Is It Your Role To Be Submissive To Your Spouse?

Morning friends,

What robust discussions we’ve had over the past two weeks.  I love how you minister to one another with the loving heart of God.

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Today’s Question: My husband is a sweet, controlling, possessive guy. He would love to smother me with his helpful hands if I didn't insist on some “me” time and independence. He has retired and devotes his life to serving me. He has always pinched pennies, but now that he's retired it is worse. I've encouraged him to do something a few days a week, to no avail. He has taken on a lot of my household chores because after a few years of retirement together my relatively mild MS worsened. My right leg is very weak now and I have to walk with assistance.

Now to my question. I want to take a girl trip with my daughters-in-law and four grandchildren ages 8-11 to DisneyWorld. They will assist me and I want to experience DisneyWorld with my grandkids. I've saved my money to pay for the trip without asking to take any from the general fund (although I taught school until retirement and earn as much as he does).

Upon informing him of our plans he went into full control mode. “How dare I plan something so expensive without discussing it with him. Why would I want to waste that much money?” He can't bear the thought of his family on the same flight. Too much can happen- terrorism, plane crash, etc.  He has a million reasons why it's a terrible idea. I know if I don't back off, there will be hell to pay, but at my age and disability now, I really don't care. 

I see the window of opportunity closing and I don't want to live with the regret that I never took them. My husband doesn't like to travel and I feel I've given up enough in that regard. Do you think I should press ahead and risk wreaking havoc on the home front, or give up my dream and keep the peace?

Answer: This is only a decision you can make. Lucas Scott wrote, “Our biggest regrets are not for the things we did – but, for the things we didn’t do.”

It sounds as if you really want to take this trip and have already informed your husband of your plans. What is the havoc you are so afraid of if you choose to go despite his protests and fears? 

You say he is a sweet, but controlling and possessive guy. It sounds as if he is only sweet when you allow him total say over the finances as well as your life. When you assert some independence or decision-making of your own, his sweetness disappears and he becomes someone else.  What’s he like then?

So here is where you are going to have to be radically committed to facing the truth. Is the havoc you fear if you go against his wishes threatening and scary? Uncomfortable and unpleasant? Or somewhere in- between? You mention that you have insisted on some independence in the past and when you did that, what happened?  Were you able to negotiate some more space for you to do what you wanted to do? 

Your answer to those questions will shed light on your wisest course of action. If you fear for your safety once you return home or you fear you are setting yourself up for weeks or months of verbal abuse or punishment through the silent treatment, then you have a much bigger problem than whether or not to go to Disney. In that case, you are in an emotionally abusive marriage and you must prioritize your safety.

On the other hand, if your husband can manage his upset negative emotions in a way that when you return, there is no active or passive punishment of you, then what is your hesitation telling him that you still want to go? Perhaps as much as he has been possessive and controlling, you have also enabled his beliefs by being a pleaser and appeasing him most of your marriage.

You may believe or may have been taught that as a wife, your role is to be submissive to your spouse, which may have been interpreted that you have no right to say no. Or that it’s your job to make him happy and therefore, if going to Disney makes him unhappy, you should sacrifice Disney so that he is happy. 

But I believe your Biblical role as your husband’s helpmate goes deeper than those superficial descriptors. On the surface, your desire to go to Disney, against your husband’s blessing, may appear self-serving. But I also think you can do it in a way that invites your spouse to grow in three significant ways. 

First, his whole life revolves around you. He doesn’t want you to go away because then he will be alone. What will he do with himself, besides worry about you? That doesn’t sound like too much fun so instead of facing his fears or his boredom or the emptiness of his own life, he wants to manage your life and keep you close.

But reality says that he may have to face a day when you die and are gone. As we age, it’s vital each person in a marriage learn to be more independent and self-sufficient because one of you will likely outlive the other.

Second, your husband needs to learn to trust God instead of depending on his own abilities to control every situation and circumstance so he won’t feel his own anxiety.  By demonstrating your trust in God’s sovereignty over your trip, you can invite him to do likewise. 

Third, your husband needs to learn to love you, rather than try to own you. 

When you love someone you want that person to do things that bring joy. – Click To Tweet

I’m sure you have been very clear about your desire to go on this trip and how much it means to you. But he’s not thinking about you, he’s only thinking about himself. He displays it in an anxious concern for your safety.  Therefore, I think you can invite him to do the sacrificing for a change and give you his blessing to go even if he feels lonely or uncomfortable with the idea.

Here is a sample conversation you might have with him to communicate this:

“I know you don’t want me to go to Disney because you think it’s a waste of money and you are afraid for my safety.  I hear that. But I feel this is a trip of a lifetime and I would rather take my chances and go than regret the rest of my life that I did not go.  I’d like you to give me your blessing, even though you feel anxious about the plane ride.

Right now I know you are upset but I would like for you to care about what’s important to me.  I have lived our entire marriage showing deference to what’s important to you but for me, this trip is not negotiable.  I love you, but I need to take a stand for myself right now and not let you treat me like a child instead of an adult.

I want to go to Disney with our daughters-in-law and our grandchildren.  We are all looking forward to spending this special time together before I am not able to take this kind of trip or the grandkids get too old that they don’t want to hang out with their mom or grandma anymore.  I hope you will respect my right to make that decision for myself even if you are personally unhappy that I made it. 

Someday you may find yourself outliving me. I’m the one with MS and I want you to realize that I cannot be your only friend. I want you to take this time while I am away to think about your own life and what’s missing since you retired. You worry about so many things but God is ultimately in control and you can’t add one single day to your life or mine by worrying about it.

I love you, but I also love our granddaughters and our daughters-in-law and I want to spend quality time with them on this trip. I hope you will work through your own unhappiness about it before I return so that we can also enjoy our life together.”

Friends, when was your defining moment that godly submission did not mean that you never could say no to your spouse or yes to your own dream?

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  1. Teddi on June 7, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Joyce Meyer says “eat the cookie, buy the shoes”……go for it!!!! Have a great time! Live life!!! Leslie, what you told her to say to her husband is perfect!

  2. KJohn on June 7, 2017 at 7:19 am

    Can you provide any Scripture to support your position? I note that there is not a single Bible reference anywhere in the article.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 7, 2017 at 5:17 pm

      Good question K John. I did not have a specific scripture to quote in this case because there is really no one verse that will support what I encouraged her to do. Yet, there is no one verse that says that slavery is wrong either. In fact there are verses that people used in the past to support that slavery was actually right and biblical. So I think what I tried to say is that as I look at the bigger Biblical picture of marriage, and of God’s heart and what Jesus taught his followers, I do not believe Biblical headship means that a husband gets to decide everything for his wife’s life nor does Biblical submission mean she never can say no. IF that were true then the most horrific kinds of controlling abuse, where a wife is reduced to a slave would take place – because she “should submit” I’ve worked with women who could not decide to cut their hair, or wear choose their own kinds of clothes to wear, or work outside the home, or go to school, or even a book club or gym because their husband didn’t like it or was threatened by it. From what this woman wrote, her husband wanted to control every thing she did. IS that Biblical? No. So where does she draw the line? Where does she get a voice to say “No”, or “This is important to me?” In an ideal Biblical marriage, her husband, who ought to love her as Christ loves the Bride would want her to do things that brought life to her – like enriching her relationship with her grandchildren. But he wasn’t thinking of her, or their grandchildren, only himself, which is not Biblical headship but rather selfishness. But her Biblical role as his wife is to bring him good and to be his helpmate. That was the angle I took for her to try do that, rather than blindly and resentfully submitting to his continued control. You may disagree have other thoughts and I welcome a healthy dialogue about that here, but that is why I answered this particular question in the way I did.

      • KJohn on June 14, 2017 at 7:12 am

        Thanks for the response. I struggle, nonetheless, with advocating a position WITHOUT Biblical support (i.e. do NOT submit in this case or that case), when it is contrary to a fairly explicit Biblical command (i.e. Eph. 5:22). God didn’t put a bunch of exceptions on that (i.e. submit except in these 15 scenarios). Was He unaware that there would be times that we wouldn’t feel like submitting, or thought it made sense to defy rather than submit, when He wrote that? I don’t think so. So the default, I assume, ought to be submission, not the opposite. Giving the opposite recommendation to this person based on knowing nothing about her situation other than 1 obviously-clouded statement (which may even be entirely justified) seems very, very dangerous indeed. If we’re assuming we want to take a Biblical view of things. I’d want to know a whole bunch more and know all sides before even thinking about telling her to do something contrary to the Bible.

        • Nancy on June 14, 2017 at 6:38 pm

          Hi KJohn,

          The default assumption about marriage is the picture we have of Christ and His bride. A loving, mutually submissive and sacrificial picture. This is the default – not any one passage taken by itself.

          • JoAnn on June 14, 2017 at 9:19 pm

            I’m going to add to Nancy’s reply to Kjohn. Your insistence on having chapter and verse “rules” for how to live your life reminds me of John 5:39, where our Lord challenges the Pharisees for searching the scriptures, when what He wants is for us to come to Him for LIFE, not rules. It’s not hard to recognize a truly biblical and godly marriage. You see mutual respect and love. You see compassion and service. You see two people holding each other up, covering each other’s weaknesses, encouraging each other’s strengths. These are attributes that can be found throughout the scriptures and in the examples of the Lord and His apostles. When a husband loves his wife with a sacrificial godly love, there is no abuse, and the wife has no trouble having an attitude of submission, because she feels safe and cherished and knows that he cares for her welfare. This is the expression of the marriage covenant, like the covenant God made with His people in the Old Testament. So, Dear Kjohn, the whole of the scriptures testifies that the relationship between a husband and wife is an expression of the relationship between God and His people, Christ and His Bride. When the behavior of either spouse falls short of that expression, even when no one is looking, God is unhappy and so are the husband and wife. Time for intervention.

          • KJohn on June 15, 2017 at 6:59 am

            I agree. But neither party in this example seems to be living that out. No one does perfectly. That does not, however, invalidate God’s clear teaching. We can’t say “he’s not obeying the Scriptures, therefore I don’t have to either.” That is the response purely of the flesh. The essence of Christ-likeness was that He always did what was right, even when everyone around Him did what was wrong. The overall view from Scripture supports submission (I’m sure you weren’t meaning to imply that submission is only seen in one verse…). And it’s only submission when we subject our own will, even when we don’t feel like it. That is what makes it submission. Indeed, that’s the definition of submission.

          • Aly on June 15, 2017 at 8:47 am


            The definition of submission does not require our feeling to ‘not feel like it’ in order for it to be an act or posture of submitting.

            You wrote;
            “And it’s only submission when we subject our own will, even when we don’t feel like it. That is what makes it submission. Indeed, that’s the definition of submission.”

            I submit to many things that are an authority in my life daily, and I DO feel like doing so.
            So please reconsider revising what your overall definition is on this. It can be very easily twisted given the nature of this blog.

            We are to submit one to another and I guess I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. The scriptures are clear regardling a husband’s role as he is called to Love His wife like Christ loves the ‘church’ the role of the husband is far ‘more responsible’ because of his role of sacrifice and being a servant leader. He has a ‘greater responsibility’ to the beauty & modeling of the marriage because of how God designed his role within the marriage.

            For many years my husband did not know what this behavior or expression looked like, he didn’t have it modeled for him, there were few healthy Christian marriages out there expressing this, but through a lot of interventions he was able to see his role clearly and be empowered by loving like a ‘servant leader’. I am respected, cherished and valued and my husband & children reap the benefits of this way of loving his bride.

            Submitting one to another just comes natural because things are aligned as God would desire. It’s not something he or I think of, but honor one another for who each of us are in our roles and in our submission to Christ ultimately.

            God’s Word is faithful and essential in this journey. Marriage is designed to be the most beautiful earlthy picture of what God says glorifies Him.
            Living in a broken world, makes this far more difficult, but God is about redeeming life and relationships for His purposes.

            How you see God and His ways will impact how you see others and how you behave in relationships, and especially marriage. If your intimacy and accuracy with God and who God is in your life is damaged or distorted you will have a difficult time seeing the profound role of the husband and the complimentary but pivotal role of the wife.

            If you see God as an authoritative father and not as a servant leader or faithful friend, you will struggle with seeing His beauty and healing in this broken world.

            I guess my other challenge then KJohn would be for you to consider the picture and description of the Trinity and why 3 natures in unity & authority, but as One….

            Gods Love is not one dimensional or just hierarchical is it all encompassing of an expression of His will, character and nature of His faithfulness.
            Blessings and prayers for you and your journey, I hope you are experiencing a marriage full of His love and trust.

          • Connie on June 15, 2017 at 10:06 am

            1 Peter 5:5 What is it about ‘everyone’ that we have such trouble understanding?

            They day I hear anyone tell husbands to submit to their wives is the day I might believe this stuff. Maybe then that word will be defined correctly for once. I can just hear the “but but but……..what that really means is…….”

            “We love Him because He first loved us.” The bride is the responder, the groom the initiator. Funny how husbands want so badly to be the ‘head of the wife’ in the area of ‘commander’ yet expect her to go first in submission. Hm. Jesus said, “The gentiles lord it over each other but with you it shall not be so.” Is that so hard to understand?

            And, setting boundaries is not defiance. It is protecting our heart, just as we protect our bodies with walled houses, seat belts, wearing clothes, etc. It is not telling him what to do, only what I will do and what I will allow to be done to me or my children before I leave the area or call in reinforcements.

          • KJohn on June 15, 2017 at 10:14 am

            I suppose the point is this: submission just when we feel like it or when it is pleasant or easy is not true Biblical submission. Submission (like most things in the Christian life) shows our true hearts when it is NOT easy.

            And, respectfully, my request for Scriptural support for a position is not Pharasitical (per JoAnn’s comment). I find that criticism a bizarre misunderstanding of how Christ dealt with the Pharisees. That is not at all what Christ criticized about them. It was the opposite. He would not criticize them for adhering to the Bible, surely. He wrote it!! His criticisms were that they added a bunch of their own ideas, thoughts, rules, guidelines, and then tried to get people to adhere to that instead. So that is the point I make. We ought to adhere to the Scriptures. That honours Christ. A Christian should never need to apologize for asking for Scriptural backing for a position. A Pharasitical position presents its own view and suggests that it can trump God’s Word. That’s what we need to be ever so careful of. If we’re criticizing someone’s request to demonstrate a position and adhere to Scripture, we really must re-evaluate our positon.

          • Leslie Vernick on June 15, 2017 at 2:19 pm

            K John, I appreciate your desire for scriptural support and I don’t believe submission in the Bible is irrelevant or not applicable. I have said many times that all believers are called to submit to authority, to submit to one another, and to submit to God. Wives are also called to submit to their husbands. But if we interpret submission narrowly as “submitting my will” or “never saying no” then conflict or disagreement or working through issues would be a non-issue Biblically, because everyone would be yielding their will to one another. So in the particular blog that I wrote – my interpretation of her attitude towards her husband was she was attempting to be respectful and sensitive to his desire to “control” everything in her life – especially since he retired, but there were times she had to put her foot down and give herself some space for her own needs and desires. I don’t see that as sinful, but giving her husband an opportunity to lay down his life (needs) in service to his wife’s desires or needs. You didn’t answer my question when I asked you does biblical submission mean a woman never can say “no” to her husband? If that’s the case, then you and I differ on the meaning of the word. A biblical example to where a woman did not submit to her husband is Abigail and Nabal, and even Queen Vashti with her spouse. Both I believe are in scripture for a reason. God’s word described Abigail as a beautiful and intelligent woman – not an unsubmissive and rebellious wife. So I don’t think you are wrong for challenging me to provide scriptural support for my answer – I like that – but I think we cannot only look at one portion of scripture to understand the heart or will of God. Do you wear a head covering in submission to your spouse? Scripture tells us to, yet most women today do not. Why not? Because we look at the overall meaning of scripture and the context in which is was written and believe that’s not exactly what he meant for all women for all times. There are many scriptures that we do that way. The Pharisee’s had a very narrow interpretation of the Sabbath and were very upset when Jesus did something outside their idea of how the Sabbath was to be honored. Yet Jesus said that their “view” of that command was too narrow and actually did harm. When he said “Which one of you wouldn’t rescue your son or even your ox from a well on the Sabbath, he challenged their narrow thinking on that topic to help them see the bigger picture. Jesus again challenged people’s narrow interpretation of adultery in Matthew 5 when he said, You have heard it said….but I say anyone who looks at a woman with lust in his heart has already committed adultery in his heart. But how many church leaders have told women when they go and say “my husband watches porn – , “well that’s not really adultery. But that’s not what Jesus said. So I think we all need one another to sharpen each other and I appreciate your desire to sharpen us here on the blog, and I hope you allow us to sharpen you.

          • Nancy on June 15, 2017 at 12:32 pm

            Very well said, Connie. Especially about boundaries.

            God comes first. If our heart ( the seat of Christ) is being compromised, it is our God given responsibility to guard it.

            If we don’t, our relationship with Christ is compromised, in some cases very gradually. Allowing that to happen is not honouring The Lord.

          • KJohn on June 15, 2017 at 2:11 pm

            I understand that my suggestion is not popular, especially in a forum like this. And I know many are hurting and broken. But I don’t think we should speak piously about honoring Christ if we are not honoring His Word. That’s flawed doctrine and will unequivocally lead to flawed practice. No, the Lord will NOT honor us unless we honor Him (1 Sam. 2:30), and His Word (Isa. 66:2). If something, anything, else is the standard, I guess we’re not going to be on the same page. We can’t honor Christ without honoring His Word. It just doesn’t work.

          • KJohn on June 15, 2017 at 3:27 pm

            Thanks, Leslie.

            Sorry for not answering your question directly. No, submission does NOT mean never saying no. In particular, if a husband suggests something clearly contrary to Scripture (which is not the case here in your anecdote). Vashti didn’t obey because she was asked to do something sinful. In that case, we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29) most certainly. But, short of that, submission is God’s overall pattern. Yes, I do believe in the headcovering. I don’t cross that section out of my Bible based on culture, etc., any more than I do the other half of 1 Cor. 11 that tells us to break bread (either they’re both cultural or they’re both not). We can’t be smorgasboard Christians, picking what we like in the Bible and leaving what we don’t. So, similarly, I don’t believe we can pick and choose what we like about submission and leave what we don’t like.

            Don’t get me wrong; husbands have no right to demand submission and then act like tyrants either. But each one will give an account for their own actions at the judgment seat of Christ – not someone else’s. And no one, at that point – no one – will be put to shame by the loving Savior for displaying submission, and so neither should we. Especially those who did it under duress. If we’re referencing the Sermon on the Mount, Mat. 5:3,4,5,9,10, 11…they all display the heart of Jesus in this. He will lift them up. He will honor them. For that is what He Himself did. He will honor that which was endured for His Name’s sake. That’s His heart.

          • Aly on June 15, 2017 at 4:48 pm


            You wrote:
            “husbands have no right to demand submission and then act like tyrants either. ”

            Can you expand on this? And also give scripture to support this statement.

            I’m still very confused at why the focus is on submission overall and not also focused on husband’s loving their wives like Christ loves the church?

          • Sandra Lee on June 16, 2017 at 12:50 pm

            KJohn: It appears to me that even if the husband treats his wife like a tyrant, you believe she still has to stay and tolerate it (and wait until the Judgment Seat of Christ for it to be judged).

          • KJohn on June 15, 2017 at 6:07 pm


            I’m a bit confused. Do you really need me to provide Scriptural support that husbands don’t have a right to be tyrants? Because, if so, I could provide it. Or are you now resorting to sarcasm? If so, I would prefer to discuss with those who are taking it more seriously.

            And the reason we’re talking about submission is because it was the wife who laid out the situation and asked for advice. I assumed that was clear.

          • Aly on June 15, 2017 at 6:17 pm


            I was not being sarcastic and I do take this very seriously. I’m not sure why you would think I’m not. I have responded a few times to give my experience and view.
            Yes, please provide your scripture reference of why a husband doesn’t have the right to demand submission and act like a tryrant?
            And if he does act like a tryrant what is the response of the wife to be?

          • KJohn on June 15, 2017 at 6:30 pm

            Well, apart from quoting virtually the entire New Testament, that teaches us how to treat one another, I’ll just point out Gal. 5:22-23, the fruit of the Spirit. He ought to act like that.

            And that is, incidentally, also the answer to your second question (ie how the wife should react).

          • Nancy on June 15, 2017 at 7:28 pm

            Being a tyrant is behaving in repeated sinful ways. How is it helpful to him to allow his pattern of sin to go unconfronted?

          • KJohn on June 15, 2017 at 8:05 pm

            Any sin repeated is wrong. Alcoholism, lying, gossiping, backbiting… that’s not the definition of tyranny. And there is a place to confront all of these sins (who knows; perhaps even the wife has some sin to be confronted, too). But I do not see how someone determines that “confrontation” is the default response in the Scriptures. It’s just not there. It’s not the heart of God. It doesn’t mean there won’t/can’t be disagreement. But it certainly is not the pattern.

          • Connie on June 15, 2017 at 8:51 pm

            I’m still wondering why so much emphasis on the wife’s submission and not on the husband’s. Why does KJohn not talk about how the husband should be confronted by the church to submit to his wife according to Ephesians and 1 Peter 5?

            Submission is a voluntary act. I haven’t found anywhere that says that any of us are to coerce another to submit, because then it is not submission anymore, but slavery.

            Another thought: Why is it that in this great country, the men are willing to shed blood for freedom to make their own decisions (We WON”T pay tax on tea to the king of England, so there!!!!) and live life as they choose, and then turn around and enslave their wives? Please, would someone explain that to me?

          • Aly on June 15, 2017 at 9:34 pm

            I’ve had similar questions myself.
            I can say from personal experience when a husband is in an aligned and healthy growing relationship with the Lord, how he postures himself toward his wife is God designed in such an amazing expression of love and care overall.
            It’s so sacrificial and initating toward beauty and mutual submission. Similar to our own reverence for Christ upon grasping a fraction of grace as best as we can in our broken state.

            Prior to this experiencefor my h, a husband that is either clueless or in clearly in a resistant place with the Lord will battle his wife on many fronts. It’s ugly and nothing of what the scriptures call a husband to.

            Because my husband (his past behaviors) were always in ‘comparison’ with the guy down the street, not providing, not looking at porn, not going to bars and strip clubs all night.. he thought he was pretty well aligned and being a ‘good husband’. I mean set the bar low and in some ways it’s common practice.
            Boy was he in a world of shock!
            Meeting the God of the Bible and His teachings.

            Living in the other place with a husband submitting to not only who God is but seeing his worth through God’s eyes is nothing but God changing!
            When their identity transforms so does their behavior and understandings. It’s a process with lots of repeated interventions. Re-parenting overall.
            Much love to you Connie 💕

          • Nancy on June 15, 2017 at 8:55 pm

            Hi KJohn,
            We agree. There is a place for confronting repeated patterns of sin.

          • KJohn on June 15, 2017 at 9:32 pm

            Connie, I think your last comment might be drifting slightly from the point…

          • Connie on June 15, 2017 at 10:14 pm

            Drifting from the point? Or coming too close to the point?

            Confrontation is not a Biblical response? John the Baptist, Jesus, the prophets, the apostles……..I can find lots of confrontation. How about Ananias and Sapphira being confronted by the apostles, and how about Sapphira’s mistake in not confronting her husband, but ‘submitting’ to him instead? That didn’t go well, did it? Paul confronting Peter about his prejudices? Paul telling churches not to fellowship with those who didn’t live right?

          • KJohn on June 15, 2017 at 10:32 pm

            Um, no. I meant the sidebar about slavery was drifting from the point.

            I didn’t say confrontation never happened or never should. I said it’s not the Biblical pattern for marriage. That seems to be the part you are not grasping. The pattern is what I’m getting at. You can’t, surely, think that the pattern for godly behavior in a marriage is conflict. You seem to be looking for conflict under every rock now. I think a bias may be coming out…

          • Connie on June 16, 2017 at 11:42 am

            “husbands have no right to demand submission and then act like tyrants either. ”

            Are you really saying that if he does not act like a tyrant, it’s ok to demand submission? I’m sorry, but demanding submission IS being a tyrant. THAT is slavery. No scripture for that one. I repeat, submission is a voluntary act. This is so far from the heart of God. In fact, the biggest lust of the flesh is the lust to have power over others. We humans cannot handle that sort of ‘responsibility’. Power always corrupts. There is never a place for one person to lord it over another. Even in parenting, it is important that there are 2 parents and some grandparents and other accountability people so we don’t get carried away with our ‘authority’. And, we need to submit to and listen to our children’s hearts.

            In the book, “The Verbally Abusive Relationship”, the author says that the problem is always ‘power over’. In Leslie’s example here, Leslie is not telling the wife to have power over her husband at all, only to take back the power over her own life that she has surrendered to her husband instead of to Christ, where it belongs.

      • Mindy on June 16, 2017 at 8:23 pm

        Leslie, I can’t thank you enough for answering my question. Your advice is priceless to me, and I appreciate all the discussion as well. You all will never know how thankful I am for your responses to my problem.

        You are right, Leslie, I saw his sweetness disappear when I persisted with the Disney World plans. He has given me the silent treatment and even uttered a few idle threats like, ” If you go, we will have to sell the house.” And, “If you go, don’t come back.” Both of which were very shocking to me because I saw his manipulating tactics.

        I know I am to blame for appeasing him over the years, but we were busy working and raising a family, and his controlling nature really didn’t bother me that much until retirement. He was gone a lot of the time and I was able to have a life of my own. Now, he tries to make me feel guilty for not wanting to spend every waking minute with him. I loved your comment that he needs to love me rather than trying to own me.

        I have always submitted to him because as a Christian, I thought that was clearly my wifely role. But now I’m not so sure. His attempts to thwart my plans have left me feeling very frustrated. He thinks his concern for my safety and his desire to help me justifies his position. I’m beginning to think he has a blind spot and is becoming extremely unhealthy in retirement.

        None of my other friends have this problem. If their husband doesn’t want to travel with them, they go without him. It’s not the end of the world like it is for me.

        This may not end well, but I feel like God is giving me the spiritual strength to make him face his sinfulness. I just pray he will allow the Holy Spirit to convict him and repent of his controlling issues.

        In the meantime I am working with a travel agency to continue my plans to take the grandchildren to Disney World. Love and hugs to you all!!! Pray for me!

        • Sandra Lee on June 17, 2017 at 3:54 pm

          God bless you, Mindy — Stick to your decision to take your grandchildren to Disneyland. Years ago I worked for a travel agency and was offered a trip to Switzerland to assist a seminar group (all expenses paid). My h threatened me, in similar ways as yours, but I refused to miss the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and went — such a blessing! Even though he resented my going, he didn’t follow through on the empty threats.

          Reading your note made me wonder if your h is truly a child of God, as he certainly doesn’t appear so. Marriage is a 3-some: husband, God, wife — otherwise, without God in the middle, how can there be agape’ love? That was lacking in mine, sad to say.

          With love & prayer for you,
          Sandra Lee

        • Nancy on June 17, 2017 at 4:37 pm

          Hi Mindy,

          Good for you. It’s amazing when God shines a His light into a situation. It may not be comfortable, but suddenly, we see clearly!

          You moving forward is revealing your husband’s control issue.

          I wrote this below but want to share it here. I can’t take credit for this, I heard it on a podcast ( for anyone interested – authentic intimacy’s latest ‘Java with Julie’ called ‘women and scriptures’ ..or something like that)

          Christian marriage is two followers of Christ coming together. That means that they are brother and sister in Christ, first. This is the foundation. So all the Scriptures about how to treat one another don’t disappear when we get married. We are BUILDING on that foundation. Once we are married, then, yes, the specific marriage Scriptures ALSO apply.

          If your husband is not behaving AT LEAST as your brother in Christ should, then he is sinning in whatever area that is. This is where LOVING confrontation is required. If we don’t we are not behaving as a follower of Christ. We do not stop following Christ when we get married. We bring all those principle INTO marriage- they don’t get nullified.

          This way of thinking about marriage really helped me 🙂

          God bless you as you walk in The Truth!

          • Remedy on June 17, 2017 at 5:17 pm

            Thank you for sharing this….what makes sense when we see the whole counsel of Scripture.

            And Mindy…..kudos for facing your fears ad having courage to bless your grandchildren and help your husband to face himself truthfully, if he desires to.

          • Connie on June 17, 2017 at 9:02 pm

            Thanks, Nancy, that makes so much sense. Even though I’ve been labeled a misled, unteachable, insensitive, hard hearted, blind follower of the latest clever ideas. 🙂

          • KJohn on June 18, 2017 at 10:49 pm

            That’s an awfully smug response, Connie. “Sarcasm…the protest of those who are weak.” If any of those criticisms are even remotely true, I wouldn’t attach too many smiley faces to them. The alternative is to suggest that you don’t struggle with any of these deficiencies, which would be quite an arrogant position indeed (though it sounds like maybe you actually believe that). Not sure there’s a flattering choice in there…

        • Rocky on June 18, 2017 at 7:52 pm

          Mindy, my 2 cents: I think you are looking for affirmation for your decision, which you are most surely going to find on a website like this. But, to me, looking for affirmation from others is more of a sign that we are not right in our decision, and we want someone to rubber stamp it. I think this is not a small thing that you have planned in secret from your husband. Costly in time and money. Imagine if he had done the same to you. I suspect you’d be writing Leslie to complain how controlling your husband is for planning trips without informing you. I wouldn’t play the victim card too forcefully here.

    • KJohn on June 16, 2017 at 12:37 pm

      Hi Connie,

      Again, no. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m sorry you’re not following what I’m getting at. I’m trying to get at the Biblical pattern. Not what you think, or I think, or any other book/author you may wish to quote says. In the end, it should be what God says that matters to us. We apparently don’t seem to have the same frame of reference if you don’t see it that way. It is largely irrelevant to me what any author says if it is not supported by Scripture. If you can demonstrate that the pattern in Scripture is something other than submission (please, key in on the word “pattern”), I’d give that full consideration. Otherwise, we likely aren’t going to make much more progress in this discussion.

      • Aly on June 16, 2017 at 1:24 pm


        Here is a biblical pattern,God himself doesn’t demand submission or surrender to His ways. Israel and that ‘overall pattern’ was evident throughout scripture. He didn’t tolerate it!

        God did not submit to Israel and the continued unfaithful pattern cycle. Gods structure is always to bring about relationship with him and He also gives boundaries to how that is brought about.

        If we go back to the article and question on submission, when a wife submits to a husband’s ‘irrational fears’ and his inner and outer behaviors~ controlling ones’ the wife is not honoring God in her role, she is submitting to feeding a husband’s dangerous beliefs that are actually pulling him further away from depending on God to grow him in his irrational thinking patterns and irrational fears.
        It is completely rational to submit to the Lord because he is not operating out of a human broken state. He is not irrational nor in fear, because He is in full control.

        I’m not saying all fears are irrational by ourselves.. by no means, but given what was explained, the wife had catered and grew the irrational state of her husband’s own health and her own too. His thinking patterns became more and more rigid over time and I’m sure there were plenty of double standards as I see even in our own dialog here, respectfully said.

        She was choosing to make some healthy choices for her own well being and I can only assume he has been invited into this before, but had drawn his own boundary. A boundary that has kept him from facing his own fears or areas where he thinks he has control… he has not yet found out he doesn’t have as much control as he thinks.

        • Nancy on June 16, 2017 at 1:41 pm

          This is very well said, Aly. It IS important to look at overall patterns. The Biblical Scriptures specific to a marital relationship are built upon the foundational scriptures of how a brother and sister in Christ are to interact. If those foundational relational elements are not there, then we have to deal with that BEFORE we get to the specific marital Scriptures.

          That means that I am my husband’s sister who is un afraid to speak – and stand firm in – truth, to my brother, when he is caught in a pattern of sin.

        • KJohn on June 16, 2017 at 3:40 pm

          Aly, why would you ever think that God would feel some compulsion to submit to Israel? Isn’t that backwards? Where would you get the notion that God would submit to Israel? Honest question: if there’s a verse for that, I’d like to know what it is and am open to being corrected (at the risk of irritating people by asking for a reference).

          Nancy and Connie (and others), I do think the marriage relationship is distinct from other run-of-the-mill Christian brother-sister relationships, don’t you? Do you not see a pretty obvious distinction? Many principles overlap, certainly. But let’s be careful not to blur the lines with apples to oranges comparisons. You can’t take instructions that are given in other relationships and settings and apply them, carte blanche, to the marriage relationship. That would be a gross mishandling of the Word of God. Let’s keep the context in mind. The way we are to behave in parent-children, employer-employee, church fellowship, pastor-sheep, etc., relationships cannot just arbitrarily be applied to the marriage, and certainly can’t supercede what DOES specifically apply in marriages.

          Husbands have, do, and will fail to live up to their roles. Often pretty catastrophically. Unfortunately, that is not a reason for wives to do the same. That’s hard to hear; it has been for me over time, too. But it’s the simple truth.

          I realize what I’m saying is unpopular, and I’m not one of the “regular” contributors as the 4-5 people involved in this conversation are, who are all wholeheartedly committed to the narrative that has been constructed. So I know there is little chance of you reconsidering a position, and so I will sign off from further comments after this. But if others who may be reading are less entrenched in a position or locked into a mindset that seems (to me) at odds with the Scriptural pattern, then I’m glad. I suspect there are some who are reading who really are open to being teachable; others, I suspect, are not, and have a different purpose for following these blogs and conversations. I’m not too concerned about that group, but rather those who are less hard and more sensitive to the fact that none of us have all the answers, and so our only hope is to trust God’s Word. Otherwise, we’ll just be blindly following whoever came up with the cleverest idea at the time, and will be tossed around each time a more compelling narrative comes our way. Ultimately, we all answer to the Lord ourselves for the positions we take, AND the influence we have on others, whether based on His Word or not. It is good to be open to being teachable and sensitive to the Spirit’s instruction through the Word. Not everyone will be; but hopefully many will.

          • JoAnn on June 16, 2017 at 4:42 pm

            KJohn, I, for one, would like you to share your experience related to submission. Perhaps that will help us to better understand your perspective. This site exists for us to share experiences, hopes and failures, and to encourage one another on our journey to wholeness. How have you applied your idea of submission in your marriage and how has that worked for you? What have you learned along the way? How has it helped your marriage to become more godly?

          • Nancy on June 16, 2017 at 4:46 pm

            “Husbands have, do, and will fail to live up to their roles. Often pretty catastrophically…that is no reason for wives to do the same.”

            I completely agree, KJohn. A wife failing to live up to her role in a catastrophic situation, would be for her to submit to the sin that has overcome her husband.

            We are to sharpen one another.

          • Connie on June 17, 2017 at 12:28 am

            “The way we are to behave in parent-children, employer-employee, church fellowship, pastor-sheep, etc., relationships cannot just arbitrarily be applied to the marriage, and certainly can’t supersede what DOES specifically apply in marriages.”

            Why not? Do you have scripture for that presumption? The word ‘submission’ is the same in every case of scripture for these.

          • Remedy on June 17, 2017 at 7:50 am

            Yes…the marriage relationship should be held to a way, WAY higher standard than all our other human relationships because of its unique nature, the comparison of Christ and the church, and the possibility for so SO much more harm to the spouses, their children and future generations, the rest of the church body and even the unsaved around us who observe closely how we who profess to ‘love’ the Lord really live that out. Yes, the ripple effect can not be underrated. So the marriage relationship should be held to the highest standard for BOTH husbands (first as heads of their homes) and wives. When one goes off the rails, it needs to be brought back….sooner, not later.

          • Remedy on June 17, 2017 at 8:19 am

            I don’t know about any of you, but I always get very triggered by men who go on and on about a wife’s submission and not using the same PASSION upon their own gender to obey the call of God upon their own lives as husbands. There IS a call and unmistakable ‘pattern’ as Kjohn has said…it is this….husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave up His life for her. And any man that isn’t trembling just a little at that high command as head of his home also makes me very skittish. There is a limit or boundary over that authority…..if Jesus wouldn’t be doing this or that to your wife, you probably ought not be doing it either. Your authority over her is not over Christ’s.

            Jesus told His disciples that those who wish to ‘Lord it over’ others are like the gentiles…in other words unbelievers. And for those, God’s Word will have little place of importance as it pertains to God’s true call upon their life.

            Personally…just me…..I feel the greater lack in so called ‘Biblical’ marriages is the husband’s lack of genuine love (I Corinthians 13 God’s definition of love) for their wives. Not all….but a big problem, bigger I feel than wives not regarding their husbands. We are built as responders and most don’t respond well to tyrants and bullies. I Corinthians 13 is the definition and pattern of love established by God. So let us not make up our own definition and ‘pattern’ and call it love. It may be something, but God is the author and definer of love.

          • JoAnn on June 17, 2017 at 9:05 am

            Well said.

          • Connie on June 17, 2017 at 12:53 pm

            Remedy, I agree with you. I’m guessing that when husbands get on this blog and go on like that, that their wives have been reading here and they are afraid that they might be losing control of their little kingdom. Surrendering any part of our lives to God where we have held sway is always hard. In fact, I think that in my super-submmissive days I subconsciously felt in control, because it was really really hard to let go of all the promises of, “If you submit, obey without question, even ask him permission for every step you take, he will love you and you will be blissfully happy, your children will rise up and call you blessed, you will have heaven on earth.” Giving my life back to God and hearing His voice was the hardest thing ever, since it resulted in divorce…….although the real divorce had happened long ago and was killing the whole family, I imagined that I was responsible to hold it all together in a fake way and that was a good thing.

            The curse of Genesis is that a woman will so long for the love of a man that she will give him control over her. That is the ‘shadow-sickness’. Whenever we turn our eyes away from God, there is that ‘shadow of turning’. This is the fear of man that the Bible warns us against. Jesus died to set us free from that, if we turn our eyes on Him. And His ways are always a surprise, different than our human reasoning comes up with. Which is why it is so hard to explain in mere words here. It is a work of the Spirit on surrendered hearts.

          • Remedy on June 17, 2017 at 5:23 pm

            Connie…I agree with you and love your final sentence…..a work of the Spirit. I do not believe we wives are called to sit back silently and let a husband destroy a family with a heart bent on ‘lording over’ versus loving servant leadership. There is a difference!

      • Connie on June 16, 2017 at 1:47 pm

        I have given scripture, but they are being ignored, and my questions not answered. That tells me something, which is very familiar to me. Thank you.

        • JoAnn on June 16, 2017 at 2:28 pm

          I hesitate to get into this discussion, but I do want to make one point. If what you want is a biblical pattern, the ultimate one is found in Ephesians 5:21-33. There is a lot there, much of which is often misinterpreted, but as I said in a previous entry, in a godly marriage, when the husband is fully in subjection to Christ, and then it is not difficult for the wife to be in submission to her husband as unto the Lord. She feels loved and cherished, knowing that her husband loves her and cares for her as his own body. We have to look at the whole picture, not just one aspect of it. In that passage alone, the husband is charged to love his wife four times, while the wife is told to be in submission twice. In verse 33, the Amplified version says this: “However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. [1 Peter 3:2].” The husband’s love for his wife is to be of a sacrificial nature, and the wife’s submission is of a respectful nature. That implies that the husbands behavior is respectable, at the least. So many places in here where the relationship can fall apart. How many of us are able to live up to this standard? How much we need the Lord’s mercy and grace to fulfill this pattern of a godly marriage. I believe that all of us here are pressing on toward the goal of such a godly living, whether within or outside of the marriage.

          • JoAnn on June 16, 2017 at 2:30 pm

            The wife is told to be in submission three times. Sorry.

          • Connie on June 16, 2017 at 2:53 pm

            And everyone is told to be in submission in several passages. Ephesians, 1 Peter, and at least one more. Submission means giving deference when appropriate, after making sure you hear and understand the other’s position. In the original post above, the husband was being a bully. I know what that looks like….you can never get it right no matter what, so even the wrong sort of ‘submission’ doesn’t work anyway. I would hear, “Do this this way” and when I did it, I would hear, “That’s not what I said”. It’s called crazy-making for a reason, and it’s a stronghold that will not respond to words, only action and consequences. That is why Leslie makes a distinction between a difficult marriage and a destructive one. This is only destructive. As is Proverbs, “The word to the wise is enough, but a rod is for the back of fools.” Proverbs also has many passages in how to deal with fools. One is to not keep company with him. Or to answer his rantings.

    • JEANNETTE SANKER on December 28, 2019 at 6:04 pm

      I have thought this for years about Joyce

  3. Casey on June 7, 2017 at 7:24 am

    I went to a Joyce Meyer Conference
    He flat out forbid me to go. I put my hand on his shoulder gently & said, I’m so sorry you feel that way. This is not just for me, it’s for our marriage.
    He was furious but when I got back it was pleasant. Things didn’t really change but I slowly quit doing 100% of all he demanded.

  4. Joyce on June 7, 2017 at 7:33 am

    I agree with all your advice, Leslie, except for this one caveat: it sounds as if she planned everything and then told her husband of her plans. I would be very hurt if my husband secretly saved up money and planned a big trip without even talking to me. It wouldn’t be about submission, but closeness and trust. Was he given the option of coming along? Or maybe coming for part of the time? Ultimately, I think she has the right to go. But wouldn’t “baby steps” make more sense if he is so attached: like lunches out, maybe an overnight, before a giant trip to Disney World?

    • Connie on June 7, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      I’m thinking that if we had a relationship of trust, this letter would not even have come up. With my xn, anything I wanted was crushed in the bud, so I finally secretly saved up for a car so the children and I weren’t so isolated. He was mad, but it was the only thing I could do and the kids still (25 years later) remind me that was one of the best things I could have done.

    • Nancy on June 7, 2017 at 12:31 pm

      Hi Joyce,

      I’m just wondering why you think he should be given the option of coming along?

    • Cathy on June 7, 2017 at 2:09 pm

      I agree totally with this reply.

    • Lea on June 7, 2017 at 3:59 pm

      I’m not really sure of the timeline. Maybe she saved the money and then the idea for the trip came up or she had it in the back of her head and saved money, but regardless it sounds like he would have potentially prevented her from saving money, because he is financially controlling of money. I think they have bigger problems than this. She said he didn’t want to travel and she’s not traveled in the past because of that, so I doubt he would want to come.

      I would say If he weren’t difficult, she would not have needed to hide anything.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 7, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Yes I understand. But she said he hated to travel and had already refused to do traveling with her in the past so she knew that was a non issue. But I can understand your point and ideally she would do that and ideally he would give her his blessing and tell her to have a great time. But this is not an ideal situation and so we have to discern what is her wisest and most godly course of action here.

  5. Shelly on June 7, 2017 at 8:38 am

    My ex demanded to approve of all the men friends I had on Facebook. I calmly said, no that is not going to happen. If you want my password, you can have it to which he said he didn’t have time for that. He moved out of our bedroom that day and was still sleeping in another room three years later when I finally filed for a legal separation to which he counter filed for a divorce. So I paid a huge price to say no to him.

    • Jennifer on June 7, 2017 at 1:06 pm

      Shelly…..your husband paid the price. I am so sorry that even one night was spent apart let alone 3 years.

  6. Elaine on June 7, 2017 at 9:00 am

    I wanted to share that I was married to an extreme controller when I married the first time and had three children with him. I didn’t know I was being controlled until my eyes opened in the 9th year to all his criticisms and pornography habits and we divorced. My second husband was also controlling and would get angry if he was alone and try to punish me but I stayed with him and allowed him to deal with his own emotions and after almost 30 years of marriage he passed away. Now a few years later I met a man who is secure within himself and God and if I want to spend the night with a girlfriend or go on a trip, he is fine with it and says we can’t control each other but respect and trust each other. I feel so free and love him so much more than a man trying to control me like a child. It is being free in Christ and enjoying life.

    • Anewanon on June 7, 2017 at 10:15 am

      Respect and trust, yes.

      I think it might be difficult to apply a broad answer of “Do whatever brings you joy or you’ll have regrets” to every situation…

      i.e., “When you love someone you want that person to do things that bring joy.”

      My two ex-husbands did porn and drank excessively and did M-rated video games, etc, etc. And because I was the one who spoke up, I was the one labeled as controlling. And yet, because I loved them, I wanted them happy too and would back down and take on that pointed finger of condemnation. They would read the advice given above by Leslie and say, “See? If you really loved me, you’d want me to have joy. But NO, you’re a kill-joy.”

      So, the “joy” part really needs to be filtered thru God’s eyes as well. Is it sinful? Will it harm the marriage? Does it break trust? Does God approve of the activity?

      To this day, its really hard for me to read advice without feeling that I was the controlling legalistic one. On the end of an abuse cycle, I was asked to please speak my heart into their lives; please be their accountability partner. But then when I did, the cycle would repeat with “your too controlling” until finally he left and I was once again wounded by criticism and abandonment.

      Pray that I might find a man who is secure in himself and his relationship with God. I don’t want to be alone.

      • Anonymous on June 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm

        Backing down from protesting against you exes viewing porn is to agree with their sin.
        The porn user twists comments like Leslie’s to make allowance for their sin.
        To disagree with sin is not controlling, it’s taking a stand for your marriage!

        • Leslie Vernick on June 7, 2017 at 4:11 pm

          Yes when I said that when we love someone we want them to do things that bring them joy – it’s implied that sinning does not bring joy – it might bring some pleasure, but never joy. It only brings death – according to God.

      • Aly on June 8, 2017 at 8:04 am

        Dear Anewanon,

        I’m so sad and So sorry for what you have gone through. I’m thankful to hear you are out of the cycle of abuse and that’s what it was given even the smallest description you gave of how one responds to being confronted with something that will negatively impact their spouse.

        It’s very common for those who are enjoying their ‘lifestyle’ to twist the truth and blameshift the one (you) who is actually standing up for the right things that are the right direction.
        Addicts specifically do not want their drug removed, they are bonded to it. The drug of choice, porn, video games etc.. (even a child demanding more sugar …there are many areas that fall into this) and are all mood altering escapes, so of course the person standing in the way is going to be called controlling. Because when you rise up and face the reality ‘you now ‘become a threat’ to whatever is bringing counterfeit comfort or fake significance!

        I hear your heart with wanted to have a relationship with a man, because unfortunately too many parents are raising ‘boys’ unaware of the bigger deadly outcome for their future!

        Don’t settle for anything less Anewanon! This is easy for me to say but I wish I had been given the advice much earlier on.

        I used to say to my pre-workaholic husband,
        “Wow! how am I the enemy to you, for wanting a shared mutual life’?
        I could not understand it clearly because from his position I was that Threat that obstacle for him threatening his work fuel!…. because he couldn’t have the silent approval of living in a realm of something looking functional, when in fact is was not and it was harming. Very difficult to find the boundaries when in fact working is essential to our living😬 And being responsible parents.

        Plus early on he was praised for his work and achievements, many around us fed the behavior because our culture rewards things that seem right but our culture struggles knowing the difference between almost right, and rightly aligned.

        I’m glad you are able to be free from destructive (not grown up men) that want to play in fantasy life, they are lost and many choose not to be found.

        Sending my support for your stand and your healthy boundaries💜
        even if you were told the opposite, always remember ‘who’ the person and their mindset is coming from and weigh accordingly.

    • libl on June 8, 2017 at 9:07 am

      I feel this way about gray areas. Hubby watched mature tv shows like Game of Thrones, and I hate it. He says he doesn’t watch them for “that” (meaning the frequent graphic sex and nudity). He knows I hate it, but because it isn’t outright porn, I can’t get much support against it. It is apparently “my conviction against his.”

      So, I keep my mouth shut. I opened it many times before. I have gone to pastors. But to no avail.

      I hate that he sees so many young, naked women and participates in an industry of sexual exploitation for money by watching these shows and boosting their ratings. I hate that our bedroom is really more like his bedroom where he watches his shows.

      • Sophia on June 8, 2017 at 9:56 am

        Isn’t it ok to say, this is OUR room and that makes me uncomfortable? If you must watch find another place and time to do so?

        • libl on June 8, 2017 at 11:53 am

          The only reason I do not is because it is the one room in our small house the kids don’t have access to. He used to watch his stuff in the living room and I would shut the kids and myself up in their bedroom and read and play with them until the movie was over.

          The bedroom issue is a better option than the living room.

          I just wish he would stop all together.

          • Sophia on June 8, 2017 at 2:45 pm

            I’m so sorry it is like this. We should be able to voice ‘this is unacceptable to me’, in our lives. Those that love us would ideally respond in a caring way. Bless you loving mother for caring for your children! Praying for you today Sister!

          • Kay on June 11, 2017 at 1:08 pm

            I agree Sophia! And I think it’s porn. How is it not porn? I also tried to take a stand on this show and had resistance too. I think you’re justified in asking that evil not be brought into the bedroom (or house for that matter).

  7. Aly on June 7, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Wow Leslie! Love the advice you gave her.
    I’m taking the risk in stating this is a real live scenario, and I want to say to the Women/ grandmother ~ what a RockStar!!!
    ~that she has decided to not revolve around her anxious controlling husband and be robbed of precious time and memories with other important people in her life!

    I’m so grateful for her grandkids that she is planning something special and what a great opportunity for her to be challenged by her husband for her own growth but as you said invite him in to grow also.

    I have had ‘many defining moments’ over the past 15 yrs where I have chosen to say no to my spouse;
    One was when I wanted to go to a destination marriage conference, a location I wanted to see and participate in the conference away from our home town. He was not interested, didn’t want to go.. tried to sway & temp me into a different alluring place away. It was tempting.
    I said,”sounds like you are not interested in joining me, but I will be going to the ‘marriage’ conference I guess myself, and you can go to the other destination”
    He didn’t like that either;(
    We both went together to the marriage conference ~ it was one of the first steps early in our marriage (long process) for him to acknowledge his selfish ways and how he behaved in a one-sided ideal marriage.

    He was glad he went and wanted to stay longer!
    I was glad I didn’t give into his preference over something obviously important for myself and him too. 🤗

    • Nancy on June 7, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      I agree, Aly, this grandma is a rock star!

      Good for you for ‘sticking to your guns’ with the marriage conference. I’m sure this was an important event in changing the dynamics between you.

  8. Karen on June 7, 2017 at 9:54 am

    My defining moment was after 20 years of being in a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage, my husband at the time threatened to hurt me physically. After he left for work that day I set some very clear boundaries and kicked him out. I had the locks changed. That ushered in two years of separation and supposedly working on our marriage with counselors (although he refused to get off his dating sites or do the work he needed to do). We divorced after 2 yrs of separation. Ours was a textbook case of an abuser refusing to honor boundaries—they can make the rules, but they don’t have to follow them. These people are narcissists. They cannot feel love. They feel entitlement and control. It was a huge wake up call for me. And it is NOT God’s will that we live in fear of someone who is supposed to be our best friend. Ladies, we are created with dignity and strength. (Prov 31:26) Walk in that! 🙂

  9. Ruth on June 7, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Original poster,
    You could also gently say something along lines:
    I appreciate your efforts to save money and protect me, but you need to remember I worked hard to earn that money so I should spend it in a way that will be the most meaningful to me.
    There have been no acts of terrorism on domestic airlines sense 9/11. Disney has excellent security.
    Tell him if he takes away this last opportunity of a lifetime from you and your grandchildren while your health is still decent enough to allow it, then you will forever resent him for that. Tell him what precious memories those grand babies will carry on through their life about this trip- that is unless HE CANCELS IT.
    I’m married to a controller also. But my Controller LOVES to travel. So he would have insisted on inviting himself on the trip. But on a Disney trip, each additional person adds a huge price so I can understand you wanting to leave grumps, I mean, Gramps, LOL, behind. But, really – Did he ask about going?
    Do you think part of the reason why he put the hammer down so hard was because his feelings were a little bit hurt because he wasn’t included on the guest list?

  10. Sandra Lee on June 7, 2017 at 11:45 am

    Thank you for this Leslie. It reminds me of years ago in my marriage when I worked for a travel agency, and was offered an all-expense paid trip to Switzerland to assist with a seminar. My h begged me not to go (if I loved him), saying he was worried about my safety, etc. I told him I couldn’t pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity, and went, in spite of his extreme protesting. I was away for only a week, and I guess he was so glad for my return that he didn’t fuss about it; however he didn’t want to hear anymore about it.
    As I’ve written about my return to him, after divorce and three years apart, he still resents my doing anything without him (even to my time on e-mail and Facebook). It doesn’t get any better, sad to say.

    • JoAnn on June 7, 2017 at 3:37 pm

      Sandra Lee, to me, it sounds like you are still allowing him to abuse you with his responses to your …what ? emails, phone calls? My point is, now that you are divorced, you don’t have to have this kind of interactions with him where he can hurt you. When you say, “It doesn’t get any better” I have to wonder why not? You are in control now. Set some boundaries that will make it better.

      • JoAnn on June 7, 2017 at 3:41 pm

        Or, maybe I misunderstood what you wrote, and now you are back together with him? Still a need for strong clear boundaries.

      • Sandra Lee on June 8, 2017 at 12:27 pm

        Thank you for your encouragement, dear JoAnn. Before the divorce, I did set boundaries, i.e., I would no longer sleep with him until I saw changes in his verbal abuse, mistrust, etc. It only got worse, until he finally left. After over three years, he begged me to live with again, that he loved and missed me, and we would “forget the past and leave for the future.” I was apprehensive, but struggling to make ends meet on my own, and our daughters encouraged me, saying he had changed and “not as negative.” I decided to give it a try, and warned him there would be “No sex,” simply companionship and caring for one another during our elder years (I’m 77, he’s 81). However, although he’s impotent, he constantly pressures me for sex, and when I refuse, he becomes angry and verbally abusive. Even when we were intimate before his stroke (20 years ago), he was never affectionate toward me unless he wanted sex because to him love = sex and vis-versa. Although he recovered partially from the stroke, he was impotent, but never gave it up, blaming me for being “cold.” Then the verbal abuse, etc . became extreme, along with insane jealousy. I believe his brain was damaged from his stroke, and it only gets worse. I keep praying for God’s strength and endurance, one day at a time.

        • JoAnn on June 8, 2017 at 10:10 pm

          Sandra Lee,
          About the verbal abuse: this is when you say, “I will not allow myself to be spoken to that way,” and then leave the room. Leave the house if you have to. The boundaries are for you to protect your heart and mind and spirit. You have ended up being his caretaker, and if you were hired to do that job (basically, you were), you would have left the job long ago. You don’t deserve to be treated badly, so don’t tolerate it. Get those boundaries back up. Protect your heart. Yes, brain damage could be part of the problem, but since it is only getting worse, you don’t need to put up with it. The Lord will strengthen you.

          • Sandra Lee on June 10, 2017 at 12:13 pm

            Thank you, JoAnn, for your support and wise counsel. I truly needed that and you are a blessing to me and our other dear sisters in this wonderfully supportive group of love and concern for one another.
            Sandra Lee

          • Sandra Lee on June 15, 2017 at 1:23 pm

            JoAnn, thank you again for your wise advise – so needed! You truly have a servant heart and gift of encouragement.

  11. Nancy on June 7, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    Great article Leslie 🙂

    For years I was my husband’s only friend. I had friends and would go out- he wouldn’t complain or control, he was happy I was going out, but I felt overly responsible for ‘being there for him’, simply because I was all he had.

    When I joined a women’s Bible Study ( that involved a lot of commitment) he encouraged me. He knew I was changing ( for the better!) and that ultimately fed him. So while he was encouraging me to be fed outside the marriage, his lack of motivation was still a heavy burden to bear because he wasn’t taking responsibility for his own growth.

    With boundaries and requirements he is rising to the challenge of taking responsibility for growing himself, as well as giving to our marriage relationship. What a difference this makes! I no longer feel as though I am lugging a sack of potatoes around! I am actually catching glimpses of a lightness of spirit that I’ve never had. What a blessing.

    God is so faithful ❤️

    • Leslie Vernick on June 7, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Thanks for sharing your perspective and how changing you – actually helped him decide to grow too.

    • JoAnn on June 7, 2017 at 6:51 pm

      It always lightens the burden when we fully commit the well-being of our loved ones into the Lord’s hands. He does a much better job of caring for them than we ever can. He just needs us to get out of the way.

      • Nancy on June 8, 2017 at 7:01 am

        Hi JoAnn,

        Yes. ‘Getting out of the way’ is exactly what I needed- and continue to need- to do. It’s quite a paradigm shift to see that ‘getting out of the way’ is allowing consequences for his behaviour to fall on him, instead of absorbing them. It involves me speaking up, using my voice, to define who I am, instead of shrinking back and morphing into whatever I think those that I love, want from me.

        It involves me giving up managing each situation out of fear and as you say committing my loved ones fully, to The Lord.

        Very difficult for a control freak like me.

        • JoAnn on June 8, 2017 at 8:23 am

          Difficult, yes, but you see it and are moving in that direction. Good for you!!

  12. Ruth on June 7, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Original poster, your husband is objecting to the trip he says because he is scared for your safety and because of the huge expense of the trip. If you accurately related the situation in your letter, then this trip would not be a financial Irresponsibility on your part. I do not have much advice for living with a cheapskate. I have always wanted to spend money too much so I’m surprised God didn’t pair me up with a cheapskate LOL. Maybe Connie can chime in I believe she said her first husband was a real miser. But I would assume that it would come down to control issues. For myself on the opposite end of spending TOO much and likewise having problems with managing my time, I’ve realized my self control issues are selfishness issues. Ouch to myself.
    Thousands of families enjoy Disney vacations EVERY year without becoming victims of terrorists, so his concern on that end is obviously based on his emotional problems and NOT reality. Does he claim to be a Christian? Does he pray? Does he claim to trust Jesus? Because if he claims to trust Jesus, then he can’t very well claim to trust Jesus and then forbid you to go to Disney World at same time. That’s ridiculous.
    Does he seem to care about your happiness? Is this money set up in your name or his name or in a joint account? Has he demanded submission in other areas, Such as how you spend your time, who you are friends with, what you read, how often you have sex?
    I’m not sure how fast Leslie picked your letter from the time she typed her answer. Maybe you’re already on your trip. In that case, you might not feel the need to text back and forth with us at this point. But if you’re still deciding whether or not to go on your trip, I would suggest telling your husband that you want to take the matter before a third-party for discussion. That is, UNLESS you attend one a very oppressive church where women must submit to their husbands in every little detail with no freedom to choose anything. 😔 I think taking your grandchildren on a vacation seems like a life-giving, wonderful decision that would make Jesus happy! I think most pastors who would hear your dream would say go for it! They would say to your husband ‘let her have some fun and lighten up!’
    You can go in a way that’s kind and respectful to him, but keep listening to Jesus. He says you are His sheep and His sheep know His Voice and you will hear his voice. And the voice of another you will not follow. Ask Jesus to hear his voice in this matter. Not just the voice of your anxious controlling husband, but the voice of peaceful loving Jesus.💕

    • Leslie Vernick on June 7, 2017 at 4:10 pm

      So wise. Thank you.

  13. LindaLou on June 7, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    I’m not sure if this is relevant but when my very controlling husband retired, it was awful for me and still is. We both worked full time and retired at the same time. From then on, I couldn’t do anything right and I mean ANYTHING.

    This is the same man I could not even count on to ask if he could pick up a gallon of milk who now MUST accompany me to do groceries because I suddenly don’t know how to shop economically. I’m not allowed to make any trips to town that he hasn’t already planned as we might “waste gas” . Laundry that I’ve done for four decades with no help from him isn’t being done properly and needs to be hung on the line outside to save money. No TV, no cell phone so to keep expenses down. I’m no longer to get my hair done or have anything unnecessary.

    One time I put an extra stamp on an envelope because I knew it was too heavy. He went into a rage (broke things) because he felt I had wasted a stamp and should have waited and scheduled a trip to town and have it weighed at the post office.

    This same man bought a motorcycle, a speed boat, took a three week vacation with a friend and bought land all without asking my opinion on it. I’m not a big spender, in fact, I think I’m pretty conservative with money. I don’t understand and I’m embarrassed sometimes by this behavior.

    • Leslie Vernick on June 7, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      I’m so sorry that he is squashing you and I’m wondering why you are allowing it?

    • JoAnn on June 7, 2017 at 6:57 pm

      This is why a lot of retired couples end up divorced. Most men can’t handle not having a job…something to do with their time and a reason to feel useful. Guard your heart, dear Sister. You don’t need to put up with this. Read the book!

  14. Aleea on June 7, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    “Friends, when was your defining moment that godly submission did not mean that you never could say no to your spouse or yes to your own dream?” . . . .It came from carefully inspecting these “submission” verses in the *primary* source evidence. It came from looking at those “submission” verses together in the best sources we have for them and then studying the equivalently and earlier dated textual variants. It came from looking at the chain-of-custody on the variants, textual alterations, scribal redactions to those “submission” verses . . . that is when I wondered, deeply, if God would have ever authored those “submission” verses. . . .As the church became institutionalized, a male power grab ensued. The early church fathers jammed a lot of control in there re:Women in the Early Church: Textual Alterations Involving Women. Too many redactional inserts to control women. My point is to take back your mental sovereignty. Ask lots and lots of questions, then ask yourself: What is consistent with real love, with Christ’s love? —Many use God as “remote control” where they tell us what to do via God. “It’s not me, its God saying it.” . . .And I see no way to confront these issues without using the super-strong, rational reasoning and thinking skills that God gave us and asking lots of questions, especially of the source documents. Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A pastor teaching mere portions of the truth in order to get control of people is a craftsman of destruction.

    This is not love: “How dare I plan something so expensive without discussing it with him. Why would I want to waste that much money?” and “. . . I know if I don’t back off, there will be hell to pay, but at my age and disability now, I really don’t care.” . . .Listen, the privilege of a lifetime is being who you are in Christ. . . .Who you are, who God wants you to be. Who Christ wants you to be. . . . .Yes, smart, meaningful risks! —Always consider taking them.

    —And what Leslie says is so true: “. . .[it] invites your spouse to grow in three significant ways” (1) his whole life revolves around you ―not good or healthy! (2) “your husband needs to learn to trust God instead of depending on his own abilities to control every situation and circumstance so he won’t feel his own anxiety” ―absolutely and he can’t heal his anxiety until he feels it and lives through it and hopefully says: ―wow, that wasn’t bad at all and I actually enjoyed some of it! (3) “your husband needs to learn to love you, rather than try to own you” ―beautiful and so true and healthy! I also like asking for his blessing ―beautiful and respectful too! . . . . .And if the probability that “Too much can happen- terrorism, plane crash, etc.” were actually true, ha, ha, ha, ha. . . .lots of us who live on planes would already be dead and with the Lord, long ago ―ha, ha, ha, ha.

    Those who can’t respect our boundaries are telling us that they don’t love our nos. They only love our yeses, our compliance. They are saying: I only like it when you do, say and act in ways that agree with me, ―what I want you to do or say or be. True intimacy is only built around the freedom to disagree. . . .Looking at my life through the lens of Christian history has made me increasingly grateful to those who pushed artificial boundaries to make the changes from which I have benefited. They didn’t accept that God said women are not allowed to do this or that (―or you name it) without using critical thinking skills and analyzing the primary source evidence. Comfort zones, safety, familiarity, boundaries, limits, even a God who stays put in a box, that does not move us forward. That doesn’t get us closer to truth. . . .Moreover, our anxiety does not come from thinking about the future, but from wanting to control it. Controlling others is the cornerstone of dysfunctional families. True love is built on free will and free choice, not control and manipulation. If you have control over yourself, you probably have little desire to control others.

  15. Leslie Vernick on June 7, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Thans Aleea, I appreciate you emphasizing the big picture of scripture and God’s character here.

    • Aleea on June 8, 2017 at 10:56 am

      . . . and Leslie, I appreciate you and those that help you and you making all this possible and helping us all learn to understand ourselves and how to serve Christ better. . . .As insecure and co-dependent, I have struggled all my life to understand that bigger picture that Christ is the norm, the criterion, the purpose, and the meaning of the Bible. The Bible points to Christ. Christ does not point to the Bible, sans what you see in many medieval paintings. We are not the people of the Bible; we are the people with the Bible. For example, the Gospel of John does not say, “God so loved the world that he gave us [a Bible].” The Revelation of John does not say that we are saved “by the ink of the Lamb.” —I don’t know how that always escaped me. We were always called to freedom, but to use that freedom as an opportunity through love to serve others. . . . The Christian life is not about pleasing God the finger-shaker and judge (—so hard for me not to think of God that way.) It is not about believing now or being good now for the sake of heaven later. It is about entering a relationship in the present that begins to change everything: right here, right now. . . . —And this is really hard to admit: the Bible tells us how our Christian ancestors saw things, not always how God sees things (re: His character and the bigger picture). To see the Apostle Paul positively does not mean endorsing everything he ever wrote, especially with the variants and redactions. . . .When somebody says to me, “I don’t believe in God,” my first response is, “If you want to, maybe tell me about the God you don’t believe in.” It seems to me that how we think about God really matters. It affects the credibility of Christianity. Our concept of God can make God seem real or unreal, just as it can also make God seem remote or near. . . .And its so simple, its hard. The book of Proverbs keeps making this point: Those who oppress the poor insult their Maker, but those who are kind to the needy honor Him. . . . .Christianity is a “way” to be followed more than it is about a set of text specific chains (—really hard for my mind.) Practice is more important than “correct” beliefs. Obviously, beliefs are not irrelevant; they do matter. But they are not the object of faith. God is the “object” of commitment—and as Christians, God as known in Jesus. . . .okay, that is enough for now, otherwise I will go in a total huge circle and possibly deconstruct my own thoughts.

    • Aleea on June 9, 2017 at 6:40 am

      . . . . —Oh, and we can easily see why change (—women’s roles, divorce/ remarriage “rules”) threatens pastors, husband’s “security.” Think about what happens when we see the same approach taken in atonement theology. Plenty of scholars want to make adjustments there and have equal or better textual, logical and practical support to do so. . . . .But it is so, so hard to change, —it is terrifying. But the past is not a pathway to life. The ability to deeply change and give ourselves away to others in love is. . . . .It is not the “winners” who achieve life’s meaning; it is the givers/ “changers.” . . .We can never tolerate Christianity as a “way” of victimization. For centuries we have practiced our faith by building up ourselves as winners, survivors, the holders of ultimate truth, while we have denigrated the humanity of others. That is the source of evil. That is why Christianity has given birth to anti-Semitism, —really read those early church fathers, the anti-Semitism is staggering. That is why the crusades were initiated to kill “infidels.” That is why we gave our blessing to such horrible abuse as the divine right of kings, slavery, segregation, and apartheid. That is why we defined women as “easily deceived,” childlike, and dependent. That is why. . . . .well, everybody knows all that. . . . .The Christian story did not drop from heaven fully written. It grew and developed year by year over a period of forty-two to seventy years. That is not what most Christians have been taught to think, but it is highly factual and demonstrable. Christianity has always been an evolving story. It was never, even in the New Testament, a finished story. But it is the nature of human life to feed (me too) our ever-present security needs by displaying fear in the presence of anyone who is “different.” When any human group decides that they can define God, the outcome is always predictable. The “true faith,” once defined (—women’s roles, divorce, remarriage “rules”), must then be defended against all critics, and it must also then be forced upon all people—for their own good, lest their souls be in jeopardy. The same happened with women’s roles, divorce/ remarriage “rules”, . . .but it gets heavy —quickly because it goes to people’s identity. . . . often I need to clear my mind with the simplier questions like “—are tigers ticklish?”,

  16. Connie on June 7, 2017 at 4:27 pm

    I read recently that the opposite of love is not hate, nor is it indifference. What is the one emotion that has one going away from another instead of toward? Fear. Where there is fear, there is not love. Somehow, that clears up a lot of grey areas for me. (Remember, love casts out fear?)

    This man shows a lot of fear, although some of what he says is fear, I doubt. I think he’s using fear of safety as an excuse to control her, because it sounds sort of like he cares, and how would it sound if he was honest and said he was actually afraid she was going to have a good time away from him and see that she doesn’t need him to micromanage her life? Or that he is afraid to be alone? Or that she could get used to spending money on what brings her and others joy? Maybe he’s afraid of running out of money in their retirement, or of not having more of what he wants, or that God will decide to stop providing their needs?

    And she is showing fear of the repercussions of being an individual instead of a wart on his body (appendage?). So this is not a loving relationship at all.

  17. Barbara on June 7, 2017 at 6:48 pm

    Someone asked about Bible references; that’s important because through the study of scripture comes freedom from the extra biblical man made rules we are taught such as a submissive wife does not resist her husband. For example, by looking at the Greek vocabulary we see that submission from wife to husband (Ephesians 5:22) is not the same as obedience (Ephesians 6:1) or yielding to authority (Hebrews 13:7). Submission means to order or arrange oneself under another, which makes sense because God is not a God of disorder (1 Corinthians 14:33). Biblical submission puts me in charge of my response to and my support of my husband. As in all earthly social structures (Matthew 22:30), parameters exist under God’s supreme authority (Acts 5:29). I’m not obeying God regarding submission if my submission causes me to disobey other instructions He has given (2 Timothy 2:15, 2 Peter 3:16, Proverbs 30:5, Numbers 23:19). Some biblical parameters that guide me as I live in an orderly fashion with my husband include the following:
    -Resist fear (Romans 8:15, Proverbs 29:25)
    -Resist the pattern of the world (Romans 12:2)
    -Resist evil and cling to good (Romans 12:9)
    -Resist schemers and those who employ deceitful tricks (Ephesians 4:14)
    -Speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)
    -Gently correct someone who is in the wrong (2 Timothy 2:24-25)

    To answer your question, Leslie, studying God’s word under the guidance of His Spirit brought me to the truth.

  18. Alice on June 7, 2017 at 10:56 pm

    My defining moment was when he, after 43 years of marriage (of his dominating & my placating…instead of respect, love, & mutual submission) angrily told me to choose–either him, or our son & his family. He would have probably not given that ultimatum if he’d realized I was finally brave enough to stand against his wrong. Due to his anger & control, he had already seriously damaged his own relationship with this son’s family, & he was so threatened that he wanted me to sever my ties with them too. This, this relationship with my son & his wife & my 3 grandchildren, was so important that I finally put away what was supposed to look like submission & became an adult & said no. It was never my dream to have a broken family (we’ve been separated for 18 months & it’s been hard on all the children & grandchildren). But it had to happen.

    • JoAnn on June 8, 2017 at 10:18 pm

      Alice, I’m so glad that you “took the road less traveled.” Hard, I’m sure, but necessary. Now, it’s time to find yourself and to cultivate a loving and intimate relationship with the Lord, who will show you the way to go forward. Enjoy those grandkids. They will help you to regain your sanity.

  19. Pauline K. Ceprish on June 8, 2017 at 1:24 pm

    Amen to all that was said in response to your trip to Disney World!!

  20. Belle on June 8, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Defining moment…. I knew from experience that submission to him made life harder. In fact, I felt like I was following Satan in my “submission” to my husband even though he wasn’t asking me to lie or do anything evil. All his little requests just added up to revolving my life around him and his reign became more oppressive the more I submitted.

    I couldn’t figure out why obeying God by submitting to my husband was bondage. I quit cow towing to everything just for the sake of my emotional survival. I thought that somehow I must not understand the passages about submission.

    In his Mercy, God brought me to another blog. For the past few years God has been opening my eyes to what His Word really teaches.

    • Barbara on June 8, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      I agree, the little things really add up to create an oppressive environment. Things go badly wrong when submission is seen as a role instead of seen as one among many actions in a marriage relationship.

  21. Renee on June 9, 2017 at 12:09 am

    It came when, unfortunately, after 21 years of my marriage, my spouse revealed to me that he had been in an adulterous relationship for the last year. All those years I thought I was being the godly submissive wife – it’s not that I never disagreed with him, I always expressed my opinion to him, but ultimately, I thought that as a Christian, it was my duty to submit to his final authority on all matters. Including when I believed that something was amiss in our relationship, I approached him several times on the matter, but he always gave excuses as to why things were as they were (work, school, ministry,…) , and so I took his word for it.

  22. Jocelyn on June 9, 2017 at 1:41 pm

    I will always remember MY DEFINING MOMENT, the moment when I actually felt reality and truth drop down into my soul. I realized that after 40 years things were NEVER going to change. Not even a co-star of my own crazy reality show, I was only at best, a continually disappointing supporting actor. After an entire marriage in which I thought I was keeping the peace, I discovered you cannot keep what you do not possess. I was treated “well” as long as I “performed properly” but a moving target is hard to hit. Years of walking on egg shells in attempt to avoid inevitably passive aggressive behavior, compounded by repeated failures to be the perfect wife only resulted in more of the same. I had allowed my voice to be silenced, my spirit to be crushed, and my life light to be dimmed. I knew that the cost of regaining these things would be astronomical and only a horrific family crisis was enough to blast me out of the rut. As a result of the crisis I refused to be part of any more enabling of my husband or his son and I drew a firm boundary, I was then verbally attacked, guilted and accused of selfishness among other things. Eighteen months later I am divorced, I am accused of abandonment, infidelity, cruelty, cowardice, etc. and failure of the marriage is completely blamed upon me. But I say, my God knows all, sees all and He will judge. Always trust God he will hold you close, shield you, and lift you up. I tenaciously grasp the tatters of my life and hold fast to Isaiah 43:19

    • LindaLou on June 10, 2017 at 6:28 am

      Jocelyn, you just described my life. I am so sorry for what you have endured for a lifetime. And yes, our God sees all and knows all and he alone will judge what others cannot see or won’t see. Be blessed.

    • Shelly on June 10, 2017 at 8:42 am

      Jocelyn and LindaLou, My experience too! 38 years. I finally said I wasn’t going to be treated that way and filed for a legal separation to which he counter filed for divorce. Yes, it’s been hard on the adult children but they supported me. Just the other day, I was saying that if he received an epiphany and genuinely repented, I would consider reconciliation to which my daughter responded, “but that would not be better for our family if you were unhappy and besides, Dad is never going to change.

      • Aly on June 11, 2017 at 9:27 am

        Dear Shelly,

        I’m sorry for your marital loss. It sounds like you have experienced so much of the same as many of these precious daughters of Him here on this Blog, with tender hearts.

        Your comment you posted from your daughters voice.. reminded me of something,
        You wrote:
        “but that would not be better for our family if you were unhappy and besides, Dad is never going to change”

        I’m thankful in your support circle you have your adult children giving support to you. It’s hard and difficult enough to deal with such a ‘unchanging spouse’ but to have family not support just layers on the pain.

        Your daughters ‘ comment is something I hear a lot in our culture and in our church culture, and it claims that you are seeking ‘happiness’ which in fact I don’t believe that to be the end goal but many women here ARE seeking a healthy partnership in a marriage where two beings are growing and yes indeed changing for the better!
        They are wanting to have what they committed to in a covenant marriage but their spouses have different definitions.

        I’m making a generalized comment with the fact that many spouses are claiming Christianity… if this is the case than why such the battle for being a person Changing?

        I think if we look closer into our generations and beliefs we will see so many using the phrase of ‘seeking happiness’ and so many people using the phrase..
        ‘He is never going to change’ or
        ‘Dad is never going to change’ etc.

        These statements that get said over and over do impact our thought processes especially the one who is resistant ‘to change’ go figure?

        I find that the Bible and becoming a Christian is encompassed about Change ultimately! That being transformative change for receiving what has been done in our behalf on the cross.

        When I was in such a destructive upside down marriage, my ‘mothers voice’ and continued advice was that somehow I was wrong for wanting things TO change!
        We have a culture now that continues to add false shame and guilt on the partner seeking healthy change.
        Of course my husband didn’t want things to change, when things were comfortable for him.
        Now he sees what comfort and immaturity steals from everyone involved really.

        I guess my main point is that… it seems that those that struggle with the concept of changing (even a good change) see ‘ change’ even the word ‘change’ as a threat rather than an invitation, and I believe they have been so wired in to our consistent common expressions of how people don’t change.

        I believe change is essential to growing and learning for the rest of the days here we are given and blessed with.
        As I continue to grow in my path, I continue to intersect with non-changing individuals and I remind myself to think in a different way, instead of they ‘never change’…
        It is they choose to not be changeable. 😥
        Which is the loss for themselves and others.

        Even though it’s a struggle each day, I want to remind myself of changing continuously for God’s purpose and plan.

        I’ve heard it said by wise people,
        ” yes the Gospel saves you right where you are and accepts you just as you are, but it doesn’t keep just as you are it changes you!”

        Blessing toward growth and change sweet sisters;)

        • JoAnn on June 11, 2017 at 10:01 am

          Yes, Aly, it is unfortunate that some people “choose not to be changeable.” In Fact, the call to the believer is to allow the power of the Holy Spirit to work His transformation in our being until we become as He is, filled with His divine life and functioning according to the Spirit. In 2 Peter 1:4 we are told that we are “partakers of the divine nature,” and in the following verses he tells us to add the virtues of Christ. This is transformation, to which we are called….to CHANGE into His likeness. What I have observed over the years is that if we are not actively involved in this kind of transformation, we do, in fact, change, but it is a negative change. The old man takes over, and all the characteristics of our basic human nature just continue to increase and intensify. The bookstores are full of “self help” books, but if people could really change their nature, why is our culture just getting more and more amoral and evil? No, we need the power that raised Christ from the dead to be operating in our hearts, to free us from the fallen Adamic nature and bring us fully into the resurrected and ascended Christ. When we are one with Him, that has an effect on everyone and everything around us. They have to either get on board with us or run the other way. So be it.

          • Aly on June 12, 2017 at 5:59 am


            Thanks for your reply and your scriptures to add to what we are called to do.
            I agree with you in your position and especially, the part of getting on board or running away. And ‘so be it’ as you said.

            I do think there are a huge number of people within the church, especially men…because many men were not taught by their own fathers the biblical modeling of being a godly husband, many in the church are
            ‘thinking they ARE transforming’ when in fact they are just continuing to surround themselves by ‘peace Keepers’.
            Or switch churches when challenged… (this is usually a pattern)
            Or they are completely not surrounded by any at all, they are lone rangers. No accountability brothers what so ever.

            So yes your are correct when you say that someone can be growing in the negative direction! Thank you for clarifying when speaking of a husband choosing to not change~ as in this case he is still feeding his own fallen flesh.

            What will we feed, the flesh or the spirit? What we feed, grows.

          • JoAnn on June 12, 2017 at 9:09 am

            That’s right: what we feed grows.

      • Sandra Lee on June 11, 2017 at 2:51 pm

        Dear Shelly:
        My heart goes out to you, along with our other sisters on this blog. I can relate SO well to waiting for our mates to repent of their abuse and change. Incredibly; I prayed and waited for 57 years, but it never happened. Even though he attended church with me sporadically during that time, the gospel message never seemed to convict him. He even said he doesn’t think he’s a “chosen one.” As I’ve posted recently, I made the mistake of returning to him, and although he attends church with me, I can see no evidence of a change, nor even admitting to his abuse, etc., but continuing to blame me.
        —– Unfortunately, I must warn you not to expect change in your h, although I do believe God can and does perform miracles.
        Love & prayers for you and all our dear sisters and Leslie,
        Sandra Lee

        • Shelly on June 11, 2017 at 7:54 pm

          I liken it to the conversion of the Apostle Paul. Yes, God miraculously changed Paul so I believe it can happen. However, look at how many Scribes and Pharisees there were that never repented and many of them spent time with Jesus!

          • JoAnn on June 11, 2017 at 11:58 pm

            Good point, Shelly. I know several situations where the wife prayed for years for her husband’s salvation, and eventually the man got saved. Praise the Lord for that. But you don’t have to endure abuse while you are waiting and praying. It is not a marriage at all if you are being abused, so why try to “save” it? Pray for him after you leave. As Leslie says in her book, you must decide either to stay well or leave well. Staying well means protecting yourself from the abuse, and if there is no way to do that, then leave well. We are not asked to submit to abuse. When you look into the scriptures, you realize that the husband’s responsibility to love, honor, and respect the wife is emphasized far more than the woman’s submission. And the fact is, that for a woman, it is not so hard to “submit” when we feel loved, honored, and respected.

    • JoAnn on June 10, 2017 at 5:31 pm

      Good for you, Jocelyn. That was hard, but now you can reclaim your person and move forward. Lean into the Lord, and He will show you the path you must take to wholeness. Remember that the lies they are speaking bout you are much more about themselves. The Lord is with you.

    • Free on June 11, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      Oh, Jocelyn, I understand what you are talking about! I fled abuse and found my husband went to Divorce Care because “his wife had left him.” Ha!! What a delusional perspective. Left him? I ran for my life! Who let him enroll in Divorce Care?!

      So, Jocelyn, how wonderful is it to get your own mind back? Worth it right? Difficult? Absolutely. Painful? Absolutely. Yet, we are with you and applaud God’s mercy to release you from a husband with a hardened heart.

      • Jocelyn on June 12, 2017 at 4:51 pm

        Thanks Free. The journey IS difficult, painful, and seems very long. But, it is necessary to develop the faith and trust that God desires to see in me. I am determined to become what God would have me to be including not being a “people pleaser” but being a “God pleaser”. I am so very thankful for finding this group. Leslie’s book came into my life after I had left my home and it was instrumental in helping be through some very tough times. I look forward to encouraging others to stay the course and look UP!!!!!

        • Sandra Lee on June 13, 2017 at 10:09 am

          My heart goes out to you dear Jocelyn & Free, as I’ve experienced the same. I enjoyed such freedom & peace, after separation & divorce (for 3 &1/2 years). However, I made the huge mistake of believing he had changed and could live with him again (four months ago) WRONG! Now I’m back in the same sinking boat, and wanting out again. Leslie warned me to think long & hard about it, as others did, so I want to encourage you both to stay FREE.

          Prayers & love,

          Sandra Lee

          • Free on June 15, 2017 at 9:38 am

            Thank you for this comment Sandra as I am getting all kinds of pressure to return too, especially from my adult children. I was just praying about it this morning and God gave me peace to endure the long journey without my abusive spouse and take more difficult steps legally. If I returned. I would in the exact same place you are in.

          • JoAnn on June 15, 2017 at 10:24 am

            Free, if you haven’t done it yet, perhaps you should sit down with your adult children and explain to the as clearly as possible why you had to leave in the first place and why it would not be in your best interest to to back. After all, if they are adults now, and forging their own way through life, they don’t need an “intact” family anymore. You need to be truly FREE.

        • Aly on June 13, 2017 at 10:13 am


          I really like what you posted above and what a blessing that you are seeing the contrast in being a ‘people pleaser vs a God pleaser’ .
          I’m also a recovering people pleaser and in my own journey certain people in my life were fairly quick to reveal themselves as desiring me to ‘not change’ from ‘pleasing them’ to pleasing God!
          God was so faithful in this even though the reality was so painful.

          When your in relationship with others that have respect for your personhood and also want to put God in His place, there is unity overall;)
          You will see ‘the disunity’ when others prefer to have their own preferences met above mutual regard.
          ‘Blessed are the PeaceMakers’
          Hugs and prayers for your journey through 💖

          • Jocelyn on June 13, 2017 at 1:55 pm

            Hi Aly and all you other wonderful ladies! What an insightful way to look at things. “When you’re in relationship with others that have respect for your personhood and also want to put God in his place, there is unity overall”. I continue to be more aware of my need for transformation and departure from prior modes of interaction that fuel destructive relationships. Thank you all for your willingness to share experiences it is so very helpful. I am studying on the Destructive Dance and how to step out of the Karpmann Triangle. I have so much work to do! I am encouraged to have direction and increased focus propelling me forward.

          • Nancy on June 13, 2017 at 5:54 pm

            Hi Jocelyn and Aly,

            I too love what you wrote Aly, “when you’re in relationship with others that have respect for your personhood and also want to put God in his place, there is unity overall.”

            I love this because this really is the definition of mutual love. I am discovering that if I have to sacrifice my personhood in a relationship, then distortion has crept in.

            Real love does not involve sacrifice of my personhood. In order to really love, I need to be wholly in tact.

            I had this so backwards. Even now, if I don’t feel guilt or somehow compromised, then I question my motives- am I being loving. Keeping myself in tact is guilt inducing and it’s very hard not to bow down to the guilt.

          • Aly on June 13, 2017 at 6:05 pm

            Dear Nancy,

            I know the struggle all too well for me.
            There is a difference between healthy guilt and false guilt, It is the discernment and wisdom that will guide and grow us through.
            Hugs💕 And love to you Nancy

  23. Nancy on June 9, 2017 at 3:08 pm

    Hi Aleea ❤️

    I’m just wondering if you have thought or prayed anymore about

    • Aleea on June 10, 2017 at 6:52 am

      Thank you so much Nancy. I really, sincerely, appreciate that. . . .Yes, I have deeply prayed and thought about it but I guess my concern is that it is another mountain top experience that I will just come down from. There is so much recidivism in these approaches (re: Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat type wound healing). I don’t see that Dr. Teresa Burke has published any data on methodology, sustainability of results, etc. . . .But maybe she or others she works with have? —Now, that said, it obviously has worked for you and that is important evidence. . . . .And maybe wanting to see peer reviewed evidence that is works and why is just an excuse. —But I don’t know that. It doesn’t feel like it. . . .The research shows you don’t go away on a retreat and just heal deeply suffered abuse from childhood (—but that could be just me wanting to be a “special” victim). Nancy, you may have already been basically healthy before you went but you had say one specific issue but other than that you were in good shape. I apologize if that was not your situation. . . .I guess what I am saying is this: We cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. —And it seems from the peer reviewed papers that no one heals without “gullible caring,” in which we are deeply accepted as who we say we are, not with a lurking, constant suspicion in the therapist’s mind that the person may, in fact, be otherwise. —That kind of trust only comes with lots and LOTS of time. Trust = healing. There is nothing like sensitive, empathic, concentrated listening. . . .But something really hit me last week as I walked out of therapy: If I heal, I will not get to come here anymore and have Dr. Meier deeply, carefully, thoughtfully listen to all my crazy ideas and unending words and pray with me (re:Thank God, somebody hears. Someone knows what it’s like to be me!). . . I will not know her anymore and she will not be in my life. . . .Maybe that is what is keeping me from healing? . . .I have no idea but I know the center of responsibility, lies within me. . . .I don’t know what is blocking me, Nancy. . . . .It is amazing how change threatens (me too!), and its possibility creates frightened people. If we are really willing to enter other’s worlds and really see the way life appears to them, *without any attempt to make evaluative judgments*, we run the risk of being changed ourselves. . . .The caves we fear to enter hold the treasures we seek. . . . but who wants to go in there? —That’s where the dragons we need to slay are. . . .That’s where those black as night moments are (—in there), the moment when the real transformation is going to come. —At the darkest moment comes the Light. . . .I know my job is to clear my own heart enough to receive it. Not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within myself that I have built against it. . . .$130 for the entire weekend with the price including room, all meals, all retreat materials. That’s less than a counseling session. My mind is saying: “I’m afraid to meet some wonderful people who may become my very best friends. It was hard enough to trust Dr. Meier for re-connection, integration and wholeness.” —Alright, I’ll rethink/ repray about it. Again, thank you so much Nancy. I really, sincerely, appreciate that.

    • Nancy on June 10, 2017 at 8:10 am

      You can always send them an email asking questions. No commitment there, just your own curiosity.

      God Bless your beautiful heart, Aleea 🌷

    • Aleea on June 11, 2017 at 7:03 pm

      “You can always send them an email asking questions. No commitment there. . . .” Nancy, that is a great point!!! . . .and a good idea.

      “God Bless your beautiful heart, Aleea” . . . .Thank you Nancy. I appreciate and pray blessings for you too. . . .For me, most of my healing journey has been about unlearning the patterns of self-protection that once kept me safe. I have layers and layers of them. I know temporary, but excruciating, pain is the price of healing. I hate that. . . .Some wounds are so, so deep, that it seems that if you were to reach in their depths, you wouldn’t find a way back.

  24. Nancy on June 9, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    It strikes me that to teach submission as a role for women- as opposed to something that is to be discerned through prayer, with God – is to teach that husbands are our god.

    The only One I am to CONSTANTLY submit to, is my Lord.

    This is way to much pressure to put on men. They are human and their egos may enjoy always getting their way, but where is the ‘iron sharpening iron’ element in a marriage, if this is the case? Where is the partnership? If that is the teaching, then women are being taught to rely on their husband’s Holy Spirit, instead of developing their own relationship with Christ.

    It’s a way to teach subtle and systematic oppression. Even if a marriage starts out relatively equal, over time under this lie, the man’s pride is built up and the woman’s faith is decreased. In effect, the faith of both will be undermined.

    • Maria on June 9, 2017 at 8:37 pm

      I agree with you. The Bible says we are to submit one to another. The Bible also says that wives are to submit to their husbands. It’s easier to understand submission if we think of what it’s not. I don’t think submission means that wives obey everything a husband tells them to do. What if the husband is very lazy so he tells his wife to do all the chores in the house etc. Obeying him just feeds his laziness so I don’t think that is the definition of submission in the Bible. I think when submission is taken in the context of a loving marriage, it makes sense. When the husband demands it, he’s missing the point. It should be freely offered by the wife. Growing up, I never heard my father ever mention submission. I think that’s how it should be.

  25. Connie on June 9, 2017 at 4:34 pm

    I have been thinking about Christ and the Church as compared to a married Christian couple. Many Christians like to say, “God is in control” as a way to get out of praying and as a way to subtly blame God for everything that happens in the world. But God gave control to Adam, who gave it to satan, then Christ took it back for His church, and the only way God’s kingdom comes to earth is by the prayers and authority of the saints. God is like Congress, He makes the rules. Then the judicial system, Jesus, interprets them, but if the executive part of the government doesn’t enforce them (Church) it never gets done.

    In a similar way, I’m wondering if women have bought into the ‘submission’ doctrine because then we can blame the h when things go wrong and we don’t have to make many decisions nor take responsibility for them. Somehow it seems the easier way at first…….I’m thinking back on my own life here and wondering if that was part of my problem.

    Not sure if this makes sense……….

    • listening ear on June 9, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      yes Connie, your comment make a lot of sense

      Submission to a husband without mutual responsibility and consideration is a cop out…partly due to fear of assuming responsibility for decisions and often fear of the backlash of the husband who basically bullies the spouse into blind obedience

      this is not FREEDOM in Christ, but bondage.

      Thank you for your comments

    • Aly on June 9, 2017 at 7:55 pm


      Makes great sense!
      We are structured to submit to a husband that is also submitted to the Lord as his authority.
      We are called to mutually submit one to another.

    • Nancy on June 10, 2017 at 8:17 am


      Good point. It’s a very scary proposition to assume responsibility for ourselves. Submission is a great excuse not to do so.

  26. sunshine on June 11, 2017 at 4:21 pm

    After a partner breaks their vows. All beat are off. Submission is out of the question. That becomes coercion. Having said that, I was guilty of submitting and submitting, claiming hope as healing as an anchor in the storm. What a fool I was, I needed to acknowledge the storm and row to the shore for cover, call the coast guard and put on my life vest!

  27. sunshine on June 11, 2017 at 4:22 pm

    All bets are off.

    • Maria on June 12, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Submission makes sense when the person we are submitting to has our good in mind. It’s just like our relationship with God.

      • Sandra Lee on June 13, 2017 at 9:48 am

        God bless you, Maria & Sunshine! I love that comparison of submission to one who cares for our good, as God does.

        With love & prayers,

        Sandra Lee

  28. Connie on June 17, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    Back to the original question: Just last week my SIL called my h, crying that their dad was controlling. He is in his 80s and has lived with her since his wife’s death about 6 years ago. So she wants to go on a one week trip to visit her son, and he is trying to stop her……it’s too dangerous, etc. Sound familiar? I thought it amusing, on the tail of this blog. I bet he just doesn’t want to take care of himself, don’t you think? My dad hated being alone after mom died, and married again as soon as he could.

    • JoAnn on June 17, 2017 at 7:19 pm

      Not so very uncommon. 😉 How did your husband handle it? Just curious. You don’t have to answer.

      • Connie on June 17, 2017 at 7:59 pm

        He agreed, that their dad was controlling and told her to just go ahead and take her trip. 🙂 Gave her a lesson on boundaries. 🙂

        • JoAnn on June 17, 2017 at 11:15 pm

          Good for him! He has learned some things from you. 🙂 I hope she took his advice.

  29. Connie on June 18, 2017 at 11:46 am

    This morning I’m to do a ‘thing’ at church, about the Reformation and on. Again, the Bible tells us to submit to the church leaders, but voluntarily and after discerning whether they are true leaders. It never says for the leaders to force submission. Hence the Reformation. The ‘church’ leaders were taking advantage of power they were not to have, and being incredibly abusive to the people. Unquestioned obedience is corrupt every time. The gentiles ‘take’ power over others, but as Christians we ‘give’ power to those who have proved themselves true shepherds of the flock. That is the difference between the law and grace. We still follow the 10 commandments, but not because we are afraid of God, but because we love Him……stemming from Him proving to us that He is trustworthy and only wants our best. God says to do that, to prove Him and remember what He has done for us and our forefathers. “Love God, love you neighbor, and on this hang all the law and the prophets.”

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