Do I Have The Right to Cut Off Sex

Morning friend,

I’m heading out West this week to visit my three favorite little girls who just can’t wait to see their Nana and Pop-pop. We will be babysitting for the first time for a few nights while their parents get a much-needed break. Pray for us and them.

They’ve never stayed with us for a few days without their parents so I suspect we will have a few tears, but I’m looking forward to having lots of fun and creating wonderful memories. I never had grandparents I visited or had a good relationship with and I missed that. Grandparents can make a huge difference in a child’s life and I want to be that kind of Nana. I’ll post some pictures on FB as well as next week’s blog.

Don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming CONQUER conference in October. We’re almost up to 200 women registered already and I expect to sell out. Early Bird pricing is in effect until August 31. Register here.

I am also doing a Fourth of July Sale on all my books, CD’s and DVD’s. Click here for more information .

Question: I often see you suggesting withholding sex as a consequence for a spouse’s abusive behavior as a way to perhaps invite them to change.

However, I keep seeing this action described as abusive itself in literature I’ve been reading and so I’m confused. Is withholding a legitimate option for a consequence in a marital relationship?

Answer: Actually I don’t suggest withholding sex merely as a consequence for an abusive spouse’s behavior or as a way to invite change any more than I would suggest the silent treatment for a spouse that is verbally abusive as a means to invite him or her to stop.

Talk and touch are both important in marriage and the primary way a couple builds intimacy. However, when the talk or touch is consistently ugly and cruel, sexual touch is usually the last thing a woman desires.

I think the literature that you are referencing is not talking about abusive relationships but rather ordinary marital spats where a woman may use withholding sex in order to have power over her husband so she can get what she wants. That is abusive and a misuse of the sexual relationship that God intended.

However, what I do talk about is that when your husband repeatedly abuses you, doesn’t stop and doesn’t care how it impacts you, having a healthy sexual relationship is impossible.

When a woman allows herself to be treated as a sex object, whether she is married or not, she will feel sicker and sicker. Why? Because God never intended human beings to have sex without the safety and security of a loving, committed relationship – marriage. When there is a legal marriage but a consistent lack of commitment, security, and safety, the sexual relationship also suffers

In addition, this blog has shared horrific stories of sexual abuse where a woman’s voice or choice regarding sexual activity within marriage has been silenced by her own husband. The very person God put in place to love and protect her treats her as an object to use rather than a person to love.

What’s is a Christian wife to do when she faces that reality? Much of her choice will depend on how being a treated this way affects her. For example, if continuing to have an active sex life with your husband isn’t hurting you and you both can enjoy it despite the overall picture of your marriage, then that is your choice.

However, what I do have a problem with is when church leaders, pastors or counselors tell a woman she MUST provide sex to her spouse regardless of how he treats her.  What that message says to her is that God values a man’s sexual needs more than a woman’s need for protection and safety within the marital bond. And that theology is just not true. That too is a misuse of the sexual relationship as God intended.

Therefore, what is a wife’s Biblical responsibility to her spouse in this kind of situation? Is she to prop up the broken marriage, silence her own repulsion and pretend that all is well, deadening her soul and body to what’s happening at home? Or, does that approach enable her husband to continue to be self-deceived believing he can act selfishly and sinfully towards her with no relational fallout?

God’s word clearly tells us that we should not retaliate when we are sinned against, but that does not mean we should be passive. Instead, we are to overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21). What does that look like in your marriage?

First, we know it is good for you to forgive your husband and deal with your own anger and bitterness towards him for abusing you. However, as I have said numerous times, forgiveness does not guarantee reconciliation of the relationship especially when there has been no repentance.

We also know it is good for you to love your husband, as God calls us to love even our enemies. But what does biblical love look like for an abusive husband? Biblical love isn’t necessarily feelings of affection, warmth, or sexual attraction, but actions that are directed toward our husband’s good or long-term best interests.

So let me ask you a question. Is it in your husband’s good and long-term best interests for you to continue to be available to him so that his sexual needs are met regardless of what it costs you or how he treats you? If your answer is yes, then keep in mind this still does not address your marital problem, it is only a solution to his sexual frustration.

Your Biblical role as a wife is to be your husband’s helpmate. As his partner, you can love him best by helping him become the man God designed him to beAs his wife, you are not a second-class citizen with no power or no say. That kind of wife was biblically called a concubine wife and clearly not God’s intent for marriage.(tweet that)

In marriages where there is repeated abuse, it is always in your husband’s best interest for him to repent of his selfishness, pride, and to submit to God (James 4:7). It would also be in his best interest and in the best interests of your marriage for him to learn to control his tongue (James 1:19James 3:10-12) and become more thoughtful and considerate of your feelings (Philippians 2:3-4).

When pastors or other people helpers tell a woman that no matter how her husband treats her God says she must have sex with him, what they are saying is that God cares more about the fact that her husband is sexually hungry than the fact that her husband is hurting her and their marriage relationship. And, that’s not biblical.

You don’t invite change by cutting sex off but by having the courage to have an honest talk with your husband. You might want to say something like: 

“No, I can’t have sex with you in a godly way because of the way you treat me. I can’t feel affectionate toward you when I feel afraid. When you curse at me, scream at me, and call me horrible names it breaks my heart. I am God’s image bearer, not an object be used for sex and then discarded when you’re finished. With God’s help, I choose to forgive you but I can’t reconcile with you in a loving relationship until you begin to see the damage you’re doing to me and to our marriage and change.”

Your words of truth spoken in love and humility are a potent medicine that could wake your spouse up to the fact that he can’t expect the perks of a good marriage without changing his ways and be putting in work. The Bible is full of examples of God’s law of consequences. What you sow, you reap (Galatians 6:7). If your husband wants a good marriage and not just a concubine, he will need to stop sowing thorns and thistles into your heart.

By following God’s word and working to overcome evil with good, you are empowered to take constructive action that may lead to the restoration of your marriage. That would be good for him, good for you and good for your marriage.

And if he doesn’t want a good marriage but just a body in bed, then you’ll have to decide what that means to you. But for many women, it is way too painful to be reduced to simply an object to meet his sexual needs.

Friends, sometimes it’s tempting to misuse the power of our sexuality to control our husband. How have you taken responsibility for yourself in not allowing yourself to be sexually used or abused yet still worked to overcome evil with good?


  1. Detroit Q on June 29, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Personally, I promised my husband that I would never withhold sex as a way of punishing him or getting back at him. He knows that even in our bad times my flesh is his to enjoy, if he so chooses. Most of the time, he doesn’t take advantage of this promise because 1. He is too angry at the moment or 2. He knows I’m too upset and respects my space. However, when he does decide that he wants sex over anger, that closeness actually helps us resolve our problem in an embrace afterward. Honestly, I think women who use sex as a punishment put themselves at a disadvantage to be cheated on, miss out on reconciling at a more passionate level and/or already don’t enjoy sexual relations with their spouse, so it’s an excuse to get out of it. The Word of God tells us not to go to bed angry and the bed/at night after the kids are sleep (in marriage) is usually the place we have sex. So if I am withholding sex, I am still angry and that’s one more sin I don’t need on my list.

    • D.Atlanta on June 29, 2016 at 9:24 am

      Detroit Q, did you read the whole article? There are a lot of husbands out there that don’t give their wife space nor do they respect or choose closeness over anger. Your reply indicates your marriage may be at a different place, not abusive. However, their are many of us who want to obey the Lord and are suffering not only from our husband, but from the abusive use of scripture.
      Leslie has always asked for us to be accountable with the condition of our heart. Anger is not the motivation to withhold sex, please reread what she wrote. Be careful with your judgment. All of us could use a big dose of grace while we walk this journey .

      • Leslie Vernick on June 29, 2016 at 12:14 pm

        I’m not sure Detroit Q was judging, she was sharing her convictions and experience which may be different than most of the women here on this blog, but perhaps encouraging that there are husband’s who respect a wife’s space. I think what she missed in my blog was that I was not talking about using sex as punishment, but protecting oneself from further abuse.

    • Healing Heart on June 29, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Detroit Q…

      I am glad that your marriage bed is a safe place, but I need to respectfully disagree with your assumptions about other people’s marriages.

      In a normal marriage where both people are fighting for the good of the marriage, sex after an argument IS about making up and moving forward and can be an incredible bonding experience. And withholding sex would be wrong. However, not all marriages are like yours.

      My marriage is abusive in many aspects and my husband has repeatedly used our marriage bed to “show me who is boss” in this relationship. He has used sex as a means to control and exercise his power over me. There was NO intimacy outside or in the bedroom (especially after anger). It was more like…I need to have sex with you so that I know I haven’t gone too far and completely pushed you away with my hurtful words and actions. His thinking was…if I can bully you into having sex with me, I will know that I still have control over you because guess what…I have just gotten you to give me what you didn’t want to willingly offer. And I don’t even have to be nice or respectful to you during the ACT.

      So, I am not WITHHOLDING SEX because I don’t enjoy it. I am simply removing myself from an abusive atmosphere that is causing damage to my heart and spirit, as well as our marriage!!!

      Personally, I like sex and looked forward to many years of sharing that part of myself with a loving spouse, but I came to the point where I had to say NO in order to protect my heart from being destroyed by a man who would callously abuse it even during the ACT of sex.

      So, while I am thrilled that your husband respects your body and your marriage, please be careful with your words on here because NOT all of us have had this experience in marriage.

      • Charlie on June 29, 2016 at 10:33 am

        Well said, healing heart. I agree. If the act is respectful and consentual, it is always ok in a marital relationship but never ok if not respectful and consentual.

        • Leslie Vernick on June 29, 2016 at 12:17 pm


      • Detroit Q on June 29, 2016 at 10:42 am

        Maybe if you stop taking apart what is said you will appreciate what I have said. I never claimed that all marriages are like mine in reference to sex or any other aspect for that matter, but merely gave my opinion and personal solution. It works for me…ok?Abuse in any form is wrong and I never said anything to take that away from your situation. You can’t take a few statements from my comment and become offended to the point of being angry with a person you don’t even know. I have my own set of marital issues and never claimed perfection. But, if you put your business on here, you’re looking for different opinions, that’s all I offered. If it doesn’t fit you…perhaps it’ll fit for someone else. God Bless you…

        • Healing Heart on June 29, 2016 at 11:13 am

          WOW! I don’t believe that I said I was angry with you or that I personally attacked you in any way. I believe my exact words were “respectfully disagree”. What I did ask is that you would be “careful” with your words because everyone on here has had different experiences in our marriages, some of which have been incredibly painful and easily triggered by certain words.

          I never criticized you, your opinion, or your marriage for that matter. I believe I said I was glad that your marriage bed was a safe place.

          I just simply shared my story as a way to illustrate the differences in our marriages.

          And just so you know, I have been reading this website blog for over 3 yrs now, and this is only the third time I have felt the need to comment on any response. So let’s all just take a deep breath here.

          May God continue to bless you and your marriage.

          • Elizabeth on June 29, 2016 at 9:09 pm

            My husband once said, while performing the sex act, “I’m sorry I can’t show you affection this way.” That, first of all, is a man with problems; and second of all, pretty much takes away any reasonable chance of having sex in any circumstances be a “bonding experience.” I’m glad in more ways than one to hear that some people can experience emotional bonding through the sex act, because it reinforces my suspicion that my relationship with my husband was not normal or healthy, but that such a relationship is actually possible.

        • Leslie Vernick on June 29, 2016 at 12:21 pm

          Detroit Q, no one is taking apart what you wrote, but your response to my blog indicated that you believed withholding sex out of anger was a sin (Your last line). But what you failed to acknowledge is what I did talk about in my blog is that an abused woman may not withhold sex out of her anger, but out of her pain. She may not be able, nor may it be wise for her to allow her body to be used as an object, when it is the temple of the Holy Spirit and to be loved and cherished, not used and abused. We are all happy for women and men who have a great marriage and good sex life. But for some women that is not the case and its not sinful for them to say no when their husband has violated his covenant to love, cherish and protect in every way, yet expects the perks of a loving and willing sexual partner. It doesn’t work that way.

          • Emily on July 3, 2016 at 1:54 pm

            So we’ll said Leslie. Thank you so much for your continued voice of truth that brings hope and healing to those of us that have suffered through abusive marriages, martial rape, & husbands who are sex addicts. It seems that those who’ve never endured such have no comprehension of what that feels like. I appreciate that you want to educate particularly the church on these realities and how to deal with them. The inept counsel dished out by pastors and other clergy only adds insult to injury. Carry on sister and God bless your ministry.

          • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 9:12 pm

            Thanks Emily.

        • Rena on July 6, 2016 at 3:40 pm

          Detroit Q you have a beautiful testimony of how God can work in your marriage. Like many of the women, who are on this site, I have been emotional, spiritually and verbally abused in my marriage, and given not so good advice by well meaning clergy. But thanks be to God, by reading the testimonies of all the strong women of God on this site and other marriage pages, I have been inspired to stand on the Word concerning my marriage. By being consistent with my husband, and not allowing him to say ugly things to me or withhold things from me, he now has more respect for me out of the 25 years we’ve been married. I pray for all the women on this site to be encouraged in the Lord.

      • Apryl on July 6, 2016 at 9:43 pm

        It’s so thoroughly heartening to know that I’m not alone in experiencing this insanity! Thanks for sharing your truth. In fact, I have to confess anger at ADONAI right now…How long will He be silent?

    • Leslie Vernick on June 29, 2016 at 12:12 pm

      Thanks for sharing your personal story. If you’ve been on this blog for any length of time, you know that your experience is not the norm. Don’t be surprised if some readers get a bit triggered. I think we probably do withhold sex when we are angry sometimes – just like your husband doesn’t want sex when he is angry (your point # 1), but some women withhold sex because they are too sad, degraded and objectified to want to let their bodies be used when there is no aspect of their marriage that feels safe and loving.

    • Robin on June 29, 2016 at 2:26 pm

      While I believe everyone gets a voice on this blog and is to be respected– I took offense from the post above also. I felt like she was only looking at her relationship, not considering the wounded spouses from inappropriate handling of sex in a Destructive marriage. I think each of us should use our words carefully; as there are women on here who are trying their very best to be Bibical and sane.

      • Apryl on July 6, 2016 at 9:47 pm

        More than a few of us here are quite fed up with the “kiss and make up” advice. To our experience, that has NEVER solved the heart issue.

    • Hannah on July 3, 2016 at 1:18 am

      Here is another blog that my clarify and add to the discussion.

  2. now divorced but healed on June 29, 2016 at 10:16 am

    I am very thankful for this stance. My husband was “considering” divorcing me and contacting an attorney and put me in “limbo” regarding our marriage for 9 months until he did decide to divorce me. After the first month I went through the Bible looking at every scripture I could find on the sexual relationship. I found it to be a celebration of relationship, not a means of relationship. Obviously that was not holding our marriage together, so I told him in good conscience I cannot continue to celebrate something that he was considering breaking. I told him once he took divorce off the table, I would be happy to celebrate our mutual commitment to each other again. He didn’t like this and said it was a “marriage breaker” but I just couldn’t do it any longer in good conscience. I felt it was a mockery of the sexual act as God intended it. So I affirm what you said. I never thought I would be ok with withholding sex, but I believe God made it clear to me that it was not something to do when the marriage commitment was not there. Thank you for posting. As you say, most in church throw 1 Corinthians 7 at the woman and forget Ephesians 5 regarding how a man is to love his wife because Ephesians 5 is general and not specific like 1 Cor 7. It just isn’t healthy.

  3. Aleea on June 29, 2016 at 11:22 am

    “. . . How have you taken responsibility for yourself in not allowing yourself to be sexually used or abused yet still worked to overcome evil with good?”

    . . . . very well written, thank you . . . .No direct experience with this, I have never had to say/ do those things (—thank you Lord God!) but those are the right words, I think. Sex should never, ever be a “duty.” It shouldn’t be an act anyone feels obligated to perform for other people. It should never be manipulated or coerced. I know it is so, so hard to operate inside this system where we’re beaten down into thinking things like I have to have sex with him or he’ll leave me or worse sleep with anyone and everyone. Consent is only the absolute minimum baseline, not the goal. It should be so commonplace for us to be comfortable, and happy, and trusting, and respected during sex that anything else would be incomprehensible. i.e. enthusiastic consent vs. “grudging consent.” I believe it is important for all of us to examine the reasons why we have sex, and if it is “because I’ll ruin my marriage if I don’t” or “he’ll leave me” or “he’ll make me miserable” or “he will sleep with others/escorts and give me STDs/AIDS” or “it’s my duty” or “I owe it to him” are among those reasons, than that is something we should actively fight in our own relationships and more broadly in our church culture. —Especially in our church culture! . . . . To me it is part of a bigger question:

    How do I make and keep making decisions to be loved?

    If much of our defensive structure and the trauma that underlies it remains unconscious, how do we keep getting at it? What are my long-repressed challenging emotions and how do I follow my defenses to their core. . . . .I mean, we work on that in counseling but it is really hard to get at and identify my own defense mechanisms when they are mine and are so deeply unconscious that my unresolved defense mechanisms are unmet needs within themselves.

  4. Detroit Q on June 29, 2016 at 11:39 am

    I’m finished with this blog “healing heart.” I did not get on here to have a battle with you…but only tried to help. Now you wanna take a deep breath? Obviously, you aren’t healing after 3 years on here and feel the need to start in on me in particular (I suppose you did the same on the other 2 replies as well?)…maybe you should have directed this attitude toward your husband and not hate me for having a positive solution in my marriage. I definitely don’t deserve this. I refuse to be ridiculed by you or anyone else for that matter. You haven’t helped yourself to heal with this reply but instead hurt another woman (me) who came on here because it felt like a safe place. Thanks for making it a room for snide remarks and attitude.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 29, 2016 at 12:23 pm

      I would encourage you to press pause before you press send. Obviously you are hurt and angry and are starting to attack and not be constructive. This is a large group of many women and men who have lots of different opinions and experiences. But one of the rules here is we operate out of CORE strength and we do not attack even when we disagree. No one expressed any hatred towards you, just wanted you to see a different side.

  5. Healing heart on June 29, 2016 at 12:38 pm

    Thank you Leslie!!! I don’t believe that I expressed any hatred or intolerance of another’s view toward Detroit Q. I just ask that she post her words cautiously.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 29, 2016 at 12:55 pm

      You’re right you did not. You were respectful and constructive. And, you are allowed to disagree.

    • Ruth on June 29, 2016 at 7:09 pm

      Healing Heart, you were respectful toward her approach bc it works for her marriage. You simply put out the important statement that her approach won’t work for abused women. Many people think of withholding sex like a punitive measure- “Little Susie, Mommy is taking away your teddy bear bc you hit the puppy with it.” Or as in “I’ll show him! No sex for a week. He’ll be sorry he crossed me.” Many people can’t fathom an abused woman’s feelings towards sex. I certainly wish I had no experience in this area and I pray my daughters NEVER feel this way.
      I’m not sure why she took your differing view as an ‘attack’. But I’ve found that where a person is super sensitive, there’s usually painful, unresolved issues, in this case maybe not necessarily marital.
      I don’t want this to sound like a counterattack on her especially since I suspect she has wounds of her own. But I want to thank you for clarifying our motives. Abused women aren’t withholding sex as spiteful controllers; we are trying to not be destroyed.
      I’m sorry you took a lashing for speaking this truth.

      • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:48 pm

        Ruth, you are right hurt people often hurt people even when they don’t mean to. I’m sure she was trying to be helpful but was sensitive to a counter point of view, seeing it as an attack of her own. It was not, just a different perspective.

  6. Michelle on June 29, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    Thank you. I will have to commit words like that to memory so I can better respond when drilled.

  7. Maria on June 29, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    My husband has never pressured me to have sex. However, because of his emotional and verbal abuse, I would feel awful and used after sex. It was so confusing to see him behave nice before sex and then the next day be mean, and not apologize. Because of the emotional turmoil I was in, I would behave in ways I was not proud of- having unrealistic expectations of him, irritation etc. Against the advise of my pastor, I stopped having sex with my husband. It was not to punish him, but instead it was out of necessity for me to be emotionally healthy and heal. People may think women are trying to punish by withholding sex, but a lot of times it’s for survival.

    • Lonelywife07 on June 30, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Yes Maria…same here! It never crossed my mind to withhold sex as a punishment…I even told my H several times, over a 2 yr period, that I didn’t like sex, that I felt no connection to him…and that I felt used. All he ever said was “I’m sorry you feel that way” and that was it.
      Never any attempt to fix what was broken, he never once asked what he could do so that I enjoyed sex, and feel an emotional connection with him.
      He wanted sex, NOT a relationship. And I was convenient because I had his ring on my finger…even though I felt like a prostitute many times.
      Sex with my H lasted about 10 mins. then he got up and took a shower, and was in bed and asleep in 10 mins. I’m not kidding.
      It’s been two yrs since we’ve been intimate, and I’ve never once missed sex, not once. I guess that says it all.

      • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:58 pm

        So sad Lonelywife07. I’m sorry for your experience of total abandonment in your marriage, even as he lives in the same home.

        • Lonelywife07 on July 10, 2016 at 8:59 pm

          Thank you Leslie. Your book, TEDM set me free…and now CONQUER is helping me strengthen my CORE, and the conference in Oct…94 days..WooHoo…will be so encouraging.
          I’m planning to separate from my H, as soon as the financial aspect can be worked out…and I honestly would have never had the strength to do that if it weren’t for your ministry.
          God bless you Leslie…I pray for you everyday!

    • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:43 pm

      So true Maria.

    • hopeful on July 25, 2016 at 9:28 pm

      How is your relationship now? Has there been any change?

  8. Jilly on June 29, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    For a long time I felt it important to have sex with my husband, and indeed it felt like a duty. But because it has been taught that withholding is unfair, I did not withhold. Instead, many a time even during the ACT (following the words of Healing Heart), I would softly cry and feel more lonely than before. Or after, go into the bathroom and run the water so he would not hear me sobbing. I don’t know why, but this was my reaction – a telltale sign that emotional support and caring were not present.

    So one night I just said No. And I went downstairs. He followed me and wanted to know why. I told him that he had been aloof, irritable, and frequently explosive with anger. And under these circumstances, I did not feel able to be physically intimate with him.

    His response was “It’s not right! It’s not right!” … that I should “withhold” sex. A half our later he returned with righteous anger that I should so treat him with such disrespect. Even Jesus was righteously angry at times, and so now also is my husband allowed this righteous anger over my behavior.

    This reaction on his part was telling. He was not concerned about my emotional well being, or seeking what he could do to make me feel safe and loved, but concerned with his inability to get from me what he deemed his right. (And how ironic – does this kind of behavior make him more desirable to me?)

    At any rate, there has been no sex since. And the only time it is brought up in conversation is when he is angry with me, to prove what a bad wife I have become.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:45 pm

      Your experience is exactly what the “entitlement mindset” has. I’m entitled to a warm and loving wife regardless of how I treat her. That is not healthy thinking, it’s insanity.

    • Melanie on July 15, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Jilly this was my life too, though for years I think God protected this area (my marriage was about 20 years) and often it was my ex who would put withhold sex to manipulate me, because I was so motivated by feeling abandoned…

      One day he came into the bathroom while I was showering (so he wouldn’t have to see my face, I suspect) and asked if I would consider having sex with him that night. So this was supposed to be him working on respecting me etc… I’d already finally stuck to an absolute no if you wake me up in the middle of the night…

      This time I finally said: I will have sex tonight as long as you understand that you have not spoken to me in days or even attempted to invest in anything in this home or in our lives, and to have sex with you will take away another piece of my soul, and will leave me feeling more used by you than I already do. Is that what you want?

      He said: Well no, that’s not what I want

      And I started to cry quietly in the shower that finally he was hearing my voice and it was worth how hard that was to say…

      And then he said: But if that’s all I can get then I guess I’ll take it.

      And then God spoke the loudest of all, right into my heart:
      This is not what I intended this to be. I have always loved you so much more than this. You’re done.

      So I said, finally in great strength and a very bittersweet joy: Actually, you know what? I’m going to say no, then. That’s not ok.

      And that was the beginning of the end. Because it turned out that if I wouldn’t have sex with him, he wasn’t going to stay with us for long under that kind of treatment.

      But it was also the beginning of the beginning because God is always so good to me.

      • hopeful on July 25, 2016 at 9:33 pm

        My end is coming very quickly…i have said to my husband that unless he is invested in our marriage healing…then I will nit be sexual with him. I have told him that when he wants to be a husband and work on our marriage, then I am all his. He hasnt come near me in any sense for 2 days. What is wrong with these men.

  9. Remedy on June 29, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    My pastors offered it this way, sex is an outward expression of the relationship. You have no relationship, sex is a part of that, so until there is a relationship, sex is not glorifying to the Lord or healthy as expression likened to mere animals. I was extremely grateful the stand they took in that area.

    • Jilly on June 29, 2016 at 5:21 pm

      This is a good stance. Thanks Remedy.
      “Sex is an outward expression of the relationship.”

      I also plan to remember what Leslie said, (reworded here):
      that the opposite view would say that God cares more about the husband’s sexual needs than the emotional health and safety of the woman/ the relationship.

      • Aleea on June 29, 2016 at 6:50 pm

        “. . . . the opposite view would say that God cares more about the husband’s sexual needs than the emotional health and safety of the woman/ the relationship.”

        . . . . Hmmm, that’s a really good way to think about it. Turn it around and see what it looks like. As I study church history, I see lots of highly influential founders, dozens of them, that engage in lots of theological splitting when the handle the Bible. The deeper traumas of their own lives repeatedly colored what they saw in the texts. They saw in the texts what they brought to the text. So many of these theological “greats” evidence disassociative text deconstruction and wind-up with militant attitudes: always, must have sex and never looked at the entire situation carefully, as is so clear from their systematic theologies. . . . And what they said and wrote, indelibly shaped and still shapes the church.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:46 pm

      Me too Remedy, wise pastors.

  10. Ruth on June 29, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    An abused wife is heavy-hearted and looking for relief. She’s drowning, reaching out for a life-preserver. A ‘teacher’ says I’ve got the answer: “you must have sex anytime your H wants, no matter what! Or else you’re in rebellion and it’s your fault if he cheats! For that matter, it might be your fault if he’s cold, irresponsible, unloving. After all the Bible says “your body is not your own- you’re his property.” Instead of a life-preserver, she just got thrown a heavy weight. Rather than healing, she just heard that God turns a blind eye to her suffering. And if she ever doubted that she really mattered to God, that teaching just confirmed her worst fear.
    It’s time the church starts supporting victims of abuse instead of re-abusing them with skewed doctrine.

    • Maria on June 29, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Ruth, Very well said.

    • Lonelywife07 on June 30, 2016 at 8:33 pm

      Amen Ruth!! I totally agree!!

    • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:48 pm

      I agree Ruth.

  11. Robin on June 29, 2016 at 7:24 pm

    I feel it’s another case of pulling out one Scripture and trying to make a rule of it-
    Instead of looking at ALL OF SCRIPTURE and seeing what represents Gods Heart for women in Destructive relationships.

    • Aleea on June 30, 2016 at 9:22 am

      . . . That’s right Robin and said far more clearly and concisely than I did. . . . . “ALL OF SCRIPTURE.” . . . . That definitely explains some of the scholars but we have scads of scholars through history (experts in all the Bible’s languages and cultures) looking at the entire Word-of-God coming to the full spectrum of conclusions (many of them very militant) on the “must have sex” passages. . . .And it may be because logic “safety of the woman/ the relationship” is very different than what those texts actually are saying in context. If you go with logic, evidence and reason all kinds of things in the Word-of-God fall to the floor as illogical and unreasonable. . . . . . Anyways, my internal question is: Why would the God of the universe convey this absolutely critical and vital information this way? Countless lives have been totally ruined through “incorrect interpretations.” WHY, oh why. . . I mean why? . . . would God allow this vital information to be so compromised in this way? . . . . I am sure I am projecting some of my childhood abuse issues into this but the question remains that it looks like total supervised neglect. . . . . . . However, when I try to get behind it and really think deeply about it . . . . .sigh, maybe it is just a cry to be held, comforted, forgiven, strengthened, and loved ―and my part is to stay open and gentle. Who doesn’t want to be loved or held or forgiven? . . . . healing that revives the dead and hopeless places (from childhood abuse) in our hearts.

  12. Healing heart on June 29, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Ruth…Thank you. I am constantly praying that God will continue His healing work in the hearts of those wounded by their spouses and for those responsible for the wounding as well. ????❤️

  13. CincyJen on June 29, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    So…I’m on the fence as to whether or not withholding is appropriate in my case. My husband confessed to a sexual addiction almost two years ago. I read Leslie’s book early on. I realized for the first time that I have been in a very destructive marriage for a very long time…gross indifference, and then the abuse of betrayal.
    Here’s where I’m confused…he is repentant and seeking help. Initially after discovery, I clung to our sexual relationship as a way to suspend reality. Strangely enough, it was the only time I didn’t feel the intense pain of the trauma of betrayal. Afterwards though, I’d feel intense emotions that were confusing and shame for having sex with the man who’s deceit crushed my heart/soul/reality.
    Now almost two years later, I’m feeling the need to put that part of our relationship on hold for a bit. Like I said, he is repentant and going to a group, but there are still ways I am hurt in this marriage. He is still disconnected much of the time, avoids tending to my broken heart and can flip like a switch and become verbally destructive. I do believe he’s trying and I don’t want to discourage that, but I’m also feeling the need to detach a bit and see what God has to say. Sex for me opens the wounds and many insecurities. Anyone else ever experience this? Any advice Leslie? Thank you!

    • Lonelywife07 on July 10, 2016 at 9:20 pm

      Cincyjen…do what feels right for you…pray about it, and ask God….but for me, even if my H is trying and “doing good” but is still shutting me out and is verbally abusive, then I just can’t function as a wife in every sense.
      My H and I haven’t been intimate in 2 yrs now…and it’s been the most freeing and healing thing for me….
      Will be praying for you 🙂

  14. Rebecca on June 29, 2016 at 10:55 pm

    I have a different perspective on this topic. I am not fond of the phrase “cut off sex”. When it comes to abusive situations, I have never willing “cut off sex”. I have been sexually, emotionally and physically tortured by my husband. This does not arouse me or cause a desire for intimacy. So, I do not “cut off sex”, I have been created to protect my body and repel evil. I have no desire toward my rapist/torturer which is perfectly normal. In my opinion, any form of sexual activity in such a situation is masochistic and unnatural.

  15. hopeful on June 30, 2016 at 7:16 am

    This topic is very conflictual for me. Some of you know my story…for the last 3 years my husband has been threatening me with divorce yet still wants to have sex with me.

    I have tried to say no..not until I hear from him verbally that he is back in the marriage. I have given in , hoping that the sex would bring healing.

    So…here I am in a marriage that my husband descrines as just a legal document…having sex with him a couple times a month….hoping….however nothing has changed on his end.

    This weekend is my sons graduation party…two weeks ago my husband said that he was going to initiate the divorce after the party…yet if he approaches me for sex…I am willing.

    I have been encouraged that its a good sign that he still desires me physically and that he hasnt left yet.

    This whole topic is gut wrenching to me.

    • now divorced but healed on June 30, 2016 at 8:13 am

      “now divorced but healed” above can relate. I had a few friends who said there is no right or wrong with my decision. I did what my conscience said after searching the Scriptures. I don’t regret it. I did, after much prayer, give it to him when he demanded it a few months later but that was only by God’s grace to show Him (God) I was still in this marriage. I did it after telling my husband that I would do it, but my stance hasn’t changed, and if he wanted to divorce me tomorrow, this would make no difference in my decision because this is an act unto the Lord. We did and he divorced me 2 months later. I don’t regret either of my decisions. The Lord give you peace with your decision. Marriage is a covenant before God, not conditional upon the spouse in any way. Bless you for your willingness to lay your life down in this way like Christ. And bless those who are convicted they can’t give in that way based on what God says is the purpose for sex. I believe you have freedom either way and I pray you know God’s peace in your decision.

      • Maria on June 30, 2016 at 5:30 pm

        now divorced but healed,

        “Marriage is a covenant before God, not conditional upon the spouse in any way”

        If one of the spouses decides to have a lover, does this still hold true? In our vows we promise to love the other. Love means looking out for their good. Putting up with sinful behavior may be enabling and not looking out for their good.

        • now divorced but healed on June 30, 2016 at 8:49 pm

          My post I originally wrote explains my thoughts more than this last one. What I meant is that in my situation where my husband was contemplating divorce, I told him this was between him and God. If he was going to say he is staying in the marriage because I give him sex, that is a conditional reason and it hadn’t worked for over 20 years if he was still contemplating. I was sending him to God basically to determine if his covenant before God was going to be broken because his considering divorce to me already broke his promise to me. My marriage was very difficult and I stayed in it because of my commitment before God, not because of my husband. I guess my telling him that and withholding sex was looking out for his good by sending him to evaluate his commitment. I hope that makes sense. My comment you quoted was referring to my husband, not my stance.

        • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:54 pm

          One of the best video’s spoofs this idea of unconditional relationship – vows in marriage. Is this what we are promising when we promise to marry? Watch it and let me know what you think.

    • Robin on June 30, 2016 at 3:08 pm

      Dear Hopeful, do you feel your husband is honoring you, telling you he is divorcing you soon, but still wants the benefits of a fulfilling sexual relationship?? Do you feel this is honest? It sounds like a pretense to me. Maybe if I give him sex he won’t divorce me?? I think it might be better to sit down and talk.

      • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:49 pm

        I think so too Robin.

      • Hopeful on July 5, 2016 at 5:45 am

        Robin…there is no honor there. My head is in the sand.

        I am late responding because of a whirlwind weekend of my sons graduation party and having company. My husband was nice, worked with me in all of the preparations, called me by our ” pet names of adoration, etc”. Maybe it was all show.

        The old him was coming back last night in his attitude towards me The new me is not responding the way I have been for the last 3 years.

        Was the way he was treating me a sign of his heart softening or just for show? Not sure what I think or feel right now.

        • Robin on July 5, 2016 at 12:10 pm

          Hopeful, I lived your life for 20 plus years always hoping things would get better- and any kind gesture was a reason to keep hoping. Then I decided I would stop lying to myself, things were not changing, he was only manipulating the moment. My counselor said some very hard words of Truth that very excruciating for me to hear and worse- for me to respond too. I decided I had lived enough pretense and I deserved a better life. I won’t say it wasn’t scary , for it certainly was. I never knew if what I was going towards was the right thing. Except the HS filled me with peace and provision. The rest is history. My life now has no pretenses. I chose to go towards Truth and my new life is Glorious!!!!!

          • hopeful on July 25, 2016 at 9:41 pm

            Nothing is changing here. There is no sign from him that he is softening his heart…In fact..he has taken steps to end the marriage..2 days after my sons graduation party.he called a realtor and divorce mediator..just like he said he would.

    • Maria on June 30, 2016 at 5:56 pm

      How do you feel when he reverts back to hurtful behavior after you are intimate with him? Isn’t it like a roller coaster ride? Doesn’t that affect other areas of your life-parenting etc?
      Do you really think having sex with him will heal your marriage? Don’t you think you are not accepting reality? His actions- being unkind, using you for sex without putting in any effort to have a relationship are very unloving. You mentioned your are encouraged because at least he finds you physically attractive. What will happen when he is physically attracted to someone else? Why are you willing to accept this kind of treatment from him?

      • Hopeful on July 5, 2016 at 5:49 am

        Maria..your words hit home. Truth.. Every area in my life is affected by what is going on in my marriage. Some days are unbearable to get through.

        The best part of all of this is that my relationship with Jesus is gotten very very strong.

        • Robin on July 25, 2016 at 9:48 pm

          Hopeful how are you responding and feeling toward his choices with realtor/lawyer??

  16. Robin on June 30, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Aleea sometimes we want to say or blame things on God- why did He allow this??
    When probly what we need to come to terms with, is ‘man’ in his free will interpreted thru his own filter. You often speak about times in the past. I think we need to remember women in generations before us, we’re not valued as an equal partner in their relationships. Man was to dominate his wife, and probly saw ‘the woman’ as an object of sex. We’ve come a long ways and how awesome it is that women are learning to take responsibility for their self and how they live their life–/ and don’t fall for these old teachings and beliefs.

    • Aleea on June 30, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Thank you Robin. . . I really appreciate those thoughts.

      . . . . I guess the disconnect is that I want to think of the Bible as teaching timeless truths on issues and if it is not, ―not really, then it is just process theology (―post-modern Christianity). . . ―And, well, I don’t see much value in a “God” that is whatever “He” is at that time in history. . . . Jesus is just a representation of who we are at whatever time we access Him in time? A spectral God?

      . . . . Robin, I guess I just don’t understand/ can’t come to terms with that. ―Doesn’t mean I don’t love Christ, ―I do and I sure have tried in my life to understand Him. . . . Honestly, I don’t have any usable definition of what “God” is or what “Truth” is. It looks like it is totally user-defined, free-floating, historically-contingent, time-specific. . . . . ―Bigger than that is why it gets to me so much. . . . ―Why do I so care? I just don’t understand that either. . . . I guess I am terrified that God is just a master signifier, a “Big Other,” operating at the Symbolic level and that much of what we think about God is, . . . . well, . . . sigh, I don’t know what to think Robin. . . . . . I want something really, really, real. . . . ―Not a metanarrative Bible that is reimagined and reinterpreted and floating along with culture. . .Maybe it was just part of the culture back then to say that people rose from the dead. It sure was said of a lot of savior-gods back then. . . . .Anyways, thank you Robin. . . Again, I really appreciate your thoughts. We just don’t get many answers in life, especially if we are honestly evaluating the evidence. . . . I so care if what I believe is true.

  17. Penny on June 30, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    I am not responsible for my husbands choices and behaviors. I cannot control him. God will hold me responsible for my relationship with HIM. I am completely free to run to Christ. I am free NOT to cooperate with evil. God can help me not live life in response to sinful patterns in my spouse. Grateful for truth and hope and the Holy Spirit.

    • Maria on June 30, 2016 at 6:02 pm

      Amen, Penny.

    • Apryl on July 6, 2016 at 10:05 pm

      God bless you, Penny! I long for this faith and courage.

    • Rachel on July 25, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      I so needed to hear this today, Penny. Thank you. I realize that I have been living a reactive rather than proactive life. I think Leslie calls that giving away my power. Time to stand in the power of Christ.

  18. Robin on June 30, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    Aleea, I wish I understood what you are questioning, and perhaps you’ll need to take your questions to a one on one counseling session. But here’s what I think. Because some men interpret Gods words to their liking, does not mean for me, I have to go along with it. Yes sometimes it is a challenge to interpret these things well- but God has given to us counselors and teachers to help us. Some of those teachers got it wrong. Oh well . We all get it wrong at times. I’m so happy to know the TRUTH regards to this subject, I’m grateful for Leslies digging for the answers so many got wrong. But because some hot it wrong- doesn’t throw me off the path. And you are right, we don’t get all the answers. My encouragement to you is twofold- don’t let men that erred take you off the path and second- take this to your counselor where you can talk it all the way thru!

    • Aleea on June 30, 2016 at 3:52 pm

      . . . Oh Robin, I’m so worried at how much I have shown and convinced my counselor of. Now, that haunts me too. I have told her so, so much (because she kept asking all those Bible questions) and now all I see is the “now accepting implications” look on her face. . . . Reality about what we can know about the Bible and God is a very hard road. Projecting certainty reassures but it also fosters people not seriously investigating the facts and evidence themselves. . . . Then again, too much “C” {C – Committed to honesty – no pretending} as concerns the Word-of-God, has left us both drained. . . . I don’t know what to do. . . . . You said once that we need different counselors for different parts of the journey. . . .I don’t feel like I am at a different part of the journey but maybe I am. Do you think it is bad to see two different counselors at the same time?

  19. Robin on June 30, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Aleea what is bad is not taking care of yourself. I think if u need a 2nd opinion on some things go for it!! Childhood abuse is very tough. My counselor told me 6 months ago, I have about 18 months left. As so much has surfaced- I think she has changed her mind. We go to counseling, till we get the help we need. And if one isn’t covering all bases, then we happily find a 2nd. Just like doctors, we don’t always take the first doctors opinion. We find a 2nd!!!!!! We are into this TO BE HEALED AND WHATEVER IT TAKES!!!!!????

  20. Remedy on June 30, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Hi Aleea…..your expressions of thought are always so deep and make me think.

    I will throw my 2cents in on the issue of the changeableness if God or His Word as it relates to this week’s blog. God is the author of love. God is the author of relationships. God is the author of marriage. All these are clearly spoken of and for the diligent of heart, following what God has said can create a beautiful marriage, though imperfect. What goes wrong is when a human interjects their own ideas or tries to live in relationship according to their own rules. Then the trouble begins. The ship has gone off course and if not righted may become perilously lost. God’s Word on these matters is for all time and all peoples. It is ‘we’ who mess it up by thinking we can ignore the plain truths contained in Scripture for BOTH husband and wife and think we will still sail safely in the sea of marriage.

    God is not mocked…. whatever a man does, that he shall reap.

    • Remedy on June 30, 2016 at 5:53 pm

      Oh spell check!! Whatever a man sows, that he shall reap. My apologies!!

      • Aleea on July 1, 2016 at 1:02 pm


        >“. . . . Whatever a man sows, that he shall reap. . . . ”
        . . . . Oh, that so convicts me. . . . Remedy, I’m so not what I want to be. . . . I’m so broken and weak. I am way more sinful and flawed in myself than I ever dared believe (―that depth psychology brought it to the surface) . . . . . yet I am told I more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than I ever dared hope. I fully understand the first part . . . . but the second? I guess I don’t understand a Jesus of cosmic possibilities and endless projections. A Jesus that is basically an inner therapy to an outward liberation.

        >“. . . It is ‘we’ who mess it up by thinking we can ignore the plain truths contained in Scripture for BOTH husband and wife and think we will still sail safely in the sea of marriage.”

        . . . . I fully agree on so many of those plain truths. . . . In my marriage, because I don’t consider it abusive, I do the acts of love, despite my feelings. I may not feel tender, sympathetic, and eager to please, but my actions are tender, understanding, forgiving and helpful. . . . And I find that, as time goes on, we not only get through the dry places, but they have become so less frequent and we are so much more constant in our feelings. . . . It is Jesus and I that need couples counseling. . . . . Doubt as sin? —Christianity has done its utmost to close the circle and declared even doubt to be sin? . . . . And yet, I humbly and sincerely constantly ask Him things. . . . and I ask myself: What if one day you find out that you didn’t have all the information you thought you did? What if you find out that your presence was needed for healing? What if you only knew half of it and the other half was just your fear and anger translating everything you experienced?

        Good thoughts, thank you Remedy.

  21. Maria on June 30, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    It’s great to hear you are healing. From what you write, you are working intententionally and very hard to heal. Could you please explain how your counseling sessions are helping? What things do you work on? What does your counselor do that helps? etc

  22. Robin on June 30, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    Maria, I am very blessed. Jesus sent me to a counselor, with great experience in abuse. I have always done what she suggested. Not blindly but I knew from the beginning she was full of the Holy Spirit and I trusted that. First she got me out of an abusive marriage. After I left, she said we needed to get you safe, to go to the next level of your counseling. I didn’t realize how much that was so, until he was gone and I was at so much peace. But we still talk about all the things I did, when I was a victim- and how I would walk thru those things today. I was severely abused in my marriage, so now that I’m out, I’m still learning as we talk how to advocate for myself, how to take full responsibility for my own life, and we practice together how and what things I’d say today if we were still together. Like Aleea I was very abused by my mom but didn’t know this till 6 months ago or so when my counselor picked up on things. So we’re working on ‘memory work’ and seeing how my abuse in childhood set me up for an abusive marriage. We often work on wherever life has me week to week. My family – most of them alienated themselves from me when I stood up in court and told the truth about the abuse I had endured. So there are a lot of issues that pop up. She mostly corrects lies I have believed and points out ways I can believe better and face more truth in my life. She is presently re-parenting me as I didn’t learn much as a child. So our relationship has been very important in being able to trust anyone. I do work very hard. I’m the only stable person in my family, and I am diligent in wanting to have a new foundation and heritage for my children.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:56 pm

      Good for you Robin. YOu have decided to be an “owner” and not a “victim”. Meaning you are owning your future and your choices and now allowing circumstances to choose for you.

  23. Robin on June 30, 2016 at 7:21 pm

    Maria for me, I believe when you’ve been in a long term abusive marriage- what u need is someone to believe you and give you loads of grace. I have read books and then we talk about what I read. She will hear something in my emails, and bring it up in my session, and we discuss it. She sits by me on the couch holding my hand and helps me to express my deep seated anger towards both ex husband and mother who stole so much from me. She helps me because sometimes I can’t say what I need too- and she says it for me and then asks if that’s what I meant. Some weeks we just celebrate my recent growth and have a wonderful time discussing how far I’ve come. But mostly she is my friend whom I trust, and I am free to discuss whatever is on my mind. I truly have grown so much in the three and half years of counseling. I’m never dissapointed, I’m always learning.

  24. Dee on June 30, 2016 at 8:39 pm

    This subject of this blog ties in with the one regarding a spouse who lies. After putting up with repeated lies during our almost 40 years of marriage I realize I’m not to blame when a my husband chooses to lie.And the fact that I’ve consented to sex to keep the peace was a mistake. I deluded myself into believing giving myself to my husband in the way he said conveyed love to him would bring about a change. No change or remorse occurred. According to spouse I’m getting what I “deserve.” The two blog posts have been incrredibly enlighening. Thank you.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:59 pm

      You are most welcome. I’m grateful they have been helpful.

  25. Robin on June 30, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Maria- what things do I work on??
    From a point of having been a abuse victim, I had so much to learn. We spent over 2 years just discussing what I tolerated. There were so many scenarios going on that altho part of me felt it was Destructive- I had a lot to learn about an abusive relationship. We went thru Lundy Bancrofts books step by step discussing his main thoughts. And little by little, my mind was transformed. I came to understand what a narcissist was and we also studied sociopathy. One of the things I have really appreciated about her, is she never pushes. She allows the Holy Spirit to lead me. And when she asks me a question and I can’t answer right away, I usually go home and the Lord speaks to me. Then we discuss it at next session. This phase we’re in now is my most difficult. Having to remember my childhood and have all my denial system torn down– has been very rough. But my counselor is a woman of prayer and she tells me she often is praying that God will show me something. My encouragement to any woman going thru abuse would be to find a counselor that works for you and then hang in there. I never thought I’d commit this long to counseling- but it’s absolutely the best decision I ever made. Yes, it’s not cheap. But it has saved my life– and perhaps given me a quicker passage thru my abuse.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 9:03 pm

      Thanks Robin for your vulnerability in sharing your counseling experience. It is no quick fix but a good counselor becomes a trusted “voice” in validating your pain and “one who bears witness” to the reality of your experience – when there was no one else to tell you the truth about what was happening to you. She doesn’t give you the answers but helps you gain strength to find the answers for yourself, teaches you how to press into your experience instead of running from it so that you grow from it instead of get crushed by it. Much of what a good counselor does is give private lessons in applied theology and becomes the very hands and feet of Christ in ministering mercy to a troubled and hurting person.

  26. Maria on June 30, 2016 at 11:22 pm

    Thanks, Robin. A friend is struggling with anger. How have you dealt with the anger you feel?

    • Robin on June 30, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      Maria, my counselor believes very much that we need to own our anger. Christians often think anger isn’t good. My counselor taught me different. That anger is necessary when someone is sinning against you. So we take plenty of time to get our true feelings out- either by journalling or sitting with my counselor and speaking that anger to that person. Then when you’ve worked thru it, and she always says don’t be in a hurry, we flush it down the toilet . Personally I feel anger is very needed in recovery of an abusive relationship. I stuffed feelings to survive. So I took my time. I journalled every day. Sometimes I showed it to my counselor and sometimes I threw it in the fireplace and burned it. The important thing is to express the anger and let it run its course. I was taught I can be as angry as long as it takes. My heart is clear today and very soft. Actually tomorrow is my one year anniversary of finalization of divorce. I am healed, I no longer have anger. I use to run on my treadmill, go for long walks, and have a special friend who could listen for hours. When one has lived in abuse for many years, they should be patient with themselves and give it time. One thing that I did that Lundy Bancroft suggests- is use that energy you spent on him, now on yourself. I worked very hard at carving a new life out for myself. I go to church an hour away. My counseling appts are 90 miles away. I believe it really helps to not have to run into him and his friends. I wanted everything brand new!!!

      • Maria on July 2, 2016 at 4:55 pm

        By expressing your anger, do you mean talking with someone about it? Are there other ways? Did you ever notice yourself expressing it negatively? If so, how did you stop it?
        Thanks again.

        • Robin on July 2, 2016 at 6:02 pm

          Maria, is expressing my anger- speaking to someone about it. No.
          (Altho I did speak to my best friend and my counselor about it. )
          I mean sitting in my counselors office, having an empty chair and speaking the anger to that abusive spouse. It was hard at first. But esp in abuse- it’s important to get rid of all that’s been trapped inside. I also journalled my anger daily. Then read it to my counselor and she’d point me to solutions . And yes I was expressing my anger very negatively in basic conversation daily. That’s what drove me to finding a solution- I didn’t like how I sounded, bitter, couldn’t get over my anger…… And I was only hurting myself to keep thinking about it.
          I think while we can focus on doing our part to ease our anger, I also believe it’s a process that takes time. I believe in my situation, given time, and embracing people who loved and valued me, my spouse kept getting smaller in my mind. I remember the day I told my counselor- it’s over- there’s nothing he can do to hurt me anymore. My anger dissipated on its own, knowing this. I feel sorry for these women that have to keep seeing their ex. I read a book ten years ago that said the best thing a abused spouse can do for herself is change scenery. Hang out in another town where you can get a loyal support system. If I had to see him all the time, I’m sure my anger would have hung on longer!!!!!

          • Robin on July 2, 2016 at 6:08 pm

            Also—- my grandson graduated from high school in June. It would be the first time I had to see my ex in public. He would be with my 2nd daughter. When you face your fears- and know that he no longer can manipulate and punish you- ANGER GOES AWAY ON ITS OWN. I had developed a new set of friends and none he could control. By taking responsibility for my own life- I was able to face him that day and feel very strong. This was huge in not allowing anger anymore.

          • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 9:06 pm


          • Robin on July 2, 2016 at 9:49 pm

            Maria, one thing I learned about anger – it’s not something we need to get rid of. When someone has sinned against us, God is pleased for us to stand up and be angered. We need to respect that boundary . It is necessary in abuse to walk thru the passage of anger. Nice thing sbout the Lord is- He will lead us thru it. Maybe tell your friend to understand it is a process, and be confident God is working in her, even when she wants the process to go faster. She likely was in a Destructive relationship for several years – and the work of anger takes time.

          • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 9:08 pm

            Our anger is a warning bell something is wrong – pay attention. Either our situation or relationship is a problem we need to resolve or tackle, or something is wrong inside (bitterness, resentment, feeling entitled and not getting what we want and we’re angry). So anger needs to be faced, understood and resolved or it just gets buried or turned into resentment which is also toxic.

          • Maria on July 3, 2016 at 7:02 am

            Thanks. My friend is getting angry and bitter. She has been hurt and wronged,but her response is hurting her, She doesn’t seem to know/want to/put in the effort to change.

          • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 9:12 pm

            Maria, many people who are hurt and wronged get stuck in “victim” thinking. I was wronged, there is nothing in this that is my fault, I’m stuck waiting for someone to change or “rescue” me out of my bad feelings. That mentality goes nowhere fast and just keeps a person angry AND helpless. She is not “owning” her life, her choices or her responses. Those are hers to make yet she can’t grasp it yet. Pray that she will because once she does, she becomes an owner one who is responsible for herself and a whole new world opens up to her.

    • Aleea on July 2, 2016 at 7:41 am

      Re: anger

      . . . .and maybe she can find a counselor who uses the range of techniques until she gets “dialed-in.” . . . For example, depth psychology gets to the unconscious layer of suppressed and forgotten memories, re:anger from abuse traumas, etc. . . .And that is neuroscience not philosophy. Fear of our own depths is a real enemy. . . . I think if we don’t get to those cesspools of anger (often unconscious neural processes -and it may easily be that neurons are to consciousness, what D.N.A. is to life), well, you can’t drain all that anger away. You just suppress, disavow, cycle-repeat the same issues with new variations.***

      . . . The really great thing about everyone here is that they seem to fully get that growth depends on us taking serious personal responsibility. If we forever see our life as a problem caused by others, a problem to be “solved,” then no change will occur. . . The paradox is becoming sufficiently developed in ourselves that we do not need to feed off others. . . . I am no where near that yet (re: still too much people pleasing) but I see the goal. I understand why! The goal is wholeness, not the triumph of my ego. . . . In Christ, I declare war on enemies I cannot fully see: –my egoism, arrogance, conceit, selfishness, greed, lust, intolerance, anger, gossiping, slandering If I can master and destroy them, I will be ready to fight the enemy I can see.

      ***When you’re angry, don’t immediately trust your automatic thoughts because oftentimes those thoughts are irrational. Thoughts are not facts. Feelings are in no way facts. They’re just thoughts and feelings and manytimes they can’t be given much importance, as against facts.

  27. Aleea on July 1, 2016 at 11:42 am

    >“Childhood abuse is very tough. . . “

    . . . . it is the WORST, especially when it was all corked in with FEAR. I say that because the psychological scaring happens so, so early on. ―That pain is like water. It finds a way to push through any seal. ―There’s no way to stop it. Sometimes I guess you have to let yourself sink inside of it before you can learn how to swim to the surface. . . . I’m just terrified of dragging my counselor to the bottom with me, but maybe even that is a defense or just my own arrogance.

    >“We are into this TO BE HEALED AND WHATEVER IT TAKES!!!!!????” . . . I so appreciate your thoughts and words, Robin, thank you. I know from my psychotherapy that simply touching all those difficult physically abusive memories with even the slight willingness to heal begins to soften the hold and tension around them.

    >“As so much has surfaced- I think she has changed her mind.” . . . . . ―Oh, I so have experienced that. . . . Even the smallest shift in perspective can bring about more rooms just filled with abuse. To me, that is the difference between cognitive behavioral therapy, over and against depth psychology (―taking the unconscious into account.)

    Maria, it is so good to see you back here!!! 🙂
    ―I pray for you and your family every morning.

  28. Penny on July 1, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Thank you for the hope of anger passing! My counselor also recommended journaling (then destroying) to deal with my anger. It does not just rise near the surface of my life, it is shards of glass piercing into many areas. It feels so defining to me. Will it it be like this forever? God has been always kind and good to me, I really don’t want my life to end with my fists clenched and my heart raging. This site gives me ideas (long walks, talking to a friend) and hope through other women. I am not alone. Thank you all so much! Prayers for me…I so want a soft heart, to be able to cry sounds like heaven to me. Will I ever get there???

  29. Robin on July 1, 2016 at 11:57 am

    Penny, you will get there, because you are seeking for it. I remember the morning I woke up, and it was gone. I was a little uncomfortable as I had worn it like a dress for so long- and suddenly it disappeared. We put in the work of journalling, counseling, walking, whatever appeals to us, and one morning you too will wake up and KNOW
    IT IS FINISHED. ????

    • Penny on July 1, 2016 at 1:12 pm

      Thank you! Blessings!!!

    • Hopeful on July 1, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      I love the last sentence…YOU KNOW WHEN IT IS FINISHED.

  30. Carolee on July 2, 2016 at 11:51 pm

    Leslie, I am so thankful for the Facebook chat last week on critical and toxic people. I have gone to the page and viewed it several times now. You helped me deal with my h’s behavior tonight in a way I never would have seen before. The way he was treating me says something about him. Unfortunately he has no, ( zero, zilch) remorse and would never admit he was wrong. He tried to manipulate the situation to make me look bad not him. Because of what I am learning from you I was able to not be confused by him. I stuck to facts when he started twisting things. I knew why he did what he did and I also knew from so many past times that he will never be sorry in the right way. He was not sorry he hurt me and disrespected me. He apologized because he wanted to have sex. I was able to stand firm with my shield of faith up. He went to bed mad but there was no more I could do. He was “done talking to me”. I am waiting on the Lord and it is difficult but I am so thankful for learning courage and to be the person I want to be not the victim of his bullying! Thanks again, Leslie. Thank you sisters in Christ for your encouragement. Blessings

    • Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Carolee, thanks for sharing. I’m so proud of you for sticking to the facts and not allowing him to manipulate you or “guilt trip” you or make you responsible for his feelings. Yes, one day at a time, one decision at a time, you become – the person you want to be instead of letting other people control or define you.

    • Melanie on July 15, 2016 at 11:30 pm

      Good job Caralee! Sounds like an amazing night of victory! More great victories to come, I know it!

  31. Robin on July 3, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Maria, I’m so sorry to hear about your friend. I will pray for her. I think one of the hugest things that helped me was being saturated in love and kindness. My counselor took an extra step towards me when she saw how abused I had been. I never was judged, accused, told I was doing anything wrong. I was loved, and loved some more and more. Something I had never experienced. I believe Jesus used that accepting unconditional love to break they my hard heart.

    • Aleea on July 3, 2016 at 3:39 pm

      That’s beautiful Robin! . . . That healing love . . . . And maybe our task is not to seek for love, but merely to find and remove all the barriers within ourselves that we have built against love. . . . for me, barriers that I used to protect myself in childhood. . . . In the gospels, it is so clear that Jesus was lost in his love for God! If you want to be more alive, love is the truest health, no doubt.

  32. Robin on July 3, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Sorry Allea, but in my case I did not remove any barriers. I simply was severely abused and unable to do much of anything. Jesus just simply used my counselor as a vessel to pour out His Love and Mercy to me- until some of my woundedness healed. Then I was able to respond and work hard.

    • Aleea on July 4, 2016 at 9:08 am

      >” . . . . in my case I did not remove any barriers. . . . . Jesus just simply used my counselor as a vessel to pour out His Love and Mercy to me- until some of my woundedness healed.”

      . . . . well, it is still beautiful and inspiring no matter how it all happened!

      I think your counselor really understands love: Love is not beautiful, sublime or wonderful. Loves says that another person (you) are beautiful, sublime and wonderful.

      So, maybe see what you think of this, it came to me as I was sitting in traffic yesterday: Love always illuminates others. . . . Love is not meaningful; it brings meaning into the world. When you are in love with Christ, you can’t help but experience life as meaningful. . . . Love, then, is what saves us from a meaningless existence, . . . BUT I think this may work even if, in fact, life has no ultimate meaning. If you really selflessly love, you can’t help but experience life/ the world as meaningful. . . .And no matter how meaning and purpose you think life has, if you don’t really selflessly love, you will experience life as meaningless. . . . . any little demand, a little requirement, a little force or manipulation, moves the relationship entirely from love to obligation.

  33. Robin on July 3, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    Maria, it must be painful to watch your friends heart be close to bitterness. Unfortunately, pain does terrible things to women esp that have been abused. I might suggest leaving her be where she is and just be a friend to listen when she is able to share. Maybe that’s all she can do at this point.

    If she moves forward I am available to talk with her, as you can share with her my ex stole 3 of my children from me. Altho they are starting to return back to me– I too have walked a journey with some bitterness. And I am a walking testimony of Gods Grace- to restore all that was stolen.

    • Maria on July 3, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks Robin.

    • Ruth on July 4, 2016 at 11:06 am

      Robin, your story of healing is inspiring. More women like you should write a book of their life’s story. Besides being inspiring to women like me who’ve experienced a little of what you’ve lived through, it’d also be excellent reading for young women to help them understand the gravity of how important it is to use DISCERNMENT and look for red flags when choosing a husband.
      In regards to your ex-H stealing the loyalties of 3 of your children, I am so sorry. I read “Why Does He Do That?” and I was so sad when reading how children can turn against their abused mother. You say your children are starting to come around to see the truth. This week specifically I am going to pray that you see more and more reconciliation between you and your children.
      I have 3 children. My youngest child is the most like me- compassionate, wants to please others, and is sensitive. My middle child is also fairly compassionate but also has an angry streak. She has a well-balanced personality but her Achille’s flaw is self-pity. So we are working on being thankful.
      My oldest child is so much like his father. This grieves my heart. For one thing, my son’s uncooperative and rude attitudes, set off much strife and drama in our home. My H has reasonable, simple expectations for our son. But the boy won’t consistently comply and/or has a bad attitude about it. I am so worried he will grow up and be just like his dad. My H’s worst trait is the pride that blinds him to his other problems and shields him from a Godly sorrow that works repentance.
      How do I teach my son humility, so that he doesn’t repeat history?

      • Robin on July 4, 2016 at 1:09 pm

        Ruth, thank you for your comments. I am going to write a book. My counselor hands me back every email I write her in hopes it will be part of a chapter someday.
        I try to speak very boldly to women in Destructive relationships about getting their children out of a home with an abuser. My closest child was my son, whom I poured my life into trying to teach him how to be all the opposites of his dad, and whom he hated. Until I had my husband removed from our home, then that son gave him complete loyalty. It’s a hard question you ask as I thought I had done everything possible- and yet it didn’t work. I would say having him with people where he see’s what his dad does is wrong. And so he’ll know there is a different way. I have 4 children and it wasn’t till I filed for divorce was my eyes opened and saw how much all 4 of them had become like their dad. The dad is usually the most powerful, the angriest and if he abuses , sets up silent rules like LOYALTY. My eldest daughter and I have been in counseling for a great deal of time and are healing, but when we stay in a destructive home, we become like ‘him’ and don’t always see it. God has and continues to do a wonderful healing in my life and I know he isn’t done with the other 3 children yet. Thank you for your prayers. Just be diligent in showing your kids, all of them, what healthy is and what healthy does. You might consider some counseling for yourself so you can get some help and wisdom and be more prepared to help your children.

  34. Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    Aleea, it reminds me we are all human beings, no one is infallible, even if they have a PHD in Biblical studies after their name.

    • Aleea on July 5, 2016 at 1:40 pm

      >“. . . Aleea, it reminds me we are all human beings, no one is infallible, even if they have a PHD in Biblical studies after their name.”

      Thank you for the comment Leslie. I love getting comments.

      . . . anyways, I know Leslie that no one is infallible (-Oh my, it is way worse than infallible!). There are no authorities. There are no experts. There is no one whose views are not subject to question. You are so right, no doubt about it. . . . My point is just a really practical, simple one: Why would God let it look like a totally human process of supervised neglect? If it were any other endeavor, the supervisor would be let go. Who would let the thing degenerate into a mass of seriously divergent, differing interpretations. It just really makes me wonder just what is going on. That’s all . . . just how can this be a divine process when it looks so, so human? How can something that looks like a totally, completely, thoroughly, utterly human process be divine?

      I know how small I am and I know how little I know and often it takes a good fall to really know where you stand. Blessed are those with cracks in their broken hearts because that is how the light gets in. . . . I know that what I say must sound sometimes just absurd. . . because, . . . maybe, if you don’t have the problem it seems so straightforward. . . . All I can say is question with boldness, because it seems God would far more approve of the homage, the respect, the honor, the reverence, the worship and the deference of reason than that of blind fear.

      >”. . . .Aleea, don’t be anxious about it all. It sounds as if you have a very good counselor and I’d talk over your concerns with her first. If you need a different counselor or coach for part of your journey, I’m sure she will be open to that and the two of you better because of it.”

      Leslie, thank you for that comment too. I really do appreciate that. . . . . I have talked it over with Dr. Meier and I am going to continue with her, we just have now agreed to keep the Bible, Jesus, God questions out of the counseling. I’m finding another counselor for those questions. . . . I still maintain the best thing we ever do is pray together. . . . I so believe that psychoanalysis has at bottom the goal to create a space within oneself in which God’s voice can be heard! . . .Lord God help us, we know so little. . . . God just splits my mind wide open. What is He doing? I so often fail to comprehend.

  35. Leslie Vernick on July 4, 2016 at 8:51 pm

    Aleea, don’t be anxious about it all. It sounds as if you have a very good counselor and I’d talk over your concerns with her first. If you need a different counselor or coach for part of your journey, I’m sure she will be open to that and the two of you better because of it.

  36. Robin on July 5, 2016 at 12:01 am


  37. Robin on July 5, 2016 at 1:50 pm

    Aleea, is it possible some of your confusion comes from a counselor not in the same faith as you?? I don’t get, you’re not going to talk about God or His Word?? I suppose secular counselors can be helpful at times, but I think for me, that would be missing have of my equation, to leave God out??!!!!!

    • Aleea on July 5, 2016 at 7:10 pm

      ―Oh Robin, not at all. My counselor is hopelessly in love with Jesus Christ. I so love that about her! Her rock solid faith is so helpful to me. We pray together every session and she knows the scriptures like the back of her hands, New Testament Greek, . . . . Her husband is an atheist (I have no idea how that happened but I never asked and only found that out recently in passing. ―That hurt me really badly after session, after session, after session of my issues with Christianity) and she is raising two boys ―who are just wonderful. Her children pray for me too. . . . . Robin, I have serious theology and doubt questions and they go way beyond what we talk about here. I just feel like with her raising children and an atheist husband, the last thing she needs is my constant doubt issues piled on top of that. . . . . . You know how I go on and on and on and on. Imagine that ten fold ―in person― where I can speak at multiples of what I can write.

      . . . . And yet, I need to tell my story and why. In fact, I think a major reason for evil in the world is that people are not able to tell their life stories. . . . . The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are. Loneliness does not come from having no people around you, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to you.

      The reason I still want to work with her is that I bet my “problem” is not my problem. . . . I can work on the faith questions (Christ-of-Faith vs. the Jesus-of-History; Christian origins;, questions) elsewhere. I have already identified two people as counselors for that. . . . She and I can work on the childhood abuse issues. . . . . Let me tell you something, and this is so unlike something I normally say, the more critical reason dominates, the more impoverished life becomes. When reason is overvalued, you suffer loss. Relying more on facts and rationality than on imagination and faith detracts from the quality of a person’s life but I still need to work through those issues, walk through them, not just ignore them. Thoughts grow in me like a rain forest.

  38. Robin on July 5, 2016 at 6:25 pm

    Leslie can you tell me where the Women’s Conference is in Oct??
    Thank you,

  39. Angelina on July 12, 2016 at 9:05 am

    Wow! Good insight!
    We need to remember the Bible’s purpose – to point us TO healthy relationships – with God and others.
    I will read commentaries I a whole new light from now on after what you have said!
    May the Lord gather and preserve His Church!

  40. Brissy on July 13, 2016 at 10:28 am

    While I appreciate that this approach may work for some, I can confidently say that it would not work in my situation.

    My husband is not a Christian, but I’m sure that there are many wives married to Christian husbands who could also relate.

    I was brought up to be submissive and tried to never withhold sex from my husband for 12 years.

    However, this year, after being forced, guilted, charmed and coerced into sex for so long, I couldn’t keep doing it anymore.

    If I were to have the suggested conversation with my husband, it would have one of two outcomes.

    If he was in the make an effort phase of the cycle where he would do anything to get what he wanted, then he would show (temporary) remorse for his actions and agree to everything I said.

    If he was in any other part of the abuse cycle, he would become nasty and spiteful and make it all about me and how it’s actually all my fault.

    I am dealing with an abusive, manipulative narcissist who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.

    I’m not sure if you’ve done an article on gas lighting tactics, but when I read about it recently, it was a real eye opener.

    • Leslie Vernick on July 17, 2016 at 10:13 pm

      I think it’s very important to educate yourself on abusive tactics and I’m glad you understand gaslighting better. (Gaslighting – for those of you who don’t know is the deliberate withholding of facts or misleading someone so that the end result is that they think they are losing their mind – hiding a file they put on their desk and then pretending you found it for them in their car. Or saying something didn’t happen, when you know it did, but you begin to question your memory, and eventually your sanity.

Leave a Comment

Ask Your Question

Have a blog question you'd like to submit?

Read More

Is My Hope Realistic?

Morning friends, For me, Christmas is the season for quiet.  For stillness. For reflection on the reality of “Emmanuel, God with us” Pray for me that I would know that God is in this place. So many places the Bible reminds us that the person didn’t realize that God was present when he was. How…


Help, I’m discouraged. What can I do?

Morning friend, We did it. We launched our new Podcast, Relationship Truth: Unfiltered. I hope you have listened to the first few episodes and subscribed. This week I’m talking about what defines a relationship as healthy or unhealthy? To listen, click here. I’d also love to hear from you regarding what topics would you like…


Am I Controlling?

Morning friends: Here is a poem I read yesterday that touched my heart. I hope it touches yours as well. Praying the Heart You can only pray what’s in your heart. So if your heart is being ripped from your chest Pray the tearing If your heart is full of bitterness Pray it to the…