I Have No Idea Who I Am. I’m Lost. Help!

Morning friends,  

Yea, I am back in Pinetop after a long 2 weeks away. Addie is very happy I’m home. If you haven’t checked it out yet, my Walking In CORE Strength Group Coaching Class starts very soon. The groups are almost filled, and they won’t be repeated until next Spring. So if you’ve always wanted to actually learn HOW to Walk in CORE Strength, not just know about it, please join us. Click here for more information. 

Today’s Question: I have been married for 31 years to a wonderful man who has committed adultery at least 3 times, but we are still together. When I say he is a wonderful man, I am not being sarcastic. My husband is well liked by many people. He has one of those vibrant personalities. 

I, on the other hand, am much quieter and reserved and do not like to be the center of attention. I am struggling with my choices. I feel stuck and angry and just want to feel like I have some power in this relationship. I think one of the problems is my husband has certain athletic activities that fuel him and define him. I will say I'd rather you not participate in this event, but he feels like I am holding him back from who he is. When I say it seems to be all about you and has for most of our married life, he says, what do you want to do, what are your goals, etc. And I can't think of any.

It's like I have been swallowed up into his life and I don't even know who I am and what I want, so naturally, he gets to do what he wants because I can't think of anything. So he moves on with his life, while I stay stuck and then I feel resentment toward him. I need help. 

Answer: My heart broke as I read your question. It’s so sad to me that you have lost yourself in your marriage and that you describe your wonderful husband in terms of personality type rather than character traits. In fact, the one character trait you did share was he seemed rather selfish. “It’s all about him” were your words.

Adultery three times…that you know of…. and you’re still together because…..? You didn’t say why but I hope it’s because he’s genuinely repented, he loves you and you love him. And he’s doing the work he needs to do to figure out why he betrayed your trust and his vows and you are working together to rebuild trust.   

But since you don’t say, my guess is that deeper healing is not happening. Meanwhile, you feel stuck and angry and want to have some mutual power in this marriage. When you ask him not to participate in athletic activities, he tells you that you are holding him back.  

Let me ask you a question. Are these the places where he met the women where the adultery took place? If so, then to rebuild your trust, he may have to sacrifice that for a while until he can maintain better boundaries and get some help for why he betrayed his promises to you. However, if that’s not the case and he enjoys sports and you don’t, I think he’s correct in challenging you to develop your own life instead of asking him to restrict his.

I’ve said numerous times before that chronic adultery, addictions, and abuse are not marriage problems, they cause marriage problems. What is your husband doing to address his sin and character issues that would make adultery acceptable in his own eyes? Anything? If not, then your marriage cannot restore broken trust because his issues are not being addressed.  

However, your question is more about figuring out your own life rather than fixing your marriage. You said that when he asks you what you want, you don’t know. All you know is that you’re feeling increasingly lost, powerless, and resentful. Not a good combination. My question is what are you doing about your problem (not the marriage problem)?  

That question may seem harsh or unsympathetic but I need to jolt you awake. Yes, you may be an introvert and you don’t like to be the center of attention but that doesn’t mean you’re a plain piece of white paper with no writing on it. Who are you? Who has God made you to be? What has happened to you as a person as you’ve fulfilled your roles as wife and mother? You’ve not invested in yourself as a person even though you’ve tried to be a wonderful wife and mother.

To get started knowing yourself better I want you to do three things. First, get a journal and start writing in it each morning. Just write whatever comes to your mind, even if you sound foolish to yourself. Write at least 3 pages, longhand. Write whatever comes to your mind. Your dreams. Your fears. What makes your heart sing, what sucks you dry? Don’t overthink this. Just write, every day, 3 pages before you do anything else. I don’t care if you write “I don’t know what to write, I feel stupid for 3 pages. Just write and keep writing. And whatever comes to your mind, write it down. Believe me, things will come.

Second, I want you to spend some time taking a smorgasbord approach to life. For example, if someone said to you what do you like to eat and you didn’t know, a good place to find out would be to go to a huge gourmet buffet where you could try a little of this and a little of that. 

You might find that you loved Ahi tuna with Wasabi sauce but hated grilled pork chops. You discovered the strawberry cheesecake was yummy but the bread pudding was just so-so.  

Now you are beginning to know a few things you really like to eat and some things you will never eat again. It’s a start. Try a lot of different things.  Remember the things you enjoyed doing as a child and try them again. For example, did you love sports? What kind? Find a women’s softball team to join or pick up a tennis racket and sign up for lessons or get on board with the pickleball craze that I’ve started to enjoy. Don’t worry if you discover that you don’t like them anymore. Learning who you are involves knowing what you don’t like as well as what you do like. However, when you don’t like something ask yourself a question, is it because you don’t really like it or because you’re afraid you’re not good at it? 

For example, maybe you’ve always wanted to draw or paint, but you don’t feel very competent. Do it anyway. As some of you know, I’ve taken up painting. I love it but I am still not good at it and I can get intimidated when I start to tell myself, “I’m not good enough” or “My painting stinks.” It’s not that I don’t like it, I love it, but my mindset gets in my own way because I’m my own worst critic. Notice when that happens to you and if you like something that you’re not good at, keep at it.  

If you stick with it, you will learn, and grow and develop. Don’t let fear determine who you will be. God put incredible things inside of you. Fear will keep you small. Don’t let it. Try, even if you’re not really good at something, you still may enjoy it. I enjoy playing the piano but believe me, no one would want to hear me but me (and God).

Don’t be afraid to fail. Failing is a key part of the learning process. Click To Tweet

The final approach requires more work. Instead of standing before a huge buffet of choices and seeing what looks good to you, this approach requires greater self-reflection. Instead of looking at what appeals to you from the outside (the smorgasbord approach), ask yourself what you’re truly hungry for. For example, if your friend invited you to pick the restaurant for lunch, what are you hungry for?  

You said you often come up blank when your husband asks you the questions, “What are your goals? What do you really want? (Other words for “what are you hungry for?”) In addition, some other questions you could ask yourself are:  “What am I feeling? What is my opinion about ______? What are my core values and my core virtues? What’s most important to me to do with my one precious life? Or another way of asking that is, “If my friends or children would describe me and my values and virtues at my funeral, what would I want them to say about me?” These would be good questions to add to your daily journal writing.

The writer of Proverbs tells us that “the wisdom of the prudent is to understand his [or her] way” (Proverbs 14:8). It takes time and energy to be quiet and reflect about who you are, what you think, how you feel, what’s important to you, what you stand for and what you stand against, what you want and what you don’t want. These are perfect questions for introverts.  

Some people think those kinds of questions are self-indulgent and self-centered. However, it’s important that we understand that we can’t let anyone else know who we are or where we are unless we ourselves know. Selfishness isn’t characterized by knowing how you feel or what you want; selfishness is when you demand that other people always cater to your feelings, your wants, and your needs. 

To grow in self-reflection during your journaling time, ask yourself “what” questions. Don’t just swallow what everyone tells you but ask yourself what you think about a certain topic or current event. When something painful happens, ask yourself what feelings are coming up inside. Are you scared? Sad? Angry? Shamed? Do you know how to tell the difference? Do you know what to do with your emotions?

In addition to your early morning 3 pages of committed daily writing, additional journaling can be an excellent way to reflect upon your day’s experiences. Don’t just write about what happened, write about how you thought about what happened and what you felt and even what you wanted and what action you took or didn’t take. Did it make you proud? Ashamed? Angry? Disappointed? Then read it back and ask yourself if there is anything more inside you that you need to know. Then write what comes out. That will give you good practice in getting to know yourself and reflecting on what comes to the surface.

I talk much more about getting to know yourself more in Chapter 5 in The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and there’s a book called Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talkinga paperback by Susan CainYou can catch the author’s TED talk on the subject here.

You just might be encouraged to realize that you don’t have to be outgoing or the center of attention to make an impact or to be used by God in a mighty way. Paul tells young Timothy, “Fan into flames the gifts God has given you.” Paul was the extrovert, Timothy more shy and fearful introvert. Yet God had big plans for Timothy and Timothy had to work to develop his gifting. (2 Timothy 1:6).

You have value, worth and a contribution to make in this world apart from your role as wife and mother, but you can’t make it if you stay lost, unaware, afraid and resentful. It’s time for you to move out from under your husband’s shadow and become the woman God made you to become.

Friends share how you began to know yourself better, especially if you were more introverted in temperament?

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  1. Janice D on August 28, 2019 at 7:53 am

    Great post,Leslie.For me,knowing yourself is drawing a line in the sand about what you will and will not tolerate.I would encourage this dear sister to think about what characteristics she thinks would make a wonderful husband.As she detaches from what she has accepted and develops her voice I believe she will rediscover who she is. Believing lies messes with our minds and shrinks our reality. This man sounds like a selfish bully who has charmed his wife into silence. Enough is enough…time to take back your life and integrity!

    • DD on August 28, 2019 at 12:40 pm

      I can relate. I totally understand . I have been married 37 years and came to this same realization 2 years ago after years of verbal and emotional abuse. I have spent the last 2 years trying to “find myself”. I have made some progress. Along with all of that, I am trying to “stay well” in this “marriage” and be pleasing to God. It is a challenge. I found that totally detaching from my husband has been very helpful. But what has helped the most was forgiving him. None of this was easy, but with God’s help, I have been able to make some progress. It was like a death and I had to go through a grieving process of what I lost. I am much stronger now, established boundaries, journaled, and attended a support group. I am looking for a way I can help others in this same situation. None of this would have happened without God’s help

      • Suzie on August 28, 2019 at 1:07 pm

        I have been married since 1993 to my husband, He has verbally abused me for years. He is well respected at work and in the community. I could use some help in thinking more clearly.

        • Free on August 31, 2019 at 5:38 am

          Susie start educated yourself. Listen to some lectures on you tube and get books on the subject from the library. Search these names Lundy Bancroft, Patrick Doyle, Don Hennessy, Barbara Roberts (a cry for Justice site), Sam Varkin (Narcissism), Dan Allendar (healing from sexual abuse). Learn about the power and control wheel and go to your local domestic violence shelter for free resources.

          • Free on August 31, 2019 at 7:34 am

            One more important person I forgot to include. Read Evan Stark’s scholatly work on Coercive Control.

      • Donna Jacobs on August 28, 2019 at 1:35 pm

        how do you find a support group that is trustworthy and godly?

        • Barbara B on August 28, 2019 at 5:08 pm

          Donna, start by following this blog for awhile. You will see a wide variety of topics discussed respectfully even though there are disagreements. By following the blog, you will learn two things. One, what you believe and why. Two, what does respectful dialog look and feel like. If you start with those strengths I think you will be more prepared to discover a safe group that meets face to face.

      • linda j forry on August 28, 2019 at 1:55 pm

        My story is similar, DD. Married much longer than you but same struggles and victories.
        Leslie’s teaching has really helped.

  2. Sunshine on August 28, 2019 at 8:24 am

    I think this post is great. It would seem equally as valuable to those who have finally escaped their abusive relationship. Many times those who were in such a relationship over functioned. They kept the peace, covered for their abusers bad behavior and bore the emotional and spiritual burden of the family. Once finally free, the victim needs to more from survivor to thriver. The post above gives tangible instructions to one reclaim their personality.

    My advice would be to listen to your gut. You probably silenced your gut for so long that you forgot what you think and feel. Maybe you have become dependent upon your husband to complete you. I imagine this personality issue began long before you met your spouse. He may be a Narcissist who sought you out for just those very traits. (See Don Hennessey’s work) Sexually exploitive Narcissists are know to seek out nice, compliant, loyal women.

    • Bethany ElRoi on August 29, 2019 at 2:05 am

      Wow Sunshine you’re talking to me. I have been married almost 39 years. I have done everything I know to try to keep the peace, hold our family together, be the ” submissive wife” (doormat). My daughter finally told me a couple of years ago, “Mom I know you want to make everything ok but it’s not ok and you can’t fix it, it’s not your job, this is on dad and it’s his job to fix it, we’ve all tried to make things ok but it’s not and it’s dad’s problem.” She has asked him not to come to her house any more. I don’t blame her, he is critical of her as a mother, he wants to treat her children like he did her and her brother and is very condescending to her husband. My son just chooses to come on his terms, if he gets enough he just says gotta go. He doesn’t have children and he said one night when it was just he and I here if we had children he wouldn’t approve of our parenting skills either. I have lost myself in our marriage and family at one time but I realized the children were going to grow up and have their own lives and my husband already did whatever he wanted to. I decided I needed to have a hobby, some friends that are just mine and I was going to have my own opinion. He hasn’t liked it and I haven’t conquered everything yet but I’m working on it. I have started sewing for a local business, I went to a Conquer women’s meeting, I have taken trips to the beach with some of my friends and I go visit my daughter and her family every chance I get. I still have a long way to go and I am so thankful for Leslie and women like her that are reaching out and helping women like me. My husband is verbally, emotionally, financially and spiritually abusive. I have learned so much from Leslie and I am blown away by what I have learned about the church and some of the things I have been taught all my life. All this being said I do stay home a lot but now it’s my choice, I intend to use these journal prompts to start journaling.
      And yes I believe I targeted by my husband because I am pretty compliant.

  3. Nancy Be on August 28, 2019 at 10:09 am

    I agree with what Sunshine said about listening to your gut.

    Our feelings are God given. They are not to rule us, no. But neither are they to be ignored. Listen to them. Pay attention. When I started doing this I realized how angry I was. Take it all to the Lord and ask for wisdom in how to respond.

    When I began to trust my gut, and bring those feelings to The Lord, things really started to change for me

  4. Marsha Fortin on August 28, 2019 at 11:41 am

    This article title describes me. I have felt this way for the past few years and have been wanting to “find myself” for a long time but was at a loss for how to do that. Thank you, Leslie, for pointing me in the right direction for how to start on the right path to self actualization. For many years, I ignored my own interests, tastes, wants and desires for those of my husband primarily and those of my children to my own detriment (in the sense that I lost sight of my own self and who I am as a person). I no longer know what my strengths and abilities, likes and dislikes are and have been on a journey of trying to rediscover my true self.

  5. Connie on August 28, 2019 at 12:36 pm

    I like this answer, Leslie. Another similar thing to do would be to each day write a letter to Jesus telling Him just what you think and feel, then meditate on it and then write down a letter of what you sense would be His reply to you.

  6. Daisy on August 28, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    I discovered myself after my emotionally, verbally, and psychologically abusive marriage. After my divorce (during my marriage, too), I went to several counselors, one of which was smart enough to recognize the signs of a destructive marriage. It was never my plan to divorce, but that’s what happened. I also read the Quiet book that Leslie mentioned. I learned ALOT about myself. I, too, was like you in my marriage – lost, unrecognizable, a shadow of my husband. After the divorce, when he was no longer there to hide behind, I was forced to be alone, go places alone, start working (in many jobs I did not like or that I felt were “beneath me. The bills had to be paid). In that process, I discovered who I am – a complete, total, 100% introvert. A lot of things about myself now make sense because I know that.

  7. Barbara B on August 28, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    I have an introvert personality and I’m also shy around people. I have also been an overfunctioner, so I can relate to feeling swallowed up and stuck. The book Boundaries has helped me learn the importance of gaining clarity with my own personal beliefs and preferences. Since reading that book, I work harder at pushing myself to try new things because I understand that God made me the way I am for an important reason. There are roles and tasks in the world that are uniquely suited for someone just like me. I want to engage in life, not just be a bystander. Journaling has been a tremendous tool for helping me reconnect to my own voice. If I practice by writing down my thoughts, I find it easier to communicate those thoughts verbally. I also joined Toastmasters, which terrified me at first, but I am becoming more and more confident in expressing my opinion to a group of people. Lastly, I made a rule for myself: If at least two safe people tell me they think I would enjoy something, I have to try it! Here’s what I learned from that rule: I like plain coffee, I do not like latte, I love running 5Ks, Zumba is dreadful, Spotify is the best app ever. Previously, I would have never even tried any of those things since my lot in life seemed to be to erase myself so others could have their way. I agree that learning about myself can’t solve marriage or relationship problems, but it can make me stronger so I can have a better chance of dealing well with those problems. I know that by personal experience.

    • Carolyn on August 29, 2019 at 6:01 pm

      I agree with Barbara about the Boundaries book. I am in a painfully destructive marriage where his way is valued and I am not. Last year I began reading Boundaries and working through the questions in the workbook. Wow, I learned so much about myself and how I was allowing others to walk all over my garden. I’m still working on repairing the damage inside me but I get stronger each time I apply healthy boundaries. It is easier for me to say what I don’t want or don’t like than what I do probably because I do like so many different things. I am challenging myself to try new foods, old foods I thought I didn’t like, and the same with activities. I’m having a few surprises. God alone knows what will happen with my marriage but I’m stronger now than before. God is with me, I shall not fear.

  8. beloved2677 on August 29, 2019 at 9:00 am

    I’m a recovering introvert too. I’m still learning my likes and dislikes. What I’ve discovered along the way is a lot of resistance from H.If I’m seen doing things differently, I get lectured. If I tell him I don’t want to go somewhere,I’m in a bad mood. If I want to take a little time for myself and recharge, I’m lazy.

    Any changes in me are not well received by him. That’s ok! That’s his problem. The pain has been worth it. For me the pain of myself being stuck and not changing was worse.

    I’m beginning to love the life I’ve been given. When times are tough, I lean more into God.

    The people here on this blog rally and support one another. It’s like a large expanded family!

    Sweet sister, step out in faith as you start your Journey and discover who you are.

  9. Christina S on August 30, 2019 at 11:51 am

    Sometimes we become introverts because of our circumstances. I believe this happened to me as a child. Some of my earliest memories of myself was me going up to total strangers and chatting it up! Of course, I was taught not to talk to strangers, but more than that I became fearful of being different, and therefore not pleasing the people in my life. I tried hard to make everyone happy, and I liked it when everyone was. Things were peaceful. When I married, I continued to try to “keep the peace” by not rocking the boat. Thank God, I found out about Leslie’s book and teachings, so now I know I am to be a “peace MAKER” not a peace KEEPER”–much more challenging, but what Jesus calls us to be. I have to make the effort to think about a situation, study it, pray about it, and then SPEAK the Truth in Love to the person who needs to hear it. I’m still working on the last step of that process as it is the hardest for me still. But the alternative — to lose out on the life God intended for me — is not only unacceptable, but a waste of God’s gifts to me.I also had a hard time thinking about what I like, but it is getting easier as I step out in faith and DO something! To quote Leslie, “Action steps will get you closer to your goal than just thinking about it.”

    Thanks, Leslie, for another great teaching blog:)

    • Free on August 31, 2019 at 5:22 am

      I was thinking the same thing, Christina, that our circumstances can mold us into introverts. Many of us learned to survive abuse by creating spaces of self protection, both emotionally and physically. Interacting with an abusive spouse takes every drop of energy we possess. Many of us created a fantasy world steeped in denial to cope with our situation. In our alternate universe, being alone with our thoughts and emotions seemed safer for us than reality. This thinking pattern kept us safe from the horror of our destructive marries.

      When one is finally freed from living as a victim of abuse, it takes time to live and think normally. Yes, maybe some survivors are naturally introverted, yet it is important to consider that many survivors are not. Rather they had been groomed to believe their inward world was the only safe place in which to dwell. Survivors need to give themselves time. A good counselor or trusted friend can help them explore their thoughts, feelings and proclivities, most of which were silenced by living in an abusive relationship. It is an exercise in self respect to explore the unique characteristics that God gifted you with when he designed you and a necessary part of healing from abuse.

      • Nancy on August 31, 2019 at 9:30 am

        Wow Free (and others too). This is so well explained! So much to think about here.

        My mother is an extrovert as well as has Borderline. The fact that I am an introvert coupled with her perception that differences are threatening, created a situation where I was not allowed to be different than her but specifically I was not allowed to have private thoughts. She perceived me being quiet as ‘separateness’ from her which was a mortal threat.

        In essence the way God created me created a constant fear in her.

        It took me many years to accept that my need for quiet time, or privacy, was not at all selfish.

        Interestingly last spring my brother, who lives in a different country and sees her maybe once per year, accused me of ‘excluding mom’. This is a lie that our whole family has swallowed “boundaries are selfish because they exclude mom”.

        No wonder the boundaries book remains an essential guide for me! The very title pushes up against the biggest lie I believed.

        “To have boundaries is unloving”

        • Janice D on September 3, 2019 at 6:36 am

          Nancy, Sometimes I think we have the same mom! I have struggled with my relationship with my mom for most of my life.It was about 7 years ago that I was finally able to accept who she is and find peace.God was kind and gracious to me as I lovingly detached from her.I believe these insights have helped as I have navigated the rough waters of my separation from my husband after a long difficult marriage.My husband wasn’t able to understand the deep hurts that I carried ( childhood sexual abuse by my dad and my mom blaming me and minimizing it) as he never processed his own family of origin issues. I wanted to help my husband,however I learned I couldn’t care about his growth and healing more than him.It has to be his journey first.This was also true with my mom.It is a sad reality as both my mom and husband are professing believers.

          • Nancy on September 3, 2019 at 7:13 am

            I can relate to it being sad because they are believers, Janice. I actually find that part confusing… my mother’s life revolves around her church and yet is the most entrenched and ‘resistant to feedback’ person that I know! Oh, she’s funny and loving….as long as you don’t challenge her (even super gently).

            It’s weird really.

            And yes, it becomes quickly unhealthy as soon as we invest more in someone’s growth than they are willing to invest in their own (unless we’re talking about minor children, and even then we need to mindfully give them more and more responsibility for themselves as they grow).

            I think this is part of what was shocking to my mother as I ‘separated’ from her- she was used to me doing all the ‘heavy lifting’, and me setting boundaries and leaving her emotional responsibility with her, felt like abandonment to her.

          • Aly on September 3, 2019 at 9:07 am

            It’s ironic because in what you describe it seems that the real abandoned is your mom abandoning herself from taking responsibility.

  10. Janice D on August 31, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    It is interesting isn’t it that the healthier one becomes ( knowing yourself and your personal boundaries ) the more negative pushback we get from unhealthy family members. Rather than encouraging growth through curiousity,it causes a “circling the wagons” resistance to new,healthier forms of relating and communicating.I have found this to be true with my husband,which resulted in our eventual separation.

    • Aly on September 2, 2019 at 6:05 pm

      Janice D,
      So true! I think in Boundaries it speaks about the healthier types of people respect boundaries and are not threatened by them, where as the unhealthy people reject boundaries and will even mock and twist to get one to adjust to their unhealthy place.

  11. Alicja on August 31, 2019 at 2:56 pm

    I know what I like, I know what I want, but I’m numb. Nothing makes sense. Even I do something I like, I come back to my sadness and emptiness. I’m alone, will be divorced 18th of September, betrayed by my (not his) daughter, getting nothing but advices or indifference from acquaintances from church. Doesn’t matter what I want or like if I have nobody to share it with.

    • Sunshine on August 31, 2019 at 7:09 pm

      Alicia, you feel terrible now and you have a few very, very, difficult weeks ahead of you. Yet….it does get better. No relationship is better than a destructive one. Join new groups, stay in counseling and allow yourself time to grieve. Each day has enough worries of its own, just get through each day. Eventually, the Lord will blow you away with his love and provision for you. Keep a journal so you don’t forget how this all unfolds and how God gave you peace in the most horrible circumstances. Many of us have been where you are now, it gets better, trust us.

      • JoAnn on September 1, 2019 at 2:45 pm

        Well said, Sunshine. Good advice for all of us. I like Max Lucado’s refrain: “You’ll get through this. It won’t be painless. It won’t be quick. God will use this mess for good. Don’t be foolish or naive. But don’t despair either. With God’s help, you’ll get through this.” Good thing to keep in mind.

  12. JP on September 2, 2019 at 11:37 am

    I am an introvert and I don’t think anything is wrong with that. I am energized when I am alone. When I am with safe people I can talk quite a bit, but if I don’t know you, I tend to be more observant and careful with what I share. My h is introverted as well. When together I had to be the outgoing one and often didn’t go out much because I didn’t feel like faking it. I was miserable inside and angry at my h much of our 20 year marriage, but when around certain people I pretended that everything was ok. Now that I am divorced I don’t have to pretend anymore. When a friend asks how I am doing I tell her the truth even if I am having a down day. Friends and family tell me I look happier. I’ve been divorced for 13 months. I felt very lost in my marriage because my h had strong interests and did not have any hesitation doing and buying the things he enjoyed. I was envious of that. Now that I am on my own his wants don’t overrule mine and it’s easier for me to recognize my own. I don’t have to suppress who I am any longer. It took a little while, but I realized that I never lost myself after all, rather, I was buried under the weight of my h during our marriage.Marie Chapian’s book His Thoughts Toward Me was a great little book that helped to focus on who God knows me to be.

    • Free on September 2, 2019 at 7:35 pm

      Encouraging to hear from you JP.

      • JP on September 2, 2019 at 9:15 pm

        Thank you Free! I read Leslie’s blog post each week, but don’t always have time to respond. I read all the comments and appreciate the group here so much!

  13. Lori on September 10, 2019 at 11:37 am

    For me, the last few years have been a journey of learning who I am, who God made me to be, and learning to stretch out in my relationships. My fabulous therapist gave me an illustration that opened my eyes to the reality that I needed to stretch out: Imagine two people sleeping on a queen size bed. Imagine if one person laid on their side and bent their legs forward (like the clock at four o’clock) leaving the other person just small space to sleep. Each person will develop a habit of sleeping comfortably that way – one person taking up 3/4 of the bed, and the other curled up in a ball, never able to move or stretch. They will learn by repetition to be comfortable with this. This was a good picture of me in my relationships. My therapist showed me that stretching out was good, healthy, important, and not taking someone else’s space just taking up more of my own. I’ve started journaling like Leslie mentioned (Morning Pages as she suggested, but also a vomit journal where I can safely vomit my thoughts and hurt and anger unfiltered without hurting others) I’ve also begun the Christian Spiritual practice of the Examen, reviewing my day with the Lord and asking Him to point out what parts of my day were life giving, and which parts were draining; where did I see the Lord working and join Him, and where did I hold back. I have also begun doing Enneagram work to identify the ways I uniquely was made in the image of God. I would recommend Marilyn Vancil’s work Self to Lose, Self to Find to get clarity on identifying your unique gifts and challenges, and discerning which parts of your habits need to be let go in order to do as Jesus asked: Deny yourself (the false parts of yourself that keep you from growing) Take up your cross (find what are your gifts and what is yours to do) and Follow Christ. These things have been IMMENSELY helpful to me in the past four years.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 11, 2019 at 12:15 am

      Loved your therapist’s illustration. Perfect.

  14. William on September 10, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    I appreciate the honesty of this woman. My wife is also struggling to find herself. We have been married 16 years and we have four children. She has accused me of emotional abuse and control. She has had two emotional affairs in the last three years. I recognize her acting out is a way she is processing her hurt. I have been doing work in couples counseling and solo counseling. I truly do not want to be abusive or controlling. My counselor has been using the Duluth Model to show me where my beliefs are flawed. It has been tough, but revealing. I sometimes feel like those abuse and control accusations have been used against me by my wife to justify her behavior.
    She moved out two months ago to get more counseling and figure out how to heal her hurts. She had not received counseling and last week I discovered her kissing another man. I confronted her and him. Thank God, His Spirit was with me. She was defensive and angry, but also sad. This is the third affair and to my knowledge the only physical one. She confessed to only kissing him. She brought up my struggles with pornography as proof I was equally unfaithful.
    She told me she would end this illicit relationship and focus on counseling for herself. I was heartbroken, but I am committed to our marriage, and I deeply love her. I told her I still want her back and she said, “I think you are nuts!” I don’t know what to do. Throughout this blog and Mrs, Vernick’s posts, emotional abuse and control are continually mentioned, but not always well defined. How do I know when I am being falsely accused? How do I know the difference between control and genuine concern and care? I desperately want to be better for myself and my wife. Please pray and give me any advice that can help me make the best choices for my family.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 11, 2019 at 12:14 am

      Your wife may use your controlling and abusive behaviors to justify her behaviors just like you’ve used her disagreeable or other behaviors to justify your control or abuse. We all seek to justify why we behave in wrong ways and blame others. BUt I would encourage you to do your own work. Be the man/husband/father/ God calls you to be. When your wife hurts you or disappoints you, don’t use it as an excuse to abuse but a challenge to grow and respond out of the man you want to be, the may God calls you to be. If I were talking to you wife I would say the same thing. She could excuse her behaviors from her hurt or trauma or abuse, but bottom line, she is responsible for her own behaviors and actions and if that’s not who she wants to be, she needs to seek help to not act out in those ways when she is in pain. So each of you have your own work to do and I hope you do it.

      • William on September 11, 2019 at 6:19 pm

        Thank you for your encouragement. I want to work on me. Regardless of what happens in my marriage, I want to be better than I am. As I asked in my original comment, how do I recognize abuse? My counselor is helping, but I have been accused of biasing his objectivity.
        The many women commenting here seem to be speaking in code about the power, control, and abuse issues. As they have experienced it, they know about what they are speaking. I recognize the obvious manipulation my father used on my mother. I also realize the harsh abusive words he used. I too have used harsh words against my wife. Yet, I am struggling to see everything my wife is seeing as abuse. I want to recognize and address it all. I want to do the hard work and be the best father, leader, and hopefully husband that I can. I do not want my sons to follow my father’s, father-in-law’s or my path. I do not want my daughters to follow my wife’s path. What are the best resources I can use?

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