I'm going to be doing a free webinar next Wednesday, March 5 on The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. It's sponsored by RBC (Radio Bible Class – Daily Bread) and I think it will be great. Even if you can't be there live, sign up as you will get a link to listen to it afterwards. A pastor who works with abusive men will also be joining me.
Thanks for your prayers. I feel them coming. It’s been a stressful, crazy month but things are looking up. Our God is so good. I’ve been pondering who God is and why he would be mindful of us. We are so undeserving and unworthy yet Paul tells us that he lavishes his love and his grace upon us. (Ephesians 1:7,8). Think about that word: lavish. The dictionary defines lavish as abundant, extravagant, generous. He doesn’t just dribble out his love and grace but lays it on heavy. He’s not stingy with it. But do you know that? Are you living in that reality – of the Good News? I hope you are. I pray you are. Without God’s reality, the big story as I call it, we can become very lost and despondent in our own small story.
In this blog we talk about the pain and confusion of our small stories, but don’t ever forget the big story. Without it we will get lost.
Today’s Question: What is the difference between surrendering to God's way and giving up. Do you have any biblical examples?
I have been married for nearly 18 years and separated for 1year and a half. I took time to heal, take responsibility for my part in the demise of my relationship. I am discovering talents that God blessed me with, learning how not to react, loving my children differently and so forth.
I am excited about God's love for me and who I am. I am able to read and pray again. I held on to my marriage and was slowly dying. When I left, it was with the understanding that I need to get healthy physically (my health was compromised), emotionally (I was beyond having feelings of rage) and mentally at a breaking point.
I heard the word ‘go' and left. I most recently found that he is emotionally and possibly sexually involved with another woman. This was a set back and a huge blow since I was going to reach out yet again to talk about reconciliation. At least 3 times I've gone to counseling alone and he attended only once at which time he blamed me for everything.
I understand that God can do anything & I am learning how to surrender to Him. I just want to know where the difference is between surrendering and giving up.
Answer: I’m so glad you are healing and starting to thrive. You had hoped that your husband would have patience during this healing process and begin to work on his own issues while you worked on yours. Apparently that hasn’t happened and he’s gotten involved – at least emotionally, with another woman. That often happens when someone doesn’t take any responsibility for their part of a marital breakdown. In his mind, since the blame is entirely yours, his problems are that he’s lonely and he’s tired of waiting for you to get your act together. Therefore, if or when the opportunity comes along to get his needs met, he sees nothing wrong with it.
You ask what’s the difference between surrendering to God’s way or giving up? A Biblical example that comes to mind is Elijah’s story found in 1 Kings 18 and 19. He was a great prophet called by God to do amazing miracles. His most famous miracle was when he prayed and fire came down from heaven and licked up the water and sacrifice, proving to the prophets of Baal that the God of Israel was the one true God. His hope was that King Ahab and Queen Jezebel would repent of their rebellion and lead the nation of Israel into repentance. But that didn’t happen and Elijah almost gave up.
He ran away, fearful and despondent. He wanted to die. He said to God, “It is enough now. Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my father.” And he laid down and gave up.
But God wasn’t done with Elijah. He cared for him. He gave him food to eat and allowed him to rest so that his mind, emotions and body could heal. And as Elijah began to feel better, God spoke to him not to give up but to surrender to Him. Things were not going to turn out the way Elijah had hoped, but that didn’t mean that God was not still in charge. God didn’t send Elijah back to the same situation or role. God was moving him on. He was finished with that part of his ministry and God had new plans for Elijah. He was to anoint a new king and mentor Elisha to be his replacement.
Surrendering to God is not the same thing as surrendering to man. Surrendering to God is saying, “Not my will but yours be done.” Jesus showed us this in the garden when he didn’t feel like going to the cross. Yet he surrendered.
I’m not sure what you mean by giving up. Do you mean letting go? Sometimes we do need to let go even when we are surrendered to God. For example, Jesus let go of the rich young ruler (Mark 10:21) even though it says he loved him. The rich young ruler didn’t want to surrender to Christ and Christ let him go.
Jesus let Judas go, even knowing that he was up to no good. The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11 shows a loving father, letting his younger son go to live a sinful life. He didn’t beg him to stay or cling to him when the son wanted to leave. He let go.
In the same way, we can be fully surrendered to God and still need to let go. Perhaps what you need to let go of or give up, is hope in what God will do in your husband. Henry Cloud has a great chapter in his book, Necessary Endings, called Hoping Versus Wishing: The Difference Between What’s Worth Fixing and What Should End.
Briefly, here are some questions Cloud uses to discern whether you should have hope or give up hope:
- Do I want the same reality, frustration, or problems six months from now?
- Do I want this same level of performance a year from now?
- Do I want to be having these same conversations two years from now?
If the answer is no, then here are a few more of his questions:
- What reason is there to have hope that tomorrow is going to be different? (The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior)
- What in this picture is changing that I can believe in?
Cloud says, “The difference between hoping and wishing is that hope comes from real, objective reasons that the future is going to be different from the past. Anything other than that is simply a wish that comes from your desires.” (page 97).
Last week I wrote that God wants us to hope in him and not in what he will do. Elijah is a good example of misplaced hope. He believed it was God’s will for King Ahab and Jezebel to repent and he was right. It was God’s will. But that’s not what happened. Elijah felt so despondent at his “failure” that he wanted to give up. In his small story of hoping in what God would do, he forgot who God was. God was still Present. God was still good. God was still in control and God showed Elijah that his hope needed to be rooted firmly in Him and not the outcome.
In the same way, from your description you say your husband has taken zero responsibility for his part of the marital demise. No willingness to be teachable and surrendered to others' wisdom who might help him see his part. No change in his orientation toward you. So what are you hoping will be any different?
I don’t think Jesus hoped that Judas would change (Mark 14-17-21).
I don’t’ think Abigail hoped that Nabal would change (1 Samuel 25:18-38).
I don’t think that David hoped Saul would change after repeated lies and false promises (1 Samuel).
Each of them lived in reality and truth, not in wishful thinking.
Can you be surrendered to God and give up hope that your husband will change? I think so.
As always, friends, I value your input.
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I could definately answer no to all 3 of the first questions and then equally not one thing was going to change as long as I was with X. He decided that he had no problems and didn’t need counseling. He started seeing his X 2 weeks after I left yet still claims he loves and cares for me. Huh??!!
Many things are changing now in my life. I no longer have to talk to him. The prison bars are no longer there. My Lord set me free. Jesus is the best Husband ever. He loves me always. I am beginning to have opportunities to help others that do my heart good. My prayers are not always tearful and distressed. I am no longer fearful of going home. My cat, Buffy Kitty, is always happy to see me and doesn’t spend her time belittling, accusing, crazy making and never throws a thing at me. My life is fuller. Living alone I don’t feel lonely like I did while living with X. I don’t cry myself to sleep. God is good and supplies my every need.
What a wonderful picture you paint of your healing! It is so uplifting to read what you wrote. I think the emotionally abusive men show just how needy they are when they fall back into “old” relationships or seek another person to supposedly fulfill them! How very sad that your ex-spouse is using a former relationship to perhaps “get back at you” and/or to seek a false sense of comfort. His heart condition is truly pitiful! But it’s so evident that he is in total denial!
Hi Brenda, how awesome are your words. I left my emotionally abusive 4yrs ago, within weeks he had a girl friend, but he stalked me for months saying how sorry he was and he would change, he even threatened suicide if I didnt return home. After 6mths I caved and returned home, did he change? no,do I think he ever will? no. Now I find myself farther back than when I first left him and I could quite easily step off the planet.
After being home for just a short while he said it had been a mistake and I probably wasn’t the one he should have married, (We had been married 26yrs at that point).
Now I’m convinced that perhaps it is my own fault, maybe I am to blame for all that has gone wrong. I have hung on to my marraige because God Hates Divorce. My eyes are slowly opening.
This question and answer spoke so much to my situation today!! I am reading Lundy Bancroft’s book entitled “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” I am gaining so much from studying this book. It is upsetting for this lady to know that her spouse is “getting his feathers stroked” by another woman who cannot possibly know who he is and what he’s capable of doing. I’ve lived the same situation in the past with my spouse. Eventually, he reaped what he sowed. It’s difficult to dismiss this “slap in the face” type behavior from him as I know it hurts deeply. But it’s just one more example of his true heart condition. He is sinning against her and may think nothing of it. I had to simply THANK God for allowing me to see more truth about the condition of my spouse’s heart. I think it’s evident that God is allowing her to learn what she needs to learn so that she will be able to no longer hope for something that isn’t happening within that man. I am torn right now in my own situation because I have read about marriages that have been restored even after the husband perhaps has had an affair or maybe more than one affair and when the wife has gone forward in healing and has sought a divorce. Ultimately, one has to abide in God’s grace and mercy and keep seeking guidance from the Holy Spirit. In reading Bancroft’s book, I have come to understand that my spouse’s problems are multiple and that to change, he will have to work long and hard in order to ever make the needed changes. So, I have requested that my pastor have a counseling session with him and state my requirements and seek an agreement from him that he will proceed with the recommended steps toward reconciliation. I have not decided when that is to take place. I am praying about that. If my spouse does not want to take part in attempting reconciliation on my terms, then I will give up all hope at that point. I have given up trying to “fix” or influence my spouse. He’s at God’s mercy now and has been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He’s begun radiation treatments. I pray for his welfare and health, but I also realize that God is in total control and He will work His plans for my husband. So, I recommend that this lady keep moving forward in the knowledge that she is a valued and loved daughter of God and that he will keep her safe and eventually she will be healed enough such that her spouse’s behavior will not affect her. I encourage her to keep praying that the Holy Spirit will give her discernment and comfort during these times of confusion and doubt. She’s come so far and must not look back or weaken at the thought that he’s found someone else. He will never be fulfilled in another relationship because he is a lost creature and one with a deceitful heart. He will reap what he sows!
Congrats for having the courage to leave and allowing yourself to start to heal. I hope Leslie’s thoughts have answered your question, thanks for asking it.
Thanks Leslie for sharing this, you have clarified and reinforced something my Christian counselor told me the other day. Having the biblical examples has really helped to distinguish between ‘hope’ and ‘wish’ .
Five years ago I left my then 26 year marriage for two years then came back. I hadn’t ‘let go’ during those 2 years and I didn’t really heal. Three years on I have eroded way beyond where I was last time I left. I can see today that I WISH things to change but have nothing to HOPE for that change. It’s complex because my husband has Aspergers as well as being emotionally abusive . In his way he loves me – he waited for me during those 2 years (and didn’t really leave me alone – he is somewhat obsessed with me) but he pressures me everyday and he can’t understand that I am as I am because of the way WE allowed the relationship to be. I was trying to be a good Christian wife – early on he had been a Pastor, I thought we were ‘called together’ for ministry but he has always emotionally and sometimes sexually abused me and he can’t get it and I can’t cope. I am a dead shell.
If your husband hasn’t / won’t / or can’t change – stay strong continue to heal and let go so you can be who God has created you to be xx
Liz, you are a piece of my answer tonight. I left 8 months ago and really wish for him to change, lots of words, lots of what his misses about me etc. but with no actions toward repentance I can’t afford to repeat this. Your story is probably what woukd happen to me if I returned. Thank you for sharing… will say a prayer for you tonight!
I hope how you took my answer is good for you. Each of us have our journeys, and each situation is different. But it is encouraging to recognize similiarities and learn from each other.
Just to know we aren’t alone in our complexities is a blessing.
My life is so far from what I imagined a God led life would be.
Blessing and prayers for you and everyone reading this. Take care xx Liz
Blessing and prayers for you too, Liz. It is a blessing to know we aren’t alone. And to learn from each other.
I prayed for you. Perhaps we will meet in the next life. Perhaps all of us will meet.
Thank you for providing such a clear answer to letting go and letting God. I highly recommend reading Henry Cloud’s book, Necessary Endings. It walked me through my decision making process of whether I should stay in my Emotionally Destructive Marriage or leave for the 3rd time. I decided to leave based on the exact same questions Leslie pulled from his book:
•What reason is there to have hope that tomorrow is going to be different? (The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior)
•What in this picture is changing that I can believe in?
The hard part for me is my husband recognizes his emotionally abusive behavior AFTER the damage is done: he’s remorseful, says he’s sorry, but has never repented. He(we)have been in counseling off and on since I married him 15 years ago because he knows he needs help. He’s a Christ follower and is constitently seeking the Lord. But his abusive behavior has never stopped. His outbursts are less frequent(because I shut down to stay safe) but the emotional control never ends. When I finally grasped that “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior”, I left (let go) for the 3rd and last time. He’s begging me to drop the divorce and reconcile (“because God hates divorce”). He says he’s changed and that God is pointing out his destructive behavior to him. I feel beat up emotionally, but am trusting the Lord is with me and will not foresake me even with my final decision to remove myself permanently from the marriage via a divorce.
Wow, all of my “Christian beliefs” are swirling in the wind. Can I be surrendered to God and give up hope that my husband will change? What!? This raises all sorts of red flags in my bible college/legalistic background! Sounds like blasphemy…but yet, as I read it over and over and over, my heart comes to rest and I know it is true.
At times I have hoped for hope to believe in my marriage and my husband, knowing that God would desire that. All the while believing theologically, in other areas, that God doesn’t always answer prayers that way. My hope needs to be firmly rooted in God, and not in the outcome of my husband changing. There has been no evidence that he wants to change.
I sense a peace that I know comes only from God. I will hope in Him, and not my dreams and wishes.
Thank you, Leslie, for these spiritual truths so clearly displayed!
I love this sentence, Donna.
MY HOPE NEEDS TO BE FIRMLY ROOTED IN GOD, and not in the outcome of my husband — CHANGING!
Perhaps what we need, is to keep our focus strongly on what God wants ME to do, and not so much- is husband changing, or even, will he?. or not.
I have filed for divorce, because as H. Cloud says in his bk, Fools hear no words, only consequences work for them.
I wished so greatly, my husband would hear what I said over and over again. But he frankly chose not too.
So I began a process of having my only hope in God, and then proceeding to move on in my life, becoming what God was preparing for my good. I think in the past, I spent way too much energy trying to figure out, “is my husband changing or is there something I could do to help him change?” I think the real issue is to be faithful in stewarding my own life and that of my children. God will speak to the husband, and maybe he will respond and maybe he won’t. But I will choose to be faithful to do what God has placed in front of me. Too much of our lives can be wasted on someone who is already chosen what they will,
and we wear ourselves out trying to fix or influence it. My new life is more than I ever dreamed possible, without abuse in it. God has abundantly provided for me in ways I never imagined. But that does not mean, I gave up. I did surrender the dream I wanted, of staying married. It means I chose to go towards wisdom and move on with my own life, and if my husband should ever genuinely repent, I will take notice. And trust God to show me my next steps. I don’t need to know the end of the story, as I trust God will provide it in due time. I am deeply thankful God is God for me now, and my soon to be ex– husband is not. I am praying God will continue to not let me have a bitter heart—– but a heart of love, just like Jesus’.
So very well spoken! Thank you for your thoughts. I feel you said all I would like to. Only difference in us is that my soon to be ex won’t receive the divorce papers until next month. This entire thread, from Leslie on down, has spoken to my heart. Thank you all for posting and having a safe haven!
Thank you for the question. I think it is a common one that is hard to sort out.
Thank you, once again, Leslie, for making the sorting out much easier…w/ much clarity. Particularly helpful in listing specific questions for a person to ask their self. The references from Henry Cloud’s book is helpful, too, in that he does a good job w/ helping people face truth in reality. Biblical examples are always helpful. Gives readers the opportunity to refresh and re-read the given selections from God’s Word. Nice balance in the answer.
Now, I know I need to re-read this a couple of times, look up the Bible texts and read “Necessary Endings.”
This applies to my life now and I am grateful for all input.
Thank you for bringing up the question and I hope and pray that Leslie’s godly, carefully-crafted counsel will help you.
Ive been separated for14 months and have had these exact same questions going through my mind. Giving up for me means finally filing for divorce. I believe my husband to be narcisstic. We’ve been married 6 years and the emotional abuse has been the worst pain Ive ever endured in my life. He has put forth no effort toward reconcilliation but is eager to point out all of my failures. Occasionally he will admit that we need counseling but thats as far as it goes. He wants me back without being held accountable for his actions. Ive been hoping and praying for so long that he will change. Theres obviously no reason for hope…except Gods intervention. Thats really what Ive kept hoping for is for God to intervene. Is that being unrealistic for me to expect that God would one day answer my prayers and speak to my husbands heart and mind? To be honest, thats really what Im holding on to. Thank you Leslie for all you do. You have been there for me during some of my darkest moments. You are a blessing.
Jennifer. I have no doubt that God is speaking to your husband’s heart and mind. The problem isn’t that God isn’t speaking, the problem is that your husband isn’t listening. Jesus spoke directly to the Pharisee’s hearts and minds and yet they would not listen. God is answering your prayer, but he will not force your husband to repent of his pride or to surrender his heart and mind to God. That is his choice.
I am in your shoes as well here- narcissistic partner that you hope against hope will get it. But here’s the thing- 17 of 19 years in marriage counseling, pastors, therapists, a previous separation and 2 trips to the National Institute of Marriage which I think the WORLD of, and here I am feeling guilty for pulling the plug on what’s been an unchanging situation.
I finally said to him, ” You didnt do the work.”
He said, ” You’re right.”
But now he misses me, Im awesome etc.
Without consistent actionable change, we are not in the wrong.
In fact, I feel we are in the wrong to stay and take it because we enable them to remain abusive.
I am going to file for divorce. I love him but this has not been a loving marriage for a long time and physically, I can’t take anymore.
PS- he told me his office had an intervention for his anger.
God loves our husbands and knows where they are and how to find them. You know his response to that intervention? That they disrespected him and he didnt deserve it. OMG. And he GOES to counseling!!!!!
Wow. But the church would have me/ us stay to be Godly? Then Im unGodly but no longer in the line of that mess anymore.
When they get help, and its been a year of consistent action THEN we’ll have something to talk about.
Until then, God shield us.
Lived this and DITTO!
It is pitiful. I know he has a heart–a very hard heart. I’m not sure why, but she did seem to give him comfort. Someone familiar even though he had nothing good to say about her in 30 years. I look forward to the remainder of my journey these days. It is my hope for everyone on the blog, that you will as well.
I pastored for 40 years. One incident comes to mind. A lady finally divorced her husband. I found out he had been unfaithful twice before the last one. She struggled with hate and anger and doubt and fear she was doing wrong. She had Biblical grounds for divorce and I counseled her that unless she thought things would be different, to take the way out God offered. She did, after she smashed a pizza in his face in front of his new $250,000. home he bought for his ‘girlfriend.’ I also counseled that she didn’t have to forgive him at the time because he was unrepentant and didn’t want it. He said she just wasn’t the responsive person he needed. I told her God would give her grace one day to forgive and when that day came, she would forgive, and that day did come. You, and she did not give up. The others (your husband and this lady’s) gave up themselves to destroy a marriage. In one sense, you can’t give up because God is with you, and you would be redemptive in the situation if you could. You had to let go because he was “already gone.” Yes, you had some part in the failure perhaps, but no mate deserves to have a cheating mate no matter the faults.
Thanks Pastor George for your perspective.
Amen. Very well said. Thank you!!
This is a great thread- and so gut wrenching because every case is different. I just want the Magic 8 Ball to tell me what to do sometimes.. . but we have God’s spirit.
Tonight I told my separated husband that Im so sorry for causing him pain because I am moving for divorce and he doesnt want it. Now he says it’s his fault, he wants another chance but there is no plan.
You know what? The plan is for me to accept it all and take him back.
“We’ll need to navigate accepting each other for who we really are.”
I have no trust for this.
Yes I feel awful for filing. Yes maybe he WILL change and I should stay separated for years and never divorce.
But maybe I can love him, and find peace and grace and take care of myself and teen son and put and end to the insanity that has been my adult life- because I matter too. Not just him. Not just the marriage. But I have value and dont deserve to be toyed with any longer.
Truth is, when men want us and are good to us, we can’t miss it.
They make themselves known.
But in these crazy places, we don’t even know up from down and that’s enough of a red flag for me.
And I think God himself is the One waving it.
Vikki, I love your post! I have read it and reread it. Its as if Im reading my own marital story with the exact thoughts and feelings that I have had. My husband tells me how much he misses me, the closeness, how much he loves me….and then, nothing. No change. He insists that I need counseling to fix me. Evidently I dont listen well,(those were the exact words he used) Im selfish and I dont tust him because I will not follow where he leads even though its in my best interest. Again, all his words. The arrogance is staggering. He can be very charming and loving and then turn on a dime and be the complete opposite. I feel so tired and worn. You are right, we deserve so much more. I pray we can see our worth through Gods eyes and not the eyes of a mixed-up broken man. I know God has a plan for all of our lives, a plan of blessing and hope. For good and not evil. Ive also realized that the Lord will not force us to stand up for our selves but He will be there when we finally do. For that matter He will be there even when we dont. In the mean time God will keep waving those red flags. And I’ll be here waving my white flag, not to any man but to God and His plans. Blessings to you.
Just because your divorce goes thru it doesn’t mean he still cannot do the work he needs to do. If he loves you he will work at becoming a safe person and offering a new marriage proposal. One built on mutual love and respect for one another.
He is the one who must decide.
You’re lucky you still love him. I lost all feelings of love that would be necessary for a marriage.
After my husband if 19 years moved out, my mom got me a plaque that says “the will of God will not take you where the grace of God cannot protect you”. I never felt like I was giving up, but that’s where I made my mistakes for 15 of those 19 years. I kept giving second chances, third chances, 7th chances until I discovered that God doesn’t want or will this life for me. I was so beaten down and wallowing in an abusive marriage, that I didn’t know what was real or not. He could lie straight to my face with all of the evidence proving him wrong, but I’d still believe him. Always an excuse or somebody else’s fault. Sure, he’ll proclaim he wins on the sin meter, but he likes to point out that I am not blameless in this either. Cheating, lying, stealing,sexually assaulting me, drug use, physical and mental abuse are tops in any woman’s list of deal breakers. My sin: not loving him unconditionally and not supporting him more. That’s why he HAD to find fulfillment elsewhere. My fault. I will never be pretty enough. I will never be thin enough. I will never keep the house clean enough. There will always be a reason for him to cheat. This is not Gods will. He is out Father. He doesn’t want us to be in pain. We have to clear and clean ourselves from the toxic person to realize what we’ve been accepting isn’t in His plan. Gods grace is sufficient & perfect. We’d want that for our own children….why don’t we accept that for ourselves?
It is refreshing to hear from a pastor who uses Biblical Truth to counsel. The lady you counseled needed to forgive her former spouse for her own heart, not his. He needed to repent for his heart. He put his sin right out there in his wife’s face. Although, I’m not supporting the pizza in his face, I can certainly understand her frustration and how degraded she must have felt.
It would be interesting to know your position on abuse, abandonment, divorce and Biblical remarriage in those circumstances.
Leslie, thank you so much for your book and your helpful posts and replies to comments. I would like to agree with Jennifer – you are a great blessing! It was because of your book that I realised last year what had been going on in my marriage of 19 years. I had been in denial till six months before that, and still didn’t understand that the way my husband treated me was emotional abuse. He is passive-aggressive and, I think, narcissistic.
I think it might have been God’s doing that I heard of ‘TEDM’. I put on the radio at a time I didn’t usually and heard you on ‘Focus on the Family’. I bought ‘How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong’, and Amazon sent me a link to ‘TEDM’. I thank God for this. It has opened my eyes and helped me find a voice.
My husband has just started an abuser program similar to the ones Lundy Bancroft writes of. I heard of his book through your book, read some of it and Googled ‘abuser programs’. My husband had begun, I think, to be convicted by God and agreed to go.
It will take a miracle to restore our marriage even if my husband does change and stops abusing me, because all the trust has gone. He has known he is emotionally abusive for about five months and there have only been faint possible signs of change just recently (though he has had professional counselling for passive aggression, and meetings with our pastor, for nearly a year now.) But I believe God told me to persevere at this point, and I know he can do miracles. We have two children. I pray God will speak to my husband’s heart and mind, and that he will want to change.
In reading through all the replies, yours is the one that strikes a chord in my heart. My husband has been addicted to porn for the entire 24 years of our marriage. Five years ago he broke his covenant with me (I won’t give details) and since then I have tried to help him overcome his addiction. The problem was that in denying himself that sinful outlet his anger soared, as did the emotional and verbal abuse. All trust is gone. I stopped having relations with him last October and finally moved out of the bedroom in January. He has been seeing out pastor for the past year with no real change. Now he will soon start a counseling program with Pure Life Ministries. At this point I don’t know if reconciliation is possible. I am seeing a Christian counselor to help me see where I am not seeing clearly. God has asked me to persevere in the past but now I believe he has told me I am free to choose. I pray often that God will do a miraculous work in my husband. He is not an evil person but he is not an emotionally healthy person. I am waiting to see how he will respond to the counseling program and seeking God’s wisdom and discernment. Whether I choose to stay or go will come with consequences for both myself and my nearly grown children so I am taking my time. My husband travels alot so I have some space during the week. The weekends can be either ok or miserable. I just want to offer you some support in your waiting. For me this has been the hardest part. I will pray for you and your children.
‘Free to choose’ – that’s really interesting. That’s what I have felt God said to me too. Thanks for sharing , all the best xx liz
Thank you, Cheri, that’s very kind. I am grateful for your prayers. I will also pray for you and your children. My youngest does not want his dad to leave, though the oldest wishes he would.
Waiting and not knowing are hard. It sounds like you have tried your best to serve God in a very difficult situation, and it is surely wise to take your time now waiting to see what happens and praying for wisdom. I have prayed for that for you. I am sure the Lord will continue to guide you and watch over you.
I have a friend with an emotionally abusive husband whose husband is away in the week. That must help. Mine has always attacked the worst on Saturdays (and at Christmas and summer holidays, for some reason.)
I hope you will let us know what happens. I will post again once I know.
Im sitting here crying for I have been an emotional wreck but reading all of you ladies sharing and for Leslie’s letters, I’m starting to see. I was in a marriage for 16 years and have two children who are 8 and 14 and that is where I’m not doing good. My ex was living a life where it was all about him and the children. I felt like the maid who kept everyone happy and did all the wifey duties. I gave and gave till I fell apart. My ex never valued me. I struggle with feeling guilty for the divorce at times, but reading all these letters,I see I needed to move on and I did the right thing. I ache for my children whom he hoards and until our custody hearing comes, he keeps them from me physically, emotionally and tells them that where he is living is there home. He is very controlling and very manipulative especially toward the children now since I’m not there. His anger is horrible and it has troubled me for years. I can say that as of today, I’m realizing that God is and was beside me all the way and that I did the right thing. I wish all of us could get together for support, prayer and friendship. I feel so alone 🙁 Sorry for rattling, but I want to thank all of you for sharing, it has brought that hope back into my life.
Thank you, Siana (that’s a pretty name). I prayed for you, and for you to get your children back. All best wishes. x
Grace, thank you for responding on my comments and also for your prayers. God bless for He always does. Thank you again.
May your lioness roar beautiful and your CORE be built to the hilt! May you spend so much time on you and your healing and fighting to be in a stronger relationship with God that it all manifest itself as seeing the victory that is won for you by Gods blood! I command doubt and fear to leave and sound mind and peace sit still! I pray against any thing that would distract you to be silenced and your second wind to be birthforth to show GOD’S glory in your story!IN JESUS NAME AMEN!
Siana, what a beautiful name you have!! I am praying for you also. My exhusband i also manipulative and controlling with evil intent against me; and very much works the children against me. I understand your place. I hope you have solid support. I will be praying that God meets you wherever you are. Your children will return; it just takes alot of time. If I can do anything to encourage you, let me know. I have lived in this – for many many yrs and feel I can feel your heartbreak.
Robin, I thank you from the bottom of my weary heart for your words of encouragement. Like I wrote in my previous note, I feel so alone and get depressed. I have no family and the friends who I do have, as much as they try to help me, they cant really understand the situation, which I truly take into consideration for they have not gone thru this kind of situation. I find myself missing my children, my mind drifts toward them all day. I have never been apart from them and now due to this divorce, I don’t see them as often as I would like to for he keeps them away. My ex literally hoards them, acts like their santa clause all year long. Everything is a good time when it comes to being with their father, he wants to make sure that they are having a great time, but its only feeding into their flesh. Robin, I’m just coming out of feeling so guilty and the hurt from not having my “family” together, BUT know I had to get out even though I left with nothing. Whenever you get the chance, could you share with me all what you went through emotionally etc.. ? Again, thank you so much for caring and writing.
Siana, I just saw your question. It requires some thinking, but I will get back to you this week.
Siana, Im not sure how to answer your question, about what I went thru emotionally. I think most of these comments on this blog, describe how women are fighting to get on top, and define well the emotional struggles they experience. We are praying for you, and if you have a more specific question, let me know. I hope you find some kind of support. Have you been to a Domestic Violence Center?? They often have excellent support grps!!
Siana- I can relate in so many ways..the loneliness is overwhelming..it feels so cruel and often unbearable. But use your times wisely. Read a psalm before bed. Sing praises to the Lord. I promise that little by little you will feel the healing come. I have been separated from my drug addicted husband for four months now. I think he is still using ànd he blames me because I asked him to leave our home and it made things worse for him. He says if he comes back things will be better for him. Its always about what’s good for him. Its so sad. This year we would have celebrated our ten year anniversary. But I sm now seeing they I am holding on to wishful thinking as opposed to real hope cause in four months there had been no change. Stay strong and focus on the glory that will be revealed to all of us. God bless you.
Siana, you are moving towards healing. Find a good support for yourself close to you. Domestic violence services will help you see more clearly your rights as a mother to your children. Reclaim your value as a person and as a mother.
Praying for you.
After re-reading the answer and comments, I realize that one of the biggest struggles of clarity that I have faced in my emotionally abusive marriage is that of surrender. I, like many other women, have gotten tangled in thinking that are godly surrendering is giving second chance(s) when behavior and words have changed and emotions stabilized. I am one who had left the home three times because of the craziness, control, arguing, emotional abuse and escalation of the whole cycle…w/ myself participating in anger or in falling totally apart.
When I came back the first two times, attitudes and behaviors had changed and I so sorely missed my family…meaning my husband and granddaughter, who spent lots of time w/ us. As I look back, I see that things had not changed so very much after the second return. In fact, I found porn had been hidden and tight control of the money was in my husband’s hands. I just accepted the money part because, I think, he was pretty fair, but that was dependent thinking, not responsible, adult thinking. I broke my ankle and foot badly a couple of months after coming back and that was enough for me to contend w/. Also, his daughter and our granddaughter had moved in w/ us when her husband had become an abusive alcoholic. I helped my granddaughter each day after school, which we both enjoyed and her mom just never has done.
Three years later, after many breakdowns in communication, lack of agreement on how money was to be spent and my medical needs never being important, I finally left. We talked about how things were not working for either of us and did some agreeing. At first, he wanted me to stay in the house and he move two doors down in a house owned by a friend who lived away. I refused because I knew we would not be ‘apart’ which is what was needed. After three months, which I totally enjoyed and we worked out some things, I moved back, reluctantly. I had fallen and broken my arm nine months before and it was not healing right. I could not hold a job and financial reasons wore heavily on my decision to move back home. He was very glad to have me home.
From August ’12 things had been decaying in our marriage and emotionally, again. It was after several emotionally abusive things happened and I had become verbally mean, too or near giving up, that I despaired and literally cried to the Lord for help and guidance. I, too, happened upon one of Leslie’s interviews on Moody Radio and God surely put me on the path of clarity from that time, last Sept. The controlling, abusive language and emotionally abusive behavior and blaming escalating. Talking did not good; it was my fault. I would not continue abusive, yelling talk to him. I was, rightfully, ashamed of doing it. Leslie’s videos helped me take bite-sized pieces of what abuse is and how to take ownership of my feelings and responsibilities. I could sort it out, to clear the ‘crazies’ that had been tangled in my thinking.
I was, also, convicted by God of my wrong behavior. I asked for God’s forgiveness and then for my husband’s. He did not say much, just nodded agreement, which was appropriate….he probably was surprised and did not know what to say or think.
God gave me clear signs/happenings that I was to move out of the marriage and the freedom in more ways than I could believe in the next three months. My husband decided to make financial decisions w/o me, for the first time in years. In doing this, he put his own and only his own name on a new loan that was better in taking care of a debt. When we decided to add a landline, which worked so much better for the area that we lived, he did so on his own and in his own name, only. I was not so happy but, just let it go on both counts. I began to wonder if God was making the way for the bills to be in only my husband’s name, because of his controlling, to free me from those bills when I moved out….which was looking more likely each day. Yet, I wanted to share the info that I was learning from Leslie’s videos w/ him for ‘us’ and info from Ray Kane, another godly counselor, who explains relationships well….
I dearly wanted to see ‘us’ heal, finally, or be in a good healing process, after so many therapy sessions, positive struggles, overcoming, etc. I dearly loved and still love my husband but, I could only take in so much myself and he was truly on a continual controlling mission that was turning me away from him expotentally.
In Nov., my sister had total knee replacement surgery and needed a caregiver to live at her house. She asked me to do the honors. I wondered if I was capable emotionally because things had deteriorated grandly in Oct. I moved into her back bedroom. Thought the space apart from my husband would be good for us. And it was for peace but not much more. He continued to do controlling and I found, by accident, that he had been hiding money from me for several months. Trust was the issue and it was dwindling.
Three months later, my sis has had two additional surgeries and one awful bout of allergic rx to antibiotics…and I am still here, because she has needed me and our marriage is over.
The point I want to make is that I could not figure out how to surrender my relationship/marriage to God. I knew how to surrender to people; either to my husband or christian approval or thinking. I would just put my needs aside and often vegetate because I could not be who they wanted me to be and I misunderstood the whole counsel of God on submission, surrender, living out life in healthy ways….I even thought and am struggling w/ that I have mental illness because of this. Many formative years w/ an physical (as in rough, cuffing and beating) and emotionally abuse father shaped that internal thinking of worth or lack of in me.
So, this article, especially the part that clarifies surrender has opened such clarity in my thinking. Though I am not going to live in an abusive marriage, I have still had trouble sorting the surrender issue, which is a major, I believe, component in living healthier in all ways.
Thank you, Pastor. It is great to hear balanced truth from a godly man who shares it w/ his flock.
I feel much sympathy for all the women on here. I pray for safety, healing and wholeness for all of us.
I appreciated what Pastor George said too. Thank you to everyone for sharing.
Submitting to God is being open to healing and joy. Giving up is still being controlled and without healing or joy
Well put, Carol!
Letting go TO GOD allows God to deal with it…
Knowing how to surrender to PEOPLE but not God…I can relate.
Deep food for thought.
I believe that the reason many folks find it so difficult to let go and trust God to do His work is that often there is nothing in the other hand to give folks comfort. I have two very strong Christian women to whom I turn when the going gets rougher than it already is. They empower me with their strength and love! I also have a close relationship with my pastor and one other pastor friend; they empower me as well with their wisdom and guidance. I also KNOW without any doubt that Christ intercedes for me in Heaven. The Holy Spirit dwells within me and is ALWAYS available. I KNOW these things because of my many past experiences when they have been my support and refuge. Knowing these things is not always possible for all who suffer trials because of their lack of experience with these things. It is imperative that those of us who struggle with these damages brought on by abusive men turn daily to Christ and the Bible for our comfort and our guidance and that we seek the wisdom of those who are planted on this earth to be God’s vessels of hope! I praise God for this blog and for Leslie’s commitment to our needs and her empathy for our suffering. How grand God is for giving us such a gracious and persistent heart in Leslie! I cannot tell you how many times I have rehearsed in my mind the ugliness I have witnessed from my spouse. I am trying to surrender those awful experiences so that I can be refreshed by the Spirit. It serves no purpose to go over and over them trying to figure out WHY they happened. I am making some progress and my sweet friends who pray for me are helping immensely. Prayer is so necessary as we try to get through this wilderness experience. What helps sometimes is my photography and my music. I encourage all of you ladies to find activities that you absolutely LOVE doing and DO THEM! Take it day by day and ask God to order your every step and thought. I am determined to NOT have the same battle going on in my mind each day. We must fill up our minds with lovely thoughts and thoughts of goodness and grace to replace the dark and ugly images of abuse that have occupied our thinking for too long.
Peg, I entirely agree with you about Leslie. Surely she is a gift of God to the church – both for helping abused wives and for increasing knowledge and understanding of abuse in the rest of the church. Especially, I hope, the pastors! I think every pastor should read her book!
I prayed for your complete healing. We can look forward to a better life with Jesus too. All best wishes. x
Great perspective! The explanation of your journey and conclusions on how to move on w/ God, guidance of the Holy Spirit, Christ’ intercession and input of godly people is uplifting. Good advice. Finding activities to love doing, and actually doing them is a breath of fresh air. I fund your whole discussion about how you have been and are moving on rather than being stuck in the past, dark parts of your situation, encouraging and inspiring. None of us can change the past, nor can we sanely live the way we had been doing. Moving to God’s changes in our lives, all that e can control, and taking life daily is enough to do.
Than you, Peg/
My tipping point came when I finally accepted that he had absolutely no desire or intention to change. I was the only person who wanted change. The bitter part was that he was actively chosing to remain in a painfilled state with rage, anger and fear as his outlets rather than moving toward healing with me. But once I truly accepted him as that person and stopped trying to influence him to change, it was easier to say, “Ok then, I’m going to protect me.”
wow Kathy that was and is a very healthy choice! Im so proud of you! cant wait to hear of your fruit that has accompanied this action!
You describe it well—-it is a bitter and sorrowful experience to witness someone self-destruct! It’s especially painful when you care deeply for the person. I wrote many letters and even made DVD’s of sermons that I thought would make a difference. My efforts were not appreciated and seemed to make my spouse even angrier. Like you, I finally accepted that it’s all in God’s hands and I cannot influence him to change or even be decent. I think the last straw came recently when I attended the funeral viewing for his mother. Every one of his siblings and nieces and nephews greeted me warmly and I hugged them and greeted them warmly as well. My spouse ignored me and walked right by me and never spoke a word. I had to leave shortly after that and I was unable to attend the funeral the next day. I think his behavior was an attempt to punish me, but that was not the first time he has done that to me. This time, however, it hurt deeper because I loved his mother so much and she loved me and she would have wanted us to at least be civil and caring enough to drop anger and bitterness. It was clear he did not want me to be there and I think he resents the face that his family are so kind and loving toward me. I am finally able to see the depravity of his heart and step away from his cruelty. Yes, we must protect ourselves from the anger and abuse! I am committed to doing that; no more contact and no more hoping that I can have an impact on his life.
To anyone who feels great sympathy for some of our stories, I would like you to know that this blog is a safe place to air and work out our situations. It is a place to read about others experiences and how they became unstuck. It is a place to read encouragement. It is a place to verbally work through whatever we are caught in at the moment. It is a place to help move on in the process of godly healing. At times that takes some time to maul over our feelings and or situation. Sometimes we just need to tell some of our story…to put it out there…a way to get out of denial.
So, hopefully, this is a healthy place to spend time on whatever place we are stuck and that can seem and be horible. But this is not the place we come to stay unstuck. It is also, the place to share success from being unstuck and how we have been able to move on. It is the place to share God’s goodness and grace to us.
This is a safe place, a part of the healing process.
Please do no let these stories discourage you. It is a place where evil is being unveiled and addressed in godly ways for healing.
Thank you, Dianna.
That is so true. We don’t want to stay stuck. We want our lives to be better. Not that it will happen over night and there will not be relapses. There will be. We all need support and to give support. I have found that supporting others brings me out of the trenches as much or more than receiving support. God has been so good to me and set me free from bondage. We all have strength through our Lord, we just have to trust Him and His perfect timing.
I do not know where to begin, I have not been a very healthy relationship seeker.. I never really understood the whole “you have to be healthy your self before you can be truly happy” God is Good! I have surrendered. Let me get to the now. I have been married to my husband for 5 years, we had a son out of wed lock, I had been married to three different men and have two other wonderful children from those marriages. I have failed God so many times and I am so Grateful for his GRACE! There has been so many things that my husband has said and I feel so silly for not realizing that there was a problem before now..A real problem.. I am still here in the place we call home. I want to move next door because I am miserable, he is miserable, and our children are miserable. It started with my career (or this is where I noticed it the most) He would say what do you want to be a nurse for, what do you want to do that for? Well a lot of those type things.. I left last summer for a week, stayed with my best friend and came home.. The honeymoon period was great..but didn’t take long for his misery with whatever is going on inside him to make me miserable and start belittling myself, feeling powerless, emotionally dead. I started going to church and became involved in youth ministry, jail ministry, and active in bible study. He told me I was ignoring him, even went as far as to make accusations of having an affair with my pastor… So for the last 2 weeks I did not do anything but work one day a week (that is all I am worth these days it feels). I took those 2 weeks off and started talking to God, seeking answers.. I learned I am not these things and if anything I am strong, not on my own but I can do allthings through Christ who strengthens me! I watched my children and their behaviors (age 14 & age 6).their emotions and the things that affected them in the moments.. I know what I need to do but don’t know how.. I feel so tired. I told him last week the kids and I were moving, he said we could stay here and he would leave but he wants to have his garage and use it when he wants, then he proceeded to tell me he was thinking about getting a camper and moving to a town 8 miles away and fixing up one of his old house. The trailor next door the furnace has quit and the water is frozen so I m waiting on part to come in. But in the waiting my husband has been “I love you” I can fix supper, come lay with me he hollers out from our sons room (we have not slept together in 3 months) but it makes me nervous and think yes I give in and be sucked back into emotions of the words of emotion and “love” but how long before my feet are bleeding from eggshells again. I know I cannot change him, the only person I can change is my self through the help of Jesus. I am just so confused and scared.. I want to take the leap of faith and get out now but I am trying to do the most rational thing without having feelings of anger. I have prayed Jesus over and over please release this anger from me I do not want to be over come with bitterness, anger, or rage! I have been that road and it kills you and everyone around you! I am not perfect, I have argued, and fought, probably even used my own manipulation tactics.. I do not want to be like that.. I want to be healthy and happy, and most of all for my children to be healthy and happy..I could write a book but surely I have written enough for some helpful insight.. I actually am very blessed to have found Leslies videos on youtube, which has lead me here.. Thank you for reading my post and in advance for any insight.. <3
Sometimes our anger can propel us into a safer place. As long as we do not sin in our anger, anger can be useful and even necessary. Trust your instincts. I have read so much about abusive and manipulating people (men) and you are on a roller-coaster with your husband. He knows exactly what he is doing to control you. But when he sees that you may be moving independently and thinking for yourself, he puts on the “sweetness” and then your heart responds because it wants so much to feel valued and loved. My abusive husband doesn’t know how to love me as Christ loves the church. I would venture to guess that you husband doesn’t know what a sacrificial love is all about. If he is willing to go live somewhere else for a while, encourage that! You need peace from his manipulation and his efforts to control you. I have found in my separation time (now 9 months) that I have strengthened and also I have weaned myself from depending upon my husband’s favor or attention. Yes, I’ve been sad and I’ve prayed and wept greatly! But I am prepared to end this marriage since he has filed for divorce. It hurts to take each step away from a marriage and all of the hopes you may have had for that marriage, but the steps are necessary for you to gain your sanity and self-respect. As the abuse kept getting worse over times and I allowed him to come back without repenting or apologizing, I was beginning to lose respect for myself. I encourage you to examine your heart and see if that is happening within you. If it is, you need to take the steps necessary to get some space for your sanity and to gain some peace and respect. God bless you! It’s a long hard journey and we women are not prone to be harsh and unloving, so we tend to forgive easily and fall back into old and unhealthy patterns just so we can feel valued maybe for a few days. It’s not worth what it cost to live like that. Take care and I hope you will find more answers for your life!
Angel, you must have had a very difficult childhood. Do not fault yourself for not knowing better about relationships if no one taught you. BUT now that God is revealing to you, as he did with the Samaritan woman at the well, that you need and deserve real Love – Gods love first – to know your value, it will be easier to decide that you will not accept less than you deserve.
And your children deserve too.
When I read your story, I remember my bleeding feet from the eggshells. Also, the reprocussions of the roller coaster. Unlike you, I was encouraged to work. If I didn’t bring in money there wouldn’t be money for him to gamble or buy toys. I was however not allowed to have outside interests. Friends, church, school all went away very quickly. I have been accused of having sex with two different bosses over the years, amongst others he has named and there is another guy. It was an obsession with him. I am now divorced.
Perhaps you did jump into relationships without your eyes wide open, but that does not excuse their behavior and the first step in your healing is realizing that you need to change. Christ is there to help you and he will when he keep in the word and in prayer.
By your husband offering to leave but not really going, he keeps his foot in the door for the next honeymoon phase. Honeymoon phases don’t last. A phase is just that, it lasts a little while then it is back to normal and if your normal is like mine was, normal was not good.
Him coming to use the garage anytime he wants will give you no comfort. He can show up at anytime. The eggshells will still be there. The only thing that will last is both of you having complete trust in Christ and your husband deciding that he wants to be different and get the counseling that he needs. You can’t do it alone. One person cannot make a marriage.
I wish I knew how to help you. The decisions have to be yours and God’s. Keep asking him for wisdom and I will ask on your behalf
Again, WOW! Way to answer that question Leslie! Not that you need a cheerleading section, but I just had to say something!
Grace, I am sure we will all meet.
My almost 23 year marriage ended last summer after I discovered he was having an affair. I moved out Sept. 11, 2012 and the divorce was final last summer. Money problems were a huge issue most of the years, as was his relationship with his father–they are very dysfunctionally intertwined.
I am still waiting for him to get his loans refinanced and my name off of them, and also get the house refinanced. I continue to get the same excuses I have for many years, about not getting this done–it’s always someone else’s fault, the banker isn’t getting things done, his dad “promised” to do something to help but hasn’t, he’s “working on it”, etc., etc., etc. The resolution of the problems is always “6 months from now.” I’ve come to realize that he does not want to change, he prefers the status quo. He would rather live in the dysfunction than go through the pain and then being free from the huge debt that weighs on him (and used to weigh on me). He is only “wishing” that it would be changed.
I am so very, very thankful that I am OUT OF THE SITUATION (yes I’m still on the loans but my lawyer has assured me that due to circumstances too lengthy to go into here I won’t be held liable. If the house goes into foreclosure, so be it.). I have PEACE in knowing what my bills are and budgeting my income (he refused to budget or plan ahead in any way). I have PEACE in knowing that bill-collectors aren’t going to call, that I’m not going to open overdue notices, that someone won’t come to the door to repossess something.
I continue to get evidence of his irresponsibility; the dentist told me he is not paying the kids’ bills and they’re in collections; thankfully they said they’ll continue to keep the kids as patients and if absolutely necessary I will pay the bills. The vet bill (which is minimal) is in collections; he says he didn’t get the bills (evidence of his disorganization). Somehow the morgtgage company got my address and I continue to get overdue notices. And it continues. But again, I thank God for His peace. Past behavior predicts future behavior…and I think he’s going to continue with these foolish, foolish behaviors forever. I’m just so thankful I’m out of the situation.