I went to the movies this weekend and saw Love and Mercy, the story of Brian Wilson, the leader of The Beach Boys. Growing up I loved the Beach Boys and I was eagerly looking forward to hearing one of their best songs, Good Vibrations. Seeing how he created the layers of that song was fascinating.
But Love and Mercy is much deeper than reminiscing about great music. It is a riveting movie, painful to watch at times. Brian was emotionally and physically abused by his father and it set him up to be vulnerable and abused later in life by his psychologist. The drug culture of the 60’s and 70’s only added to his slide into mental illness.
Watching the power and control that his psychologist implemented over Brian’s entire life was scary. I wondered during the movie if there were any couples in the theatre where power and control, abuse and manipulation were present in their relationship and what take-a-ways each one got from the movie. Elizabeth Banks, the actress who played Brian’s girlfriend was the first one to speak up about what was going on and eventually helped Brian to break free. The movie has a good ending, the good guy marries the beautiful girl and goes on to have a better life; the bad guy loses his power and his license to practice psychology. If you can handle the triggers it might set off for some of you, I’d highly encourage you to go see it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
Question: I've been married for almost 5 years and last June my husband informed me that he had gotten an apartment and was seeking a temporary separation in hopes that things would get better. I have also known that things were bad but my desires were to seek couples counseling from a Clergy or licensed Christian Counselor.
My husband pastors a small church and feels that he is qualified to lead us to resolution although his repeated attempts have not worked. We are both over 50 years old and I guess very set in our ways. I feel he is very controlling, manipulative, and secretive about his affairs, abusive and uncaring. He feels that I am a poor communicator, negative, and lack romance.
It's been 9 months since he left and there has been no progress made. He once said, “I promise that I will never go to counseling with you.” He also left me with 90% of the bills to pay. It includes the mortgage, his medical and car insurance.
I stopped attending the church he pastors (1 hour away) and attend a great church near our home and have stayed in fellowship with godly people who minister to me regularly. There were very low points in the relationship where I became depressed and lost hope but God stepped in and I'm much healthier now.
Through your material I've realized that he was abusive and that my marriage was destructive but I'm not sure where to go from here. I feel like I'm in limbo between two different worlds. I continue to wear my ring but every time I look at it I'm confused as to what to do next.
I've sought God and have received no clarity to date so I am patiently waiting for his direction. This is my husbands 3rd marriage and my 2nd, I was single for about 17 years before I married him. I thought I was ready.
What should I do?
Answer: Friend, in your deep heart of hearts, what do you think you should do? I think your question reflects the lie or myth that you still cling to that there is something you can do to change your husband.
You’ve acknowledged that he’s been abusive. Nine months have gone by with no progress. He’s told you very clearly that he will never go to counseling. He’s the one who left you and left you with 90% of the bills – and many of them his bills.
Now that you’ve gotten healthier are you thinking that the marriage would improve? His complaints, the reason he said he left was that you were negative, a poor communicator and lacked romance. Do you agree those were issues of yours that negatively impacted your relationship with him? Are these things you’ve been working on during this time? Have you tried communicating with him lately in a healthy and positive way? What were the results? Has he initiated any attempts towards repairing your marriage or is it all up to you to just do what he says and then things will be fine.
Many abusive men think they know all the answers and if you would just fall into line and do it their way (submit), the marriage would be fine. And it would be fine – for them. But what about you? Would it be fine for you?
When you lived together he left because he said you were negative, a poor communicator and lacked romance. Were these inherent problems you came into the marriage with or did they result because of the environment you lived under?
When you live with a dictator, someone who is secretive and manipulative, it’s not uncommon to begin to be more be negative, lose your romantic feelings and have trouble communicating – mainly because they twist your words and refuse to listen and treat you harshly. Who feels like kissing someone who verbally berates her?
I understand it is very confusing. Living in limbo land – married but not married. (tweet that)
I’m glad you are not rushing into making an important final decision but stop beating yourself up. Being ready for marriage after 17 years of singleness doesn’t mean that you were ready for a destructive and abusive marriage. No one is ready for that and anyone who lives in one finds it extremely difficult to stay well.
I’m thankful that you are in a good and supportive church family and I hope you are getting some godly counsel there. But from my vantage point, I see that your husband has abandoned you. He left you with the financial burden, he refuses to get help for the marriage, he hasn’t made any attempts to change or repair things with you so I’m not holding out a lot of hope that anything will be different.
What are your options? Do you stay in limbo land – waiting to see if God grabs hold of his heart? Do you go back to the same things you had before (I hope not)? Or, do you take his inaction and indifference as abandonment and Biblical grounds for divorce? Those are your choices and they create a tough decision for you to make but I’m confident that as you continue to trust God, he will show you what to do.
Friends, how did you know God was telling you to stay, to wait, or to end your marriage?
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Am I Being Spiritually Abused?
Morning friends, I so appreciate your prayers. I was in Virginia Thursday and Friday morning and then drove to Maryland to speak at a women’s event Friday night and Saturday. What was supposed to be a 4 to 5-hour drive turned into a 7-hour drive from getting lost and dealing with Washington DC traffic. I…
Is Divorce A Sin?
Morning friends, I am heading to Wheaton, Illinois on Friday night and Saturday to do a marriage conference at Wheaton College Church. On Friday morning, I’ll also be doing a 90-minute presentation to some members of the graduate department at Wheaton College on Three Mistakes People Helpers Make When Working in Destructive Marriages. Pray for…
Does Anyone Else Respond Poorly and Sinfully to Their Abusive Spouse?
Evening friends, I so appreciate all your support and comments to one another. We are building a great community where women can feel safe and deal with hard marriages and heart issues. This week’s question came directly from the blog but I thought it deserved greater attention and discussion. Before we get into the question,…
WOW!! A PASTOR that has been married 3 times. I don’t know why the first 2 marriages ended, but from the sounds of what he has done to the writer of this question, he has no right to be in the pulpit leading anyone. He is both abusive, controlling, left her holding the bag of financial concerns and has abandoned the marriage.
I agree with Leslie, please don’t go back to this. My advice: See a lawyer!!!! Please stop paying his debts!! He needs to be held accountable for his actions.
It took me far too long to recognize the cycle and get off the hamster wheel. From the onset of knowing it was time to leave it took me 3 years to actually leave. Please don’t let this happen to you. I was in constant agony during that time of praying, reading various books and commentaries on abuse, in the Word and crying out to God. Every T crossed and I dotted to knowing that divorce was accepted in the eyes of God.
The xh had threatened divorce during the entire 16 year marriage. I spent 22 years of my life with this person who I no longer feel that I ever really knew. There were so many secrets that if I would have known prior to marriage would have run. I had already been married and he thought he was so much better than my prior h and was all good because he didn’t hit me. He was destructive to me, my kids, animals, property and to himself. He does not see any of it and doubt he ever will. He didn’t have to hit me. The bruises were all internal. He was killing me in spirit, health and sexual force.
One day I said to God that if He was willing to let me leave, He would have to open doors. Within 3 weeks I had an apartment, movers and my daughters were home to be with me. God was so faithful and He still is. Not one day have I gone without my needs.
I pray that you will turn your h over to God and his own devices. You deserve so much more. It doesn’t matter how long you have waited if the h has no intentions of doing his part in the marriage. One person can not make a marriage work. It takes 3 to make a marriage work; the husband, the wife and God.
Prayers for you, Sister, Brenda
I strongly relate to being in limbo. I left my pastor husband of 32 years 9 months ago. I was depleted from all the anger, blaming, belittling, sexual battering, and narcissism. An adult child of alcoholics, he is addicted to chaos, and the most negative person I know. My adult kids don’t understand; I feel their love for me is conditional. I have changed and grown tremendously, and nothing in me wants to return. And yet, the stigma and consequences of divorce are huge in my families very conservative sect. My own beliefs have grown and changed, and I long to follow my own spiritual journey. God even spoke to me, “You are free”. But something is holding me back…fear of man, perhaps? All I know is that I feel like a bug under a magnifying glass, and I want out of this season!
Angela, your story is so like mine! My heart goes out to you. My h is addicted to chaos too – like you would not believe! My entire life with him has been on hold, waiting for the storms to subside so we could live and get on with life – but after so many storms, and a blindness to his own faults – I lost any future I ever hoped I would have with him. I am currently in limbo, after receiving a green light to go from God, and now wait to see how I can leave well.
My heart breaks for you! That you display such patience and faithfulness in the face of such horrid abuse! Yes….he walked out…..he has abandoned his vows….he is refusing to face the marriage and refusing to take the lead in fixing whatever is wrong. A good man doesn’t do those things! A good man leads in love…..God does not want or desire that you be under an abusive husband who abandons you. It sounds like you already know what to do….you are simply a faithful woman whose heart wants to be loved! God has provided a loving church family! YAY! He did that for me too. They helped me move out…..they helped me find a counselor….and that counselor helped me see that no good man will ever…EVER….abuse and abandon you. My husband was a pastor and a teacher. I though he was faithful and loving and it took a lot of healing just to face the evil and the lies. I can still hold on to the good that he did…but I also had to face the evil! I am praying that God walks so closely with you!
I am so sorry to hear of your pain. I would like to share this; Leslie says that anyone in a destructive marraige finds it hard to stay well. This is true of my experince. I found myself trapped. I was being neglected and abused, and could not get out due to finacial reasons and my love for the four step children. It became toxic to me and I made mistakes in return. The pressure was enormous.
I prayed for a way out and God gave me one. He was a father to me.
I became destructive in the abusive environement. I’ve spent lots of time reflecting on this because I never want to be an abusive person.
Today I was refelcting on your post. I realised that if I changed all my responses to my ex-husbands abuse, did every conflict in love and never repayed evil with evil….never failed as a christian under the pressure, I would STILL be left with a very abusive man….a man who abandoned me, broke his vows, neglected my heart, mistreated me, lied to me over and over, falied to provide medical care when I was unwell and never took responsibility (in word and actions) for his sins. If I changed all of me….he would still be the same man….I would be stepping back into the life of a person that never repented for the pain he caused me.
Relationships (as with covenants) are always a two way street. They have to be mutual. Fixing the broken bits needs to be two people doing all they can. If you are willing to do more (such as bring the issues into the light of wise counsel) and he is hiding and refusing (after all this time) then he is giving you information….every time he makes a move that is not in keeling with his vows (such as to cherish you)… He is giving you information…
Gather up this information as it contains your answers, he needs to put words and actions together….I also believe your husband has abondoned you and broken his vows to cherish and protect you.
God is with you! He will show himself faithful.
Unwilling to see a counselor and believes that since he is a pastor that he can bring your marriage to something better…….. This sounds like a way to control you and avoid facing anyone who will show him where he is wrong!!! That is NOT someone who is willing to change–that is someone who wants to change YOU (but will never be satisfied regardless of how much you change for him)!!!!!! Please don’t allow him to brainwash you!!!! You are not the cause of his problems and God will not hold you responsible for his choices!
My goodness, Leslie, I wish I had received your counsel early in my marriage, rather than “staying in limbo” for 57 years! Thank God that I finally read your book and ended that bondage, so as to have at least a few years of peace and freedom. God bless you for your wonderful ministry to us all! I hope and pray that this dear “sister” will also trust in God’s strength to leave and find the same freedom and peace that I have.
Rejoicing with your peace. So thankful you never relented and I pray you get back 7 fold from what the devil stole. In Jesus mighty name amen!
Amen to that!
The original post by Leslie had such a powerful statement worth repeating, “When you live with a dictator, someone who is secretive and manipulative, it’s not uncommon to begin to be more be negative, lose your romantic feelings and have trouble communicating – mainly because they twist your words and refuse to listen and treat you harshly. Who feels like kissing someone who verbally berates her?”
Often the man accuses the woman of not being passionate enough, as if hormones and body parts were all that is evolved with a sexual relationship. The greatest “sex organ” is the brain/mind/heart.
When a woman feels cherished and can trust her man, passion is the natural result. The opposite is also true. When a woman does not feel cherished or can not trust her man, lack of passion is the natural result. Many who read this blog need to quit beating themselves up for their lack of passion.
You are right, CBPP! I prayed and prayed for over 3 yrs that God would let me feel desire for my husband and for sex…to make me “more sexy” and it never happened.
I hated having sex with my husband, I felt used, but also felt it was my ” duty!”
It was only after I read Leslie’s book last year that I finally realized that I was feeling this way because of the emotional abuse in my marriage….I finally saw the truth…my H and I had NO emotional connection at all, I was lonely inside, I felt emotionally abandoned by my husband, and he did not care. At all.
I’d tried telling him how I felt, I told him that sex wasn’t enjoyable for me, that I felt used….all he ever said to me was, “I”m sorry you feel that way” and 3 hours later, he’d want sex.
It’s been a year now since I stopped all sexual intimacy, and I feel much better about myself…mentally I’ve improved sooo much. I can see more clearly now how my H was using me sexually, as he would use a prostitute or a perfect stranger….no emotions, just do the act for himself, with no thought to me or my feelings.
I recently had a friend who knows my situation ask me if I feel that my H will cheat on me because we aren’t intimate….and I told her that “Yes, I’m sure he probably will eventually” ..he’s already had two emotional affairs that I know of….but if he does, that’s on him…because of his lack of moral character and honesty….it will have nothing to do with me.
I’ve told him several that I WANT a sexual relationship, but only when I feel loved, cherished, deeply cared for and connected to my partner, a partner that I feel SAFE with….and so far, he has done nothing to fix this.
How long this will continue…I don’t know.
But I’m trusting that God will show me when it’s time to go, until them, I stay content with my kids and my life.
Oh my AMEN! Your comment shook me because my husband has been unfaithful and has repeatedlty told me I lacked passion and blames me for his affair. My eyes are wide open.
Wow. I just read your comment Lonely wife. I am in the same situation with my husband. In therapy we set a boundary that there will be no sex. As the therapist said to him ” so you see your wife as a friend with benefits.” My husband says that when he is sexual with me he feels really bad about himself. We sleep in the same be and for the past 2 weeks I have refused to rspind to his sexual advances, which is a big Step for me. I am in fear that he will lyst after other women or maybe even have sex with one, but like u said that is on him. I refuse to be treated like a dog. When I have been sexual, the next day he barely talks to me. I feel sick. I gave told him and I will tell him again that when he is ready to be in a different spot with me in our marriage, I am all his. This may never happen and I have to find a way to go on with my life.
Thank you, CBPP.
Thank you for verbalizing what I feel and believe. And thank you for that final bit of advice, you are correct.
“When a woman feels cherished and can trust her man, passion is the natural result. The opposite is also true. When a woman does not feel cherished or can not trust her man, lack of passion is the natural result. Many who read this blog need to quit beating themselves up for their lack of passion.”
The greatest “sex organ” is the brain/mind/heart. AMEN!!!
When a woman feels cherished and can trust her man, passion is the natural result. Oh, Yah. Love me all day. Show me tenderness at the dinner table, in the car and not use me for your own selfish gratification and see what you get in return. I think xh or a man in the future might just like it!!!! Amen, ladies??????
. . . .Exactly, —all of us (sans those with psychiatric disorders, emotionally unavailable, narcissistic personalities, et. al.) —all of us, want a loving and caring environment of affection. A total environment of it. To be loved throughout the entire day. An inattentive husband having an ‘affair’ even with his work or his sport, —non. —That doesn’t make one feel valued, respected, but taken for granted. . . . . .Our question for this thread: How do you know God is telling you to stay, to wait, or to end your marriage? I can’t get permission from my Lord to post my answer and this time I am listening rather than running ahead, doing as I please and then getting a beating (—okay, loving correction) from the Lord. I will say this approved statement of truth: No one ever asks if the New Testament Greek word for heaven really means heaven and if the word for “no tears” really, actually means no tears. Many pastors use a profoundly arrogant double truth standard to assert that their heart provides irrefutable proof of metaphysical truths, while the hearts of everyone who disagrees with them deceives them. . . . .Anyway, what is consistent with real love, with Christ’s love: Jesus, Luke Twelve: “Why don’t you judge for yourselves what is right?” Think for ourselves? —will do, Lord, absolutely! and with it I will remember that: She who has learned to seek nothing but the will of God, shall always find what she seeks. If the Lord’s people will humble themselves by admitting that deception is very possible for them too, they will be less deceived. —And Lord God, let us all —one day— awake, forever, in the likeness of You.
Talk about being in limbo?! Being married yet alone? having a “self-employed” husband (ordained minister too) who is hardly ever available to help with our 3 kids (I work full time, by the way). A husband who can go for days without returning my calls when he is out of town and then FINALLY respond with a curt text message (by then I have handled whatever situation i needed help with anyway). That’s me alright. l have been through it all; I am practically a single parent of 3, including a special needs 3 year old child. I handle it ALL alone, from finding schools to doctor visits to special care arrangements for the littlest one. And now have health issues thanks to the strain over the past 12 years. I have gone YEARS at a time without so much as a hug or kiss from my husband, to say nothing of love making (and not for want of my trying). No exaggeration here. The longest was 2 years and 4 months of no intimacy. A man who has very little if anything positive to say about me and who habitually trash-talks me to family, friends and acquaintances and even to my face. Calling me user, controlling, selfish, spendthrift, abusive, to name a few. I have never known love or tenderness in 11+ years. A few days into our marriage he mentioned the possibility of divorce; on our honeymoon he kept stating emphatically: “you want my life to revolve around you? That’s never going to happen! You want me to choose you over my family? It’s NEVER going to happen!” And he has kept his word. Everyone and everything has taken priority over me and our relationship. I could write a book here.Yet even though things have steadily deteriorated rather than improved over the years, I still stay in the relationship. What is WRONG with me?!
Kate..I am thinking and praying for you. I don’t see this as something is wrong with you. I would ask what is holding you back from changing this situation? For me I struggle with fear and sham . And if course my children.
He sounds very Narcissistic to me
One of the toughest decision there is!!! I’m there now, getting ready to leave but struggling because now that he knows I’m considering leaving, he’s stepped up and being nicer. He still doesn’t want to do the work he needs to for healing, he thinks he’s fine. I’m planning to leave by the end of next month. Lots of considerations, financial, insurance, paperwork!!!, housing! Just when I wanted to leave he has developed a major medical problem. He’s been diagnosed has narcissistic personality disorder and sexual addictions (he thinks he can just overcome without help). He’s been seeing a psychiatrist and psychologist and they both give me no hope of real permanent change. We face tough challenges and no decision is difficult, but I’m feeling God is saying that I’m worth healing and I’m important, too. I’ve spent the last 40 years taking care of him, not me. I feel God is saying He cares about me too, and it’s OK for me to take time to heal.
My prayers for you all struggling with bad marriages. My Pastor says “God hates divorces but he hates bad marriages even more!” Listen to God as he cares about us too!
Your needs are important! A wise women told me that when viewing my situations.. what advice would I give my daughter or best friend? Without thought of the situation I expressed to her I said RUN.. why then she asked that I wasnt just as valuable as those ladies and to take that to jesus!! A fire burnt inside and I left. I didn’t even care with 4 kids and facing only shelter options what I would loose. I sat at a group for dementia violence 2 days later to hear a women state, she was told to pay her husband spousal support. He had verbal abused her for yrs. He would ly on the couch before they the court date and watch t.v and be silent. She would come to class distraught. I knew God was saying look, listen and act! I said to her, one day you’ll like cutting that check. Here I am 5 yrs later still with 10,000 in debt, but sooooo excited to pay it. I come home to me and my choices and have had greater experiences and love in my life far greater then my first half. Ladies God is a way maker, he will be the wind in your sail, the president to your fan club, and your escape and not your duty. I pray you pull up your tent pegs and march forward to the milk and honey!! Your worth the investment. In Jesus mighty name amen!
The same thing is happening in my marriage. I told my husband back in February that I was not happy and why I was not happy. I was told that it was all in my head and that I was making things up. I was making plans to leave, met with an attorney, was looking at apartments, then he lost his job. I felt guilty for wanting to leave him at his lowest point in his life so I stayed. For the past 3 months he has been nicer to me than he ever has, cooks dinner every night, does the dishes, his own laundry. But when I try to continue to stand up to him when he does treat me badly, I am chastised for being to sensitive. He still refuses to accept he has any responsibility in the way he talks to me. He has narcissistic personality disorder, too. He is close to a job offer and it will take him across the state during the week where he will rent an apartment and come home during the weekends. I feel this is God giving me the time I need to get myself together to realize that I will be much happier when I have left this abusive relationship.
It appears that when women tell the H what they are going to do, the H’s often they do the very thing that you said you were going to do. So, since you wanted to leave, now he gets to leave. Tell him to stay in his apartment in the other town!
Snap! Just when I know it is time for change – to leave – my husband develops a health issue and seeks sympathy. He also has all the hallmarks of a narcissist with sexual addiction.
“Many abusive men think they know all the answers and if you would just fall into line and do it their way (submit), the marriage would be fine. And it would be fine – for them. But what about you? Would it be fine for you?” I was thinking this same thought this evening as my husband and I were discussing how I need to “turn down my sensitivity knob” and I asked him why it always had to be about how I react to things, why couldn’t it be that he needed to learn how to better communicate. He doesn’t like that I am starting to stand up to him and tell him that the way he treats me is unacceptable. He says I am being rude and disrespectful. What does he think he is being? I’m stuck for now but God is helping me heal and feel better about myself.
I like the title Living in Limbo- I did this for way too long. I wanted to stay faithful to my marriage vows. I was stuck in a destructive relationship that was not going anywhere although I absolutely worked so hard at it. We lived in separate bedrooms for 15 years as we just weren’t partners in anyway. I just got a divorce and everyday I think about how I should have ended the chaos much sooner. I am having a struggle dealing now with all the evil that I see clearly now that I am healthier. It’s a lie to live together but there is no connection. I didn’t know that. That’s not what I learned at church. I’ve been separated for 16 months and the truth is my life makes sense now. It made no sense pretending. But I never shit the door on him. He was always and still is welcome to acknowledge his destructive behaviors and repent and work thru reconciliation. In 16 months not once did he come towards me. God is not Glorified in pretenses but He is in honesty, truth and reality.
Robin, may I ask you how you handled the other details of life for those 15 yrs of separate bedrooms? We are heading towards 2 yrs of separate rooms and very little contact, because the kids are not yet grown. It is misery and I don’t know how long I can continue this way. No remorse or repentance….. so no reconciliation.
First of all can I boldly Ask you what you think it will give your children, if the two of you are in agreement and things have come to the place separarateiving arrangements in the house are necessary??
Yes I can answer your question. It created a chaotic mess. He took all finances away from me to punish me. He shamed me on a regular basis and set out to ruin my character and made sure the children knew it. He lived unto himself. He gave me so little grocery money it wasn’t enough to feed a pet no less humans so I threw it back in his face. Sometimes I cooked but mostly I didn’t. He took everything possible away from me pretending to be a nice guy when people were around. He paid all the utility bills and house pymt he refused to pay for anything for me. My counselor had asked me not to ride with him as he had a rage attack downtown big city and could have risked my life. My boundaries increased and so did his rage but mostly rage was in secret. I hated my home and my life and was miserable. The last 2 years were the worst. He did everything he could to destroy me. He thought everything was his, and he treated me like I was a slave with no rights. Occasionally he’d give me money so he could have sex. Leslie’s video taught me to not continue in that kind of behavior. I’m so sorry you are about to enter into this. I would encourage you to ask the Lord if this is the right option. I thought it was for my family too- I felt later that was a big mistake. The children need to see the truth- Mom standing up for Truth and Reality.
Robin….this is the solution the pastors offered to keep the family together. I am in total agreement with you about standing in truth and righteousness. Spouse was raised in a home where father did not love mother and not one person had an ounce of respect for her. The insidious damage to both sons would be hard to measure and the destruction in their marriages a direct result of believing mother ‘was fine with it’ and so it became normal thinking & behavior transferred into their marriages. (Which now are in the same sad state as the parents!) I have pleaded with my pastors that standing in truth and teaching it to my boys by living it also is by far better…. pretending did no one any good. All have suffered greatly!!
To add, there is now confusion in the home. Which way is right and who is to be believed has God’s truth about how husbands & wives are to treat one another? A house divided against itself cannot stand.
Is their own one right way?? Do you really have to defend yourself Remedy??
I have lived your parents story it is so sad!! My advice is don’t tell your kids who is right or wrong. Tell them as I did- this is right for me. I must flow my own heart.
Remedy you describe the exact home life my husband grew up in.
As we have all heard in the news lately, pastors are not always right. Remedy, you and your kids are the one’s who live with this and the consequences of your choices, not them. They can be wise mentors, but don’t let them take the god position in your life.
There are right now professing Christians that are finding peace in prison cells as Paul did in his day. They are standing up for the cause of Christ, even unto death. That kind of martyr is to be rejoiced, but at the same time we sign petitions and try to get them released. People are going straight to the authorities to save their lives. That is how it should be.
I am glad to hear that your h will be away during the week so that you have time to heal. When I was young, my stepfather was in this type of situation for about a year. It was so relaxing and a happy time……and then Friday came and he came home. Nothing had changed in him at all and fear took over our home once more. I pray that you get the healing you need as God orchestrates your freedom.
Being a martyr and dying for the cause of Christ is not the same thing as being a martyr in marriage and dying because of your husband.
That is not the exact quote, but close enough to get to the point. It helped me see the gravity of the situation I was in.
Freedom and Peace be yours through Christ our King, Brenda
I agree. Allowing someone to sin against us (when it is against the law as well) isn’t godly self-sacrifice, it is foolishness. Even the apostle Paul challenged the authorities when they were going to whip him saying “I’m a Roman citizen and I have rights here.” YOu do not have to sacrifice yourself in order to enable your husband’s sin to continue. That is called enabling. When God talks about sacrificing and laying down our lives for someone its in the service of their good – like jumping into an icy pond to save a drowning child or running in front of a car to push someone out of the way who is about to get hit. But those actions are for the other person’s good, not for their harm. God wouldn’t expect you to empty out your bank account to allow your husband to have more money to gamble, or hire prostitutes, or expect you to drive him there. That would be enabling his sinfulness, not sacrificing yourself for his good. Do you see the difference?
So how do you respond to what Jesus says in Luke 6 about relating to one’s enemies? (That’s not a challenge, but a sincere question.)
I’ve been living in limbo for years. Married, living in the same house, raising kids, but being treated more like a roommate than a wife. A year ago he said he didnt love me because I put on weight (was VERY depressed over job loss and financial stress) and he said I didn’t clean the house. I found a job and started losing weight and out in more effort to keep the house tidy. Then he said he was considering divorce. Went to three months of marriage counseling where he said he would take divorce off the table if I made more money. Got a new job (still work a second job on weekends). The only change is that he seems nicer to me. We haven’t had sex in a year, im stressed, and many days feel like im having anxiety attacks. Doctor said my blood pressure is high, which is probably due to the stress. I dont want to, divorce, but this trying to hold it together is too much for me to do on my own.
He actually said that he didn’t love you because you put on weight……REAL LOVE has nothing to do with the way we look, it is who you are on the inside that he should be looking at. If the only thing that is keeping him from divorcing you is for you to make more money, I would respectfully say, “Don’t let the door hit you as you walk out of it”. The things that he is doing to you are cruel and have nothing to do with love. You cannot hold a marriage together alone and it is obvious that he does not treat you like a wife. He is treating you like a slave. He is being nicer or is he just happy to have the extra finances. I see a very big difference in those things. Praying for you as you seek God’s wisdom and TRUTH. Brenda
A-h was gone for a year and only home twice a month working out of state, because he got fired from a long time job. He told me God was using it to help me learn not to be dependent on my parents. In my head all I could think was “to not be dependent on *you*! is more like it.”
I always wanted to be the one who said that I was married for years and years, but after 10 years in an emotionally abusive marriage, to a controlling, berating man who blamed me for everythign and never was willing to seek counsel. Divorce was not an option until I literally heard God saw to me.. “Break the cycle.” I had a father who was both emotionally and physically abusive, so I was used to being treated such. But now I have a daughter. I began to see her being treated the same way and when I approached my then husband about how his behavior would effect her, he ignored it, said I was over-reacting about something that hadn’t happened and made it sound like my fears for her were unfounded. After prayer and prayer and seeking, I finally knew that God had other things in mind for myself and my daughter. It was honestly the hardest decision I have ever made. I left and told him we could still work on things and he did just what he’d always done – nothing. He didn’t try to get me back, he didn’t come to counselling. Our divorce was final on Feb 25th. It’s been a mixture of pain and sadness, but also freedom and re-discovery. God did not intend for marriages to be destructive and for people to be so torn down. I only pray that my daughter has a chance to know that this is not how a marriage should be. I pray that she has a chance to have a good, healthy relationship.
Lori, I think breaking the cycle of the sins being passed down to the next generation is quite biblical and reflects God’s heart.
Thanks I really needed to read this today!
Remedy finally got out of tiny box again. Sorry for bad spelling above.
3 of 4 children of mine sided with their dad- not because they didn’t know truth but because he is deceptive and manipulative. They are suffering from years of abuse, your home will be confused until you leave it and choose not to participate in the circus that is presently creating chaos. But don’t defend yourself. God is our defender. Live the life you need to live for yourself, your conscience and your legacy. Someday my 3 children will remember what the brainwashing helped them to forget and they will see their Mom for the strong woman of God she bravely became.
And I think your pastors are foolish to say keep the family together by separating in the house and letting your children see division. That is nuts!! Where does Scripyure say separate in the house. It does say God hates dishonesty.
I agree…..this is wounding my conscience, as well as preventing the free flow of necessary instructional conversations I should be having with my teen children about what is healthy and what is not. The parents I mentioned are those of the spouse…how he grew up and came to see as normal the low treatment of women, observing and eventually participating in it toward his mother, along with the father and other brother.
I agree…..this is wounding my conscience, as well as preventing the free flow of necessary instructional conversations I should be having with my teen children about what is healthy and what is not in relationships, including marriage. The parents I mentioned are those of the spouse…how he grew up and came to see as normal the low treatment of women, observing and eventually participating in it toward his mother, along with the father and other brother.
Sorry for hitting send two times
Not much hope your husband will be able to see different if that was modeled to him. You are left with the choosing….
I treasure this blog and all of you who share from your heart….knowing I’m not alone in this type of suffering brings me great comfort and assures me I am not crazy or misled. Unless you have lived it, it is difficult for others to truly understand the torment, esp when there are innocent children still in the home and we as women want to obey the Lord with all our hearts.
The kindest thing we can do for our children is get healthy so we can make healthy choices showing them we don’t tolerate disrespect, abuse of any kind so that as they start their own famines- they will have a model to work with. I just spoke with a close friend who had never shared her story of the family she came from. Dad an alcoholic. Crazy she called him and very irresponsible. After many years of marriage her mother divorced him making a rAdical and complete change for her life and taught all the kids not to accept a toxic relationship or Allow it to destroy you. This friend said her mother’s change being so drastic– caused her to turn her life around as well. I have to say my friend is the healthiest gal I know!!!
Wow….this is in my heart what I feel I should do also. Saying ‘this is a destructive way to live’ but continuing to live in it sends a confusing message to the kids. Thank you for sharing Robin.
This friend of mine is a lady cop and when I shared what I have lived with she felt devastated. She goes to houses full of DV and has known me for years as her children’s piano teacher but her response to me was so validating – and also it’s good for us share our stories so others can validate our experience.
Kate..I am thinking and praying for you. I don’t see this as something is wrong with you. I would ask what is holding you back from changing this situation? For me I struggle with fear and sham . And if course my children.
A paraphrase from Gods Word Remedy– He comforts us, so we can comfort one another!!!!
One day my adult son asked me why I was staying with my abusive husband and yet I didn’t stay with his father years ago when he was drinking. When my son was 9 years old, I left his father for 6 months due to his drinking problem. I did not have a close relationship with Jesus during my first marriage. My first husband passed away before we even had a chance to reconcile. My son’s question was really an eye opener and it had me searching my heart for answers. In my second marriage I was convinced that because I was now a Christian woman who made a marriage covenant before God and man, I had to stay in an abusive marriage and not break that covenant. After much counselling and seeking the Lord through His Word and prayer, I finally realized how deceived I had been. I now know the truth. I now understand how abuse affects so many others around us, sometimes in ways we are not even cognisant. Our actions (or non actions) can also have an impact on those who truly love us.
I think this illustrates that we do not live in a vacuum. Everything we do and everything other people do affects a wide circle of other people, not just us.
Susanne- I love this sentence you wrote. I now know the Truth. I now understand how abuse affects so many around us, sometimes in ways we are not even cognizant. OUR ACTIONS OR NON ACTIONS CAN ALSO HAVE AN IMPACT ON THOSE WHO TRULY LIVE US!
I meant- ON THOSE WHO TRULY LOVE US!
My first comment concerns the wonderful movie Love and Mercy. A mesmerizing, moving film, that clearly shows the devastating affects of mental and physical abuse. The temporary overtaking of a life filled with genius was the subject. Evil lost it’s grip to love and mercy. The profound lesson of how the surrounding of LOVE conquers all things placed the grace of God and Spirit in motion as the ultimate healers. God and Spirit the miracle makers that saved Brian Wilson by placing good people into his life to fight and conquer evil.
Divine prompting is what told me to stay, wait and end my marriage and during each stage I can now recall the people, good people sent by the Lord and the Holy Spirit to guide my way.
As I look back, at times placing blame and criticism upon myself for not acting sooner I realize I often suffer PTSD
Laura Di, you said divine prompting led you in all your steps- sometimes to wait and when to go. I will pray for you there is no blame. We regret but we did the best we could, with the information we had. I call it regret but forgive/self I wish I would have left much sooner- but I understand why I didn’t. Just didn’t have the support!!!!!
Robin your compassion towards yourself is great. That is so crucial. Next weeks’ blog is going to talk about this very quality we must develop towards ourselves. We don’t know it all, can’t do it all, don’t always know the next right step and we have to stop looking backwards beating ourselves up.
Please stop blaming yourself. You did the best you know how at the time and when you were ready the Lord showed you how to leave.
I understand that separation is at times the way God directs. My concern is that strength, courage and “right living” always be equated to separation. Separation can also be a sign of me insisting my way and not waiting on God. God keeps prompting me to be creative (like Moses’s mother, like David who still played the harp before Saul even after having a death spear thrown at him), humble, shrewd. I have not ruled out separation and continue researching this option. But, since God keeps granting me strength and creativity in my present, very difficult situation, I stay while seeking Him daily. I don’t understand how it would be better to separate knowing that it is virtually impossible to achieve supervised visits. So, my 5 kids, ages 9-middle school, would then have to spend time alone with a dad who most of the time is fine but when he’s out of sorts, is very irrational, verbally and potentially physically destructive. Sure separation would separate me from him but it would only place my kids in a more compromising situation–extended time with dad without me present. I don’t see how this would in any way be wise. Please help me ladies. I hear your hurt and know that God works in many ways, including separation. I’m at the place where creatively dealing with tension, tirades, and charm is where I’m at. The specific examples Leslie has given regarding how to graciously and courageously answer an angry man have helped me most. I need more examples like this.
Ann, you asked for comments – here’s mine. Separation is ONE WAY to stop a destructive relationship. It is not the only solution or option and I think you raise some good points. I’m only talking from my experience. When I was raising 4 children I felt much like you- I can handle this and it’s good for me to work on me and my responses. But what I didn’t consider now that my children are all wounded adults- is the cost to the family for staying. Is the visitation worse-/ or is the abuse worse living everyday in it?? If I had to do it again I would have protected my children by leaving the destructive relationship. We can not live in an abusive environment and think our children will come out whole. But I also understand it’s important for one to follow their own heart and the path God is leading them on. These will always be tough decisions. Staying or leaving?? My personal belief is high on the priority list is to ask how this is affecting young children and is it possible to give them protection they need to not grow up wounded and shattered.
My children’s dad spent little time with them once we were no longer in the same house. It just wasn’t an issue. You have to do what you have to do. What is the best interest of your children? Is having a normal home life most of the time better than chaos all of the time? I am a firm believer in protecting our kids at any price. If I were a judge, there would be no children forced to do visitation with an abusive parent even for a few minutes.
I lived in a home with an abusive stepfather. He was abusive in everyway and the “home” was no home at all. I begged my mother to leave him. She never asked me why and only said, “If I did, I’d just find something worse.” My sister and I were being sexually abused on top of everything else. I can’t think of anything much worse than that.
The first few days of your marriage and honeymoon sound very much like mine. The “D” word came up often. High priority was made of just about anything over our newly joined family and me. He even stopped doing things with his own son at that point. The “D” word continued throughout the marriage which lasted far too long. We had no children together which I find very, very good.
If you are not having intimate relations with your h and him not returning your calls for days on end while away, leaves me questioning exactly what he is doing while he is away. Who is he spending his time with that he can’t call you and be involved with his family?
The names he is calling you don’t add up at all. You are working full time and he says you are a user amongst other things?? You are, as you said, a single mom. Your husband isn’t really a husband at all. By the sounds of it you never had a real marriage even 5 seconds after the “I Do’s” were finished. He literally took nothing that he said before God with any responsibility.
We don’t any of us understand why we stay as long as we have. Many stay trying to change themselves. I personally couldn’t achieve real change while being berated and my personhood going through a meat grinder. To answer your question to what is wrong with you—probably nothing. You are fully capable of love, a partnership and Godly relationship. What you have to ask yourself now is, “What is my next step now that I am aware that he will not change?”
I am praying for you and your children. You need healing and to stop blaming yourself.
Thanks so much, Robin, for your insight. As I write, things have gotten much worse, especially the name calling. God has worked it out that I got a new job in another city and have moved with the kids. Am living with a relative while I find my feet as my finances are a mess. Although my move was not intended to be a separation (when I was interviewing for the position we’d agreed the whole family would move if I got the job), it is working out as one. Being apart is giving me the space and distance to realize that I have been enabling the abuse by not standing against it. And it is not healthy for my kids who watch me act like it is normal to be treated that way. I have finally decided i will NOT continue to live this way. I dread explaining to the kids why i can’t live with their dad anymore, but being apart will have little or no impact on their everyday lives as he has always been an occasional parent. Please pray for wisdom as I know I can’t say anything negative about him. All these years I have stayed to avoid having the kids torn between two homes, and also because of the “expectations” of society and the church (my pastor actually told me once marriage is a “life sentence” and there is no way out!). But I’m beginning to understand better from reading Leslie’s teachings that God does not require me to die a slow and painful death, destroying my kids in the process by passively enduring an abusive relationship.
Kate, awesome that a door has opened for you. As we begin to really hear the truth God does open up options for us. With the children maybe it’s softer to say something like we aren’t living together because of the ongoing pain and daddy has this time to acknowledge his need for help. I think for kids they need to hear it’s not totally over. And to be honest I have kept that in my thoughts as well- that there are boundaries I need right now for my own safety and sanity but at anytime if he chooses to do the right thing- we can talk and see if their is a hope we could reconcile. I’m glad you’re reading good materials Leslie has put out for us to learn from. The videos on her website were very helpful also. Keep in touch I’ll be praying for you and your children!!!
Thanks so much Robin! It’s great to have resources available and to know that you and others in this online community have come out of or are in the process of exiting similar abusive relationships. It’s great to not feel so alone anymore.
Late, EXACTLY!! This blog gives opportunity for us all to be good listeners and get the encouragement and help we need. I will tell you w/o exaggeration on a scale of 1-20 how has my life improved?? It would be like a 50 not a 20. The longer I’m gone the more I see the destructive behaviors that were tolerated- because I was just surviving- not at all living. My life is brand new full of Gods Grace!
I have been living in limbo for 3+ years. My ex had several affairs which led to a divorce after 27 years of marriage. I spent 5 years getting healed emotionally from that abusive, demeaning relationship. Went back to school ( i was stay-at-home mom), bought a house, counseled and learned to live alone and enjoy my Christian friends and family before I even considered dating. I met a man on-line that sounded like the perfect match. He lived 500 miles away, but, we spent over 2 years getting to know each other. He was generous, loving, and kind. After we married he moved into my home and then things started to take a turn for the worse. He was not handling the move well and then he got let go from his job. He is still unemployed and in the last 2 years we have only lived together for 6 months. He is living with his mother and has seen a Christian therapist for his depression and he says he still loves me, but, I’m getting VERY weary of living apart and now I don’t trust him at all. After reading Leslie’s book, I realized I needed -for my sanity- insist he look for a job and start paying his own bills. I feel like I’ve been abandoned several times and been controlled by tears. I’m not sure where to go from here. Financial separation and then what?
This is so disappointing. Why is it that once the piece of paper is signed this other person appears? I hate to say it, but you might want to look at a legal, as well as, financial separation before you get too far down the road and he finds a way to get spousal support from you. If you don’t trust him, I am sure there are good reasons for that and would hate to see you get in any deeper than you already are. You deserve better and sound like you had your ducks in a row before this. Prayers and ((((HUGS))))
Living in limbo is definitely what living with abuse is. You can’t move forward, you are stuck and always waiting for the next episode of cruelty to come at you, meanwhile you have been muzzled & unable to act in your own best interest and beaten down by the person who is trying to control everything.
I know with me, whenever I pointed myself squarely in the direction of separation from my abuser then I had purpose and a direction. I began to feel hope and sense God’s hand pulling me away from the marriage as Lot was pulled out of Sodom.
Ladies, I just parted ways with my lawyer because she was acting in my husband’s best interest and I just don’t have extra money to pay for that. My biggest concern is for my young daughter and know I have to fight for her. Please continue to pray that she would be safe when she spends time with her dad. She is so precious and deserves to grow up abuse free. I am praying that someone in a position to intervene will see the truth and identify the danger that my daughter is in. I keep trying to bring out the danger my daughter is in and the child protection agencies just ‘slap me down.’ They keep saying why didn’t I come forward sooner, I just got out of the relationship and am coming forward – I was intimidated and bullied in my marriage so I was scared to come forward and now that I am out and telling what has gone on, they are turning on me instead of protecting my child, which I thought was their purpose. I am at a loss on where to turn with my concerns. My exhusband is physically, verbally, & financially abusive and has a serious sex addiction. I am so terrified for her safety now that I am not there when she is in his presence. God is watching all his children and he sees injustice and evil and the ways in which we have been terrorized. He has a lot to say in his word about those who choose to do evil, especially to their own families.
MHMC your husband sounds like he wants a slave if he will only be nice to you if you make more money. You must feel violated & used. I hope you are able to get out.
Carol, my heart goes out to you that things have gone downhill so soon after you remarried. Pray for God to lead you & show you the truth.
We’re praying for you Leonie and your little one to have protection needed. The process of leaving and enduring all one must walk through to divorce an abuser takes boldness, endurance, and much courage to run the race. Take it from someone whose divorce is in the final stage— you will look back, take a deep breath, and say Thank you for carrying me Jesus when I thought I would not take another step. Perhaps the best advice anyone could offer is try not to play those tapes over and over in your head from those who speak against you. Find a good friend who will listen long and love you through all the hard times. I walked the process you are for 16 months and day to day did not know what I would have to deal with– as he was always looking for ways to destroy me and take me down . I have used the illustration of the game in Chuckee a Cheese if you’ve ever been there where you keep blaming the heads as they pop back up- that was me- you can knock me flat, but I refused to stay down. Love you Leonie!!!!!!
I appreciate your kind words of support and prayers. We are into a new month and my ex appears to be living in a hotel about an hour away. He was supposed to be in his own apartment by now. His lawyer keeps telling me he is living with a friend and I can tell from various things that he is not. Now my ex is saying via his lawyer that I am not allowed to pack up his things and he still has rights to the home – this is scaring me a lot. If his criminal charges are resolved there must be something I can do to make sure he isn’t at my doorstep. I will be forced to call police and get a restraining order. I am very concerned about not knowing where my daughter is when he has access visits. I can identify with you Robin in waiting & always anticipating the next cruel thing to be done to destroy you, I am sure I will have to fight that battle for awhile.
I will look to the Lord and his promises and remember that he cares for those who love him & he gently leads those with small children.
Leonie thank you for the update so we know how to support you thru effective praying. It sounds like you are in a tough spot right now. Do you have a close friend or some support people near by that can help you make wise decisions, concerning your daughter??
You have every right to be scared and I think you need some support people to help you!!!! Do you have a DV counselor you could talk too?? I believe God can work for you mightily but I never want to use churchy words – esp in the midst of abuse. I am praying God will send all the right people to surround you. Love you Leonie.
I was told much the same. Marriage is a “life sentence”. I did my own Bible reading and learning from wise counsel, that we have a much bigger God than that.
I am so glad for the opportunity you have been given. God intervenes on our behalf when we trust him. Thank you so much for your update. It goes right to my heart when I see God at work in the lives of my Sisters in Christ.
For all those considering separation and divorce – I found out this morning my divorce has finalized. If I could just say a word of encouragement this morning I would I do understand what a hard thing it is to feel like you are tearing your family apart- and actually considering that bad D word. What I would say is the church has made it a bad word to shame us for considering it. What I have learned in my process of being separated from destructive living is GOD HATES EVIL AND GOD HATES OPPRESSION. He would not want for any of us to continue in a state of such poor emotional and physical health. My body is stronger each day that passes, as is my mind and I have grown into a healthier person, owning her life. I am no longer a victim but I am a warrior in standing against such abuse and helping others get rescued and live an abundant life in and thru Christ ! Amen amen.
Robin, so happy for you. You have been an inspiration. I hope the next chapters of your life bring abundant joy!!!
Robin, I’m so happy that you successfully escaped the “abuse trap”.Your posts have been so encouraging and have helped me realize that the road to healthy living might be long and difficult; but it is ultimately the best choice. I can’t wait to rediscover freedom from fear and oppression.
It is a pity that the same churches who hold women to marriage vows, do not hold the men to theirs. No man is disciplined by the church for not loving his wife “as Christ loved the church”, but women will be told to submit to any evil treatment at the hands of their “Christian” husbands. Sexual, emotional and physical abuse are just winked at because he is the “head” who should be obeyed. Many separations and divorces could be avoided if the men were first held accountable by pastors and elders for their behavior. If he won’t listen to them, then excommunication is in order, which makes for a Biblical divorce without guilt being placed on the innocent party. He is an unbeliever (excommunicated) who is not content to live with his wife, a believer. Abuse, threats, and denigration are evidences of his not “being content to live with his believing wife.” To be fair, those men who grew up in healthy homes and pattern the same in their own lives may not even be able to fathom the extent of abuse in a “Christian” home without video or audio recordings as proof.
You’re right Cherry, many people cannot fathom what some of you have to live with and have lived through.
Brilliant Cheryl….really sums all as far as most church handling of this issue. It should be called ‘abandonment’ because that is exactly what the abusing spouse has done. It’s only his body that remains in the home. His heart and spirit for his wife is long departed (abandoned) from the marriage.
Remedy- good definition of an abusers abandonment- his body is all that remains- his heart and his spirit left long ago. So true and so well said!!!
That is amazing news: It is finalized, we rejoice with you. You are an encouragement to us all, especially to those of us who are still shaking in our boots because of the ex’s continued intimidation through the court system … I love how clearly you state that God hates evil and oppression!!! That is what we are all trying to escape or cope with. God teaches us to pray for deliverance from evil in the Lord’s prayer! Your testimony is so fabulous and we are aspiring to arrive where you are already.
Leonie I wrote for exactly those who are still shaking in their boots- to tell you it hasn’t been that long ago, I was in the exact place you are now. I spent 16 long months many times in absolute fear what he was going to do or steal from me. Step by step I learned, he is NO LONGER IN CONTROL, as I removed him from that place of being an idol. But not easy to do I know. You have many struggles ahead- but I want to continue to encourage you in that the prize is there- for those who endure the trials. Keep your eyes on Christ, pray for a great support team, and replace all those tapes in your head he has put there. Gird your minds with Powerful Words of Truth!! Love you all and will be praying!!!!!!!!!!!
Stay strong and glorify God in all things!!
Dear Leslie, you made this comment in your reply…
“Or, do you take his inaction and indifference as abandonment and Biblical grounds for divorce?”
Please explain how inaction and indifference is biblically ok for divorce. I really appreciate your balanced and biblical perspective. Thank you for giving great advice that is so wise and honest. Been to Divorce Care and read the emotionally destructive relationship. Need to share my story with you one day…if I can ever write it down in short version. Right now I am still healing and it makes my head spin just thinking of writing down what I lived. I am separated and feeling better day by day.
God bless you Sherry. Breathe deep and take it day by day. I know what it means to have your head spinning. I have been divorced almost 9 months now and I have dreams that I am back in the house under the same abuse. I wake up thanking God it was just a dream. It will pass, sweetie.
I have been Living in Limbo for 37.5 years of marriage. I filed for divorce after being physically, verbally, and emotionally abused. We have 2 children, 20 and 16. My son, the 20 year old, has had his own run-ins with his dad, but most of the time is off at college. I had, in my mind, planned to divorce after our daughter, now 16, graduated from high school. I
Thanks Robin, your kindness, support & prayers matter a lot and sometimes things surprise or overwhelm me & I remember that you ladies are praying too! Our God is a great God!
Leonie you are a blessing!!!!! Some good words for us all to remember-
‘Keep walking with ME along the path I have chosen for you. Your desire to live close to ME is a delight to my heart. I could instantly grant you the spiritual riches you desire, but that is not MY way for you. Together we will forge a pathway up the high mountain. The journey is arduous at times, and you are weak. Someday you will dance light footed on the high peaks; but for now, your walk is often plodding and heavy. All I require of you is to TAKE THE NEXT STEP, clinging to MY hand for strength and direction. Though the path is difficult and the scenery dull at the moment, there are sparkling surprises just around the bend……..Stay on the path I have selected for you. IT IS TRULY THE PATH OF LIFE.
That is beautiful – Thanks, Robin!
Leonie- we are so proud of you!! You are a courageous woman and any of us would feel the same fear you do, for your precious little one. You have our constant prayers to a God that hears!!!!!!!
Wow what a beautiful and reassuring message. Just want I needed to read as I am weary tonight.
Wow what a beautiful and reassuring message. Just want I needed to read as I am weary tonight. And taking the next step may be as simple as taking his hand and believing that he will carry us through one minute, one day at a time.
Being kind to myself is taking the next step.
Hello Leslie and girls,
If you please, I tend to second guess myself a lot and would appreciate an unbiased perspective. I, too, left my husband and moved out but it was because of his emotional abuse. We are divorced now, almost 9 months, but the abusive situation still haunts me. He says I abandoned him so he had no choice but to file divorce. The truth is, he was arrogant, controlling, and refused to make any changes, while I went through intensive counseling to change. He also had the support and encouragement of an extremely male chauvinistic, legalistic pastor and his cronies (Calvary Chapel). When his behavior was to the point I refused to live under it anymore for my own mental health and safety, did I really abandon him? He will always say I left him. I don’t think he will ever see it any other way. What do you say? Thank you. Stacy
Stacy, you left the environment, not the marriage at first. But in essence you were saying “I won’t live with you this way anymore.” He didn’t want to change so in his mind, you abandoned him because you wouldn’t live this way with him anymore. I don’t think you need to be anxious over his interpretation of things as it’s true, you didn’t want to live this way with him anymore and he was unwilling to change or do anything to make it easier or healthier for you to live together.
I am so, so grateful to have discovered Leslie Vernick two days ago. I am half way through reading “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” (with lots of underlining), and then found this website due to some references in the book. This blog title especially caught my eye, because it so well described my current circumstances, and I have been SO blessed by reading through what others have shared.
In my situation, after nearly 19 years of marriage, I recently discovered my husband was having an affair (found emails that revealed this). We had not had a good marriage, many hurts over the years. I remember struggling a lot in the past over what Biblical “submission” means, wanting to be obedient — but also thinking that I would NEVER have gotten married if anyone had told me this is what the Bible expects. (Now I know my struggles were due to being asked to submit to emotional abuse, being treated in very demeaning, wrong ways).
But over the years above all I was deeply, deeply concerned for the well being of our children, with such a poor example of marriage before their eyes (among many other poor examples). I wondered if it was worse for the children to live with such a bad example but in an intact home, vs. having a split home. But I also believed divorce was wrong, so kept on…
Anyhow, after recently discovering the affair, I confronted my husband, “tough love” style. I had written a letter, which I read to him. In the letter I talked about past hurts, but also faith that God could change our marriage, and a willingness to forgive if he was willing to repent. And shouldn’t he consider this for sake of our kids? But ultimately I gave him two choices:
* Repent, break off the relationship, commit to marriage (this would be demonstrated by meeting with pastor, getting counseling, involvement in church, accountability etc.) OR
I told him I wouldn’t try to stop him if he decided to leave, it was his choice.
His response: he didn’t even address the affair at that time — but instead told me that our marriage had been “dead” in his opinion for a long time, and that a few years ago he had decided to divorce me as soon as your youngest child turned 18 (our youngest is now 14). Furthermore, he said that he had told his parents and several friends of his decision about 3 years ago, and they were all in agreement with his plans, and he had a clear conscience with this decision. (And he and his parents and friends consider themselves Christians??)
I later found out more about the affair: an old high school crush that he had looked up on Facebook; they had been involved for 2-1/2 years. Furthermore, they planned to marry. (The emails had also indicated this) However, he said that they hadn’t had sex (despite their constant love notes, sexy comments, etc. etc.) Don’t know whether he is telling the truth, but if they haven’t had sex he seems to be proud of this fact, believing it demonstrates what a good, moral person he is. (And that he has remained technically “faithful” to me!!!)
Anyhow, it was so sickening to think of all the prayers, tears, Bible verses studied, Christian books read, godly counsel sought over years and years; all the things I had done to try to work on marriage — when he had long ago checked out, and had deliberately chosen to have completely deaf ears to anything I tried.
He is angry and says that if I try to take action to separate or divorce, it will be my fault that our children no longer have an intact home to go to, and it will really hurt them!! He says it would be so much better and easier on them to just wait until they are both 18.
I don’t know how my children will respond if I take action (e.g. filing for legal separation). He twists things and says things in such a logical way (e.g., how he calmly told me of his plans). The children have good relationships with their dad, and it is always possible they might turn against me if they think (with their dad’s influence) — that I broke up our home.
I want what is best for them — better to be in broken home but where at least they have the truth in one household, and where I am not actively undermined? Or to remain until our youngest is 18 in this horrible hypocritical household, where they see me treated badly, terrible marriage example, extremely poor modeling of how to handle finances, etc. — but at least it is in an “intact” home.
Three short anecdotes that come to mind:
* A few years ago my daughter once crying at the end of a church play. When I later asked her what had touched her, she started crying again and said it was because she saw other dads in the church congregation with their arms around moms, but her own dad never did that to me.
* Another time a few years ago my daughter one day telling me out of the blue that she never wanted to get married. When I asked why, she said because she didn’t want her husband to treat her the way her dad treated me.
* Recently my husband “forced” me (by anger and bulling behaviour) to do something that I felt shouldn’t be done. My son later asked me, “Mom, why do just do what dad tries to force you to do? I get it if I have to do it, because I’m just a kid. But you are his wife, you don’t have to do it, why don’t you just say no?!”
Makes me so sad!!!!!!!!!
Anyhow, thank you for letting me share, thank you for this website, the blog, the godly counsel I have received from reading about the experiences of others.
God bless you!
Beth, If you decide it’s best for your children that you agree with your husband and say, I would ONLY do so with a huge shift in power in the relationship. You will no longer be talked down to, or disrespected. YOu will no longer have no say in things, etc. If you are going to be “parents” raising the children together then there will be no undermining of you. Also I would let your children know that the marriage is not doing well and that when they make comments about the way their dad treats you, you must tell them the truth – yes it’s wrong. That’s not the way a husband should treat his wife. Make no excuses for him because your kids are already picking up on the death of your relationship. THe only one who was refusing to see it was you. You have to weigh what life will look like for you if you leave now, what your kids will experience, but don’t be fooled that when they are older, they also won’t have some difficulties with your divorce – although then it will be at your husband’s initiation however they may still blame you for not doing “more” to keep him. So at times you can’t win either way, but I’d encourage you to get some serious counsel over this.
Leslie, thank you so very much for taking the time to respond to my posting. You have so much godly wisdom, and I will be seriously thinking and praying about what you said. (Also, I just got names of two local counselors from Focus on the Family that I will follow up on.)
I must say, since discovering your materials last Thursday, my mind has been going through a profound “readjustment” of perspective. And I am so, so, glad to find it still lines up with scripture — but just in a way I couldn’t see before. I have been praying hard for godly wisdom and am so grateful for new insights. Thanks again.
Last week I sent a letter to my husband to let him know that as a result of his choice — (when I had asked him to either break off his affair, repent, and work on our marriage — or leave) — I was filing for legal separation. The fact that he was in an ongoing, unrepentant affair + had made plans years ago (even telling family and friends) — that he was going to divorce me as soon as our youngest child turned 18 — helped make it clear to me that I could not have a part in this. Here is an excerpt from my letter:
“The damage to the children that has been done over years of a marriage in which they didn’t get to see parents showing love, honor, support, and affection for each other, is something that cannot be undone. It will skew their perception of God’s love and the marriage relationship. Now you’ve added an even deeper injury by disregarding marriage vows made before God, modeling deceit and unfaithfulness, and willfully making plans for the future breakup of our family.
After much thought, prayer, counsel, and Biblical reading, I believe it would be utterly wrong for me to continue to live with you while you carry on a blatant and unrepentant love affair with another woman. This would be supporting your sinful actions, and I will not have a part in it.”
The day I arranged for my husband to receive my letter and be contacted by my attorney, was the day I also told my children — and it was the most awful, most difficult day of my life so far. It was also excruciating hearing my husband that evening trying to justify himself to his children with crazy statements (they were extremely upset and angry at him — but asked excellent questions that he couldn’t answer).
I don’t know what the future holds, but believe I am trying to do right in front of God. I trust in His wisdom. I know that He will work things together for good.
I know that it is always possible that one day “scales” will fall from my husband’s eyes the way they fell from Saul’s eyes; that God could grant my husband “repentance, leading to a knowledge of the truth, and [he] may come to [his] senses and escape from the snare of the devil…” (II Timothy 2:25-26).
But even if that shouldn’t happen, I trust that God will provide for us, I pray God may use this event to draw the children close to Him, that He will allow our home to be happy and that He would heal and restore the children from gaps and damage they experienced growing up with such a poor model of marriage and parenting.
Thank you, so much, Leslie, for your book, website, and teaching that has been so immensely helpful for me in this process.
You were very brave and did the right thing, speaking and confronting him with truth.
Matthew 13 talks about God not wanting some to see & understand and repent because they keep choosing evil, rather he gives them over to the evil they keep choosing.
He has left or kept them in the darkness that they have chosen by not removing the scales.
That’s not what we want for our husbands, in fact for our children’s sake we want them to repent and be the husbands and fathers we need & they need to be. But they won’t and they are quick with their hearts and feet to race toward evil so God tells us his truth about them in his word.
“And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; For the heart of this people has become dull, With their ears they scarcely hear, And they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, Hear with their ears, And understand with their heart and return, And I would heal them.’
It takes the Holy Spirit to give us understanding in our heart to bring us to repentance.
Sometimes us leaving, or calling police or separating or giving appropriate consequences give them opportunity to bring them to repentance that we want for them but usually not.
Reply to Leonie:
(Couldn’t attach a reply to your message so I’m doing it this way).
Thanks so much for your kind words. And the scriptures you shared.
Last Thursday was a very scary day, I was dreading the reactions of my husband and children…
I don’t know what the future may hold, but just praying for peace and happiness for the children and that we would all draw closer to God and never stop leaning on Him.
I am keeping you in my prayers. I can relate to what you are experiencing. I am not absolutely sure that my husband has had an affair, but I am sure that what you are experiencing and feeling is my story too. I have a marriage on paper only. I have a husband that doesn’t want to divorce yet refuses to be connected to me emotionally because he sees me as person that can never be trusted. He is charming if front of others, yet when it is just he and I he is harsh, indifferent, critical, unless he wants sex.
Everyday I read, study scripture, pray, ask God to change me, ask God to heal my marriage, work work work to heal us.
Leslie’s comment was right on. We have to learn how to hold our own in a different way and major shifts have to happen. I am feeling that a shift has to happen again for me to stay a day at a time.
. We have to make decisions based on gods love for us and what scripture says. I have made decisions based on fear, shame, and anger. Bad choice
I am keeping you in prayer. It is absolutely NOT YOUR FAULT if you proceed with a divorce. Don’t ever believe that.
We are never alone.
Thank you so much, Betsy, for taking the time to write and for your encouragement … And for taking time to pray for a complete stranger! Brings tears to my eyes.
I completely relate to what you said about making decisions for the wrong reason. (The reason for many of my decisions has been FEAR. Yet I know the Bible says, Be bold, be strong, for the Lord Your God is with you!)
If I were to file, it would probably be for separation, because there is still the chance he might come to his senses — scales could fall from his eyes just like happened with Saul! (I know chances are very slim, but…)
And regardless of what I end up deciding, I am praying that God would some day grant my husband true, Godly, repentance (for his own soul, even if no other reason). One passage that has struck me in the past is II Timothy 2:25-26 — (interesting to see the progression if God grants repentance in the first place):
Opponents must be gently instructed,
1. in the hope that God will grant them repentance
2. leading them to a knowledge of the truth,
3. and that they will come to their senses
4. and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will.
May God grant this true, Godly repentance to my husband — and yours!
Beth. My husband asked for a divorce last July. He still maintains that he will never trust me and that he is done, yet he doesn’t want a divorce nor does he want our boys to be a statistic of divorce. He blames me for everything. He is warming up some, yet has a very cold and indifferent side to him…no affection, no kissing or touch. Eats me up I wrestle every day with serving him and expect ing nothing in return to wanting to throw a temper tantrum because I feel so rejected. I am too old for this game of come close go away.
Yet the truth is I am full of fear. I am learning to lean on women to walk me through the fear and of course God. I am learning to hear the Holy Spirit
Yes….May God make a way for our husbands to soften their hearts, to repent, to heal, to fully surrender their lives to the one who knows all. Just like Beth and Betsy need to do. As one if the women in this group said to me…the story is not over yet.
I’ve been where you are & acutely remember the daily torment. It is so exhausting. I used to think to myself, I have to get out now, I will never live to an old age if I have to keep going through this. My ex usually blew up & raged at me on the weekend ( at least once a month) when he was off work. It took me until Thursday to feel normal.
It is so hard to leave but so worth it – I keep reminding myself, even if everything goes his way in court and I lose everything, at least I never have to live with him ever again!! I am praying for you that God will give you peace & comfort & the joy of being in his presence while you seek His leading & figure out what is best for you & your boys!
And may I add to Leonies letter to you Betsy that my counselor told me I have literally hundreds of days of miniature grieving that no one knows except me to do. There are no benefits from staying too long.
Thank you, Betsy. Yes, the story is not over yet… and we know that God is always FAITHFUL and we can trust in Him and His promises…
“… blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
– Jeremiah 17:7-8
I can identify with what was written in this article as my husband and I are living in the same house and yet we do not live as a normal married couple. He got involved in porn soon after our son was born (into 3 years into marriage) and rejected me physically and emotionally. I suspect he is still indulging in his porn. I got so tired of playing sleuth and checking up on his activities. He found ways to berate me and find fault with me. I decided to stay with him only because of our son as I believe children should grow up with both sets of parents. Divorce or separation is not an option for me.
My husband is not a bad guy but he refuses to spend time alone with me. Every activity we indulge in involve our son or extended family. He finds more pleasure interacting with his family members. It is a weird situation.
Our marriage has not been nurtured for years. I did not confide about his porn addiction to anyone due to the shame and stigma it would have caused in the Christian circles we move in or get the necessary help. After years of living like this, I sometimes feel that I no longer love him as a husband and I do not care if he loves me either. I feel so guilty over this and worry that God is displeased with me and that I must answer God someday about how I feel about my husband.
You did what you had to do. You proceeded in truth, love and dignity. You are raising wise children who see the difference between right and wrong. God will surely bless you for the way you have handled yourself.
It is hard. We don’t marry thinking that our husbands are waiting for the day they can leave. My first h had many affairs in our short 6 year marriage. He was open with he was not going to stop sowing his wild oats. He is now on wife #5, the last I heard and all left him for the same reason.
Thank you so much for your uplifting words. (And the hugs! 🙂
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