I’m snowed in today. Yesterday too. It’s beautiful but cold. I feel like I’m in Chicago instead of Pennsylvania.
Many of you feel like you are in the desert place. Some are tempted to despair. We must fight that feeling. Thomas Merton writes, “The desert is the home of despair. And despair is everywhere……This, then is our desert; to live facing despair but not to consent. To trample it down under hope in the Cross. To wage war against despair unceasingly. That war is our wilderness. If we wage it courageously, we will find Christ at our side.” Friends, we must not consent to despair. Fight it. Trample it. Wage war against it.
Today’s Question: My 13 year old marriage began becoming abusive about 6 years ago. Last year I went to my pastor and of course that infuriated my husband. Now my husband and I go to separate churches.
I have gone on occasion with him for our children’s sake but I don’t feel right. I feel like when I’m with him I’m supposed to put on some show and I can’t do it.
Then I feel like I look miserable and don’t want to do that either. He won’t let me bring my kids to my church (he physically will pull them away from me) or he talks really bad about the church to my children.
He accuses me of having an affair with the pastor, tells my children the pastor is a sexual pervert and a child abuser, and that I love him (the pastor) more than them. He says that people at that church are all pretending to love and serve God, he called my pastor a Pharisee etc.
Most people are very supportive, but occasionally someone will say I’m being stubborn by staying at my church, that we should be going somewhere together. I feel I need a free safe place to worship, but the issue with my children is killing me. They are so confused. He also will say things such as I’ve never been a good wife, or I’ve never been affectionate.
When I say no to sex he pulls the God says not to withhold sex. But there is no trust. I have filed for divorce hoping to separate and we could get help but he won’t leave. Apparently that’s not going to happen. We went to 10 counseling sessions together, but he said he doesn’t have to change anything until I stop going to my church and un-file the divorce.
This has been our marriage. I have to be the one to do everything different. Be better at everything when I can’t possibly meet his expectations because they always change. I have tried to look at my part, but its difficult when I know half of what he says is not true or twisted. He also just had our 17 year old son arrested. He antagonizes and badgers us until we snap, then points the finger at us.
That’s what happened with my son. He ended up punching a hole in his bedroom wall. He has never been violent his entire life. Now my husband says he has to put a restraining order on him to protect our other kids and yet he tells me he wants him to come home (he’s staying with friends of mine). I don’t get it. He said he was glad to go to jail to get away from him.
My husband calls me an enabler because I’m trying to help my son. Then my husband will be nice to me but I just found out he called the DA to bash our son and he talks bad to our little ones in private. Then he tries to kiss me and asks what my problem is. I’m so frustrated. I just want it to be over but at the same time don’t want to not have hope. My pastor says to separate but I filed 5 months ago and nothing is moving forward and he just puts us through more hell. I feel like this should have been his time to work on reconciling and he made things worse now I just want the divorce. I can’t afford to live on my own and neither can my husband but I’m trusting God.
That’s why I was hoping if they would tell him he’s got to leave due to the abuse at least he could stay with his mom, maybe being physically separated would do something.
I don’t see that either though. I don’t have anywhere to go unless I get my own place and then were paying double. But he has no problem telling me I am financially irresponsible for doing this. However I cant live like this. So I know I rambled but I guess it was the matter of him accusing me of being “unfaithful” in many ways that sparked my writing. He won’t see how his abuse has been unfaithful to me and my children. Thoughts?
Answer: I left your question in tact because once we put things into words, it’s much harder to deny what’s happening to our own selves. I want you (and other’s who visit this blog) to see the crazy-making that is going on. How he says one thing and does another. How he lies. How he contradicts himself. I also want you to see that your “hope” for things to be different is sorely misplaced. I think you said it best when you said, “I always have to be the one to do everything different.”
You could try to be different every single day of your life and you still won’t be different enough because you cannot be your husband’s fantasy wife. There will always be something else that bothers him, aggravates him, or makes him unhappy. If he can make you the lightening rod for his entire well-being, then he can blame you for everything, pressuring you to somehow make him feel better.
The deceptive part of this whole dance is that it often works−temporarily. If he throws a big enough fit, you scramble to make him feel better. Sex often works but then his unhappiness returns and then it’s the next thing you have to “change” or “do” to sooth his internal storm. It’s like a three year old who knows if he throws a loud or scary enough fit, you’ll give into to him and buy him a new toy, or let him stay up late. Then he’s “good” for a while until there is a new toy he wants or something else he can throw a fit to get you to give into him.
But in that kind of dynamic, he never learns to take responsibility for his own emotional well-being or solve his own problems. He becomes an expert at blaming others, or goading them into feeling guilty and responsible for his unhappiness. He provokes others to react or act out (like your son did) so that he can point the finger at their “problem” instead of looking at himself.
But it takes two to continue this dance and I’m glad you want to stop dancing. You know you must learn how to stop feeling responsible for his bad moods, negative emotions and sinful behaviors. It’s also important to know when to nurture true hope things are changing for the better and when to realize that your hope is misplaced desire.
Of course you want your husband to “get it” and to change but to hope that he actually will change is nurtured when we see some evidence of movement in that direction. Proverbs 13:12 says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life.”
When your husband begins to show some humility and admit his own mistakes, when he’s willing to confess his wrong-doing or take responsibility for his temper outbursts, when he’s willing to tell you the truth, and does so, and he stops blaming everyone else or putting them down so that he looks better, then you can start to hope that things might be salvaged. But when you hope for something that you have absolutely no evidence is true and in fact have a lot of evidence to the contrary, you start feeling sicker and sicker. That’s when you have to let go of hope.
The psalmist struggled with misplaced hope. He asked himself, “Why are you so downcast? Why are you discouraged within?” (Psalm 42:11). We don’t know what exactly was wrong, but his answer to himself was “Put your hope in God.” Hear me, he didn’t say put your hope in what God will do, but in God himself. God is good. He loves you. He cares about your family. He loves truth and justice and humility. Put your hope in God and He will not disappoint. If we put our hope in another person or what we think God will or should do, we usually get disappointed or disillusioned.
So I’m glad you have taken some good steps forward. I’m glad you are starting to see more clearly. But if feels to me that you are still allowing your husband to have way too much power to wreak havoc on you and your kids. Time for tighter boundaries.
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Wow, that statement –
“If he can make you the lightening rod for his entire well-being, then he can blame you for everything.”
It is very difficult to be around someone when everything seems to be your fault and the relationship is not balanced to where you can talk things out and work together. Where ones own feelings are not considered but the blamer wants their feelings to be considered.
I could see how this situation would make a person loose themselves to be constantly dealing with the other person’s issues.
So sorry that this daughter of God writing the question is experiencing this. I hope she understands how loved and valuable she is to Jesus. When I was being hurt by someone I would think about the behavior and say .. “My Father God would NEVER treat me this way!” because I was loosing myself and I know I am important and valuable to God no matter how someone else may treat me.
My heart is breaking for you. I was where you were a little over a year ago, except I had a baby and a 4-year old that were being abused by being manipulated, abandoned when he got into some type of childish rage and would leave the house and not come back for hours. He confessed to being unfaithful for many years, and after attending a Women’s Conference and crying out loud in my car afterwards, God showed me without a shadow of a doubt it was time to go. I went home after that women’s conference, went into my bedroom, locked my door and told him that if he dared try to come in my room I would call the police. He refused to leave the house so it was like some type of silly show down. I visited an attorney, started the process, when the kids and I left the house and went into hiding while he was served papers. I can tell you, that being a far away tiny hotel room, with absolutely no idea what lay next for us, where money or food was coming from tomorrow, was better than living in that environment. I knew and believed that God + nothing = everything! He is everything! Please do not stand for abuse any longer. In case you don’t know this, you can file an affidavit with the court along with your divorce papers, stating his abusive behavior. My judge legally barred him from our home, granted a restraining order, and did not allow him access to his children for over three weeks until our first hearing. You can get him out of your life. Let him be accountable to legal authorities. Get a digital recorder at Radio Shack and record everything he says. More than anything, protect yourself and your children. Your son even thought being in jail was better than being at home with his dad. I think that says it all. Your children will learn from your example. Show them the example of a courageous woman of God that knows the truth and stands in it. You can have peace, you just have to take the steps to make it happen. God bless you.
Maria, you’re the first one Ive seen on this blog, that has mentioned writing a declaration of your husbands abuse and getting a restraining order. I did the same, last wk when I filed for divorce because of longstanding abusiveness. After your hearing, was your restraining order keeping him out of home. I’m curious to hear what your experience was with reporting his abuse, and what effect it had after the hearing. Thank you for sharing,
I feel for the woman who wrote this question to Leslie. I am struggling with the same things, my husband is a binge drinking alcoholic with a DUI on his record now and jail time but he is also manipulative and blames and our marriage is near the end as far as I can tell. I told my husband 2 months ago that I wanted a separation and for him to find a short term lease for him to work on some sort of recovery and so that I can get a break and focus on myself in our home, as well. We have a 15 year old son, FYI. He came back at me a few weeks later and told me that he was going to buy a house. I left it alone for a while to see if he was serious. He went as far as hiring a realtor, making an offer, and getting all the financials in place. When he needed me to sign documents for me to either be on the lease or sign my rights away to the home legally: I told him NO on both accounts. I wasn’t going to let him use marital assets for this purchase as I had asked him to provide all the financial details to me: how much was the house, what was your offer, what percentage down will be made, what type of mortgage and for what length of time will it be for, etc, etc? He never provided me with those things so I wasn’t comfortable taking on a new home loan, mostly because I don’t trust him and because of the drinking and how he’s been behaving. His response to me was, “Hey, you say sit, and I’ll sit. I’m just doing what you asked me to do.”
I’ve been working with a therapist long enough to know that is part of who he is and how he manipulates me. Putting the responsibility for this ‘house purchase’ on me. My response was, “No. I said short term rental, not 30 year mortgage.” Then, he again made the suggestion that maybe I should be the one to move out. He even yelled at our pastor in counseling once about how I should be the one to move out, etc. I haven’t worked for 15 years, we chose to homeschool our son who has some learning disabilities, so I have no income of my own.
When I told him that I might just have to be the one to move out, a tiny little smile came across his face. I realized then that this was what he wanted all along. As Leslie said above: it’s time for tighter boundaries. I just don’t know how to put those into place right now without putting myself and our son at risk. I just don’t know what I’m dealing with from one day to the next. He’ll be nice one day, and then take his ring off the next. He’ll binge drink and lie about it. Then the next day he’s sweet and bringing flowers. It truly is a cycle of abuse, I’m just glad that I know what is now because I blamed myself for years!
My marriage was almost identical. The anger from the oldest, the accusations towards the kids especially the oldest and towards me. The accusations of affairs and boyfriends (except it was he who was doing all that, I discovered later.) The biggest difference was that I stayed at church since I was the main churchgoer and he stopped going to that church. This was 7-8 years ago and he still hasn’t found a church but goes to a men’s group there that meets outside which is another way of “getting at me,” I suppose. The only way I got him to move out was when I said I had enough and was going to move into the house of a married couple’s from church with our children. It so humiliated him to admit to the fact that we couldn’t afford to put the family in a separate home that he moved out into a friend’s town home for free. It is all about “appearances” for him.
Leslie is right, this is crazy-making at its finest, and he is unstable. The kids will eventually come to realize that, but you need to remain strong and, for your sake and the kids, NOT let it make you crazy. In my case, he still has not taken responsibility for all that he has done but still wants me back. It is beyond repair because of his rampant and unrepentant adultery – and the craziness of his moods/narcissism.
God bless you, and let Jesus be your backbone. That is how I have survived.
I appreciated this post. I’ve been changing the dance and that begins to change many things. I appreciated what you said about misplaced desire versus true hope – been there done that. I feel like the Lord keeps honing these distinctions! I’ve also been caught on hoping for what God could do; it is so much better to hope in God himself, the other is a trap because it makes me dependent on circumstances and results. Last fall, my husband tried to catch me by questioning that I was saying that I couldn’t live like this anymore. I’m not sure exactly what words I used but he caught that idea. I’ve realized he thought I was saying I can’t live like this, you need to change or the circumstances need to change and I need to be clear that it is me that is changing, I can’t participate like I used to, I can’t live like that any more. As I stopped to ponder that, that honed that idea more clearly for me. What my husband decides to do as a result, is up to him.
Hi there, I sure can relate to this! I moved out (he wouldn’t) for the 4th time two years ago and this time filled for divorce. I had sought help from many pastors and counselors and it didn’t help. It would help a lil when we were in a bible study.
So much has happened since then(2 yrs ago) but I will say that I should of accepted his offer to reconcile (not move back in) as he was going to a class called ‘Love and Respect’ and also counseling. I was so hurt and angry and with no hope for our marriage. I had been waiting all those years on what God could or should do or will do. But I had not put my HOPE and TRUST completely IN GOD himself.
I now have also attended some self help classes which have helped me sooo very much. I have been reading lots of Christian self help books, including Bounderies, and reaching out to ministries like this one.
It has been very painful but I cannot change my husband but I can change myself. I’m learning more every day, one day at a time, to TRUST JESUS and seeking His will in this thing called life… it’s just to big for me. Seeking Him to fill me , to love me, to comfort me, to satisfy me… you get the picture. He is our all and all!!!
I pray for healing in your marriage. God Bless you!!
What an amazing answer! Thank you for your
Clear explanation. I’ve been seeing this for years
with my marriage and have put in some tough
boundaries so he doesn’t make me too crazy
but I honestly did not clearly understand why he
acted the way he did. In the meantime I have been
working on making myself more marketable for a
job is I can leave this marriage. Thank you again
for your ministry. I read your blog every week.
I totally understand where this woman is coming from. My story is very similar, less the young children. It’s taken me a long time to recognize that the lies our husband tells us are not nearly as damaging as the lies we tell ourselves (Leslie’s words) but with God’s help I’m getting it. The financial fears are real, and it so often seems as though God is not there. Why does evil seem to prevail and yet those trying to live in obedience seem to not get anywhere? As I pondered that recently I was led to Exodus 6. The children of Israel were under terrible bondage and treatment by the Egyptians. 400 years – and they most likely grew up hearing about the “GOD” of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The wonderful story of Joseph and how God used him to save “His people.” I grew up hearing all those stories too – I was steeped in the Word – faithful to the church. But I wasn’t prepared for the horror of my (Christian) husband’s abuse, manipulation, lies, cheating, adultery, etc. When Moses came to the Israelites, as they were being beaten and abused, he was to tell them I AM has heard the groanings of His people and remembered His Covenant. Put yourself in their place. Here is Moses (who by the way was raised in Pharoh’s palace and ran away 40 years before) coming back and telling them that God would save them.
We know the result of that story. God did save them. God did and continues to keep His covenant with His children – whether they be Israelites or those of us who have accepted Christ’s redemption.
But put yourself in their place. As they hear this from Moses, how would they respond? Doubt, disbelief?
“There is much for us to learn in this; we defeat ourselves by being occupied with the difficulties of the way; God has made known to us the triumphant outcome of good over evil and, instead of being harrassed by the fiery darts which the evil one now hurls against us, we ought to rest on the assuring Promise that ‘The God of Peace shall bruise satan under our feet shortly – Rom. 16:20′”.(AW Pink)
My situation is not resolved – it is very similar to yours. It’s been a long journey, and the husband refuses to leave – or change. I pray the serenity prayer constantly and continue to focus on gaining my strength from God’s Word. I try to focus on standing strong in the face of the adversity, and determined to find joy in my circumstances. I’m learning that my best defense is to do exactly what the enemy does not want me to do. Keep that in you mind. Whatever is going to foil the plans of the enemy – that is what your plan should be. Be determined to find peace and joy in spite of your circumstances. Leslie led me to Philippians – the book of joy in spite of circumstances. Get a study guide on it. Your children will learn and grow through watching you flourish in this difficult situation. What an example Paul was to the Philippians – and what an example you can be to others.
It won’t happen overnight – it is a looong and difficult journey. But all things are possible through Christ. Post that EVERYWHERE!!
As I read Leslie’s blog, I am continually amazed at the number of women that endure this kind of hardship. Sometimes I praise God for having to go through this just to open my eyes to the enormity of the problem – and I pray for all of you. Maybe that is why God hasn’t lifted me out of it yet – because if things were smooth and comfortable I wouldn’t be as desperate for HIM!! And to be honest, I’m learning that is really all that is important. To know Him and the power of His resurrection and share in His suffering.
Thank you for your wisdom…I wanted to clarify my thoughts after reading your response.
My question is…what’s the difference between: 1. Still hoping that a relationship will change, while refusing to nurture that hope (because of the reality & evidence of lack of true repentance), and realizing that God is the ONLY source of true hope, nothing else, no one else
2. Letting go of all hope, except for placing your hope in God Himself, not possibilities or entitled outcomes? Are these the same idea, ultimately? Or are you saying to let go of any hope (including a changed relationship that could happen through the power of the Holy Spirit), except for that found in God? That we shouldn’t have any kind of hope in a relationship that has proven to continue in its unhealthy place?
I hope that makes sense…just trying to understand what you are saying. Thanks!
Henry Cloud tackles this in an interesting way in his book Necessary Endings which is not about endings in marriage but in business and ministry. But he says that when we keep hoping for change when there is no shred of teachability, growth, humility, willingness to be accountable, then our hope is misplaced. So CAN God raise someone from the dead when they are dead? Yes, but if we continue to hope that he will do so and delay the funeral, waiting, waiting, waiting, and seeing no evidence that he is going to raise someone from the dead, and the body is getting stinkier and stinkier and decay is taking place, when do you say goodbye and start to accept he’s dead and grieve. I think one of the reasons we keep hoping when nothing is happening is we don’t want to grieve.
Lesley I have done this very same thing with hope. I loved this example from Henry Cloud. My very new ex husband as of Jan 8th, doesn’t believe in divorce but filed then blamed some in his church for filing it. He left as they “didn’t understand his views”. He has NEVER in the 23 years EVER taken any responsibility for his choices and failures. He is 63 and blamed any and everyone for 45 years! He is without any humility, arrogant,unteachable and isn’t rependant because “he hasn’t done anything”. He has been counseled for all these years on his attitudes towards me and never takes the counsel. Why hasn’t he been removed from these congregations when counsel and change of attitudes don’t occur over all these years? Why when the outcome of these behaviors are destroying the being of his christian wife, me, and “shredding her heart” and her core, is he allowed to stay as a “brother in Christ”? Whatever happened to putting the unrependant one out? His pastor a few weeks ago, who’s 82 years old and a kind, loving man, told him that his ideas on women and submission are not from God and are wrong! He told me he harbored bitterness at me all 23 years for my 3 young kids at the time because I had a family and I was his family now and he couldn’t “play his music” I was sooo sick of hearing about his music! How about being responsible and serving God that you talk about but your actions lie? How could I fight that when I didn’t know and he never told me but I had to put up with the behaviors of it along with many others. He is diagnosed NPD among other traits of disorders and refuses therapy! Shock isn’t it. I have a terrible time accepting the grief of what he’s done… the betrayal and blame for it all and then accepting the “death” and grieve the loss.I want answers BEFORE I grieve the loss however I know I am not getting them. This is horrible for me and I don’t know how to let him go in grief as I know now he is moving forward without guilt(as he didn’t do anything). He’s playing his music as a traveling gypsy that he gave up for me all those years and looking for another “source”. He said that God is directing him in music to go do this. He has never had any real jobs and no retirement. I did the job. Everyone that knows him all these years is worried I will return and vehemently say NO!!! I am not returning. He is a professed “strong christian” always bringing up Jesus, Holy Spirit, and God consistantly in conversations.He is not a christian with his behaviors and no repentance.I am not getting over this and want joy in my life that God gave me as an individual person. I was a loyal, loving wife to him…the ONLY person who has ever stayed by his side. I left in July as I couldn’t take it anymore. I have jesus in my life but I need to grieve this loss and I don’t know how knowing he is just able to move on without remorse. Please help. I seem to be getting worse than better in these months. I am in therapy and on meds. Thanks
I love what you said Leslie. I was blessed to hear Henry Cloud in person speaking on Necessary Endings. Its taken me awhile to act on what I heard. So many of us keep our hope in the marriage improving, instead of having our hope in God. We need to be authentic about what is really going on in our relationships. Don’t live in denial and so much pain, and refuse to increase the consequences to the offending spouse. Within about 3 months, I read Leslie’s bks, spent much time on this blog listening to others storie’s, and then along with the strong counsel I received from my counselor, knew it was time for a Necessary Ending. I took it one step at a time, speaking up, standing back, and eventually removing myself and letting the consequences work. We have to be brace enough to look at things as they are, and not how we’d like them to be. I call that- seeing the True Reality of my relationship. Its only been 4 days since I filed, and I’ve been in hiding since he was served, as I don’t trust his reactions will be healthy, but I feel safer than I have in 30 yrs. God is perfectly working in my life and through many supportive people, he has aligned, just for my good. My desire is to be a woman of courage and move out into a life, much different than the one Ive known. I encourage anyone that lives with abuse, to consider all the yrs that might be wasted, if you do nothing. God intends so much more for us, and all we need to do is take that first step. He’s waiting to grab our hand……
I stayed in my 57-year marriage, despite, his adultery, alcoholism, extreme verbal abuse, controlling, insane jealousy. etc., because he did work and provide me and my two daughters with a home. I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to make it on my own, financially, plus the Bible teaches I could leave, but not remarry as long as he was alive. I didn’t want to live alone and was told at church to keep praying for his salvation, and to live godly before him, submitting in Christian love, etc. I discovered Patricia Evans’ book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship at the library several years ago, and finally understood that it was him, not me. I also purchased the Boundaries book by John Townsend, and decided to try the only boundary/leverage I had available, and told him I would no longer submit sexually until he was willing to change. He continued to blame me for being “a cold fish,” and said all I cared about was church, e-mail and talking to family & friends on the phone (anything not including him). He even hated my reading while he watched t.v. programs I wasn’t interested in. He finally moved to his home state in November 2013 (800 miles away), after drawing out half the funds from our joint bank accounts behind my bank). Two weeks later he returned while I was at the grocery store. I had recently had the house locks re-keyed, so he broke in a back window. I went to our daughter’s home and called to tell him I wouldn’t return until he left, and that I planned to file a restraining order against him. He left again, but left a note saying God would punish me. I did file a protection order the next day — valid for a year. However, he continued to call, write and even sent flowers, begging me to take him back. He then wrote that he was “coming to see me,” and he did return January 12 while I was out having lunch with our daughter after church. He again broke into the house, so I called the police. He was arrested, taken to jail overnight, with court the next day, and another court date February 3. He was warned not to connect me or return to the house, or he would be jailed again for nine more days. He wrote a note saying he wouldn’t put a dog through what I have him! I pity him, as he’s a sick, lonely old man, but I thank God for the freedom and peace I now enjoy, and pray he will no longer harass me.I’ve joined a support group and have a Christian counselor through a United Way safe house that is very therapeutic. God is in control!
I want to encourage you that you will get past this. You will once again feel joy and peace. I am several years past this type of experience and am now fully at peace and rest.
I found one of the hardest parts to be that you probably know some of the good qualities of your husband. Maybe you allow yourself sometimes to think it is possible that it will all be okay. It can be hard to reconcile the good with the crazy-making, erratic behavior.
Your husband has some type of pain or emotional trauma from his past that has caused him to need to create this type of chaos and trauma. Rather than facing his own pain, he is projecting onto you. He may have no idea how erratic and unreasonable he is. That is not your problem. But understanding this may allow you to mentally and emotionally separate from his behavior and make sure that you do not get sucked into things that are his problems. Some of my worst regrets were allowing myself to get sucked in and then “snap” as you said. I finally reached a point where I could no longer let his problems cause me to behave in ways that were contrary to the person I wanted to be. There was really great power when I could retain my own sanity, composure and grace regardless of his crazy-making. Remember that God knows all the truth, both his false accusations as well as both of your good qualities and mistakes. God’s grace is greater than we can imagine for all of it.
Accepting reality, giving up any fantasies, allowing yourself to grieve the pain and loss, asking for help from someone safe to just be a friend, and leaning very, very hard on the Lord will all help you heal and restore your peace. It sounds like a lot of us ladies understand exactly what you are going through, so no, you are not crazy even if you feel sometimes that you are.
Cry out to God. Cry with God. Ask Him to help you, to protect your children, to strengthen you. Tell Him that even though you might not feel like it at all, you choose to believe that He has you and your children in the palm of His Hands. I am praying all these things for you right now, dear one. You are precious and beloved in the sight of God. He will uphold you. Blessings precious lady.
Thank you for posting. I know this is a slightly different question, but how r you handling the filing. You say you r in hiding. For how long? Will you go back to the house to live until the divorce is final. One of my ‘fears’ in why I have not filed yet (but plan to in the near future), is how to physically file and possibly stay at the house until I am able to get my part of the equity out of the house so I can purchase a new house. Then, how do I get me and two kids set up in a new place. I know I have to trust God to provide and pray that every day, but I find it very frightening. Any suggestions would be wonderful.
Jennifer, I hid at a friends house for the first week. I filed by having friend drive me to lawyers office. I didn’t go back to house for two wks. At the hearing, I was granted to remain in the house, and my husband had a restraining order which said he could not come onto property. I knew I could not stay in house, unless he was removed. It was a very difficult decision to make, as I knew my adult age children would be very angry for having a restraining order against their dad; no matter what they thought about his abuse. I am still living with friends, but I do go to house everyday as my home business is there. I am preparing to return home to live soon. The danger has passed, and I am ready to move on to the next step. This is all very difficult, and I won’t say otherwise. I trusted God to lead my every step and he did. I also had a very strong support base. Excellent counselor, Domestic Violence leader, Lawyer, Pastor, and many strong godly friends surrounding me. I really encourage anybody that is doing the steps I did, to be sure and get your support on board first!! Let me know, how you’re doing, and if I can send anymore encouragement. I will be praying for you.
Im so sorry to hear of what youre going through . I feel your pain and especially your concerns for your children. Like Leslie said put your hope and trust in the Lord . I just want to encourage you to pay attention to the advice that people ( incliding pastors and counselors) give. If it goes against the word of God then you should not take it even though it looks appealing. The Word lays out the grounds for divorce very clearly, be it in the gospels or chapter 7 of 1 Corinthians. Please read it , study it And ask the author , the Holy Spirit , to show you. You can separate and live as a married woman but divorce is only in the case of adultery or your spouse asking you for it. May the Lord guide you as you seek him alone.
You may want to read “Redemptive Divorce” by Mark Gaither. Most of what he says goes hand in hand with Leslie’s guidance and is very Biblical.
Ladies I think we need to be mindful that people can read the Bible, pray for wisdom, honestly strive to do what God says yet interpret things differently. We see this around the issues of speaking in tongues, infant or adult baptism, women’s role in the church, and marriage, divorce and remarriage issues. I want us to have the freedom to dialogue our opinions about what Scripture says, even in the controversial issues, even if we disagree with one another, but let’s make sure to not say “my way” of thinking is the only possible way this passage can be understood. If we can be respectful that we don’t all see things the exact same way, I think we can have some very interesting discussion and all grow.
Amen, Leslie. A few years ago, I would have said without any doubt that the only reason for divorce was adultery and perhaps not even then. Through time in the Word, prayer, and much reading. Thank you Leslie for your books. God reveals to us what he wants us to see. We all have our own purpose. What God leads me to do is going to be different for another in a similar situation. Niether one is right or wrong, just different. God’s timing is perfect. He will show us His heart in His time. Right now I do not feel that I will ever remarry, but I have no idea what God has in store. He may call me home today. I close my eyes for a moment and think of that time and all I can say is “Hallelujah”.
I feel the same way. I thought that adultery was the only reason for divorce,but through prayer and meditation I’ve discovered otherwise. God has answered so much for me
and revealed different thoughts. We are all different and what one has answered for her won’t be the same for another. I’ve researched so much on any form of abuse from the bible and have found some answers and relief. I also have no desire to ever remarry as I’m older and have been married twice, both to mentally ill men. I wouldn’t know how to handle a healthy christian man cherishing and loving me as Jesus’ example in the scriptures. I can say I’ve learned what my choices have been in choosing these men and to know what a healthy relationship with boundaries is It’s all up to God and I have to allow Him to lead me. I loved the thought you shared about God calling you and you saying “Hallelujah”. I think these thoughts all the time. I have to remember that I have children and grandchildren that need me in their lives.I yearn for the day that God calls me home as I’m over the pain of this emotional trauma. This ex has hurt and betrayed me beyond words! “Come quickly Lord jesus”
Another book, other than Leslie’s-one of my favorites, is Divorce and Remarriage in the Church by David Instone-Brewer. He gives very clear Biblical arguments that challenge some of the standard opinions of Christians. I recommend reading it, along with Leslie’s book and asking the Holy Spirit for guidance.
I’m glad that Rhoda brought up the matter of divorce because I meant to say something about that. I echo her encouragement to ask God to give you His wisdom and peace, from reading His holy Word.
I don’t know if it would always work this way, but when I stopped “dancing” the crazy dance with my husband, it took so much power(pleasure of control???) away from him. He shortly filed for divorce afterwards. I still grieve that and pray that God could restore him and our marriage, even though I love the peace since he is gone. But it was good for my own self-respect that I had not initiated divorce.
Whatever happens, ask God to show you, trust Him, do your best, and trust that our loving God cares so deeply for you and His grace is sufficient, even for our mistakes. Most people don’t understand, but God does.
Leslie, I relate to this question and know for a fact that my ex (who has NPD) would read the things you say about taking responsibility for emotions, etc. and say that this was MY problem. I have heard that many abusers turn this around on the victim and say, “You can’t look to me for your happiness. You have to find it in yourself. Your feelings are your own responsibility.” Which sounds great on paper but this is said after they have raged and verbally/emotionally barraged you and you are nursing your wounds and asking them kindly for nicer treatment…and trying to tell them what effect their words and anger are having on you and the children. So, are they also right? Should we all just “take responsibility” for our feelings and become islands who are unaffected by one another? I get nervous when I read this sort of thing and the CONTEXT is not made extremely clear. I think this “taking responsibility” concept works if the perpetrator is instructed to take responsibility but NOT the victim! (Other than by removing herself from the abuse.) I just don’t want to see anyone else go through the pain and confusion and blame I did because I got a metaphorical black eye from his metaphorical punch and was told if I were just stronger I would not have that black eye so that the real problem was somehow my not taking responsibility for my lack of thick skin and not him taking responsibility for stopping his angry punches!! Hope that made sense!
Healing – I understand your confusion it’s common. I blogged about this whole topic a few weeks ago on boundaries and consequences and you may want to revisit those blogs. However we are each responsible for our own feelings and actions. But if someone hurts me does that mean that they are not responsible? No, just like if they punched me in the face, they are responsible for their actions and feelings and I am responsible for mine. Therefore, I need to protect myself from this person, get medical care, do what I have to do to be safe and not get hurt again. Then I need to decide what to do with my anger, bitterness and resentment or fear (if I have those feelings). If the person who punched me is not willing to take responsibility for his behaviors and feelings that resulted in hurting me, I can’t make him, but then I can no longer have close fellowship with him.
However, when someone punches you, says it’s your problem because you did’t take responsible to put your armor on and then wants or expects you to want to kiss them and be all friendly with them, that’s crazy making and that’s not taking responsibility for the damage he/she caused to the other person. Again, it’s like I crash my car into yours. You will have to take responsibility to get your car fixed and whether or not you will forgive me but if I’m a healthy person, I will take responsibility for causing the damage and if I take that responsibility I will make amends – either financially, emotionally (through a profuse apology) or physically, by offering to help you repair your car, it makes your job of fixing your car much easier.
In other words, although I cannot be responsible for someone’s feelings as a human being, I am responsible to other people – to show respect, care, compassion, love, grace, forgiveness. When I fail (as I will) I am responsible to be honest, make amends, and do what it takes to repair the relationship. I cannot fix the other person’s feelings – that’s their responsibility but I can do what I can do to show remorse, change my behaviors or attitudes,etc. So the person who hits you over the head with a bat or clobbers you with their hurtful words and then walks away from the wreckage and says, “That’s your problem is misusing language and doing crazy/making.
Thanks for clarifying, Leslie. I missed those blogs so I will certainly look for them. Yes, the latter crazy-making was my ex. He liked to say I was just an “unhappy person” and was “playing victim” when I’d put my head down as he raged at me because I didn’t want to see his angry, red face or the evil in his eyes. An abuser can twist good words into something so perverted. Thanks for your work.
I understand this as we all do here. Crazy making was a tactic used in my home along with about 75 other ones listed on the web site Out of The Fog for people living with personality disordered loved ones, all the time. I left last year in a 23 year marriage ALWAYS hoping and praying that he’d change. I tried everything for help…he didn’t want any. He is prideful and self centered…. ALWAYS everyone elses fault. He never, before I left, or after, did anything to correct himself. To this day he does not see anything he’s done. He says I abandoned him in leaving so I could be with my adult children. He has a 40 year old son and 2 grandsons he’s seen in 14 years six times I counted. He wants no family, only a wife to look to him as his family only. She can’t have an opinion. It’s all his decisions as the family head!! He is a personality disordered man with many other personality disordered traits who was emotionally,verbal and I think the worst…spiritually abusive. I was at my worst and praying day and night asking God what to do and His will on the matter. He got me out. It was painful but a smooth transition for me…. not for him. Hope like I thought, was not productive as what Lesley said about it was what I was doing. I decided to wait on God’s direction and let him go.If He wants to ever bring him back, He can with the understanding that He won’t make anyone go against their own choice as we all have free will. He is now not wanting me as he’s off to play his music as a traveling troubadour. He’s 63 and never had real jobs and lives in a true fantasy world!! He’ll find a innocent woman as I was 24 years ago and lure her in. He HAS TO HAVE ONE. I pray for her. Hope in The Lord and He will fill your needs…not the “hope” of this relationship restoring. When you do it this way, if it doesn’t work out, you will always, always, always have the perfect, unconditional love of Jesus right there with you. I am saying all of this as it’s the truth but I would be less than honest if I didn’t share that I struggle with this “hope” also. I have come along way in just the last 3 months so baby steps and eventually we’ll get there. God bless and in my prayers as we all are suffering in loving our husbands or ex’s and knowing we just want or wanted their Christian love to us as “cherished” wives.
Mary – thank you for posting your story! I had never heard anyone else say they had an ex who claimed he was “abandoned” after they were so abusive they drove you out. Your story helped me. My ex told me to leave and after I did accused me of abandoning him and played victim to anyone who would listen. He would not allow me to return. Still claims to this day I abandoned him and says he can’t trust ME! When I say every time that he is the one who told me to leave and wouldn’t allow me back even when I begged he says I’m blaming him and I’m full of excuses and need to take responsibility for leaving. Utterly crazy. I went through PTSD and to be honest was so suicidal that only the guilt about the unborn child inside me and my 8 year old son being without a mom was what kept me here. My friend held me down while I shook uncontrollably and breathed into paper bags on more than one occasion. I’ve thrown up after such bullying calls from him. I am finally better, thank God. My prayers to anyone dealing with such a toxic, sadistic, and evil being. 🙁
Healing, X also says that I abandoned him, gave up on him, gave up the marrriage. I stayed for 22 years. He had already abandoned me and our vows in the first year of marriage and last week said we never took vows. I am still baffled by what the whole wedding thing was about to him.
Mary, I know how it is to be with someone who is never at fault for anything. X was fired from a job several years ago and instead of taking responsibility for his temper and continually telling those in charge that he wanted a voluntary demotion and someone else could have his job, he chose to blame the bosses. To this day he says he left that job, not that he was fired. He refuses counseling and sees nothing wrong with his actions that caused me to leave. I should have done more. I gave up. That part is mostly true. I have no hope in restoration of the marriage or in his changing at all. I do have hope in God.
Wow, this could have been me…actually, it was me. While reading the poster’s story/question I actually stopped halfway through to see who wrote it, because it could have been my story. I found my heart rate increasing, my palms getting sweaty and my body stiffening up. The crazy-making described is what I too lived with for two decades of my life. It was completely insane, my ex was and still is crazy. And now that I have been in a ‘healthy’ marriage for the past two years, I can very clearly see just how destructive my ex was to not only me, but my two sons.
I now tell anyone who is living this kind of life, that there is hope, that it is okay to end it and save not only yourself, but children if involved.
As Leslie said, put your hope in God, period. Do not keep putting your hope in what you think He will or should do, just simply put your hope and trust in the Lord, knowing that He loves you and does not want you in a destructive relationship. Step out, get help and get out for good if necessary.
This is all very timely for me today… Could use prayer as I feel very weary sometimes with it all. All meaning with my husband’s going into a rage yelling and using foul language then running off to his bedroom and going to bed all day and sometimes into the next. He is retired 62 and I’m 55 not able to work with a weak back and thyroid probs. One could say he is a classic crazy-maker. He’s on medication for mental illness and when he doesn’t take it or goes off of it – well he goes nuts. Even though I consider myself a strong Christian woman it’s very wearing at times and I feel quite paralyzed not knowing what to do except pray and ask God for comfort and guidance. There were many times I wanted to separate but he’s the one with the retirement income and I don’t have that. I know it sounds weak & not right to stay because of financial reasons… Almost 2 yrs ago we moved to a new town and recently started attending a church. My husband goes to each meeting and likes to be the center of attention. I feel he mostly attends for selfish reasons as he grew up in a church and likes to socialize. Everything outside our home sees a different man than I do. At home he sits all day in his recliner on his PC, phone or ipad and wants to be waited on. He does nothing to help out and when I ask him for help he acts really put out… I feel he’s a bit of a hypocrite. It’s getting me down a bit as it’s like living on a roller coaster – one that at my age I don’t know how or ‘if’ I should get off… I so appreciated all you ladies who shared what you’ve gone through and Leslie too… God bless you all…
Thanks, Brenda. I think what irks me the most is that he kicked me out and THEN said I abandoned him. That is what is so crazy making. It’s not like I fled in the night. And the whole cause of the fight was that I nicely asked him to stop namecalling and mocking me. At first he was raging and saying, “If you don’t like it, leave!!” Then it changed to, “Just go! Go!” My son heard it all and was shaking in his room. So, I took my son and went to my mom’s. The ex re-wrote history and told everyone that he so lovingly said, “Honey, if you are not happy, perhaps you should go and find happiness.” HA! Even if this was said lovingly it is clearly saying “I refuse to work with you to make this a happy marriage and honor your simple request of an emotionally safe environment.” My sister and others saw through it even when he presented his side of things but his family will never know because I was never allowed to tell my side. He struts around now and won’t even admit to being the one who wanted the divorce! He says we BOTH wanted it even though I begged every step of the way for him to stop and work with me. Absolutely crazy. They use words for twisting and rewriting and sarcasm…never truth. The scripture about letting your yes be yes and no be no is so foreign to them. He used to get visibly angry and say, “I hate that saying! My ex used to say that, too!” when I’d ask him to “say what you mean and mean what you say!” Ugh. I should have run and not look back even then but he came to my door pretending to be saved and become a Christian. I bought into it and went immediately to the town hall and married him. Within a couple of months he accused him of trying to “force him to be a Christian!” Blessings to all who have endured this type of sickness!!
Sorry, that second to last line should have said, “Within a couple of months he accused ME of trying to “force him to be a Christian!”
My husband and I have been married for 18 years. We have his, mine and our children. The older one’s are pretty much grown. My younger children, specifically my daughter (14yr) wants love from her father so bad, I recently have found that she has been sending naked/in-appropriate pics via email and internet to older guys – that she think loves her. My husband too, has never taken responsibility for his actions/words. It is ALWAYS my fault, the kids fault or someone else fault. He gets angry about something very small and goes days being hateful and not speaking, ensuring that I feel un-loved and un-wanted. He constantly defends himself, even when no one has said anything, almost as if he is having a conversation in his own mind. He has never listened to my point of view or to how things make me feel, I have wanted to teach him and show him what I feel – that if only he could listen, he would surely want to change these things for the good of us all. I don’t expect him to agree with my feelings, just to be given an opportunity to share them. Anytime I think I might be able to share something, it is turned around – where I end up defending myself because he says I am “saying he is a piece of crap” – when that is not what I think or say at all. In the end the communication ends up being all about how I have done something terrible to him and treated him poorly when I was only trying to tell him how I feel. I just spent the past week being ignored and not spoken to, he will withhold information, go off where I don’t know where he is or who he is with. He does the same thing to my daughter – anytime she trys to express how she feels, it is turned around to her being dis-respectful and she doesn’t even get to say anything – she just goes to her room. I have spent all this time, even when others have said separate .. thinking that God wants me to stay, he hates divorce and that If I have faith and believe, pray, go to church, he will provide a miracle in my life and my husbands… I have really really thought that… I don’t know what to do or where to turn, I quit my job a few months back to help him with his business and that has turned out to be a nightmare. But all in all, I have no job or money coming in anymore. Just broken
Jana, he turns it on you because his own shame breeds contempt for the truth teller. He doesn’t want to hear anything negative about himself because it makes him feel bad so he blames you for “making” him feel bad and then clobbers you or anyone else who dares to challenge his idea of himself. But perhaps a first step is to stop working for his business and go back to work. At least there you can be a person who is valued and respected and bit of space and fresh air may be what you need to have right now to get stronger and clearer.
This sounds so familiar! So sorry you are having to go through this! I have been married to my husband for 8.5 years. About 5 years into our marriage, I had to call 911 and he was arrested for choking/smothering me. Over a period of a few years, the physical violence gradually got less and less until it stopped. But the verbal/emotional/mental abuse continued until I realized it was spilling over to the children. I talked and talked with people that I hoped would be able to help us. They all told me the same thing: You need marriage counseling. You need to learn to communicate. You should read Love and Respect . . . . etc. Ummm . . . People! I tried all that already! Anyone who has tried to live with an abusive person knows that won’t change anything! I finally took the children and went to my parents’ house. My husband has someone telling him how unBiblical this separation is–and giving him Scripture references to ‘support’ that belief! I have seen the change in my children since we are out–my 5-year-old doesn’t even want to see his Daddy–and we will not go back unless/until we see some DEEP changes! Since consequences opened his eyes before, I am hoping that they will again. We serve a BIG GOD who can do BIG MIRACLES and I am praying for one here, and one for each of you who are in similar situations! Our miracles may not all look the same, but I believe that we can all experience them!
Once again, Leslie, you have shed light on the darkness. I have been learning the art of what I refer to as a magic show. Someone who is abusive is masterful at having you put all your focus on what he/she wants you to so that you will not look at what is really going on behind the curtain.
I hear so many distractions the husband is using in the poster’s story. Leslie referred to it as a dance and I have found this to be an apt term in my own abusive marriage. His goal is to keep the dance moving…to continually distract her focus by having to consider her next moves and reacting to his steps to keep from falling on her face.
But God tells us for good reason, “Be still and know that I am God.” Removing ourselves from the dance long enough to gain a better understanding of what the truth is. Being still to hear God’s quiet voice of wisdom- He will not shout over the music (chaos) at us. And then to KNOW. Not hope, but KNOW that He is God and He is GOOD!
When an abusive person distracts us, they also wear us out. We keep so busy formulating our words, trying to make sense of the senseless that we have little energy or will left to address the real issue of a marriage with two different goals. We can spend so much time defending ourselves against waves of accusations all the while his issues can then remain unaddressed and he can claim to others that he “has tried” to discuss the issues in the marriage.
For me I have come to realize I need to protect myself, not against his merry-go-round of accusations, but rather to protect my spirit and the good deposit God has entrusted me with. Abuse attempts to rob us of God’s truth.
Valerie, this is so TRUE!!! After leaving my husband–only about 2 weeks ago–I am finding that I have to SERIOUSLY limit the amount of contact I have with him or he will find a way to manipulate me into coming back. . . . . I have a much more clear perspective since I am a few steps removed. But, he loves to put me on guilt trips for the way I am ‘treating him’. He is NOT good at respecting boundaries, and I am only slowly learning how to stand up to him and stick to the boundaries myself . . . . a work in progress, but with GOD it is possible!
This man sounds like my ex-husband. I left him for the last time a few months ago and the divorce was finalized two weeks ago. We were only married 9 years, but he did all of the same things. 🙁 The psychological manipulation was incredible — he was also physically, economically, sexually and spiritually abusive.
What my ex really liked to do was go behind my back and talk about his “concerns” about me to all my/his friends and family…and our pastors. He twisted things in such a way that he would look like a saint and I as a deeply disturbed individual. 🙁 It was so humiliating and degrading. He also made the claims of my having affairs. Tarnishing my reputation is a major way he controlled me because he knew it was one of the most important things to me. When we were young newlyweds he called the police on me twice (I should point out he was also a police officer at the time). Of course it was always for my “best interests.” I hadn’t done anything illegal, but he would chase me around the apartment for hours at night verbally berating me, breaking down downs, throwing me on the bed, etc., and when I would finally “snap” and scream/tell him I’d had enough and wanted to leave/etc., he’d say I was out of my mind and a “danger” to myself. It was so bad. And yet I stayed…and had children with him. I swallowed his accusations wholesale and really thought I must be out of my mind & worthless.
Over the years he’d put on a big holier-than-thou show to everyone, but I saw at home that he wanted nothing to do with an actual relationship with God (he never prayed), the only time he EVER looked up Scripture was when he wanted to use it against me (he especially liked that verse about not denying sex unless by “mutual consent”), he confessed to not believing in or wanting to follow a lot of major doctrinal teachings… It was sick. I have had to go to a different church since leaving him because he’s now a member of one the big men’s organizations there and he leads prayer every Sunday. Everyone sees him as a poor little martyr and no one has any clue to the abuse he wrought on me and our 3 children. They have no idea how his whole Christian persona is just an act. You are blessed in that you do have a pastor who is standing behind you and a congregation to call “your own.” That’s so, so important!
Anyway, I want to encourage you that even with the suffering of losing my church congregation and having people there who can support the kids and I, getting free of him has been the biggest blessing in my life. Having the physical distance between us has made the abuse even more pronounced and when I do see him, I go away thankful each time that I no longer have to put up with his twisted blaming and manipulation day in and day out. To this day he is completely unrepentant and believes I am “the failure,” but I am trying to pray for him that one day he comes around. For his sake, our children’s sake, and the sake of any future women with whom he will likely be involved. 🙁
I am so happy to hear that you have been able to get ‘free’ of him! That verse about not withholding sex except by mutual consent is one of my husband’s favorites as well–he used it to tell me that I was being ‘unBiblical’ when I left him! REALLY!? I would really like to hear what he would call himself for the way he treated the children and me for the last 8 1/2 years . . . . .
Wearing you down until you snap and then making it look like you are the terrible one sounds SOOO familiar! And yes, while living it you know it’s bad, but you really DO see it so much more clearly when you take a couple of steps back!
You are no ‘failure’! You are a strong woman for being able to step up, get out, and give your children the opportunity to experience a more peaceful life! Stay strong, Sister!!
This website and blog is a tremendous blessing to me! Thank you, dear Leslie! I relate so well to all the comments, as their abuse is so similar to mine.
My husband has finally returned to his home state, and I hope and pray will leave me alone. However, I fear he won’t give up without a fight. My older daughter told him on the phone yesterday that she hopes to see him in the future, and he replied, “Probably at a gathering with your mother’s boyfriend!” She told him I have no interest in one and he laughed and hung up on her. He also told my younger daughter that some “bum” would move in and steal everything he worked so hard for. God help me!
Jennifer, I also filed a restraining order against my X that he violated. It is valid for eight more months, and then I plan to file for divorce, if he doesn’t do so first. According to NC law, he has to be gone for at least a year before I can file. I wonder if I could start proceedings now or wait until then? I fear that he’ll return as soon as the restraining order is no longer in effect. I could re-file, but prefer to file for divorce, and have it over with.
If he violated the restraining order, is he in jail? You should have no problem getting an extension on it after 8 months if you need to until you are able to file. If he continues his abuse, you may still need a restraining order even after a divorce.
Thank you, Leslie. No, he had to stay in jail only overnight, go to court the next day, and again two weeks later. He was then warned that if he returned to the house again, he would go to jail for nine more days. I guess I should still plan to get an extension on the restraining order, even after divorcing. I didn’t think he’d try to return then. but it’s possible.
I haven’t received any new comments for a couple of weeks and I wonder if I’m doing something wrong, as I miss them very much.
My blog is having problems and comments are not showing up. We are working on this problem. Not sure what caused it or what to do to fix it. Hang in there.
After reading all these comments. Its made me realize i need to focus on me and get myself therapy to even begin to move forward. I also need to get closer to God and leave it all in his hands. Please keep me and my kids in your prayers.
I’m praying for you dear Exhausted Wife. As the saying goes, “been there, done that!” Just keep reading your Bible and praying for God’s leading, as well as reading Leslie’s books and her counsel, along with this wonderful therapeutic blog.