What is Verbal Abuse?

Morning friends,

Thanks for your prayers. My body is healing from last week’s fall. My finger is still pretty stiff and swollen but each day I feel better. If you haven’t had a chance to check them out, I’d encourage you to head over to my Facebook professional page and start watching our short 3-5 minute nugget videos. They are fast, easily sharable and give you one piece of the puzzle in learning healthy relationships and dealing with toxic and destructive ones in a godly way. Click here to see them.

On May 22 I will be doing a new FREE webinar answering the #1 question I get asked the most: How long should you keep hoping for your destructive spouse to change and how will you know his change is real? I’d encourage you to sign up and also share this link with a friend.

In addition, prior to the webinar, I will also be sending those who sign up 3 short video’s addressing topics related to the webinar. Video #1 – If he doesn’t hit me is it still abuse? Video # 2 – Three common Christian teachings that keep women scared, silent, and stuck in destructive marriages and what the Bible really teaches. And Video # 3 – Three reasons you should say No to marriage counseling if you’re in a destructive marriage.

Watching these video’s ahead of time will give you a richer understanding of the true Biblical roadmap required for healing a destructive marriage.  

Today’s Question: What exactly constitutes verbal abuse? My husband denies being verbally abusive but I believe he is. Can you give me specific examples that are considered verbally abusive? He never uses four letter words towards me but his words, tone and constant criticism feel abusive to me. Am I just overreacting or being too sensitive?  

Answer: Cursing someone out is bigger than just using four letter words. Cursing someone is condemning him or her as if you’re their judge or even their god. When someone does that he (or she) believes they’re the superior one and as such have the right to cast “judgement” on another’s character, personhood, or even actions in a demeaning or derogatory way. The Bible speaks to this kind of person when Jesus says, “If you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell” (Matthew 5:22).

It may be helpful to make a distinction between an abusive incident and an abusive relationship. Since we are all sinners, we are all capable of some verbal abuse (James 3:2). James also cautions believers that our tongue can be misused as a weapon to hurt other people. James describes it this way. He says the tongue is “restless and evil full of deadly poison. Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it curses those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right! (James 3:8-10). He also warns that if we claim to be a believer and don’t control our tongue, we are lying to ourselves and to others” (James 1:26).

Therefore, when a believer sins and verbally curses someone out, he or she should immediately recognize that he has crossed a line and used his tongue as a weapon for harm. James clearly says this is not right. As does Paul in Romans 13:10 when he says, “Love does no harm.” Once that line has been crossed, a sincere apology should be given, repentance before the Lord should occur and a strong effort to never repeat that kind of abusive speech should be made.  However, when abusive speech happens again and again and again, then it’s not just crossing the line and being a sinner. It is being an unrepentant sinner who refuses to submit himself under the authority of God which begs the question as to whether or not he or she is a believer at all.

Here are a few examples of cursing kinds of comments, without using four letter words. When they are a regular pattern in a relationship, they are verbally abusive.

  • You’re never happy
  • You’re just like your mother/father
  • You’re making things up
  • You love to blame others, don't you?
  • You’re treating me like …a jerk, incompetent
  • You’re sick
  • You’re crazy
  • You’re a foolish woman
  • You have a Jezebel spirit
  • You’re not thinking right
  • You’re a piece of work
  • You’re high maintenance
  • No one else would be able to live with you
  • You’re the one with the problem
  • You’re a control freak
  • You can’t forgive

But cursing or judging/condemning is not the only form of verbal abuse. The Bible (especially Proverbs) talks about slanderers, mockers, scoffers, liars, and revilers. Click To Tweet

Each of these descriptors has a slightly different definition but they all cause damage to others by their words. The psalmist cried out, “Your insults have broken my heart, and I am in despair” (Psalm 69:20).

Here are a few ways a spouse may use his or her words to hurt you and undermine your confidence.

1. Regularly questioning or challenging your thinking and decision making – as if you are not thinking correctly, wisely or Biblically or making good choices.    

A raised eyebrow   Are you sure you want to do that?   I’m not sure that’s a good idea.

2. Subtly undermining your authority or credibility. He/she can do this with the children, or with other people you both know and value.  

Mom said you can’t watch TV but you know mom, she’s wrapped up too tight.

From the kids eyes, Dad looks like the fun, nice, rational thinking dad and you look like a control freak or religious nutcase or an emotional wreck.

3. Misrepresenting what you said to your kids or other people.  

For example, telling the kids:  “Mom said she doesn’t want to be married to me anymore. She wants to be free to do what she wants.”

What you actually said was: “I can’t stand you controlling my every decision and thought. There is no room for me in this marriage.”

Or he says to you,“You said you would co-sign on this loan” when what you actually said was “I’ll think about co-signing on the loan.”

4. Subtle jokes that hurt and that are at your expense. There is no apology and the jokes continue. He enjoys getting a laugh at your expense.

For example: Making lewd remarks about the lack of sex life or your “prudishness” when watching something provocative on TV.

Making sarcastic fun of your cooking in front of the kids or company.

Making disparaging comments about a weakness you have “he can’t fix anything around here to save his life,” to incite laughter from others.

5.  Privately maligning your character to others.  

“You have no idea what I have to live with at home.” – saying this to a relative, a church friend, small group leader, pastor, or counselor.

Mommy’s/Daddy’s no fun is she/he.

Mommy’s mean, sick, needs help, trying to make you feel scared of daddy.

7. Shaming, guilt tripping and minimizing what happened or your feelings

I can never do anything right in your eyes can I?

You are so negative. You are always critical of me.

I try so hard and this is the thanks I get?  

OR when you set a boundary or say no, he looks wounded, crushed. And says something like – “Wow, I thought you were different. You’re so mean, selfish or unloving.”

8.  Veiled threats

“You’ll be sorry. “

“Don’t cross me.”

There is nothing more said but by the body language you know that it is a threat.

In addition, there can be disrespectful non-verbal behavior such as a pattern of falling asleep, frowning, ignoring, yawning and sighing when you’re trying to have an important conversation.

Words impact us and sometimes can infect us with their poison (1 Corinthians 15:33). The Bible is very clear about the power of someone’s words and warns us, “Reckless words pierce like a sword”(Proverbs 12:18). “Life and death is in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21).

Paul tells us to distance ourselves from anyone who claims to be a believer yet indulges in sexual sin, or is greedy, or worships idols, or is abusive, or is a drunkard, or cheats people.” He says, “Don’t even eat with such a person” (1 Corinthians 5:11).

It’s temping for someone who is reckless with their words to blame their sinful outbursts on the recipient of their wrath. “You made me so mad.” Or “You pushed my buttons” or “I was so stressed out.”

And all of that may be true. People provoke us all the time and push our buttons. Stress is real, and we do feel angry. Yet when verbal abuse happens over and over again the Bible is clear we need to look within. We are responsible for what comes out of our own mouths even when we’re stressed, provoked, or angry. In fact, Jesus tells us when ugly words spew out of our mouth, it’s best we pay attention to what’s going on inside of us, rather than blaming what’s happening around us. Jesus says, “Out of the overflow of your heart, your mouth speaks” (Matthew 15:11).

All that to say, please do not accept any responsibility for how your husband talks to you. His tongue and his temper are his responsibility to control. You are sensitive because God made you sensitive and most people are sensitive to harsh, cruel, mocking, sarcastic, critical and hurtful words. But the question I want to ask you is what are you going to do to take care of you?

It’s interesting that Paul encouraged young Timothy not to allow others to intimidate him or treat him with contempt because of his youth. Paul realized that the religious leaders might not respect Timothy but told Timothy not to allow that to “define” him or make him feel worthless.  

Paul himself put some boundaries around those who were seeking to undermine his authority and credibility (see 2 Corinthians 10, 11). Proverbs reminds you to “Guard your heart, above all else for it is the wellspring of your life” (Proverbs 4:23). Therefore, what do you need to do to protect yourself against the reckless words of your spouse? Leave the room? Put earplugs on when he starts up? Verbalize a boundary and say, “I’m not listening to you when you talk to me like that.”

The bigger marital problem you have is not his words but his attitude that justifies his belief that he’s entitled to use those words to hurt you, to punish you, and to control you. It’s also his lack of empathy for the pain he’s caused you. Instead of caring, he criticizes you as “too sensitive.”  

Sometimes when an abused person wakes up to the reality of her situation, she feels her own anger and can start lobbing back some verbal bombs of her own. Don’t let that be you (Romans 12:21). Instead to learn to walk in CORE strength.

  • C- Courageously committed to truth, no more pretending.
  • O-Open to the Holy Spirit and wise others to help me grow.
  • R- Responsible for myself, and respectful towards others without dishonoring myself.
  • E- Empathic and compassionate without enabling destructive behaviors to continue.

Let me close with the prayer of the psalmist for us all. “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).

Friends, how would you describe verbal abuse and what have you done to guard your heart and protect your mind from it?


  1. Jessi on May 1, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    After trying to confront behaviors in person and with a counselor, there was no change and denial of the hurting behaviors my then husband was directing towards me. (He is a worship pastor and his words were deemed ok since he was just sharing his feelings.) I have now had to set up a separate email account that I will only communicate with my ex-husband through. Even with these boundaries there are attempts to verbally abuse and manipulate me. A message came through yesterday that I had to step back from and claim Christ’s truth of who I am in him to not let the words devistate me as they have in the past. I am still working on my CORE to be able to communicate with him but for me at the moment staying as detached and focused on the facts necessary for the kids is the only way I have been able to move forward.

    • Hope on May 1, 2019 at 1:48 pm

      That sounds so painful. I’m sorry you are experiencing it. I wonder if you could have emails sent to a friend who could edit out the abusive statements before forwarding them onto you? If he knew someone else was reading them, perhaps he would be more careful.

      • Jessi on May 2, 2019 at 12:49 pm

        Thank you and unfortunately I have already gone down the route of having pastors, counselors, family/friends, and even a printable message board to help filter communication. It has been growing for sure to recognize and not be drawn back into the disfunction but the separate email account was my attempt at a compromise after an ultimatum was given to me. God is good and none of this is without his purpose.

        • JoAnn on May 2, 2019 at 3:46 pm

          Jessi, is he still a worship leader after the pastor knows what is his heart? That’s the ultimate hypocrisy. Yikes! I’m so sorry for you having to put up with that, but also for the people he contacts under false pretenses.

          • Jessi on May 14, 2019 at 12:28 pm

            He was hired back on once the divorce was finalized. It has been a great practice in trusting God in his justice and ultimate plan.

    • Jolene on May 3, 2019 at 2:53 am


      Have you heard of “Our Family Wizard”? It is an app for coparenting, which allows both parents access to and/or to share their child’s info (sport schedules, results from well visits, school updates…). There is a feature on there for texting and emailing THROUGH the app ONLY, and all information sent through the app is actually admissible in court, including harassing emails. In fact, courts can require all communication only through the app if one parent is harassing another.

      • Jessi on May 14, 2019 at 12:30 pm

        We had been using ‘talking parents’ but was trying to find an option that didn’t cost anything. I remember looking at that site and may look more into it if things don’t improve.

  2. Stac on May 1, 2019 at 4:52 pm

    I get this, how am I supposed to respond when my spouse is being controlling or a jerk. I am certain I told my husband he was being a jerk at least twice this week. At some point I feel I need to let him know he is crossing a line.
    Admittedly. I would never talk to my kids that way because it is “unloving”. I am feeling both convinced and confused.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 1, 2019 at 11:24 pm

      So maybe you can speak the truth, “I dont’ like the way you handled this” or “I feel hurt by what you did” without judging him as a jerk?

      Does that help?

  3. Ann on May 1, 2019 at 6:34 pm

    Thank you Leslie for highlighting that abusive communication goes beyond verbal. At least if you have words you have something to work from. Nonverbal abuse leaves you feeling like you are losing your mind, always second guessing what was communicated. The words can say one thing while the nonverbal gives the opposite statement. I have found this type of abuse extremely tough. I have genuinely believed I was losing my mind at times until God taught me about covert narcissistic abuse. Now it makes sense. I work on remaining alert to not get caught in the trap.

    • Lynne on May 1, 2019 at 9:34 pm

      I deal with the same nonverbal, covert abuse that Ann describes. If he yelled or used words, I maybe would have realized the destruction he was causing sooner. I get the silent treatment on a regular basis and when he is semi-communicating with me, he tends to be indifferent and dismissive. I’ve often wondered why he stays because so much of the time he seems to dislike me. The Lord showed me, also, what I was dealing with and I’ve been aware the covert abuse for a while now. I’ve remained because I believed it was best for the kids and I had no desire to break up our family. But now that the kids are young adults, I’m wondering if it was a mistake to expose them to such an insidious example of how someone treats the person they are supposed to love and cherish. I am so grateful for this ministry and the solid, biblical truths that are taught. I am gaining more understanding and trusting that I am getting stronger in the CORE truths.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 1, 2019 at 11:23 pm

      Yes non verbal emotional abuse can be very crazy making and destabalizing. But I wanted to define verbal abuse for this person, because it’s just not about losing one’s temper or calling someone names.

      • Autumn on May 2, 2019 at 4:37 am

        I agree. Abuse is calculated. Any “loss of temper” is a strategic scare tactic in an abuser’s tool box that they can turn off or on by choice.

        • P. Marie on May 2, 2019 at 12:21 pm

          My husband has found some way to verbally blame me for every medical emergency we have had:
          *When he broke his own hand at work.
          *When our six-year-old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
          *When the same son had an OCD episode and refused to drink his juice for a low blood sugar.
          These incidents are in addition to lots of other verbal/mental abuse; a continually arrogant attitude, and breaches in trust as I put in comments in Leslie’s last blog post. I have been learning about covert narcissism as well . But the Lord is with me has been helping me to not take false blame and to start to get more healthy emotionally. I have dealt with long term depression, believing that I must not divorce; but the Lord is freeing me from that misunderstanding of his perfect will. God is giving me hope about my future, and I know He truly wants to heal me and give me a life I can thrive in whether or not I am able to stay married.

          • Aly on May 2, 2019 at 2:57 pm

            P Marie,
            You are doing such a great job at tuning into the Lord and at the same time educate yourself about about destructive patterns in people and relational dynamics.

            Are you also blamed for all the GOOD, joyful experiences by your husband?
            Or only the frustrating or stressful or more difficult things of life experiences…

          • Leslie Vernick on May 3, 2019 at 12:36 am

            Glad you are not taking those comments personally. It’s from a person who cannot accept feedback and needs to blame others when life doesnt’ go the way he expects.

  4. Ann on May 1, 2019 at 11:30 pm

    Yes, thank you Leslie. I understand what you were targeting.

  5. blessed on May 1, 2019 at 11:47 pm

    I am in a marriage that is trying to heal from over 20 years of dysfunction–that we didn’t even realize we were doing. Too much to sum up here, but much of what you’ve addressed today is exactly what I am struggling with most at this moment, and would appreciate help understanding.

    My husband is an unrepentant porn user. He is an emotionally and functionally absent husband/father. He never transferred his first loyalty from his mom to me. Over the years he has grown less financially responsible. He is borderline alcoholic. He blames the porn and drinking on me.

    And now to me–I am fully aware that I am critical, judgmental, give shame, and blame. Actually, my husband and I both are–we learned from our families, and only in the past couple of years as our marriage fell apart did I start diving into all the whys. But God has been convicting me of these things and I want to stop. I really am so much better now–not overt criticism, but I know there are still subtle messages I am sending, based upon what I believe about him. And that’s the part I need help with, not just for my marriage but for my parenting.

    I’m reading a book about shame, and it says criticism is bad. This is so strange of an idea to me–isn’t criticism an unfortunate but natural part of parent/child interaction? For example, my eldest daughter is not great with her hygiene. When I try to casually and nicely suggest she needs a shower, I know she feels criticized and condemned. (We are all recovering codependents.)

    I understand the difference between a choice/action being wrong and the person being wrong–the latter is the root of shame, right? So how do I gently correct my daughter without her feeling criticized and shamed?!

    Same with my husband–I think at this point he is reacting to our past interactions, but if I nicely make a direct request for a new behavior, such as asking him to pick up the kids on time, all he hears/assumes is criticism, no matter how casually, directly, and nicely I say it.

    And I have a VERY hard time separating choice from character. Because all the things he has been doing all these years that he does not think are wrong, are not affecting our marriage, are not affecting our kids–like the porn, the drinking, the financial irresponsibility, the lack of emotional loyalty and commitment, even him not being dependable when it comes to picking up kids!–I can’t help but see them as character flaws/failures! I realize they are choices, but they are choices that stem directly from his character! So YES I am judging, and I don’t say any of this to him but it is in my heart and I know it affects how I respond to him, trust him, etc.

    I also see I am doing this same character vs choice thing with my kids–and I don’t want to hurt them any more than they have been already hurt by our marriage issues.

    I would really appreciate very practical advice from anyone who gets my problem and can offer healthier perspective. I need to know what it LOOKS like to not judge, not criticize, not shame. If I can wrap my head around what I’m supposed to be thinking/feeling/doing differently I will do so.

    Thanks, anyone.

    • Moon Beam on May 2, 2019 at 4:46 am

      Someone has conned you into thinking you are responsible for your husband’s bad behavior. Forget the discussions about you being shameful or unsupportive. He is being a selfish jerk and a terrible husband. Your problem is him, not your response to his horrible behavior. You are in what is termed brain “fog.”

      You are in a good place by visiting this site. I hope you read the various recommended resources. Read Lundy Bancroft’s work, you will find your husband and his childish tactics revealed. Let the sin come to light and everything will become crystal clear. Watch some Patrick Doyle videos online. Avoid reading all marriage books until you clearly identify each of your individual roles. Try the Focus ministries site out of Illinois, they have some good free resources. Maybe some who are dealing with porn issues can add resources too.

    • Autumn on May 2, 2019 at 4:53 am

      I agree, forget the whole character and choice discussion. Who gave you that bad advice? It is confusing for you to implement because it is illogical. It is time to accept that you are in s terrible situation that requires action on your part to create consequences, get out of the marriage and realize you have been fooled and coerced. The truth is there is nothing you can do to fix his problem. Find safety for you and your children, make other living arrangements but if he was going to or wanted to change he would have done it a long time ago. You are in a sinking ship, time to bail out. Get counseling and support to help to make an exit plan.

      • Aly on May 2, 2019 at 12:16 pm

        I agree with so much of what Moonbeam and Autumn posted to you.

        You are dealing with a person who clearly has addiction and character issues, they will ALWAYS feel judged when you shine light on the issues (that are not being addressed).

        Are you in individual counseling? What things have you tried for interventions?

        Your husband needs a lot of interventions to see that his behavior is about him and his insecurities most likely.

        Is your husband able to receive any feedback? Probably not.
        A person sometimes uses criticism card to avoid taking responsibility of what ‘they’ need to address rather than take into consideration the effects of their behavior on another.

    • Recovering on May 2, 2019 at 10:39 am

      Blessed- I think I hear what you are saying.

      My story may be familiar to yours in a few ways. 20 years- several kiddos. Both of us came from dysfunction (but didn’t see it for the first decade). Husband is in counseling for sex addiction currently. Emotional abuse from him. I formally was verbally abusive. A counselor addressed something that I said to husband in a session years and years ago and I first realized that I was repeating what had been said to me growing up. That was one of my first clues to the dysfunction that I thought was normal.

      The tricky thing for me is that both things are true: I have been verbally abusive and I have been shamed for husbands sinful behavior. It’s not a one or the other but both have happened. That makes it really hard to see where the truth is.

      With your kids- create emotional safety. Apologize and truly repent of shaming you have done to them. Let them know that you are seeking out how to parent them how God has ordained but you know that it will take practice. Give them freedom to respectfully tell you how they are feeling. But- remember that you are responsible for your behavior and not for their feelings. If they say that they heard criticism when you addressed hygiene, remind them that you are on their team and that as their parent, you are required to instruct them. Then ask them how they would like to be reminded about hygiene- ask them what would sound better to them. Maybe it’s just that there is a word that is triggering. Maybe they would feel better if you put your arm around their shoulder when you remind them. Maybe they would like a code word instead so they don’t feel embarrassed. Work out what would be helpful for them and how they could hear the message better without taking on the trigger of the way it’s communicated. They could learn so much from a conversation like that.

      I highly recommend looking into empowered to connect resources and anything by Dr Karen Purvis. She changed my parenting. Her work is for children who have been traumatized most often working with children in foster or adoptive situations. But it’s just good parenting. She has video clips online where she models how to confront in a way that gives respect. It’s beautiful. And it works. My relationships with my kids have been repaired.

      You are asking a humble and beautiful question. God will honor your heart in this. You can trust Him.

      • blessed on May 2, 2019 at 6:48 pm

        Ah, Dr. Purvis! I’m familiar with her work with kids and trauma, but never thought to read her work to apply to my own family. Duh. : ) Thanks for the suggestion.

        Yes, what you describe with the possible ways to handle those tricky kid talks is kinda what I’m trying to do right now–when we’re not all codependently reacting to each other. Old habits die hard! Thank you for painting such clear pictures–that’s what I needed. Can you paint any for the issues with husband?

        It does sound like you have a similar background, so I appreciate whatever else advice you share.

        • Melanie on May 18, 2019 at 4:14 pm

          Dear blessed~ I’ve read most of the comments here. What concerns me the most is that you are living with a financially irresponsible sex addict and alcoholic. I walked in your shoes for 25 years. I never knew that I was enabling evil. Jesus speaks strongly about such matters; yet, I continued to enable. I was blinded by the crazy making and trying to keep my head above water. I was blinded by the verbal and emotional abuse to my children and I. Allowing such behavior only normalized the evil for my children. The difficulty of living with a sex addict is that they typically act out in some way outside just porn… my ex-husband was always raging angry because of the shame and punched my little boy in the leg. That was part of what the Lord used to begin peeling back the blinders over my eyes. I later discovered years of prostitution. Not only was I allowing evil, I was also exposing my children and I to harm- sexually transmitted diseases, drunk driving, financial irresponsibility that could harm us, etc. We all have sin in our lives. You have what is normal sin that we all bring into marriage. Your husband, on the other hand, is an addict. He will lie and do whatever he can to shame and blame you for all the marriage issues. Embrace the truth and walk in the light. It is pretty crummy having to go get tested for STDs … you have value and worth and should be treated that way. I have no idea the extent of your husband’s porn addiction, but having multiple addictions is serious. Much love to you. I lived in the dark for a long time because my husband traveled and kept a secret life.

    • Aly on May 2, 2019 at 12:26 pm

      You wrote:
      “Same with my husband–I think at this point he is reacting to our past interactions, but if I nicely make a direct request for a new behavior, such as asking him to pick up the kids on time, all he hears/assumes is criticism, no matter how casually, directly, and nicely I say it.”

      Your husband has a misguided definition of criticism verses being a responsible partner/parent.

      I would think how he hears you is also coming through his non treated porn issues. I’m so sorry you are being betrayed and dragged through such horrible misguided blame.
      There is lots of help out there and tons of resources for your heart.
      Your husband currently has far too much weight in defining things for you & your home. Based on his behavior he has disqualified himself of defining things because of how skewed his lens is currently.

      • Leslie Vernick on May 3, 2019 at 12:35 am

        And I think Aly is right, there is a difference between criticism and feedback. WIthout feedback it is impossible to learn, change and grow, which is all of our responsibility to do throughout our life span. We look in the mirror each morning and get some feedback. Yep I need to fix my face or hair. This isn’t meant to condemn us, but to motivate us to make the necessary changes. Or if my husband told me that I had lipstick or broccoli on my teeth that would be feedback – so I could self-correct. Sometimes immature people see feedback as criticism and react defensively as if they should always been seen positively with no negative feedback. That is not real life. So when someone is unable to accept any feedback (hey, yelling at the kids that way doesn’t work), and only wants you to be an unconditional cheerleader, he’s not living in the real world.

    • blessed on May 2, 2019 at 4:30 pm

      I appreciate the feedback so far, but I see that it is hard to look past my husband’s stuff to see mine. That’s my problem too! My husband wants to be a good husband and father, and is working on that himself to the level that he is aware (which is not much but something). I am choosing to stay in the marriage and have been working on having my own healthy responses–all I can choose, since I can’t choose for him. So given that–that I’m fully aware of his blindness to sin, his bondage, how it is affecting me–I need help with owning my own stuff and not sinning in this area even so. Even if my husband is doing x,y, and z I am only responsible for my part, and I want to honor God and be healthy and help my kids grow in healthier ways too.

      I started with my husband’s stuff only to give the quick framework–because it matters. But I really want advice on how I can implement what Leslie wrote about here within this unfortunate framework. I know I’m supposed to stay in the marriage right now, and I do have lots of great books and counselor resources–like this site!–to glean wisdom from. I have an amazing Godly therapist I can go to when I’m truly stuck (but at $120/hr I’m trying to work with the Holy Spirit as my Counselor as much as possible).

      So does anyone have specific words for me about not criticizing, judging, and never being satisfied–all of which Leslie addressed above, esp. in #1 and #2? What that might look like within this terribly flawed framework?

      • Aly on May 2, 2019 at 5:43 pm

        You wrote:
        “Even if my husband is doing x,y, and z I am only responsible for my part, and I want to honor God and be healthy and help my kids grow in healthier ways too.”

        This is true but you said you want to honor God and be healthy right?
        So, sometimes that may mean learning tough boundaries and placing requirements for your husband to get help.
        This is not easy, but given the things you listed you are dealing with a serious matter that should not be overlooked.

        Do you feel cared for, cherished and are you modeling a healthy marriage relationship for your children in honor of God?

        Standing up for what is right is not always the easiest road, but what matters is that you said you want to honor God, often times this means that we don’t pretend or compromise our faith while our spouse is committing betrayal.
        Even God didn’t tolerate the behavior of Israel.

        Because if your husbands behavior (porn specifically) you need specific care and counseling for the trauma you are in and what you have already been through.

        I’m so very sorry for where things are, but there are healing paths and this doesn’t mean that your husband can’t or won’t get recovery.

        • Aly on May 2, 2019 at 5:46 pm

          By the way, I am not telling you to get out of the marriage, leave your husband etc.
          I am asking what have you tried so far?

          • blessed on May 2, 2019 at 6:41 pm

            Thanks for being encouraging, and challenging, Aly. I have put different boundaries in place at different times, such as moving out into our guest trailer for a few months and abstaining from sexual intimacy. At the moment we are living a “normal” life, and try to be nice to each other, both be active, intentional partners in family life (even if we don’t define that the same way). From my perspective he is too codependent to be able to admit he has not chosen well over the years–admitting fault is too vulnerable. So he’s pretending it’s all ok, and would probably say while he is not perfect I am the reason why I’m dissatisfied with our marriage. To him I seem very unreasonable, controlling, critical, etc. I tried “fixing” our marriage for years, until I realized I couldn’t. So now I’m married to God, basically. He is who I trust, who I depend upon, who I submit to, etc. My husband thinks he loves me, but he does not understand how his actions are not love. That kind of thing. So I don’t expect that from him. It’s hard and I grieve and I get mad, but if I want peace and wholeness and joy it will be from what God and I do together, not from what my husband does.

            I am at peace as much as I can be given the situation. I have made expectations of my husband before–for commitment, for safety features on phones and computers, for counseling–but he is not going to do them because he does not think he needs to. He grew up with a very controlling mother and so strong-arm boundaries are not going to work. I cannot tell him what to do–I can only tell myself what to do.

            I do feel somewhat vindicated that everyone so far is concerned more about his behavior–since of course my husband tells me I’m wrong/crazy for caring so much/blowing these things out of proportion, etc–but I’m now equally mystified why I’m getting the “you are thinking crazy” thing from you all too. : ) I know where my marriage is. I know what I’m responsible for. It’s a beautiful day, nothing is terrible, it’s all going to be ok because all I need to be ok is Jesus. Needing my husband to change before I am ok is bondage. I see sin in my own life, and negative patterns of interacting with my husband, and I know God is calling me out on them. So that’s all I was asking for advice on.

          • Connie on May 3, 2019 at 12:55 am

            Blessed, one of the biggest manipulation tactics that husbands use is the “I don’t understand” card. It’s called the ‘ playing dumb’ act and it lets them get away with a lot of sin and immaturity. Don’t fall for it or put up with it. You’re right, he doesn’t need to change for you to be okay, but sin does need to be exposed and confronted. You might be interested in the book, Bold Love by Dan Allender and Tremper Longman.

          • Aly on May 3, 2019 at 9:11 am

            Connie & Blessed,

            Connie, so glad you mentioned this particular tactic and posture, it’s true.
            Putting up with this kind of behavior will actually hurt our own hearts further down the road. And it doesn’t exactly ‘help’ the person who is choosing to stay immature or their lack of any growth.
            I do believe once they realize that you don’t ‘play games’ then game over and they have to deal more and more with reality.

            Blessed if you understand and believe you are worthy to be loved, respected and honored then your boundaries and requirements might look different based on what truth you know about what God says about you. Your value, your beauty, you being God’s daughter.

            Blessed, I think I understand why you slept in a trailer for a couple months or withheld sexual physical intimacy, however I hope you can hear with my soft tone and care for you that in doing those things brought more ‘discomfort’ to you, not to the person with addiction.

            Yes addiction! You are not just dealing with an immature husband who is selfish, you are dealing with someone who is obviously an addict or has an addiction posture. There are different ways of dealing with these issues and especially not choosing to participate or cooperate with a person who is not getting help for his addiction and character issues.

            Have you considered what God means as your husband’s Ezer?

            I also realize you have mentioned co-dependency a few times and have noted your husband as a co-dependent.
            He may be in other relational dynamics but not in yours.

            I am sorry for all the hurt and pain you must feel from how you are being treated as a wife. I read your last post about how you are okay if your husband doesn’t get healthy ‘or change’ and I agree you can be ok but many other comments you made was so very heartbreaking to read. I think it’s humble for you to focus on your negative patterns that you are concerned about but it is also ‘disproportional’ to the dynamic you describe.

            If you truly are wanting feedback, one of the negative responses you are having is your ways of soothing and ‘spiritualizing enabling’ .

            Holding a higher standard for safety for your marriage relationship isn’t you being a judgmental person it is you being a wise and mature woman who knows just how much she is Loved and worthy of dignity and honor.

          • blessed on May 3, 2019 at 12:41 pm

            Aly, you were carefully choosing your words to be kind, and I appreciate it. But it’s ok–I am all about the hard truth. Interesting that you see I am still enabling, because that is something I am vehemently against, to the point of stubbornness and inflexibility. In trying to heal while in a marriage that my husband wants to pretend is fine, I tend to err on the side of withdrawing, self-protecting, hardening, and being brutally honest–I don’t really talk to my husband much anymore because he complains all I have to say is negative. For logical reason! So we don’t talk about anything that matters, although I let him know I’m ready and willing any time he does want to talk about those things.

            But God has been showing me that I am STILL in bondage to my husband because I am letting his choices make me unhappy. I am still letting my husband’s choices define who I am, my value, etc. So I need to figure out how to break free from this, and one thing is I need to separate emotionally from his choices and truly be ok. I can live at peace when I’m hidden behind internal “blast doors,” hunkered down in the bunker–but then I’m hidden away from the rest of the good feelings too. As someone wise has said, you can’t selectively numb. So I know God is calling me to a new vulnerability with Him and myself–again, regardless of my husband. I have to be open to Him, and that means coming out from the bunker.

            So right now I struggle with resentment and bitterness and anger and sadness–when I’m not peacefully numb. If I can’t numb, then I need to learn how to deal with those other emotions. And they mainly manifest in my facial expressions, tone of voice, and words, which are not respectful of my husband and are, frankly, critical, judgmental, and even condemning. I know God is at work in me and I trust He will show me what to do with those feelings–but that’s why I was asking how to not be verbally abusive to my husband. Because I thought Leslie’s post was for ALL married people, not just those choosing well in other areas of life. My husband is a mess, but he deserves to be treated with respect, right? I wanted help in doing that.

          • Nancy on May 3, 2019 at 1:24 pm

            Hi Blessed,

            I hear that you don’t want to remain behind ‘blast doors’, and think that emotionally detaching from his is indeed the next step in your healing.

            I have a tough question for you:

            Do you really think that you will be able to take that next step toward emotionally detaching, while living with an unrepentant porn user, who feels justified in making advances toward his wife?

          • blessed on May 3, 2019 at 1:34 pm

            That is really the question, Nancy. That’s what I’m trying to figure out. Thanks for putting it out there. I honestly do not know. All I know is a) God has not released me from this marriage, b) He has shown me there is still hope for this marriage, c) He has shown me a glimpse that it might be possible to be in this marriage and be whole regardless, d) I don’t know if I can do that, e) I don’t know how to do that–what it looks like, f) it feels like death but I’m getting a glimpse that this could be what is means to die fully to self, g) I want to be obedient to God, h) I won’t be able to do it of my own strength–if I can, it will be Him in me, i) this could end up being the best thing I’ve ever done, j) I might not be able to do it, and that’s ok too–His grace is sufficient.

            But if I can just wrap my head and heart around the next step towards my own healing, regardless of my husband, then I can start working towards it. That’s what I’m trying to do now.

          • Aly on May 4, 2019 at 7:31 am

            I think Nancy has a lot of wisdom in the area she is speaking into.

            I also want to touch on a couple things.
            Where there is no trust, there is no safety.
            You do not have trust in your marriage while your husband continues to have the posture or belief about porn esp.
            Leslie has some past blog articles on this topic you might want to view as well as the discussion.

            You also mentioned above that God has shown you hope for your marriage. What evidence of hope has He shown you?
            If you are in a traumatized survival state then often it’s hard to discern hope from wishing.

            I also highly recommend you visit Newlifeministries. They have areas of specific to what you are going through and lots of online resources and podcasts to better educate you on what you are up against.

            Personally, I don’t see a resentful, bitter person in your writings but one trying to grasp what’s taking place and how her marital covenant has been broken through betrayal.

            You have your own side of the street to be accountable, but your husband also has his side and his work at first getting the necessary help and working on how he can repair or build trust again is ‘his part’ not your part, or the strength of God to help you stay in the same dynamic of no trust in a marriage.
            God does not want this type of marital union as it doesn’t bring glory to Him in the way that many victimized individuals cope with.

            Personally, if your husband isn’t going to take serious action regarding his betrayals, he really has no business being in your master bedroom or shared bed.
            Lock the door. You are sending a message by sleeping next to him that the marriage is somewhat functional. Trust this, he will do functional for years and still want his secret places and certainly not address his loyalty issues with his family of origin unless it benefits him like you mentioned.
            He needs to have some uncomfortable consequences to experience loss, or often nothing changes.

          • Nancy on May 4, 2019 at 5:44 pm

            Hi Blessed,

            Applying Prov 4:23 to my relationships was the most life-changing thing I have ever done. This proverb doesn’t just give me permission to say ‘no’ to disrespectful behaviour, it commands me to.

            “above all else guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your life”.

            I agree with Aly. He has no place in your bed.

          • Aly on May 5, 2019 at 10:04 am

            You wrote:
            My husband is a mess, but he deserves to be treated with respect, right? I wanted help in doing that.”

            I agree that your husband should be treated with respect and godly helpmeet love.

            What does this look like Blessed?

            From what you have wrote so far, it seems like you both are not clearly addressing the issues head on, especially the marital covenant al break issues.
            This is not respecting the vows or loving him as you are called to as his helpmeet.

            You can respect someone while at the same time bring about boundaries and requirements for your husband to get help and especially for him to repair the places he is ongoing breaking trust against you.
            The ongoing isn’t a thing of the past because it is present and it is probably why you are finding yourself with such confusion at times and not wanting ‘to feel’ as you said earlier you were numbing out.
            This is not a good sign nor is it something that is healthy for your own well-being.

            You could also be at risk to transferring your hurt or unresolved anger into other relationships where you could do misguided damage.

            Your husband is free to chose to get help and repair or not. But you will never know unless you hold the standard for your own well-being if he is willing to do the tough tough heart-work and grow!

            If you are compromising in areas then you are compromising the things of Christ you say you believe in.

            You can be truthful, kind, and place requirements for safety in your marital relationship. There is no need for stubborn behavior or withdrawal that only spirals things underground and your children will reap other consequences of this tension.

            Stand your ground with the Lord by your side and freely offer your husband into health and healing, I personally believe this is the most respectful & responsible posture you can offer as a helpmeet (EZER) and staying committed to your vows of this role.

            Your husband has betrayed you in your heart and it’s ongoing. You do not need to be the greater sacrifice in your marriage as your husband has broken many areas here and it’s his responsibility to repair.
            If you take that responsibility from him you are not offering him a blessing of which to grow in Christ and as a godly husband and father.

            These sins will pass down to the next generation.

            Stand courageously strong with Christ knowing your value, worth and how you should be honored and cared for as a Daughter of the King. 💕

          • blessed on May 6, 2019 at 1:42 am

            Thank you for taking the time to give me feedback, everyone. I appreciate your thoughtful replies, and am praying about them and asking God to show me what truth & wisdom I should glean.

      • Leslie Vernick on May 3, 2019 at 12:30 am

        So I think speaking the truth in love and Galatians 6:1 – who you are spiritual restore such a one in humility or gentleness. Therefore judging is condemnation and shaming. It’s a position of superiority. I judge you or condemn you to be inferior to me. Speaking the truth in love, or confronting someone caught in a trespass is not judging, “there but for the grace of God go I” kind of thing. So saying to someone, “God says this is wrong” isn’t judging, unless it’s delivered with a tone of superiority. Hebrews tells us that if we are mature, we have our senses trained to discern good from evil. But it’s the attitude in which we say it that makes the difference between judging and shaming with condemnation and simply speaking truth, in love. Hope that helps. So here’s a practical example. “I know I have my own issues with stuff, but I’m scared because I know you are feeding your mind with pornography and God says that will hurt you and hurt us.” That’s speaking truth in love, vs “You’re a jerk and pervert for watching porn.” Judgment.

        • blessed on May 3, 2019 at 1:16 am

          Ok, this gives me a picture of how to judge without being judgmental. Thank you.

          • Jolene on May 3, 2019 at 3:21 am

            Blessed, I have the same issue with my husband. My counselor confirmed it wasn’t my delivery or tone, but the message I was conveying that he was not emotionally prepared to accept (emotional immaturity). What helped were a few communication methods. One was the “compliment sandwich” technique where you start and end with a positive statement, and put your very gentle request/question/remark in the middle of the “compliments”: “I am so thankful you take care of all of the car issues. Is it time for an oil change this month? I’m so lucky to have that off my “to do” list thanks to you.” Another technique that helped us was the phrase “Help me to understand…”. So that might look like: “Help me to understand why the credit card statement is so high this month,” instead of “You spent $2,000 this month on hobbies!” Or maybe: “Help me to understand what you would be missing from pornography if we instead focused on our relationship.” It is sort of sugar-sweet sickening to get out the first few times, and I feel like I am stroking the ego of a toddler, but it helps to communicate, diffuse, keep the peace, and survive.

          • blessed on May 3, 2019 at 12:44 pm

            Thanks Jolene for that very specific example. Yes, I can see how compliments would be helpful–I really am critical of my husband all the time, so I’m sure that would soften both our hearts.

  6. Jo on May 2, 2019 at 9:06 am

    My husband uses a surly tone of voice and says he doesn’t have any idea that he’s doing it. However, he can change it overnight or with others around.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 3, 2019 at 12:40 am

      So he knows his tone is “off” when he deals with other people and changes it. That’s interesting. So not sure he’s telling you or himself the truth when he says he has no idea he’s doing it, since he can change it when he knows it won’t fly with someone else.

      • Jo on May 6, 2019 at 11:58 am

        He has shown clearly that he knows on several occasions.

        • Autumn on May 6, 2019 at 12:39 pm

          So, Jo what will you do next? What are the consrqconse of his bad behavior sinning against you? What action will you take?

          • Autumn on May 6, 2019 at 12:40 pm


    • blessed on May 3, 2019 at 12:51 pm

      My mother-in-law has always been so mean, controlling, highly abusive–and we always just said, well, that’s just the way she is. Until one very eye-opening visit when I realized, no, she isn’t like that with all the family members–just us. She was equally critical of everyone, but she was only abusive with US. I realized she must be doing it because a) she thought she had a right to, and b) she thought she could get away with it. We couldn’t control a) but we could control b)! So that was big turning point in our relationship, and she is still negative & controlling but the relationship is SO different once I put boundaries in place about how I was willing to be treated. Now if she gets nasty I’ll calmly (as possible) say, “If you are going to talk about that I’m going to leave the room” and then if she persists I do. Even if walking away from making dinner, whatever.

      But I sympathize with your husband because I am having the same problem with my spouse–of always being negative or at the very least neutral in response to him. So, my suspicion is that he fully knows he is doing it but it is so much a habit it’s hard to break, or there is something underneath he may not be being honest about–but either way it is not stemming from him thinking good things about you. : (

  7. Candace on May 2, 2019 at 9:54 am

    Leslie, Can you recommend a Bible study workbook on verbal/emotional abuse in marriage? I’m searching for one to help women in my church in a small group setting. Thank you.

    • Leslie Vernick on May 3, 2019 at 12:39 am

      So I have a bible study workbook that goes with my book The Emotionally Destructive Relatinship (not marriage) so it’s open to other kinds of destructive relationships as well. There is a DVD download that gives you the workbook and leadersguide on my website. Also June Hunt has written a good book on dealing with emotional abuse that might be helpful.

      • Candace on May 4, 2019 at 10:31 am

        Wonderful! Thanks so much for replying. I will check out both.

  8. Recovering on May 2, 2019 at 9:13 pm

    I think it’s a different scenario with your husband. And I’m very much in the middle of this so my thoughts aren’t as clear as the situation with the kids since I’ve worked through much of that already.

    But where you have an obligation to teach and instruct your kids, your husband is an adult. So I think the answer is simply to speak with respect and kindness and let his reaction be his reaction. When you fail at that (which will happen – we are human), then apologize and move on. If he reacts to what isn’t there – that’s his problem. And you aren’t obligated to listen to his incorrect reaction, in my opinion. His unrepentant spirit cancels that obligation as far as I can see.

    I don’t think correctly accessing a situation is “judging”. It sounds like you are leaving room for him to change and the Holy Spirit to work – that doesn’t sound harsh to me – it sounds like hope.

    • Recovering on May 2, 2019 at 9:14 pm

      The comment above didn’t go where I wanted it to – I was responding to “Blessed” and her question to me earlier. Sorry for the out of order reply.

      • blessed on May 2, 2019 at 11:22 pm

        I saw it, and thank you for the additional feedback.

  9. Janice D on May 3, 2019 at 6:04 am

    Hi Blessed…I am also married to a man who isn’t leaving and cleaving( you mentioned his loyalty to his mom and not you).I realized this very early in our marriage and kept hoping it would get better with time.After his dad died 16 years ago it gradually became more and more clear to me that his” widowed,elderly,disabled” mom is his number1 priority with his sister a close second as she is the primary caregiver.It is a very difficult situation to navigate as his mom is completely dependent and emotionally very immature. I chose to separate and am trusting God with my future.My son is grown and married.I don’t know if this helps you or not.In my opinion this is a huge stumbling block to marital intimacy and growth.It is something I no longer am able to live with as there has been no acknowledgement on his part that this is the problem.I fully recognize my own sinfulness,however this core issue of leaving and cleaving is absolutely primary if there is any chance of reconciliation.Glad you are here on this site,it has helped me so much as I navigate these difficult waters.

    • blessed on May 3, 2019 at 1:00 pm

      Thank you for that, Janice. Yes, absolutely, that is exactly where we are as well. Interestingly, that is the one idea I’ve confronted my husband with that he seems to perhaps get some glimmer of understanding about. I don’t necessarily see it change his actions, but he is more accepting of my firm boundaries with his parents because of it. (Honestly though I think he is letting my boundaries do the dirty work, for example when he doesn’t want to visit his parents for a week but knows his mom will want it he is probably relieved that my boundaries include no long visits.)

      Yes, it is a huge block to intimacy and growth. At the moment we are not growing together at all, and I don’t even know if my husband is growing–he does not see me as safe to share with so I don’t ask. (And I get it–since he’s still doing all this stuff he knows I don’t like or agree with, of course I’m not safe to be vulnerable with. I’m not going to pretend everything is ok, and will expect him to change/hold him accountable) God has not given me peace about leaving, and we still have 4 kids in the house–so a peaceful partnership is what we are trying to have at the moment. I’m ok with that, except that my husband still wants sexual intimacy, romance–like last night he wanted to cuddle in bed and kiss–and that is crazy-making. Fortunately God is showing me where I stand, and I know it’s ok that intimacy and vulnerability and romance are up on what I call the “Jesus shelf”–he is holding those things for me right now because they are too much for me–until I have the things I need for emotional safety, like trust and commitment. I do believe there is still a possible good future for our marriage, but it must involve leaving all these sinful choices and patterns of relating behind.

    • Nancy on May 3, 2019 at 1:07 pm

      I could not agree with you more, Janice D. “This core issue of leaving and cleaving is primary”.

      There is a reason the Bible clearly states the steps in a marriage: if a spouse does not leave their parent, they cannot ‘become one’ with their spouse.

      A boundary is a limit that promotes integrity (tweet that!). When there is no solid boundary around a married couple – that keeps mommy out – there is a lack of integrity that allows ALL KINDS of destruction through. Why??? Because there was no boundary to begin with.

      This was my H and I deepest problem. It led to many different FORMS of destruction, but none of those were the root issue.

      In our case, the root problem was that we had not honoured our vows.

      • blessed on May 3, 2019 at 1:13 pm

        “When there is no solid boundary around a married couple – that keeps mommy out – there is a lack of integrity that allows ALL KINDS of destruction through. Why??? Because there was no boundary to begin with.”

        I had not thought about it that way–VERY helpful.

        • Moon Beam on May 6, 2019 at 7:02 am

          When “,mommy” is emotionally incestuous to her son it is very difficult for him to recognize and identify the violation. Incest in all its forms is deeply damaging. It is a term and subject worth researching and can help explain the lack of appropriate boundaries and the objectification of women. Mommy own the heart, leaving only the body available to any other woman. Hence the objectification and dismissal of his partner. He wants a partner though, because he can’t have sex with Mommy.

      • Nancy on May 6, 2019 at 7:19 am

        My mother-in-law is also abusive. We have been ‘no contact’ with her for a year-and-a-half.

        It took my h almost losing his family in order for him to wake up to how he had allowed himself to be controlled by his mother. it was the shock of a 9 month separation (with me standing firm – by the grace of God – against every manipulation he tried) that The Lord used to bring him to his knees.

        When a person is that confused about their relational priorities, the fog goes deep for all involved. They will try ALL KINDS of tactics to avoid their responsibility.

        I had allowed this for over 20 years, and that part was my responsibility. Someone had to stand firm against the sin, while The Lord did His work. In our case, He opened my eyes first. I don’t know why this was the case.

        • Janice D on May 6, 2019 at 8:04 am

          Hi Nancy,As always,appreciate your comments and insights into such a difficult situation.I am wondering about the idea that it was your responsibility as far as your husbands lack of boundaries with his family of origin.The Lord opened your eyes when he did and how wonderful that your husband has also been able to grow and change along with you.Unfortunately this has not happened with my husband.I tried the best I could to raise the issue without any success.It has gotten progressively worse and we are now legally separated.It is a battle that only the Lord can fight now.My deepest desire was and still is to see my husband free from this insidious deception and bondage.This is my daily prayer for him from the safety of my own apartment.I cannot be the warrior helpmate at my husbands side that I long to be…I was wounded too much for far too long.I’m thrilled that you and your husband are pushing back the darkness together.God is good and He will have the glory regardless of how my story turns out.So thankful for sister-friends on this site!

          • Nancy on May 8, 2019 at 9:12 pm

            HI Janice D,

            Yes, my h chose to grow and change – I am so grateful.

            I believe that you ARE being your h’s warrior helpmeet, by allowing him to face the consequences of his attitude. (I know that this does not diminish the pain of his continued refusal to repent).

            As to your question about my responsibility in my h’s lack of boundaries with his FOO. I do take this responsibility because I played into his unhealthy family ties by continually suppressing my God given instincts that told me something was way off. We just spoke about this the other day and he said that there’s no way he would have been able to receive any feedback on this. I probably knew this, which was why I turned myself into a pretzel justifying, rationalizing etc…. Still though, I can’t blame my silence on him.

            Having said that, all of this is in God’s timing. I could only speak once I knew who I was in Christ, and had a support network around me, so…it’s not regret over not having done it earlier, it’s simply acknowledging my part.

            You are doing the right thing Janice. You can only control how closely you walk with Christ. Only God knows the outcome. Rest assured, it will be for your best and for His glory.

            May God continue to bless you with more and more of Himself.

        • Aly on May 6, 2019 at 11:16 am

          This is explained very well. I would also think that if a husband is full-filling his sexual needs with counterfeit porn that this adds dramatically to the ‘awakeness’ of the person, meaning they are still using drugs to numb things as well as avoid true intimacy that is for a sacred union of marriage. Hard to feel the loss and pain when they are still using.
          This isn’t directed to your situation but to Blessed.

          • Nancy on May 8, 2019 at 9:33 pm

            I agree Aly. Active ‘numbing out’ surely makes it hard to feel loss, which is why drastic consequences are necessary.

  10. Listening Ear on May 3, 2019 at 7:15 am

    Verbal abuse is the diminishing of a person’s worth and dignity and an attempt to destory their unique identity created in the image of God…I like Patricia Evans suggested response to the abuse: just say :WHAT??” After decades of experiencing this, I can dismiss most of this type of abuse as an feeble attempt to crush my identity in Christ and respond with an incredulous expression and say “What?”

    • Free on May 5, 2019 at 2:36 pm

      Saying “What?” would have gotten me a slap in the face. How we dance around our abusers is different for all of us. What is the same is that we are victims living in survival mode. So many of us here are struggling with being a good, compliant, creative, determined, praying victim. Yes, victim! We stay victims and survive often spiritualizing our situations or not removing ourselves from our abusers manipulative tactics.

      The only way to thrive is to leave a destructive relationship, most of us don’t want to accept thst. Then the emotional work necessary to lift the brain fog must be done, often the assistance of a professional counselor is necessary.

      Choose life, thrive, and be confident in the knowledge that you were created for a purpose far greater than being trapped in an abusive relationship.

      • Courageous on May 15, 2019 at 2:51 pm

        I am beginning to believe that leaving sometimes might be best, may be difficult, but the best. After visiting a counselor with a women’s resource center, (btw, these sessions are free) seeing the power and control wheels, my eyes were opened. Sometimes fear controls us and keeps us in ungodly and unrepentant situations. One thing I do know about God….is that he dislikes enabling – anyone getting in His way from saving and redeeming another person.

        • Moon Beam on May 16, 2019 at 8:18 am

          Courageous I agree. Domestic violence shelters offer life saving free resources. I know they opened my eyes and saved me. I was so scared to go the first time that I brought a friend. She sat in the first session with me when they explained the power and control wheel to me. What really helped me with this is that my husband seemed to think he was so special. He reasoned that he acted the way he did because of his troubled childhood. Learning about the wheel made me realize. He wasn’t special, but rather, typical, predictable, pathological and dangerous.

  11. Nabal’s Wife on May 9, 2019 at 11:57 am

    This was so helpful. My husband and I have just started counseling and, hopefully, repairing our marriage. There are days he seems open to my heart and how he has damaged it for so long, and other days he’s defensive. I don’t expect a flash healing, but I would like to trust he means well for both of us.

    • Nancy on May 11, 2019 at 7:49 am

      Nabal’s wife,

      When he’s defensive, does he take responsibility for this afterwards?

      One of my requirements was that when he messed up, he take full responsibility for it. If he would not, everything stopped until we got to the counsellor’s office.

      This was a key for him to rebuild trust with me.

      Sometimes he couldn’t see where he was so defensive and of course, I could not MAKE him see. But stopping everything and maintaining distance from him (and him RESPECTING that distance) until we got to see the counsellor was a critical step in me feeling emotionally safe with him.

      This had to happen about a BAZILLION times for me to trust him.

      What I began to see was that when I set a boundary where he had to wait, I saw him – more and more- fall to his knees before God. We began to break the habit of him relying on me for him to be ok. He now was learning to go to The Lord for that.

      I would suggest you ‘focus’ on those times when he’s defensive. In other words, when it happens don’t continue on in your relationship as though nothing has happened. Look at that moment as a moment to once again separate from him. Stay separate until he takes responsibility for it. I know the temptation to just ‘let your guard down’ is there, but you should not do that for a very long time. Take these times as an opportunity to test him. Trust your gut in this process.

  12. I am not sure on May 14, 2019 at 10:51 am

    What happens if you become the verbally abusive one?
    I left my husband three months ago. I think I had a nervous breakdown. I moved home with my parents and found a new job and everything. I still can’t believe I left. I’m in some weird limbo.

    Anytime I had ever tried to address the issues we had in our marriage- his condescending tone, looking at porn, argumentativeness, his cruel jokes, his disrespect towards me when we were with my family and so on- it was met with defensiveness, excuses and the worst arguing I have ever dealt with in my life. He would calmly argue in circles until I would become overwhelmed and end up crying like an idiots. He took notes and hammered me with questions. I was often told that I was too sensitive. And I felt/feel like I had a serious problem with being to sensitive. So I’d lose it. I would call him bad names and scream. I am ashamed but I honestly don’t know how to communicate anymore with him without losing it. I have said things I didn’t even know I was capable of saying. He called the other night and I was excited to talk to him but he started all of his circular reasoning and hammering me with questions. I started to feel sick to me stomach, overwhelmed and I lost it and called him a “jerk” several times and hung up.

    I am afraid if I let go of my anger I will become vulnerable again.

    • Moon Beam on May 16, 2019 at 8:26 am

      Your anger saved you. The next stages of behavior for those under prolonged exposure to abuse often include acceptance, compliance, and zombie like enabling. There is nothing wrong with your natural tendency to protect yourself. Good job escaping! Time for a whole new life free from abuse. Nice work, you still have enough self worth intact to build new and healthy relationships! There is nothing wrong with you, you are the normal one here.

    • Nancy on May 20, 2019 at 12:15 pm

      I agree with Moon Beam. It’s healthy that you want to protect yourself. I’m glad that you are able to be away from his crazy making behaviour. It will take time to get out of the fog. You’ll notice that each time you have contact, you’ll begin to feel crazy again (doubt, fear, obligation, confusion).

      Stay away from him and allow the fog to lift. Find an abuse counsellor (DV shelter counsellor’s are often free). It’s normal to want to hold onto anger, like Moon Beam said, paying attention to it saved you. Don’t rush yourself. It’s a long road, but it’s a new one that leads to clarity and Peace.

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