Our Finances Are A Mess, What Do I Do?

Morning friends,

Thank you for your prayers for me. Last week I spoke three times at the American Association of Christian Counselors World Conference in Nashville. For my talk, The Three Common Mistakes People Helpers Make in Working with Destructive Marriages, we had an overflow crowd, people sitting all over the floor. The response was great and I am encouraged that more and more pastors and counselors, as well as people helpers, are seeking out new ways of seeing and thinking about these problems.  

In case you are curious, the three mistakes I talked about were:

1. Making the wrong diagnosis and not “seeing” a couple’s problem as destructive.

2. Doing couples counseling and why, in four specific instances, couples counseling can do more harm than good. 

3, Pressuring for premature reconciliation before the fruits of repentance have been observed (and tested).

Also, I am doing some FaceBook Live events this month for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Be sure to check your e-mail for when these broadcasts will happen as well as the topics that will be discussed. Next Tuesday, October 10, I will be doing a free webinar on “Five Red Flags That Indicate You are in an Emotionally Destructive Marriage and What to Do.” Please share this with friends who need to attend. To sign up click here.


Today’s Question: For years our finances have been out of order. My husband pays the most urgent bills and lets the others ride. I am the one who receives calls from angry creditors. My husband refuses to even think of returning calls to these people. As the mail comes, whenever I can, I find and shred credit card offers.

But regardless of what I try to do, my husband keeps sinking us deeper and deeper into debt, telling me that the future will take care of things. I am just not seeing this.

We are not handling the money God's way, we are not tithing (or even giving anything), and we have nothing in savings. I try to manage what little money my husband gives me so that I have a little money left over each month. But it is not much, and if the family ends up needing it, I find myself relinquishing it.

All my attempts to discuss finances with my husband end up with either dismissal or ugly fights. Either way, nothing gets resolved. Advice? I’m feeling trapped.

Answer: You are not alone. There are many, many wives in your exact same situation. Your husband, for whatever reason, is a poor steward of money and refuses to own this problem or change. And that does not just impact him, but you and your entire family.  

And I hear you have tried to reason with him to no avail. You’ve also tried to steward the money your husband gives you but it always ends up getting spent for something the family needs.  

So let me ask you a few tough questions. I do not ask you these questions to make you feel bad, but to help you face reality. Does your husband earn enough money to adequately support the expenses your family has? Sometimes the man does not earn enough and each month the family debt goes higher and higher not only because of poor management but also because there isn’t enough income coming in the house. If that’s the case have you considered also getting a job to help out?

If he does make enough money to support the family and pay the bills, where do you think all the money is going if it’s not to pay the bills? Does your husband have an addiction problem? Is he spending money frivolously on non-essentials and then coming up short each month?  

His answer is to not worry, the future will take care of itself but you know that’s not true. You are sinking further and further into debt. Plus you are the one who bears the weight of the creditors calling each month looking for payment on delinquent bills.

You said you feel trapped and in a sense you are.

Marriage is like a three-legged race and when you are tied to someone who makes foolish choices, unfortunately, you are dragged along beside him to suffer the consequences.  Click To Tweet

You did not mention whether or not you were employed or earned your own money but my advice to you would be to start there. You may not like that idea because you would rather stay home with your children and perhaps homeschool them but that is not going to solve your financial problem.  

Many women have to face the tough truth that their husbands do not earn enough to support their family. Or, face that what he earns he does not steward wisely. Despite all of your talks and fights, you have not been able to change that reality. Now is the time for you to change and instead of words, take some new action.

You need to face the reality that right now his debt is your debt. His poor stewardship will not be an excuse when the creditors come calling, or worse if he has also not paid proper income taxes. You too will be equally responsible. I have seen too many wives over the years silently but angrily stay victims of their spouse’s poor financial management only to one day be divorced with mountains of debt that they didn't even know was there.  

So here are a few steps I would encourage you to take.  

    1. Do a credit check on him and on you. Find out exactly how much debt he/you are in and see if there are even credit cards you don’t know about. This will give you a clearer picture of where you are. Remember, healthy people, face reality, even when it’s ugly and hard. creditkarma.com offers this as a totally free service.
    2. Find someone who is a good financial steward. It might be someone from your church, perhaps an elder, or deacon. Someone who has taught or taken Dave Ramsey’s course on money management. Explain the situation to him or her and make a plan for you to begin to separate your finances from his finances.
    3. Get an appointment for a consultation with a family law attorney for advice on separating your finances while still married. What do you need to do to make sure you are no longer responsible for credit cards he takes out?  Show him/her your credit report and tax records. If things look fishy with your income tax records, begin to make a plan to file separately.
    4. Start thinking about getting a job. You said this has been going on for years so I would guess that if you have children, they are older and can go to school. This may not be your dream, but it may be necessary in order for you to be a good steward of your financial present and future. Put your earned money in a separate account in your own name.
    5. As you do that you will also have to dig deeper to understand why you are the one who bails out your family financially with the money you have saved. If you don’t look at this over functioning piece, then any money you earn with your new job will be sucked into the old pattern and there will be no real changes.    

Once you do that you will need to have a tough conversation with your spouse.  It might go something like this. “I am not willing to continue to live like this. It stresses me out to have creditors calling me every day. I can’t stand not being a good steward of the money God has given us to manage. I’ve tried talking with you and you refuse to make any changes. I’ve looked at our credit report and we are $ ____________ in debt. This is totally unacceptable to me based on what you earn. I’ve also had our taxes reviewed and find that you have not been totally honest in paying income taxes, for which I am equally responsible (If that is true). I can no longer stay silent or go along with this in our family. Since you refuse to change or allow me to manage our finances to pay the bills on time, I am going to ……….”     

Here is where you state the change you are going to make. Such as, “I am going to get a job and open a separate account”  Or “I am going to file separate taxes so I am no longer responsible financially for what you report on the taxes” etc.  

Don’t say these things until you are ready to follow through. It won’t have an impact if he perceives them as empty threats or meaningless boundaries. 

One of the things I teach in my CONQUER group is to think like an owner and not like a victim. Right now you are a victim of your husband’s financial mismanagement. However, you are also thinking like a victim – feeling helpless, trapped, with no resources or solutions.  

There ARE resources and solutions out there for women in your situation. You may not like all of them because you would much rather see him change so that this isn’t a problem anymore. But reality says that’s not happening so now you must begin to think like an owner of your one precious life and how you are going to steward “you” – emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually and most critically right now, financially. You are responsible for you and the choices you make, just like your husband is responsible for himself and the choices he makes.  

Let me ask you one final question. If your husband was driving the family car straight off a cliff with you and the kids beside him saying, “Don’t worry, the future will take care of itself,” would you stay put, terrified and helpless, hoping that he would stop in time? (victim mindset). Or would you do what’s necessary to get you and the kids out of the car now? (owner mindset).

Friend, when you have been in this woman’s shoes, what steps did you take to start getting on better footing with your finances?  


  1. Anne on October 4, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    When I married my husband he had just lost his job and was without income. This was not a red flag for me, but how he decided to deal with money once we were married was. He felt entitled to rack up large credit card charges on non-essentials without my consent, I decided I could not share my finances with him, in that, I kept my own bank account, in my name and did not share it with him. I paid our rent, household bills and for food for him. That was it.

    This was the first major red flag in a marriage that lasted 4 years and got worse and worse. And because I kept my finances separate and in my own name, I was save to separate and had my own credit to fall back on in order to leave and get help. I wish now I’d been more firm and required that he get a job or I would ask him to move out, as it would have escalated things sooner and saved me my health and sanity. Sadly a lot of enabling was happening from church, church friend, and myself, using scripture inappropriately to address a character issue, thinking it was a burden issue i.e. “Bare one another’s burdens… Gal6”

    I also wish I’d looked into how to separate finances in terms of taxes and the like.

    Thank you for the post, this is great.

    • Leslie Vernick on October 5, 2017 at 2:26 pm

      You most welcome.

  2. Aleea on October 4, 2017 at 1:55 pm

    “Friend, when you have been in this woman’s shoes, what steps did you take to start getting on better footing with your finances?”

    I have never been in that situation but I would find someone who is a CPA, a CFP and a CFA (Certified Financial Planner and Certified Financial Analyst) to talk over these matters with. Those designations signal individuals that have the training and expertise in tax, financial planning and asset management to get you the answers you seek. They can run all the Tax, Credit, Financial Projections, etc. reports. I would say you need a financial plan, a solid financial planner and someone who can file your taxes separately.

    If you find upon investigation that you have an absolute debacle on your hands, go to the Section of Family Law – American Bar Association https://www.americanbar.org/groups/family_law.html and use those resources to find a good Family Law Attorney in your state. Lots of those issues involve mediation so find someone who also has all the mediator certifications and lots of experience doing family law, —successfully! Note, mediators are certified for different courts, General District Court (GDC), Circuit Court-Civil (CCC), —you want someone with Circuit Court-Family (CCF)/ Domestic Relations District Court (DRDC) mediation certifications. Find someone with hundreds & hundreds of hours of Circuit Court-Family mediation and advanced family mediation training. Also, who has demonstrable experience in screening for and dealing with domestic abuse in the mediation context. . . .i.e. tax returns, credit histories, background checks that are multi-state, that look for “devices”; strings of under-capitalized partnerships; any type of an “active business” layered entities allowing declaring bankruptcy but keeping the assets, etc. Also, revolving lines of credit can accomplish the same. Any kind of fraudulent conveyances used to hide assets where a cause of action exists is material because movement of assets is almost always to avoid claims, especially in divorce, lawsuits, and many times it is criminal.

    Aim for the highest levels of professionalism and effectiveness, read *lots* about it and ask *lots* of questions. That vastly streamlines the process and causes you the least grief. —Also, professionals can engage you at a much higher level if you have done all your own homework. That saves you time and money and makes any interactions far more effective. It also signals to you, by evaluating their answers, who you should or should not be working with.

    . . . .That’s what we need to do with problems, —take steps. Take enough of them and suddenly, you’re somewhere with lots of positive momentum. He cannot just sit back and do nothing. We cannot just let things happen around us. God tells us to act or our faith is meaningless, mere words and thoughts. It is almost always better to act too quickly than it is to wait too long. . . .I know its so hard, it is never easy to start something like that.

  3. Nellie on October 4, 2017 at 2:40 pm

    I am in a somewhat similar, but different situation:

    1. I have a full time job and am the main breadwinner. (My husband is disabled.)

    2. My husband controls all the money. I have no say in how my money is spent or saved.

    3(a). I am better at managing money than my husband, but he is not necessarily bad with it.

    3(b). We struggle financially as we are poor, so sometimes bills get paid late, etc. But I would say his ‘faults’ are within reason.. (i.e. he gets fast food for lunch instead of using our food stamps). I can just be EXTREMELY frugal when we don’t have much money.
    So we just manage money *differently*.

    4. We have no savings or retirement. I am not allowed to tithe (my husband is not a Christian). And my credit score isn’t that great (not super bad, but definetely not where it would be if I was in control of it).

    5. I used to work 2 jobs (12-13 or more hours per day).. but I still never saw any of that money either.

    5. I have expressed my deep desire to be involved with our finances. But he rejects me, saying I’m too incompetent to handle it (meaning, doing it HIS way).

    I really want to separate our bank accounts and split my paycheck with him, so I can have a little more control over my money. But how would I bring this up to him? Is that even the right thing to do?

    I mean, it makes complete sense to do that when he is irresponsible. But he is NOT irresponsible. So what grounds, if any, do I have for not submitting??

    • Nancy on October 4, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Hi Nellie,

      If your husband is not a believer and you submit to him, then ultimately, who are you submitting to?

      Your husband may not be irresponsible with money, but he doesn’t treat you with respect (you have no say in money management even though you earn it all).

      I’d say that that’s plenty of grounds for not submitting to him.

      • Mae on October 4, 2017 at 4:33 pm

        Nancy, I have to differ with your advice and reasoning concerning submission. Submission for the Christian wife is not dependent on whether her husband is a believer or not. It is a command from God for her. See 1 Peter 3:1

        • Nancy on October 5, 2017 at 1:44 pm

          I don’t think blind submission ( or blind faith for that matter) is what our Lord requires, Mae.

          What if the non-believing husband is a fool? What if the non-believing husband is evil? Do you submit to him, hoping for a ‘miracle’? No. We need to look at the whole Bible. The Word as a whole. The Bible has much to say about fools. Do all those passages disappear once we get married? Do They no longer apply?

          Even if a believing husband is unsubmitted to The Lord in a particular area ( porn addiction, for example), we are not called to submit to that, are we? Why? Because as believers we are called to submit to Christ, FIRST. Christ doesn’t take a backseat when we get married.

          When husbands are submitted to Christ then we are brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as married. All those brothers and sisters passages ( iron sharpening iron, for example) , don’t go away because we are now married. We have an obligation to our brothers in Christ.

          Un confronted, sin grows. In a believer or an unbeliever. Our job as Ezer, is to fight for our own emotional health so that we can then fight for our husbands’.

          Submitting to sin is not what The Bible calls us to do.

          • Aly on October 10, 2017 at 1:10 pm

            Nancy & Mae,

            Nancy I really like your response as it is clear and biblical~ taking scripture as a whole not piecing out scriptures out of context.

            Also the Christian submission part~ is submit yourselves one to another which is ‘mutual submission’.

            Mae, If we follow (or submit) to someone not following God, who are we following? And what dangers to these bring as well as create any falsehood in our own walk and any hindering of the building of His kingdom?

            In Galatians 2:11… Paul confronts Peter publicly and corrects him for compromising the Gospel message.

            The woman who wrote about not having any say in the finances and she is working for those finances is not in a marriage partnership she is in a dictatorship. The husband is far from being a servant leader or ‘head’ of the two based on his attitude and posture toward his wife. It is not the picture God calls for Marital submission and loving your wife like Christ loves the Church.

          • JoAnn on October 10, 2017 at 5:04 pm

            I agree with you, Aly. Marital submission requires that the husband be under the headship of Christ. If you read Eph. 5:22-33, you will see that the husband bears a lot of responsibility before the Lord. We submit “as unto the Lord,” but when the husband is not under the Lord’s headship himself, how can we honor God by submitting to one who is outside of Christ? Our first responsibility is to submit ourselves to Christ.

    • K on October 4, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      Hi, Nellie I’m glad you joined in the conversation here.

      The fact that your husband believes you to be competent enough to be the sole earner in your family is definitely at odds with the comment that you are not “competent enough” to manage, or even participate in managing the funds you earn!!!

      You also assert that your husband is not irresponsible with managing finances, but then you give an example of obvious irresponsibility (that is, buying fast food rather than using the groceries already covered by your food stamp assistance). That’s a clear example of poor management, and utter selfishness. Are you telling yourself the truth here, or letting his excuses dominate?

      You mention that your husband lives with a disability, so is unable to work. That is a difficult situation for anyone, and for a couple. But disability does not automatically mean your husband cannot do something to increase the family income, does it? Depending on the nature of his disability, he might be able to do limited, or modified work, perhaps of a different sort than he did previously. Has he ever investigated this possibility? Have you ever expected this from him?

      Even if it is an absolute impossibility for him to take that sort of step, does he receive any sort of assistance or pension from your state or an insurance plan, as a person with a disability? If so, that is as much part of the whole “family income” as is your paychecks from employment. Have you explored that element of your situation?

      May you be wise in your thinking, believing and decisions, Nellie. Wisdom comes from the Lord!!!

      • Leslie Vernick on October 5, 2017 at 2:29 pm


    • Leslie Vernick on October 5, 2017 at 2:28 pm

      Why do you have no say if you earn the money? Submitting does not mean you have no voice or no say. Headship does not mean you get your way and get to make all the decisions. It sounds as if you and your husband have mixed up some of these Biblical principles in a way that creates a master/slave type of marriage.

      • Nellie on October 5, 2017 at 3:09 pm

        Well, he is emotionally abusive.. so yes I’m sure we do have mixed up views of headship and submission. But I know I can’t change my husband.. so what is MY role? How can I change in a way that is biblical and pleasing to God?

        • Nancy on October 5, 2017 at 4:00 pm

          Boundaries and requirements, Nellie.

          The Emotionally Destructive Marriage ( by Leslie) describes this process very well. Also, Patrick Doyle videos are great; and like Leslie’s material, Biblically sound.

  4. Diane on October 4, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    My(legally separated) husband was financially abusive, in addition to abusing in other ways. Part of our marriage counseling was to get finances in order. He still kept spending while telling the kids that I spend all the money. (Not at all true), and blocking my access to financial information(and more). The one thing that I would add to the main article is to be very careful if your spouse is abusive. Things may escalate if you lay out boundaries. Have an emergency plan. That usually means not letting them know of what your plans are, so that you can stay safe. If it was me, I wouldn’t be too firm about laying down boundaries at first, if I thought he’d retailate in some way. Milk-toast boundaries might give you an idea of whether or not he’s going to escalate. If you slowly get better at boundaries and you notice him escalating……be careful and don’t deny the writing on the wall. BE CAREFUL AND HAVE A WAY OUT. Get important papers, some $, some clothes, and escape route etc.

    • Leslie Vernick on October 5, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      Good points. That’s why I encouraged her to do her investigations before she has her conversation. Safety is critical. NOt my physical, but also financial and spiritual, emotional and mental.

  5. Leslie Vernick on October 5, 2017 at 2:27 pm

    Thanks Aleea, you are a treasure trove of information and wisdom.

    • Aleea on October 5, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      . . . .All I ever really want to discuss is God and Jesus, —what’s really, really, real —what’s not and I am obsessed with finding Him. . . .but these other issues are so very, very important too. Us Christians, in general, need to do much better jobs watching finances and legally protecting ourselves. Maybe you can be young without money, but you generally can’t be old without it. . . .And it is important because Christianity is about action, not “scholarship”. Re: your question: “. . .If your husband was driving the family car straight off a cliff with you and the kids beside him saying, “Don’t worry, the future will take care of itself. . .” . . . .and of course, we need balance and to be careful about money. . . .After all, if you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he generally gave it to. . .ha, ha, ha, ha. . . . And it is true that money often costs too much. —I think that a lot as I travel. . . . .Anyways, for all of us, we can’t let our history interfere with our futures. Let today be the day we stop being victims of our circumstances and start taking action towards the life Christ wants with us. We are not the victims of our stories, —we are the creators. I choose what type of person I will be and what type of impact I will leave on others (—no wonder I often don’t want that responsibility . . . .but responsibility gives our lives meaning. No responsibility, no meaning.) . . . And there is a fine line between compassion and a victim mentality. Compassion is such a healing force and comes from a place of kindness towards ourselves but playing the victim is a toxic waste dump, it robs us of ever knowing true happiness.

  6. JoAnn on October 5, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Some banks offer financial consultations. She might try that.

  7. Red on October 5, 2017 at 6:27 pm

    Another question i could’ve written nearly word for word. My h has just started working full time after working very little for about 10yrs. We have lived on credit and restructured loans in that time with promises that he had plenty of work. I was seeking counseling for myself but last time i saw her she said to come back when we had our finances sorted 😯. We have sought financial counseling many times over but he refuses to follow the advice. My friends say if i was in charge then we would still have our previous business. Praise God he is now working with a good income but it’s still going to take good management to claw or way back to a reasonable position – and he doesn’t like my suggestions and will not discuss it more than telling me how much money i have avail for family expenses when i ask for the money. He generally has the money for his interests but i have wait for basics for children and i such as shoes and my medication and i have to put off apts that we need. I have not been able to work for some time as i have been unwell since having our last child. What does a wife do if she can’t work?. chronic fatigue is not readily recognised as a reason to get a disability pension.
    People suggested that i take over the bookkeeping to free him up to work more (one of his excuses was time). I was hesitant to do that for several reasons. I felt that was at least 1 responsibility he had – take that away and he had more time for his interests and it would leave me with all the responsibility for children and house. And then he would have cause for more blame as i would be the one not keeping up with everything. I was not willing to deal with the phone calls about overdue bills and credit cards. But now i don’t know how to get him to sit down and make some sort of plan for the future as we always end up arguing and of course it’s always because i cannot reason properly.

    • Sunshine on October 6, 2017 at 7:38 pm

      Are you sure you have chronic fatigue. It is very possible that your body is just responding to your destructive situation. You are probably perfectly healthy if you remove the destructive person from your life.

      • Rebecca on October 6, 2017 at 7:41 pm

        Sadly, I don’t think he will ever listen to any plan you make. He escalates with you to assert his control. This is just more abuse. You will not convince him. Think of another indirect strategy. If he didn’t listen to financial counselors, he will not listen to you.

  8. Sunshine on October 6, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Thanks me your reply.

  9. Nancy on October 8, 2017 at 5:07 am

    Hi sisters,

    We had a set-back today that I’d like to write about. We went to see his mother and had agreed ( with one another) to meet her at her residence dining hall for a meal, and leave from there ( no visiting her apartment, and no tour of the facilities).

    At lunch she starts talking about how h forgot something the last time we were over, but refuses to tell us what it is – we’ll have to go up to her room to find out. My h tells her no in various ways but in the end she says, “well it’s not like you need to stay, just come up to get it.” That’s the sentence that did it – he relinquished his boundary.

    I dig my heels in and tell him quietly that I won’t go up. The girls and I get in the elevator to go down. My h goes up to get it.

    He appears very soon afterwards with the mystery object ( it’s an old sharpening stone that belonged to his grandfather and she had given it to hm the last time we visited, but he forgot it) and we drive home. I tell him that I am sad that he couldn’t stick to our agreement. He goes into defensive mode and deflects, denies etc….I go for a walk and am FURIOUS.

    Later, we talk. He gets past his defensiveness, and takes responsibility.

    Here’s what he tells me. Up until the point where he admitted his failure to respect our agreement, he saw what happened as a victory. He was astounded that only moments before, he actuallly believed that he had done well, only to realize that he had not.

    He thought that because me and the girls left from the dining hall ( as agreed) and because he didn’t do any ‘visiting’ – that we ALL had succeeded! It was as if his own behaviour did not count at all. As if HE didn’t count.

    He saw himself as some kind of martyr sacrificing himself to his mother in order to get the rest of us out safely!

    Ironically, our counsellor had JUST spoken to us about people who make bids for relational control, and how if you give only a small piece of relational control away, you compromise the entire relationship – cracks are created in it and the relationship becomes smaller and smaller and the controller becomes more and more ridiculous in their demands.

    My h was so upset that he had ‘let me down again’. But I told him that as long as ‘not letting me down’ was his focus, it was bound to happen again. I asked him how HE felt being controlled like that. He said he felt ‘like a tool’.

    I think that for my h, underneath all the denial, deception etc…is a boy that wants so desperately to please me, and to avoid relational conflict, that he achieves that by disappearing.

    The only way though, to get him to face this, is to hold him accountable.

    • Rebecca on October 8, 2017 at 7:47 am

      I see a struggle for power and control. His mother is obviously manipulative and has probably acted this way with him for a lifetime.

      So what that she conned him again? Your role and arrangement was just like his mother making rules about how he should act. What did he want to do? He was torn between two women that are very close to him.

      Yes, his mother won the tug of war, yet you are the victor. He goes home with you and she knows that.

      In the big picture of life, does any of this matter? How did the dynamic affect your daughters? They were in the crossfire of the battle for power and control. How sad.

      • Nancy on October 8, 2017 at 9:22 am

        You know what, Rebecca? Your response isn’t even slightly supportive.

        You are 100% right in your analysis.

        On your question of the big picture of life…and what matters?

        Here’s what matters: Our girls have two parents who are fighting hard to create new patterns, and a new marriage. Two parents who can admit their faults, take responsibility and apologize for their bad behaviour: to one another, and to them. That’s not sad. That’s the transforming work of Christ. And they get to witness it.

        I let you get a glimpse into a set-back because I needed support – not judgment.

    • JoAnn on October 8, 2017 at 3:04 pm

      Nancy, I really liked this part of your story: “My h was so upset that he had ‘let me down again’. But I told him that as long as ‘not letting me down’ was his focus, it was bound to happen again. I asked him how HE felt being controlled like that. He said he felt ‘like a tool’.” That statement of yours turned the whole thing into a “lightbulb” moment for both you and him. You were basically helping him to realize that it was himself that he was letting down, because for him to grow into maturity, he needed to stop allowing himself to be manipulated by his mother. If manipulation were not the issue here, of course there would be no harm in his going to her room to get the item. But your history with her showed that she was just manipulating again, so you agreed ahead of time how you would handle it. Well done. The discussion afterward turned it into a profitable experience. Next time, we hope that he will stand firm, to not let himself down.

      • Nancy on October 8, 2017 at 4:19 pm

        Thanks JoAnn. You’re right, the next time we hope that he will stand firm, to not let HIMSELF down (this is an important distinction to make).

        Today, we spent lunch with my (controlling) mother. At the end of the meal, she told the waiter directly that the bill was to go to her. My h told her that he would appreciate it if she would ask us if this was okay. She apologized for assuming, and then asked us if she could pay. We accepted.

        This is TOTALLY new territory for us – not allowing ourselves to be controlled, or steamrolled, or manipulated; both with his mother, as well as mine.

        For with God, all things are possible ❤️

        • JoAnn on October 8, 2017 at 7:36 pm

          Nancy, the really amazing thing is, that in a family system, when one part of the system changes, all the other parts have to adjust and change, too. Stand back, and watch what the Lord will do!!

  10. Rebecca on October 8, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    My intent was to encourage you. It seems we must be on two different trains of thought here.

    • Nancy on October 8, 2017 at 4:26 pm

      Ok Rebecca. I’m sorry that I read something into your statement that wasn’t there. I should have asked a question, instead of accusing you.

      So can I ask you, “what do you mean by, ‘in the big picture of life, does any of this matter?'”

      Because to me it really does matter. My biggest issue is responding from my CORE when I am being controlled, or when I see my h being controlled.

      • Nancy on October 8, 2017 at 4:29 pm

        I hit reply too fast….

        …and although he did not succeed in standing up for himself, it is super critical that we use this bad experience to help us each be more authentic the next time.

        • Leslie Vernick on October 8, 2017 at 4:44 pm

          Nancy, not sure you had a total set back. I think you could look at it as a breakthrough. He is trying to either please you or his mom – and losing himself in the process. Now there is nothing wrong with pleasing you or his mom. The issue is whether that desire is coming from love or fear – if I don’t please them, then what? And what does he WANT to do? That is where he reclaims himself and has to dig a little deeper into his own heart which you lovingly invited him to do with your questions. So perhaps although this felt like a set back, it started him in a newer, deeper journey of self-awareness.

          • Nancy on October 8, 2017 at 5:04 pm

            Thank you for the encouragement, Leslie ❤️

          • Aly on October 10, 2017 at 1:39 pm

            Nancy, Rebecca, & Leslie;)

            This is really good Leslie~
            You wrote:
            “The issue is whether that desire is coming from love or fear – if I don’t please them, then what? And what does he WANT to do?”

            So so Key! Where is the behavior being driven from Fear or Love?

            Nancy, I think you did great! 💜🌈 even though it’s scary to enter into those all too familiar places.

            Rebecca, I think what might have been missed and I think you all came to a great understanding but I just wanted to chime in here given Nancy’s place on the Blog and what the current battles are, is that for her husband, the Lord and Nancy as a submitting Ezer has fought hard for the ground and place they are currently. Her husband is still in some new behavior stages and with all the family system dynamics, it’s a pretty slippery slope for her husband to be engaged with the very manipulative mothers.

            I don’t mean any dishonor here at all but the the history plays an important role here even though I agree this particular event was mixed with maybe a set back at one stage but a breakthrough at another more important stepping stone for both Nancy and her husband🙏.

            Nancy, I so can relate to you and these places, maybe the only (big threat) difference would have been my children being pulled into the event or participation, and that’s where I have encountered the bigger battles.

            Glad to see you invited him into his process that is necessary to your family and marital transformation! Praise God for His love and support 💖

          • Nancy on October 10, 2017 at 3:21 pm

            Hi Aly and others,

            This week-end’s interactions gave me such insight into many areas. And although very, very draining, I am not sorry they happened and am looking forward to talking with our counsellor about it.

            The most astounding thing ( given that it is SO OBVIOUS – as in ‘how didn’t I notice this before?) is that we have clearly identified a generational sin pattern : relational control.

            In the case of our eldest, we have many boundaries to set. She has had this generational sin land squarely on her shoulders – from BOTH maternal and paternal lines! No wonder she’s bossy! Up until recently I have been so triggered by her ways that I couldn’t give her what she needed.

            I’m thinking of a zero tolerance policy, where when she crosses the line into controlling others ( her sister, in particular) that she gets sent to her room for a time to write her feelings ( using one of your ideas here, Aly).

            I am more and more aware of how that outward focus ( of the controlling mindset) robs us of feeling our own feelings. Or more specifically, how avoidance of our feelings leads to outward focus and an attempt to control others to fix our uncomfortable feelings. In that vain, sending her to room when she crosses that line, to write her feelings might be appropriate? Anyone is welcome to chime in here…

            She’s almost 14 and on one hand has a lot of insight into herself. She even asks her friends for feedback when they have a disagreement. But on another hand I see that this is the area she chooses when she wants to rebel. I guess she knows that it’s a weak spot of both of ours and when she feels insecure, or wanting to act out – these are the boundaries she chooses ( manipulative communication and controlling her sister).

          • Aly on October 10, 2017 at 4:12 pm


            Is she able to discuss (later not in the high of the emotions).. in a healthy/respectful way what she has wrote out, ‘her feelings’ and choices that assists her in what ever the behavior is.. ?
            (you mentioned manipulative communication and controlling her sister.)

            I’m sure your counselor will be able to offer much better than I can. I can relate greatly with ‘the little sister’ ugh!
            But good job that you are addressing your oldest and parenting her through~ it takes a lot of time for them to emotionally mature to a level where they can connect their controlling behavior with their own feelings of deep insecurity.

            My husband developed a false self to cope with this and it was really hard for him to see how controlling he was (even in an unspoken way).
            It can be hard to tap into those insecurities and allow them to be felt and heard.
            But if you as the parent can create space and environment for this, it will bless ‘everyone’ in the family~ which you are probably already doing😊

      • Rebecca on October 9, 2017 at 6:35 am

        What I meant about the big picture is, does this matter in light of eternity? It is thinking derived from the “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. In the long run does this or any other power struggle really matter?

        • JoAnn on October 9, 2017 at 10:19 am

          Rebecca, Yes, if they were not trying to break free from two very controlling mothers, it would not be a big issue. But Nancy and her husband are both learning to deal with control issues in a very healthy way, not allowing their mothers to violate their boundaries. For those of us who have not had to deal with controlling mothers, it might seem like a small thing, but real change takes place in small steps, and in their situation, this is very big. It seems like in both incidents, the mothers got the message. (Hands clapping) And so did Nancy’s husband. (More clapping)

          • Nancy on October 9, 2017 at 2:51 pm

            Ok, now I see, Rebecca, where your question was coming from. Thanks for clarifying.

            So my answer is that yes – in this case – it does matter.

            Because this issue is about us reclaiming power and control over OURSELVES, (which is our God given responsibility (of guarding our hearts, and our personhood)).

            We do this through the process of setting boundaries AGAINST them trespassing into our choices. So…both our mothers are fighting for power and control over us (trespassing) but we are not fighting to control someone else, we are fighting to strengthen the boundaries that guard our hearts AGAINST being trespassed upon.

            I suppose it is a power struggle, but in the case of my h and I, it is a God honouring one.

            As we walk through this fire, our eyes are opening to the bondage that we have lived under, all these years.

            And yes, JoAnn, thank you for recognizing that for us this is really big….on the scale of a ‘heart Exodus’ 🙂

  11. Maria on October 9, 2017 at 8:32 am


    I commend you for standing firm and following through with your husband. It would have been easier to ignore it, and kept the peace. Your husband taking responsibility later on shows that he is trying to change. I guess there are different degrees of whatever these personalities have, if that makes sense. My husband has zero awareness.

  12. Nancy on October 9, 2017 at 3:01 pm

    Thanks Maria. Yes, what you said about ‘different degrees of whatever these personalities have’ makes total sense.

    • Maria on October 9, 2017 at 7:21 pm

      Nancy, Because of my own experience, I assume that these personalities cannot/will not change. I need to remind myself that this is not the case with everyone.

      • Nancy on October 9, 2017 at 9:55 pm

        I do the same thing, Maria. I project my own experience onto others. That’s what’s so special about this blog. It’s our focus and reliance on Christ (through practicing CORE strength) that gives us Hope. Not the response of our spouse.

      • JoAnn on October 10, 2017 at 5:22 pm

        Maria, as I said earlier, in a family system, when one part of the system changes, as in setting and maintaining boundaries, the whole system adjusts. So even though the person, in this case the mothers, may not have a personality change, they will make some behavior adjustments, because they are part of the system, and to participate in the system, behavior change is necessary.

      • Rebecca on October 11, 2017 at 10:00 pm

        I agree, yet many more of us error on the side of magical thinking rather than truth. I think that is why truth is an important part of CORE teaching.

  13. Rebecca on October 11, 2017 at 10:02 pm

    Beware of their “aha” moments. They are usually short lived and ultimately designed to manipulate their desired target.

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