My Husband Is In Denial About His Abuse

Morning friends,

I’m headed back to Pennsylvania and will be on the road all week. I’d appreciate your prayers for safe travels. We’ve had a great time and will miss our sweet granddaughters. It’s been great having this time to get to know them more and vice versa.


This week’s question: I have felt awkward and isolated in various ways in my relationships and not known how to communicate in the midst of my husband’s destructive patterns and denial. I have been married 26 years and have three children. In August, I acknowledged that he does not want to know his own destructive patterns.

My question is, how do I live clearly when my husband avoids knowing, understanding, and taking responsibility for his destructive behaviors? I have struggled with knowing what to say to the children, friends, family, church, and others. I am learning that I need more truth to avoid isolation and also so things are not misconstrued by others and my children.

What can I say, how can I approach relationships when he is in denial? I wonder how to say things if he is around or if he will find out what I said. If I make an observation and he is there, will he let it pass or minimize it or distort it?

I need to reestablish some relationships with friends and extended family after feeling isolated for the last eleven years. Do I go forward as though nothing happened or make a statement?

I started doing phone calls in the bedroom related to what was happening but did not explain to the children that he had a crisis eleven years ago as I gave him space to change. This did not teach transparency and truth though I did need privacy. In general I minimized and tried to keep things together.

My kids know I have been seeking outside counsel. I have not openly displayed books or information I’m looking at. I have not openly told them when I have a counseling appointment or discussed them. I feel the best thing would be transparency but I feel uncertain how to do that when my husband has strong avoidance patterns.

I have been slowly getting stronger and taking steps to share that certain behaviors are not normal or acceptable and discuss healthier alternatives to the children. The relationship with my twenty three year old is hardest; he has actually used the words, “I don’t want to know” (possibly scared to learn about his dad?).

I don’t want to be abused by his desire not to know or for that to keep needed truth from the family.

Answer: Your dilemma of living with someone who is denial, who does not want to face reality is not uncommon and it’s very tough to navigate through in a healthy way for you and for your children, especially if you want to preserve some form of family life and stay well.

First, healthy people live in truth and reality. They don’t live in a make believe land or wishful thinking land. Therefore it’s imperative that you not lie to yourself or to your children. That doesn’t mean full disclosure of all the sordid details about what’s going on at home or with your husband but if they ask a question about what’s wrong, don’t make up a story. As much as possible tell them the truth so that they learn to trust their own perceptions.

For example, if your husband has an alcohol problem and he was stumbling around, slurring his words and your kids asked “what’s wrong with dad?” You wouldn’t cover for him and say, “Oh he doesn’t feel well.” You would tell them the truth. “Dad drank too much alcohol tonight.”

Kids intuitively know when something is wrong even if they don’t say it. They know when there are problems at home and it is a kindness to put the correct labels on what’s happening when possible. Doing so confirms that they were “thinking” correctly or “perceiving” rightly which reinforces their own need to live in truth. (I teach more ways to love but speak truth in our Walking In CORE Strength Course. More information here).

Telling the truth doesn’t mean that you overwhelm your children or other family members with all the details. It doesn’t mean that you degrade your husband’s character to the kids or family and say “he’s a sloppy drunk and doesn’t’ care about us.”  Tell the factual truth – he’s slurring his words and stumbling because he drank too much alcohol. Period.

Your husband may be in denial about what he does that’s abusive or destructive to the family. Usually people like this are experts not only at lying to others, but also to themselves. (Tweet this)

To acknowledge the truth about one’s self– whether it is I drink too much, I eat too much, or I treated someone abusively, requires us to face some things that we may not want to face. It’s easier to pretend, make excuses, blame others, and refuse to listen to feedback about how our actions (or lack of actions) impact others.

If you recall in the New Testament, Jesus continually tried to get the Pharisee’s to see themselves more clearly. He told them they were blind guides, that they were hypocrites and that they weren’t truly religious leaders but children of the devil (Matthew 15 and Matthew 22). Those are hard words yet the Pharisees didn’t want to see themselves. They didn’t want to know the truth. The more Jesus told them, the more they wanted to kill him.

I say this to encourage you that you may be doing everything you can to invite your husband to look at his behaviors and he still may chose not to. The more you press him, the more he may retaliate against you as the religious leaders did with Jesus.

Therefore I think your real question is how do I stay well and in the truth you know even if your husband doesn’t want to hear what you have to say?

First, you will have to accept (not just acknowledge) that you marriage will never heal or become what you’d like as long as your husband refuses to look at himself. Jesus longed for a better relationship with the Pharisees, but they couldn’t come to him because they refused to acknowledge him. By accept I don’t mean you have to like the way things are, but you must emotionally learn to accept his choice to stay in denial and be blind. Not brood, not resent, and not retaliate. It’s the same process we use when we accept that someone has died or our spouse wants a divorce or our mother doesn’t want to be involved with our children. We don’t like it but until we come to emotionally accept their choice and let go of the hurt and bitterness we feel, we are not able to live well in the present.

Second, when your husband lies or does something destructive to you or the children, simply state, “I don’t like it when you…” For example:

“I don’t like it when you raise your voice”
“I don’t like it when you curse at me or call me names”
“I don’t like it when you don’t tell me where you are going.”

If the children overhear they are old enough to know what he’s doing is questionable.

When you put words to it, they see you speaking the truth in love and not covering up deeds of darkness. If his behavior is more covert and subtle, it’s much harder to put it into words. It may sound like you’re “picking on dad” or a critical person.

However, when you need to, you can describe your marriage truthfully such as, “from my perspective, dad and I are not doing well. I don’t like that he doesn’t speak to me for two weeks when he’s mad at me. When he does that. we can’t move forward or resolve anything” or “Dad and I are not doing well in our marriage. I’ve tried talking with him about it but he’s not willing to address it.”

These would be the same kinds of things you may have to say to family and close friends so that they aren’t left with the impression that things are great at your house when indeed they are not. You don’t need to go into great detail unless you are documenting evidence to separate or initiate a confrontation (See chapters 10 and 11 in my book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage).

If your boldness at refusing to pretend riles your husband and he makes a remark about what you’ve done, respond with, “I’ve invited you to talk about what’s wrong in our marriage and I’ve accepted you’d rather not. That does not mean I’m going to pretend or go along with your denial or unwillingness to see what’s wrong. It’s like I’m watching our marriage die from a cancerous tumor and you refuse to go to the doctor or admit it’s dying. I’m not going to pretend that somehow our marriage is thriving when it is not.”

The key to staying well is your ability to accept where he is, without resentment. Remember, you are not speaking the truth to get him to change. You’ve accepted he doesn’t want to know or hear it. You are speaking the truth so that you hear it (sanity) and your children hear it (clarity) so they do not think that this behavior constitutes a healthy marriage.

I hope that there are also some good components to your marriage and family life, such as “Dad is a good provider”, or “Dad takes really good care of our house”. Or perhaps good moments like “Hey we had a fun night tonight playing board games as a family.” Or “I enjoyed going to that movie tonight.”  These are small moments and they certainly don’t make up for a marriage missing the core components of mutuality, reciprocity and freedom. But if you can acknowledge whatever is good, it will help your children see that you aren’t totally “against” their father and that you can still appreciate the things he does do even if you don’t have a good marriage.

Friends, how do you speak truth and love in a difficult situation?

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  1. Brenda on April 1, 2015 at 7:34 am

    At first when the X would say, “we should just get a divorce” after having a disagreement or he got mad and threw something at me, I would respond with “because we had a fight”. I eventually figured out that was letting him off the hook and taking the blame for at least part of the problem. I then started leaving the room. When I realized that I was living in fear of what happened next and I was always to blame for his bad moods I stayed mute and began reading Leslie’s blog, read a lot of books on abuse and was waking up every night at 2 in the morning with a praise song on my heart and reading scripture. That went on for quite some time. I feel that the Lord was strengthening me for the final exit. The then h’s behavior became worse and I had no one that I could talk to except my Savior. I could not “stay well” but I have “left well”. My kids thought I waited far too long to leave. I did go to counseling for almost a year as I prepared to leave and until the divorce was final. She deemed me strong enough to move on in freedom. Only with Jesus can I make the next step and know it.

    • Vicki on April 1, 2015 at 10:50 am

      Bless you Brenda, as we travel similar paths. Thank you for always encouraging women here. 🙂

      • Joyce on April 7, 2015 at 8:18 pm

        Bless both of you. I too, am walking a similar path. My H responds to my “I don’t like it when you raise your voice” with “I’m not raising my voice!”

        Or, “I don’t think cursing, (name calling or giving me the finger)isn’t that bad! There’s nothing wrong with it. I grew up with that…Ladies, he is 59 years old. He only does it now because I call him on it and the children are grown and gone.

        I want out asap but don’t know how to do it. I have no family around here and no close friends. I am really nervous about making the final move. How do I get over this and just do it?

        My ministers just ignore the problem. They listen to me, but that’s it. I give up.

        • Sandy on May 26, 2015 at 8:40 pm

          Hi Joyce, I identify with your desire to get out and that know one can fully understand what you’re going through because I am finally making my exit after 30 years (and 4 children still at home) of a verbally/emotionally abusive marriage (cursing, rage, anger, total control of my life–behavior increased over time, especially when he lost control over me and I began to trust God to deliver me). Was had to believe it could happen because we both called ourselves Christians. I have so much to say but there’s not room to explain in this reply. I protected not only myself by keeping it a secrete but my husband as well. Know one can fully understand, not even yourself if you don’t disclose everything. When I first got counseling from my pastor’s wife and then the pastor, of course it was do this, do that, no divorce; but when I revealed what was actually going on they were very supportive of my decision to divorce. My husband kicked me out of the room 4.5 years ago, and that’s when I said, enough is enough something is seriously wrong. I sought God, was back in church (before “having” to stay at home taking care of my husband) and God revealed to me that I was not bound to this angry man (and much more). God does not desire for us to be in such a destructive relationship; especially when the spouse is professing believe in God, when all his behavior proved otherwise. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am to release my ex to Him. My last battle (God’s) is for my one minor child (16), the court just awarded him to his dad. God is in control and I know my son is in his care and this is not finished yet. I would like to give my email out to anyone (how can that be done?) who would like to hear more. Be encouraged that no matter how long you’ve been struggling, God has been there through it all and He care for you. SEEK HIM, he’s the only one with the answer.

          • Shelly on March 1, 2016 at 9:50 pm

            I am in a very similat horrible marriage w/ a verbally/ emotionally abusive husband. Would like to contact sandy if possible – would love to connect w/ someone who totally understands.

          • Jessica on August 30, 2016 at 12:09 am

            I came across this in searching for the right thing to do for myself and kids but I am interested in hearing more about your situation. Thank you!

        • Diane on May 8, 2016 at 9:51 am

          I found a divorce support group and a counselor to coach me through my reluctance. I kept myself stuck…
          There is a way out…
          A domestic violence support group is a great place to go too. The one I went to had mostly verbally, emotionally abused women attending.

          • Leslie Vernick on May 10, 2016 at 2:56 am

            We do have resistance and reluctance to “change”, even if we know it’s needed. Good for you for getting help to get unstuck.

  2. Leonie on April 1, 2015 at 8:49 am

    I love this Leslie. I am learning it is so important for sanity/mental health to tell the truth – to factually name it. I love how you explain how to live in honesty and not be overcome by the evil they keep choosing but refuse to acknowledge. My husband said he has an audit coming up where he works and I just said that if he will be stressed out about it maybe he should leave for a few days. He looked at me funny but I just said again that don’t want his anger dumped on me when he gets stressed out. He always minimizes it or denies that he’s done wrong or has done anything when he blows up in rage and anger. I feel like I have teeth now, I am telling him the truth straight but gently and telling him what I don’t want and he knows I will call police if he chooses this behaviour again. He will have his own meeting with Children’s Aid next week so I hope he gets a stern warning from them about our daughter’s safety and what is happening in our home. I met with an advice lawyer and a social worker from the women’s shelter. I also refuse to let him run me out of the home that I owned for years before I met him. It is the home where all my kids have been raised.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 1, 2015 at 9:52 am

      good for you Leonie. I think if it does him no good at all to speak these things, it will do you a world of good.

      • susen on April 6, 2015 at 8:27 am

        Wow, Leonie! I applaud your calm strength. That was an amazing pre-emptive action that reinforces your need to work toward family tranquility and communicate to him your commitment to that tranquility. It’s a sobering fact for him to face that his absence is preferable to his presence, especially since he was looking for a pass on his behavior during the audit and probably an excuse not to go to the Children’s Aid meeting.


  3. Aimee on April 1, 2015 at 9:10 am

    One day in April of last year I felt like I was going crazy bc of how my relationship was with my husband. Tried talking to my family but they just made excuses for my husbands behavior. I felt desperate so I decided to see a counselor. I’ve been seeing her for a year now. I’ve sat my husband down several times to tell him I wasn’t happy with ou relationship. He dismissed and minimized everything I said. He continued to be verbally and emotionally abusive until one day I said I was seriously thinking about getting a divorce ( he also was aware I was seeing a counselor). Nothing changed. Oct I sat him down again and said I wanted a divorce. But left the ball in his court to see if he was truly sorry and showed some signs of changing. Nothing. I asked him to go to counseling he said he didn’t need it but I did or else why would I be going..soon it was January and still no real effort. Except the verbal abuse lessened but the emotional abuse was still present. Now he was just indifferent and there was barely any communication bw us unless it had to do with the kids sports schedule or school. He for a while didn’t sleep in our bed bc he said he “fell asleep watch in tv”. I expressed my concern about him not sleeping in our bed and how it’s not helping the relationship and now it seems purposeful and more consistent. Fed up I retained a lawyer in January but still have not pulled the trigger. I guess I’m still hanging on to hope that he’ll change. ( btw he does not help around the house at all even when I ask nicely and try not to “nag”). My husband is so emotionally cut off that I feel like I’m slowly withering away inside. I’ve read books I’m going to counseling, I talk to my close friends, I’ve had talks with my husband, what else can I do??

  4. Aimee on April 1, 2015 at 9:19 am

    To add my husband also knows I retained a lawyer

  5. Brenda on April 1, 2015 at 9:57 am

    The only thing left is pulling the trigger with the attorney. You have done all you can. The rest is up to God. Praying for wisdom and strength.

    • Becca on April 1, 2015 at 12:48 pm

      Brenda, I agree with you.

      Aimee, it’s time to let go now. Let go and let God.
      As I was reading your story, I felt like I was reading mine. I pulled the trigger right after Christmas. Still had no effect. He said, “You broke my heart when you filed for divorce.” They will always be the victim, they will never take responsibility for their actions.

      I’m going to be free soon,, and I am sooooooo excited!

      Let go, Aimee, let him go. God will be with you and we are all here for you.

    • Lynn M on April 1, 2015 at 4:54 pm

      Aimee, I agree with everyone above you have done all you can and he is choosing, for whatever reason, not to respond. I went through nearly identical steps to yours in almost the exact time frame. I pulled the trigger right after Christmas and moved out of the house with my kids this past weekend. I can already feel the healing happening in my heart and in my soul. It sounds like your husband is not going to respond.

      • rld on April 1, 2015 at 10:16 pm

        I can totally relate to what you’ve shared and my heart says its time to go, but I know from my own experience and watching other women go through it that you can only totally let go when YOU are ready. No one but you knows when that is! I was ready in so many ways for a year, but could not do the final cut, until recently. When I did it then, I was ready . Still scared, but there’s something different now. I feel so at peace with it. My advice would be to trust yourself and trust God show you when you are strong enough, clear enough and ‘done’ enough to make the final move.

        • Aimee on April 2, 2015 at 8:30 am

          rld- well said.
          What was it that made you do the final cut?
          I have days when I’m so ready and then days where I’m not sure. I’ve been waiting for that day where I feel so done! Right now I’m dealing mostly with indifference/neglect
          I feel like I’m living with a ghost.
          Talk about crazy making!!!
          I honestly don’t know what I’m waiting for!??
          I almost wish he was back to being verbally abusive bc it’s more obvious than this indifference stuff that’s keeping me confused
          Has anyone dear with this passive agressive/ indifference type of behavior??

          • Lynn M on April 2, 2015 at 11:37 am

            There was a final straw for me. I needed to see if he was able to experience empathy — to put himself in another persons place and feel what they are feeling. I knew if he could not do that, I had no hope for a healthy recovery with him in it. So I told him I only wanted one thing from him: I wrote a document (an in the Patricia Evans books — the “Agreement”) and reviewed with him the history of all the verbally and emotionally words, actions and behaviors I had lived with for over a decade. I asked him to sit with that for awhile, and then come to me and tell me what it would feel like to have the person who promised before God to love, honor and cherish you, to instead do and say these things. He didn’t do it the first time I asked, so a few weeks later I asked again. No response. A month or so later I asked again (#3). And I said, this is the last time I will ask you for this. And if you do not answer, I will not stay in this marriage. A month went by. Then I told him I was filing for divorce. As he was saying “I love you, I don’t want this to happen”, not only did I realize and point out that was the only time in our marriage he had told me he loved me, I asked one more time, and pointed out that it was the fourth time, “What would it feel like to have the person who promised to love honor and cherish you instead do and say these things?” he refused to answer it, and got really angry with me. That was when I knew. He would never escape the denial, he would never understand what the experience of our marriage had been like for me, and he would never be capable of doing the inner work that would be required for him to bring an emotionally healthy “self” into our marriage. For whatever reason, that was the final thing I needed in order to pull the trigger.

            Oh, and THANKS for the larger box! Less typo, cause I can see what I’m writing!

        • Debbie on April 2, 2015 at 8:57 am

          Amen. I am blessed with a friend who always reminds me that I will know when it is time to go. Her support is so encouraging and accepting of me. I have been married over 20 years. One year ago I saw a lawyer and a counselor because I felt so ‘done’. But I never moved forward. I can see now, looking back over the last year, that I learned so much during this time. My peace is growing. In a lot of ways it has been a year of greiving for a marriage and quality relationship with my husband that just will never be. Trying to relate to him has been like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole all these years. It has taken a long, long time for me to accept that he is not willing to change and doesn’t see any need to change-denial that boggles my mind. If I could stay well I would, but I find myself constantly struggling with depression and temptation due to the emotional desert I’m living in. I am hopeful that I will gain the courage to make concrete plans and move forward soon. But I am also careful to encourage my own heart often and give myself permission to take steps at my own pace. Lead on dear Jesus, lead on. He has brought us this far; He will lead and keep us all.

          • Joyce on April 7, 2015 at 8:29 pm

            I too wrote “the agreement” and read it to him. He didn’t talk to me or see me for 5 days. The first day, he left it on the kitchen counter for me to see all ripped to pieces. 6 months after that I told him I would leave the room when he raised his voice or started cussing. He told me I was being selfish…”It’s all about you!” That was 2 years ago. A month ago I went and spoke to an attorney about what to expect when I finally get the nerve to go through with it. (I don’t know where I’d live. I have horses and a dog). He is in such denial and so LOUD!
            I will take any and all support along with encouragement to just do it.

          • Broome on May 30, 2015 at 12:40 pm

            I have two amazing friends that I’ve known since college (30 years now). They had always said they supported me, but when my husband started emotionally abusing my children, they said they support me, but could no longer support me in this marriage. Amen! My children came to me at different times… my 12 year old son was having migraines and IBS… after one of my husbands rages, my son said gently, mom this is abuse. You have to do something. Two days later, my 8 year old said while shivering and in tears, mom, you can’t tell anyone what he does because if you embarrass him, I’m afraid he will hurt you. One huge problem is that my husband is a minister. I always thought that as long as I held the family image together, we were alright… So, back to the friends… They set me up with a pastor and a lawyer to talk about my rights… both in the same room. They brought their husbands for support. It was obvious to me that I couldn’t do this alone but that meeting gave me affirmation, strength and clarity. This is after 18 years of various forms of cycles of abuse. Godly friends watching me dwindle away. Finally, after many years of counseling (my husband used the counseling for cover until the next cycle). I went to a Second Chance (abuse and domestic violence center). They helped me so much. I finally heard from professional counselors in abuse… SOOOOO different from the church counselors (Leslie is the perfect balance of Christian truth told along side an understanding of abusive husbands). I am in the process of fighting for my children’s mental well being and my own. My husband doesn’t admit anything… I wish I had the bruises to show for his abuse, but his is covert and demeaning. I became a wet rag. Everyone saw it, but me. Thankful to my friends, Leslie’s book, and my children for being brave enough to wake me up!

          • Leslie Vernick on May 30, 2015 at 2:35 pm

            You had wise children and wise friends. I hope you now find peace and healing.

  6. Susanne on April 1, 2015 at 10:00 am

    Thank you so much Leslie! This morning I really needed to read your response to husbands being in denial. I went through 13 years of marriage with a very abusive husband. After over 2 1/2 years of separation I’m still seeking medical help from when he pushed me down in a rage. I recently found out he is starting divorce proceedings. I would never have thought I would be so down and distressed over this. So many things have been going through my mind. It feels like a death and it actually is a death to my marriage….a finality. After reading your response today, I realize I did do everything I knew to do when my husband remained in denial of his toxic behaviour. Of course, I did blow it a few times, but for the most part I reacted in love and was truthful. My adult son and other family members, along with friends could not understand why I stayed in my marriage so long. I told them that I made a covenant before God and man when I married my husband and I took my vows seriously. I wanted to do everything and anything to keep my marriage. We did separate for 6 months two years prior to this separation. I always had hope and kept this hope for change (secretly in my heart). I have now come to the place where I realize that nothing I could have ever said or done would change him and if he chose not to or was in denial (pride perhaps?)or if he refused fight for our marriage, I have to accept that. I am working on healing my emotional wounds and know that God is with me always and will never leave me. My prayers are with all the women who are struggling in abusive situations and those who have gotten out before it was too late. I pray for the peace, love and comfort of our Lord Christ Jesus. God bless you all.

  7. Marie on April 1, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I’m thankful for this question and answer today. It’s been almost a year since I stopped divorce proceedings and I’m still not in a stay well place. While my husband has become much less angry he’s also become ultra sensitive and has turned the comment, I walk on eggshells around you, back on me. When he tells me that he’s clearly changed and I’m not giving him the support he needs I question if I’ve become hard hearted and am not trying to tear down the walls I’ve built up. I have tried to be honest but when I do he has said I’m holding on to the past and looking for things to be upset about or he gets so sad and says he can’t do enough to please me and because I won’t tell him exactly what he needs to do to make things better he’s clueless. He’s right in that I can’t tell him because I honestly don’t know, I feel like it’s going to take God changing my heart because I don’t trust anything my husband says or does. He wants to be rewarded for every good deed or comment. . He tells me he loves me many times a day and asks if I love him in return, pets and hugs me almost everytime he sees me and gets so bummed out that I don’t hug him back the same way, and stares at me telling me he can’t stop looking at me. He thanks me for keeping our family together. I have just pulled myself back from a 2 month bout of depression where all I could bring myself to do was my my bible study and that’s about it almost every day. In the past he would pressure for sex every other night and if I didn’t give in I would pay the price by him going on and on for hours. The last 3-4 weeks he has asked and said if I didn’t want to that was ok but When I have said no he says he just doesn’t understand, do I not desire him? Am I not sexually attracted to him? I’ve been honest and said no, I’m not and his feelings were so hurt and then dismissed it and asked again the next night. I have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach and I don’t know if it’s because I am not doing enough or it’s an alert to be on gaurd.

    • Sunflower on April 1, 2015 at 2:09 pm

      It’s all about him, not you. He knows more than he lets on; the ‘dumb act’ is very typical of abusers. I would tell my h, “It’s your attitude, not what you do.” If he is looking for rewards and pressuring you to respond for every little thing, he is doing it for him, not for you. If you feel something is not right, it probably isn’t. And if he really is changed, he needs to give you lots of space to really believe it. When abused, your body makes lots of cortisole, like a steady dripping. Your body can’t make both cortisole and oxytocin at the same time, and it takes around 3 months for the cortisole to stop ‘dripping’, after you feel safe. So it takes about 3 months of feeling safe before you can truly respond properly to someone being safe and kind. You are not hard hearted, you are being cautious, and for a very good reason.

      • Lynn M on April 2, 2015 at 11:27 am

        Yes, a good thing to watch for is when their response is all about them. When I told my husband for the final time that I wanted a divorce, he begged and pleaded for about two weeks. But at one point, I realized that every sentence he was saying started with the word “I”. It was “I don’t want this” etc. — but nothing with “you” as in I understand how this has been for you — I don’t want you to feel this way, you are special and incredible and I don’t want to lose you. It was all about not wanting to experience the pain HE was in. It was all about him…..

    • Lonely wife on April 1, 2015 at 2:13 pm

      Marie your husband is abusing you still…but in what I call “a nice way”…my husband does the same things your husband does and it’s VERY confusing!
      Look up the term “Gaslighting” that’s what’s happening! You need to stop letting him put a guilt trip on you!
      A truly repentant man won’t HAVE to tell you he’s changed…you will KNOW!!
      This is a very subtle form of abuse…and VERY confusing! I prayed and prayed for MONTHS that God would change my heart towards my husband…that I would love him, and want to resume sexual relations with him (we haven’t been intimate since June) but my heart hasn’t changed, I’m still guarded, and I can only believe at this point that God is protecting me….and in Dec. I believe I saw first why my heart isn’t more loving towards my H….at his office Christmas Party he flirted with a coworker…then got angry at me when I questioned him about it! He blamed me, telling me I went to the party “looking for something to blame him for” if you can believe that! We barely spoke for days afterwards…his counselor told him that his behavior was wrong, and they have a lot of work to do….so he stopped going to counseling.
      My husband and my marriage is not going to change, I’ve accepted that, hard as it is.
      And the sad thing is, my husband can be a really great guy!
      All my friends like him, my mother loves him, and he is a nice guy, a hard worker, very dedicated to his job…almost TOO dedicated…but emotionally, I do not know him at all! He shuts me and my children out….he plays the victim so perfectly, that for a while, I made excuses for him and even protected him because he grew up with an alcoholic father who cheated on his mom, so I felt sorry for him!
      I even made excuses for him after he had an emotional affair with an old GF…the second time he’s done this to me during our marriage…I fell for his rubbish, telling me I wasn’t a good enough wife, that I didn’t keep the house clean enough, etc…it was only after reading Leslie’s work, and A Cry for Justice blog that I started to realize that it’s not me…that my husband has deep issues that only HE can fix, and he doesn’t want to. End of story.
      I now work on myself, and my relationship with my Father in Heaven, I serve in several ministries at church, and have a great relationship with my children, who see their dad for what he is….I know longer make excuses for him!
      My 15 yr old son has told his dad that he needs help….Leslie is right, the kids do know when there are problems in a marriage…I answer them honestly when they ask me a question, and I tell them to pray for their dad. That’s all I can do.
      My begging, pleading, threatening….has all been for naught…my H refuses to turn to Jesus, for He is the only one who can help him!!
      He’s a professing Christian, goes to church faithfully, but has no close friends, has cut off his family for over two years (they are to blame for how his is) no church ministries, never reads his bible, has never memorized scripture, etc….I pray for his salvation, because I’m really not sure he’s even saved…he has no conscience at all about lying, etc….
      Anyway, I write all of this so you know you’re not alone…I’m not planning on separating from my husband, he’s not verbally or physically abusive…so I’m trying to stay well, at least for the next few years until my youngest is 18. Then I will see where we are at…I’ve reached a stage where I’m ok being alone emotionally.
      Does it hurt, yes!! But I run to my Jesus and cry to Him….he cares, even if my husband doesn’t!
      “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” Psalm 56:8

      PS Leslie, I LOVE the new box to write in…the other was sooo small! 🙂

      • Elizabeth on April 18, 2015 at 7:52 pm

        HI Lonely wife. I too have chosen not to leave because at this point, I am 73 and he is 75. I have set some healthy boundaries and have a wonderful support community around me. I am learning to stay well, leaning into God’s grace and growing in intimacy with Him. If I had been aware of what I was living with years ago when the children were home or even after they left and had the support of this kind of group I probably would have left. Now he has mellowed some and knows he needs me to care for him. I am content and thankful for all God has taught me and done in my life. What was meant for evil God has used for good. Genesis 50:20 with Romans 8: 28-39. However I want all you ladies to know you are my heroes and I pray for you and thank you for your honesty and courage. You are a blessing….

      • Lindsey on January 30, 2020 at 1:20 pm

        Hi Lonely Wife,

        Your story has struck a chord with me. I feel like I’m reading my own life! I’m so glad to have found this website and finally feel like I can understand what is happening in my own relationship. I’m not married, but I’m in a committed relationship with my boyfriend for 5 years now. We have a daughter as well. I met this man who seemed handsome, charming, attentive, successful…I thought I had hit the jackpot and ignored many red flags. He pressured me into moving in with him. After only a month of dating he wanted us to get an apartment together. When I refused, he got angry, saying I wasn’t serious about him and sent subtle threats of breaking up. He would also become extremely jealous, paranoid or angry when I stayed after work late, spent time with my male friends, or did anything outside of his control. Fast forward years later. I have endured years of verbal and emotional abuse. He wants looked at my daughter and with pure hatred said “If your mother wasn’t so stupid and negligent, I wouldn’t have to yell at her.” He’s cussed/yelled at me in private and in public. He treats others with such a lack of empathy it doesn’t even seem real. He firmly believes that people do not deserve his good graces if they do something he deems stupid, careless or even a mistake. I have worked and prayed hard to help him realize that his behavior is unacceptable and that it HAS to stop or I would not be around. He has improved. I will give him that. The past few months he has curbed his tongue, been more gentle and tried to put on a more pleasant attitude. But that’s the funny thing isn’t it? One cycle they are cruel and manipulative; then turn around and shower you with gifts, love and praise like you are the greatest thing in their life. Towards our daughter, he is a good father. He loves her and spends his free time devoted to her education and playtime. He is also a hard worker, highly intelligent, and provides for us. I’m at a crossroads with him. I have years of terrible feelings or resentment and anger towards him. My family doesn’t not like him. He hates his family. My friends and daughter’s teachers have raised concerns about him. On the other hand, he can be devoted, loving, caring and gentle. It’s like living with Jekyll and Hyde. I’m still scared to leave only because my daughter and him are so close. My love for him is non-existent, but I remain loyal to keep her father in her life and because he takes care of our needs. HELP!

    • Paula on April 2, 2015 at 6:51 am


      I agree with Sunflower and Lonely wife. I’ve experienced some of what you have described. I believe from what you have written that your husband is simply modifying his behavior to achieve his desired result: keeping you from leaving. This can be done without any change in his actual heart toward you. How you feel about this – your intuition – your resistance to trusting him – is important. Please don’t doubt yourself now. I think you need to be on your guard more now than ever. There are serious red flags in what you have posted:

      “I have tried to be honest but when I do he has said I’m holding on to the past and looking for things to be upset about or he gets so sad and says he can’t do enough to please me and because I won’t tell him exactly what he needs to do to make things better he’s clueless.”

      “He wants to be rewarded for every good deed or comment.”

      “He tells me he loves me many times a day and asks if I love him in return, pets and hugs me almost everytime he sees me and gets so bummed out that I don’t hug him back the same way, and stares at me telling me he can’t stop looking at me.” NOT GOOD, especially the staring. Staring is a bad sign.

      And the sexual pressure is a big red flag all on its own, too.

      He is using his “hurt feelings” to guilt and manipulate you. Be careful. This is a powerful ploy if you have a sensitive conscience, and HE KNOWS IT.

      PLEASE check out both of the following links regarding him saying he can’t do enough to please you and expecting you to tell him what to do to make things better. It is a trap:

      I hope you get away from him, Marie. I have prayed for you.

      • Hope2 on November 27, 2015 at 8:02 pm

        That blackmail checklist was EXACTLY what I needed! I left w the children three years ago and that article PEEFECTLY describes my current hamster-wheel life.
        Thanks for posting.

        • Hope2 on November 27, 2015 at 8:05 pm

          Lol. Sorry.

    • Paula on April 2, 2015 at 9:09 am


      There is a short post this morning that is very timely and appropriate to your situation.

      Praying for you.

    • donna on April 4, 2015 at 10:09 am

      Marie, I feel as if I am in the same boat you are in. I have been married for 38 yes now. The first 36 yes was all about the crazy cycle. I never got off of it once from not really knowing who I married to him and his drinking and drug use and isolating me taking me away from my church and my family…physical and emotional abuse to schizophrenia starting in 2004 and he had hyperthyroidism.. He hasn’t worked since 2001 and only worked summers for the 10 years before that
      ..I taught school in Alaska for 20 years and took early retirement to move closer to family in 2009
      Leslie answered me once and said it wasn’t all about my husband that I should take care of me. In 2012 my husband was sent twice to a mental health facility and now takes one of two pills for his schizophrenia. December 2013 I went through a love and respect course and I have learned to get off the crazy cycle which has helped me BUT I don’t live my husband we do nothing together
      Here’s where I feel we are different… I am now always angry and depressed…we live off of my pension… We never gave saved any money because my husband always said we will buy this and this..I I secretly have recently been saving some money so that if we need a lawn mower for instance we finally would be able to do this. I have no idea what normal is…I just wish I lived all alone and didn’t have to answer to him

      I’m 61 and feel that I’ve wasted 38 years of my life.

      • susen on April 6, 2015 at 9:37 am

        Donna~you can (live alone) and you don’t have to (answer to him.) God doesn’t make door mats. Your anger and depression are ways that your body is getting your attention.

        Sounds like you have worked on you for the past two years. Great steps.

        I urge you to listen to the Voice Inside. God saved me. I had given up. But instead of dying from anorexia, I have lived over twenty years to learn to love God’s Way and serve Him. Waiting, for me, was a deadly game.

        Blessings and prayers for your subsequent healing steps,

        p.s. I, too was a teacher. How would you counsel one of your former students who found herself in similar circumstances?

        • Joyce on April 7, 2015 at 8:38 pm

          I too am 61. I got a job teaching just so I would have a place to go where he isn’t. He used our 2nd mtg to buy $20,000 worth of motorcycles because it is his “passion” and “we can afford it, we aren’t hurting!” Makes my blood boil. financial abuse.

  8. Hope on April 1, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Whenever one person changes the dynamic in the relationship, the other will respond in some way.
    1– I want to URGE anyone who is even changing the dynamic to stash money. While we all hope and want our shift to promote a positive shift in them, we don’t know what the response will be and we need to have money somewhere (not just in a shared bank account that we can access).

    2– I believe we have to take the time to change ourselves so that when it’s time to walk, we will know we’ve done everything and have very few regrets. With all I did, I still had regrets, but there was a base of truth that no more could be done.

    3- After we separated, I was cleaning the garage and found 5 bottles of alcohol. When I cleaned under a desk, I found a sheet where he admitted to a pornography issue, and seeking to be intimate with other men. One day, he told me he prevented me from making money so I would stay with him. To say I had no clue about these details is an understatement, but my soul and heart knew something was deeply wrong, regardless of what I did.
    I write this to say we often only know the tip of the iceberg. When our bodies start to give out from the stress, then for sure it’s time (depression, hormone imbalances, thyroid, adrenal, etc. etc. etc.)

    #4- I want to encourage this woman that when/ if she leaves, to leave without anger, or retaliation as that will just set him off. Leave and say “I can’t do this anymore. This is my fault” because destructive men need us around and will seek to destroy if we point fingers.

    I am praying today for every woman who is even starting to question if she’s in an abusive relationship because that lightbulb going on is very upending. I pray for the ones who stay, trying to sort themselves and next steps. I pray for the ones who get out, and for awhile feel like they are in freefall, with a life they didn’t know. You will land on your feet. And there is a light at the end of the tunnel, where before, there was no light except the Light in you.

    I bless the women who stayed in marriages over 20 years and got out. You helped me pull the trigger and saved me at 17 years.

    • Becca on April 1, 2015 at 12:52 pm

      Very well said! Amen!

    • susen on April 6, 2015 at 9:57 am

      Hope, your name says it all. You are right on, on every point. You offer concrete steps that are an excellent guide for those who are at a loss as to what to do next.

      There is much power in saying, I’m done. I was so fearful that I came up with every excuse in the book to stay stuck. When I finally uttered the words, he left. What a miracle.

      The bad times weren’t over, he had no reason to want a divorce and fought it in ugly ways, but home became a peaceful place of healing instead of a destruction derby.

      Surviving the death of a dream was the hardest part. Any semblance of regret ended when I accepted that my dream of “happily ever after” simply wasn’t.

      Thanks for your insightful post. susen

      • Joyce on April 7, 2015 at 8:44 pm

        My husband has no intention of leaving. He tells me to get out. Ugly things sure come out of his mouth.

        • susen on April 9, 2015 at 10:02 pm


          I think we have to get on “empty” before we say that anything is better than this. I don’t know why we wait–we already know there will never be what we hoped for–but we become almost paralyzed and after years of listening to their garbage, we even believe some of it.

          From someone who has been there and gone on to a very rich and full life, the fear of solo flying was far more paralyzing than the actual jump. There is such relief, such an availability of oxygen, such joy when he’s out that door for good. (And I changed the locks that day!)

          Hope’s post above is phenomenal for actual steps to be taking now. Just squirreling away money will make you feel like you are doing something. Even if you have to buy stuff and then return it for cash–that’s a way to put some aside for yourself. Also apply for a credit card in your name. (He can cancel bank cards and credit cards that have his name on them.) It’s time to take care of you.

          Spending on his motorcycles is just another way to keep you stuck. My former husband told me we couldn’t afford a divorce. I told him I couldn’t afford not to get one. (He took every penny we had to purchase a business, and before it began making anything, he bought another one . . . eight years of no income but mine. Then, he ran it down to a B- rated company so that I got nothing in the divorce from it. But, you know, he has to answer for that–God’s not through with him, yet!)

          You can go to the judge and get him out. Talk to a lawyer and find out what your rights are.

          God bless you on this stretch of your journey, susen

      • Hope2 on November 26, 2015 at 6:21 pm

        I’m at the jumping point now. It’s scary. I have eight young children. No job skills or higher education (his counsel). My best support base is 1200 miles away. I have no home, no vehicle. I’ve squirreled away some cash, but it’s not a lot.
        My oldest children are 16, 15, 14, 12–all sensitive to the entire ordeal and somewhat divided in their opinions/feelings about it.

        But by far the scariest is the loss of all the dreams and hopes and empty promises that I poured the last 18 years of my life into. This loss rocks even the core of my faith, my entire worldview. I was married at 18, drank in his every “teaching” like a sponge.

        It helps a lot to hear from those on the other side.

    • Len on August 27, 2016 at 2:06 am


  9. Brenda on April 1, 2015 at 11:07 am



  10. Laura Di on April 1, 2015 at 11:41 am

    Case in point there is no secret that eventually isn’t told if love and truth are involved. My unhealthy way of dealing with an abusive husband and at times father became my depression and suicidality. My weakness in dealing with an abusive narcissist, strengthened the abusers case through his “ego” by building himself up with portrayals of my situationally emotionally charged disability as a means to label me unfit, and unstable. By his stealthy evil cunning mind, he craftily lodged untruths and accusations against me, while I suffered in my debilitated state. What ever appeared a possible avenue to gain himself supportive strength and superiority in the eyes of onlookers was his route. My ineffectual and poorly executed path “secrets” backfired not only from affects due to my ineffective past actions but have marred the present and inbetween times as well. I ask reader to heed warning and use caution in their situations because of and despite “thinking I was protecting” my children, I was in fact damaging their abilities to understand true conditions of sanity and clarity. They despite my realization at the time were in actuality “involved” and in a weakened situation demonized. I’d like to empasisize, just like the subject in this current question and answer mentioned if children are involved “internally” living in the midst they know intuitively something was awry but had no constructively concrete understanding. I ask God’s mercy now for allowing misunderstanding because years passed where I felt I was protecting when during those years instead a destructive building of residual affects/effects of the abusive marriage/ familial situation persisted. Apathetically, I bore accountability for damaging behaviors for all involved, the poorly modeled actions,inactions were not alone just solely the abusers.
    I will explain I am contrite and sorrowful for the outcome of secret keeping. I am now dealing with an abusive son who was poisoned by what I admit was partially my negligent inability in countering abusiveness against myself. As he watched throughout his formational years, he was being negatively and negligently influenced by his witnessing. Regrettably he now acts out what he saw, lived and now demonstrates the same. I had no sense of defense, and he had no shielding at the time he absorbed this behavioral make-up. Because i felt i needed to preserve the marriage at all cost due to a Pharisee like mentality with misconstruing God’s directives, I at times feel so responsible. And in the case of his sister, she has had to suffer having experience abuse from both him, her other brother and father. The one constructive and positive outcome is that it acted as an impetus for ending a over four year estrangement for us. Due to misconceptions, and misunderstanding “manipulations”, on the abusers side “domestic abuse” and “apathy’ on mine what arose due to confusion and conflict was disunity and alienation. Sickness and familial dysfunctions caused struggles, and estrangements that left everyone unsure of where they stood. As time lapsed therapy, maturity, knowledge, acknowledgement and so much more was needed to heal some of those involved and the footing is more stable. These positive actions still are important tool to incorporate into this still ongoing saga. Sadly only a few of us see the damage of closeting the past.
    How I failed to speak and am now attempting to speak truth and love is ungoing a very difficult situation because (nearly 6yrs, post divorce drama / 29 marital / familial trauma) it is an issue that has struck and is sadly still rearing its ugly head. The mention of trying to keep external peace in a shielded hellish situation costs because the internally held abeyance eventually becomes unbearable and surfaces. If there are children it has a pervasive effect. I now believe I have an empathic crusading mission set before me by the Lord to claim speaking truth and clarity in all parts of my life. And by joining in this blog I hope and pray my comments, prayers and heartfelt shares can help to guide at least one person to the sanity and clarity needed to live in the freedom of God’s promise. “Behold, I long for Your precepts; in Your righteousness give me renewed life…I will keep Your law continually, forever and ever (hearing, receiving, loving, and obeying it) [ Parenthesis words borrowed from Joyce Myer, April 1, 2015 Everyday Answers]. And I will walk at liberty and at ease, for I have sought and inquired for Your precepts”. Psalm 119:40, 44-45 For we who have believed do enter that rest (Hebrews 4:3).
    Sanity, clarity,love and truth to all,
    Yours in Christ,

    • Leslie Vernick on April 5, 2015 at 9:52 pm

      Island Girl – your kids are seeing the truth – you just need to confirm it. Otherwise they will not learn to trust their own perceptions.

    • Laura Di on April 7, 2015 at 5:04 pm

      Island Girl- Time is of the essence! Pray faithfully to believe freedom and truth are yours! Like Leslie emphasizes,your own confirmations, tuning into your own honesty with yourself is the key to shedding that feeling of living a lie. Like I mentioned in the blog, seeing speak volumes to children. I shared mine suffered because I was hesitant to trust what I knew was truth. Claim your inheritance from God, in all things find joy! Your self-worth is important to God, those indisputable gut feelings ( actually God’s gentle nudges to open our eyes) are STRONG signs from above to be BRAVE. God has your back, like He had mine. I too was once too chicken to face Him, take His hand and let Him carry me because I let a little god rob my personal power. I can not promise an easy road but one thing I can assure you of is God keeps His promises if we trust His lead. I am receiving from prayers I petitioned years ago, and the manifestations are reminders of how awesome God is! Love and Peace, God Bless!

  11. Elizabeth on April 1, 2015 at 12:08 pm

    Telling my children that we are filing for divorce is my next big hurdle. I haven’t been honest with how my husband makes me feel when he rages and screams at all of us. I haven’t covered it up either. When they ask “why is dad such a jerk” I usually reply that “dad has some problems dealing with anger”. It’s the truth but I could have share how it makes me feel. Maybe I haven’t known how I’ve felt. Now having words to put to the feelings I can begin to share with them. I was always afraid it would look like I was bad mouthing their father.

  12. Brenda on April 1, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I am so glad that you got out shy of 20 years. There is no way that I could say on my way out that it was my fault. I don’t really think it would have mattered what I said. He had a way of puffing his chest up and playing the great ape no matter what was said. I’m sure that most of the people, meaning his family and friends–I had none locally, thought he was being abused and neglected. Anyways. I am glad that you’re out.

  13. CeeKay on April 1, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    This is my own .02:

    Self-deception is not at all the same thing as “denial.” Denial is actually a psychological conditioning usually in response to extreme and traumatic events in order that the mind might be protected until such time as the individual can properly process the trauma.

    Abusers are not in denial, they simply choose to deceive themselves in the same ways they elect to deceive others, in order to abdicate responsibility and accountability. As long as an abuser chooses whom, when, and how often he will abuse, he KNOWS. Knowing denies denial.

  14. Aimee on April 1, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Thank you Brenda 🙂
    Just trying to figure out what’s holding me back
    Thru counseling I’ve learned my husband and my mother are very similar- power over, manipulative, controlling
    So for me growing up in a similar environment, i think is what is keeping me stuck
    I just need to put my faith in god and take the leap

    • Lynn M on April 1, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      Aimee, I had the exact same issues — I realized a few years in I had married my Mom in many respects — not accepting my feelings or opinions, only accepting me when I did, said and felt exactly what she wanted. With my counselor, I started exploring EMDR which is a kind of trauma work where you unpack things from the past and deal with them in a way that strengthens you. it has helped me see how an abusive brother, alcoholic absent father and manipulative controlling mother set me on this path to marry first an irresponsible alcoholic (marriage 1) and an emotional abuser (marriage 2). I really recommend EMDR therapy. It has worked wonders for me.

  15. Aimee on April 1, 2015 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you Becca
    I really needed to hear that
    …. Will be married for 13 yrs

    • Becca on April 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm

      We just had 26 years last fall. I have no idea what it is like to celebrate an anniversary (to be happy about it). Someday, I hope to know what it is like. 🙂 You have a lot of life left to live. After you get past this and heal, God will bring the most loving man for you.

      Yes, it is scary to leave, to serve them papers. I cried for several days before I served him the paperwork. I was crying over a marriage that never was or never will be. The only thing I was good for was serving him.

      I want to share with you what my mom emailed to me. “We serve a God of love and peace. You and the children will make it. At this time you have to rely on the faith of others for yourself. In other words, the faith of others will get you through. Don’t bother with a nervous breakdown. Things will out for the best, according to his riches in Christ Jesus, and you will have more peace. I have some money. Somehow some unexpected door will open. I love you.”

      I still read it. It still makes me cry, but mama is right. We’re gonna make it and life will be so much better, for all of us.

      You’re gonna make, hang in there.

      • Lonely wife on April 1, 2015 at 2:23 pm

        That’s awesome that you have your mama’s support Becca! I wish I did…my mom just tells me that no marriage is perfect and to stop “nit picking” my husband…sigh…I can’t even discuss my marriage with her anymore. 🙁

        • Becca on April 1, 2015 at 3:16 pm

          If you want to talk privately, you can email me at

          • Lonely wife on April 1, 2015 at 6:33 pm

            Aimee, , yes, I went to counseling 2 yrs ago…and now I’m considering going again 🙂 Two years ago I was hopeful for change in my husband and marriage, now that I’m accepting that there is going to be no change, I want to work on my CORE and I think a counselor can help me get there 🙂

          • Leslie Vernick on April 1, 2015 at 10:25 pm

            I’m so glad you are going to be focusing on you right now and not on your marriage.

          • Lonely wife on April 1, 2015 at 6:34 pm

            TY Becca, yes I will, 🙂

        • Aimee on April 1, 2015 at 4:46 pm

          My mom is the same way. She “tries” to support me but ends up saying something that sounds like she’s on my husbands side. Even if she says something neural it makes me second guess my feelings and I get more confused.
          That’s why I decided to see a counselor
          It helps!
          You can speak freely and your feelings are validated

          • Aimee on April 1, 2015 at 4:47 pm

            Neutral not neural

          • Lonely wife on April 1, 2015 at 6:32 pm

            Aimee, , yes, I went to counseling 2 yrs ago…and now I’m considering going again 🙂 Two years ago I was hopeful for change in my husband and marriage, now that I’m accepting that there is going to be no change, I want to work on my CORE and I think a counselor can help me get there 🙂

      • Aimee on April 1, 2015 at 9:19 pm

        Becca- I love what your mom wrote!

  16. Helen on April 1, 2015 at 1:39 pm

    Thank you so much for asking this question. I believe many women, myself included, can identify with your situation.
    I was the point you are now at, about 1-1/2 years ago. I broke my code of silence for the first time by calmly trying to explain to the adult kids what I was learning about abusive behavior and how much of it I recognized in my husband. Unfortunately I had established a bad habit of retaliating to the abuse in the wrong way. I did not have words to identify the abuse then and responded by appearing un-supportive, competitive and defensive against my husband. I didn’t understand at the time why I reacted that way toward him. Today I am clearer about confronting the actual abusive behavior privatelly with him, by naming it and saying I don’t like it.
    I felt very vulnerable when I first spoke to my adult daughter and Son-In-Law about what I was learning about the dynamic in my marriage. I hoped they would understand and want to become a part of the solution I was seeking in any way they could. I felt that it was beneficial for everyone in the family (including our grandchildren) if we could work through this difficult and pervasive situation together, so my husband and I would be able to stay married and living together in an honorable way.
    I was very hurt however by the way they responded.
    They sayed they could not approach him about the abuse because it was his word against mine and not something they could identify and recognize for themselves. I asked if they would be willing to read some of the literature that had brought me clarity. They said No. They didn’t want to know.
    They said essentially that it was a problem I needed to handle on my own. I should seek help from a counselor and should turn to friends, rather than adult children for help.
    They said they would “support” any decisions I made in looking for peace and resolution to my dilemma. They felt however, that they needed to remain neutral and hoped I could understand the decision they had come to after praying and getting counsel from some people they trusted.
    I said that I did and would respect their decision. In respect for them, I have not brought up the situation again and have tried to maintain normal relating with them as if the disclosure about abuse had never been spoken..
    The situation with my husband isn’t much better but I am more armed with knowledge. One day soon, I hope I will be able to make the wisest decisions I can with the knowledge gained about this awful experience. My husband continues to maintain that I am as much at fault as he is about the stress between us. He thinks I hold grudges and am not willing to forgive (the same or similar offenses) 70 X 70, times, like Jesus said I should.
    He admits to much wrongdoing but thinks the problem is that I don’t extend enough grace and mercy in response to his repeated wrongdoing and that my standards of conduct for him are simply too high and unrealistic for him to ever please me.
    I hope and pray that you will find a better path to sharing with family and friends what your reality is. In retrospect, I wish I had gone with an advocate rather than on my own. Perhaps a counselor or someone with understanding of this type of marital abuse could have lent credibility and validation to what I was opening up to say.

  17. Sunflower on April 1, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    I would encourage the writer of the question (and most everyone who is still with their abuser) to get a voice activated recorder and record some of the abuse. I did that at the very end, years after we were already divorced. He wanted to meet my new fiance ‘to make sure he was safe for the children’. I set up the recorder, and he only asked 2 personal questions, then proceeded to spend 2 hours tearing me down. I wish I’d had that recorder years earlier, to play for the pastor and counselors who were so easily duped by h’s charm. I’ve never played the tape to anyone, but it still feels good to have it, knowing I have proof that I am not the crazy one. 🙂

    • Leslie Vernick on April 1, 2015 at 10:31 pm

      I think that sometimes is so important. I had a client who would record her husbands comments just so she could re listen to them and remind herself that she was not the crazy one and that helped a whole lot.

      • kim on April 14, 2015 at 11:43 am

        we have stopped any face to face communication. A boundary I have created due to his gas lighting and dominance over my life. (Saty at home mom for 26 years) He doesn’t text (me anyway, but his girlfriends, yes), but he writes or leaves voice messages. They are usually very calm, polite but end up filled with words that control and tear down just the same. I sometimes wonder if he knows what he is saying. I find myself Feeling sorry for him (pathetic I know), thinking he is confused, he is in denial. But I see that he is very consistent in projecting, denying and not accepting any responsibility, has taken no action to get help to change. The things he does are for show and are hypocritical. I believe he has narcissistic traits and i have been his narcissistic supply. I cut it off, so he went elsewhere to get his affirmation, affair that he justifies is due to my not being available or wanting to know him. He blames me for his sin? I have been in recovery for 4 years ( 2 yrs privately), I have continued to gain core strength. I served him with papers for separation in Jan, court date in july He yo yo’d from “ok, not problem” to “Why have you done this” to “I am willing to make it work” it’s like a roulette wheel, day to day not sure what response I will get. I have stood my ground. I was sure before I decided that it wasn’t an emotional decision. He is very impulsive, I am the steady eddie, loyal and committed type. Including staying in harmful situations to long, while I try to figure out a way to fix them. I am accepting there are some things you just can’t fix. the waiting is hardest part.. He spins things when he because I am not undoing my choice. He is not wearing me down outwardly, so he panics and ups his game. Turning my choice to “let it go” as “his never wanted me, that somehow, 31 years and 4 kids ago, he was manipulated and he is the one who is a victim my inability to ever love him, that I am an emotional terrorist” I have days where I get stuck in a cycle of trying to make sense of what he is saying. I have faithful friends who are willing to tell me, “He is not rational, don’t let him get into your head” It is scary and eye opening to begin to see, with my eyes wide open, the things I chose to believe in order to keep my marriage and accept the dysfunction.. My codependency was a learned behavior. I learned to appease, give in, ignore my heart, deny myself worth, in an effort to keep a my promise, honor my vow, to please God and the church and save our reputation. I couldn’t handle the idea of being one of those divorced ladies, so I chose to be insignificant and a doormat at home and carry on like it was ok.. Nothing is worth the life of feeling like nothing. but an excuse for someone else’s misery and trying to fix something that isn’t yours to fix. Unfortunately, due to learning the dance of codependency and enabling those around me, I am now part of the problem and have plenty of work to do to make amends. I am currently, seeking restoration in the relationships that have been damaged by my making an idol out my marriage. Primarily, I have hurt my kids. By God’s grace, I will pursue restoration and healing where I can. I am Finding serenity in knowing God has plans for good and not to harm (for all of us), but I have to acknowledge my part. I know I need to “have the courage to change what I can, accept what I cannot, and use wisdom to know the difference” in my case, it means leaving (physically) even before the separation is final for my own emotional sanity. Self care is sooo important. It isn’t selfish, it is wise. I appreciate the stories that are shared here. I appreciate Leslie’s books, blogs and advise. She has become a advocate and her words a tool to break bondage.. “We had accepted a life living in cage built with bars that we not physical, but built with lies. I am choosing to shatter the lies and be set free” So many women are suffering in silence and we can direct them to find truth for themselves that can set them free from a life of self torture and diminished worth. I pray for anyone reading this to know. The greatest gift I have gained is this…”I have value, simple because I was created by God. I must not let ANY man steal that from me. God made me for a purpose and He declares me as of great worth”

        • Helen on April 14, 2015 at 12:17 pm

          Hi Kim,
          I just read your comments on Leslie’s blog. Well said. I too have been a stay at home Mom for many years. It sounds like we are married to the same man with different names. Lol.
          Seriously, would you like to contact each other for support and encouragement? I have been fighting this battle alone except for resources to read like this one, for which I am very grateful.
          Controlling communication that is delivered in calm, polite ways and lies intended to co-oerce and direct my behavior, limit my “choices” and lead me to his desired outcomes are very difficult to explain and counter.
          My e-mail address is
          Hope to hear from you soon.

        • Leslie Vernick on April 14, 2015 at 8:34 pm

          Kim it sounds like you have come along way.

          • kim on April 17, 2015 at 3:20 pm

            Leslie, I am planning on attending your Webcast April 29 You have been a strong voice reminding me, things like:it will all be worth it. do the work, don’t give, focus on my side and stay true to the truth. Praise report. A pastor and his wife of my husband’s church, met with me just this week. I wanted to let them know the status of our marriage. We had met once in order to live out the instructions given in Matthew 18. My husband finally agreed to give me the opportunity to confront his sin and ask for disclosure. It was His church, his pastor and his accountability partner. It was a 3 hour meeting that resulted in saying nothing more than “Over the past 4 1/2 years I’ve had many emotional affairs, one turned physical.” He demonstrated No remorse or concern for me or any ownership for his choices. It was like he had no choice, I wasn’t meeting his needs? I Before I left I told everyone there, I was disappointed that he was able to see the other person in the room, that he couldn’t feel for my pain. I told them, I want to see the fruit of repentance and I’m net seeing that here. That was over a month ago. On Tuesday, I met privately with the same people, not to gain their approval, but to let them know what I was going to do and to seek insight as to what they might have picked up on in the meeting. I know that I have blind spots and I was willing to hear another perspective. They said that they prayed and discussed this between them on a few occasions. They said, “We believe that by leaving and seeking are doing what is the best thing right now for everyone. You do not need to accept or enable your husband’s sin, In fact it would be wrong to do so.” I I was blown away. I was crying over the sadness of my situation, but happy that there was, finally, agreement in the church.. This is the 1st time I have ever received support by a pastor. In the past, I was meet with statements like, “Submit, learn to communicate, pray” “you are being carnal” “go to counseling” or this one “Have you been praying for your husband” These people took the time to listen, see my heart or watch his behavior. They went on to say,”his behavior did not match his talk.” Ladies, don’t give up. God will give you the comforts and grace you need. Praying for you all as I read your stories,my heart breaks, but I have hope, I believe God can redeem our pain and restore what the locust have stolen if we keep believing the truth, reject the lies.. ps: I had been praying for an advocate. Jesus is, but He has given me Leslie, you all, and now this pastor and his wife. Praise God.

          • Leslie Vernick on April 19, 2015 at 8:41 pm

            Praise God indeed. If churches would stand beside the abused, and confront the abuser and quit enabling his denial, his deceit, his blame shifting and excuses, maybe more marriages might actually be saved.

          • Leslie Vernick on April 19, 2015 at 8:47 pm

            SO glad the church is there for you. It makes a huge difference.

  18. Aleea on April 1, 2015 at 5:53 pm

    “I’d appreciate your prayers for safe travels.” . . . Certainly you have my prayers for safe travel and safety, always. The last thing this world needs is less Christians.
    “How do you speak truth and love in a difficult situation?” –As kindly as I know how, even when they bring on the lions and heat up the fire. Ahead of time, I will pray to God to strengthen me to not lay low as the hatreds grow (John 15:18, Philippians 1:28, Romans 8:37). –I always pray, Lord, don’t allow me to compromise.
    So, my Christian counselor, (Ph.D. Rosemead School of Psychology; M.Div. Westminster Theological Seminary) gave me this homework question: “If I wasn’t stuck I would do…..” . . . you know what? I have prayed and thought about that for weeks and absolutely nothing comes into my head. “If I wasn’t stuck I would do…..” —absolutely nothing comes into my head. . . .Maybe I was taught not to have my own thoughts? –My thoughts don’t matter? This is the way I honestly feel: I don’t even feel “stuck” at all and because I don’t feel stuck, I would do no different than I am doing now. . . .The Lord is not showing me that I am stuck and so. . . . (–I mean, other than things like getting more sleep, praying harder that the Lord would send me more opportunities to serve Him, etc.) . . . That is truly straight signal honesty. I have spent hours just praying over that question, “If I wasn’t stuck I would do…..” . . . . Must be some catch. Must be something I don’t know (Matthew 7:7-8, Psalms 86:7). –Could I be blind and in the ditch all at the same time? (Matthew 15:14, 1 Corinthians 4:3-6, Ephesians 4:18). I am sure that is possible. . . . To me, the best part of my counseling is just praying with the counselor. So, if I wasn’t stuck, I would just ask you to pray with me for the entire time we meet; pray for revival in our own hearts; pray for revival in our country, pray for revival in our world. If I wasn’t stuck, I would ask you to pray with me that we would grow in His image by suffering tribulations (2 Corinthians 6:9, Romans 5:1-5, Haakkuk 2:3-4, Galatians 5:16-24, Hebrews 6:11-12). If I wasn’t stuck, I would ask you to pray with me that we aren’t denying the Lord God the right to own our personalities… to own our minds… to own our thoughts… to own our emotions.
    One thing I have learned, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, is that we can come to realize we have no need to prove ourselves if and when we are connected to the True Source of Love. The feeling of what Real Love feels like, vs. the quick fix of rotating relationships and addictions we often run to, oh my: night vs. day. …Jesus invited us: “You, come and follow me…let the dead bury their own dead.” You are connecting yourself, if you choose, to the Love of God– you are being transformed, and transforming into something of much more depth and beauty. Out of the heart flows the outgoings of life. If our heart has been stepped on, ignored, neglected, un-protected, etc. then we will have learned that our heart is not worth protecting. If you were taught NOT to protect your heart (by the purposeful or –most likely– unconscious actions of the people who raised you)–then when all the arrows come your heart is left full of them & bleeding!!! We can’t live that way, and yet we insist on holding onto the old idea we learned from our parents and they learned from theirs, etc. So, we find a quick-fix solution. We use our energy to press down or numb our hearts. We use anxiety, drama, kids, workaholism, tv, or many other things– to serve the same purpose. We don’t have to when we learn how to protect ourselves in a real and meaningful way (Proverbs 4:23–26 ). At the same time, don’t let your heart be hardened (Psalm 95:7-8, Hebrews 3:13) keep it broken before Jesus: thankful, meek, and pure.

  19. Angie on April 1, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    My divorce was final
    in February. But, yet again, I’ve felt like the crazy one. We were supposed to close on our house today, and it’s very clearly stated that all of the debt is paid before he gets the $10,000 down payment back that his mother gave us. He never paid a bill, had job after job, just wanted to play all day. He was great fun except being an adult requires responsibility. He also physically, emotionally and verbally repeatedly abused me when I would “push his buttons.” He went on and on with our relator until 1:15AM over the validity of the signed divorce decree! He’s still in denial even when it’s black and white. BUT, calmly explaining parts of our past and the need I have to be finished with this, and with the Lord’s help, my relator just texted that he is supposed to sign papers tomorrow. I’m asking for prayer from this support community that this will happen. So much of what these men do is crazy-making. Learning to not get sucked into the vortex of crazy is something I am still working on!

    • Susanne on April 1, 2015 at 10:39 pm

      Praying for you Angie

      • Angie on April 2, 2015 at 10:14 am

        Thank you, Susanne!

      • Susen on April 6, 2015 at 3:55 pm

        Praying for you, Angie, as well.

        Of course he has to act the fool. He is facing the inevitability of having to take his tantrums somewhere else and finding someone else to support him. You, on the other hand, are in the process of getting your needs met. None of these prospects will make him a happy camper.

        Stay strong in your convictions. Soon, very soon, he will just fizzle out of your existence. I meditate on Psalm 37 when I need reassurance of God’s order

  20. Holly on April 1, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    My husband and I have been separated for 9 months now, with a divorce pending (which I initiated) and we still have the same crazy, distorted-truth conversations on a daily basis. He says he wants my best and to fulfill my dreams, but he doesn’t make moves to actually do anything about my needs/wants. He doesn’t understand why we are in this place (even though we’ve had extensive conversations about his emotional abuse and anger for the entire 9 months now) and he his hurt that I don’t want to see him/talk to him. I don’t know if it’s all denial or if he really sees the circumstances in the light of “he’s the victim” in all of this. Definitely enough to make a person crazy! I have to constantly take what he says and does to the Lord and ask for clarity in each situation with him. The Lord always seems to come through with direction and truth to refute the craziness.

  21. Brenda on April 2, 2015 at 3:10 am

    I am praying for you. I know how the crazy making goes on even after the divorce. It has taken almost 2 years for my situation to come to an end and peace comes a little more as time goes on.

    He is in the house that we bought together. It was more than I could take care of on my own. It was paid for and home values in our area were and are still low as people go to areas where jobs are plentiful. I took far less for the house just to be done with it all much to my attorney’s dismay. She would tell me that she could get me more, but I thought once that was finished that he would go away. I stopped answering his texts all together and am feeling much more at rest in the Lord. That is truly a miracle.

    My apartment is workable for me. It would be good if I could hire someone to do some of the harder work. It is difficult for me to mop the 2 small floors, the bathroom and kitchen, and clean the bathtub. By the time I am done with those things I am pretty much done for the day. I have to work full time and having MS makes it difficult as fatigue is one of my biggest battles.

    I pray that your X will grasp what is truth and move forward with what is inevitable. From what you said, he sounds unstable. Be careful and be safe. At those closing times is when they are most likely to escalate their tactics as they are losing control. Find strength in God and in His Word. He is all we truly need.

    Blessings, prayers and ((((HUGS)))).


    • Angie on April 2, 2015 at 10:12 am

      Thank you so much, Brenda. My former mother-in-law, who suffered and is still suffering abuse from her son, has MS so I know how you suffer. I am praying for you now! For relief, help with the apartment and comfort from the Lord!

      • Angie on April 2, 2015 at 3:15 pm

        He signed the papers today! Praise the Lord!

        • Susen on April 6, 2015 at 3:57 pm

          Celebrating with you, Angie! susen

  22. Brenda on April 2, 2015 at 4:01 am

    Lonely Wife,
    You will know them by their fruits. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit. He is fornicating before your very eyes, yet denies it. You don’t deserve this. I am however glad that you are getting closer to the Lord and praying through this valley. The Lord is my husband now and He is also yours.


    I should have thanked you for the larger comment box. It is a blessing.

    Thank you, Brenda

    • Lonely wife on April 2, 2015 at 12:24 pm

      Thank you Brenda! Yes, he is in full denial..oh, he will admit that he’s wrong and needs to “do better” but nothing ever comes from it. He makes me all kinds of promises…but I now know to just smile and walk away.
      I truly fear for my H…he has no fear of God, it’s so obvious to me….I quoted Psalm 56:8 to him one day, several weeks ago, after he’d gotten upset with me and was giving me the silent treatment again…and he said nothing….I just looked at him, crying, and told him I’m afraid for him…and still…no response.
      His first counselor…he’s seen several, he goes no more than 4-5 times and quits, anyway the first counselor told him he has a “severe lack of empathy” for others….and my H just accepted it and has done nothing to help fix his problem…he’s never even googled “how to have more empathy for others”….nothing. He doesn’t care.
      I’m a SAHM…have been our whole married life…29 yrs! But I’m putting money away, as was suggested in another post…I feel better knowing I have a little something, just in case….

  23. Brenda on April 2, 2015 at 4:34 am

    Your .02 makes a lot of sense. Abusing is a choice. They do not have to behave the way they do as many will say. They can stop at anytime. They choose not to. They want control and what they want when they want without any consequence for their actions.

    Many of the hurts seem like faded dreams now. The Lord has helped me put them in the past. The sexual abusive times are the hardest to forget. The time the xh took sex the day I buried my grandson and I was distraught after finding that xh had taped over the only tape recording I had of this precious 9 month old with a football game. I laid there crying for hours and could not believe that he turned over and fell right to sleep. He had no compassion or remorse for what he had done. When I tried talking to someone about that night I was told, “men need that after loss”. They need to take a lifeless woman’s body and use her when she wanted a beautiful child to be alive and her life taken instead? Those things still bring me sorrow and yet brings me to the realization that I stayed much too long. I don’t think about it much anymore, David would have been a young man now, but when it surfaces I find myself thinking that being the cat lady that never comes out of her apartment would be better than being with another man.

    There is a nice man that lives across the hall. He is older and always positive. If you ask him how he is, his response is most always the same with a very nice smile. “Good, I’m always good.” We exchange pleasantries and food items from time to time. When I decide to actually cook, I take him a meal. He reciprocated my gift of lasagna and a baked apple by bringing me some fresh cut ham and corn on the cob. I forgot to ask him where he found corn on the cob this time of year. Recently we’ve had a little more in depth conversation. Just enough to make me want to run. I am so afraid of being hurt again. The only man who ever really loved me, died just before we were to marry. I don’t know a lot about this man, except that he had been going to visit his wife in a nursing home every single day without fail. I think she may have past recently. He doesn’t seem to be as cheerful as he was in recent days.

    Now I am rambling. I’ve been awake for far too long and far too early. I do appreciate your prayers and your thoughts.

    Blessings, Brenda

  24. Brenda on April 2, 2015 at 5:37 am

    I read your post several times and went into the scriptures that you cited. “If I wasn’t stuck I would do…..” That is a powerful question and your gave insightful scripture and much to think about.

    • Aleea on April 2, 2015 at 12:21 pm

      It is a very powerful question but I just don’t know how to apply it to myself. Could I be stuck and not even be aware (realize) that I am stuck? I could easily be that slow but all I can then do is cry out to God to show me where I am “stuck.” . . . .  In counseling, I am always being told I feel guilty for making a choice that my parents would not have wanted me to make. —That I feel unsafe and insecure making the choice I imagine my parents would not want me to make and that they are “attacking me” and yelling at me for making the “wrong” choice. —That, at least, I understand and agree with. I know they had no interest in following Christ, but I choose to follow Christ. In fact, I like/ I enjoy following Christ. But I don’t understand why I have to have my own identity? Why can’t my identity and ideas be those Christ held? Why can’t all my identity rest in the knowledge of who I am created to be (Matthew 10:39, Luke 9:62). Why do I have to have my own? Why can’t I fuse and even confuse my thoughts with Gods? —-I see this with first and second century Christians. Why were they not right? I trust what they died to leave me in these ancient papyrus fragments. I trust what someone who died for their faith tells me.
      To first century Christians, Jesus didn’t come to be a shareholder. God doesn’t want to share my/your life. He wants to own it! He doesn’t want partnership. He wants ownership of every part of my being! —To me, being a Christian is a majestic thing! My goal is God Himself– not joy, not peace, not even blessing, but God! God wants to bring us into a glory I know so little about. . . . But I sure see it in the Scriptures and in the margins where ancient scribes left us their thoughts (for example): “the life of God in the soul of man!”
      I have read just about everything written by a Christian in the first century of the church. Jesus did not come into the world to make bad spouses good. Jesus came into the world to make DEAD spouses alive! I have a feeling that many protesting about their spouses (some for very solid reasons and they need to take immediate action) but I also have the feeling that some would be running the other way if their spouse was r-e-a-l-l-y transformed by Christ. –At least my counselor agrees with me 100% on that!!! In fact, that was a great moment in one of our discussions: good is on the other side of the universe from transformed. . . . . I want to see a fellowship where your burdens become mine! Your grief over your husband, children, becomes my grief! Where we really bear each other’s burdens; where we love each other and let the world come and see that we are the followers of the meek and lowly Jesus who cared only to do the will of His Father. That is what I see in 1st and 2nd century Christianity. Again, I, as the “confused counselee” want to fuse/blend/dissolve myself with the expectations and desires of my Lord Jesus. I want the loudest expectations I have internally to be fused with the Lord God. . . .I’m not that old, but I can tell you from the lives of those who have stepped out of time into eternity: there’s not one thing in life worth having outside Jesus Christ. If you can really sing, “Christ is all I want,” you’ve got it made! –I’ll be praying for you.

  25. Survivor on April 2, 2015 at 8:14 am

    This one is such a difficult one!!! Speaking the truth…… I am a very truth/justice-oriented person and I never thought that I would be in an abusive relationship. I thought “I am too stubborn to be controlled like that. I always speak up and defend myself when things are wrong.” And in the beginning I did. I am appalled when I look back and realize my digression from the truth and the things that I allowed myself to believe of what he–and others around me–told me about the situation!!!!! Now, getting back to the truth is a process. And learning how to speak of it to others is another matter entirely!! So many are not trustworthy and only make horrible accusations about me being abusive (because I am not saving him from himself) or being unsubmissive/disrespectful to my husband…….. And the children are young (3 and 6) and see/hear things that distress them but I flounder with how to talk with them about it because I really don’t know how much they can handle at this age and want to find the balance between honesty and giving them more than they can handle–they are already faced with more than any child can handle at this age!!!! Prayers for wisdom and guidance are much appreciated!!!

    • Alene on April 2, 2015 at 10:28 am

      I recommend the book “When Dad Hurts Mom”, it talks to moms about how to handle things with children with good ideas and encouragement.

  26. Loretta P on April 2, 2015 at 9:07 am

    my husband has lived in a state of denial about the abuse for years. Tuesday I received a report from my doctor GYN doctor prior to the last surgery to repair the damage my husband had done. the doctors report brought a new level of reality to me. I am now working towards becoming strong and breaking away from the abuse. my husband is also in counseling and really working on his issues for the first time. he keeps asking me if I still love him and I can no longer honestly say I do as a husband. I care about him as a brother in the Lord or family member but not as a lover. truth is freeing but hard to deal with.

    • Lonely wife on April 2, 2015 at 1:27 pm

      Oh my word Loretta P….I am sooo sorry! That’s awful! I’m praying for you! I’m so sorry you’ve had to endure such abuse!
      That is NOT love…and it’s no wonder you can’t love your husband…who can love an abusive person??
      I know longer love my husband, and he knows that. I’ve told him for many years that his behavior was killing my feelings for him…and he didn’t care…so now he has to live with a wife who does a mental “High Five” when he tells me he’s going out of town on business!
      And yes, well said, “Truth is freeing, but hard to deal with”
      Will continue to pray for you, Loretta P

      • Loretta P on April 4, 2015 at 12:49 am

        I try to treat him as a brother in the Lord. It’s the best I can do for now. I care about him like some family member not as a lover or husband. I try to speak respectfully but with boundaries. I’ve been passive to a fault in the past, now learning core strength. For me it’s going to be about healing the wounds inside, rebuilding my core, encouraging him toward healing and seeing where we end up. Not sure what the future holds. I wish you strength as you try to walk the mind field of a messy marriage.

      • Lonely wife on April 4, 2015 at 1:43 am

        Island Girl…my relationship with my husband is weird…we actually get along pretty well, he’s very passive, never shows any anger…well, only on rare occasions.
        I use to think I was a really horrible person because I would get emotional and yes, angry, and he’d always stay calm and cool…but then I educated myself on passive aggressive behavior, and I learned that PAs LOVE when their partner “loses it”…it’s almost like they “feed” on the anger from other people! Weird, huh?
        So now I work on staying calm, and it’s easier because I now know longer expect anything from him, he’s not interested in change, and I’ve had to accept that.
        I’m not in love with my husband any longer, he’s killed that love over the years by neglecting and not nourishing my feelings…and his cheating hasn’t helped either…I’ve been honest with him and told him how I was feeling…but again, he didn’t care enough to work on himself so that I could begin to trust him again…and without trust in a marriage, there is no marriage.
        I do love him like a friend, and I pray for him….I’m very concerned because he has NO fear of God at all…
        I’m not a loving wife, per say. I don’t hug him, when he kisses me, I usually turn my cheek so he kisses me there. I don’t encourage him to hug me at all…my husband lives a fake life, he acts like we are a normal “in love” couple, it makes my DIL angry because at church he tried to hold my hand, and puts his arm around me, and she’s seen him at his worse, cold towards me, dismissive, etc…
        I try to be pleasant to him, talk about what he likes to talk about, usually his job!!!!
        I fix some of his favorite meals for dinner, I make his lunch for work every night, those are the things I do because he does work hard for our family.
        I hope this helps, Island Girl?

        • Sunflower on April 4, 2015 at 3:08 pm

          Island girl, Try to throw the ball into his court. A husband is the initiator, the wife is the responder, generally. I told my husband that if he thought we had a master-slave relationship, he’d need to command what he wanted, but it wouldn’t come with affection. But if he wanted affection, then he would have to win me back, because he had squashed all the love out of me. He was angry, tried to ‘command’ me to feel affection, but I stood firm, and we never had sex again, because he couldn’t humble himself. We slept in the same bed 3 more years and then I left. He was too proud to admit that he wanted to master me, and too proud to win me back, but it was in his court and his choice. Don’t let him make you feel like a failure, he will smell that a mile away and keep hounding you. Step away emotionally, hard to do, terribly hard, but with Christ’s help, it is doable. blessings to you. So hard.

        • Helen on April 6, 2015 at 9:53 pm

          Your story sounds very much like mine. My husband is always calm and collected (on the outside). When I get emotional over something he has done (or not done because he forgot or didn’t understand, etc) he just looks at me like he is a disconnected observer wondering what all the fuss is about.
          The pretending really gets to me and the way he wants to define and describe our marriage as normal. He is a master of understatements and speaks in minimizing .terms. Would you like to communicate privately about what you have learned about PA behavior?

  27. Aimee on April 2, 2015 at 9:08 am

    This may not pertain to everyone on here bc some of your husbands may be working on themselves but Ladies-
    Think about all the time and effort we are putting in to save our marriages-
    We blog, we read books, we try and protect our kids, we talk to counselors, ministry, family, friends and even our husbands
    What are our husbands doing!?? Continuing to abuse in one way or another
    So why can’t we (esp me) see clearly and just end the marriage and be free!
    Ugh 🙁

    • Lynn M on April 2, 2015 at 11:51 am

      Aimee, I think when you are ready, you will do it. You could ask yourself, “My biggest fear about ending it is….” and whatever the answer is, put just one thing in place to move out of that fear. Maybe one thing a day, or one thing a week. You will get there when you are ready. Everyone is ready in their own time.

    • Helen on April 2, 2015 at 12:57 pm

      So, so true. The double standard of effort expected of “good women/wives” weighs heavily in favor of men/husbands.

    • Joyce on April 7, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      Boy isn’t that the truth!

  28. Brenda on April 2, 2015 at 9:29 am

    Where did the big box go? Maybe just on the newer threads.

    Loretta P.
    A man who would harm his wife to the extent that you are should be in jail, not asking if you still love him. I hope the docs are able to help you. Praying for you. Brenda

    • Loretta P on April 2, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      My doctor did surgery and repaired the physical damage, but the emotional damage is far from well. I’m in counseling now as I have major fear and anxiety issues but I’m getting stronger. I need to live without fear and I make wise choices. I have cut off all intimacy because it is not safe. I’m contacting an attorney, have just opened my own checking account, my own credit card. I have the support of my church. My Pastor confronted my husband, it was a turning point for him. He is also seeing a counselor. How this will end is not clear yet, but I am working on CORE, getting well emotionally and strong enough to stand up for myself.
      My Pastor saw the evil anger from my husband and asked him how he thought that might make me feel! Having a man speak to him about how his anger might effect his wife got through to him (for the first time). I told him he has a LONG road toward healing to walk if we’re going to stay together and won’t make any promises now. He’s afraid of loosing love, he should have thought about that before the years of physical and emotional abuse! I’m taking one day at a time and making small changes. I just loaded an app on my phone called Aspire – under the help section I put in the names of my friends and family. In an emergency I can just tap in the app and it will send a text to my list saying I’m in crises and need help! Great app idea as you don’t have to talk if you’re in a situation where it’s dangerous. I’ve been there before. making lots of first steps toward getting well and living-well. So thankful for this blog and Leslie’s books!!!

  29. Brenda on April 2, 2015 at 9:34 am

    Valid question. Because we are hard wired that it is up to us. We are told that this life is only for a little while. We are told that God Hates Divorce. God may hate divorce, but he hates the sin that causes it even more. The first 2 statements aren’t true at all. I respect a woman’s decision to stay, but if asked I would not recommend it. Abuse is taken far too lightly and consequences not implemented nearly enough.

    • Aimee on April 2, 2015 at 10:32 am

      Good point!

      • Lonely wife on April 4, 2015 at 1:47 am

        I was told “God loves me MORE then He hates divorce!”

  30. Brenda on April 2, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Thank you Angie. Prayers are always welcome and a great comfort.

  31. Alene on April 2, 2015 at 11:07 am

    I began speaking up in statements that observed and named truth and my wants.
    I began to ‘step back’ at times with some consequences or simple action.
    I began to ask for and invite action of him.
    I found it took humility and strength in order to do it carefully and well – and was best done in steps as I slowly stretched – and that I needed to be ready to hold my ground. I have been so appreciative of fellowship.
    A couple of Leslie’s blogs back in Aug/Sept of 2013 really helped me begin to see how to do those things as I began to build a better framework.
    Prior to that I had read Boundaries which was very foundational too

    I am wrestling with the pattern of too much silence and too little truth over the past twenty some years and the repercussions that built up over the years. I am an introvert and believed the best, emphasized the good, sought to trust the Lord, walked in hope that had too much fantasy, had empathy but enabled, was trying to balance the boat and help my family make it through … but he ignored my voice silencing me with doing his own thing, silenced me with his anger and selfishness,even covering my mouth, belittling me or ideas or others in front of the children. The boys especially lacked enough clarity to actually make it through well It was so hard to know what to do, how to live in all that was..

    I supposed that ‘R’ in responsibility means being honest, I allowed myself to be silenced, I didn’t know how to stand stronger, and what I could do differently to break out of that situation. I am seeing some slow changes in myself, in my daughter, in my husband as I take steady steps. I can relate to a husband avoiding really knowing. I’ve felt the dilemma of how to live well in that weird position; what is wise, what can be said, and so on. I am appreciating Leslie’s input.

    • Joyce on April 7, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      My husband likes truth as long as it goes along with what he thinks. He dishes it out but can’t take truth. He either tells me I am lying or I am a liar. He can turn the tables quicker than a frog can jump.

  32. Brenda on April 2, 2015 at 11:30 am

    Lynn M,
    The ex did the same thing when I was going to leave the first time and I did not relate the “I” factor. The next time I didn’t give him the chance with the “I” thing. I just left.

  33. Cheryl on April 2, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I guess I’m in the same boat. After I set some boundaries in November and life became a little more painful for him, he agreed to go for counseling (we’ve gone twice jointly). However, when I bring up past abuse, he doesn’t remember it. He also doesn’t like being cornered on his behavior without me having to also own up to something. He sees me as angry, unforgiving and stuck in the past. He IS changing outward things…controlling his tongue, doing things for me, being nice,but I can’t stop a nagging feeling that this is an attempt to just sweep everything under the rug to get back to life as usual. Then life as usual will go back to what it was before because there’s no deep change. I have to keep fighting off guilt and remembering what real repentance looks like. I just don’t know how much time to give this process. Enough to give God time to work, enough to not have regrets, etc.

    • Lonely wife on April 2, 2015 at 1:55 pm

      Cheryl…LOL! You are so right! My husband did exactly what you described!
      After the Christmas party incident in Dec. (he flirted with a coworker. This after having an emotional affair 4 yrs ago) I told my H that was it and I wanted him to move out in Feb.
      He ran back to his counselor that he hadn’t seen in weeks, and told me he was sorry, that he didn’t see it as flirting, and he knows he has to work on himself, blah, blah, blah…he went once more to counseling, in January, and then stopped going!
      He was traveling quite a bit at the time, and used that as an excuse, but he had several days where he COULD have made an appt. but chose not to.
      And that’s ok. It was a waste of money anyway because he didn’t take it serious. He’s only have way through a book that the counselor gave him…back in September!!
      If he truly wanted to change…NOTHING could stop him from going to counseling and reading his assignments…
      My husband buys me gifts, takes me out to dinner, plans nice vacations, let’s me shop til I drop….but I’m not fooled, I know what he’s doing.
      And for now, I let it go…God has given me peace that I’m to stay where I’m at…for now. 🙂 But I’m working on ME now…my kids are older, it’s MY time to heal and become stronger!
      There was a time in my life, just a couple of years ago, where I would cry and shake just thinking about divorce…but not anymore.
      I have no idea if it will ever come to that, but I’m preparing myself…just in case. 🙂

      • Cheryl on April 2, 2015 at 3:41 pm

        Yes, I have peace right now too, but God has been checking my heart to see what I hold openhanded. I have not talked divorce, but, if he doesn’t repent, doesn’t continue with counseling, I have to figure out what life would look like staying, versus separating. I try not to think about it too much as I get migraines easily, so I’m just resting day by day in faith in God’s sovereignty. I echo your decision and joy in working on yourself!

      • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2015 at 5:36 pm

        Good to prepare – just in case.

        • Cheryl on April 2, 2015 at 5:59 pm

          What does preparing look like?

          • Lonely wife on April 2, 2015 at 11:41 pm

            Cheryl. Preparing, for me, is stashing money away, and looking to start a home business…I’ve been a SAHM my whole married life, so I’m really not qualified for a job that would give me an income to live on…so a home business will be perfect for me…also, I’m working on my CORE, and will be going back to counseling just to have someone that will hold me accountable, plus help me to work on my CORE.
            I have two credit cards in MY name, to help build my credit, etc..
            If going back to school is in the cards for you, to help you obtain a better job, or a higher position, that would also be preparing…does this help?

  34. Helen on April 2, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    I have been dealing with passive aggressive behavior almost exclusively. I think it is harder to deal with in so many ways partly because it is shifty and shifting. If you would like to communicate privately, e-mail me at helwils@earth Perhaps we can learn together about this specific type of abuse and encourage one another in dealing with it. Helen.

    • Lonely wife on April 2, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      Yes Helen, I will email you later this evening…my H is PA…and it’s very hard to deal with!

      • Helen on April 3, 2015 at 5:26 pm

        I will watch my Suspect E-mail for your letter.
        Look forward to communicating with you.

  35. Lonely wife on April 2, 2015 at 1:16 pm

    Island girl….do NOT make my mistake! Your kids are young….do not subject them to this any longer than you have to!
    I know it’s scary thinking about being on your own…but God will provide!
    My kids are all older, and see how their dad acts….my 2nd born (23) tells me he wants to be NOTHING like his father when he gets married!
    As difficult as this life of mine is, I am thankful that we were all blinded to my husbands behavior for most of my children’s growing up years…it’s only in the last few years, since my husband had an emotional affair, that the scales have been ripped off and we and more importantly I, have seen what’s always been there…a husband and father who couldn’t be bothered to be a leader in the home, who shows no empathy for us, and is on the outside, looking in, but never really being a part of the family unit.
    If I could have a do over…I would have left many years ago…my youngest son has been impacted the most…he has anxiety issues that ended up with us in a therapists office.
    A perfect example of how my husband is not there for us as a family?
    When I took my son for his first appt. I went alone…the therapist asked for my husband and I to both come for the next appt. so we did.
    After talking with the therapist, explaining how my sons week had been since implementing a few of his suggestions…and asking him several more questions…the therapist turns to my H and asks if he has any questions or concerns?
    My husbands response? “No, she about covered it!” That’s it. Our son had had a complete meltdown the week before…banging his head against the wall, crying, etc…and that’s it. He has no concerns or questions. It truly opened my eyes to just how disconnected my husband truly is.
    I’m staying in my marriage for now…my husband travels a lot so he’s not here that often, and when he is here, as long as I don’t bring up the past, or need him emotionally, we get along ok, for the most part.
    He’s not verbally abusive, in fact, he sleeps a lot of the time he’s home, which suits me just fine! I think he uses sleep as a form of escape, but that’s ok with me! LOL!
    I’m use to being on my own, my kids are doing better now that I’m open and honest with them, instead of trying to cover for their dad, plus they are older, and speak their own words of truth to their father if the situation calls for it!
    Is the situation perfect…no, and I’ve had to come to terms with that…we will never have the Godly marriage and family life that I wanted, but in spite of that, I’ve seen God work in my life and bless me and my kids, and that’s what encourages me the most!
    You, and only you can make the decision to stay or go…but watch your kids closely, and if you see anything that troubles you, get them into counseling….fast!
    And if your husband is verbally or emotionally abusive towards your kids, stand up for them, do not stand by and be “submissive” as most churches would tell you!
    Let your kids see that YOU will be there and defend them…even if it’s against their own father! I think that’s why I have such a close relationship with my kids…I’ve never let my husband huts them, either emotionally or verbally…he has been verbally abusive in the past…not often but just something he’d say that was mean…he called my youngest son a weirdo when he was having anxiety problems…I called him on it right when it happened, and he apologized….begrudgingly…but my son knows his mama will defend him…even against his own father. Isn’t that sad?

    • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2015 at 5:35 pm

      You shouldn’t take their love for their dad away, nor do I believe you have the power to do that. However, you may need to speak the truth, that God doesn’t want us to say we love Him, yet hate one another. This is not true Christianity. Or, “I know you love your father, there are many wonderful things about him to love, but his behavior towards you (the children) or me ( the mother) is harsh and unloving. It isn’t necessary to treat someone in a harsh and cruel way just because you are angry towards them.” By speaking this way you are continuing to help your children learn that this is not only “not normal” but not godly. You will be the only voice that speaks this but it is important truth.

    • Leslie Vernick on April 2, 2015 at 5:38 pm

      YOu’ve taken some good steps.

  36. Brenda on April 2, 2015 at 4:18 pm

    Amen, Angie!!

  37. Brenda on April 2, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    Lonely Wife,
    I understand fearing for his salvation. I turned that over to God, but still have fears for my children. I’m glad you are saving for a rainy day. Being a SAHM does not leave you out of 50% of assets. It’s always best to be prepared even in a good marriage.


  38. Paula on April 2, 2015 at 7:17 pm


    I agree with Sunflower and Lonely wife. I’ve experienced some of what you have described. I believe from what you have written that your husband is simply modifying his behavior to achieve his desired result: keeping you from leaving. This can be done without any change in his actual heart toward you. How you feel about this – your intuition – your resistance to trusting him – is important. Please don’t doubt yourself now. I think you need to be on your guard more now than ever. There are serious red flags in what you have posted:

    “I have tried to be honest but when I do he has said I’m holding on to the past and looking for things to be upset about or he gets so sad and says he can’t do enough to please me and because I won’t tell him exactly what he needs to do to make things better he’s clueless.” His insistence that you tell him what he is supposed to do is a trap. He would eventually use your instructions against you, and if his heart is right toward you, he shouldn’t need a list.

    “He wants to be rewarded for every good deed or comment.”

    “He tells me he loves me many times a day and asks if I love him in return, pets and hugs me almost everytime he sees me and gets so bummed out that I don’t hug him back the same way, and stares at me telling me he can’t stop looking at me.” NOT GOOD, especially the staring. Staring is a bad sign.

    And the sexual pressure is a big red flag all on its own, too.

    He is using his “hurt feelings” to guilt and manipulate you. Be careful. This is a powerful ploy if you have a sensitive conscience, and HE KNOWS IT.

    I hope you find freedom, Marie. I have prayed for you.

    • Susen on April 6, 2015 at 5:17 pm


      Paula is right on the money with the red flags.

      There is a good discussion on the blog a couple of weeks back (Am I making up my abuse?) regarding broken covenants. When a spouse breaks the covenant of marriage (and he promised a lot more than just physical fidelity), he also breaks your heart. Broken trust. Broken hopes.

      The feelings that you describe are the result of brokenness. The wariness and unresponsiveness are protection. As Paula said, listen to and rely on that Voice Inside. It’s God protecting you.

      His kisses and hugs are all about him. Otherwise, he would not need you to give him a gold star for performance. If you don’t want him to touch you, you have the right to say “When I feel like I have healed enough to welcome your touch, I will come to you.” There is power in broken pieces.

      Praying for you, Marie. susen

      • Susen on April 6, 2015 at 6:46 pm

        Marie, Ezekiel 37 begins with a description of dry bones scattered in the wilderness and how God breathes life back into them. Many years ago I needed that image to give me hope for my broken pieces. I pray the passage gives you hope for healing, as well. susen

  39. Brenda on April 4, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Lonely wife,

    AMEN!!! God does love you and all of us more than he hates divorce. He hates the sin that causes the divorce even more.

  40. Donna on April 4, 2015 at 11:36 am

    A Christian counselor said to me the opposite of love isn’t hate it’s indifference.

  41. Hope on April 4, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    I’m celebrating my 1 year anniversary of truth. When we except the things we cannot change about people, that sets us free from the depressing outcomes when they refuse to change. We can be content knowing we are in God’s will when we are open to truth. I had no idea I was living a lie, but I needed help and the truth was made clear. My husband has not changed but God has showed me new truths as I’ve been willing to see. We are so blessed if we look around us, there is no perfect family or marriage on this earth, but we have a perfect sacrifice in the Lamb of God. This is my favorite time of year, and I am much healthier and whole, than before the Lord revealed the horrible truth about my marriage. I was always looking for some explanation in God’s Word or past history for my husband’s behavior. Now I look up, I immediately found Leslie’s book right after begging God for help and the most important lesson I then put in to practice was my own accountability. I have approached my husband and he thinks I expect worship so he lets me withdraw from him and focus on me not to give into my requests for love and honor. I am pretty easy going, he is very anxious and moody, he has been walking further away from God over the years. Now, I wonder if he ever walked with God, I think he was turned on to the churches idea of headship. I don’t think on him too much it’s unhealthy for me. I started a small part time job, and if God wants me to minister to a friend or loved one, I don’t let my husband get in my way. It also helps with raising children to let them know we all have our own walk with God, it’s our own job to do it. No excuses. I don’t help those who don’t help themselves that is a waste of time and enabling which I was doing to everyone in my home. I don’t know what is going to happen with my marriage, but it is not my God, it is an aspect of my life and very important to me but I’m only responsible for my part and when I don’t know what God will have me do, I get alone with him go for a walk, leave an uncomfortable situation, and never appease, God isn’t into appeasing, he doesn’t appease us he does a work in us, so I get out of his way. Truth really is only seen in the eyes of the beholder.

    • Lauren on April 5, 2015 at 1:53 pm

      Hope, I love how you call it your anniversary of truth. It’s amazing what we see when our eyes are opened to the truth of what is really going on in our marriages. Today is the 2 year anniversary of me packing up my kids and separating from my abusive husband. I still find myself entangled and appeasing him. It has been a rough weekend for me as I reflect and realize how much things have not changed. I stood up for myself this weekend and watched as he grew angrier and angrier with me…I have been sick all week but despite my explaining that I need rest, he wanted me to spend the weekend with him. He asked me over and over again to change my mind, even getting my little son to ask me.
      I find that I have been excusing his behavior and trying not to upset him – especially this past year. Today is a day of truth for me too. Thank you for your post Hope.

      • Hope on April 10, 2015 at 5:35 pm

        I hope you get this it’s been awhile, I check the blog no more than twice weekly because I get to tied up in it and have things God needs me to do. I try not to focus too much on my marriage all the years of focus never amounted to anything but heartache. I’m sure there is something that has moved forward this past year for you, that’s why your husband is pushing so hard because he’s afraid to lose you and he feels pressure so he is using your little son. I know how you wish your little son’s father was a man of integrity and love. I wish my little son had that too. Truth is freeing and even your little son will understand someday. I’m praying God will reveal your growth this year, this is a slow process, just like most things, doctors, lawyers ect. don’t get where they are overnight. Please take care of yourself, these types never care about others’ issues, even health. It’s so unhealthy to feel this stress. I wish I could separate, but the Lord hasn’t opened that door for me. I withdraw from him when ever possible, sleeping separately, and doing my errands when he’s at home. He doesn’t seem to care, because he’s not willing to do the work needed for a healthy family, so he does his own thing too. We have to realize it’s their goal to get us where they want us. I liken it to a game, move the pawn, decide the strategy. That’s why I stopped working on our marriage, I just wanted to please God, not play games. It is his move though HA HA. Work on yourself Lauren it’s good for everyone ! I’m sorry he is so angry and I know that is frightening. I have made it clear I am a separate person, but have to act in that way often or my husband forgets; God gave me gifts and plans separate from his. You are much better off than two years ago, Happy Anniversary! Hope

  42. Leonie on April 5, 2015 at 11:57 pm

    My husband was trying to put his spin on things this week, telling me I shouldn’t call police on him, minimizing the importance of the CAS, convincing himself more than me that there is nothing anyone can do to him …. He loudly declared he will never go to counselling and I am the one that needs it … To me it looks like willful refusal to see the truth, not just denial, he is talking around the issues, minimizing & ignoring the real issue which is his rage and anger and total disregard for everyone in our home and validating his right to behave the way he does. He was loudly declaring “this is Canada, I’ve lived here 27 years, no one can do anything to me … I will just tell CAS what is really going on, do you think I can’t talk – and tell them what’s really going on … I called police on Mar. 21 when he had been drinking and had one if his intermittent explosive episodes at me, our 4 year old and 2 of my older children from my 1st marriage. I just see so much anger & belligerence and nothing that tells me he is going to stop “blowing up” at us.
    He has moved his things into the basement and I choses not to spend any time in his presence, I will retain a lawyer this week and begin separation paperwork. I have had do much relief and confirmation in my heart that this is the only thing I can & should do, the lights will come back on and life will be exciting once again! I can taste it already!

    • Susen on April 6, 2015 at 4:21 pm

      Leonie, you continue to be in my prayers. It has been an honor that you have shared your steps and your growth with us. You are teaching your children with every step that you take.

      Please be on guard for your personal safety during this time of transition. The ap that someone described earlier on this blog sounds like a very good idea. I have had the phone ripped from my fingers–years ago, but a fearful memory. Have you spoken to your children about dialing 9-11?

      The light is shining, beckoning you to walk in His Steps. susen

      • Susen on April 6, 2015 at 4:50 pm

        “Walk forward” in His Steps. You already are there, together! susen

      • Leonie on April 6, 2015 at 5:06 pm

        Yes, I have talked to them about calling 911. Even my 4 year old – we had ‘sparky, the fire dog’ at our house for a week so she learned about calling 911 (how & when)!
        Thanks so much for your prayers, it is a critical time. I think he gets that I am finished with his nonsense & it’s time for him to move out & move on. This topic of living in truth and telling myself the truth has really shown me how twisted things became over time and how much my husband has lied about everything and hidden things that I have a right to know. There can be no reconciliation without confession, repentance and full disclosure of our finances, which he has told me under no circumstances he will agree to. He says when he works it is his money and I have no right to anything.

        • Susanne on April 6, 2015 at 5:52 pm

          Leonie, I am continuing to pray for you and your children’s safety during this time. I pray a hedge of protection around you and for much wisdom. May you hear God’s voice and His direction. I am praying Psalm 91 for you today.

          Love and blessings,

          • Leonie on April 6, 2015 at 8:49 pm

            Thanks Susanne, you ladies are a blessing. Sometimes God’s promptings or assurances are so tangible and I akways think to myself that it is in response to the prayers of kind sisters in Christ! I love that psalm!

        • Susen on April 6, 2015 at 6:02 pm

          Well, Leonie, that about says it all: Mr. No Right To Anything is about to be presented with a real opportunity for growth.

          This reminds me of my last public meeting with my girls’ father. (I never was alone with him after he left the house.) He came into the restaurant carrying a yellow legal pad filled with lots of columns of numbers, which he plopped on the table in front of me. His oh-so-romantic appeal was: “We can’t afford a divorce.” My reply: “I can’t afford not to divorce you.” He picked up his legal pad and that was it.

          Somehow, after bringing in no income whatsoever for the preceding eight years, he was able to pay the $500 monthly that the judge made him pay for the support of two daughters as well as “hide” over a thousand dollars in a joint account that I serendipitously discovered when I went to close out my account with the bank. He put that money in there to help with an illegal loan that he made in both of our names on property that was mine. The bank manager knew it was illegal at the time of the loan. Otherwise, he would not have given me clear title when I demanded it and he was left with $100,000 unsecured loan to explain to the shareholders. Good ole boy networking could have gotten them all in a lot of trouble with the banking commission, but I was through with the legal system after I got my freedom.

          I shared this because you can go to the bank and get duplicate bank statements if your name is on the account–even if he already has statements that he keeps.

          You’ve secured support in many areas to keep your family safe. Even if you never had a thing to do with family finances till now (I had had NO say in where the money I earned went–groceries, utilities, and house payments was as far as my teaching salary stretched), but I learned enough to survive the divorce. And God took care of seeing that we had a roof over our heads and food in the pantry.


  43. Susanne on April 6, 2015 at 11:11 am


    I also found it extremely difficult to let go of my dream of “living happily ever after” with a man who wasn’t willing to change. I was hanging in there (to a fault). After our separation, I would have stayed married and separated from him forever without seeking a divorce because I was always praying and believing that he would repent and take the necessary steps to be the Christian man he portrayed himself to be in public. I finally, with all my heart, released it all to God and it was then that I received God’s peace that I needed to really move on with my life. I finally realized that although my ex is going for a divorce without any biblical reason whatsoever, there was nothing else I could do….. God is in control. He is my husband. The Lord whispered in my heart that He will never leave me nor forsake me and if He is for me, who can be against me? This is true for all who have been abused and still hurting. He is ALWAYS there for us. When we cry out to Him, He will give us that peace that surpasses all understanding. Glory to God!

    • Susen on April 6, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      Suzanne, prayers are answered–maybe not in the way we expect, but God hears us, knows our hearts, and has great plans for our futures! Guaranteed.

      I’m a traditionalist. Things like formal Easter Dinners are important to me because my grandmother gave that appreciation to me. As a result of this, I’m big on ceremony–markers for life occurrences. I’m not talking elaborate necessarily. For example, my precious daddy died almost three years ago. I have his last bottle of scotch. From time to time I go to the back of the pasture where we scattered his ashes, and “we” have one small drink together. Then the bottle goes back in the bottom of my closet. I figure that bottle will last the rest of my life. (I hate scotch!)

      I’m rattling on about this because I am going to suggest that you might want to have a funeral for your “happily ever after dream.” I wouldn’t dare post this as my first posting, but you have gotten to know me over the last several weeks, so you know I’m not totally nuts. It might be a large loaf of bread that you write a farewell prayer in and then sail it down a river for the birds and fish to eat. Or it might be planting a tree. Thinking of something appropriate for you could offer some healing. I painted a picture in red of my (second, ugh!) husband’s suicide and then burned it on the first anniversary of his death. Sounds horrible in print, but it helped me with an ending. I no longer even think in terms of anniversaries of bad things–so I guess it helped me get out of that rut.

      After more thinking, I believe it is a marker for self-forgiveness more than anything else.


  44. Charlotte on April 6, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Hi, Leslie and fellow sisters suffering abuse. I have just recently found your book and blog which I see now were answers to my prayers. I am about halfway through the book and have read many of the blogs both of which are helping me to have clarity about my marriage. I won’t go into details now about my situation other than to say that it has been almost 35 years now and I have been trying to find a way out for many years. Actually, counting the years I suffered from growing up in an alcoholic and very dysfunctional home total way more than 35. I have felt very hopeless and stuck for a long time and ashamedly, suicidal at times, not being able to see my way out. I have even felt abandoned by God at times. My eyes have now been opened to things I had not been able to see before..

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the book and all of you for your comments on this blog.

  45. Susanne on April 6, 2015 at 5:45 pm


    Thank you so much for all of your encouraging words (to everyone who is hurting). I too am a traditionalist and understand where you’re coming from. After reading many of your posts, I am a little wiser (and I do realize you are not nuts, lol). Your suggestion to have a funeral for my “happily ever after” dream indeed sparked something in me. I think I will do that when the time is right and I know just what to do for further healing/and or self forgiveness. Leslie’s site is the first time I have ever posted on any kind of blog and I have to say it sure helps to talk to others who are or have gone through abusive situations. God bless you!

    • Susen on April 6, 2015 at 6:15 pm

      Suzanne~thank you for the reply and the blessing. I have to say I was more than a little reluctant to press the “post comment” on this posting. I’ve never blogged anything personal before, but Leslie’s created such a safe place for us to share. And I know that “whenever two or more are gathered in His Name . . .” God is present.

      Blessings right back at ya, susen

      • susen on April 18, 2015 at 12:26 am


        Was thinking on the funeral thing–maybe we all could benefit from writing out our marriage vows, but this time, we would be pledging to love ourselves.

        I promise to love, honor, and cherish myself . . .

        Has a nice ring to it, yes? susen

        • Susanne on April 24, 2015 at 9:49 pm

          Yes Susen, I agree it does have a nice ring to it! While we’re writing our vows to ourselves, we can also write our pledge to the Lord, our Husband, our Friend…our All in All! You have me thinking now.

  46. Loretta P on April 6, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    The emergency app I downloaded is called “Aspire.” If the husband opens it, they just see news feed. BUT in the help menu you list emergency contacts. You can send an emergency message without talking!!! You just tap 3 times on the contacts and the app will send an emergent message to those you have listed that you are in trouble and need help! For safety you send the message without him knowing because you don’t have to speak. Robin McGraw helped develop the app for people in domestic abuse situations.

    I have it on my phone. It helps to know how quickly I can send a quite message without him knowing.

    • Susen on April 6, 2015 at 8:18 pm

      Thank you, Loretta. You may have just saved a life. susen

  47. Susen on April 6, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Dear Aleea~

    Your post is a heart-wrenching chronicle of the journey you are on. You have an amazing knowledge of Scripture. Your counselor must be an excellent guide for you. And just keep working! God has wonderful plans for you and your talents.

    Over twenty years ago, I, too was stuck. Two pastors were not helpful–go home, count your blessings and submit. The third counselor the girls’ father dragged me to was a secular counselor, a female, and said enough words of encouragement that I was willing to go back for another session. (Turn the other cheek, live as an example to a non-Christian husband, forgive seven times seventy, do not break a vow made before God, submit to your husband–I was well-versed in those parts of Scripture.) I was spent, and had really given up on living anymore because there was no way that I could admit that I had failed in marriage . . . so “till death do us part” was where I was headed. (anorexia)

    Ever the good little student, I was supposed to begin my journal with a list of ten things I could do for myself. I struggled all week long with this assignment. I could only think of two things: stationery and stamps to reconnect with friends long lost and bubble bath. The counselor was horrified. I was pretty much a goner–all dreams extinguished and no hope.

    But I started going back to church despite every manipulation and rage that he could throw at me. I could breathe in church. I finally got it that he was evil to try to keep me from those life-giving Sunday services.

    I share this because your use of the word “stuck” struck a chord within me. I had no plans but kept walking until God opened doors, windows, the whole universe to me–a future. You may not have a path laid out before your eyes, but you have the faith to know that He created you, He loves you, and He has great plans for you. When you are ready, you will take that leap of faith.

    You have a safe place to grow here, and sharing your knowledge with us is a blessing for each who read your words..


    • Aleea on April 6, 2015 at 11:13 pm

      Susen, thank you for the very kind words. There’s nothing more transforming than prayer. That is why I ask my counselor sometimes if we can just pray together. She always asks, “Why do you insist on prayer so much?” The answer is very simple –because Jesus did. I am currently going through the gospel of Luke in my devotions and you could change the title of the Gospel of Luke to the Gospel of Prayer. It’s the prayer life of Jesus. The other evangelists say that Jesus was in the Jordan and the Spirit descended on Him as a dove –Luke says it was while He was praying that the Spirit descended on Him. The other evangelists say that Jesus chose 12 disciples –Luke says it was after He spent a night in prayer that He chose the 12 disciples. The other evangelists say that Jesus died on a cross –Luke says that even when He was dying Jesus was praying for those who persecuted Him. The other evangelists say Jesus went on a mount and He was transfigured –Luke says it was while He was praying that He was transfigured. —There’s nothing more transforming than prayer!!!

      –Except maybe silence in God’s presence. I can’t believe that until this year I never realized prayer means not always beseeching God. See: How Can I Know God Better? February 25, 2015 by Leslie. Prayer means not always talking to Him but sometimes waiting before Him until the mud settles and the stream runs clear. I have now concentrated all my prayers into one, and that one prayer is this: that I may die to myself, and live wholly to Him. . . . —-I do know God puts all my words on a plate and forces me to eat them, so I try to be careful with what I pray.

      I also just what to encourage everyone here who is lonely: God makes all His best people in loneliness. You study the great souls in the Bible, those great souls walked alone—alone with God. Just like great eagles that soar, they fly alone. That loneliness is hard to endure, and impossible to enjoy unless God is really within you. –But that’s how you can tell He is really living in your heart. You will enjoy it! . . .I want to know God that way but I know God will not answer my prayers to do so; He will only answer my d-e-s-p-e-r-a-t-e prayers to do so. I have to want it that bad and some God ordained pain is necessary for sanctification and protection. . . . . My counselor told me that she “. . . so enjoys her Lord that she could spend all of her waking hours alone with Him in prayer and in His Word, if she could, and that her plan was to spend less time counseling and much more time with Him now and to seek Him much more deeply in prayer. . . . ” I didn’t know what to make of that until I started praying with her and then I understood. . . . . .Wow, I was thinking about that this morning and about all the time Moses spent at the University of Silence out on the back side of the desert (–back-to-back doctorates in hearing/ knowing God.) Since, as Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven is really within us (Luke 17:21), hurting souls (whoever they are) already have the answers they seek if they are God’s child. All learning is just remembering (Luke 17:19-37). I don’t completely understand that either but I know that is what those scriptures are literally saying: Strength through silence (Isaiah 30:15). . . .The King’s daughter is all glorious within, (Psalm 45:13); it is hidden in her heart, already, -THE WAY- the path to Zion, the city of God (Psalm 84:5-7). . . . That makes the shortest distance between our loneliness and the solution to it the distance between our knees and the floor. Nobody can give us a clean heart but God. If we can get our hearts clean, God’s love can fill us to overflowing. If God’s love fills me daily, I will then not do dysfunctional things to try to get little scraps of lonely love from other people. I will actually be able to guard my heart while actually giving to others. If I am filled daily with pure, real love, I can quickly see and drop dysfunctional relationships while still loving and helping them, to a point. Also, a clean heart just automatically repels bad men; evil, duplicitous, dysfunctional “friends.” -It does that just naturally. People seriously living for God are very upsetting, unless God is drawing you into his arms. Then they are like a magnet.

      God wants our wills …He wants our selfish hearts not to live in selfishness …He wants me to stop living for what others think. It’s a narrow way and it becomes narrower and narrower and narrower the higher we go.

    • Aleea on April 8, 2015 at 7:10 pm

      To: Susen (Susen April 6, 2015 at 8:16 pm)
      & Brenda (Brenda April 2, 2015 at 5:37 am),
      I apologize for not responding to both of you sooner (-these advanced roaming networks -Atlantic Broadband- they don’t work very well and I have had to switch back to AT&T Global World frame relay). . . . Anyway, thank you both for the very kind and helpful words. . . . I do get stuck but one thing that gets me unstuck is prayer. There is little more transforming than prayer, except I am learning, maybe just silence in God’s presence. I can’t believe that until this year I never realized prayer means not always beseeching God. See: How Can I Know God Better? February 25, 2015 by Leslie. I am currently going through the gospel of Luke in my devotions (I am almost at Chapter 24) and to me you could change the title of the Gospel of Luke to the Gospel of Prayer. It’s the prayer life of Jesus! The other evangelists say that Jesus was in the Jordan and the Spirit descended on Him as a dove –Luke says it was while He was praying that the Spirit descended on Him. The other evangelists say that Jesus chose 12 disciples –Luke says it was after He spent a night in prayer that He chose the 12 disciples. The other evangelists say that Jesus died on a cross –Luke says that even when He was dying Jesus was praying for those who persecuted Him. The other evangelists say Jesus went on a mount and He was transfigured –Luke says it was while He was praying that He was transfigured. —If Jesus needed all that prayer I do too and it is a great way to get unstuck! 
      I also just what to encourage everyone here who is lonely. Use that special time. God makes all His best people in loneliness. That is so demonstrable. You study the great souls in the Bible, those great souls they walked alone—alone with God. Just like great eagles that soar, they fly alone. That loneliness is hard to endure, and impossible to enjoy unless God is really within you. –But that’s how you can tell He is really living in your heart. You will enjoy it! . . .I want to know God that way. One of the women I started praying with recently sent me this. . . . she said “. . .I so enjoy the Lord that I could spend all of my waking hours alone with Him in prayer and in His Word if I could and my plan is to spend much more time with Him now and to seek Him much more deeply in prayer. . . . ” . . . .You know what? . . . .I didn’t know what to make of that until I started praying with her and then I understood. No woman is greater than her prayer life –and– if we are weak in prayer, we get stuck everywhere (-Jesus was praying all the time, about everything RE: Luke.)
      Husbands: You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know how soon it may be too late. If you care about your life, real life, come to Christ and let Him change your heart. The shortest distance between your life issues, marriage problems and real a solution is the distance between your knees and the floor. The beginning of the way to heaven, is to truly know we are on the path to hell and realize what hell is (-payment for our sins). Even here and now it is heartbreaking that you don’t understand what marvelous responders women really are. A woman gets an environment of sincere, ongoing affection, caring, protection, nurture, thoughtfulness and she just blossoms –out responding you by multiples. Changed hearts make changed lives. Jesus did not come into the world to make bad spouses good. Jesus came into the world to make DEAD spouses alive. -Real life only happens if we confront our sins and are truly broken by it!

  48. Geoff on April 7, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    It’s very sad, but I am one of these men. I have never been physically abusive, but definitely PA and emotionally destructive as I confront and study my past actions. In my case I feel it really does happen subconsciously, that is honest. I’m sure it is related to childhood trauma that has created hidden anger.

    We have the “classic” beautiful family from the outside looking in. Married 23 years. I am very successful in my career. Lots of worldly possessions. My kids are popular, all over achievers and do very well in athletics and academics. Lots of friends and always busy doing something. Nobody would ever know. But they will as I start to speak the truth. My wife has been deeply damaged. I am ashamed. I have failed her and didn’t really even know it until she had the courage to be strong and speak up. It has brought out the worse and best in her. We have plans to separate for the short term just so we can both go to our corners and get the help we need without being subjected to the status quo. Not sure if the kids will be shocked or not surprised at all.

    The big problem I have found is gathering resources and counseling to help from the abuser’s side. As I dig into this the pundits says there is little hope for an emotional abuser and never offer any suggestions or solutions. It is almost dismal. It is wonderful that this resource exists for the victims to learn and share common experiences.

    It would be wonderful if Leslie could list some effective pointers and resources for the abuser to explore in stopping the destructive behavior. Obviously that is most of the problem. Stop the abuser, stop the abuse. I think helping victims understand how to deal with emotional abuse and confront the abuser is great. But I think they also need to be armed with solutions for their spouses to explore. Then they can feel like they have done everything possible.

    • Laura Di on April 16, 2015 at 7:57 pm

      Thank you Geoff for writing about your recognition of your behaviors and willingness to address this difficult issue.

      God Bless you in finding the proper resources to face the situation and trying to understand the destructive behaviors affects. I hope you can find effective resources to begin the work needed to finding recovery….I am sure with sincere prayer and meditation you will see God will provide you with all that is necessary to begin the healing process that you seek.

      In a strange way I sensed a personal feeling of relief from your message a cathartic symbiotic release.


    • susen on April 17, 2015 at 12:28 am

      Leslie, I just couldn’t give this guy a pass. If you think it should be deleted, I’m sure you will do so.

      Dear Geoff~

      For the life of me, I can’t understand why you came to a Christian counseling site when you did not once reference your faith in God or a desire to know Him or invite His Presence into your marriage.

      You also never said anything about loving your wife.

      As my dad used to say, “don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back” over not being physically abusive to the mother of your children and the woman you promised to love, honor, and cherish.

      Making a lot of money isn’t a pass for abusing the ones you are supposed to love.

      “No one would ever know:” If you are passive/aggressive, people know. It’s painfully obvious in your post. People who know you see the way you treat your wife. How many times have you embarrassed her by your behavior? How many times have you criticized her on the way home from one of your business parties? Or given her a back-handed compliment? Or made a joke at her expense?

      “It’s brought out the worst and best in her”? You should be praising God that all she is asking for now is a separation, and instead you are castigating her for what–not being nice to you?

      Of course your kids will be shocked. The environment they are raised in is what they think is normal. The lies, the damage, the excuses–all are a part of normal family life for them. Have you thought about how you will tell your children? Will you accept responsibility or blame your wife?

      This is as real as it gets and you have an opportunity for real change. Opportunity. A chance. But in your post
      you take no responsibility for your actions and, instead, make excuses, seek pity, and throw recriminations at your wife.

      Your conclusion says it best: In order for your wife to feel she has “done everything possible,” she’s also supposed to be “armed with resources for [her] spouse to explore”? I can only imagine what else you have expected her to do for you over all the years of your marriage.

      When, and if, your wife leaves the marriage, you will still be left with your passive/aggressive behaviors. I suggest you go beyond the “pundits” and quit looking at your marriage as a trade on the stock exchange. You are about to lose your status quo if you don’t seek out a good counselor, listen to him/her, and figure out together how you got where you are and what you are going to do about it.

      I will close with a positive note: God is always willing to forgive a truly contrite heart. I will pray for you, Geoff.


    • CeeKay on April 17, 2015 at 12:39 am

      If, sir, you are truly serious about seeking resources and getting help, consider checking into whatever therapeutic program Lundy Bancroft, author and therapist, may have to offer. He has been a counselor for decades devoted to the healing of abusers and the abused. He is a no-nonsense, tell it like it is person well versed in the ways of abusers.

      If not him, then I am certain that if you will seek with the diligence and intent of a truly repentant man, you will find what will free you from the bonds of your particular slavery to self.

    • Brenda on April 17, 2015 at 7:50 am


      I have reread your post a half a dozen times. I hear no remorse much less repentance in your statements. You will separate for the short term, but what you are looking for is a list. You want a list of what you should do. They all want a list. What those that get a list do is mask their true selves for a little while and then the real person from deep inside comes back out. The only list you are going to get from me is to fall to the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. Your wife owes you nothing and for her safety and sanity I hope she makes the short term separation as long as she needs it and for all time if she sees no true repentance.

      I was abused and misused as a child. It did NOT make me an abuser. If anything it made me more determined to love my family, and not harm them. When looking at how Jesus treated others, that is where I found my example.

      It sounds as though you are taking credit for your children’s accomplishments. Were you really there or was this your wife’s doings? Were you there or were you out making money to buy all the things that the family had? Was your wife given credit for this or did you put her down for quite possibly being a home maker? Was it her protecting them from you. Was she hiding the pain she felt from them.

      I will pray that your wife gets the healing that she needs and that you give her true space in which to do so. No contact would most likely be best.


      Leslie, It was so good to read your last article about whether you believe there is a God or do you know Him. That is something that needs to be reflected on every day as I search my heart and ask for Him to show me where I am lacking.

      • Leslie Vernick on April 17, 2015 at 8:05 am

        Thanks Brenda.

  49. Caroline Abbott on April 7, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    I really like your suggestions about being truthful while at the same time being respectful. However, if I had tried making any of those statements in front of my ex-husband, there would have been hell to pay.

    • Robin on April 7, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      I agree and had to pay. Speaking the truth respectfully was a first step for me being able to wAlk in more truth. The more truth I spoke and challenged him with, the closer we came to a truer reality that our relationship was very unhealthy and needed change. Speaking truth comes with a cost. Mine did end in separation and soon divorce will be final. But I am no longer miserable for not walking in truth and reality of my relationship. There is a definite process and it’s not comfortable to undo an abusive marriage, so truth can come forth and the spouse who is victimized can be set free!!

  50. Brenda on April 7, 2015 at 9:30 pm

    There is no magic formula, but squirrelling away money, getting copies of legal documents, passport, bank statements etc. I looked for several months for an apartment, made a basic budget on my own income. If you don’t have an income, see an attorney. Even if you do, see an attorney. They will fill you in on all that you need to know. I drained the bank accounts and then used it to pay the bills on my apartment and my X house as I knew he wouldn’t.

    I’ve learned that I do like living alone. I actually have more money without him than I did with him. I’m not a big spender–he was/is.

    I’ve been there with the whole your raising your voice thing. If I spoke in softer tones he couldn’t here me, if I spoke up I was yelling. No matter what I was wrong. He got hearing aides and would take them out as soon as he got home and wouldn’t put them back in until the next morning. He simply didn’t want things to change. They did–I left.

  51. Brenda on April 7, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    It is not out of the realm of possibility that he could be required to leave so that you can keep your horses and dog. : )

  52. Charlotte on April 9, 2015 at 9:06 am

    I posted the following on April 6 but it still has not shown up on the blog. Did I do something wrong?

    “Hi, Leslie and fellow sisters suffering abuse. I have just recently found your book and blog which I see now were an answer to my prayers. I am about halfway through the book and have read many of the blogs both of which are helping me to have clarity about my marriage. I won’t go into details now about my marriage other than to say that it has been almost 35 years now and I have been trying to find a way out for many years. Actually, counting the years I suffered from growing up in an alcoholic and very dysfunctional home total way more than 35. I have felt very hopeless and stuck for a long time and ashamedly, suicidal at times, not being able to see my way out. I have even felt abandoned by God at times. My eyes have now been opened to things I had not been able to see before..

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the book and all of you for your comments on this blog.”

    • Leslie Vernick on April 9, 2015 at 9:51 am

      Charlotte, Nothing was wrong with what you originally posted, I just didn’t see it to approve it. I’ll search back to see if I missed it or it just didn’t show up. Welcome to the blog community Charlotte and I’m so glad your eyes have been opened. You’ll find a great support here.

  53. Susanne on April 9, 2015 at 9:53 am

    Aleea, I just read what you said about prayer and walking alone with God. For the past couple of months I have been my mom’s caretaker in my home and Cannot leave her alone. I only have 4 hours per week where someone comes to give me time to go out for groceries, do banking, have a short visit with someone, etc. I have struggled with not being around friends and came to the realization that God wants me to spend this time with him.

    I love how you talk about prayer and being alone with God. It has so encouraged me on my journey alone with the Lord! Thank you Aleea. God bless you as you continue seeking Him and listening for His voice. Thank you for your encouraging words and wisdom for those lonely times. I was certainly feeling stuck but am beginning to look at my situation differently. I have always prayed each and every day. I needed this boost of encouragement… Thank you so much!

    Praying that God will touch your heart in a way that will amaze you.

    Love and huge blessings,

    • Aleea on April 9, 2015 at 8:07 pm

      Thank you for your very kind words, prayers and encouragement. Prayer is so incredible, isn’t it? I’m no special person, I have nothing to offer God or the Lord but I know I can be with Him in prayer. –Imagine that, the author and creator of all the universe will listen to me and I don’t have to wait in a line! Prayer generates strength; it generates vision; it generates power; -and Satan will drive you and I away from prayer more than anything. . . .I’ve said it before and I mean it: there’s not one thing in life worth having outside Jesus Christ. If you can really sing, “Christ is all I want,” you’ve got it made! Five minutes inside eternity and we will wish that we had sacrificed more, loved more, prayed more, given more and especially cared more for lost souls (–I say this especially to myself.)

  54. Sandy on March 2, 2016 at 2:03 pm

    Shelly commented on my remarks and would like to connect. Ok to give Shelly my e-mail.

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