
However, his biggest blind spot is not recognizing that he has any blind spots. That will be a challenge.
Second, since you already have been to six marriage counseling sessions, there is another person who has also observed some of your husband’s behaviors and blind spots (at least I hope so). If not, then you must think of a strong godly male leader, perhaps a denominational head, who can be an accountability person for your husband. You do not want to bear this entire burden, but your husband needs other people to speak honestly into his life (Hebrews 3:13).
Third, you need to have a heart-to-heart conversation with him that will go something like this:
“I want your ministry to be successful and glorify God. I am your strongest ally and your biggest cheerleader. I haven’t wanted to be the music leader in this new church and I’ve been reluctant to be completely honest with you because I’m afraid you won’t hear me.”
PAUSE – let him reflect on that for a minute. Just a bit of feedback – to see if he can absorb that much truth. Only continue if he invites you to. If not, then that tells you he can’t even hear the tiniest bit of constructive feedback.
“You are incredibly gifted. You are an effective Bible teacher and for the most part, people love you. Yet you do have another side, one that you keep contained publically, but sometimes – like in our last church, it gets the best of you and comes out. There were many godly leaders in the Bible who struggled with a darker side of their personality. Your anger and aggressive behavior are hurting our marriage and me. We’ve talked about this in our marriage counseling (Please change or fill in the appropriate details).
I believe if you are going to be successful in ministry and successful in our marriage, you are going to have to take a look at this aggressive anger issue. I know you think you did nothing wrong in our former church issue (fill in the details as appropriate to what he exactly did), but others disagreed. So much that you were asked to step down.
I too disagree. I think this is a huge blind spot for you and will hurt your testimony as a pastor and it hurts our relationship.
I don’t believe that beating someone up with your words is ever the appropriate godly response, even when you are provoked. But what bothers me more is that as a pastor and man of God, you saw nothing wrong with this despite knowing that God’s word clearly tells us that abusive speech or reckless words have no place in a believer’s life, especially as a pastor. You never apologized. You never admitted you were out of line. You never showed any remorse or repentance. That concerns me as we go forward in ministry. I’m reluctant to grow this ministry with you as your partner if you are unwilling to listen to my feedback or hear my concerns.
If you want me to partner with you in building this new church I need to do so with integrity. For me to do that I need you to commit to dealing with this side of your personality with a counselor or ministry leader who will help you learn other ways you can handle your frustration, hurt, or anger without resorting to aggressive or demeaning language. (you may have to give him some examples here). I don’t want to put myself in a position of being your ministry partner, such as leading music if you aren’t going to hear my concerns or allow me to speak into your life. I’ve been convicted that I am not a good wife to you if I just pretend and go along with what you want just to keep you happy. It’s not good for you, it’s not good for me, and it’s not good for our marriage.
So give some thought to what I’ve asked and let me know what you decide.”
In this way, you have told him what you will and will not do. You will no longer pretend with him or act as if what he does is no big deal. You shared your concerns honestly, offered your support and ideas and now the ball is in his court to take steps of action.
If he chooses not to, then you may have to say, “What would you like me to say when people in the church ask me why I am not involved.”
“I am not willing to lie, pretend or cover up for our marriage issues. That is not in line with who I want to be as a woman or wife and I do not believe it honors God to act as if we are fine when we are not.”
I know this is risky, but if you don’t fight now for your husband and his ministry, his problem won’t get better. It will only grow and his blindness will continue. Sooner or later what happened before will repeat itself and another job may be lost. Better to confront the issue with him now while things are still a little bit in a crisis than to wait until everything returns to “normal” and he thinks he’s doing great and doesn't’ need to address what happened “back in the past.”
Friends, how have you stood in CORE STRENGTH, especially the committed to truth part when your spouse was unwilling to face the truth?
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Dealing With A Self-Centered Spouse
Good Monday Morning friends, I have been crazy busy this week and I deeply appreciate your prayers. I’ve been doing grandma duty all week taking care of three little girls and their mama plus working on my new book. I’m flying home Monday but wanted to…
My Wife Doesn’t Love Me Anymore. How Can I Win Her Back?
Question: I am 38, my wife is 32. Recently she informed me that she no longer loves me or has any feelings for me. We have 5 kids and they all see the anger and resentment she has toward me. I used to drink but have not had anything in almost 2 years. I never…
Leslie, I appreciate what you have written–prior to the question and your reply. I especially liked reading how you put to words, your enthusiasm in watching your grand daughter grow into the woman God has planned for her to be. I feel the same way about my daughter (11 yrs old) and reflect on even myself, where I was before I married personally and professionally. I had goals, ideas, hopes for my marriage, myself, our family, my work. Truly, very little has turned out (thus far) the way I had hoped starting 20 years ago. Its not all bad, but certainly not as I had envisioned.
I have grown through this process and recognize my innate tendency to sin and am working to raise my awareness, pay attention to my reactions and self talk, replacing lies with truth. My question is this:
How do I stand up for myself in a godly way when I feel my dreams, talents, ideas and creativity have been squashed or let go in order for my husband to pursue, achieve and live as he wants, with very little regard for how I feel or what this does to our marriage and family? I feel like that question originates from a place of “victim” mentality and that nauseates me because I don’t want to be that and I know that is NOT how God has fashioned me–yet I speak as if I am.
Learning CORE strength is indeed new to me and takes time. It feels foreign to me right now, which perhaps is why it is difficult to understand. I resonate with where the pastor’s wife is, because if I stand up to my husband and choose to acknowledge the truth of our marriage relationship, it has the potential to change EVERYTHING for myself, our children, our family–literally everything in life as we know it. When I have tried to talk to him about my feelings, he twists things and tells me I have “greener grass syndrome” and “I think I have it so bad.” I am left with the idea that would have come to me with ease 20 years ago “for goodness sake Karla! Stand up for yourself!!” I wouldn’t have hesitated to do so 20 years ago. Now, its as if I had never known of such a thing.
I wanted to share some things that I found very helpful in strengthening my CORE. I was very weak and passive too, due to years of being dominated. That has changed, because I went to work on it with the Lord.
1. Leslie has a lot of videos on youtube that are very helpful.
2. Also her books The Destructive Marriage and How to Act Right When your Spouse Acts Wrong
3. Patrick Doyle videos–he has a LOT on youtube. He is a pastor and a counselor, and does a TV interview style show.
I think those would be a good start to begin to change your thinking and help you to grow strong. I understand that you feel like you may threaten the stability of your family if you “rock the boat.” But fear is not pleasing to God. He wants you to be strong and courageous in Him, to face up to and tell the truth, and leave the results with Him. Pretending is sick and dysfunctional, and will lead to nowhere good. The longer you wait, the more entrenched the evil becomes, in your husband and in your family system. One day it will come crashing down…the later, the harder. Act now, dear Karla. Get a good Christian counselor, and begin to gather support around you. Telling others what is going on will help because they will begin to reflect back to you how wrong it all is and will help give you the courage to make healthy changes.
Thank you so much. I needed that encouragement.
Karla, sorry it’s taken me so long to respond. I’ve been away and my password was hacked and we had to refigure everything again so you ask an excellent question, one that I think is worthy of a post of it’s own, so I will be answering it in the next few weeks.
In addition to the very wise advice the dr Leslie gave in addition honey it’s time for you to get a job and not be dependent on him.. Even if it’s part time. Or learn a skill there are many course that take only 9-12 months to enter fields that you could support yourself with. Please look into it and trust The Lord. Being a housewife is a wonderful and high calling … When a woman can afford it. He lacks integrity and is not trustworthy and can use your lack of creating income to be controlling towards you. You’re son is 8 there are no babies in the house please get a job and create income for yourself please.
Thanks MIllie, I agree. Women need to be prepared to support themselves economically, even when you stay at home with your children. In todays’ world, that is a given. We can no longer rely on a long-term marriage or long term financial support in a divorce. We need to get prepared to support ourselves and if we choose to stay home to take care of children (which is a wonderful thing to do when possible), stay up to date on your skills and work even part time so that you keep your confidence and ability to work if you need to.
These are very wise words from Leslie. It is hard to live in the public eye and if you start speaking truth, at first many will see you causing problems for your pastor husband but in the end the truth will be seen even though it may be years later. The hardest thing is to face the truth for yourself. Speaking truth could have HUGE consequences for you. God knows that. He is ready to walk through whatever comes right beside you. He is walking with me every step of the way.
The Questioner says: [In ministry, how you and your spouse are perceived is directly tied to your livelihood. In the meantime, he started a “new” church of about 25 people that “support” him because they haven’t seen the “other” side of him. My heart is not in this, but since I am a stay home mom, I have “gone along” with him. I have asked him to find someone else to lead music, but he says, “So what are you going to do for God?” and “This is how we make a living.”] . . . . . The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are in Christ. That’s what your going to do for God. . . .Who you are, who God wants you to be. Who Christ wants you to be. I would say to tell the truth as best and as deeply you know how. That puts your life back into God’s hands. Tell the truth and don’t try to control the situation or be an outcome engineer. Just tell the truth as best and as deeply as you know how and let God decide the outcomes.
What Leslie says: “I want your ministry to be successful and glorify God. I am your strongest ally and your biggest cheerleader. I haven’t wanted to be the music leader in this new church and I’ve been reluctant to be completely honest with you because I’m afraid you won’t hear me.” . . . That is so beautiful, kind and very hopefully and maybe words like those (—along with the truth, the whole truth) will, hopefully, restore your husband. But again, the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are in Christ. . . . .If you can, you tell him the truth and keep telling him. That which we are told we cannot speak of are the very things about which we must never stop speaking.
“Friends, how have you stood in CORE STRENGTH, especially the committed to truth part when your spouse was unwilling to face the truth?” . . .I don’t have that issue in my marriage, —thank God; but, I do have it internally at times, with myself. Fear is VERY bad soil. It grows obedience like corn, which grow in straight lines to make weeding easier (—nothing authentic grows in that bad soil). What I need is not change but transformation from who I am into who I was meant to become. . . .Where love rules, there is no will to power; where power predominates, there love is totally lacking. The one is the shadow of the other. Pure love contains no attempt to hold power over the other person and if you are attempting to hold power over another person, there is no room for real love. . . .But more than that, again, practically, we don’t know what is best for us. —So what do we do? We put our lives back into God’s hands by clearly speaking the truth as clearly and as precisely as we know how to our spouses, to everyone. —Your truth, —things *you* know. We don’t use our language to manipulate, control situations —no outcome engineering. —Why? Because we have no real idea what is best for us, only God does and when we speak our truth clearly that self-selects people into and out of our lives. i.e.“Don’t use your language instrumentally” . . .Don’t use language to try to get what you want because doing so destroys God’s path for us and we don’t really know what is best for us anyway. Again, only God knows what is best for us and the only way to be on that path is to be careful to, as clearly and as best we know how, tell spouses the truth.
re: previous posts will not accept posts
It’s not for lack of trying that I haven’t gotten back to you. First and most often, I comment, click on the post comment button, the “processing arrow circle” appears that indicates that the comment is being published. The page reloads but my comment is nowhere to be found. The comment count on the post is still as though I haven’t commented at all. . . .Anyways, Thank you Aly! Despite all the delayed, lost, multiple, etc. posts, it is so, so very meaningful talking with people here and I’m grateful that I get a voice despite all the posts that never post/ delay post/ multi-post. Again, I tried to reply again and again and again but posting is basically random at this point, for me.
I walked the same path for over 30 years. My pastor husband became more abusive, neglectful, and his negativity was poisoning me. I simply had to get out to preserve my sanity. I’ve faced judgement from friends and even one of my children, but I have not revealed the details of his sins. Being a pastor’s wife is hard. Taking care of yourself is even harder.
Angela, Isn’t it best to come clean with the people your husband has lied to if these individuals are open to listening to you?
Yes, that’s what I think. He lost all rights to being “protected” when he started abusing you!
Sin loves the darkness….we need to shine the light on the sin, so hopefully no other woman will be caught up in his lies!
I’d at least explain to my children what was happening…especially if they are adults.
Thanks Angela, and there may be a time to reveal more – not just for your sanity but for his own good and the good of the gospel of Christ. Taking care of yourself is very hard, especially when you’ve been taught that it is selfish and sinful to do so.
I wonder if it would be easier to answer this question if we took away the job description. Pastor, Baker, Butcher, Cabinet maker, don’t let the occupation fool you. An abuser, is an abuser, is an abuser. So, my response to how to live in core strength is to knock the abuser off his holy horse and see him as he is, an abuser.
“. . . is to knock the abuser off his holy horse and see him as he is, an abuser.”
. . .How do you keep a good balance because it is really easy to fall into overreacting: too nice vs. too aggressive. In counseling, we have been working on integrating aggressiveness into our personality. ―Hellfire & brimstone, I find in the last months that can cause w-a-y over-reactions. Free, how do you decide the balance of the response level inside compassion? . . . For example, since mine is childhood abuse from my mother, I’ll read a passage in the Bible that I think borders on spiritual abuse. . . . .Next thing I know, I am de-weaponizing; de-mythologizing; text de-constructing the entire Bible to neutralize everything. How do you neutralize abuse without becoming an abuser? A compassionate victim, knowing that the abuser cannot change without becoming more compassionate, will leave. An abuser who becomes more compassionate cannot continue to abuse. . . . .Abusers must access the natural state of compassion they first experienced as very young children and relived when they were falling in love (―because no one marries an open abuser, ―I hope.). Most will then recognize that they have fundamental values that are more important to them than their stinking egos and that their egos were constructed in large part as defense against the shame of violating or losing touch with those values. Otherwise, motivated by defense of ego, they violate their deepest values and devalue those they love. But if motivated by their deepest values (―our CORE), their need to defend a fragile ego subsides, along with their need to control, criticize, dominate, and devalue others. . . . .maybe? Otherwise, re: knock the abuser off his holy horse, all you have is a total open war, that escalates into hell on earth? Maybe??? Free, obviously I don’t know, but it seems no treatment or support of victims can be successful by urging them to disown their compassionate nature and think more like abusers re: knock the abuser off his holy horse. . . .―Oh, and I’m right in there with you, I would just use the court system to knock him off his “holy” horse. . . .but will that accomplish anything remotely Christ-like? A deeper level of compassion helps our victim here see the damage an abuser does to self by harming loved ones. Then, if necessary, she can leave compassionately (Leslie’s leaving well), for the abuser’s own good. Maybe this is a far more empowering stance that will feel more authentic to someone trying to follow Christ, avoid residual bitterness that adversely affects all the parenting, and be less likely to stir revenge from an abuser who feels humiliated by separation? And maybe it will not create a pendulum of pain, in which victims leave out of anger, bitterness, resentment and murderous rage only to return out of guilt and shame???
Amen, well said, Free!!!!
If this man is characterised by prideful and abusive behaviour then he does not even qualify as an elder. End of question. I would be concerned that he was asked to step down and he starts his own church up??? Yes, God does use flawed people but in a more biblical balanced view, he uses people that love and honour him.
this situation is far too common because people are in the pulpit without God anointing them to be there.
ministry is not a job it is a calling because God fills someone with the Holy Spirit to lead precious lives towards holiness.
demons rule your husbands soul and consequently your marriage and his church. do some research on what is a sociopath and learn why you’re so troubled.
The hardest part in these situations is that we know in our souls what will happen when we tell the truth….no matter how we tell it. I think we know it because we’ve been trying to tell it and getting increasingly negative feedback for doing so.
For me, taking that step was really more like taking the last step. I had to be willing to live with whatever the outcome was. That was the part I had to work out in myself with God in advance – that I was going to continue on in truth no matter what the backlash. I practiced being courageous 🙂
Leslie is correct – the problem will only get worse. I think I “wished” he would do the right thing so I wouldn’t have to stand up to him … and be so far out of my comfort zone. But in doing so, I am more me than I have been in a very long time.
Truth-telling is not for the faint of heart. Thankfully we have a God who is the “strength of our heart.”
Well said. I agree.
Thanks Rosanne, for telling it how it is from the trenches. I think sometimes we push a woman or wife to do things she’s not ready to do yet because of the steep price she will have to pay. For now, she needs the support and strength to get ready for that moment, but in the meanwhile, there are many things she can do to get stronger, wiser, and more able to deal with the fallout that is likely to come. Truth be told, rarely have I heard of a church rallying around the abused wife and disciplining the pastor husband.
Roseanne, you nailed it.
Roseanne, I admire your courage. You were brave and wise.
As I read your post it was clear you were a wonderful person.
Then it struck me as what a waste that so many fine women are being thrown away or held hostage by abusers. If only these men (or women like in Henry’s case) would get a sniff of the smelling salts and come to their right senses. But the Word says they prefer darkness over light and that surely seems to be case. 🙁
If you don’t mind, can you elaborate, on how you situation has played out?
My husband is also a Pastor. I am sorry that you don’t seem to have anyone on your team in either the old or the new church. But we are here for you and God is for you and will never leave you. HE will provide for you.
I am also a stay-at-home Mom and have learned to take better care of myself and am working toward new things. Leslie’s books have been such a help to me. Please find what works for you and do the same!
I also quit my church. I am no longer an official member of my church, but I do attend to take my kids. The sad part is that no one seems to know or care about that. But I am a much healthier and freer person because of it. After I “quit” my church, a friend suggested that I read the book “I Quit” by Geri Scazzero. It was very encouraging. (it’s about a Pastor’s wife who also quit her church).
Please take care, I’ll be praying for you and your son!
Thanks Amber. Yes the Scazzero’s wrote a book about the Emotionally Healthy Church and often pastors head churches that are just as unhealthy and destructive as they are.
If I had spoken those things to my ex (I tried many times) he would immediately start telling me what all my flaws are and what I need to work on. It was ALWAYS turned back to me. How does one respond to that??
NuttShell — I responded by figuring out what it meant to build my CORE. I didn’t/haven’t done it all the way but did enough to go proceed with separation and divorce. The experience has wreaked havoc on my ability to trust myself. How could I have been so blind and deceived for all those years? Why is what I see now more valid than what I saw then? If I can’t trust myself, how can I trust anyone? My guess is that the answer is to keep working on the CORE. I’ve stepped away from that. Your question “How does one respond to that?” makes me think that it’s time to once again wrestle with it.
Best to you in your journey.
you just peeked inside my head.
You articulated the the greatest struggle I have- TRUSTING.
While, I’m not at the same point in the journey – you’re divorced; I’m still in a struggling marriage, but described something that’s been bothering SO Much lately!
For me, the TRUST issue has 4 areas.
🌀1. trusting OTHERS
their sincerity, their motives, their sanity, and their ability to sustain good behavior, etc.
🌀2. trusting MYSELF.
Can I trust myself to make and uphold healthy boundaries and operate in self-respect? Or will I go back to people-pleasing and PRETENDING? I don’t want to lose myself again ☹️ or get sucked into a trick of false repentance. Oh God, please give me discernment!
I also relate #2 to Crazy-making. Each time the crazy-making starts I’ve had to decide: will I take the bait?? Or will I steady myself, reach into my CORE and become a Rock.
🌀3…..Trusting God’s Protection.
I also have faith issues that are harder to talk about. I feel guilty for this because I don’t want to doubt God’s goodness. This wasn’t/isn’t a frequent struggle for me. But occasionally after a very abusive episode I wonder: “Why doesn’t God protect me? Why doesn’t God convict him and say to him ‘Stop!! you’re selfish, mean, and hurtful. DONT DO IT ANYMORE.”
my husband claims to be a Christian. He has called me a Jezebel, a disappointment. An object to be used sexually. I’d pray “God please help me get through this”, but nothing would change and I felt invisible. Meanwhile, my H would go on his merry way unscathed😔.
[But the good news is I am changing now. I am getting stronger. H *might* be changing too. But he is change might be too late as far as the marriage is concerned]
🌀4….Trusting in my ability to hear The voice of the Lord.
I have struggled with hearing from the Lord. Here’s why:
(1) I have neglected spending time with the Lord in study, worship, or prayer like I did before I was married. I told the Lord recently I was so sorry I’ve neglected Him. I have only come to Him in times of trouble; I said for the rest of my life I want to serve him fervently in good times and in bad. I want the joy of his presence in my life because God’s worth it. ❤️
(2) when you make a HUGE blunder, you tend to second-guess yourself from then on.🙄
I was CONVINCED that I had the peace of God that he was the right man for me to marry.
Before we got married, a wonderful man of God spoke a prophetic word over us that God would use our marriage to show His glory.
😞Within a couple weeks of marrying my husband, our marriage very, very bad. So I knew I made a big mistake or else there would be a miracle down the line for me. But I believed that because there was no adultery involved, I had no biblical grounds for divorce. So it was a life sentence for me. ☹️Then I was so smart – I went and had three kids with him. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb.
You ladies know what I mean – obviously, I don’t regret my three babies. I love them. But co-parenting ties me to him for YEARS.
Now, if my H were to TRULY repented back in August when we had our huge blowup and our marriage was healed then that word would have been true. That’s what I thought was going to happen. I was so happy. It was blissful calm for about six weeks. We were going to have our 20th wedding anniversary in December. I thought it was going to be an anniversary worth celebrating!
But sadly, my H went back to his old ways of entitlement. Our marriage does NOT bring glory to God, quite the opposite. 😔
(3) CONFLICTING VOICES AND KNOWING WHEN TO THROW IN THE TOWEL.
[We are Full Gospel people]
I received prophetic words that I know were really of God and I latched onto them and they’ve been an awesome blessing. However on the other hand, I’ve heard some prophetic words I KNOW were spoken in the flesh. The vast majority of prophetic words I don’t immediately KNOW with 100% certainty are legitimate but if they sound reasonable, edifying, and line up with the Word, then I put them in my mental “pondering in my heart ” category .
Now, here’s where I’m going with this- recently, my husband and I have had different VOICES speaking over marriage.
Some are prophetic.
Some are just advice.
I just don’t know who to believe.
Plus, there’s my own heart which really just wants off this hamster wheel a.k.a. divorce.
Some voices are speaking: “God will heal your marriage”.
One voice spoke a VERY NEGATIVE thing have spoken about me. 🙁
I still remember that prophetic word given before we got married. It was a good word. It was one I wanted to receive, believe, and see come to pass.
I believe it was God’s will for our marriage to be good. Of course, it’s God’s will for every marriage to be healthy and reflections of his goodness just like it’s God’s will for everyone to be saved but we know many will reject his offer of mercy.
My H up till YESTERDAY maintained HE didn’t need counseling. But a blowup that prompted me to say a probable divorce is imminent, prompted him to retract that statement and say “I’ll do anything to save our marriage.” (I’m VERY DOUBTFUL of his sincerity) we are starting individual counseling so I suppose there is still *some* hope. I’m doing the counseling for MY mental sanity and direction, not so much for marital counseling. I will resist couples counseling. We’ll see.
Sorry it’s so long
Hey, Ruth, my observation from your story is you are more trusting of God than you think and that He is by your side guiding you. The Spirit has shown you that the way your h treats you is hypocritical from what he speaks from his mouth and proclaims to believe. You standing up to him and saying you don’t deserve to be treated this way is the right thing to do because God cares more for you (and your h) than *titles* in the church and more than the marriage itself. Even though telling your h the truth about how he is hurting you is the right thing to do, it isn’t your words that will convince your h to recognize it or *possibly* even change. The Spirit is the only one that can do that. Keep stepping forward in your CORE! Also, something that recently has encouraged me that a leader in my church had spoken about…. A couple of people had written to him about how they felt they were losing their faith b/c they weren’t feeling their zeal for God the way they used to and b/c some hard things in their life were happening. His encouraging words were…”when u are questioning and coming to God with these questions, it IS showing your faith and trust in Him. Lack of faith would be to say ‘everything is fine’ and not even recognize that there is a problem when things (people/relationships, etc) are crumbling and about to fall apart. Consider yourself the blessed one when you can recognize your need for Him!” You are turning to the right place when you turn to God.
Thank you 😊
Ruth, There’s more here that is worthy of response than I have energy, so I’m taking tremendous shortcuts below. Also, my husband and I are in the process of divorcing and although it’s a very peaceable process, it’s incredibly stressful for me.
First, yes, points 1 and 2. Exactly. Thanks for expanding on them. I go to Al Anon twice a week just so that I have a safe, supportive, environment where the rules include not being permitted to give advice no matter HOW off-base the speaker seems. But I can’t say anything. For weeks I’ll go and not say a word. Finally, at the most recent meeting. I managed to squeak out that I have lost my ability to articulate anything. I couldn’t even say “my feelings.” I’m beginning to recognize that this incredible detachment from even myself is what’s enabling me to keep going to work — even with this loss of ability to live in the present. So where does my mind go? It just shuts down. I trip, I fall, I forget what I just said, I forget words and can’t complete sentences. I think I’m losing my mind. I think I’m fine and will regain my former sharpness.
My second thought: I wasted years of my life worrying about God and church and doctrine and whether my infant baptism was good enough or should I get baptized as an adult. Whether the fact that I couldn’t speak in tongues was a faith issue, whether God cares one bit, whether they were all faking it. And on and on.
So, it’s heretical to some faith tradition to think that there is no such thing as prophecy. But what if you just decided to listen only to what makes sense for you, now? And trust that God’s got your back. That God is big enough to let His people not get it exactly right and love them into the Kingdom anyway?
You have enough on your plate, (THIS IS MY OPINON–NOT IN ANYWAY INTENDED TO DELIVERED AS FACT) so why not decide to scrape it clean and fill it up with your stuff instead of what other people tell you it should be filled with. You can always get a second plate and load it up with “to be considered later” or even a third plate with “maybe someday.”
All the best to you,
Thanks Ann, I gotcha on the ‘there’s more to this than my weary mind can take on to fully answer right now’. I felt that way about this whole post. What these pastors wives are going through or have gone through is an atrocity. I wanted to say something but I over- whelm easily.
I over whelm easily even when life is good. But that’s just one of my handicaps 🙄.
My feeling Ann is that much of ‘your former sharpness’ will return as you’re less and less around your STBX.
Your reference to your stress over infant baptism reminds me of something that happened when I was about 24. My best friend from high school came to me. She had gone to a very fringe denominational group. She says God prompted her to come and talk to me. But in retrospect, I’m sure it was her love for me that created a fear that I would now be lost because maybe I had been baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost, but not in the name of Jesus. So… according to the doctrine she was hearing, my baptism was invalid. I appreciate that she didn’t want me to go to hell but the confusion that that conversation and fear brought into my life was terrible. Now, I was biblically literate and a college graduate. Sounds like a person who could think for themselves?? But… when you have a propensity toward fearfulness and someone tells you “you’re going to hell on a technicality and so will all your family because they went to the Methodist Church and were taught false baptism doctrine” then you will at least half believe what they say. For me, I would’ve jumped through ANY HOOPS necessary to avoid hell. If it meant getting baptized three times a day for the rest of my life, no problem! I would do it. But where my friend really pulled the rug out from under me was with my family. I had a brother I knew was lost. One sister who very questionable; one sister who was a prodigal making her comeback. But my mom is like Mother Teresa. I could DEFINITELY check my mom off as saved!! Now, with this new information it look like we were all going to hell! ☹️. Momma trusted wholeheartedly in the Methodist church way. She wasn’t going to listen to my crazy friend. What was I going to do? I couldn’t let Momma go to hell. But I didn’t want to scare Momma like my friend scared me. Why couldn’t God not make baptism more clear?!
Ann, I know the turmoil you are talking about ☹️.
My mind’s too frazzled too make it through all of Aleea’s posts (isn’t that pitiful? ). I have a Masters degree can’t make it through a 500 word post on the Internet – oh well, I got three kids to blame that on. Anyway, I’ve read something Aleea says that’s so true. “Fear is a bad soil to grow anything in.”
Hey, Aleea, did you come up with that yourself? Or is that a quote you read somewhere? That sure is good. Well, in a sad way.
Now – I wish we only knew about the happy things like 🦄 unicorns and rainbows 🌈.
Hopefully this will be readable. Once the margins get this skinny I usually quit posting or reading them bc them bc they bug my eyes.
Re: “Fear is a bad soil to grow anything in.”
Ruth, I was simply describing me at many times: Totally fearful. I often do things from fear and it is that sad. I am usually working through four to six books, all at once, and in parallel, at any time. I can’t remember what came from where but I am sure it is some type of synthesis. What I am trying to do is more fully identify with the part of my personality that can change, the part that is not static, not locked down by fear. The reason I say that is that we all are in need of constant revival. . . . “metanoia” in the N.T. . . .A death—rebirth sequence (μετάνοια -metánoia, met-an’-oy-ah). Re: Personality and its Transformations. For me, it is a healing journey as I work to overcome childhood abuse, religious abuse, etc. I can tell you Ruth that I am looking for Christ’s real love to heal my shattered psyche. I call that metanoia after the transformational experience talked about in the New Testament. Re: The Great Meaning of Metanoia: The Life and Love of Jesus Christ. —And when I read the gospels, I fall in love with Christ, the way one falls asleep: slowly, and then all at once. I have no empirical evidence but I sure know the way it makes me feel. It is like a magnet that reaches to my heart and just pulls me.
Re: unicorns and rainbows
I pray that your life and your children’s would be full of rainbows, unicorns (—unicorns love rainbows, I think) but most of all the Lord’s love! The issue, especially for me, is that we accept the level of love we think we deserve, —not good if you have a low self-image. —How do you know when its love? I don’t fully know but I think love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own. . . . —And, obviously, those are the two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we really love (—pure, Christ-like love), we open to all that life has to offer. We need to learn to love ourselves first, —that’s my issue. —And my task is not even to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within myself that I have built against it, which are a lot.
Re: “. . . .My second thought: I wasted years of my life worrying about God and church and doctrine and whether my infant baptism was good enough or should I get baptized as an adult. Whether the fact that I couldn’t speak in tongues was a faith issue, whether God cares one bit, whether they were all faking it. And on and on. . . . .So, it’s heretical to some faith tradition to think that there is no such thing as prophecy. But what if you just decided to listen only to what makes sense for you, now? And trust that God’s got your back. That God is big enough to let His people not get it exactly right and love them into the Kingdom anyway? . . . .”
Ann L. I’m praying so much for you. I could demonstrate this with miles of facts but it is simpy true that if God doesn’t “have our backs” as you say we are finished re: baptism, tongues, doctrine, prophecy, et.al. . . .People who have spent their entire lives trying to know even in narrow areas don’t know. . . .Current belief systems were constructed by people with all kinds of compromised secondary source evidence and motivated reasoning/ psychological issues. Like all of us, their psychology literally creates their theology . . . .the doctrines people are willing to believe. All reasoning is motivated and many of these beliefs truly are defense mechanisms against a real experience of Christ. Our realtionships with Christ are actually profound and dynamic relationships with the pychological self too! . . .All I can fall back on is that Christ knows I love Him and that I really need Him. He also knows I always just want the truth even if it makes a sadder me, even if it breaks my heart. You say: “That God is big enough to let His people not get it exactly right and love them into the Kingdom anyway? . . . .” Ann, that’s the only way anyone is ever going in, they simply don’t know and they can’t know because the primary source evidence is just too scant. . . .A mystery in our midst, a mystery we participate in where two or three are gathered in His name and the result is an affirmation of God that comes only through loving the world, embracing our massive doubts, and taking responsibility for our actions. . . . . .Ann, I always, r-e-a-l-l-y wondered why both Jesus and Paul simplify the “greatest commandment” of “love God, love others”, to just “love others” in John thirteen and Romans thirteen. The only way to love God/Love is to love others. —God has to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves. Loving people unconditionally with our lives, instead of agreeing on the right doctrines: divorce, re-marriage, et.al. . . .i.e. tribalism. People deal with their shadow side in a number of ways, the most common way being to find outside enemies and point to them, demonizing them and blaming them for long lists of perceived evils. This strategy often does a very effective job of helping us avoid that which lurks within us. We all, me too!, can become very skilled in this, constantly pointing out the darkness and evil and twisted ways of others to avoid dealing with the massive doubts and insecurities and critical questions I bear deep, deep in my own own bones. . . . The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. . . . . when we are talking about God, we are talking about a reality known, felt, and experienced but not located. . . .Jesus often begans his teachings by saying “—change your thinking,” i.e. repent, —see things in a new way, —have your mind renewed. . . .Anyways, as you say “That God is big enough to let His people not get it exactly right and love them into the Kingdom anyway? . . . .” That’s the only way anyone is ever going in, they simply don’t know. They don’t even know how much they really don’t know, —me too!
“. . . what if you just decided to listen only to what makes sense for you, now? And trust that God’s got your back.” Absolutely, the . . . The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are. All-the-love-in-the-world to you!
Ruth, just as you admitted that perhaps some of the “prophetic words” were spoken from the flesh, the only words from God that you can really trust are in the Bible. Spend more time there, and pray for the Lord to give you discernment to understand what you are reading. Also, Leslie’s writings have many scriptures as bases for the things she says. Having a proper application of the scripture is also important. Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life…” He will lead you to all Truth.
Thank you Aleea & JoAnn
Ann, I’m glad you are on the journey of self-awareness, self-reflection and self-honesty. It’s hard to see today things we didn’t see clearly for years. But God didn’t open our eyes clearly then. Perhaps we didn’t have good teachers or we were stuck in some of our own pain or trauma or sin that kept our eyes closed. Please don’t beat yourself up. I believe that old saying, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear” Sometimes we just aren’t ready to “see” things that later on, we are ready to see, BECAUSE now we are ready to see and take some appropriate action. Trust God, he opens the eyes of the blind and he opens our eyes as we ask him.
Nuttshell, By understanding that he is not ready or able to hear or receive constructive feedback. You could say, “Yes I agree I have this or that problem or flaw, but what does that have to do with what we are talking about right now?” But chances are he will just say, “You’re just as flawed as I am so why are you talking to me about my flaws.” And I think in all humility and honesty we can say, Of course I am just as flawed as you are but if my flaws were doing damage to our marriage or children, I WOULD want to know so that I could work on them. I’m hoping that you too would want to know so that you could work on them.” If he won’t hear, stop telling him. It’s a waste of your breathe. Jesus said, “Don’t cast your pearls before swine.” but that’s a lesson for another blog. Before he says that, he also warns us to take the log out of our own eye and not judge our neighbor, so we have our own work to do before we cut off communication about those things.
A person who is emotionally immature lacks the character strength to be a good pastor. There will be couples in the church with the same marital problems you describe in your marriage. They will go to your husband, their pastor, for pastoral counseling. He will not be able to help them. He will make the situation much worse because he has not dealt with his own abuse in his marriage.
Being also married to a pastor with some of the same traits, I can testify that, strangely enough, he may be able to help others. Yes, my man can see issues in others with great clarity and wisdom, and even guide them the right direction. Remember what Jesus said about the Pharisees? Do what they say, but not what they do.
Monica, true, but I suspect that there are quite a few emotionally immature pastors out there who would not qualify as abusers. And, I’m sure that God matures those young men and women as they humble themselves before him. Who, in all honesty could say that he or she is fully mature at 25 when most people begin their professional life? I don’t think that disqualifies them, it humbles them. It’s not the emotional immaturity that is the issue here, it is the unawareness of the emotional – or even life immaturity. It is the unwillingness to be taught, to be corrected, to receive constructive feedback or to learn from one’s mistakes that keeps emotionally immature people stuck in immaturity, and abusers stuck in abusing. I remember as a young 28 year old doing marital counseling. I had been married 5 years. I was a baby and I had my own issues stemming from my mother. Yet, God did use me. He did mature me. He used my clients to teach me many things I needed to know to grow into the person I am today.
My husband, too, is a pastor/abuser. He is quite clear that I will never be more important than ministry- the best I can hope for is “even”. There is a definite private/public difference. He will do anything for ministry and I matter not at all. Same for our kids when they were at home. Last year, he was not speaking to me. Literally. Over Mothers Day. Yet, at the same time he wanted me to be at his side pursuing a leadership position at our church. ?? The Spirit of God literally would not let me walk forward in that lie. I left the church. That brought us to a crisis (after he threatened suicide) and we entered counseling. After 4 months we began attending a new church for “a time of healing “. For him, it was never about our marriage but about ministry. He began bullying me to go back to 3 previous churches, including the one I had left where he has maintained a relationship, largely through a female pastor, and still preaches at occasionally. When he does I do not attend. I am not seen there. They obviously know there are issues but the female pastor only asks him how we are doing and he says “fine”. I chose to return to another of the 3 where we have friends, real friends, many who know we are struggling and want to walk with us. My husband agreed but from day one has said there is “nothing for me ” there, I.e. No position. He is respected and I believe would be used there – we have only been there 4 weeks and he’s given up already. That is the pattern. It keeps me from ever being in healthy community because we run from thing to thing chasing ministry. He cannot live our “real ” life – it is always something in the past but once we get there, it isn’t that either. 30 years. I can’t anymore. I am trying to love him but finally tell the truth. I am trying to live life right where we are. Our real life. Not the one he is trying to make happen. I need to tell him his relationship with the female pastor is hurting me. I wonder how he would like it if I were emailing or posting gushing things on FB, with the pastor of the church I attended alone for 4 months.
Good for you Kate. It’s HIS ministry that he’s after, HIS glory, not God’s. That’s why it is all consuming and discouraging when he doesn’t get the “attention” from the people at the church that he craves. As his wife, it’s important when I say “we are his biggest cheerleader” I don’t mean that in a syrupy kind of way, but who else will love your husband enough to speak the truth in love to him? Who else will challenge his motives when it’s all about HIM and what HE wants or what HE needs? You are his biggest cheerleader to speak into the man he could be, the man God calls him to be. You can’t make him want to be that man, but you can certainly not pretend or collude with his illusion or delusion that what is he is doing is healthy, righteous or good.
While I never had to confront the issue publically when I was married to a Pastor, I did point out to him many times that he was not practicing what he preached (literally)! He was Dr Jeykll and Mr Hyde – different personalities at home vs out in public or at church. I let him know how hurt I was by his words, his lack of care, and lack of understanding toward me. While I had never heard of Leslie and CORE when I was married, I have always been an honest person and will not “cover” for someone. So with the help of my counselor, I told him how I felt (as lovingly as I could). Did he listen and change? No, he did not. We have been divorced nearly 7 years. In that time, he’s been divorced again and is on his third marriage.
Free is correct – an abuser is an abuser. It’s not right or Christian for anyone to do that – regardless of their occupation.
Angela said, “I have not revealed the details of his sins.” Why cover for him and pretend that what he did was ok? Even the apostle Paul warned others to beware of Alexander. 2 Timothy 4:14 says, “Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will repay him for what he has done.” Paul did not “cover” for him and lie about him. He was honest, but he also did not seek revenge. While I told close friends, my Pastor, and my counselor, I did not publically “blab” to others what my husband had done- mainly because my Pastor kept pointing out to me “what’s done in secret will be revealed” (Luke 8:17, Matthew 10:26, & Luke 12:2) – if not on earth, in Heaven. In time, people did find out about the women he was chatting with in Mexico (and eventually married). As a result, he lost his job at that church. However, even after two divorces and a job loss, he still maintains that none of it was his fault (he blames me for both divorces – the one from me and the one from his second wife. Not sure how that works, but if he’s not ready to face the truth, I guess he needs someone to blame).
I am experiencing some of the blame you refer to. I understand this thinking is typical of the dysfunctional thought process that people with personality disorders experience. Instead of saying my wife has needed to take a restraining/protective order out against me, therefore we live separately . He says, poor me, “My wife has left me!” The response is, “Oh, I am so sorry for you.” He replies, “She has PTSD.” Again, “Oh, I am so sorry for you.” Yet in truth, he confessed to the judge that “Yes, I have done all of this. It is true.” In order for his brain to sort this out the only conclusion for him is that it must be my problem. Congratulations Daisy for keeping all straight and speaking the truth.
I have struggled over the years about whether tell or not to tell others of my emotionally destructive marriage. Initially, I kept it a secret. I would react to my husband’s bad behavior and get sucked into his games. Then, because I couldn’t take it anymore, I confided in my pastor and wife. They listened, but didn’t want to get involved. My husband blames me to this day of exposing him. Then I started seeing a counselor and began reading a lot. There were times I thought that if i exposed him, he would see his wrong ways and change. I have learned now that a lot of people just don’t want to be involved. If I lived a life of pretense, they would have loved to socialize with us. There are also unsafe people in the church who are only interested in gossip. My counselor gave me some good advise-I tell people if I think I need support and they are willing to. My husband is very bitter about me telling others.
Now I am faced with a new challenge-he is trying to manipulate the kids and turn them against me. Thankfully the kids have eventually seen through his schemes. But I have also learned that I need to talk with them a lot. When I learn of something he has told them, I explain my side. I think keeping quiet and hoping that they will see the truth may not be the best strategy.
Maria, I agree with you 100% They LOVE for us to keep the abuse hidden because they love their “image” to be one of a Godly, loving husband!
When I finally started telling a few select friends, they were shocked!
What I heard was “But you guys always seemed so in love…such a Godly couple…like you were best friends, etc.
My own mother didn’t believe me! My two oldest sons had to call her and tell her how things really were in our home!
And now that I’ve “spilled the beans” he’s done with me. After over 30 yrs of marriage, he’s moved on to his next supply source, he’s had several during our marriage, and I’m being discarded.
I recently read this on a post about covert Narcissim…
“During the discard phase, the narcissist reveals the true self – the genuinely abusive and abrasive personality beneath the shallow veneer rears its ugly head and you get a glimpse of the cruelty that was lurking within all along. You bear witness to his or her cold, callous indifference as you are discarded. You might think this is only a momentary lapse into inhumanity, but actually, it is as close you will ever get to seeing the narcissist’s true self.
The manipulative, conniving charm that existed in the beginning is no more – instead, it is replaced by the genuine contempt that the narcissist felt for you all along. See, narcissists don’t truly feel empathy or love for others – so during the discard phase, they feel absolutely nothing for you except the excitement of having exhausted another source of supply. You were just another source of supply, so do not fool yourself into thinking that the magical connection that existed in the beginning was in any way real. It was an illusion, much like the identity of the narcissist was an illusion.
It is time to pick up the pieces, go No Contact, heal, and move forward. You were not only a victim of narcissistic abuse, but a survivor. Owning this dual status as both victim and survivor permits you to own your agency after the abuse and to live the life you were meant to lead – one filled with self-care, self-love, respect, and compassion.”
This is exactly what is happening with me and my children. We are all being discarded. But that’s ok…we all see him from what he truly is, and YES, like you said, he TRIED to manipulate my children, but it was too late, they’ve seen too much! He really went after my youngest son, and he did feel sorry for his dad…my H threw out the “victim card” a lot but I talked to my son often, and eventually he saw his dad for who he truly is, and now at 17 he says he wants nothing to do with him.
It’s sad what these men do to their families…they don’t know how to love. End of story.
So true, they do not know how to love. They just use.
Teresa and Maria: As I read your responses (and other posts), it somehow helps to hear that I’m not alone in dealing with being married to a church leader. Although my husband is not a pastor, he is…was a worship leader. He and I have been in music ministry for 40 years, the last 20 years at two pretty large churches. He had to step down from his full time job as worship leader since his unfaithfulness was revealed. Although I won’t go into details here, the betrayal in my situation is, well, more complicated. My struggle is that I find it very difficult, if not impossible, to respond to him in a controlled way. As some of you have shared, your struggle and pain in your marriage has been going on for decades. Me, too. I believe that all those years of keeping my pain in, and with the final blow of his unfaithfulness, …I’m like a pressure cooker that finally is letting its built-up steam out. Now, for the most part, when we do have to interact (we are separated), there is cordiality. After having dinner with a very special couple who know our situation, both of them, apparently were astounded at how the evening was so relaxing and fun….you would NEVER know the turmoil that’s going on.” BUT, there have been times when it’s just the two of us that I just “let him have it”. I know it’s wrong. But I am just so, so shattered. When Leslie has given really good examples of specifically how to respond calmly, I feel like I have royally failed in that aspect of CORE. Maybe it’s because everything gets stirred up again if I realize another “piece” of this mess, or maybe he responds cooly to me. No, he is not a volatile person. He’s probably what’s considered an “introvert narcissist”. How am I to calmly speak to him when he may have just crushed me again with his words.?
Teresa, This post was extremely helpful to me. Thank you.
Maria, I know you have tried to be honorable in your marriage but I do think as your children get older, you will have to tell the the truth – perhaps not all the gory details, but he is twisting their perspective with is own deceit and our job in raising our children is to tell them the truth about God, about life, about people, etc.
Yes, I agree, Leslie. I have been very honest with them since they were quite young.
Thanks for sharing your experience Daisy.
Leslie, I love what you wrote about your granddaughter; it sounds like she had a wonderful birthday. Your care for granddaughters and how you relate it to God’s care for us is spot-on!
Honestly, the first time I read your response to this week’s Questioner, I was too triggered too to finish reading your whole reponse:
It’s true the OT has some hurtful history but it’s hard to read it successive order-
Murder. Rape. Sexual Addiction. God uses these men.
You should be his greatest cheerleader. Yuck. 🤢
Balaam’s donkey was also used by God; that evil prophet was cruel to his animal – AFTER the animal saved him from the angel with the flaming sword! That’s probably the same treatment this lady will get if she tries to point out her husband’s flaws and where those flaws will land him.
It sounds like this woman is married to a Balaam or a hireling.
OR maybe he’s a he’s a Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The man who has so much potential in a multitude of areas yet is emotionally bankrupt in his intimate relationships.
Leslie, I think you’re putting too much pressure for just sweet talk; I I think it’s time to up the ante. It’s not like they haven’t been to counseling. It’s time to stop going easy on this guy. They’ve just had 6 weeks of marriage work but he only made a few surface changes. he didn’t GET IT! Probably the only reason he went to counseling is because other people noticed his sinful attitudes. It wasn’t bc of conviction from God. (Sounds like he has a pride issue to me) It wasn’t that he noticed he was hurting his wife. 💔
she must put up strong boundaries.
1. She should find a new church. I bet she will enjoy worship so much when she is away from his oppressive presence in the house of God. The timing is now. There are only 25 people. If she waits till it’s more, 75, 200. Then she will never leave.
She needs to realize she is not responsible for his reputation or their opinion of him. Yes, a pastor’s wife is normally concerned about their image as a couple, but in this instance, she is being destroyed for the sake of holding up our image. The cost of her personal destruction is too high a price to pay. Therefore, she needs to find a new church.
She is not responsible for the congregants’ salvation.
She is more responsible for her heart than her H’s parishioners’ good opinion of him.
There’s a woman in my family who desperately wishes she had made this decision. Now she has an adult daughter who’s alienated from her because she did not leave her father. He was a toxic, abusive, evil man. A pastor. A child molester. Who was killed in a car wreck, I believe he’s in hell today.
Maybe because of my personal history and the woman in my family, I’m being too drastic in my advice. Maybe, Leslie is right. Maybe, it’s still time for baby steps.
Listen to both approaches. Do which bares witness in your spirit. Also, listen to the people who see your situation.
2.. regardless of what other step she takes, She needs a support system. People who are for her, not just for saving the marriage at all costs. Especially, she needs WOMEN. Women who won’t judge her. Probably women from outside her denomination. My guess is women from inside her denomination would too concerned about damage control – that shouldn’t be the case but unfortunately I think that’s extremely common.
3. I agree with the lady who posted that she should consider getting a job so that she’s not financially dependent upon her husband. Or she could look into school or training that would give her a skill for the job market.
I would like to give more thorough advice but honestly this subject is overwhelming. My own marriage and family life right now are about all I can handle. When I read the other posts on this weeks article written by pastors wives who endured similar and even worse abuse by ministers I am heartbroken. These are terrible grievous things. I have a hard time believing these men are born again. 🙁
I agree with all you said. Most of the time I highly agree with Leslie. In this case, because I live it every day and sometimes just feel like I am going to lose it because I have no one to talk to and am expected to “be his greatest cheerleader,” I disagree. I am so, so tired of the lies. In fact, this post has caused me much self doubt the last few days and once again I feel like it’s me that is doing something wrong here. I don’t know how to stuff all of this down and not tell anyone, yet live in my “core strength.”
Yes. I honestly felt like Leslie was almost flip in her description of the rapists, murderers, sex addicts, but oh well, God can use anyone!
There is SO much scripture about false prophets and hirelings. No, the Bible does not specifically say spousal abuse Is a qualifying marker of a false teacher. I admit this is a subject I haven’t studied on- An abuser as pastor – does that automatically equal a hireling?
Brooke, I am sorry you are bearing the abuse secretly. What if told your H that you HAD to have personal counseling? Would your denomination pay for it?Counseling is confidential so he wouldn’t have to worry about his reputation. Or maybe you could drive to another town to a ladies small group where you could be transparent? Do you have any extended family you could contact?
I couldn’t ever tell the denomination. I am thinking of joining a small group one town away. The only problem is I have been very burned by this before. I joined a large online support group that is a secret group for this only to realize someone in our church (someone that is the type of person you DON’T want to know your business) was in the same group. I didn’t know it at the time. I will find help somehow, though. Otherwise I know I can’t go on like this.
Hi Ruth, I’m sorry you thought I was flip – I just wanted to give us a reality check, that flawed people are used by God. We are all flawed people. The difference however with David and Moses etc, was that they were OPEN to feedback, especially from God and God’s people. It’s not our brokenness that disqualifies us from ministry or no one would be in ministry, but our BLINDNESS to our brokenness and our unwillingness to see or get the help we need. When a pastor refuses to see or get help that indicates a pride that is closed to the Holy Spirit and to God’s people. That is the disqualification, not the brokenness itself.
Brooke, you mention you have no one to talk to. Is there a counselor you can start seeing? I was in your shoes, I kept things to myself and when I could bear it no longer, I confided in some people. God brought people into my life that helped me. I will pray that God puts someone you can trust in your life. Here is a devotional by Rick Warren that will encourage you:
He has preached on abuse too. His sermons are on the Saddleback church website.
I don’t think Leslie is encouraging us not to tell anyone about the abuse we are going through. She’s talking about not exposing publicly our husbands flaws. Usually we do that when we are seeking revenge, and that’s repaying evil for evil. Taking to someone about what you are going through is important for you to heal. We are to bear one another’s burdens.
Where would the line be of “publicly shaming” your husband and talking to others… I really would like to hear thoughts on this.
I sometimes wonder if I should be more under cover about why I’m separated from my husband. But, mostly, I have been pretty honest that he’s lying to me, That I believe God led me to separate and that he refused to work in the marriage.
I do struggle at times with wondering if I’ve crossed a line by saying those things. And have shared more specific details of the lies or ways he’s hurt me at times, too.
How do I know when it crosses a line?
To me “publically shaming” or “talking to others” would mean that I did not go around from person to person at church, in our congregation, in the grocery store, or wherever I saw people and tell them, “You may think my husband is great, but he’s called me a bitch more than once” (or he calls me a fat slob every day, or tells me I’m a terrible mother, or hasn’t talked to me for a week, or whatever he says to you). In other words, you don’t go around blabbing or gossiping to everyone you see. It also means that you do not “tattle” on him to his supervisors or those higher than him, even though you may be tempted to. I never said a thing to his supervisors until nearly 5 years later when one of them asked me a question directly (we were long divorced and he was in the process of his second divorce). Then, I had to answer honestly. Talking to a counselor, a friend from out of state/another area, online friends/support groups is fine since they are not directly involved and will not be “reporting back” to the congregation what was said.
Content, I think our motive is important. I have confided in people when I needed support, when I needed someone to walk through this tough journey with me. I have found that some people would rather not be involved, others are in it to gossip, so be careful. I have also confided in some who are hurting like me. When he is trying to manipulate my kids, I talk about my side of the story. I have talked to his family hoping they would help, but they would rather not, so I don’t do that anymore. I think, if you see him trying to manipulate someone, and they are willing to hear what you say, then you share with them . I don’t think exposing him to the public is my job. If he is a pastor, I can see why it would be difficult not to.
Thanks for both of your responses. I don’t believe my heart is to expose him (he is not a pastor; he’s an unbeliever). But, he does say manipulative type statements to my family and friends to try to pretend I am “just throwing the marriage away”.
I don’t believe my heart is to expose him necessarily, but I’m not really interested in protecting his image or reputation anymore either.
I (literally) had no one to talk to either. My family has never been close, so they weren’t an option. I don’t have many friends. The people I knew in my community were members of our church. I didn’t know Pastors from other denominations/churches/religions, not would I have felt comfortable talking to them. My husband was the only Pastor at the church. Counselors were hard to get to with 3 young kids. Even after the divorce, I had no one to talk to because I had no money, no resources, and no insurance to access a counselor. I began a job as a church secretary, but the Pastor would not talk to me about it because he had to work with both of us (me as his secretary and my husband as a fellow Pastor). In time, I was able to go back to counseling, my Pastor eventually began talking to me about it, and I found online groups that were good sources of support and encouragement. If you do not have access to counseling or another Pastor, I would encourage you to seek online support groups for there you can be anonymous. Even reading articles, books, or online topics about the issues is helpful, if for no other reason that it verifies what you are going through is real and you are not crazy.
Seeking out a pastor in a different church may be an option too. Just be careful that they know how to handle abuse.
Brooke, Being his greatest cheerleader doesn’t mean you throw roses and pompoms his way every day. It means you are the ONLY one who will speak the truth in love to him about the man he could be and the man he is acting like. But when we say these things from a position of condemnation, shame and judgment, it is never heard. When we speak it from a place of “I am for you – I am for you to grow, to be the man God has called you to be,” it is more likely to be heard – but not always. That’s what I meant by cheerleader.
Hey Ruth, thanks for your feedback. Being in the trenches as a former pastor’s wife I deeply respect that. She did say in her question that his narcissistic traits were mild – not severe and she was not descriptive of the temper issues so I felt that baby steps were her first steps if she were going to do something different. However, when a woman feels stuck, and we give her too big of steps, that may paralyze her too, like “I can’t do THAT – it’s too much, it’s too hard.” So I gave her some baby steps. Please see my definition of cheerleader in earlier responses. It’s not the rah rah girl but the strong voice of “I want you to become the man God wants you to become” behind her as she puts her boundaries down or speaks the truth in love. But that’s why I also invite all of you to chime in as you have different experiences that also contribute greatly to someone’s decision on what the next best steps are. Each person’s journey will be different and that’s what I love about this community. We don’t all have to take the same path.
It may be true that the Lord used “flawed” men to do His will, but the Apostle Paul has some very clear and strong words about the character of God’s workers in his epistles. He even set himself as a model of the kind of man who should serve the Lord. So, even though we can see that many of those who the Lord used in the Bible, that can’t be held up as an excuse for those who violate God’s laws and commandments. Moral character is absolutely vital for anyone who desires to serve the Lord. The abusers who are being spoken of here on this blog are self servers, not serving a righteous God.
I’m sorry that you were triggered by Leslie’s response 🙁 That is so painful. Also, I think it’s great that you have asked about her answer. This is the safest place to use our voice and note any objections we have 🙂
What I want to say is that I think the practical advise she gives this wife is along the lines of what she has responded to others. She is suggesting a gentle, honest conversation with clear limits. If the pastor does not respect her need for integrity, she goes to another church ( as well as puts the ball back in his court as to how he would like her to respond to the parishioners about this). I don’t think being gentle equals not sticking to boundaries.
If he is indeed narcissistic and she sticks to the clear boundaries she has set, then she will end up leaving the church. Once she finds herself a new community of believers she will become clearer and can then find support apart from the fog ( fear, obligation, guilt) of being her church community’s pastor’s wife – because in that new community, she won’t be 🙂
Anyways Ruth, Take care sister ❤️
Thanks Aleea. I appreciate your bad soil analogy – nothing good grows there.
Aleea, I so appreciate what you wrote. I am with you. I don’t think we can “knock someone off their holy horse.” And when we try – are we not using power to control just as an abuser uses power to control, even if we think our cause or motives are more benevolent? I love this phrase – abusers are ruled by the love of power – Christ followers are ruled by the power of love. These are two very different kingdoms. The world’s kingdom and God’s kingdom. Sometimes God’s ways seem foolish, scary, stupid. Yet, I’m sticking with his ways because I’ve learned after living this long when I do it my way, it never turns out the way I thought it would. I have tried knocking people down from their high horse and have never felt good about it in the long run, nor did they ever really change.
. . . Thank you Leslie, I appreciate that and I appreciate you and your team for creating this forum for all of us to learn and interact. No one is more confused and in need of help as I am.
Re: “Sometimes God’s ways seem foolish, scary, stupid. Yet, I’m sticking with his ways because I’ve learned after living this long when I do it my way, it never turns out the way I thought it would. I have tried knocking people down from their high horse and have never felt good about it in the long run, nor did they ever really change.” . . . .That’s so, so beautiful. —I understand some of that. . . It’s. . . it’s like you trust Him for little things, and before you know it, you find out He’s trustworthy to be putting your whole life in His hands. . . .We had a missionary from Cambodia yesterday at church, my jaw was just on the ground at the level of trust he had in God as he lived for Christ through one murderous, horrible regime after the next, seeing so many friends and family die just because they were Christians. I always feel ashamed of myself after hearing something like that.
Re: “I love this phrase – abusers are ruled by the love of power – Christ followers are ruled by the power of love. These are two very different kingdoms. The world’s kingdom and God’s kingdom.” . . .So, so true and people are converted by love, care and compassion, never vitriol. —And love and compassion for others, and ourselves too, is so much healthier for our hearts. . . .More than that, there is no end to the things I don’t understand and I can’t see what is good for me, I just don’t know enough —what can we do but trust God? —And I know why that missionary was the way he was: —reckless abandonment to Jesus Christ, —just All in. Even in his darkest hours, when he could see no evidence that God loved him or that He was even there to listen to his prayers, much less answer them . . .and yet, he still obeyed. I’m sure it is in those times that Satan is fully reminded that his cause is just totally, completely lost. . . .The end of ourselves IS the beginning of God. God alone knows exactly what I must endure in order to form His character in me. Why is everything just so, so hard??? When it gets so hard and I can’t see any way out and I have too many hills to climb and too many battles to fight. . . .I so need to remember no self-pity, no holding on to angry and hateful thoughts, no wallowing in childhood self-analysis: Lord Jesus, You are our example: Instead of eyes that burned with hate a look of love was there (John nineteen: one through thirty). —Lord, I always believed and do believe, —help all my unbelief!
Ladies, I was just using a figure of speech with “holy horse.” I meant that one should not be intimidated by an abuser’s occupation. A pastor (nun, priest, rabbi, member of the cloth) is often associated with someone of virtue and character and is therefore often considered above the reproach. The truth is powerful enough to “knock him off the horse” so to speak. There is no need for aggression of any kind.
re: “knock the abuser off his holy horse”
—Ah, I see. . . .I projected my own anger and resentment over spiritual abuse into that comment then. I apologize because it felt to me like you were saying that, and it felt like you were saying that because I was thinking that is exactly what I would do. Then I started praying/ reflecting on it, and well, I could hear my counselor telling me: “Look to wherever the energy is–and you will see what old pain keeps getting re-activated and then you can begin to take the steps to SEE it, take responsibility for your own pain, and begin to heal it! It’s the pie/pizza rule. If someone does something that really only warrants addressing with 1/8th piece of the pie, but you are throwing the WHOLE thing at them then that 7/8ths is your own unconscious “baggage” not theirs– and the more you over react with them, the less chance you have of actually addressing the 1/8th that needs to be addressed at some point–and a MUCH less chance of ever seeing your own stuff because you’re so lost in anger at theirs.” Re: “knock the abuser off his holy horse”
Re: How do you neutralize abuse without becoming an abuser?
. . . Anyways, when I started praying about it I thought about how Jesus was showing us the way to heal when he directed us to take the log out of our own eye (—which will give you unbelievable compassion) then we will be able to remove the speck out of our brothers. We have to access the natural state of compassion we have as very young children re: recognize that our CORE values are more important than our egos and that our egos were constructed in large part as defenses against the shame of violating or losing touch with those values. —Otherwise, why would anyone violate their deepest values and devalue those they love? . . .And it seems no treatment or support of victims can be successful by urging them to disown their compassionate nature and think more like abusers re: knock the abuser off his holy horse. . .Again, I was projecting my past into your words.
. . . .And other motives I had included just wanting to talk to you because I had not seen you post in awhile and maybe you have been but I often can’t see everything on the site (—and hello Robin too!), and I can’t think of any other motives but I am sure they exist because so many are totally unconscious. Anyways, a deeper level of compassion helps our victim here see the damage an abuser does to themselves (—themselves) by harming loved ones. —They are destroying themselves. Then, if necessary, she can leave compassionately, for the abuser’s own good. This, as you all know, is a far more empowering stance that will be way more authentic to someone following Christ, and maybe even avoid residual bitterness that adversely affects all the parenting (—if children are involved), and be less likely to stir revenge from an abuser who feels humiliated by separation? And maybe it will not create a pendulum of pain, in which victims leave out of anger, bitterness, resentment only to return out of guilt and shame?
. . . .Oh, and any “member of the cloth” considered above reproach is no more consistent with the Gospel message than “holy adulterers.” Only our Father is Holy, Holy, Holy, —the rest of us down here are at best one step above spiritually dead by comparison. As everyone here knows, God is so, so Holy it is basically inconceivable . . . .Most “members of the cloth” I have ever talked with wish they were one-sixteenth as righteous as they seem to most members of their congregations —and they fully know that. As one pastor told me and I totally feel the same way: “Even my tears of repentance need to be repented of.” —Absolutely.
. . .Anyways, you are correct Free, once the Truth gets involved everything is exposed for what it is. The Truth brings down everything in its path. Whenever Truth finds a nutshell —it cracks it completely open and totally disturbs the “tranquility.” —That holy desolation where only the Truth survives. . . .Still, often God allows what He hates to accomplish what He loves. In my humanness I have such a hard time understanding that. Christ’s love is the cure, because our pain will just keep giving birth to even more and more pain until compassion for ourselves and others replaces it with real love. God always asks us to do the hardest things but that’s where the healing is.
Free, That’s how I understood your comment. More about how we expect others to behave because of their position (the horse) and in our own mind we need to just see them as they are. What’s so sad about someone who is in the position of being a “pastor” is how hypocritical it is for them to show themselves one way to their “flock” and be different at home. Romans 2 has something very strong to say about that.
Wow as ever this posts are so so helpful. I have a question to Leslie and all about when to stop if you think you are ‘casting pearls before swine’. I have reached that point many times but then I experience a slight softening of heart and realise there is a ‘window’ when he will receive what I say. So then I speak again but then he gets hardened and abusive again. I am not sure if I should keep doing this. I also realise that the softening is often caused by something driven by him getting what he wants. For example recently he went to a BBQ evening and I didn’t go and I think everyone was asking where I was and he realised that would be hard if we separated for his image, so the next day he started acting softer towards me. This makes me a bit confused because I think oh things aren’t so bad, only to then get hit again with the same cycle of hardness. The cycles of hardness are much longer than they were a few years ago and the softness much shorter. But I think thats because of the fact that I am addressing things with him so he doesn’t like that- I think he is on the narcissistic spectrum for sure. Its all about him adopting whatever strategy with me that will get him what he wants. I’m so sad about this as I write as I can see I have drifted the last few days into a bit of denial and writing this is shifting me back into the reality of the situation. He even apologised to me for something at the weekend. Very unusual.
The other thing is he withholds information from me and doesn’t speak to me or tell me things except minimum of practical details. I am nervous to text and call as he acts a lot of the time as though I’m an irritant. So I started sharing less of myself as a boundary. I told him that I am aspiring to not act out of hurt when speaking to him. then I realised he would then tell me I was trying to make out like I was so perfect so I pre-empted that and said before you think I’m trying to say I’m perfect I’m not I’m just trying…. he was just silent. I am really really trying – and succeeding much of the time – to check my motives and make sure there’s not a weight of emotion behind what I speak to him about. I just read a site of people writing about divorcing narcissists and how they just made the wife’s life hell for years and years – made me scared and sad. but I feel I have to commit to TRUTH and like someone wrote not holding onto the outcome. And trusting God. It is likely to be a high price as i am working overseas in a country where the church is very traditional and unlikely to be open to emotional abuse as an issue even. And so my work and life with underprivileged kids here may be affected. But my h is happy here in his work so would not want to return home so I will probably have to stay here for the sake of his relationship with our 2.5 year old daughter. What a mess. So sad.
So Sad, Have you found a counselor for yourself? Walking through something like you are experiencing requires a support team. Have you built yourself a team of people you can be honest with? I told a few trusted friends and had an escape plan, some money put aside and worked with a domestic violence shelter. I needed everyone to leave my abusive relationship. The best help were friends who were reality checks. My own brother said, “You know that is not what marriage is supposed to be.” His truthful comment was one of many that helped me see my situation more clearly.
I am so sorry. You are not alone. When I have confronted my H I got the “oh that’s right because YOU are so perfect” line all the time. Sometimes with cuss words mixed in. I am finding most churches are not open to helping the abused (especially when it isn’t physical) so I am sorry you don’t feel like you can go to them for help. I know what it’s like to be trapped (my H is also a pastor) because it’s not as simple as just leaving. When in ministry there is so much more to it. I will be praying for you. All of these posts from fellow
Ministry wives break my heart. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.
This guy is going to be impossible to please. You’re darned if you do and darned if you don’t.
That’s obvious from the what little you wrote about him. So, Stop worrying about making him happy bc you CANNOT. He’s hellbent on being mad and abusive. If you die today, he’ll still be miserable bc the evil lies within him: it was never your fault. You just had trapped with this abuser.
You’re a firefighter. 🔥You’re ever viligilant watching for potential fires to crop up. Your water bucket is ready. You’re constantly trying to prevent a blowup and a nasty scolding but you’re growing weary.
What is the answer?
I don’t know.
But I can’t believe it’s God’s will for it to be this way!
it is SO hurting my heart for you. I will pray for you my sister!
Jesus, either save this man and change his heart or please deliver my sister from this bondage. She is doing the best she can. Give her grace. Reverse the damage his negative words have done to her heart and mind. Bring resources to her that she might be able to free herself from this abusive man. Bless her with financial provision as she frees herself from this man. Please protect her and give all rights to the toddler to the mother in Jesus Name.
Do not allow that man to use the child as a ploy to farther abuse this woman! Lord, I speak that you will cause this man to not ask for ANY custodial rights whatsoever! Lord make his negative influence on this child to be null. Lord I speak protection over this child and she will never feel forsaken.
Help my sister to look forward to the day when she will not be fearful. She will have you as her husband; You love her with Perfect Love. Perfect Love casts out fear! She will have no fear, no reason to be sad. When she will not have to walk not eggshells. Then she can put her water bucket down and stop fighting fires and REST.
I am literally praying this prayer for myself – a pastor’s wife who can relate to ‘Sad’. My children and I have been through this for years. I am beseeching God’s deliverance.
Hi I am so sorry not to reply sooner to all your amazing supportive and helpful replies. And a beautiful prayer. I am so so grateful. Free, thank you for your wise words. I do not have a counsellor. I have some very supportive friends and a sister (who is a counsellor by profession) and I am also part of the strengthening your CORE group. I am also telling a few more people which is very helpful and validating. And Brooke and Ruth thank you too so much for your responses. I am touched to the core by your amazing prayer Ruth. Thank you. Have had a difficult week where h has implied with a nasty ‘vibe’ (thats the only way I can describe it) that I’m an unfit mum which is horrible and so untrue but deeply hurtful and then I have to live in this untrusting environment. But suddenly yesterday he clicked out of it. Who knows for how long. I am working hard to strengthen my CORE and making plans and preparing for a next step. Leslie CORE training video talked about being a good steward of myself and I realise that is what I aim to do – in terms of honouring myself and also acting honourably.