I’m Afraid To Be Honest, But Other Than That, We Have An Amazing Marriage

Morning friend,

Thanks for your prayers. I need and appreciate them. Still trying to figure out what I need to eliminate in order to create more balance in my life. I love how you care for one another so tenderly. Even though I don’t always comment, I read almost every comment posted.

Today's Question: My husband has anger issues. He acknowledges it but doesn't see it as a genuine problem. (And he absolutely REFUSES to get help). I know he would never get physically violent. In our 12+ years of marriage, it's never escalated beyond yelling and cussing me out.

But I feel like I'm walking on eggshells. I'm afraid of taking a wrong step, doing or saying something wrong that could potentially set him off into a rage. I hide my mistakes from him. I suppress my disagreements and disappointments. I never tell him that I'm unhappy with our relationship, so he has NO IDEA that anything is wrong. I've learned how to keep the peace.

I try to not do anything to ‘spark the fuse.' So he can actually go long periods of time between rants and rages as long as I'm ‘acting right.' We otherwise have an amazing marriage full of fun, laughter, romance, etc.

How can I overcome my fears and not lose myself in this relationship?

Answer: It sounds like you have already lost yourself in your marriage – at least a significant part of yourself. Your full self is in hiding. You don’t let your husband see or know the self that makes mistakes, the self that is angry, the self that is disappointed, the self that is hurt, the self that disagrees with him or the self that is unhappy. What’s left? The pretender self. The compliant self. The fearful self. And the self that enjoys his charming side and has fun together.

Your question is how can you overcome your fears? What specifically are you afraid of? You said you are sure he won’t be physically abusive. Are you afraid of him yelling at you? Cursing angrily at you? For sure it’s unpleasant and hurtful for someone to treat you that way, but what else are you afraid of? What does he do when he’s angry that feels scary to you? So scary that you would rather pretend and hide than be honest?

I’m also confused by your statement, “Otherwise we have an amazing marriage full of fun, laughter, romance.” Otherwise – – meaning what? Other than losing much of yourself and you can’t be a real person in your own marriage, you have a great relationship? How can you have an amazing relationship with someone who doesn't even know who you are or doesn’t have a clue how you feel much of the time?

One of the blessings in God’s design for marriage is that we are to be fully known – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually by another person. And, that union creates a unique, special bond, a one-flesh relationship that is reserved for marriage. Click To Tweet

From what you describe, your husband acts loving as long as you act like everything is wonderful, you are perfect and do no wrong, and he is perfect and never disappoints you or upsets you. That sounds like Barbie and Ken, the plastic dolls I played with as a child.

Please don’t hear me say that you should intentionally provoke your husband, or that you need to share every little negative thought or feeling that you have. But you are hiding a whole part of yourself just to keep the peace in this relationship. Is that healthy for your marriage or glorifying to God?

It also seems to me that you have taken it upon yourself to manage your husband’s anger, but his anger is his responsibility to manage. How does he handle his anger at work? I imagine he does just fine. Why? Because he knows if he yelled and cursed at people he worked with unless he’s the boss, he’d probably get fired.

You also mentioned that he refuses to go for help even though he does admit to having a problem with his temper. What about his simply taking responsibility for his own outbursts? That’s what grown-ups do. They don't like something. They feel angry. But they manage their own negative feelings in a way that does not squash the voice or personhood of the other person.

So you have a tough decision to make. You can be more real and honest, risking upsetting the life the two of you have created in the hopes to build a more authentic, truthful marriage. Or, you can continue to please and placate and make nice, pretending that you both are perfect people who have no problems or faults or issues to deal with.

But my vote is for you to first get yourself into some counseling so that you can figure out what you are so afraid of and why you’ve been willing to silence and truncate yourself to keep the relationship pleasant but superficial. Don’t misunderstand me. If you had written me and said “we have a superficial marriage because I’m afraid to speak up,” I would have responded differently to you. Superficiality is the relational consequence when we are unable to be vulnerable and authentic.

But because you wrote and told me that you can’t be real but in spite of that fact, “we have an amazing marriage,” there is something within you that has been willing to sacrifice yourself to keep pretending something is amazing that doesn’t sound so amazing to me. That something, whatever it is, is important for you to discover so that you can face it, grow, and know what your next steps forward will be.

Friend, Have you been in this woman’s shoes? Charmed into believing something was good when it was slowly choking the very life out of your soul and spirit? How did you face your fear of rocking the boat and it capsizing?


  1. Joy on August 16, 2017 at 7:09 am

    I did the say thing at this lady and deep down I knew I should confront him, but I had learnt not to express my feelings. But even he rages back or cuts you off, it’s better to let him know the truth. The truth sets us free. In my case, the anger eventual broke into physical violence and then I git thrown out after 35 years and am now 60 years old! The relief from not walking on eggs is tremendous. Basically, I am happier now. Dear friend, this problem will not go away, it will get worse unless addressed.

    • Cat on August 21, 2017 at 8:41 am

      I do this as well. Been in this marriage for 9 years and noticed after about 2 years that he has an inability to control his outbursts, be-littleing behavior of me, inability to see that my opinion on something matters too, etc. etc. I keep pretending that all is well, just to try to keep the peace. We go from a few days to 3-4 weeks without an issue. I just get to a place in our marriage where I think we are “ok” then things erupt. There’ve been times when I tried to leave, just to cool off, get some peace. But he stops me, takes my keys, or my phone. But is never physically abusive. He yells, hurling the “F” bomb. Turns things around. Accuses me of the “rubber/glue” thing, when he’s the one doing it. After I turn into someone that I truly hate being (I yell, curse, call names at him) then he will apologize, stop yelling, become kind and say sweet things to me. It makes me feel like a fool for becoming unhinged in the first place. It makes me feel like I’ve lost control of myself. Then days or weeks go by and something will cause it all again.

      I have fantasies about him being the loving, giving, perfect man that he was the first 2 years of our marriage. We can go several weeks without an eruption. Then when that happens, I fantasize about being on my own, having my own home like I used to. (I owned a home for over 20 years and we sold it 4 years ago.) I thought having a home together, one that he owned as well would help things. But it hasn’t. I’m the fool for giving up my security of having my own home. The one we have now would have to be sold. I can’t absorb the financial aspect of it on my own.

      I realize that pretending is not the way to go. When I speak my mind, things do get tense and erupt. Then I get tired, it usually happens on a work night. I swear that he thrives on the energy it takes to go through it all, and me on the other hand just cave-in and become agreeable and apologetic just to make it all stop so that I can get sleep. I’m living a facade.

      • JoAnn on August 21, 2017 at 6:49 pm

        Oh, Cat, this is not good. He is manipulating you and using the good times to keep you under his control. Have you read Leslie’s book? Are you working on CORE strength? Can you get to a counselor who can help you? You have been in this relationship for nine years, and there are many here who waited much longer, but always regret not ending the relationship much sooner. Strengthen your relationship with the Lord, to know Him and how He will lead you to move on. He knows your case, and he feels your pain. Let Him guide you for the road ahead. Don’t ever think that there is no way out. Read 2 Cor. 1:8-10. Pray over these verses. The Lord will give you a way.

        • Cat on August 22, 2017 at 6:35 am

          I do have strong faith in our Lord. He is who helps me get through the hard times. I pray daily and ask for guidance and for His grace, not only for myself but for my husband and other loved ones.

          I’m almost 58 years old and the fear of getting older and being alone grips me. I do have days when I’m determined and feel empowered to do something, then it falters… other things happen in my family (I have a son who is an opioid addict and I worry about my granddaughter who is 4, enough said), and dealing with such things causes my fear to once again, rear it’s ugly head.

          • Cat on August 22, 2017 at 6:50 am

            Thank you JoAnn for suggestions.

          • Aly on August 22, 2017 at 8:08 am

            Wow! That would be scary having a granddaughter with a parent that is an addict and unable to parent. I’m so sorry about this.

            The fear you mentioned grips you, I’m sorry for what you are going through. You have been given a lot of good perspective, I might only add that choices made in fear~ really are not the same type of choices many of us are describing.
            Fear based reasoning and thinking tends to deepen the abuse cycle and creates more bondage that gets harder and more difficult to act on.

          • JoAnn on August 22, 2017 at 3:10 pm

            That’s right: it’s best to make your plans when you are calm and not afraid. Of course, that’s usually when you think that maybe it’s not so bad…. but if you keep a journal of your experience, it will help you to see things more rationally. The best response to the screaming and yelling is to silently walk away. Get out and away. Don’t respond, just leave.

          • JoAnn on August 22, 2017 at 2:27 pm

            Cat, this is when you really need to lean into the Lord. Work on your relationship with Him, and pray for clarity and courage to do what I’m sure you know you need to do. Begin to make a plan for yourself. Read, learn, begin to trust in your Lord. I’m so sorry about your addicted son. Is the granddaughter his child? Perhaps you need to get Child Protective Services involved. Fifty-eight years old isn’t too late to change your life. Many of the women here are your age and older. Listen to them.

          • Jill on August 22, 2017 at 11:30 pm

            Yes, Cat, totally trust in God! But listen well to what He tells you, often times by simply how you feel. My gut, physically, always told me the truth, but it took me years to listen to it. And, I admit, it was very difficult to finally do what I knew He was preparing me to do. I left my marriage at the age of 61. God gave me a tremendous growth spurt spiritually for the three years previous to leaving. At the time I did not realize why. Glean all you can from this wonderful site! Gain strength. It will be mighty uncomfortable to do the tough stuff, but so extremely more comfortable in the life that results. Not necessarily easy, not problem free, but much more comfortable. Love and prayers for you! Jill

          • Cat on August 23, 2017 at 7:01 am

            Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. They help me to see things from a different perspective. That I can be strong enough to make the right choices for my life.
            My granddaughter is my son’s child. He has her most of the time… her mother is also an addict and is currently going through rehab/withdrawal. She is sick and tired of being a prisoner to the methadone program. They are not together. My son is also tired of it, but not quite at a point where he can trust himself to go through a withdrawal program. Although, that might change, as I had to “tell him off” 2 nights ago. I told him to “get his poop in a group” and get a job, make proactive choices for his life and his daughters life. I’m not turning my back on him, but am no longer going to put gas in his car. I quit giving him $ several months ago. I had fear that he would stop me from seeing my granddaughter, but that fear is no longer there. I had to tell him I’m done! No longer going to enable him to keep making it in to the clinic to get his daily dose. No longer paying for a storage unit where his furniture, etc. are. (He lost his home 2 years ago and lives with his father) I’m sooooo over it! I’m about ready to try to get custody of my granddaughter myself. But with the continual flare-ups in my own life with my H, it’s hard to figure out how to care for her and do what’s right for her.

          • Liz on August 29, 2017 at 12:25 pm

            Oh my.. I so do understand that. These marriages sound like mine.. Up to a point. There are no good times in this marriage. I have grown stronger through reading Leslie’s books and listening to CCEF conference material. Plus now seeing someone I can counsel with. But…I am 69 now. Should have left so long ago. I now do have a voice..I do things that I know are going to anger him but I do not let his anger control me as I once did… To a point. I would love to be on my own and I know the not having to live this way would be so awesome! I do struggle with a hard heart towards him and knowing where the line is drawn in not sinning against God in feelings if hate, anger. It is so difficult. To be able to leave would be ideal, but not financially wise. My daughter lives across the street in a house e purchased in an action. She has custody of her grandson.. Since he was 3 months and will be 4yrs old in sept. I need to stay for them as well as a very small SS check. So good to know there are caring women out there who understand this type of thing. My prayers are going to be for you all in my quiet time.

          • Cat on August 30, 2017 at 7:41 am

            Hi Liz,

            Thank you for your prayers. You mentioned that your daughter lives across the street from you. Is there any way you could live with her and her grandchildren? I would think that if you pooled your resources, you could make it work. I realize that it’s always easier said than done and that there are probably obstacles in your life that may prevent you from living with her.

            As for me, I have fear about not having someone to help with finances, etc., and am working on gaining the strength (mentally) to get through it and make the choice to leave. I do still work and won’t be retiring until 62. I’m planning on sticking it out here for another year. Then possibly making a change for my life. At that time I’ll be close to 59, but I’m in good physical health and working on mental health and long term goals financially. I realize that I deserve to be in a marriage where I’m not continually made to feel guilty when I’ve done nothing wrong. I deserve to be loved as I love with no unrealistic expectations (at times I feel like I’m supposed to be able to read his mind so as to say and do what is needed to keep him from flaring up). He does show me love and respect a lot of the time, then the eruptions take place. It’s almost a bi-polar thing and just so hard to stay positive…. that’s where my praying and seeking God’s guidance helps me get through.

            Liz, I pray for you and hope that you are able to make strides in making things better for yourself.

      • Sunshine on August 22, 2017 at 2:35 am

        You have done an excellent job describing the cyclic nature of abuse. Sadly, the real times are his anger outbursts, the fake times are when he is being sweet and savoring his victory of controlling you yet again. The chances of this ever changing are slim to none. You will need strength and wisdom for this journey out of abuse.

        • Cat on August 22, 2017 at 7:05 am

          Thank you Sunshine,

          I’ve read quite a few of the posts on this thread and yes, I see that I’m “stuck” and need to find a way out. I do need to learn better to set boundaries with him. I have told him a few times that I won’t stand for the yelling. He also has God in his life, so I don’t think he will become physically abusive. He says he would never hit a woman (it comes up when we see something or hear of something where a man physically abused a woman).

          I do have somewhat of a plan, but I need time to make it happen and need to “get through” his eruptions and move forward. I’m happy that I found this site to help me acquire strength and knowledge on improving my quality of life, and getting out of this marriage, God willing.

          • Aly on August 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm


            Such good dialog and care going on. It sounds like you are seeing the truth in different places and maybe from some input and things you are considering.

            As far as the physical abuse area, you can adjust the standard to be emotional or mental abuse too ~ in ways I think those are far more damaging because they are harder to see in ‘realtime’. I also would be cautious to think that just because he claims to be a Christian that he indeed follows through in action and healthy behavior.
            That might be a sense of false safety or protection that has stood in the way of you making healthy self care choices for you alone. Prolonging the cycle.
            I think you posted that he took your keys etc and wouldn’t let you leave, that is abuse.

            Abuse is ‘misuse of power’ and he clearly is violating these areas based on what you have described in my opinion.

            There is nothing wrong or no shame in ‘being stuck’ but there is everything wrong in staying stuck.
            My prayer and hope are for your freedoms through and out and who know but the Lord.. maybe in doing your part in a healthy way the marriage can be rebuilt with a repentive surrendered to the Lord husband?

          • Cat on August 23, 2017 at 7:14 am

            Yes Aly, I do agree that emotional/mental abuse is far more damaging than physical abuse. He started things up again last night. It was a late night for us again. He asked me if I am going up to our seasonal campsite, where we have a 5th wheel this weekend (he has to work). I said that I would probably go for the day on Saturday and spend time with a gal that also stays there on the weekends. He turned it in to me not wanting to be with him at all… that HE got the place up there for US to relax, unwind, etc. I try to explain that I contributed to the campsite as well and that since he has to work (mandatory) that I want to spend time up there during the day and come back home in the evening when he is home (Lord knows I could never stay there all night…. I would NEVER hear the end of it). He turns it in to “oh, you are probably looking for a boyfriend to take my place, etc. etc…..” All I did was answer his question and it turns into a several hour rant. I try to keep my mouth shut and then am accused of not communicating…. It’s all so tormenting.

            I appreciate your prayers and everyone’s prayers for me. It strengthens me. I’m so glad that I found this site.

          • Aly on August 23, 2017 at 12:48 pm


            Oh boy I can relate.
            Does his past (childhood and adulthood) entail;
            Abandonment, neglect, abuse and betrayal by an x spouse or girlfriend?

            These things ofcourse a part of his history and trauma prior to you coming into the picture.

          • Cat on August 28, 2017 at 7:31 am

            Yes Aly,
            My H had a rough childhood, his mom had MS and his dad shut down emotionally and withdrew. My H was his mom’s strength, since his dad pretty much ignored her and emotionally abandoned her, H was the one she turned to as her health failed and she eventually passed away. It was devastating for him.

            Then he was married to a woman that used him, coerced him into adopting her two daughters from 2 previous marriages, then they had a son together. Once the son was born, she completely did a 180 and turned into a terrible person. She cheated on him constantly, turned her girls against him (saying they weren’t his to begin with) and damaged his credit by opening credit cards in his name and charging them all they way up. She would have his paycheck spent even before he brought it home. He eventually divorced her, and had to pay support on all 3 children. I came into his life when his son was 12. Due to the turmoil from his childhood and his first marriage, I get the brunt trust issues and I wish I’d known what this type of history does to a person. I never would have gotten involved with him if I had known.

            We have our good and even great days, but then, as I’ve said, something will set him off. He claims to have a very open mind and because of this says he can see things from a lot of different angles… in other words, he can fabricate something in his head about me and then act out on me as if I’m doing it. i.e., being sneaky, cheating, etc. Even though I’m a happy-go-lucky person and would never think of doing anything to undermine any trust. He’s never out and out accused me of cheating, but will allude to it with how he says things. It’s all so hard to know what I may say or do that will cause him to “go off”.

          • Aly on August 28, 2017 at 9:15 am


            Thanks for your reply. Wow! He has quite the history or trauma and I sounds like he has not had any interventions with it. (I could be wrong or missed a post)

            I can totally relate to the pain of what you describe ~’ wearing a shirt that doesn’t fit ‘and being the recipient of ungrieved losses and pain from my own husband. I just happen to be the one closest to the epicenter so the shrapnel will get to me first. (This is not ok for any of us hear, but for some of us this has been our reality in these confusing and destructive relationships)

            It’s crazy making! So I totally feel like I can understand what your experiencing especially at the emotional level.

            I used to explain to my h that it felt like he had landminds in his brain! The only thing consistent was that the reactivity was inconsistent!

            Your h sounds like he needs lots and lots of help~ I would not care how old he is, but all that layered unresolved stuff is being triggered for a ‘good reason’ but this doesn’t mean that you have to take that journey with him, especially if he’s not safe to do so.

            Have you sought counseling, his past relationships have been very complex and betraying and I wonder if you are being worn down and out?

            It has been my experience and my understanding that individuals like this, have a ton of work internally to do or else they will ‘most usually’
            Sabatoge any real chance at a healthy relationship/marriage.

            ‘Usually stress’ can trigger those paining places~ And in aligning with the Bible we are to count it all ‘joy’.
            I think the joy is that it comes to the surface to be dealt with and healed~ rather than go underground again getting larger and fester…. making less of a chance for any healing.

            Cat, what is it that you think you need the most right now?

            Your husband although he can have good days, the landminds are there (obviously from what you have described). I see you have a lot of options~
            I wouldn’t say leaving the marriage is the only thing to do, but that’s me. Maybe finding a way to separate only if he is willing to deal with his traumas? Requiring he get lots of intervention for his behavior and reactivity?

            My husband was very destructive in his mindset and his unresolved past relationship issues. It was hard for him to see how this had caused him to be very abusive and unreasonable because the emotions were ‘out of control’.
            But the truth was, the abusive pattern and his intruding thoughts were sabatoging anything beautiful from thriving ~ let alone robbing him of a real authentic anchored relationship with Christ! (This was pivotal and this is what gave me the greatest strength to fight for his heart~ from a distance🤓)

            I needed desperately a lot of wisdom and clarity on what my options were. (Professional counseling has a much better grasp on traumas and attachment than lay persons or well meaning church pastors/mentors)

            His unresolved past was dictating our future and it was a scary roller coaster for me. I wonder if this is how you feel?

            My heart goes out to you and you are most certainly not alone! I do hope you feel heard and safe here.
            Praying for wisdom and healing for you Cat💕

          • Cat on August 29, 2017 at 7:49 am

            Thanks for your insight Aly,

            I have not sought counseling as of yet. I’ve mentioned it to him at times and asked if he’d like to attend counseling and he says that “the eight years I was alone before meeting you, I went to several counseling sessions. I worked on myself and resolved many of the issues that I had due to the trauma that I endured…” I can only imagine how he was when he ended his marriage from the evil person that he was with. I have seen her in action a few times (prior to our gaining custody of his son) and she is anything but a compassionate, sane person. My stepson has nothing to do with her and hasn’t for over 7 years.

            I do find myself becoming more and more submissive to his outbursts…. try not to say anything to “rock the boat” … sometimes it backfires and I’m accused of not communicating. Unlike many men, my h wants to delve into issues right away, with no regard for it being a work night, or if we have a family function or something. I can always tell when I will “get it” verbally after a holiday family gathering. Sometimes his anxiety about having loved ones over causes him to become “unglued” and the stress from it causes problems. I love my family… both of my sons know there are problems. My son that lives in CA will ask me just about every phone call “are you OK mom, are you guys ok?” He worries about me and I just tell him that things are ok. I lie so as not to cause him stress. He’s been exposed to how my h is while he lived here with us prior to moving to CA. I don’t even have to say anything… he could hear the yelling, cursing through the walls.

            In mid July, my sister and her h visited from out of state for a week. We did some things together (I took a day off from work) while he was working. After they left, I brought up how nice it was to see her and spend time after not seeing her for 3 years… His response was “Did you talk to her about us?” I knew he was asking if I told her about our “discussions” as he calls them. I of course said “no” as I haven’t filled her in on how he is. Again, she already knows as we spent time with her and her h on vacation a few years back. She knows full well due to his loud voice. It’s just baffling to me that I tell him how nice it was to see her and he automatically wants to know if we talked about him and I!

            I know I’m going on and on here… I apologize. I’m happy to have found this site where I can tell my story and also read others to see what works and doesn’t work for changing things or getting out all together.

          • Aly on August 29, 2017 at 9:06 am


            I hope many might agree with me here that you don’t need to apologize for your story or your length. Share what is helpful and how ever long that may be.

            I will respond here with some thoughts…
            Your wrote this:
            “I have not sought counseling as of yet. I’ve mentioned it to him at times and asked if he’d like to attend counseling and he says that “the eight years I was alone before meeting you, I went to several counseling sessions. I worked on myself and resolved many of the issues that I had due to the trauma that I endured…” I can only imagine how he was when he ended his marriage from the evil person that he was with.”

            I would want to understand why ‘asking for him if he wants to go to counseling’ seems proportionate to you given his behaviors?

            Also given his response to why he thinks he has resolved his issues~…
            Clearly his behavior toward you reveals he hasn’t! He can speak all day how he has dealt with himself but the behavior is the real key to seeing what is and what isn’t.

            I know you feel bad about what he went through with his past, I do too.. so if you feel really bad and really want to see him get healthier then it might be reasonable to require him to get help so that you do not have to continue to get the unresolved pain ‘transferred on to you’.

            You are not the offender of the trust issues in his lifetime. Yet he is treating you as you are and that will destroy the relationship and other relationships in his life if he doesn’t seek help for his grief and loss.

            Hugs and prayers for you Cat. 💖
            Please stay connected to women who have a grasp on what your are involved in~ a destructive marriage in my opinion and your son clearly is concerned for you and what you are tolerating.

            I see many options and many places you can navigate your CORE strength to even see if you can have a possible redemptive future with this man?
            Boundaries and requirements are key when dealing with an individual ‘who believes’ the distorted self talk about him doing his work.
            Again.. his behavior reveals he hasn’t and shows the conflict of what he says verses how he behaves toward you.

          • Mary on August 29, 2017 at 11:15 am

            Hi Cat,
            I have been following your conversation and all the posts here which have been amazingly helpful to my own situation.
            If I may add one quick comment and I hope I haven’t missed any comments that have explained what I’m going to say…
            After reading your story I keep thinking about how it sounds like your h abusiveness is because of trauma that has happened to him and therefore he isn’t really responsible. I am currently reading Lindy Bancroft, Why Does He Do That. According to Lundy, it is a myth to blame/validate a husbands abuse on his traumatic past. It is his mindset and his responsibility. Even though he has been hurt it will never give him the right to hurt you!

          • Aly on August 29, 2017 at 2:07 pm


            Hopefully I have bee clear in my thoughts here and my personal experience too.

            I so agree with what you wrote:
            “It is his mindset and his responsibility. Even though he has been hurt it will never give him the right to hurt you!”

          • Cat on August 30, 2017 at 7:59 am

            Hi Mary,

            I agree, that my h has no right to wrongly project on to me, due to his past trauma. I’m starting to read the same book you mention and hoping for insight on how to either turn it around, or break free. At this point, I’m giving it a year, and if I can’t try to turn it around then I plan on leaving the marriage. We’ll see what happens. I will visit this site as often as possible to hopefully gain more knowledge and also try to be of help to others here.

            Thank you and prayers for your as well.

          • Aly on August 30, 2017 at 12:03 pm

            I will pray for you and your strength. I can understand how worn you must feel but I’m concerned of your fear..

            I’m confused are you saying that you are unwilling to get professional counseling? (Just you)

            I’m wondering about your responses lately and tell me if I am so off..
            Are you not willing to get counseling for your own heart because your husband would not be happy about that and he has to be ok with you getting outside help before you will get counseling?

            Books to me are definitely a help (obviously depends on what books)
            Books and bible studies are only part of the equation ~ recovery is comprehensive.

            I have had many women and wives in abusive dynamics believe that all they need to do is ‘pray more’ and that having God is all they need.., is this what I hear you saying? Please correct me.

            Biblically speaking even scripture doesnt support that though process.

            Prayer is essential! Please don’t get me wrong here, but God invites us to participate in the process.. even if it means placing our foot in the river.

          • Aly on August 30, 2017 at 12:10 pm


            Hoping that you can hear my tone through this email;)
            I’m wondering about this being a good step and challenge?

            You wrote:
            “I am looking at several ebooks to purchase and download, and will start reading! I’m hoping to learn how to be strong (like I used to be) and how to get through his manipulating tactics without always submitting and agreeing with him.”

            Would getting some individual counseling be a first step and an active way of not submitting to his ‘unhappiness’ or ‘agreeing’ with his stance on outside help?

          • Cat on August 30, 2017 at 7:29 am

            Thanks Again Aly,

            I agree with you totally, that my h’s past trauma and abuse from his father and first wife should in no way cause his behavior towards me. This is why I’ve suggested counseling several times in the past. It usually comes up when we are in the middle of a heated “discussion”. H never wants to attend and if I were to, he would not be happy about it.

            I am looking at several ebooks to purchase and download, and will start reading! I’m hoping to learn how to be strong (like I used to be) and how to get through his manipulating tactics without always submitting and agreeing with him.

            I pray daily for my h and for myself to be able to communicate without the loud voice, and accusing tones and looks. God is who I depend on to get me through and helps me.

          • Liz on August 30, 2017 at 10:56 am

            Hi Cat. Thank you for your prayers. No, I really don’t see moving in with my daughter as an option. Her house is even smaller than mine. And he would fight me tooth and nail there still a mortgage on our house but not hers and I don’t know really how that would work. She is raising her grandson who was a heroin baby he’s been very difficult behavior problems from the heroin and as I said a very small house I’d have to live upstairs in the Attic there is a room that has linoleum in it that is kind of finished but it’s just not really feasible. Mostly that I’m afraid I will lose that for her. My h is not as bad as he used to be he’s calmed down in the last year it was horrendous before that but it’s still like a cloud coming in with him over his head when he comes in the door… but if i do something he doesn’t like he starts..there’s no laughing here there’s no good times he barely talks to me doesn’t say Hello Goodbye goodnight or anything it’s just we’re existing in this house and there are no loving times I see hate on his face constantly that’s not a good situation but one that I’m stuck in and now I don’t have a victim mentality I’m doing things a lot differently now and I’m a happy person I just have a marriage that is bad and when he’s here there is stress. I’m glad that you have a plan for yourself and that you’re still working and can do these things if I had a chance to get out believe me I would. You don’t have to live like that with not knowing when the next explosion will be that’s how it was here for me for years and years when he was sort of well we were still doing things together sometimes but that is the way of an abuser their kind to you and then boom. But as I said I’ve learned a lot from Leslie books and I’ve changed a lot inside me and I’m not fearful the way I used to be I do as I said to a point not let his anger control me but there are a lot of things I would like to do that I can’t because it’s just not worth it. I will continue praying for you and the other women in this blog daily that is a commitment that I am making to you. Blessings.

      • Hope on August 29, 2017 at 11:34 am

        Dear Cat, I am so sorry to hear of your situation. It is tragic when respect is lost in a marriage. I can certainly empathize. I can empathize with suppressing my emotions to keep the peace. I can also empathize with being unable to control our reactions to those outbursts at times. And yet this is what God calls us to do! – but not to submit to abusive words and actions.

        Firstly, if you are experiencing physical abuse or you are at risk of danger in the slightest please talk to a godly counsellor AND get yourself to a safe place.

        Secondly, a marriage is sacred pact between you, your husband and God. And what God has joined together, let no person separate – unless there is REALLY good reason. Your husband is clearly not caring for you as he is called to do. And you know whether you are honouring and respecting him as you are called to do. It is a sin to be abusive, and also to react abusively.

        However, talk of separation is premature unless we have dedicated significant time in prayer, fasting and submission to God in our own walk. Without that strength, discernment and relationship we can’t hope to know and do what’s best. If, after doing that, we see that God supports us in taking some time and space to heal and pray for reconciliation, separation could well be the answer. This blog article says it better than I ever could:


        Praying for you dear sister!

        • Aly on August 29, 2017 at 5:15 pm


          Im struggling with the site that you posted. I’m hoping that others might chime in here.
          I read her article and some of the comments.

          Also I might be misinterpreting your comments but the tone is where I’m confused and feeling unsettled. (I don’t mean this harsh but having trouble how you counter your statements)

          I think these areas of using works like ‘REALLY’.. could be confusing to someone in an abusive dynamic of many kinds. How might one define ‘really’.

          You wrote:
          “Secondly, a marriage is sacred pact between you, your husband and God. And what God has joined together, let no person separate – unless there is REALLY good reason. Your husband is clearly not caring for you as he is called to do. And you know whether you are honouring and respecting him as you are called to do. It is a sin to be abusive, and also to react abusively.”

          Someone in the relationship that is used to taking more responsibility overall for the well being of it, will struggle navigating here. Also someone who is much more willing to admit wrong, take accountability or take any part that is out of proportion will also struggle with drawing any healthy boundaries that might be essential and an overall blessing to the marriage if both parties can get healthy together.

          The peaceful wife’s blog has some very confusing aspects to it in my opinion especially when many wives are dealing with such unbalanced relationships with their spouse from the get go.

          • Liz on August 30, 2017 at 1:36 pm

            Totally agree with you aly. Thinking in staying with abusive husbands has greatly changed through the years. My church is totally behind me if I leave. Hope’s comments are the kind that left me so confused and condemned through the years.. (No disrespect mean Hope). I hand finally been set free from that mindset and so grateful for Leslie’s teachings and other teachings I have found in the last few years. God hatesoppression, abuse.. and woman should not stay if she is financially able to leave if he husband is a repeated, unrepentant offender.

          • Aly on August 30, 2017 at 1:48 pm

            I’m so glad that you are free! And that you are seeing certain areas of ‘wordage’ than can lead to more confusion especially when a person is in the thick of it!

            Rebecca Davis did a great job noting that the danger can be with the more sensitive conscience, and that those with more sensitive places hear will struggle not taking on more that isn’t their responsibility from the get go.
            A hardened conscious I have found is someone who never takes responsibility for their own part and thus healthy resolve. It’s never really resolved.. just set aside for the next episode so to speak in abusive cycles.

            Can you help me understand what you mean by this?
            “God hatesoppression, abuse.. and woman should not stay if she is financially able to leave if he husband is a repeated, unrepentant offender.”

            Are you saying that she has to be financially able to leave as a standard to leave?
            I get that there are places she can secure better finances to better prepare for her departure but what if she can’t?

          • Liz on August 30, 2017 at 2:02 pm

            Aly. I meant God does not want His people living in oppression, abuse. I know I can leave my h and not be sinning against God. He is an abusive, hateful man and is not repentant at all… Not a believer…But…I cannot financially leave. My SS check is very little, plus other things I’ve already written about in my comments. That’s all I meant by financially able. If I only had myself to consider.. I’d find a way. I can’t b/c of my daughter and her grandson living in our house next door. She was a paramedic and got hurt on the job. Her check is very little also. I can’t chance losing her place to live with her grandson . Leslie talks about being financially able also in her book. I’m not.. I pray Cat is.

          • Aly on August 30, 2017 at 2:07 pm


            I’m sorry I do see what you are saying. Thank you for clarifying what you meant.
            And I’m so very sorry for your situation with your daughter. 😥

        • Cat on August 30, 2017 at 7:54 am

          Thank you for your prayers Hope,

          I have prayed and continue to daily for my h and for myself. I try so hard to understand my h and consider what he’s been through in his life. I do feel as though my continued understanding and empathy for him should be recognized by him. But I don’t think that it is by him. I try to point out to him that I feel badly for what he’s been through. He says, “I’ve been through more than anyone knows… more than most men on the planet…” It’s like he doesn’t want to realize that we ALL have things we’ve been through… it’s as if he is above all else due to what he’s been through. It’s warped as far as I’m concerned, and when I suggest professional help, he shoots it down before I barely get the words out.

          I’m starting to read a few ebooks on how to better react to him and not add fuel to the fire. And how to better define boundaries with him.

          Again thank you for your prayers.

          • Aly on August 30, 2017 at 8:58 am

            Are you able and willing/wanting to get professional help?

            I agree his thoughts are warped as you said but when you mention not adding fuel to the fire~ also causes an alarm to me.

          • Cat on August 31, 2017 at 6:57 am

            Hi Aly,

            I would like to attend counseling. When I’ve mentioned it to h, he says things like “you don’t need counseling, etc.” I don’t have my own medical insurance, I’m on his. If I were to attend, and try to get some help, he would see the paperwork that his insurance company always sends for anything that we do medically. When he tells me that I don’t need counseling, he’s down right against it. I know it’s because he’s afraid that his behavior will be exposed. I don’t know how to get around this, how to try to get counseling without him having a fit over it.

          • Aly on August 31, 2017 at 8:01 am


            I’m very sorry for how your husband is ‘not really functioning’ as a marital partner.
            How he is controlling the Environment and also the resources to change the environment, this should alarm you to how bad it has gotten.. and trust me if you stay on this ‘path’ his behaviors could get worse. (Most likely will)

            I hear you don’t want him to have his fits but he is having his fits ‘often’ by the way he is taking your personal healthy ‘free agency’ away from you even if it is not so outward, its inward and the damage going to continue unless you decide you want help for Cat.
            God loves you Cat and doesn’t want you to enable your husband out of fear.
            In fact, when someone tells me that they don’t seek counsel because their husband decides they don’t need it, my first thought is how many ‘other’ things are being taking away and not decided by the other ‘equal’ partner. Usually there is a long list~

            The marital status:
            It sounds like not only does he make the decisions of how the marriage dynamic will be but on what your individual choices will also be. This makes me sad for you.
            Are you ok with him deciding most critical things in your marriage? Especially those things that are beneficial to your own needs~ and especially the marriage.

            A couple things to remind yourself of;

            You have lots of options for outside resources, women’s shelters often offer counseling, some counseling centers will give prorated amounts for cash fees, some counselors will offer their first session to even discuss these issues on payment with you and the reasons for why you fear your husband unwilling to allow you to have this resource.

            Yes, Cat you will have fear and you might feel scared, but allow God to fill you with the courage you need to take your next steps. If anything..We are called to fear God and not man.

            As far as counseling, find a Christian counselor… (who is well trained in codependency, abusive cycles, trauma, and especially attachment)

            My husband was also a bit trantrum like over counseling,
            Early on in our marriage I continued to see the signs … we needed intervention but as all abusive cycles play out.. the honeymoon cycle through me for a loop (where I doubted myself) until I saw the pattern. Sure he could bring me to a beautiful beach somewhere and shower me with (non authentic attention) but before long we were back on a plane and headed to the same pattern and unhealth it was only a matter of time or circumstances of stress (a cycle for sure)

            My h continued to speak the ‘UNSPOKEN rules’ about how against counseling he was and trained me well in ‘not bringing it up’ but guess what…
            His behavior continued to bring it up all by itself and how he immaturely handled many aspects of our marriage or so called marriage, then.
            In fact, the consistent bad reactive behavior became a blessing for me to wake up and it wasn’t easy to ignore… God was not going to allow that.

            I share theses things here in hopes that you see I made a decision with the Lord that I would get help, regardless if my husband joined me or not or if the marriage could be rebuilt by Him, that was not in my control but participating as HE was calling me to… that changed everything for me and I grew to trust the Lord even more through many places of stepping out in fear, but choosing my faith and the truths that do decide if we let them. 🌈

            One thing I had to detach myself a bit from and find a bit funny.. was i remember my husband upset about some seeking outside counsel…

            This was my reply:
            Ok, so we have marital problems right h? You have the way you want to deal with our situation and I plan to get advise and perspective (which you are against) … so when all is said and done, if the marriage doesn’t survive are you saying that your ending the marriage because your wife tried to get help for ‘the marriage to get healthier?’
            Yeah that makes sense. 😜

            So basically h, getting help and resources in your opinion threaten the marriage overall?
            Yes, I guess said husband.

            Most destructive husband’s do think like this.

            The real threat Cat, was the control and places in the marriage that my h didn’t want threatened. He liked the level of control and comfort he had even if it was OFF and destructive.
            Me being empowered or having my own free agency was a threat to him as crazy making as that sounds.
            What he wasn’t after was something mutually balanced and healthy.

            Therapy has helped him discover why this is so? And why this is also very destructive for him.

            Much love and hugs for you Cat, you do have plenty of options.

          • Leslie Vernick on August 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

            Thanks ALy, you said it well.

          • Leslie Vernick on August 31, 2017 at 11:01 am

            If you needed medical care because you were sick would you let him decide whether or not you needed it? If you need help coping with what is going on in your marriage, that is your decision, not his to make.

          • Aly on August 30, 2017 at 9:11 am


            You wrote:
            “He says, “I’ve been through more than anyone knows… more than most men on the planet…”

            My response ~ yes husband you have! And that’s why we are going to get all the necessary help and healing for your heart. I’m going regardless husband, I hope you get the help you deserve for your healing.

            You wrote:
            “It’s like he doesn’t want to realize that we ALL have things we’ve been through… it’s as if he is above all else due to what he’s been through”

            This is so in alignment with his other behaviors and thinking patterns at least it’s clear and consistent.

            My response;
            Husband, your pain and hurt do not trump and never will trump ‘my own pain and hurt or anothers” it’s pain on both scales…your pain is not more valid than mine and likewise my pain is not more valid than yours.. it’s pain.

            He’s trying to show you that he is more entitled ‘to staying in his pain.’ .. this is where you can stop the cycle on your own side.

          • Nancy on August 30, 2017 at 6:17 pm

            Hi Cat,

            I totally agree with Aly in that you can stop the cycle on your own side, by getting counselling for yourself.

            Do not allow the fact that he will not not choose health for himself, stop you from choosing health for yourself 🙂

      • Liz on August 30, 2017 at 11:38 am

        Don’t wait and then before you know it 25yrs are gone. It will take a toll on your physical health, as it has mine. I have not one ounce of love left for him. My vote is for you to do something and free yourself from the abuse so you don’t look back yrs later with regrets. (Speaking from experience)

        • Cat on August 31, 2017 at 7:11 am

          The next time it happens, I will try to bring up counseling again. And try to be more stern about it with him. It’s very apparent that he needs it and won’t heal without it, as do I. I appreciate your suggestions.

          I have a plan, and have about a year before I can make it happen, if I still need to at that time. I see his bitterness and even though he is still loving much of the time, the bitterness is getting more and more prevalent. He seems to be unhappy with himself and it’s projected onto me.

          • Aly on August 31, 2017 at 8:12 am

            I’m not sure your hearing me about the counseling.
            You can invite him into the process. (Of course I’m with you in that he severely needs some help)
            But I’m speaking about counseling for you alone, so you can have a safe place to process and get the help with what is being transferred on to you by him.

            Also, I don’t understand what you mean by the next time ‘it happens’ do you mean an episode? An abusive conflict with him?
            I wouldn’t wait for this plan~

            Even if you make your financial plans to be able to escape out, in a year like you say…you will want the counseling as a part of your own recovery work and support system. It’s key.
            Trust me, chances are when you do make your lines in the sand.. he will become the most ‘willing spouse’ (this is temporary ) or he will become even more dangerous once he thinks he can’t coerce you anymore.

            Counseling will be essential to help break the cycle Cat.

          • Cat on September 5, 2017 at 7:29 am

            Thanks again Aly,

            It makes sense for me to pursue counseling for myself. And, after reading your responses a few time over, it agree that I need to break the cycle of him controlling what I do to better myself. I’m happy that you were able to. It gives me strength knowing there are others out there that have gotten through it and are continuing to.

            He would never keep me from seeing a doctor for other issues if I needed to. I just need to go ahead and do this for myself.

            Thanks again for your prayers.

          • Aly on September 5, 2017 at 8:27 am

            Dear Cat,
            Great news!
            Your welcome and most certainly ‘many here’ caring and giving such good examples for you Cat ~Leslie gave the example about seeing a Dr. which is so true!

            You can make a lot of healthy decisions for yourself in this journey that your h doesn’t have to attempt to take away… through fear and his old ways that have kept you more isolated. (It keeps him more isolated too)

            Stay your course… and remember counseling is ‘one critical aspect’ but also you will need some strong support around you. Don’t go it alone, stay here on this blog too;) the more ‘healthy’ support you have the less you will feel pressure to give into your h.

            My prayer is for your strength and God is going to equip you as you Trust in Him.

            Is your husband going to like it?
            Probably not, but that’s ok he’s not who your are seeking approval of and his steering of the ship has proved destructive and problematic.
            If you are worried he might escalate the abuse, it would be perfectly acceptable to begin to see a counselor prior to his knowledge or stance~ since he has already thrown such emotional fits against it and he clearly is taking your ‘free agency’ in the marriage.
            one aspect of safety is getting more people around you that know what’s taking place.

            I think in one of your first posts you mentioned him taking your keys to stop you.. from leaving the house. These kinds of abuse concern me greatly, so you might have to see the importance for your own safety of getting some plans in order.
            A counselor can also help greatly in this.

            Hypothetically~ if he were to attempt to take your keys because you decide you are going to see a counselor for your own health… how ridiculous does that look on his part?

            Maybe others here can chime in and give better advice on when he needs to be aware of you seeing professional help?
            Given your dynamic.

            When I first made a brave call to our church and pastor, my husband had no knowledge of it, it was good that I do it without him talking me out of it. I was very scared but I knew ~We needed help!
            Once the call was made for us it began a long process through. After going to the church, it was evident that we both needed professional intervention. Once the call was made~ in my situation there was no going back, my husband knew he no longer had the ability to make ‘continued power issues’ against me.

            I hope any of this helps encourage you to keep on making your brave steps! I hope others will chime in to here to help offer strength;)
            Hugs and prayers for you Cat!

          • Liz on September 5, 2017 at 8:46 am

            Hi Cat. All of what Aly said I agree 100%. We are praying for you… you are not alone. I pray God goes before you, and with you. I pray God takes you to the right counselor. There isn’t really anything more that I can add to what Aly said. Just know we are with you and praying for you and care about you. Most of all, God is with you. Blessings.

          • Cat on September 13, 2017 at 6:56 am

            Thanks again Aly,
            I do feel stronger and have checked a list of counselors that are on our insurance approved list and will be contacting one to get in. I did bring it up again to my h and as usual, he shot it down (this was the middle of last week). I asked him about going with me and he was negative about it, saying “I’ve already worked on myself…” He says that what goes on in our marriage is “our business” not anyone else’s. I realize that is his fear… for anyone, especially from a non-biased perspective, to hear of what goes on here verbally. He says “A total stranger? All they will do is ‘take the money’ and do nothing for you!”

            I see that he won’t every be ‘on board’ with anything. But I am moving forward to try to get help for understanding and what I can do about it, on my own.

            Thank you also for your prayers. I’m a true believer that prayer is powerful!

        • Pam on September 2, 2017 at 6:54 am

          I totally agree! I’ve lived this way for 23 years. Enough already. I’m now 58 and ready to move on
          as soon as possible. I know God is with me but it’s very scary.

    • Sunshine on August 23, 2017 at 8:30 am

      I am 40 years old and just recently divorced. It was a long time in the making. It took five years for me to decide that I needed out of that destructive relationship. As I sit and have coffee this morning in my new house that I bought and decorated, I am breathing deep. I used to live on shallow gasps and I often found myself holding my breath because of fear and walking on eggshells. I mention decorating because even in my home, I had few choices before. Now if I choose floral curtains or a new paint color, I don’t have to listen to my ex husbands verbal jabs at my “lack” of taste. I can truly express my own opinions. Sadly, I have friends who have known me for ten years and they think I have changed soooo much. BUT, My friends from high school recognize that the Real me has shown up again. Blessings to you

      • Nancy on August 23, 2017 at 2:28 pm

        I’m so happy for you, Sunshine!

      • Liz on August 29, 2017 at 12:39 pm

        Sunshine..Same here.. Except I can’t leave.. Almost 70. I’m not allowed to do or change anything.. Even inside the house. I do do it now though but pay the price.. So I have to pick my battles. I am stuck.. I’m not saying that in a “victim mentality”. I’ve changed alot but I live an “inferno”. I’m glad you were able to leave and do what you have done.. as I should have when I was working and younger. Not easy living like this but thankfully he is still working so I have time here without him around.

  2. Roby on August 16, 2017 at 7:21 am

    I dulled myself into thinking everything was fine except my husband’s temper. I placated, danced around it, and destroyed me in the process of keeping peace. I was afraid of being found worthless and abandoned. When the pain of losing me became greater than the fear of losing my husband, I was able to wake up and see reality. I first worked on me and my issues and then I learned to set boundaries. As I set boundaries my husband’s anger increased and began to lean more towards physically threatening. But as I set boundaries, I also began to find myself and the strength to be me and not cower under his intimidation. Also with boundaries came the ability to have compassion and empathy for my husband without enabling. Boundaries are critical to being able to care for another while taking care of yourself. I encourage us all to seek the Lord and find our worth in Him.

    • Sophia on August 16, 2017 at 8:59 am

      Thank you Roby. ‘BOUNDARIES ARE CRITICAL…’ And our worth!
      “My worth IS what I am worth to God, and that is a marvelous great deal for Christ died for me.” William Temple. All of the unrest of our lives can be our friend as it continues leading us to the truth.

    • JoAnn on August 21, 2017 at 6:54 pm

      Roby, you are doing well to set boundaries, and it is wonderful that you are on the path to saving yourself, if not the marriage. Do have an exit plan, as it looks like your h is already leaning toward becoming more physically threatening. In earlier blogs, suggestions were made for how to provide a way out for yourself: a suitcase with necessities, important papers, medications, keys, etc, so that you can leave quickly if necessary. Think it through and protect yourself. God bless.

      • JoAnn on August 21, 2017 at 6:59 pm

        Actually, Autumn and I both shared some ideas about how to prepare to leave on the same day as your message. Might be good to review it a bit further down the thread, on Aug 16.

  3. Kathleen on August 16, 2017 at 7:29 am

    Wow! Married 40 years! This is also my life! As long as I hide myself things are tolerable and he thinks it’s good! Such a life! Stinks but what takes time to confront and I’ve given up!

    • Sherry on August 16, 2017 at 8:11 am

      I’ve had a marriage like this. I never knew when his rages would erupt. I went to counseling and realized how afraid I was of my father’s temper.
      I started leaving the house when my husband erupted, grabbing the kids and walking out the door. It only took 3 times and the rages stopped because my husband realized he couldn’t control me with his rage. Unfortunately nothing ever gets resolved ever! Any complaint I have is met with ‘Can’t I ever do anything right?’ From my husband. The rages are gone but the superficiality is still there. I’m in the process of separating.

      • Adele on August 29, 2017 at 11:32 pm

        In my situation when my husband rages I can’t leave with the kids or hide somewhere outside and get away because my husband will literally grab them out of my arms or follow me for hours tormenting me.
        If he can’t get me he’ll use the children.

        • Aly on August 31, 2017 at 12:42 pm


          I’m so very sorry for this. This sounds very dangerous.

          Are you getting counseling at this time? Do you have a network of support?

          If your husband is isolating you~ the abuse will escalate for sure, I’m concerned, but there is lots of help and resources out there.

        • JoAnn on August 31, 2017 at 1:30 pm

          Adele, It sounds like you are in danger. Have you read Leslie’s post about a dangerous relationship? I think it was the most recent one before this. you must keep yourself and the children safe. If there is any opportunity to get out of there, while he is at work or some other time, you must do what you can, trusting God to take care of you. Contact a women’s shelter in your community. They can help.

    • LindaLou on August 16, 2017 at 5:48 pm

      Me, too, Kathleen. 41 years next month. So sorry I didn’t leave during the first years of our marriage. I am a non-person to him and always will be. And like you, I have given up.

      • Kathleen on August 19, 2017 at 7:18 am

        What are you doing now that you gave up? I keep hanging in there because I know leaving and a divorce was take much time and effort and strength which I don’t have.

        • JoAnn on August 19, 2017 at 7:26 pm

          Dear Kathleen, the Lord will give you the strength you need to do what you have to do. Others here have testified of how the Lord has supplied us with grace we didn’t know we could have to do these difficult things. Stay tuned in here for more encouragement. There is much light and wisdom here among those of us who have fought the good fight. Get desperate with the Lord for Him to lead you and supply you and direct you. He will take care of you.

          • Kathleen on August 19, 2017 at 8:47 pm

            Thank you, JoAnn. This encouragement means so much. My adult children are supportive but I have separated myself from friends because my husband runs down anyone I try to have as a friend. He doesn’t want me to share my life with anyone else. I am looking for a church to become a part of again. And yes, looking to the Lird and his word as my strength. Again, I thank you. God bless!

          • Autumn on August 20, 2017 at 8:15 am

            Kathleen, I vote you reunite with your friends. Pick out one or two you can trust and tell them the truth, all of it. Ask if they will pray for you and/or recommend some strong women who pray. You must build a support team to help you. I have never heard of anyone who could get out of an abusive situation alone. With others your strength will grow.

          • Kathleen on August 20, 2017 at 8:21 am

            Thank you for the encouragement Autumn! This is difficult because I had a close friend that went to the same church but as our friendship grew she wanted “more than a friendship”. It is very difficult for me to put my feelings out there for anyone now.

          • Autumn on August 20, 2017 at 8:32 am

            Kathleen, be brave and tell some safe people. You can be strong and courageous! You have the Holy Spirit on your side. I think we would all say that healing and recovery is difficult. The alternative though, is deadly.

    • Pam on September 2, 2017 at 7:01 am

      I’m praying for you right now🙏🏻

  4. Vanessa on August 16, 2017 at 8:47 am

    I dulled out so I could stay married. I had to give my boys a dad in the most normal setying. My problem is that I always seemed to feelt things wrong or heard all comments incorrectly so what’s the point of speaking anymore. Your voice doesn’t matter. I was so desperate for “normal” I kept trying for 20years to make him see my heart. H says he values when people are open and truthful people yet not when any of the words I speak have anything to do with a part he’s played. True, I have blamed him for a long time so he’s just waiting to be blamed. A happened as a result of B. It’s my problem to deal with not ever out or the solution is “keep” having sex it will cure anything. I just hate to say get the disappointment from him again.

  5. Colleen on August 16, 2017 at 8:55 am

    Wow, this describes almost exactly where I was at 12+ years marriage except I couldn’t express it so well. I chose to keep the comfortable life and thought I was protecting my children by keeping the peace. We had lots of good in our life. I had no confidence in myself or the tools(knowledge) to do something about it. I was brainwashed. He blamed me always and I felt ashamed of myself so issues never got resolved. In lots of ways he is a great guy (he tells me this all the time so it must be true, right?)
    Now 27 years married and I continued living with it gradually getting worse until I couldn’t keep the pretending going anymore and was absolutely miserable and not able to behave well myself in the relationship because of all my bottled up hurt.
    I have been working on myself and in counselling for the last couple years. I have been speaking up to him, trying to talk, and setting boundaries and he has only become worse including some (minor?) physical. I never thought he would do that.
    All this has proven to me this is a real problem but he continues to manipulate, blame and deny, making me the problem. There is always a nugget of truth in his attacks on me so I struggle to stand up. I still get confused that maybe I am making too big a deal or imagining all this. He is refusing counselling so far. I am not sure how to walk the next steps. I truly think a break from him would be best but don’t know how to do it. I don’t want to uproot my home and teenage son by taking him and leaving. I’d be devastated to leave alone. I would rather my husband be the one to go but I’m afraid. I don’t want to waste more years living in this and don’t know if the marriage is repairable. The stress is too much. I am trusting God. I now realize the harm I have done to myself, my kids and him by pretending which is the opposite of what I ever wanted. The pretending and putting up makes everything harder in the long run.

    • Janet on August 16, 2017 at 1:40 pm

      A lot of the replies sound like the women are victims of gaslighting. Sounds too familiar.

    • Autumn on August 16, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      I hear you saying that you are not sure how to break away from your abusive husband. I would begin with reviewing your finances. Find and make copies of important paper. Get a free legal consultation from your local domestic violence shelter. Make a plan, even if you never implement it or don’t plan to use it for a while. Pack an emergency bag with $, keys, clothes, pjs and toiletries. Pack for your son too. Buy an extra cell phone charger, consider a pre pay phone. Brush up your resume, hunt apartments in your area and be ready. The planning is cathartic as well as enlightening. Oh, and don’t tell him what you are doing.

      • JoAnn on August 16, 2017 at 7:26 pm

        Autumn, That’s really good advice to all the women who are considering leaving. What you said about the phone was a good idea, too, and I thought that it would be good to have list of important numbers to go with it. We don’t memorize phone numbers anymore because we have them all programmed into our phones. Extra medicine, car keys….think carefully about what you might need and plan for it. Leave the suitcase with a neighbor or close friend. It feels empowering to make plans.

    • Ruth on August 17, 2017 at 7:46 am

      You MUST Lundy Bancroft’s book “Why Does He Do That?”

      You are describing abuse. Terrible abuse. What makes it all the more insidious is that the abuser has the victim (you) believing YOU’RE to blame!!
      Of course your not perfect, but on your worst day you’ve NEVER done anything to deserve ABUSE! Those are just his blameshifting justifications. Think about what Jesus told Saul (Paul) during his Damascus Road conversion: “Saul why do you persecute me?” Jesus was already in heaven. Saul was having CHRISTIANS thrown in jail and executed. Jesus looked at Saul’s attack on each believer as an attack on Him personally.
      Jesus HATES when your H bullies and abuses you. Jesus takes it PERSONALLY. You’ve been minimizing it; but to Jesus it is a big deal.

      • Angie on August 20, 2017 at 9:29 am

        I had never thought of the road to Damascus story quite like this. Thank you for sharing!

      • Colleen on August 20, 2017 at 11:04 am

        I have Lundy’s book and am reading it:) When I used to think of an abusive relationship it was a lot more obvious and constant. It is so confusing when it doesn’t seem obviously be happening all the time. Like if he came home everyday yelling for example. That would be obvious. He does this sometimes and its in reaction to me. But in a conversation about something we need to do and he minimizes my point and makes me feel wrong it is so confusing…saying there is one not 3 I know there are 3….or getting angry if I ask him to clean something up and he says “why can’t I just do it for him? That’s what a nice wife would do.” Yes I could but can’t he take responsibility? Or the gift he gave me and “he was just trying to do a nice thing” and “it’s my fault for not liking it” then a different time he wouldn’t get upset. Then there is the happy guy who means well and just wants a nice loving wife. It has taken a long time and a lot of educating myself to see the problem yet I still get confused. This is why pretending for so long is so damaging.

        • Nancy on August 20, 2017 at 5:05 pm

          I so get this, Coleen.

          This is where trusting your feelings and relying on God is so critical. Have you watched Patrick Doyle videos? I found a lot of validation in them ( YouTube)

          • Colleen on August 20, 2017 at 6:22 pm

            Nancy, I have watched Patrick Doyle! I found him by reading comments on this blog. He has taught me so much. When I found Leslie’s book The Destructive Marriage and read it was the first time everything I felt wasn’t quite right started falling into place and making sense! Between these two I finally felt I had some choices and hope for my life.

          • Aly on August 21, 2017 at 2:09 pm


            So glad you have benefited from Patrick Doyle as well. I found him to be very validating especially as the fog clears.

            One thing he reminds people who have been in emotionally abusive dynamics is that they really never ‘feel’ resolve or resolution. The person that is manipulating ~ will never take responsibility for their behavior. And the cycle swirls.

            I’m sorry for your situation but also hopeful that you can get free of the cycle since you are willing to at least look at what is taking place even in the not so clear areas.

          • Verna on August 29, 2017 at 2:41 pm

            Aly makes a comment below which I have often windered about regarding an abusive H who can never tske responsibility. Why, what keeps them from taking responsibility? It is perplexing and so sad.

          • Adele on August 29, 2017 at 11:41 pm

            YES, Patrick Doyle videos are very helpful.

  6. Jill on August 16, 2017 at 9:34 am

    I personally was in a marriage where I just kept putting up with constant fighting yet I had a dream in my head that someday my husband would be the man I knew he could be. That dream was a man that was kind, loving & actually care about me as I really was. It was a dream in my head it was not reality! It took a horrible tragic act on his part that forced me to say “I can’t live thus way anymore!”.
    He was forced out if the house. Over the past 8 months I have had time & help through counseling to really see I have been hanging onto a dream. I wanted that dream so much that it has been very hard to let go of it.
    I am working on facing reality & living in truth. Sadly he is showing even during the separation that it is a dream I’m in love with not the man.
    It is hard to face reality but it is so worth it! I am learning to trust God more & more each day. His strength in me helps me to live in truth.

    • Nancy on August 16, 2017 at 11:02 am


      What you say here is so critical, “it’s the dream I’m in love with, not the man.”

      It takes courage to face this reality. Good for you.

    • Autumn on August 16, 2017 at 7:23 pm

      I think many of us have had the same dream. It is a loss and it hurts. Husband’s are not supposed to act destructive. If you let this dream go can you ask God for a new dream?

      • JoAnn on August 16, 2017 at 7:29 pm

        Much of the pain associated with leaving is really grief about giving up on the dream. That’s why it is so important to get counseling to be healthy; otherwise you end up falling into another dysfunctional relationship right away. Learn to be happy and safe with yourself.

    • Aly on August 16, 2017 at 10:04 pm

      Dear Jill,

      You wrote;
      “That dream was a man that was kind, loving & actually care about me as I really was. ”

      Wow Jill~ I would agree with you that what you describe are some healthy characteristics of a husband. Not sure that I would define that being a dream.
      I see your description as legitimate areas & needs of what a wife would thrive in being the recipient of.

    • Pam on September 2, 2017 at 7:59 am

      Jill, I am finally realizing that by dreaming what could be is not what will be so I’m working on facing the truth and reality too. I can’t believe it’s been 23 years of trying so hard to keep this marriage together. Thank you so much for your post!!

  7. Colleen on August 16, 2017 at 10:40 am

    Wow. This question describes almost exactly where I was at 12+years of marriage. There was lots great about our life. I pretended because I was dreaming of a perfect life and I didn’t value myself. Now at 27 years married. Gradually his behaviour got worse. I am in counselling and worked on talking to him, speaking up to bad treatment and he has attacked me more, even some physical which I never thought he would.
    I am learning to value myself. Every step I take is empowering and terrifying. The stress is too much. I am trusting God. I don’t know how to walk the next steps. He is refusing counselling and keeps blaming me, denying and manipulating. I don’t want to waste more years. The pretending only gets worse over time because it swallows you whole.

    • Autumn on August 16, 2017 at 7:26 pm

      You don’t have to walk the next steps alone. It will take a team to walk away. Assemble your team, even if you have to pay people to help you. Lawyers, accountants, childcare, counselors etc.

      • Colleen on August 16, 2017 at 8:46 pm

        Thank you Autumn. I think this is more emotional preparation I need to do. How to talk to him about this next step, etc. It is very helpful to read the basic steps/to do list from you too.

        I see you replied to my other comment which was an accident that I posted twice lol! So to simplify I’ll reply here.
        Over the last few months
        I have confided in a few friends who have been amazing. I have my counsellor. I have even talked to my two older kids (23&21) who both affirmed everything! Here I was trying to protect them but they could see he treats me badly. I have been going through a lot of grief over everything.
        I think now it is the reality of actually separating and all the questions and unknowns. It is scary even with some support around me I feel very afraid if I can handle this. I am dependent financially. There is never a good time to look for work etc with other things in life going on like my sick dad who I am caring for too.
        Need to do the lawyer part and just keep taking the steps one by one.
        Another complication ..My husband and I have a 2week trip to Europe with another couple next month. I am pretty nervous how it will go and with that on the horizon I am not taking as many forward steps as I perhaps should.

        • Autumn on August 20, 2017 at 8:27 am

          Colleen must you talk to him about your next steps,?Won’t he try various manipulative tactics to change your mind, blame you or deny his behaviors. I wouldn’t say a thing until I walked out the door. Better yet, leave and then email him.

          The emotional stuff and financial constraints are frightening. I agree. Who else can help with your Dad? Does he have Medicare or Veterans benefits? Certainly, if he knew the extent of your problem, he would want you out of such a relationship. Think about it, what would you do to help your child out of such a twisted life.

          Regarding Europe, I have a friend who had such a trip to Hawaii. She had such hopes that her husband would be different with a group and on such a luxurious trip. He was not. It was a very painful trip for her as she was miserable in a beautiful setting.

          Is the couple you are traveling with trustworthy? Might you not hide your husband’s bad behavior and let him be exposed?

          • Colleen on August 20, 2017 at 10:19 am

            I would need to talk to him to see if he would be the one to leave. I can make my plans too but as one of the other comments said so well that her children would be able to stay sleeping in their own beds. I don’t want to disrupt my kids lives more than necessary. If he refused then I could go like you said with a note.
            My dad is in palliative care (hospice). I am the only one in town to do this. I pay a caregiver to visit every couple weeks. I have gotten a lot better at coping with this. I just know there are going to be heavy emotions as he gets closer to passing away.
            I have thought a lot about the trip and if I should go through with it. I have decided I will. It will be very busy tour and lots of people around during days. I asked my travel agent to request separate beds in our rooms. I will talk to h about boundaries for the trip. So it’s just the alone at nights I am worried about. He is happy on vacation as long as he is not challenged. But when he’s happy he especially wants affection… Like your friend in Hawaii this trip could go badly which will confirm more for me and if it’s really bad there are lots of airports to get a ticket home. I have thought about telling the friends but don’t want to burden them on such a special occasion, I may confide in her just that there my h and I are having some problems beforehand.

  8. Karen on August 16, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Dearest friends,

    I read the post and have read the comments with such compassion. I encourage anyone in this situation to find a way to set boundaries and get help without further delay. I have lived with an emotionally damaged husband who has periodic outbursts for 25+ years. The first 20, I tired to keep him happy. You will run out of steam. It will turn on your children and cause the cycle of emotional damage to continue into their lives as broken adults. Praying for all of us.

    • Pam on September 2, 2017 at 8:05 am

      So true… I have done the same thing and have now run out of steam at the 23 yr mark! I’ve set boundaries and live by them no matter what. The next step is to get out somehow. I’m working on that.

  9. Cynthia on August 16, 2017 at 11:16 am

    What she meant, I think, is that she enjoys the good times they have together and doesn’t want to leave. Yes. I get that. We sacrifice ourselves to make the peace if we are co dependent. True intimacy IS the harder path. Marriage is two broken sinful people coming together as one. Hard stuff. Add complex trauma, infidelity, verbal or other abuse and a painful cocktail of toxic emotions follows. I think most of us have been there. Long suffering and patience take time to grow after years of coping skills took root. Be patient with yourself.

  10. Alene on August 16, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    Leslie said, “How does he handle his anger at work? I imagine he does just fine.”
    No, I doubt he does just fine. He may control his anger but whatever the problem is, it is bound to come out in some way.

    What I found was that my husband’s attitudes did affect his work. He was let go from a place and position that drastically affected our whole life because of it. He wasn’t responding well to authority, wasn’t communicating well, and had some subtle integrity issues, and did not treat a fellow employee with respect. I could see there were triggers but couldn’t see how to respond well. I kept trying to get him to see and to get some help. I was not strong enough or clear enough or direct enough. The situation was not just affecting me.

    It wasn’t just affecting me at home either; it ended up affecting our children; it affected the boys choices and attitudes. I have a strained relationship with an older son because of peace-keeping and trying to peace-keep. It affected extended family and all of our relationships.

    The other year it affected yet another work situation. My husband had a new boss who was controlling and angry. My husband said he felt sorry for his family because it undoubtedly affected them too. My husband sought to navigate through this tough situation better in large part due to the fact I was speaking up better and not managing his problem. He still had some problems because he wasn’t fully there.

    I know I was enabling before by being unable to speak the truth with simple strength. It has not been easy to be more authentic and strong. It has not been easy to face fear. It hasn’t been easy to stop playing ‘nice’ instead of actually being ‘good’. I couldn’t participate anymore the way I had been. Too many people had been hurt.

  11. Vicki on August 16, 2017 at 12:34 pm

    I lost myself in my marriage too. It was easier for me to go along with him before we had children ( which he never wanted.). Once the children were old enough to have their own voices, it became impossible for me to contain the abuse against all of us. He accused my daughter of ruining our marriage and he made her move out of our house at 17 before she graduated from high school. He convinced my son it was the boys against the girls so my son didn’t speak to me for a year after I moved out on my own. I wanted my son to come with me but his dad convinced him I was the crazy one. My son and daughter have no relationship and my daughter doesn’t have a relationship with her dad either. Please, please, save your children if you have any, from the emotional abuse of your husband. File for a legal separation if you have to in order to get him the help he needs. God will help you through this situation. God loves you and wants you to be the woman he created you to be, not a shadow of yourself.

  12. Sandy on August 16, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    Yes, I’ve been in her shoes. I went for counseling after my husband found me crying alone on our deck one Sunday afternoon. He was clueless. I asked him to go with me to counseling but he wouldn’t. That was two years ago. I’ve since been getting help through Conquer, classes offered by Leslie and from her book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. I’m learning to own my part of the ‘cover up’ and learning to find my authentic self. My husband ended up leaving me which was scary for me but I’ve never felt healthier!

  13. Hope on August 16, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    IMy husband of 28 years has Aspergers. Dealing with this has twisted my heart into a pretzel. I’ve spent lots of energy, emotion and years trying to help him and struggling to have whatever relationship is possible with him. But he has refused to get any help, shuts down any conversation about “us” through meltdowns and bullying behaviors, almost never praises or apologizes and says basically “this is how I am.” I’m slowly and painfully taking steps to build my own core so I can whole myself and be clear on any future steps I need to take. I’m forever grateful to the Lord and to Leslie for her wise godly counsel and for help in Conquer!

    • Sophia on August 17, 2017 at 11:07 pm

      I love ‘Hope’ and it reminds me of this verse in Lamentations 3:21 ‘ But this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love ❤️ of the Lord never ceases.’ As believers we can have hope. Praying for you Sister.

  14. Cara on August 16, 2017 at 2:19 pm

    My husband deflects his anger issues on me. He gets irate if I say something that he’s not in agreement with, spiritualy mostly. But even when I explain that I need closeness to him to be able to be open sexually where it doesn’t feel like duty . He will respond with I’m your freaking husband.
    He has told me he will not do “oneness ” and I can stop trying to change him. But these are my desires and expectations ..
    Otherwise I feel like an object .

    He had a huge outburst last week and is trying to blame it on me.
    We don’t have a good sexual bond or emotional bond and no spiritual bond
    I can resign to sex once a week and detach from him and try to love him where he’s at( not following God) I’ve asked to separate temporarily but he refuses to work with a mediator.

    He says he agrees we need space and time for healing
    He told the kids I was throwing him out Bc I asked him privately for a separation.
    Now the kids are scared .
    We have 3 kids.
    But since he won’t work with a mediator.. Bc he doesn’t want to be told what he must do in order to reconcile– he’s telling me he will leave and I can have a break , I will have the kids.
    He is going to travel and go do things he wants to do , he won’t stay around here. And it’s up to him with what he wants to do. Not me
    And no one can make him pray or read the Bible or work on himself .
    I said what happens when you come home and he says nothing -/ we both got a break from each other..
    Should I agree and let him go?

    Something tells me he will tell the kids I booted him..

    He accepts no responsibility for his actions , everything is somehow my fault.

    I do not want my marriage to end.
    So I have some questions
    I believe he’s a narcissist with mood disorder..
    I’ve done lots of reading and learning
    What can I do to win him back with love?
    Shower him with love and grace and forgiveness?
    How do I help my kids? He’s not showing them in words or actions that he wants to fight for our marriage. He has scared them with angry outburst and how he treats me..
    I am standing here with all the broken pieces and he didn’t do anything that wrong
    Or o caused it

    I’ve spoken up and he just rejects it. He says he “disagrees ” and that was not anger — so I want to see anger?!

    I’m so heart broken right now.
    My stomach is in knots

    I am using my CORE
    I do love him and have empathy and compassion Bc I see how lost he is and how hardened his heart is. I can’t fix this with sex .. we need to both turn to God together but he refuses to. I’m on my knees everyday begging God through tears to revive and restore our marriage and redeem this mess
    I’m desperate for prayers

    Appreciate any words of wisdom or encouragement.
    What can I do right now ?
    As a godly wife and mom?

    • Sandy on August 16, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      Cara, I’m praying for you and your family. I have been where you are and my heart breaks for yours. There is something I learned 20 years ago from a Godly friend. At the time my teenage son was very rebellious, using alcohol and marijuana and lying about everything. I was such a mess about it and so full of fear! I went forward at church for prayer for my son and strength for myself. This dear woman prayed with me and had me imagine my son as a baby and imagine the weight of his baby body in my arms. She led me through laying my baby on God’s altar and walking away. That sounds brutally hard but she was so gentle with me in that prayer and roll play. Incredible peace came over me. I have used that valuable lesson many times throughout the struggles in my marriage. Each time I gain that peace and get strength. In that place of peace is where God ministers to my heart. I may not get off my knees with the answers to my problems but I get up knowing I’m not alone.

      • Cara on August 16, 2017 at 5:14 pm

        Thank you , Sandy.
        I would definitely walk away if we didn’t have the kids still at home . They are 15, 13, 11

        The biggest stress I have is protecting my kids from his moods and the dysfunction of our marriage.
        He sees no problem!
        We’ve been in and out of counseling for 6 years..
        He has googled
        ” my wife wants oneness , and I don’t ”

        I don’t want any regrets.. sonim asking God to show me exactly what I should do/ need to do before it’s over, and I go see an attorney.
        I will do everything God asks me.
        I like the visual of laying him at the alter and walking away. Thank you.
        The walking away is hard , Bc I’m not, I’m here.. I’m hurting . The abuse cycle continues..
        How do I detach?
        I can have no expectations of him emotionally I do know that..
        It’s lonely here. :(..
        He will never ever meet my needs
        But I must somehow meet his
        Maybe I can just figure out a way to detach Bc my body is not mine if I stay.
        I can tell myself every Friday I will be avail to be used . If I don’t I deal with his irritable moods.
        He’s loving when we are together physically but I feel cheap Bc I don’t trust him. He has a double life. He views Pornography and says he does it Bc he’s lonely .. so am I!

        I need courage to take next step but I want to know I did everything I could..
        what can I be doing that maybe I’m not ?

        I’m open to hearing godly wisdom..

        • Aly on August 16, 2017 at 10:31 pm


          I’m so very sorry for what you are facing and have been living with.

          I do understand your desperation and your fear.

          I will pray for you and your husband.
          I most certainly do not want to come off as .. do this or do that.
          But I’m concerned about your husband’s porn issue… and how it is directly related to his attitude and apathy of your marriage.

          To me, he sounds like a typical addict mindset, and his betrayals (using porn) and then telling you it’s your fault.. is very abusive to your personhood.

          Are you in counseling? The best thing you can do is get yourself in a stronger place to deal and be able to place requirements with what has been going on in the heart of your husband.
          He needs intensive help!! Immediately or he will continue to treat you like a object and continue to traumatized you in this way!

          Porn and character issues are big places of trauma ..,that if not addressed directly ~ (like Every mans Battle etc).. or other intensives, few men can get the help they need on their heart issues. They just go underground~ while the recipient of their behavior is crushed and in need of deep healing of betrayal.

          I’m so sorry Cara, do you have a couple close ‘well educated’ on this issue in your circle for support?

          You will need others to take this journey out and through.

          • JoAnn on August 16, 2017 at 11:14 pm

            Cara, Leslie addressed the issue of porn a few months back. You can read her advice and the comments of the women here if you go to the archives on the main web site. There is help there. The Lord hates porn, as it is in fact, adultery, so we should not tolerate it in our marriages. May He empower you to do what you need to do, by His leading.

        • Sophia on August 16, 2017 at 10:36 pm

          Cara…this week in counseling, I was reminded that our NEED is vertical with God. And He is enough. In our horizontal relationships with others it is about WANTS. And if they do not deliver it is possible for me to function and even be healthy…but getting there is a journey. Praying for you.

          • Aly on August 16, 2017 at 10:49 pm


            I agree with you that God is enough indeed! Especially when speaking salvation and the Holy Spirit guiding us.
            However he designed us to be in relationship with Him and with others.
            Part of this design is from Him. If all we needing was Him alone~ He wouldn’t emphasize the importance and structure that community brings, especially in the sanctification process.

            Marriage was designed to glorify God, He designed two becoming one flesh. Two broken people leaning toward the Lord in the center.
            Two people in agreement about who we want as the authority over our marriage.

          • Cara on August 17, 2017 at 3:28 pm

            What if my husband is not wanting to believe that. But I do?
            I think the twist he makes on truth when he talks to me is that truth doesn’t apply to him Bc he’s not where I am spiritually, so I should stop “insisting ” or asking or expecting anything spiritually from him.
            And he works hard to provide and I stay home so I need to meet his needs and what’s wrong with me that I don’t want him all the time ??
            Maybe it’s that I’m too pure Bc of my faith is so strong ..and he’s still a believer by the way .. I better not ask or expect anything spiritually Bc his faith is private.
            And he’s not where “I’m” at.
            So leave him alone
            What do I make of that?
            He’s saying I beat him down .. but I am not . I don’t ask for anything spiritual nor do I bring up any truth to him , or discuss sermons , or ask him to pray . Nothing ..

            Is he exempt from truth Bc he’s choosing not to read it and follow it?
            He used to but right now he’s not and has not for a good few years.
            No accountability.
            Everything is somehow my fault..
            I caused him to not follow Christ too..
            (Yes he said this )


            I also have a wonderful counselor.. and I’ve left the church counseling office.
            No more of that ..

          • Aly on August 17, 2017 at 5:01 pm


            Can totally relate to what you described and sad that it’s all to common used by men who claim being a believer in Christ but have no desire to walk in growing their faith and their role as a Godly husband.

            You are not responsible for your husband’s at attitude or unwillingness do deal with his issues.
            He know in his heart he is being an adulterer ~ of course he doesn’t want to draw near to the Lord, it’s too convicting!
            Also anytime I hear that a person has a private faith.. I’m immediately alarmed because God calls us to a ‘personal faith’ not a private one alone.
            And in this personal faith we are called to express our faith in action… not in privacy alone.

            Your husband is using most every addict tactic …right now.
            He is far from the Lord because of following his sinful lusts and his drug of choice (porn being one example). He chooses to blame and traumatize you because he has been able to so far.

            Some might disagree with me, but I find it very helpful to treat a person who claims to believe in Christ, ‘as a believer’ and not treat them as an unbeliever.

            In the Body of Christ we are to be accountable to one another~ we don’t decide for the believer who is claiming to be saved and look the other way and treat them as an unbeliever just because their behavior is in conflict with what they say they believe.

            Is that helpful? I hope so;) Cara, I know it’s such emotional turmoil. I’m sorry for that but just because your husband provides that doesn’t mean it has to cost you such disregard and honor overall~ he has clearly broken the biblical covenant.

            Now I’m not saying divorce ~ right now and going that direction but I am saying to get strength in your core so you can challenge him and allow him to make the choice to not have a healthy marriage.
            You are not choosing that, nor are you choosing to dissolve your marriage~ his choices and his attitude have been deciding if there is a marriage that can be redeemed.

            Personally I think the unknown of the outcome is quite far off until the porn is first addressed.
            Porn will aid in his inability to see from a healthy perspective and will aid in treating you with such disregard and care.

          • Leslie Vernick on August 17, 2017 at 6:18 pm

            I think living in “reality” or “truth” is accepting that he’s not where you are at. However, that does not give him license to hurt or abuse you or behave sinfully without consequences. There are plenty of women who are married to unbelievers who are not cheated on, abused, disrespected, or lied to. They are treated as women of dignity, even if their spouse does not share their religious convictions. So having different or no faith doesn’t excuse abusive behavior. Ever.

      • Cara on August 17, 2017 at 8:09 am

        So much emotional damage done from my church counseling office:(..
        He doesn’t return phone calls, and tells me love covers a multitude of sins.
        Believe the best
        These things do not work in abuse..

        He told me not to believe my husband is a narc and to put away all my books I’m reading to learn about it. He was psychologically tested and grandiosity and mania were prevalent as well as low response to counseling. This counseling pastor threw out all of the findings and said I was not “listening “to my husband. And the home was creating tension for him., and guess what my husband has already been diagnosed as bipolar, by another clinical psychologist! But this counselor threw that out too!

        I’ve since been a Better listener and guess what nothing changed he’s still selfish and Prideful.
        Angry.. irritable

        But then This counseling pastor also told me my husband is emotionally abusive!

        He knew it but told me to deal with it. And I was part of the marriage issues to fix ( agree but my husband doesn’t want to work on it he wants things his way)
        I’ve had to heal through that hurt and not believe the lies and know how much more damage he caused me.
        He did not once help me set boundaries but told me I had bitterness and anger.
        Never held my husband accountable but expected more grace and forgiveness from me. Didn’t help me with resources to help my kids even when I asked he blew me off or is it Bc
        He never returns phone calls, emails?

        I’m sick over his care
        I have to see him every week at church and I honestly want to vomit
        Wonder how many other couples / women are being harmed?
        I feel like he told me I need to give my husband sex and follow the advice in 1 peter3 for wives and shut my mouth and stop exposing my husband .. but he knows a lot of the circumstances and harm I’ve been through and my kids

        I’ve come so close to walking away from God ..
        Why am I in this place for so long and I keep asking myself what can I change?
        If my 3 kids were grown I’d be gone.. that’s my plan right now to stay til then and work on myself til then,
        Detach and learn what I need to do to live amongst a narc , not expect anything from him and get my needs met in other things..
        My kids see.. they hurt too .
        I feel scared Bc I have no job, I homeschool all three kids.
        My friends who know have all since turned on me .. all of a sudden I only have two friends who are here for me..

        • Aly on August 17, 2017 at 9:43 am


          I take it that you are not seeing that pastoral counselor any longer, correct?

          I’m very sorry for what he contributed to the adding of more disease and issues on your shoulders that are not yours to carry.

          What he told you to do, was the worst thing to do with someone as destructive as your husband seems to be from what you describe.

          I am curious though… how did your husband get psychological evaluated and willingly too?
          Most husband’s like you describe will rarely get that form of evaluation ‘especially if they are a true narc’
          And carry all of the other control traits with it?
          How did this come to be..?

          Given all you have shared about the marital dynamic the pastoral counselor is far from equipped to help you and especially can’t help your h.

          Are you willing to see a Christian counselor independently that is professional to better equip you emotionally for what your up against?

          What JoAnn mentioned about the other articles and posts is very important for your reality and the effects of how porn will continue to destruct your h and any hope of a marriage getting healthy.

          • Cara on August 17, 2017 at 10:36 am

            He agreed to take the testing Bc I told him it’s that or I’m seeking legal separation. He went through with counseling as a check the box and still we are in the same place.. him incontrol, blameshifting, gas lighting
            And abusing emotionally..

            I’m stronger now though.

          • Cara on August 17, 2017 at 11:26 am

            Next step is seeking legal counsel.
            The attorney my church counsel would suggest? Or someone separate and different?
            I want to find a Christian attorney ..

          • Aly on August 17, 2017 at 11:36 am


            I would suggest seeing an attorney that would not be a recommendation from your church counsel, that pastoral counselor doesn’t not seem like he is equipped to offer anything at this point.

          • Cara on August 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm

            Correct — I will not see my church counseling again.
            I have my own counselor.
            My next step is legal advise..
            Need to find safe attorney.

        • JoAnn on August 17, 2017 at 10:29 am

          Cara, your situation is so very painful, and it grieves me that you are having to live with all of this abuse, not only from your husband, but also from your “pastor.” On another thread, one of the women made suggestions for getting ready to leave, which in itself is empowering. I am going to summarize what has been repeated by many of the women here, and that is to not think you have to stay for the children. They are suffering, too, and their lives will be permanently impacted by what is going on in your household. So, here are some starting points: find a christian counselor who will help you to develop CORE strength; learn what your rights are in your state by consulting with a lawyer; pack a “getaway bag” with supplies for yourself and the children; include an extra set of car keys, money, and a prepaid phone with a list of important phone numbers; and copies of all important papers. Of course, don’t tell your h that you are doing this. Also, you need your own personal bank account to put a bit of money away for yourself, a little at a time as you are able. If you don’t have a good hiding place for your suitcase, ask a neighbor or friend to keep it for you.
          As Leslie says in her book, “If you choose to stay, stay well; if you choose to leave, leave well.” You can also check with a local community college to see what courses you could take to equip yourself with job skills. this is a big list, and you can pick a place to start, then just do what you can, quietly. You will feel better just getting started. May God grant you the courage and grace to seek His will and follow it.

          • Aly on August 17, 2017 at 11:00 am

            JoAnn,& Cara,

            JoAnn I think all of those things a good suggestions but also I think if I’m correct,Cara’s h was planning to leave and go do his own thing so they could have time away.

            Cara you still might consider it being necessary to seek legal and financial protection for you and your kids, especially if he leaves.

            For me, given I was the primary caregiver of our children.., I felt it necessary that if separation was to happen, my h (the one that was the repeat offender) needed to leave.

            Our children were going to remain in their own home and beds at night, because they were not going to be additionally punished for behaviors my h needed to take responsibility for. (This is not always the option for some women~ so it’s imp to seek counsel and do what is first the safest thing to prepare)

            Now I know that it’s not always the scenario given or options depending what type of abuse is taking place and what gets escalated,
            but from Cara’s other post it sounds like her husband is willing to leave. Even if it’s for a short term it will give her even more space to think and be away from him and the cycle.

        • Cara on August 17, 2017 at 11:32 am

          Trust me when he says he will leave.. it’s about him more. He wants to travel and experience life..
          it’s not to work on the marriage. He wants freedom and a wife and family too. He says I hold him back
          I want him to pick and decide what he wants it’s obvious that he doesn’t want relationship.. he wants his needs and wants and desires and control .. he earned it, after all. He’s successful

          • Aly on August 17, 2017 at 11:41 am

            Yes I agree with you with what he wants selfishly.
            He wants something very unrealistic and in my opinion quite irrational to expect from you and the family.

            Let him go, and set the boundaries you need for your own safety, care and sanity.
            What he wants isn’t a marriage as God would define it.
            Stick with God’s definition and structure of marriage.

          • Aly on August 17, 2017 at 12:11 pm

            Cara, I would also add that you don’t need to inform your h that you are going to seek legal advice and protection at this time.
            He is free to leave and live the way he chooses. Him leaving might be a blessing overall so you can get objective and grow your core to navigate and chase after God’s best for you.

          • JoAnn on August 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm

            Aly, I am 100% with you on everything you said. this is Cara’s golden opportunity to be free and gain strength. Work your way down the list, Cara, and you will find that the Lord is parting the waters for you. That’s what He does.

          • Autumn on August 17, 2017 at 4:50 pm

            What would happen if you changed the locks on the door while he was gone. Maybe you could pack him a bag by the front step for his return.

          • Aly on August 25, 2017 at 9:17 am


            Not sure where things are and if your husband decided to leave as was being discussed on the blog last week?

            Have you contacted an attorney for more information about your legal rights of separation?

            These places in life are so very painful especially when your your husband is ‘ok’ with how he wants to live in this manner.

            You wrote something:
            “I want him to pick and decide what he wants it’s obvious that he doesn’t want relationship..”

            I would agree with you that his choices and behavior reveal what he wants.
            You say you want him to pick, and it seems like he has picked, he wants you to be ok with it.

            For me, I can relate to a husband picking ‘a non marriage’ through behaviors.
            The picking and choices he continues to make… are picking and choosing a divorce in reality. He wants you to be on board with how he defines a living arrangement.

            Also, it’s important that you can see he is using his power of being the main provider over you, that in itself is abuse. Just because he finances the family home does not give him a free ticket to live as anyway he chooses. Even single men I know would not live this way and think it was honoring or Christlike character.

        • Ruth on August 17, 2017 at 5:38 pm

          Cara, this ‘counseling pastor’ has GREATLY REABUSED you. Please get away from this evil ‘counselor ‘. I am so sorry for the weight he put on you. You went to him for help, but he used his position to hurt you instead. That is a true evil.
          If your church subscribes to this oppressive doctrine, where women are just sexual servants who have to keep their mouths shut, then I beg you to leave. Find a non-toxic church. Begin to pray and cry out to the Lord for even just a small core of women who will support you in prayer and fellowship. Cara, I am so sorry for all you are enduring. It is especially hard while you’re homeschooling. I know in my case I homeschooled partially bc I wanted to and partially out of a sense of ‘it was what a good conservative Christian woman should do’. I’m not sure it God led me to or not. Maybe it was just my personal choice. But I know back in those days, I made WAY TOO MANY DECISIONS OUT OF FEAR, GUILT, AND CONDEMNATION. Basically, those were my most familiar emotions- how sad. 🙁
          By the Grace of God, one day on Christian radio I heard Leslie Vernick speaking on the toll that emotional abuse takes on a woman. I felt like she’d been staring into my soul. I immediately googled her and found this site. Ever since, God’s light has been dispelling darkness in my life. I’ve been getting stronger and gaining more clarity. There are areas I still don’t have victory in. I shared a couple of weeks ago that physical intimacy is still a dead place for me. Who knows how long that will take to heal?
          I wish I could give you a big hug!

          • Leslie Vernick on August 17, 2017 at 6:15 pm

            I agree. This pastor/counselor is toxic to you and it’s important that you really search the scriptures for yourself about who God is and what he wants. Read Acts 17:10-11. When the Berean’s heard Paul for the first time, they searched for themselves the Scriptures to see if he was speaking truthfully. Just because someone wears a “pastor’s badge” doesn’t mean they are wise in the Scriptures.

        • Sophia on August 17, 2017 at 10:43 pm

          Hi Cara! I think the ideas of boundaries are so crucial. I historically didn’t have any, so I would take the junk…and also the blame for having any hurt or pain. Going or staying, healthy boundaries are worth a look into. It takes a lifetime of behavior to be absorbing this much junk AND the blame for hurting over it. This is the beginning of ending that pattern, the first glimmer of pursuing truth. These resources, and this site are great tools to start a different journey! Be patient…I am 18 months in and beginning to see the light. It looks different for all of us.

        • Autumn on August 20, 2017 at 8:39 am

          Cara, what you say is true. When he opens his mouth lies come out. I know that is hard to hear, but I am reminded often the Satan is the father of lies. Moving forward will require YOU to change. Are you up for the challenge? Interested in walking in the light rather than darkness? The journey out is doable. What can you begin with today?

        • cindy on August 30, 2017 at 11:00 am

          That is also my plan as well I have been raising 12 children , homeschooling for 25 years, not working and living with a covert/ malignant narcissist for 30 years now. Im saving as much money as I can till the house is paid off 6 years from now. I will never divorce him but if circumstances required it, I would get a legal seperation. Bottom line is I have decieved myself. I am married to a religious Pharisee. Not a true believer. We must judge amoungst ourselves by our h fruit. Were not God, certaintly
          But for our own peace of mind if we can just admit that we are dealing with UNBELIEVERS, then the actions we observe will not unusual to us, but expected. Christ said ” do you think I came to bring peace?” No but the sword, family members would be divided in a household. Believers against unbelievers. This strange fiery trial I find myself in is his plan for making me into his image. Thats why without a word we are to behave chaste and respectful, without fear. Why would we cast pearls amoung swine.
          We are to be wise like serpents but gentle as doves. Not returning evil for evil or slander for slander but praying for him and doing kind to him. It doesnt matter if he goes to hell in this state and never repents. As long as we hear well done my good and faithful servant. Thousands of women worldwide are living with unbelievers. We will experience first hand longsuffering like Abagail. Their is a time to leave, for pysical abuse, ect… but it must be Gods timimg and that is not easy, for moms like us it entails much planning and patience. I have 8 still at home. I hope I never need a legal seperation but if I do hes leaving. Im not dragging 8 children to anyones house. Hang in there sister your husband is being used by Satan to persecute you. But if we werent being tested, tried and put through the fire, would we even be Christians.
          Since God has called us to live in peace, if the unbeliever leaves let, him dont chase him.
          But there will be strife where believers are under the same roof as nonbelievers. Blessed are the peace makers. Im not an enabler. After 30 years we do what we have to to survive in the conditions most of us created for ourselves. If that includes prayer, sex, and a superficial relationship till God can get us out or God takes them away, then so be it. He promised not to temp me beyond what I could endure but with the temptation would make a way to escape. And our suffering is common to tons of of women. This is why lots of women become feminist. (Not endorsing that) but if I wasnt saved id understand. Sorry this was too long.

          • Nancy on September 1, 2017 at 1:21 pm

            Hi Cindy,

            Your post concerns me because it feels very dark. Why would you want to just ‘do what we have to do to survive?’. Why live the ‘superficial relationship’ for one more day?

            I’m going to challenge you here.

            The day we are married, we are made our husband’s Ezer. This is granted to us by God. As his Ezer we are in a unique position to hold him accountable to the vows he made – Christian or not. This is tough love.

            Loving someone means giving them what they need, not giving up on them and hoping that ‘God will do it for us’.

            I don’t believe that it is God honouring to act superficially. Not for one second. And modelling a less than Truthful lifestyle to children will really damage them. It’s the Truth that sets us free, and that starts with speaking our feelings, limits, and needs.

            As I said, your post feels dark to me. I’m concerned.

          • Aly on September 1, 2017 at 2:18 pm

            Nancy, & Cindy.
            Goodness i remember reading your post Cindy and was a bit confused, knew I should return to reread without any distractions.
            Nancy, i could so resonate with what you wrote!
            I really think what I feel I understood from your challenge, is SO very key to knowing ‘of tough-love’ and acting on tough love.
            There is quite a vast difference of behavior here.

            Cindy when I reread your post I’m not only concerned but confused by your countering statements. Maybe I’m totally misunderstanding you~ So please clarify.

            You wrote this:
            “Blessed are the peace makers. Im not an enabler. After 30 years we do what we have to to survive in the conditions most of us created for ourselves. If that includes prayer, sex, and a superficial relationship till God can get us out or God takes them away, then so be it. ”

            If someone has been a core contributor to creating the circumstance than they are enabling it.
            You also mentioned not dragging 8 children to someone’s house, but what are you exposing 8 children to in your home? Are they living and watching a superficial relationship and normalizing it?

            I would like to understand what would be the circumstance that you would legally separate?
            Certainly not saying you should or not etc..or anything in that area..

          • Aly on September 1, 2017 at 2:20 pm


            This is excellent;
            Thank you;)
            “Loving someone means giving them what they need, not giving up on them and hoping that ‘God will do it for us’.”

          • Nancy on September 1, 2017 at 3:23 pm

            Hi Aly,

            Your question, “are they [the children] living and watching a superficial relationship and normalizing it?” is the reason that I responded to Cindy’s post.

            I was that child that grew up in church, with parents that prayed, and meanwhile lived a superficial, destructive marriage ( from your story, so were you).

            This is EXTREMELY confusing to a child. I walked away from the church as a teen, and turned my back on The Lord because I thought that superficiality was what He wanted.

            I had indeed ‘normalized’ the superficiality of my parent’s relationship; as being Christian!

            And because I knew many emotionally healthy non-Christians, I chose emotional health over being Christian.

            I assumed that superficiality and in-authenticity was what bring a Christian meant. In essence, I had equated being Christian with being a Pharisee. Why? Because this is what was modelled to me.

            I threw the baby (Jesus) out with the bath water (superficial life style).

            What was the point of prayer?

            I wanted no part of a God that would endorse this in-authentic, emotionally unhealthy way of life.

            Our love is demonstrated in action. Talk is cheap, and we risk something horrendous when we don’t act: prayer becoming cheap.

          • Aly on September 1, 2017 at 3:41 pm

            Dear Nancy,

            I think you know I’m living the consequences of ‘risk’ and choosing Jesus in all those places, baby and man.

            But he has equipped me to take the trek~ carrying my children in my arms.
            My husband having to watch and observe a mothers’ love (outside of herself something she couldn’t deny) what it looks like… he had no idea of that kind of love~ nor did he experience it in his origin.
            But when we talk about this.. he gets it from a masculine point of view~ the unrelenting love similar to a father providing food and warmth for their family.

            The equipping is multifacited as you know~ not trying to base is on simple angles here.
            But it’s amazing when we ask Him for it… He gives exponentially His wisdom and He is orchestrated the amazing places to hold our hearts in the pain and the victories;) it’s really all about Him yet he invited us in ~ some days its blows my mind!
            To see Him in the small and yes larger details: I admit my breath stops and I’m overtaken!

            And if asked… are you okay Aly?
            “I’m more than okay… I’m changed.. forever..
            I cannot go back to entertaining anyone to thinks superficial is even rational, given what I have been exposed to”.

            He is the LifeGiver and always will be!
            Thank you Nancy for being there in the messy places~ you are my friend and my sister in Christ. 💜

    • JoAnn on August 16, 2017 at 5:39 pm

      Cara, if you read what Jill said above, she wrote about being in love with her dream of a good marriage. I wonder if that is what you are doing. You say you love him, but how can you really love someone who treats you the way he does? It seems quite clear that he doesn’t love you. He uses you to get what he wants/needs: food on the table, a clean house, laundry, sex when he demands it. What is he giving back to you? Also, another mother on this blog wrote about the damage to her kids. Staying for the kids is only subjecting them to more years of damage. Have you thought of that?
      Pray for the courage to do what you probably already know you need to do. If you want to try to do more to “save” your marriage, do it from a safe distance.

    • Maria on August 16, 2017 at 5:55 pm


      Nothing you do is going to fix the problem in your marriage. That’s because it’s your husband’s attitude and behavior that’s the problem, not you. A relationship is between two people. If only one person is doing all the work, giving etc. there will be an imbalance in that relationship, a very unhealthy one. Why do you want to persue a relationship with a person who doesn’t want one?

      • Nancy on August 16, 2017 at 9:04 pm

        Maria and JoAnn.

        This is indeed the most painful thing that I ( and so many here) have had to face: That it never was a relationship. As you say Maria, a relationship is two-way.

        It is painful indeed, to get to the place where I realized that I had spent a lifetime creating, managing, maintaining, building and re-building an ILLUSION.

        When I think of the energy I spent, I’m astounded! Makes total sense that I’ve been depressed since I was a teen.

        • Maria on August 17, 2017 at 4:23 am


          Are you referring to you relationship with your mom? I imagine realizing this of a parent is devastating. I know the pain involved with coming to terms that there is no true relationship with a spouse, but the pain must be exponentially more when it involves a parent. So sorry you had to go through this.

          • Nancy on August 17, 2017 at 8:34 am

            Thanks Maria. Yes, my mother. Thank you for validating the depth of it.

          • Maria on August 20, 2017 at 7:06 am


            I read this today, don’t know if you have see this:

            It’s from:

            I believe that I honor my parents when I become a healthy, functioning adult and when I am able to pass that health on to my children or to use that health to bless the people around me. It does not honor them for me to continue their brokenness through my life. Even if they don’t see the need for me to be a person separate from them, I still must be able to establish and maintain boundaries, own and value my feelings, make independent decisions, and learn to share myself as a real person with others. If, through their narcissism, my parents have dishonored themselves, I honor them best by finding a way to break the evil patterns in my life and in the lives of those who follow me.

          • Aly on August 20, 2017 at 10:04 am


            I absolutely agree with what you wrote out so clear and so truthful! Thank you;) 💕
            I will read the link you posted too. As I look back, I tried expressing this exact thing to my parents and other family members who were trying to pull me back in~ my siblings, mainly one came after me to further the scapegoating process. (The main focus was that I was not honoring my parents~ when in fact God had already steadied my footing and showed me just How I would honor them~ with His ways not my parents comfortable interpretations.

            It was almost ironic and surreal to me that out of all their children, I was the one who deeply cared the most of what they thought and I was usually the child that would feel guilt (false or real) to be able to be pulled back into the enmeshent.
            When they couldn’t pull me back~ that is where you can see more and more of the tangled places that were once not so clear, it’s almost as God was holding me on one side (long enough) so my eyes, head and heart could process.

            Out of all of their children, it was quite devastating to me to be accused of such (non honoring) behavior… their other children could care less what my parents ever felt and they did what they wanted too most of their lives growing up and moving on their own terms their own way. Hmm wonder where they adopted that attitude?

            Anyways just wanted to thank you for this post even though it was for Nancy, it is something that I have had to be reminded of many times on my journey as I walk toward healing.
            Blessings to you Maria💜🌈

          • Maria on August 20, 2017 at 2:58 pm

            I’m so glad his blog post helped you. Every Friday, he has a post on narcissism.

          • Maria on August 20, 2017 at 3:01 pm

            Another thing, could it be that of all their children, you have been the only/easier one to manipulate? Why are they accusing you of not honoring them? Because they want something from you?

          • Aly on August 21, 2017 at 2:51 pm


            Thank you for your question. I hesitated in writing back because was not wanting to offer a short novel.

            Ok, I don’t believe I was the one easiest to manipulate, I believe that both my parents have very insecure relationships across the board with many in the family (esp their other adult children) that it’s so fragile that the only way to operate is to be in denial or avoidance of what has been taking place~ even if it’s been a long time slow leak of a cancer.

            I tried my best through the years to navigate what was taking place in our extended family dynamics,?? (10 plus years) Open to be wrong and wanting to understand more and more of what I kept feeling revealed in their words and actions to me.

            A Christian family that doesn’t want to talk about Jesus or anything about their faith journey I found odd (even occasionally).
            I was told to not discuss my personal relationship with Christ outwardly or share any of the things that I was learning about myself, my marriage, or husband. Somehow speaking freely was not acceptable ~ so I decided to invest my time more and more away from them~ so my children could see that I was ok in sharing my faith (as broken as I am) but that I wanted to be an integrated person and consistent in front of them. (Not a hiding masked person putting on different masks depending on who I am with~ sorry couldn’t do what they needed from me)

            The more we spent time with my ext family (on occasion) the more awkward it became because (our children) were feeling more ashamed of their faith journey. What I might call confusing Christianity to the next gen.
            This concerned me greatly and was odd especially since we are not dealing with ‘unbelievers’ but actually professing believers!

            So I guess to try to simply answer your question is difficult for me because my feeling is that the honor issue is not the issue at all.
            My husband and I have been accused mainly by my parents and my siblings for not honoring them.
            What they are really upset about is that we won’t compromise ‘our faith’ for what is comfortable to them and the other enmeshed family that want to avoid the intimacy of God and relationships in general.

            We invited my parents even as individuals to be apart of raising our children with the Lord and teaching them the scriptures but this was offensive to them!

            I believe it’s easier on their conscious to think we are dishonoring than to look at themselves and the unwillingness to grow in their faith (sanctification) which has been exposed clearly.
            Even in front of two professionals trying to help reconcile a mutual Place for us all.

            You asked: something like..
            What do they want from you?

            They want me to be in their life and share my children with them as long as it’s only about surface and peacefaking places!
            They want us to be present for the normal family dinners and the holiday celebrations ~ but they want and have said they desire to not know us personally! We are only allowed to discuss the weather or pleasantries

            They want the image of an intact family ~ without the work of any repair.
            In fact one year, I would have sent a cardboard cut out so that they could place us in the photos because that’s really all they want.

            Through the years counseling and good supportive friends have validated to me that my thoughts and expectations on healthy relationships worth having and investing in are not unrealistic in any way, but that their version of what is a relationship and the rule of masks they wear are very unhealthy… destructive and dishonoring especially as Christians.

            My husband and I eventually had to accept what they wanted was very much against God’s truths for our hearts and unfortunately I had to stand against that for protection of my own family.

            I am not trying to come off as harsh here.. I wish I could write with better tone, but it is my understanding that they want their eternal security but have little interest in wanting to know Christ and His kingdom. They have little interest in growing their faith and that is their choice but I have to consider how that will influence my ‘little ones’ watching and them being a sacred role. I pray often that they might want to see clearer~ and thus act on that. If I don’t take my faith seriously, why would my own children see it important for themselves especially as my husband and I are their declared parents to show them certain important faith steps as God has designed for parents and grandparents in His Word.

          • Nancy on August 20, 2017 at 5:28 pm

            Thank you so much for this, Maria.

            I have been thinking A LOT about what it is to honour my mother. At the root of honouring, is the notion of respect and at the heart of respect is treating someone as separate! Well…what if being separate is the very thing that causes them pain? This blog post answers that in the ‘even if they don’t see a need for me to be a person, separate from them, I still need to….”

            I am beginning to see how guarding my heart does not negate what God commands me to do with my mother. They go together, and that is SUCH a relief!

          • Maria on August 20, 2017 at 8:16 pm


            Christ calls us to love others and that means looking out for their good, even if it means causing pain as you have mentioned.

          • Nancy on August 21, 2017 at 3:41 pm


            So basically, the condition of having a relationship with your parents is….Aly can’t show up. Super. Painful. And distressing 🙁


            I’ve thought about your question, am I the most easily manipulated by my mother? Yes, I was. I am the baby and my psychologist told me long ago, that she worked extra hard to control me ( I was her last chance). My brother and sister moved away ( wise!) but unfortunately do not deal with their issues. So basically hold their breath as long as they are in town, and go home blue faced and angry, for weeks afterwards.

            In any case. I am no longer the most easily manipulated 🙂 Thanks to God!

          • Maria on August 21, 2017 at 3:46 pm

            Thanks for taking the time to reply. After re-reading my post, I think I may have come off as harsh with my questions. I did not mean to, I apologize. What I was trying to say was nice people are easy to manipulate. But from your post, there seems to be hidden issues. Its’s sad that they don’t want to have an open relationship in which you can discuss your differences respectfully. As a mother, I want my kids to be honest with me, even if they are doing things that I disapprove of. Your relationship with your parents sounds like my relationship with my husband. He would rather sweep issues under the rug the take the effort to resolve them. He is happy with a superficial relationship, one that appears good in public. I also have gotten to know a few people who would rather have superficial relationships. What has helped me, is to accept these people (including my husband). I don’t expect what he can’t or won’t give. Looks like you have accepted your parents and siblings for who they are. Are you able to have an open and honest conversation with any of your siblings?

          • Aly on August 21, 2017 at 5:04 pm

            I most certainly didn’t take your questions as harsh~ 🤗
            Just to clarify;) sometimes in posts and texts it can be hard communicate without tone and without facial expressions.

            Thanks for your thoughts and your experience of how you can relate.
            I guess I find it hard to consider any superficial relationship ~ ‘a relationship at all’

            Yes my husband too would have functioned quite well at that level based on his upbringing but it wasn’t a marriage let alone an authentic relationship for us.

            When someone put requirements on a dynamic where I have to be a certain way in which they have set the standard ~ I tend to take a hault, I weight what they are asking and consider if it’s in alignment with what Christ would ask or accept too.
            I think He modeled many times walking on and dusting off his shoes. Painful yes… but he continued on. He didn’t sit around waiting for them to accept or acknowledge Him and His truths. Goodness so many were offended.

            To answer your question,
            Yes I have always been open to discussion and tried many times but when I realized that (ultimately my sibling was indifferent to my own feelings and cares) I knew it was an abusive dynamic and as I quite investing in the one sided relationship ~ soon there wasn’t a relationship at all I could even trick myself to thinking there was once ever.

            I’m condensing but this process happened over a long time period. I really think that what we invest in, who we invest in and how serious we are about chasing after God… we will be changed.
            Influence is a critical aspect to our growth in my opinion. I want to be influenced to change and transform the way God desires me to and that will require vulnerability and willingness on my part.

            I did not come from a family that sees this as important. Growing up I was usually told how emotional I am, how sensitive I was and that how I cared or expressed my feelings was off. Being a mom myself and seeking out more wisdom and counseling I have been given the validation to hear how healthy it is to ’emote’… but when your powerless in a family system (as a child) you have little choice to go against the grain~ not that I kept my mouth closed a lot. 😉

            Being an adult I could make different choices and have the voice I needed to be healthier and know what path was for my healing not the path that my family would say is ‘normal’. It wasn’t. It was avoidant and dismissive.

            I don’t think my family welcomed my posture and I many of times invited them into a relationship where there was space for both parties and free agency to have room for one another~
            They only could see room for what was their preference rather than consider stretching even if it was a minor dimension.
            I think being a parent ~ almost requires this place, but then again I want to be a life long learner and doer…and want to teach my children to do the same.

            I struggle when i think of the tragedy of a onesided relationship~ it’s not one really.
            I have found that those that feel most comfortable with this form are very insecure with mutual respect ultimately ~ it’s more a power issue internally with them.
            When I think of what God invites us into ~ I am in awe that he desires our participation relationally 💕 And authentically.

        • Aly on August 17, 2017 at 10:04 am

          Nancy, Maria,

          I’m sorry Nancy, but I’m also grateful to hear of your freedoms 💖that you and your husband are finding in challenging the ‘family systems’.
          Referring to one of your previous posts Nancy.

          As you know we are also in a similar scenario and the freedom is not without great sadness but such clarity where we can continue to pursue health for our own individual family and that is such a blessing overall.

          And to your comment above ~ realizing there never was a ‘relationship’ so true and so painful.

          Even more painful for me is seeing that from my mothers’ perspective and her own broken definition~ there is a relationship as long as it in on her terms and her comforts.

          If the relationship goes out of those lines ~ ? What then.
          For me, the devastating truth was when I had to face that they didn’t want a relationship that they couldn’t have their way or with their control of how they define the lines.
          (The covertness of this is frightening)

          Their own broken marriage went underground and eventually the weaker partner gets redefined and becomes more of what the unhealthy relationship was and is… collelateral damage everywhere… getting passed to the next family gen.

          My h and I needed to be removed.. &replanted, would have loved for them to join the invitation but most people stuck in bondage begin to think their bondage isn’t bondage at all. Very sad, very sad for our precious children too
          but not our decision that we can take responsibility for.

          Continued prayers and hugs Sisters in Christ💕

          • Nancy on August 17, 2017 at 2:31 pm

            Aly ( and sisters),

            The other night we were invited, by a family from our church, to dinner. They have three children, we have two. We got there to find that they had also invited an older woman from our church, as well. As I looked around the table ( and had a fun evening of Kareoke!) I realized that WE DO have a family. THIS was the family that we have yearned for. Here we were celebrating life in a inter-generational way, the way it was designed!

            My h and I have decided to host regular inter-generational dinners with our new family ❤️

            This doesn’t erase the grief of my biological mother and the valley I am walking through, but I have suddenly been blessed with many mothers, and my children, with many grand-parents.

            Until now, I had projected my perceptions of my mother onto all the ladies of that generation. Now, I am beginning to be able see them for who they are.

            It’s amazing how The Lord opens our eyes.

            God has provided. What a blessing ❤️

          • Nancy on August 19, 2017 at 7:37 am

            Hey Aly,

            I just want to say that I hear you. I totally get the pain of realizing that the only relationship they would want is one where they get their own way.

            So sad 😢

            This is a void that just seems to go on forever.

            Can I ask if you ended up writing that letter you spoke of, a couple of weeks ago? How was that process for you (of either writing, or deciding not to write)?

          • Aly on August 19, 2017 at 5:04 pm

            Dear Nancy,

            Thank you for your understanding;) For me I have learned that those that have this attitude about their ‘relationship terms’ or comfort, are looking for a person who will cease eventually to exist with the dynamic. The attitude of ‘my way only of seeing things’ is a good reminder to me that an individual will not consider another’s point of view, and generally has little interest in a healthy relationship that is mutual and balanced.

            Thank you for asking about my letter. Yes! I plan to write soon. I do feel it is important for me to, but I also have found the priority of it had to take a different level this summer as my children and husband need my focus lately in many areas ‘that I so do not want to miss out on’.

            My marriage and our children are in a better place through the grief. Not that there are not sad days at all, but as a family we are learning how best to live one another and what that really means in God’s structure. Our children are beginning to thrive again, something our therapist is so grateful (the therapist has never had to meet them) for given our past marriage issues and both of our family of origin issues. But our children are so thankful that we have this resource and support.
            Challenging the family systems as you can relate and entering the pain of what their individual and yet co-dependent enmeshed choices create, is difficult work.

            My family of origin are missing out on some amazing kids, but it’s been such a blessing to see God continue to bring our family of faith into our journey.
            Something I’m thankful you are also experiencing!

            The PeaceFaking and avoidance (& the grand enmeshment issues) were probably one of the biggest dragons within the family system. Something I just cant look the other way and teach my children that .. that is a good way of loving their family.

            There was past posts and conversations a couple weeks ago about the ‘fake it until you make it’ as something being taught,. It seemed like it was something in therapy or church programs? No one here was supporting it, just exposing it! But it’s amazing to me to hear ‘that version’ because I feel that it is some of the most Dangerous and destructive methods you can offer someone who is emotionally and spiritually underdeveloped or has fractured self identity but is limited in their awareness of this.
            A person who is most comfortable in avoidance would love this method, because it’s like their mother tougue as it aligns best with their self defensive coping skills. But will never grow them or really be present to receive Love 💜 If they are not being an authentic self, their fake self is then receiving an growing more dragon heads😜.

            I bring this up because this is where the bridge completely caved in on my mom and I.
            I couldn’t join her to sit in that type of reasoning and think it’s anything but duplicit of what Christ calls us to grow in. Of course she has other daughters who she has taught this and they like this way of the ‘Christian life’ for themselves. But it’s my great sadness that they are missing out on the greatest intimacy to discover of Him and those that are vulnerable to enter the kingdom postures and family of God.

            Hope you are well Nancy and you indeed are trekking your journey with the Lord leading!
            Love and continued prayers for your precious family 💕

          • Nancy on August 20, 2017 at 8:55 am

            Yup, Aly, I totally agree that “those with that attitude…are looking for people who will eventually cease to exist within the dynamic”. Yes. I disappear in the presence of my mother, because that has been the condition of having a ‘relationship’ with her. That’s too high a price for me to pay.

            Just this morning, in my daily devotional, was the passage about Jacob wrestling with God and leaving with a limp. The question I was asked was, “In what way has The Lord put your life, or plans, ‘out of joint’ so that you may depend on him? As I do the things He is asking of me ( at this point cease ALL direct contact – my h responds to her emails), I am having to depend on Him with each step.

            Aly, I love that you have prioritized your family over your letter writing – even though you know it’s an important step for you. This demonstrates a maturity and ability to wait on The Lord, for His timing!

            I can also relate to your children benefitting through your own counselling. Our counsellor checks in with us, too, about them, and we are able to witness, through the work that God is doing with us, their healing, too! And yes, their ability to grieve and ‘get real’ is directly related to our own ability to do so, as well as allowing them the space to do so. If you would like encouragement for this Google ‘a love letter to the cycle breakers’ blog post ❤️ ( it’s written by an adult child of a cycle breaker and gives such hope for our children’s emotional / spiritual health)

            When you say peacefaking and avoidance are the biggest issues ( and grand enmeshment) – oh boy! Can I relate. The reason that I can’t have contact with my mother these days is that I feel trapped in a position of peacefaking with her because she will not acknowledge that there is a problem. Each email is as if nothing has happened. Asking ‘how was your trip?’ Benign things like that. I set stronger and stronger boundaries ( now my h responds) and she continues to behave as though all is well. It’s weird, really. She has completely broken my trust but insists on behaving as though nothing has changed. This is the ultimate in boundary-busting.

            As far as the ‘fake it until you make it’ attitude. That used to confuse me. I could see that in a healthy individual, who is engaged in growth and dependence on God, this approach might sometimes be helpful. BUT the key is recognizing what will and what won’t work for us as individuals. This approach is very dangerous for those of us who have been groomed in denial! Very dangerous! And I can see that this would be a spot where the bridge would collapse between you and your mother. It is so essential that we are able to see our own weaknesses, SO THAT we AVOID the pitfalls that would swallow us whole ( in this case, fake it until you make it, mentality),

            Thanks for sharing details of where you are in your process, it’s so helpful for me, to witness!

            Praying for you and your family, Aly 🌷

          • JoAnn on August 21, 2017 at 7:32 pm

            Aly and Nancy, Your families of origin sound so stifling and hurtful. I am so very sorry for the pain that you are having to deal with. But, you know what? I am so very excited and happy that both of you have figured out how to move on, and especially that you are making sure that you don’t continue the disfunction in your own families. That is a legacy that is best thrown into the lake of fire, where it originated. Your children will rise up and call you blessed. Praise the Lord!!

          • Aly on August 21, 2017 at 8:55 pm


            Thank you for this encouragement! It blesses me💖

            It’s hard to mentally navigate sometimes especially when this ‘family’ seriously believes they are the best family around~ they really do feel this way.

            Ongoing.. I get brief letters from my mom, of how I’m the problem because I need to have a heart change. Of course she doesn’t clearly say~ ‘your the problem’… she just says it in the way that I am the one deciding not to have the relationship because I’m unwilling to have the kind she prefers or will be apart of.
            She doesn’t see that the ‘relationship has problems’ and I certainly can’t convince her of that… but I have stopped contributing to it.
            So… since I have stopped contributing then this is where she places blame back on me… convenient spin of things for her.

            It’s sad but I’m thankful to have the Lord’s love and such support through this grief. The loss is different in that it feels they ‘choose it freely’ rather than other life losses outside of their control. But I do know the Lord has continued to comfort me in this pain. My hope is to comfort someone else.
            Thank you again for all of your wisdom and love here in this community.💜

          • JoAnn on August 22, 2017 at 12:31 am

            Well, for sure the Lord can empathize with you….after all, He was accused of many things that He did not do, and He took all of our sin on Him to the cross. I always think of the way He stood in front of Pontius Pilate without answering whenever I am accused of something. He bore our pain, and he bears it in us, when we let Him. Much love to you, Dear Sister.

          • Sunshine on August 22, 2017 at 2:55 am

            I read this post thread with interest and understanding. Recently a friend said to me, “Your mother has a twisted perspective of life.” That one line set me free. It was absolutely true. Her perspective is twisted. I’ll net get a responsible logical response for her on any topic. That freed me from trying to engage with her at a deeper emotional level and helped me give her grace in her dysfunction. Might I add, her dysfunction, not mine. I don’t think like her.

          • Aly on August 22, 2017 at 9:15 am


            I agree with you in dysfunction and the grace needed to offer when we can risk putting ourselves there.

            I like how you said what ‘freed’ you in hearing…
            “Your mother has a twisted perspective of life’
            I can relate and would say that my mother when ‘acting out of fear’ has this clearly!

            She also has been in a marriage for decades with dysfunction and her codependent issues in her own family of origin have not helped the situation. Course she claims freedom of codependency and the attitude of any character work is finished.. because it was finished on the cross! (This is font agree with)
            This message is more of what she has morphed into being in a dysfunctional marriage where my father has fed her this type of gospel~ because of his own attitude about manhood overall.

            If you got her ‘by herself’, she would most likely have a logical and honest conversation ~ but place her husband (or any other family member) in the room & she decides to enable and contribute to the false statements and accusations. She must drink the coolaid…

            She abandons truth at the cost of peace faking and not wanting certain individual family members to get angry at her. She won’t stand up for her own faith, one that she claims.
            It scares me to think of how far this peace keeping and faking would go?
            I certainly can’t trust her. If she would treat me this way, what would stop her treating her own grandchildren this way?
            Bottom line what the certain family members think of her is more important that what God would instruct. She cares more about mans opinion than His.

            Other family members~ (specifically myself) she could care less how I feel or if I am disappointed by anything in the relationship… broken times to spend together (you name it) ~ because to her my feelings are pretty low on the table when it comes to the other very unstable and insecure relationships she has fed through a lifetime.
            What she says is important to her: ( the relationship with me, my husband our children) … is not what she does in action. It is in actuality the very lowest on the priority list, so I struggle defining it as a dysfunction when I clearly see selfish patterns driven by fear.
            I tolerated this for years ‘standing line’ for her.. and then I married someone with similar traits~ yes it was familiar.
            My h had serious priority issues to face. Praise God he wanted to take the journey to being healthier~ its on going ofcourse but it’s a lot of work.
            One of the false beliefs is that my mother and father think that ‘age’ disqualifies you from having to work on having healthy relationships. (Talk about convenient narrow mindedness)
            So again I go back to .. is this dysfunctional places that are aspects of a broken world?
            Yes but are they repairable by what we follow and see in scriptural truths?

            Is it a dysfunctional behavior that she has no free choice in? I believe not, she has continued over and over to choose what she needs (short term) over what would be right and healthy for the relationship. It’s as if she is addicted to the unhealthy relationships and discards the ones that truly do want to be in a healthy one.

            The duplicity is what has been the most painful, and I believe for myself it is dangerous for me to normalize and remotely acknowledge this as any form of a relationship (especially with my children in tow) unless she is willing to see and do the necessary repair of the ‘rupture and damage’ she has decided to be a part of.

            Sorry to write all this out Sunshine… I’m expressing more out-loud than directly to you… hope you can read that in my post. 😜🤗

          • Nancy on August 22, 2017 at 11:02 am

            Hi Aly and Sunshine,

            This may come down to understanding the difference between a relationship and a ministry.

            One is two-sided. One is one-sided.

            As for me, I am no where near accepting my mother as ‘a ministry’. At this point it is far too dangerous for my heart given the fact that a) she is my mother and b) my strong co-dependant tendencies.

            It would take an act of God to enable me to treat her as a ministry, and I need to accept the fact that to do so outside of the Lord’s leading would be me continuing to play Jesus. Dangerous!

      • Autumn on August 20, 2017 at 8:29 am

        Well said.

        • Autumn on August 20, 2017 at 8:45 am

          Although many comments are well said. I meant this for a post Maria wrote.

    • Autumn on August 16, 2017 at 7:34 pm

      Cara, you can use his travel as abandonment in court. Let him go on his trip. You will think more clearly. Use that time to plan your exit. If he won’t use a mediator, then you need to serve him the separation request. All his posturing is game play. A good man acts very differently.

    • Marcy on August 16, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      Cara, I’m sure we are near the same age so this probably sounds so corny but I just want to scoop you up and hug you and tell you you can do this.

      Our stories have some differences but I recognize myself in what you’re sharing. For years I told God I would do what he wanted me to and thought it would be making myself smaller, making myself need less, loving more, showing more grace. I can see now that by requiring more of myself, I was holding my husband less responsible for his actions.

      His part was complete passivity and neglect and it slowly began killing me off inside.

      I initiated a divorce earlier this year. I was scared to death but more scared of the emotional death taking place inside me than anything else. My children are 9,15,17 and I can tell you that for a while they were all angry with me because I “caused” this. That was really hard and I wouldn’t have been able to handle their anger and grief a year ago. I spent the last 3 years getting stronger though, more able to handle my own emotions and the negative emotions of others. As a result, I’m weathering it and God has given me hope, purpose, and some moments of great pleasure and satisfaction as I work to rebuild a life for my children.

      I’m telling you all of this because you can reach a place of peace wirhin yourself as well and God will lead you and walk with you during each chaotic moment.

      Your children understand more than you realize and they will see through his accusations in the end.

      I’m praying for you Cara. Your story has really reached into my heart. I’m so sorry this is your reality right now but it doesn’t have to be your reality forever. I’m asking God for clear directives, calm nerves, and most of all hope for your heart to understand your worth, your value in the eyes of God.

      (Just saw there’s an option for my website. I wrote a series on Joy at the beginning of the year. Though I don’t mention it specifically in the post, I was wrestling with what to do about my marriage and sensing that it was over. I was trying to figure out all the details though. That was impossible. God was not asking me to suck it up any more. He was as asking me to hand him my future and I traded my dream of a whole and healthy marriage for Joy straight from Him. Little did I know that 2.5 weeks after the story in the first of the posts, God would orchestrate a series of events that would be my deciding factor. His graciousness and mercy truly delivered me but I had to choose to walk in deliverance. Praying Cara!)

    • Jennifer on August 16, 2017 at 9:24 pm

      Praying for you cara and your family. For His peace. That you will be able to h at him and his s wisdom. For strength and protection

  15. Aleea on August 16, 2017 at 3:57 pm

    “. . . . But I feel like I’m walking on eggshells. I’m afraid of taking a wrong step, doing or saying something wrong that could potentially set him off into a rage. I hide my mistakes from him. I suppress my disagreements and disappointments. I never tell him that I’m unhappy with our relationship, so he has NO IDEA that anything is wrong. I’ve learned how to keep the peace.” . . . .and I feel like a hypocrite because I have been there too often: peacefaking, smoothing over, holding back. . . .But, the truth never damages any cause that is really honest and just or any marriage worth being in. . . . . truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, truth loving, etc. needs to be our stance. . . . .But everyone usually wants something smaller, something neater and easier than the truth. The truth is wonderful but very dangerous (—like a forest fire to fragile structures that we have built, often on sand) and the truth is *really* messy and usually complex. —But never, ever underestimate the power you have to take your life in God’s direction if you can *consistently* speak the truth, as best you know how. Work hard to make choices based on what you believe is true, to the best of your ability and not being willfully blind or negligent in looking at evidence, facts, using logic and reason, etc.

    “Friend, Have you been in this woman’s shoes? Charmed into believing something was good when it was slowly choking the very life out of your soul and spirit? How did you face your fear of rocking the boat and it capsizing?” . . . .My biggest fear is not in expressing the truth but that I will be attacked and belittled because of telling the truth. People would rather live in a community with unreasonable claims, than face loneliness with their truth. . . .but again, then God is NOT running my life. I am running my life when I am an “outcome engineer” steering my own ship instead of letting Christ and the Truth steer my ship and longer-term, bad things will happen. —When you tell the truth, everything begins to come together, even if it requires seasons of pain. This puts our lives directly back in God’s hands.

    “How can I overcome my fears and not lose myself in this relationship?” . . . .Truth is all that is needed to not lose yourself. The truth makes you feel strong and authentic. Peacefaking makes you weak and it makes you hate yourself. I hate myself when I don’t speak truthfully . . . .And I know when and why I don’t always do it: Again, my biggest fear is not in expressing the truth but that I will be attacked and belittled because of telling the truth. We can be kind and gentle but still deeply honest, open, authentic, deeply truthful. . . . courageous truth-telling, compassionate listening, empathic sensitivity, leads to mutual healing.

    So, I’ve really been repeating myself in these last threads but if you want God to run your life, tell the truth —always; be authentic; be real. That self-selects people into and out of your life. By telling the truth to our families, our parents, our neighbors, at church, we submit to a lifestyle that speaks authentic reality into being. Instead of taking the easy way out by smoothing over, peacefaking, lying, submitting to a false reality, we choose to uphold a genuine character. . . . .To lie to keep the peace with our mothers, husbands, etc. only leads to utter chaos. Telling the truth, as best you can (―speaking Grace & Truth), is the duty of every individual for if left unchecked, horrible consequences ensue, the small sins of the individual culminate into the great sins of the churches at large. . . . .I think when you tell the truth about your marriage and your situation, you are delivered from lack of progress, but use half-truths and you may be in bondage for life. Instead, try to articulate what you believe to be true as carefully as possible, even if it requires serious study and thought. Then, accept the outcomes. Accept God guiding your life. When we deeply tell the truth, everything begins to come together, even if it requires, again, seasons of pain. We can bring forth paradise by speaking the truth and we can bring forth hell by not and it all starts in our own lives, and in the lives of our own families.

    Nothing in this world is harder than consistently speaking the truth, nothing easier than smoothing over things or just not saying anything. . . . .Really know the evil within yourself , then you will truly see your capacity for good. Stumble towards the Kingdom of God, no one has anywhere near all the Truth. . . . .But, as best you can, tell the truth, working and studying hard to know more truth. Trust Christ, see where it goes. Christ can’t guide/change our lives if we will not tell our families the truth. . . .But, at the same time, we should always be acting to get/keep our own houses in order. God says that everything that can be shaken will be shaken from *within* (1 Peter 4:17, Hebrews 12:27) .

  16. JoAnn on August 16, 2017 at 5:50 pm

    Aleea, I agree with you about speaking the truth…in love…but I do think that perhaps that needs to start with telling the truth to yourself. Which is what the women here are doing by finally admitting that they are unhappy in their present situation. That’s where it starts. Admitting the truth, then looking to the Lord as to what He wants them to do.
    For any of you who are new to this blog, please go to the archives and read some of the previous threads. There is so much help here, and so much wisdom. Praying for you all.

    • JoAnn on August 16, 2017 at 5:53 pm

      The guest post on June 28 is especially helpful: “Arise, Beloved.”

    • Aleea on August 17, 2017 at 4:34 am

      Thank you so much JoAnn. I love comments and that people will interact with me ❣😊 💕 .

      “. . . . that needs to start with telling the truth to yourself.”

      . . . .JoAnn, I can’t really know the truth (inside myself) unless others help me out. I need to speak my thoughts first and have others correct me, challenge/guide me. JoAnn, I don’t know the truth, no where near “The Truth.” . . . . .BUT, . . . .but, here is what we can all do: Stop lying when we speak, stop pretending to know things we really don’t know, peacefaking, smoothing over, submitting to a false reality, not choosing to uphold a genuine character. We all can do that to some degree. As far as telling “The Truth”, we probably don’t even know what it is, not really, not if you had to really, seriously (peer-review-style) justify the claims . . . .but we can all stop speaking what is not authentic. . . .Your husband asks if you want to go for a walk. You tell him, “No I do not, but I’m getting my jacket.” He says: “Why get your jacket if you don’t want to?” “Because I love you and I know you want to, and I know I’m usually happy afterwards when I do. I don’t want to, but I will.” Instead of rationalizing internally and just saying “Yes!”, even though you didn’t want to, you told the truth, but acted in the best interests anyway. It is as honest as we can be. . . . .Sometimes we tell white lies because we can’t come up with a truth that isn’t more harmful, but it’s still not right, it’s not optimal. There’s a truth there that we could tell if we could get it right and truth puts your world and The World right. . . .There’s gonna be times you think: “Hellfire & Brimstone, I can’t say that even with Grace & Love” ―but that causes nothing to get solved and everything to go underground, festering ―especially in our marriages. . . .See, I realized in interacting with people here that not lying is way, way easier than “telling the truth”. “Honey, what do you think?” Okay, there it is: Forget the “Truth” just don’t speak anything false (―that is far, far easier especially if you have been peacefaking). . . .JoAnn, I think the whole thing is self-correcting if we just stop lying (peacefaking). The “Truth” is way, w-a-y down the road. In so many situations you can’t actually tell the truth because you really don’t know what it is, but you can *certainly* strive to speak and act (―very important because we can lie with our bodies too) in ways that you know to be false. . . .Don’t use language to try to get what you want because doing so destroys God’s path for us and again, we don’t really know what is best for us anyway. Only God knows what is best for us and the only way to be on that path is to be careful to, as clearly and as best we know how, stop lying, glossing over, not fully articulating. “No I do not, but I’m getting my jacket.” . . . When I started counseling, Dr. Meier asked me straight: “What do you want me to help you do?” I want you to help me to stop lying, ❣😊 💕 to start fully articulating my truth carefully, precisely and I feel we are going to have our hands full just accomplishing that. I have spent my life: peacefaking, being nice, glossing over, trying to be an “outcome engineer”.

      “Praying for you all.” . . . .wonderful, just beautiful 🌷 and we can all ask God for wisdom each and every day. James 1:5. . . .or just read the entire little book, ―so, so much wisdom there. The only true wisdom is in knowing you know so very little. . . .I always pray 🙏: Lord God, I *seriously* lack wisdom✔ but You said “. . . .if anyone lacks wisdom, let them ask of You, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given. . . .” Help me Lord God, please give me wisdom and awareness and Lord help me to stop lying with my mouth and with my entire body 🌷!

  17. Marie on August 16, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    The marriage counselor identified my husband as having Borderline Personality Disorder, and I am currently reading the book “Walking on Eggshells”. I highly recommend it for anyone experiencing life with a BPD husband.

    • Nancy on August 18, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      Hi Marie,
      My mother is Borderline. My heart goes out to you.

  18. H on August 17, 2017 at 12:52 am

    Yep. A combination of “this isn’t the man I married,” + “he does act nice sometimes, aren’t I supposed to focus on the positives and be grateful?” + “I signed up for this for life, better or worse, this is just the worse part” + “I am a stay at home mom, what on earth would I do to support us?” + “boundaries? He obliterates them and seems to enjoy it, the only thing left to do is walk away” + “I can’t walk away, I have too much invested in this, almost 7 years of my prime time of life invested and I’m a dedicated person” + “maybe I am crazy, he keeps telling me that and everything is somehow my fault” +”he said he’d take my kid away and I’d never see her again” = one confused, hurting me. I had to reach my emotional limit before I started seeking education; if you had asked me then if I was in a destructive marriage I would have said no, he hasn’t hit me. I missed the forest for the trees. Education woke me up. Along with another tragic aspect. I’ve written it out at http://www.growingingrace412.wordpress.com.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 17, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Thanks Hannah, I read your blog too. So sorry for what you’ve been through and scary too. Make sure you take good care of yourself.

      • H on August 17, 2017 at 7:37 pm

        Oh wow! Thanks for your time Leslie, and your encouragement. It means a lot and your book was very instrumental to helping me make better decisions and walk in CORE strength. I’ve been recommending The Enotionally Destructive Marriage all over the place. Blessings to you!

        • Maria on August 19, 2017 at 4:08 pm


          I just read your blog. My husband is a narcissist. Another resource that has helped me is:


          Praying for you.

        • Maria on August 20, 2017 at 7:58 am

          Do you know if your H has viewed child porn?
          I think it’s illegal so it might be worth looking into.

      • Sophia on August 18, 2017 at 11:28 am

        ❤️”Education woke me up.”

    • Aly on August 17, 2017 at 7:08 pm


      Well written;) I’m so sorry but so grateful you got educated about the crazy and I hope to read more in your blog.
      Hugs and prayers for your journey 💜

    • Nancy on August 18, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      Your daughter has a warrior mother. May The Lord bless you as you walk this dark valley ❤️

    • Nancy on August 19, 2017 at 7:43 am


      You were on my heart all night. I encourage you to claim Psalm 91 for yourself and for Abby.

      I pray that God’s people will arise and bring you the physical support that you need. Each. Step. Of. The. Way.

      Thank you for your blog.

  19. Janice on August 17, 2017 at 11:28 am

    I have been reading and drawing strength from so many of the posts here for awhile.This is my first attempt to join the sisterhood of fellow warrior-sisters in Christ.I’m married 25 years and am seeing a counselor for a little over a year.My marriage has struggled under the burden of my husbands inability to ” leave and cleave” thus no true oneness or intimacy has occurred.I told him I couldn’t continue if he didn’t get help; he has a counselor but does not see him regularly and I see no growth in this area.I’ve been slowly separating/ boundary setting and now he uses this as the reason we aren’t reconciled.He says all the right words,however it is like he is reading a script and lacks any behavioral changes.I have lived believing his mothers needs(and now his sisters as she is the care-giver to mom)are always to be met first. I no longer desire to participate in his family dysfunctions. I am leaning toward leaving well at this point as I continue to try to stay well. Has anyone else had a similar situation?

    • Autumn on August 17, 2017 at 7:52 pm

      I understand some of this dynamic. Paul hegstrom called this bond mother/sin. It is a deficient in the family of origin in which mom cleaved to her son rather than her often difficult or emotionally distant husband. It is a form of emotional incest.

      • Autumn on August 17, 2017 at 7:53 pm

        Mother/son. Although sin works too. Deficit. Spell check.

    • Nancy on August 17, 2017 at 11:25 pm

      Hi Janice,

      Good for you that you have identified the issue, and are refusing to participate in the family dysfunction.

      I had a similar situation where my h did not leave his mother. This is extremely painful, and I know how you feel.

      Your clarity on the issue will really help you articulate your requirements of your h, should you decide to follow Leslie’s recommendations ( super clear steps are outlined in her book EDM).

      This is a deep seated issue and will not even begin healing without first a change of heart ( true repentance) on his part, followed by a commitment on his part, to regular on-going counselling. Only then, once you’ve witnessed those things, is marriage counselling recommended.

      This last step may never happen 🙁

      That’s why leaning into Christ is essential. You’d be giving the outcome to Him. It’s a long road, Janice. But taking the steps to guard your heart, while holding your husband to the highest standard, is a gift, really.

      You would be demonstrating the Love of Christ. To yourself and to your husband.

    • Marcy on August 18, 2017 at 11:13 pm

      Hi Janice! Though my marriage did not end as a direct result of the dynamic you’re facing, it certainly played a huge part. My husband finally drew a hard boundary line with his family several years into our marriage but failed to do the emotional and internal work needed to move on. In fact, I can see now that he “hid” from his family behind me. He continued to choose passivity in all areas of his life and, as you said,could verbalize the changes needed in our marriage but chose not to act on them behaviorally. You’re doing great foundation work by setting boundaries in place. It’s hard to watch them choose dysfunction over the marriage. You’re a compassionate and empathetic woman Janice, don’t doubt that. You have good intuition and insight and will undoubtedly continue to make sound decisions.

  20. Karen on August 17, 2017 at 12:54 pm

    Wow sadly I can relate to all these posts! I think my marriage would have been different if we BOTH were taught about setting boundaries and CORE strength. I won’t have lost my identity to be just the wife/maid. He wouldn’t label me as selfish, feminist, challenging his authority, learning to be independent, etc. 38 yrs ago our Christian premarital classes were you are one in marriage, the man is head of the household so he rules and the wife is submissive. Divorce a sin.That in itself starts the marriage off male dominated and not equal partners. I thought keeping peace, enduring his “hot temper”, etc were all part of being a good wife. It backfires as mentioned above. The man just wants more and more with no consequences to their behavior and gets worse when they are challenged. At one point he even said “I’m counting on you getting me into heaven.” He dumped on me and expected me to fix everything but under his rules and I did. Yr. 7 he was dx with OCD. I kept thinking/hoping, “waiting on Gods timing” everything would be ok when he’d conquer the OCD. I was wrong!
    We moved 7x different jobs, different states for his career changes in first 15 yrs and 3 kids. Promises things will be better with each move.

    I feared his “mouth of the devil” and his threats that I’d loose the children in divorce court. It was a risk I wasn’t willing to take so I placated. Do whatever it takes to decrease frequencies of verbal onslaughts. Survival mode.

    I can’t take/fix it anymore and Yr 29 he finally goes to counseling for depression and OCD. Again thinking things would finally be ok. Wrong! Meds turn him into a righteous, egotistical SOB. He and counselor decide I’m cause w/o my input. Leslie so right there needs to be some sort of contract, interview spouse separately,. I was in dark and being blamed. He readily admits counseling was not good for our marriage. Yr 32 with counselors encouragement to write feelings down, he begins blog with my 30 yo female, single cousin on women’s rights and Obama. Writing 6hrs every night, skyping with her. Positive responses on blog just added more against me. They were right and I was wrong. Hypocrite that was not how he was running household. I didn’t have rights. I was not happy, worse place I’ve ever been in my life. I didn’t like myself, head spinning and scared. I had become him and everything I hated. Scared would stay this way. Did not know Leslie’s books, conquer then. I vomited back, angry, cold just as Leslie tells to guard in CORE. Yr later he moved out with his righteous attitude, both in counseling then marital counseling. He filed for divorce without ever doing marital counseling. I had instant relief, burden lifted when he moved out. Tho anxiety attacks developed which I never experienced before. Triggered by contact from him. Never did learn how to communicate with him or get to tell my side.

    Now 5yrs later I’m doing really well. He remarried, took a new job and moved 3 yrs away. Huge relief I don’t have to run into and he’s not as demanding of kids ( all grown now). I’m fortunate to be in same home, same job I love, good relationship with my children and happy being single. Ok financially.

    I do wonder how things would have been different if I knew of Leslie’s books, blog, Conquer, etc. while still married. I am grateful to her and her teachings now. I also read Lundy’s book.

    Somehow teaching the truth of what marriage is biblically, not the old fashioned male dominated version, needs to be done. Boundaries and CORE strength are important to both and should not be a threat. It would save so much heartache!!! Each personhood is important and should not be lost in marriage! Equal partners becoming one in marriage with God as the head. Churches, clergy need to step it up and not pile on more.

    • Nancy on August 18, 2017 at 9:58 am

      Hi Karen,

      I totally agree that both parties are in need of learning these principles. But we have no control over what another person knows, or wants to learn.

      It only takes one person to change the entire dynamic of a relationship. That’s my impression of what Leslie’s teaching is all about. It’s about taking our power back by taking full responsibility for ourselves, and by letting go of any illusions that we have any responsibility for, or control over, the other.

      • Karen on August 23, 2017 at 9:52 am

        Totally agree

    • Autumn on August 18, 2017 at 6:53 pm

      The traditional marriage roles can work with a healthy man who is a loving leader. I am so glad you are no longer living in a destructive relationship. I am wondering, where you tempted to tell the next wife about his abuse?

      • Karen on August 23, 2017 at 10:26 am

        No, he remarried prior to me learning I had been in an emotionally destructive marriage all those years. Having any contact with him caused me great stress and therefore relieved much less contact. I can be at family functions now with ex and new wife without fear, PTSD. Yeah!

  21. Lori on August 17, 2017 at 1:14 pm

    I can so relate to this kind of marriage. I too did this,although there were times I tried to reason with him, but got such a back lash it actually caused heart palpitations, even though he never harmed me physically. I learned to just shut down emotionally and have to confess for a time I was resentful and said hurtful comments to him, which made him angry. I believe my fear of being honest truthful and vulnerable was a fear of being rejected for who I was, even though he already was doing that, being vulnerable made me feel open and exposed and somehow gave him easier ground to shoot his arrows. I also believe I myself have a fear of being alone, since my Parents left me alone so much as a child. I’ve since learned that even if thats true, I”m still need to be true to myself and face these fears and speak truth with him in core. I believe God moved me out of the marriage. The screaming and raging got worse to where I was making mistakes at work. (I am a Nurse, you cant make m istakes), so I fortunately had alot of family and a good friend in the area who let me stay with them, I’ve learned so much since then, I”ve also divorced, maybe prematurely although I waited two years, but am open to reconcilliation only with Gods leading and true repentance on the Xs part, if not, I will never be an invisible person in a relationship again.

    • Autumn on August 17, 2017 at 7:56 pm

      How are you doing today? Did the divorce not help?

  22. Sophia on August 17, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Thank you Aleea! But telling the truth to OURSELVES!!!! Wow! This is work for me!!! When my mentally ill Mom left this spring after five years cutting me to shreds before leaving, cutting us all off…my THOUGHTS can easily be the LIES I have heard in my head my entire life. So this truth is work to believe…at the CROSS my value is fixed and my ransom is paid in full by Christ Himself. If anyone around me treats me less than this, I have choices. Allowing the junk because I am a believer perpetuates a lie and does not help me or the other person. A very different way to live than the past.

    • Aleea on August 18, 2017 at 10:36 am

      “. . . When my mentally ill Mom left this spring after five years cutting me to shreds before leaving, cutting us all off…”

      Hello Sophia,
      Life is just so, so very hard and life is suffering, —no doubt about it. Often there is only the choice between very hard route “A” 😥 and very hard route “B” 😥 there is no easy, happy, smooth route “C”. . . . .I’m praying for you 💗🙏. . . . .The fact is that we have no way of knowing if the person who we think we are is really at the CORE of our being. Are we a decent person with the potential to someday become an evil monster, or are we an evil monster that thinks we are a decent woman? Wouldn’t I know which one I was? . . . .No way, the half-truths ½ we tell other people are nothing compared to the half-truths ½ we tell ourselves. The Truth is one tough business and reality is one nasty road to walk. . . .Lies are a little fortress. . . .Inside them we feel safe and powerful. Through our little fortress of lies we try to run our life and manipulate others. But the fortress needs walls, so we build some. These are justifications for our lies we tell ourselves. But if we want personality transformations, we need the Truth and since we don’t have the cognitive capacity to fully know what that is, the next best thing is to stop telling things we know are false. The Truth is way down the road but we have to start by stopping to pretending to know things that we really don’t know. “It’s better to be ignorant and live in bliss than know the truth and live in agony.” . . . .maybe, I simply don’t know but I don’t think so. I’m right and wrong, moral and immoral, good and bad, a hero and a villain, and I’ve been just as capable of truth as I have been of lies. . . . .I’m going to pay a price for every bloody thing I do and everything I don’t do. I don’t get to choose to not pay a price. I get to choose if I want to pay that price now (—being totally honest with husbands, friends, children) or “x” years later. —That’s it. . . . .Again, the Truth is something that burns. It burns off dead wood. And I, like others, don’t like having my dead wood burnt off because I’m like 75 percent dead wood. —And believe me, I’m not being snide about that. It’s no joke. When you start to realize how much of what you’ve constructed of yourself is based on just what others say, that is a horrifying realization. It can easily be 95 percent of the things people say and the things people act out. Those things aren’t even them, they are parroting what they hear in church, what their families told them, what society tells them. If we are not using our own words, we are the puppet of an ideology or other thinkers, or parents or our own impulsive desires. All learning is remembering who *you* are. ✈ 💟 💜 . . . . Oh, and it’s very hard to find our own words — but we don’t actually even exist (—I don’t actually even exist) until we (I) have and are speaking our *own* words (—not our mothers words, not our teachers, not our pastors, not our counselors, et.al.) ❣♡ ۵ 😊 💕 . . . .Oh, there is always one more thing, we don’t lie to protect the other person. We lie to protect ourselves from the consequences. We lie because we don’t want to deal with our own feelings. We lie because we don’t want things to radically change. Not by our hand! But that’s how the walls start to build. . . . ⌘

  23. Aly on August 18, 2017 at 11:11 am


    I’m pretty confused by this expression within the last post.
    Maybe you can help me understand what you are trying to describe…
    “But if we want personality transformations, we need the Truth and since we don’t have the cognitive capacity to fully know what that is, the next best thing is to stop telling things we know are false.”

    So I agree truth is essential to transformation. But Im confused that you say that we don’t have the cognitive capacity to fully know what ‘truth is, how can we fully know what is then false? And thus stop telling lies like you said.
    Does this seem a bit self refuting..

    • Aleea on August 18, 2017 at 2:12 pm

      Hello Aly,

      I’m doing a really bad job of explaining things anymore. . . . ha, ha, ha, ha. 😊 💕 . . .I apologize. It comes from writing so fast. . . .So, we are very limited cognitive processors. —Unbelievably limited! So we can’t always know the Truth (—we would need, often, way more information to know that), BUT we can concentrate on putting our lives back in God’s hands by not telling falsehoods just for peacefaking sake. . . . .So, I really don’t know if Jesus wants me to eat dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab today in Miami Florida (—and honestly, that might be a *really* difficult question to ever *really* know) but I sure should not say I had dinner at Miami Subs if I ate at Joe’s. . . . . I talk to women all the time at my church that say they can’t tell their husbands this, or that, or the other thing because their husbands will just explode, just “blow up”. I used to have this issue with my mother. —Hellfire & Brimstone, how can our lives be in God’s hands if everything is a lie??? We start there and can become w-a-y more truthful as we go along. Every truth we tell makes us stronger and stronger so we can get so strong that, Lord willing, we can tell the truth about *really* serious things that have lots of blow-back, —even if our voices shake while we are doing it. The things that pose the greatest threats to our survival are the most real things. Jesus choose to tell the truth about what was going on in God’s temple, and down to a scholar, He was crucified by the Romans because of that. . . .Our choices determine the destiny of the world. By making a choice, you alter the structure of reality, —me too. That is why not telling falsehoods (—different than telling the Truth), is a great way to put our lives back in God’s hands. Thank you Aly! . . . .but if it still doesn’t make sense (—and it may not) let me know.✵

  24. Sophia on August 18, 2017 at 11:26 am

    Yes.😔As children, going to school and saying with my life ‘all is well’. As a wife, saying with my life that my hurt is just MY brokenness and unloveableness, and in the church, saying with my life that being a used up
    doormat with a smile is actually what I am called to. NO…none of these lies bring glory to God or good to humans. The truth is my need is infinite…but GOD fixed my value forever in His SON. Tiny tiny little steps toward living in the truth and one day faith will be sight. Everything will match up. Until then fighting no more to be loved…resting and pursuing truth. And you know what? My growing children are more likely to say NO but live more honestly than I have🤷‍♀️. Win,win win! Because the truth sets us free!!

    • Aleea on August 18, 2017 at 2:14 pm


      “. . . .doormat with a smile is actually what I am called to. NO” . . . .Absolutely NO. Truth Seeker Warrior!

      “. . . .Until then fighting no more to be loved…” . . . . .Beautiful! Every time I watch a person awaken to their inner strength, I just praise God that they see what we’re made of, and they are magnificent! Our job, maybe our only job here, in this moment, is to love ourselves and, by extension, to love others. The desire to be loved, to feel loved, is behind every diet, pill, surgery, and every lie. It seems to me it is behind each act of violence and every affair as well as each religion and every method of self-help. ✿

  25. Jo on August 20, 2017 at 1:55 am

    Joining in on the discussion for the first time.

    Reading this article tonight was a prayer answered. I was slipping back into missing my ex and thinking “maybe he really was the great guy I thought he was, and maybe I really am missing out.” But reading all this reminded me that no, a great husband does not behave in such a way that his wife loses herself to avoid his anger and moods.

    I didn’t figure out that I had lost myself until AFTER he divorced me, much against what I wished for. (Divorce was final just over a year ago.) I now recognize many parts of my life that are SO much better since we no longer have
    contact (though we still have a minor child who lives with me full time, and he built a house less than a half mile away) and I have truly learned to hear my own voice in my head instead of his. AND YET I still have times of missing him and feeling like I’ve lost something and wishing and even praying he’d have a change of heart and want to reconcile. Articles like this and all the comments by so many who have had the same experience help me remember that I have been rescued, rather than feel like I have lost something wonderful.

    It is peculiar how our “head” can know something, but our emotions take much longer to catch up. But the good times far outweigh the bad now, and I do catch myself becoming the woman God created me to be, and I breathe it in and thank God.

    • Sunshine on August 21, 2017 at 12:41 pm

      I would add the effects of oxytocin to this discussion. To say this as discretely as possible, this hormone is secreted after child birth, during lactation and during orgasm. It is a hormone that is designed to have a power affect upon our brains to create bonding.

      So, Jo you are a normal healthy woman who bonded just like she was designed to do. Satan intervened and tricked you with an abusive spouse. The ache is normal, the relationship is sadly, abnormal.

      It must be rough having to see his new house and him on a regular basis. Are you interested in moving?

      • Jo on August 21, 2017 at 5:14 pm

        Hi Sunshine,

        I’ve been reading about the bonding process, and I’d forgotten this aspect you mentioned. Thanks you for taking the time to reply.

        My teenage son and I (and my daughter when she’s home from college) are in the home we’ve always been in, and it means a lot to them to stay here. I’ve made the place “my own,” now that I can spend money the way I want, and start and finish projects when I want without worrying about his reaction if something isn’t finished on his time schedule. Doing these things in my home and yard is one of the ways I’ve realized how “unfree” I felt before. So I will stay in this house for at least 5-6 more years. It’s paid for, my mom and friends live very close by, it’s a great neighborhood, my kids love it here, so no reason to leave.

        I actually rarely see him. He built a house a half mile away, I think to be close to our son, yet they spend very little time together. Son is happy to just hang out here and doesn’t make an effort to connect. Ex drives him to school in the mornings when he is in town (works out of town several days a week), but I am at work so I don’t have to see him. I believe he expected things to look the same after the divorce as far as parenting goes…thought he could drop by the house to see the kids when he returned from work each week, etc. I slapped a quick boundary on that as soon as his divorce was final. He’s figured out he isn’t welcome to come and go as he did when he was married to me, though once in a while he will still text son to ask to stop by if he’s been gone for a long time; son makes an excuse and says no. I never run into him in town, and texts may be exchanged once every month or two regarding kids insurance or something along those lines, but that’s it. I think I have done a really good job of going dark on him, and he learned quickly to respect that, and doesn’t poke at all like I know a lot of exes do. So it surprises me that it’s taken so long for me to “get over” him, when there is almost no contact. We were married 21 years, but honestly I think his work schedule all our marriage–home a week, gone a week–got me in this state of constantly thinking “ok, this week wasn’t so good, but when he comes home NEXT time, it will be better.” So I never really got to the place of “enough is enough,” and when he decided to leave me, I had not even considered for a moment the possibility of our marriage ending. I mean he was such a great, loyal man with integrity and all that, right? I’ve had my eyes opened to the reality of who he has been, and sites like this one are so, so helpful. I am also looking at the reasons I was so blinded to who he was and how he treated me, and again, your reply, Sunshine, adds another piece to that puzzle. Thank you.

        • Sunshine on August 22, 2017 at 3:09 am

          Wow! I can relate all too well to your reply. I too have learned (slowly) what it is to be free. So many things I was not allowed to do in my home. My husband also traveled a great deal and I believe that is the only way I survived so many years of abuse. I got stronger when he was gone and the kids and I got a break from his behavior.

          From the outside or on paper as they say our family looked great. I did my part to keep up appearances. Yet, my H acted very differently behind closed doors.

          I am glad you and you children are in your family home. That does provide security. Maybe that is why in part you are feeling stronger. Do you really want your husband back, or are you just healed enough to begin to think about love again? Is your heart and mind ready for a new relationship, yet you can’t imagine such a thing? Personally, I would wait for a new relationship until the kids are out of the house. If you have extra love to give there are many ways to express it without toying with thoughts of your X. It sounds like he really was’t so great, and you sister, deserve great!

          • Jo on August 22, 2017 at 5:44 pm

            I have been quite impressed with the questions that get asked here, and yours are no exception!

            My strength comes from many many places. God has been oh so good. I think not having to deal with a house sale and a move has been really helpful. I think the time and space from ex has been a particularly huge factor in my healing. Just the smallest contact sets me back a bit, which surprises me each time, so the “almost” no contact has been so important.

            I’m not at all interested in another relationship at this time, and all along have said I didn’t think I ever would be. Most of the time I don’t feel like I am missing anything in my life, but that feeling may change and I trust God to work that out in His timing. But yes, there is still that little part of me that seems to show up the first 10 minutes of every day, before the sleep cobwebs have cleared out of my brain, that still feels sucker punched and wishes that ex would “come to his senses” and magicially become the man I fantasized that he was all along (but that I hadn’t quite “earned” the right to experience). Not many people understand that crazy thinking, but I know many here do. As I said, it’s become a pretty small part of my thinking and I know it is just unhealed stuff and that God is still working on it with me. Again, I think that because I didn’t recognize this throughout my marriage, and I wasn’t the one to end it, I didn’t have the “relief” that comes with finally making a decision to break free. I just felt shell shocked and discarded.

            Thanks again for engaging in the conversation with me. Thinking through your questions is really helpful. One foot in front of the other….

        • Sunshine on August 24, 2017 at 9:00 am

          Jo, It is a blessing to me that you would share thoughts and feelings about the journey out of abuse. I couldn’t agree more that most people have no idea what to be in out situation.

          I have no interest in another relationship either. Patrick Doyle calls what you describe, magical thinking. It seems to be something we Christians do as we process what should have been. Non Christians in similar situations don’t have the spiritual beliefs of healing, redemption and miracles to content with. They often see abuse more clearly and can just be done with the abuser.

          What I gather from your post is that you are a loving woman, who is smart, capable and wise. On top of all that you have the Lord as your guide. Take comfort, you are doing very, very well. Your thoughts and feelings are very normal for what you have been through.

          • Sunshine on August 24, 2017 at 9:01 am

            Grammatical errors in my last post. Sorry.

  26. Carolee on August 20, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    I have been afraid of my h since day one even when we were dating. I had no concrete reason. He didn’t beat me and I just could never figure out why. He has a nasty temper and yells and criticizes but the fear went beyond that. I have been praying for wisdom. The Lord is slowly revealing that my fear is all about the man’s evil heart. He said he’d accepted Christ. That’s why I married him. For about a year he played the part until he claimed it just didn’t work for him to pretend to be something he wasn’t. I was finding so often I would cry out that I hated this man. Why did he lie. After much therapy and 25 years of a horrible marriage I am finally learning what God wanted me to learn all along. I don’t hate my h. I hate the evil and the sin in him. I hate the loss of my dreams. The loss of the life I thought I was getting. Instead he truly is the man I had broken up with before he claimed to be born again. I hate not being with the man I thought I was marrying. I see glimpses now and then but is it the truth or deception? Overall he is not who I thought he was. But oh the potential is there if he would really surrender his life to Christ. I can’t hang on to this hope. Since finding Leslie I have learned so much about not being a victim and working on me instead of hoping he will change. I wish I could leave but at my age (almost70) and with the small health problems I’m having I just can’t do that right now.
    I came across a passage in Isaiah awhile back and have wanted to share it here. It’s Isaiah 28: 24-29. The Word talks about a farmer saying he doesn’t continue to plow over and over the same ground. He plants and then threshes but once again he doesn’t continually thresh either. He goes step by step to get the job done! He’s not stuck in one part of the process. I think of Leslie’s words about doing the same dance over and over! I want to keep God’s Word in context but what I believe He was saying to me was there is only so much you can do. Don’t keep going over the same things. I’m learning but it’s hard. My h is still the same narcissistic man he tries to hide to the world and he still wants the perfect obedient wife who shuts up when told to.
    I’m praying for you dear sisters and for Leslie and her staff. God hears us and in His timing He will make up for all the years the locust have eaten (that’s in Joel 2:25). I thank God for the good church I have so recently found with a pastor who understands the struggle going on today with abuse of wives. His sermon last week was on that very issue. I knew then I had found a church where I could grow.
    God bless you all.

  27. Day by Day on August 20, 2017 at 11:10 pm

    I relate with this so much… for years I have justified everything by telling myself (and presenting an image to the world) that we are fine. We go out to dinner. We go to concerts. We host parties and gatherings. We watch our favorite TV shows together. Everything is fine.

    For me, I eventually came to the edge of the cliff where pretending is no longer an option. My very health and life is on the line– I don’t have the choice to allow his emotional and spiritual abuse to continue, because I have been dying a slow death under it. His abuse has been more subtle than rage, and more confusing than verbal insults. Perhaps that makes it all the more poisonous because it is harder to discern what is real, and easier to tell myself that everything is fine. For example, the other day he told me “I see that you want safety… and I want to give you safety! BUT I want to give you God’s safety, not post-modern safety.”

    His idea of safety is a grave “concern for my soul” and aligning me with his understanding of the truth. There is no room for my own thoughts and feelings.

    This idea that Leslie mentioned about being fully known in a marriage makes me want to break down and weep, because I think that is all that I ever wanted at the end of the day. And it is so sad to realize that he has never known me, has never pursued knowing me, and has never truly shared himself with me either.

    I’ve been sleeping on the couch now for over a month (sleeping terribly), and my husband has the attitude that I can come back to bed whenever I am finished throwing my tantrum. I don’t see myself going back to bed. Don’t see any assurance of change. I have written a long list of everything I have tried over the past months and years to save our marriage, and now there is only one thing left to try– so we are meeting with a neutral professional counselor together. I am still not feeling confident that things will change so I am sure I’ll be making some difficult decisions in the near future.

    God bless you all… let’s keep reminding each other how to hope.

    • Nancy on August 21, 2017 at 7:59 am

      Hello Day,

      I’m sorry to hear what you have been through. We’ve dialogued before, and I know you’ve been on this site for a while. I’m assuming you’ve read Leslie’s book EDM.

      I just want to remind you that seeing a counsellor together at this stage (he obviously continues to blameshift) is not advisable. Please consider this step prayerfully.

      My h and I went for counselling 6 years ago and it did me more emotional damage and weakened me significantly, by confusing me even more. I can really relate to the covertness, and therefor confusion, of your situation. Be really careful – the way that I look at it is like this:

      an individual in your h’s current state is a master. It doesn’t matter how much of a professional counsellor you find, they will be outwitted by someone whose survival depends on this counselling performance.

      • Day by Day on August 22, 2017 at 3:26 pm

        Thank you, Nancy!– I hope you know that you are a light as you engage in your calling to minister and encourage the women in this community.

        Yes, I discovered EDM and this blog at the beginning of this year and I have been leaning heavily on it, as my (former) church community has contributed to my crazy-making and confusion. Especially the pastor. We met with the pastor several times as our mediator and he kept approaching our marriage as if we are going through a “rough patch,” and both merely need to trust God more. He asked me not to use the word “abuse” because it made my husband uncomfortable, and he is not even sure if abuse is a valid category because the word is not used in the bible and is a “modern concept.” Several friends advised me to stop meeting with this pastor, even though he has good intentions.

        I definitely hear you, and want to be cautious about meeting with the neutral therapist. I just don’t really know what other steps I can take at this point. My mental and emotional health are deteriorating, and I need to know that I am doing some sort of work, not just staying still and waiting.

        I know that many loving people here would tell me to leave. And I am getting much, much closer to that point. I just have to deal with the years of spiritual abuse that have conditioned me to believe that an action like that would cut me off from God’s grace eternally. That is the level of lies and fear that weigh on me. I am in a critical stage of trying to discern what God has to say to me, and to believe, to actually embrace, that he will never leave me or forsake me.

        You are obviously still married– if the counseling made everything more confusing for you, what eventually worked? (Forgive me if you’ve written about this before and I missed it)

        • Nancy on August 22, 2017 at 8:19 pm

          Thank you for your affirming words, Day. They have blessed me.

          I’m happy to go over some of God’s work in my life:

          In February 2016 my Focus on the Family counsellor recommended Leslie’s book. I recognized the ‘dependence’ dynamic that she describes. In April we went out for dinner where I confronted my h with my limits and requirements ( and gave him a letter when we got home, so it couldn’t be spun) – I basically followed Leslie’s advice, step-by-step.

          He immediately went to counselling and pretty soon got in an accountability group. It wasn’t though, until 9 months later, at Christmas, that I knew he had changed. These 9 months were LONG. I slept on the floor of the living room a lot, lots of this blog, prayer, bible study etc….

          We went into couples counselling in Jan of this year. I found the counsellor…well God did. I interviewed him on the phone and told him that I did not trust my h and was VERY reluctant.

          The reason I agreed to go ( my h had asked quite a bit) was because we were all at the same starting place: My h was not trustworthy. I went to counselling because he went in admitting that he wasn’t trustworthy.

          We built from there. We built from the place where he admitted that a foundational element was not there, because of him. That was HUGE for me.

          This was very different than 6 years ago when we were there because things ‘weren’t working’.

          God has worked miracles, Day. But I want to say that I was never in any physical danger – that’s one of the reasons that I was able to stay in the house during our separation.

          May God bless you as you take you continue to build your CORE, Day!

          • Nancy on August 23, 2017 at 8:32 am


            Our great God’s love for you does not depend on what you do. It depends on who HE IS, and:

            God IS Love.

            Walking with Christ is not about ‘getting it right’. This is RELIGION. Walking with Christ is about a relationship with Him. He will walk with you, WHEREVER you go. He DIED to have a relationship with you, and to walk with you. He will NEVER forsake you. Why? Because of who HE IS. This relationship does NOT depend on you ‘getting it right’.

            You are free.

            There are no ‘wrong’ moves! This is rule based thinking. With Christ, we are COVERED by His grace – no matter what we do.

            HE is your true husband, and He is PERFECT. ❤️

            Here’s what is said each week at our church:
            “Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ. And Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns for us, Christ prays for us! Whoever is in Christ is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. Know that you are forgiven and be at Peace.”

            It is DONE, Day. There is nothing more to DO.

            Praying for you, my sister 🙏🏻

          • JoAnn on August 23, 2017 at 9:20 am

            So very well said, Nancy. It is hard to get the “religion” out of our minds sometimes. (Man’s efforts to please God). Once we enter into the true freedom that Christ purchased for us, it is wonderful. That’s why we need to come to the word of God daily, prayerfully, so that the Lord can free our minds from old concepts and rules, into His glorious freedom.

    • Sunshine on August 22, 2017 at 3:14 am

      You did a great job of describing spiritual abuse. Don’t listen to anything he says. It is abuse. There is no reasoning with him. He will not take accountability for his actions so there can not be a resolution for you. Spin, spin, spin as the cycle goes round and round. Can you get off this merry go round?

      • Day by Day on August 22, 2017 at 3:36 pm

        Thanks, Sunshine. Spiritual abuse feels so toxic because it appeals to our desire to follow God and please God… and it just twists and manipulates a beautiful truth in order for one person to exercise control over another. It has left my husband “untouchable” through all of our struggles, because he always claims that these are not his own beliefs, words or opinions– they are the truth of God, and it is his noble duty to defend God’s truth. He actually has expressed concern for my soul if I dare to disagree with him about something. I don’t think that he even believes I am a Christian.

        I agree with you that it is a vicious cycle, and it seems there cannot be any resolution. I am praying for the courage and bravery to end the cycle.

        • Sunshine on August 24, 2017 at 9:09 am

          It will take great courage. I hope this cyber support group is a blessing. I am amazed by the journey of other women who seem to be living through the exact same thing I am living through.How can that be?

          It is, I believe, because evil looks the same everywhere. Evil hearts all act the same way.

  28. Janice on August 21, 2017 at 5:31 am

    Hi Day by day… I can relate to your comments so well.Safety in marriage is foundational and more than just ” a want”. Also God has created us as integrated bodies,souls,and spirits so being cared for and fully known involves all of us,not just part.I am living separately in my home with my husband of 25 years and this difficult choice is not a “tantrum” any more than your decision seems to be.Your thoughts and feelings are well articulated… I too have long desired to be fully known by my husband.I have come from to realize that is not possible at this time.Again this a completely reasonable desire but unrealistic given my husbands emotional maturity level.I often meditate on the words of Jesus”depart from me,I never knew you”. Knowing and being known seems to me to be The definition of personal relationship.It is as we come to Jesus as openly and honestly as we can that He draws near and so sweetly communes with us.May we all continue to press on in our individual struggle knowing we find comfort and encouragement here from our dear sisters!

    • Day by Day on August 22, 2017 at 3:45 pm

      Hi Janice, it is so good to know there are so many of us who can relate to one another’s stories. I am sorry that you are also living separately in your own home. It feels so… icky and wrong. It is a constant reminder that this is not God’s intention for marriage, and so hard to be right in the middle of it.

      I agree with you– knowing and being known is an absolute foundation of relationship. So is safety. I’ve tried to talk about these concepts with my husband before, but everything has a condition for him. It is as if he is saying to me: “yes, I want to know you! BUT I only want to know you as long as you think this way, feel this way, etc.” And I could not believe his comment about safety to me. “I want to give you God’s safety, not postmodern safety.”

      I hope everything resolves soon for us, that we can start to find hope and freedom, and to live as God intends us to live.

    • Sunshine on August 24, 2017 at 9:14 am

      I have read other posters use the phrase, known and be known. I would like to comment that I think the reason this is impossible with NPD is their extreme selfishness. Those with NPD are unable to empathize and therefore, can’t offer to know and be known. They just couldn’t care. There every thought, action and deed are driven by self absorption. The need us only in the way that feeds THEIR needs, reciprocating in impossible with their personality disorder.

  29. PW on August 21, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    Hello all,
    I have been on a very long journey toward the wholeness and true abundant life that Christ promises. Earlier this year I found Leslie’s books and this blog, and both have been incredibly helpful to me. I can relate to the life stories several of you have told, in that my ‘losing of myself’ began long before my marriage. My mother is a narcissist and it has taken me years and years to recognize that, growing up and long into adulthood, I have been living in her false reality where I am expected to be a (perfect, compliant, etc.) extension of her. Not surprisingly (in retrospect) I married a man who has his own very significant family-of-origin issues. We began couples counseling over five years ago with a wonderful therapist…but with very little impact on the issues plaguing our superficial marriage. She has consistently challenged me with the prospect that he will likely never have the desire, willingness or ability to share an emotionally intimate relationship. He doesn’t seem to have the capacity for empathy and he demonstrates many narcissistic characteristics.

    During the past three years I have continued in counselling alone, working on my own issues, which has been very helpful.

    I have begun the long, challenging process of taking responsibility for my own self and leaning how to set and enforce appropriate boundaries. I have also had to face the reality that my h will likely never change. Over the course of our 18 year marriage I have learned that he has a whole ‘alphabet soup” of issues – OCD, PTSD, anxiety, depression, ADHD (only diagnosed when we took our son to a specialist) and most recently, early onset Alzheimer’s.

    Now I am facing the prospect of being the long-term caregiver for a man who I barely even like. I have gone back and forth in my mind about whether my marriage is destructive or merely disappointing. But I am not sure whether it really matters.

    The discussions here about porn use have been very validating…my husband views porn regularly (because everyone does it, and he “needs” it to deal with his anxiety issues). In fact, I was having a hard time getting to sleep last night and I opened my eyes to see what he was looking at on his phone, only to see him scrolling through a website with a “menu” of beautiful, young, naked women … while I am lying next to him in bed. . I am so tired of this, I didn’t even say anything. Just rolled over and went to sleep.

    In any case, I don’t feel as if I have a choice. My h has alienated his other family members and I would never want my son to feel he has to put his life on hold (he’s nearly 16) to shoulder his father’s future care.

    Anyway, I am grateful to have found this group where it feels safe to tell terrible stories and express thoughts and emotions that “good girls” aren’t supposed to think and feel. Thanks for listening.

    • Aly on August 21, 2017 at 5:28 pm


      Oh my goodness I am so so very sorry for what you have been receiving from your husband! My heart is so heavy 😥
      and I am so grateful that you are willing to search for clarity on your issue. I hope you choose to, I can’t imagine your pain. I wish I could hug you!
      Do you have other women that can offer support in flesh to you?

      Ok ~
      Any husband especially reading this;
      Looking at porn, or at another woman lustfully is betrayal and is Abusive!! Even thinking of it ~ is betrayal.
      This is not normal everyday men typical ways.

      PW, this is traumatic in so many ways that are gut wrenching and your husband has desensitized you to believe that he can violate your marriage bed especially (heart broken). Or any other location especially in his head/heart.

      The fact that your husband is looking at porn, disqualifies him from even seeing wether or not he can work on the marriage. It is a huge factor of why marriage counseling can quickly get thrown out~ because he has his own issues to deal with and those you can require him to!
      Why do I say that it disqualifies him?
      Because he is seeing you as an object not as a beloved daughter of God.
      He is treating you as such and unless he deals with his internal issues like you listed and his addictions (porn) that he has created to escape ‘feeling’ bad or drawing closer to God and you… this will get worse and worse.. actually it could have already escalated in ways you are not aware of. This is scary.

      What do you think you are willing to do for your own heart and healing?

    • Sunshine on August 22, 2017 at 3:20 am

      Heck, I am not buying you being his care giver. Anyone who has time to scroll porn, has time to scroll for healthcare providers.

      I hear you hanging in until your 16 year old can advance. Use your CORE and don’t make any further commitment with this man. He can handle his own healthcare issues. Don’t let him fool you. He knows exactly what he is doing. He is using you!

  30. Jill on August 22, 2017 at 11:17 am

    All of these comments are just so heartbreaking!

    I, too, experienced most of the issues brought up. I lived with a narcissistic, self-pleasing man for over 40 years. Why? God finally showed me that one of my idols was marriage. I did not want to give up on my marriage for any reason. I, too, lived for the dream or fairytale of a good marriage, of a man who loved me and treated me and honored me. I will share my experience of leaving in hopes that it will encourage some of you.

    I worked hard on being a very good sex partner, as I felt it was not right for me to withhold sex. But I was only a physical partner much of the time, even though I truly loved him. I had to distance myself mentally and spiritually from the physical intimacy most of the time. I was abused. But not in a way that I recognized it as abuse. I truly believed I was being a good, godly wife.

    Our marriage was full of bad and very good times. He never hit me, though before I finally left I was certain it was headed toward physical violence, and he had even threatened murder/suicide. The emotional and verbal abuse was ‘balanced’ by his good provisions, by vacations, money he would give me and shopping trips he would take me on. He gave me good times to balance out the times he had been awful to me. I always tried to think positively, thus would be lulled into staying and working on the relationship because ‘there is a lot of good’ which was not a true measure of our marriage. I was too afraid to step into trusting God for everything I needed to leave if that is what it took. I kept thinking that I loved God so much and tried and prayed, yet it wasn’t working and was probably my fault somehow. I did not want to give up and admit my marriage was a failure. More than anything, I did not want my kids to have parents who were divorced.

    God truly helped me survive until my children were in their 30s. I nearly left more than once, but now I realize that God did protect me and my children until later, as the split would have been horrific, far more horrific than it was when I finally did leave. There was not physical violence, other than harsh discipline toward the kids at times. It was kept within limits, as he knew exactly where I would draw the lines so to speak.

    When I finally knew it was time to leave, I had to do it quickly and without him knowing. I went on a ‘shopping trip’ with a friend, bought outfits for an upcoming event, and interviewed lawyers. My friend paid for my consult fees. I secretly copied all legal and financial paperwork I could find. I got myself a credit card. He told me to shred it, but I hid it without activating it, as I did fear he was going to get physically violent and I might need to leave quickly. I went to my banker (knowing she was reliable and honest) and told her I needed a personal line of credit apart from our joint accounts, and made sure he would have not knowledge or access to it. Then, when the day came, I was ready. And I KNEW when I had to do it, as I was finally totally broken and sick. I loaded up a few boxes I had packed up earlier and labelled “garage sale” and a few clothes. And I drove away one morning after he went to work. When he came home for lunch, he began to discover what I had done. I informed my adult children of what I was doing, but would not tell them where I was for the first couple of weeks. I had a track phone. Went totally no contact with my ex. Initially, I still thought I would work the marriage out with him. I really thought it would turn him around, finally, if he knew I would really leave. But that was not so. He showed mostly anger and attempts to control me from afar. He was awful to our kids and blamed them for not getting me to come back. I did not sustain no-contact because I wanted to work things out to save the marriage, but his manipulative behavior could control me, even through only phone calls. He tried so hard to get me to do everything his way, but fortunately I had family and friends and a therapist talking reality into me. I listened to my gut, and to the indicators that he would never forgive me if I did go back, he could never again trust me, though he would pretend. And he would get revenge.

    And I must say I was very blessed in that I was able to stay with a relative, far away from my husband, and I did not have to work. I got into a good church, divorce recovery group, and read tons of self-help books. One life-changer was Leslie’s book The Emotionally Destructive Relationship. Examining my own heart with the help of that book, and seeing the difference in my heart and my husband’s heart, spoke volumes to me, assured me of my worth and my good heart and God’s love. Many other books also led me to see that he was not changing at all. He never would.

    I had an incredible therapist, friends, and family who supported me in making the choice to leave. I had a place to lay low and heal. The healing is still taking place, as what developed over 40+ years cannot go away quickly.

    God led me into two amazing churches over the next couple of years. There were strong divorce support groups, plus singles groups for socializing. I did not intend to date for 4-5 yrs minimum. I felt I could trust no man again and didn’t want a relationship. Yet I had a problem with sex, as I had been used and abused and seemed to need sex to feel good about myself (as I was brainwashed to believe in my marriage.) I stayed pure for a while, then had great difficulty for a while. But God had a plan and knew my heart and my needs. He introduced me to a man through friends. This man lived several hours from me, and he had been alone for many years. We began developing a relationship through phone calls and then began to date occasionally when we could. It did not take us long to see many reasons why God brought us together and intended us to marry. So we are now enjoying an amazing and godly relationship, both of us feeling truly loved for the first time in our lives. There was so very much wrong in my first marriage, and yet I did not see for years just how wrong. Now I have love, honor and respect daily, and I am totally overwhelmed with joy and thankfulness. No, it is not perfect, but there is real love, honor, respect. It is two children of God, loving as He love us, both in love with the other and serving God and each other.

    Not all lives turn out as mine has, yet even if I did not have this wonderful marriage, my time as a single person made the tough act of leaving totally worth everything I went through. God never intends for us to be trodden upon through an unloving partner. He gives us a spirit of love, not fear. And he gives us what we need ALWAYS. I am finally becoming the woman God designed me to be now. I’m working with other women I have met toward setting up a program for women’s mentoring and for helping girls grow into healthy women. Helping girls and women have healthy boundaries and be strong, loving human beings.

    This world needs us to be loved, to love, to be strong, to support and encourage one another. My prayer is for each of you going through all of this horror to be able to put each difficulty in true perspective and put your total trust in God for His timing and His help to do what you have to do in your situation. Love and hugs to each of you.

    • Aly on August 22, 2017 at 11:58 am

      Wow! Such a story of Gods redeeming love for you;) thank you so much for taking the time to write out your navigation of this.
      I’m over joyed for you that you are experiencing love, honor respect and living with a husband that can be a healthy growing man of God💜

    • JoAnn on August 22, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      Thank you, Jill, what a blessing your story is to all of us. I hope that those who are still struggling to know whether or not to leave will be encouraged by your story. And, Praise the Lord ! for bringing you into a really good marriage. With Him, all things are possible.
      Grace be to you.

    • Autumn on August 22, 2017 at 11:11 pm

      Jill, I really enjoyed reading your post. Hearing how people leave, both the practical aspects and the train of thought involved is extremely helpful.

      Might we have a blog on how people leave and succeed? Now, there are some posts I would like to read!

  31. Sandy on August 22, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Thank you Jill! I really needed to see your testimony today. I’ve spent way too much energy, time and emotion worrying about my marriage. Years ago at a retreat with my husband, the speaker came over to me and said, “You have a spirit of death on you and it’s trying to kill you.” I had never had anything like that happen to me before or seen anything like that happen to anyone else. I felt like ice water was going through my veins. I never really figured out what that meant if anything at all. I do wonder if it what that man saw was my fixation on my marriage instead of on God. I know that I have disappeared inside of myself from becoming co-dependent. I’m trying to come out of that ‘death’.

  32. PW on August 22, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Hi Aly,
    Thanks for you kind words of support and validation. Thankfully, I do have some strong, supportive Christian women friends. But I do need to reconnect, since I have become a bit isolated in recent years. They know about my h’s Alz diagnosis but not all of the rest. We all come from a fairly conservative background, and I am a little worried that if I shared all I would get the common, “I am so sorry that this is your cross to bear…” response. But then again, I may be selling them short.

    As far as what I am willing to do for my own heart and healing, I guess that is the real question. I have been pouring over Leslie’s books, trying to focus on the truth of my situation, and the other CORE principals. I believe that my h has many real issues, and that given his current state, it is probably not possible for him to develop empathy or make any real changes. A recent brain scan showed his hippocampus (the seat of empathy) to be about 1% of the size typical for his age. He is fairly (physically) functional so far, but there is no question it will get much worse over the next few years (or,God forbid) decades.

    In my Core work, the toughest has been taking responsibility for my own actions and treating him with respect in spite of everything. Over the years I have gotten into some very bad patterns of stuffing all of my emotions u til I couldn’t take it anymore, then blowing up in a (futile) attempt to make h see how his behaviors are hurting me. I see lots of lost opportunities to set boundaries and enforce consequences. I also feel responsible to begin doing that now … but I am skeptical about whether it will make any difference. He now has a very convenient response available:. I don’t remember you saying that!

    Part of me is stuck feeling that if I had the awareness five years ago that I have today, I would have left him with a clear conscience. Now, I feel obligated to stay and do the best I can in what will probably be a very long trial. I hope I can make it through.

    • JoAnn on August 22, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      PW, for sure you will make it through, by God’s grace. Still, this is a time to set some clear boundaries with him about what you are willing to do for him as he goes down this awful road. Put him in charge of his own health and maintenance. He can arrange for insurance and in home health care, now, while he still has some ability. You can inwardly divorce yourself, while staying outwardly, if that is the only thing that you can do. Be sure to avail yourself of all support services for respite care and fellowship. I sincerely sympathize with you for what is ahead. Take care of yourself, dear Sister. Search for a good counselor who can help you through, and deepen your relationship with the Lord. He is your husband in reality.

      • JoAnn on August 23, 2017 at 9:35 am

        PW, is there another bedroom that you could move into? An in-house separation could help you to be more comfortable. Also, check your community to find out where the care homes are that take care of people with memory issues. This could be a boundary for you: when h is no longer able to take care of himself, he will be moved into a facility. Plan for it now, financially and emotionally. You do not have to be his slave through this.

    • Autumn on August 23, 2017 at 7:10 am

      PW, Help me understand, why could you leave five years ago, but not now? Why do you have empathy for his circumstance when there is none reciprocated in your direction? What is holding you to such a life, obligation, duty, guilt? I don’t understand.

      • PW on August 23, 2017 at 1:29 pm

        Hi Autumn,

        I guess I feel that five years ago, before he started showing significant Alz symptoms, before he lost his job, before he had a diagnosis, I could have set some boundaries and clearly stated, “if this unacceptable behavior continues, I will separate.”. But at that time I was still trapped in the dual bind of: “he still might become the man I hope he can be” and “if not, then this is the ‘worse’ part of “for better or worse” that I vowed to endure.

        I now have a better sense of the ungodly choices that led to his bad behavior…but today I truly believe that he is beyond doing the hard work necessary to grow into a godly man. How can I now begin to set boundaries and enforce consequences when he probably lacks the capacity to recall what I have said?

        • JoAnn on August 23, 2017 at 1:36 pm

          You can always write them down and post them where he can see them regularly. I understand your sense of obligation, but I encourage you to be clear before the Lord just how far He wants you to go with this man. If you go beyond what the Lord calls you to do, then He might not give you the supply you will need. When we are in absolute obedience to the Lord, then He provides everything we need to obey Him, whether that means to stay or to go. Get on your knees, fast and pray desperately, putting everything on the altar before the Lord, in unconditional surrender to His will. Then He will make your path straight.
          Much grace to you.

          • PW on August 23, 2017 at 2:20 pm

            Excellent advice. Many thanks.

        • Autumn on August 23, 2017 at 7:24 pm

          Relief may come when his alzheimer’s progresses and you admit him to a memory care unit in a nursing home. Until that point, I would encourage liberal use of sedatives or anti-anxiety medications to give you a break from dementia associated agitation. It may sound cruel, but if you are in charge, medicate him heavily to protect yourself.

          • Autumn on August 23, 2017 at 7:29 pm

            I would also like to add that their are various support groups for caregivers of those with memory loss. You are in a difficult situation because abusive behavior will be hard to distinguish from dementia. Attending a support group, especially in the early stages will give you some invaluable information by which you can realistically plan for the future.

  33. Nancy on August 23, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Hi PW,

    I agree that JoAnn’s advice is excellent.

    On a practical note- guarding our hearts is never about changing someone else. Guarding our hearts is about keeping anger and resentment out.

    Even though you can’t require your h ‘the hard work required to grow into a godly man’, you still must guard your heart. These are two separate things. Your h’s illness does not make you any less responsible for your heart. ( I hope that’s not too harsh).

    • JoAnn on August 23, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      I agree with Nancy. You must guard your heart from anger, bitterness, and hatred. The limits and boundaries help you do that. Actually, accepting the fact that he will not/cannot change is a guard, because you won’t be bitter expecting him to be different. Sometimes just accepting things as they are and learning to function well in the midst of challenging circumstances helps you to maintain peace. Inward peace in your heart is the ultimate guard. Look up Phil 4:7; 2 Thes. 3:3; 1 Tim 6:20; 2 Tim 1:12-14; Jude 1:24.

    • PW on August 27, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      Hello Nancy and JoAnn,
      I realize that I am responsible for my own heart. However, I feel as though my whole life I have had to deny my emotions because expressing them in any way was not allowed. Now I hear you saying I should not feel angry at lies or bitter at years of deception. Perhaps I am not holy enough for this forum.

      • Aly on August 27, 2017 at 8:44 pm

        Dear PW,

        I think there might be some confusion going on.. I hope it’s ok I send a response here.
        I’m wondering if you are interpreting ‘guarding your heart’ as a way to shut down verses as a way to guard against those who are not emotionally or relationally safe.

        When we guard our hearts the way God instructs us to~ we are allowing healthy people in and sharing our feelings and our losses with safe people.

        Guarding our hearts against unsafe people is the key, so that those unsafe people don’t have access to our vulnerabilities and do further damage.

        Maybe I’m way off here…. but that is how I have understood it.

        I am married to a recovering ‘guarder’ …in the truest sense and he has had to learn and experience the beauty in not pushing out or guarding the trustworthy people who love him.
        He was so guarded and shut down that it was difficult for the good and healthy things to penetrate his world~ so he could even begin to process his past losses and grief.

        Do you have a couple of women who you can cry with and share what you are dealing with day in day out? It important that we hear one another’s pain especially if you have had a lifetime of not being safe or allowed to share your feelings.
        Sending hugs to you

      • Nancy on August 27, 2017 at 10:28 pm

        I can see why you would be upset by my comment, PW. As Aly said, I think there is misinterpretation of what we meant.

        Let me clarify what I meant in quoting Prov 4:23.

        Guarding my heart against bitterness and resentment involves getting in touch with my anger. Anger is a signal that something is wrong. God has given us anger as a warning, to pay attention to.

        I can relate to living a lifetime in denial of feelings. This is so hard, and not what God intends at all. The pain of this is excruciating!

        Prov 4:23 is the verse that liberated me from living in the prison of denial. It is the verse that turned everything around for me by giving me permission to feel, and to express my feelings. It gave me permission to say, ‘no’. Even if it was a very small, and seemingly insignificant, ‘no’.

        Guarding my heart means saying no to the bad (so that resentment and anger don’t build). It means paying attention to my anger and viewing anger as a FRIEND that HAS MY BACK 🙂 This friend nudges me to use my voice to express what is bubbling up inside. This friend nudges me toward action; toward healthy choices. This friend nudges me when I am being manipulated. This friend ENCOURAGES me to SPEAK.

        As far as the ‘build up’ of bitterness andesentment: I hope that you find a safe space to express these. It’s so important to let these out with loving people. Counselling has helped me a lot in this regard. Deception is so destructive to your very person and your feelings of resentment and bitterness are normal and valid!

        I’m glad that you wrote your interpretation of my comment. In fact, what I meant by it is exactly the opposite!

        I hope that the compassion I feel for you and your situation comes through in this note, P.W.

  34. MJ on August 24, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Hi ladies,

    I was hoping to get some good experienced perspective along the lines of this thread. Let me explain the situation and then my questions are at the bottom.

    For a long time, I’ve peacefaked. My h has been verbally, emotionally, spiritually abusive, and there have been instances of physical abuse as well. About 1 year ago, I started putting boundaries into place one by one and stopped peacefaking. The biggest change has been leaving for 1-2 hours every time he rages and I feel threatened. This has kept any physical against me from happening for a whole year. However the lack of self control on his part was still evident. When he would get really angry (maybe once a month) he’d throw things, break things, etc.at which point I would leave. This is on top of the rest of the abuse – multiple conflicts a week where he will withdraw, punish, degrade, twist my words, project and ridicule. These conflicts revolve around me living my life as I know I need to for my self care and NOT PEACEFAKING ANYMORE – attending church groups, spending time with girl friends, maintaining a good working relationship with my ex (having to co-parent), asking for or requiring changes on his part. He tries to control my opinions, emotions, and activities to his liking. In the last year of enforcing boundaries and no longer peacefaking, the conflict has skyrocketed. He always talks about how things used to be so great and how I used to be so supportive and loving. I have to keep reminding myself that that’s not the TRUTH. The TRUTH is that I had been enabling, faking, and was MISERABLE without his knowledge. I am now living in honesty and requiring change.

    3 times in the last 6 months I verbally told him that if he did not stop the abuse (i was more specific) that I would need to move myself and the kids to a healthier environment. After each of these times, his behavior would change for a few weeks. But it was never permanent. 2 weeks ago, I wrote a letter, just as Leslie has described in her book. He was really angry at first, then very apologetic and said I was right, and now he’s just despondent (“I’m never going to be able to live up to your expectations for me”). Since the letter I’ve seen a noticeable improvement in the really intolerable behaviors (anger, ridicule, cussing, property destruction). However, he is completely disconnected from me. He is still controlling and hurtful, he’s just doing it in a more covert way. For example, I went out with a gf for drinks for my birthday and we were out until 11:30. He was mad that I was out late (as though I am a child with a curfew) and wouldn’t speak to me for a day. There have been several instances since the letter where I have given feedback about how his actions/words have caused hurt/disconnection. He gets angry, justifies how he was right in doing what he did (or that he didn’t do what I’m saying), doesn’t apologize or try to make things right. He’s blaming our marriage for the problems, not admitting to his destruction. From what I can tell his mindset is – “ok, I won’t do the really bad things that I know are not acceptable so that she won’t leave, BUT, I still come first in this relationship. I’m going to do what I want to do. I haven’t damaged our relationship, she/something else has, and it’s not worth the effort/I’m not responsible to repair the damage.”

    The other complicating factor is that he has had some severe un-diagnosible health issues for the last two months and is blaming all the behavior on that. My guess is that it is due to his anxiety, anger, and bitterness from the last couple of decades catching up to his body. He’s having difficulty doing routine daily activities due to pain and fatigue. He’s despondent, pe-occupied and frustrated about his health and of course that’s spilling into every area of our lives. We’ve seen multiple doctors, had all the tests, and nothing is showing up.

    So my questions:
    1. I know I can’t expect change overnight, but my feeling is that this is not a permanent and/or deep heart change that I’m seeing. Correct?
    2. Since the letter, I’m not getting the really bad behaviors that I listed in it, but the destructive behavior is still there. It’s just a lot more covert and so I’m having A LOT of difficulty saying – look, you’re still not living up to the agreement. He’s not building, not growing. Do I need to give more time? (to give him a chance to show a more obvious direction in either the negative or positive)
    3. The health thing is really complicating this. Do I give that time and in essence put our relationship “on hold” for a specific amount of time? Maybe without it, he would have more of a desire and capacity to change?
    4. It used to be very clear to me. I’m in a destructive relationship. The behaviors were blatant. Now I’m wondering if I’m in more of just a disappointing marriage? My heart is aching, I have no connection with him, his words and actions are hurtful, and he seems to have no desire to connect with me or respond to my attempts to connect. I keep trying to figure out if my hurt is because of the current hurts or because I haven’t healed from all the past destruction.

    I’m sorry for the whole book. I’m just needing some clear outside perspective. (I’m talking with a few close friends as well as reading Leslie’s book for probably the 10th time)

    Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
    Because it is my responsibility to protect our relationship and my heart and wellbeing, I require that in any relationship, I will be treated with love. In a relationship with me, I require words and tone to remain kind and loving – no matter what you’re faced with. I require that words and attitude will build connection rather than distance. I require that my thoughts feelings and opinions be valued and regarded as separate and distinct from your own. I require that my needs are more often than not put in higher priority.

    It is also my responsibility to protect our children. My greatest desire is that our children will never feel afraid in their own home and that they will learn how to do relationships by what they see and experience. I will not allow them to see things being broken or thrown in anger. They will not hear yelling and cursing, slamming doors, or angry outbursts.

    I’ve made these requests before so I don’t think that any of them will be a surprise to you. However, I am now requiring consistent, long term demonstration that your words are true and are backed by action.

    • JoAnn on August 24, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      Welcome, MJ. As I read the first paragraph of the letter, I was glad that you didn’t just address behaviors but also attitudes, and from what you said, it seems to me that his attitude hasn’t changed, just some behaviors. You still don’t feel loved and safe. You are on the watch for another outburst, so trust is not there. If you stand back and assess this relationship, What percentage would you put on his part of the problem versus yours? He gets a wife who does all the things you do for the family, and you get what in return? Maybe a period of time apart will give you the distance to know the answer to your question: “Now I’m wondering if I’m in more of just a disappointing marriage? My heart is aching, I have no connection with him, his words and actions are hurtful, and he seems to have no desire to connect with me or respond to my attempts to connect. I keep trying to figure out if my hurt is because of the current hurts or because I haven’t healed from all the past destruction.”
      I’m sure that others will have something to offer here. Keep reading, even past blog threads in the archives. You will find that there are many here who share your dilemma. The Lord will make you clear. Immerse yourself in Him and His word.

      • MJ on August 24, 2017 at 6:28 pm

        Wow, your questions really made me think. My first reaction was, wait, marriage is about giving, not receiving. BUT that is for a healthy marriage where both partners are giving. As a powerful person in relationship, there are certain things that I must require, things that are essential to a healthy relationship.

        “what percentage would you put on his part of the problem versus yours?”
        This is something that I’ve prayed long and hard about over the last several years. God search my heart and show me if there is any hidden way in me. I can confidently say that 99% of this is him. I’ve asked close personal friends to be honest with me on this as well and the answer is always, “you have done so much more, responded in such a Christlike way, had so much more grace, and have searched your heart more than I know I ever would have. You are not to blame for any of this.”

        “you get what in return?”
        The answer is not much at all. The main thing I can say is that while I work and provide for our family, he is responsible to take care of the kids and clean the house. That is the one place that we share our responsibilities as a team.
        He’s physically faithful – no affairs or porn.
        However, as soon as I get home at night, I’m the one cooking dinner, managing the kids, getting them ready for bed. It’s only for the 8 hours when I’m at work that we’re actually partners. I feel as though I have three children and one grown adult toddler who still throws temper tantrums.
        Affection/Appreciation – there is very little (and it’s a heavy hitter on the love languages for me)
        Conversation/Companionship – his health and unhappiness are 95% of the conversation
        Emotional intimacy – When I’m open with him I’m either dismissed, told I should be/feel different, too sensitive, etc. So I am unknown.

        You mention time apart possibly answering the question. I think after thinking about your other questions I can answer the question. This is more than disappointing. The anger and explosiveness is still just under the surface. The disdain and control are there, but just hidden. The fact that it’s not as visible does not mean it’s still not abuse. It’s just a matter of time before the self-control to keep it under the surface isn’t worth the effort for him anymore. I can sense it wavering already.

        I’ve told myself that for the more obvious boundary violations I must now have a zero tolerance policy. No more warnings, just boundary enforcement. (separation) I pray that I will have the strength and courage to do that (Joshua 1).

        • JoAnn on August 24, 2017 at 6:53 pm

          If you feel that he might explode, then it is vital to have an exit plan, a way to get away safely. Have a suitcase with clothes for yourself and the kids, copies of important papers, medicines, phone numbers and maybe a prepaid phone, extra keys, etc. Do you have your own bank account that he can’t have access to? Think carefully about what you might need to do and prepare ahead of time. Also, I would ask if you know how he treats the kids when you are not there? Very important to know whether or not they are safe, too. When he expresses his unhappiness, how would it be to open the door for him? When he doesn’t get his way and throws a tantrum, open the door and tell him to leave. What would happen? Most important is to be safe.

          • MJ on August 24, 2017 at 7:14 pm

            Thanks JoAnn. Yes, I have an exit plan and a place to stay long term if needed. Clothes are already there. Bank account is taken care of as well.

            Crazy thought about the door…I haven’t literally done that. I have said, ok, if you’re this unhappy, let’s consider separation. Let’s talk about the logistics of it. (He needs to find a job, apartment, etc. We need to hire child care) That discussion tends to lead to all the excuses for why he can’t do those things.

            The few times I’ve told him to leave he’s told me I can’t make him. Which is true. So at that point I leave. Now that I have a zero tolerance policy, that means I will not be coming back after a few hours.

          • JoAnn on August 24, 2017 at 7:20 pm

            It sounds like you are doing all the right things….good for you! It sounds like what he needs is motivation (a good kick in the pants 😉 ) Perhaps, really pray that the Lord would provide that someway. Something needs to happen, and the Lord knows how to do it. Just don’t be too surprised when the big event occurs. The Lord may surprise you.

          • Aly on August 24, 2017 at 8:59 pm


            As you know many of us here can SO SO relate to what you are experiencing and the traumas associated with your ‘non marriage’ situation.

            You have been getting great direction from JoAnn and Nancy and others. I appreciated reading your honest words to answer JoAnn, they are very clear and understanding.

            One main big part of my recovery in my marriage was my ‘over functioning’ part.
            I am not the main provider like my spouse but most details (emotionally, mentally, spiritually) fell upon my action.

            You described your situation of having a big ‘angry’ toddler as a spouse and boy does that have to be confusing to try to have sanity with?

            One question that I’m curious about … is his anger?
            What is he so reactive and so angry about?
            A man not working outside the home can struggle more with not feeling significant and your husband sounds like he has serious identity things taking place? Maybe I’m wrong but as you describe him and his patterns, he doesn’t have the structures in place to get that traction of ‘new patterns’ which are especially the thinking part of the equation.
            Without cognitive therapy he will struggle emmensily because he only knows how to cope (a couple of destructive ways… in the moment of as you would say him not getting his way or facing his disappointment).

            You say there is no Porn issue but based on what you have described … I would be concerned deeply about this and I would consider looking for it, if you haven’t yet found it. (I don’t say this to say for sure??, but something doesn’t add up for me~ deep anger like you have described is usually a tell)
            Especially the way he is repetitively struggling with growing more mature overall.

            Even if he is not getting counseling, I would encourage you to get a counselor so you can navigate through and out.. with or without him?
            Many hugs and support here MJ💖 You’re not alone.

          • JoAnn on August 24, 2017 at 11:37 pm

            Aly, I had the same thought about the porn. Porn addicts are often very clever about hiding their addiction, and we have a lot of women here who have discovered too late that porn was a cause of their husband’s anger.

          • Aly on August 25, 2017 at 10:03 am

            JoAnn, MJ (too)

            Yes JoAnn you are correct about the cleverness but the do struggle with ‘hiding’ the other reactive behaviors that so many wives can validate.
            Statistics are also showing that more and more men (especially an older generation) that were not ‘exposed to the instant access to technology porn~ via tv, phone etc’
            Is growing profusely. I speaking of men that have been married 20 plus years, kids are about grown or college age and some are in the grandparent category.
            The wives in these marriages are very uneducated and not equipped for what is taking place~ because they have not have a healthy connected transparebt marriage for the first parts of the marriage.
            (I’m generalizing here) but the key thing to remember is that God designs places in a marriage where there are ‘legitimate needs’ that each spouse has.
            When a husband turns to porn to meet a ‘need’ he is getting a legitimate need met with a counterfeit source, or illegitimate way! This will breed disconnection, shame on his part and more abuse externally to the marriage. He is breaking the biblical covenant and especially the intimacy bond that God designed for a purpose in marriage.

            When the spouse is bonded to something counterfeit, he/she can be quite satisfied at the little work this type of bonding takes.

            One thing I find helpful for ‘women of all ages’ in dealing with this porn use epidemic, is to ask…
            When was the last time your husband and you talked about porn or any integrity issues that can come into the marriage?

            Very few women (from what I have experienced) will even attempt to discuss the issue with their spouse.

            Most women as you said JoAnn find out about the porn use much later after many things have fallen apart all together, but I have also asked these women if they sensed the betrayal in their gut or their hearts and most all say, Yes!
            But looking back they can say they ignored finding out more because they didn’t want to really know the truth. 😥

            The porn or counterfeit replacements are not the sole reason for a divorce or separation (emotionally or physically) but it’s a huge contributor of why the marriage could not get healthier overall, especially if a spouse was not dealing with it head on.

            Especially if a spouse was not dealing with why they are choosing counterfeits over real relationship and real intimacy with a spouse of truly ‘knowing her’.

            I know of a few women who are too fearful to investigate or hold their spouse accountable to deal with the betrayals, so they settle with the marital situation as is, and usually the dynamic gets worse and gets passed on to the children~ because very little is being addressed in the home.

          • Aly on August 25, 2017 at 10:05 am

            JoAnn and MJ

            Oops grammar error;
            “Yes JoAnn you are correct about the cleverness but they DO struggle with ‘hiding’ the other reactive behaviors that so many wives can validate.”

            They meaning the husband’s trying to hide, but the behavior reveals more and more of what’s taking place in the heart.

    • Nancy on August 24, 2017 at 4:22 pm

      First of all you are doing, and have done, a fantastic job walking in Truth. Congratulations, MJ 🙂

      Have you required that he go to counselling? An accountability group? That he ‘own’ his untrustworthiness?

      I agree with you that this has just become covert. And if trust isn’t there ( as JoAnn mentioned) then this is still destructive. He still feels entitled to a perfect wife, it seems to me.

      From the excerpt of your letter, your requirements are mostly behavioural. Maybe you need to ask God to reveal the deeper heart issues.

      For example : My situation was all covert in nature. I asked in my letter that he take responsibility for the baggage that he brought into our marriage. That he face the pain of his past because his refusal to look in the mirror had become destructive to my personhood.

      It was a lack willingness to pursue personal growth, on his part, that was causing the destruction.

      Have you watched Patrick Doyle videos? Those are super helpful, too.

      • MJ on August 24, 2017 at 7:01 pm

        Thank you for the encouragement. The tact I took in my letter was for him to own his choices and his plan for improvement. My H is a classic victim. It’s always someone else’s fault and any sort of self improvement is fleeting because he’s looking outside of himself for a fix (me, new best friend,next self help book, next exercise or diet or activity). Yes, I’ve suggested and demanded counseling (prior to the letter). He’s been and has never put into practice the homework he’s been given. It doesn’t work because there isn’t a heart change there, there isn’t consistency that is required for a life change. He wants desperately to change. He talks about how unhappy he is and how much he wants to be happy and have a great marriage and family, but he doesn’t DO what it takes for more than two days to make new patterns. It doesn’t seem that he wants them ENOUGH.

        This I believe is the ROOT of the issue. He does not take ownership and responsibility for his spiritual, emotional, and mental health, growth, healing and restoration. I think this is because as a victim he never sees that it’s HIS responsibility. He will not require long term, consistent action of himself to create new patterns. It’s always someone else’s fault, it’s too difficult, his situation is harder than everyone else’s and he’s been dealt a poor hand.

        I’ve spoken to this in the letter:
        I’ve made these requests before so I don’t think that any of them will be a surprise to you. However, I am now requiring consistent, long term demonstration that your words are true and are backed by action. You have told me you love me. You’ve told me that you will take responsibility for changing the destructiveness of your words and actions. You’ve told me that you will do no matter what it takes to ensure our children live a life free from fear. You’ve told me that we have a profound calling on our lives and there is nothing that you’ll allow to sabotage it. You’ve told me that you have decided to trust Jesus completely – to allow Him to lead you to healing, to submit yourself to His love and His standard.

        I have not seen your actions demonstrate that these words are true. I know you long for them to be true, as do I, but your actions currently re-enforce the opposite. You will follow through for a few days and then head in another direction.

        Now is the time. Words are dead without action and resolute conviction. You have what it takes. You have the heart and the passion. This is what I love about you! You have a wife and friends that believe in you and know that you can live this out. You have the tools and the knowledge. You have the power of the Holy Spirit living in you! He has made you for this very time!

        As to Patrick Doyle, I’ve seen a few. Any in particular that you’d suggest? There’s a lot of them.

        Thank you again!!!

        • Nancy on August 24, 2017 at 9:13 pm

          Your letter to your h is loving, encouraging, and clear.

          It sounds to me like you know exactly what the root issue is and that you have done everything ‘right’.

          The P.Doyle video on reconciliation vs forgiveness is one of my favourites.

          The only thing I have to add is a paraphrase of Eph 6:12 that was extremely helpful to me in implementing ‘tough love’.

          “Our fight is not against our h, our battle is FOR our h, AGAINST evil.”

          Your husband may just be way too comfortable.

          I pray that God reveals your next step.

    • Autumn on August 24, 2017 at 10:11 pm

      MJ, it still sounds destructive to me. Do I hear you correctly that this is your second marriage? Tell me, why are you staying with this man again?

    • MJ on August 28, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      I’ll try to respond to all the comments/questions above. Thank you ladies for your thoughts and encouragement. I also have a few more questions of my own 🙂

      “Were is all the anger coming from”
      My H has a lot of unresolved trauma from the past which has resulted in poor coping mechanisms, a life of fear, anxiety (health obsessions, separation anxiety, OCD), insecurity, and bitterness, unforgiveness and anger. All of this garbage makes him a ticking time bomb and a relationship with him like walking through a forest of land mines. At times he is aware of his battered soul and the destructiveness of it and works to address it and heal. This usually doesn’t last very long and he falls back into victim mode blaming everything and everyone around him. He is unwilling to go to counseling (lots of excuses why but bottom line I think in big part because of his insecurities). He believes a counselor will just tell him everything that’s wrong with him.

      “Is it porn?”
      I can tell you for certain it is not thank God. My first husband was a porn addict and ended up having multiple affairs. I know how to detect porn usage and it’s something we discuss on a frequent basis. The anger is coming from what I discussed previously.

      On the topic of “not working outside the home”
      Yes, I do know that this at times contributes to his insecurities. When he is following the lord and seeking healing he is actually proud of and enjoys his responsibility to raise our children and takes it very seriously. When he is in a bad place (victim mode), it’s just another dissatisfier for him. I continually keep the option open to him and we discuss it frequently. While it makes more financial sense for us not to put the kids in daycare, we could make it work to do so.

      “Why am I staying?”
      1. First, this is my second marriage. Both my H and I each have a child from our previous marriages. To leave (separation) would mean once again putting them through a traumatic family split. I do not want introduce additional trauma unless there is no other option.
      2. Since my letter to him 4 weeks ago, he hasn’t broken anything, hasn’t cursed and yelled in front of the kids, and hasn’t scared me. Meaning – there’s been an improvement. While it’s not as good as I would like (there is still a significant relationship disconnect) I’m working to discern if it’s still bad enough to separate. I’m also praying to understand how much time to give the relationship to heal.

      This leads me to my question. For those of you that have written a letter:
      1. how long until you saw change
      2. how long until you saw real heart changes
      3. how long until you felt your relationship was well on its way toward healing (trust being rebuilt)

      The challenge I’m facing is that the hurt is still there. The broken trust is still there. For example, when he gets angry about something, my pulse quickens, I think about where my phone and keys are, and there is fear. Yes, I’ve forgiven him for what he has done in the past, but my mind and body say “caution”. He doesn’t get this concept of forgiveness and reconciliation no matter how many times I’ve explained it. He wants a “clean slate”. I tell him that I need a demonstration of a new behavior from him.

      Thank you ladies for all of your support and encouragement and prayers. They are invaluable to me!

      • Aly on August 28, 2017 at 1:34 pm


        You are such a great writer!
        I feel you answered many of my questions.
        I have a few mins and I just want to say one thing that I hope helps. I will add more later …

        You can’t ‘forgive’ something that is actually ‘ongoing’.

        Meaning there have not been the proper things in place to deal with his destructive behaviors and it’s only a matter of time and stressors that the reactivity will come out.

        Him deciding not to do counseling is a deal breaker~
        Because him being the parter who is least mature at this time should not be steering the boat. His discerments are oFF because they are blocked by all of his unresolved grief and past that has not been sorted through.
        It’s buried alive so to speak.
        He has disqualified himself based on his behaviors to be calling the marital navigation in my opinion.
        Because he is acting unreasonable and still choosing to not get necessary help that is essential to the marriage having anything ‘redeeming’.

        Glad the porn is not an issue and you are well educated, but please be cautious about knowing for sure, given your past relationship… it can look different in different men.
        There will always be some level of an exception to a common theme. So I ask that you best protect your heart.

        • MJ on August 28, 2017 at 4:45 pm

          Aly, you’re so sweet <3

          We're probably saying the same thing about forgiveness. Let me clarify. I am in a continual state of forgiveness with him regardless of his desire or attempts to reconcile or not. Meaning, I'm releasing him to God, not seeking my own revenge/justification. This is the ONLY way I can continue to function without bitterness and anger. This is the only way I can keep from reacting in retaliation, the only way I can keep from justifying my actions, the only way I can keep the hurt from destroying me.

          However, this doesn't mean I trust him. I haven't seen consistent long term demonstration of trustworthy behavior.

          What we REALLY want is heart change. Right? However that occurs. Bottom line, it is the Holy Spirit working in his mind and heart to bring revelation, conviction, and him in turn responding to the Holy Spirit to act on and maintain true repentance and transformation. Holy Spirit can use all sorts of tools to bring this heart change. Maybe it's work with a counselor, maybe it's a friend that won't let him weasel out of accountability, maybe it's a letter from me, maybe it's circumstances (health, anxiety, destruction of his life) that brings him to repentance. All this to say, the real deal breaker for me is the heart attitude. My thought is that I can't construct ultimatums around counseling, accountability, etc. They will be of no use to him if they are mandated and not driven from his heart's willingness to find healing and restoration. I can only construct boundaries around myself and what I'm willing to be in relationship with. Would you agree?

          My thoughts over this weekend, and I'm continuing to pray along these lines are the following:
          1. Zero tolerance policy for the most damaging behaviors – physical abuse, property destruction, yelling and cursing directed at me. This is grounds for immediate separation.
          2. Set a time period (known only to myself – probably 3 months) for me to evaluate if the heart is indeed changing. If things are no better at that point then begin the separation process (if our connection is not healing, he is not receiving feedback without turning it around on me, and/or he is still controlling and disregarding my personhood).
          3. If during that time period, I'm finding myself unable to "stay well" as Leslie says, then I also begin the separation process.
          4. Finally, since he is adamant that "he's doing a lot better", during this time period I will allow him to prove it. Over the last year, I have been implementing a boundary – at any point where I feel afraid in an argument, I will end the conversation and usually leave the house. I believe this is why there hasn't been any physical abuse (other than breaking things). VERY CAREFULLY and with a lot of wisdom, I am going to give him a bit longer rope. Meaning rather than ejecting immediately, I will let him know that I am frightened with his tone/words/expression and see if he's able to turn it around. If not, of course I'll implement the boundary.

          • Aly on August 28, 2017 at 5:40 pm


            What you wrote makes a lot of sense to me especially if you are living with a ‘reasonable husband (in recovery) ‘who is wanting to earn his way to be a partner in a marriage again.
            And is safe to do so. Is that the type of husband you have?

            The behavior of breaking things? really~ what is that? I don’t mean that harsh.. more like come on, how old is this man. The dynamic of you having to tell him ‘well known adult behavior rules and boundaries’ should be a clear indication of some critical things that are in need of interventions.

            I agree with you on the deal breaker being the ‘heart issue’ goodness boy do I resonate with this being foundational!
            But some individuals are so engulfed with their reactivity that they need intervention of all sorts to see that their behavior is out of control and dangerous to another personhood.

            Yes I agree and see your state of ‘forgiveness’ but I might want you to consider evaluating if Tolerance is also wound up in that.

            You are saying ‘your in a state of forgiveness’ yet he is in a state of reconciliation without any reason to be reconciled. Why would he be motivated to have a heart change?
            So MJ, I means this as softly as possible I don’t agree that boundaries /counseling and requirements are of no use based on them being required in the beginning….
            Did someone tell you this perspective?

            My husband had the same stance and fear of counseling ~ early on, but now loves it! He is grateful for my boundaries because he wasn’t going to choose to go on his own~ this is his experience being honest with his fear based beliefs, his narc traits and attachment issues. God gave me the courage to require (a lot) and the comfort to walk the road regardless of the outcome of the marriage.

            Life in general in so many places of adulthood ‘require’ things of us for ‘good reason’ and usually the outcome and heart change come through the maturing and growing posture.

            There are many things we do in life that are pre-requirements for the benefits of something.

            I realize from above you don’t trust him, which I don’t think you should given his behaviors.
            His job is to restore that trust.
            Not your job.

            Do you feel that he is reaping a relationship and not suffering the full consequences of his actions?
            Are you and the children suffering from his behavior More than himself?

            I know I asked a lot of questions, please don’t feel like you have to answer them all~
            Hope they help in any possible way. 💕

          • MJ on August 28, 2017 at 7:15 pm

            Great thoughts Aly. I especially connect with what you said about “some individuals are so engulfed with their reactivity that they need intervention”. His behavior has been so ingrained that I don’t think he understands what “should be” much less how destructive it is.

            What type of partner do I have?
            I have a partner that WANTS to be with me, but wants what he wants more. He does not see his behavior for what it truly is and thinks this is a 50/50 marriage issue. “You change, I change and we’ll be happy”. He realizes that the overt abusive behaviors are unacceptable and MUST stop, but is oblivious to the control, manipulation, and even cruel words at times. Is he safe? After a year of nothing physical, I’m beginning to trust more that I’m physically safe. Emotionally, I am not safe.

            You bring up the topic of Tolerance. This is a tough one right? Leslie talks in her book about boundaries. About leaving the house or room when the conversation becomes destructive. But the thing missing from most books is what happens after that? When you return 2 hours later and he gives no acknowledgement that anything ever happened. When he doesn’t want to have a conversation and you get the silent treatment. When there is no attempt at restoring what was broken. What do you do? Do you live a separate life? How do you do this in a Christlike way? When someone breaks relational connection with you how do you function with them in a way that communicates love but also responsibility on their part? My mode of operating has always been to continue to pursue in order to address the disconnect. I don’t think this is very successful though on average.

            My take on the counseling was based off of what I’ve heard a few counselors say. If someone doesn’t want to do the work, then counseling really doesn’t do much. I think I also read that in Lundy Bancroft’s book. I do understand your perspective of “intervention”, and that does make sense. I’ve always thought “if i can just get him in the door for a few sessions…”

            I do believe that he is not suffering the full consequences of his actions. And yes, while he is suffering from them (his bitterness and anger have led to all sorts of heath and anxiety issues), I am also suffering in a pretty extreme way. This is why I mentioned “staying well”. There are times when I reach my breaking point.

            Thank you for your questions. I was really good to think through them and I will continue to do so tonight!

          • JoAnn on August 28, 2017 at 9:19 pm

            MJ, I think your question about what to do after you come back into the house is well taken. That may be the time for a rational discussion of why you had to leave and what his part is in the dance. I agree with everything Aly and Nancy said. This may be a time for stronger boundaries and consequences. By the way, it takes two to have an argument. Offer to discuss rationally with him when there is an issue, using good conversation techniques (mirroring, validating, taking turns, etc.). If he can’t or won’t engage in a calm and sane way, then you have to walk away.

          • Aly on August 28, 2017 at 9:44 pm

            JoAnn, MJ and Nancy

            Could not agree more JoAnn. However I so can relate to MJ’s question! Why? I lived it and still feel the residue at times.
            It’s not simple by any means.

            So my heart is very heavy over the situation that MJ is expressing. Because it’s close to my experience.

          • JoAnn on August 29, 2017 at 1:48 pm

            It takes time for the pain to heal. Keep leaning into Him.

          • Nancy on August 28, 2017 at 8:14 pm

            I hope it’s ok to interject here – such a great dialogue.

            I think you’re right MJ, the desire to go to counselling has to come from him. He is the one who has to pick up the phone.

            MJ. You can’t control wether he goes for counselling or gets into an accountability group or does any of the things on Leslie’s list of requirements. Can you continue on in this relationship, if he never does these things? Can you continue hoping that he will choose to work on himself, and prioritize that, and your marriage, above all else?

            Can you come to the place where you completely withdraw from trying to make him do these things? Can you get to the place where you tell him that you hope and pray that he chooses your marriage, but that you give up trying to make him do so?

            Can you step back and get out of the way so The Lord has direct access to his heart?

            ( all rhetorical questions)

            This is what boundaries do. They guard our heart, as we step out of ‘the dance’ of trying to control the outcome.

            I believe that Releasing him to The Lord to make his own choices, is the most loving thing that you can do. This is what being an Ezer is. To let go, leave him with God and then go to war for hm, in the spiritual realm.

          • Aly on August 28, 2017 at 9:00 pm

            MJ & Nancy,

            I so can agree with so much of what your saying (Nancy)
            There is somethings to consider in how these things actually play out. Different people respond to different things. Yes we battle in the spiritual battle but that doesn’t omit the tanglible aspects (that are in our control or ability to influence) of getting into recovery.

            MJ usually the interventions assist in actually getting to the heart issue overall~

          • Nancy on August 28, 2017 at 9:56 pm

            I totally agree Aly -that the tangible aspects cannot be omitted. I’m glad you mentioned this.

            MJ, When I said, ‘leave him with God’ and ‘stepping out of the dance’ and letting ‘The Lord have direct access to his heart’, I am referring to taking the next tangible step of separation ( in house, or not, depending on his ability to respect).

            But you won’t be able to take this next step if you have not asked God to help you let go of the outcome – to lay your marriage at the foot of the cross.

          • MJ on August 29, 2017 at 7:01 pm

            Nancy, GULP.. “you won’t be able to take this next step if you have not asked God to help you let go of the outcome” YES! So true, and this is where the rubber meets the road. I will even put it a little bit more bluntly. You won’t be able to take this next step until you’re able to completely let go and trust the character of God and his presence in the outcome.

            THIS is where I’m so torn. Here is the scenario. My h and I begin talking seriously about separation. He will not consider counseling, accountability, etc. He believes the problems are 50/50 and if I just would respect and trust him more (read submit to his demands and opinions and not require responsibility for repairing the relationship) everything would improve. He tells me how devastating this will be to our children who have already been through a previous divorce 5 years ago. He tells me that they will be f*(ked in the head from this. He tells me that is just selfishness to not “make this work”. He tells me that he knows himself and he knows that this will cause so much bitterness and abandonment issues that there is very little chance that he’ll ever want to reconcile. For him, there is no such thing as a healing separation. And all of a sudden, the confidence and trust I have in my God is shaken. I begin to question myself, my intentions, if I really did hear from God when he told me “yes, this is the only way he is going to see the truth”. I’m paralyzed with fear and indecision.

            So I tell myself and him, ok I’m going to keep trying. I’m willing to give this another chance and he agrees to do the same. I’m going to hold to my boundaries, I’m going to allow natural consequences run their course, I’m going to be honest and truthful with my hurt and needs. And that works. For two days. Until I’m truthful with my hurt, it gets thrown back at me, blamed on me, he disconnects and reacts in anger, threatening to take me to mediation and leave first thing in the morning. I maintain my boundaries, keep from reacting, and allow the natural consequences of his actions (relational disconnect) to exist. For once, I don’t feel the anxiety and the fear. But he keeps coming to me, very nicely at first (me thinking this is the chance for us to have a productive discussion about the issue), but it quickly turns into him wanting me to take responsibility for his hurtful behavior. The onslaught and accusations are relentless. It becomes more and more difficult to maintain my health, peace and objectivity under all the accusations and distortions of the truth.

            The challenge here is stamina. Do I have the core strength and stamina to continue to love, hold firm boundaries, and resist the distortions and accusations over a significant period of time? Do I have the strength to hold on to God with everything that I am and only believe His view of me? I think that if I can, it will force change for this relationship. That change will be him deciding he wants to separate, or it will be realizing he needs a heart change. It does not allow for fence sitting any longer. If I don’t have the strength and stamina, then I will need to be the one to step forward to separation, to a place where I can build my strength and heal.

            Thank you ladies so much for continuing to listen and support. Your input has been so valuable and thought provoking as you can see 🙂 I would love to continue to hear your thoughts, cautions, etc. as I continue to seek direction at this critical juncture.

          • Aly on August 29, 2017 at 7:19 pm


            Very concerned here at what I read. First off I think you are wise to see that this is ‘over your head’ ~

            If the marriage issues are 50/50… then what are the things he plans to change and commit to?

            He sounds like he is coming up with scary threats and maybe he just wants to hope for the best, for your situation~ or have you ‘try harder’…?

            To me it sounds so familiar when dealing with a controlling spouse who doesn’t ‘really’ want the marriage to change (even if it is for the better). All of the blame shifting and crazy making are almost textbook to someone who truly is immature in relationships and lacks profoundly any respect, and can’t hear a complaint or any feedback what so ever. His reactivity to you should be an indicator of justvhow unsafe he is emotionally and mentally to you.

            Does he want things to change in the marriage? And if so, what are those things? To me.. it feels Almost as he is quite ok as it is? Am I way off here? Please correct me.

            Why does he get to be the decider on counseling? If he doesn’t want counsel, then why should that stop yourself?
            Go without him regardless for your own healing and navigating of your marriage situation.

            I’m sorry MJ I know this is a difficult process, but I do think it take many angles of care. 😥
            Praying for Discernment and strength!

          • Aly on August 29, 2017 at 7:37 pm


            Oops sorry I missed this the first recent post;
            You wrote;
            “He believes the problems are 50/50 and if I just would respect and trust him more (read submit to his demands and opinions and not require responsibility for repairing the relationship) everything would improve.”

            He believes you both are at equal fault, is this what 50/50 means?
            He wants you to respect and trust him more..?
            Ok ~ is he trustworthy? Has he done the necessary behavioral changes to grant that trust?
            Or does he expect trust without earning it?

            Respect, I can definitely agree with!
            You can respect him and love him by becoming as healthy of a wife as possible and it might mean ‘separation’ at some point if he is continuing to be unwilling to take ownership of what IS his part.

            MJ to me.. his rationale and his clear abuse highlight a necessary 3rd party, and many other interventions.. just my thoughts here.
            I am for redeemed marriages but not at continued expense of a person’s harm or your husband burying his issues as maybe he has been accostumed to doing.

            We’re you in an abusive first marriage with your first husband?

          • JoAnn on August 31, 2017 at 11:50 am

            I’d like to address what you said about the impact on the children. I don’t remember what their ages are, but for sure, when they are witnessing in a daily way this harmful dynamic, that is abusive to them. Your husband’s so-called concern for putting them through another separation is shallow, at best. Should there be a separation or divorce, the impact on them is determined by how you and your h handle it. If there is blaming and negative talk about the other parent, then yes, that will hurt them more. But how the children manage to get through the divorce is largely up to how the parents handle it. For that, you both need to get help from a therapist. Don’t let the children’s welfare get lost in all the dynamic of your relationship with your h. A hostile relationship is going to hurt them immensely.

          • Liz on August 31, 2017 at 11:58 am

            Yes, it will. PLEASE don’t “stay for the kids”. I have two that can tell you how messed up an abusive marriage has made them. I listened to the old school teaching of submission. No, no, no! If anything, leave for the kids sake! Please don’t put them through that if your husband refuses to repent and change.

  35. texaz pepper on August 29, 2017 at 1:08 pm

    This post exactly describes my marriage! We’re coming up on 18 years. The first five or so were really great. We raised my daughters from my first marriage and got along pretty well. I’m really not sure when things began to shift. One day we were partners in the marriage – discussing everything from finances to discipline. The next day, we weren’t. To this day, I’ve no idea what happened. His temper went from manageable to irrational. He’d break out into cussing, cursing, yelling fits. Then sulk for about 3 days, then everything would be sunshine. This pattern went on for quite some time – maybe 4 years.
    Then, my younger daughter got pregnant the summer after high school graduation and the you-know-what REALLY hit the fan. Because, you know, your teenage daughter is pregnant and the most important thing is what people think of him. (!! yep, really !!)
    One night, during one of his rants about how he would NEVER purchase a diaper, or babysit, or give any help at all, I looked him in the eye and told him to not make me choose between him and my daughter, because he would lose. That was like a glass of cold water in the face. He had no idea that I would stand up for her like that (even though I was devastated about the situation).
    He agreed to go to some counseling – both individually and as a couple. Unfortunately, we saw a nice guy from the church we were attending at the time. He was a professional counselor, but was very academic. My husband played him and wasted everyone’s time. My H could tell you all about anger, how it started and then spiraled. He can quote you Bible verses about anger, etc. But nothing really changed – except that he began to accept that my daughter was having a baby. Then she chose adoption (which is another beautiful story) and went on to college.
    As empty nesters, the anger issues soon flared up more frequently. I guess he expected that once the girls were gone, that my 100% focus would be on him. And that we’d suddenly begin having sex two or three times a day. 🙂 Whatever he expected – which was never shared with me – I never fulfilled his expectations. And vice versa. Anger, yelling, cussing, never physically violent, but rage, rage, rage. I considered leaving – but was / am terrified of trying to make it on my own as I’ve never earned more than $30K. Our small town has very depressed wages. I can’t live on that. We have a college here, rent for anything not crawling with roaches is over $600 plus utilities. I didn’t make enough to move. Things went on – with me walking on eggshells and him throwing tantrums – for 8 years.

    Two years ago, I went out of state to visit one of the girls. I’d taken the iPad with me – which had both of our emails on it. I clicked on the gmail icon and the most recent email popped up – it was a conversation with him and another woman about possibly getting together one evening while I was out of town.
    With just a little bit of searching, I found some other photos and snippets of conversation – actually texts that he’d sent to his email to keep track of them. The cell phone records showed months of constant conversations between him and this other person – the daughter of someone I worked with. This woman stopped by my office EVERY DAY – trying to be friendly – when what she was really doing was sexting my husband behind my back!
    I made a few arrangements, transferred some money to my personal account, printed out the photos (two of her, naked and disgusting) and conversations… then arranged to have lunch with him – meeting him at his office – when I got back to town.
    I walked into the office and presented him with my evidence. Then had a loud, wonderfully cathartic screaming fit of my own – in his office – so his co workers would know what a piece of work he can be. (He presents himself as Mr. Religious, Never Wrong at work). That may seem especially vindictive – but at the time, I thought everyone from my place of work knew – so why shouldn’t his place of work.
    Then I told him I would be moving out.
    I’d already been seeing a counselor for about 6 months, as things at home and at work had become untenable for me- I was an emotional wreck and discovering the affair was just icing on that cake.
    We saw the counselor together for awhile, and my H also went by himself a few times. On the advice of his sister, the H also began attending Celebrate Recovery at a local church.
    We lived apart for about 6 months and things seemed to be on a more even keel. We had some good discussions, went on a marriage cruise. I changed jobs. We moved back in together. For a few months, things were OK.
    Then the anger started back up. Not as often, and he would apologize – that was new. Progress maybe…
    By last spring, it was right back to where it had been before I discovered the affair. Yelling, cussing, random outbursts – like watching a TV show where all is well, going to the bathroom and coming out raving. Strange.
    One evening we had a discussion / fight and he told me that most of his anger was my fault b/c I wasn’t responsive enough sexually (in addition to anger, he also admitted in CR that he had a porn addiction and he seems to think that if I’m not panting and raving like a 20 year old on film there’s something wrong with me).
    I told him that I’d wished I’d gotten out when I was ahead two years ago – that I should’ve cut my losses then instead of trying to make it work.
    That was another cup of cold water in his face. So we are back to a very tentative balance. He believe CR has helped with his anger. I acknowledge that CR has provided him with a circle of true friends – something he hasn’t had since he was a child – and that provides relief for me, as it used to be that he expected me to be his wife, friend, sexual relief, social arranger, everything – just sucked all the energy out of me.
    However, I can’t quite believe that he’s a changed person. I’ve been around this block several times now and I feel like I’m waiting for the proverbial anvil to fall again.
    I DO believe I probably should have gotten out when the option presented itself naturally. And if I hadn’t been in the process of leaving my job for something else at the time, I probably would have. But – my former job, something I loved and though would be my career, but with a crazy boss who kept increasing demands on time (a different long story) didn’t pay enough for me to live on my own. My new job pays on commission, but the first 6 – 8 months, I was only making $12 an hour while training – hardly enough to make car payments, cell phone bill, and student loan payments. So setting up my own place was overwhelming.

    I am seeing a new counselor – the one I was seeing a couple of years ago has moved his office and it’s too far to drive, plus I’m not sure he did me a favor by encouraging us to move back in together after only 6 months.

    But I’m exhausted, there are so many things that feel unfinished, that I want to change – but I just don’t have the energy to face.

    And there’s SO much more to my story that I can’t go into right now – as I’m really supposed to be working! This initial post described me so well though – I couldn’t help but respond.

    Thanks for listening… I’ll try to chime in more at a later date.

    • JoAnn on August 31, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      Oh, you dear, dear Sister!!! I am so very sorry for the pain you are going through. As I was reading your story, I knew there was a porn problem by the middle of the first paragraph. The sudden personality change, the sexual demands, all so typical of a sex addict. If you go to Leslie’s archives for the blog, there is a whole thread about being married to a porn addict. So now, what to do? Infidelity demands a separation. I believe that if you were to really spend some time in the Lord’s presence, fasting and praying desperately, He would reveal to you what you need to do, if you don’t already know, and you will know that He is wanting to supply you with everything you need to make a new life for yourself. If you are tired now, it will only get worse. His grace is sufficient. Lean into Him.

      • Texazpepper on September 6, 2017 at 11:22 pm

        Thank you, JoAnn! I’ll check out the blog history and see what’s there.
        I do believe that he’s been faithful for the past two years, since all this was brought to light. But I’m not over it – I’m still really angry about it! (My therapist would be so proud I was able to say that! ). I”m angry that it happened, that the other person was someone in my work circle, that she’s a slut to begin with, that he was stupid enough to follow his male anatomy after the proverbial whore, willing to throw away a life that I thought was important to him for a little nooky on the side…. ugh. See? Told you I was still angry!

        The separation that we did do, about 6 months, wasn’t long enough for me to begin to heal. There was too much other stuff going on at the same time – a new job, a surgery, etc. Initally, I’d wanted a year’s separatio, wish I’d stuck with that request!

        Anyway, will work on prayer, fasting, and focus – seeking an answer, not just waiting for a 2 by 4 in the behind :).
        Thanks for listening!

        • Aly on September 7, 2017 at 6:00 pm


          I’m so sorry;( yes you indeed are in a lot of pain and need a lot of support and care for your heart.

          I see you did have some separation ~ and even though separation can be beneficial to healing~ separation won’t deal with your husband’s core character/integrity issues that brought about his betrayal.
          Is your husband getting some intensive therapy for ‘his’ issues of trust? And is he doing his part to repair trust through restitution?

    • Liz on August 31, 2017 at 12:12 pm

      Wow Texas pepper. Alot of the same things here. I totally feel for you!
      I too had gotten out at one point but came back. Too many years have passed and I cannot do this financially myself. And.. also a college town.. Rents to high. You don’t live in Pa by any chance, do you? 🤔
      So thankful to have found all you ladies. So sorry you all have these stories… more to add to my prayer time! We can all pray for each other and help each other be stronger. Blessings.

      • JoAnn on August 31, 2017 at 1:45 pm

        So why would you have to stay in the same town if you got away? Look for options, Sister, instead of focusing on impossibilities. The Lord will open the way if you look to Him. Also, college towns usually have lots of job opportunities. Is there a local community college where you can get job training? If you do get out, given your situation, I would encourage you to get a restraining order. Keep yourself and the children safe.

        • Liz on August 31, 2017 at 1:50 pm

          Not sure Joann if your reply is to me or not.. But that is almost funny. My husband works at the community college.. Gotta find humor in things. I won’t continue to comment b/c the comment was probably not to me?

          • Aly on August 31, 2017 at 1:54 pm


            Sorry to interject .. I feel like maybe I’m missing some other posts lately.
            But yes, I believe the comment from JoAnn was for you, but JoAnn would be best to confirm~
            Although I was laughing with you a little 😂

          • Liz on August 31, 2017 at 1:57 pm


          • JoAnn on August 31, 2017 at 2:57 pm

            Yes, I believe it was to you, Liz, although all of us benefit from all of the posts. I just encourage you to look for what’s possible. I know that when things look bleak, it is hard to think outside your particular box, but as you read about what others have done to take care of themselves, I hope you will feel empowered to find a way to take care of yourself. Some schools offer discounted tuition to family members of their faculty. Does that happen at the school where your husband works? Would he welcome you “getting equipped to help with the family expenses”?

      • Texazpepper on September 6, 2017 at 11:30 pm

        Glad to know I’m not alone! No, I live in a college town in GA. But it’s the same in every smaller town with one or two large industries, I guess.
        Thank you for your prayers, I will return in kind.

        JoAnn, As for the idea of leaving for a different place, I am working on that! I’ve been submitting resumes to cities nearer my adult daughters and grandchildren. The H and I have actually discussed that – in academia, it’s not unusual for couples to have to live apart for a time. I feel safe in the idea of moving, as I doubt seriously that he’ll decide to retire and follow me anytime soon. Living in separate cities would open the door to a permanent separation or divorce.
        But sometimes it’s overwhelming to think of an entirely new city – safe from husbands, but without the friend support system, physically moving, new church, grocery store, doctor, hairdresser… all that is hard work when one is already emotionally depleted.

        • JoAnn on September 7, 2017 at 10:48 pm

          Yes, I agree that getting started again in a new community is hard, but the Lord is so very good at “parting the waters” to establish you with a new support system, maybe better that what you have now. Trust Him to lead you where you need to be. He is faithful.

    • Aly on August 31, 2017 at 2:20 pm

      Texas Pepper,

      ‘Wow’ sorta describes what I feel when I read your experiences so far. I’m so very sorry for having such chaos of a husband for a ‘partner’.

      You sound quite sane to me, in many places where you have risen up and done some hard things. Advocating for your daughter was one pivotal moment. I’m hoping you will find the journey that will give you that strength for your own self dignity~ which I know is in you~ I hear it strongly!

      Sure you will be lured back into the cycle but get re-equipped where you are now. It ok to make mistakes but know you have decisions and plenty of options.

      This probably isn’t any news to you but the amount of intervention your husband needs to be ‘even proximity safe’ is…. well…. I won’t crash the website here by my list of requirements or boundaries. 🤓

      In counseling and other interventions… when the behavior and attitudes rear up… its painful but a blessing because it reveals the level of illness and that ‘more treatment is necessary’.
      When they fake recovery… often this reveals itself sooner than later. Your worth him getting healthy for any proximity even discussing the weather from a distance😊

      and it’s my belief that his relapse has little to do with sex (not minimizing the pain or trauma here~ it’s gut wrenching) but it’s doesn’t and he has serious work to do because his relapse begins in his thought process.

      Now please don’t misinterpret my posture here, I am in no way saying this marriage shows signs of reconciliation or even the tools to be healthy enough to rebuild~ given the current stats.
      Only God knows and truly wills that outcome by the willingness of recovery from both parties.

      Having a qualified counselor who you can trust is imp. Sounds like you might or might have to look for someone else?

      Do you have support from other women in your corner that are equipped to give good comfort and directives?

      Again I’m so sorry for the trauma and pain of this💕 But know that The a Lord is close to the broken hearted~ and He will restore your heart.

      • Texazpepper on September 6, 2017 at 11:41 pm

        Aly, you are SO right about the ‘relapse’ being a sign of how sick one really is. When he first started attending CR (which is an AA type of program, although Rick Warren has made it more Sunday-school-esque), the H didn’t understand that it was lifetime commitment to change – not a quick 12 steps and, poof, you’re better. In fact, he got mad at me about it! LOL. He does “get it” a little more now than he did then, but he’s still looking for the “I’m fixed” sign. Sigh.
        His relapse was more anger than sex – although I was in VA at the beginning of the month with a new grandson and the Netflix history shows a flirtation with shows that have sexual content – shows with names like “After Porn 1 & 2” which interviews ex porn stars; Murderous Affairs, a steamy looking reality TV show about love affairs going wrong, Escort, a show about high dollar call girls, and so on…. but the computer history seems clear of the porn sites … sigh.
        When I think about all that, I just want to throw my hands up and quit!

        • Aly on September 7, 2017 at 7:08 pm

          Obviously he is continuing to betray you given what you just listed. (Oh my I’m so sorry)

          What do you think you will do to get safe?
          and what requirements do you need to even think he can be in proximity to you and a chance at healing this?

          He isn’t in recovery when those behaviors are there~ he is in full relapse.
          It’s his responsibility to get healthy not yours.

          CR ~ In my opinion would be a long time away for him after he has been in consistent recovery for a long time.. CR sounds more like a ‘maintenance program’ maybe I’m very wrong??
          So far you haven’t listed anything worth celebrating for him that he is intensely doing?

          Does he have any remorse for his behavior and what is his response to what he keeps doing to your heart and safety?

  36. MJ on August 29, 2017 at 10:48 pm

    Hi Aly,
    Thank you for your words of wisdom and caution. They’re much appreciated.

    Yes he believes we’re at equal fault. As I think I told Nancy in a previous post, I’ve really searched my heart and sought wise counsel. The feedback is that I’m not at fault here and if anything, have been too tolerant.

    He wants respect- which he receives from me. His perception is that my boundaries – for example leaving the house during one of his rages – or having my own opinion or way of living that is different from his is disrespect. I allow him to have his opinion, but when I don’t agree it’s labeled as disrespect. When I spend time with my one close friend who gives me godly counsel on my marriage that is disrespect. You know the story I’m sure!

    He also wants communication. Which I give. I’ve been stopping my peacemaking. Meaning I’m communicating in honest and truthful ways about my concerns and hurt. I’m willing to have discussions when he wants to hash it all out. However pretty much every single time, these conversations end in abuse or him shutting down and withdrawing. When I communicate that destructive pattern, he blames me for it.

    No, he is not trustworthy and expects the trust granted to him unconditionally.

    I have made an appointment with a counselor for myself on Friday. This will be an issue when I let him know as he perceives going to anyone outside of him to discuss issues as betrayal.

    Yes, my first marriage was abusive although I didn’t know it at the time. My husband had a porn addiction. 7 years into the marriage he had an affair. We reconciled and built a strong and great marriage. About 5 years after that though he had another affair and kept it secret for over a year. Once discovered, he was unwilling to leave the other woman. We separated for a year and his behavior didn’t change so I files for divorce which was finalized a year after that. I wish I had Leslie’s book at that time. I think I could have saved my marriage if I had.

    I think this first experience is part of what makes me so hesitant to separate and yet at the same time so convinced it’s going to be required. It’s heartbreaking to me. I know what a hard heart looks like and this is what I’m seeing now with my husband.

    • Aly on August 29, 2017 at 11:59 pm


      Sounds like you are getting much clearer with the scope of your dynamic and although this doesn’t guarantee a redeemed marriage it might offer a healthy journey for you to embark on.

      I have more to write about the way your husband might define ‘disrespect’ this is CRITICAL by far but first…

      You wrote:
      “I have made an appointment with a counselor for myself on Friday. This will be an issue when I let him know as he perceives going to anyone outside of him to discuss issues as betrayal.”

      Good for you MJ.. this is a good thing to begin.
      I’m assuming you have invited him to participate in a 3rd party.. not saying that you should seek actual marital counseling at this time with him …but many counselors will work individually with couples given the marital issues.
      By assuming he has been invited in the process and he has been clear that he doesn’t want this form of intervention.. it is NOT betrayal of any form.. in fact I would consider his unwillingness to be a partner in problem solving to actually be betrayal.

      Also I might add the important detail of his unwillingness to seek outside help as an alarm!
      And how he defines that as betrayal as manipulation given the abusive dynamic of the marriage.

      It’s pretty common that the abusing spouse sees little benefit with outside help~
      Why is this?
      Exposure to how they define healthy relationships overall, will be quickly revealed in counseling~ this will not go well for them.

      If the marriage partner doesn’t want intervention but wants to resolve in private between the two parties then I wonder about the motive…
      Most often (not always) the spouse having issues especially an abusive spouse is perfectly fine with the dynamic and is usually the one taking advantage of the other…. the very last thing they are interested in is getting ‘that exposed’ and the relationship changing (getting healthier overall).
      So this is a common tactic
      “We should be able to solve our personal marital problems between the two of us”

      At first it sounds sort of reasonable… but it’s far from safe when dealing with such an unsafe and immature spouse overall.
      3rd party intervention is essential can’t stress that enough especially when you have a spouse thinking it’s not necessary and they have no problem with you waiting for however long it might take for them ‘to be willing’ to want counsel and that counsel being an added resource of health.

      His unwillingness for any interventions, is just ‘burning time’ and he might really regret this place. Especially as you move further in your own recovery process.

      More on disrespect…
      stay safe and sane MJ 😊

      • Autumn on August 30, 2017 at 7:02 am

        I agree with your message to MJ. Her husband’s comment about betrayal reveals his entitled and controlling thinking. He has shown an abuse strategy as he declares his own authority. Some books call this the “King of the castle” strategy. His behavior is with out a doubt abusive, MJ if you had the slightest doubt otherwise. A healthy, humbled man has a teachable spirit and readily submits to authority.

      • Liz on August 31, 2017 at 12:19 pm

        Hey Aly.. are you a counselor? If not, you really have good, helpful insight!

        • Aly on August 31, 2017 at 12:49 pm

          No im not, other than ‘mommy’ and there is a lot of navigating behavior and emotions🤗

          I can give credit to the Lord orchestrating amazing therapists and support for my journey. Many of my friends have asked for our therapist;)

          But thank you Liz, my husband would say I should pursue this.
          Even though he battled me getting help and facing ‘the junk’.

          • Liz on August 31, 2017 at 12:55 pm

            You should go for it! I’m happy things have worked for you in your marriage.
            You comments are very helpful/insightful…alot of wisdom.. you’d make a great counselor.
            Wish you were my neighbor. We’d be having lots of coffee😂

          • Aly on September 1, 2017 at 10:06 am

            Thank you and I know I would enjoy coffee with you also. 💕
            I find it so ‘fun’ that many of us here get to have these dialogs apart from meeting … yet we do get to know one another in an authentic and usually ‘safe’ way.
            Women here are so kind, tender… but also validating and challenging out of love~ more with seeing how certain relationships have shaped our thinking and choices.

            I feel so blessed by God’s Word as He challenges us all to see Him, to see just how much he loves his sons and daughters.

            As far as my husband and I we have taken the road to 100% work…we made that commitment to our counselor a longgg time ago… early on my h found that he was good at ‘saying he was committed’ but the ongoing pattern revealed he had conditions based on commitment and it usually involved ‘how he was feeling in the moment of discomfort’.
            (it’s messy 😩and beautiful at times) but we also feel consistent counseling will be a staple throughout our lives.
            Because we Need it, not that we can’t survive without it.. but we know we can’t thrive.., and the Lord has given us the structure to show this to us. We fail often, and that’s ok.
            For us the important thing in counseling is that ‘healthy’ Godly community is such the factor to our growth & healing. We see this written clearly in James;)

            It’s far too simple for us to become complacent because of our flesh and the enemy is fighting for that.
            Liz praying for your heart and your journey!

          • Liz on September 1, 2017 at 10:25 am

            Hi Aly. You certainly have the gift of writing no matter what you write and amen to all of the above.
            Thank you for praying for me. I really am just learning all this new way of God’s loving an evil person. I always felt so guilty that I could not love my h with an affectionate love and didn’t know how to not get so angry and hate him after all these years of what I didn’t even know was abuse. I just thought this is how people basically lived I guess. I’ve learned alot these past few years and what it looks like to love an evil person the way God loves an evil person….and still pray for somehow God to make a way to at least have a few years of quite peace at some point. If not… I’m in a better place now spiritually and emotionally.
            We do nothing together. We live in a very small house so it is hard to distance myself from him. I live in my bedroom when he is home. That it’s what works for me. When my dog is no longer here, I will be gone alot.
            So happy your h loves you and is counseling with you. That is awesome. Thanks for talking Aly.

          • Aly on September 1, 2017 at 11:03 am


            Is it ok I ask what does it look like for you to love an evil person as you say, the way God loves an evil person?

            I find it pretty impossible to ‘love anyone well’ if we ‘first’ have not received the love God has for us individually.

            Your dynamic of what you are living around is so sad. And I would agree your husband doesn’t sound like he has had the insight about his abusive behavior toward you.
            Nor does it sound like he is going to go look for what that behavior is, but it doesn’t negate his responsibility to.

    • Nancy on August 30, 2017 at 7:25 am

      Hey MJ and Aly,

      Yes, there is a lack of respect in this dynamic. He doesn’t see you as a separate person- that is not giving you either respect, or human dignity. Two people often have two opinions, and he calls this (very normal) disagreement, disrespect.

      From these posts, your h is a classic abuser.

      I’m going to be pretty direct here. I think you know what you need to do. You said yourself you’ve heard from God. But I also think you are looking for permission and / or at least a buy in from your h. Your not going to get it because to buy into a separation would be for him to give up his control of you. He cannot tolerate you thinking separate thoughts, let alone live a separate life.

      MJ, get into one of Leslie’s CORE classes. Get on your knees. Get into The Word. Get strong. Stop letting your h into your thought process – he will use it against you. Your physical boundary of walking away is not guarding your heart because he just works harder to blameshift once you come back. This is crazy making.

      You are dealing with a master manipulator.

      The only way to get healthy, is to allow God to take control.

    • Aly on August 30, 2017 at 8:42 am


      What Nancy posted was spot on. Is he a classic abuser? Given what you describe ~ yes.

      If you were to talk to many other longtime married women to ‘men with similar patterns and beliefs’ those women might tell you … the classic abuser feeds the illness exponentially without intervention, the longer they go, the harder to repair and the little stamina & resources the spouses have left to face the dragon who has grown all sorts of heads.
      Ok I’m being a bit dramatic.. but for the most part it’s true. My h had many heads and tails to deal with ~ I needed serious strength from The Lord to equip me for what He had secured for me.

      I could not agree more to what he pulls you into after ‘you walk away’. This issue with sorting these things out without intervention, is not going to be wise because it seems like you are already experiencing what the household looks like ‘without the necessary help’.

      I’m sure you don’t want your children to go through any more pain~ which no one would, but are they seeing a loving thriving marriage and safety in their home? MJ children can sense when dynamics are out of place, even if they can’t verbalized them. … when there is not-resolve and any real peace and safety, they know it.

      I’m not someone who says ~ separation…not would I tell you do this, or do that…but I agree your husband is showing little signs of any reasonable behavior here. Plus, I’m feel strongly that the destructive spouse should be the one to step away.

      (This however is a process.. begin your counseling and work on your core like Nancy said)

      I feel strongly that Children should be able to stay placed in their own beds, which might mean your h needs to find other sleeping arrangements since he is choosing to not get help at all.

      now an abusive mindset person ‘does not like this’ one bit. Why? Because they are usually needing to be first even above the children~ best & safest needs. As a parent you get to rise up to advocate for them. Especially when their other parent is well ‘not parenting’ .

      (Again none of this takes place over night, work on getting clear and taking back the power that your h continues to twist and steal.. even if it’s not obvious to you in the moment). The Lord SEES what’s taking place and will equip you for the journey ahead. Let Him give you the necessary armor you will need regardless if the marriage can be restored to a marriage that gives Him glory.
      This is comprehensive and you will need lots of support!

      You have admitted to being too tolerant and maybe that has stemmed from your past experience of a painful marriage and divorce. I’m not saying for sure but the critical info Nancy gave is a great place to strengthen your core and learn more about ‘what is motivating’ that tolerant place. Doing this work on you, you might find more clarity and especially the joy of getting to know ‘yourself’ better. Thus able to share more of you with other healthier people in your circle.

      One thought you might consider is doing inventory on ‘who is in your circle’ and do they understand the abusive cycles and dynamics you have experienced? If they are not in tune, they could draw you to more abuse … not intentionally, but it can happen.

      I still feel like there are plenty of unknowns about your husband’s issues, because until you do what your work is and allow his response, its hard to tell what if at all will be a defining moment or process for him? How God will use your strength and boundaries?

      You wrote:
      “Yes he believes we’re at equal fault.”
      I’m wondering what you believe? I’m assuming you don’t believe this is this so?

      Most mindsets like him will always think this way about making things equal~ in fact they are good at Provoking behavior from someone who is being victimized by them, so they can ‘muddy the waters’ this is classic abusive behavior like Nancy said. Because it is disarming and hard to hold accurate places of what just took place?

      Finding resolve will be nil~ they will say.. ‘oh let’s just both say sorry and start over.. we are both at fault’ when they clearing are the offending party, they want others to take a part in their behavior.

      I caution you to not give in or discuss anything of ‘equal nature’ with him. This is where he takes more from you and causes more destructive reasoning in the marriage. Building more resistance to getting the necessary healing agents in.
      Bottom line, a person willing to get help or work on themselves and a person ‘unwilling’ are not EQUAL.

      He clearly is not safe to allow your heart to be drawn in on any level. This is where Guarding your heart is so so critical…
      How he Defines many things has clear distortions to them!

      My husband struggled a lot with this! I started asking God to reveal anything that stood in my way of getting the healing I needed… God was non stop revealing in these times. I really do think God has a sense of humor~ because so much came into focus.

      My husband’s distortions were dangerous even for himself to entertain! (For me God confirmed this as I watched closely my h patterns~ abusive mindsets are not all that inventive overall~ they have a running theme.)

      Your h might be dealing with a lot of underneath issues and it’s Not your job to go after them, but his distortions do show those symptoms.
      In counseling, my hope is that you have a safe place to share and process ~ getting clear of the merky places that some do overtime get desensitized by.
      Please be sure that this counselor is well equipped with destructive behaviors and abusive cycles. 🙏

      I know many have brought our thoughts to you, my hope is that truth will set you on your journey and that your not alone and many of us here want to encourage and comfort your heart.

      • MJ on August 30, 2017 at 6:29 pm

        Thank you sweet sisters.

        Aly, you’re spot on. Nancy, yes you are right and no, you’re not too direct. Here is what has been holding me back. FEAR. All those things my h dished out when we talked about separation along with my self doubt have had me by the throat. I’ve spent some time today exploring these fears and the lies that they are and then replacing them with the truth. And it is very clear to me where God is leading.

        So my next steps are to ask Him to speak direction, and know that he longs to. And then listen for his answer. And then to trust that he will make his timing clear. He will “part the seas” as someone wrote previously. I can step out in confidence, onto dry ground with the seas parted around me.

        He loves me so deeply and is pleased with me! He will stand by me no matter what may come. He has my children in the palm of his hands. He will meet them in the storm as well! He will lead me by the hand through this and give me strength and courage to stand against the injustice of the enemy, against his desire to kill steal and destroy in our lives.

        • Nancy on August 31, 2017 at 7:06 am

          Good for you, MJ.

          Identifying those lies and replacing them with Truth is such important work. Keeping your focus on The Lord, and your own heart, as you listen to His direction will be key.

          He does indeed have you and your children in the palm of His hand.

          And yes. He will ‘split the sea so you can walk right through it’ and ‘drown your fears in perfect love”!

        • Aly on August 31, 2017 at 9:58 am


          Sounds like you are acting on making some positive steps toward aligning with Truth and Love.
          You are correct when you say this;
          “He loves me so deeply and is pleased with me! ”

          That is so true and He wants what’s best for you, and all involved.~ that doesn’t mean that your h will be willing to be surrendered.

          I’m praying for your courage and that your appt goes well tmr with the counselor.
          I’m asking for discernment on this counseling also hoping that God is orchestrating.

          The more support you surround yourself with Godly wisdom, accurate biblical reference and get feedback on what you hear God speaking to you…with the less you might fear the boundaries and requirements that might be essential in your situation.
          As Proverbs says, there is safety in multiple counsel.
          You’re not alone in this MJ. 🙏

    • JoAnn on August 31, 2017 at 12:09 pm

      So I am puzzled about your commitment to this marriage. It seems clear that there is no love there, you do not feel safe, your children are suffering, no trust…. Just what is it that’s holding you there? Fear? God’s perfect love deals with that. Doubt? I don’t really think that you doubt whether or not you should stay. The Lord loves you and wants what’s best for you and your children. Trust Him.

  37. Autumn on August 30, 2017 at 7:02 am

    I agree with your message to MJ. Her husband’s comment about betrayal reveals his entitled and controlling thinking. He has shown an abuse strategy as he declares his own authority. Some books call this the “King of the castle” strategy. His behavior is with out a doubt abusive, MJ if you had the slightest doubt otherwise. A healthy, humbled man has a teachable spirit and readily submits to authority.

  38. Helen on August 31, 2017 at 12:37 pm

    Yes, I kept silence for several years; I didn’t even know how hurt and angry I really was until last August when I started journaling my feelings. Then I discovered how angry I was at my H. We were in counseling already for six months. Now a year later I just separated two weeks ago b/c he will not separately address his own issues. He says we are a team and will only go to counseling if I go too. At this point my heart has closed off from him–he says ‘well I will keep making mistakes’. Seems he offers this as an excuse to not do the hard work of emotional healing. I have been working on healing my heart from my childhood (thru ACA work). My heart is so broken that he won’t go the extra mile for me. He is hurt b/c he says I am abandoning him. For now I’m just taking it one day at a time and I don’t trust him with my heart.

    • Aly on September 1, 2017 at 10:27 am


      Has your husband given you examples of why not to trust him with your heart?

      You mention that he feels you are abandoning him.., I’m wondering if you feel abandoned by him?..given that you feel he don’t go the extra mile for your heart? (Paraphrasing here)

      I agree that teamwork is essential in certain places but individual work is also important. Sometimes husband’s can attach to ‘the work’ that their wife does and piggyback on that process…, so I think you are wise requiring him to do individual heart work.
      This will probably feel threatening to him and I wonder if he is used to turning the table on you?

      Sounds like there are heart trust issues, not saying I know but it’s what it sounds like~ trust is earned.

      You wrote;
      “He says we are a team and will only go to counseling if I go too.”
      If you have a relational pattern of being the ‘over functioning partner’, not saying you are but
      This will cause some disruption for him emotionally.
      Sounds like you alone are going to counseling, which is good go for yourself and your own healing. I don’t see his complaint to be a problem.

      One thing I had to remind my husband often about in our process was that his ‘recovery’ work was going to look very different than mine’
      He wanted us on the same track and really what he wanted was me doing all the emotional work for (the two of us) how convenient right?

      My journey (although we have had to walk beside one another) both tracks have a different grade/slope/ hills to it😜.

      Also if his emotional work entails a bit of chaos and roller coaster living, you can choose not to be a passenger on the roller coaster or crazy train.
      He won’t like this, and he won’t feel like your are a team. But as he chooses to do his own work he might be safer down to road to have more team experience.

      One thing you could ask?…
      Husband, define what teamwork might look like from your end?

    • Autumn on September 1, 2017 at 8:18 pm

      Sometimes taking a stand is the only action that gets noticed. Be careful that you have some firm guidelines during this separation period. It is very likely that your spouse will try various manipulative behaviors to get you to return to him and his dysfunctional dynamic. Begin to plan your next steps thinking that he will never get better. These things take a long time and the chance that your H changes in any way are very slim. If by some miracle he transforms his life, you can return very, very slowly. This kind of thing takes years, so I hope you are well established in your separation or are taking measures to establish it.

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