What is Disrespect?

Morning friends,

This week I’m in sunny beautiful California.  Until tomorrow I’m hanging out in Monterey, right on the ocean.  This is one of the most beautiful places in the world and it has been good for my soul and spirit and body to be here.   There is something so restorative to being in God’s creation.  My agent is hosting a retreat for all their authors and it’s been a great learning experience for me.

Pray for me as Chris Moles and I are going to try to pitch some video curriculum to various publishers to see if they are interested in developing this ministry to churches, counselors and others who may have need of working with couples in destructive marriages.

Tomorrow I head towards Los Angeles to spend time with my three favorite little girls.  Check FB for some pictures of my darlings.

Also, I will be spending February in Santa Monica and March in the San Diego area in 2015.  If you are a meeting planner or someone in that area who might be interested in me speaking while I’m there, please let me know.  I’m trying to do some speaking engagements while I’m already there during those two months.


This Week’s Question:    My husband says that he is put into a kind of uncontrollable rage when I disrespect him. He says it’s his God given right as the husband to be respected.  Last night I told my husband who has physically struck me in the past that I felt unsafe in our marriage and that I thought it was necessary that we lay some ground rules and boundaries specifically to be enforced during our times of arguing and fighting so that we can keep each other accountable.

He resisted in agreeing boundaries were the issue but finally agreed. I told him that a universal boundary should be absolutely no physical striking or threats of physically hurting of any kind toward one another.  Then he said that his boundary was that there was to be  “no disrespect or raising my voice to him.” He said that when he is disrespected, he feels he is being verbally abused by me. For him it feels as terrible as I feel when he slaps me on the arm/leg/head.

In theory this sounds “right”. He says that I am making a double standard when I put a boundary on his behavior but that he cannot put one on me.  And yet, something does not seem right at all about what he is saying.  I agree that disrespecting your husband is as sinful as physically striking your spouse in anger. Is it biblical to see these exactly the same in terms of setting “off limit” boundaries in disagreements?

Answer:  Your struggle to think clearly in this muddle is common to women who live with abusive men.  I want to help clarify some important truths.

First, your husband’s rage and subsequent acts of violence toward you are not uncontrollable.  His behavior is always his choice.  I’m sure he has experienced disrespect from other people in his life – his employer, a rude driver, your children, a friend, an enemy.  People sin against us all the time in many ways and sometimes we do get angry. However, that doesn’t mean we hit them. In fact, isn’t that what we teach our children NOT to do when someone takes their toy or makes them mad?  We don’t hit people when we’re mad.  Period!

Let me ask you a question. Does your husband hit other people in the arm/leg/head when he feels disrespected?  What do you imagine a police officer would say if your husband used that as his excuse when he hit someone who disrespected him in traffic or at the mall?

Hear this important truth. Your husband hits you when he is mad because he chooses to and you have continued to enable him by not enforcing legal consequences that would protect you from this kind of abusive behavior.

He says that it is his God-given right to be respected. It’s also your God given right to be loved and cherished.  When he fails to love and cherish you and you feel hurt or angry, do you hit him?

The second truth I want you be crystal clear on is that you will fail your spouse and he will fail you. Sometimes these failures are big but often they occur in little ways.  He doesn’t love you like you’d like or you don’t respect him like he wants you to.  The truth is, our spouse doesn’t always give us what we want even if what we want is a good and godly thing.  Hurt and disappointment occur in every marriage and we can feel angry, hurt and disrespected.

But is the right answer to treat our spouse with abusive behavior or abusive speech when they don’t give us what we want?  Jesus says “Never!” The Bible labels that kind of behavior sin and selfishness and it is never justified.

The truth is no one gets everything he or she wants all of the time. Part of growing up and maturing is learning how to handle ourselves in a godly, mature way when we are disappointed, angry and hurt when we don’t get what we want.

Your husband’s entitlement thinking has deceived him into believing that since he’s entitled to be respected, he’s entitled to hit you when you’re not complying with what he wants.  That is absolutely not true.  How do other men handle being disrespected by their wives?  They might pray for their wife. They might talk with their wife. They might get counseling as a couple.

A much healthier response to his disappointment or hurt when you don’t respect him is for him to say, “Honey, that hurts me when you talk to me that way. Would you please stop?”  Or even, “When you talk to me that way, I can’t hear you. I’m ending the conversation.”

As far as boundaries – you’re right, you will never feel safe to have a conversation with your husband let alone disagree if you fear for your safety.  In the same way, if your husband fears your tongue and being disrespected, it’s hard for him to share his honest thoughts and feelings with you.

However, I’m not sure of his definition of disrespect.  You were very clear with your definition of what you want stopped, no physical threats or physical violence.  His definition was fuzzy – “No disrespect or raising your voice”.   Does that mean that when you feel strongly about something or disagree, you can’t speak with an elevated voice without him feeling disrespected?  Does that mean that you cannot argue because he will feel you don’t respect his opinion?  Does that mean you have to agree with everything he thinks because not to will feel disrespectful to him?

You need to ask him to define for you the behavior that feels disrespectful to him.  Is it calling him names?  Is it swearing at him?  Is it rolling your eyes?  If you know what it is specifically, then you can decide whether or not you can agree to stop or change it.  If you don’t know what it is, then the rules always change and he can feel disrespected just because you open your mouth in protest.

Finally, a first step boundary or safety plan for both of you might be that when either one of you feels unsafe, the one who feels unsafe can stop the conversation and the other person will respect that boundary and stop talking.

If it continues to be unsafe to have difficult discussions together and you have important things that need to be decided, then you will agree together to engage the help of a counselor to help you learn to speak safely and respectfully with one another and to handle your disappointments in a more godly way.

Friends:  Do you find yourself in fuzzy land when your husband says your behavior is disrespectful?  What exactly does he mean by that?



  1. Brenda on October 29, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Leslie, First off I can agree that anywhere that is beautiful and you reflect on God’s creation is wonderfully refreshing to body, mind and soul.
    The X would say that I didn’t respect him if I told him the Dr. said he shouldn’t use salt or that his supper was getting cold as he played an online game. It didn’t take much for him to be disrespected. His definition of disrespect and mine were 2 totally different things. I was basically to be seen and not heard unless he wanted something. At the time when I did have things to say back, I had to raise my voice because he refused to wear hearing aides and then he would get angry because I was yelling. There was no pleasing the man.

    As far as I am concerned, one time being hit is one time too many. No one should hit their spouse. That is never acceptable and should not be compared to raising your voice ever. I have found that men who hit will do it again and was once told by my family physician, “Once is too many time, twice you may be dead.”

  2. Michael on October 29, 2014 at 5:51 pm

    What is the disrespect is slapping your husband, or scratching his face, or screaming bad names at him or accusing him of affairs he didn’t have, or calling him names repeatedly or threatening divorce in every disagreement. I agree it it snever OK to hit someone. When you are mired in an abusive relationships sometimes as a husband you can’t avoid the raising of the voice. The best thing to do is leave, but then you are accused of abandonment. It was not until I met Leslie that I releazed that as a Husband I have a duty to just leave. Get out of the situation. Also, hold your sapouse accountable for their actions. In a heated discussion it is never OK for either party to physically, emotionally or financially abuse the other party. No matter how “right” you think you are.

  3. M on October 29, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Thank you for this post as I have been struggling with this for awhile now. My husband slapped me the other night and I am having a hard time processing it. We went to dinner and had a few drinks. Once returning home with our children he began to drive fast and began saying ugly things to all of us. I spoke my mind and asked him to not do this especially in front of the children at which time he slapped me. The next morning he said it was my fault because “I was drunk and being inappropriate” I said it still doesn’t allow and exuse you to slap me. At that time he processed to ask for sex and that he didn’t want the night to end that way. He is truly is not remorseful and sees no wrong. I just don’t get why I continue to allow and stay

    • Leslie Vernick on October 30, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      M – that’s a great question and problem you can work on – why do you continue to allow and stay. Until you figure that out and change you, things will continue to get worse. Please take those necessary first steps.

  4. HisEzer on October 29, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    As usual another great question anwered with much wisdom. “
    “You need to ask him to define for you the behavior that feels disrespectful to him.”

    Excellent!! Why can’t other counselors present such simple problem solving as this? It is sad. But you are right, Leslie, terms like “disrespect” are typical labels arbitrarily applied by abuser’s… They have their own personal dictionary for such terms whereby the certain behaviors which apply to others do not apply to themselves… Throwing out labels like this is often both a defensive and offensive tactic used to try to end whatever the abuser is feeling uncomfortable with. In my case, the simple act of asking questions was seen as disrespect. In my view, questions are key to healthy problem-solving. They remove the practice of rash judgment which is often the foundation for misunderstanding and conflict… But questions, in his mind, are a form of personal attack… Also, any form of disagreement in his view automatically means disrespect. (Not from other people though…. Just me, his wife…. ??). No matter how calmly presented… disagreement is seen as a form of disrespect. Apparently in these husbands’ minds, the idea of “oneness” means the wife is supposed to abandon her personhood, convictions, and interests in order to mind-meld with her husband and become a mere extention of him… (Though that may sound sarcastic, it is not meant to be… It is a genuine concern that seems to be a reality).

    Thanks for addressing this primary element behind most destructive marriages:
    The practice of double-standards and arbitrary defining of terms.

    I imagine presenting this simple challenge to an abuser – to have him/her define specifically what disrespect is – would result quickly in a red face and a stumbling for words with intention to avoid exposing the hypocrisy and entitlement thinking going on….

    • Jilly on October 29, 2014 at 10:08 pm

      “meld with her husband and become a mere extention of him” – not sarcastic at all. I once mentioned to my husband that I was not an extension of him, and later he “quoted” back to me that I had said I didn’t want to be married anymore. So apparently, in his mind, the two are the same.

  5. carol on October 29, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    According to my husband I am disrespectful when I raise my voice for any reason, to make a point, or to question him for what he is going to do. I am to know that when he says that ” I only drilled 12 holes and we need to blow insulation Saturday” that is to mean he is taking children with him. When I ask questions related to why he has no trouble raising his own voice at me and tell me I should know what he meant. I am also not to question about when he is to leave for doing this job because “he will leave when he leaves when others (children) are ready to leave”. This does not make any sense to me so because I have chores to do, I asked who are you waiting on? His response was he was waiting on the ones still sleeping. I asked why don’t you wake them up? His response was to yell because they are still sleeping. The other thing he does is always respond with a question even when he is asked a question. Why? it is always to clarify what I say.

    As I type this I realize how twisted he can make a simply question. If I hadn’t lived like this for over 20 years I could believe it was coming from a person with senility in a nursing home.

    He has been in counseling for about 2 years and I have told the counselor that I have only seen change to tactics but no lasting true change of the behavior. I am so exhausted of dealing with the twisted word conversations.

    • Patricia on October 29, 2014 at 7:22 pm

      It is a relief to read the comments on the husband who feels he is disrespected! Because, at present time, I feel I am going to go crazy. My husband uses the “Silent Treatment”, as a means of abuse and control. At present time we are living under the same roof, although not sleeping together; but for the past two months he has not spoken to me. It all started because I set MY boundaries about his control over all HIS finances. I receive a retirement check and Social Security check, which total approximately $2,000. Any and all money he receives from his retirement, from lease of the farm, savings, and investments;I have no knowledge of, as to how much. My name is not even on his checking account, he has his name and his grown son’s name only. Two months ago, I told him that if I was going to be his wife on paper only, then he would not be privileged to all the benefits of being married to me. I stopped cooking for him, doing his laundry or cleaning his room. When I set my boundaries, he told me he was going to control HIS money, it was his money, he had worked hard for it and he was going to continue to keep control of it. He told me that I needed to apologize to him for being so ugly and disrespectful to him, because I spoke to him in an angry tone and that I nagged him. I have held my ground for the past two months, and still have not cooked, done his laundry or cleaned his room; so the “Silent Treatment” continues. Leslie says that if we are going to stay, we should stay well. I pray and seek God’s will in this situation. But, as times goes by being punished by his silence, leaves me questioning how long I should tolerate this mental and emotional abuse?

      • Leslie Vernick on November 12, 2014 at 3:25 pm

        Patricia, does he support you in any way? In other words, does your husband pay the bills out of his money or does he require you to pay for the bills out of your money – or “split” the costs? I assume this is a second marriage and sometimes when people marry and have significant assets coming into the marriage there is a pre-nup signed in order to save inheritance for the children of the first marriage. Is this also part of what’s going on? Or is it you and he married and living together, each paying your own way and yet he expects the perks of being married without any of the responsibilities?

        • Patricia on November 12, 2014 at 9:53 pm

          Leslie, thank you so for your reply. In answer to your questions; my husband now pays all the bills. During the early years of our marriage, we each paid half of the electrical bill. He made all the house mortgage payment, until the house was paid-off 14 years ago. I am not required to pay any of the monthly bills at present. This is a second marriage for me, and a third marriage for him. The last woman he was married to, wiped him out totally, financially and assets-wise. This was his reason for the pre-nup, because he said at his age, if our marriage did not work out, he was too old to start all over again. He was 50-years old when we married 24-years ago. I was 43. So, according to the pre-nup, it was to protect himself more than to leave an inheritance for his grown children (now ages 53, 50, and 49). I have always paid for any and all of my personal expenses; schooling, clothing, or any gifts that were purchased for any of my family members, or any of my three son (now ages 45, 42, and 36). I have always had my own checking account and credit cards, or any other type of credit, which is for my expenses, are all on my name. This was by his choice. He has never really been involved in any of my financial affairs. The reason I have been involved in his financial affairs has been to give him financial advise or suggestions on any money I feel he should invest, or on money he stands to inherit. For example, when his mother was diagnosed with colon cancer, two years before her death, I told him he needed to be his mother’s legal financial executor, because she stood to receive a trust fund, when his uncle died. I was the one who selected and contacted the lawyer. When his uncle died, my husband received the trust fund, as his mother was already deceased. To this day, I have no idea how much money my husband received; he never informed me when he received the money or how much. Although he did inform his son, who suggested that my husband let him borrow the money for a business investment. The son’s investment went bankrupt five years later. This is when I found out about the money my my husband had let his son borrow, as my husband was devastated over the bankrupt. What finally brought all of this one-sided benefits to a head was three months ago, when my husband finally decided WE could remodel the house, which has the same furniture, decor and appliances for the past 24-plus years. Before starting the remodeling project, I told my husband that he was not to put a spending limit on what I wanted to purchase, as I had penny pinched and done without for all these years, and I had been the one who had helped him save and invest; he agreed. That promise did not last long. The argument that brought about the “silent treatment”, was when I gave my husband the recipes for the purchases I had made, which was under $700. He questioned each and every single purchase I made, which was mainly remodeling and repairing material, and flooring for one room. I felt that enough was enough. He has always had the benefits of having a wife; cooking, cleaning, laundry, companion, nurse, and the list is unending; while I have only had a husband in name only. I feel that he has had all the perks of being married to me, without any of the responsibilities.

    • Jane on October 30, 2014 at 3:01 am

      Believe me that I can follow what you’re saying. Twisted word conversations ARE exhausting and make us feel that we are losing touch with reality. But keep close to the godly advice from Leslie and Co. and you will learn and gain strength. Hitting the “Post” button with a prayer for you tonight.

    • Liz on November 1, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Not only does my husband think raising my voice is disrespectful, he says I am abusing him and refuses to continue the conversation, even when I calm down and lower my voice. He too, answers questions with a question. Leslie advised me to repeat the question and ask him not to change the subject. I did that several times, he continued to reply with a question then decided I was being abusive. I never raised my voice, just repeated my question and asked for an answer. Almost all of our conversations get twisted, so sad. I try my best to respect him as a fellow human being, but it is so hard to respect him as a husband and father when he treats his family so poorly.

      • Leslie Vernick on November 2, 2014 at 11:52 pm

        Treat him as you would want to be treated, not as he deserves and it’s easier to do it in that way. But often people who do not want to be accountable are experts at evading questions, returning a question with another question or distraction so that they don’t have to actually look within and answer truthfully – even their own selves.

  6. Brenda on October 29, 2014 at 6:54 pm

    Michael, You just described my marriage only in reverse. It isn’t always the woman who is the victim. It is just more common for it to be the female.

  7. janice on October 29, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Wonderful answer. thankyou for sharing your wisdom

  8. Heidi on October 29, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    What a great article. I wish I’d had this information years ago! Once is too ms y times!!so true, Brenda!!! I stayed for ,y children and because it was the “Christian” thing to do. That was wrong information I got! It happened again and got worse all the time. I’m out now thank God!!! I’m healing and getting more clarity. If I just didn’t have an opinion I’d have been fine!! My estranged husband’s definition of ” disrespect” was any time I had an opinion different than his or he didn’t get his way!

  9. Brenda on October 29, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Isn’t it funny how those pesky opinions seem to set off the former H’s? I have all kinds of them now and other people don’t seem to mind and even ask me for them from time to time. Huh?

  10. Shellys on October 30, 2014 at 12:08 am

    Thanks for the question Leslie. What my husband considered disrespectful was any comment, attitude or “look” that in any way questioned his viewpoint. I would imagine that in a counselor’s office, the abuser would be able to list a number of quite reasonable instances of “disrespect”. However, in day to day interactions it was my experience that disrespect was a definition that depended on circumstances. Usually accusations of “You are disrespectful” or “You have never been submissive” were randomly lobbed when I would try to address the anger, dismissive attitude or emotional punishment of my husband. He never brought up concerns about my behavior or attitude in an effort to mend relationship. It was only when I would try to bring up issues about his treatment of me that he would say “Well, you do this….” or “Well, you don’t respect me….” or whatever else he could think of to derail the conversations. Every discussion always ended up being my fault.

  11. Laura on October 30, 2014 at 12:51 am

    Couples counseling should never be recommended… 🙁

  12. Laura on October 30, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Couples counseling should never be recommended in an abusive marriage… 🙁

  13. Miki on October 30, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    This reminds me so much of my ex-husband. I would use clear definitions of what I thought was disrespectful and he would always float around his definition never clearly defining anything. I too was not just struck but flung several times by my ex-husband after 9 years of marriage I called it quits. I decided that my safety was more important than trying to appease an insecure individual. My ex also saw the need to disrespect me like this in front of our 2 small children who are 2 & 4 now. I had to leave for them as well they deserve to see what stability, love, affection, trust and sincerity actually look like.

    I like to call the fuzzy confusion cloud that an abuser likes to create their mental and emotion “dodge ball”. They can easily “hit” you with what they define as disrespectful to them but they easily jump out of the way and “dodge” any definitions that you may have when they disrespect you.

    I pray that you allow the Lord to lead you and that you make a wise decision concerning your marriage but if you ever feel unsafe please take legal action

  14. Lisa on October 30, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    One day after being accused of being disrespectful again, the words just came out of my mouth, “You just want to be idolized! I’m not a disrespectful person!” Eventually and after much time, reading, and research, I understood how they project just about everything. That led me to reflect on how they are actually very disrespectful in nature unless they need to “look good” to someone. The Lord eventually gave me a new perspective on endurance and expiration of it leading to escape led by Him.It took a few years with much prayer, research, counseling, and COURAGE. There is peace now and I am healing. I finally got it that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead FOR ME TOO! I pray for the “enemy of my soul” and have found God’s grace so that I am able to keep calm and peaceful for our daughter and obedience to God.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 2, 2014 at 11:58 pm

      Projection is huge in abusive marriages. For those who don’t know what that term means it is when you project the qualities that are in your own heart onto another person. In other words, “you’re being disrespectful” or “You’re flirting with someone inappropriately, or “you’re angry” may be mere projections of the issues in their own heart.

      • Jilly on November 3, 2014 at 9:49 pm

        Thank you, Leslie, in mentioning this Projection thing. I wonder if you might expound on this sometime. It has amazed me that my husband will accuse me of doing something that I’ve noticed in his own behavior. I wonder if it’s a way to cast the blame all around so nobody’s really wrong. Leslie, do you have suggestions on how to handle Projection when it is occurring?

        • Leslie Vernick on November 6, 2014 at 3:13 pm

          I will talk about projection in a future blog post.

  15. G on October 30, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    I felt like I was reading my own issue in most of this today. It took me years to see that being disrespectful could be whatever he wanted it to be that day. A double standard is an under statement at times.

  16. Says Who on October 30, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    If I didn’t agree with my husband he said I was calling him a ‘liar’, so I suppose I was disrespecting him? For me, raising my voice was NOT allowed. At times, I felt speaking louder was the only way to get across to him, however, I was told “NOT to raise my voice” at him. So, I coward back… 🙁

  17. Shan on October 30, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    I think it is not the disrespect that makes the abusive person angry, but the insecurity in themselves. If they felt good about themselves inside they wouldn’t need you to validate and agree with them all the time and it wouldn’t make them fly into a rage if you had a different opinion.

  18. Shellys on October 31, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    Shan, I think you might be right about the insecurity part. However, I spent years trying to help my husband with his “insecurity” – which I could see, and that he would never acknowledge. I was always trying to find some issue that could explain his problems, from ADD to famiiy of origin issues. He would laugh at me, insisting that he was perfectly fine, and that I had the problems. I wasted years trying to diagnose his issues so I could “help” him. He did not need my help. He decidedly did not want my help. He needed to be held accountable for damaging behavior that he willingly chose to do. He knew he was wounding me. He just didn’t care. I suffer from plenty of insecurity after decades of being discounted, ignored, and emotionally wounded, but I do not treat those I love in damaging ways. If I do find that I have wounded someone, I repent, and I seek to change my behavior.

  19. Lynn on November 1, 2014 at 10:45 am

    As I was reading the original question, I started getting that “spinny feeling” that I get sometimes in an interaction with my husband. It was learning how to recognize that feeling — like I’m Alice falling down the rabbit hole — that helped me learn to recognize when he is doing his word twisting and I am being subjected to more emotional abuse. The first thing I had to learn to do was recognize when I’m in that place and teach myself to question what is going on and respond differently. Like many others here, simply having my own opinion or disagreeing with my husband sends him into days of withdrawing anger. Unlike many of you who have husbands who are overtly angry and act out with hitting, name calling or raging, my husband is very covert in his abuse — which has made it extremely difficult to finally figure out what is going on. He will withdraw in anger for sometimes weeks at a time. glower at me, ignore me — he withdrew sex from me about five years ago. This complete withdrawing from the relationship is incredibly painful as I imagine physical abuse might be. Which brings me to another point in the original post. Your husband said when you “disrespect” him it is as painful as when he slaps you on the arm/leg/head. Really? He knows what it feels like to be slapped on the arm/leg/head by the person who has pledged before God to love, honor and protect you? I don;t think so.

    • cocoa on February 20, 2015 at 9:16 pm

      I can completely relate to this. My husband is very, very intelligent and therefore a master manipulator. I blame myself everyday for having been manipulated from the very beginning–over 20 years now. According to him, I have been inappropriate and he says he has “no respect” for me? I am also so baffled by this–I end up blaming myself for the hopeless way I feel. The marriage is has so deteriorated now that we have not been “together” as man and wife because he says he lost respect for me and he finds me “almost repulsive.” Ask me what I did to deserve this–? He never tells me exactly what I did that was disrespectful or inappropriate. That’s for me to know because according to him–I “know what” I did and continue to do,.” The mental and emotional blackmail just doesn’t end. So now, he withdraws from me sexually for a year and somehow it’s “my fault.”
      I cannot tell you the emotions that I go through in a day. I just read Leslie’s very insightful book–The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. Recommended reading for women like us. It is just so spot on, honest but also gave me hope by reminding me that God is in control. I am so tired of feeling unloved, unworthy, insecure and crazy that everyday it is a struggle to live. I smile and hide, especially from my mother—I don’t want her to know how much pain I am in. Anyway, thank you for allowing me to vent. Thank you Mrs. Vernick for your sound, wise and godly knowledge and advise.

  20. Ginny on November 1, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    Leslie, I love how balanced your answers are. I have learned from reading your responses to acknowledge both the sin against me and the sinful response I can have to the sin against me. I have also seen, sadly, that I, too, can be the one with the entitled mindset, and that it very grieving to me. Thank you for your clear speech, and I thank God that you are using the gifts He has given you to help others. I love reading your site not because I am in an abusive marriage (by the grace of God) but because I seem to choose abusive friends–verbally, emotionally, and spiritually. Sadly, my eyes are being open to abusive of this nature in so many places like church (from leaders in churches), friends, and family of origin. I have been working with a wonderful counselor for 2 years, and I have also found your website and books to be so incredibly helpful. May God protect you and give you all you need so you may continue in your work.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 2, 2014 at 11:53 pm

      Thank you. I appreciate that as I have tried hard not to portray victims as in any way responsible for the abuse directed towards them, but they are responsible for how they handle it and respond to it. I’m so glad you’ve found good help.

      • Michael on November 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm

        Thank you for reminding me again of that.

  21. Hope on November 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Disrespect has a wide range of places in a dysfunctional marriage. At times I struggle with the point of disrespect when it comes to confiding in others about the poor behavioral patterns of my spouse. Jeremiah 17:7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. He is our hope and we will sustain by trusting in him if we’ve learned one thing through our suffering this is the truth. The mixed messages we receive about confidentiality are abundant in our churches whether we admit this or not. We are reminded to be humble and quietly wait upon God. We are expected to go to a brother in sin although. When confronted with all of this there is so much confusion. It’s safe to say before I’ve confided in anyone about disrespectful behavior from my husband I’ve let my voice be heard and feelings known carefully and kindly to no avail, I think that is usually well done in these situations, even quiet reminders are omitted which in itself is disrespect. I hear another woman mention having our opinion disrespected, we can at least give someone an opinion whether we agree or not, look at politics ect. everyone in life is allowed an opinion, it defines individuality, our children have to think through things and form their own opinions, God’s Word is often the influence of my opinions along with experience and so forth. We have found ourselves in a few family situations currently, which have been for a long time in the making. My opinion has been disregarded and grossly disrespected prior to these incidents in concern for how this should be or have been handled. I have been scoffed at. Now while consequences are mounting, I am having to be made to receive the pain and misery of his poorly made decisions. I have finally learned to trust in the Lord and it takes great lengths to remove myself and other family members from the consequences of my husbands sinful decisions or lack of. Although it is impossible to completely remove myself from the situation I am not responsible for the worry and depression he is passing (trying) along to me. It is very disrespectful to not bear your own burdens and to throw your burdens onto others, it is also very disrespectful to not hear our loved ones when they careful give advice for situations that they are looking to God to help us along with in life, and this includes those who try to counsel us as well as our Lord who often lets us make our own decisions of free will when we know he is directing us to do otherwise. Le’s honor God by respecting ourselves as well.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 2, 2014 at 11:51 pm

      I like your phrase that it is disrespectful to expect people to bear the burdens of your own poor choices. We so often take responsibility for things that are not our responsibility to take.

  22. Brenda on November 6, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    The Lord is definately working on my core strength and discernment. I impulsively bought tickets to my favorite Christian Band, Third Day. Unfortunately, the ladies that I thought might go with me didn’t want to or couldn’t. There is a “Christian man” who lives in my building and we have had several friendly conversations and he even hugged me when I returned home last month from a trip welcoming me back. I Certainly wasn’t expecting that.

    I hadn’t seen him and wanted to offer him the ticket and the concert is next week. Tuesday night I typed out an explanation letter–no strings, I wasn’t asking for a date etc. The following morning I put it on his door and noticed a sign saying not to disturb him until this Friday because he was working on a musical project. I saw no harm in leaving a note that he could easily put aside and did not see it as disturbing him. If he didn’t walk out his door, he wouldn’t know it was there.

    This morning when I left for work I found my note taped to my door in clear view for all to see. There was a question, “what does this mean”. A sentence telling me that he would go with me if his other time restraints didn’t interfere. If I didn’t have my core built up to some degree, I probably would be a pile of jello right at this moment. There was more writing on the note, but tossed the paper on the table and went on to work.

    I feel that his leaving this on my door the way he did was very disrespectful. Had he have hung it there where no one could read it ok. I would understand if he was busy. I don’t understand hanging it like it was a wanted poster or a public rebuke.

    Are there any sane men out there. Am I the one not seeing this correctly.

    This man has talked with me about handing out Bibles and then treats me this way. I don’t get it.

    • Faith on November 10, 2014 at 12:51 pm

      Brenda it is not for you to get him. You made a sweet offer and his response was not in kind. So glad that you recognized the disrespectful behavior. You have the God given wisdom to know that something is off. Shake it off and offer the ticket to someone else who will appreciate it.

    • Jeff on November 10, 2014 at 6:53 pm

      Am I the one not seeing this correctly?
      No, you are seeing this correctly. . . Talk about a “harsh start up”. Don’t make any convoluted rationalizations (not that you are). You already know the answer you seek. “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the harsh and cruel.” (1 Peter 2:18) –Don’t do it. It wasn’t right then or now. God made us to think and reason. He gave us super strong rational reasoning abilities. Don’t allow your emotions to hijack your intellect.

  23. Brenda on November 12, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Thank you, Faith and Jeff for your kind responses. More happened after this and that mound of jello I did become for a short while. I blamed myself for asking a man to go with me, but seriously I wasn’t asking for a marriage proposal. My friend went into actions and prayers that brought me through it quickly. I realized that I do not even want a friend who doesn’t love others as they would want others to do to them. I can’t imagine anyone wanting the things he did to me, done to him. I was able to set boundaries along the way, so I learned from the experience. I woke up yesterday with another woman’s name on my heart. We are going through the when and where’s at the moment. I will go alone if necessary. I know that God will be with me.

    Leslie, I’d really like to have a discussion on your article from your newsletter from yesterday: Are you trying to be God.

  24. Marcia on November 17, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    I have a verbal abuser I am married to. He is a yeller in front of our 4 year old. I asked him not to do those things in front of her because she is afraid. I thought he was acting this way b/c he has not worked all the years (4) that we have been married. We went to counseling and my pastor wanted us to do a love dare kind thing (his book) and come back after completing it. My husband assured my Pastor he would coorperate but has not. He now has a job and he still acts this way. I was the breadwinner all the years and now he barely wants to contribute to the household bills. In the bible it says if a man dont work he dont eat. Well it is beyond that. I get accused of affairs with other men and women at work. He stays out late at night and come home accusing. When I confronted him and shared how he makes me feel, he goes into yelling mode. if I dont agree with him I am disrepecting him he says because the bible says you have to respect the husband and he is the leader of the home. He was to be the leader but doesnt act like a leader. I am truly feeling like a doormat.

    • Leslie Vernick on November 18, 2014 at 5:02 pm

      Marcia, it sounds like you are being treated as a doormat and the standards that apply to you don’t apply to him. He can yell and disrespect you but you cannot disagree or yell back at him. You have to contribute your income to meet family responsibilities but he does not. Your work through the Love Dare book and he does not. You are questioned and challenged as to your whereabouts or sexual faithfulness, but he can stay out late with no accountability. Now, how are you going to stop being a doormat?

      • Marcia on November 18, 2014 at 5:11 pm

        I am not sure how I am going to go about getting my point across since he yells and manipulates each situation. Any advice for me?

        • Julie on December 15, 2014 at 4:10 am

          Did you ever do anything to stop being a doormat? I’m wondering because I am in a similar situation. My husband hnjobs over the years and he im has been fired from nearly every one. He is now working part time.y counselor tells me I need to respect him for doing even a part time job. Additionally, he is verbally and emotionally abusive, yells and fight in front of the kids, and when I try to remoe myself from the conversation he tells me I am ‘running away’ from the problems.

        • Janice' on February 21, 2015 at 1:58 pm


  25. Shelley on November 22, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    WIll you please consider translating your books in Spanish and when you make your video curriculum, put subtitles/and audio in spanish? The spanish speaking world is crying out for good curriculum dealing with domestic violence… You don’t have to post this. Bless you and hope God opens doors for publishing

    • Leslie Vernick on November 23, 2014 at 12:40 am

      Shelley, I don’t have control over my printed materials. But I believe How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong is translated into Spanish. I hear you about putting Spanish subtitles or translations on my other materials. Sadly the costs to do some of these things is expensive but I will see what I can do to provide more materials in Spanish. I’m heading to Cuba in January for some teaching so I know this is important.

  26. Brenda on December 16, 2014 at 10:10 am

    Leaving the room when your h acts in this manner especially in front of the kids is not “running away”, which my former h would also say, it is a consequence for his behavior. Respecting a man for working is good, but not when he repeatedly gets himself fired. I am sure there are valid reasons for his dismissal. The X got fired from a job where he repeatedly told his boss that he wanted a voluntary demotion. When they hired a new supervisor he was fired and couldn’t figure out why. I told him why. They weren’t going to fire another person to make room for your request. They only needed so many people and he had said he didn’t want his job. No one else said they didn’t want there’s. It was the best paying job that he had during our entire marriage. It was never good before that. He was always abusive, but things got much worse after that. He made much less money after that point, but continued to spend like he was in his prior job. I started setting boundaries and he didn’t like it. It was hard, and now I have been happily divorced for a little over a year.

  27. Brenda on February 21, 2015 at 10:08 am

    Oh Dear Cocoa,
    My heart goes out to you. You should tell you Mother what you are going through. She should be there for you. I would also urge you to read Barbara Roberts book “Not Under Bondage”. My dear you are in bondage and for NO GOOD Reason whatsoever. Your h is torturing you and you do not deserve this whatsoever. Please consider that you would be better off living in a cardboard box or under an overpass than living with this man. I mean no disrespect for you, but that is how I felt before I left the X and was treated like I was nothing. We are beautiful daughters of the King, the Lord Jesus Christ. That makes us awesome. I will pray for you even now. This is not a marriage that honors God.

  28. Mary on April 4, 2024 at 8:35 am

    I struggle with my husbands constant use of this statement. Women expect to be loved unconditionally, but men can’t expect to be respected unconditionally, we have EARN it. Said in disgust

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