I Want To Quit Couples Therapy

Morning friends,

Please join me all week, Monday through Friday as I do a Facebook Live conversation with various Christian leaders who are scheduled speak with me at our CONQUER Conference in October.

Today, Wednesday will be Georgia Shaffer, a licensed psychologist, and coach who specializes in helping women rebuild their lives after divorce. Thursday, our guest artist and Christian recording star Nichole Nordeman will join us to talk about her own journey after divorce and how God has been with her even in the darkest times. And on Friday, New Life LIVE Co-Host Sheri Keffer will be our guest, helping you learn how to heal after your spouse has sexually betrayed you. You will love these informative and practical interviews and there will be plenty of time to ask your questions. For the FB times check here.

Question: Thank you for your work and ministry. I started the process of therapeutic separation about 1 year ago and just moved back in with my husband. It is now obvious to me he is not interested in any repentance or growth but is happy to blame me for creating all the marriage problems. He is emotionally and verbally abusive as well as alcoholic.

I have been seeing a therapist as well as using a 12 step program.

My question is this… I feel like I want to stay married but just need to detach.

I feel like continuing going to couples therapy is a waste of time and money when my husband is just using what he learns in counseling against me once we are at home… I feel my time and energy is better spent with God, in support groups and bible study … Please share your thoughts…I know I will take the “heat” for “quitting” couples counseling. Thank you.

Answer: I wish I could ask you a whole lot more questions about this. For example, what were the reasons you separated from your spouse and what did you hope would be accomplished by it? Also, what led to your decision to move back in with your husband after a year of separation? I’m curious because you shared that you are in personal therapy as well as in a 12-step program for yourself. I’m assuming that you talked over these decisions with your therapist and with your group.

When did the couples therapy start? Was it during the separation? After you moved back home? Who initiated it? Answers to these would help me to better answer your question but here are a few of my thoughts based on what you’ve told me.

First, I don’t recommend couples therapy when there is addiction and abuse present. So, if couples therapy hasn’t been safe for you and your spouse is using the information you share in therapy against you, bring that up with your couple’s therapist as a reason for terminating the therapy. Therapy cannot progress if someone uses your vulnerability to bully or blame you.

Second, does his verbal abuse get worse when he’s drinking? If he is an alcoholic, couples therapy is not going to address the issues he is struggling with. Treatment of his addiction needs to come before treatment of the marriage. In last week’s blog, I talked about the acronym DANGEROUS and said that the use of alcohol and drugs increases your danger levels when abuse is present. Click here for last week's blog.

Another question I have for you is around your statement “I feel like I want to stay married but just need to detach.” I’m curious. You want to stay married because…………….?

When I work with those in destructive an abusive marriages I often say if you are going to leave, leave well. If you are going to stay, stay well. But let me explain what that means.

You are saying you want to stay married. To stay well, you must let go of expectations that he is going to change. That he is going to be a better husband or a better man. Meanwhile, you need to continue to do your work: let go of your anger, bitterness and hurt (normal feelings but to stay well you must be able to put them behind you). Build your CORE Strength, rebuild your life and figure out how you can live together, sharing the same home, children, and grandchildren in a respectful and kind way, not enabling destructive behavior towards you, but treating him as you would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12).

Sometimes staying well is not possible with a spouse who refuses to change. The constant barrage of negativity, criticism, and contempt takes a toll on your spirit and your body and you may find yourself breaking down, unable to stay in CORE or avoid negatively reacting.

In addition, if the reason you want to stay married is financial because you enjoy the lifestyle your spouse provides, or you can’t afford to support yourself, how is he with that? Is he willing to be the provider with no expectations for you to meet some of his needs? And if not, what needs is he looking for you to provide and can you do that well?

For example, I worked with a woman who stayed well with her husband who was a serial cheater. She had numerous reasons why she wanted to stay married. Mostly she loved her large family gatherings with her children and grandchildren over holidays, birthdays, and other get-togethers. She didn’t want their family traditions to be disrupted by a divorce. Her husband didn’t want that either even though he was unwilling to look at his unfaithfulness throughout their marriage. He was willing to be the provider as she continued her own traditional wifely duties of cooking, cleaning, making their house warm and friendly and inviting, paying bills, etc. He was maintaining his image, she was not pretending, but wanted her family intact. They were emotionally detached from certain expectations of one another, but they functioned cordially and respectfully while living in the same home. An example of a woman in the Bible who stayed well with a foolish and surly man was Abigail. She is described as a beautiful and intelligent woman and she certainly demonstrated those qualities when her household was in crisis (1 Samuel 25).

On the other hand, many individuals stay legally married but don’t stay well. Or they leave their marriage but they don’t leave well. They continue to be fueled by their own legitimate feelings of hurt, frustration, and anger, but instead of learning how to move beyond those negative emotions, they’re controlled by them https://valdiazep.com.

But your question was about your concern about quitting couples therapy. You said, “I will take the heat for quitting.” From who? Your kids, your pastor, your husband, your friends?

You might be right. You are in a bit of a quandary because no matter what direction you choose you will have people in your life who disagree and perhaps disapprove of your choice. I’m sure you faced some heat when you separated. And then again when you chose to go back home. So what makes this so different? Why are you now anxious about the heat of disapproval?

Ultimately God is the one whose approval we seek. God is the only one who knows everything and sees everything (past, present, and future). We are limited in that knowledge and therefore we try to make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time. Click To Tweet

Based on what you said, for now, couples therapy isn’t resulting in anything good, but more harm to you. As I said earlier discuss this with your couples therapist but your decision to end this form of continued abuse is wise even if other people disagree with your decision.

Friends, when you get anxious around the “fear of man” or the disapproval of other people regarding the decisions you make, what steps do you take to move beyond that fear?

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  1. Aly on June 6, 2018 at 8:06 am


    “Friends, when you get anxious around the “fear of man” or the disapproval of other people regarding the decisions you make, what steps do you take to move beyond that fear?”,

    I think experiencing anxiety about the fear of disapproval of others is something many have experienced to some extent.
    For me, I have to draw near to The Lord and ask for His wisdom and strength to put those fears and alignment in their proper place.

    When we truly do trust and believe in seeking God’s approval the actions align. This doesn’t mean there is not fear of many things (loss, rejection, conflict etc.) but that God walks with us in having the strength and courage to face the journey.
    Having God’s approval aligned in our understanding is one the healthiest things we can do for ourselves and those around us.

  2. Judy on June 6, 2018 at 8:16 am

    In order to walk out life minus the fear of man I have had to, in a consecrated dedicated way seek out and learn who I am and who’s I am in Christ.
    I have changed churches as well. I found a church that edifies and does not tear down. Don’t get me wrong I want iron sharpening iron relationships and teaching. I can’t heal without that. I absolutely want my own heart issues addressed. Yet I am in a healing process and need mercy,grace and edification modeled. . I’m in an invironment where this is happening. Until I receive in a revelatory way the love of God for ME I will continue to fear man. It’s a challenge to choose truth over years of lies I have believed yet it is proving life changing. It is happening by taking thoughts captive that are contrary to His word concerning His love, care and provision for ME. I’m not a cast off begging for bread. I am a daughter adored, delighted in and provided for with lavish affection. What can man do to me when I have this powerful revelation?

    • Aly on June 6, 2018 at 11:15 am

      Love your post!
      Praise God for your words here, they are accurate and sadly many in our churches don’t have this foundationally.
      Healing truth in this that you wrote:
      “Until I receive in a revelatory way the love of God for ME I will continue to fear man. ”

      He Sings over you!

      • Janice on June 6, 2018 at 4:06 pm

        HI Aly… wondering if you are referring to Zephaniah 3:17″For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you.He is a mighty savior.He will rejoice over you with great gladness.With his love,he will calm all your fears.He will exult over you by singing a happy song”This is one of my very favorite verses and is always an encouragement to me, to think of the Lord calming us with his love and a song! Let’s keep fighting the good fight and lean into His love.

        • Aly on June 6, 2018 at 5:36 pm

          Hi Janice,
          Yes I was of sorts, I should have listed the scripture.
          I think that verse is reminds me of singing to my babies before bedtime and singing with them in Sunday School.
          To think we have a ‘father’ with that kind of love, care and delight helps shape our understanding of just how much we are loved!
          It was Judy mentioning the TRUTH of being a beloved daughter that made me think of the singing that comes from Him;)

          Yes! Leaning into His Love is the only Love we can offer💜
          Virtual Hugs to you Janice!

    • Nancy on June 6, 2018 at 2:16 pm

      Judy and Aly,

      Thank you for articulating this, Judy!

      Especially, “It’s a challenge to choose truth over years of lies I have believed yet is proving life changing. It is happening by taking thoughts captive that are contrary to His word concerning His love, care and provision for ME.”

      Just this week, I am beginning to see what ‘taking thoughts captive’ means for me. In my case I was over-identified with my thoughts (especially when triggered) and so gaining enough distance from them was necessary before I could know what it meant to take them captive.

      I had an amazing process where The Lord showed me the root of this over-identification, and he transformed me, through that. I see this as the ‘revelation’ that you refer to. Now, that I am ‘separate’ from my thoughts ( I have thoughts, they are a gift from God, but I am not my thoughts), I can take them captive.

      In the past I could always recognize when I was spiralling downwards in my thought pattern, but was powerless to stop it. Now that The Lord has revealed to me, a precious image He has of me, I am free to choose my thoughts according to His word! Praise God!

      • Nancy on June 6, 2018 at 2:23 pm

        I’m encouraged Judy, by your linking taking thoughts captive to the diminishing of the fear of man. Do you think you could talk about that a bit more?

        For about two years I have been acutely aware of my fear of man. I have prayed for The Lord to remove it. But this, I think now, was a naive prayer.

        A better prayer would be for Him to continue to reveal His deep love for me.

      • JoAnn on June 6, 2018 at 7:09 pm

        Nancy: I am not my thoughts…Yes!!! Our thoughts can become such a force in our lives, and direct us in ways that are not God’s ways. Don’t believe everything you think! How often do we say something like, “I can’t believe he would say (do) that!” but what we are really saying is that we do believe it. We surely do need to learn to bring every thought captive. In first Peter, he tells us to “gird up the loins of our mind.” We cannot make ourselves not think of something; we have to replace those thoughts with truth. That’s why we need the living and abiding word of God.

        • Nancy on June 6, 2018 at 7:49 pm

          Hi JoAnn,

          ‘I am not my thoughts’ comes from an excercise from a guy named Assagioli. One of his big contributions to psychology was an excercise called dis-identification. My spiritual director introduced it to me and it is SO helpful.

          Essentially it is giving gratitude for our bodies, thoughts and emotions but then saying “I am not that’.

          So….I have a body, I am grateful for my body, I have all kinds of physical sensations, but I am not my body. I have thoughts, I can think all kinds of things, I am grateful for my thoughts, but I am not my thoughts. I have emotions, I feel all kinds of feelings, but I am not my emotions. It ends with , “I am a centre of consciousness, and of will” ( and then this is what we submit to God).

          This has given me the sense that I am ‘gathering myself up’ before The Lord, and submitting my self to Him. In this process I am expressing gratitude for his gifts to me while not allowing them to ‘rule me’. This is big for me 🙂

          • JoAnn on June 7, 2018 at 12:30 pm

            Thank you, Nancy, for elaborating for me. That one is a keeper.

  3. sheep on June 6, 2018 at 8:21 am

    Interesting, I really enjoyed couples therapy (even thought my wife wouldn’t do or say anything the councilor asked her to) She continually found reasons to cancel. Basically showing up enough to be able to say she was going. After 5 or 6 months, she stoped going. Oddly enough, this was after the councilor (and I) confronted her on her abusiveness, And the councilor told her that she has a lot of work to do to build a new marriage with me. (which she never said she wanted, being friends with benefits was enough for her) The councilor told me that there really wasn’t any reason for her to continue because she was not going to look at herself and make the changes necessary.

    I say this because I would have thought that she would have taken heat from others for quitting. But as far as I know, there hasn’t been much, if any.

    • Aly on June 6, 2018 at 11:25 am

      You wrote:
      “The councilor told me that there really wasn’t any reason for her to continue because she was not going to look at herself and make the changes necessary.”

      I was told the same thing a few times by even different counselors (covering my bases) about my mom’s unwillingness.
      My counselor also said that even if my mom did the individual counseling ~ it would only be a ‘matter of time’ before the counselor would be dismissed because she chooses to not look at herself or be willing to be challenged about her behavior via beliefs.
      One counselor (her pick) challenged her on her Christian convictions and that they didn’t align with scripture but with maybe what she’s been taught and misapplied from fear, she walked out.

      How are you doing Sheep?

  4. Aly on June 6, 2018 at 11:08 am


    This is repost from:
    “My Wife is sexually anorexic, don’t I deserve an explanation?”

    Dan this is a response to your post June 5, at 6:14pm
    I’m sorry I can’t post directly but hopefully you will receive this.

    One of your last posts was very well could concerning in how you saw a threat to your marriage, rather than maybe an opportunity of purpose and healing? I think you mentioned the healing after but your posture in your words is what’s off to me…
    Are you open for feedback?

    You wrote:
    “ I was out to save our marriage. We went to counseling, where I was able to not only acknowledge my sins but to frame the past and my very real grievances. I prayed and asked God to deal with this troublesome meddler. I took it as a Joseph-and-his-brothers action where God actually had this happen for our good. I believed that if I fought the right fight, God would save our marriage. At last we turned the corner and I won my wife’s confidence back. ”

    You also wrote in another post that you think these conversations are helpful here on this blog.
    Your last post to me ended with a lot of sectioned our statements and didn’t seem much like a conversation or dialog to me.
    I see that you feel you have turned a corner as in above, I’m wondering is this your wife’s experience of you? Would she vet you here with a transformative work?

    Do you have space to hear hers and others’ perspectives?

    Since you noted previously that you believe a spouse is the one who is closest to ‘really know’ the other, does your wife have the same place of security and confidence in your growth?

    Were you out to ‘save a marriage’, or desiring to claim a actual marriage union that glorifies God?

    I’m wondering about your interpretations of ‘meddlers’ or those you see as divisive?
    Was this used in a very impactful way to get your attention?

    I can tell you from my own journey and process with my marriage, my husband feared ‘divorce’ & losing relationship more than fearing the Lord and this was a big stumbling block for his life recovery journey.

    His immaturity kept him stuck for a longtime at only seeing his side of his lens. Narrow thinking and poor interpretations of reading and listening to another’s experience.

    Praise the Lord he stopped seeing ‘invitations to grow and he challenged’ as threats and actually as healing and opportunities to repair his relationships in many places.

    It wasn’t a spiritual battle against our marriage, but one for his heart and soul.
    The marriage dynamic was a vessel for sure but for years he couldn’t see past his fears and his own emotional insecurities.

    • Nancy on June 6, 2018 at 1:43 pm


      You make such an important distinction between ‘fearing divorce and losing relationship’ and ‘fearing The Lord’ (for a God glorifying marriage).

      One motivates us to ‘hang on’ to the marriage, the other to trust in The Lord for the outcome.

      Something you do so very well, Aly, is invite us (here on this blog) to grow and to be challenged.

      Thanks for your loving persistence!

  5. Julie on June 6, 2018 at 3:18 pm

    I stopped going to couples counseling when I realized I was the driver of it all. I found the counselors, made the appointments, and had all the hope. My husband went along but nothing ever came of it. One counselor told him week after week to take me on a date. He never did.
    One day I told him, “I’m not going back unless you want to make the appointment.”
    That was our last appointment. It showed me he wasn’t really invested.

    • JoAnn on June 6, 2018 at 7:14 pm

      Julie, did you consider going for your own help? Couples therapy for destructive marriages isn’t really recommended, but you could get a lot of help by seeing someone for yourself.

    • Aly on June 7, 2018 at 8:27 am


      JoAnn suggested a really healthy thing to consider. What do you think?

      I also did a lot of individual counseling that was helpful for me to stay in tune with a process I was going to have to deal with at one place or another.
      Actually, choosing to continue counseling even when my husband wasn’t ‘invested’ was the best exposure of some of the most honest truths about our dynamic as well as further expose the reality of a destructive marriage mindset.

      I was the one impacted and felt the continuing pain , I was the over-functioning partner he preferred me to be, I was the one more vested and that felt safe to him, and me staying out of counseling wasn’t going to help me learn the tools of day to day life to challenge a partner who really had a different mindset about marriage and relationships in general.

      I think it can be really helpful to identify if you have a partner who is determining the health of the marriage and controlling what types of interventions actually are available to assist.
      Sure you can have an uninvested spouse but they don’t have to decide what is available for your own self care and healing.

      Julie, you mentioned you had all the hope, what are you referring to here and what did you feel hopeful for when you began counseling?

  6. Barbara B on June 6, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    “Friends, when you get anxious around the ‘fear of man’ or the disapproval of other people regarding the decisions you make, what steps do you take to move beyond that fear?”
    I joined a Toastmasters club to learn to be braver about public speaking. I have been pleasantly surprised to see how much the club is helping me also lose the “fear of man!” After every speech, we have an evaluator who gives an opinion about everything from appearance to voice quality to word choices. This helpful critique always comes with an attitude of “this is just my opinion.” I’m learning to carry that phrase with me. When someone sends disapproval my way about my decisions, I say to myself, “this is just his/her opinion.” Somehow, that little phrase helps me shrink the disapproval down to something of very small relevance. Disapproval feels scary because it carries overtones of loss of love. Opinion, on the other hand, feels like something much less scary, because I can take it or leave it. (I almost didn’t write this post because it seems a little silly, but I have been tremendously helped so maybe someone else can find the Toastmaster’s approach helpful as well.) God bless, Barbara

    • JoAnn on June 6, 2018 at 7:16 pm

      Barbara B, yes, I like that: It’s just his/her opinion. that works for me.

  7. Connie on June 8, 2018 at 3:41 pm

    Friends, when you get anxious around the “fear of man” or the disapproval of other people regarding the decisions you make, what steps do you take to move beyond that fear?

    I read another good book or listen to YouTubes and pray. 🙂 Right now I’m reading “How He Gets Into Her Head” by Don Hennessy. So good. Affirming. “Love is tarnished by entitlement”. “The object is to destroy the spirit of the woman”. “The skilled abuser likes her to get help for herself because that takes the focus off of him”. “He learns all he can about her to use it against her, but hides his real self from her”. “He can undo any of the good work of the most able therapist”. And I’m not even half way through.

    • Free on June 8, 2018 at 9:13 pm

      The book you are reading looks excellent in the reviews. Thanks for the referral. Don Hennessy makes an excellent point that so many resources have been directed towards the victim when we probably need to put equal energy towards to exposing the behaviors of the perpetrator.

      There was also a mention of “The Gift of Fear,” in another post that title sounds interesting also.

  8. Aleea on June 8, 2018 at 6:12 pm

    “Ultimately God is the one whose approval we seek. God is the only one who knows everything and sees everything (past, present, and future). We are limited in that knowledge and therefore we try to make the best decisions we can with the information we have at the time.”

    . . . .That is a really beautiful statement, —especially the first part. I don’t know why we can’t just seek God’s approval, —only. Imagine the freedom that comes with just simply seeking God’s approval? —And not just His approval but . . . .but just Him, period. —Just seriously seeking Him. . . . .I don’t know why we spend our lives trying to please other people? (Maybe nothing brings so much joy in life as being approved of by someone in the physical world???) . . .I’ve never understood that, especially when I see it in myself. You would think that an increased desire to please God and seek HIS approval would decrease the desire to seek the approval from others but that is not what is observable. People struggle with it their entire lives.

    . . . .Now, the second part: if we have limited knowledge (which we will *always* have) that in no way excuses us from not trying to always learn and understand more deeply. 2 Timothy 2:15 —Study to show thyself approved unto God . . . .et.al. Acts 17:11 —Now the Bereans were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, receiving the word with all readiness of mind, daily searching the scriptures if these things were so, —et.al. . . . .The reason that we need to search for ourselves is that anyone who tells you that she is objective and devoid of presuppositions is astonishingly naive. —We all have them and they are deep and structural and affect everything we say. But even worse, if you just set out to be liked, you will compromise things.

    God teaches us to stop doing things based on the approval of others —to offload that baggage and trade up to joy but that is not what is observable. People struggle with people pleasing it their entire lives. That means something else structural is going on. My desire for acceptance is one of the crosses that I carry. Each morning I have to attend a funeral. I have to wake up and once again die to my desires for people’s approval, —never easy. —Maybe, actually, impossible.

    “Friends, when you get anxious around the “fear of man” or the disapproval of other people regarding the decisions you make, what steps do you take to move beyond that fear?”

    The only way I know of to try to counteract that is to deeply consider opinions and ideas I don’t like (—and I hate that too). But, the more I don’t like what is said, the more I recoil from what wise others counsel, the more prayer and research about that issue I engage in. I always assume that what I do not yet know is far more important than what I think I already know. . . .Often, when we smuggle our conclusions into our views of God and our interpretations of Bible passages by beginning with these conclusions in our initial premises; well, doing this increases the probability that we beg the serious/hard questions and end up with conclusions that match our presuppositions rather than reflect the truth of God’s Word. . . . .But God will really speak, —if we really listen. He pulls on our hearts, —doesn’t He? . . .When I pray, I feel that pull like a huge magnet. . . .When my heart is broken before the Lord, when my heart is clean💖✨and thankful (Psalm 95:7-8, Hebrews 3:13, —Psalm 51 too!, etc.)!!! But nothing with God is easy, —it is just worth it. 💌ツ

  9. Roxanne B. on June 8, 2018 at 9:19 pm

    When I think about the fear of man discussion I can’t relate. It is impossible for most people to comprehend life with an abusive partner. I really couldn’t care what anyone has to say about my actions. Survival is all that matters.

    Only God knows the heart of man. Man is not to judge. What is there to fear from man? I don’t get it.

  10. Free on June 8, 2018 at 9:23 pm

    Aaaahhhh. All the money we could have saved if we quit couples counseling! Don’t bother ladies. Difficult marriage maybe, destructive marriage, don’t bother. It only exposes the victim to renewed torture from the new information Mr. Destructive just gleaned from the counseling session.

    • Nancy on June 9, 2018 at 7:20 am

      Yes! I would end up even more confused afterwards. It ADDED to the fog.

      • Free on June 10, 2018 at 4:30 am


        I have to admit that I am very mad at the counselors who took on our case, putting on airs that they were “trauma” certified and then had no clue what they were doing. It was SO DANGEROUS for me!

        I think Don Henessy addresses this issue in the book Connie recommend. What is the penalty for counselors who collaborate with the perpetrator. I hope they can be penalized and have their license revoked for their mispractice. Yet, it will probably be awhile before we see that justice fully realized.

  11. Maria on June 9, 2018 at 8:02 am

    When we started couples counseling, for a month things were great. I even considered stopping the counseling because it seemed like we didn’t have anything to work on. My immediate family told me it was too good to be true and they were right. He was just trying to impress the pastor. He could not keep up the good behavior for more than a month. He then started using things that I had shared against me. Seeing that, I quickly stopped the counseling with him and found a counselor for myself. I truly would not have been able to survive if I continued couples’ counseling. The pastor then began focusing on how I could adjust to my husband’s bad behavior. Anything to save the marriage.

    I would say that he has a terrible need to please man. That is why he behaves well in public. He is so focused on his image.

    • Aly on June 9, 2018 at 12:14 pm


      I’m so glad that you took the initiative to get your own counselor and move toward your own health and self care.

      You wrote:
      “The pastor then began focusing on how I could adjust to my husband’s bad behavior. Anything to save the marriage.”

      I wonder how many have experienced this type of directive in a pastoral counseling place? I would think many~ I experienced a similar directive so I can very much relate to you here.
      I really find it so sad how many pastors or lay people are not equipped in such a critical place of ministry. I know Leslie’s ministry is making so much available for those who want to learn but how many in these roles have the willingness to see that often times ‘more is going on’ in such an unequally yoked marriage.
      Again I go back to your comment:
      “Anything to save the marriage”

      I think pastors and counselors could be better advocates if the focus was on ‘what are we ministering to save’? Two people in a destructive relationship don’t have or represent~ a biblical marriage.
      I really appreciate Leslie’s ministry because it looks at the individuals and the defining of marriage through God’s terms, not man’s comforts or narrow thoughts about marriage.

      You wrote:
      “I would say that he has a terrible need to please man. That is why he behaves well in public. He is so focused on his image.”

      Boy can I relate to this! Ok so do you really think he is pleasing man? Or is he pleasing himself? To me, what you describe is about a superficial way of functioning.
      He behaves well in public, I can relate to this place and always being ‘in awe’ of hmm how does one know what’s acceptable and shows that they are capable but behind closed doors ~ there is another version of capacity?

      I can remember asking my h,: “this is so confusing to me, so I am your wife who you ‘say’ you love and care about, and I am the most important relationship you have here on this side of heaven, but you CARE more about others’ opinions of you and your behavior than my own personal opinion or experience…. does that seem disproportionate to what kind of relationship status you claim we have?”

      This gave him another opportunity to be challenged on why this came so natural for him… why another’s opinion carried more weight or value to him. Deeper things he needed to do more heart-work on why such a descrepancy in his life.

      I also brought this to our pastoral counselor in sessions and made it a point to highlight to the pastor ~ who you are dealing with pastor isn’t the same person I’m dealing with at home. We have duplicity going on here.

      We continued to pray collectively for any stumbling blocks to be revealed and I even came to a place of praying for any crisis to awaken the ‘rooted issues’~ If that was God’s will.
      Not proud of that prayer nor the fuller outcome but I trust in God directing His purposes.

      I continue to pray for people in these pastoral counseling roles, they have such a responsibility biblically to get equipped and be teachable.
      If only they could ‘want’ to see that the cry’s are about desiring and truly wanting a marriage after Gods design, not about divorce or separation but a real thriving marriage that gives Real authentic glory to God and pleases Him above all!

      • Free on June 10, 2018 at 4:37 am

        Maria and Aly, regarding the destructive spouses desire to please man, I think rather it is still to please themselves. I agree their actions are often rooted in maintaining their public image. I have heard this referred to as their on going propaganda campaign.

        Hey, it worked for Hitler and Mussolini, tell a big enough lie often enough, and people will believe it!

        • Aly on June 10, 2018 at 10:39 am

          I agree with you and do think it’s a self motivated coping behavior. To what damaging effect… well it’s all damaging because it thwarts integration and overall growth.

          The collaboration of others (naively) is what keeps the self deception fueled.
          Regardless, it comes to a point that even as Christians we are called to discern between ‘words’ and action.
          It is in this reality sometimes we face very hard choices and fears.

  12. merle on June 11, 2018 at 5:59 am

    Sometimes staying well is not possible with a spouse who refuses to change. The constant barrage of negativity, criticism, and contempt takes a toll on your spirit and your body and you may find yourself breaking down, unable to stay in CORE or avoid negatively reacting.

    This is exactly where I ‘am at in my journey of life and desire to be Jesus like and His servant. I am battling chronic cancer, as well as the spouse’s bad continuing choices. Again, I am feeling rejected and abandoned by the spouse and her desires for friends and family that exclude my presents.

    I choose to continue to live in this bondage of marriage hoping for the long term future day that the spouse understands how much I have loved him even when life does have so many troubles.

    Lately, it has been very difficult because of both of us being medicated with steroids for our individual health problem. We both are high and aggressive being also in much pain.

  13. JoAnn on June 11, 2018 at 10:23 pm

    Merle, I am so very sorry for the difficult situation you are in. Your personal trials associated with your health would be hard enough, but with a wife who does not care for your needs and has a very negative effect on your spirit and soul, not to mention your body,…that makes this an impossible situation. I believe your health would improve if you were not under so much stress. I know you feel that your devotion to the Lord might have a life-changing effect on your wife, but sometimes that doesn’t happen until there are dramatic consequences for not being willing to change. In other words, some of us here have learned that a separation has the effect of forcing the kind of change that you are hoping for. It is possible that you are in some way enabling her to avoid making changes. Please consider before the Lord; He might have some other way to bring about the change you are hoping for. May His grace supply you.

  14. James on June 11, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    I see both the value in seeking individual counseling and in couples counseling. A lot can be gleaned from seeing the reactions of one spouse to another especially when difficult topics begin to surface. On the other hand, many here make a good point that someone who isn’t good willed can often take that which is discussed in counseling and weaponize it after they leave the counseling room.

    Perhaps one of the dangers is to think too simplistically about counseling situations. There are absolutely cases where one party is CLEARLY the offender and the other is CLEARLY the victim and in those cases, we must act swiftly and decisively to protect the victim as well as provide comfort and care. There are other cases where the lines aren’t so easily drawn and, in those cases, it is helpful to observe Proverbs 18:17, and give both spouses a fair hearing before assigning one person the status of “abuser” and the other the status of “victim.” In situations like the latter, couples counseling may be very helpful.

    Good discussion thus far.

    • Maria on June 11, 2018 at 11:34 pm


      You both are right about pleasing himself.

      • Maria on June 11, 2018 at 11:48 pm

        In situations where one party is bullying another, it is difficult for people without prior experience/training to understand that it is the bully not the victim who is at fault. I observed this when volunteering at the kids school- a kid was bullying another and taunting him. The victim looked like he was at fault too when he reacted. Thankfully, the teacher knew what was going on and held the bully accountable. It is sad the the actions of inexperienced/untrained people traumatize the victim again by their actions. It is also sad to see how they fall prey to the bully’s manipulation.

        • James on June 12, 2018 at 11:15 am


          Thank you for your thoughts. I agree that it can be difficult to determine who is at fault. As I said, in some cases, there are clear offenders and clear victims, in other situations it isn’t so clear.

          Your example brought to mind a situation that I dealt with last year where two concerned parents came in for counseling. Their son was being disciplined at a local Christian school.
          They came to see me because I knew the principal (a fellow pastor) of the school. He was being disciplined as a bully but his parents were convinced that, though he was not handling things well, he was the one being bullied. In the principal’s office, the girl who accused him of being a bully would cry and carry on, describing in great detail his hurtful words toward her. However, when no adult was looking, she would tease him about his weight and his acne saying cruel things to him and cruel things about him.

          The reason I share this story is that it isn’t always clear who is “at fault” and sometimes the person who brings the accusation is a big part of the problem rather than the clear victim.

          We absolutely do need research and training on how to deal with these kinds of issues. I fear that the training and research that we have available is insufficient, too simplistic and is often grounded in a political worldview rather than being grounded in the gospel and the word of God.

          I hope, as I am sure you do, that we can find a better way forward.

          • Maria on June 12, 2018 at 3:25 pm


            Your example proves the point I was trying to make- bullies are very cunning and use manipulation to shift blame. It’s important that counselors are aware of that.

            Political? What do you mean by that?

          • James on June 12, 2018 at 7:32 pm


            I agree that bullies are able to shift blame easily, which makes it hard to determine who is the “real” bullies are. It’s not so easy to see when two people are sitting on the counseling couch, both of whom are pointing the finger at the other.

            In far too many cases, we default to methods of determination that aren’t really all that helpful.

            In the case I was referring to, the criteria seems like it was gender.

            Two school children were in conflict. Accusations of bullying were present on both sides. The school administrator determined that the boy was the “real” bully. Insofar as I could tell, it because he was the boy in the situation.

            The administrator had bought into the cultural maxim that boys are always too aggressive and little girls are always sweet.

            To answer you question, I think far too many methodologies are grounded in secular, political leanings.

            The cultural, political reasoning sometimes goes like this.

            1) We live in a patriarchal society where men have power.

            2) Abuse is primarily about power.

            3) When a man and a woman are struggling in marriage, the man has the power because of 1 and 2.

            Therefore, if both the man and the woman behave toward one another in the same disrespectful and abusive ways we conclude that the man is the abuser and the woman is the victim.

            Then the rules of counseling change dramatically, we are no longer looking at two people who both need, to repent, forgive, grow and extend grace, the counseling becomes dramatically asymmetrical.

            Does that answer your question? I hope to be brief yet thorough.

          • Maria on June 12, 2018 at 9:35 pm


            My experience has been the opposite of what you have described- I was blamed because as a wife i was told I did not submit. From what I have seen, this happens more than what you have described.

            You seem to focus a lot on gender. I work in a profession where 75-80% are men so I know that men are also victims of abuse.

            Are you against reading secular material?

          • James on June 13, 2018 at 12:29 am


            There is a fair amount of asymmetrical counseling that you describe as well. The “wives submit until your husbands are fixed” approach isn’t any better.

            I’m not against reading secular material, I am against grounding our understanding of the nature of a marriage in secular material because I think it is God’s creation and therefore God’s word takes primacy.

            I admit, that as someone committed to the biblical counseling model that I have a bias against un-biblical material.

          • Maria on June 13, 2018 at 9:40 am


            I agree that God created marriage etc. I have quite a few non Christian friends that have very good marriages. In fact one should be able to conclude that true Christians should have good marriages. That is not the case. There it would be wise to get input from others even if they aren’t Christians on marriage issues. We may be missing valuable info If we think we know better than our non Christian friends.

    • Connie on June 12, 2018 at 12:20 am

      James you might want to read Hennessy’s book. He talks a lot about how abusers groom everyone, including therapists, law enforcement, and clergy, and are experts at duping them all. He says nobody should counsel a couple without an accountability group to guard against being groomed into sympathizing with a skilled offender.

      • Free on June 12, 2018 at 7:36 am

        Connie, I can’t thank you enough for mentioning Don Hennessy’s work. I had never heard of him. I watched a video pod cast yesterday. It made chills go up and down my spine. It was followed by a full swing into PTSD symptoms. That man accurately described precisely what I have lived through. Chills, creepy, chills. Followed by why in the heck did it take so long to figure this dynamic out?!

      • James on June 12, 2018 at 11:39 am


        Thanks for the book recommendation. I’ve not heard of Hennessey. Do you know whether or not he is a Christian author?

        I ask because the only resource I’ve found so far is a youtube video. I was left with the impression that Hennessey’s viewpoint isn’t grounded in a Christian worldview.

        • Free on June 12, 2018 at 9:20 pm

          Are you limiting your resources to only those with a specific Christian world view? That seems like a dangerously narrow focus when it comes to rescuing women from domestic abuse. There are so few people willing to work with abusive men as it is. Let’s not eliminate a resource due
          to legalism. Don shows respect for women and believes their stories. That is far more than many self proclaimed “Christian” leaders are doing.

          • Connie on June 12, 2018 at 9:52 pm

            Exactly, Free. We all learn things from non-Christians, or we would never go to school or read the newspaper or be on the internet, etc. etc. Also, I’ve learned, sadly, that when someone says they are a Christian, that does not necessarily mean they are, or they may be still very immature in their faith. And some ‘non-Christians’ have more of a Christian world-view than many church-goers. I think Jesus ran into that very problem, as He did not speak ‘nice’ to ‘church’ leaders who further oppressed the oppressed.

            Matt. 21:31 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.

            Hennessy is one of the most compassionate men I’ve seen and I’ve seen no indication that he believes in easy divorce, at all. In his book, he uses Bible passages and examples a few times, like saying that man’s big problem leading to abuse is the entitled thinking, “I will be as God”, which, coupled with lust, causes them to want to have power over their intimate partner.

          • Aly on June 13, 2018 at 12:28 am

            Connie, Free, James and others,

            This is really important dialog!

            I have even heard numerous times in Christian circles that many Christians associate the term ‘counseling’ with being secular all together!
            And with that they immediately reject Christian counseling in all places.

            How can this not be anything farther than what is biblically written about ‘Godly counsel’ and coming together yo grow in Christ.

            It is these narrow interpretations and stuck places that add to the destructive dynamics that we see inflitrate our communities.

          • James on June 13, 2018 at 12:42 am


            I don’t limit my reading list to only Christian resources. Sometimes non-Christians can have some pretty interesting observations in phenomenology.

            I do limit my counsel to what is grounded in scripture, absolutely.

            In terms of what I recommend to others I unapologetically limit my recommendations to Christians. Actually, I’m even more narrow than that. I pretty well only recommend resources that are grounded in a biblical worldview.

            1 Cor 2:14 pretty well sums up why I take that stand. To the extent that marriage is a spiritual covenant, the natural man has no spiritual insight into it and is therefore forced by virtue of their own spiritual blindness to address issues based on philosophy and human traditions (Col 2:8).

            To Connie’s point, the tax collectors and sinners were entering into the kingdom of heaven ahead of the pharisees but that was because they were repenting and coming to Christ. A non Christian tax collector, a non Christian sinner, a non Christian Pharisee and a non Christian Sadducee are all in the same boat.

            None of them can see past their own unregenerate perspectives to see spiritual truths.

    • Maria on June 12, 2018 at 7:47 am

      Many sins are committed behind closed doors with no witnesses. It would be unwise in certain situations to have the two involved sit down together and give an account of what took place.

    • Nancy on June 12, 2018 at 5:10 pm

      I can only speak about my own situation. We would have fallen into the “latter” category that you describe, James (where there is no clear ‘abuser’ or ‘victim’).

      Couples counselling was not only ‘not beneficial’, it was harmful to the marriage as well as each of us, individually.

      Our counsellor even said to us, “I can see that you really love one another” and it was true, even then, amidst all the destruction….we DID love one another. But we were so entrenched in destruction and defensiveness that no amount of good counselling was going to help.

      Our marriage needed to die. Couples counselling will never allow that to happen.

      • Nancy on June 12, 2018 at 5:17 pm

        I should have said:

        Our marriage needed to die. The very nature of couples counselling ( no matter how good) would not have allowed that to happen.

      • James on June 12, 2018 at 7:11 pm


        Everyone has to make their own choices. I won’t speak to your own situation or your own example as I would only be speaking out of ignorance not having sufficient details.

        Whatever the details of your situation are I will only say that I certainly hope that you have found peace, joy and His strength through your unfortunate struggles.

        I can say that, in general, divorce had some pretty disastrous consequences for both spouses and particularly for children that last into their 30s if not consequences that last a lifetime for the children to sort out.

        As such, I am grateful for the nature of couples counseling not allowing marriages to die easily. Unfortunately, there are situations in which divorce is better and justified but I am grateful that, for the most part, Christian counselors, pastors, and churches hold to a sense of the permanence of marriage.

        I might disagree to some extent, I think that many non-Christian counseling contexts will be much more amiable to the concept of marriage as being temporary and more easily dissolved. I’ve known at least one marriage where a Christian couple went to a secular counselor who encouraged them to divorce so they could both be happy.

        • Maria on June 12, 2018 at 9:44 pm


          Staying in a destructive marriage also has major consequences for the kids.

          • James on June 13, 2018 at 12:44 am

            This is true, sometimes there are no easy choices.

        • Aly on June 13, 2018 at 12:32 am

          James and Nancy,
          I think the point about the marriage dying is not the kind of marriage that the Lord desires or is glorified in.
          It’s the counterfeit marriage that gets dealt with, dies and transforms.
          In essence it gives a chance for an authentic marriage to be rooted and grow!

          • Nancy on June 13, 2018 at 6:49 am

            James, Maria, Aly,

            We had a counterfeit marriage. That is what was allowed to die through following Leslie’s advice (book EDM) – with lots of prayer, boundaries, requirements and submission to God.

            We are now back in couples counselling building a new marriage. God is restoring what the locusts had eaten.

            Going to couples counselling while things were destructive ADDED to the destruction.

            My point is that we would be divorced now had our marriage not been allowed to die.

          • James on June 14, 2018 at 11:05 am


            That was a helpful clarification. Thank you.

        • Aly on June 17, 2018 at 10:50 am


          You wrote something really important here and I hope that those counselors, pastors and fellow peers are bringing up this point and you all are seeing the value in being instruments used by God and working collaboratively amongst an epidemic!

          You wrote:
          “Unfortunately, there are situations in which divorce is better and justified but I am grateful that, for the most part, Christian counselors, pastors, and churches hold to a sense of the permanence of marriage.”

          Would you think that this could be clearer or more defined?

          ..hold to a sense and understanding of the permanence of a true Godly glorifying marriage? Rather than ‘marriage’.
          Do we want to argue and fight for …a sense of any defined measure of marriage or one that God holds as His design where TWO individual parties are submitted to His design and roles in marriage~ where although both have different roles both are equal heirs and equal in their position.
          I think Good~willed comes out of these postures as well as a teachable heart toward a healthy and God glorifying marriage,even in a broken world.
          Often we can see the true fruit of healthy aligning.

          In terms of the marriage dynamic being a deeper by-product such as in an analogy as fruit….

          Anyone can have fake fruit or claiming ‘it’s fruit’ ~ but you can’t feast on plastic fruit. Anyone can have rotten fruit~ but that shows their is something not growing from within.

          I wanted to post this a few days ago. James, I do hope that those in your circle are iron sharpening iron to bring about a well needed stance for the permanence of A Glorifying Marriage✝️

          Many people will not see a trained clinician but will be willing to see a pastor and I believe Leslie’s ministry is about educating pivoting people and roles about such a broken place in our communities that often makes these marital dynamics worse rather than bring the light to shed on the truth about ‘what their marriage reveals about their relationship with the Lord’.

          As a pastor and teacher, counselor… James you hold a high responsibility to the health of the church.

    • Aly on June 13, 2018 at 8:11 am


      You wrote this a few days ago and it’s import to circle back to in my opinion based on recent comments on this thread.
      You wrote:
      “On the other hand, many here make a good point that someone who isn’t good willed can often take that which is discussed in counseling and weaponize it after they leave the counseling room.”

      I appreciate that you recognize as a counselor what can often take place after the session. A victim can be retraumitized ~
      Often the offender is SO defended and has such a lack of interpretation qualities that the session is compromised.
      Some of this i experienced in my journey by my husband.

      I’m not sure it’s only in defining if ‘someone is good-willed’ or not. Goodness, I see it as not just a good-willed situation but many places of under-development, immaturity and dangerous/damaging defense strategies one uses to continue to MISUSE their power in such a sacred relationship.
      This keeps a marriage or the counterfeit marriage stuck.

      • Nancy on June 13, 2018 at 6:03 pm

        What you wrote is so important Aly.

        My h had surface ‘good will’ toward me and I toward him. He really wanted to love me, he DID love me. The counsellor could see this and said that our love for one another was obvious to him.

        The destructiveness was coming from ‘severe places of under development, immaturity and dangerous defense strategies’.

        These are the nuances of covert destruction that require training and discernment.

        I hope James, that you will consider Barbara B.’s suggestion to join your peers on Leslie’s ‘pastors and counsellor’s thread’.

  15. JoAnn on June 12, 2018 at 11:39 am

    James, and everyone, I don’t know if you have seen in the news what is going on in the Southern Baptist Convention that is going on right now in Dallas. There is a lot of talk about how to counsel couples and women who are being abused. The president of Southern Baptist University was forced to resign because of his attitude toward abused women, and inappropriate comments about a coed. You can read more about it if you go to the Dallas Morning News or the Austin American Statesman online. At long last, a change is taking place. Praise God for that!

    • James on June 12, 2018 at 12:02 pm


      Thanks for the information. I’ve never been a huge fan of that seminary president you speak of but you might consider the other side of the story as well.

      Again, sometimes the most simplistic answers are not an accurate representation of the truth.

      • K (who's posted before, different from K who posted in early April) on June 12, 2018 at 1:16 pm

        Hi, James

        As you are a pastoral counsellor, I wonder if Leslie Vernick’s other website, equipping counsellors and pastors ( http://www.leslievernick.com/counselors), might be a better fit for this thread of conversation, rather than the dialogue of encouragement here between women who have walked in the shoes of the unheard and disbelieved. Check it out!!

        Blessings to you, brother.

        • sheep on June 12, 2018 at 4:59 pm

          K (who’s posted before, different from K who posted in early April)
          And at least one lonely man named sheep. 🙂

        • James on June 13, 2018 at 12:46 am

          Thank you for the recommendation. There are no threads on that site.

          • Barbara B on June 13, 2018 at 2:00 am

            James, if you sign up for a membership in the counselor’s blog, you have access to the discussion threads. My guess is Leslie has a reason for two separate blog groups. The purpose of this blog is for counselees to support one another as equals, having shared similar experiences. It seems to me that “K” has a valid point, so I hope you’ll consider following that recommendation.

          • James on June 13, 2018 at 11:04 pm


            At 57 dollars per month, it’s just out of my reach. Thanks again for the recommendation though.

  16. JoAnn on June 12, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    James, I am simply pointing out that there is a change in attitude being promoted within the Baptist community. A welcome change. I am sure that there are many angles to the story about Patterson, and he may have been judged too quickly and too harshly, but in this #MeToo climate, that’s not surprising. Everyone wants to be seen as doing the “right thing.” Nevertheless, we welcome the exposure and change in attitude that this will foster.

    • James on June 12, 2018 at 1:41 pm


      We can certainly agree that greater transparency is a good thing. Thanks for your dialog.

  17. Seeing The Light on June 12, 2018 at 8:10 pm

    JoAnn, Nancy, and others who I have communicated with here,

    I could use prayer. My husband just served me with divorce papers about 45 minutes ago. My health is precarious, and I have two minor children (teenagers). Please pray for me as the process begins. I believe it will not go smoothly or easily. Thank you!

    • Free on June 12, 2018 at 9:28 pm

      STL, praying for you. The process can be so scary and emotional. I do know, that God will surprise you with his provision and love you in ways you never imagined. Don’t forget your health will most likely improve rapidly when you are free from your abuser.

      Did you seek a lawyer yet? Find one who isn’t a whimp and will stand up against your husband’s trickery.

      Also, keep it together for the kids. Do not dump on them! Be calm and courageous, do not be terrified because the Lord is with you.

      • Seeing The Light on June 12, 2018 at 11:08 pm


        Thank you!

        Yes, I had consulted with a lawyer a few times along the way when it looked like I would need to be prepared for anything. He is not a wimp. Locally, I have heard people refer to him as a bulldog.

        Thank you for the prayers and the encouragement.

    • Maria on June 12, 2018 at 9:49 pm


      Praying for you dear sister.

      • Seeing The Light on June 12, 2018 at 11:09 pm

        Thank you, Maria.

    • Aly on June 13, 2018 at 12:13 am

      Praying for you sister in Christ!
      This is hard news and from what you have described about the dynamics ~ he has divorced you in other ways hard for some to understand.
      I’m glad you have an attorney that will be an advocate for your best interests and self care.
      You are His beloved, never let go of that truth for your heart! 💕

      • Seeing The Light on June 13, 2018 at 12:45 am


        Thank you so much. It’s all so weird. He gave me a letter at the same time full of Christian and biblical talk saying I need to agree to counseling to restore the marriage. He gave this to me with the divorce papers. I managed to get him to speak with me and he is acting like someone playing a game. He said it could go away at any time. He could drop it any time. I asked who he would want to talk to for counseling and he refuses to give me a name, says he will look into it tomorrow, but I can’t delay. I don’t have that long to respond according to the documents. It’s like: he filed, he is putting the blame on me to stop it by going to counseling, and when I say with whom, I am supposed to not call an attorney to respond to legal action while I wait on him to come up with names?! It’s a mess. I don’t think he knows what he is doing and he thinks he can stop it once things start snowballing. It’s crazy-making.

        • Free on June 13, 2018 at 5:50 am

          The talk if counseling is a cover for his ego so he can feeling better about himself. Actions speak louder than words. His sctionis he filed for divorce. All the other talk is gaslighting you. He is creating a scenario she he can publish his version to others. He is steps ahead of you. He has this all planned out. Don’t trust him.

          • Free on June 13, 2018 at 5:58 am

            STL, he even wants to control your response! Ha. What a selfish man! Use your brain and your intuition. He is not trust worthy other than to consistently exemplify the actions of an evil fool. STL, be strong. You have an excellent brain. You are NOT to blame. You are a victim. Have the courage to flee your perpetrator. He is offering lies, lies and more lies. He has had plenty of time to be a better husband. He doesn’t want to be anything other than what he is. This hurts and I didn’t sugar coat it because this truth has been repeated over and over again. He has not come up with anything that is atypical for those with his affliction. There is nothing wrong with you. Get out!

          • Seeing The Light on June 13, 2018 at 7:43 am


            Yes, I agree with what you have written about what he has done.

            It’s even stranger, though. I wasn’t going to say anything to him and just call the attorney this morning, but I decided to ask for clarification about the letter requesting counseling to restore the marriage in light of filing for divorce. Though the answer was convoluted, he ended up revealing that he has done this knowing that he can drop things and withdraw his “complaint for dissolution of marriage” at any time. He said it like I should have known that, like it’s just another pressure or tactic to see what happens next. I’m not even sure how committed he is to doing this, or if I am going to put out money to respond and then he’s going to drop it. It’s bizarre.

        • JoAnn on June 13, 2018 at 11:38 am

          Seeing the Light, You have been expecting this for a long time, and soon you can be free from this man. May I suggest? don’t fight the divorce, give it to him, but fight like h… for what is yours. Let the lawyer do the talking. Don’t engage in any conversations with him from now on. Everything must go through the lawyer. This will protect you from his effort to guilt you or gaslight. Now is the time to take care of your heart.

          • Free on June 13, 2018 at 9:23 pm

            I agree, JoAnn.

          • Seeing The Light on June 13, 2018 at 11:57 pm

            Thank you, JoAnn. It’s just scary when it comes to the kids. Naturally he is seeking full custody, though they do not speak to him at all anymore. He is also asking for child support from me among other financial and health insurance provision for the children even though I have not had any earned income in two decades and have health issues that prevent me getting a job. It’s unreal, but not unlike the stories I have heard before. Thank you so much for the advice.

          • JoAnn on June 14, 2018 at 12:02 am

            Not to worry, Seeing the Light, your lawyer will take care of all of that. Tell him everything, and then let him fight the battle. It sounds to me like your h is just trying to scare you. Fear is from the enemy; don’t give in to it. Eventually, your h is going to find out that he is the one who will pay, and possibly even the lawyer’s fees. It can work out that way. Let the Bulldog take care of it all. Pray for him. The Lord will surprise you, I’m sure of it.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 12:10 pm


            Yes, I think he is trying to scare me and it has been working. After something he did three weeks ago, I had a short consultation with the attorney to get some counsel how to protect myself (I made no moves toward initiating a divorce myself). In that conversation, I mentioned some of my concerns that were based on the fears my husband has instilled and the attorney called them “red herrings”.

            I really had not thought of praying for my attorney. I will do that.

        • Aly on June 13, 2018 at 6:43 pm


          You have received a lot of prayers and I think some great feedback to consider. I’m sorry for it being so crazy making and I’m sad about that in a big way.

          I am wondering about some tangible places to step. You know your situation and your history with your h.

          Is your h asking for you to do counseling together ~ couples counseling or any counseling?
          I think there is a difference.

          For me I think it’s wise advice for many of us (divorce or great marriage) to have a counselor coupled with long term supportive friends or family that can be of great comfort and discernment.

          Individual Counseling could be a needed place regardless if you stay married, divorce or separate.

          I think it’s also important to define what it is he is requiring?

          I would also use the approach of establishing legal information and the legal process at the same time seeking ‘individual counsel’ if you able to?
          Either way having individual counseling would be an important place for you and what you may be navigating through.

          To me and maybe I’m wrong… but his posture of do this or do that type of setup: seems like he’s testing your waters on if you are ready to loose the ‘current marriage dynamics’ assuming he wants you both together in marriage counseling.

          My scenario is a bit different but I had plenty of places of invitations for my husband to seek professional care or the marriage as it was would deteriorate all together.
          It took counseling and plenty of other interventions for him to see that the marriage was not healthy ~ ‘he had a lot of denial to deal with’ because he wouldn’t validate my own opinion of the marriage dynamics then.

          Just to be clear, if your are in a destructive marriage ~ couples counseling isn’t the step.
          Individual counseling is and couples counseling is a possibility depending on how committed a partner is at dealing with their OWN issues and behaviors in the relationship.

          Sometimes a partner is very committed to ‘staying the same’.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 12:03 am


            He does not own his own issues and behaviors. The marriage is destructive. The counseling he wants is couples, but it is entirely to set me straight and clear up my delusional outlook, among other things. I would only be going to say I went I guess and to see what happens when I quote the bizarre and irrational things he has said and done to this third party to see their response and his. There is a part of me that has long been tempted to do this, but I’m not sure why. As to defining his requirements, that does not happen. He generally keeps things vague with many secrets and lies even when trying to get me to do something. He will say he has a counselor in mind and then refuse to tell me the name. It’s weird.

        • K (who's posted before, different from K who posted in early April) on June 13, 2018 at 6:45 pm

          Hello, Seeing the Light

          You write ” I don’t think he knows what he is doing and he thinks he can stop it once things start snowballing. It’s crazy-making.” Yes, it is crazy-making – you are not crazy though, remember that!

          The fact that this man is very specifically and methodically ‘boxing you into a corner’ is clear evidence of the underlying fact that he knows exactly what he is doing…….which it to continue manipulating, and holding destructive control over you.

          His assertions that he ‘can make this go away’ at any time, that he can drop this process at any time are further declarations of his perspective that he wields enormous power and you should have none. At the same time, you recognize he makes you responsible for finding counselling to stop this legal process. Blameshifting and gaslighting at their worst!!

          Don’t be intimidated by this bullying. When he has moved things into the realm of the court, it is NOT upon you to comply with his bullying by finding counselling (that he will likely try to manipulate anyway). You have an informed, capable and professional legal advocate for a reason; that is the person who can best advise you regarding the next step in this legal process. Your husband is a false and confusing and bullying voice in this.

          Seeing the Light, you have shared your story for a long time here. So many other sisters (and Sheep!) are already and continuing to pray for you in this time. The Lord knows the plans He has for you, trust in Him. blessings dear one. (PS JoAnn has a GREAT posting at 11.38 am about this!!)

          • Free on June 13, 2018 at 9:22 pm

            Can you hear my applause?! Nice response from a wise woman! Thanks, K.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 12:08 am

            Thank you, K. I think you have hit the nail on the head with your comment. Thank you for the prayers and the reminders. It’s hard because he is very good at trying to put the onus on me that I will have been able to do something to stop it – his way of initiating divorce while making it look like I did it, maybe. He will try to prove parental alienation and this will likely get very ugly so I am concerned about the kids and had hoped this fight would not happen until they were grown. Anyway, thank you. I am taking what you have said to heart.

          • Aly on June 14, 2018 at 12:59 am


            Thanks for clarifying! This is to reply to your last post to me.

            Ok so I
            Have you been in this scenario before where you have had a third party in the dynamic?
            I ask because of this…

            You wrote:
            “There is a part of me that has long been tempted to do this, but I’m not sure why. ”

            I’m not telling you to do this but your h is certainly playing games and I guess there is a part of me that says .. ok ‘let’s expose the crazy’ and see what the response is?
            I’m not recommending this without adequate support and a strength place in your journey.

            Sometimes exposing the crazy can help the one victimized, it did me.
            That’s why I point to it, but I had a lot of support and the Lord was continuing to draw me to places I was being quite challenged by!

            Your offender might think he knows you and your steps… but sometimes surprising them with a strength can reveal a lot.

            My counselor has helped me so much understand things that in all clarity are foreign to how my brain works. It has been so beneficial to having someone who is not only a well grounded Christian give validation and directives for crazy making and why those often act out in fear ‘unnecessarily’ but yet stay stuck.

            Get the counselor asking for individual and get the attorney ~ they both will be essential with what your dealing with.

            Continue prayers and just never forget who you belong too!

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 12:22 pm


            Yes, I have had a couple of instances of having a third party in the dynamic. One of those was a man who had been a pastor who was supposed to be objective, except that my husband had already spoken to him before we set things up. By the time I called him and asked that the three of us meet together, he insisted on meeting with us separately first. He delayed the three of us meeting together, opting to try to work on me first to bring me more toward seeing things differently. He also was not honest or straightforward. It felt very manipulative. I quit rather than cooperate with his delays in the three of us meeting since I was not interested in individual counseling with him.

            I also had one instance where my husband had been growing in his abusive speech toward me when there were important issues to discuss. One day I asked that a friend of his come over to be a witness to our conversation. I wanted to know how he would speak to me in front of a third party because he had always been good at being fake-nice to me in front of others, but he was getting so much worse when alone, I wondered if he could keep it together in front of another. It was instructive in that he was no longer able to be as fake-nice and though he did not go to the extremes he would when we were alone, he was more real in front of his friend this time – more cutting and insulting and so on.

            So, I have been praying about whether to take the opportunity to see – maybe just once – what he would say in front of a true professional counselor at this point and if it would expose something that might be beneficial in some way. I wonder if a truly objective person would actually hear some of the things he says – what would happen if such a person gave him a look – a look he gets from no one else but me and the kids – that look that we know what he is. I am weighing the pros and cons.

          • sheep on June 14, 2018 at 1:09 pm


            if you find him talking to you differently when others are around compared to when you are alone, Remember that your phone probably has a voice memo function. Test it before hand because it probably works well even if it is in your pocket.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 6:18 pm

            sheep, Thank you for that idea.

          • JoAnn on June 14, 2018 at 6:59 pm

            Seeing The Light,
            The impression I have from some of your posts is that you are looking for a witness and validation that what you are experiencing is really as intolerable as you think it is. The Lord knows, and I would encourage you to trust your own feeling about this. You say you want out, and he has given you a way out. Your children hate him. Isn’t that enough? You are miserable and your kids are being damaged. Isn’t that enough? You don’t need someone else to validate your feelings in this. Listen to your heart. It knows.

          • Nancy on June 14, 2018 at 7:26 pm

            JoAnn / STL,

            I think this last comment of yours, JoAnn is insightful. If .i remember correctly, STL, you have a Borderline mom, right?

            My experience with my borderline mom trained me very early to count my feelings and experiences, as completely invalid.

            The self-doubt that this causes can be completely paralyzing. Add gas lighting and other abusive tactics and you have a perfect storm where you don’t know which way is up.

            Listen to your feelings and Trust in God, STL. He will not let you down. Just one. Step. At.a.time.

    • James on June 13, 2018 at 12:49 am

      I am sorry to hear about your situation. I pray God will lead you and guide you during this time and that you will know his peace.

      • Seeing The Light on June 13, 2018 at 7:37 am

        Thank you, James.

        • Free on June 13, 2018 at 9:41 am

          STL, what do YOU want? Do what will help you stand as the woman Christ came to die for. Can you serve him better yoked to an evil fool or without a noose around your neck. Everything that is not of the light comes from darkness.

          Keep asking trusted wise friends for clarification. As I left my abusive spouse. I had two friends that I said, just tell me the truth. I don’t care if it hurts, just be real with me. Then I would say xyz happened. I would get all caught up in the rationale for xyz. My friends, who were not in abusive relationships could talk me through the crazy.

          What is happening to you is crazy. Again, what do you think? What do you want? Find it and stick to YOUR choices.

          • Free on June 13, 2018 at 9:44 am

            STL, it only takes one party to file. If he drops, you can proceed. If he miraculously changes his behaviors. You can always remarry. Just keep your mind and body pure as you wait. It will probably never happen, yet if a miracle would occur, you have remained loyal, yet divorced. Something to consider.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 12:19 am


            Thank you. I want to be free of this. The marriage has been one long nightmare. But I want the children to be free of him, too. I am deeply concerned about him having legal custody to make decisions for them as he is not making rational decisions at this point, as well as physical custody, anywhere from full custody to even small amounts of visitation. The children are very angry with him and avoidance of him is keeping them stable. They have no more tolerance for the crazy-making.

          • JoAnn on June 14, 2018 at 12:00 pm

            ATL, I think that you can request that the judge or a social worker will interview the children to determine what is in their best interest. Your lawyer will know what to do. Work closely with “the Bulldog” 😉

          • JoAnn on June 14, 2018 at 12:01 pm

            STL. Just because your h wants custody, doesn’t mean he will get it. Be at peace.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 12:23 pm

            Thank you again, JoAnn.

          • Aly on June 14, 2018 at 4:11 pm


            Ok from your last post it seems that the dynamic has not been exposed in a professional setting with a trained counselor to validate and bring accountability.
            Exposure is really not the end but the beginning and it doesn’t determine an outcome either.

            I would think it would be wise if you to get a professional Christian counselor well equipped in abusive dynamics and an attorney. Having both set up seem to make sense,
            As your h has begun a legal process.

            Regardless of the outcome of the marriage you will benefit from both and additional resources as you navigate.

            Exposing the abuse ~ a professional is often trained and well equipped to see the patterns and behavior tactics that many abusers carry… to them it’s not as crazy because they are not a the core trauma of it. They are far more detached if that makes sense. They not what to look for, at least that’s how I see it from my journey.

            Exposing the abuse in this setting doesn’t mean that the marriage (or non-marriage) won’t still dissolve, but exposing can offer an invite into the destructive nature of the abuse.
            The invite is for the abuser to face and work at what’s behind it, and the invite is also for the victim-survivor to do their work at growing in strength and a process that gives better equipping for a person traumatized.

            By no means do I think this is a joint marital problem. But I do think that recovery is individually necessary.
            Victims/survivors don’t cause the abuse but still need the recovery from the outcome of what abusive systems or situations create.

            I will say I think it’s common that ‘few’ abusers or those who LACK taking responsibility for their behavior take a professional up on the invitation to deal with their own core issues.
            A Christian counselor that is very good knows that this part is in God’s invite ‘really’ for true healing and they offer to be that vessel.

            From my experience ~ I don’t think I understood the level of spiritual bondage of fear, shame and pride can have over a very resistant ‘Christian professing’ individual.

            It is in their fruit we can freely assess a judgement call on wether or not we are dealing with a willing person in process.

            Regardless STL, if I were directly in your shoes and had minors to be advocates to given your situation, a counselor and attorney would be on the immediate list.
            A counselor an essential for myself and possibly for my children in the coming seasons.

            The courts also give good weight here for the parent being responsible and taking action to advocate for the children. Something to remember.

          • JoAnn on June 14, 2018 at 7:07 pm

            I agree with Aly…if you are already seeing a counselor when this goes to court it will look very good for you. Points on your side, plus if the counselor has seen the kids, she can testify on your behalf.

    • Nancy on June 13, 2018 at 7:04 am

      Seeing the Light,

      I am praying for you, sister ❤️.

      You are strong. You are daughter of the most High King. Stand firm in Him and allow Him to guide your every step. Keep your eyes on Him. He will provide what you need in each moment.

      Father God, I lift up my sister Seeing the Light. You know her, and everything that she needs. Infuse her, Lord, with your Peace. Wrap your loving arms around her and let her feel your mighty presence. Guide her steps today and each day as she faces these challenges. I pray all this in the name of the One who died and rose again! I pray in the name of the Living Christ. Amen.

      • Seeing The Light on June 13, 2018 at 7:38 am

        Thank you, Nancy.

        • Maria on June 13, 2018 at 12:49 pm


          You know your situation best. You will have to decide the best path forward. When I’m going through something tough I know that if I respond by putting Christ at the center and in the process I become closer to him, them I’m responding the right way. I went through a period of crazy making a few weeks ago. It was a good reminder to stay grounded in Christ. I listened to many worship songs and talked things over with trusted friends (women)who know my situation. There were timed when I would get hooked into a crazy conversation, but I would reflect on it later and resist that the next time around. You are precious and God will carry you through this.

          • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 12:20 am

            Thank you for this, Maria.

        • Free on June 14, 2018 at 5:49 am

          STL, trust your kids. They are angry for a reason. That is a good sign. They are old enough to think for themselves. You say you want to be free. Proceed with the legal action. I agree with other who say STOP talking to him. Let the lawyer talk and you can email only. That way all communication is in writing. He will quickly expose himself. Yes he blames you , that is his modus operandi.

          • Maria on June 14, 2018 at 4:03 pm


            My husband behaves really charming towards the kids when he wants something. Be careful of that. Keep loving the kids and being Christ to them.

          • JoAnn on June 14, 2018 at 7:05 pm

            I agree wholeheartedly with both Free and Maria here. All communication either through the lawyer (best) or in writing, and “Keep loving the kids and being
            Christ to them.” They will know where they are safe and loved. This will all be exposed in the process of the divorce. Put your fears to rest by trusting in the Lord.

    • JoAnn on June 13, 2018 at 11:30 am

      Dear STL, We surely will be praying for you. Remember, that the battle is the Lord’s and He is on your side. He is our protector and defender, and as our Heavenly High Priest, He is interceding for you. Maintain your CORE strength, and keep what is yours. I hope that you have a lawyer to guide you through this, because you have rights in this and we don’t want your h to take away what is rightfully yours.
      May the peace of God arbitrate in your heart.

      • Seeing The Light on June 14, 2018 at 12:21 am


        Thank you for your wise words – here and the comment above – I will keep them in mind. Thank you so much for your prayers.

  18. Free on June 13, 2018 at 5:42 am

    Reply to James, I think it is a
    shame that you limit your counseling to only Christians. I am more concerned that after you viewed the valuable presentation by Don Hennesey, that your only comment was to judge his character.

    • James on June 13, 2018 at 11:04 am


      Please let me clarify. I don’t counsel Christians exclusively. I would counsel anyone who sought counsel from me. Sometimes, though not particularly often, non-Christians will seek counsel from our church because we offer all counseling free of charge. I count those opportunities as an evangelistic outreach.

      I do limit the resources I use in counseling and resources I recommend to Christian authors which I don’t think should be surprising given that I am a pastor who is committed primarily to the Great Commission by virtue of the mandate Christ has given.

      I am not sure what concerned you about my comments about the brief youtube video I found from Don Hennessey but I do not purport to judge his character based on such limited exposure. I do realize that if Mr. Hennessey isn’t a believer in Christ, then his insight is limited to the natural world and cannot understand or give insight into spiritual things which isn’t controversial since its truth heralds specifically from the word of God.

  19. Free on June 13, 2018 at 5:43 am

    Reply to Connie, Sing it sister! You are right. Thanks Again.

  20. merle on June 13, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    It is time that we realize since the beginning of the industrial age where men often left the home to earn a better living. Our society has become more matriarchal with women often given more power than the men of the family.
    This domination of modern women often has changed the dynamics of the relationship and the conversations. My spouse was raised in such a family where the father often worked three jobs and was often absent. With the broken relationship and conversations. His wife often ruled over is him and he often was troubled by this. These women with much frustrations failed to have good communication skills and mature emotional states and problem-solving abilities. Their poor attitudes and skill in supporting the males were often transferred to the girls in the family.

  21. merle on June 13, 2018 at 1:04 pm

    This dynamic of women domination is not acknowledge in couples therapy. Too often the male has angry issues not being able to solve the womens attitudes being hurt and unable communicate there feeling with compassion for the mates feelings.
    My spouse needs counseling for her communication skills and for her emotional feeling of hurt in which she is stuck on able to overcome these emotion-driven thoughts of hurt.
    So I therefore, wait for God to open her heart to counseling and the need to change thought sequences. I am not her only problem or the worst of her problems. I pray often that God will show her a better way to think about the problem of our lives living in a world were Jesus and his ministers do not yet walk next to us to show us the way to our transformation into the spiritual being that Jesus exemplified.
    [Isa 30:19-21 RSV] 19 Yea, O people in Zion who dwell at Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left.
    This will occur in one of Paul spoken of mystery of the ages yet to come with the return of Jesus and His long reign in the future.

  22. Agape Moms on June 20, 2018 at 10:50 pm

    Thank you for the encouragement in this area, Leslie. You have always been a fountain of knowledge when it comes to emotionally abusive relationships! We have also found that marital counseling is not effective in abusive marriages and have shared your resources on our blog to encourage other women to seek comfort through what God is doing in your work! We’ve listed your advice, as well as some additional tips for stopping abuse at https://www.agapemomsblog.com/blog/2018/6/20/what-is-emotional-abuse-what-can-i-do-about-it

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