My Husband Treats Me Like A Child. How Do I Set Boundaries?

Morning friends,

Thanks for your prayers. I have definitely needed them. Time is going by so quickly this month. I’m making some headway but still have a lot to go. Pray I can focus, focus, focus, this week especially. We are heading to San Diego on Saturday for a week’s vacation, taking our granddaughters, so there won’t be much work time there.  


Question: My husband does not treat me like an equal but like a child to be taught, controlled, and scolded. Today he handed me a $50 bill and told me to be sure I see it as $50 and not a $20. He tells me how to drive and where to park. We always go by his timetable. How do I set boundaries?

Answer: You asked a perfect question but I fear you may be misunderstanding the whole concept of boundaries. When you set a boundary or have a boundary, it’s not about another person; it’s on you.   

Let me explain a bit more. A boundary is a way of establishing identity or ownership so that you can steward your resources responsibly.  It helps us know and separate what I am responsible for and what someone else is responsible for. For example, Arizona is responsible for Arizona, and California is responsible for California. Although there is not a physical barrier between the states, there is a property line that defines which side is Arizona and which side is California.  

Each state is responsible for its own school system, its own roads, its government, etc. Arizona may help out California if California requests it, but Arizona is not responsible for California. In the same way, Arizona can’t set a boundary on California residents, or what their government should be doing, or on their policies or laws. That’s California’s responsibility, not Arizona’s responsibility.

In a marriage, you are responsible for you, your thoughts, your feelings, and your actions, and your husband is likewise responsible for his thoughts, his feelings, and his actions.

You are responsible to each other in a marriage but not for each other. >> Click To Tweet<<

So here is your dilemma. Your husband does not treat you like an equal partner in your marriage but rather like a child. He tells you what you can spend, how you can drive, where you can park and you said, “we always go by his timetable.”

How long has this been going on? You see, as someone said in the comments last week, we teach someone how to treat us. Have you enabled your husband to see and treat you like a child for your whole marriage? For example, you said, “We always go by his timetable.” How come? Have you ever said, “No, I don’t want to do it that way?

Have you ever asserted yourself as an adult and said “This doesn’t work for me” or “I don't need you to tell me how to drive or park, I’ve been doing it just fine for 25 years.”  Have you been employed and made your own money so that you are not as dependent on him giving you money for your expenses?  

You didn’t mention how long you were married, but for those reading this blog, if you are a newlywed and this is happening, I strongly encourage you to try to change the dynamics now. The longer you “allow it” the longer it becomes “how things are” and then when you get sick of it and try to change, you’ve got a long precedent of your passivity to overcome.

Here are two approaches: Both involve setting some boundaries for yourself, not for him.  

  1. The soft approach: This works best when you have been passive for a long time and allowed yourself to be treated as a child and controlled. You are going to speak up for yourself but instead of addressing his controlling tendencies, you are going to address your passivity and dependency. This will make him feel less defensive which will give you a better opportunity to be heard.

Here is an example of what you can say. “I want to talk with you about a problem I’m having. When would be a good time?”  When you state it this way, he is likely to be more open to hearing about your problem, then if you said, “I want to talk with you about a problem you’re having. When is a good time?”

Asking for the time is helpful because, first you are treating him as an adult with respect, which is how you want to be treated. Second, this is a really important conversation so you want to maximize the chance that it will be a productive one. If you catch him when he’s not ready to listen, or when he’s tired or hungry or distracted, you may not get the same results.  

Begin by saying, “I’ve noticed that I’ve been pretty passive our entire marriage. I’ve allowed myself to become more and more dependent on you, so much that I even let you tell me where to park as if I can’t make up my own mind on that simple decision. I don’t like that and I think I need to make some changes for my own welfare. Someday I may be all alone and I need to learn how to do things on my own, make my own decisions about certain things and even learn how to make and handle our money.  It would be very helpful to me if you just let me flounder a little bit until I get the hang of being more of an adult here. For example, if I’m driving, or need to find a parking spot, let me figure it out. I’d like to have a monthly budget for our household expenses that I manage and spend for our groceries, gas, etc.”  

You didn’t give me enough details to help you more specifically with the wording here but I think you get the idea. You are now softly asserting yourself with him by telling him that you no longer are going to function like a child and would like him to be supportive of your new goals. But then your next step is that you are going to have to act like it. That means addressing anything that has kept you childlike in this relationship. It means that when he tries to be the parent and treat you like the child, you will again remind him that your goal is to not be so passive, so you will say to him, “thank you but I don’t need your input on this.”

Your boundaries are “I will decide for me” and “You can decide for you” and  “I won’t let you decide for me because I need to decide for me.” Do you see how different that is versus saying “You can’t decide for me.”  He most certainly can, however, it is only effective if you give him that power. If he decides and you don’t give him that power it’s meaningless.

Now I imagine that he won’t like these changes and will give you some grief as you assert yourself. However, if you are resolved to function like an adult – and not a little child or an angry rebellious child, I think you can handle yourself just fine by saying, “I know you’re used to making these decisions for me but I will decide for myself from now on.” Repeat that as often as you need to and do not allow him to make a decision for you.  

If he escalates into any abusive behavior your next boundary would be, “I won’t allow myself to be treated that way” and either leave the room, leave the house, or if necessary call the police. You are taking responsibility for you, your body, your thoughts, your feelings and your actions and you are protecting you. That is a boundary. You are being responsible for stewarding you, you are not trying to control him.

2. The second approach would be firmer if you have already tried approach #1 and have gotten nowhere and he is escalating verbally with more threats or more control.  Here’s what you might say…

“I would prefer to work this out as two adults. But I will not allow myself to be treated like a 7-year-old anymore.  I am XYZ years old and I need to be treated like an adult. If you are not capable of treating me like a grown up or are not willing to do so, then I will have to consult with a lawyer to see what my legal rights are. (I would suggest you have already done this ahead of time and if so, you would say)  “I have consulted with an attorney and in this state, I am legally your partner, entitled to 50 % of all marital assets.  I am not your child or your slave.  If you’d like this marriage to continue, then I expect to be treated like an adult.”

You also may decide to get your own job to have some financial independence. These are big changes for him but also for you. So before you declare your adulthood, make sure you are prepared to function like one, in strength and dignity, like the women in Proverbs 31 who then can smile at the future unafraid.

Friend, when you woke up and realized that you didn’t like being treated like a child, what steps did you take to assert yourself?


  1. Nellie on July 19, 2017 at 7:41 am

    I’ve tried using the soft approach.. which took a lot of courage since I’m so passive around him. But I dont know how to enforce it. He feels like he has to spell things out with crayon, or do things for me because I’m incompetent and can’t handle it myself. I know I can handle things.. but I can NOT live up to his high expectations! Idk.. maybe I feel it’s just easier to let him control me and do everything his way, then to constantly get yelled at for doing things the ‘wrong’ way..

    • Cathryn on July 19, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      I know what it’s like to be yelled at and demeaned often in spite of trying hard not to allow myself to be treated that way. I finally separated because I became so worn down and it was hurting the kids. Now when we have contact I am firm and strong and if any yelling goes on (or criticizing or anything abusive) I hang up, walk away, or call him out on it out loud. His surface level behavior is changing and it makes me wish I had been strong enough to try this zero tolerance approach when we were still together.

      • Rebecca on July 20, 2017 at 4:04 am

        I would not blame yourself that you were not stronger earlier. It is likely that he would have escalated his abusive tactics in response. You have more power now that you don’t live with him. Also, the superficial sweetness bares exploring. No doubt it serves his manipulative agenda.

        • D on July 20, 2017 at 12:07 pm

          The superficial sweetness is part of the narcissistic cycle where they become manipulative for their own gains, to win you back thus be in control and in power. Beware: once you open your heart and let him back in, they become abusive again and discard you emotionally. It was what I learned and became my difficult dilemma. Forgive, give him another chance and get abused again and again or guard my heart and stop allowing the cycle that caused chaos and instability to continue. The boundary is for me, my health and peace. I do forgive him but do not engage emotionally even if he tries because I know the next part of the cycle will ensue. That’s where I’m at now. Just when you think they get it, sadly the abuse reemerges.

          • Aly on July 20, 2017 at 1:33 pm


            I can totally relate to what you are saying and how that plays out in your relationship.
            I also see that you forgive but are also doing the do diligence of guarding your heart (by not engaging with him emotionally) and not giving into any blind trust.. so can you expand on where then your situation is at.. it sounds vague but maybe it’s totally me not understanding here.
            What is the engagement of sorts with him? and are you requiring your husband to get help for his issues?

          • D on July 20, 2017 at 2:29 pm

            Aly, he sees a counselor after dumping three who called him out for his narcissistic behavior. I thought we were making progress but he is now seeing a woman counselor who has convinced him he is codependent and not narcissistic and needs to find himself after being enmeshed with me. (The enmeshment is his control and insecurity issues however). Therefore all the progress and work of him owning his behavior the last 4 years has come to nothing as he feels even more entitled to drawing his own boundaries in anger and disrespect. She is basically telling him what he wants to hear and he is saying I am having a midlife crisis (even though he has behaved this way since our wedding nite). I’ve cried many tears and my health and sanity are waning. I decided and my counselor has agreed not to engage emotionally because of the pain it causes me. I am wanting to separate but he won’t leave so I am seeing an attorney to file for divorce. It is just very difficult because of the children who are 18 and 21 but nonetheless I know this will split the family they have been praying for to heal.

          • Aly on July 20, 2017 at 5:20 pm


            Thanks for answering and clarifying the treatment (or possible non treatment so far).

            I’m so very sorry for the roller coaster ~ goodness it indeed is one….with dealing with this type of an escalator needing control and using destructive behaviors within relationships.

            I’m glad to here that you have a counselor and I hope you are feeling that you have a safe place to further your journey and process admist the ongoing chaos and moments of tapping into the grief. Such a hard balance to navigate in my opinion.

            You wrote:
            “Aly, he sees a counselor after dumping three who called him out for his narcissistic behavior.”

            Typical pattern for addicts of all sorts.
            Not trying to minimize at all but wanting to validate the level of what you have been dealing with.

            You wrote:
            “I thought we were making progress but he is now seeing a woman counselor who has convinced him he is codependent and not narcissistic and needs to find himself after being enmeshed with me. (The enmeshment is his control and insecurity issues however). Therefore all the progress and work of him owning his behavior the last 4 years has come to nothing as he feels even more entitled to drawing his own boundaries in anger and disrespect.”

            Ok I get this and can see and have heard this outcome before. How discouraging!!
            I do believe there are plenty of codependent people with narc traits. Meaning he might have unresolved childhood areas of codependent behavior but switches to controlling behavior and acting like you don’t get to exist in the marriage (narc trait)
            I’m not saying I’m right… just pondering.

            But regardless, you nailed it when you mentioned his control and insecurities~ and those being ‘the drivers’ of his behavior and overall shaped beliefs. The counseling is supposed to be a helpful resource to reveal the core beliefs that bring about the behavior. Some are obviously false beliefs shaped~ where you will see much of those narc traits and it’s very painful to be in a relationship with someone lacking so much insight or empathy of ‘other’.

            You mentioned he had been doing some work over 4 yrs that sorta sounded like progress…?
            Has he ever been able to offer a core level of respect and honor of you as his wife in the marriage? Was he ever capable of expressing and in action of putting God , you and the marriage as priorities in his life, or has he only been capable of his self centered defensive/protective places?

            Let me share some of what I experienced when my husband was also seeing someone independent of me, (this was many years ago)…thankfully it was a very experienced counselor at our church that I had contact with if need be since it was going to be my ‘husband’s interpretations’ of the sessions…because after a year of ongoing therapy.. my h continued to not get significantly better, I doubted his process by watching his behavior and reactions to me particularly which to me spelled relapse and escalating the illness~ or whatever is was???

            What did I do?
            I called the counselor to tell on him and the counselor set up a meeting with both of us.. it was evident that we had to have the SAME counselor for my husband to be accountable and follow through. his behaviors and narc traits were too easy for him to lie to himself and the counselor privately. To comfortable over all for that scenario.

            I agree with Leslie and many on this blog that ‘couples counseling’ is not always a good idea and there are very good reasons why, but there is also a flip side to the individual therapy that can also be more damaging. Something to weigh out and get professional directives on.
            My h and I do both couples and individual with the same counselor so there is transparency across.

            You wrote:
            “She is basically telling him what he wants to hear and he is saying I am having a midlife crisis (even though he has behaved this way since our wedding nite). ”

            First of all I’m not sure I would believe anything he says the counselor tells him at this point. He can’t be trusted based on what you have shared. I have sat in many sessions with our ‘joint counselor’ ~ getting the real story and the real action items that were given and explained to my spouse over the years. Our joint counselor early on told my h that he has a distortion lens that is highly intelligent but also dysfunctional. 😜
            By the way a midlife crisis is minor to what you are experiencing and what you have endured in this relationship! A crisis is correct but prob more due to the ongoing traumas of the relationship roller coaster.
            I’m so very sorry, I hope you feel somewhat understood and that you can read I do care what you are going though.

            You wrote:
            “I’ve cried many tears and my health and sanity are waning. I decided and my counselor has agreed not to engage emotionally because of the pain it causes me.”

            I hear you, I’m so sorry and it’s very very painful~ do you have women support around you for comfort and validation? I can truly relate to the health and sanity issue and how all things get affected because we are holistic beings~ meaning mind, body, heart and soul.

            You wrote:
            “I am wanting to separate but he won’t leave so I am seeing an attorney to file for divorce. It is just very difficult because of the children who are 18 and 21 but nonetheless I know this will split the family they have been praying for to heal.”

            Goodness this is difficult and life altering for all involved. Praying for wisdom and protection for you D, I hope you feel that you have a community of support, your not meant to do any of this alone.
            Praying for you stay safe and sane💟

    • Anthea on July 20, 2017 at 12:56 am

      Nellie, I’ve had to tell myself many many times that I am allowed to make mistakes, it is okay to try, to mess up, to fail, and to try again. Knowing how to do xyz perfectly does NOT make anyone a better person or a better spouse or a better Christian.

    • Amy on November 8, 2023 at 7:40 am

      I feel this on a deep level. I don’t have any advice, I just want you to know that you’re not alone. ❤️

    • Adriana on February 17, 2024 at 3:07 am

      Hi. I’m in the same situation. At this point he cooks, and does some of the cleaning, because the easy I do it is not up to his standards. I’m a teacher and I am constantly making decisions at work, but when I’m home, I feel not free to make simple seditions. After 19 years of marriage creating boundaries has become even more difficult, and I had become even more passive. At this point I’m loosing muscled to my passiveness with no way out, and becoming more sad, unhappy, and insecure. Help!

  2. Jennifer on July 19, 2017 at 9:06 am

    This was a very good response. I wish I had been able to see this early today n my marriage. I did not understand boundaries back then and so appreciate your guidance Leslie. I hope I can convey this to my children so they don’t end up with someone lik my ex husband

  3. Nancy on July 19, 2017 at 9:35 am

    Hi Leslie,

    It has been a long road, internalizing that boundaries are about me, not him.

    Just the other day, we were not getting along. We are both walking through a lot of healing and this particular day, he had reverted back to giving me the silent treatment. We were getting ready for church and this thought just sprang up in my head, “Nancy, you drive today”, ( usually he drives when we’re together), so I got into the driver’s seat and waited for the rest of the family. My h gave me a “disappointed in Nancy” look through the open door, as he put on his shoes. I waved at him. When he and the girls got in the car, I simply said, “I felt like driving us this morning.”


    “I hope that this doesn’t bother you” ( this wasn’t a question, it was a genuine statement of what I hoped. In my head I added, “but even if it does bother you – which I suspect it does – this is a NEED of mine right now, so I will drive us all)


    I turned on the radio and after about a minute the girls started to chat, and the tension was gone.

    I’m slowly learning that I am responsible for wether I feel powerless or not. That simple act of getting in the driver seat, and staying there, (without dwelling on his feelings, or actions) brought me from a place of dependance and powerlessness, to one of ownership and confidence.

    Boundaries are about how I treat me. I don’t have control over his thoughts or actions, but I do have control over me. Praise God ❤️

    • Aly on July 19, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      Praise God Nancy💜

      Thanks for taking the time to write! I happen to think that the day to day operations of well.. changing the cycle;) might seem small, but Are Big in my opinion! They are the action changers in real time.
      Well done Nancy, and well articulated in love and healthy assertion!
      You didn’t take the bait~

      I can relate to many of those moments where I felt impowered to regain sanity especially when a husband is relapsing in destructive behaviors such as the silent treatment or plain pouting. As you know its really about ~control issues and bad coping skills ingrained in your h. Him relapsing in a bad habit of ‘how can I tell you how I feel in a toddler way’😜.

      I can remember early in our marriage ~ I didn’t see my husband as behaving immaturely, nor did I want to treat him as such I fell for it often.
      the silent treatment was SO severe it could go on for 2 -3weeks! It was horrible, it was part of what trauma bonded me to fall into apologizing or taking the majority of the responsibility for (his behavior). So ridiculous of me!

      It didn’t help that those I was surrounded by encouraged me to take the high road, be the bigger person..tolerate such treatment and forgive, forgive, cater etc. which in turn really meant enable or feed the beast!!

      I hope many are reading this blog early on in their marriage that will benefit from seeing if they have any of these adult/child dynamics or top down power issues getting established.

      • Jocelyn on July 20, 2017 at 3:52 pm

        Thanks Aly, this all sounds so familiar. Thank you for sharing your experience and encouraging us all. I too in the beginning did not see or recognize any patterns, I just knew things were “off” and thought it my responsibility to placate, fix and apologize, as if it were singularly in my power to make the marriage work. Well, here is a news flash ladies, it takes more than OUR everything to make a marriage successful. I put down the banner, I laid down the relationship, I stepped away from the madness, I drew boundaries and waited for the response. I got the response and answer…….. the characteristic and continual passive aggressive sulking, negativity, pouting, disappointing looks and disapproving sighs of our broken marriage have full blown to anger, blame, bitterness, out right lies, and hatefulness; the ex displays all of this and more in our divorce. I continue to seek healing through self examination, education and desire to become all God has for me in the future.

      • Ruth on July 20, 2017 at 6:48 pm

        Aly, I couldn’t agree more with your statement about hoping that ladies read this blog early in their marriage to nip these issues in the bud. That’s where the older ladies who’s been through the ringer (unfortunately) could teach the younger ladies our hard learned wisdom. Sadly, we are outnumbered 10 to one by voices in ‘authority’ telling women to placate more, submit more, turn a 😔 blind eye.
        Aly, and other ladies here like myself who have daughters yet to be married – there needs to be a revolution to save our daughters from a similar fate. It needs to start BEFORE they marry.
        On another subject, I’ve been reading but not commenting much lately. I do want to say: those guest articles by Dawn were great! And, you ladies have been exceptionally sharp!! I love these iron sharpening iron conversations. I am so proud of your wisdom and compassion.

      • Nancy on July 21, 2017 at 7:28 am

        Yes, Aly 🙂 This ‘small’ example is BIG. Thank you for recognizing that.

        And I agree too with what you said about hoping that young wives read these because at the end of the day, regardless of the various labels that we use for these dynamics, these issues are all about power.

        Husbands are to love and cherish their wives – the opposite of having power over their wives. As Ezers, we battle their Pride; wether from a distance, or in day-to-day interactions, as it surfaces!

    • Deanna on July 19, 2017 at 12:51 pm

      Yes, “without dwelling on his feelings or actions”. Good words for me to keep in mind and practice, Thanks

  4. Cc on July 19, 2017 at 10:44 am

    I constantly feel like I’m treated like a child instead of an adult my husband is always saying I need to do this or that and does it in front of our kids. I get defensive and say I don’t need your help I got this. Hes very agressive and controlling but I realize now it’s becuae I’ve let him do it all these years.

    • Rebecca on July 20, 2017 at 4:14 am

      Cc, I would disagree that your husband’s aggression and control comes because you let him do it. His behaviors are independent of your actions. He chooses them. Even the most well thought out and strategic moves on our part are only protective. We can’t control another person’s action. I think his power and control issues are red flags to his abusive personality. I personality that rarely changes and is strongly resistance to counseling of any sort.

      • Aly on July 20, 2017 at 7:54 am

        I agree with you that we can’t control another person’s actions, but we can control and ‘choose’ how much we are going to participate in adding any comfort or normalization to their daily lifestyle.

    • Nancy on July 20, 2017 at 6:00 am

      I agree with Rebecca, Cc. You did not cause your husband to be aggressive and controlling, nor can you control how he behaves in the future. The only person you can control, is you 🙂

  5. Jilly on July 19, 2017 at 11:03 am

    When first married, I learned to ask my husband about plans I had made. Do you mind if I go here or there? Shall we invite so-and-so over, or do you want to attend such-and-such together. It was the way we do life together instead of alone.
    However, after many years, it somehow morphed into if I said do you want to… he would decide for both of us. And soon whenever I wanted to do something, it felt like I was asking permission. If he said no, he didn’t want to, it became impossible for me to say, well I do. Because I’d already learned his preference and then it would be a direct rebuff of his preference.
    So I stopped asking. Instead I’d say, I want to go there. I want to do this. What do you think?
    Unfortunately, that was still too soft. I had to move it up to I want to go. I’m going. Do you want to go with?
    Only when I got to that last part did I feel I was an adult, and not a child asking permission.

    • Confused and hurt on July 21, 2017 at 10:36 am

      I know exactly what you are saying Jilly.

      My experience when I’d get home there would be to see a sulking h. And oh my gosh the shutout and silence and when he’d speak it would be some dig or put down. Doesn’t engage and ask if I had fun or attempt to talk about our day part. He’d be angry that I had left for the day. Not overtly, it would come in some passive aggressive way. And I’d hear about it for a couple of days. I find it difficult to go out when I want and to see my family. There is usually some excuse why I cannot do something. And I know it all stems from not having healthy boundaries. Heck, just setting them up is difficult enough. I let his feelings interfere with my needs. I’m such a push over. Sometimes I feel like I lay down with a sign inviting H to just walk all over me. Then I’m so mad at myself for not standing up for me.

      • Free on July 21, 2017 at 4:58 pm

        I don’t agree that this all comes from not having boundaries. This all comes from an abusive husband. His behavior is deplorable, not yours. What would you like to do about you horrible living arrangement?

      • Aly on July 22, 2017 at 8:42 am

        Dear confused and hurt,

        I’m very sorry for your marital dynamic, everything you described sounds very similar in flavor to what many women have ‘woken up to a really unhealthy living reality’.

        Some might say this is a not a good thing, but the fact that you are seeing the power and control issues especially the covert ones~ I say praise God!
        Now you see that there is a big problem and there is a big unbalance that is robbing you of your freedom as an individual partner and the beauty of a mutual thriving marriage.

        You wrote:
        “I let his feelings interfere with my needs.”

        Exactly and I think it’s an awesome thing that you can take responsibility here~
        When a partner in the marriage is taking the power and is in a role of superiority vs you being in an inferior role… your not operating in ‘a marriage’ so to speak.

        Your husband communicates his disappointment/disapproval of your choices in very immature ways ~ this will only get worse and worse will the balance will be you becoming more trained by his behavior to avoid what it is he is doing now via the emotional abuse methods.

        His feelings or issues don’t need to TRUMP yours because you both matter at a high value Place because you both are made in the image of God!

        He has the control over things because he doesn’t value you as an individual and cherish you as a bride as he is called to do.
        Now that you see what’s taking place, are you still confused? If your more clear… do you think you will choose to address and make changes to being placed in the inferior role?

  6. Gail on July 19, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    This is so very good Leslie! Thank you! It took me a long time to realize and take responsibility for the fact that I trained my husband to be the controlling man he is today because of my passivity and neediness in our early (and not so early) years of marriage. This was a humbling realization! It was also a breakthrough in how I saw our relationship. I also realized that I wanted the ‘best of both worlds’. I wanted more respect and boundaries in some areas, but in other areas I was actually content to defer because I didn’t want the burden of the responsibility for the decision. We can’t have it both ways! This is unfair to our husbands and creates confusion and resentment. As I was becoming more aware of the injustice in my husband’s behaviour towards me, I also had to be honest with my own heart; that I actually benefitted from and enjoyed some of the perks to being in the passive role. The obvious one was keeping the peace and a (false) sense of unity. But another not so obvious perk was not having the responsibility for the end results! If we are wanting mutuality and a true adult relationship with our spouse, then we have to be willing to pull our equal weight in all areas, and step up and be willing to take the risks and responsibility that comes along with it! We can’t unilaterally pick and choose according to what is easiest and leave the heavier areas for our husbands to manage. Of course, the ideal scenario is for a couple to discuss and both agree on areas of responsibilities either sharing them equally in a mutual give and take, or taking leadership in areas of our individual giftings rather than basing leadership on gender alone. “Lord lead us into all truth which will set us free!”

    • Nancy on July 19, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      Thank you so much for courageously examining and articulating ‘your part’. This is helpful and also convicting. I have also wanted ‘the best of both worlds’ and am recognizing more and more the unfairness, confusion and resentment that my actions – as well as my unconscious and/or unspoken expectations – have caused. It is humbling!

    • Rebecca on July 20, 2017 at 4:26 am

      I am pondering this. I am not so sure I agree. I don’t think we need to self examine that one spouse took the lead in a certain manner and we subsequently benefited. That seems normal to me. Of course there were benefits to sharing responsibilities. I don’t know why a woman in a destructive marriage should entertain the notion that it was her role in a negative light. This kind of trust (rather than passivity as it was labeled) is normal in a healthy relationship.The greater acknowledgement is that it wasn’t a healthy relationship and the victim is not at fault. This kind of counsel perplexes me.

      • Nancy on July 20, 2017 at 5:44 am

        Hi Rebecca,
        No one is faulting the victim here. A victim of abuse is not to blame for how she is treated. She cannot control her husband’s actions.

        Taking responsibility for our part in the dance does not absolve the abuser of his.

        Once boundaries are set, safety and sanity are established, and healing begins, we must look at our part of the dance- not with a lens that says ‘I caused this to happen’, rather ‘what was my part in it?’. if we don’t chances are very high that we will end up in similar relationships again.

  7. Patty on July 19, 2017 at 12:25 pm

    I know exactly where this woman is. I was treated like that my entire marriage of 33 years and it’s not that I didn’t assert myself. Any time I did, I was faced with yelling, throwing things, silent treatment or any other form of control or manipulation. He was never willing to acknowledge his issue or have an adult conversation about it. Sadly, I had to end the marriage because of it and his unwillingness to seek counsel.
    I pray it goes better for her.

    • Aly on July 19, 2017 at 12:42 pm

      Dear Patty,

      I’m glad you found your freedom! Praise God;)

      It’s very sad many men have zero desire or willingness to seek what being an adult husband in a marriage would look like. Better they stay away from what God designs as a covenant marriage all together.

      Blessings to the full for your journey💖

    • Sunshine on July 20, 2017 at 4:28 am

      Bingo!! Yup.

  8. Aleea on July 19, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    “Friend, when you woke up and realized that you didn’t like being treated like a child, what steps did you take to assert yourself?” . . . .re: “I have consulted with an attorney and in this state, I am legally your partner, entitled to 50 % of all marital assets. I am not your child or your slave. If you’d like this marriage to continue, then I expect to be treated like an adult.” . . . .Okay, that’s a good one but make sure you have consulted a qualified financial planner, as well as a qualified divorce attorney with real expertise in those situations. You need that mapped out in detail way before you throw down a challenge. Think about this. . . .Why wouldn’t you already know/have access to those assets? How do we let it get to these levels???

    “. . .Today he handed me a $50 bill and told me to be sure I see it as $50 and not a $20. He tells me how to drive and where to park. We always go by his timetable. How do I set boundaries?” . . . .That is unbelievable but you see it. . .

    . . . page 36. . . . Advanced Techniques for Counseling and Psychotherapy by Dr. Christian Conte:
    “Counselor: I guess it seems to me that if she feels like shes being treated like a child, she might just want to act like a child.
    Husband: So what, I have to start treating her like an adult?
    Counselor: I’m sorry; did you just say something like, “Do I have to treat my wife like an adult?”

    Doesn’t it seem to everyone that this would be horse-sense? How in the name of all that is holy could this husband not realize they have a part in it too? I was looking in that book to try to understand how to do confrontation without eliciting fight, flight or freeze responses. It is really hard to do confrontation without triggering. . . . “Defensive resistance happens because husbands are not ready to go where their wives want to explore. The approach used in dealing with husband’s defensive resistance makes up how they proverbially dance with each other. If the wife relies on rules, scripts, or guidelines for dealing with resistance, she is likely to elicit more rigidity and defensiveness in her husband.” Then it talks about five errors in communication: 1) Error of Approach –avoid harsh start-ups; maximize safety; 2) Error of Omnipotence –avoid being Jesus (Jr. Holy Spirit, et. al.) so your husband does not attempt to defend; 3) Error of Interpretation –circumvent husband’s feeling of being misunderstood by validating; 4) Error of Judgement –husbands who feel judged are more likely to hide facets of their lives that they do not perceive will be acceptable to their wives; 5) Error of Language –using trigger words

    I disagree with Conte on rules, scripts, or guidelines for dealing with resistance. I don’t think they always elicit more rigidity and defensiveness in husbands. . . . .I like what Leslie says above: “It would be very helpful to me if you just let me flounder a little bit until I get the hang of being more of an adult here. For example, if I’m driving, or need to find a parking spot, let me figure it out. I’d like to have a monthly budget for our household expenses that I manage and spend for our groceries, gas, etc.” —That’s honest and really low on the confrontation scale.

    . . .In my home, that is where lots and lots of prayer comes in. “Can we pray together” and then we go back and forth in prayer regarding our concerns, couples prayer. —For us, that often trumps all those techniques and scripts and only one time have I heard: “Jesus told me NOT to talk to you.” “No way Jesus told you that!” “Yes, He did!!” “No, He didn’t!!!” (—yeah, it got that childish but ended well anyway!) . . . . If you can’t trust someone, you need to get away from them because with travel, schedules, etc. we are forced to trust each other. . . .Always communicate. . . staying silent is like a slow growing cancer to your soul and a trait of a true coward. There is nothing intelligent or Christian about not standing up for yourself. You will not come to a win/win with every battle. However, everyone will at least know what you stood for —Think about it: nobody can give you freedom. Nobody can give you equality or justice or anything. If you’re a woman, you take it, —just like men do. The opposite of self-assertiveness is submerging your values, judgment, and interests. That is not a virtue. It is a “virtue” that corrodes your self-esteem. Anyone who wants you to live in misery for their happiness should not be in your life anyway. I always remind myself to try to be assertive without repressing or overly expressing my anger, tough balance but necessary.

  9. Nancy on July 19, 2017 at 1:50 pm

    HI Aleea,

    Can you give a simple example of a ‘couples prayer’? I have never heard of this.

    • Aleea on July 19, 2017 at 7:56 pm

      . . . . Certainly, so the concept I got from Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg’s strengthening and restoring relationships in marriages Biblical principles in the course they teach called The Great Marriage Experience. So it is really simple and consists of simply letting each person pray a few sentences (—just a few) and then the other prays a few sentences. . . .Just from your heart but you are switching off back and forth and no one is dominating or in my case lecturing (—This is my first marriage Nancy but we had to switch to this type of format because. . . .well, because. . . .because you can just image what that would be like if I got going because I seriously talk and lecture, —even God). It keeps either of us from dominating the prayers and it is actually fun because it keeps you engaged. —These are like little praise/ prayer bursts that key off each other so you have to stay engaged. We follow each other’s themes and obviously we have prayer, praise, all kinds of requests —everything is in there. It’s wonderful and I love to pray. Prayer is totally other Re: The Great Marriage Q & A Book; Gary Rosberg, ‎Barbara Rosberg. . . .It helps us stay clean before each other and the Lord Jesus. it helps us experience His grace and forgiveness when we struggle, and then get back in the race. . . . because as you know from interacting with me here, I do go into the ditches on either side of the road at times. . . .Prayer is the most incredible thing ever! Prayer helps us transcend all the issues related to interpretation of scriptures (—manifold issues), prayer is totally other. . . . I really believe that God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them. God makes astounding promises to prayer and I am so trusting Him and praying for you and your family too. —No person is greater than her prayer life. If we are weak in prayer, we are weak everywhere.

    • Aleea on July 20, 2017 at 6:02 am

      re: Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, I’ve read all the retreat materials both sets: Catholic and Interdenominational. Please pray for me: July 21 – July 23. . . .It is amazing how change threatens me, and its possibility creates. . . .well, I don’t even know what it creates. It makes me retreat to my mind, I guess. . . .We cannot be protected from the things that frighten us and hurt us without leaving life, but if —by God’s grace— we can identify with the part of our being that is responsible for transformation (the Holy Spirit), then we are always the equal, or more than the equal of the things that frighten us, —That’s the story I am telling myself anyway. . . .I hope and pray.

      . . . .And one other thing on boundaries. . . .When we don’t have them and fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated. —And this is why we sometimes attack who they are, which is far more hurtful than addressing a behavior or a choice. But it is still work we do on the inside (in our CORE) . . .And that’s where all the conflict is too. The only real conflict we will ever have in our lives, it really isn’t with others, but with ourselves. When it is wrong on the inside that cycles to the outside, the same as when we have internal boundaries with ourselves that cycles to the outside too.

  10. D on July 19, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    My husband treated me this way for years. Like a child and he was the angry parent. I felt shamed and overpowered. Took away my confidence and dignity. Four years ago I started asserting myself and drawing boundaries. Hell broke loose. It has been a roller coaster ride from talking to pastors and counselors, reading books etc. I am at the end of my rope now having done all and he still gets defensive and angry when I communicate my wants or feelings. Meanwhile he knows I am at the end and has started the smearing campaign to all couched in his good boy holy routine on how he’s just a sinner and admits his faults. So it makes me look crazy and unforgiving to church folks. They don’t see that he is still the same behind closed doors. He is doing this with our kids and increasing contact and church attendance, helping etc. when he wouldn’t attend things or groups in the past without me suggesting or Signing us up. This is driving me nuts. Any advice?

    • Aly on July 20, 2017 at 12:17 am


      Are you getting individual counseling?

      That might help you with dealing with ‘the crazy making and chaos’ he is creating because your boundaries are clearly causing him to be more and more uncomfortable.
      You have seen his behavior escalate and the destructiveness of how he is doing a smear campaign… I’m so very sorry, I know how painful this type of an individual can be… let alone be in a marriage with them! Ugh

      I think my only real valuable thoughts might be to look at the ‘patterns’ and document what’s taking place, this way you are clear in your strong boundaries and you can navigate sanely as what your next steps will be.

      The simple fact that he’s destructive behind close doors tells you that you are not crazy or not being unforgiving.
      If you decide to place ‘strong requirements’ of him for recovery you will see what he’s willing to do and if you have a possibility of a real covenant marriage ~ because this sounds like it’s not one.
      He sounds like a person that needs serious long term therapy.

      • Dina on July 20, 2017 at 8:50 am

        Thanks Aly for validating that I am not unforgiving or crazy–feelings that go with the territory with these narcissistic types. It takes wisdom and God’s strength to not fall into their victim traps over and over where we come alongside them and rescue them cause they cry and say I love you and are committed and blah, blah. I pray we will all see this deception and evil for what it is and that we can guard our hearts and stay strong. I have to keep reminding myself of the narc cycle: idealization, devaluation and discard. If I allow him back in after the idealization, he will soon discard emotionally.

        • Aly on July 20, 2017 at 9:08 am

          Exactly as you mentioned the narc cycle:
          Idealization, devaluation and discard ~
          This is the ‘look for the patterns’ to keep yourself sane. And to better equip yourself on your journey.

          Research shows that Very few people are true Narcissts, but many especially men in this case of these behaviors are more ‘Narc
          The pain, horrible abuse cycle and symptoms ‘are the same’ as if it actually is a narc abuse syndrome, regardless if the person is narc traited or an actual true narc. So when your dealing with the symptoms of the abuse, your offender doesn’t have to be an actual diagnosed narc for the pain to be valid and harmful or the same type of treatment and boundaries to be given.

          A true narc is deeply fragmented and has lost all developmental ‘true self places’
          From what I have understood and experienced in places of my own family origin history and marriage is that … if ‘true self is dead within the narc’, real authentic change is very very slim. Narc traited individuals even on a high scale can be treated but it’s intense and long term process. The partner has to be that much stronger and healthier and well equipped to be in a dynamic which such a spouse.

          • D on July 21, 2017 at 10:34 am

            Thank you Aly for your affirmation, love and prayers. I appreciate them so much. Praying for your situation and strength and wisdom for all women who are enduring such difficult circumstances. God will make a way and give us the clarity we need to move forward.

    • Sunshine on July 20, 2017 at 4:33 am

      I can identify. It is time to leave. The next thing he will try to do is hit you. His fake demeanor is a propaganda campaign. He can’t believe he is the man that has been exposed
      When you were more appeasing to his demands it was easier to believe his own fantasy ie: I am entitled to xyz.

  11. Many Years on July 20, 2017 at 12:39 am

    I highly agree with both Leslie and Aleea, in the area of asserting oneself. Especially in your own experience in the Lord, by not letting your spouse dictate to you how to serve the Lord in the context that, if you feel led of the Lord to do ‘thus and so’ and your gut instinct tells you to, equating that instinct to the nudging of the Holy Spirit, that you will begin to realize that you have missed opportunities in the past, because you based most of your decisions on the way your husband ‘commanded’ you to serve him.

    When we realize it will always, and ever be about our own individual relationship with the Lord, then you will begin to see a clearer picture of how the Lord can use you, not only in your husband’s life, but in your own capabilities and your own talents and experiences to help others.

    One instance I can relate to how I began to set myself free from that ‘trauma bond’, and to assert myself in situations which presented opportunities to ‘be there for someone else other than family’ was the fact, a dear young man who was a friend of our grown sons, had a fatal accident. We knew where our sons were, but my husband was having a melt down because he could not reach them by cell phone, and it was all about my husband not having control over the situation. As this is what he is like when things don’t particularly ‘go his way’. He looses his own self-control, in his attempt to control others. Ironic but true.

    All I wanted to do was to go visit the young man in the hospital, as his own parents were in another state on vacation, the young man’s uncles and aunts, were out of town. None of his immediate family were anywhere near this time of tragedy. I was so fed up with my husband’s angst driven responses, that I looked at him and said ‘Do you want a divorce?’ As nothing I was saying to him was getting through to him. And then I walked out of the room.

    This is one of the first times I had ever had the faith, and confidence in the Lord to say such a thing to him. And it was due to the fact that I had read ‘Boundaries’ by Cloud and Townsend and the light bulbs had already begun going on in head, in my walk as a believer in Christ.

    A few minutes later, my husband came into the room I was in and gave me a big hug and, trembling said, ‘No, I do not want a divorce.’ He was scared for one of the first times in our married life of consequences he was allowing in his own life to rule himself. And I hope to God it wasn’t just that fearful kind of ‘scared’ but the true fear of the Lord. God knows. But I did make an impression on him. And we did go to the hospital, and our sons found out through other friends about the young man, and they showed up at the hospital, and I hugged my sons, and since the mom and dad of the young man were unable to make it to the hospital in time, I held the young man’s hand, as a stand-in Mom. And even though the young man was most likely in a coma from a terrible head injury, I did it for him, as who knows if his spirit was watching the scene from outside his physical body? The young man was a Warrior for Christ, and as I saw him lying there, he looked beautiful as though he was already in heaven.
    The nurses attended him faithfully, and within two hours his pulse was drastically slowing down, and around midnight he was ‘gone’. But because I was assertive, and needed to be at that hospital, I made an ultimatum to go there, and my husband and I took separate cars, as I stayed way later than he did, because that is what I do when I am needed.

    But I want to use that example of the nudging of the Holy Spirit in order for us to know when to face Satan in the battles which stem from someone we are constantly with (your spouse, or whomever is the abuser), and when we recognize the symptoms of what their anger and angst does to those who have not yet learned how to fight those evil directives which are harnessed from the evil principalities and powers of the air, otherwise we will continue to loose those battle which enable the abuser to continue in their abuse. And God does not want that! And this is how we begin to learn to assert ourselves. ‘Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.’

    And back to when I said to my husband ‘Do you want a divorce?’ This put me in a position of control over my husband’s angst and it shook him up. I think he was really afraid he would loose his control over me. As this is when I realized time and time again throughout our marriage I had allowed his angst and anger to rule my own gut instincts, and prevented the flow of the Holy Spirit which should have been normally flowing in my even-keeled nature, where God was at the helm and the Holy Spirit was the rudder of my life.

    I realized I had been allowing a mere man to conduct my own life in Christ, which no one but God should be allowed to have that freedom of true, godly direction in your life.

    I am praying for all who are here. Thank you sisters for your support and inspiration.

    • Confused and hurt on July 21, 2017 at 10:53 am


      I love your spirit and your inspiration. Well done Sister.

  12. caroline on July 20, 2017 at 12:49 am

    Hi Leslie
    I read this and ponder if I was treated like a child or not. On the surface our situation was opposite, but just as unequal. I was treated as the mean demanding overbearing parent who always had the last word, and he the quiet and passive neglected child.

    Then something (???) would trigger and a silent funk would ensue, and ALL the power would transfer. He would be the spoiled temperamental child who must be soothed and placated for there to be any peace.

    My husband was a both a porn addict and an Intimacy Anorexic. He used contempt and isolation to create the distance needed to keep his private world intact. So, there was a lot of sarcasm and silent treatment in cycles with me left to wonder (also like a little kid) what I did to “deserve” his reaction, and try to apologize “enough” to satisfy.

    For years I did not understand that NO amount of apology or amends would have been enough to bridge the gap because the distance was exactly what he was after!

    It was a warped relational style he saw growing up and it came quite naturally to him to poke me in whichever role he needed me to play for the addiction drama to unfold for yet another generation.

    In my dependence, I tried many different ways to deal with his dark moods and silent treatment. Some of them worked and I admit I had some sense of worth tied to being able to “play him”.

    But, as with all addiction, nothing stays the same. It became harder to navigate our relationship, and the rewards were always getting smaller. At some point it was no longer worth it.

    Once I embraced that it really was God taking care for our family, I began to risk more. What did I have to lose after all? Just a weary cycle of perpetual manipulation. I realized that though he would not speak to me, he could still hear! So I began to talk. I talked and talked…

    Several years and many recovery miles later, we are still learning better ways to communicate. We recently learned a new listening exercise that does a great job growing empathy and creating connection.

    It has been such a joy to stop in the middle of a building conflict and say “Okay, wait, tell me what you are hearing right now?” It gives him the chance to try to mirror what I’m saying and I can say “Yes, that’s it!” or “No, that’s not what I mean at all.”

    I find we often don’t listen to each other. He hears a lot of criticism that I never even speak, and I respond to many arguments that he is not even making. What waste!

    An equal partnership is a lot of work and risk.

    • Sunshine on July 20, 2017 at 4:37 am

      Is he still addicted? What action steps were used to treat his addiction?

      • caroline on July 20, 2017 at 9:02 am

        Hello Sunshine. Thanks for asking.

        If anyone ever truly gets “free” from addiction, then he is free today. I guess how you look at it all depends on your theory of how change occurs.

        He is enjoying over five years of sobriety from almost 3 decades of daily use of pornography and MB, and the intimacy anorexia is no longer his automatic mode of relating with me.
        I am really proud of all the hard work he has done and the way he is willing to make himself vulnerable and reach out to other addicts…not always fun as addicts are such difficult people 🙂
        Obviously, as a human being, he is still a picture of dignity and depravity side by side. As such, he could choose to relapse, and go back, like the proverbial dog returning to his vomit. Though, it would be hard to go all the way back because so many of the bridges were burned. He just doesn’t believe the stuff he used to believe.

        Let me see if I can condense his recovery steps a bit.

        1. Confession and personal responsibility in writing
        2. Full disclosure with unlimited questions allowed
        3. Detailed timeline including the onset of the addiction
        4. Total transparency and accountability in matters of time, money, location, friends, clients, internet access, techno gadgets, etc.(no hidden spaces for sin to fester)
        5. Complete life restructure including a different job
        6. Forfeiture of almost all privacy and private time
        7. Ongoing pursuit of growth and personal sanctification.
        8. Participation in recovery community
        9. Willingness to do ANYTHING I needed in order to feel safe staying with him and working through the mess
        10. Open to any changes in the above as needed for my safety/healing from betrayal trauma

        There’s probably more but it might sound redundant. He has done some recovery writing as well which really helps me when I get triggered . Its good to have something to go read that answers my swirling questions… which I tend to have a lot of even after several years of this journey.

        I hope this gives a clearer picture of my situation

        • D on July 20, 2017 at 1:19 pm

          Caroline, I’m not sure your h is the classic abuser type that many women here are dealing with. That’s not to say his issues were minor and had great impact. The steps you outline are major indicators that a person is humbly willing to change and submit to accountability measures. Most abuser types including my h are unstable and not consistent enough to follow through on these even if they seem willing. Addiction to power and control can sometimes be way more challenging than other addictions.

          • Nancy on July 20, 2017 at 3:05 pm

            Hi D,

            The reason I love Leslie’s approach and book so much is that the focus is not on diagnosing the abuser. She encourages us to take steps to create safety and sanity for ourselves by setting and keeping boundaries. Those boundaries establish an environment of healing and clarity for our heart- most often this will involve separation in order to maintain the boundaries- so that we can begin to ‘be well’.

            Once that environment is in place for our own healing we can set requirements of our spouse ( like those Caroline has listed above). It takes time to find out how the abuser will respond to the requirements.

            My husband’s behaviour/ reactions looked like narcissism. With firm boundaries and inflexible requirements, he has chosen repentance and to re-build from scratch. He has chosen the path of humility.

            I say this simply to underline the importance of prioritizing ‘being well’ ourselves. That’s the only thing we have control over. If we take those intentional steps, leaning into Christ, then we are in the best position to fight against what enslaves our husbands, and also leaves the outcome entirely in The Lord’s hands.

          • caroline on July 20, 2017 at 10:16 pm

            D. I agree. My husband has never fit well into tidy categories. And I started my response with my own confusion on the matter.

            I often hesitate to share many details because, sadly, repentance is not the most common story. Sometimes wives will feel bad that their own husband chose to remain in their sin. As if it is a reflection on their own intrinsic worth.

            Most addict/abusers came from bondage, will stay in bondage, and will pass on bondage to their children through abuse and modeling.

            Consistent recovery is the exception, not the rule. In my (very UN professional) opinion, the only thing that can make a difference as the spouse, child, friend, sibling or parent is finding the courage to set firm boundaries and be prepared to follow though with consequences.


            My own sister was forced to pack seven children in a van and plow through a wooden gate, leaving her 25 year “Christian” marriage behind. Her husband has never made the first shadow of a step towards repentance. So she moves forward alone.

            I only shared the above parts of my own journey here because Sunshine asked about specific steps.

            Don’t let the numbered list fool you! It has been a long and difficult road with many bends and curves. There is a reason why most people will choose divorce and multiple marriages over restoration and reconciliation.

            I also did not mean to imply that my situation was any worse or better than anyone else’s here. Or that what helped my husband would help yours.

            I was not offering a fool proof recipe for yummy brownies.
            Leslie asked for what steps we took to assert ourselves . and I was answering as honestly as I could.

            You are right, my husband did not fit the profile of a “classic abuser”, so I carried the blame for all our dysfunction. Even my own mother says so. He played mind games with me since I was 13 yeas old and believe me it is very difficult to speak the truth after decades of living in fear of abandonment and because you really believe you are good for no other purpose beyond being a receptacle for one “wonderful” man.

            It is a tragedy that pornography addiction and Intimacy Anorexia don’t count as abuse and control, because they create a miserable HELL that many women and children live in.

          • Aly on July 20, 2017 at 10:42 pm


            Could not agree more with your posts! I wish I had more time to affirm you here and send a virtual hug to you Caroline!
            Talk about the trenches ~

            The last statement you made …
            Maybe there was a typo but what you have been through and what you have had to navigate with Gods principals DO count as abuse!
            Porn is betrayal and breaks the covenant bond.
            Neglect of intimacy is abusive because it’s neglect and is clearly all about control.

            Anyone who thinks these things don’t qualify as abuse are very distorted in not understanding the traumas associated with these very serious and destructive bonds.

            Blessing to you sweet sister in Christ!!

          • caroline on July 21, 2017 at 3:07 am


          • D on July 21, 2017 at 9:58 am

            To clarify my statement regarding those who are addicted to power and control, there are many emotional abusers who are not porn addicts or substance abuse addicts and there are some in the latter categories that are not emotional abusers. That is not to say that emotional abusers, those addicted to power and control can’t also be other types of abusers. I believe there are many porn, sex or substance abuse addicts who are not manipulative and controlling. Emotional abuse is a heart problem and that is the distinction I am making.

          • Aly on July 21, 2017 at 10:51 am

            Thank you for clarifying what you believe and how you see the emotional abuser ~ as well as addict.

            You wrote:
            “I believe there are many porn, sex or substance abuse addicts who are not manipulative and controlling. Emotional abuse is a heart problem and that is the distinction I am making.”

            I believe I have not met an addict or anyone with dysfunctional mindsets/heart issues that Are Not manipulative and controlling. To me it comes as part of the whole~ the disease.
            To me an emotional abusive person isn’t just the core disease it’s their symptom of acting out and acting in.

            A person who is addictive in behavior~ is a person with a core heart issue, and really an identity/belief issue to be even deeper here.
            Addiction of any sort is about ESCAPE, power and control… it is about choosing counterfeit unhealthy paths (poor coping skills) over authentic healing paths every time.

            You can’t have love without truth and you can’t have truth without love. Bottom line abusive behavior is the outward effects of someone not living in truth and reality. Denial, blame shifting, lying, twisting etc. that is all part of their coping when their false comfort is challenged. Fleshly feeding is powerful and addictive against our own good.

            My h was a workaholic addict, did work make him this way or was it his heart issues? The unresolved heart issues all the time! Seeking significance and false comfort from anything other than our identity in him will always create paths to any addictions.

            Hope my thoughts here and what I’m trying to clarify are making any sense.

          • Nancy on July 21, 2017 at 7:49 am

            Oh caroline! I add my voice to Aly’s in affirming you.

            You demonstrate a gentleness of spirit, coupled with a real (often humorous!) perspective. Your posts remind me that this journey is not about ‘happy endings’ but is a real walk with Christ on a very rocky – and dimly lit – road, with pit falls and steep cliffs all along the way.

            Thank you for your honest and gentle responses here.

          • D on July 21, 2017 at 10:22 am

            I wanted to add to my comment above that the heart problem I am referring to is the evil intent to hurt others by domination, control and aggression. We all have heart problems in that we sin against God and ourselves but that is not the same.

          • Aly on July 21, 2017 at 10:57 am


            I agree with you here! The above comment indeed;)

            My h was also intent to hurt, control and manipulate…that was a hard reality for him to face how bad he wants to ‘eat before being eaten’ mentality… that’s the addictive mindset I’m referring too.
            He learned this in his formative years of how to survive from ofcourse a child mind (immature) that’s not to excuse it, but if one doesn’t stop and ask the Lord to seek and examine our hearts, we struggle finding the patterns and tracing the beginnings of poor coping skills that are very damaging to our loved ones.

          • Nancy on July 21, 2017 at 2:53 pm

            To your comments D, that some porn addicts or other addicts are not manipulative or controlling. Maybe you didn’t intend this, but this statement really minimizes a victim’s suffering (specifically, my own).

            An addict doesn’t walk in truth. That’s what drives addiction. He (or she) will manipulate, minimize, deny, rationalize, justify in order to continue hiding from whatever reality they are denying.

            I agree that this person may be a ‘defensive controller’ as opposed to perhaps what you are referring to as ‘evil intent to hurt others by domination, control or aggression’. But the result and devastation is the same- the ‘defensive controller’ is still controlling. The result is still emotional abuse of those close by.

            The impact and trauma are just as real.

          • Aly on July 21, 2017 at 3:25 pm


            I agree and the avoidant addict is also the defensive controller although it’s more covert~
            but still damaging & destructive all the same😥

          • D on July 21, 2017 at 3:28 pm

            Nancy, I recognize the impact of all addictive behaviors on others regardless of the addiction. I still believe that not all addicts are of the type to intentionally inflict harm or abuse others. I have seen too many hurting and wounded people that are addicts who are not the domestic abuser type. That is not to minimize one or the other. That was not my intention.

          • Aly on July 21, 2017 at 3:53 pm

            Would you be willing to share an example of how you define or have experienced the intentional person inflicting harm?

            I agree with you that there are those friendly addicts that are probably more covert and those addicts that are very intentional and calculated to pull strings ~probably given the mood or supply at the moment of the abuser.
            Am I understanding you here?

          • Nancy on July 22, 2017 at 7:51 am

            D. The fact that an addict is ‘wounded’ or ‘hurting’ doesn’t diminish the damage he or she inflicts on those around.

            In fact, it makes things even more confusing for their loved ones.

            Please stick to your own situation and refrain from making generalized comments that are hurtful to others.

  13. Nancy on July 20, 2017 at 6:33 am

    I am praying for you today, Aleea, and will do so each day of your retreat. May The Lord envelop you in His arms ❤️

    “come to me all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest.” Matt 11:28

    • Aleea on July 20, 2017 at 6:35 pm

      Thank you so, so much Nancy! . . .encouragement goes straight to the heart, its really good stuff. . .

  14. Aly on July 20, 2017 at 8:33 am


    I’m glad to hear your headed to a retreat, I hope you experience His comfort and peace in new and anchored truths!

    You wrote this below;
    “But it is still work we do on the inside (in our CORE) . . .And that’s where all the conflict is too. The only real conflict we will ever have in our lives, it really isn’t with others, but with ourselves.”

    I don’t quite agree because my opinion is the CORE work is a greater outcome of our willingness to change and allow the Holy Spirit to further develop us ~ also God will use others to strengthen our character and our accountability.
    As you mention the ‘real conflict’ I’m not sure I understand here, because my husband would fully agree that he WAS and had a lot of growing up to do emotionally and spiritually in or to not be the core person creating such ridiculous ‘conflict’ in our marriage! I was an easy target of false blame.
    He has been treated for being an avoidant addict, and he created any conflict possible ‘over the most crazy things’ to just create the space from not having to be close and draw near to be more fully known. This was too Scary for him and it also his way of Controlling the relationship dynamic~ he was taught this in his family of origin ‘avoidance as a form of control’.
    Plus, he was ever given boundaries growing up, nor did he know how to take responsibility for behavior let alone use the, ‘I was wrong, I’m sorry, will you forgive me’ places we are supposed to be taught as a child especially when we do something wrong. His parents laughed at his behaviors to ‘avoid’ the negative feelings that can come with any discomfort or discipline. Creating such a core pattern for himself to have to deal with! (I guess his wife too)

    His first real apology in our marriage was 11years in! Just crazy that I tolerated that and part of that was my underdeveloped and past victimized areas too~

    I took on a lot of the ‘responsibility of the conflict’ because I was trained that way since I was little, (this was wrong). The conflict I had with myself was knowing SOMETHING was not right, and not surrendering to my husband’s unhealthy process ‘of staying stuck and then eventually getting worse’ brought on lots and lots of conflict. The conflict became necessary in our situation, but I wasn’t the cause of it in an unhealthy way… I was and began fighting for my husband’s freedom as his wife and helper.

    There were plenty of Years and poor counsel were I believed that if I had the bigger complaint/problem in the marriage then I needed to focus on myself and my inner issues.

    When I focused more on ‘my part’, the true offender became clear and my husband DID not have marriage partnership qualities~ me desiring this convenant and committed to my marriage did not equal a ‘marriage’ nor did it make me wrong for seeking a healthy balanced partnership!

    The needs I had for my marriage were legitimate! And how I was going about getting those legitimate needs met from my husband we also VERY legitimate! The enemy has a hay day in creating confusion or false blame on who or what the real issue or conflict is.

    My husband and I are grateful for God’s clarity and vessels to reveal ‘who is the person causing conflict and why’, he knows he would NOT have a relationship with me and certainly not a marriage if this wasn’t dealt with on all fronts.

    • Aleea on July 20, 2017 at 6:41 pm

      Hello Aly,
      . . . .What you say could easily be the case. Without peer-reviewed, large sample size, context controlled, longevity studies, etc. to confirm conclusions, so many things could NOT be the case. So much is said without a proper foundation and that could be the case on my point about internal boundaries. It is a point made to me all the time by my counselor Dr. Meier, she talks to me about it, —a lot, because I struggle there. Her father Dr. Paul Meier (Meier New Life Clinics) was a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary and trained Dr. Cloud, Dr. John Townsend, all those boundary expert “greats.” Like so many things, these are just hypothesis without serious peer-reviewed, large sample size, context controlled longevity data studies. . . .Like a women in my church always says: “. . . Before I got married I had six theories about raising children; now, I have six children and no more theories.”

      “. . . .He has been treated for being an avoidant addict, and he created any conflict possible ‘over the most crazy things’ to just create the space from not having to be close and draw near to be more fully known. This was too Scary for him and it also his way of Controlling the relationship dynamic~ he was taught this in his family of origin ‘avoidance as a form of control’.”. . . . .I understand Aly and I am so, so sorry. It’s truly beautiful to be really, deeply known and loved for what you are.

      “His first real apology in our marriage was 11years in! Just crazy that I tolerated that and part of that was my underdeveloped and past victimized areas too~” . . . .Unbelievable!!! We are apologizing to each other all the time. A women at one of my Bible studies once told me: “It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right people do not want apologies, and the wrong people take full advantage of apologizes.” I told her I thought that was about as wrong as it gets, especially in marriage. But along with that and in reality, behavior speaks way louder than words. I not only listen to someone’s apology; I’ll watch for it. I’ve learned not to let someone’s words blind me from their behavior.

      “… I was and began fighting for my husband’s freedom as his wife and helper.” . . . .That is beautiful.

      “The enemy has a hay day in creating confusion or false blame on who or what the real issue or conflict is.” . . . .I really believe that. I understand. Spiritual warfare is very real.

      “My husband and I are grateful for God’s clarity and vessels to reveal ‘who is the person causing conflict and why’, he knows he would NOT have a relationship with me and certainly not a marriage if this wasn’t dealt with on all fronts.” . . . .Absolutely! I get that.

      Thank you Aly!

    • Nancy on July 23, 2017 at 8:47 am

      Hi Aleea and Aly, too 🙂

      I will be off line for a week, so I thought I’d leave you a note here, to let you know that my prayers were with you Aleea each day of your retreat. I pray this morning, that Jesus will meet you in a tangible way.

      It is good for me that we are going to a family camp and that each day starts with worship. Something has shifted inside me with regard to my mother, since upping the consequences of my boundaries, and I am walking through a heavy grief. I have finally internalized that ‘the only way to the other side, is through it’.

      Please keep me in your prayers.

      • Aly on July 23, 2017 at 9:43 am

        Dear Nancy,

        I’m glad to hear your getting away for family camp and I’m sorry for the heavy grief but I do pray for the blessing in it. I do hope you feel understood as I can relate and I will pray for your heart as you go through this.

        He is our perfect parent and guides us through, I agree with you it is ‘the through’ that we find our way to the other side.
        Hugs and prayers for you and your family💜

        Pray also for me, I have decided to write my mom back after yet again another false guilting letter arrived this month. Through prayer and seeking wise counsel it’s time I respond to a mom who most likely will be Tephlon to anything I feel or experience or where I might have a healthy ‘legitimate need’ in a mutual relationship.

        It’s very hard to have any frame of relationship when someone is ‘very one sided’ and ALSO destroys trust…yet when given the invitation to healthy reconciliation ~won’t acknowledge their wrongs authentically because deep down they don’t see how twisted ‘their reasoning’ is. She is surrounded and comforted by shallow people~ and she has told me this is how she prefers to live. Her addiction to people pleasing (the wrong people) has cost her. Sadly, I think her relationship with the Lord has been stagnant over all the misapplied scriptures that have kept her feeding the ‘comforts of her life’ because she is so fear based although would preach & minister about her faith. I love her dearly, but her posture and immaturity is such an example that add to the confusion and can stumble the road for many seeking God and His truths for their freedoms and sanity.

        Sorry to write all this out, I do hope it helps anyone out there, it has helped me Nancy, to have boundaries, boundaries and greater consequences that are in place ‘for me’, so I can be limited from the ongoing cycle.

        Much love and hugs to you all on your journey ~ Aly

    • Nancy on July 23, 2017 at 12:47 pm


      I can so relate to what you said about having a mom who, “will be Tephlon to anything I feel or experience”.

      This is a horrible reality to assimilate, Aly.

      I will lift you up each time The Lord puts you on my heart ❤️

    • Aleea on July 25, 2017 at 5:02 am

      Nancy\ Aly

      . . .I so appreciated the prayers. It was wonderful, just wonderful. You know it is like how do you live in those moments forever. . . . .Where things didn’t apply to me directly, I just shifted my focus to cause them to apply. All problems are the same problems of real love not being applied, forgiveness not being applied, etc. Once you understand love (―And I don’t fully understand it), you don’t need a reward for your kindness or compassion just like you don’t need a reward for breathing. . . .I realized this weekend that my job, my only job, is to love myself and, by extension, to love others. Discovering the truth of who you are is the only way to love and care for yourself.

      . . .But I also got a good dose of Truth. Truth burns off dead wood. ―And I don’t like having the dead wood burnt off because I’m like 80 percent dead wood. . . . .Believe me I’m not being snide about that. ―It’s no joke. When you start to realize how much of what you’ve constructed of yourself is based on just what others told you and you have accepted without serious research, fact checks, without considering deception and lies, ―that is a horrifying realization. It can easily be 80 percent of you and the things you say and the things you act out. . . . .

      It was easier to resist early on. . . .Once asked to pray (I love to pray) “Father God, we thank you for your grace and your mercy, for allowing us to be together under your covenant and God we thank you for the revelations and for the breakthroughs; for your direction and for your healing. We thank you God for the opportunity to just be vessels for your kingdom. God we trust you, we love you, we honor you, and all glory is yours. . . . . .” . . .well, I deeply wanted insight and awareness and, as you know, if you want victory in your life you must learn to be alone with your own thoughts and cause them to be correct thoughts! I love how the staff realized that a healer is someone who seeks to be the light that she wishes she had in her darkest moments. . . . .But ultimately *you* have to become aware. There are no experts, no gurus. . . .only the Holy Spirit, the greatest tool of self-compassion/love is self-awareness. My responsibility, I’ve realized, is seeking and speaking the truth. . . . .Not even being consistent because we are always discovering new things! That has been incredibly liberating for me! . . .No matter how much we cry, the tears will dry. No matter how many nightmares, flashbacks, visions, or terrors, they will pass. . . . .I only accept your mistakes and flaws to the degree that I accept my own, the same with love, with compassion, with eveything. . . .The greatest potential we have for opening our hearts lies in opening of our minds. There, for a few moments, time stops. . . .so that you can feel immense silence. . . .silence is the language of God. . . .and love is the desire to see unnecessary suffering ameliorated. . . .And truth is the assistant of love, and dialogue is the pathway to truth. . . . And humility is recognition of my personal insufficiency, and the willingness to learn. . . . .and just being alive is such a gift!

    • Nancy on July 30, 2017 at 7:50 pm


      I’m so glad you had a wonderful experience.

      I love how you said, “my job, my only job, is to love myself and by extension, to love others”.

      This is exactly where I am, too. It is the only job I have.

      The work that Jesus describes as: to BELIEVE in the One The Lord has sent ( John 6), is the work of my life.

      To believe is to receive him. If I believe that he is who he says that he is, then I can also believe that I am who he says that I am!

      So….at camp this week we had an AWESOME object lesson:

      A guy was blindfolded and told that he must believe that when he sat down he would sit on something solid. Meanwhile a flimsy cardboard box was placed behind him. He got a big speech about how important his belief is, and that he must have a big belief. The guy sat down and he ended up in the dirt. Next he was told; with the little belief he had left, to sit again. Meanwhile a chair was placed behind him. He sat down tentatively, and he was supported.

      The point is: the power does not lay in our ability to believe, but in the OBJECT of our belief. We only need enough belief just to sit and REST in Jesus (belief the size of a mustard seed).

      I loved that.

    • Aleea on August 1, 2017 at 5:53 am

      “. . . .the power does not lay in our ability to believe, but in the OBJECT of our belief. We only need enough belief just to sit and REST in Jesus (belief the size of a mustard seed).”

      I love you Nancy for loving me enough to reach out again and again and help me so many times (I’m a total, complete mess) and for always trying to help me. . . .You have taught me what could *never* before be taught! I so appreciate you.

    • Nancy on August 1, 2017 at 7:41 am


  15. D on July 20, 2017 at 4:23 pm

    Nancy, I appreciate you sharing your experience. I have put boundaries in place and my h has crossed them time and time. He is in counseling and taking Meds. My consequences have been are refusing contact and ultimately leaving which he knows is close. I understand the necessity of taking care of self and setting firm boundaries but it is not a set formula. Sometimes it doesn’t work but am happy that it has for you.

    • Nancy on July 21, 2017 at 7:11 am

      Good morning D,

      I did not mean to imply that there is a set formula for making things work out – I’ll be careful of that in future posts. I used my own example only to illustrate that we can’t know how someone will respond to us prioritizing our hearts; at all costs.

      My husband’s choice was his own. It was between he and God.

      Even though we are rebuilding, my primary goal is no different (I would guess) than anyone else’s here:

      To find rest, renewal and direction in the arms of the One who made me.

    • Aly on July 21, 2017 at 1:46 pm

      D, and Nancy too;)

      I can so relate to what you are describing and really what it seems like you are in the thick of! I’m sorry for what you both have been through thus far and myself included.
      I really can see the benefits of sharing here and exploring our feelings and individual experiences.

      D, I hope you can read my compassion here for your heart because I think it’s really imp to find safe people to grieve with where you feel supported, (even if that begins online like this) your going through a very difficult road (regardless if the marriage can be redeemed or not). I’m wondering if your feeling spent? Tapped out? Parched? I feel like maybe your feeling alone? I want you to know your not 💜 even though I would completely validate you feeling that way.

      D, you said:
      That you have put boundaries in place and time and time again he crossed them,
      You also said that your consequences are ‘refusing contact’ and ultimately leaving which I understand to be separating?
      Maybe I’m misinterpreting here what you mean, so please correct me.

      The consequence of refusing contact ~ can you expand?, do you mean not talking or sleeping in the same bedroom with your h but doing life under the same roof roommates? Like a internal house separation.

      I ask because when you have a repeat offender as you described I’m wondering if you are ready to increase the requirements of him. (Doesn’t mean he will do them) but then you will have a path to take to continue to have safe boundaries for yourself.
      He’s in counseling and on meds which is probably a necessity for him, but it also could be numbing him out and not caring what boundaries he crosses.

      (Just an outloud thought, not saying that it has any validity)

      I also had a h who crossed many boundaries ‘the expert repeat offender’ and I had to reevaluate objectively what was really taking place and maybe the consequences were not ‘impacting enough’ for the type of individual I was dealing with? My own children have taught me lots in this process;) God bless them.

      Many of the things I applied in my journey were from others before me and I was able to benefit from seeing through some areas that I was pretty entrenched in~ because of the long term history of being treated a certain way and my childlike coping skills of tolerating it.

      Since there isn’t a specific recipe my thought is that there are specific patterns or signs that do show a formula,
      ‘True Recovery’ has its own formula signs all along the way~
      Progressive sin and abusive relationships seem to also have a formula taking place too.

      Boundary busters show a consistent pattern of behavior that equal more unhealthy change than healthy change.

      I’m not sure if any of that is helpful but I do hope you feel cared for and understood here;)

      • D on July 21, 2017 at 2:19 pm

        Yes I do have good friends I can process things with that are very supportive. I know how important that is to my well being. Blessings to you Aly❤️

        • caroline on July 21, 2017 at 4:54 pm

          Hi D
          This is actually in reference to an above comment but there was no reply button.

          You said, “I wanted to add to my comment above that the heart problem I am referring to is the evil intent to hurt others by domination, control and aggression. We all have heart problems in that we sin against God and ourselves but that is not the same.”

          Addiction by nature is turning one’s self over to another god. Any addict in the throws of their bondage can be willing to kill to protect the addiction. It is life to them.

          This is true for the 75 pound anorexic as well as the submissive pastors wife who has been secretly running up credit cards on amazon. It is certainly true for any kind of sexual or relational addiction.

          There are chemical bonds between the addict and his “drug” experience that is similar to that of lovers or a mother and child.

          Try to take away their Precious, and you will feel their claws at your throat.

          Your mention of the word “evil” indicates that you have observed a premeditated, crafty, intentionality in your husband’s behavior that is clearly pathological (outside normal).

          As Christian we are told to “love” even our enemies, but the question remains, How do we go about loving a truly evil person?

          The simple answer is by LIMITING THEIR ABILITY TO DO HARM. Whatever it takes.

          So, yeah, we start with communication, relational and domestic boundaries, (as you have done), and then further and further separations as needed to keep ourselves and others safe.

          Yes, loving an enemy husband may look like a legal separation or divorce (but for God’s sake don’t leave children behind).

          Sometimes love looks like 911. Sometimes it may look like pepper spray or even a 12 gauge.

          God forbid that we would ever have to take it that far.

          • Nancy on July 22, 2017 at 7:36 am

            This is a clear picture, caroline , of what loving our enemies should look like.

            Guarding our heart is our God given responsibility. It is, after all, the wellspring of our lives ( Prov 4:23)

            That responsibility is not dependant on another person’s ability to respect the limits we speak.

            We do what it takes to guard our heart ( and the hearts of those in our care).

          • Nancy on July 22, 2017 at 7:38 am

            ‘ of what loving our enemies could look like.’ (not should)

    • Chris on July 22, 2017 at 7:26 am

      You made a statement above:
      ” there are many emotional abusers who are not porn addicts or substance abuse addicts and there are some in the latter categories that are not emotional abusers. That is not to say that emotional abusers, those addicted to power and control can’t also be other types of abusers. I believe there are many porn, sex or substance abuse addicts who are not manipulative and controlling. Emotional abuse is a heart problem and that is the distinction I am making”

      As a recovering porn addict, I can tell you that rage is at the heart of addiction. The drug (porn in my case) was the answer to my problem, not the problem itself. Take away the addictive substance and the rage is just under the surface ready to bubble up. You have probably heard of the term “dry drunk”, an alcoholic who isn’t drinking but hasn’t learned constructive ways of coping with life. The term applies equally well to other addictions.

      After stopping the porn use I found I was not the really nice guy I thought I was. I became short tempered, sarcastic and mocking. I found that I was capable of flying out of control and screaming till hoarse when life wouldn’t cooperate. This was very frightening to my wife and children. The entitlement mentality followed me from porn use, then into everyday life.

      I was entitled to life without strife. No thorns. No thistles. No Genesis 3 curse. I would never have consciously said that, but it is what I expected. My rage was at God. Life doesn’t work, I usually feel inadequate, like not much of a man. There is a seeming futility in all that I endeavor. Life is hard and somebody’s gonna pay! When it wasn’t going to be God’s image bearers through pornography, deliberately profaning the very metaphor of God known as human sexuality, then it was going to be my family.

      D, addiction is abuse and addicts are abusers. The abuser’s focused target may or may not be his family, but he is still an abuser. He still is making the world “work” (that is “solving” his problem) by making someone else pay. The true idol in any addiction is not the object of the addiction, but the idolater himself. The idolater/addict/abuser seeks to be God, to control his world, to control his pain.

      The distinctions you make seem artificial, for the purpose of division and comparison instead of inclusion.

      Many women live with polite monsters, and they are told they should endure it because it is “just porn”. The heart issues that you attempt to distinguish are in fact the same. Only the target appears different, and that is changeable.

      • Rebecca on July 24, 2017 at 10:29 pm

        Thank you for your post. It gave me a lot to think about.

        Did you find another outlet for your anger or did you get to the bottom of the motivation for it? Dose the anger from the same sense of entitlement that other abusers report as their source?

        • Rebecca on July 24, 2017 at 10:30 pm

          Does the anger stem from the same sense of entitlement that physical/ emotional abusers report?

          • Chris on July 25, 2017 at 3:15 am

            Thanks Rebecca.
            Yes, entitlement is the motive behind the rage. “I deserved better than I received. You haven’t come through and now you/everyone/inanimate objects/myself are going to pay. Why am I entitled? Why did I deserve better? Because I am like God.”

            The entitlement is the opposite of gratitude. The rejection of God’s Lordship and sovereignty.

            I still have issues in this area, BUT over the years I have been cultivating an “internal observer” as a counter to the addict mentality. At first this smarter and wiser “observer” helped me remember the truth about pornography, lust and sexual sin when temptation would come. Most addicts will leave their addiction of choice for another and that can include indulging in the powerful reaction of rage (sadness and fear are weak and vulnerable, the addict will go for the power of rage and contempt).

            This internal observer is now working on my tendency to rage and questioning my sense of entitlement. This so far has not meant that I’m “all better”, only that I sometimes catch myself before I react, or a lot sooner into it. I have become more receptive of input and rebuke. And… I have found that I have done a lot more apologizing for spoiling family times.

            The object of recovery is not to chase addictions from one object or experience to the endless plethora of substitutes (alcohol, gambling, all consuming hobbies, shopping, near constant distraction through movies and TV and the internet… etc). It is to cut through all of these behavioral choices, recognize your own helplessness to change, recognize your own depravity and enmity with God, and to stop hiding from Him. It is this turning to the Lord, trusting in His sovereignty, and accepting his unmerited grace that breaks the addictive cycle. It is recognizing that this is the lifelong journey of a regenerate soul, a Christian, to grow increasingly toward the Lord and you are never “finished”.

      • Woman Wrestler on July 27, 2017 at 10:17 am

        Chris, Thank you for your honest post! You have validated my concerns about my h.

        I have been reading everything I can find on this addiction, and this is by far the most concise definition!

        • Chris on July 27, 2017 at 6:18 pm

          Thanks WW. That was high praise!
          Concise perhaps, but a lot of work in practice.

          Breaking this addictive cycle takes time as it challenges one’s entire world view and personal mechanisms for coping that have been established perhaps for decades.

          The “why”, “what lies am I believing” questions abound. The answers to them often rest upon other lies as well. These lies often have been told to us through abuse, or experiences we would rather not call abuse. An honest look at our pasts may find us re-categorizing parents or trusted adults as negligent or even as perpetrators.

          We choose addictive behaviors as answers to trauma and the lies these traumatic experiences tell about us and God. Often we would rather “take responsibility” for the misdeeds of loved ones because the alternative is to see them in their depravity as conspirators, or at least as “useful idiots”, for the evil in our own stories. Truth is essential for disarming the alternative gospel of addictive behaviors. We will always fall back into addictions if the lies that support them are left on the throne. We will feel as though we are “being good” to say “no to the good stuff”.

          In short, it is easily written out, but the antidote to addictive behavior, the gospel, the transforming power of God’s spirit, does not sanctify us in one fell swoop. We are co-agents in the change, and it will at times be painful and ALWAYS earth shaking and world shaping. One must be willing to suffer (which is exactly what addicts will kill to avoid).

          Thanks for your encouragement, WW. I hope your husband is also looking into this addiction. I would encourage you to be informed and educated to the typical patterns of the addict as well as the lying addicts employ in order to protect their addictions.

          Be willing to make a bold move. Your husband may need you for a “hitting bottom” experience. Addicts will often not choose change until keeping the addiction is more painful than leaving it.

          Unfortunately, you are likely to have your world turned upside down too. You will need support if you do the brave thing. Be careful where you seek this support. Many wives get blamed for upsetting the apple cart or even for their husband’s addiction. Unfortunately, this response seems most common in “good Christian” circles.

          I’m pulling for you and your husband.

          • Aly on July 27, 2017 at 7:40 pm


            So well written, thank you for your post.

            You wrote;
            “One must be willing to suffer (which is exactly what addicts will kill to avoid).”

            So true! That addiction keeps the addict in escaping the pain and suffering ~ rather than facing what they don’t want to feel or deal with head on.

        • caroline on July 27, 2017 at 6:29 pm

          Hi there. Chris is right about needing support and community. Many people will try to down play what you are going through. It is important to know you are not alone in this fight. Here is another group, this one specifically for wives of men struggling with porn and sexual addiction:

          It is a free resource website and you can be as anonymous as you need to be.

  16. Melissa on July 21, 2017 at 11:26 pm

    Thank you so much or this….I am grateful that you counsel women that a healthy boundary is to not accept abusive behavior but to “either leave the room, leave the house, or if necessary call the police.” I was in a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage 2 years ago and took this advice from your book. It gave me such courage and strength to know from an expert that this was an acceptable boundary, as I was being told I needed to “submit” more by my then-husband. I was confused about what was the right thing to do. You helped make it clear that abuse was NOT acceptable. I am grateful for your advice and counsel.

  17. Sunshine on July 25, 2017 at 10:55 pm

    “It’s not what the man do to the woman in domestic abuse, it’s what the man doesn’t allow the woman to do for herself.”

    Coercive Control Defined.-Evan Stark

  18. Sunshine on July 25, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Coercive control, a pattern of behavior that some people — usually but not always men — employ to dominate their partners. Coercive control describes an ongoing and multipronged strategy, with tactics that include manipulation, humiliation, isolation, financial abuse, stalking, gaslighting and sometimes physical or sexual abuse.

    Posting this for Content who is not allowed to run the dishwasher unless her spouse gives her permission.

    Content it is not just in your head. You are right! You are being controlled.

    • Content on July 26, 2017 at 5:13 pm


      It is “Confused and hurt” that posted about not being able to run the dishwasher. Just wanted to clarify. Good quote and info, though.

      • Sunshine on July 26, 2017 at 6:50 pm

        Sorry, content.

        • Content on July 27, 2017 at 12:38 pm

          No problem at all!

    • Confused and hurt on July 26, 2017 at 8:15 pm

      Wow! You nailed my relationship with the exception of stalking and physical abuse. I’ve battled severe depression. My counselor said more than likely it’s the result of my relationship. I miss talking with her. She’s trying to help me find a Christian counselor where I live now. I’ve hid my depression from my h for 30 years?+

      This is such a wonderful blessing Leslie provides for us. A safe environment where we can validate and support one another. I can feel the love and prayers sweet sisters!

  19. Sandra Lee on July 31, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Here I am again needing support! I’ve written about living back with my ex-h (six months ago), and that we were attending the Methodist church that he went to before I returned. Even though it was different from my Baptist background, I decided it would be good for our relationship to attend church together. I even joined the choir. Unfortunately, the gifted lady pastor was transferred to another church, and was replaced by one quite different, who “bored” him, so we decided to find another church. This past week we attended a Baptist church, where we were warmly welcomed, but h said it was “too strict,” and doesn’t like the invitation/altar call either. I told him, “I guess we’ll have to keep searching for one you’ll like.” (?) To tell the truth, I think he prefers one more liberal, but I conservative.

    • Nancy on August 1, 2017 at 7:53 am

      Hi Sandra Lee,

      My impression – from other posts – was that you were approaching your relationship as ‘professional caregiver’ to your h….?

      If that’s the case, then I don’t understand your comment, ” I decided it would be good for our relationship…”

      It looks from here as though you are entering back into ‘trying to fix’ your relationship, as opposed to building your CORE….?

      I think it’s very important for you to go to whatever church you want to. It sounds to me as though you have placed yourself into a compromising position by ‘deciding it was important for your relationship, that you go to church together’.

      I’d say, undecided this, and stop letting him control this very important aspect of your life.

      • K on August 1, 2017 at 11:28 am

        Hello, Sandra Lee Nancy is absolutely solid when she says “…UNDECIDE this, and stop letting him control this very important aspect of your life.”!!

        One of the best tools an abuser has to keep you in the cycle is to keep you isolated; and bouncing from church to church is one of the classic ways of doing this. It’s also a great way of avoiding accountability by the one who is trying to exercise power and control over you. In your short posting, Sandra Lee, you noted at least 3 different churches in a fairly short time frame.

        Additionally, you note that the changing of churches is because your husband feels ‘bored’, or it’s ‘too strict’, and he didn’t like the style of their call/invitation to faith. None of these are doctrinal issues that we should be guarding against (for instance, they are not teaching against Scripture, proclaiming a different Christ). Every one of these is about something your husband feels petulant about; “I’m bored”, “I don’t like this”, “they have rules”. Those are the sorts of things a child whines about, not the things that a healthy adult uses as the basis to decide very important life choices.

        Finally, Sandra Lee, you don’t mention that this was even an issue of discussion between the two of you. It sounds like you were putting down tentative roots in the congregation where you ‘even joined the choir’ — but that didn’t seem to matter when your husband decided it was time to up sticks and move on again.

        I would encourage you , sister, to take a good hard and prayerful look at why you think ‘going to church together would be good for the marriage’, when this is the state of the relationship. Please be well and be wise.

        • Sandra Lee on August 1, 2017 at 11:48 am

          Dear Sisters, Nancy & K, Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wise advice, given in Christian love. I need that encouragement because you’re correct in saying I’m allowing him to “control” my decision (in order to try to “keep the peace). Actually, I’ve found that no matter what church we attend, he stays the same.
          Please pray for me as I have made the decision to follow God’s leading (whatever the cost), rather than allowing h to control me (again!).
          God bless you both, Sandra Lee

          • Nancy on August 1, 2017 at 7:23 pm

            Father God, I lift Sanfra Lee, up to you.

            Empower her Lord, with Your strength, Your clarity and Your wisdom. Envelop her in Your love and Your protection. Show her Lord, how to guard her heart. Empower her to turn to You in each moment and to -step by step – know what it is to walk by faith, and not by sight.

            I pray all these things in the name of Jesus Christ.

          • Sandra Lee on August 2, 2017 at 11:41 am

            Nancy, thank you for your lovely prayer for me — it so blesses my heart and soul. I pray for you and all our other dear Sisters here, and for Leslie as well.

            The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear?
            Psalm 27:1

            With love in Christ,
            Sandra Lee

          • Nancy on August 1, 2017 at 7:24 pm

            Sandra Lee – not Sanfra Lee!

            He knows who I’m praying for 🙂

          • Aly on August 2, 2017 at 10:14 am

            Dear Sandra Lee,

            Such great conversation and honest loving care between Nancy K and others.
            I really see such health in your response even though your situation with your h is quite a painful realization.

            You wrote this so well,
            ” I need that encouragement because you’re correct in saying I’m allowing him to “control” my decision (in order to try to “keep the peace). Actually, I’ve found that no matter what church we attend, he stays the same.
            Please pray for me as I have made the decision to follow God’s leading (whatever the cost), rather than allowing h to control me (again!).”

            I will pray for you Sandra Lee and I really want to encourage you that in keeping the peace there is a cost to that too, I love your heart and decision to see that it will cost you to follow God’s leading over following a husband who clearing shows the immature signs of a man not committed in many areas of his life. The whole bouncing church routine in my opinion is a ‘common one’ common not meaning good but it reveals more and more of a heart condition of someone running from intimacy with God and His people rather than chasing after God and His purposes.

            I wonder if you used to believe that ‘the idea of attending church at all or together representing something safe or hopeful?~ and possibly…Your h’s willingness to go, created a level of false hope and repetitive peace keeping that fed the cycle? Like ‘don’t upset the apple cart or h won’t attend church, and then that’s really causing a further divide from being in an environment that can bring peace’.
            That ofcourse not being logical but understandable why you could fall into that trap.

            It’s sounds like your h is looking for the church that makes him comfortable ‘always’ and being comfortable usually means ‘no changing’ let alone being open to the transformational work that Christ does in our hearts for the better of our growth and maturity.

            Years ago I told my h that I was deciding that going to church by myself might be better for my heart and growth because my h was in a cycle of going through the motions not really being present in the process and it was very much sabatoging the importance of what I believed we were to be modeling and teaching our children together.

            A father claiming Christianity, and not taking his own faith seriously lends to the passing of a confusing baton and can lead children to posture the same path.
            The Lord continued to show me what I was needed for in that season and it wasn’t to be more hopeful at watching the same repeat, attending church, or finding excuses you name the symptom. There are plenty.

            I told my h I wasn’t interested in attending with him anymore especially if his goal was to go through the motions. I told my h…
            Anyone can go to church,
            few people want to apply the teaching and importance of being challenged to grow in character and honest ‘real love’.
            What are you interested & committed in h?

            These were critical steps to my journey, and as you said Sandra Lee there is a cost, there always is in choosing to follow the Lord or choosing to follow the man running from the Lord.
            I’m thankful to hear where you are choosing and that you believe you are worth making that choice for your heart and your relationship with The Lord.

            Your h is taking a dangerous path and one that might feel normal to him and his comfort but I will pray also for him to seek Christ over comfort.

            Hugs and prayers for your journey💕

          • Sandra Lee on August 2, 2017 at 11:15 am

            Thank you, dear Aly, for your note of lovely encouragement — what would I do without this God-ly support from dear Leslie, you and our other sisters here? God truly blesses us all!
            …..Thank you for your prayers for me and also for h — God knows all and is in control.
            The man who loves his wife loves himself. Ephesians 5:28 The way a person feels about himself is the way they treat others. He must be at peace with God before he can love himself or others.
            In HIS love,
            Sandra Lee

  20. Kate on August 3, 2017 at 2:15 pm

    These posts have been very helpful.
    My h is very controlling and will dictate: how much I open the windows in the house (only 1.5 inches, how often I drive my car to the next town etc etc. Recently he threw out my sunglasses without telling me because according to him they were scratched. I have an eye condition and need them!! He is also very controlling of me at church….I’m beginning to seriously look into why I am uncomfortable there. He guilt trips me if I worship somewhere else. I’ve been standing up to him a lot more this past year, but in doing so have discovered he lies and has been doing so for years. Anyone else out there deal with a controlling Aspie spouse? Holding a rational conversation with him about a serious matter is difficult.I don’t want to continue carrying resentment that I can’t express to him.

    • Sandra Lee on August 3, 2017 at 5:05 pm

      Dear Kate:

      I also have a controlling h (ex now, but I’m living with him again — not good). I’ve found the best way to deal with him is to say, “I’m no longer a child, so capable of making my own decisions, which I plan to do from now on.” Of course, he’ll protest, but start to do so, one step at a time, and I think he’ll begin to respect you for your courage (eventually, as you refuse to back down). Try it, with God’s help, and I’ll pray for you. God bless you, Sandra Lee

  21. Belinda on April 22, 2020 at 10:31 am

    Hi everyone, is it fair for my husband not to give me any money for essential items, clothes, help to get a phone on contract or a laptop e.t.c. Every time I ask he gives me stories. If he promises something and we have a slight argument he says now you won’t get a phone or money. He buys the groceries pays for my nails hair e.t.c. I don’t have any money or freedom. We have a baby who starts kindergarten next year so for now I’m a stay at home mom. It’s hard to get a job because as at now we are residing in a country that’s difficult to get a job and we moved here because of his work and he promised things will be different by they are not.

    • Sarah on May 2, 2020 at 12:50 pm

      Mine is similiar—it’s called financial/economic abuse.

    • Alondra on October 17, 2020 at 1:33 am

      Im having the same problem with my husband belinda and we also have a baby. I am an immigrant and with a baby is hard to find a job like that. I am getting depressed.

  22. Julie Davis on February 27, 2021 at 1:59 am

    LMAO! YEA… UMMM NO…. Why the heck would a CONTROLLING husband even Entertain the idea that his wife is paasive and he’s Controlling her for their whole relationship?!

    I have personally experienced what a control freak does when confronted with reality. They deny and get PISSED!. IF NOT, THEY CRY & say they are; sorry things WILL change but only for a moment. Only for a month maybe even half a year! But things will always go back to the same.
    In my opinion and personal experience ge the heck out!!!!!!! Especially if this is new. HE or SHE WILL NEVER CHANGE! NO MATTER THE TEARS, NO MATTWR THE PROMISES, AND COMPROMISES… your cycle will never change. Get out get out get out while u still can! Its a trap!

    • Christine on January 20, 2022 at 2:38 pm

      I am hearing a lot of anger from your words, have you taken it to Hod and dump it on Him?
      The point of all of this is in Christ to restore one another to God. A husband as also Wife in these situations need to see from Godly perspective. Husband is in a stronghold just like the wife. She can only change by the power of the Holy Spirit it she wants to do the hard work. Just as the husband but has to turn from his sin. We all need a second or a million chance to do that. “Thanking God He didn’t say oh you’ll never change so be done with you”
      We can come off controlling. And tell people ” they’ll never change” that sounds prideful, angry, and wounded.
      We all need a second chance and I pray that anyone who needs to stop allowing others to control them, witch is a sin, will fight the right way for their spouses soul by speaking the truth in love. It happened to me and I am so great full to God they did. It saved e from years on the wrong path. Love and peace to you.

    • Sam on January 25, 2022 at 8:02 pm

      Julie, I agree with you and having experienced this for the last 12 years your words do not sound like anger they sound like compassion and empathy for someone living in similar shoes.

      As for Christine,
      You can put everything you have into God but he does not condone abuse and people who don’t live by godly standards will never change. That is great that you were saved, but the reality and statistics show that is rarely the case. Narcissist almost never change.

  23. Sarah on January 14, 2022 at 11:58 pm

    Stopped reading after you said that she is responsible for the way she gas allowed herself to be treated. Yikes!! Really really awful.

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