The Other Kind Of Hypocrisy [Guest Post]

Morning friends,

Wow, we’ve had quite a response to my response to Pastor Mike Lawyer’s blog. My heart breaks to hear all of your stories and ways that you have been poorly counseled. But I am also grateful how you so lovingly help one another in this blog.

I want to thank you again for your support of my ministry both to women and to leaders in the church. I would have never chosen this role for myself but God did and I’m grateful that my voice is starting to be heard more and more among leaders in the church. Continue to pray for eyes to be opened and that there would be a zero tolerance of any kind of oppression and abuse in marriage or anywhere. Also please pray for Pastor Lawyer. He and I continue to dialogue about this whole area so please pray for him and others like him that they might truly see God’s heart for those trapped in abusive marriages.

For this week's blog post, I’ve invited Rebecca Davis to share some of her thoughts regarding Pastor Lawyer’s blog advice and the different contributors who keep that system going.

I first heard of Rebecca through my friend and colleague, Chris Moles, and had the privilege of meeting her recently when I was speaking in South Carolina. Rebecca is a writer and editor who was introduced to domestic abuse in the church in 2006, through the life experiences of a new friend. This introduction was followed by an intensive three years of “boot camp” as she walked with her friend through the counseling process. Rebecca has collaborated with Dale Ingraham on Tear Down this Wall of Silence: Dealing with Sexual Abuse In Our Churches and with Jeff Crippen on Unholy Charade: Unmasking the Domestic Abuser in the Church, as well as writing her own book to help with spiritual abuse, Untwisting Scriptures: that were used to tie you up, gag you, and tangle your mind.

You can connect with Rebecca at her blog,


The Other Kind Of Hypocrisy
Rebecca Davis

I've been urged to watch 13 Reasons Why to see the 13 reasons [why] a friend hates it so much. (Though I’ve read and heard enough about it to understand it, so far I’ve been able to get through only the first episode). The bullying she personally experienced at her Christian school, she said, was pretty much everything that happened in this Netflix series, and more.

One of the most important things she described to me about her school was the dynamic of bullying. Some students there were genuinely nice people, but they lived in such an environment of fear that whenever the main bullies were around, they remained silent or even participated in the bullying if necessary, so they wouldn’t become a target. (You may wonder why no one tried to alert teachers or administrators about this massive problem, but someone did and it wasn’t believed, but that’s beyond the scope of this blog post).

So while I was pondering the dynamics of a bullying school environment that went stratospherically beyond anything I had been familiar with in my own high school days of mild bullying, we heard a sermon on Galatians 2.

“Well, what do you know,” says I to myself, “there it is again!”

The story goes that the apostle Peter and the other Jewish Christians were actually welcoming the Gentile Christians and even eating with them (a truly big deal in those days) . . . until the bullies came.

The bullies weren’t swaggering studs or prima donna divas; they were the very righteous looking rule-followers described by the apostle Paul as “those of the circumcision.” In other words, the ones who said, “Look here, fella, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll become a Jew before you become a Christian. That’s the only way to God.”

When the bullies came, they filled the entire environment with fear.

Even the apostle Peter was afraid of them. I’ve pondered how that could happen when he had the boldness in Acts 2 to preach the way he did, but I guess it just goes to show that intimidation can happen even to strong believers.

And when it happened to Peter . . . it happened to all of them. All of the Christian Jews who had been happily eating and interacting with the Gentile Christians all drew back and separated themselves again as if the Gentile believers were the pariahs they had been considered to be before Christ came. Even Barnabas, the one who had so boldly stood up for Paul in Acts 9.

The apostle Paul is the one telling this story. He came into this environment of fear and laid Peter out straight in no uncertain terms because the very essence of the gospel hung on the truth of who Christ welcomed into His Kingdom and at what level (An excellent study for another day).

But how did Paul refer to what Peter and the others were doing?

Two-facedness. Dissimulation. Hypocrisy.

This was a very important point to me, as I’ve become aware in recent years of the wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing kind of hypocrisy. This kind of hypocrisy is fundamentally different.

That one embodies the two-facedness of one who is wicked in private and Mr. Nice/Guy/Christian (or Dr. Super/Christian or any of several other holy permutations) in public.

This one embodies the two-facedness of one who is kind in private but who participates in the bullying—or at the least draws back from support for those being bullied—in public.

Then the other day I was reminded of a third kind of hypocrisy—or maybe better, a kind of “pretending.” And I believe this completes the circle by which an entire system of hypocrisy remains in place in many of our churches.

I had considered before the fact that while the abuser lives a double life, in most churches his victim also has to live a double life. Then I found this double life very aptly described in this blog post, in the advice given to the wife of an emotionally abusive man who according to the description is “rude, surly, and angry all the time,” “spends a lot of time in the basement [emphasis in original],” and sometimes “curses, yells, calls us all kinds of names, and throws things.” The advice given takes up the whole blog post, and I've already written an alternative reply, but I'd like to zero in again on this one paragraph:

What does respectful and pure behavior look like? Peter [in I Peter 3] gives us the first clue. It means becoming your husband’s greatest cheerleader. Praise him when he does anything well. Notice and comment on it when he is respectable in anything. Talk him up to the kids, friends, neighbors. Cook good meals, things he likes. Do all your wifely duties with joy and excitement. Be transformed into who you would be if he were the greatest husband on the planet. Remember, that you are doing this for Jesus Christ, the one who died for you, not for your husband (as if he were your lord). You have risen above your situation and you are serving [your husband] because you are serving God.

If a woman in this situation were to try to follow this counsel, she would be living a sham life, yes. But I believe it’s more complicated than that. There’s fear involved, and perhaps shame, but I don’t think they're the only ingredients.

I believe a primary motivation behind this kind of pretending is the desire to do the right thing.

It is very often the case that a Christian wife plays a pretender in an abusive marriage—pretending her husband is wonderful when in reality he’s abusive—because she has been told to do so by people she respects. She has been told this is what will be honoring to her husband. She has been told this is what will change her husband to be the kind and good husband she thought she married. She has been told this is what the Word of God teaches.

The fact is, though, that this is not true. This kind of “hypocrisy” is not honoring to her husband (living a lie is never honoring to anyone). This isn’t what the Word of God teaches. She has been given destructive counsel, and as a consequence is made far more vulnerable to the destructive attitudes and actions of the destroyer.

In Joy Starts Here, authors Jim Wilder, describe a church environment that more or less parallels what I’m talking about. For the most obvious hypocrite, they give the obvious name Predator. For the ones who have remained silent because of fear, they give the name Possum.

I’ll add that for the ones who are preyed upon, acting as if all is well because they've been told to and because they genuinely hope it will help their marriage, I'd give the name Pretender.

There’s a fourth group the Joy Starts Here authors refer to, though. It’s the ones who refuse to play this deadly game, the ones who will speak truth, for themselves, for their children, and for others. They give that group the name Protectors.

In my friend’s Christian school, there wasn’t one of those. In many churches, there isn’t one.

In the story of Peter in Galatians 2, the Protector was the apostle Paul. Can you imagine what those Gentile Christians must have felt to hear him speak?

In reference to the bad advice for young wives in Rising Above: Wives blog post, the Protector was every person who spoke up in social media in defense of that young woman, whether she was a real person or only representative of many in our churches who has been given such destructive counsel.

There is a hypocritical dynamic permeating many churches and parachurch organizations.

But I'll add, it's a dynamic that newcomers are often unable to readily perceive. In fact, I believe there’s a fifth group that I can’t give a “P” name to—the Unaware, who haven't discerned this destructive power dynamic going on in the churches and parachurch organizations. If and when they’re made aware of it, though (as I talked about in this blog post), they must make a decision.

Will they roll over and play dead?

Or will they rise up?

By the grace of God, by the Spirit of God, “Possums” can rise up to become Protectors. That was the case with Peter and Barnabas—they humbly learned their lesson from Paul and thoroughly changed to fearlessly embrace their Gentile brothers and sisters.

That can become the case too, more and more, in our churches.

I pray that many who have played the happy pretender because they believed it was the right thing to do will understand that God is honored by honesty. Not vindictiveness. Not maliciousness. But honesty. – Click To Tweet

I pray that many who have played the blind and deaf hypocrite because they were uncaring or afraid or intimidated will become discontent with the half-life of worshipping God while ignoring their neighbor next to them who is dying. I pray they will become willing to expel the root of bitterness from their midst and stand up to protect those among them who are being oppressed.

Am I asking for too much? Ah, but that God we’re raising our hands to in worship is a great and mighty God. He can do great things. Let’s pray that He’ll do them here, now.

In our churches. In our Christian schools. In our Christian colleges. In our Christian seminaries. In our Christian coalitions. In our Christian ministry organizations. Let’s pray that He’ll wake up Possums to become Protectors who will be willing to stand for the Oppressed against the Predators.

Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.

And that will be a beautiful thing.

Friend, what helped you the most to transition from Pretender to Brave Heart, – speaking the truth in love about what’s happening in your marriage? And if you haven’t transitioned yet, what keeps you stuck?


  1. […] This post is being simultaneously published at the website of Leslie Vernick. […]

  2. Jill on May 31, 2017 at 8:48 am

    This is an absolutely fantastic post. Thank you, Rebecca! It is as if I was looking through binoculars and the dial had been turned so that suddenly a blurred scene comes into focus and I can see things I couldn’t see before.

    I feel it’s really important to pray as Leslie asked, for eyes to be opened and for zero tolerance of any kind of oppression and abuse in the church.

    Leslie, you might not have chosen this role, but God is surely using you in it. Thank you so much. Let’s all keep praying for strength, courage and wisdom for Leslie.

    • Rebecca Davis on May 31, 2017 at 11:19 am

      Thank you, Jill. I’ve had that same experience you describe here about fuzzy scenes coming clear, and I’m always thankful for the people who help in that way. I’m also thankful for Leslie’s clear, strong voice.

  3. Jill on May 31, 2017 at 8:56 am

    As to what helped me to transition from Pretender to Brave Heart: I was stuck in a fog of confusion and denial. What brought me out of it was getting more and more fed up, then reading Leslie’s book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, after I heard her on Focus on the Family, and then reading Lundy Bancroft’s book, Why Does He Do That? because Leslie mentioned it in her book. Thank you, Leslie. You are a blessing.

    • Pam on May 31, 2017 at 7:27 pm

      Ditto here! (only I read Lundy’s book first, then Leslie’s) The clarity was astounding after having read those two books!

      • Elizabeth homay on June 8, 2017 at 10:24 pm

        Pam and Jill..yes. I so much wish I would have had this teaching years ago and knew then what I know now. My life would be so different. I now know truth.

  4. Theresa on May 31, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Thanks for giving such clear definitions. UNDERSTANDING THE PROBLEM GIVES ME POWER TO CHANGE WHAT I CAN & MUST CHANGE. Two days ago I heard another definition regarding my marital despair that effectively sky-rocketed my awareness from ever returning to my Pretender orbital status. Dr. Doug Weiss of Heart to Heart Counseling spoke about Intimacy Anorexia, when interviewed by Time for Hope’s, Dr. Freda Crews. The shortened version can be heard here>> but the 2 YouTube videos where I FIRST HEARD WHY MY MARITAL LONELINESS IS NOT MY FAULT can be heard here (my patience with Dr. Freda Crews was severely challenged) >> 1) 2) and PRETEND NO MORE >> Food anorexics think they are fat, WHEN EVERYONE SEES THEY ARE SKIN AND BONES. Intimacy anorexics think they have great marriages, WHEN EVERYONE ELSE THINKS SO TOO, EXCEPT THE ONES WHO SEE BEHIND THEIR CLOSED DOORS.

  5. T.L. on May 31, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Excellent post, Rebecca! What turned me from Pretender to Brave Heart after more than 30 years of marriage was unbearable cognitive dissonance that pushed me to get alone with God. I stayed a week in a silent retreat, silently weeping, pouring out my heart, and asking my questions…and my Father met me there: He comforted me and He answered. He reminded me of who He was: a kind and loving Father, full of compassion and grace. He reminded me that He stands with the oppressed, and against all oppressors. He showed me my son: my passivity and fear. He lifted me up out of the mire, He lifted my chin and strengthened my resolve. That was 3 years ago. I came back a changed woman on the warpath against the deceit in my home. I began to make phone calls to those who had the potential to help. My friends, his friends, leaders. In my (very rare–I know) case; they listened and believed me. When I called men, I reminded them that “I know he is your brother. But I am your sister, and I need your help.” I am so grateful these brothers answered that call.

    My husband is (was–my honesty and action and his lack of repentance cost him his position) a pastor, and one who would agree still with Mike Lawyer, I am sad to say. I’m standing strong in boundaries and requiring interventions. It doesn’t look hopeful, and I am at peace with that. Following my Fearless Leader into battle was the best choice I’ve made in a long time. My obedience is being used by my Lord, and in that I greatly rejoice!

    Leslie has been the biggest encouragement I have had. I’m so grateful for her obedience!

    • T.L. on May 31, 2017 at 9:34 am

      *sin (not son!) 🙂

      • Theresa L on June 4, 2017 at 2:55 pm

        🙃 ha, ha! 😉 I thought you meant that God had showed you the effects of what your husband’s abuse had on your son. My husband’s abuse (now ex) HAS IMPACTED my eldest son’s life in various ways. My other sons are twins who have debilitating severe autism, but they still feel their dad’s maltreatment of me. I don’t provoke his disrespect. My eldest son lost his belief in God. He says he is bisexual, never having any intimate relationship though. He doesn’t trust relationships because he’s only known his parents’ miserable relationship. even though I would do my best to spray GLADE over it>> it still stinks to highest heaven. NO MATTER how I pray, who I seek help from to change MY SINFUL part of the equation>> it’s only fodder for my ex to laugh at me about. I’m writing him off as terminally evil minded and will have as little contact with him as possible. EVEN GOD HAS A LIMIT TO DISOBEDIENT HARD HEARTED CHRISTIANS, if in actuality
        they EVER KNEW THE TRUE GOD>> Romans 1:28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God or consider Him worth knowing [as their Creator], God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do things which are improper and repulsive, 29 until they were filled (permeated, saturated) with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malice and mean-spiritedness.

        • GL on June 21, 2017 at 5:42 am

          Thank you for exposing sin. I’m on my way out of a distructive marriage with hostile responses . My adult children’s pain keeps me focused. My sin was allowing it for so long, believing I could change him. Going to pastors girlfriends gave me hope for change at first. Now me and pastor/ elders see truth in husbands unrepentive rebellious heart. As I started by physical separation he did not want. I was told time tells truth. I learned when he repented with tears of appology to be thankful but watch and wait. Time told truth as he slowly turned his repentance to blame me and accuse me of his sins. The impact of divorce hasn’t been completely felt but so far the peace I have from Jesus now will be there. Best book on pain and suffering Tim Keller Walking through pain and suffering .

    • Jill on May 31, 2017 at 9:52 am

      Good for you, TL.

    • Nancy on May 31, 2017 at 10:09 am

      Your Trust in God is inspiring, T.L. 🌷

      • T.L. on May 31, 2017 at 2:38 pm

        Thank you, Nancy.

    • Rebecca Davis on May 31, 2017 at 11:22 am

      What a story, TL! I’m glad to hear you were believed–that seems to be quite rare in many churches, sadly.

      Your words remind me of Psalm 40, “I waited and waited for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth—Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.”

      • T.L. on May 31, 2017 at 2:37 pm

        Yes, Rebecca…I feel especially supported and blessed and therefore want to support other women stuck in these lies. I also hope to help speak into the church on this topic: because we have been in ministry, I personally know a number of pastors who I am hoping to enlighten on domestic abuse in the church; when God’s timing is right.

        Wonderful Psalm! Thank you!

  6. Masego on May 31, 2017 at 9:48 am

    I am still trapped, I tell myself I am doing it to provide stability to my children. I am a product of divorced parents myself and have been trying to avoid it at all cost telling myself that I wanted to break the curse of divorce. As a result I have over-compromised and over-compromised myself so much that I no longer no who I am. I am completely out of touch with myself and so confused.

    • Nancy on May 31, 2017 at 2:23 pm

      Hi Masego,

      Seeing your marriage for what it is does not automatically mean that divorce will be the final outcome. As you develop your CORE strength you will become stronger and clearer. That means going to war FOR your husband against the sin he is ensnared by.

      But the first steps are to guard your heart, make sure you and your children are safe, then once you begin healing and continue Trusting in the Lord, He will make clear what your next steps are to be.

      Separation with the intention to heal and then fight FOR your husband ( and a NEW marriage) is the opposite of separation with the intention to divorce.

      None of us can know the outcome. That’s God’s territory.

      Blessings ❤️

    • T.L. on May 31, 2017 at 2:39 pm

      Thank you, Nancy. So is yours!

    • T.L. on May 31, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      Oh Masego. Those inner vows can really trap us. Please consider letting go of what you think is best, and let your loving heavenly Father lead you to green pastures and still waters where you will find rest for your soul. You need to “come away” with the lover of your soul for awhile, and listen to his heart–it beats for you. He loves you intensely, fiercely, and wants you safe, sane, and whole. Can you get away from your husband for awhile so you can begin to build your own strength and identity?

    • Rebecca Davis on May 31, 2017 at 4:42 pm

      Masego, I second what these women have said. You may want to consider the possibility of backing away from “no divorce” and reconsider what it was that made “divorce” hang like a dark shadow over your own childhood, whether it was two parents who didn’t take their vows seriously (you certainly have) or one parent who violated those vows. Remember that in cases of adultery, abandonment, and abuse, the marriage covenant is broken before any divorce takes place. That doesn’t mean you have to divorce, but it also does mean you don’t need to hold marriage on such a high pedestal it can never come down. In a destructive marriage, your own health and safety, and that of your children, are more important.

      • GL on June 21, 2017 at 6:01 am

        Rebecca so well said. Adultry isn’t the only rule for broken marriages , abandonment abuse without repentance is Also biblical grounds. I idolized marriage and hoped to be a testimony to my kids and unbelievers. Decieving myself that I could manage his behavior and effects on my children. Masefield Keep learning from the Lord and Leslie’s teachings. Praying for Gids plan for you and family to become clear.

  7. Laura Di on May 31, 2017 at 10:07 am

    What helped me the most to transition from “Pretender” to “Brave Heart” came from shedding fear, and fully trusting God to take my hands and cleanse my mind! “Speaking the truth in love about what’s happening in my marriage” was being ordered in God’s grace as I was placed in connection with “PROTECTORS” by praying and asking God for that HELP! It was a long arduous process of finding trusted outlets to finally see healing and growth away from domestic abuse. Learning from what was discovered was the impetus for using “Core” strength for awakening from being a “Possum”. Sadly because so many “Pretenders’” lurk around for so many confusing reasons I did not connect to transitioning quickly. It was in retrospect a long- suffering process of trials that were quite mysteriously ( God-incidences ) lead that got me unstuck. It appeared I would rather coincidentally ( God-incidences ) fall into a placement with media material that guided me to support groups, that snowballed to more helpful outlets for outreach to counselors, and so on and so forth. Along this God orchestrated process what was produced was a network of allies, namely trusted individuals, “Protectors” who validated me from the false incriminations of the “Predators” that kept me stuck in emotional sickness. This process I admit was long and especially confusing at times. I was confronted with some difficulties to hurdle because many people ( unhealthy girlfriends, etc….meaning people unrecovered from their own abusive circumstances ) ignorantly gave me unhelpful advice because they themselves were, “Possums”! Once I escaped the confusion with many a “Protectors” guidance I was able to see clear boundaries that I needed to implement into my life as a safeguard. One of the most jarring and healing lessons was when I was with my pastoral counselor and as I cried I stated, “I am so confused”. She quickly responded , “ Confusion is not of God” and I was struck with God’s light as she quoted His word King James, 1 Corinthians 14:33; “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints”. And from the Aramaic Bible in Plain English,”Because God is not chaotic, but peaceful, as in all the assemblies of The Holy Ones” I know this brought clarification to my mind as it summed up so much of my issue by speaking peace. God had my back, still does as I share as a “Protector” and claim with conviction. ” He’ll hold up anyone who calls His name and believes to receive His LOVE. Freedom from abuse is the reward for letting go of confusion. “Try it…..I think you’ll like it.”

    God Bless you Leslie! And I thank God He gave you and others this calling! You are a beloved “Protector” and also a saint in my eyes! I only wish I’d have found you this ministry sooner. But I am grateful to accept God’s timing and not my own. And I along with your many followers can because of you pass this resource on in action as a fellowship of “Protectors” God Bless you all!

  8. Robin on May 31, 2017 at 10:53 am

    My husband isn’t verbally or physically abusive, but he is emotionally absent and apathetic. I’ve begged him for 27 years to talk to me on a deeper level, connect more with me and our five kids, be the spiritual leader, initiate family devotions, and basically do all the things that a loving, Christian father and husband should be doing. He has accused me of wanting a fairy tale life, expecting too much from him, and getting my ideas of marriage and parenting from books and TV shows. I have been responsible for all the emotional needs of our children, and all five of them come to me for everything unless it pertains to video games or cars that the older kids are driving. They have learned that he doesn’t give them a definite answer right away, or he gets angry, or acts irritated when approached. When I told my teenage son to talk to his dad about the issues he was having with him not listening to him, he said no, because it wouldn’t help anyway. We’ve been to two counseling sessions together a few months ago and his reaction was to say that he can’t be perfect overnight, and his only effort has been to ask me about my day, and to help around the house a little more. I am trying to get an appointment with a Christian Asperger’s marriage counselor to see if she thinks that is what is causing our problems and to hopefully get help. I have talked about my marriage and cried a lot in my tight knit ladies Bible study group and just last week the leader told me to lower my expectations on the things my husband isn’t doing, and to focus on the positive things. He IS a good provider (although he’s handled our finances poorly and we are in major debt) and he has been very faithful. He is physically affectionate to me, (not the kids), but that is hard for me to accept without the emotional connection. I feel like I am stuck in an in between spot with him because he’s not abusive, and he’s a good man, but he’s just not living up to what the Bible says a husband and father should be. I feel lonely in my marriage, like he’s just a roommate and a pal. Do I take the advice of my Bible study leader and focus on the positive and move on? Or do I continue to push for him to be the father and husband she should be? I feel like I’ve been pushing and pushing for three years now since things got worse than normal, and there has been some improvement, but not much. I’ve made it very clear what I need and what I expect and the counselor made it very clear what the Bible says about his role in our home and he continues to ignore most of it. I have had two Christian counselors tell me I have grounds for divorce, but that would devastate our kids and our extended family. But if I take the advice of my Bible study leader, I feel like I am giving up my needs and the hope that he will ever be the father he needs to be to our kids. But I also wonder if he is even capable of being that person if he actually does have Asperger’s. Any advice? Our children are ages 12, up to age 23, all still living at home. I am tired of spending all my emotional energy thinking about this and trying to change things for our family. But how do I know if it is bad enough to threaten separation? People would truly thing I was crazy because our family looks so perfect from the outside. That is why I feel stuck.

    • Nancy on May 31, 2017 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Robin,

      Your concerns are so valid. Have you read Leslie’s book ( the emotionally destructive marriage?). I think that would clarify a lot. He seems actively emotionally avoidant, from your description, and that can be crazy making.

      We have a tendency to want an immediate answer to our future. Do you divorce ( like some have told you), or suck it up ( like your Bible study leader told you to)? There are many steps in getting to whatever outcome the Lord has in mind for you. Develop CORE strength ( see L’s 7 minute video on YouTube) so that you can be well ( wether you stay or go). Read these blogs ( your Bible study leader does not understand the oppression you are under- in an emotionally destructive marriage). Ask God to guide your steps and lean into Him. He wants SO much more for you than this shallow marriage.

      In reading her book, Leslie can take you step by step in changing how you approach this problem. Reading it will help you change your focus to begin changing the things you can control ( setting boundaries for a start), instead of continuing in the same old patterns.

      Good luck Robin! Stick close here. Many of us completely understand you. There doesn’t have to be overt abuse in order for a marriage to be destructive. Your heart knows something is wrong. Hang in there!

      • T.L. on May 31, 2017 at 2:53 pm

        Hi Robin,

        I agree with Nancy. Your heart knows that your husband is not engaging in a way that honors the Lord–he is not loving and cherishing you. I hope you follow the advice Nancy gave you: Leslie’s book is excellent; helping you through all the steps you need to take to get healthier and learn to have good boundaries. Boundaries have much more potential to “wake your husband up” than words and crying and threats. about reading, etc. Also, listen to Patrick Doyle videos on Youtube. He’s got a ton and I’m sure some would apply to your situation. 🙏

        • T.L. on May 31, 2017 at 3:50 pm

          Correction: *”leaving” not “reading”

        • Robin on June 6, 2017 at 8:26 am

          Thank you Nancy and T.L. I have her book on relationships that my first counselor recommended, but I still need to get her book on marriage. I will order that today. We are seeing a new, Christian counselor on the 12th. I’m thankful that he is willing to go with me and that is giving me hope right now. He knows I suspect Asperger’s, but his attitude is that he can’t do anything about it. I am praying that this counselor who deals with Asperger marriages will give us the tools we need to move forward in a positive way with our marriage, and that she can help me forgive him for all the years of hurt he’s caused. I will also look up those videos. Leslie’s blog, Facebook videos, and her webinar have been very helpful to me and I’m grateful for her ministry. I wish I had gotten in on the CORE program, but maybe next time!

    • caroline on May 31, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      Hi Robin!
      I do think your bible study leader is off the mark, but then employing little tricks to make an empty marriage more tolerable is very common advice.

      Truthfully, all will disappoint. Its the nature of a fallen world. But this does NOT mean we shouldn’t keep asking for what ought to be from others and from ourselves.

      I lowered my expectations to ZERO but continued to ask for EVERYTHING from husband. We can always use God’s word as the standard, and what He asks for is even more extreme: He asks for death! The daily death of self and the putting on of Christ.

      My husband was not physically abusive, but he was caught in a sexual addiction which entails an all encompassing tangle of both neglect and abusiveness. I fully expected him to leave in the face of my requests, but miraculously he did not. He repented and so we continue forward together.

      I do think a Christian marriage should be hopeful and not just tolerable.

      Prayers my sister.

      • Robin on June 6, 2017 at 8:31 am

        Thank you for your prayers Caroline! I’m very sorry for what you’ve been through with your husband. I have been very close to asking mine to leave in the past when things were at their worst. Your story gives me hope!

    • Aly on June 1, 2017 at 8:43 am

      Dear Robin,

      I’m very sorry for what you have been enduring and for the length of time of a lonely marriage. I get it and the pain that comes with it!

      I agree with what Nancy, T.L, and Caroline posted back to you.
      Our journeys have very similar places to them. My h has been getting treatment for a long time for ‘avoidance addiction’ and there was a time when I read every book possible on Aspergers! No he doesn’t have it~ but many of the symptoms can look very similar.
      My husband was raised in an avoidant detached home with little affection and major identity wounds. He learned to be self sufficient at age 6, practically! He learned to lean in or rely of others was ‘unsafe’ at all costs.
      He built a protection around himself (false self)
      Through intensive counseling and strong marital boundaries from myself …false self gets dismantled. (This was our case)

      I so disagree with the advice of your bible study leader, because what your experiencing in your marriage will get worse if not treated and the longer the dynamic continues. I was told the same things over and over by my own family and older women I relied on for guidance.
      I was also told I expected too much in marriage and that I had the problem by valuing marriage, this advice messed with me for a long time.
      I was also told in my loniest of times that I didn’t pray hard enough, and that my relationship with God wasn’t good. Talked about heaping guilt… but then again looking back all this advice was given from Pretenders and from others that have little understanding of intimacy in the first place.

      I will say that the best course ‘for us’ was intensive counseling so that you can identify what is your part or ultimate pattern with your h. And what are the core issues that your h might not be able to identify himself… and he might be very comfortable with the level of connection that you have as long as he is setting the expectations. His emotional IQ might be very low but that doesn’t mean he can’t learn or develop new areas of responding in a marriage and in parenting.

      My husband has made it through a lot of therapy, and yes it took a lot of boundaries and investment on my part too, but he can’t imagine going back to such an isolated place where he could cope but not experience the marriage that God would both call us to.

      He is now so thankful for my courage to stand up to his ill vows about himself, his comforts etc. God has blessed us with showing us how to repair and rebuild a healthy marriage. There were costs but we wouldn’t trade our choices today.
      Lean into God and His truths about marriage! Build your support team too;)
      Hugs and prayers for your journey ~ and Strength!

      • Robin on June 6, 2017 at 8:45 am


        This is very possible with my husband. When I first told him I thought I knew what was causing his lack of emotion, he said “My dad?” His dad passed away 23 years ago, and was a wonderful, Godly man who was very outgoing, loved people, and was generous and loving. Very opposite of my husband. But he raised him to hide his emotions. My husband is more like his mom. She’s quiet, has no friends, and she isn’t very emotional. My kids aren’t close to her at all. I can see how he probably didn’t have the nurturing, caring mom growing up. And she has told the story many times of how she denied being pregnant with him because he and his sister were so close in age. And she has another story about how she pushed him away after his dad took him to get a buzz haircut. I can’t imagine how it must make him feel to hear those stories over and over. He never talks about his feelings so I never know how he’s feeling. I read about avoidance addiction and he does have some of the symptoms, but I don’t feel like he is insecure. He thinks he’s pretty wonderful. 🙂 I could be reading him wrong though. Like I said, he doesn’t share his feelings so I have no idea what he’s really feeling. When I try to talk to him about feelings, I’m faced with silence and it’s hard to even drag a few words out of him. Several times I have gotten “I just don’t know what to say” when we are discussing serious issues about his behavior. We are seeing a new counselor on the 12th that deals with Asperger marriages so I will mention avoidance addiction to her and see what she says. I think I will also let him read about it and see what he thinks. I have never seen that in my three years of research. I kept coming up with Asperger’s and covert narcissism, so thank you for sharing that with me. Thank you for sharing your story and for your prayers! I love reading the stories here that give me hope when I feel like I have none.

        • Aly on June 6, 2017 at 10:22 am

          Dear Robin,

          I will pray for your upcoming counseling and hope that it will be the beginning of a journey with her/him as an aspect for your healing.

          I SO can read your posts and relate to very similar things.
          Reading about your husband’s history says A Lot!!
          My goodness when a child (speaking of you h here) doesn’t have comfort and security in those primitive years and beyond, emotionally they do get fractured. This is survival for them.
          The non emotional one dimensional way of functioning per see.

          This is isn’t to discount what it’s like to be married to such an individual who lacks any empathy for another, it heart breaking and when I was going through the worst of it, it was being abandoned.
          There are many of us sisters here who are able to hear your pain and want to know how best we can come beside you.

          You mentioned that you could be reading your husband wrong about how he feels about himself security-wise, I would agree that this is the case because insecurity is such a core cause of these deep wounds. Even if they put on a good show. Those parental (narcissistic-wounds) are deep, and a good professional can help in these areas greatly.

          For me and our journey it was complicated because my husband was not only raised without emotional content, narc wounded as a child and no-comfort, no affection etc but he is also highly intelligent, which can kinda throw things in vast directions.

          My prayer for your heart and healing is that continue to seek the Truth of what your navigating through, get lots of support and continue your education on these dynamics.

          When you said you ask your husband what he’s feeling and he doesn’t have an answer for you, I believe him. Those feelings are so cut off and were not formed in an unsafe environment. He wouldn’t have a clue.
          His answers and how you describe him continue to remind me of avoidant behavior and an avoidant injury overall. (Just my thoughts)
          Have you read How We Love?
          ~That’s probably one of my favorite resources because it does address the past and how the past repeats in the future in relationships.
          They also have one for How We love our Kids, which we use often to reinforce how to be a safe place and help our own kids develop what they are feeling. (It’s part of emotionally growing up)
          There’s been a ‘feelings word’ list posted in our kitchen for many years now. It helps me as a mom understand my children better and helps them learn how to feel and process.
          And also ‘myself’ and my husband!
          They offer intensives and weekends.

          Here’s what I have found to seem to be very helpful for certain dynamics ~

          Long Term consistent Counseling is *essential* (individually and sometimes joint) ..,
          just want to mention that sometimes it’s our natural tendency to think one thing (attending counseling) solves a problem or situation..
          but it’s more the case that growing in these areas are ‘comprehensive’ for their to be significant patterns to change overall.

          And please, I hope I’m not coming across earlier vilifying his parents, but it does take a lot to rewire those thinking and coping skills within your husband. He isn’t free, but he also isn’t aware he’s a prisoner.

          Robin, your not alone and many similar sisters with similar experiences want to comfort you in your journey💜

          Stay sane, stay safe
          Hugs, Aly

          • Nancy on June 6, 2017 at 3:25 pm

            Hi Robin/ Aly,

            We have the feelings word list on our fridge too! It’s a fantastic tool for us all. It just gives us ‘permission’ to feel and express those feelings in the safety of knowing that no one will try to fix us ( or that we don’t have to fix ourselves) only The Lord heals 🙂

            ( if you google ‘soul words list Milan and Kay’ the PDF should come up, it’s a free download. And like Kay suggests I keep a copy in my journal, my Bible and the one on the fridge. When the kids are having a hard time I just ask them to name three. Often it’s just end there and I’d say, ‘thanks for sharing’)

          • Robin on June 21, 2017 at 11:05 am

            The counselor we saw was wonderful and she diagnosed him (in her professional opinion) with Asperger’s Syndrome. I wasn’t sure about it until we started reading the books she recommended and he was agreeing with things in his book, and in my Asperger’s partner book, my experiences were very validated through what the book was saying. I am still going to mention avoidance addiction to our counselor when I see her alone in a couple of weeks. I asked him to tell me how his mom/dad showed love when he was growing up and he didn’t really have an answer besides providing for him and taking care of him. We are reading “The Five Love Languages” together along with separate books on Asperger’s. He will tell me things in his book that he relates to, and it’s very surprising. He’s talking about things I’ve never heard him talk about. I found that list and will print it out .Thank you Aly and Nancy. I am feeling hopeful for the first time in years. His behavior still bothers me, but at least I’m not taking it as personally as I used to, and I’m hoping with the counselor, he will be able to see where he needs to step up in our relationship. She made it very clear that our marriage will never be “neurotypical,” and that was difficult to hear, but I am still hopeful for small changes that will at least bring some peace to my heart.

          • Aly on June 21, 2017 at 12:01 pm

            Dear Robin,

            I’m glad you getting the professional support for your journey. While I agree on some level with your counselor I also think it’s important for you to see a longer journey overall especially if your husband is anywhere on the aspberger’s spectrum. It’s imp to remember there is a spectrum and many times avoidance addiction can and will look like such a difficult diagnosis. But here’s what I think is beneficial, if your already seeing progress with your h, then it shows he’s at least in an area of learning? I can’t say that will always happen and it’s imp to see what tools he will choose to use when (any stressful place) comes about?
            I don’t agree with your counselor that you won’t ever have something neurotypical, why? Because I think it’s too early to make such a statement..
            also, the book I recommended was How we Love in case you meant that one, over the one above posted.
            While the Five love languages is good I believe How we love gets to root developmental issues that are not about preference or personality but about (personal injury) and these things we can grow everyday in with the Love and example of Christ.
            There are many people out there who think they just are not emotional or touchy lovey people, and that’s just how they are! The truth is we weigh Jesus’s love and His own expressions of emotion and see a wide range there.

            My mother was deeply injured into avoidance and has continued to ‘feel safe’ there.. it’s a sad thing because He cam to set captives free and live Life to the full!
            God bless you and your husband’s journey, it’s work the hard work if you both are working at it. Please prepare for relapse and I would strongly suggest staying in counseling for a very long time, many people leave when counseling is painful seriously painful, and many leave when things begin to get better, if you have a great counselor keep her/him as part of your safety in multiple counsel as Proverbs teaches.

            Hugs and prayers for a ‘real thriving marriage of health for you both’ 💜🙏

  9. Amy on May 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

    I was a Pretender for 20 years while I was married to my emotionally and verbally abusive ex.

    After becoming a Christian 10 years into that marriage, I truly thought I’d find help in the church, but instead ran across many Predators (those that loved to throw stones because after all, they were so righteous), lots of Possums (always easier to turn a blind eye), and in the end after my ex walked out, did find one couple who acted as my Protector.

    My ex walked out in ’09 in an elaborate, well-manipulated plan I realized he had been working on for months before he left. I discovered a month after he left how he had opened up his own bank account; had our tax return which he had filed a week before he walked out rerouted for direct deposit to his new account; told many at our church that I kicked him out and was having an affair; closed out two our joint bank accounts without my consent or knowledge and took the money; and calculated a plan to move back into our house in which I couldn’t get him to leave for over a month.

    All the while his Protectors which were my Predators were encouraging him, patting him on his back, giving him advice on how to deal with an ungodly wife (me) and telling ME how God hates divorce, how I needed to just forgive because we are all sinners and reconcile because I had never been hit so therefore it couldn’t be so bad.

    And the Possums, oh my, how many of them were sitting in those pews and telling me how they couldn’t take sides because they needed to love all their brothers and sisters, and how they didn’t really know what was going on and didn’t want to…yes, I actually had that said to me! 🙁

    As to when I because a Brave Heart — I suppose it was when I decided to put God first in my life after years of putting him on the back burner because I was struggling so much to just survive. It was the day I chose to walk after of my former church when one of the men who supported my then-husband and believed his lies, actually moved when I sat down at the far end of the same pew he and his wife were sitting. I got up, walked out and took my bible to a nearby park and spent time in fellowship with my Lord. And day after day, I spent fellowship and communion with God, seeking his direction, reading the Psalms and allowing His peace to cloak me giving me the courage and strength to stand against the wrongfulness (abuse) in my life.

    God made me a Brave Heart, but it wasn’t until I silenced all those other voices and listened only to Him that I found that courage inside myself.

    • Amy on May 31, 2017 at 11:02 am

      Should read — “…walk OUT of my former church…” 😉

      • free on May 31, 2017 at 11:34 am

        Amy, you look beautiful and happy in your picture. Life must be so much better now. Thank you for sharing with our group. I could identify with many of the points you made. I am dealing with sneaky financial moves from my abuser at the moment and know the feeling of betrayal.

        • Amy on May 31, 2017 at 12:20 pm

          My ex was all about money. He let me know over and over how my not reconciling that marriage was hurting HIM financially, how selling the house we’d bought together was destroying him financially, and on and on it went. Interestingly, he’s the one sitting there with all this money in his bank account while I used my share of the house to pay off debt I accrued because of him leaving me. My youngest son recently told me that his Dad (my ex) let him know that when he dies my son will be getting a good sum of money that he can use to pay off student loans etc. I wanted to yell, “Really????”, but kept my mouth shut. And all the while he walks around looking like a homeless person and acting like he is so broke, give me a break!

          And yes, I am very happy in my life today. When my ex left in ’09 I spent another three years dealing with him and never thought things would get better or at least never anticipated how God would restore all those lost years to me. But He did and as I continue to cling to my Father He continues to bring forth beauty from the ashes.

    • Rebecca Davis on May 31, 2017 at 11:45 am

      This is a powerful story, Amy. A tragedy, yes, but I trust your story isn’t over. And false teachings such as the sin-leveling promoted in your counseling is the kind of thing I have a passion to untangle, as we look to God’s Word to see the degrees of sin He so clearly teaches there.

      • Amy on May 31, 2017 at 12:29 pm

        Yes, it was a tragedy, but I just think of it as a part of my journey in this life. And it’s through those tough times God has shaped me into the person I am today. I have more wisdom and courage perhaps to stand against this type of wrongdoing and whenever people contact me for advice, I’m bold these days to share what I know to be true and not mince words.

        Fortunately, I had a wonderful Christian counselor who helped me see the truth about my abusive marriage and even spoke against what those in my former church were saying to me.

        My story did have a happy ending, well I suppose it’s completely over yet! I remarried a wonderful loving man and was given the chance to see that what I experience in my first marriage is NOT okay, is NOT the norm and I was NOT crazy.
        God has truly taken my ashes and turned them into something beautiful, and in such a way I never dreamed possible.

  10. Grateful on May 31, 2017 at 11:00 am

    This is great! I covered my soon to be ex-husband’s immoral behaviors for many years to protect his image and it destroyed me emotionally. But thanks to God and His work via Leslie’s book and blogs and teachings of Dr. Stanley, I have been released from that darkness and I am restored and sharing my testimony for the glory of God. If the pastor is not teaching from the Bible, I politely excuse myself.

  11. free on May 31, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Still functioning in pretender mode to certain people. There is a level of wisdom required to know when to “come out” about abuse and to whom. I am still sorting that out. Yet, any time I do live brave heartedly, it feels great!

    • Rebecca Davis on May 31, 2017 at 11:39 am

      That’s wise thinking. And it’s true that if you’ve been functioning as a Pretender, it’s important to choose wisely when and to whom you’ll reveal the truth. The ideal is that the Church would encourage all people to live in integrity and not function as pretenders at all. But we have a ways to go about that, I think.

    • Nancy on May 31, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      Hi Free,

      I wouldn’t call you being cautious, Pretending. I would call that being private and discerning.

  12. Bella on May 31, 2017 at 11:54 am

    I’m in protector mode for myself and my 6 children.
    Braveheart will be seeking separation.
    My husband is involved in deception and lack of integrity at work , it spills over to his personal life. Pornography , discontent, rage, irritability , silent treatment.. in the reason for it though! Not that he loves a divided double life .
    He threatened to divorce me if I seek a separation. We almost had a temp one through our church but he didn’t agree to it and said he will not work on his marriage , if we separated. When I still pushed for it, he lays guilt on me.
    He’s been diagnosed with bipolar 2 but is in complete denial and he also has narc tendencies.
    May God humble him.

    I’ve told myself I know it will be time to leave if he hits me.
    He’s growing more and more aggressive verbally ..
    I don’t know what to do.

    He won’t leave the marriage Bc he said “it’s not that easy. ”
    He refuses counseling and manipulates me, exploits people ( dishonesty)
    No empathy , no remorse, Blane shifts , gas lighting
    And doesn’t want oneness with me ..
    Today I walked In on him taking care of his needs with his phone right near by.

    No one can help me. I’m given the advice of 2 peter 1

    And give him grace Bc he may not be a believer.

    Help. 😥

    • Bella on May 31, 2017 at 11:57 am

      ^^I’m the reason for it!! Blame is always me

      • Bella on May 31, 2017 at 3:54 pm

        ^^All of the perpetrators and possums say I’m “judging” my husband. And it’s not abuse. He has leadership and I need to submit

        • T.L. on May 31, 2017 at 4:03 pm

          Bella, if your doctor told you to drink a medicine that you knew was poison, you’d go to another doctor. I think you should pray about changing pastors.

          • Bella on June 1, 2017 at 4:35 pm

            If there’s a chance my husband is not saved. To what extent does a wife stay ? Bc he doesn’t know ?
            That is what I keep getting hit over the head with.
            Is that ” he’s where he’s at” you need to meet him there .
            And God may use you to save him.
            What point is this enabling him? And allowing him to play games and be manipulative.
            He’s deceitful at work and in his private life that is super concerning to me. He picked that kind of life and keeps it separate.
            That is not “Bc he doesn’t know better”
            He chooses to engage in this.
            Hates authority but hides under the label of Dominant personality
            And that is how he is.

            How God made him
            He’s the most selfish self serving person I know

            He hears truth week after week at church .

            He says I cause him to not be able to read his bible. Everything is my fault .

            Having a bunch of kids seeing how he treats me and has no connection to their hearts is sad .

            I’m told over and over.. marriage is to make you holy not happy

            I’m hurting.

          • Rebecca Davis on June 1, 2017 at 4:54 pm

            Bella, what you’re describing in your husband sounds like it’s the predator kind of hypocrisy.

            I believe the Bible teaches that there is only one source of holiness, and it isn’t marriage. Jesus is the only one who can do that.

            Keep reading and seeking truth, keep crying out to God for the Holy Spirit to give you light in your soul, and keep building your CORE strengths as Leslie describes. The Lord will lead you step by step. Prayers with you!

          • Aly on June 1, 2017 at 5:16 pm


            I’m so so sorry! 😩
            I know you are hurting and you know what, you should be given what your being treated like!
            If you were not hurt or even asking the very good questions that you do, I would be concerned that you are too desensitized by it all.
            I’m glad your not!

            This is not about being happy;
            You are not seeking happiness, but healthiness and an actual marriage. Because right now you don’t have a marriage where each other are caring about the other and forsaking ‘all others’.

            You have a single sinful ‘immature man’ who has taken marriage vows and has broken most of them, if not all!
            He is going to church, playing the part (only one compartment of his life).

            Your husband is claiming to be a christian man, right?
            So that in of itself has the ‘highest standards’ out there, you requiring him to get help and you creating strong firm boundaries are the healthiest loving thing for him. That may mean you have to ask him to leave or go get intensive help immediately before you make your next decision.
            And yes you have lots of decisions you can still make. I know it might not feel like that at the moment, but you do.

            I had a few tell me certain things like …well what if they are not a Christian?
            I eventually had to answer that for myself and with God and it became clear for me that my h claimed to be one so that meant I was ‘required’ myself to bring the standards and the boundaries to him.

            He still could choose to not participate and that would mean that he wouldn’t also get to have the marriage and benefits of me as wife and mother either. Or play marriage of any sort.

            There are many things you can do to get yourself the equipping that you will need to take your journey. For your well being and your own children.
            Regardless if the marriage is redeemable.. that is secondary.

            Do you have any close women that are educated with what you are up against in your circle of support?

          • Aly on June 1, 2017 at 5:33 pm


            This is what people are telling you right? Via your post above
            “And God may use you to save him”

            Yes, this is true God may use you to draw a strong hard line,
            Boundaries, consequences and the pain of losing a wife and his image marriage he currently has. The pain of separation, the financial stress etc.. many things.
            None of us know how God will use it, but I do believe it is enabling when a husband is not impacted negatively by his behavior. But yet is tolerated.
            What reason would he have to change~ without pain and facing the reality of his humiliating horrendous behavior?

            We don’t reward children for bad behavior.. we just don’t because they learn that they don’t have to be accountable or that there are not consequences for destructive things, even the secular world doesn’t work that way.

            Also, you are the mother of his children, how he treats you effects them because you are their mother. What he does to you, (he does directly) what he does to them.. indirectly, but it’s still happening.

            Praying for you Bella!
            God wants you free from this crazy making and wants you to hear from His Word just how precious you are and how valuable you are!

        • sunshine on June 2, 2017 at 1:45 am

          Bella, who told you that you are responsible for his salvation? Only Christ can save a person’s soul. He doesn’t need you in your husband’s life to do that. In fact getting you out of his life might be just the thing he needs to see his sin and repent. Your shoulders were never designed to carry the cross. Give the burden back to the Lord and use your energy to focus on yourself as you listen to the Holy spirit lead YOU, not him.

    • Nancy on May 31, 2017 at 3:11 pm


      The counsel you are getting is ridiculous. Your h is into porn – that’s adultery.

      Guard your heart, Bella. That means getting distance from this crazy making. Take steps to protect you and your children from such a blatantly abusive environment. I am SO angry for you.

      The Lord sees what’s going on and how wrong this is. Your h is using your fear of divorce against you. Please, just take steps to protect yourself and your children from the crazy making. Get with ‘right others’ who will support you choosing sanity. Stay close here on this blog.

      Bella. When I was separating from my h, I was weary of what Christians might say to me. Because of everything that I had read about terrible counsel in the church, I didn’t tell my Christian friends. When I would share I kept things very general. But for support -specifically for separating- I talked to one close friend who is not a Christian. She just listened..,and I also knew that she wouldn’t judge me. That was SO important during that time. I needed support and I KNEW she’d understand because she was divorced from an abusive man. My point is that you need support for choosing sanity. That has to be your priority.

      I see now how The Lord had brought that dear friend into my life ( MANY years ago, before I fell in love with Christ) and The Lord used her powerfully during that separation time. I love her dearly.

      The Lord can use anyone. Pray about who you can tell without fear of being blamed. Support is so very important.

    • K on May 31, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      Bella, my heart hurts with yours for the harsh, deceitful and destructive conditions you have been living through in your marriage. You describe deception, pornography, rage and ‘the silent treatment’ as some of the typical elements of this man’s life. These are all about controlling you, and meeting his own selfishness. You write that he will threaten to divorce you (when it suits him), but absolutely refuses to consider a righteous separation for the sake of working on the broken things in your hearts and home.

      Your husband is not abusive and cruel toward you because of a bipolar diagnosis. He chooses to be abusive and cruel, and happens to live with bipolar 2 disorder. Not all people who live with this mood disorder choose the behaviours your husband chooses. He does what he wants because it works for him. Full stop.

      Bella, these things are NOT your fault; they are each his choice. And they are not the things we ‘cover with grace’, whether your husband is a Christian believer, or an unbeliever. While you may choose to be graceful about things like irritability, or discontentedness, these other things you describe are serious wrongs to you and to your children, (if for no other reason than that you are humans)! Grace does not make sin ok; grace does not make it ok to rage at you, to break the marriage vows with pornography and other wrong behaviours. Grace does not make it ok for him to be increasing in his aggression toward you, until you may or may not get to the place of being hit!! Claiming to be a Christian, or claiming not to be a Christian does not give your husband a pass on treating you in such damaging, destructive ways.

      I’m not sure which verse in 2 Peter 1 you were referencing, or who has given you this as advice. If it was from a well-meaning, but unhelpful Christian, its sad they did not understand the real problem here. If your husband throws Bible verses at you, consider this……..his behaviour clearly shows he is not a reliable / truthful interpreter of Scripture. Let God’s Word speak to you clearly. Zephaniah 3. 11-20 is a WONDERFUL place to begin. Look through these blog posts for many other passages of truth and encouragement from the Bible that women in this faithful community have found refuge and strength in.

      Bella, your very name means ‘beautiful’, ‘lovely’, and THAT is how the Lord God sees you….the One who made you, and redeemed you, and is close to your broken heart. There IS help for you; keep coming back to this blog, read Leslie’s book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage; watch the video’s by Patrick Doyle that are often spoken about here. Stay in your Bible, and ask the Lord to keep you in His presence with every breath you take.

      There are many loving sisters in Christ here who are praying for you, and will listen for your voice again soon.

      • Bella on May 31, 2017 at 7:50 pm

        Thank you . I’m grateful for this blog. My husband claims I “withheld sex ” from him so he was forced to view trash. The truth is he’s been hooked on it since we first got married.
        I didn’t with hold as he’d say it. It was less frequent and more duty sex. Not passionate like he wants , he’s hurt me in so many ways. The most recent pain came 3 weeks ago when he told me I babble too much and he doesn’t want any emotional connection with me. But I need to have sex with him and meets his physical
        needs . I’ve tried to detach from him and I have to close my eyes when I’m with him.
        I’ve found pornography on his computer and when I confronted him he lied . I had proof ( pictures with my phone and he still lied!
        And never aologized for it or any of the pornography he’s been viewing. He still wants to keep it on his life or I need to amp it uo(?)
        But no emotional intimacy Bc he doesn’t do that .
        When I asked him for passwords to his computer and a filter on computer he replied with .. there’s way around that. You are so clueless and dumb
        No repentance no sorrow .nothing
        Just that I don’t meet his needs
        His angry and irritated and so often I just havecsex Bc I’m afraid it will be worse for me if dont. I feel like I have to force myself
        And I cry Bc outside the bedroom he doesn’t want a connection, just activity. Accompany him while he fishes or go to a sporting event/game with him

        I’m so isolated have been for years . I’ve finally reached out found a counselor and life coach and adre close friends. Some friends have left my side Bc they believe I need to try harder to give him grace , their husbands also mistreat them. So they are more possum like
        I’m so sad.

        Lately I’ve felt spiritually crushed and guilt . Like maybe I did cause this to happen .
        I see no fruit in his life . None.
        Oh but he goes to church 👍🏻 So that counts .

        He plays games and he knows what to do he just doesn’t want to do it. He wants to live life how he wants – have a wife and kids and be independent.

        I don’t know but I don’t feel hurt anymore
        I’ve cried for at least 10 years . I feel trapped and lonely
        Thankful for my kids

        • Sunshine on June 1, 2017 at 5:31 am

          Oh, Bella, how horrible! Why do you stay? Why is this man allowed to use your precious body and heart like a trashcan without consequence? Do you have a way to support yourself financially? Can you make a plan towards separation. I know such talk seems overwhelming, yet the next step in a situation like yours is often a decline in your physical health. You are trapped, yet only you have the ability to break down the door of your cage. Thanks for sharing your journey. We have all felt and acted in many of the same ways you describe.

        • Aly on June 1, 2017 at 10:46 am


          Oh wow! I just don’t know if I have words to express my heart hear to you. I’m so so sorry for what you have been victim to over and over but I do know that the Lord is going to see you through~ but you must choose to participate.

          I’m so sorry for your loneliness and the Trauma you are still experiencing live.

          It is my belief that you must get safe, I’m hoping your counselor is well experienced in this area and will help equip you with emergency steps that you can take and the Strength and support that God will orchestrate in your journey.

          I want to comfort you and I want to also give you the best tools and education I can pass along.

          Please educate yourself for what you are dealing with your husband and his addictions issues.
          The addictions are one thing the disease is a whole other beast.
          It’s imp you know you have options and areas for your own heart and healing.

          You are a mother and you are their protector, they will learn a lot from how you choose to respond to such horrific abuse!
          Jesus was extremely clear on Lust and betrayal and He spoke to these matters with urgency.

          I’m praying for you and and here to support you!
          Your are a beautiful Daughter of the King and He wants to help you see clearly How to see yourself again.

          I strongly encourage you to study and gets as much information as possible.
          See NewlifeTV .. they do a great job addressing what your up against.
          Stay on this blog, there are amazing sisters here to walk alongside you;)

          With hugs and love to you Bella,
          Your sister Aly💕

          • Bella on June 2, 2017 at 11:44 am

            Aly, I’ve had a pastor /counselor tell me to remove the log from eye first.

            I’ve struggled spiritually for the past year.
            I know I need to get back into the word of God. And know His character.
            I sometimes feel Bc I’ve been told I’m judging my h
            I’ve believed that, and find myself unable to pray about what he does.
            Bc I’m judging him.

            He is a fool, he’s a liar lives in sin and bears no fruit. That alone is judgement?
            But he gets off Scott free Bc no one will call him out
            We are in counseling and it’s awful. He lies , and triangulates, manipulates, gas lights, talk soup. No truth
            All excuses- blame shifting

            I want to end counseling but we are in counseling at church. I know I need to quit for my own sanity but afraid of all the posums and perpetrators
            Bc I don’t need more spiritual afflicted judgment made on me.

            I need prayers . Bc I feel so misunderstood, over powered
            When I’ve spoken to the pastor/ counselor he’s told me its heresy and he can’t believe he said she said.
            But when we are in counseling he denies all!!!

          • Aly on June 2, 2017 at 1:46 pm

            Dear Bella,

            I’m feeling confused over a few things. I’m very sorry for how overwhelming and frustrated you feel. I would be too, if in your situation.

            Based on how you have described your counseling so far…. and it’s sounds like it’s a pastor that is counseling you both..I’m not sure I would say you and I have the same definition of ‘counseling’ even if it’s individual or joint. Your counselor/pastor does not present that they are remotely equipped for what is taking place in your destructive marriage.

            The things you describe about judging or you are told to get the Log out of your own eye..
            confuse me because of the very things that Jesus himself spoke about.

            Would it be judgmental to say.’ You will know them by their fruit’?
            Yes, I believe and for me I don’t see that being a wrong place of judgement, but a discerning one.

            You say, ‘help’ and I believe many loving sisters have come alongside to offer things to consider.
            Have you considered or looked into the resources already mentioned to help you?

            Most people (your h especially)
            Will cry ‘judgement’ when challenged with addictions (or things uncomfortable to face) and especially when you bring healthy boundaries.
            He (your h) isn’t going to immediately ‘thank you’ for bringing truth and light to a very dark situation you are in.
            In fact you are threatening all areas of his coping skills. And he also may choose to stay bonded to his drug? Only God knows that, but you Bella don’t have to be on the sinking ship!

            Are you willing to seek other Christian counseling that will immediately help with your traumas of the marriage and the added blame that your church council is layering?
            This being individually to begin with~

            I’m wondering about your history and if you grew up in a home tolerating a lot of untolerated behavior from others? I wonder if you felt like you needed to compromise your own needs for the needs of others?
            I wonder if you were taught that you had the ability to love someone into better behavior and also that if you spoke up about wrongful actions against you that you were judging them?

            I have never met someone who is highly addicted or loyal to something ‘that creates an escape from pain’ not feel judged when brought to light.

            Maybe you have already answered this.. but does your pastor and other interventions know fully the porn issue, the betrayals and your husband’s response to you over these things?

          • Bella on June 2, 2017 at 2:31 pm

            Aly, 💗 Yes they do. Bc he didn’t admit to it- I had to let it go.

            The couples counseling is not working.
            It’s creating more anxiety and anguish for me. While he plays games.
            I have been going for individual counseling for 1 yr / (twice a month) she’s a wonderful Christian counselor.
            I will stay with her. I’ve read emotionally destructive marriage.
            And I’m currently reading and hiding books from my husband
            ( why does he do that, codependency no more,
            And other books,)
            I’m gaining as much knowledge as I can.
            I’ve lost weight and taking care of my health / eating well, built a good support system and I’m just now beginning to her back into God’s truth.
            I need it like I need oxygen.
            But I let h control me with lies.
            Yes I was codependent . But I’m standing up for myself now ( I was disciplined for that with church counselor)
            He said my role is to trust me husband.
            Anyway I think what I need help with is within me., courage.
            I need to have courage to go see an attorney.
            😐 I guess what it comes down to is im afraid.
            I do know God has brought me here and I’m stronger than I was a year ago.
            And I do know He will guide and protect me.
            My h is going to be exposed in time.

            I guess I need to decide if I will leave well or stay well.
            I use CORE and I’ve completely released h to God. It’s just the question now of what is next.

            I’m done with couples counseling. It’s not helpful for a narc.
            He needs counseling for himself . But he will never go

            Thanks for being here. You are my much of my support.
            I have lost a few friends who think I’m not giving him enough credit but they don’t know everything– they know some details but I’m told to look at the good

            That will work in a non abusive marriage– not here.

            Separation is what I need to look into. That is what I need help with. I want to talk to someone who has gone through one. Did it result in reconciliation ( what I ultimately want) or in divorce?
            I want to be God honoring.

            And yes I was raised in an emotionally abusive and physically abusive home.
            I am ok and I forgave my mom and I break for her now. She and I have a bond now . She knows some of my struggles and has been supportive and loving.
            But nonetheless– I suffer now a lot Bc of my childhood.
            I doubt myself
            Mistrust myself often.
            I’m learning all I can on codependent behavior and how to grow to be in control of myself . Only.
            Eye opening. And very unsettling for h. He is not happy.
            Bc he can’t control or lied over me or rule me anymore. ( this is not submission)

            Thanks for being here..
            I know I need to pray and seek God in when – if I need to seek separation.

          • T.L. on June 2, 2017 at 2:48 pm

            Bella, I separated from my husband 7 months ago. I had to gather a lot of support around me to have the courage to do it. It was caused him to have to deal with things; he was in total denial and avoidance. He is in therapy now (which he had refused for years.) So far, he has not made truly significant change: some behavior change; but not heart attitudes (entitlement, etc.)

            Separation can offer you several things: peace, getting out of the crazy-making environment, clarity; the foggy thinking begins to clear and you will stop feeling so weak and confused. And a reason for him to face that he needs help.

            I hope you will gather support and make a plan; perhaps your Christian counselor can guide you with this.

          • Aly on June 2, 2017 at 4:11 pm

            Dear Bella,

            I think it’s great that you are in Christian counseling sounds like you are getting into some very helpful resources and you are building CORE. Good for you and great that your building courage!

            When you reference counseling and what you are told, I’m assuming it’s the pastoral counseling from your church that you have received via ‘couples counseling’ and it is way way off!

            I hear your heart and that you are afraid, I do think that working individually with your counselor on this is important to process fear and help you walk that fear out.
            Can you explain your fear?

            To have courage, any courage doesn’t mean the absence of fear. And to have fear is not something to be ever ashamed of. Given what you have been through and still being traumatized by the marriage, I would be concerned if you didn’t have fear feelings.
            You are in a relationship with a very unsafe person.

            Above you made a comment about your husband not admitting to the betrayals, so then because he didn’t admit, you have to let it go?

            This is confusing to me…can you tell me more??
            I just don’t understand why his ‘admitting’ is dependent upon whether you let something go or not?
            And something like porn use is not something to let go as I know you know.
            If he was using drugs and didn’t admit, would that also be ok to let things go?

            All addicts/husbands with character deficiencies lie! The behavior choices they make require that lying is what they do.

            You said you desire to honor God. Sometimes going this requires some tough choices.

            To honor a dishonorable husband one that lies,and throws his wife under the bus for his own sake is not honoring of God.

            Your church counsel and the pastor/ overall character of the church sound very toxic to me.
            I do think it’s very possible that your church is reinforcing your husband’s mindset and enabling his destructive behavior toward you and your children.

            Praying for your strength Bella you are not alone and you can make decisions for your safety and sanity that will not only bless you but honor a God too!

            Hugs and much love and healing for your precious heart!💟

          • Bella on June 2, 2017 at 2:39 pm

            Counseling told me I had to believe the best and let it go forgive 70×7 Bc he says he did not look at it.
            I had proof I took a photo with my phone.

            He lies and when I bring it up in counseling it becomes a he said / she said issue.
            No pastor or man has called him out on anything. Some of the “men” he meets with treat Thur wives subpar too.
            Crazy stuff – one man ( a pastor) picked up his wife when and threw her on the couch . He yells at her a lot . But not one of these men can speak into another’s Bc all of them are not living with their wives rightly.
            I’m angry.
            And sad.

            I’m seen as too sensitive and unforgiving by these men and their wives. I need to give my h a chance to desire to change.


          • Nancy on June 2, 2017 at 8:08 pm


            Your church environment sounds very toxic! When a pastor “throws his wife on the couch” and is not IMMEDIATELY removed, then you have a VERY unhealthy church.

            Bella, only keep ‘right others’ in your life. Cut out the rest. You cannot afford anyone contributing, in the least, to the thick fog you are trying to fight your way through. These pastors are not ‘right others’ – they will only add guilt and shame.

            It’s great that you are reading so much and that you are working on CORE. But staying in the environments you are subjecting yourself to ( staying with your h and your church) will only contribute to the fog you are working so hard to dissipate.

            Do you have a women’s shelter you can call to help you make an exit strategy?

            Please consider calling them. They are specialized in getting women and children immediate help.

            Praying for you .

          • Lori on June 2, 2017 at 11:39 pm

            Hi Bella,

            This that you said:
            “Separation is what I need to look into. That is what I need help with. I want to talk to someone who has gone through one. Did it result in reconciliation ( what I ultimately want) or in divorce?
            I want to be God honoring.”

            I hear your heart and how you want to honor God. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be a shared value (in action) with your husband although he “pretends” to. I am sorry for this and how it grieves your heart.

            I think the big question then is how best do we in this situation “honor God”.

            There are a LOT of voices out there who have never experienced the heartache, neglect, abuse and lies which we have, who feel they are in a position to “counsel” us with the half-truths of scripture. Leslie recently did a teaching on the twisted use of scripture that keeps women bound who are in abusive marriages. I think it is very helpful in coming against the lies we are taught to believe in and prone to accept because we have hearts that want badly to please and honor God.

            I agree with many here who are encouraging you to get away from this type of mindset, whether it be friends, family or a church you are attending. I believe you will know who they are if you listen well to the nudging of the Holy Spirit Who is trying to be your “Helper” by guiding you to protect your heart (the seat of Christ Himself).

            You said you wanted to talk with someone who has “gone through” a separation.

            I have been separated from my husband now for 16 months (after 30 years of marriage) and I am sad to say that although I had hoped it would serve to be a wake-up call for him, it seems to have caused him to make choices that have further entrenched him in his mindset. There are too many details in the explanation, but suffice it to say that nothing has changed in a positive direction.

            I remember in the beginning, how confused, frightened and alone I felt as I made my decision to separate from him.
            I had not entrusted myself to the right people to care for my heart the way the Lord wanted to. They were the type of friends and family members you speak of who blamed me and didn’t see my husbands abusive ways as he was quite good at looking good in public but behaving quite differently at home. So, I had one person in my life at the time whom I spoke with about it who helped support my decision. My sister. I say this because, I know it can be done if the cons get to the place that they outweigh the pros of staying, and I wonder if that is how you are feeling now?

            I want to encourage you that if you decide to walk this separation out, there will likely be ups and downs and our Lord will guide every step of the way. Many hot tears may be cried and you may feel very afraid at times, but there are women here on this blog whom have become such amazing friends and have offered wisdom, encouragement and support. You are not alone even if it feels that way.

            I am not sure what you need when you say you want to talk with someone who has gone through it, so if you have questions, just ask. It’s easier than guessing at what you need to hear.

            I am sorry we have this pain in common, but I am grateful we can share it together and bear each others burdens.

            Your sister,

        • Bella on June 4, 2017 at 7:52 am

          Do / did any of you question yourself? Second guessing if what you think feel and observe is not real?

          H is good at persuading and manipulation.

          I’m struggling Bc I wonder why God allows him to continue to exploit people, hide in deceit and lies?
          I feel like his choices cause so much pain to me and our kids Bc he’s so self absorbed but he covers it up, won’t listen / care to change his ways but buys stuff or will do enough to show he’s here physically- no way emotionally.

          He’s stubborn and filled with pride. And continues on making selfish choices.. hiding/ twisting it . Avoids , detaches.
          Does God not see? Is it me?
          Am I not seeing this right?
          How come all his lies are continuing ?
          Why am I so afraid I’m not seeing this rightly or worse the pain I’ve gone through is punishment?

          Anyone been here?

          • T.L. on June 4, 2017 at 9:09 am

            Dear Bella,
            My heart aches as I read your words: so full of confusion, pain, hurt. I would venture to guess that most women writing in these comments have been exactly where you are. Part of what you are feeling can be described by the psychological term (you may want to look it up) “cognitive dissonance.”

            One thing we all had to learn on our journeys is that our husbands, who claim to be Christians (in my case a pastor even!) do NOT walk in Christ’s ways. They do not allow Christ to rule and reign, no. They rule and reign.

            Your heart, your soul, the Homy Spirit that resides within you is deeply grieved, anguishing over the abuse His precious child (YOU) are suffering. He does not want you to subject yourself to this treatment. He is calling you to action, sweet Bella. He will not “magically” zap your husband to wake him up. You are his wife, and the Spirit is calling you to rise up and make a stand with Christ AGAINST the sin that is destroying you, your marriage, your husband, your home. It falls to YOU my dear, as it fell to all of us. The Holy Spirit called, the Word is clear that we are not to enable sin in another–any other. God is not allowing this abuse. It is we who allow it, and resist His desire that we courageously act.

            In this community, you will build strength and courage. But you also need to gather support by those physically present for you, who can hear your stories and say, “No! That’s wrong! Don’t allow it!”

            We all second-guessed. We were all in the fog of confusion when stuck in the vortex of our abusers. Getting out of it helped us to get clear. Separating from the abuse will help your head to get clear. Take some time away. Can you do that, sweet Bella?

          • Nancy on June 4, 2017 at 9:19 am

            Hi Bella,

            T.L.’s words are full of Truth.

            My prayers are with you ❤️

          • Aly on June 4, 2017 at 11:46 am

            Dear Bella,

            What TL wrote is exactly point on. Please continue to get educated with the things and immediate actions these amazing sisters are pointing you toward.

            I do want to remind you of why I think you are having a hard time taking a firm stand and drawing requirements of safety,

            (Safety for yourself and for your children)

            Have you heard of trauma bonds or trauma cycles?

            Please look into it and see what you can understand why I think you are continuing to respond toward the cycle.

            Your emotions and your healthy actions (should you choose them) won’t feel natural or right at first because you have been so persuaded to want to believe enough of the good parts of your husband and that somehow the good ‘out ways’ the bad.. this is not the case in your situation. You are not offering full authentic love to your husband or even authentic forgiveness given the state of the cycle of abuse you are in.

            I have no doubt that you love him and that you want to make things work but earlier on the blog,
            You mentioned that you were headed to separate from him….,
            Is that still in action or has he tried talk you out of making those requirements/boundaries.

            I want you to consider that there may be people/friends in your corner that you have not shared the details with (covering the overall image still of the marriage)

            These people that are surrounding you are not qualified to give some clarity because they don’t have the fuller scope. This isn’t their fault, but it’s important you get honest with who in is your circle of support.

            Because these messages can add to the FOG like Nancy and others have spoken into.

            Bella, my heart is heavy for you but I do see certain places where you are speaking truth and strength to your value and worth.

            My own husband would tell you that your h is out of control and your choices to drag out consequences or give none, only feed the beast within your h.

            He would also affirm that your h has disqualified himself from making any further choices for the marriage or the children (currently) based on his behavior.

            There is a lot of help out there if your h might choose it, but if you continue in your response to your husband you are narrowing the chance of him ever getting the help he needs desperately.

            These would be my husband’s words for you and the situation your in with your spouse.
            I’m praying that maybe it will be impacting and strength giving for you given the cycle you are in.

            We all care for you because we can relate in various ways to what your up against and fearful of and that is totally understandable. But we are wanting you to hear truth in love .. just as you are wanting your husband to hear the same.

            You do have areas of leverage as being his wife and Ezer that you can act on more than anyone else around you.

            Allow God to speak into your value & worth.. allow those directives of faith to define your path, not your fear.

            Hugs and prayers sister Bella in Christ!

          • Lori on June 4, 2017 at 6:48 pm

            Hi Bella,

            You asked:
            “Do / did any of you question yourself?

            Oh my YES!!! I do think being confused is the biggest advantage they have in keeping us stuck in the quagmire of their disinterest and resistance in change. If they can convince us there is nothing in their neglectful/abusive behavior that is out of the “norm”, then they can enforce their view that we are crazy, or to blame for wanting a higher standard for our marriage.

            Do you believe the biblical model Jesus lays out for marriage is the standard for any christian marriage? If so, why?

            Do you think it a causeless quarrel you have that your “christian” marriage does not exemplify this biblical model?

            What do you believe about your desire to be in a marriage that Christ Himself set as the standard?

            Answering these questions for myself helped me to become stronger in my faith and less doubtful that my feet were on solid ground in my desire for a marriage that truly honors Christ and His Kingdom. The answers also help me to make choices in my behavior that are more in line with what He would have me do.

            Also, you asked:
            “Second guessing if what you think feel and observe is not real?”

            Again, oh my YES!!!

            At one point here in this blog, another sister suggested that we keep an account of things our husbands do/don’t do that are counter to what would glorify Christ. The list is not meant to be a “record of wrongs” for the sake of revenge, but instead, for the sake of sanity. When we write those things down, we remember we are not crazy, we didn’t make them up, we didn’t exaggerate etc. It helps remind us that we have legitimate concerns about their behaviors. This is another way we can remind ourselves that the problem isn’t in our own head.

            You also asked:
            “I’m struggling Bc I wonder why God allows him to continue to exploit people, hide in deceit and lies?”

            The idea that God has given man “free will” is such a great mystery, but we will all one day give an account to him for how we used His very costly gift.

            The Word of God does tell us that the path is narrow that lead to life and few are those who walk it, but wide to the way of destruction and many are those who walk that way.

            So, we have our own choice to make and cannot make it for another. We will give an account for what path we place our lives on, and others will give their own account.

            On this blog, (if you choose to continue here), you may find much discussion about how God charges us to be active in guarding our own hearts, (and that of our children) in His wisdom. This, I believe is to be on the narrow path that leads to life.

            Finally, you asked:
            He’s stubborn and filled with pride. And continues on making selfish choices.. hiding/ twisting it . Avoids , detaches.
            Does God not see? Is it me?
            Am I not seeing this right?
            How come all his lies are continuing ?
            Why am I so afraid I’m not seeing this rightly or worse the pain I’ve gone through is punishment?
            Anyone been here?

            I do believe God sees your husbands behavior Bella. I do believe your husband will give an account for his behavior some day as well.

            What might you think you would be receiving this as punishment for Bella? Have you engaged in what some (if not most) of us here have walked in called reactive abuse? This is where we are reacting in abusive ways to the destructive behaviors of our husbands. Yelling, name calling, perhaps physically responding etc. If so, this is common among us and can be repented of and forgiven. It can be replaced with more healthy behaviors that guard our hearts and help us to be more assertive and godly in our responses. This new behavior can be learned but for me, it had to be learned away from the toxic environment of continued daily neglect and abuse. I needed necessary distancing from the daily, and sometimes hourly abuse in order to practice responding rightly to the buttons he knew so very well how to push.

            As to your question about being punished, I don’t know if you mean you wonder if your husband may be punishing your, or if God may be. If you mean God, I can only say I don’t see God as a “punishing” God, but One Whom loves us and will discipline us Whom He loves.

            But what about you and I Bella? How are you (and I) called to walk in obedience to God when such a one is walking in destructive ways against us?

            Does it make sense to you that you are not responsible, nor can you make your husband choose to behave differently? Does it make sense to you that you can only choose to behave and respond to this situation differently in order to protect yourself against his evil behaviors?

            In other words, if he chooses not to change and become the husband you rightfully desire him to become, what will you do to protect yourself and children from his neglect and abuse?

            It is a hard thing to come to the place where one is willing to choose to focus on our own obedience to Christ and release our husbands into the hands of a Holy God where their struggle is best made.

            I came to believe I was cooperating with my Lords rescue of myself and my children as He led me away from the destructive and neglectful shepherding of my husband. It has not been an easy road and not without it’s heartache, however, I am experiencing peace with my decision to separate from my husbands abusive and neglectful lifestyle which is at enmity with Christ. I daily entrust myself now to the capable and merciful care of the Great Shepherd as He leads me on this narrow way. I do hope and pray my husband makes the choice one day to leave the wide road he is currently traveling as I do believe it leads to destruction and so am concerned for his end. The resurrection of my marriage is completely up to my Lord now. I only know to follow Him.

            It really boils down to Lordship Bella. What is the Lord speaking to your heart about what He desires your response to be dear sister? Is He wanting to rescue you? Is He leading you out and away? Only you can decide which is the path to life and which is the path to destruction. Only you can determine which path you will engage to walk in.

            Praying for God’s clarity and wisdom as He promises if we lack, and ask of Him, He will provide generously.

            Love your questions as I have had them myself. Do you have more questions?

          • Free on June 5, 2017 at 9:19 am

            Bella, I concur with the other replies. There are some wise and loving ladies on this site. I just want to encourage you that things can and will get better. As you build your knowledge about the dynamics of your destructive relationship and begin to get counseling support for yourself, the doubts will drop away. If others, haven’t already said this, I recommend Lundy Bancroft as an expert of the dynamics of destructive relationships. He has books, pod casts and a website for you to review. Of course Leslie with help you build CORE and Patricia Evans is helpful to some people for issues of emotional abuse. There is help at local and national domestic violence hotlines too. Christian counsel at Focus Ministries in Illinois and many others I am sure.

            Bella, you are not alone. I am glad you have begun to recognize that something off in your situation. You are right, something is very, very off and it is not your job to fix him. It is only your job to fix you.

          • Bella on June 5, 2017 at 10:42 pm

            Sisters, I’m definitely not reactive abusing.. I’m definitely quieter and my joy is restored Bc I told him I forgive him and I released him to the Lord. He hated that.
            He was livid.

            Counseling with a narc doesn’t work I’m finding out 🙁
            It’s been hell for me. And it’s about to end. I will no longer go after next week.
            He’s angry but counseling has been a check the box. He will not listen to counsel. Or work on the marriage. This is our 4 th counselor in 4 years ( 3 of them in church setting)
            One was horrible and the other two were good. And the other was a clinical psychologist who diagnosed him with bipolar 2 / hypomania.
            I see all the symptoms and signs but he is in denial .
            The pastoral counselors are big into forgiving and beginning new each day . I’ve found with abuse — yes forgiving key. But he’s not seeking my forgiveness- he’s not sorry. I forgive to release himand so I can be free like how I feel right now. Free to be joyful and sing and worship and pray with my kids, teach my kids. And not feel like he’s gonna use it as something I’m doing wrong to Make him feel bad.
            He’s done this. Said I prevent him from being able to connect with God ! I’m a spiritual bully. Lol.
            But it’s all lies .
            On releasing him and forgiving him and in asking for his forgiveness- which he said “no” to me… I see what’s really going on. He’s the one holding onto grudges and who knows for what ( lack of mr being all over him and wanting him physically)
            Bc he killed my appetite for it.
            That part of my life with him is wrecked and I can’t begin to fix the marriage but giving into him. Especially Bc he’s said to me he doesn’t want emotional connection. Why would he avoid this? Is it Bc he hates it? Why?
            I have twin daughters who look at him and have no connection to him. He doesn’t touch or hug or encourage. It Is all about him and his success and

            He told me today that if our marriage stays “here ”
            He’s done.
            But he was the one who didn’t follow through with counseling

            He Always manipulates me to try to get his way / control.

            What do I need to have in order before I seek legal counsel for separation?

            I’m waiting for him to lose it on me or hit me.. it seems. 🙁 Bc I have taken the counsel of many who say I have no grounds for separation Bc no infidelity and no physical abuse.
            Emotional abuse is ok Bc if I seek separation ( for reconciliation) he may divorce.
            And the marriage would dissolve. And our witness is ruined and God hates divorce.
            Def cognitive dissonance. Bc what’s been happening is real !!
            And it hurts. But no one will Address him Bc he may not be a believer and I guess that means I
            Must tolerate this and try harder to live at peace and give him grace and Meet his needs.
            Bc if I don’t that means I’m withholding sex , I’m bitter or angry and God will call that sin.
            And that means I didn’t forgive him..
            Never mind the hurts I have . And he’s not seeking forgiveness, no remorse or empathy and he doesn’t want emotional connection.
            And he will get his way . I will be told to submit and trust him.

            I can see why so many women leave the church.

            I like the Patrick Doyle videos:)

            I’m reading a lot
            And praying crying out to God and in the word

            Praying He convicts my h.
            – heavy hearted today 😪

          • Aly on June 5, 2017 at 11:27 pm


            I’m sorry for your hurt! I hear it and it makes me so sad. I will pray for you.💜

            Given your writings you are going through so much pain and emotional turmoil which ….who would not be!!

            You wrote:
            “This is our 4 th counselor in 4 years ( 3 of them in church setting)
            One was horrible and the other two were good. And the other was a clinical psychologist who diagnosed him with bipolar 2 / hypomania”

            What is your personal counselor helping you navigate Bella? Separation?

            4 counselors in 4 yrs?
            This unfortunately is common but as you know you are dealing with someone in a very bad place.
            Do the math and add up the hours of sessions with the hours of the years he’s been operating at his level.

            He needs ‘intense counseling’ with 1 or 2 common counselors working together to assist for a longggg time. 3 to 4 years min before progress to be seen in most scenarios.

            Do you feel that it’s ok to separate given the condition of the marriage? Especially since he’s not complying or willing to begin working toward healthy dynamic or even reconciliation?

            I’m sorry to ask questions in this form but I do care for your way through. I can relate to what your going through even if if it’s not exact but I hope you know there are many here who hear you and want to help with the help ‘we ourselves received’.

            Hugs and prayers for you sweet Bella!

  13. P.S. on May 31, 2017 at 12:23 pm

    This is so helpful to me at the moment as I’ve recognised after 31 years of marriage that I must make a stand. I’ve made a stand but to no effect. Now I have to find my voice. I also have tried speaking out to church leaders but the lack of response is alarming. I myself have made an idol of keeping it together and know I have to speak up. After I found Leslie’s teaching online and ordered her book ( reading it at present) my eyes have been opened. It’s time to be strong and courageous like the Lord told Joshua. Even my motivation to protect my children I have to surrender to Him. I’m in transition. I was a pretender, I’m still a possum but am on my way to become a protector. I believe it’s possible.

    • Rebecca Davis on May 31, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      Praying for you as you make your transition, PS.

      • P.S. on May 31, 2017 at 2:27 pm

        Thank you! It’s now or never

    • Nancy on May 31, 2017 at 2:47 pm


      May the Lord strengthen you as you lean into Him.

      God bless you ❤️

  14. Starlight on May 31, 2017 at 1:36 pm

    Why do men with sex and pornography addictions become so full of rage? That has been my experience too, Bella.

    • caroline on May 31, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Hi Starlight.

      The rage was actually there first. Its always right under the surface. Its a rage against God and an imperfect world that is full of harm and abuse and sin. A rage against Truth and Reality.

      Like with all addictions, acting out was their solution to the problem. WE of course see the porn/sex as the problem, but to the addict it was the best answer they could come up with.

      They used sex and pornography to cope with and control an uncontrolable world. Its an addiction, an Idol, a false god.

      After their addictions are exposed and someone (usually the wife) begins asking for purity and integrity, the rage is right there again. They lost their best solution to world sorrow, and they are MAD.

      I understand that rage because when my husband was shown to be a piece-of-crap porn addict, I was mad too! He had been an idol for so long. His mess had kept my world making sense. Not pleasant of course, but at least I had goals and a plan for working around the mess. I could feel like I was doing something.

      But God was tearing down my idols too. He was asking me to follow Him. No schedules, no plan, no checklist, no measurable goal. Just listen to my voice and follow ME, the complete opposite of being in control. I totally understand my husbands rage.

      • Nancy on June 1, 2017 at 6:39 am


        I too am beginning to understand my husband’s rage. Being asked to let go of the coping mechanisms that have ‘held me together’ (or allowed me to keep the mask on), is absolutely terrifying.

        I am so grateful for my Lord and saviour, who holds me and loves me regardless of my terror. It is only by His grace that I can take another step forward. And it is only by the faith that He has empowered me to have, that I know I am not going in circles (despite it often feeling like I am).

        Thanks for being so real.

    • Aly on June 1, 2017 at 9:51 am


      Deep shame, and high levels of the drug oxytocin running in their system.
      They are bonded to it. Even though it’s fake sex, it’s power and control.. no rejection and they get to feel the power to decide what they value.
      They are entrenched and the anger is a good sign they are very ashamed of their double life.

      • Starlight on June 1, 2017 at 12:10 pm

        My ex would just claim “I am my own man!” When I stumbled upon evidence if his infidelity over and over. But I have also thought that many times – his volatile reactions are indicative of the shame and the guilt he feels!

        • Aly on June 1, 2017 at 1:00 pm


          Are you away from him or divorced?

          • Starlight on June 1, 2017 at 8:03 pm

            I have been separated for awhile now.

  15. Aleea on May 31, 2017 at 2:08 pm

    “Friend, what helped you the most to transition from Pretender to Brave Heart, – speaking the truth in love about what’s happening in your marriage? And if you haven’t transitioned yet, what keeps you stuck?” . . . So, when I am stuck it is usually fear. Fear kills just everything and we will go to much greater lengths to avoid what we fear, than to obtain what we desire (—better relationships,

    —Thank you, as always, Leslie for this blog and Rebecca for taking the time to write this article re: The Other Kind Of Hypocrisy. Re: the dynamics of bullying/ very righteous looking rule-following bullies re: “Look here, fella, if you know what’s good for you, you’ll become a Jew before you become a Christian. That’s the only way to God.” . . . .Many churches do not promote beliefs that would find a place in a context of intellectual debate. They wind up cheerleading for highly dubious opinions on historical, scientific, and metaphysical matters, simply on the bases of emotional preference and the inertia of tradition, as well as black and white thinking. They demand conformity to these beliefs, and if you cannot swim with the current, then, well sister, maybe you’d be happier in another pool, another lake in fact, the one ablaze with burning sulfur. That’s how most were socialized through 90% of Christian history. . . . It could be that if bullies actually believe that somebody loves them and believes in them, they will love themselves, they will become better people, and many will even become saviors to the bullied.

    “This one embodies the two-facedness of one who is kind in private but who participates in the bullying—or at the least draws back from support for those being bullied—in public.” *Guilty* and repenting —but it is not easy. I so hate hard-core confrontation. I can be so honest and open at home, or writing from behind firewalls but in church, deep honesty creates chaos and havoc. Honesty about what we really know and don’t know deconstructs so much that is people’s identity. People will kill over identity. Often the right path is the one that will be the hardest to follow. But the hard path is also the one that will make us grow.

    “By the grace of God, by the Spirit of God, “Possums” can rise up to become Protectors. That was the case with Peter and Barnabas—they humbly learned their lesson from Paul. . .” . . . . *Paul* what can we say; you don’t have to just uncritically accept these things. There are entire volumes on this but often Paul acts just insane. The Apostle Paul admitted he was tormented and that he tortured/murdered people. Romans seven re:“my body makes me do very evil things”. Paul accepts interpretations from outside sources of the Old Testament that aren’t in the Old Testament. Paul corrects (ad hoc) the Old Testament’s “misinterpretations” in so many places. For example, to trump Leviticus, Paul calls up Deuteronomy but how can he do that, seeing that they both say the same thing? . . .Paul is up in the “third heaven” talking to Jesus in outer space. See for example: The Bible Tells Me So: Why Defending Scripture Has Made Us Unable to Read It. . . . Yet, on the positive side, in Paul’s letters we *can* hear something more: an echo of female voices, of conversations over the years with the women of the Aegean cloth trade who were his close collaborators. During this long fellowship, the apostle has not only been talking to women: he has been listening to them!

    “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. And that will be a beautiful thing.” . . . —Absolutely that is so beautiful. The tenderness, caring, clean-living, prayer, repentance, in Christianity is just wonderful but maybe it can be gotten with a LOT more honesty, authenticity about the facts, non black and white thinking, and not pretending to know things we don’t really know. . . .Maybe, and I don’t know this, but maybe one of the reasons why most relationships struggle is because we focus almost exclusively on “the problem” more than standing beside our loved ones. We honor the problem, glorify it, magnify it and worship it, until it breaks the relationship apart. If we honored our loved ones more than the problem, forgiveness might not be as large a struggle. We can’t fight hatred with hatred. We can only try to lessen it with humor, wit, truth and lots of commonsense. The hard part about one being tough yet meek is the illusion of being a punching bag.

  16. caroline on May 31, 2017 at 5:11 pm

    Q “What transformed you from a Pretender to a Brave Heart?”

    A. Like any good committed addict I stuck with my faulty plan until it no longer worked. The pain and risks of staying in the same rut grew more fearsome than the pain and risks of climbing out.

    For several years prior, the Holy Spirit had been gently guiding me into more and more truth. Wooing me to follow and drink from the living waters. I was still sipping slime from my own shallow stagnant pool at the time, and the call seemed so distant, so unattainable.

    Maybe freedom was available for others, but not for me. Other women could stand up and demand to know the truth and accept whatever fallout came, but not me. I was too long entrenched. Too unprepared, there were too many ties, too many others would be hurt.

    Plus, I could handle it. Right? I was tough, strong, smarter and better than some others…and it wasn’t all that bad…was it? Surely it could be worse? And its not Christian to complain, right?

    Gently and patiently the pages kept being turned back and more of the story was made clear to me. How could I go on living this way now? What options do I have?

    Finally, God directed me into safe communities of women who were where I was, or had been where I was. By their testimony, I was given the encouragement I needed to make that final burning push, giving birth to a whole new way of doing life.

    It has been far from easy, but I would never go back to the other way.

    I am considered somewhat of a loud mouth now, accused of seeing unbalance, abuse, and perversion under every rock. Well, so be it! We may not like it, but statistics are on my side.

    I am lucky in that my husband did choose life along side me and he echos my assessments with all the authority of a former liar, predator, and pretender.

  17. Maria on May 31, 2017 at 5:33 pm

    When my husband would misbehave, I would repond badly and then blame myself. My husband would blame me and I would feel bad because I too behaved badly. When I started counseling, I began to work on myself, and started responding with the intention of pleasing God. To my surprise, my husband didn’t change his behavior and continued to blame me. I knew I wasn’t the reason for his bad behavior, and I stopped pretending. At first I probably told too many people. Then I realized many like to gossip, so I decided to tell only those I could trust. The sad thing is the majority do not want to be involved. They’d rather pretend all is well by engaging in small talk when I run into them. This has been bothering me for a while now. Don’t they care enough to pray? Thankfully I have made some close friends too.

  18. Melanie on June 2, 2017 at 1:20 am

    Q “What transformed you from a Pretender to a Brave Heart?”

    Like “Masego” I grew up in a single parent home, and I had already been divorced from an overtly abusive man (by the time I was 19). I married my second husband six months after that divorce and was pregnant with my first son in just over a year. Then the next son came, and then my daughter. He wasn’t as overtly abusive as the first husband, in fact, his abuse was expressed in neglect and passivity. But he also lied, pretended, manipulated, punished me for wanting more from him. Then one year, when the kids were all finally in school, I started writing again and I started reading the word every day. My soul was fed with what I loved and my heart was fed with God’s opinion of me. I didn’t know it had happened, but within a year, I wasn’t as consumed with him and his problems anymore.

    My friend found a study that walked through identifying idols, and through that I realized that my idol–because of my parents–was this man. He was my God. I would do anything to keep him from withdrawing from me. I was enslaved to that idol. Very gently, God walked me away from it.

    My former idol wasn’t thrilled about no longer being worshiped. But I still wasn’t standing up to him. I was afraid he would leave, that I would lose this tenuous hold I had on my family. I would become content with this arrangement and do what I could to keep the peace.

    By God’s grace, my sons became teenagers, and they rejected their father’s entitlement and selfishness, turning into kind, generous, servants. But one day I turned around, and my daughter was twelve years old. And it hit me like a truck: If she thinks that this is what a husband should be, if she marries someone like her father, I will die.

    Then someone said to me: Why is not okay for her, but it’s okay for you?

    At that time I believed that I had made my choice, at least a wounded 20-year-old version of myself had made my choice, and I was bound to it forever. I didn’t know then what I know now, that God himself would tell me I was free to divorce him, and it would be the pivotal act of grace in my life–and in my children’s lives

    My daughter did not handle the next few years well. She loved and hated her dad who manipulated and rejected her too. She ended up becoming like him more than I could imagine, duplicitous, deceitful. She left home in the middle of the night after she graduated high school and spent a year living on the streets with a boyfriend who was possibly worse than her dad. Every dollar she made went to buying more weed so they could keep numbing themselves. She ended up with two warrants out for her arrest. Then one night, they stole a bicycle on the college campus, right in front of a cop. Just before her 19th birthday, my younger son and I spent two evenings a week for a month talking to her over a telephone in a glass booth on visiting nights at one of the worst county jails in the country.

    But God is always faithful. Tonight, not even a year later, for the first time since she was 17, she went back to her bible study group, to the people who loved her that she walked away from because she couldn’t quite get that God’s way was best, and he was trustworthy even in her pain.

    She told me yesterday: I’m not running away from God anymore, and I’m not pretending anymore. I’m telling the truth and I’m going to be real with him, with everyone. And then she said: I forgot what it feels like to be with people who forgive you.

    I may be alone until I’m with the Lord, and I may not quite understand what being loved really feels like until then. And I am okay with that. My life is peaceful and it is very good.

    Because my daughter will not choose to marry a man who will abuse her. Because my sons will love their wives. Because God is more powerful than the sins of the fathers…

    And because he gave me the best reason of all to stop pretending and to finally be brave.

    • Rebecca Davis on June 2, 2017 at 9:11 am

      What a story! Thank you, Melanie. Powerful and hopeful.

    • Nancy on June 2, 2017 at 10:57 am

      Beautiful 🌷

    • T.L. on June 2, 2017 at 11:06 am

      Amen, hallelujah! What a beautiful testimony, Melanie! Thank you for sharing it. ❤️

    • Bella on June 2, 2017 at 6:38 pm

      This is such a beautiful testimony of hope. Thank you for sharing . 💗

    • Ruth on June 6, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Praise God for his faithfulness to your children.❤️❤️

  19. Ruth on June 5, 2017 at 12:29 am

    I’m not replying to your last comment but I want to share something unrelated with you.
    It’s just a tiny thing, but it ministered comfort to my heart. I would like to think it could give you a bit of hope and comfort also. 💕
    This morning I read a familiar passage of scripture. I was reading out of the translation calling the VOICE I read across the verse John 15:7 “If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you, anything you ask will come to pass for you.”
    Previous translations I was familiar with before say: “if my WORD abides in you…”.
    Now, when I thought of that I imagined Jesus accurately quoting scripture to the Devil- you know, having God’s Word hidden in my heart – believing God’s Word.

    But, if His Voice abides in me, that means even More. That implies his word + tone. That’s SO important to me.

    Sometimes I was obeying the commands of God out of fear rather than love. I was not an abused child but my self esteem was very bad. I heard the voice of a harsh taskmaster (think of the laborer who was fearful of the boss and hid their talent). Other times I heard a distant loving father, but sadly I think the harsh, accusing voice was louder.

    Aleea, I don’t know how it will happen, but Jesus wants His voice to become the strongest one in your heart.
    His voice does not have a tone that is not brassy and harsh. It is not accusing Or condemning.
    The voice of Jesus is gentle and kind. He draws you towards Him over and over.

    A few months ago you shared how you internalized your mother’s abusive voice. You said she can abuse you anytime she wants. Oh, how that broke my heart for you!

    Just my husband’s VOICE when he’s angry can be terribly triggering for me. He has a whole host of nasty voice tones:
    – condescension
    – contempt
    – exasperation
    – disgust
    – disbelief
    – abrasive

    I’ve been praying for the last few days about “I am His sheep and I know His voice”.
    It’s neat that this scripture of Christ’s Voice abiding in us was used in our Sunday school lesson today. Well, actually it wasn’t in the literature but my teacher felt led to read that verse too AND I had my phone turned to that VOICE translation just as he read over it or else I would have missed it.
    I do need specific direction and guidance but I think He’s drawing me to just spend time with Him. That’s where I will learn His voice anyway.
    Aleea, I hope this wasn’t just a rambling mess. I know our journeys are not the same, but I said all this to encourage you that join me in carefully listening for the voice of kind Jesus. 💕
    I am praying for your wounded heart ❤️.

    • Sunshine on June 5, 2017 at 9:31 am

      Ruth, I wanted to comment on your comments about triggers from tones of voice.

      I just tried to rent a car by myself while traveling a few days ago. The rental agency had a hard upsell pitch for insurance and used various techniques to bully and belittle me. As the deal was approaching a close the manager came over to fuss with me and when I began to auto sign the contract, lo and behold the final price was nothing like we agreed upon.

      I crashed emotionally. I cancelled the entire purchase and left myself stranded without a car. Why?

      It was the voices. It was the language. It was the tone of voice. it was the bullying, belittling and betrayal. It spiraled me into full blow PTSD. I was immobile, nauseated and dazed with the inability to function.

      So, thanks for the comments about voices, tones and their ability to haunt us. Thank you too for mentioning ways to cope with those voices.

    • Aleea on June 5, 2017 at 2:51 pm

      Re: “Aleea, I don’t know how it will happen, but Jesus wants His voice to become the strongest one in your heart.” . . . .Wow Ruth, thank you so much for sharing that and taking all the time to write all that up. That means a lot to me that you would do that. It’s really a beautiful gift that you share.

      “If you abide in Me and My voice abides in you, anything you ask will come to pass for you. . . .But, if His Voice abides in me, that means even More. That implies his word + tone.” . . . .and that is why I always pray: Jesus, just change me. Change me, Jesus! Lord, I don’t even know what to ask to be changed into, —just change me, please!

      “Sometimes I was obeying the commands of God out of fear rather than love. I was not an abused child but my self esteem was very bad. I heard the voice of a harsh taskmaster (think of the laborer who was fearful of the boss and hid their talent). Other times I heard a distant loving father, but sadly I think the harsh, accusing voice was louder.” . . . . —Absolutely, I have that ALL the time.

      “His voice does not have a tone that is not brassy and harsh. It is not accusing Or condemning. The voice of Jesus is gentle and kind. He draws you towards Him over and over.” . . . .That’s so, so really beautiful. —I believe that. I believe you. I don’t know how it is reconciled by God in the Old Testament often condemning and damning or Jesus pounding away on hellfire and brimstone in the New Testament but I still believe that Ruth. Maybe because I so want and need that to be true. Gentle, kind, caring. . .

      “A few months ago you shared how you internalized your mother’s abusive voice. You said she can abuse you anytime she wants. Oh, how that broke my heart for you!” —I do have that voice deeply internalized and it is just awful.

      “Just my husband’s VOICE when he’s angry can be terribly triggering for me. He has a whole host of nasty voice tones:
      condescension; – contempt; – exasperation; – disgust; – disbelief; – abrasive” . . . .Ruth, these are most likely defense mechanisms, —as they are for me. When I have sadnesses, insecurity, anxiety, guilt then out comes a layer of anger (re: nasty voice tones: – exasperation; –disbelief; – abrasive) to protect myself from really feeling the sadnesses, the insecurity, the anxiety, the guilt. . . . . —So, like your husband, I often just can’t say: . . . Ruth, I am totally broken. I’m a haunted house filled with ghosts and piles of unfinished business. That presence haunts me and I need Jesus to help me make peace with the grief, the sadnesses, the insecurity, the anxiety, the guilt and to, somehow, let it go. I spend a great deal of energy in attempting to avoid my truth. I construct an image of myself that shields me from a confrontation with all my ghosts. . . . .But, I still encounter them late at night or in the corridors of my dreams, ―also while praying. . . .Ruth, I think until we (your husband and me) allow ourselves to really FEEL the loss, ―deeply feel sadness, we can’t heal. We just cycle through that exhausting process of defense mechanisms.

      “Aleea, I hope this wasn’t just a rambling mess.” . . . . —Ruth, are you kidding me? It’s deep and beautiful and totally coherent. . . . .Permit me to engage in a little bit of analysis here: Notice how you attack yourself (a defense mechanism) to lessen the potential impact if I were to criticize you. . . .Which I would *never* do because I’m grateful when *anyone* interacts with me (—my defense mechanism). . . . .Everyone has defense mechanisms, we just want to ensure they are the healthy ones. You may want to mention to your husband that you find his tone powerfully disturbing (—as Sunshine’s example above clearly shows) and it is hard to stay engaged when he is using those defense mechanism.

      “I am praying for your wounded heart.” . . . . the best help ever! —And the most valuable, so valuable. Thank you ever so much!

  20. Ruth on June 5, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    You’re right people do use anger as a way to cover for more vulnerable emotions. Like in the case of people who’ve made inner vows- example:”I’ll let anyone hurt me again!”; OR “I’ll never cry in front of HIM again”; OR “I’ll never…” and then that person blows up instead of expressing the natural disappointment/ grief. But in my *non* professional opinion LOL, I believe my husband’s host of anger issues stem from a pride stronghold.
    You, on the other hand, are NOT arrogant at all, even though you’re very intelligent.
    I agree Aleea there are parts of the Bible that are difficult to reconcile. But I chose to trust that God is good even though I do not understand and won’t understand all scriptures and prophecies in this life. I try not to let those things distract me from the MAIN thing Paul said “that I might KNOW HIM”.
    Maybe I’m wrong, but I believe that’s what’s going to make the difference in getting victory over our issues. 💕

    • Aleea on June 6, 2017 at 5:12 am

      re: “I believe my husband’s host of anger issues stem from a pride stronghold”

      Hello Ruth,

      I understand. . . .It’s so hard because we (I) can have “holy” arrogance too. . . .The impotence of this is expressed well in a story from very early Christianity about two high-ranking Christian leaders who meet in a place of worship in Gaul (—at that time an outpost under the Roman Empire today that church is in Lyon, France). When the first man enters the building, he goes up to the altar, bows, and says, “I am nothing but dust from the earth.” When the second man enters, he approaches the altar, gets onto his knees, and says, “Here I am, no thing but dust.” There also happens to be a caretaker of the church in the room, quietly mopping the floor as the two talk. When he is finished, he, too, goes up to the altar. He kneels before it and he says, “Dust I am, and to dust I shall return.” At this, the two high-ranking Christian leaders turn to each other in disgust and basically say together: “Who does he think he is, claiming he’s dust!” . . . .So, Ruth, what we witness here is that when these Christian leaders claim to be dust, they say it in a way that affirms their substance as more than dust!!! The claim is undermined by the very way that the claim is held. So, it is not what they believe but how they believe it that makes *all* the difference!

      re: the MAIN thing Paul said “that I might KNOW HIM”.

      . . . .absolutely, YES! I have all those in-love experiences with Jesus right down to the warm devotional feelings, especially when I pray. But I also know how gullibile I am. What is it about a warm devotional feeling that tells you/me it is Jesus of Nazareth? How do I distinguish feelings in my heart from an imaginary friend? It is very hard because these “realities” (feelings) are entirely non-falsifiable in any objective sense. Think honestly about why you don’t believe in other people’s gods. If you are in love (and I LOVE Jesus!), that makes me no judge of its beauty or value (I am purblind to its flaws). It is difficult to see the whole picture when you are deep inside the frame. We hear and comprehend what we already know.. . .Only God knows why He takes us along these paths. All we can do is keep seeking God in Christ and let Him direct us. I so don’t want to lose the center of Christianity, it is so, so beautiful . . .praying, caring, loving, sharing, gentleness. . . That is the power of the cross. That is why Christ came, period. The rest is often legalism, misogynistic, —on and on— trying to control women and even trying to control men instead of an all-loving, all-moral God and Jesus. . . . .I have never found real answers to my questions about the why of these teachings in the first place, maybe no answers exist. . . . .One thing I have experienced is that the cleaner I can keep my heart, the more of God’s love I can experience (—And I love those feelings). . . . .Heart as clean as possible; broken before the Lord, thankful, grateful and humble. That is where I want to be down low where the Grace of God can find me. —All things as they move closer and closer toward God are so beautiful, and they are so ugly as they move away from Him. . . .parts of the Bible must have been written by people *very far* from God.

      Ruth, I am so praying that your husband decides to follow Christ in loving you like Christ loved the church. I really think that the beginning of the way to heaven, is to truly know we are on the path to hell and realize what hell is (—payment for our sins). Even here and now it is heartbreaking that your husband does not understand what marvelous responders women really are. I know I repeat myself —a lot— but it is just so true: A woman gets an environment of sincere, ongoing affection, caring, protection, nurture, thoughtfulness, gentleness, caring and she just blossoms —outresponding any man by multiples. . . . I know you know that Jesus did not come into the world to make bad spouses good. Jesus came into the world to make DEAD spouses alive. —Real life only happens if we confront our sins and are broken by them! . . . .I have arrogance and strong-holds too! —Lord God may our darkness be broken into by inescapable light from You!

  21. Ruth on June 6, 2017 at 1:22 pm

    Sunshine ☀️,
    I love your username.
    I can totally relate to your story of the aggressive salespeople. 😔 I bet that left you shook up for the rest of the afternoon.
    Being rushed with my kids kinda has the same effect on me. This morning I had to drive my 2 daughters to a church event. While we were still at the house getting dressed, the younger daughter started to whine that we should HURRY so she could get there early. Younger daughter also added this jealous complaint: “My big sister ALSO gets to go to a whole week of camp for teenagers; that’s not fair!” As I listened to her windup the stress-machine, I simultaneously feared the potential blowup this could set off with her dad.
    1. Youngest daughter is his favorite and she’s whining that mom’s not leaving fast enough to suit her. So, she’s throwing me and big sister under the bus.
    2. H has a running complaint that “Ruth is ALWAYS late” (a huge exaggeration)
    3. I *could* sacrifice taking a shower, so we could leave faster. Greasy hair, yuck. But that would keep youngest daughter happy (quiet).
    4. If I don’t do SOMETHING to calm younger daughter down and she wakes up H with her complaining, there could be world war III in our house before I take them to this church event.
    What a way to start our day🙁.
    Thankfully, I was able to quiet her down. H never heard her whining.
    I even told her to can it and took my shower.

    Is there anybody else TIRED of managing the PEACE??

    (As always, sorry for typos. I’m typing this while half watching my son’s basketball game)

    • Nancy on June 8, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Ruth,

      This sounds to me like your youngest daughter knows exactly how to play the situation to get her way. I’m glad that in the end you told her ‘to can it’ and you took your shower. Dr. Kevin Leman (my favourite parenting guy) says it’s better to cause a blow out, than to watch a slow leak.

      What would happen if you stopped ‘managing the peace’ as you call it? What if you just allow the chips to fall where they may?

  22. Bella on June 7, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Why do I bargain and rationalize? Im aware of his deceit and lies.
    But he is so manipulative he can squirm his way out of any situation.
    I find myself saying it’s not that bad, or is it?
    I’ve read up on cognitive dissonance and yeah.. that’s right on point.
    He tells me so much stuff that I do or did or said . And yes two can cause Marriage issues!
    I have already apologized and sought his forgiveness- he said no.
    now he’s saying he can’t be tender and affectionate and give to me the gentleness in seeking in emotional connection with him .
    He’s saying he can’t and will be only buddies. Not best friends.. just buddies. Meaning my needs will go unmet.
    But I need To provide sex for him as many as he wants

    He plays victim. I am the one being abused by him and all his tactics and he’s getting his way. By saying I don’t meet his needs.

    What about mine? Is it true Narcs are exempt? Brain problem?

    He’s playing games.
    I asked him what he wants and he won’t answer me.
    He won’t show me he’s willing to fight.
    But also will not leave the marriage nor will he do anything he’s not gonna do or be told what to do.

    Why do I feel like I’m losing my mind? Especially when I try to talk to him– he doesn’t talk?

    Is this futile?
    Why does he stay ?! He threatened me again saying if I separate—he is gone . Doesn’t care about custody. Or anything . Is that manipulation? Or is he waiting for me to see attorney? Then he can say I left him?

    • T.L. on June 7, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      Hi Bella,

      I’m going to be speaking some “firm truth” and asking you some hard questions. But I am doing it out of loving concern for you. I hope to help blow some fog away so you have clearer vision.

      You said, “Why do I feel I am losing my mind?”
      You know this common saying, right? –“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Many of us here did just that–as you are doing now. I pray that you will get alone with the Lord for an extended time and reason with Him: “Why am I stuck? Do I have unhealthy attitudes and expectations that are causing my stress? Why do I keep expecting someone who clearly has no intention of changing–he has even told me so–to change? What can I do; how can I change myself and my situation?”

      You said he refuses to be gentle and to meet your emotional needs. You said he he refuses to change. You said he said he wants only to be buddies. You said you must provide sex for him. Are you providing it, Bella? If so, why? Buddies don’t have sex.

      You said he is getting his way. Why are you allowing that?

      It seems that you are permitting yourself to be mistreated over and over again, and giving an immature baby/bully his way over and over again. Why would you do that Bella? Do babies mature when they always get therir way? Do bullies change when we give in to them, or when we stand up to them?

      You said you are wondering why he stays. Why should he go? He can do whatever he wants where he is. He enjoys being selfish and insensitive, and you let him.

      You said he won’t leave or file for divorce, but he threatens to leave if you separate. So…why don’t you separate. He’ll leave. Isn’t that what you want? I’m confused. And why are you waiting for him to file for divorce. He doesn’t want one. You do. If you want a divorce Bella, you should go see an attorney.

      • Bella on June 8, 2017 at 11:10 pm

        I guess I’m still in disbelief. I’m fearful and my the psychological damage he caused I suppose causes me to doubt and not trust my instincts or my gut.
        Add spiritual guilt and pastoral counselors who see it as heart issue and God must convict him not me.. and 6 kids
        I’m sorry . I guess I’m really scared.
        Honestly I’m disbelief, I see it but don’t trust myself. He blames shifts and fools counselor and suffer from spiritual abuse them from male pastors telling me he’s head of the home.
        I need to trust him
        And the authority he has over me.
        I appreciate prayers as I consider the next step .
        I hate this and the fact that I can’t see it . It’s like I want to believe I’m
        Wrong about him but I can’t ..
        Thanks for being here.
        I’ve found counseling pastors dont allow survivors to use the word narcissist , it’s sin. And it’s my job to forgive
        Anyone read Shannon Thomas article on spiritual abuse?
        South lake counseling blog. Please Read it . This is what I’ve dealt with for 4 yrs.

        Thanks again. I need to come here to this place and learn from you all. I’m grateful
        I also need to be courageous and face this fear with faith .

        • Nancy on June 9, 2017 at 1:53 pm

          I am praying for you Bella. That The Lord will reveal – clearly- His next step for you, and that He will strengthen you to take that step.

          I pray that The Lord will dethrone your husband in your heart, so that Christ can take His rightful place there ❤️

      • Bella on June 8, 2017 at 11:19 pm

        I guess I’m still in disbelief. I’m fearful and my the psychological damage he caused I suppose causes me to doubt and not trust my instincts or my gut.
        Add spiritual guilt and pastoral counselors who see it as heart issue and God must convict him not me.. and 6 kids
        And maybe scripture doesn’t apply to him Bc he’s not saved?

        I’m sorry . I guess I’m really scared. :(.
        Honestly I’m disbelief, I see it but don’t trust myself. ‘
        What if I’m
        Wrong about him? Did I cause this ?

        He blames shifts and fools counselor and suffer from spiritual abuse them from male pastors telling me he’s head of the home.
        I need to trust him
        And the authority he has over me.
        I appreciate prayers as I consider the next step .
        I hate this and the fact that I can’t see it . It’s like I want to believe I’m
        Wrong about him but I can’t ..
        Thanks for being here.
        I’ve found counseling pastors dont allow survivors to use the word narcissist , it’s sin. And it’s my job to forgive
        Anyone read Shannon Thomas article on spiritual abuse?
        South lake counseling blog. Please Read it . This is what I’ve dealt with for 4 yrs.

        Thanks again. I need to come here to this place and learn from you all. I’m grateful
        I also need to be courageous and face this fear with faith .

        • Aly on June 9, 2017 at 12:58 am

          Dear Bella,

          The continued emotional abuse and especially the trauma bonding you have going on with your husband is why I agree with you on the damage of how you are currently processing things.
          Bella have you looked into Trauma Bonding?

          You have been trusting ‘untrustworthy individuals’ while not showing signs to me of trusting, ‘trustworthy counsel’.
          This is off.

          Believe someone’s behavior! That is something you can remind yourself of and not get lost in wishful thinking.
          Especially when dealing with(REPEAT OFFENDERS).
          This is so critical for your path.

          I think it’s important to trust someone’s behavior over the confusion you are struggling with. His behavior isn’t confusing!! It’s harmful not only for you but for your children to witness, day in day out. You are responsible for their well being as their mom. Do you believe you are their advocate?

          I know this is very difficult Bella, but if you continue to not choose healthy boundaries and requirements for your husband, your children will pay an even higher price!

          Your husband’s behavior toward you is very unhealthy for you overall, because he is harming (you), the mother of your children over and over.

          In an early post… you mentioned wanting comfort and affection from your husband, does that seem like a safe thing to want …given how he is behaving and treating you?
          Do we beg and plead for love, affection, comfort from someone who is being harmful and betraying us?

          Does this seem like a good thing? NO!! It only feeds the beast~ and the beast will progressively get worse.

          If this was your daughter’s situation…would you want her going back to the person who is mistreating her and continuing to put herself in a upside down relationship that will harm her emotionally and mentally?

          Bella, I am asking for you to consider what you hear many of us expressing our thoughts and our own journeys toward you…,
          Even if (NO ONE) believed you about what has and is going on within your marriage, it’s enough that YOU DO! By the way, I believe you;)

          You can ask the Lord to continue to build that strength in you! You can take action to get healthier.
          Your husband is dragging you into his’ own illness’ and you can do many things and make many choices to see that currently what you have isn’t ‘love’ of any form, and most certainly isn’t a covenantal marriage. And I’m very sorry for that.
          But make choices toward the possibility of an ‘actual marriage’ and that will take you acting on boundaries and requirements.
          Your husband needs Alot of help! I’m not saying he is going to see the marriage as you might. He also might choose to continue to not be marriage worthy? That’s not your responsibility!

          And you also need to get safe where you can begin to process your situation. If you can’t do it for yourself, at least do it for your children (currently).

          Bella you are WORTH being respected as a person and especially as a wife in a marriage, it’s not your fault if your husband isn’t capable of fulfilling this. You already know he isn’t on his own and without intensive help, so what are you going to do about that?

          Have you looked into those additional resources that many have suggested for you?
          Did you stop couples counseling within your (toxic) church?
          Are you seeking wisdom and steps from your Christian counselor for clarity and help with direction?

          I know this is a lot Bella, but you have to be the one to decide what you will tolerate and what your worth!

          Hugs and prayers for your heart💖Xoxo

    • Lori on June 8, 2017 at 12:59 am

      Hi Bella,
      I am not sure if you are, but in case you might be asking for scriptural grounds for separation, (or permission) Leslie wrote an excellent article called: “Scripture Supports for Separation from a Destructive Spouse”.
      I found it very helpful for “blowing away some fog” as TL mentioned.
      You appear to be quite in the thick of it and I know it can be so confusing and scary.
      Another thing that helped was knowing my husband broke the marriage covenant when he chose to live destructively and unrepentantly like your husband is.
      Hang in there sister and keep reading/educating yourself.

  23. T.L. on June 8, 2017 at 6:32 am


    I just heard a song that is striking in its clarity in describing what many of us feel. It’s Thief by Susan Ashton. Stark in its truth:

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