If I Leave I’m Afraid I Will Dishonor God

Morning friends,

I hope you are getting some time this season to savor our Saviors coming to this planet to show us what God is like. I’ve always loved the first chapter of John, especially these verses,

            “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. …… No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.”

If you are having trouble seeing God’s love, look at Jesus. See how he treated the broken, downcast, hurting, needy person? That’s how God sees us.


Today’s Question: I’ve been a believer for the past 20 years – and I’ve been in an emotionally destructive marriage for 35 years – my spouse refuses to acknowledge his verbally and emotionally behavior – as a result we have been living separately but in the same house.

I forgive Jack daily but there’s no reconciliation because he refuses to acknowledge his sinful narcissistic and neglectful life. He also suffers from ADD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. This makes life with him very difficult and sad. I’m in torment over getting separated legally. I feel it will dishonor God.

I read your book on destructive relationships over 10 years ago, and I’m still in the same place. My question is does God want me to stay in this unhappy destructive marriage? I know Jack is responsive to love – but will me loving him really change his ways? He’s accepted Jesus as his Savior, but has not made him Lord. He doesn’t really read the Word and I’m despondent and weary over how to continue to survive in this situation. Do you have any suggestions for me?

Answer: Let me ask you a question. You say you are in torment over legal separation because it will dishonor God yet you already live separate from one another, and you say you are miserable, despondent, and weary. How does living this way honor God? Why would making your separation legal be any more dishonoring? It’s time for a change.

Since Jack won’t change, it is up to you to change. You have two choices if you want to honor God the most. You can learn how to stay well, or you can learn how to leave well. Staying in your present state does not honor God and it hurts you.

Here are my suggestions. You can love Jack but stop expecting your love to change Jack. Jesus loved the Pharisees but his love did not change them. Jesus loved Judas, but Jesus’ love did not change Judas. Your love is not going to change Jack. Only Jack can repent of his selfishness and want to change. Then God’s love can help him learn how to be different but love alone does not change anybody. Our heart has to respond to love by loving in return. If that doesn’t happen then love is one sided, which is fine but it does not result in a loving relationship which is where you are stuck.

Jesus did honor God by loving the unlovable. He did honor God when he loved the Pharisees and loved Judas. And in loving them well, he also spoke tough words of truth to each of them, hoping that they would “see” their own sinful hearts and want to repent. Sadly they did not.

You could honor God by loving Jack enough to give him some tough but truthful talk about the state of your marriage and where things are going for 2016.

I think it honors God to live honestly and authentically before him. I think it honors God to accept Jack isn’t going to change and begin to take steps to build your own life whether you stay legally married or not. (Tweet that)

I think it honors God to get your eyes off Jack and what he’s doing or not doing and start figuring out what God wants you to do. Can you take a class, get involved in church, minister to other women, start to find places in your community where you can let your light shine?

Marriage is a relationship, not only a legal arrangement. Right now you have the legal arrangement but no relationship. You haven’t given me enough details about how Jack is verbally and emotionally abusive towards you – you say he’s neglectful, but do you think it honors God for you to allow yourself to be abused?

So if honoring God is your first priority, I think you can take lots of steps forward that will greatly improve your life in 2016. Walk toward God – love him, listen to him, honor him and he will make your path straight (Psalm 32:8,Proverbs 3:5,6).

Please do something different this new year. You know Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping for different results. Don’t let that be you.

Friend, what specific steps have you taken to honor God while in a loveless and painful marriage whether you stayed or left?


  1. sunflower on December 16, 2015 at 7:50 am

    The thought that I must one day stand before God and bear the disappointment of breaking my vows before him, has led me to endure beatings, rape, terroristic threats, coercion, household rampage and financial exploitation with unyeilding strength and courage. I have looked death in the face and clung to God. My deep faith in God and the power of the holy spirit have enabled me to survive and thrive in the desert wasteland of a destructive marriage.

    • Mavis on December 16, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      You did not break your covenant, your husband did. His violent behavior towards you is not only ungodly, but illegal. If I allowed my husband (thereby enabling him) to deliberately continue to be violent and abusive against me, my fear would be answering to God for not taking steps to stop the violence in our home. I cannot change my husband’s sinful behavior, but I can decide if I am going to allow it to be a part of my life. I am praying for your strength and safety.

      • sunflower on December 16, 2015 at 7:34 pm

        Thank you Mavis. I know what you say is true in my mind but my heart and spirit disagree. Thankfully, I am no longer being abused. My theology kept me submissive and obedient during the suffering. LIke the peace that passes all understanding the holy spirit was there.

        • Robin on December 16, 2015 at 11:42 pm

          Sunflower, your words you shared seem very scary to me. This sounds very much like you need help desperately. Are you spending time with a trained counselor??

          • Amy on December 17, 2015 at 7:36 am

            Agreed, I hope this post is removed. I am very concerned this might influence someone living in this kind of terrible nightmare to “endure” for the sake of their relationship with God.

          • Leslie Vernick on December 17, 2015 at 9:44 am

            Amy not sure what post you are hoping is removed. Can you clarify.

    • Amy on December 16, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Glad that sunflower is no longer being abused. If you are being treated the same as she describes feeling that your safety would mean God would be disappointed in you could be your death. God doesn’t expect you to take beatings and rape ever! Please know God loves you even if you leave. The God I know is not pleased when someone uses his name to put up with such horrifying evil. Leave now!

      • Leslie Vernick on December 17, 2015 at 9:46 am

        I agree, it does not honor God to allow someone to sin against you when there are laws in place (ordained by God) for your protection. Even the apostle Paul appealed to the law when he was being unfairly beaten as a Roman citizen. Rape in marriage is against the law, not to mention dishonorable to God’s intent for the sexual relationship. To endure to honor God is a misunderstanding of submission as well as Scripture.

        • sunflower on December 17, 2015 at 12:21 pm

          I agree with all of you! In relation to this topic, I think it is important to acknowledge that many Christian women (and I was one of them), feel they must endure and honor their vows at all costs. I don’t think I am alone in being under Christian leadership who told me it was my “cross to bear”, “all things work together for those who love the Lord”, “God hates divorce” etc…

          .In answer to the question, I still say, the way I endured was through the pseudo martyrdom of believing it was my honor and duty to suffer. It doesn’t make sense, but many oppressed women will answer the same way I did. An example I would like to site, is the women trapped in Warren Jeff’s polygamous cult. They have gross misunderstandings of scripture and live in the fog of spiritual brainwashing. They peacefully go about their day entrenched in abuse. I lived like that too.

          Having said that, I think this discussion is a very important one. Thanks for the feedback.

          • Amy on December 17, 2015 at 9:27 pm

            The hypocrisy of these cults sicken me. I would agree there would be a number of women being completely mistreated and taken advantage of under the twisting of scripture into complete nonsense. I feel compassion for anyone living in this type of environment. I am uncertain and indecisive enough on my own and can’t imagine that the Christians I know would do anything but support that what is happening is not okay and that I don’t need to put up with it. Even with that Freedom I still struggle so can only imagine the added burden in these circumstances.

  2. Leonie on December 16, 2015 at 9:03 am

    I am fighting for my daughter’s safety and protection within the legal system right now. I would just walk away and let my ex continue on his own destructive path except that we have a child. I need to be her voice. she needs to be safe and cared for and not subjected to more chaos, confusion and evil because she still has to see him and ‘live’ with him part time. I hate that the system is so willing to put such a little, vulnerable person at risk and close their eyes to the evil that she is exposed to. This is what our courts are doing these days in the name of protection.
    I love Leslie’s advice here, as we look at God, we get our eyes off an evil person and start walking in ways that bring restoration into our lives and ask God’s glory to be brought about through the mess and rubbish, only he can bring healing and hope!
    I am learning that I need to be careful about who I speak to, what I say and who I allow to speak into my life. Thank God for his spirit of truth that reveals to us things deeper than we would normally understand.
    I have a close friend that is separating her assets from her ex who she has lived separately from for a long time. She is having trouble actually doing it, getting to the final stage and making that decision that says “this is it”.
    These are her words to me, “I keep feeling that I am dishonouring God”, I keep telling her that it is not her that is dishonouring God, her husband single-handedly destroyed everything by his unrelenting crazy verbal abuse for years, she is just falling in line with the reality and giving herself the permission to call it over and clean up the mess and move on. She has kept herself trapped all these years by this sentiment, yet, every time she delays, she just comes back around to the same point with the same issue staring her in the face and I have come to realize that it is a lie “God will be displeased with me if I actually go through with the separation.” within herself that keeps her stuck and going around and around.

    • sunflower on December 16, 2015 at 7:37 pm

      I understand where you friend is coming from. It is illogical, but a convincing argument. I would remind her that separation for a period of time is biblical.

  3. Robin on December 16, 2015 at 10:49 am

    I lived 30 years in a destructive marriage that was slowly killing me. The number one thing that changed my direction and thinking about- can I get a divorce was taking a step to get serious about taking stewardship of my own life and taking my eyes off husband. I entered counseling weekly and committed to wanting to be healthy. After 2 years of continual growth I no longer asked am I pleasing God. I knew I didn’t have a marriage or relationship, I had a miserable arrangement that only benefitted him. Divorce was not my doing. He broke covenant many years earlier by his dishonor to me and years of abuse. I’ve been divorced since July and now I have a life filled with seeing the Glory of God. I spend time with my grandchildren freely and people are what’s important now not trying to figure out how to silence the abuser. I am sorry for the poor choices he made but I’ve not regretted one day of having a finial separation from this man whose intent was to destroy me, piece by piece. God has a special plan for each of us, and getting out of an abusive relationship is sometimes what pleases Him most.
    I am so thankful for all He has done in my life since I quit participating with my abuser husband. Thank you Jesus!!!!

    • Leonie on December 16, 2015 at 12:06 pm

      Amen Robin, I agree!

    • Liz on December 16, 2015 at 3:28 pm

      Hi Robin
      Thank you for being an inspiration. You give me hope that eventually when I get to leave – ( in about 6 months ) – there is a chance I will find myself – and the Lord again. It’s not that I’ve stopped loving Him it’s just that I can’t seem to hold onto a relationship with Him in this crazy depressed place I am living in. I feel like a failure as a Christian and a person, but I know in my heart that that is a lie. I also believe – like you- that God is in my decision to leave, I just have to try and survive until I can leave.

      Sorry Leslie I don’t think I am honoring God at all, but at least I have taken a significant step towards leaving – whether I can leave well this time ( I didn’t last time) remains to be seen, but I will try

      • Robin on December 16, 2015 at 11:47 pm

        Liz, there are a lot of hard steps to walk thru– on your way out of a destructive relationship. It takes a lot of courage and a good support team. Don’t be discouraged- it’s understandable that while we’re working thru ending abuse- our faith in God wavers. Hold your head up high. Your are a daughter of the King. He will be with you, every step of the way.

        • Liz on December 17, 2015 at 3:30 am

          Thanks heaps Robyn xxx

      • LA on December 31, 2015 at 7:35 pm

        Hi Liz, I just wanted to encourage you in your relationship with the Lord, He never gives up and He absolutely knows how you are feeling as you struggle to hang onto your sanity! I heard a song recently that ministered such life to me as I too had to ” wait till I got stronger” the song I’d by Casting Crowns, it’s called Just Be Held, the last part of the chorus says: “your worlds not falling apart, it’s falling into place, I’m on the throne, stop holding on and Just be held, just be held”
        I hope you get a chance to listen to it, all of the words are so true, I’m praying for you!


        • Liz on December 31, 2015 at 8:44 pm

          Thank you LA
          It’s a beautiful song; the perfect way to start a New Year, thanks heaps

          • LA on December 31, 2015 at 11:48 pm

            I’m new to posting on this sight, I’ve been waiting to get stronger too, I finally left on Nov 12 this year. I couldn’t go through one more day! I began planning in June of this year with the help of my counselor and a few supportive friends. Actually I’ve been planning on leaving for years! However, my life took several sharp turns in the last 5 years, it’s a very long story… I’ve faced so many traumas in that time and when my rose colored glasses fell
            off, and I began to see much clearer, I knew my emotional, spiritual and physical health depended on my getting out of the toxic environment! I thank God for my “stumbling” on Leslie Vernick’s books and this blog at the end of last year. I was married to him for 22 years and God certainly intervened and set up my exit! I could not have planned it any better than He did! All I kept hearing God say was “Just Breathe and Trust” over and over… So, Liz, for now and forever, just be held… He is always working behind the scenes, setting the stage even when we can’t see Him! He is on the way to answer our cries before a word even falls from our lips…

            Just Breathing and Trusting

          • Sal24 on January 1, 2016 at 9:23 am

            Yes LA I cried listening to that song this morning. Thank you

          • Liz on January 1, 2016 at 4:43 pm

            LA thanks – glad you found the site and have started sharing – hugs xx

    • Vivienne on December 16, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      Robin, I am so glad it all working out for you. I am still at the separation / negotiation assets stage….not easy but relying and looking on God for his help in it all.

      • Robin on December 17, 2015 at 9:33 pm

        Were praying for you Vivienne. Please get us current on what is going on with you so we can pray effectively!!!!!

    • LA on January 2, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Thank you Robin for this post, I am so glad that you have found peace and are far removed from the torment of living with an abuser! I remember years ago realizing that if I didn’t start getting my eyes off of him and start looking at my needs and desires, I would die never having lived a life! I left on Nov.12, 2015. I have not regretted it one single day! I made it through, stopped all contact except through my lawyer and I live in peace. Yes, there are emotional moments of grief, but they pass with a good cry. I don’t know what my future holds, but I know who holds my future! I am also a breast cancer survivor, which I call my frienemy, right now I’m in remission but finished my 2nd battle with the beast at the end of April. My frienemy has taught me to press in to God and find the treasures He brings every day, do something I enjoy every day, make sure the people I love know that I do love them, it has taught me to slow down and savor moments, I pray for love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness and self-control… All of God’s attributes are available when I slow down and drop down into my heart where I meet with Him in moments throughout the day. I’m still learning and loving the process! I too can now be with my grandchildren whenever I choose, I feel like I broke out of a prison camp, when I get scared, I remember that I can choose to trust and this always brings me to a place of peace. Thank you again for your post! I think that we often forget that God has given us the power of choice, and I will choose life over death any day of the week!
      Just breathing and Trusting

  4. Aleea on December 16, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    “Friend, what specific steps have you taken to honor God while in a loveless and painful marriage whether you stayed or left?”

    Leslie, thank you so much for this, I very much appreciate all your work and counsel. —Also, I appreciate those posting here too. Many of you are contagious (helpful & friendly) and galvanize me to go deeper with the Lord, —thank you.

    . . . . Honoring God. . . .well, the things I am doing: prayer, lots of prayer (—if you want to love someone instead of hating them, just seriously keep praying for them; —I don’t know why it works —it just works.); studying God’s Word; fasting and praying. The things I need to do that I am not doing or not doing well: managing my doubts; guarding my soul from dangerous ideas.

    One of my Bible studies I am in has been working through the workbook “Surrendering Your Life to Honor God” by Doug Fields and Brett Eastman. Those exercises have been helpful to me in honoring God. . . . . So far from counseling I have learned that: My mother abused me; I abuse myself; I attract those types of people (they are familiar/ like family); they see my permission slip and they abuse me too. I abuse myself before anyone else does. If I can solve the inside, the outside will be mostly fixed. The abuse would not be happening *externally* if it is not happening *internally*. I have to BE the change I want to see in my world. . . . . . sigh & huge exhale. . . . .I don’t know if I can do that but that would be honoring to God I am sure. . . . I think what really dishonors God, because it does not consider the complete counsel-of-God, is refrigerator magnet/ bumper sticker “spirituality”: “God Hates Divorce” “God Said It, That Settles It” “Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged” “Got Jesus?” (—got Him how?). . . .oh, and here is a hateful bumper sticker from, I assume (—always dangerous), —who knows—, a “lesbian” women I saw weeks ago “If We Can’t Marry, You Can’t Divorce.” —Hermeneutically, I see the parallelism but it is not considering the whole counsel-of-God. . . . .—In California, I get to sit in traffic, a lot! Anyway, any Scriptural conclusion, I think, has to take into account the entire counsel-of-God, that’s a lot of work, prayer and study.

  5. Kate on December 16, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    One thing I am noticing lately is the # of marriages where the husband has broken many, if not all vows, is unrepentant, abusive, neglectful, and unloving….in other words has separated himself from his marriage…but will not physically or legally separate or divorce his wife. He leaves her in a position to do the messy work and be the “bad guy.” To those women I say YOU are not displeasing God by leaving your marriage. Your husband already left in his heart. You are just moving on with your life without the deadweight sucking your life and walk with Christ out of you.

    Imagine you both standing before God. Do you honestly think he is going to berate and condemn you for fighting for your marriage, enduring abuse in prayer and hope, going to counseling, reading books, blogs, articles, getting help, and trying for years, sometimes decades to heal your marriage? Just because you were the one who physically left and served divorce or separation papers?

    What about your husband who neglected you, cheated on you, yelled at you, hit you, withheld from you, forced you to have sex, manipulated you, beat you down, teased you, controlled you, removed his husbandship over you but kept you as his whipping post and blow up doll and personal maid and chef? Don’t you think God has a whole lot to say to him?

    • Linda on December 16, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Kate – Thank you for that! That is my story to a ‘T’! It is impossible to have a healthy marital relationship with someone who expects you to be his mommy and his lover at the same time. Why? Because that is not the way that the Designer of marriage covenant created it to be! The question that I posed to my h was “do you want to be married, or do you want to be single? Because you can’t have both at the same time, and I’m not going to live like this.” He tested that statement many times and way-too-many-chances later, I just had to move on. I was dying a slow death emotionally, psychologically, financially, and spiritually. I have left it in Gods hands, and I thank Him SO much for leading me to the Truth through Leslie’s teaching and from everyone here!

      • Vivienne on December 16, 2015 at 8:44 pm

        Hear, hear…my story too. For too many years I hung on, wanting to honour God, that is what I seriously thought I was doing…but all too late discover I am suffering, my children are suffering and no one is honouring God in this toxic environment. This blog, Leslie’s counsel, and others have enabled me to begin to take back my life. Thank you.

        • Leonie on December 17, 2015 at 11:18 am

          Good to hear from you Vivienne. I hope you are getting through the hard stuff that you need to, I hope your kids are doing well. Are you getting the legal help you need where you are? Keep fighting & let us know how it’s going!

    • LA on January 1, 2016 at 12:10 am

      Wow! My story too! In fact I did tell a friend last year that for his birthday, I was considering getting him a blow up doll, pasting a photo of me on its face and giving it to him for his birthday! LOL Also, my soon to be ex, told me earlier this year that if we were going to live as room mates, that I needed to get a job and start paying 1/2 the bills! At the time, I was barely out of chemo for Breast Cancer and had no strength to do much but get from the bed to the bathroom and back! REALLY? So glad I’m finally OUT! It’s a joy to wake up every morning!
      Just Breathing and Trusting

  6. Maria on December 16, 2015 at 5:02 pm

    Friend, what specific steps have you taken to honor God while in a loveless and painful marriage whether you stayed or left?

    First of all, I am married 30 years and for the first 20 years of my marriage I was afraid, although my husband never hit me or cheated on me…my fear was because he was explosive and would scream for no “apparent” reason. During those years I allowed the bulling and I now know that is not good for him nor me nor is it acceptable. I used to feel, that because I wasn’t being hit, cheated on, or living with someone with substance abuse, that all else had to be tolerated under the guise of honoring God…all the while ignoring my own heart and how angry I was becoming.

    I would say that the place where I have received the most strength and healing has come from owning my identity as Abba’s child. This has been revolutionary and God honoring. Neither my husband, nor anyone, or anything else, can define who or whose I am.

    To quote Leslie: “I think it honors God to live honestly and authentically before him. I think it honors God to accept Jack isn’t going to change and begin to take steps to build your own life whether you stay legally married or not”…dearest sister in Christ, please heed those words…to live an honest authentic life we must look in the mirror (I had to do this)…it isn’t easy…at times it was painful to see what I had become and the things that I had allowed under the guise of honoring God…I do not know about you but I used to own my husband’s behavior by blaming myself for his explosions…this too was very unhealthy…owning (without excuses) and dealing with my own heart brought me to a place of rest…I had to learn to be honest (first of all with myself), transparent, and truly accept God’s grace (so much more)…I went for counseling for 2 years and read some books that have been very helpful in dealing with my own “stuff.” (“Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning; “Free Yourself Be Yourself” by Alan Wright; and needless to say “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage”).

    I also found that Godly girlfriends were/are an irreplaceable resource…I can be transparent, vulnerable and broken – confession flows freely…a place of safety, refreshment and clarity…they didn’t/don’t solve my problems (not looking for that) but they listen, counsel (at times) and pray with me and for me…Christ’s hands and feet.

    Remember that you are deeply loved by God…hold on to this marvelous truth…God came to seek and save that which is lost (all of us fit here)…He will never leave you nor forsake you…He has made you fearfully and wonderfully…His thoughts towards you are more than grains of sand… let these truths soak deep into your marrow.

    Abba loves you!!!!

    • LA on January 1, 2016 at 12:25 am

      Thank you Maria! I too honored God by drawing closer to Him, standing up for myself and my belief in the Grace and Mercy of God, building my character and refusing to get sucked into narcs hamster wheel, learning to guard my heart and keep my eyes focussed on who I am in Christ. I am the Beloved, I cannot give what I don’t have, if I don’t have love and grace for myself, how can I give love and grace to another… Also I’ve learned to temper my compassion with wisdom and always look for and practice the peace of God from within, as I’ve learned to live in peace in my own heart, I find I crave it more and more like the air I breathe… This is how I honor God in this process of life…
      Just Breathing and Trusting

  7. Sal24 on December 16, 2015 at 5:12 pm

    I have been married 25 years and have 3 kids 2 girls and a boy. My youngest is my son age 15. My son has been the glue. It has taken me a very long time to realize I will not have my “normal” marriage/family. My husband is a sober alcoholic and shows traits of borderline personality and narcissism. Our daughters suffer from depression/anxiety and one was recently hospitalized with an eating disorder. My son is a good kid but is beginning to show signs of social phobia. He loves to spend time with his dad but his dad has terrible mood swings and puts blame on me and our son for everything. He has accused be of loving my son more than him and is obviously jealous of my relationship with them. I made a decision 8 years ago to stay when at that time things really escalated. I detached from him and stopped trying to change our marriage. My son was 7 at the time and I could not imagine breaking up the family. So I stayed and have tried to foster a healthy father/son relationship but my efforts are failing and I am getting tired. I have 21/2 more years before my son leaves for college and then I feel like I will be free to leave. 21/2 years is a long time and I’m trying to figure out how to stay and stay well and how to emotionally protect my son from further emotional abuse. I never realized that by speaking the truth in love was honoring God. I have enabled my husband for years and we never talk about our marriage. I am not sure I can speak out to my husband to tell him how I feel. I need to engage in serious prayer and ask for the power of the holy spirit to give me the right words and strength to speak. I stay for my son, not for me. I’m kinda stuck right now and need to find peace for 21/2 more years and protect my son. Although, as far as my kids go I’m feeling like the damage has been done. I am in therapy trying to learn strength and work on myself. My therapist is also helping me to help my son understand that he is not at fault.

    • Robin on December 17, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Sal24, I honor your need to stay 2 more years for your son– I once thought the same. If I had to do it over again, I would not have waited. On this side of separation and divorce, I realize how much my children were all injured because I didn’t want to break up family. It so seemed like the right thing at the time. But today I realize that waiting I did- meant more time for them to be with abuser and be further injured. If I had to do it all over, I would remove them from an environment of abuse and destructive family issues pronto. For me, that would have been LOVING AND CARING FOR THEIR NEEDS to the highest degree.

      • Sal24 on December 17, 2015 at 2:39 pm

        Robin, thanks for your reply and I am beginning to understand. But I don’t know how to leave. Have you ever had a dream where you try to speak or scream and no words or sound comes out? It’s as if my speech is paralyzed. I have no dialog I have no words to say to him or my son. I don’t know how to ask for a separation I don’t know how to do it. Where do I go? Where does he go? What about my son? What about paying the bills? I feel so all alone and this is a huge reason that I have stayed as long as I have.

        • Robin on December 17, 2015 at 3:19 pm

          Sal24, I do understand all the hard questions one must ask them self, before they can prepare to leave. I guess I would ask 1. Do you have a support team standing with you, and 2. Have you been in counseling?? I committed to weekly counseling for 2 years before I had many of my questions and fears answered and felt healthy enough to step out in faith. But even then there were a lot of unanswered questions- I just had to move out in what I believed- that a pretense of a marriage wasn’t beneficial for anyone. But as I did move out in faith, God blew the top off of anything I expected, as He moved to give me needed provisions. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of obstacles to crawl they- but God works as He see’s us putting our trust in Him. I was married 30 years before I gained the boldness to leave, so I understand all the fears. I will be praying for you and if there’s anything I can do to support you, please let me know. The women on this blog were so helpful to me thru my separation and finally divorce. It really matters to have support and people you know that really care and will pray.

    • Jackie on December 22, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Please do not wait for your son to leave.
      My adult children are suffering so much because I chose to stay and keep trying to “honor God”, love better, be kinder, do the “right” things. My husband was mean to our children because he knew it would hurt me. I allow our children to be verbally and emotionally abused in the foolishness of telling them, he loves you he is just tired or hurting. I would tell my children that we will pray for daddy and ask God to help him and encourage them to forgive him. Your son needs see a Godly woman who does not allow herself to be abused and that will protect her children. My heart is broken for my failure to protect them and they are very hurting adults.

  8. Sunshine. on December 16, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    I have joined a ladies bible study group. It is small. We dig deep and are just getting comfortable enough to share. God is working His divine matching skills because older women who have been where I am now are in the group and opening up about their bad marital experiences. Younger women are asking for resources and I have been able to hand over books and resources I have found along the way, especially this blog site and Leslie’s books. This is how I am practicing strength in Christ while in a depressing and roller coaster marriage.

  9. Sheila on December 16, 2015 at 11:00 pm

    We are commanded to love God first and not to have idols. Husbands and marriage vows can be idols. I found not only my personal freedom but also my freedom in Christ when I stopped idolizing my husband and our marriage vows. I stood up to sin in our marriage and as a result our marriage is over but I am closer to God than ever before. Now the Lord is my savior, my protector, my provider. Not an idolized abusive husband.

  10. Val on December 16, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    I had been in an abusive marriage for 35 years also….and finally (after much heart searching, encouragement and reading wise words from Leslie, and others), agreed that it was not honoring God in any way to continue to prop up bad behavior. It took two years of gathering the required information, and giving him every chance in the book to make the necessary changes, then parting ways. Actually, I had only ever wanted a separation, and the chance to let him be accountable, but circumstances played out in which divorce was the outcome…..I didn’t find out that the divorce had gone through for 6 months, through a fluke of misdirected papers. Anyway, since then I have a wonderful little condo “sanctuary” of my own, have been to Siberia on a missions trip, am the women’s ministry pastor of a growing fellowship in a very needy area, have helped other women navigate through the murky waters of separation and divorce, and God has been abundantly faithful!! I don’t believe He would have blessed me like this if He disapproved! Take heart. God is bigger than your concept of Him could ever imagine, and He is faithful when you place your future in His hands!

    • Robin on December 17, 2015 at 12:54 am

      Wow Val, what a beautiful testimony!!

    • Liz on December 17, 2015 at 3:27 am

      Thanks Val your story is very encouraging

      • Maria on December 17, 2015 at 9:58 am


  11. Aleea on December 17, 2015 at 5:55 am

    . . . . . God hates divorces wrongly obtained on grounds that He has not sanctioned . . . .but otherwise. . . . I have had people tell me, “I’ll have nothing to do with divorced persons” —are you kidding me? . . . . .That means you will have nothing to do with God! (God is a divorced Person too! Re: Isreal) In our church, we hurt people with a totally anti—divorce climate. . . . .But even in those still married, I totally see it, there is a deep sense in which we are all ghost towns. We are all haunted by the memory of those we love, those with whom we feel we have lots of unfinished business with. While they may no longer even be with us, a presence haunts us until we make our peace with them and let them go. The problem, however, is that we (I) tend to spend a great deal of energy in attempting to avoid the truth. We construct an image of ourselves that seeks to shield us from a confrontation with our ghosts. Hence we often encounter them only late at night in prayer, studying the Bible (oh my, does that ever resurrect my ghosts) or in the corridors of our dreams. . . . . Be in with what is and embrace brokenness. God doesn’t satisfy your desires, He sets you free from your need to be satisfied. Christianity is not about holding strong beliefs (don’t take as long as I did figuring that out), so embrace what you need to be free in Christ. We are not meant to just sit on the sidelines and blindly believe what our parents, friends, church, society teach us is truth. In fact, most people I meet have not even done enough text study to know what they are taking about and they were the ones that often told us lots of the things we believe. —So above all else, we are meant to love. Deeply and beautifully love! . . . .So how does one get out of a lousy relationship without dishonoring God? We fully and completely embrace brokenness, just open the door, invite that total mess (myself/ yourself) in and give it a hug . . . . and if your name is on this blog, I’ll be praying for you. I know it is not easy, ghosts are really hard to get rid of and we are all haunted houses . . . .but idols robs us of our peace.

  12. Sal24 on December 17, 2015 at 4:37 pm

    Thank you Robin. I really don’t have a support system in place. I have one close best friend (my only Godly girlfriend who i can talk to and who will pray for me) I have just started seeing a therapist weekly and that helps keep me grounded and to develop a plan. Today I am looking at all of my marital debt and financial situation. I would like to start puting some money aside for myself. So perhaps these next 2 years for me will be 2 years that I can begin to get my affairs in order and build my strength and supports so when the time comes I will be ready and strong. Thank you for your prayers.

    • Robin on December 17, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      My support system I felt was hand picked by God Sal24. My counselor, a D.V. Counselor , my pastor and his wife, a couple who hid me in their home for 2 weeks while protection order was being served, and my eldest daughter. Because destructive men are deceitful, secretive and like to punish their spouses if they want to leave- a excellent support team can be something you want to pray for. Making a plan, saving money are good things to do. But I would also pray and ask the Lord if Hecwants me to wait 30 months. Once you see the light, it’s very difficult and comes with great cost, to live in a destructive environment. When I left, I had $200.00 in my pocket because my husband controlled all the money. I knew it was time to stop participating in an abusers life. I knew if I left, he would have to take responsibility for his own life– so I left even tho I still felt great hesitancy. I still can’t believe all God did for me- including having my husband removed from house, husband having to pay regular support to me, and me receiving entrance back into my home that was paid for. God is so amazing as we look to Him!!!!

  13. Jennifer on December 18, 2015 at 6:48 am

    My husband finally left the home Monday evening after I had a complete mental breakdown. We’ve only been married 7 years but we had started as an affair and have had a rocky marriage from the get go. My two oldest children are trilled he is gone. There has been so much anger, judging, shaming, lecturing, yelling and tension in the home. Our two youngest children seem indifferent for now since he worked a lot and it is still so new. I miss the routine and feel confused. I don’t want to go back to the same old cycle of abuse. When I talk to him, he is lacking any accountability for why I had to have him leave. It’s still all my fault for not forgiving him hence why I was so angry with him. He is still not seeing his part. Normal, healthy relationships don’t have those extreme breakdowns, that was years of keeping my mouth shut, keeping the peace, holding my tongue, ignoring the toxic marriage. I don’t believe I am honoring God by allowing him to number one not be forced to change and 2 by not respecting myself by being allowed to be talked to the way I have been. My two oldest children respect my decision to finally do something other than complain about him. I am really trying to trust God with this decision. It is hard not to take him back but I know in my heart the cycle will continue. I already feel better physically. I feel more rested when I wake up.

    • roxanne on December 18, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      Great work Jennifer. You can do this! Are you part of a women’s support group? The journey will just get better and you will love your new routine.

  14. Deb on December 18, 2015 at 8:20 am

    This kind of thing really needs to be preached from Independent Baptist pulpits instead of “wives submit” syndrome.
    I am not the only one who has been in a marriage that was just more of a business venture than a marriage. My husband and I had not every really had a true relationship. He has been emotionally abusive and does not think it has been abuse because he has never hit me.
    He has given me his mean and ugly looks, he yells, growls, snaps, takes life out of me and our children when they were younger.
    I have only heard one preacher say If you are being abused, you get out, if he is a pedophile, you do not have to stay with him. I have heard the word divorce mentioned but thought they were joking.
    I have thought about divorce down through the years, but all I hear is how hard divorce is and how hard it is on the children and there has not been finances for divorce and taking care of myself and my children.

    Abusive behavior really does need to be taught about and the things this article talks about really do need to be addressed and preached.
    I think things would be very different for a lot of ladies out there if that were so.

    • Robin on December 18, 2015 at 8:43 am

      Divorce is hard, and yes it is very hard on children. But staying in a destructive environment where children’s needs are ignored, and they see daddy hurting mommy thru disrespect and abuse and not keeping his marriage covenant to her- IS HARDER. While every decision we make comes with challenges and obstacles- leaving a unhealthy relationship shows our children we will stand up for them and protect them, and not ignore the truth of what our hone life is like. Standing in Truth and for Righteousness, God will make a way for us to leave and have the provision we need.

      • Deb on December 18, 2015 at 9:06 am

        My children are all grown up now and yes looking back I regret not getting a divorce back when they were younger and I was still physically able to do so.
        We did not have the finances but I guess there would have been help to get a divorce and to live and take care of things. We lived in a town house apartment and they would have adjusted our rent.
        I have learned things now, after the fact, from this article and from elsewhere on here in groups for emotional abuse, that I wish I had known back when I could have done something about it.

        I am very regretfully sorry that I did not know different and did not just go ahead and get a divorce and have a happier life with my children.

        20/20 hindsight.

        • Robin on December 18, 2015 at 9:15 am

          Many of us feel that way Deb. Wished we would have known what we have learned now. My children are also grown and on their own. But I still left and started a new life- knowing it’s never too late to do what is best for everyone. I was fearful it could work since my husband held all the money. I was thrilled to see God work out His plan for me, even with all my doubts He could. I have made a difference- my children and grandchildren see how I have changed and blossomed – and are proud of me for being brave to take this huge step at my age. Don’t give up- there is still hope for you!!!!!!

      • Leonie on December 18, 2015 at 10:45 am

        Robin, you are so right, that was my experience. It was so hard to put my mind on the kids and their needs when I was being badly abused and attacked by the other adult in the home! Everything is better when you are no longer the subject of abuse and attack. Sanity returns and all the crazy doesn’t make any sense mind twisting and blaming and drama is all gone. It all left in one package when he left the house. There are still 5 people in my home so it is amazing how much peace there is now! And how only 1 person was responsible for all of the nonsense! God is so good!
        “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people!

  15. Leonie on December 18, 2015 at 10:23 am

    Please don’t take him back, it could get worse for you if you let him back. Sometimes they get wise and will not leave easily the second time & then you will need to leave with the kids next time.
    Thank God he left! You do not have to be treated badly in all the ways you described!! Please allow the sanity and sensibility of life without drama to sink in and enjoy not being abused. God is on your side and will strengthen you, look to him only and think of your kids emotional and mental health!!

  16. Jennifer on December 18, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Thank you Leonie, I needed to hear that. Especially since it’s all still so new, I am not used to no drama. I am going to rely on God and yes my children’s emotional health is more important to me more than anything right now. I love this blog for the support and encouragement from other women.

  17. Tess on December 18, 2015 at 1:29 pm

    I have been separated for six months after almost 20 years of marriage. We still have contact (only via email) due to our two teenagers and one preteen. I finally know divorce is the right thing to do, but the kids and I still struggle with the aftermath of his behaviors. Sometimes it feels like he hasn’t left, maybe because they still have to spend time with him. Is it normal to still have anxiety, depression, insomnia, etc. after six months?

    • roxanne on December 18, 2015 at 9:28 pm

      Tess, all your feelings are very normal. Email only, is very smart communication. It is great to let another person read the email, because your destructive person can even be unsafe via email. You need love and support now. Healing will come in time it takes a while for 20 years of abuse to melt away.

    • Robin on December 20, 2015 at 3:49 pm

      Tess after 20 years of abuse I would say 6 months is not long enough to think it should be done now. Be patient, it will come!!!!

  18. Ava on December 19, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Nicely said! So often we think we have a cookie cutter God! As his children, bathed in the blood of Christ, we have his Holy Spirit to keep us from having to rely on legalistic “out takes” and wrongful application of scripture! God is the same today, yesterday and tomorrow… But he speaks into each of our lives specifically. Learning to trust that is infinitely more terrifying than just letting a church leader tell you what God wants from you. But letting God tell you is what is absolutely true for you if freedom!

    • Aleea on December 19, 2015 at 10:05 am

      . . . . Oh, so true, it is terrifying to get our hearts and minds still before God and ask Him: “Lord, what am I not hearing You say? Lord, what am I totally missing? What would You have me do, Lord?” The Holy Spirit is so much bigger than any box of doctrines and beliefs. I have come to realize that often I have no clue what is good for me and there is only one thing worse than not getting what I want, and that is getting what I want. Only the Holy Spirit knows what is really best for me/ us. —God is forever trying to break my addiction to certainty. —And this is not about cafeteria Christians (—picking and choosing what they want in bad faith) but God working in our lives as individuals and really setting us truly free to live and love and having us really trusting Him, which is —as you say, terrifying.

  19. Jennifer on December 19, 2015 at 11:03 am

    It’s been really hard. I want to get back into Celebrate Recovery for co-dependents such as myself for support. I am going to see my therapist again. I have the support of my church. But ultimately at the end of the day everyone is off doing life and I am doing all the work again with the kids. My anger is still there that is the hard part. What is wrong with ME?

    • Robin on December 19, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      Anger doesn’t dissolve immediately Jennifer. There is a lot that you need to work thru, as you begin your separation. I think counseling might be very helpful for you as a place to start. If I remember correctly, you have 4 children. Can the older children be helpful and assist you with younger children?

      • Robin on December 19, 2015 at 1:13 pm

        You might remember – separation can be hard, and a destructive relationship is a different hard. Unfortunately working thru leaving a destructive relationship will come with many struggles. Do you journal your feelings?? I have found journaling to be greatly beneficial plus you will have something to share with your counselor. Whatever you do – don’t do nothing. Now is the time to grab hold of your life, make some plans how you would like to make changes, and start doing it- maybe in baby steps to begin with. But do go towards taking an action, in building a new life!!!

  20. Jennifer on December 19, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    Thank you Robin, yes I journal, pray, try to breathe.

  21. Jennifer on December 19, 2015 at 1:36 pm

    Yes, my older kids can be helpful one of them is in full time college and works a lot, my daughter has her own mental health needs and takes a lot of my time and attention as well. Even though he has been gone all week yes by my doing, I am still doing all the work. I feel at least when he was home, I could go to bed or get a break you know. Now it’s all on me and that is what I am angry about. He has taken sick leave with the intention of finding an apartment but has been doing nothing. He had plans to pick up the kids today and still he is not here, I called and I am still being accused of micro managing his life. I am working overtime to help pay the bills and he says that is my choice, my frustration. While he sits at his brother’s, watches tv and does nothing.

    • Robin on December 19, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      One thing I found out during my separation process was to take my eyes and thinking off him as all it does is zap my energy. This is what he wants!! I would say don’t call him if he doesn’t show. It’s not your responsibility. Let him be in charge of his life and his having to explain to children reason for not coming. I can promise you if you stop trying to think about what he should be doing it isn’t doing, you’ll gain strength back. I had 4 kids just like you. 2 older and 2 younger. I had to learn how to live without him because he had a job that kept him away from home. I always considered it a blessing to not have him home with his bad influence. Sometimes if we can just tweak our thinking a little– we will feel better. You can do this Jennifer. Call a friend that can lift you up, when you’re down and will help you get thru this initial days of separation. We’re rooting for you!!!!!!

  22. Jennifer on December 19, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Thank you Robin, I really needed to hear that. I do think he likes to make me crazy by playing these head games with me. I am going to take your advice. thank you so much, it helps knowing others are rooting for me!!

  23. Robin on December 19, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Something I did Jennifer was ask God to bring me a special friend. He gave me her name and I barely knew her. I called her and told her my story and said, I need a friend who will support me while I go thru this process. She made herself available to me 24-7. Maybe you could find one that would come over and give you a needed break when you need it!!!!

  24. Jennifer on December 19, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Good idea Robin!

  25. Sal24 on December 19, 2015 at 8:04 pm

    Tonight, after participating in Leslies 2 day teleconference class on core strength and under the advice of my therapist I was able to take the very first baby step in leaving. I told my 151/2 year old son that anything that happens between me and his dad had NOTHING to do with him. Until now, the dysfunction in this family didn’t have a voice. I repeated myself to make sure he understood. My husband plays mind games and has had angry outbursts against my son and blames me right in front off him. He has told my son that he was to blame of our problems and he has accused me of loving my son more than i love him. This has been going on for a long time and this time of year (christmas) it doesn’t take much to trigger his crazy behavior. He has ruined one too many xmas’s. But thanks to Leslie, I am taking my eye off the abuser and taking control of my life and emotions.This Christmas he can’t hurt me. It felt good to tell my son that he is not to blame. There will be more conversations with my son and I am working on setting boundaries with consequences. ( so far this seems very effective in stopping the abuse but I am not going to be fooled by lies) I think he’s a narcissict so I have lost hope for any reconciliation or healthy change. I will live with setting boundaries until I can leave. Thanks to this blog. I now understand more about Gods will for me.

  26. Robin on December 19, 2015 at 8:25 pm

    That’s wonderful progress Sal24! Isn’t it wonderful to receive tools to help us end the chaos? I also had a son that was blamed/ and he even kicked him out once because he accused me of being more loyal to him. I learned he would say anything to keep his power. I’m happy for you!!!

  27. Sal24 on December 19, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    Thank you Robin. I pray hourly for my sons emotional health. My son means everything to me. I would die for him. It took alot of courage to ackowledge to my son that I was in trouble. I am determined not to let my husband destroy my son. I am so afraid my son will turn out like him. It is motivation to leave where before, it was my reason for staying. I desparately was trying to foster a wonderful father /son relationship. but now I realize that is not my call. Not my problem.
    Is your son OK? How old is he? Is he emotionally ok? If my husband ever kicked my son out, I think I would loose my mind. That would be the final straw for me. How awful…

    • Robin on December 19, 2015 at 8:51 pm

      Sal24 the day my husband became out of control raging and his behavior towards my son was so ugly- Monday morning I called the counselor and made a commitment to stay in counseling till I could get healthy and find some answers. That truly was the last straw for me.
      I wish I had good news for you. But a only male son is very likely to follow his abusive father, no matter how hard a mom works. That’s why it’s so important to get children out of the sbusive environment as soon as possible. My son is 32, and is very lost. He told me if I got a divorce it would ruin his life. His father manipulates and deceives him and he is very lost right now. I spent his whole life praying for him and trying to do everything I could to protect him from his fathers abuse. His story isn’t over yet/ I’m still praying for him.

      • Maria on December 19, 2015 at 11:06 pm

        Robin, I disagree with your statement:
        ” But a only male son is very likely to follow his abusive father, no matter how hard a mom works.”
        I know of a family friend who was brought up, probably by a narcissist, who is definitely not one. He is a loving husband and father. I think it is very important to let the children see the true colors of their parents. Covering up one’s spouses bad behavior teaches the kids that that kind of behavior is ok. Encouraging or forcing the relationship with the narcissistic father is not wise- we would not want our kids to hang out with other kids who behave badly so why should we encourage our kids to hang out with their parent who can influence negatively. I have come to the conclusion that parenting classes at church are geared towards couples in healthy relationships. They do not apply to situations involving a parent who is behaving poorly. Kids should be taught what is right and wrong. Then they themselves will come to the conclusion that the narcissist in their life is doing wrong. This has been my experience.

        • Robin on December 19, 2015 at 11:23 pm

          I respect your opinion Maria and also realize there are exceptions to everything. I’ve read too many books about how the male child will take on the fathers destructive behaviors even if they are taught otherwise. These male children can hate their fathers and their abusive behaviors and still be very wounded by having to be raised in an abusive environment. I respect your thoughts and appreciate hearing others thinking on this.

    • roxanne on December 19, 2015 at 11:39 pm

      Are you familiar with Dr. Paul Hegstrom’s writings on Mother/Son. The concept is that the mother is in an unhappy marriage and bonds too closely with her son. She gives her emotional self to her son which should have been for her husband, had he been loving and healthy. The behavior of the mother is a form of emotional incest. This disallows the son from being emotionally available for other women in his life. He often seeks woman as sex objects because he had his emotional needs filled by his mother. Of course he could never ask his mother to fill his sexual needs, so that is the only thing left for women in his life. There is more on this subject in the book “Broken Children, Grown up Pain.”

      • Maria on December 20, 2015 at 12:17 am

        Roxanne, are you suggesting that I am doing this?

        • Maria on December 20, 2015 at 12:18 am

          Roxanne, was this comment for Sal24?

          • roanne on December 20, 2015 at 1:10 am

            I have no accusations. I thought the discussion might be enhanced through the work of Dr. Paul Hegstrom. It is a general comment for all. I imagine others have heard of the mother/son concept. The reverse is true in the Father/daughter concept. This is when a father favors his daughter and gives her the attention he should have for his wife. Unfortunately, he often acts out sexually with his daughter. Both Father/daughter and Mother/son can be common dysfunctional dynamics in abusive households.

        • roxanne on December 20, 2015 at 1:16 am

          I have no accusations. I thought the discussion might be enhanced through the work of Dr. Paul Hegstrom. It is a general comment for all. I imagine others have heard of the mother/son concept. The reverse is true in the Father/daughter concept. This is when a father favors his daughter and gives her the attention he should have for his wife. Unfortunately, he often acts out sexually with his daughter. Both Father/daughter and Mother/son can be common dysfunctional dynamics in abusive households.

          • Maria on December 20, 2015 at 1:23 am

            Roxanne, that sounds sick. Can you list some emotional needs that the child has that the mother fills?

          • roxanne on December 20, 2015 at 1:30 am

            Maria, the mother uses the child to fill HER emotional needs. It is a subtle form of abuse to the child. Mom loves the child over her husband and prefers her son’s company above all others. It is as if she is infatuated and can idolize her son in adult ways that are incredibly damaging and confusing to the child. The author describes it all much better. It is part of a larger study which you might find interesting to read.

          • roxanne on December 20, 2015 at 1:36 am

            On a much more personal note. I have been a victim of Father/daughter. My father favored me over my mother and acted out sexually with me. My mother has and does loathe me, to her I am the “other woman”. It is a horrible thing to be your father’s mistress when you are but a child. Unfortunately, this pattern happens over and over again in many dysfunctional families. This distortion of affection sets a girl up for being devalued as a woman and distorts normal sexual relations for a lifetime.

          • Maria on December 20, 2015 at 1:43 am

            Roxanne, That is truly awful that you endured that. Did your mother know this was happening? Hopefully, you’ve been able to heal.

          • roxanne on December 22, 2015 at 7:48 pm

            Did my mother know? I don’t know. But other children in my family were abused and the adults laughed, said it never happened and the children got in trouble for lying. I tried to tell some other adults but they didn’t want to poke their nose into our family business. I tell children now to tell, tell and tell some more. Go to adult after, adult after, adult until someone listens and takes action. Yes, I’ve gotten help, but some things are too traumatic to really be normal. There is loss, but not hopelessness..

  28. Sal24 on December 19, 2015 at 10:57 pm

    I am amazed you were able to leave after your son told you if you got a divorce it would ruin his life. Thats some serious power. How old was he when you left? I think I can do this but only with the power of the Holy spirit. For the first time, I heard the song today called ,”Same Power” by Jeremy Camp. Wow talk about God speaking to me. I’ve been praying for the same power that raised Jesus from the dead to give me the strength that I need right now …..and this song, the lyrics were perfectly spoken to me.

    • Maria on December 19, 2015 at 11:10 pm

      Sal24, I love that song. On YouTube, Jeremy Camp explains how he wrote it- very powerful.

    • Robin on December 19, 2015 at 11:12 pm

      After 30 years of accepting destructive behaviors in my home that injured myself and all 4 children, it was more important for me to listen to how God was guiding me- then being concerned with my son. I was looking at the big picture knowing keeping my family together had already caused so much emotional wounding– I knew someone had to stop this cycle of abuse and not everyone would agree with my decision. Children are not going to understand till they themselves receive some counseling. I knew I had to step out and stand up against the abuse and get healthy- and then the children would see me gain health- joy- and peace again and follow.

      • Maria on December 19, 2015 at 11:34 pm

        One thing that is very important is to expose the kids to healthy families/people. The only person in my kids life with these negative behaviors is their father. So it is easier for them to realize when he is being extremely selfish, for example, that he is wrong. My counselor gave me very good advice when I was really scared that they would turn from the faith- she said my kids would see Jesus in me by living to please him. Also, if I choose to repay evil with evil, I lose respect in my kids eyes. When I do fail, I ask them to forgive me and repent. They are also free to tell me if they think I am not behaving in a godly way.

        • Robin on December 19, 2015 at 11:49 pm

          Maria, everything you mentioned are excellent things to do,
          Unfortunately they don’t guarantee a child will not grow up wounded by living with an abuser. Wounded children often become wounded adults. I feel passionately about this subject. It’s almost impossible for a child to live in a destructive environment and not take it on themselves.
          I believe it’s a critical responsibility, to protect our children from living with abuse.

          • Maria on December 20, 2015 at 12:03 am

            Robin, I agree that it is our responsibility to protect our kids from abuse. Unfortunately in cases of emotional abuse, the courts grant joint custody to abusers. How can the kids be protected when they are with the abuser alone 50% of the time?

        • Sal24 on December 20, 2015 at 12:13 am

          Maria I toatally agree.With lots of prayer, I have set the tone. With Gods help, I have been able to model love, peace and faith to my kids. They are all good kids. They are growing up to want to help others and work in the community. I just do not want my son to ever mistreat women or become disrespectful to anyone because of his father. And of course I want him to have a good self esteem so he can succeed. So far so good….I need to really set boundaries now more than ever. My husband is afraid to be abandoned by me.. If he sees the writing on the wall, I’m hoping he will back off..
          Honestly, I don’t walk this walk alone. God is so present in my life and in the lives of my kids that its really very amazing. He lights the path. Its so awesome.There are times when I have been unable to listen to church seroms without crying. The presence of the Holy spirit is very strong in my life that I don’t understand why I struggle!

          • Maria on December 20, 2015 at 12:44 am

            Sal24, from what I’ve been able to piece together through your posts, you seem to be on the right track- taking Leslie’s CORE class and focusing on strenthening your CORE will help you. Whether you leave or stay, it is important to have a strong CORE.

            You say:
            “My son was 7 at the time and I could not imagine breaking up the family. So I stayed and have tried to foster a healthy father/son relationship but my efforts are failing and I am getting tired.

            Since your husband is emotionally unhealthy, there is nothing you can do to foster a healthy relationship with him. I think it’s important that your son sees his dad for who he is. Once he realizes that his dad is in the wrong, it will be easier for him to realize that he is not to blame.

    • roxanne on December 19, 2015 at 11:32 pm

      The conversation between Sal24, Jennifer and Robin has been beautiful to read. Thank you Robin for sharing and encouraging other struggling women with your wise words and practical advice.

      I would like to add that at some point it is important to speak to a lawyer and a financial planner to gather information. I am not saying you have to act on anything, but at least be informed about the laws in the state in which you live. My employer, like many other large corporations, offers complementary family life benefits. It includes six free counseling sessions, one free consultation with a lawyer and a short term family crisis intervention fund which was available as a grant. Maybe your employer offers similar benefits. Someone in the human relations department could point you in the right direction and everything is HIPPA protected for your privacy.

  29. Sal24 on December 19, 2015 at 11:52 pm

    I have 2 older daughters. My eldest at age 14 asked me to divorce my husband after he hit her while he was driving because she was pissing him off . She was just being an average 14 year old. This was the very first red flag that I sadly ignored. My son was 7 at the time and I couldn’t do it. I got into therapy and my husband did too. But it was all short lived and this incident was dismissed, forgiven, and we moved on. My husband formally apologized to my daughter. How sad that I convinced myself this was an isolated incident.All of the abuse after that was primarily emotional. I have been the loving parent for my kids for 23 years. I have disiplined with love and prayed with my kids every step of the way. My children know the Lord. As long as my son understands that my husband has emotional problems and that his negative behavior has nothing to do with him I think that is important to prevent him from being manipulated. He is almost 16. I think he’s young enough to be rightfully influenced and educated. .At least that is my prayer.

    • Robin on December 20, 2015 at 4:40 pm

      Sal24 you mentioned your 2 daughters. How are they doing now as young adults??

  30. Robin on December 19, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    Excellent words Roxanne. Thank you. I think Paul does an excellent job detailing the abuse cycle in his book, Angry men and the women who love them.

  31. Maria on December 19, 2015 at 11:53 pm

    “It is hard not to take him back but I know in my heart the cycle will continue.”

    Here is a link to an article in Leslie’s newsletter on how to determine if someone is truly sorry.


    When and if you talk to your husband and wonder if he has changed, it would be a good idea to read her article. In my opinion, if you take him back and he has not changed, the abuse will escalate.

    At the end of her article Leslie writes:
    “In my work with couples who have experienced grievous sin, I have found that it is not sin that ends a marriage.

    All couples experience sin. Rather, it is one’s blindness and refusal to acknowledge their sin and repent that makes reconciliation and healing impossible.”

    • roxanne on December 20, 2015 at 1:23 am

      I agree Maria. Lundy Bancroft also has a check list in his book, “Why Does He Do That?” which helps one determine if an abuser has truly changed.

  32. Robin on December 20, 2015 at 12:26 am

    Maria, I don’t think Roxanne was pointing a finger at anyone rather she was giving a caution, that we can pray and ask the Holy Spirit to let us know if we have errored in this way.

  33. Sal24 on December 20, 2015 at 7:41 am

    Well that’s definitely not what’s happened with me. If anything, I have arranged fishing trips for them to go on, encouraged them to play ball together,bought game tickets for them to go on .. etc etc. I have encouraged them to have a relationship. I have 2 daughters that needed me. I never felt emotionally dependent. All of the childhood photographs are my son and his dad… Not me. If anything I am guilty of pushing him to be with the abuser. When they would fight, my husband would say it’s my fault. His Jealousy of myself with the kids is so inappropriate and makes no sense. He has accused me of taking their side… It has been impossible to live as a family.

    • Robin on December 20, 2015 at 9:28 am

      I’m sorry Sal24. Living family life with an abuser is chaotic for everyone. I’ve only been divorced 6 months and everyday I think about the lack of confusion, chaos and manipulations. I love the peaceful environment and not having to constantly defend myself or prove something. I hope you will get to know this kind of freedom soon too. God just didn’t ever intend women and children to live in a destructive environment- but He provided an abundant life for us.

  34. Robin on December 20, 2015 at 11:19 am

    I have re-read all the texts from the last couple of days and decided I would try one more time to clarify what I was trying to say.
    I believe you Moms are doing some excellent things: praying, building your cores up and your relationship to Christ, teaching them to discern good from evil. Maybe it will work for you. I know from personal experience all I sacrificed for my children to keep their dads narcissistic influence from destroying these precious children. But 4 out of 4 were very damaged. Think about the crazy making you have been thru and then ask yourself if you really believe your children can survive healthily amongst so much crazy making themselves. In my case I under estimated the damage his control and manipulations were creating, probably because I wanted to believe what I was doing- would make a difference and be enough to protect my children. It was not. I think you Moms can do the very best possible job with your children and miss this important point. Abusers and Narcissists seldom lose. Even when children hate their fathers abuse they can end up following his habits out of daily being exposed to it. You sound like loving Moms that are doing an excellent job at loving your children. I will be praying for both your families.

  35. Maria on December 20, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    Robin, You are right when you say that the children of narcissists will have issues to deal with. Whether we leave or stay, I believe that will be the case. But even children from the healthiest families has issues they have to deal with. There are no guarantees in parenting. Even God, who was the perfect parent who raised his kids in a perfect environment produced kids (Adam and Eve) who had issues. I think each of us has to look at our situations and decide for ourselves what is best. And that decision may change over time. I pray that my kids will have the good sense to seek help (and first and foremost realize that they need help) and get healthy if needed. I love what Leslie said in her newsletter (there’s a link in my post above)- we are all flawed, relationships are damaged when people don’t realize their sin, don’t acknowledge it and don’t repent (my words). The flip side of this carries so much hope, when we realize our sin, acknowledge and repent, there can be reconciliation. I hope and pray my kids learn this, narcissists haven’t.

  36. Robin on December 20, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    Maria, like I said- I respect your view as your own. When my children began to become young adults and I saw I was not able to protect them as I thought, I promised myself I would be sure and tell women what I didn’t know, that staying together does not hold a family together. I wished with all my veing I had known that. In regards to all family having issues- you are right except abuse issues leave awful scars and often lead a child into years of woundedness. Not quite the same as issues healthy families have. I rest my case. I have spoken my heart and I wish for anyone staying, what you hope for us not wishful thinking- but can be a true reality.

  37. Meilssa on December 21, 2015 at 9:57 am

    I have been married for nearly 19 years. We have 2 boys 17 and 12 and a girl 15. Marriage has never been easy. My husband has struggled to provide for us from the beginiing – most of the time he is “chasing rainbows” as I would describe it and my family has been supporting us and still does to this day. He has used pornography, abused alcohol, and has struggled with authority in the church. He says he wants accountability, but when it is brought, he fights against it. I have always tried to cover for him, not lying, but just triyng to make things sound better than they are. He is the eternal optimist when it comes to his work, but when there is a strife at home he is quick to threaten to leave, but always puts the ball in my court to do so. I think he can be manipulative and controlling, but it is subtle. I have always had the freedom to do what I want and spend what little money we had how I saw fit. He has always promised all sorts of things that have never materialized. He speaks of a business deal going through and then living in a multi milllion dollar home when we dont have 2 cents to rub together. I get sucked into his dreams and then I hit a wall and tell him I cant “go there” anymore and he gets angry. He has lied to me many times over the years about big things. He went overseas 6 years ago for a job that never came through. He never returned as he stayed to look for work which has not proven to be fruitful. I have no idea how he is living or even eating over there. When I, with my pastor ( who he has never met) spoke to him in the fall urging him to come home by 1/1/16, he raged and said that it was all about attacking him. He is not repentant. He is not upholding any of his responsibilities as a Christian husband as far as I can figure. I am looking at 1 Cor. 7:15, 1 Tim 5:8, 1 Peter 3:7 and all of these seem to fit.

    I am praying about divorce. I am afraid. I wonder if things are REALLY that bad as when the rage is over things can seem normal and then I think I am crazy. Do I take such a HUGE step? My kids want him back. They love him. He holds over my head that I will not read Scripture or pray with him but he uses Scripture to tell me where my faults are and how I am in the wrong and he wont use it to examine himself. I can’t bring myself to be spiritually intimate with him. He is NOT here. He is the one who left and has been pursuing his dream of providing for his family over being with his family. I am a mess.

    • sunflower on December 21, 2015 at 6:02 pm

      Oh, Melissa life sounds so very, very difficult in your marriage. I can’t help noticing if we take out your husband’s behavior, that you are functioning great. It would seem with your family already supporting you financially, that you would do great on your own. I imagine you can let the children visit Dad and have their rainbow parties together every now and then.

      It seems to me that he has already abandoned you in many, many ways. It’s OK to take the next step. You are not really in the covenant marriage you imagined, you are unfortunately parenting a wounded child in a man’s body. Some consequences might be exactly what he needs to change, IF he every wants to.

      Of course the kids love their Dad, you can let them still love him without you being used and abused in the process. I would start reading some of the materials recommended by women on this blog and get yourself into counseling. Do you have a domestic abuse shelter in your area? Counselors working in a shelter usually understand the power and control issues you are dealing with. A Christian marriage counselor isn’t for you unless they are experienced in abuse. Please get help for yourself first. Life can be soooo much better without an abuser.

      • Melissa on December 21, 2015 at 7:25 pm

        Thanks for your encouragement. God has been so gracious to cRe for me Nd my children over these last 6 years and longer. My church family is behind me as is my mom with whom we live. His life is a mess. Expired passport, expired green card, living out of cheap hotels, doing “investment banking” as a dreamer. I think he could have Borderline Persinality Disorder and narcissism. He agrees about the BPD but getting help is another story. At this point, we are not communicating at all. Life is SO much more peaceful this way. His drama drains me. I feel sorry for him. He’s dug a pit so deep I don’t know how he’ll get out. But, I can’t fix him. He needs to be responsible for that. He says I have no biblical grounds for divorce as there has been no adultery. There has been sexual immorality with porn use. He professes salvation, but he is not acting like a believer. Only God knows his heart. He has departed. He is worse than an unbeliever for not providing for his family. By God’s grace my kids are doing remarkably well. Sadly, this is their “normal.” I’m thankful that they have been sheltered from much of his behavior since they have t seen him I. 6 years. He’s briken plenty of promises to them and my oldest can be quite cynical about that. I really need wisdom about how and when to broach this w the kids. Thanks much!

        • sunflower on December 22, 2015 at 7:44 pm

          Melissa, you are doing so much better than me. I never had a loving mother or a supportive church family. I hid everything and never told anyone for decades. I am thankful you are surrounded by love. Each dysfunction is very unique unto itself. Be honest with the kids, but we age appropriate. They have a lifetime to understand the rest of the story. What are the laws on abandonment? I am really proud of you that you are not rushing to the foreign country and trying to rescue him. Good work.

  38. Sal24 on December 21, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Robin, My 22 year old is doing well. She is happy in a healthy relationship and is applying to graduate schools. She has some anxiety which she has had since she was 2 years old and she has ADHD which was diagnosed at age 19 and she has been to counseling for at the time of diagnosis. My 19 year old however, has had may issues that have come to a head this year. She was the reason I was forced to take another look at my marriage. She has been struggling with an eating disorder and was in a residential facility this year. She has exhibited self destructive behavior and has anxiety and depression. She just came out as a lesbian this year. She has been in psych therapy and is on medication for depression. She now lives out of state and will resume college next month. When she was home and in therapy, my husband and I were able to work together well to help her but since she has left (November) I realized how broken I was and I began to ask myself the whys and how’s of her illness and went to counseling. Since my therapy started, I have been led here to Leslie’s book and her classes. I realize now that the dysfunction of my marriage has contributed to my daughters illness and now I am focused on my son and trying to be hyperviligent about his mental and emotional health .

  39. Robin on December 21, 2015 at 10:24 am

    Sal24, thank you for sharing. I’m sorry for all you’ve gone thru , I know how tough it is to see your children hurting. Why I asked about your daughters was when I re-read your words about your son( you said you would die for him) I thought that pointed to you were trying to desperately save this child. Sal24 it wasn’t a difficult choice for me to leave my husband after my son said it would ruin his life- because I knew how ruined his life already was due to his fathers abuse. I knew the right thing was to take steps to stop the pain for everyone. I don’t regret my decision. I realize when one person in the family makes an about face choice as I did/ it is a shock to the whole system. It takes time for the others to readjust and choose to accept CHANGE IS NEEDED. I am so very sorry for all your destructive marriage has cost you. I’m praying for you. Robin

  40. Sal24 on December 21, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Robin, Thank you for your prayers. When I say I would die for my son that is me professing my love for him. After having 2 daughters, I prayed and prayed for a son. I cried uncontrollably during his baptism and have always felt a spritual connection with my son that i have not felt with anyone else in my life. I don’t really understand it.

    • Robin on December 21, 2015 at 11:33 am

      Sal24 it sounds like you have a special connection with your son. Just be cautious as when you’re in a destructive marriage where the abusers actions have stolen precious years from your first children- it’s common for one to hold onto the baby in the family tightly. It can lead to something unhealthy for both of you. It seems like a desire to protect this child from the abuser, but it can lead to much pain . These things are so very hard.

      • Robin on December 21, 2015 at 11:36 am

        Have you read, A Cry For Justice, by Jeff Crippen?
        He does an amazing job coming alongside women who have lived in abuse. He is a Pastor and he wrote the book to help church leaders understand what goes on in an abusive home secretly.

  41. Robin on December 23, 2015 at 12:20 am

    Roxanne, I’m so sorry that no one believed you and your siblings, and not even your Mom validated what was going on. I hope you continue to stick with therapy until the Lord heals you completely. I have a good friend who went thru something similar. I know her healing process was long and very hard, but she didn’t give up and today she is very free and helps other women to get free. I hope you find freedom too!!!!

  42. Jenni on December 23, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Thank you for this article and for the comments shared. It’s helpful to me to know I’m not alone because I feel completely alone.
    I was married to a sex addict for 20+ yrs. I finally left, divorced and have a job and nice place to live.
    The kids were told by their dad that I left him for another man. He played the victim. None of that was true. I didn’t fight back. I just told the kids that wasn’t true and they didn’t know the real story. At their ages, I didnt want to ruin their view of their father. After being divorced for several years he claimed he had changed. He started going to group and has been attending couples counseling with me. The counselor gave him the name of a sex addictions therapist but as of yet he hasn’t called.
    Recently, he quit attending group and is always angry at me.
    He doesnt include me in visits with his family. (His mother didnt like me when we were married and refuses to accept our attempt at reconciliation.) When they visited him after a year of us “dating”, he hid his photos of me so they wouldnt see them). (we still live separately)
    Recently we argued about his addiction. He said my expectations are too high (“I just can’t completely quit after all these years”)
    He’s not changed. But how do I deal with this. I can’t stand the thought of hurting my children again. But I feel trapped and unloved. I have no friends to talk to about this.
    During the time we were divorced I was fine on my own but I guess never got over him. I dated other men and was treated like a queen in comparison but couldn’t commit to a relationship out of fear that they would turn out to be just like my ex.

    • Remedy on December 23, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      Sounds like he never truly repented, and rather than taking personal responsibility for his sexual sin and betrayal of his vows, he is projecting onto you as though your expectations are the reason for the failure of the relationship. If he doesn’t truly repent, it is certain that more is coming. Why would you want that for yourself? You got free of it. That is the question for you to ask yourself.

  43. Sal24 on December 23, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Jenni, I’m confused. Are you still divorced or have you remarried?

    • Jenni on December 23, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Sorry for the confusion.
      I am divorced and have been “dating” my ex husband.

      • Maria on December 24, 2015 at 8:36 am

        Jenni, Your ex-husband hasn’t changed, so why are you dating him? The abuse will be worse if you take him back and he hasn’t changed. Here’s a link to an article Leslie wrote about what to look for to determine if a person has truly changed.


        It is really important that you don’t just accept his words. If his actions don’t match his words, run away from him as fast as you can. If you don’t you’re inviting heartache and trouble.

  44. Sal24 on December 23, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    Jenni, you said
    “Recently, he quit attending group and is always angry at me.
    He doesnt include me in visits with his family. (His mother didnt like me when we were married and refuses to accept our attempt at reconciliation.) When they visited him after a year of us “dating”, he hid his photos of me so they wouldnt see them). (we still live separately)
    Recently we argued about his addiction. He said my expectations are too high (“I just can’t completely quit after all these years”)
    He’s not changed”
    Doesn’t that answer your question? You know what to do. Think of Jesus in the desert being tempted by Satan. Don’t take the bait! You are being tempted. If you go back then you most definitely will hurt your children. They deserve better. And so do you.

  45. Jenni on December 24, 2015 at 10:50 am

    Thanks Sal24–I appreciate your thoughts.
    I have already told him that I will never marry him again. And I’ve told the kids, when they mentioned it, that we each have a home that we are happy with and get along better this way.
    I guess I fear what he will do if I say no more “dating”. Will he try to turn the kids against me again, or will he threaten things like calling my work and making up lies to try to get me fired, etc etc. (yeah as I’m reading this I’m thinking what kind of idiot gives someone that does that kind of crap, a second chance?!)
    I have no friends in the area where I live–only back home- so not having support makes it worse.

    • sunflower on December 24, 2015 at 1:07 pm

      You have our support. 🙂 We hear you and agree that he is still dangerous, has not changed and some how manipulated you yet again, using the children for leverage. Are you in a CORE class with Leslie? I think it would help to listen to some discussions. These destructive men are crafty. You can put the boundaries in place and get a restraining order for any behavior at home or work. Loving men don’t act like he does. God will provide for all your needs, ask him. He even helps with loneliness and stress. What is your first boundary with him for the new year?

      • Jenni on December 26, 2015 at 8:12 am

        Thank you Sunflower 🙂
        I will look into the Core class suggestion. But I don’t think a restraining order would be helpful. I don’t fear him physically–he’s a coward. I guess worry or have concern would have been a better way to express my feelings. He is devious and vindictive. If I got a restraining order, he would tell the kids and twist it around to make me the bad guy.
        I am waiting to see if he calls the therapist that our counselor referred him to. I don’t think he will, or he will go once or twice and then come up with an excuse to quit. But, I may be wrong. He may go and work through his issues. I feel like I need to see what happens with that.

        • Sunflower on December 26, 2015 at 10:26 am

          Sounds like you are on top of everything. Hope you had a Merry Christmas.

        • Robin on January 1, 2016 at 5:41 am

          Jenni, this is a quote from ‘A Cry for Justice blog’. You can’t fix abuse. But you can leave it.
          Abusive men rarely stay in therapy. They usually go because their relationship is threatened. Mine stopped after 4 visits.
          The most important thing is your safety and sanity- not what the kids think. Destructive relationships do have one spouse manipulating the children against the other spouse. You can’t do anything about that. But you can leave and get healthy- and then the kids will see the truth.

  46. Sal24 on December 25, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    Jenni, I agree with Sunflower. God will provide for all your needs. He will send angels to protect you when you do His will. Get those kids into some counseling so they are emotionally protected. Pray for the strength to stop dating this man and move on with your life. Pray for the Holy spirit to to give you power and wisdom to know you are doing Gods will. Have no fear about anything he might do if you say no more dating. God will deal with him you ask Him to. I’m sure of it. How often do you “have” to see him? Do you have joint custody of the children? I give you so much credit for being able to divorce him. That is huge.Good for you. Don’t discredit that accomplishment by going back to his abuse.

    • Jenni on December 26, 2015 at 8:29 am

      I see him 3 or 4 times a week. But several months ago he said he wanted a more flexible schedule of when we went out/saw each other. So, I have been backing off slowly on my availability.
      Yes, we have joint custody. And I have had the kids in counseling on and off since the divorce (depending what I thought they needed). 🙂
      I pray for my exhusband, and I pray that God will direct me in the way that is His will.
      And I really feel that I need to see what happens with the therapist he was referred to. I have little hope that he will pursue that, or attend more than once or twice, but I need to know.
      I find our situation sometimes maddening, but always sad. Sad because we have a lot in common–besides our kids– and should have a great relationship, but unless he changes, we never will.

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