Do I Let Go Or Hang On?

Morning friends,

I leave in a few days for the long drive home to PA. I’d appreciate your prayers that we have safe travels and no car problems. We’ve had such a great time with our granddaughters. I hate to leave them, yet I am ready to get back to my own bed, my own shower, my own house.

Don't forget I am hosting a free webinar named “Can Your Destructive Marriage be Healed? ” on April 14th. CLICK HERE to register. If you can't make it live, as long as you register, we will send you the replay the next day.


I hope you’ve enjoyed hearing from Chris Moles the past two weeks. He’s given us helpful things to look for in assessing change in the hearts and habits of the destructive person in our life.

Today’s question goes along with this idea of seeing change, but not enough change. What is a wife to do?

Question: You’ve helped me understand boundaries and consequences these past few years and I’ve taken steps. I realized I’m stuck facing a new step.  My husband has had ongoing problems with narcissistic behavior, anger, conflict issues, and avoidance. He’s taken small steps here and there but has not taken responsibility for the roots, patterns, impact, or addressed some strained relationships. It is not an open subject.

I want him to address this seriously.  The past few years, I keep feeling like I want some separation.  I don’t want to bear all the responsibility for addressing this. It is hard. He has avoided knowing and seeing over the years.  I wonder about the distinction between me being specific, and him taking responsibility to go after this.  I don't want to be passive, neither do I want to be burdened by this and not trust God.

I feel like I currently have a window of opportunity and if I miss it, things will just slide on.

If I tell him this is serious, we need some separation, I need to see specific acknowledgment and action before we move on…what does a step like that look like? How do I prepare?  I don't know what else to do to break through the avoidance.  If the decision is to separate, we could not communicate toward a good resolution. I’m not sure how to navigate this? Do we have an in-house separation or one of us living elsewhere? Or, if there is another step that I am missing before that?  I feel unsure of this step. Can you help me with clarity?

Answer: I hear you asking two different questions in your question so let me break them down for clarity.

  1. Your husband avoids “seeing” himself truthfully. That is his pattern over the years. He doesn’t want to hear from you, yet you want him to work harder  to change his selfishness, anger, and avoidance of conflict. Yes, there have been some small steps but from your perspective, it has not been enough. You wonder what is your role here. Do your push for more? Is that your place? You don't want to be passive but you don’t want to take God’s place to wake him up or make him change.
  1. You don't like the way things are between the two of you. You can’t talk to your husband about your feelings. He doesn’t want to hear it. He avoids conflict like the plague yet you don’t want to pretend anymore. You don't want him to think that just because you don’t talk about the elephant in the room that it isn’t there. It’s a big deal for you even if it’s not a big deal for him. You don’t want to do a pretend “marriage” if he doesn't take ownership of his stuff and work to change it. How do you approach the topic of separation and when you do, what does that look like?

Let me start by answering your first question. Your God given role and responsibility in your husband’s life is to be his most trusted friend and advisor – his helpmate. That involves telling him the truth, not just stroking his ego. I know that goes against some Christian teaching that encourages wives to be encouraging and uplifting to their husbands (which is a good thing). However, this same teaching says when their husband is doing something wrong or dishonorable, a wife is to keep quiet and pray God will show him his mistake or sin. I disagree.

I think of the children’s story The Emperor’s New Clothes where the king was fooled by some fast talking tailors into believing his newly woven robe was made from special threads that only the “wise” could see. Not wanting to look dumb, the king refused to see what he saw – that he was naked. All his trusted advisors did the same. They told him his new royal robe rocked, while they all saw his nakedness. They were too afraid to speak the truth to him. It took the honesty of a child to wake people up to know what they knew and to speak the truth.

Now it’s important that in our truth-telling we are not harsh, demeaning, or shaming. Truth without love is like a noisy gong or clashing cymbal (1 Corinthians 13:1). Truth is always given in love if we have our spouse’s best interests in mind. Just as you might whisper to your husband that his zipper is down or that his breath is bad so that that he could quickly make corrections, it’s important that you do him good by helping him see himself more accurately. Hebrews 3:13 reminds us that we all are prone to the deceitfulness of sin and therefore we all need truth tellers in our lives.

That said, the book of Proverbs tells us the difference between a wise person and a fool. One of the most distinguishing features is that a wise person learns from his or her mistakes and listens to instruction and feedback from God and from wise others. A fool refuses instruction, mocks those who try to give him feedback, and does not learn from his or her mistakes. When you are married to someone who consistently refuses to value your input or feedback, does not self-correct when he gets negative feedback from others, or does not learn from his mistakes, there comes a time when you have to face the truth. You are married to a fool who does not want to change. That takes us to your second question. Now what?

Separation may be the next step for you. The mechanics of how you do it is something you will have to decide based on your financial picture and whether or not you have children living in the home. But what I think you might have to say to your husband is something like this:

“I accept that you don’t want to hear what I have to say. You don't want to change or deal with the issues that have troubled me in our marriage. I am no longer going to beg you to look at these things. If you are comfortable with the man you are and you don't want to change anything I have no choice but to accept that even if I don’t like it.

But what that means for me is that I will no longer pretend we have a good marriage. I am not willing to function as husband and wife in a fake way when we cannot even have an honest or constructive conversation about the issues between us. I’m going to separate myself from you (and then you say what you’re going to do – move into another bedroom, or move out of the house) so that I am not continuously subjected to hurt and frustration by the way you treat me and our marriage. This is not done to punish you, it’s done because I cannot live with you in a good way and I have to accept that you do not want to change it.”

You must be ready to take that specific action once you say these words. These are not threats. They are the consequences of his choices not to receive your feedback or learn from his mistakes. Let him feel what it feels like to have you removed from his life. It may be just fine with him and that’s where your own grief work will need to take place. You will need to let go of the dream that your marriage will change, the hope that in the end he does love you and cares that his behaviors have hurt you.

But as I’ve said again and again, as painful as truth and reality are sometimes, healthy people live in truth and reality and not in fantasy (tweet that).

Once you accept that he doesn’t want to change, you are more clearly able to make good choices for yourself.

Friends, sometimes it takes more courage and faith to let go, than to continue to hang on. What helped you finally let go of your hope for change?

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  1. hopeful on March 30, 2016 at 7:33 am

    I just had a very painful exchange with my husband. He is very hurtful by my actions over the years of our marriage, and refuses to move beyond and work in healing. I am devastated for my actions and have worked hard on nyself, asked for forgiveness, repented over and over again to him and to God. It’s not good enough and in my husbands eyes, too late. I set a boundary last night stating that in order for me to be physical/sexual with him, I need all of him. I need him spiritually and emotionally.

    So…we are stuck. I live in hope and reconciliation and he lives in rage, hurt, and hatred towards me.

    We live separate lives. Financially we can’t afford to separate. I won’t file for divorce because I live in hope that the Holy Spirit will move in his heart and mine, and our family will remain intact.

    • Ruth on March 30, 2016 at 10:03 am

      I’ve observed that when a spouse has been seriously sinned against, usually through an affair, that sometimes the innocent party likes to hold unforgiveness over the guilty party’s head. Let’s say ‘Mary’ has an affair (or another grievous sin). When the affair is uncovered, her H ‘Tom’ says “I want to forgive you but I just can’t”. Mary naturally feels guilt for her sin and wants her marriage to be restored but it goes one unhealthy step further. Mary has a weakness in the area of needing approval. Tom milks this by INTENTIONALLY not forgiving her. He gets a sick pleasure out of punishing her. He enjoys the position of the pitiful martyr. Now, she wears the scarlet letter and no matter how much good she does for him, she can’t be redeemed. And now Tom has a free pass to be a selfish jerk bc her sin will always be ‘so much worse than anything I’ve ever done to you.’ His behavior can lack any compassion, gentleness, warmth, etc. He can be harsh, cold, lazy, and hypocritical bc her sin is his excuse. He does not want to forgive.
      I’m not saying that’s your situation. But if it’s anything close to it, then my advice is to let go of your strong desire for his forgiveness. You have God’s forgiveness. You’ve repented towards your husband. That’s all you can do. Don’t let your H keep you sitting in a heap of rejection and condemnation. That would put you in agreement with the devil.
      Be in agreement with Jesus! He said to the woman caught in adultery “where are your accusers?” (Which he knew full well where they were bc He’d just run them off!!) she cautiously looked around and saw that the men and their stones were GONE. Then my perfect, good Jesus said “Neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more.”
      Jesus isn’t into penance. He doesn’t like accusing stone-throwers either.
      Maybe it would be better for you to leave your H if he tries to hold you down in the pit of failure and condemnation. I know it’s not an easy step for most women, me included.
      Or at the very least, you could stop aching for his forgivessness bc there’s no way you can move on with God in that emotional state.

      • Ruth on March 30, 2016 at 10:10 am

        I just re-read where you said that financially you cannot afford to separate or divorce. Maybe you could try an in-house separation like Leslie mentioned to the woman who wrote the question in today’s article.

      • hopeful on March 30, 2016 at 11:56 am

        Your comment feels so true to my situation.

        I think my husband is very stuck. No amount of apologies, fixing, repenting has made a difference.

        Jesus weeps with me. I cry about the pain in my marriage daily. Nothing I do is right or good enough for my h.

        Besides constant prayer and asking Jesus into my wound, his wounds, and our wounds, there isn’t much else I can do.

        • Tam on March 30, 2016 at 3:03 pm

          My sister hopeful, you may not be financially able to separate. But perhaps you could visit and get away to a relative or friend for three or four weeks without telling him the length of time you’ll be there. You may still have some leverage by not being too quick to present a perfect marriage. For instance,, maybe not riding to church in the same car. Not participating in public with him just so you appear as a couple to others. Sometimes not always trying to be the fixer is terrible. I say let some things ‘fall’ apart. Until he’s uncomfortable there’ll be no change. I see now how I was paralyzed in my actions because I looked to my husband for validation. He withheld it every time.
          I think this was when I realized he was my idol. I placed too much dependence on him. Emotional and financial particularly. Ask God if you need to get even a parttime job just to boost your own confidence and be around other adults.Be encouraged continue clinging to the Lord. Make sure you fear God and not your husband. Your husband’s the creature God’s the maker Creator! He will guide and empower you.Praying for you.

          • hopeful on April 1, 2016 at 11:01 am

            I have a 30 hours a week job and provide the health benefits for our family. I have continued to look for approval from my h. Even after all the threats of divorce and refusing to work on our marriage. Any crumb of affection Rion that he tosses out to me would immediately send me into a fantasy that our marriage would be okay. This type of thinking has torn my soul up. I am now sticking to a boundary that since my h. has made it clear that he will not work on healing, then I cannot be used for his sexual gratification. It think this is pretty fair and respectful of myself. Don’t you think?

          • Honey on April 2, 2016 at 6:36 pm

            I know why, because he didn’t act that way during TTY he five years we dated. I lived in my parents house, finished college and in those days, people didn’t live together. After we married in our early twenties he became someone different. As a Christian I know God’s word teaches against living together. Yet, my first shocking experience of abuse happened on the honeymoon. I wasn’t accepting or attracted to his action, I was trapped byy vows. In sickness and health….well I got sickness. Who knew? Who can hide these attitudes for 5 years? A deeply disturbed person can.

          • Honey on April 3, 2016 at 12:15 am

            My post is a mess. My broken phone service scattered words and sentences, then placed them in the wrong section. Sorry for the mixup.

          • Leslie Vernick on April 3, 2016 at 9:51 pm

            No worries Honey – we don’t “edit” each other.

          • Robin on April 5, 2016 at 1:53 pm

            I think ‘not presenting a perfect marriage’ is excellent advice . It also can serve as a test. I did it, and hoped my husband would miss my participation in riding with him to church or the grocery store. I about flipped out when he knew I wouldn’t even ride to Safeway with him, but tried to win me by saying he was going to France soon and if I want to go……….. He failed the test. But I think pulling away from the things you have been doing, is like being willing to hold it all together, when what is needed, is for it to come tumbling down. Reality and Truth is what is needed.

          • Conquerer on May 18, 2016 at 7:57 pm

            Amen, Tam!!!
            I’m going to tattoo this on my palms. Because whenever, I forget that God is to be FIRST!!!
            I can raise my hands and see

      • hopeful on March 30, 2016 at 12:13 pm

        Ruth..I have always had a sense that my h. gets pleasure out of punishing me through his verbal monologues and his physical rejection. Sometimes I wonder if he is taking his unresolved wounds that have nothing to do with me, taking them out on me. And yes… I am guilty of looking for his approval.

        • Anewanon on April 5, 2016 at 1:00 pm

          I wonder if his hard heart was present from the get go and your need for approval had you seeking approval outside of his hard heart. Perhaps he divorced you first with his hard heart and your response was to seek another. Now he uses that to wield a different kind of power and control. DId he ever Honor love and cherish you?

      • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 11:47 am

        So true Ruth, see my response to Hopeful.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 11:45 am

      And why doesn’t he leave if he clearly can’t forgive you and move toward a true reconciliation? There is no reconciliation without forgiveness and there is no forgiveness without responsibility. It sounds as if you have taken responsibility, done the work you needed to do to address your wrongs and sins and yet he’s not able/willing to forgive. Reconciliation cannot happen without it. It leaves you both in limbo land.

  2. Dawn on March 30, 2016 at 8:12 am

    Finally understanding that I needed to be the change I wanted to see helped me to let go of my expectations of others to change. That if I desired change in this dark place I needed to start some deep examination of my own issues — why was I comfortable and tolerant of such behavior? What allowed me to continue to paint Monets Water Lillies while I sat and looked at a compost pile? Pain, like a true friend, came alongside and spoke louder and louder until I finally listened.
    When I became intimately acquainted with my own issues, I was able to properly refocus my hope for change onto myself and what Christ is able to do with a heart that is willing. In that space, there is a fertile ground for unlimited potential and true hope.

    • Cathleen on March 30, 2016 at 11:49 am

      Very well written dawn. I am taking your thoughts to heart and asking myself these difficult questions of why I’ve allowed this behavior and what attracted me to it. How can my pain be used for someone else’s good, Romans. 8.28….. hoping to use my pain and lessons to raise christ following children and for woman who marry and stay unequally yoked spouses.
      May father be glorified ♡

    • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 11:43 am

      So true. Thanks Dawn.

    • Honey on April 2, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      I know why, because he didn’t act that way during TTY he five years we dated. I lived in my parents house, finished college and in those days, people didn’t live together. After we married in our early twenties he became someone different. As a Christian I know God’s word teaches against living together. Yet, my first shocking experience of abuse happened on the honeymoon. I wasn’t accepting or attracted to his action, I was trapped byy vows. In sickness and health….well I got sickness. Who knew? Who can hide these attitudes for 5 years? A deeply disturbed person can.

      • Leslie Vernick on April 3, 2016 at 9:50 pm

        Do you think your vows in sickness included abuse and cruelty? Do you think he does these things because he’s sick or because he can?

  3. Ann on March 30, 2016 at 8:17 am

    My heart goes out to this gal struggling to know if she should separate.Leslie’s advice about the difference between a fool and a wise person as described in Proverbs is very helpful.Also,an excellent book along those lines is Bold Love by Dan Allender.It helped me tremendously when I was facing this same dilemma over three years ago.
    I left our 35 year marriage when it became abundantly clear that he was willing to live a ” pretend marriage” and not face what was beneath the surface of the heartache and pain.I had anger and went to a counselor years ago at his insistence ; she saved my sanity by opening my eyes to the fact that we both brought ” baggage” into the marriage,not just me which my husband had touted for many years.I worked for years on my stuff but as I got healthier ( learning how to respond without anger) he withdrew more and more,doing marriage counseling for brief stints until it simply got too hard( my interpretation).
    This counselor also opened my eyes to the Narcissistic Personality Disorde( NPD). I never used this word with my husband but it put words to what I had been experiencing for years and was extremely helpful to understand the characteristics of NPD.He refused to really look within although he was masterful at appearing introspective with others.I was not able to speak truth in love as it was so much easier to keep the peace,but I was dying inside and I knew our marriage was a sham and that was not,in any way,honoring to God. After much counseling with my therapist and close sisters in Christ( a must!!!!) who had walked this painful journey with me for years,I prepared to separate hoping and praying this would save our marriage.Unfortunately,it was the beginning of the end and the start of a two year divorce battle.
    I want to end by reinforcing a painful truth that Leslie stated.If your husband is truly narcissistic ( there are many good resources out there.I particularly liked The Wizard of Oz and other Narcissists)he may simply let you go without fighting for you and your marriage.That for me has been the most painful truth I have had to deal with; but the rejection and dismissal of 35 years of marriage has brought me so close to Jesus as I have had a small taste of the rejection and betrayal He endured.My husband has told many friends that I left him( true!) and he was devastated and shocked .One of my close prayer partners has responded to those friends that D left Ann many years ago.So very true.
    Please get counsel from godly friends,good professional help(I recommend Leslie’s webinars and personal coaching), a plan that you stick to and seek His face; Jesus will show you and be there for you each step of the way.Isaiah 54 has been a lifeline for me.Praying now that He would lavish His wisdom and strength upon you as you make this critical decision.

    • Kelley on March 30, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Beautiful encouragement for Hopeful Ann, for all of us wading our ways through the rough waters of separation whether writhin or without our marriages…I have been tossed about on the waves of fear, doubt and uncertainty in the process of prayerful figuring out what is best for my particular situation. I had filed for a divorce but it became apparent that my H would take on an all out assault on my character, hide money, and play dirty aligning my 16 year old son with him in the endeavor. It was tearing my son apart. I waved the white flag because I have weighed my options-the pros and cons and at this point as long as my 16 year old is at home I will remain a light in the darkness and to pray for “those who sit in darkness” I want to remain hopeful but I also want to be in reality. One day at a time. For now I am educating myself on how to be more independent. So that it will not be such a shock to my system if I indeed do dicier it is best to leave once my son is out of the house. I am trying to put some money aside. Divorce is not cheap especially with a Narcisist who will fight tooth and nail. We had spent upwards of $10,000 and the divorce never went through. I am at peace now because I am approaching this from a position of power in that I have chosen to stay. Not I am being and continuing to allow myself to take on the wounds of rejection. My husband is incapable of loving and feeling the love of another. Does it break my heart? Yes! It does. But everyday I have a choice to take care of myself as best as I know how and to allow the love of Christ to penetrate my heart and mind to return and rest in His love of often throughout the day knowing that all is well even when outwardly it may not appear to be…inwardly we are being renewed day by day!

      • Kelley on March 30, 2016 at 10:58 am

        To check ones spelling is a beautiful thing…I apologize for all of my misspelled words or incorrect words through the technology of auto-correct…a little lighthearted humor is a good thing at times…

      • Tam on March 30, 2016 at 3:22 pm

        So beautiful to know how God is leading you. How God is allowing you to prepare for the coming separation. Yet, you are filled with the Holy Spirit not timidity and anger. May perserverance see you to God’s will.

      • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 11:51 am

        Kelley, you are wise to prepare yourself so that if you have to leave, you are better equipped mentally, emotionally financially and spiritually to be successful.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 11:46 am

      Thank you. It’s amazing that when we “let go” of what we are so afraid to let go of, God is always there to hang on to us.

  4. Shalom on March 30, 2016 at 10:26 am

    I agree that it takes more faith and courage to let go than to hang on… at least initially. In my case, seeing the destruction to the children (accepting reality vs. denial) and not being able to protect them from the chaos of our conflict which happened more as I realized how I needed to stand up and speak up. Staying well had not been working so I left with the children for a few days to see if that got his attention; it did not. A few days later I left for several months but still took phone calls and met with him in person occasionally so I could assess if there was change. He believed the separation was wrong and claimed he had changed, and said that he had no desire to control any longer. My gut told me otherwise but in order to test the change, we returned only to experience more pain and control. The following is a summary of my story:

    I chose to separate after over 20 years of marriage. I was good at pretending and covering for sin and hiding as much as I could from the children (teens to elementary age) but things were escalating for about a year when I read Leslie’s book and faced my reality: a destructive relationship. As I built CORE strength, I stood up for myself and the children (who had been exasperated to anger and disciplined harshly without love). The result was more frustration and sin on his part. The separation was needed and took place almost 2 years ago after an emotional affair was confessed by him. The pastor of our church at the time said there was no room for separation but I could call 911 if needed. I sought much counsel and knew the kids and I needed to get out of the chaos so I found a place to go for 3 months. It took awhile to come out of the fog but it was a freedom I needed as well as peace long overdue. I was a “peace-faker” and pressed on every side by trying to keep “the peace” at a great expense. After 3 months of reprieve we returned home only to experience more chaos and I asked for separation again- this time he moved out. I’m still uncertain of our future but know better what repentance looks like and do not want reconciliation without it. He says he has changed and that I will not see it unless we are back in the same house but I do not agree. He still is upset that I insisted on individual counseling rather than counseling together. The times we counseled together were not that helpful other than to see his intent to still manipulate. I am more open to going to a marriage intensive (4 days of group counseling) than I was before – still fearful that things might sound better but not result in changed behavior. Because I still do not see the interest, desire, or commitment to elicit feedback and change the destructive ways after this much time and testing… and yes, you can test it from separate dwellings… I am skeptical of an intensive approach helping. ANY THOUGHTS? (He often said it was my fault we didn’t get the help we needed so I guess if we tried this and it failed, I could say I had tried everything… in reality, I already feel I have as numerous confrontations by numerous people over many years have not resulted in sufficient change.

    The 18 yo is angry that I haven’t finalized the divorce, and the pre-teen does not want to be forced to go between homes. Being separated has allowed for a time of growth and healing for me… and has allowed me to focus better on the needs of the children. (Sadly, life is easier, more predictable and peaceful without him around.) Now that I see how h’s desires complicated so many aspects of our life I am unwilling to return to that as I see how it was not a God honoring marriage and a very poor example for the children. I am so thankful for this website and for the peace and wisdom from above.

    • Lonelywife07 on March 30, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Shalom….I’ve given up on ANY type of counseling. If my husband wants to change, he can find the counselor, make the appt. and go.
      I know in my heart I’ve done everything I could to make this marriage work…so I don’t feel any guilt at all.
      It sounds to me like your H enjoys manipulating and controlling you…IF only you hadn’t insisted on individual counseling…things would be better…right.
      If he’s so concerned on fixing your marriage, why doesn’t he stick to the individual counseling, with hope that one day you can join him for couples counseling? But no, it’s easier blaming you instead of looking at himself.

      • Shalom on March 31, 2016 at 12:51 am

        Your reply is helpful- I read your other comments to get a little more of your story and see the wisdom in waiting for him to seek the help. Has he sought any counsel? I think you said he doesn’t have friends and works a lot. I can relate to that. How is his relationship with your kids? Praying for you. I am going to be cautious about any future counseling and honest about what I see as continued manipulation and control. I’m not sure that he enjoys it as much as it’s his default mode and doesn’t recognize it and when it’s pointed out he denies, defends, lectures, or gets angry and says I’m the one controlling everything now, getting everything I want. Like I wanted a high conflict marriage, – so sad that the separation hasn’t made him ask questions that would help him see the root problems. I thought he would work harder to mend the relationships with the kids but instead blames me and the separation for how poor they are. So glad you are finding your strength in Christ as you stay for now.

        • Lonelywife07 on April 1, 2016 at 1:26 am

          He went to counseling four times with the first counselor, and quit. He saw the second counselor twice…he was also a friend of the family that my H said he’d be comfortable talking to, and this counselor said he’s never seen someone so hard and closed off before, that he got nowhere with him. He wouldn’t open up. The third counselor he saw 5 times, and quit.
          I’ve now given up. It’s like Leslie said in this post…he’s comfortable with who he is, and doesn’t see that he needs to change.
          I told him that tonight, when I was trying to discuss our impending separation, and he didn’t say a word.
          I can’t do anything more. I told him I’m scared for him, and will be praying for him.
          And yes, he also blames me for his poor relationship with his children. I guess the fact that he’s cheated on me, and our children know about it, doesn’t come into play in his mind.
          All I can do is work on myself at this point.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 11:50 am

      Shalom, I think you are wise to see that if there hasn’t been significant change living apart, you won’t see much more change living together. Consideration, humility, kindness, respect of one’s boundaries and person can all be demonstrated from living apart. Being able to honor someone’s “no” or tolerate uncomfortable negative feelings without retaliating or hurting someone is also important before moving back together. If you don’t see evidence of this, you wont’ see evidence of this at home either.

    • Honey on April 3, 2016 at 12:29 am

      “Sadly”, Shalom? I would think it is wonderful that life is better without your NPD spouse. You and your children can finally live in peace!! Hooray. Good work getting yourself out from under his selfish rule. That takes courage.

      • Hope2 on May 24, 2016 at 8:14 am

        It is sad. It’s heartbreaking to have a broken family. It’s agonizing the fallout from a husband and father refusing to see or admit his abusive behavior.

        I have several children from baby to teen, and my situation is similar to Shalom’s. I separated six months ago (for the second time). My husband still lives and talks like I am the problem, not him. He tells the children this, encourages them to lie to me, and all with a convincing religious front.

        Leaving may relieve certain aspects of the abuse, but it does not necessarily mean you are really, totally free.

        And it is never a joyous occasion when a family splinters.

        • Beth on May 24, 2016 at 9:34 am

          Very well said, Hope2. It is beyond devastating and sad when a family splinters–for any reason.

        • Nancy on May 24, 2016 at 7:58 pm

          Absolutely agree with you, Hope2. Because of sin marriage may have to end, but it is a grievous and heartbreaking solution of lifelong proportions.

  5. Aleea on March 30, 2016 at 11:04 am

    “But as I’ve said again and again, as painful as truth and reality are sometimes, healthy people live in truth and reality and not in fantasy” ―Leslie Vernick

    . . . . . Thank you Leslie, good stuff! And for our questioner ―you are in my prayers, for sure! . . . . . Oh Lord God have mercy on us! Reality is such a hard road. I fully understand the retreat into fantasy. Everyone goes there at times. Our institutions go there. Our churches go there, a lot (re: magical thinking). The idea that love is something magical, in your heart, that has nothing to do with the day-to-day encounters with a stinking real person. . . . well, that understanding of love has probably created more unhappiness and ruined more marriages than just about anything. Love is what happens when we survive through harsh difficulties. An idealized, imagined, faraway person in your heart. . . . .that’s not love. That’s fantasy. The whole city of Los Angeles lives there. . . . . .I think God is so merciful to only allow us to correlate the contents of our brains but so far. I call truth and reality the desert of the REAL. —That holy desolation where only the TRUTH survives, out past all the epistemology of church propaganda. That place where everything NOT real is washed away by the solar storm of TRUTH. —And raw TRUTH, . . . . . oh my, raw Truth, WOW, it is NOT appealing because it has NO marketing plan.

    “Friends, sometimes it takes more courage and faith to let go, than to continue to hang on. What helped you finally let go of your hope for change?” . . . . I don’t know. I just don’t know. I guess I have not. Something is holding on. I remember a line from a poem they made us memorize in sixth-grade: “Hold fast to dreams for when they go, life is a frozen field covered in snow.” Only love makes anything meaningful. But when you are in love (―with anything) many times you are just willfully blind. . . . . Think of the stories we tell each other to get a sense of mastery (they are not reality or truth). We tell a little boy who is crying “you are such a brave soldier.” But brave soldiers don’t cry. We tell little girls “you are such a beautiful princess” but princesses don’t wear $18 Wal*Mart dresses. . . . . The problem is that most of us never stop telling ourselves stories even when we are adults. We use these stories (beliefs) so we don’t have to face reality. Reality is such a hard road. The real, NO-SPIN zone, applied to everything. . . . how many want that? . . . . .I guess I don’t understand the difference between false hope and reality. History leaves a pattern of what to expect. A real woman knows that the Bible is a motivator, but the real instruction manual is observing the last woman’s struggle. I spend much of my life going about completely blind to reality, and yet I still have the gall to act victimized when it invariably catches up to me. People don’t suddenly just change, you just suddenly see the real them.

  6. Lisa on March 30, 2016 at 11:21 am

    This is so true! Letting go takes so much courage. I recently wrote the following. I have been struggling with giving up and letting go of the hope of what I always thought would be a great marriage. It took a horrible and terrifying situation for me to face reality.

    Hope: The Double Edged Sword

    I understand why people have trouble leaving unhealthy and destructive relationships.

    You are in a relationship for so long, you go through so much together and you see it all: the good, the bad, the ugly. But you always HOPE for the good to win. You continue to see shreds of good from your husband and it overwhelms your heart with hope and anticipation for permanent (or at the very least semi-permanent) change.

    But it never happens. Promises made at the altar are broken and you are told “I’m sorry, it will never happen again.” But it does. It keeps happening. Your heart breaks continuously. You withdraw to protect it. Your hope diminishes, but it is still there.

    Other people see only the bad in him. They see your pain and, at at times, fear for your physical safety. They see your marriage falling apart. Your loved ones withdraw from you because of him. They still love you but they can’t support you with him. They are made to feel like they can’t even visit you while he is in the house. They don’t see the good in him that you see as they lost hope long ago. Besides, they weren’t the ones at the altar making those promises.

    You want to leave but you feel committed to him. You love him! You promised for better or for worse. You had no idea the “worse” would include him lying, emotionally cheating, doing drugs, drinking excessively, being overcome with anger, saying words to you that left you shocked and scared, looking at porn, threatening suicide to manipulate you, rejecting your friends and family, or going out practically every night leaving you alone. You hope for the “good” husband you have seen to return and stay permanently. You miss him.

    Before you got married, you were excited to start a family. You ignored the red flags you saw because you were “in love.” But as this cycle started, the thought of adding a child to the mess made you give up your dream of a family. You felt alone. So you focused on maintaining the house, cooking, work, exercise, etc. and looked forward to the the precious few “good days” you would share with your husband. Because they were still very good. And they restored hope in your heart.

    But the permanent change you hoped for never lasted. During the extreme “lows,” you got to the point where you begin fantasizing about scenarios that would help you escape. You actually got to the point where you wouldn’t mind if he hit you. Then you would have a solid “Christian-approved” excuse to leave and your heart would stop breaking. You wonder what would have happened if you wouldn’t have called him out on his emotional affair with that girl. After all, they were planning on meeting soon. The Bible says adultery would allow you to leave him. That could have been an out. In one of his moments of rage and anger, he storms out of the house and you hope that he doesn’t come back home. You know he is leaving to drink and get high at his friend’s house. You stop yourself and wonder how on earth you even got to the place where these thoughts are invading your mind. You fell hard for that man and you share his last name now. How can love and fear co-exist in a marriage? It is like the two are constantly battling each other while you hold your breath, waiting to find out which one wins. You hope it’s love.

    After his “episodes,” you are angry. But you stay. After he leaves home to escape to his friend’s house, you wait, half awake, listening for him to come home to be sure he is okay. You are always worried about him drinking and driving. He comes home in the early hours of the next morning and is fine. By the grace of God, he – and others – always arrive home safely. The next day he acts like nothing ever happened. He tells you that he loves you and takes you out for tacos.

    You hope that he sees how much his actions hurt you. He tells you he loves you all the time and misses you when you aren’t there. You wonder how he can truly miss you when he chooses to leave and be with his friends almost every night. You figure that if he is telling the truth, his actions will eventually consistently reflect the love he proclaims for you. You hope that it will happen sooner rather than later because you don’t know how much longer you can hold on.

    You have tried to tell him that his behavior is unacceptable but that NEVER goes well. It usually ends up causing more trouble and fights. You have tried to go to a counselor but he ended up yelling that people can never change and that he wasn’t going to change while you sat crying next to him. You went to the pastor a couple times to address the drinking, emotional affair, and suicide threats. You tried to tell your husband to “shape up or leave” but somehow things always got pushed under the rug. You would have left but you had no place to go…and he said “sorry” and “I love you” again. So you stayed. It seemed easier and more Christian-like than leaving. And you continued to hope…but you lost the courage to “fight” for change. You told yourself that hoping and praying would be sufficient. After all, there were still good days.

    The years pass. The roller coaster continues. But then something happens. A series of big and horrible events that you can’t ignore. Not this time. You are actually afraid of him. But this is a different kind of fear than what you are used to. He never laid a hand on you, but his actions are so erratic that you are physically afraid of him.

    Another series of even more big and horrible events follow but the cycle you felt trapped in finally starts to crumble. You get it from your head to your heart that “I’m sorry” holds no credibility. You lift the veil from your eyes. You recognize that his behaviors are abusive.

    Separation. Divorce. You break free. With that freedom comes physical safety and more protection from the emotional “attacks” you were used to. But with it, you realize just how broken and shattered your heart has become. Even a couple years later, things still happen that bring you unexpectedly to your knees. Raw emotions can be stirred with a single word from him. You try to sever the control he still has over your heart. Never before have you experienced such a “pot” of burning, conflicting emotions all at the same time. You still have hope. Hope for a better life for the both of you. For healing.

    You know deep down that you did the right thing by leaving and received God’s blessing and promise for healing. It doesn’t make it easy, though. Healing doesn’t happen with the snap of someone’s fingers or the signing of a divorce decree. You still miss the good you saw in him. And you mourn the hope you clung to for all those years. You have trouble letting go of that hope.

    Lord, help me let go.

    • Erin on March 30, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Thank you….

    • Lonelywife07 on March 30, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      Lisa….I understand. I’ve lived on the “HOPE” roller coaster for over 5 1/2 yrs since my husbands emotional affair.
      Praying, begging, HOPING to get through to him…letting his see your pain…hoping and praying that somehow, someway, this man of yours will snap out of it, and your pain will become HIS pain, and something miraculous will happen…but it never does.
      I get it…my husband doesn’t drink..his father was an alcoholic so he is adamant about NO alcohol…but his father was also a lying, cheating, emotionally abusive man…and so is my husband! I have never understood that.
      He despises his father…and yet, he acts just like him. My husband has no friends…so his job is where he spends his time. He’s fully devoted to getting the job done, no matter what!
      And yes, last summer was the start of me actually beginning to be afraid of my husband, when he grabbed my by the shirt and jerked me towards him….he’d NEVER shown that kind of anger towards me before. And it shocked and scared me, and any trust that I had in him, fell to zero.
      I think I have it easier though, because I no longer love my husband, I don’t even have affection for him. When he travels on business I don’t miss him at all…I actually breathe a sigh of relief…as do my children.
      I do thank God that I’ve been able to hold out for the last 5 yrs, since his emotional affair, because my youngest child is now 16 1/2 and mature enough to see the truth of how his father acts and he understands why I want to separate, and he is supportive of my decision.
      I know at my age, mid fifties, it’s not going to be easy, I even had a divorce attorney tell me to stay if I can, because I’ll be the financial loser in a divorce…but I have to trust God, as He loves me and will provide for me.
      After all….My Heavenly Father is really all I’ve ever had to depend on anyway, as my husband abandoned me many years ago.

      • hopeful on March 30, 2016 at 6:20 pm

        My husband feels I left the marriage years ago and the marriage ended years ago. I have so many regrets for how I shut down and gave up as a wife. I got into a very black place and neglected my h. and marriage. There were no affairs on my end, but I did escape into fantasy because I didn’t know how to handle issues in our marriage and within myself. My husband had enough. I was so blind to the log in my eye and only looked at what was wrong about him. I am so very remorseful about what I have done and didn’t do to take care of myself, my marriage, and my relationship with God. God was not the center of my marriage. I was the center. So here I sit at 54 with a husband who refuses to heal and work on our stuff and his stuff.

        • Lonelywife07 on April 1, 2016 at 1:33 am

          Hopeful, how many years has it been? It sounds like your husband is not wanting to forgive you and hold onto his pain as punishment.
          I know about this, because I did it too, after my husbands affair came out.
          Eventually though, I had to work through all of the anger..I still deal with the pain, because there’s never been any closure, since my husband refused to deal with the affair and it’s aftermath.
          Your husband now has to take responsibility for HIS behavior, especially as you sound very remorseful and repentant over your behavior. I wish I could see that in my own husband. 🙁

          • hopeful on April 1, 2016 at 11:11 am

            Lonely wife..this will be going on 3 years that he has threatened divorce and has refused to work on our marriage. I can’t beg, apologize, repent, etc anymore that what I have.i feel very punished by him. God has forgiven me. God placed many opportunities for me to deal with my stuff and I have jumped right in. I put down my pride, fear, shame, guilt,etc to face how broken I am and how hurtful my actions have been in my marriage.. I will continue to work on myself. God has been clear to me to stand for my marriage and to not give up. Yet I still need to set boundaries with my h. He can’t have a friend with benefits with me anymore. I am so sorry that your husband has refused to face his truth about his affair and the damage that it has caused. I pray that he will so that he and you can be free and clean.

        • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 12:01 pm

          So he’s at the place you were at – he’s at the center of himself as you were at the center of yourself. Until God is at the center, there is not healing.

      • Jamie on March 30, 2016 at 8:09 pm

        your comments are helpful to me.
        We have some similar things with the little I read above.

      • Carolee on March 31, 2016 at 9:17 pm

        I heard a Christian teacher say once, “never say, I hate his or her behavior! I will never be like them. Why? Because you will turn out to develop those same traits you hate. This happens because your focus is on them. ” He said to focus on Christ instead. Who you focus on is where your hope lies.

      • Honey on April 3, 2016 at 12:33 am

        Lonely, why do you say my husband’s “emotional affair”. An affair is an affair. Are you somehow trying to cushion his sin by describing his lust for another woman as an “emotional affair?” His emotional affair is just as dirty as a physical one. He is not less of an adulterer because he didn’t lie naked with his lust interest. Just checking that you aren’t covering for him or making excuses for his ugly behavior.

        • Lonelywife07 on April 3, 2016 at 2:21 am

          Honey, absolutely NOT!! My husband had two emotional affairs, so I know the pain and betrayal you’ve endured.
          In the blogs I follow, affairs are called either emotional or physical, just as a way of identifying the betrayal…BOTH are wrong, both are devastating to the spouse…and in my opinion…emotional affairs are not judged as harshly nor as damaging by most people as physical affairs are…and that is wrong!
          Betrayal is betrayal, no matter if sex is involved or not.
          Please do not think I’m “covering” for him, he is flat out WRONG, as is my husband!

          • Honey on April 3, 2016 at 1:19 pm

            Thanks. I agree.

          • Elizabeth on April 3, 2016 at 6:22 pm

            Could someone chime in on what constitutes an emotional affair as opposed to a close friendship with a person of the opposite sex? Would the latter be always wrong in any case? I’m asking how it would look from both sides (husband’s or wife’s).

          • Leslie Vernick on April 3, 2016 at 9:54 pm

            Emotional affairs are attachments of the heart that are different than friendships with the opposite sex. Emotional affairs may include sexual talk, talk about the marriage (the bad stuff),and a desire to be together even if not consummated. It is giving a part of yourself that is reserved only for one’s spouse which is a deep betrayal regardless of whether or not the actual relationship has been physically consummated.

    • S. on March 30, 2016 at 11:51 pm


      This is beautifully written and so very true.

      Thank you for sharing.

    • Amanda on April 1, 2016 at 3:10 am

      Your story is my story… You explain “our” story so well, I thank you so much for your transparency. We are not alone.
      God is a loving God and He did not create us to endure suffering. He loves us dearly and hurts when we hurt. There’s a verse in the bible that talks about God collecting our every tear, but ironically my eyes dried out years ago. I can’t even cry much any more. Sadly, my heart has hardened and I wonder how many years it will take to heal from all the years of abuse.
      I yearn for God’s peace and true joy. I yearn for the day when I can freely move and breath without second guessing myself. I yearn to receive God’s permission to separate myself from this horrible life. I yearn to feel alive again, and not walking around pretending to live, pretending to notice the beauty around me. I yearn to see how beautiful life really is.
      I pray for you and me and all our sisters who find themselves in this cloud of confusion and pain. I pray that God would clearly speak to us and show us a clear path that would lead us to a peaceful life. I pray that God would work a miracle of healing for each of us. I pray that God would make the path smooth and the transition safe; safe from his/thier (husbands) manipulation, accusations and offenses. I pray that God would lead our offenders to their own peace, to their own clarity and healing. I pray that these men would find God in midst of this crazy cycle they continue to create. I pray that we would all be free to glorify God in all His majesty in this life; that others would see how great God is for performing the miracles in our lives that cause those around us to notice. I pray that God would give us the courage and strength we need to do what’s right for all involved. I pray my/our chidden are able to break the cycle of pain that we find ourselves in. I pray our children would have wisdom to avoid this type of relationship and that God would cause them to be godly wives and husbands and that they would marry godly, gently men and women who will love and respect them the way God intends us all to.
      God knows…He is coming with help, He promises. God is coming…He loves us. God is coming…He is a God of PEACE.

    • Amanda on April 1, 2016 at 3:14 am

      Your story is my story… You explain “our” story so well, I thank you so much for your transparency. We are not alone.
      God is a loving God and He did not create us to endure suffering. He loves us dearly and hurts when we hurt. There’s a verse in the bible that talks about God collecting our every tear, but ironically my eyes dried out years ago. I can’t even cry much any more. Sadly, my heart has hardened and I wonder how many years it will take to heal from all the years of abuse.
      I yearn for God’s peace and true joy. I yearn for the day when I can freely move and breath without second guessing myself. I yearn to receive God’s permission to separate myself from this horrible life. I yearn to feel alive again, and not walking around pretending to live, pretending to notice the beauty around me. I yearn to see how beautiful life really is.
      I pray for you and me and all our sisters who find themselves in this cloud of confusion and pain. I pray that God would clearly speak to us and show us a clear path that would lead us to a peaceful life. I pray that God would work a miracle of healing for each of us. I pray that God would make the path smooth and the transition safe; safe from his/thier (husbands) manipulation, accusations and offenses. I pray that God would lead our offenders to their own peace, to their own clarity and healing. I pray that these men would find God in midst of this crazy cycle they continue to create. I pray that we would all be free to glorify God in all His majesty in this life; that others would see how great God is for performing the miracles in our lives that cause those around us to notice. I pray that God would give us the courage and strength we need to do what’s right for all involved. I pray my/our chidden are able to break the cycle of pain that we find ourselves in. I pray our children would have wisdom to avoid this type of relationship and that God would cause them to be godly wives and husbands and that they would marry godly, gently men and women who will love and respect them the way God intends us all to.
      God knows…He is coming with help, He promises. God is coming…He loves us. God is coming…He is a God of PEACE.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 11:57 am

      So powerfully said. Yes the back and forth because while we hope, we don’t have to mourn the loss. WHen we let go, we go into mourning. Healing is not done by letting go, it is just beginning.

      • Cindy on April 2, 2016 at 5:34 pm

        So many days that back and forth of hope, followed by truth (me seeing the truth in my H words and actions), happen hour after hour…my H using his best narcissistic tools to keep me on this roller coaster and submitting to him. But being able to see truth helps me lift my eyes to Jesus and not navigate alone! Just a few weeks ago I could not see truth at all…the fog is very slowly clearing!

        • Leslie Vernick on April 3, 2016 at 9:49 pm

          So glad the fog is lifting Cindy.

    • Michellle on May 24, 2016 at 11:28 am

      I couldn’t have written my own story better. You are right about that buried hope that it will turn around. Aleea is right that we live in that Cinderella fantasy and “hope” we wake up and it was just a bad dream

      • Pat on May 24, 2016 at 8:49 pm

        So true for me
        I have been living apart from my husband for over two years and still hope for change. He holds my Ned for forgiveness over me and refuses to talk reality. I pray he will accept divorce.

        • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 8:53 am

          He holds this over you because you need to forgive him or he needs to forgive you? If you could separate forgiveness from reconciliation would that look different to you? In other words, can you forgive, without necessarily reconciling with someone if he or she has not truly repented?

    • Vivienne on May 24, 2016 at 2:11 pm

      Well written expose of a life spent in an emotionally destructive relationship – thank you.

  7. Lonelywife07 on March 30, 2016 at 2:25 pm

    I could have written this…because this is my life…and I did say those words, though not as calmly as I should have, to my H on Monday night.
    I’m done. I just can’t live this way anymore. I want and deserve better than a husband who treats me like I don’t matter to him, who buys me gifts as a way to appease his conscience…if he has one. He feels he’s doing his duty by keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table…he told me that.
    He actually told me that he’s working on being “nicer” to me! What kind of a man has to WORK at being nicer to his wife!?!?
    I’m scared…but I’m also trusting that God is going to walk right next to me, holding me and helping me.
    I started sleeping in the spare bedroom on Monday, and I no longer fix his lunch for work. I told him that if he were living elsewhere, I wouldn’t be there to do that, so he is on his own.
    I can tell he’s angry…we haven’t really spoken to each other since Monday, just a few words when necessary..
    I know how he is…this separation won’t change him, it won’t make him see what he’s losing, his wife, his family, etc….he will just become even more angry and defensive. But it is what it is. I have to do what is right…and allowing him to live this fake life is not right.
    I tried to stay well…but all that did was help my husband perpetuate the myth of a loving, Godly marriage so I can’t go along with that any longer.
    I have to let go of my dreams for a healthy, loving marriage and husband. It’s not going to happen and I can’t fool myself any longer.

    • Honey on April 3, 2016 at 12:38 am

      Lonely, My encouragement and support go out to you as you separate from this terrible man and feel the wind of freedom energizing your every step. Enough about him, time for you to live YOUR life! Daughter of our heavenly father, embrace his love and escape your husband’s sin.

  8. Shalom on March 30, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    “People don’t suddenly change, you just suddenly see the real them” …How many suddenly seeing, “Ah-hah” moments do I need? Is it the holding on to hope and belief that God can transform a heart? It is hard when there is that calm in the cycle, or the right words that sound like the right heart intent but then the letdown of seeing what happens in a moment of testing.
    Aleea, could you expound on what your thoughts were when you stated that “a real woman knows that the Bible is a motivator, but the real instruction manual is observing the last woman’s struggle”? Your comments are always thought provoking. I have read much but am new to commenting but would like the benefit of gaining from others’ experience and wisdom. Thank you.

    • Aleea on March 30, 2016 at 6:59 pm

      Hello Shalom,

      “…How many suddenly seeing, “Ah-hah” moments do I need?”. . . . . . So, confirm with the Holy Spirit in your prayer time [“O” Holy Spirit + Wise Others] . . . . . but I would say only one. . . . . . I have had ah-hah moments that dropped my jaw to the floor. . . . . . The moment you realize that the person you cared for has nothing emotionally, intellectually, spiritually,―ly, to offer you, but headaches and heartaches. The moment you realize God has greater plans for you that don’t involve crying at night and constantly being sad, being unloved. The moment you stop comparing yourself to others because it undermines your worth and God’s wisdom. —When someone you love makes compassion, kindness, forgiveness, respect and God Himself an option, you can be sure they have made you an option, as well. . . . .To be cherished; to have real affection; to be treated like a precious treasure; to have real love and respect. . . . That is making manifest the glory of God that is within us.

      “Is it the holding on to hope and belief that God can transform a heart?” . . . . . . With serious personality disorders, serious neuro-psychological issues and various mental disorders, etc. that will may not work. . . . . God can do anything, absolutely. . . . BUT, I think, it is very important to realize that God very, very rarely sets aside the laws that normally govern the universe. He set those laws up and they operate very consistently. We have to be on guard for magical thinking, right?

      “Aleea, could you expound on what your thoughts were when you stated that ‘a real woman knows that the Bible is a motivator, but the real instruction manual is observing the last woman’s struggle’?” . . . . . . Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “Only show compassion and empathy to those you can trust.” If we did that, we would be burying homeless people every day. That means that we have to use a lot of observation. Paul in Corinthians, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Christ’s example was, that He “pleased not himself,” His whole life is the general principle of self abnegation for the sake of others. This is very different from “. . . . giving that which is Holy to the dogs, and throwing your pearls before swine. . . “ Why don’t we do that? Because the recipients will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear us to pieces.

      . . . .So, she who has learned to seek nothing but the will of God will always find what she seeks. Snuggle into the love of God for strength and refreshment, then ask the Holy Spirit to direct you and share that with wise others for feedback. . . . . .From Leslie’s CORE model that is the “O – I will be OPEN to wise others and the Holy Spirit to teach me new ways of thinking, feeling, responding, so that I can grow whole and healthy.” To me, the Holy Spirit IS the model because He drives everything good: Honesty (especially with ourselves), OPEN to wise others, being responsible, being respectful (without dishonoring yourself i.e. dirty-for-dirty —oh, I just convicted myself on that. —I always have work to do too!), empathetic and compassionate without ENABLING (see Chapter 7, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage).

  9. Shellie on March 30, 2016 at 2:44 pm

    When I grew strong enough to set a boundary to separate for longer than a few weeks (it was for a year with room to extend it if I needed more time), what helped me finally let go of my hope for change was a changed perspective. I no longer depended on my spouse to change in order for me to be healed from the harm he caused me. Dependence on him wasn’t working anyway. When something stops working, why keep using it? Well, I didn’t stop right away. I tried for years.

    …That dependence was like living in a well-lit room with my spouse who continues to break the lights, rendering the room dark, so I kept waiting for my spouse to fix the lights so the room would be lit again. Sometimes he would fix the lights, only to break them again. When he wouldn’t fix it, I kept trying harder to get him to. I would even help him out by fixing the lights myself, only for him to break them again. I tried harder to be a good, godly wife, mother, sister-in-law, and daughter-in-law, I tried harder to pray, to help him want to turn on the light, or to convince him to get the help I think he needs. I had yet to consider the possibility that he liked the dark and wanted to stay in it (or at least, was willfully resistant to doing the work that would stop his pattern of breaking the lights). I just kept fighting against darkness.

    My healing and freedom from the bondage of my destructive marriage became more of a priority than getting him to change so that our marriage can be saved. I was tired of trying to fix both of us. I was failing at both anyway.

    In summary, what helped me finally let go of my hope for change was a changed perspective from placing my hope in my spouse to placing my hope in the Lord and the truth of Scripture. Changing my perspective in this way empowered me to make the changes I needed to live out the purpose God created for me to live and the freedom Christ died for me to have. Without this changed perspective, my focus would have stayed stuck on my spouse instead of fixed on Christ, where it belongs.

    It just so happened that when I gave up hope of him changing – and separated so that I could heal and live free in Christ – my spouse began the hard work of changing. That isn’t always the case and it didn’t happen right away. I had to leave and grieve my desired expectations of my marriage long before he began showing true repentance and lasting change.

    • Shalom on March 30, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      Wow- powerful comments. Did you wait to see the change for a period of time and was it a slow process? It seems the underlying beliefs must change in order for behavior to change. I’ve read Ron Welch’s book, The Controlling Husband and he states that generally these husbands do not want to control but do it for other reasons. In my case, my husband admitted to being controlling but fails to see how he continues to do that… It seems he always is right or he knows better and is not choosing to draw me out and see how my way of thinking might be a good influence.

      • Shellie on March 30, 2016 at 5:52 pm

        Yes, I did wait to see the change for a period of time and it was a slow process. It took several people speaking into his life over several years. Looking back, I can see the perseverance it took on my part and intimately understand why the journey is so difficult – and why I had biblical grounds for divorce.

        Not until he began to do his own work to change did he seem to have the ability or capacity to see how I am a good influence and someone he can trust to love unconditionally and speak truth in his life.

        I’ve asked him what was the greatest catalyst to him changing. Aside from the separation he said it was attending co-dependency classes. At the advice of his counselor, he attended co-dependency classes. Not because he is co-dependent but so he can hear the pain he has caused from another voice. I didn’t attend those classes. They were monitored and mediated by professional counselors. I think he finally started accepting the pain he caused me and took responsibility for it when he saw the pain in others.

        When we started the beginning of reconciling (talking more about the hard stuff), he did a lot of confessing, unprovoked, of the pain he caused and the stinkin’ thinkin’ he had operated in for years. He admitted what was wrong thinking and began speaking what is true (about himself, me, and God).

        • Shalom on March 30, 2016 at 9:02 pm

          Thank you, Shellie, for your reply. It’s helpful to hear what he says was the greatest catalyst for change. Would you say that his his relationship with Christ showed significant change or growth as well? I’m so tired of words without actions. I can’t imagine my h attending codependency classes- what a wise counselor to recommend that and brave of your husband. Did he tell them why he was attending? I had a friend tell me to watch for when he is willing to talk about the hurtful things and willing to try and understand what it was like from my perspective rather than minimizing and saying I am the one that is wrong to bring up the past and that if I really forgave I wouldn’t. He gets angry and says he will not be part of rehashing the past. I don’t want to dwell in the past but I’d like him to at least understand why I needed the separation and why I am reluctant to reconcile. Because I am willing to go through with Divorce he often lectures me on how I don’t have Biblical grounds and if abuse is brought up or the emotional affair, he discredits and talks about the women who end up in the ER- real abuse- and sexual immorality vs emotional affair. My first thought when he confessed the emotional affair, was “fine, she can have you and I doubt she will want you if she ever figures out what you are really like” but I didn’t tell him that until later after we had separated. He continued and excused his loyal friendship with her (she was his only friend thanks to me) for over a year. I think she eventually tired of him plus other events prevented their continued relationship. She didn’t want to leave her unhappy marriage bc of her young children. Yet, he told me if anyone had reason to leave a controlling husband it was her… not me because her husband was way worse, I told him maybe I should talk to her so I could help her get out of a destructive relationship. Anyway, I don’t know why I went into all that but thank you for sharing about the change that took place after you were willing to let go and focused on Christ. There seem to be very few testimonies of change once the relationship becomes destructive. It is encouraging… would love to know what you needed to see or sense before you were willing ending the year long separation? Did you have a counselor that worked with both of you or just him?

          • Lonelywife07 on April 1, 2016 at 7:02 pm

            Shalom…My husband says the same things to me. That I don’t want us to be happy…that bringing up the past is my way of “hurting him”, and it proves that I’ve never forgiven him,etc…
            We have this big, stinking pile of emotional affairs, flirting with other women, lies, sexting, emotional abuse, minimizing my pain, etc. in the middle of our marriage…and he continually walks around it, instead of dealing with it!
            HOW do we have a normal, healthy marriage if we don’t discuss the past and deal with the hurt and the pain he has caused by his behavior, and if he doesn’t make drastic changes?

            But when I tell him this, he just rolls his eyes and gets huffy with me.
            My husband lives in the present. What happened yesterday is gone, never to be addressed or discussed, and I’m the “mean, angry one” who won’t let anything go…so we just grow farther apart.
            BTW Shalom, an emotional affair IS betrayal, and he DID break his marriage covenant when he brought another woman into your marriage, sex isn’t the only biblical reason for divorce.

        • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 12:00 pm

          Thanks Shelly – so good to hear some husbands do change.

        • Leonie on April 3, 2016 at 9:16 am

          I think the biggest piece of the puzzle is that he wanted to, he was willing and he did the work himself! Every woman wants her husband to change but most husbands don’t want to. (Thanks for sharing – yes, you pulled your hands off, turned it over to God and waited too.)

  10. Maria on March 30, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I am not divorced,but I have accepted that the probability that my husband will change is miniscule. When my husband would behave badly, my response was usually not something I was proud of. Therefore instead of the focus being on my husband’s behavior, it was on my reaction. I also realized when he behaved poorly, he would try to hook me into arguments and taunt me hoping I would react badly. Then he would blame me. Through counseling, I learned that I was responsible for my response, and that I should respond rather than react. My counselor encouraged me to focus on pleasing God. Once I took my bad reaction out of the equation, I realized I was not responsible for his behavior. He still blames me, and is choosing/does not want to change. Now when ill treated, I don’t feel shame, blame myself or accept responsibility. Once I came to the conclusion that he will not change, I grieved for quite a while.

    • Maria on March 30, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      Something else- Although my husband claims to be a Christian, my pastor shared the following verse with me from 1 Peter:

      1In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives

      For a while I thought it was my duty to change him. When I realized that it’s the Holy Spirit’s job to convict us of sin, a heavy burden was lifted.

      • Amy on April 1, 2016 at 10:09 am

        Maybe you should share the next verse in that passage of scripture which is so often overlooked as everyone focuses on wives submitting:

        “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” I Peter 3:6


        • Maria on April 1, 2016 at 1:38 pm

          Yes, I wonder why my pastor omitted this verse.

          • Robin on April 1, 2016 at 1:44 pm

            Pretty typical Maria, for a male Pastor.

          • Amy on April 1, 2016 at 3:59 pm

            Because it would not have benefited the point he was trying to make to you — you as a wife just need to submit. Period.
            Next time you see him say, “you know I realize we ran out of time to continue discussing that passage of scripture and I’m sure you would have included the next part. It’s pretty important huh for the husband to play his role in marriage too which is to treat his wife with consideration and respect, and as mutual partners in the marriage.”
            LOL 😉

          • Remedy on April 4, 2016 at 12:37 pm

            At my church, the pastoral response is this…..even if he a despotic, tyrannical leader/husband, your obligation is still to obey. This is tough, but what God has ordained for you.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 11:59 am

      Thanks Maria, I know you have worked hard to build CORE.

    • Leonie on April 3, 2016 at 9:47 am

      Maria, my ex did that a lot too. He vilified me for figuring out his lies, not trusting him and suspecting his infidelity and got angry when I showed evidence to him or if I questioned him. He was so good at flipping things so that the issue always became my behavior of finding out what he had done and his it was wrong. Then the real evil of his deceit and infidelity was swept under the carpet and the attack was on me and I was guilty! The other day I said something about my paranoia and a friend corrected me – you are not paranoid, that was your husband and you figured out he was cheating – that is not paranoia! Then I realized I had internalized the lie that he had been telling me. I am thankful that God continues to show me truth and get me out of the mindset I was in through the duration of the marriage!
      It does take more courage and faith to let go – I stepped out of my marriage to face a lot of unknowns. My ex is extremely crafty and everything he does is premeditated to make him appear that he is doing right while being deceptive and not doing what he says he is. It is very confusing and I don’t know if the lawyer who is helping me really gets it yet. I am documenting so that his impressive statements have documented follow up of what actually is happening – not just the way it is painted. It is like a cat and mouse game with a magpie – it is rare that they ever get caught. Over and over I need to bring it all to the Lord because he sees it all and is my help and strength!

    • Robin on April 8, 2016 at 10:35 pm

      Maria, in your post I hear you talk about needing to correct your responses and reactions. And that you’re not responsible for his behaviors. My question is, are you stopping sin in your home? I think I hear you saying you want to please God and so you’re keeping your eyes on what you need to do. Are you not expecting anything of your husband, focusing on submitting to him, even tho he has shown you he has no desire to make change. In my counseling sessions I am taught to always go toward the Truth. Is that something you practice in your home? I’m wondering what your children are seeing? Leslie said in one of her posts this week when a mother takes all the hits from the father, the children will align themselves with him, because he portrays himself as the stronger spouse.

      • Alene on May 25, 2016 at 9:57 am

        Scripture can be used in a short sighted, isolated, or legalistic way that keeps us – and others – bound.
        A few years ago, I pondered I Peter 3 deeper and deeper. I realized I’d been looking at submission legalistically. In fact, even deeper in my life, I had used submission as a copying mechanism rooted earlier in life and I need to be careful of that. It was a way of staying safe. It also enabled bad behavior in others and limited my testimony and portrayed submission in a poor way.
        I looked at the five women in Jesus geneology, some of whom stepped outside the box and took risks with bold faith and love…and were commended.
        I looked at Pr 31 and saw a woman of valor not passive virtue. (check out the word translated ‘virtue’)
        I looked at a greater scope of scripture, partly through Leslie. No verse exists in seclusion of the balance of scripture nor of God’s heart. Think of the admonition to rebuke sin!
        I realized I had an unhealthy view of submission and it was enabling the situation to continue.
        I Peter says “in like manner” as Jesus: there were times when Jesus spoke, when he confronted, he never compromised truth or his integrity. It is true that what truly won hearts was his sacrificial death, even his own disciples hearts, but it doesn’t mean he didn’t do the other things. And BTW, he is the one laid down his life, we are not Him; I think Satan likes to trick us into thinking we can be a savior.
        I realized that a quiet spirit does not mean a quiet personality, too quiet approach that lets sin go unchallenged – which is not loving by the way, and lets sin grow worse. I was reminded this week that a quiet spirit is indeed a key.
        It has been very very stretching to adjust my thinking.
        I could see how simply standing for truth gives the other person the opportunity to join you or walk away. (see Corinthians – if an unbelieving spouse chooses to stay with you…or not) It places the burden on them.
        I continue to be stretched…and grow myself.

        • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 8:58 am

          Thanks Aleea, I learned those same things too as I expanded my view of Scripture away from the “traditional” teaching I had been taught.

  11. hopeful on March 30, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    This is good. I have nothing left but to listen to the Holy Spirit and wise others.

    And pray for God’s goodness.

    Thank you.

  12. Shalom on March 30, 2016 at 8:24 pm

    Aleea, Thank you for sharing the additional thoughts- very helpful. Learning the fine art of being empathetic and compassionate without ENABLING is a challenge but very important. I will review chapter 7. One counselor told me “the only thing a bulldozer knows is a bulldozer” and that has stuck with me as I try to remain strong but not get sucked into a sinful reaction. Perhaps I can be a compassionate bulldozer. I tend to do a lot of listening and refrain from saying too much which has been my nature anyway. He is quick to disagree or discredit so I pretty much know now when it’s just not worth engaging further.

    • Aleea on March 31, 2016 at 10:07 am

      . . . .well, a compassionate bulldozer is at least compassionate! ―I just love the fact that we help our spouse grow in Christ by confronting issues. ―Maybe, maybe try various different controlled experiments, new approaches. In the end, nothing cookie cutter ever works textbook-style. It is always custom solutions. Even from the Word of God, it’s loaded with textual variants and equally supported translations (answers).

      “I tend to do a lot of listening and refrain from saying too much which has been my nature anyway.” . . . . . How do you do that? That is r-e-a-l-l-y something I really, really need to learn.

      “He is quick to disagree or discredit so I pretty much know now when it’s just not worth engaging further.” . . . . . .well, how about you just take his hand and both seriously pray to God for help at that point. My counselor does that with me because she knows my defense mechanisms have been triggered. It centers my heart right back on God (―no bigger love). When someone feels safe, I believe they can share, analyze anything. We don’t know what is good for us. . . .we really need the Holy Spirit’s help.

  13. […] Today at Leslie Vernick’s blog a reader asks this very question — Do I let go or hang on? […]

  14. Amy on March 31, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    I will admit, it was not until my abusive ex walked out in ’09 after 20 years of marriage that I finally started finding the strength and courage to say no more. I decided to file for divorce but it took another 2 years for everything to become final.
    I think separation is crucial in situations of abuse because it allows the victim the space and freedom to think clearly and make better decisions. While I was caught in the crazy-making of abuse I doubted everything my whole being was telling me — to leave! But once my ex left I could breath again and I had clarity of mind, which I realize now he did not want.
    Reading through the Psalms also helped me to rediscover who I am as a woman of God after years of being told by my ex how worthless I was. I also found my way back to God after my ex left and can see now how He spoke very clearly to me during those dark times but when you are in the pit of abuse it is hard to see any light at all.

    I spent two decades of my life with someone who did not love me, cherish me or value me, and just recently I shared more of my story with a friend who was shocked and said to me, “I wish you had spoke up and left sooner.”
    If only it were that easy.

    • Robin on March 31, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      Very well said, Amy. I am sure many relate to your every word, thank you for sharing!!!!

  15. Robin on April 1, 2016 at 1:32 am

    Lonely wife- you have really hung in there waiting and hoping, you have done well sister. I know the pain of letting go is not easy, but thankfully you are here on this blog where you can be loved and supported, and prayed for. One of the last thoughts in my mind before I separated from my husband was- if I stay not only am I the target for abuse – but if I leave he will have to see who he really has become. I will no longer be in the way. I must move on to give him a chance to be faced with his abuse now that I am no longer the target.

    • Lonelywife07 on April 1, 2016 at 1:56 am

      Oh Robin…THANK you! I sooo needed to hear that! My best friend really let me have it tonight, via text, about how I’M also at fault and that she sees me as being as abusive as my husband!
      I am in tears as I write this, because the hurt is so real, so painful!
      Am I perfect..NO! Have I said and done things that were wrong? YES! But my heart is not hard and bitter like she said, I’m not “punishing” my husband because of his affair from 5 yrs ago…I truly have forgiven him for that!
      Am I angry over his treatment of me and our children…yes I am, but I don’t feel it’s a mean, hateful anger…I’m just so frustrated by his hurtful behavior and I guess it shows.
      I’m constantly praying and asking God to show me things I’ve done wrong, so that I can make them right, and I do! I stay involved in a ladies bible study so that I have accountability…

      I sent my friend the video that Leslie posted about what is Emotional Abuse…When is the Line Crossed…and she said that unfortunately that validates what she has said….that I am also abusive! I’m stunned that she would think this way, especially after she’s seen my husband talk to me so disrespectfully and in anger.
      I’ve shared the emotional abuse, the affairs, flirting with other women in front of me, grabbing me by my shirt and pulling me towards him!
      I feel abandoned once again by someone I love.
      Please, if you all would pray for me. Pray that if there is truth to her words, I’ll see it, and pray for the hurt to subside so I can respond properly. At this point, I don’t see how I can ever have relationship with her again.
      I truly feel I’m doing the best that I can, trying to live well in a situation where I do not feel loved or cherished by my husband, where the trust has been broken.
      My friend suggested that if I would take the love and care I have for everyone else, and apply it to my husband, then maybe he would respond….like I’ve never done that before.

      • Honey on April 3, 2016 at 12:46 am

        I think it is time for a new best friend. This one is really off the mark!

      • Ruth on April 3, 2016 at 7:52 pm

        Lonelywife, I am so sorry that your best friend just snapped like that. That must be terribly painful. I assume you feel invalidated and isolated at the same time.
        I don’t know if you vented so much to her that your personal troubles poisoned your friendship only she didn’t say anything until she just blew up? Or maybe she’s just been indoctrinated with the ‘good submissive wife can take crap all day with a smile’ theology and she sees your pain as rebellion? Or maybe she just has no empathy and/or discernment?

        • Lonelywife07 on April 6, 2016 at 12:30 am

          Ruth, my friend is the “smile all day, and life will be rosy” type of person.
          She’s had her own marriage problems, her husband is financially abusive, he controls their money and doles it out as he sees fit, and she just laughs it off when I tell her that it is wrong, that it IS considered abuse, but she just makes a joke out of it.
          I’ve known that about her, that she only wants to hear “good stuff” and I’ve accepted that she has to live her life, her way.
          I now know I won’t be confiding in her anymore, so of course this will affect our relationship.

          • Ruth on April 6, 2016 at 7:45 pm

            Lonely, I understand that ladies who’ve been in an abusive relationship wouldn’t truly ‘get’ your pain. But the other thing- how your BFF is being financially controlled and it doesn’t phase her – I don’t understand that. My MIL is kinda like that. I’ve heard my FIL speak to her abruptly and in a condescending tone. It makes me mad, but it just goes right over her head. It’s like she doesn’t even notice it! She speaks of my FIL like he hung the moon! And she’s not in a church where widely submission or even ‘a positive confession’ is emphasized.

          • Ruth on April 6, 2016 at 7:49 pm

            Oops. I meant to type “…ladies who’ve NOT been in an abusive marriage…”

          • Ruthec on April 6, 2016 at 7:52 pm

            2nd oops- this time a bad autocorrection:
            “Wifely submission” NOT “wide submission.”

  16. Robin on April 1, 2016 at 2:05 am

    Lonely wife, others who have not been wounded by a destructive relationship do not understand. Please let it go, even tho our friends are important they are not always right. I’ve learned to let a lot go thru my process- and lean completely into Gods arms who is ever faithful.
    He will always tell you the truth.
    It makes me mad when friends do this to the already – wounded. I am so sorry!!!!!!

    • Maria on April 1, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Lonely wife, I am praying for you.
      As you probably already know, the difference between an emotionally abusive person and one who hurts others sometimes (we all do this) is the emotionally abusive person does this to control another. Another difference is an abuser chooses not to repent. Sounds like you are examining yourself, which is something your husband may never do. I have experienced betrayal by people close to me and It probably hurt more than my husband’s abuse. You may need to surround yourself with supportive friends and stop interactions with your best friend until you are stronger. Interacting with her at this time may add to your pain. Like Robin said, emotional abuse is tough to understand. I asked people who were close to me to read Lundy Bancroft’s book. The ones who really cared for me did, and now they are helping others in bad situations. There were some who chose to be judgemental and did not want to put in the time to understand. I am not as close with them, and don’t share what I go through with them. Also, I have been careful not to share with people who may pass on information to my husband.
      From your posts, I know you have put a lot of effort into staying well. Unfortunately, things sometimes don’t work out the way we plan. If you are planning on separating or filing for divorce, It’s important to get all the information you can. Don’t make any impulsive decisions. Get information from the right people etc. Your husband will probably be more manipulative than he has ever been.

      • Lonelywife07 on April 6, 2016 at 12:43 am

        TY Maria…yes, I’ve now learned a painful lesson and will not confide in my friend again. Sadly, I know she will never read anything I ask her to read…she prefers to live in LaLa land and believes that ANYONE can change, if they are shown more love. :/
        I do have another friend who was in an abusive marriage and when she separated from her abuser ex…her friends turned on her also, so she’s been there for me, encouraging me, so I’m thankful for that. 🙂

  17. Robin on April 1, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Do I let go or hang on????
    There are women who have decided to stand firm for their marriages by staying in their destructive marriages and fighting for them. But there is another way to stand for your marriage. By separating and causing him to face his abuse, is not an end to the end. It is another boundary that says what I’ve been doing is not causing a good result and it’s time to separate our lives, in hope that he will miss his family and come to terms for the need for change. I filed for divorce as soon as we separated saying- this is dead. It is not helpful to anyone. If we can acknowledge the pain maybe we can get a brand new beginning. My husband behaved after the separation just like he did when I was living with him. Entitled, Mr Right, bitter, always angry, controlling, manipulative. I did not give up on my marriage. His continual behaviors that said, you are not important enough to me, to make me want to change caused the final separation. I love Crippens book, A Cry For Justice, because he so well explains how an abuser destroys his marriage, his children, his wife and his own life eventually by choosing to be himself and accept no change. The wife didn’t give up. She simply made a healthy change not to stay where her family would be destroyed. I have been separated for a little over two years. In that short time, my counselor has told me she has never seen anyone change so fast. When the chaos, pain, and ridiculous control is removed, it’s amazing how easy it is to get healthy yourself.

    • Maria on April 1, 2016 at 1:46 pm

      For me, whether I stay or leave, is not really for the marriage. I’ve accepted that he won’t change. It’s more about what’s best for the kids. I know each situation is different, but for me, right now, this is the best.

      • Robin on April 1, 2016 at 4:42 pm

        Maria, it takes a lot of courage to stay and sacrifice for your children.
        I wish the very best for you!

        • Maria on April 1, 2016 at 7:24 pm

          Thanks Robin.

      • Ruth on April 3, 2016 at 10:53 pm

        Maria, I have a question for you. Here’s my background: I am staying married for now. This is partially bc of finances. A big reason is bc if I were to start a divorce, my H would go from a being a part-time pleasant person and part-time despicable jerk into a CRAZY man. I’ve heard about some of the wacko things he did during his first divorce both to his first wife and to their 2 kids. Maybe I’m wrong but I feel like that would be so toxic that I would rather wait till my kids are safely away and probably pursue a divorce then.
        Here’s my question for you: what to do tell your children when your H emotionally hurts one of them?
        This evening, my H mishandled a situation with our 12 yr old daughter. She was pouty at Walmart. She was feeling sorry for herself and without good cause. Separately, we both told her to stop acting pitiful but she didn’t snap out of it. We came home and H asked her to come look at something on our front port. Our front storm door has a very tight spring, so it slams shut quickly. She followed him but he wasn’t paying attention and neither was she. the door wacked her hand. Everyone in our house knows that door slams shut so we’d normally hold the door for anyone was who coming right behind us. She began to cry. A normal dad would have said “I’m sorry! I didn’t realize you were right behind me. I didn’t mean to let the door hit you.” Instead, he expressed zero concern for her injury. He has a belief that if you’re a negative person that bad things will come your way. Kinda like Karma. He said her hand got hurt bc of her mopey attitude at WM. Naturally, this hurt her feelings badly. In my old way of believing that a wife should never contradict her H in front of anyone, I would have kept my mouth shut. But I’m starting to see the light on that twisted teaching. So I confronted him immediately. He turned his attack on me. One of his favorite accusations is that if a kid is acting sad or pouty it’s bc they’re being like me. Living with a self-centered H does make sadness a recurrent struggle but he accepts NO responsibility for his part in that. I told him that he should show compassion for her. And that it’s the wrong time to lecture her on bad attitudes, when she’s hurt. He didn’t want to listen to me. She hates him, wishes he’d die. For the rest of the night, she avoided him but he didn’t even seek her out at bedtime to even say “good night”. Normally he’d always tell each kid “goodnight and I love you” at bedtime. I did the best I could to validate her pain and pray with her asking Jesus to help her deal with her hurt and anger in a Godly way.
        What else should I tell her?

        • Ruth on April 4, 2016 at 9:12 am

          My question above was originally directed towards Maria bc she’s ‘staying well’ with children, but I’d like to open that up to anyone.

        • Maria on April 4, 2016 at 12:20 pm

          Ruth, I think many so-called heathy parents snap at their kids in a fit of irritation/anger (I know I have). While this is definitely wrong, the ideal case would be for the parent to apologize and ask for forgiveness. Kids are so quick to forgive (at least mine are). Hopefully as we mature as parents, we realize that when we misbehave,the focus is on our bad behavior and discipline is not as effective. I don’t know your husband, so I’m not sure if he will own up to his wrong. Assuming he does not, rushing to her side to help her and empathize with her would be the right thing to do, in my opinion. Spending time confronting your husband would take time away from what your child needed. Hopefully, by your actions, your child will learn what to do when someone is hurt. If your child asks you about your husband’s behavior later, you can explain what’s right/ wrong without attacking him. Or you could talk in a general way about what the kind thing to do in a situation like that is. If your husband does not apologize, your child may become angry- you’ll have to watch for that and then talk to her about how in life, some people hurt others. don’t own up to it, blame the person they hurt etc, how should we respond as Christians? This is just my opinion/conclusion after going through stuff in my life. I will write more later when I get some time.

          • Maria on April 4, 2016 at 4:40 pm

            Ruth, I haven’t followed your situation closely. I would not recommend staying in physically, sexually abusive situations. I don’t think it is possible to be healthy in those situations. You can only he all your kids if you are healthy yourself.
            It’s important that you read up on “parental alienation” before you counsel your kids. I don’t believe in standing with my husband when he is obviously wrong. His mom did that, and obviously the result was not good. I usually use scriptures to explain what is wrong about the thinking/behavior. The goal is for the kids to embrace truth and not be right. Someone on this blog mentioned being an observer, and not reacting with emotions, I think this is great advice. He will probably try to “hook” you, be careful that you don’t fall for this. Also, I stopped creating opportunities for him to spend time with the kids. If he wanted to, he could do that himself. He is happy not to and a lot of stressful situations are avoided.
            I am fortunate that I have minimal interactions with my husband.

          • Maria on April 4, 2016 at 4:44 pm

            *You can only help yourself if you are healthy yourself.

          • Maria on April 4, 2016 at 4:51 pm

            I meant “help your children”

        • Robin on April 4, 2016 at 2:39 pm

          I would say, it’s past time to leave . Finances should not be a reason to stay in a relationship, where you have shared many posts on the violence your abuser has continually caused. I would say get your kids out, stand up for their emotional safety, and find a woman’s shelter who will help you start a new life. Ruth you and your children have been paying for abuse for a very long time. Isn’t it time, to stop paying and help your children gain some stability and security?? I pray you can walk away – and I am confident Jesus will help you at every step. But staying in a relationship that is tearing everyone to pieces , will destroy. Please get out and find safety.

          • Maria on April 4, 2016 at 3:01 pm

            More than likely, if Ruth files for divorce, the courts will award joint custody to both parents. So assuming the kids will be free from his behavior & abuse is not a given. He will most likely escalate as she mentioned. We have heard horror stories from women on this blog about how their children are suffering, and the courts have not removed the kids from the abusers.

      • Lonelywife07 on April 6, 2016 at 12:49 am

        Maria, that’s what I’ve done…stayed for my kids, tried to stay well, it’s hard, but doable…just stay close in your relationship with God.
        I’ve found that when I strayed from God, I felt more overwhelmed, more emotionally drained. It’s only with HIS help that we can endure 🙂

        • Rhonda on April 7, 2016 at 5:49 am

          Divorce is not the answer for everyone, and I don’t think any of us want a divorce. We want the abuse to stop. Custody seems the scariest component to me, because we can’t trust what he would do with the kids when we are not there to protect them. Yet, we opt for him being there 100% of the time when we stay. Do you want you kids abused 50% or 100% of the time? We are fooling ourselves that we are protecting the kids from abuse. There are subtle aspects of abuse that our children are catching. Take the risk. Protect your kids. Get out of the fire!

    • Maria on April 1, 2016 at 2:01 pm

      Robin, I’m amazed after what he put you through you still desired for your husband to do the right thing, you wanted his good. I have to confess I’m not there.

      • Robin on April 1, 2016 at 3:33 pm

        Maria, I have experienced many phases with abuse from outright hatred of abuser and wishing he would die- to getting healing of my own heart and realizing we all need to deal with our hearts and things that have wounded us. I have to say in all honesty I never expected my husband would be willing to make any changes- I expected nothing would change- but I always kept myself open to a possible reconciliation. He actually has been in contact with me this week, as it’s been 9 months since divorce and the Retirement Pension still has not processed. He agreed to send me monthly support until it does process. I think for the first time, he is recognizing how miserable his life is w/o me. God could still work. We just never know what it will take to open up a heart.

        • Maria on April 1, 2016 at 7:18 pm

          Robin, You have certainly come a long way. When I see him withhold attention from the kids etc. I feel so angry. I was raised by a very loving father so this is foreign to me. I believe that vengeance belongs to God, and pray that God would punish him (and I offer Him suggestions too). Is that wrong?

          • Maria on April 1, 2016 at 7:42 pm


          • Robin on April 1, 2016 at 8:10 pm

            Maria, I so feel your pain as I lived there way too long. When a father withholds his affection, his attention, his money, even himself, it is so painful as Mom to watch. It caused me so much stress I literally wanted to die, I just couldn’t bear my children being so ignored, dis valued, and how they were going to take these things into adulthood with them. They understood he was abusive but they somewhat minimized it because it was too painful to face the truth. My counselor told me, had I not gotten away, I would have died an early death. It was the most painful thing I ever endured, watching him treat them so poorly. I actually was catapulted to separate when I saw him treat my almost 30 year old son, so ugly that I could not bear it anymore. I was fortunate as my oldest daughter was in driveway witnessing everything. But I am so so sorry you have to endure this. I get so angry when a church leader says just love him more. Yeah right.
            God is not pleased.

          • Robin on April 2, 2016 at 11:53 am

            Maria, it’s never wrong to offer your spouse suggestions . The problem is will he hear you? I think as Moms there is an internal force in us that keeps us trying. Looking back, I know now it’s all up to God to give him a shove or suggestion, so not sure what I would do, but likely I would keep suggesting and confronting to the very end.

          • Maria on April 2, 2016 at 12:37 pm

            It wasn’t suggestions for my husband, but suggestions of punishments to God. Sorry for the confusion.

          • Honey on April 3, 2016 at 12:55 am

            Maria, Is your loving father still alive? I would think it would be great for your children to spend some time with him so they could see a good and Godly man in action. So many things are caught through children observing healthy, loving people.

          • Maria on April 3, 2016 at 9:39 am

            Honey, Fotunately, my kids are exposed to a lot of healthy men.

    • Jill on May 24, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      I, like Robin, chose to leave my marriage. But it took me 41 years to do so. That was almost two years ago. Leslie’s books came to me after I left, and finally I had understanding about the emotional destruction that had long been my life. And on this blog I learn that it is your lives collectively — how sad that so many marriages are this way. After finding The Emotionally Destructive Relationship came understanding about my own anger and abusive behavior that , in truth, was defensive and healthy. And learning that my heart is good. Not perfect. But good. My ex h’s heart is evil, prideful, self-centered. Only by being apart from him have I been able to see that I kept working on a Monet painting of hope for what our marriage would become, all the while living in a pile of manure. Speak the truth in love. I was an expert at speaking in love, but I avoided the truth. Speak the truth in love.
      I was able to plan well and leave suddenly so that he came home for lunch one day to find me gone with only my car and a few boxes of belongings. I would not tell him or my kids where I was until I was settled in a safe and far away place. I had a good lawyer and I took money from our accounts in a legal manner. The legal battle is far from over but I am healthy, very happy, and I can now speak the truth, yes in love. God is showing me real love, honor, respect in relationships. He is showing me truth about an awful ‘Christian’ belief that a woman should never leave unless there is a proven affair of physical abuse. God prepared me for a few years before I left and He is carrying me through this beautifully orchestrated recovery so that I am finally becoming the amazing woman He always intended me to become. Never give up, but I ask that our great God will show you truth and empower you in love.

  18. Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2016 at 11:53 am

    Aleea, always appreciate your insights.

    • Aleea on April 4, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      . . . .Thank you so much for so consistently providing us with all these excellent blogs and content. . . .I certainly appreciate what you do and this space. I view it as a sacred space because so much healing pain takes place here. . . . .Oh my, there is this part of me that just so loves how sure and certain you are, especially in your books. How do you get your mind to that place? . . . .I am so incredibly emotional. . . . .Anyways, I wrote a whole two pages on reality and “The Emperor’s New Clothes” applied to Faith claims in response to your comment above (I just love getting any comments from you!) I prayed over all the verbiage, let a day go by and the Lord God told me every last word of it needs to go in my vomit journal, so that is where it went. I look at what I wrote and question God’s direction but I know from going back and reading in that journal eight to ten months out that I will see why in the future. My defensiveness is some type of silent screaming and I need to look for deeper meanings in me, behind my pain because that is where the healing is. . . . . Anyways, at least I hope it is there.

  19. Robin on April 2, 2016 at 7:06 pm

    Maria I remember days of hoping God would punish. My husband today is getting his punishment. He has lost so much………and lives a miserable existence. God does cause them to reap what they sow, but sometimes we wonder if it will ever come.

  20. Robin on April 4, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    Maria, I know you feel strongly in what you believe. I also feel strongly. An abuser escalates no matter what a woman chooses. There are RISKS involved in whatever decision she makes. I have heard Ruth on this blog for a very longtime sound like a desperate woman. Divorce is not the only option. Separating from the abuse, can let the abuser know there are other authorities in his spouses life, and they are prepared to help her stand up for herself and her children. My own experience was going to a Domestic Center brought much authority into my life, more powerful than the abuser. The longer a woman stays in a home in an abusive environment, the less chance those children can grow up without great woundedness from the abuse. We can’t keep fathers away from the children, but I am quite favorable in separating moms and children from an abusive home- so the Moms can build a strong core, and get healthy herself. I am a believer, when the Mom is healthy, so will the children be. There are issues, I do not discount. I have seen what a narcissist/abuser can do to destroy his children, and in my opinion living with him is the worst scenario. At least by being separated, the healthy mom has more opportunity to help her children heal. But again I respect everyone’s opinion on this blog.

    • Maria on April 4, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Robin, if it is not possible to be healthy in that environment, she should definitely leave. Being a parent is difficult, in an abusive environment, it is extremely challenging. A woman cannot be there for her kids if she is not healthy.
      If she chooses to leave, she should accept that the father will be allowed to spend time alone with the kids. She should also accept that when the dad misbehaves, they will have to deal with it on their own. I know of friends in that situation. There are a host of other things to consider and she needs to make a plan and consider the outcomes. At work. I use something called a decision matrix to make decision. It’s a very useful tool to make a well informed decision. Anyone interested can search for it on the web. If a decision such as this is made in haste, it is likely the woman will return and this will empower the abuser.

      • Robin on April 4, 2016 at 6:51 pm

        I agree Maria. Healthy moms equal healthy children. My sister in law was in this situation, where every single time the grandchildren visited their dad, they were prepared for every scenario that could happen. I was so impressed with all this gma did to keep those kids safe. It can be done!!!!!!

      • Robin on April 5, 2016 at 1:03 am

        Maria, in thinking about your last text , I feel that it’s important to remember we may have thoughts for a woman in that situation to consider, but we don’t know the answers for any individual. It’s good to share our experiences, but we’re not God nor do we have His mind. If we’ll walk by faith and it foolishness, He will be faithful to help and guide each woman and family.!!!!

        • Robin on April 5, 2016 at 1:04 am

          And NOT foolishness, I meant…….

          • Maria on April 5, 2016 at 5:00 am

            Absolutely, all we can do is share our experiences. I am very careful that I don’t tell anyone what to do, I just offer suggestions and opinions. Each person knows their situation best and has to gather information, evaluate the situation and make decisions for themselves.

          • Maria on April 5, 2016 at 6:28 am

            In my opinion, faith and gathering information, thinking things through etc are not mutually exclusive.

          • Robin on April 5, 2016 at 1:58 pm

            What I could have said better-
            is OUR FAITH is needed. For one woman as she trusts Jesus to lead her, she might stay for a season in her marriage. For another as she trusts Jesus she will leave pronto.
            It’s so important to walk by faith and let Jesus lead. Let not fear lead you either. Sometimes we don’t hear Jesus whispering to us, because fear has dominated . Ask Him how He wants u to proceed.

          • Maria on April 5, 2016 at 2:30 pm

            I agree, living in fear is oppressive.

        • Honey on April 7, 2016 at 5:55 am

          I was thinking similar things. We don’t know the future. Imagine if we stay bonded to the abusive spouse and father yet, given the opportunity he doesn’t want custody. Imagine the horrible loss of staying because we thought we knew the future, when all could be free. Laws vary by state. Lawyers can creatively advance custody issues to suit their clients. Why for the love of the children are we giving up and saying we know what the courts will rule? If I was the child, I would cry out and plead with you to get me out of the painful life that Mommy has put me in. If she is the safe one and knows better, doesn’t she love me enough to help me? Why does she stay? What is wrong with Mommy?

  21. Maria on April 4, 2016 at 4:16 pm

    Here’s a link that explains Decision Matrix:

  22. Leonie on April 5, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    In my case the bullying and propaganda and loud angry words and the busyness of always being on edge and walking on egg shells and tiptoeing around my husband’s scary anger all eclipsed the sound of the Holy Spirit speaking into my life telling to flee from this man!

  23. Ruth on April 5, 2016 at 6:31 pm

    To Robin, (I started to respond under your response to me but it made a tiny column of print that’s kinda hard to read)
    Maybe, I was unclear – he’s never been physically abusive. episodes like the one I described with my 12 yr old seem to happen about once every month or two. I started journaling about 6 months ago bc I wanted to look at my situation without minimizing or exaggerating the problems. As far as my marriage goes, the bad does outweigh the good. But the majority of his snotty comments and rudeness is reserved for me. Most of the time he’s decent to the kids.
    On the one hand, when I share an episode like one with my daughter I understand your call to leave ASAP. I know this sounds like denial but when I consider the big picture and weigh out the negatives in leaving, for now, I need to stay.
    I do appreciate you and Maria taking the time to respond to my post. I hope it doesn’t sound like I ask for advice and then just do want I want anyway. I am definitely gaining insight and perspective by reading the articles and posts on this blog.

    • Robin on April 5, 2016 at 6:37 pm

      Ruth, you obviously feel concern for your children. I feel concern for you. When a woman lives so she is taking all the potshots, so the kids don’t, it wears on her and she forgets how important she is. Jesus says we are a saint, a light, and precious. I understand these things we talk and share on this blog– are a process. Please don’t minimize what they are doing to you. I don’t think Jesus giving us abundant life meant taking the hits for our children. I’m going to be praying for you Ruth. That you will hear the Truth about your situation, and Jesus will make it very clear. Thanks for sharing more of your story.

      • Robin on April 6, 2016 at 12:56 am

        This is a post by Barbara Roberts. Who wrote ‘Out of Bondage’.

        Victims sometimes choose to stay in abusive relationships because they think it’s best for the kids to have a dud father rather than no father.

        ‘Staying for the kids?’
        Possibly the most damaging alternative. My Mum made us stay with our abusive father and I would have preferred to live on the streets. If you knew how incredibly DAMAGED I am and my sisters from abuse you would know that ‘staying for the kids’ is hardly an option. Finding refuge on the streets- YES this may be ‘doing it tough’ for awhile but it is BETTER than putting your children through psychological trauma and forcing them to live hyper-vigilantly.

        Talking from experience – when we left dad we were certainly poorer . But they were the happier years of my life. As opposed to the 10 years lived under the abuse of my own father.
        If you are a mother- your instincts should call you to protect. Protect your children at ANY COST. Not just for the sake of their safety but as a Christian – for the sake of JUSTICE.

        God requires us to “SEEK JYSTICE, love mercy and walk humbly with your God”. Micah 6:8

        Please consider seeking justice for your own children. I know it is hard and you will certainly cop a lot of persecution from others, even Christians as they don’t understand. But remember also that it is not our requirement to “fear man” and care what others think of us. Rather, we must do what we feel God’s Will is. God asked Abraham to offer his own son as a sacrifice and altho others would call this murder! Abraham was willing to trust God and be obedient to him. PLEASE be obedient to God and be His Ambassadors of JUSTICE. As the carer of your children you have a responsibility to show them what is right. By remaining in your abusive households and allowing them to witness and experience abuse , you are showing them that ‘this is okay behavior.” This is NOT JUSTICE. And that is NOT what God intends for us. I pray that you come to understand the URGENCY of protecting your children from further harm. And that you don’t wait 20 years and see the sad reality of what it has done to your own, when they have grown up as damaged adults.

        • Maria on April 6, 2016 at 5:04 am

          Robin, My belief is that it is better to have no parent than to have an abusive parent.
          Unfortunately the courts (in our area anyway) believe that it is best to have the parent involved (based on some recent study). This is why they push for joint custody.
          I fully believe staying is what God has called me to do for now. I’m seeing fruit because of my obedience. I am not blind, there are consequences too.

          • rebecca on April 8, 2016 at 1:40 am

            Just curious, who are you obeying? Do you think you are obeying God by staying in an abusive marriage. If I understand correctly this is you or your spouses second marriage. So, biblically you are not really married at all, it is just a piece of paper created by man. It holds no weight in heaven.

        • Maria on April 6, 2016 at 6:29 am

          Robin, I am of the belief that it is sometimes best for the child if the father is not in the child’s life. There are some individuals who are that unhealthy. Unfortunately, the courts (in our area anyway) believe that it is beneficial to have the father involved (due to some recent study). That is why they typically award joint custody. I believe that for now God wants me to stay. I have seen the fruits of my obedience. I am not blind to the consequences. I made the decision after a lot of thought, prayer, counsel etc. Honestly it would be easier for me to leave. I would have more time to myself, could pursue my career more, choose to remarry etc. But I am doing this for my kids’ good. My parents sacrificed a lot for us kids.
          Every situation is different. We cannot make decisions for anyone or tell anyone what to do. The ones going through it are the only ones who know what support they have, their financial situation, state of emotional health, kids emotional health Etc. We really cannot project what worked for us on anyone. Also decisions can be changed on new circumstances.

          • Robin on April 6, 2016 at 9:27 am

            I respect your choice Maria. A friend showed me this post last night and out of obedience I reposted it. We are all free to walk out our own convictions. Barbara posted this as someone she knew grew up with an abusive father, and I felt it was excellent to hear from a child’s view now that she is grown up.

        • Helend on April 6, 2016 at 6:32 am

          Hi Robin-

          I am in the midst of planning to leave well- you talk about the damage to the children and I realize I can’t stay well if I also need to worry about my kids… I am so scared and overwhelmed though..up till now I have been relatively obedient to my husband… Me leaving this time with boundaries will see like an utter act of disobedience to him… I am very afraid for his reaction..

          Please pray that I cane all in faith and not fear

          • Helend on April 6, 2016 at 6:33 am

            Sorry for the typos… I mean walk in faith and not fear

          • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:17 am

            WE hear you and will pray for wisdom, courage and safety.

          • Maria on April 6, 2016 at 6:54 am

            Helend, you addressed your post to Robin, hope you don’t mind me replying. Does the Bible say we should obey our husbands? Isn’t that a man-made rule? in an abusive marriage, this is especially dangerous because it will keep you stuck- you wouldn’t be able to get help because you may be going against his wishes etc. in stead of focusing on your husband, I would encourage you to focus on pleasing God.

        • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:11 am

          I agree. God has put us as “his mini representatives” in our children’s lives. If we allow them to be abused and mistreated, what does that say about God. We are not only stewards of our own life but also that of our children’s lives. The article by Barbara Roberts talks about a dud and abusive dad and if the father is abusing the children verbally, sexually, physically, mentally and/or emotionally, then it is a mother’s responsibility to protect them. If he is a great father and the abusive issues are strictly in the marriage, then it may be a tougher decision, but what happens in these instances when mom puts up with it is the kids see that dad is great and there must be something wrong with mom for dad to treat her that way and they become more aligned with dad than mom because he is the stronger one and she is more passive and “weak”. That also is not good for them.

          • Jill on May 24, 2016 at 7:49 pm

            I found out after leaving my husband, and years after the facts, that there had been abuse of my children that I was totally unaware of. That made me feel terrible! I had no clue. I had protected them, and thought it stopped, but the ex knew how to hide further abuse of my children from me. God help us to know the truth in the midst of it!

          • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 8:51 am

            Jill, that is one of the hardest things to discover. I hope your children forgive your “not knowing” and believe you did your best to protect them.

  24. Helend on April 6, 2016 at 7:49 am


    Thanks for your insight..I have been working on trying to please God instead of my husband now…(for 10 years I thought pleasing my husband meant pleasing God too!!) which is why I think I am finally at this place…I just feel overwhelmed with fear…thank you for your words…

    • Robin on April 6, 2016 at 9:24 am

      Helen I am praying for you. I also submitted to my husband unwisely, until I grew. To understand it is God I am to please. I understand your fear. God will fill you with strength as you draw near to Him.

    • Maria on April 6, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Helend, if you don’t mind me asking, what are you afraid of?

      • Helend on April 6, 2016 at 11:10 am

        It is good question Maria,

        I think it is complicated but essentially boils down to 2 things:

        1. I fear that God wants me to stay and endure..this comes from the fact that my parents dynamics were somewhat abusive as well..I grew up in a home where some of this stuff was normal….though my dad never crossed the line to being abusive with us…I never felt like I was walking on eggshells with him like I do with my husband….just that he could be very mean to my mother… my mother threw herself into God and religious stuff to deal. I think to this day my mother does have a sincere love for the Lord but she chose/chooses a very different path. She chooses to stay and ” give thanks in everything and find her own joy.” She often advises me to do the same….”If you are in a place of gratitude then perhaps your marriage would’nt bother you so much is what she says to me. Are you sure this is what God is telling you to do? To “do what you want” by separating?

        and I get confused….though she says she will support and love me in whatever I decide to choose.

        2. I just fear what this separation will mean…meaning if there is no real heart change…it may really mean the end….and what my husband may do/what side of him will come out if he feels that ” I really wronged him” I know he blames me for most of his misery anyway but there is soo much uncertainty. In some ways I am miserable with status quo but at least it is familiar.

        3. I wonder if I harbor anger – I think to be honest I think I still am angry–but at the injustice..not so much in wanting revenge for him. I actually want him to be happy…and wonder sometimes maybe if he had an affair and found someone he thought could make him happy(because it obviously is not me!) then I would be free to go….I don’t wish him harm…I just want to be free..and this overwhelming feeling of just wanting to run away from him.

        • Robin on April 6, 2016 at 11:46 am

          Helen, separating from our spouse is NOT the end. It only is, if one of you chooses that. Separating is a boundary. It is saying, I am not participating in these behaviors anymore. I’ve been divorced for 9 months now, and I’m still waiting for the Lord to cause my husband to repent and acknowledge his abuse. Boundaries we make like separation are FOR US TO LEARN HOW TO STAND UP FOR OURSELVES AND STOP SIN. Then we wait, upon God. Fear is normal and esp if you were raised in a destructive home. I think it’s critical we keep handing out fear to God and ask Him for enough faith, for just today. What kind of support do you have?

        • Maria on April 6, 2016 at 1:07 pm

          Here are my thoughts. I am just trying to counter some of your thinking/beliefs with what I believe is truth
          1. Since you are in a very rocky marriage, I would encourage you to ready yourself in case you need to leave. Start putting money aside, build a safe network of people who will not inform your husband of what you’re doing. Get legal advise etc. etc.
          1. We need to be grateful for what we have. But being grateful does not mean we are to lie to ourselves about very valid problems in the marriage. God is a God of truth, and knows us, when we pretend we are not pleasing him. He wants an intimate relationship with Him. That can only happen if we are transparent with him.
          2. I don’t know if God wants you to leave or stay, but the reason you believe that God wants you to stay is not consistent with the God I worship. He wants good for us, he loves us unconditionally, we are his precious daughters. He would not do evil to us.
          3. I believe you need to get healthy if you are going to help your kids. We need to replace false beliefs with truth from the Bible Leslie’s CORE class will help you immensely.
          3. Counter fear with God’s word. In the past I have written verses on index cards to counter false beliefs.
          4. I think anger is a normal emotion when wronged. I studied in depth what what forgiveness really is. How to deal with anger, not allowing myself to be bitter

          • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:22 am

            Well said Maria. Thanks.

        • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:21 am

          Recognizing your fear is a first great step. Now facing it is the second (rather than running from it).

        • rebecca on April 9, 2016 at 2:20 pm

          I have been thinking about your post the last few days. I hope when you find you safe place, it does not include your mother. I think she is unsafe too. Do you hear her voice in your head a lot?

          Also, have you seen the video Leslie has when she teaches a client by kicking them in the shin? The teaching (paraphrased) is that we pull back and respond when someone keeps kicking us. Your Mom’s teaching if I understand correctly, it pretend the kicking isn’t happening and thank Jesus for the pain. Create a fantasy, denial attitude mixes with self righteousness and act like it is Joy. Your Mom is disturbingly confused about joy and an attitude of greatness. What do you think?

    • Leslie Vernick on April 7, 2016 at 9:17 am

      Today I read Psalm 118. I’d encourage you to read it today. It will bless you.

  25. Robin on April 6, 2016 at 10:19 am

    To clarify- the post I reposted from Barbara Roberts last night, was not my words. They were words from a daughter that was raised in an abusive home, and she was sharing the damage to her and her sisters.
    This is not about or to – Robin. God will take these words and use them to those who are in need to hear this message. I do believe it is a critical message for many. But it is up to God to deliver it and use it where He see’s it would change lives. And He will do that, as we lay our messes before Him, and ask Him to guide us, and be our help.

  26. Helend on April 6, 2016 at 11:52 am

    And just to clarify – my third point is not to minimize anyone’s pain who have suffered from their husbands infidelity. I am sure if I were to find out about an affair I would be heart broken in a different way.. It was more just to express the feeling of bondage

    • Robin on April 6, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      Helen, FYI I was full of fear the day I left and separated. It was terribly difficult. I was afraid of my husband and what he might do. I got a restraining order against him coming back to house. But what I want you to know is-God delivered me from that fear – but it took awhile. But He did replace that fear with trust. He gave me a lovely couple to go live with for 2 weeks, who kept me very safe. And He will do something AMAZING in your journey too!!!!!

      • Helend on April 6, 2016 at 2:10 pm

        Thank you Robin and Maria for your wise words and encouragement.! I have been trying to counter truth with lies but it seems like an ongoing battle with me. Everything seems so clear one day/moment and then a remark from my mom( or any other Christian who thinks I have no grounds to separate) can sometimes cause doubt…though I do thank the Lord that I doubt A LOT less now.

        Thank you again…and you are likely to hear from me again as I move forward in my next steps..please continue to pray for me!

        • Maria on April 6, 2016 at 2:50 pm

          Will be praying Helend.
          Until you get stronger you may need to stop sharing/ having conversations with those who don’t understand. Ask them to read Leslie’s bks and tell them you’ll be willing to talk then. As an example, when we’re trying to eat healthybwe will not be successful if we hang around people who love to eat desserts (if that’s our weakness)

        • Robin on April 6, 2016 at 3:46 pm

          I’ll be praying Helen!!
          Let us know how we can help!!!!

          • Honey on April 7, 2016 at 7:55 pm

            Maria, Robin, and Leslie, excellent counsel. Add me to the prayer list for Helen.

        • Robin on April 8, 2016 at 1:37 pm

          Helen, be careful whom you listen too.
          Their words can so easily cause doubt. And when others do speak against your choices, one thing I have said is thank you for your perspective- but I see it differently. We must be warriors for our families, fighting for Truth and Reality.

  27. Robin on April 7, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Praying Honey!!!!!

    • Helend on April 8, 2016 at 11:54 am

      I am so amazed at the encouragement the Lord provides from all of you!
      Leslie- I read psalm 118 yesterday and it really was a blessing.!

      Thank you all!!!

      • Robin on April 8, 2016 at 12:06 pm

        That is so wonderful Helen. The Lord really is so faithful as we reach out to Him to be our help!!!!

  28. Kathryn on April 10, 2016 at 12:19 am

    I’m new to this blog and have listened to Leslie’s session. They have been tremendously helpful. I am one of these ones who stayed in my marriage for the sake of shame in the community and with my parents (my father is a pastor). I now recognize years of abuse including physical abuse to my children and am saddened that I did not do more to protect them. Now as empty nesters some patterns are emerging; namely under the guise of complementarianism. I’m wondering if anyone out there has dealt with this. To me it seems like patriarcal thinking “repackaged”. My husband wants to leave our church because he believes it should have an “all male board/elder’s board” of leadership and that women should not preach or hold any authority over a man in the church. He is reading alot of material about this and I can’t hold a candle to his arguments of scripture. I want to be a Godly wife but I feel I am loosing my sanity again. Does anyone out there have any similar experiences? I need some serious help. I feel like giving up especially now the children are gone.

    • Shalom on April 11, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Kathryn, Did you sign up for Leslie’s webinar this Thursday? It may be helpful for you as you make a plan. I wrote another reply but am not sure if it got posted under your comment or as a new comment. Praying for you this morning.

      • Kathryn on April 11, 2016 at 7:00 pm

        Thank you for your comments Shalom. I will look at signing up for that webinar. I am listening to the link you provided as well. Thank you.

    • Honey on April 11, 2016 at 8:25 pm

      I just learned something last night from watching a few videos by Patrick Doyle on the Cry for Justice site or the network. This is what I learned, anytime you are having a discussion and it becomes more and more confusing or you think you are “losing your mind”, you are being manipulated. That is abuse.

      • Ann L on April 12, 2016 at 8:02 pm

        “…anytime you are having a discussion and it becomes more and more confusing or you think you are “losing your mind”, you are being manipulated.”

        Man, I wish I’d have understood that all these many years. On the bright side, now I am not confused. Perhaps that is why my husband does not engage in any meaningful conversation with me — and that’s why we are not working on healing our marriage.

        What an amazing perspective. Thank you.

  29. Shalom on April 11, 2016 at 10:13 am

    Kathryn, I will be praying for you as it sounds like you are in a destructive relationship. As you go through Leslie’s material, I think you will see the importance of building your CORE strength and facing your reality with God’s grace and truth. You mentioned physical abuse of your children – do they still have issues as a result of this? It sounds like they are grown now and out of the house but how are they do doing? You asked about complementerian thinking- you might want to read the transcript from a sermon preached a year ago by Jason Meyer at Bethlehem Baptist where John Piper used to be the pastor. I can’t remember if Leslie commented on this message shortly after it was given. Here is the link.
    It is not a good sign if you are feeling like you were losing your sanity again. Please look to God to hear what HE is saying, not your husband who may not even care what you are experiencing. It is always wise to take care of yourself. Find plenty of support and someone you can be honest with – “wise others” in your life who will verify what the Holy Spirit is leading you to do and say. Being a Godly wife may look much different than what you have imagined or done in the past. If you want to see change you will have to focus on changing yourself. My heart goes out to you as I can relate to much of what you shared. You are not alone!

  30. Karhryn on April 12, 2016 at 8:47 pm

    Thank you. That is very helpful

    • Shalom on April 13, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      Kathryn, I’m praying for you. Are you feeling stronger and seeing things differently? What is most helpful and do you have local support? Today’s post on Grace and Forgiveness was excellent. It’s a challenging road… don’t give up on seeking Truth and facing reality.

  31. Tracie on May 10, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Hello all….Leslie, thank you for your encouragement and info in CONQUER. This is a confusing and emotional roller coaster I’m riding on…I’m so ready to get off, but don’t know which step to take.

    I was recently divorced (I filed in February) (my second time) to a man whom I feel is a psychopath/narcissist. He fits a good majority of the criteria of a typical N. He wants to reconcile and work things out. Has agreed to go to counseling and do whatever it takes no matter how long. When I married him, I planned on forever. Within four months, Jekyll and Hyde appeared. We separated once before but reconciled, then J & H appeared shortly again. I finally left for good and filed divorce. My feelings are that I didn’t do enough to make the marriage work and keep questioning that decision.

    Our main issue other than communication is his intense dislike for my daughter’s father. My girls are 23 and 21. Their father and I (we divorced 5 years ago) agreed to put aside our differences and show our girls that we can forgive each other and be friends (and only friends). My second husband (ex) said that is not a normal relationship and it’s not right, that he doesn’t know of anyone that would agree or accept to something like that. I have asked my DivorceCare group if my request was out of the ordinary and they said “not so much”. Many divorced families are amicable towards each other.
    Of course, my girls do not care for the ex, but I feel they are grown adults and should accept that I have moved on. I don’t expect them to hold hands and sing “cum-by-yah” but at least be amicable.

    Since I have divorced, my relationship is so much better with my girls and I don’t want to lose that; on the other hand, I don’t want my family to run my life and they will threaten to disown me or not talk to me if my ex and I try to work this out.

    My mother (widowed 5 years ago) could also fall into this category. She is very manipulative and uses the family to pit us against each other. It is my sister and I who help her with household chores and home fixes. (She is not disabled by no means and in pretty good shape except she’s a chain smoker and suffers from anxiety and depression. She refuses to take her meds like she is supposed to and even quit them all recently.) We do this mainly out of obligation to her. She expects the grandkids to come over, not to do grandmotherly stuff, but her chores around the house. They resent that and do not come around often.

    She is living on Soc. Security and refuses to look for a second job saying no one would hire an “old lady”. She has asked my sister and her husband, and me for financial advice but totally does the opposite or even ignores the advice. She is very resentful and negative towards my father who died suddenly and didn’t leave her in “good financial shape”. She makes comments that we should “help your old mother out” and even has hinted to my eldest daughter to help her out financially.
    If we can’t come over for some reason or another, she pulls the poor old widow card and calls the few friends she has and complains how her family has deserted her.

    I’m so confused…I am a people pleaser and have the worse time saying “NO”. I know I need boundaries, but I really don’t know where to start…my mom, the ex, or my girls…..I am reading all the “Boundaries” books. I’m at my wits ends….feel like I need to move to Alaska to get away from it all.

  32. Christine on May 24, 2016 at 10:12 am

    So many wonderful responses! I left a dysfunctional marriage after 35 years. It WAS so difficult. He was controlling (so was I, in my own way) and I was so co-dependent. It took a lot of courage to leave, after years of counseling. He went to counseling, but only to occupy a chair and to be able to say he had gone to counseling. God allowed a situation in my life where I really had no choice but to leave. My spirit was broken at that point and there was no way I could continue to live with him and have any self respect left. I remember, in my spirit feeling the Lord telling me it was time to go. I said to Him, “I can’t go. I can’t do it; I am not strong enough”. I felt Him say in response, “You are right. You cannot do it, in your own strength. But I can do it. Can you just be the vessel? I will do it through you”. It was all so clear to me. I was afraid. In my weakness I said, “Yes, I can be the vessel”. It has been 8 years since I left and divorced him. It has been a journey, but the Lord has truly become my husband, as it says He will in Isaiah 54. I trusted Him then and I trust Him now. He has shown Himself faithful in every way. Through my fears He has shown me my weaknesses and the work He needs to do in me. I am still being the vessel, willing to let Him do what He needs to do so I can become all that He wants me to be.

  33. Robin on May 24, 2016 at 10:49 am

    It is so true it is painful when a family splinters ……. But what I learned in counseling is in Destructive relationships, the family has already broken due to abuse. Finalizing it with separation or divorce is just a formal step to what has already occurred in the family: painful yes it is for the family but realize that process of pain has been continuing for a very long time . And often separation can be a cure for the poison that has infiltrated a family, thru abuse.

  34. Karhryn on May 24, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    It is encouraging to see someone able to leave and make a life for themselves after 35 years. We just had our 35 year wedding anniversary. My husband was away in business but it was a very sad day. I know my marriage is over but don’t have the courage to face the shame. I come from a pastors family and my kids are hoping I will stay and work things out. There is a lot of pressure to “do what’s right” even though I’m so unhappy. How did you reconcile your faith with this??

    • Robin on May 24, 2016 at 12:47 pm

      It was challenging in the beginning.
      My faith is very strong. I learned that God cares about me and not just the sanctity of marriage. I learned I have a personal responsibility to be a good steward of my body, my life, and the example I leave my children. Faith is not just about marriage. Faith has a lot to do with all the steps we take. Living a pretense of a marriage is not living a sound faith.
      I learned I can worship Christ best by being honest. It broke my heart to separate, and separate our family as I knew there would be sides. It’s been tough. But a sad marriage is tougher. My children are starting to come around. But as I walked away from a destructive relationship of 32 years and focused on myself getting healthy, it helped my children to see the truth.
      My faith is stronger today, because I am stronger and no longer living a pretense. I know God takes care of me, and is my true husband. I wish my exhusband would acknowledge his destructive behaviors and repent. But for the last 3 years, there has been no sign that will happen. Sometimes we forget we are only responsible for ‘me’. The heritage we leave behind is not up to our abusive husband- I must choose my path. My life is full of good people who love and support me, and God provides everything I need. Again, whatever path we take is not easy. But a honest one worked for me.

      • Robin on May 24, 2016 at 12:51 pm

        Your statement, ‘do what is right’ is one I tripped over in the beginning. Is it right to stay in a marriage where only one spouse wants to heal?? Is it right to keep up a facade of happy family, when you know that just is not true? You must decide what RIGHT means for you. I have been in counseling weekly for over 3 years, to help me learn how to think Bibically and healthy and uncover all the lies I believed.

  35. Vivienne on May 24, 2016 at 4:08 pm

    I have not been on this blog for a while, waiting to see how the boundaries I put in place changed my situation. Well, I separated to another room last June, my husband’s rage was evident for many weeks and he tried, unsuccessfully, to oust me from our home which gave me the leverage I needed to obtain t100% title to another house that we jointly owned in England and I didn’t need a lawyer, only God’s help. As many of you will know, going to court with an abusive narcissistic husband is dangerous and financially suicidal so I am glad I avoided that scenario!

    My husband, in debt once again due to last year’s flamboyant and irresponsible spending, is having to sell our current home (this is a repetitive feature over 34 years). Recently, a buyer was found so my husband and boys have to move within the next few months.

    Meanwhile I have had several options: I could have occupied my aunt’s bungalow after she went into care, I could have moved to my sister’s house as she is spending more time away at a holiday home but instead I chose to stay because my youngest son (17 yrs) was experiencing difficulty (drugs, smoking, poor school reports) so I first needed to stabilise him. I am not able to simply leave with my children – gee that would be so easy if I were not living in a foreign country – I would have left years ago otherwise but my children grew up in a foreign land and it is now their home. Instead, I have had to face the truth that my 34 year marriage is irretrievably broken, that my husband will not own his destructive behaviour and likely never change at all. I therefore, at the fast approaching age of 58, applied for a job in my home country, near to where my 100% title house is situated, and I got the job. I start work 15th June working in a boutique style hotel, as Housekeeping Supervisor within an Elizabethan Manor house set in 3,500 acres of Devon countryside, just 8 miles from the coast of South West England. My uniform provided, meals on duty included, good pay, 28 days holiday with prospects to grow with the group that owns five similar hotels and is allied to another chain who have a place in France…which may be useful later….as France is where my children are living. I am trusting God with the details.

    This past year, since I separated myself to another room in the family home, I have had time to clear my mind, time to grow, to regain my sense of self, to show my boys no one has to put up with abuse, to be authentic and to live in truth. My husband has calmed down but still does not see the emotional pain he has caused and he still refuses to discuss issues….to him it is dragging up the past and he claims I am unforgiving and a poor excuse for a Christian.

    I told my husband today that I will be leaving to start work next month, he said he was happy for me. Then he asked if I could take our 17 yr old with me as he finds him difficult to handle because of his anger, and doesn’t understand his anger or frustration or the cause. I so wish I could but take him but a) he wants to remain here and b) at first I will be housed in staff accommodation until the tenant in my own house moves out. My husband then said it was a good opportunity for me to discover if I could live back in England again; I told him that was not my main reason for leaving (which he of course knew) but he resisted all attempts for me to address the real reasons i.e. his abusive behaviour and unwillingness to change. Prior to this conversation, I was, like many of us have I am sure, been second guessing myself, was I being selfish in wanting to leave, that maybe my 17 year old needed me to stay….and I would love to stay for him but cannot financially support him and me without working and here I can’t earn very much. So I have until tomorrow to make my mind up, letting the employer have my decision.

    I was still wondering which way to jump when Leslie’s blog showed up in my email today – great timing! That and my husband’s response spoke loud and clear – go!

    I have endured, I have carried my cross, I took undeserved punishment, I was broken, I searched for death to find me sometimes but God breathed new life into me. Praise God – he is mighty to save and he never let’s go of our hand.

    • Vivienne on May 24, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      Strangest thing…I just saw this blog was originally posted on 30th March…and it only turned up in my post-box today; I think that was the Lord’s doing 🙂

    • Robin on May 24, 2016 at 9:05 pm

      Good to hear from you Vivenne, thanks for giving us an update on your circumstances!!!!

  36. Anna on May 24, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    I remember reading Leslie’s advice about “if you stay, stay well”. Considering all the aspects of separating after 40 years of marriage (children, grandchildren, finances, etc.) I stay and I want to stay well. I watched the War Room, by myself and decided this is bigger than me so I gave my husband to the Lord. Completely. I then memorized 1 Cor 13 and tested myself on how I should be loving him. And that is what I am doing now. Some situations come up, where he is again critical, controlling and uncaring….and I check up on myself how I can apply 1 Cor 13 to the situation. The rest I leave to the Lord. I can honestly say, I love him and I want to stay well.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 8:52 am

      Anna, that is an honorable goal, and a long term marriage is about many things, including family legacy and a secure financial future. If you can stay well, do it.

  37. Karhryn on May 24, 2016 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. It gives me hope there is a better way…

    • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 8:54 am

      You are most welcome.

  38. Meg on May 25, 2016 at 8:24 am

    Grateful to read Vivienne’s post. Her situation resonates with me. The feel of it is the same. i am trapped in an abusive home where not only my borderline h emotionally and psychologically harrasses me but now my grown daughters (24 and 28 years) are home again and have joined him in his constant gas-lighting. i have two younger children 17 and 14, I am trapped because I and my whole family have Lyme disease and my infection is in the brain. He is always saying I am having Lyme episodes when I protest his hurtful treatment of me. I am disabled and see no way to earn a living. I was self-employed for years (working for h’s clients) till my h decided to punish me by refusing to “allow” me to work for them anymore. I hadn’t realized the work i did was so controlled by him. Cannot get disabiiity thanks to my h’s maneuvering with our taxes over the years and filing that my business was a loss. My older daughters have betrayed me and say I am playing the victim when I try to tell them to stop hurting me. I have no voice. I’ve been married almost four decades and have lost hope. Cry every day and try to hide it from my 14 year old daughter who is being trained by my elder girls to view me as pathetic. Such a catch-22. My daughters now tell me I’m verbally abusive when I try to stand up to them. They used to stand with me but now that i’m trying to have a backbone with them, they use just what they know will destroy me emotionally. I see now that i was codependent toward my older girls – and growing up in a dysfuntional home has trained them in how to abuse me. I feel I’m no match for them wih my cognitive difficulties and I’m bullied and criticized and despised every day. I feel like Cinderella with evil step-sisters and step-mother; not a parent and homeowner. I’m sometimes at the point where being thrown out on the street would be much better than emotional torment of being despised and not being loved by my precious babies that I foolishly gave everything for. My 17 year old son is also neurologically affected by the Lyme and my husband is managing his medical care in a hurtful way and I have to let go of my desire to help my younger kids who don’t believe a word I say as they’ve been convinced I’m nuts. No physical abuse – h too smart for that. He’s a Christian with a relatively good reputation and few know or believe how ugly he is to me. I can barely function. Hard to process thoughts. I see the many foolish choices i’ve made and now wonder what God can do with me. Attend codependency meetings weekly for 4 years and have sought counseling for 7 years. Counselors were tricked by H to think he was the victim here. Have been living somewhat separated in same house for about 5 years which was when a counselor told me I needed to get my kids away from him. But I couldn’t pull it off. Been enrolled in Conquer since last May but find it hard to figure out facebook and how to participate and can’t ask for help. Deep in debt from the medical bills. God has my attention but with the ADHD symptoms I can barely hang on. Doctor says I’m on fast track for Alzheimer’s with the Neuro-Lyme. H loved to hear that. This is a long, wandering post and I’m grateful for anyone who read all this.

  39. Vivienne on May 25, 2016 at 2:54 pm

    Oh Meg, I am so sorry you feel trapped, I know what that feels like. I also know how it hurts to have your children falsely accuse you or act in unloving ways, especially after sacrificial love towards them…very painful. God sees, God cares.

    I also felt powerless sometimes, I had little strength some days to function well at all and know all too well the constant harassment, feeling under fire al the time, unable to think straight.

    I am never sure if my husband did this deliberately to keep me in a controlled state but it just felt like I was living with a demon. Today, he is quiet, helpful, and it would be very easy for me to fall back into line but I know I can’t risk it – I have learned from these blogs not to do that! Yet I also feel a deep sadness because when things were good, they were very good but when bad absolutely impossible. I also now clearly see distinct patterns of behaviour which are huge red flags.

    Is there no way for you to find some kind of employment that you could do from home? Are there specific support groups local to you for people that suffer from Lyme Disease? Or on-line? I really feel for you and your situation and pray the lord will lift you up emotionally.

    Big hugs to you xx

    • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 9:06 am

      I agree if possible find support for yourself, even if it’s just online. That’s why I started our CONQUER group. It’s a huge support for many women in destructive relationships.

  40. Cyndy on May 27, 2016 at 12:37 am

    I guess I kept making choices/consequences and watching his response. It was always disappointing to see him move away from me instead of toward me. Every so often while we were separated I would be nudged by God to approach him and ask him or share with him something specific to see where his heart was. Unfortunately it never changed. Finally, after a series of conversations I initiated over the course of a month, I knew God was releasing me from a man who had no intention of changing or pursuing my heart. Even during the divorce, I felt God opened the door for a couple more heart to heart conversations that were His way of confirming I was making the right decision. It was a process following the Holy Spirit step by step.

    • Tracie on May 27, 2016 at 7:48 am

      I can totally relate to you Cyndy. I finally got confirmation that God has opened the door for me to move on. I tried reconciling with my ex only to find out where his heart was. He too had no intention on working on the issues we had in our marriage. It will always be my fault that our marriage didn’t work and he was the victim in all this. Now there is no more conflict within me trying to figure out the “what if’s”. For the first time in months, I have an inner peace I didn’t know could exist. I can finally start healing and focusing on me and my relationship with the Lord.


      • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 9:29 am

        Glad you’ve gotten clarity Tracie.

      • Cyndy on May 28, 2016 at 11:39 am

        Yep. That’s exactly right Tracie! You do understand. So glad you have reached that point of peace and knowing! What a relief it is! Thank you Tracie, for your encouraging words and blessings on you too as you continue to follow our Guide into a fullness and freedom beyond our experience or imagining! Hugs!

    • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Step by step is the best way. Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and guide you in the way you should do. I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

  41. Steveo on May 27, 2016 at 4:52 am

    I haven’t read all of the comments here, but as i read Mrs Vernick’s post, i must agree. If a man is not willing to change from selfish ways, his wife needs to speak truth to him. The example given in your answer, Mrs Vernick, of how a wife can calmly say to her husband that his ways, attitudes, harsh reactions and unwillingness to change are giving her no choice but to separate from him because she cannot continue to live in this way as husband and wife.
    Wives are to submit. Husbands are not to be harsh. Wives are to respect their husbands. Husbands are to love their wives and treat them as the weaker partner. That pendulum swings both ways out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21). One cannot function properly without the other functioning properly.
    I can speak this with authority because i have been the foolish husband. My phlegmatic, selfish, prideful, defensive ways had almost crushed my precious bride of 33 years. She tried to have a voice in this, but i always snuffed her out through intimidation. Mind you, i never hit my wife nor made any physical hints of doing so, but my words, looks and silence caused more damage to her undeserving heart and i am broken by it. Broken and doing the work to repair and heal the hurts i have inflicted. God is good in His mercy and grace. His Word is daily reminding me of my position as husband to my wife and as an ambassador of Christ to those around me. My mind is clear and my heart is clean. i am no longer the Proverbs fool, in Jesus’ name.
    So i say, Thank You Leslie for speaking truth to my wife and to me.

    • Robin on May 27, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Congratulations on your growth and transformation!!!!!

    • Leslie Vernick on May 28, 2016 at 9:28 am

      Thank you Stevo for your heart felt comment. You are a rare example of allowing your wife’s words to penetrate your heart, along with the Holy Spirit showing you what things you need to do to become the man he created you to be. I think a lot of this during this time of year. We plant seeds, so that they will “BECOME” tomatoes or peppers, or beautiful sunflowers, or a mighty oak tree. A seed must die to itself as a seed to BECOME what God intended. As you must die to yourself as a phlegmatic, selfish, prideful, defensive man so that you can become the loving, godly husband God calls you to be. ANd wouldn’t that be a much better you? Of course it would. YOur wife has your back. She wants to see your best self shine through.

    • Tracie on May 30, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Stevo, I applaud you for opening your heart, ears, and mind to the obvious and admitting the hurt you have caused.

      Your wife is a very lucky lady. It’s going to take time, lots of it, but it sounds like you are on the right path for reconciling and healing.

      I only wished my husband was as open and sincere as you are.

      Put God first and all will fall into place. In His timing. This won’t be an overnight fix.

      God bless you.

  42. Cyndy on May 28, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Yep. That’s exactly right Tracie! You do understand. So glad you have reached that point of peace and knowing! What a relief it is! Thank you Tracie, for your encouraging words and blessings on you too as you continue to follow our Guide into a fullness and freedom beyond our experience or imagining! Hugs!

  43. Lola on May 31, 2016 at 4:41 am

    Just a few weeks ago I was rudely awakened to the reality that maybe things will never change. It is a very long story and I am still in shock since things have been going great for months.

    I can’t get the “I F%$#ing hate you!!! Get out of my life, I want a divorce out comment of my head especially when a few days before he was professing his love to me.

    Since then, the anxiety, panic attacks, fear, jumpiness have started again. My child seems to get the end of the stick as I am more flustered and angry and so short and quite. Yet he acts like nothing happened and is all happy.

    I decided to forgive him for my own sake/sanity and obedience to God. He on the other hand is unrepentant and doesn’t believe he was in the wrong and says he will never apologize.

    I don’t believe in divorce and have fought so hard for the past 7 years, afraid of God being disappointed in me so I stayed, I have prayed, I have fasted, I have done all I can do BUT I finally feel at peace with going, something I was not at peace with before.

    Now, I am afraid that he will change his mind about the way he talked to me and may want me to stay when I finally have the talk with him about leaving. I love him and have wanted nothing more than to have a healthy and happy marriage/family but afraid the cycle will never end.

  44. Vivienne on May 31, 2016 at 9:42 am

    Hi Lola,

    It is so very difficult to wade through all the emotions that accompany the roller-coaster ride that has been my marriage and clearly yours too. Like you I remained for many years, not wanting to disappoint God, not wanting disobey scripture but at the end of the day my sanity was / is / remains at stake. Today, as I am packing up my belongings, dealing with the emotional fall-out that I witness in my sons, seeing my husband behave as if I am leaving for no good reason, certainly not because of his abusive behaviour (according to him) that I am again on the edge of a nervous breakdown. Trust me, if your husband remains unrepentant, will not be specific in owning or admitting poor behaviour, it will not change or get better, but possibly much worse.

    It is the constant denial that anything untoward has occurred, my husband continues to maintain he has done nothing wrong and this filters out to my children believing I am the one breaking up our family !! Hurtful and cruel.

    I do hope your discussion about leaving and why that must take place stirs something in your husband Lola, that he will be shaken and come to his senses, I so hope you are able to re-build but be aware that it may not and if that happens then don’t second-guess yourself, make plans to leave. I pray the Lord will lead and guide you into all truth and to a place of rest. Bless you xx

    • Tracie on May 31, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      Very well said Vivienne.

      Lola, it’s the hardest decision you will make. I too wanted to remain in the marriage not wanting to disappoint God. He will NOT hold that against you. You are His child and He will forever love you and wants to protect you.

      My husband’s behavior did get worse, his actions were cold, threatening and very scary.I had never been more afraid of someone as I was this last and final time (two weeks ago, our third time to try reconciliation).

      Don’t second guess, you know in deep in your heart what you need to do for you AND your children. Yes, they will be angry and hurt, but in time God will help them to see your husband, their father, for who/what he is.

      My prayers are with and for you.


  45. Robin on May 31, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Lola, be firm in your own thoughts before you talk to him. You are living in the crazy cycle and u won’t know from one day to the next, what he will do. It’s important that you know what you need and not let his words or actions deter you from what you have set in your mind to do for your own sanity. On the other hand, divorce is hard and maybe you’re not ready for that big of a step. Maybe you just need to take a break and get some peace back and have time to think clearly. It’s not unusual once a woman separates herself from all the crazy chaotic behaviors, she stays separated, knowing she deserves to live a life apart from abuse. Rarely, but sometimes a separation will speak to the Destructive spouse and he will want to change. But regardless of what he does you can make a change today and choose to step away from abuse and ask the Lord to guide your every step!!!

    • Cyndy on May 31, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      So true! It’s hard to get full perspective when in the middle of an emotional situation. I saw enough to step away, but after, more became crystal clear! Especially watching his response to my boundaries. Do not be afraid. God is GOOD and He will make it clear what YOU need and your child needs. You don’t have to look far into the future. Just trust Him with the next step, whatever it is He says to do. He’ll take care of the rest and He’ll take care of YOU because you are incredibly precious to Him!

  46. Andrea on July 31, 2016 at 1:11 am

    I read this blog post and it described exactly what I am experiencing right now. What has grieved me the most is that this my 2nd marriage to a narcissist. My first was 20 years after which my soul was completely broken. It was five years before I was open to dating again and I thought I had finally found myself and healing. I was very clear about what I wanted in a husband and father for my son. And then, it was as if I lost my mind. Everything I valued and vowed I must have, I abandoned. I ended up marrying someone who is the complete opposite of healthy and found myself back in the same mess. I have struggled with a guilt and shame like never before and am trying desperately to see my way through this. It’s not like the first time. I’m not hanging on, willing it to work. I’ve been holding back from throwing in the towel too quickly. But despite having better boundaries, speaking truth in love, seeking marital counseling, I find more and more that I am convinced it will only get worse. He is never wrong… in his eyes and my son and I are dying from the critical, detached environment. Like some of you, the financial aspect is what limits my decision to make a physical separation. I’m praying for God to open a door. It is such a painful experience to be going through this again. Only 2 years in on this marriage, but I am not willing to be dishonored the rest of my life. What is hard for me is knowing what to tell my son. How do I explain this to him? How do I help him not be hardened and angry when his feelings are understandable? How do I explain this mess?

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