This week I am at the AACC training pastors and counselors on recognizing destructive marriages. Please pray for me that I can share my message in the way the Lord wants me to.
I wanted to repost a great article about the difference between a difficult, disappointing and destructive marriage. I think this is a question many of you are trying to discern. I will be back answering your questions next week.
This week’s question: I come from an abusive background (physical, emotional, verbal). I am divorced for more than 3 years. I’m dating a man whom I find to be a very generous, godly man; however, he is (as I’ve noticed from the beginning of dating) very outspoken and has a strong personality.
We have been dating a little over five months. We are very compatible. He’s good with my two boys, and we have talked about the possibility of getting married.
My only real concern is when we disagree – the things he says really get me down. They seem condescending, but I don’t know if I have a clear filter through which to view our relationship or not. There is no name-calling (our first spouses did this to us and we both know what it feels like to be on the receiving end and agree not to call names). There are just strong words. I have talked to him, and he hears me out fairly well, but I do feel like the disagreements (the words he spoke) have eroded some of the emotional trust I have in him, and I don’t feel as emotionally safe.
However because my marriage was such an extreme example of unhealthy, I don’t know if I’m overreacting and projecting negative things onto my current relationship or if my current relationship is actually unhealthy. I’m not sure if I feel emotionally unsafe due to pre-conditioning from my past or if it is coming from a place of truth in the current relationship.
I read one of your articles that said a difficult relationship is not the same as a destructive one. I’m experiencing emotions (as part of being in my first dating relationship after an abusive marriage) that are part of moving on. I would like help in categorizing them. To be honest, my hope is that I’m filtering incorrectly because I see so much potential in our relationship and really don’t want to see it end. He seems to genuinely care for me and my boys. My family is very supportive and like him, and my friends like him and say we seem very right for each other. People who have not met him but have seen pictures of us together say we look very happy (and these are unsolicited comments mostly from Christian believers I know). His friends seem to like me as well.
Any insights you may have would be so appreciated.
Answer: You’ve asked some very important questions, not only about the definitions of different kinds of relationship problems but also about how our past may impact our current feelings and choices.
First, let me define the different types of relationship struggles you’re questioning:
A difficult relationship is one in which there are many stressors pressing in on the relationship that make it challenging. This may include blended family issues, in-law or ex-spouse issues, health challenges, difficult children, financial setbacks, job changes, frequent moves, as well as personality and cultural differences. There may also be disagreements on values such as prioritizing saving over spending and lifestyle habits such as being very health conscious or neat with your living space or preferring a more casual approach to life.
These stressors and differences can cause many conflicts. Depending on how a couple handles those differences, conflicts and their emotions will determine whether they can navigate through these difficulties in a way that does not fracture or end their relationship. In other words, if they handle them with mutual effort, compassion for one another, honesty and respect, usually difficult does not become destructive. If they cannot, then difficult can easily move into destructive.
A disappointing relationship is one in which there are a letdown of expectations in a relationship. It’s not what you thought it would be. There isn’t obvious sin, disrespect or indifference, but there isn’t as much romance, talking, sex or connection as you wanted. There may not be as much financial security or extra resources to have fun or live in a bigger home, or there may be a lack of adventure and stimulation that makes the relationship feel stale and boring. Many individuals long for an A+ marriage but feel stuck in a C- marriage. How they handle their disappointment (or not) determines whether the marriage survives or deteriorates into a D- or worse relationship.
A destructive relationship is one in which the personhood of the other is regularly diminished, dismissed, disrespected and demeaned. Click To Tweet
There is a lack of mutual effort at maintaining and repairing relationship wounds. The is a lack of mutual accountability, but rather one has power over the other either physically, emotionally, financially, mentally, spiritually or all of the above. There is a lack of accountability or responsibility accepted for harm caused to the relationship, and relationship wounds are denied, minimized or blamed on the other.
In a destructive relationship, you don’t just feel it’s hard, you feel like you’re dying inside. There is no “you” in the relationship. There is a lack of freedom to be yourself, speak your own thoughts and feelings, to be a separate person and to make decisions for yourself. You don’t feel safe to speak up, set boundaries, ask for what you need or want or disagree without a heavy price to pay. There is often chronic deceit and indifference to your feelings, needs, and personhood.
That said, you’re wondering if you’re just hypersensitive because you lived with a destructive partner in your first marriage or is your body sending you warning bells that this too might be another destructive relationship.
I can’t say for sure. You don’t indicate what his harsh words are like, but the first red flag you need to pay attention to is whether or not he respects your “no.” If you don’t have the freedom to say no in your relationship, RUN! That is often the very first sign that he does not see you as a separate person but someone to cater to him ONLY.
Second, does he take responsibility when he hurts you and cares that you feel scared around him? Whether it’s caused by your current relationship or some residue from your previous one, a caring partner shows compassion for past hurts and doesn’t minimize their effects. If you had a bad sunburn which made your skin hypersensitive, your partner would show compassion and care for that and not just grab you anyway and then blame your pain on your hypersensitivity, right? So if he’s insensitive and rough, you might want to think twice about whether he’s a good fit for you and your children.
Third, in dating relationships, people always put their best selves forward. So, if he’s like this while you are dating, what haven’t you seen yet? Pay close attention to how he treats other people when he is angry. For example, how does he treat pokey drivers, slow waitresses or his children when they disobey? Is he firm yet patient and respectful? If not, then what you see is how he’ll treat you when he’s angry at you. Is that what you want?
We have a great community of women on this blog who can also give you some good tips. I invite our wonderful community to help you now to discern whether this relationship is something you should keep working on or run from.
Friends, can you give us your thoughts?
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This is something I struggle with in my 25 year marriage as well… It is definitely difficult and disappointing,yet I hesitate to define it as destructive.The scenario you describe,Leslie appears to have too many red flags to ignore.My suggestion to this woman would be to slow down the pace and try to be as objective as possible.Emotional safety is a non-negotiable as far as I’m concerned.I loved the example of a sensitive sunburn…of course he didn’t “cause” it but how does he treat you knowing you have this condition? Is he willing to learn more about how to help you in your current situation without minimizing or overdramatizing it?
So glad you’ve moved on from a distructive marriage. With this new man it doesn’t matter why you have gut feelings of distruction with disagreements. Those feelings and clear thinking are a blessing from God telling yourself truth about the core of this man. Of course others don’t see the 2 of you in conflict so they only see his good side. You talked to him and he sort of gets it but continues to be condescending. The next man you marry should be fixed already you shouldn’t have to fix him to be happy. Disagreements are what shows all of our true core beliefs, I agree with all of what Janice said. I fear if you break it off he will be angry then change enough to keep stringing you along till wedding day. . Singleness is better than distruction or even difficult. Spare your children. Praying for you.
Leslie, The questioner on pg40 of your book EDR helped me clearly see the destruction of my marriage. Even when I wasn’t sure of an answer my score was high enough to prove to myself the my destructive marriage. Having wives do the test also as many marriages are duel in destruction is essential. I hope your attendees get a copy of the test and explanation of results . Praying for you,
I too am all too familiar with the destructive marriage. It began in disappointment & difficulty and I couldn’t pin point why until 2 years in when the destruction was uncovered!
The word that gave me pause was when you wrote about the POTENTIAL- of the relationship. What it is now is going to be what it is in some way shape or form. If you are questioning things now-it may be your instinct -whether biased or not from previous hurts…time will tell. Especially if you have kids. I’ve been there. At some point you WILL see his true colors -in time!
I hear your pain and longings. I am reading Leslie’s book “the emotionally destructive marriage” and understand all your concerns. It’s hard when we’re triggered by things we know we don’t want to go through again. Just this morning I looked up what the 20th anniversary present is supposed to be as our anniversary is in January. It’s CHINA. Huge trigger for me. It even said, “why not pull out all the stops and plan a trip to China?” Really? Even though my husband has stopped sleeping around, would I really want to go where the 50 women spree started when he was out spending money on them and not even sending me flowers for years? No thanks. Loads of tears this morning. Praying for you to be able to sort through the destructive, demeaning and what seems daunting at times task of separating old feelings from warning signs in your current relationship. I’m still debating between divorce and trying to sort our mess out. Love to you lady. Love and peace and big hugs from this one to you.
Is it destructive to know Bc he’s voiced it that he doesn’t want an emotional connection with me ? He told our counselor that I’m a babble mouth and it’s a waste of time to “chit chat”
He further says he doesn’t desire “oneness “.
He does expect me to blow his brains out in the morning to give him his oomph In his step Bc no one else can do that for him. Only his wife can blow his brains out with sex in the morning..
So if I don’t do that he has no issue with viewing trash.
Bc he wants it from me and I’m not passionate in bed or into him, physically. And
What’s wrong with me ?
Why don’t I want it?
And he has and may still view pornography.. Bc he will not use the Internet filter he appeased me with to shut me up . “ here I got the filter” check
But still using chrome on internet searches .
He has no accountability and he lies and has lied in the past when I’ve found trash on his phone.
He doesn’t take me out on dates and says he’s so busy and has no time. Yet he makes time to meet people for lunches to further his success , he owns his own business and can make / set his hours .
We’ve not been out in several months and somehow that is my fault . Bc when I asked ( not nagged just said I miss him
And wish we could go out ) he blame shifted .
He makes time for lunch dates with people all the time. He’s too busy or too tired from work on the weekends to spend time with me.
We’ve tried counseling. And he didn’t take counsel , would not work on the marriage with me nor prioritize it.
My needs are not important enough Bc he doesn’t value connection. He provides . So I must produce . Do my job , my wifely duties .
I feel so alone and sad . We have young kids and it’s hard to look ok when inside I feel used
My health has suffered for years and to this he’s said
“I guess you will heal when I’m not your stressor anymore “
He won’t let me see a dr to get help naturally Bc he said he’s not paying for that Bc they don’t know their stuff. What a waste of money that would be.
So am I’m in a destructive marriage a disappointment or a just a difficult one?
Someone help me to see clearly.
I feel like I’m being blamed but he has no desire to work on things with me , Meet me half way. Counseling didn’t work and he continues on with small changes in behavior only to go back to same ways again Bc he’s not rewarded
At work he’s rewarded . He does a get b
At home he does a and gets nothing he says
So he won’t do anything that doesn’t benefit him . Essentially is what he’s saying..
Nothing in it for him .
Sea of Galilee,
I’m so very sorry for your current place. You are being betrayed and traumatized by your husband’s behavior and I don’t know how I could possibly say that what you are experiencing is nothing short of abuse and ‘destructive’ to your personhood.
Are you in counseling for just you and do you have a support around you that know what’s going on and how you are being treated.
You cease to exist in your husband’s world and that’s easy for him because of his betrayals ~ less upfront guilt for him, if he is even capable of feeling healthy conviction or remorse.
You are not being treated or scene as a wife to cherish but as a wife to be objectified and that is destructive on every level because that does not honor and reflect the glory of God.
God designed marriage to reflect his Glory, would you say that the way things are currently resemble anything Godly in character and behavior?
Hi Tracy, Nancy, Aly, CBPP, JoAnn, and others. I can’t post on the previous page as comments are closed.
I hope it is ok to post here.
Today was my individual session to ask questions composed on the other blog page. The counselor still stands by that meds are not a factor in our marital problems. She did go on to say, “she can’t give a definitive answer because she didn’t know my hubby before the meds.”
The counselor still will not label hubby behaviors as emotionally abusive. Destructive yes but not abuse. I asked her thoughts about the counseling session yesterday and if she felt it matched what I’ve tried to convey. It was put back on me and we discussed other things. After the course of the hour, I knew for a fact (learning to trust my feelings) I feel she believes we are equally responsible.
Also I keep hearing her say that when one spouse feels alone, unloved, hurt, dismissed, etc that it can make one cling (she didn’t use word control) or lash out. Um really, well I should be wide open on hubby.
I can’t remember the exact wording but she brought up again about lingering on wrongs will not help. I tried to convince her that having loving thoughts can be hard when you are still being poked. I stressed it as Aly said that it is the behaviors not my hubby as a person. There was no need to ask about narcissism at this point.
She said during our sessions she hope in time we each can see our pattern. I don’t know, I think hubby will need hitting in the head for the light bulb to go off. I think she want us to recognize our pattern without her pointing them out.
She still says she remains hopeful and she is seeing some good things. Where? I mean he was just there yesterday in couple’s therapy not owing one thing.
Our next couple’s session will not be until next month. My assignment is to continue to work on building my core self and boundaries.
I did come away with this take away. To address the violation and not the accusation.
This counselor is much better than the other one, but I don’t know.
Have you thought / prayed about Conquer, anymore?
I joined Conquer today. Probably should have joined in the first place instead of paying for the individual counseling session. I hope it will be more than worth the investment. I’m excited.
Nancy I see the book called “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” but I’m unsure of how to find the course. I want to bookmark for the future.
I was talking about this yesterday (feelings) for my individual session. I have always put my feelings in the deep freezer. But when I thawed them out this year, there was water everywhere.
My counselor is stressing to me to allow myself to feel. I agree. However, it is so very frightening for me to feel. I do not allow myself to cry when husband is emotionally attacking because I don’t want him to take that as me being weak. I act untouched when on the inside damage is being done.
So as Leslie says, I’m hiding all of me.
I can SO relate to your words of ‘putting your feelings in the deep freezer.But when I thawed them out there was water everywhere.”
Renee, as Aly affirmed, you are doing A LOT of work, and a great job! As far as EHS, pray about it. It IS a fantastic study, but quite intensive, and you have a lot on your plate.
I’m very happy for you that you signed up for Conquer. You won’t be wasting any time trying to convince Leslie or anyone else in the group of what you are living with. I feel as though this will be a BIG relief for you because it will be immediately SAFE. My sense ( I haven’t done Conquer) is that you will get lots of practical advise. I’m excited for you, too!
Yes, allowing yourself to feel is very important. I totally understand you not wanting to ‘thaw out’ with your h because you are not safe with him. Rest assured though, Renee, our Lord Jesus knows your heart and EXACTLY what you are feeling ( and not allowing yourself to feel). You are COMPLETELY SAFE with Him 🙂
He can meet you ANYWHERE. I spent hours wrapped in a huge blanket on our living room floor ( when no one was home, or at night time) resting in His arms, and allowing Him to comfort me. As you begin to thaw out, He will be right there with you ❤️
Go for walks, drives, whoever you go, invite Him to walk with you. He IS close to the broken-hearted. He is our strength and Hope, Renee.
Rest in Him, sister. He is our healer.
I’m not sure if I missed other posts…? But I’m going to reply to this one.
First, I think you are doing a great job assessing your situation and praying for wisdom to guide you.
Thanks for updating us on the counseling ~ I do think it’s early to sign off to many things or clear directives, but the place you are at is critical as it is difficult.
The drug use as you have described (of your h) is going to be a red flag for me … so just an FYI.
“The counselor still stands by that meds are not a factor in our marital problems. She did go on to say, “she can’t give a definitive answer because she didn’t know my hubby before the meds.”
This is good because she is giving an opinion but willing to acknowledge the unknowns as important info, plus he’s probably on ‘pretty decent behavior’ for the session time?
“The counselor still will not label hubby behaviors as emotionally abusive. Destructive yes but not abuse.
Ok ~ right here is where you might need clarity from her … even if that’s a month from now? Or if she will take a phone call..
How does she define abuse? Or theboundary of destructive vs abuse.
I define abuse as ‘misuse of power’.
Neglect and abandonment are abuse in my opinion.
” I asked her thoughts about the counseling session yesterday and if she felt it matched what I’ve tried to convey. It was put back on me and we discussed other things”
The put back on me I’m unclear of what you mean? Was she saying you had responsibility of his response? Or something else. It’s also imp to see that being in the dialog wth her you might be quick to feel ‘shame’ given what you have been the recipient of (your husband’s behaviors~which are Highly insecure in a huge way)
“After the course of the hour, I knew for a fact (learning to trust my feelings) I feel she believes we are equally responsible.”
Consider asking her is this is what she believes or is making preliminary assessments on? You may feel that,and they may be completely valid but be willing to confront your questions so you can get answers from her, this will help also empower you as you are learning to ask rather than assume. Bringing notes or reminders is a good idea~ these are emotional areas and it can get confusing.
“Also I keep hearing her say that when one spouse feels alone, unloved, hurt, dismissed, etc that it can make one cling (she didn’t use word control) or lash out. Um really, well I should be wide open on hubby.”
She’s showing a pattern that is common in very insecure dynamics. I would ask for more understanding of what she’s explaining. I would also point out that which ever one spouse (feels alone, unloved, dismissed etc.) it doesn’t mean that they are going to ‘ cling’ as she mentioned, a spouse may run, avoid the painful realities etc.
Bottom line is that if you are experiencing ‘the control or clinging response of your h’ then it’s ok for you to feel that way and healthy for another to validate what your experience is. (I say this mainly based on many areas you have posted about his behavior and fear of you being unfaithful….and how the flow is)
“I can’t remember the exact wording but she brought up again about lingering on wrongs will not help. ”
Counselor what do you mean by that?
I would agree that lingering is not the best because of the established ‘pattern’ but also I do think lingering can play an important role in defining what the offenses are and what the necessary actions that should take place.
To analyze, is not to linger or stay stuck .., sometimes it’s necessary and some want to move on so quickly that ‘most likely the problem will REPEAT itself without adequate looking back and evaluating. I’m speaking in terms more of destructive choices that happen in your h and why they are a reoccurring theme.
Those that are tempted to move on quickly can find their motivation by being uncomfortable with grief and working through the pain of the junk to look at. This stuff takes Time~ lots of time
The counselor needs both sides of sitting, and moving on …wisdom and discernment as invaluable places through the journey.
Personally I think some areas that you have explained seem still ‘premature’ for a counselor but then again I could be very wrong in making that assessment. It usually takes many sessions before some clear things are obvious to say one way or the other.
“I tried to convince her that having loving thoughts can be hard when you are still being poked.”
Very true. But it isn’t able the loving thoughts alone as it is about the healthy places of boundaries for each of you.
” I stressed it as Aly said that it is the behaviors not my hubby as a person. There was no need to ask about narcissism at this point.”
Yes I believe focusing on the behaviors is key because his behaviors reveal a lot of what’s going on inside.
Narcissism is on a spectrum continuum as you know, but regardless his behavior reveals some areas that are in alignment with his Narcissism being (heavy toward that side)
And the effects that you receive are still just AS significant as if he had Fulll blow Narcissism PD.
Renee, just remember your not alone and you are making changes for yourself in this dynamic.
Both of you will need a lot of help and support regardless of the outcome of the marriage.
Sending hugs and prayers to you;)
What I mean by saying it was put back on me was she asked me how I felt about what he was saying. And if I felt a need to come back in to set the record straight.
I said no but do you feel/think something else is going on inside my husband’s head? I was like but did you hear him say a pair of wedge sandals I was choosing to wear was a form of disrespect and a way to provoke him. I was like but isn’t that a form of control? Why wasn’t that pointed out just in case hubby does not get the memo.
She advised me to stay away from diagnosing and away from trying to fix hubby and to continue working to fix me. I guess I just wanted to hear her say it (abuse/control) .
Aly, I have heard maybe twice equally responsible. Asking questions would clarify would it not? I guess I’m just so use to being blamed that the word “equally”causes me distress. But that may not be what she is speaking/meaning at all.
I’m having more ah ha moments. Again, some statements are causing me to feel distress because I have heard them before when I’m getting blamed by hubby. If I’m insecure, it is because of you.
I know it is not true (hopefully) but I feel at times I’m being blamed by the counselor as well. I have been before so it is hard to trust another counselor.
She says the more I think of hubby as a “jerk” for example the more I will be planning my exit.
Thanks Aly for prayer and hugs!
Thanks for clarifying here. You wrote yesterday on a post about your husband taking the money and credit cards etc and locking them away from your access?
I can’t find your original post I’m sorry but I would like to know what you think of that behavior?
I would be interested to know how you responded to that towards him?
Your response (part) is key as well as the details that you can share with your counselor privately at this time.
Just to clarify, I think what you explained he ‘did’ is so far abusive that it puts you in a parent child role of sorts and creates critical-powerless places in the relationship that do NOT get healed by an ‘I’m sorry’.
This form of abuse and control damages the personhood’s sense of dignity and their right to humanity.
I tried to write on this yesterday but it was just too painful. When I mentioned it the other day, I didn’t want to think on it for no more than a few seconds.
The behavior was unloving and unkind. I found it unsetting and hurtful but I had to show hubby no emotion. Remember I am strong and he can’t hurt me. My response was I got out of bed, gathered all he wanted, and shoved them into his hands. I got back into bed as if his behavior did not cause me distress. But it did! And it shapes why I will not quit the job he hates that I have to this day.
Just wanted to affirm you here because lots of what you are saying and experiencing are valid.
“I’m having more ah ha moments. Again, some statements are causing me to feel distress because I have heard them before when I’m getting blamed by hubby. If I’m insecure, it is because of you.”
Of course he is going to say this ~ it’s wrong and I wouldn’t listen or give any space for it ‘right now’.
He IS insecure based on what you have detailed of his behaviors. his reactions reveal his insecurity and immaturity.
He’s going to need a lot of help from many angles and a professional to walk him through the ‘tape recorder of false belief’ ” if i am insecure it’s because of you!”
Just like you have expressed and come to more awareness of the ‘de-thawing of your feelings’ your h will have to take the necessary steps to also de thaw or rewire those false recordings he has of himself and the effect of you on him.
Back you what you wrote:
“I know it is not true (hopefully) but I feel at times I’m being blamed by the counselor as well. I have been before so it is hard to trust another counselor.”
Of course I would not expect you ‘to not feel these places’ of past experiences that you had and it didn’t go well.
But I think that’s where clarifying and asking questions are going to help give space for you to grow in the ways that you are wanting to. This isn’t about growing a marriage right now ~ it’s individual work.
Renee I also think your doing a great job at reflecting on things and seeing how being in such a toxic marriage with a husband that blames you for most things, will shape lots of your interpretations (probably from many) because you have been victimized. (This is not your fault)…
But you are not acting like a victim anymore but the survivor that you are!
This meaning ‘response’ will probably frustrate your h in great ways because your response will be drastically different than previously when he could blame you for his own behavior and issues undealt with. Where you had to hold all the garbage because he doesn’t want to hold his own insecure emotions or fears.
Pre drug use and after drug use.. Renee has your husband ever been able to humbly take responsibility for his behavior?
Drug use alters our brain chemistry and perceptions. Some drugs are necessary for individuals with certain areas they lack in having ‘healthier perceptions rather than distorted.
Praying for your journey ~ you’ll get through this 💟
No responsibility and no remorse. Just a promise of how he is going to become a humble man. This month was you should move in with your parents since you think I am the blame and the only one that has caused heartache. His words still stands that everything about me and that I do should be about him. I want all your attention back on me he says. You still are trying to push my buttons.
If anyone is trying to push buttons it is the other way around. Friday I was ironing because we were going to balloon festival later that day with teens. He called me on my cell. When he came to my room I told him my cell was in the other room and I didn’t get to it in time. He threw out a comment about how he and the teens find that frustrating when I don’t pick up right away.
I told him everything I do seem to frustrate him including my existence (maybe that was a bad reaction). He says he was joking until I made something out of what he said. I said if you were kidding the teens would have been left out.
Other things (subtle) have taken place but again no remorse and no responsibility.
I hear your heart sister. I have had some of the same concerns with my marriage as I posted earlier in this thread. I feel your pain as he says those stinging words. What you have to say IS important. Someone who wants relationship values what you have to say. If he has hurt you with his words, as an adult male who is your partner, he has a responsibility in the relationship to make amends and apologize, not shirk you off or tell you you’re too sensitive. Those are demeaning things that push you away from relationship and make you feel unloved and unneeded. NOT what Jesus calls us to with each other. If it were me, I would give him some tough love and say, I’d love to give you sex when I feel emotionally connected and safe with you. If he gets it from someone else or the internet, you are not safe. You already don’t feel safe or loved. Jesus doesn’t call us to be doormats. He calls us to be helpmates which doesn’t equal worthless slaves to men with addictive behaviors and horrible boundaries. I am praying for you and your heart that the Lord will show you clear boundaries and how to put your wounded soul in Christ’s care so that your husband’s words reflect his wounded and broken attitude, not who you are as a person in any way. xxx ooo!!!
I am unable to write much right now, but look up Asperger’s. My husband is not that mean, but he’s very emotionally disconnected and dismissed my feelings for 27 years before agreeing to go to counseling. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s and there’s really nothing that will change except he’s trying a little to modify his behavior. It’s a very lonely way to live. We see a Christian counselor named Stephanie Holmes. She is from our area, but she also does Skype sessions and phone calls. I am praying for you!
HI Sea and Robin,
At this stage, it doesn’t matter what label you put on him.
Sea, his treatment of you is abusive.
Yours is far from a difficult marriage. It is destructive. Stay on this site. Listen to the feedback you are getting. For him to be blocking you seeing a dr. is WRONG. He has made himself a god in your home.
Get to know the One True God, Sea. He is NOTHING like your h. Submit to The Lord. Your h is not submitted to The Lord, so if you submit to your h, who are you ultimately submitting to?
As truth begins to soak in, you will become stronger. One. Step.at.a.time.
Why are you with this man again? Do you not know that you are the daughter of the Lord of life? You are not a trash bin. Who made you think you should be an emotional and sexual punching bag? The torture you live is not marriage. It is destructive, dangerous, deceitful and deliberate. You precious woman, deserve better. No more peace faking as they say.
I would like to add Sea, that it might be wise to be regularly tested for HIV. It is nearly impossible that a man with that many partners would not be a festering petri dish of disease. Additionally, with his extent of selfishness, it seems improbable that he used protection during sexual conquests. Sweet Sea, a better byline is Dead Sea. Oh, you tortured you have been. I thing of beauty poisoned by an evil man.
And now a third post, probably with a ton of errors which my smart phones things are better than what I wrote.😊
I want to explain my tough talk. It took tough talk to get me out of destruction. It took comments that bothered me and hurt. I remember calling a lawyer and discussing my situation. Of, course I have to stay married, Christian etc…you know the thinking. All this while having two restraining orders against my husband.
The saucy lawyer said, “What are you waiting for the third?” I thought, well that was nasty
Yet, her comments stuck with me. She was right. Other people were more evasive and gentle. I don’t remember any of their advice. Yet, the harsh truth, delivered bluntly stayed with me. Those words helped me flee.
I would also add to pay attention to how this man treats all the women in his life, including all the subtle things he views about women (things he might believe but might not necessarily talk about). Jesus set the example in how he treated women while here on earth.
And very important: As you (or anyone woman) discuss issues/beliefs with any potential mate, it is vital to remember that a man may say he has a certain belief or value, but how he acts (or doesn’t act) on that belief/value is the true test for what he really believes. This advice would have saved me 17 years ago as my husband has pretty good beliefs he verbalizes, but how he treats me is entirely different. And because he practices saying the right things, it is very hard for others in our life to see what is really going on.
I too have been in your position. I finally left for the 5th time in our 26yr marriage a “Christian Husband” a leader in the church, best buds with the pastor yet at home, verbally abusive, cruel to my children from my 1st marriage where I was widowed. Financial deceit, pathological lying, I have come back to him so many times bc I believe in the sanctity of marriage. But what do you do with dishonesty, disrespect, non repentance and zero relationship together with Christ? The final straw after telling him I would get help bc of his horrible childhood and his pathological lying (maybe that was a way to survive) he lied about a huge amount of cash I’d found hidden in a old suit. Old behavior and his lie was so convincing if I hadn’t found it myself I would have believed him… I had to resign last yr from an excellent job which paid r health benefits. Bc of cont’d lying to me and about me I was upset how he “handled it?” He drained our joint account. I filed for divorce. He told me r home was “his retirement” I stayed in r home legally separated to watch his character, to see if he would repent. Nope he never quit verbally abusing me, name calling , putting me down for not “contributing” financially yet I’ve had 3 back surgeries and worked in pain till I physically couldn’t any longer. He offered to finally put me on his new account yet no apologies ever. He actually asked what did I have to do with God to him?? I left the house on September 6th and he still sends hateful texts and letters. He’s lied, stolen, gone on dating sites, lied about me to mutual friends. My heart is grieving… I thought I married a Christian. I was “there” for him thru a relapse in drugs, health crises you name it. I have been stripped of love and respect from this man yet if he had repented I would have worked on the marriage. Look up covert narcissism. It fit my husband so perfectly I was shocked.
This sounds horrible. I feel for all you’ve been through.
Do you have emotional support that will help you to stay away, this time?
I agree wholeheartedly that if you can’t say no or have a difference of opinion that is heard and respected, then he is not for you. If there is a tendency to talk you into seeing things the way he sees it without him trying to understand your point of view—-that is a huge red flag.
Pay attention to anything he says or does that makes you feel grieved inside and don’t ignore that. There is no need to rush into a serious relationship if you are feeling uneasy. Most people realize that usually the poor decisions they have made is because they ignored the red flags or uncomfortable feeling they were getting inside– which is discernment the Lord gives to cause us to know which way to go and what decisions to make. Stay alert and pay attention both inwardly and outwardly and the Lord will show you the way. Reaching out through avenues like this, to get godly council is very wise of you!
All I feel free to say is that I’m very glad you’re doing this. More power to you as you follow God’s lead in this as I don’t know many (if any) pastors in my area who are taking the time to address these issues.
I didn’t have a chance to throughly read through all the comments but I think one thing that is being forgotten here is GRACE. This man has been in a destructive relationship himself and probably has hurts of his own to deal with.In my own destructive marriage after the grace of God was shown and things began to change. I’ve had a hard time putting away thoughts of he still doesn’t understand, is he being selfish?, Can I trust that what he wants for his family is for the best and find myself trying to argue against him. Which isn’t the way to handle things. It is my sin nature that is prone to this and this side of heaven none of us will be perfect. So I would encourage you to see if he would be willing to sit down with a biblical wise person and try flush out if there is a heart reason he does this behavior and maybe get some accounibility for talking in a kinder way to you. Or even together seeking out wise biblical counseling on your relationship in general. And like others have said take you time in making the decision. I will pray for God to help you in discerning whether this man is right for you and your boys.
I agree with a previous poster. She already had a spouse that needed fixing. This time seek maximum emotional health. This is an old post. It would be interested to get an update from the woman who wrote this question in the first place.
I think Grace is beautiful and ordained, yet in my opinion, it does not apply to this relationship selection discuss. In fact thinking this way may be why women continue to select the same dysfunctional men over and over again.
Sunshine & Jolene,
Sometimes offering up the healthiest gracefilled love is being honest and truthful.
Sunshine I agree with your points here. I think God allows for us to experience consequences of our own choices and behaviors.
Sometimes the most graceful thing to do… is to get out of the way for the other ‘destructive person’ to be destructive by themselves and suffer the consequences so they have no one else to make accountable for something that they need to work on to repair with the Lord.
All behavior is a language… take notice to what is being expressed and what is leaking out. (Many of us wind up in relationships that either party is safe to express their true experiences and many need to learn how to communicate well and know who they are in Christ first💜… prior to any marital relationship)
I think it’s a big red flag that a third party needs to be involved in order for a women to assert herself and be regarded to be listened to by her spouse/boyfriend. Etc. especially over simple matters.
I’m so sorry you are in a destructive marriage as you stated. I hope you are finding the help & support you need.
Some things you wrote do cause me concern;
“I’ve had a hard time putting away thoughts of he still doesn’t understand, is he being selfish?, Can I trust that what he wants for his family is for the best and find myself trying to argue against him. ”
These are important experiences to not dismiss. Can you express these feelings to your spouse and what would be the reaction? To express how your feeling and sorting through those is NOT a sinful nature.
I often will tell my husband my feelings and since he’s been in recovery ~ he can hear me and can validate my feelings without being destructive or trying to be defensive in every way possible.
“Which isn’t the way to handle things. It is my sin nature that is prone to this and this side of heaven none of us will be perfect.”
What do you mean by, it is your sin nature that ms prone to this?
Do you mean not trusting your husband doesn’t understand and do you have a history for why you might have those reasons?
If your husband has been destructive toward you in the past and your experiencing trust issues with him (of any sort) then your feelings are worth hearing and it’s not SIN to seek this type of reassurance. And it’s certainly not trying to attain any form of healthy!
One big red flag for me is when the discussion is about healthy responses and safe relationships and someone brings up ‘Perfect’, perfect isn’t even on the table because it isn’t something to grasp because we know only one WHO is perfect and He calls us to honoring behavior and growing in Christ each day. It’s never been about being perfect. So my concern is that you have that wired in response (about perfection) when really that is all a form of shame.
Destructive people tend to not desire growth or health, they use the ‘well your not perfect’ in their responses. They try to shame the other by trying to be healthy and honest with what they are experiencing.
Friends, can you give us your thoughts?
I *really* like what Leslie said. I am a little unsure of some of her definitions, but these are tough, nuanced issues and I think those answers are generally spot on.
. . . .Our questioner says: “. . . I don’t feel . . . .emotionally safe.” I think that is a huge clue that maybe she needs to be speaking *way* more Truth into that relationship. The Truth will self-select people into and out of your life. . . . .To me, one way to let God run your life is to speak the truth as best you know how and trust God for the outcomes. —But it is NOT easy, at all, to let go of outcomes. I don’t feel emotionally safe lots of times when I learn the truth, let alone speak it. The truth is something that burns off deadwood and no one likes having deadwood burnt off.
. . .But, as per Jesus, the truth speaks the best possible world into existence. . . .Honesty forces any dysfunctions in our lives right straight to the surface. If we have no recourse to peace faking, withholding information, lies, outcome engineering, lying with our bodies, our lives can unravel only so far. . . . Don’t underestimate the power of Truth to give you answers about this. There’s nothing more powerful, except maybe prayer. But, again, in order to speak what you regard as the truth, you have to let go of the outcomes. . . .For example, “I might lose this boyfriend, a father for my boys, etc.” Let go of the outcomes and put yourself in God’s hands by speaking the truth to this man as clearly and as best as you can, —at all times. . . . .And yes, all of us are biased, and uninformed at lots of levels. . . . but if you state what *you* think, as clearly as you can to this man and keep on stating it as God lays it on your heart, and the Holy Spirit in prayer. . . . .If you can do that, I think you will know.
Nothing brings a better world into being than stating the truth, but you will pay a price for that. That said, you are going to pay a price for everything you do (me too) and everything you don’t do. We don’t get to choose to not pay a price. . . . .So, here is maybe, a question to ask. It is the question I ask myself: —Am I living in a way which is *deeply* satisfying to me, and which truly expresses me and The Truth?
As you well know, in a healthy relationship, vulnerability is just wonderful. It leads to increased intimacy and much closer bonds. When a healthy person realizes that they have hurt you, they feel remorse and they make amends. It’s safe to be honest. In an abusive system, vulnerability is just dangerous. It’s considered a weakness, which acts as an invitation for more mistreatment.
. . . .So, if we think about abuse, it can’t exist well inside Truth! A refusal to peace fake, withhold information, lie, outcome engineer, lying with our bodies, etc. would oblige us to come to grips with our situations very quickly, —not 25+ years later, or worse. . . .The only thing that I know is that anyone who wants to learn *will* learn. We cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.
—When you are with your boyfriend, observe, see if what you are saying makes you feel stronger, physically, or weaker. If it makes you feel weaker, stop saying it. Try to reformulate your speech until you can feel the ground under your feet solidifying. Then practice only saying things that make you Strong. Don’t use your speech for peace faking, outcome engineering, lying with your body, etc. If you are like me, you don’t necessarily even know what you really want and only God knows what is really good for us. Instead, maybe try to articulate what you believe to be true as carefully as possible. Then, accept the outcomes. Assume that your truth, as lived and spoken, will produce the best possible outcome. It’s an act of faith in Christ. But so is every other way of being where you take back your mental sovereignty.
Believe behavior. I was in the exact same scenario 6 years ago and am now in the divorce process. Turns out he’s an alcoholic. He rushed things. He said all the right stuff. I still had wounding from my own past that kept me from walking away when I should have. Dating is tricky. I’m taking time to really make sure I allow my heart to heal, otherwise I will keep choosing the same type of man, self centered, loner, destructive.
. . . .Believe behavior, but people are really crafty, so especially believe behavior *under pressure*. Real beliefs/issues are not at the level of people’s egos. Real beliefs/issues are the highly nuanced cognitive biases that are deeply encoded in our actions and symptoms (symptoms —the actions we take when we are *really* stressed, that’s what people really are/believe), —not just their words or behaviors they are reining in. What is real is testified to by our actions under pressure not wrapped up in articulation of beliefs. In that sense, behaviors are far more important than even beliefs. . . .
—So, two more ideas for our questioner: 1) way more pressure and 2) way more self-knowledge. True character is revealed in the choices made under serious pressure. The greater the pressure, the deeper the revelations and maybe the truer the insight into the person’s essential nature. It could blow your relationship up, but I have found that pressure is a powerful accountability meausre. It’s as though everything you do is multiplied by 50. —It is refreshing to study the poise and quietness of Christ. He was never in a hurry, never impressed by numbers, never a slave of the clock. . . .I think maybe what creates the information you want is the way people perceive and handle pressure. You might also discover their true character by observing what they are really, deeply passionate about.
. . . Second, maybe those forgotten depth psychologists are correct: Know yourself deeply and much about others will be revealed! If you have not, you might delve deep to know your true self too, not just his. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. Making our own darkness as conscious as possible helps us see his/others darkness more clearly. Believing we are good is like believing in the half moon. . . . We judge another person and think we know them when, the person we’ve lived with the longest—ourselves, we still don’t know very well. As long as we keep secrets and suppress information, we are fundamentally at war with ourselves. . . . .The critical issue is allowing yourself to know what you know. Really doing that takes an enormous amount of courage. Truly being authentic is knowing what matters to you, on the deepest level of who you are, and committing always to act from that authentic center.
That self-discovery changes everything, including your relationships with other people. . . . .When you find your authentic self, those who loved your masks are disappointed and self-select out of your life. You may end up alone, but you don’t need to stay alone. While it’s painful to sever connections, it’s not a tragedy. It’s an opportunity. —Now, you can be with a person who understands the importance of looking for truth and being authentic. —Now, you can find a person who will want to connect deeply and connect like you’ve always wanted to. —Now, you can have real intimacy, —at least that is the goal. . . .There is a huge difference between working hard to create a life that truly serves and working hard to create a life that you’ve been told you should want.
. . .Oh, and the best men tell you *all* the truth because they know you deserve and can handle it. . . .The worst men either try to preserve you in some innocent state with their false protection, or worse. When someone lets you think for yourself, experience your own emotions, he is treating you as a true equal.
“Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality; listening to our emotions ushers us into reality. And reality is where we meet God…Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice…However, we often turn a deaf ear- through emotional denial, distortion, or disengagement. We strain out anything in order to gain tenuous control over our inner world. We are frightened and ashamed of what leaks into our counsciousness. In neglecting our intense emotions, we are false to ourselves and lose wonderful opportunity to know God. We forget that change comes through brutal honesty and vulnerability before God.”
Dan Allender and Tremoer Longmam “cry of the soul”
Nancy, this is good if you have emotions. Some of us living in trauma are frozen and emotionless. Just starting to have any feelings what so ever is a step in the right direction.
I remember a Lundy Bancroft quote which went something like, with an abuser anger is always ok, as long as it was only his anger, not yours.
“. . .Some of us living in trauma are frozen and emotionless. Just starting to have any feelings what so ever is a step in the right direction.”
Sunshine, absolutely, any green shoots of emotion and even very little steps of healing are good signs. But it still really hurts. . . .If you break your leg, there is no stage in the healing process when your leg feels better than it does after it has completely healed. There is pain and itching and loss of strength all along the way. From the moment your leg is broken, it continues to feel bad … until, gradually, it starts to feel less bad. It’s appropriate that it hurts. . . .it is trauma!
. . . .But, once you are getting some emotions, however small, I think what Nancy says makes lots of sense. . . .Too many times, we feel we must try to bury or ignore negative emotions, jealousy, despair, contempt. They can become an essential part of our spiritual growth when we honestly face them and wrestle with the issues they expose. . . . . .It’s like, like everything that irritates us about others can lead us to a far greater understanding of ourselves, —me too!
“. . . .brutal honesty and vulnerability before God” . . . .Nancy, I think a person really beleieving they can hide things from God is obviously not thinking correctly.
“The desert shatters the soul’s arrogance and leaves body and soul crying out in thirst and hunger. In the desert we trust God or die.” ― Dan Allender
. . .Nancy, I think God is so merciful to only allow us to correlate the contents of our brains (trauma memories) but only so far. I call truth and reality the desert of the REAL. —That holy desolation where only the Truth survives, out past all the epistemology of Christian propaganda about what life is like. That place where everything not real is washed away by the solar storm of Truth. —And raw TRUTH, oh my, it is not appealing because it has no marketing plans, it is not outcome engineering or trying to “increase faith”.
“But as I’ve said again and again, as painful as truth and reality are sometimes, healthy people live in truth and reality and not in fantasy” ―Leslie Vernick
Since 2013, sometimes, when I begin praying, it is like I can hear God say: “Welcome to the Desert of the Real!” . . . I always try to remember (which is true for all of us) that what we do not yet know is more important than what we already “know”, otherwise we never learn or grow re: In the N.T., (μετάνοια -metánoia, met-an’-oy-ah) the ongoing awareness that leads over and over and over to a death—rebirth sequence. Re: Personality and its Transformations. Transformative change by awareness of Christ in our minds and hearts -or- just simply we can live dying everyday: 1 Timothy 4:12; Ephesians 4:1; 1 Corinthians 15:31, et.al. This, I think, has nothing to do with trying harder or even trying at all.
. . .And always, we are grateful in spite of our suffering.
. . .And you are correct Sunshine . . . .none of this works with an interpersonally exploitative, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, etc. woman, man, etc. (re:Lundy Bancroft, et.al.)
HI Sunshine and Aleea,
I totally agree. When I started the course ‘Emotionally Healthy Spirituality’, at the end of the first lesson, I had an image that a huge percentage of my emotions were frozen. In fact, I wrote in my workbook, they weren’t just frozen, they were in a DEEP FREEZE.
I am now walking with others through this course and just yesterday I re-read the following : “the journey towards Emotionally Healthy Spirituality begins with the commitment to allow yourself to feel”.
And making that commitment was and continues to be, terrifying for me.
So yes, Sunshine, just starting to have feelings is a step in the right direction.
Sunshine (—by-the-way, I love that name) and Nancy (—I love you because you always try to help me and I’m not easy to help!),
. . .So, there is a woman that I see and talk to sometimes that goes to the same counseling center I do. She keeps telling me that if she allows herself to go down that pain route, with all the old trauma memories, she says she will not be able to stop and will be permanently out-of-control. . . .
. . . .I told her: please check this with your counselor, but it seems in terms of healing, you are actually in-control when you are out-of-control. . . .The best access to that part of our minds that has the trauma memories we seek to heal may be through our emotions. By entering into those memories and allowing ourselves to *deeply feel* the emotions, then it is like we invite the Lord to come into the memories (because He is with us always) and speak what He wants us to hear.
That deep grief we try to avoid does not seem to me to be a choice (I am deeply frozen in some areas too). . . .Whether or not you think grief has value, you will lose what matters to you. The world will totally break your heart. . . .So, I think we’d better look at what grief might offer us. . . .hmm, treasure hunt our tradgeies? . . .It’s like self-doubt: it is not going to go away, and therefore we need to think about how it might become our ally. . . . .Feeling all that pain deeply (Total Grief) might be, in some ways, the long aftermath of love?, the internal work of knowing, holding, more fully valuing what we have lost? I don’t know, I’m guessing.
. . .So, just simply, we can’t heal unless we feel the emotions of all that past trauma and we just can’t feel it briefly but it has to be deeply. The deeper the feeling, the deeper the healing. . . . .We are not responsible for anything that happens to us as a child (I still feel like I am but it is not true) but we are 100% responsible for our own healing. Hold yourself back, or heal yourself back together. We decide. . . .In fact, it seems like healing through forgiveness takes place in the soul and subconscious, not by some face-to-face confrontation that ends in hugging and tears of joy. In fact, chances are that would never happen anyway, so we are setting ourselves up for failure if that is our expectation. But like everything REAL, it is complicated, there is no one way to recover and heal from any trauma. . . .We choose our own healing path or more correctly stumble across it.❣ 😊 💕 . . . .💗 ♪ ♫ ♩ ♬ 💖💜 💟. . .
I agree with you, Aleea that becoming less frozen and allowing ourselves to feel is the path to healing,
this has to be under the direction of Jesus. Only He knows the next layer that needs healing.
So where your friend is concerned. If she feels that she will become out of control, then I think it’s wise that you told her to check with her counsellor.
If we force ourselves into a place that we are not ready, or have been equipped to deal with, then this is not wise.
Only The Lord knows our next step, and His word is a light at our feet, a lamp to our path.
He is the healer. Not me. Not my counsellor.
Jesus Christ ♥️
I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who has contributed to the conversation. It is so very helpful! I am somewhat new to the struggle but not new to emotionally abusive relationships; my 4th marriage is on the precipice and depends on what God can do with my husband’s heart. We are separated now due to the abuse and I am working on healing with my Wonderful Counselor. This conversation has helped me to firm up my resolve and to not accept the unacceptable. I would also like to say to anyone who is looking to others for confirmation of what they should or shouldn’t do especially concerning a commitment such as marriage, beware!! Are these trusted counsellors, have they given you Godly advice in the past. Do they know your heart and the things that you struggle with? Our feelings are very important–they warn us when something is wrong either within ourselves or someone else. Heed the sound advice given here, such as speaking the truth and moving slowly. As most of you know, an abusive marriage on any level is a living hell.
Praying for wisdom.
Re: “Only He knows the next layer that needs healing.”
Re: “Only The Lord knows our next step, and His word is a light at our feet, a lamp to our path. He is the healer.”
. . .A healer seems to me someone who seeks to be the light that she wishes she had in her darkest moments. . . .We, all of us, are bias to seek information that fits what we already believe. . . .We can’t let identity, security, and especially simplicity, come at the price of a deeper embrace of goodness, love, and truth —in other words, of Divinity. . . . .Jesus becomes. . .I don’t know Nancy how to say it. . . .Jesus becomes inner therapy for an outward liberation?
When I’m triggered, I think, “This will last forever!” or “What if this lasts forever?” I get thoughts about how I should give up, run away, hide, protect myself. These thoughts, I cannot change. What I can change is how I respond to them. Will I unconditionally believe these ideas, or will I accept them as side effects of the temporary experience of pain? Will I act on each thought that arises in that burning fire, or will I let Jesus hold me and gently and say, “It’ll be okay. I know it hurts. I love you!” My power lies in those choices. . . .Jesus becomes inner therapy for an outward liberation. . .
. . . And I guess Jesus has to do it because it requires w-a-y (entirely) too much finesse even for a well-trained counselor? Only tenderness has the power to accomplish what the fullness of love desires to do. . . .And that tenderness approaches us little by little by little by little by little, and handles our feelings with the deepest affection. Tenderness that is willing to wait unbelievable amounts of time, for the right time, until we are ready and we are no longer afraid. . . . .Only Jesus has the love and patience for that? . . . .And the difference may be that counselors seem to be asking the question: “How can I treat, or cure, or change this person?” Maybe Jesus would phrase the question in this way: “How can I (Jesus) provide a relationship which this person may use for her own personal healing and growth?” . . .I don’t know, obviously, but those are my thoughts.
I really resonate with your last thought on Jesus providing a relationship for our healing and growth, Aleea.
It is the safest, most nurturing, hope-filled relationship!
It was our relationship with God that was broken in the garden, and Jesus came to reconcile us to God. The journey with Christ is one of discovering His perfect love, accepting it and out of that overflow, loving others. He adopts us into His family and calls us daughters. This is the secure attachment that we all ( humans) long for. Where do we learn how to love? In a family. That’s why adoption into His family is the ultimate destination!
What a gift.
I have often thought of the last 5.5 years of my life like this: God plucked me out of the world and placed me into a healing cocoon. He surrounded me with His people that love on me, His way. He worked tirelessly but so sensitively inside my heart to reveal the next step. He then enabled me to take those steps. Sometimes, like you Aleea, I think “when will this end?” but thank you for the reality-check that in those moments I have a choice of how I will respond to these thoughts. My emotional brokenness sometimes overwhelms me, but I also know that He is right along side.
Nancy, that is *really* beautiful. . . . .just so beautiful. Why does that grab me like that, its like a magnet. When someone else [―who is not me] says it, somehow, . . .somehow it is twice as powerful. . . . .
Healing is about learning to love yourself. I only accept your mistakes and flaws to the degree that I accept my own. I only love you to the degree I love myself. . . .And only love that continues to flow in the face of anger, blame, and indifference can be called love. All else is simply a transaction. . . .I haven’t learned much, but I learned that directly from Jesus. In the Gospels, enter those texts, go beneath the words, discover the experience that made the words necessary, and seek the meaning to which the words point. ⌘ ツ
I ended up in a destructive marriage because I did not see him in all circumstances. A few weeks after we met he had a car accident and just passed a blood test after he had been drinking. The thing was that every time we met he had to drive so that scare meant that he was careful what he drank when he was with me. I did not know how much he drank until after we were married and I could drive him home after a drinking session. Within a month I knew I had made a big mistake as he spent a lot of money chasing away his personal demons with alcohol. It was 10 years later that he had his first mental health breakdown and he lost his battle to get me the psychiatric treatment he said I needed. It took another 16 years for him to decide that I was not good enough for him and divorced me. The kindest thing he ever did for me!!
Make sure that you see your future husband in all circumstances so you have a chance to find any weak spots.
Very good advice. I have a story. A friend of mine had a healthy husband yet after a heart attack he changed. The deprivation of oxygen to his brain during the heart attack damaged his brain and he became violent. Sadly, she had to leave the marriage for her safety. Sometimes our destructive partners have physical causes for their behavior.
I have been married to a destructive, emotionally and physically (has has slapped me twice and when I have said anything about it he acts like that since it was such a long time ago that it it not relevant) abusive man for 23 years. My upbringing taught me to tolerate things that should have never been tolerated. I’m now starting to set boundaries in the marriage. And in doing so this is the response I got from him. And I quote “I’m human and lose my temper at times but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you! You may not love me anymore or maybe you just never have, I don’t know . But I have always loved you and always will. I’m a guy who fixes things for a living and usually I can fix whatever is broken if I set my mind to it. I’ve tried to fix you and me several times but fact is , I can’t! I can’t be affectionate enough or I do it wrong. To me affection involves touching etc.. I can’t hold you or caress you or even rub your feet if you don’t let me…..you’ve built up a wall over time that I’ve tried to get over by changing . I can’t get over it or around it you have to tear it down and let me in for it to work. I can think of many times lately (pass year or so) that when I’ve said or done something and you immediately let me know it bothered you etc.. that I’ve tried to make a mental note and correct it immediately. It’s hard to keep loving someone who can’t or won’t return it. It’s hard to kiss tightened lips. Or get up and go to work and then come home and have to do my own laundry or fix dinner or have to go eat. I don’t mind to do those things at all when your not feeling well but to feel like I have to because you refuse to because you have an attitude. It doesn’t sit well. I’m expected to still do and give and give and give with no appreciation. It’s stay to stay positive and up beat. Makes it easy to lose my temper over dumb stuff. I need help. Even if you don’t love me if we are going to try and be a family I’ve got to have some sort of support from you . You do things I don’t like or agree with but I’ve learned to over look them because the person I fell in love with I believe is still in there! I don’t think for one second you like who you are, let alone who I am. I can’t make you change anything . I’m just saying I’m doing some soul searching and I’d like for you to do the same as well. You’ve always been a reader and prayer. I haven’t been . I relied on you so much in those areas because you always knew more about the Bible than I . Your love of anything seems to have faded. I feel like you read too many articles and such on the internet that influence you in a negative way. I’ve always been a jerk and you haven’t! Please please please I beg you to look deep inside yourself and see if there’s any hope!?! I love you!!”
I’m perplexed and have sought God to give me added strength for so many years. When is enough, enough?!
Have you read Leslie’s book, EDM? Have you watched Patrock Doyle videos on YouTube? Do you have a counsellor?
Setting boundaries is one thing, maintaing them is another. In the example above, Your h steam rolled right over whatever you had set a boundary about. Here’s a thought….
in a calm moment, tell your h that when you voice a limit, that you need it respected. If he can’t stick to the subject at hand, then you’ll have to leave the conversation, until he is calmer.
And then when this happens, say something like, ” I was very specific in my request, I will not be dragged into a discussion about wether I love you or not. When you have calmed down, we can talk about ( the specific issue that you originally raised with him).”
And then when you are ready to re-engage, be prepared for the same thing. If he does it again, stand your ground. Say the same thing again.
This stuff is beyond exhausting. But it is worth it.
Your h has succeeded in ‘perplexing’ you. The good news is that you can stop allowing it. It will take energy, support and most of all, Jesus Christ as your h.
You have us here on this Blog for support.
May The Lord bless you as your learn how to put your foot down.
Nancy & Perplexed,
Perplexed, I’m sorry for what you are going through. Nancy you gave some clear examples of what it could look like, well written.
Something that helped my husband when going back to the conversation ‘or table’ was
Can we have and keep this as an adult conversation?
That seemed to help him be reminded of what the expectations are ~ no room for adolescent and toddler reasonings.
Yes easier said than done .., but given enough times at the table and counseling with added tools does and can help someone who tends to steam roll boundaries.
Aly, thank you for the helpful strategy. I have tried so many things but being consistent has been a struggle. It’s been hard for to remember some of the “rules” when he starts in on me. I tend to freeze up and my mind goes blank during his tirades. It scrambles my brain. I’m definitely going to need a lot of support and some cue cards with words on them so when my mind goes blank I can articulate my boundaries in those moments when I’m feeling speechless.
Nancy, thank you for your response. No, I haven’t read EDM or watched Patrock Doyle. This past week was when I came across Leslie’s marriage counseling and it has been helped me immensely just In that short time. I will look into the Patrock videos today.
You are exactly right! Boundaries are much easier to speak but not as easy to maintain. That is where I’ll need a lot of support and wisdom.The word steam roller fits my husbands approach to a “T” you nailed it! I have to learn to know when not to engage in his abusive rhetoric. But he is so demanding and tells me he is not finished with a conversation and for me to “get back in here”. I HAVE A LOT TO LEARN!!! It is VERY tiring and exhausting on so many levels. This marriage has taken a toll on my health as well. I have Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome. The on-going constant stress in my marriage hinders the healing process immensely. However I’ve resolved to set and hold the boundaries in place and if he does not respect those boundaries, myself and our 5 children will move out. Two of them wish I would divorce him because of the turmoil he brings into the family with his anger and hostility.
We have an appointment with a counselor on the 26th of October. Hopefully some good comes out of it.
Aly has given you some great insight and support. You sound as though you are growing by leaps and bounds in this short time!
Just keep on focusing on ‘what is your problem’.
I was re-reading the Emotionally destructive relationship last night and Leslie says that one of her biggest jobs is helping us identify what ‘our problem is’. It’s easy to focus on your H and all the work that he has to do ( and this is important in order to identify what requirements you have for reconciliation, down the road). What will likely be hardest for you will be to identify what your problem is. This will help you to identify the boundaries you need to set as well as not get pulled into trying to ‘fix him’.
Your h’s irrational behaviour is causing you to walk on eggshells, I would imagine. So….What is your problem? That you ( and your kids) don’t feel safe in your own home ( let alone free to be you.) Your h’s porn problem is NOT your problem. It is CAUSING you problems, but you have no control over it. You DO however have control over feeling safe. What boundaries do you need to put in place in order to feel safe in your home? Focusing on YOUR problem will help because you will gain control. Focusing on his problem (although important to validate that you are not crazy and imaging this) might lead to trying to ‘fix him’- just beware of that.
Your h has A LOT of work to do. This is clear. But you have ZERO control over his choices. You have 100% control over your own behaviour. This is a new way of thinking and will take support to change thought patterns.
I’m off running now..,I hope his came across.
Perplexed & Nancy,
I agree with you Nancy on the importance of focusing on ‘our own part’ I do. I think perplexed has done a great job seeing the wrong ‘thinking’ that has fueled the dynamic.
Here was Perplexed example to her h in text;
“I know exactly where I have failed in this marriage. I’ve been a pretender which is basically living a lie. I’ve pretended that everything has been ok in our marriage for waaaaay too long. I’ve made it look good from the outside while it was hell on the inside. I’ve not stood up for myself, for the kids or for our marriage in an adequate way. I’ve allowed too many things to go by without proper consequences and in doing so I’ve only compounded the issues and the abuse. I thought I was doing the right thing by being “submissive” for so many years. Boy was I wrong!!!”
This is well written perplexed and I’m sure many of us can relate to that position and those choices. Getting honest with yourself and others helps to stabilize reality~ because I believe peacekeeping and or lying to ourselves ‘hoping or wanting to believe something isn’t that bad or broken’ can cause those unhealthy parts to root back in.
Let’s all remind ourselves that this a is process. Reality and facing the grief of these relationship truths take time.
It’s imp to note what your husband wrote, perplexed:
” So what’s the plan now? Since your making the calls. Where do we go from here. I haven’t had 23 yrs to change . It’s only been brought to light in recent years I had to change. If I’ve not made improvements then I guess I’m blind. either way I am what I am right now. So make the call what is it? Are we seeking professional help or moving on? Because I’m not living like this any longer. If you choose to not get help it will be without me. Because I’m done with it being one sided.”
Yes Nancy you are right it isn’t about fixing or focusing on him, but focusing on the long term power dynamics in the non~
Marriage are key to getting off the crazy train.
it’s important for some dynamics to see how powerful the words reveal ‘the reality of the heart situation’ so that perplexed can focus on what her needs and requirements will be.. her husband is quite immature across the board and it sounds like he might be at his limit of being the only one steering the car into the ditch ~ which is a good thing.
Even though he references the marriage being ‘one sided’ he actually the one sided he’s referring to but might not have that insight yet😉
It’s my pondering ??.. that he is not in a mature place yet to see that perplexed IS focusing on ‘her part or her issues’ and her verbalizing that she has her issues ‘could back fire’ given his level of maturity and serious betrayals. He doesn’t see that he is someone who has been unfaithful in the marriage and he’s going to think that the power in the marriage or status quo should not adjust ~ even if it’s for his own good.
His words are critical because of what things he focuses on;
Wife making the calls?
He’s only had a few years to absorb that he has issues to change…(meaning its news to him how serious his/ or rather the marital issues are?)
Based on your opinion wife, I’ve not made improvements.. so I’m the blind one? (Victim)
It’s going to take time for him to grow (in intensive interventions) to see that what he might define as marital issues are more his issues.
He naturally is going to want to think ‘they both are broken equally’ because of all his shame and fear but perplexed is doing a good job drawing boundaries about what her part is without ’empowering him’ to be more abusive of the dynamic.
Victims of these types of abuses can get empowered by focusing on the patterns and rationale etc of the abuser in a detached way, otherwise they might be less protected down the road to being convinced things are not that bad. So for some focusing (not fixing) is a safety place.
Hi Aly and Perplexed,
When I was at the point you are at Perplexed, I needed safety. It became essential to identify one or two boundaries that would stop the steamrolling and manipulation dead in it’s tracks.
This is scary to do, but is essential because this process of not allowing yourself to be disrespected will show you if you can heal while living under the same roof as your h. If h will not respect your limits, then you will only continue to lose energy.
I can see why you are fatigued. The conversation that you shared was draining! Given your health, I would suggest you put all your energy – for the moment – into ‘stopping the energy drain’.
That means focusing on discovering, implementing and maintaining just a couple of boundaries; which will enter you into the process of finding out if your husband is capable of respecting you. ( if not, you will need to be under separate roofs, for safety and healing).
Once you have created that safe space for yourself, then healing can begin.
( please make a safety plan for you and your kids if you have any doubt that he could become violent).
( maybe I’m mis-reading this, and if so, then please disregard. I see this as a crisis, (because of your health) and in crisis, we need to become super focused on ‘stopping the bleeding’. For me that was a steep learning curve of only focusing on my own heart. Once the bleeding had stopped, and I was safe, then I was able to focus on him).
May God Bless you!
I want you reply that anytime you hear the word “you” from him ignore it. It is his manipulative tactics, blame shifting. He needs to say, “I sorry and will change X’ and then do it. Anything other than cease and desist is manipulation.
Oh, my what a messy post. Sorry, typing on my phone.
Rebecca, you are on it this day. You made an excellent, messy point. It was received.
Sadly my husband’s father was a pastor all of my husband’s life and he learned his abusive behavior from his father. We sat under his father’s ministry for 18 years until I could no longer take listening to a hypocrite preach service after service. When we stopped attending the “Family” church that opened a whole new can of worms with his family. But I have stood my ground where that is concerned. And haven’t backed down.
Our marriage has been a CRAZY ride that looks good from the outside. That’s what I was taught to do. Love him better, try harder to please him, be nicer, it’s our duty to serve his “needs”. I have received the same bad advice over and over again. Appeasing an abuser never works long term. It just seems to make things worse.
I see where I have let bad advice and my passive personality wreak havoc in my marriage. My CORE also needs strengthening. That’s a large part of my focus as well. One. Day. At. A. Time.
Thank you for taking the time to respond and for offering support. It is greatly appreciated.
You are doing great at your journey getting equipped and finding the necessary places you need to feel the power that most certainly has been taken from you over time.
I see that most need a team of support through this day in day out process~ regardless if the marriage can adjust and actually ‘represent’ a real image of what God defines as marriage.
“Appeasing an abuser never works long term. It just seems to make things worse.”
This is so true for my circumstances and dealing with these types of mindsets. I think Patrick Doyle strongly asserts that this ‘appeasing’ only Emboldens the abuser and they are reinforced with their skewed version of themselves and this by far is not Loving them well, with the love ofChrist.
Praying for you and know you are not alone💜
Aly, your words are comforting and bring hope.
That loss of power you spoke of is real! As I approach “40” and I see my children growing up and they have more of a life and independence than I have at my “old” age. It’s alarming and waking me up to a lot of things I’ve been blind to. The things I’ve given up to “keep the peace” was not wise on my part. It’s robbed me of myself and that is sad! My new goal is to be a peace maker. Not a peace keeper. Thank God I’m learning the difference.
Your suffering and keeping the peace probably helped the children. If you said no, he would have upped his abuse. You did all the giving in the relationship and he did all the taking. Some of this the kitchen kids never recognize, meanwhile you are a true living martyr.
The kids not the kitchen
Here’s a recent text conversation we had. Any input would be appreciated. It will help me see where my communication failures are and what areas I need to work on.
Him: Wanna meet me for lunch then help me paint this afternoon?
(Phone call took place between us. He has recently let his last regular employee go. He doesn’t work well with others.) he wanted to know why I wasn’t wanting to work with him so I told him how I was feeling and he got upset and hung up the phone on me.
Me: We need a marriage coach. Someone who can look at our marriage from our individual perspectives and help us with strategies so we can understand one another in a healthy manner. I’m not done trying in our marriage, but I am done with feeling afraid, bullied, unequal and belittled. Our marriage will never thrive until we can come to terms with our feelings. We will never have true peace in our marriage if BOTH of us can’t be honest about how we feel and make adjustments respectfully.
Him: Yea holding it in and then giving me the cold shoulder weeks later is the probably the best start. I feel like I’m constantly walking on eggs. I’ve tried very hard to change in so many ways for you I have no clue who I am anymore. It tears me apart to know you don’t love me and I can’t make you love me so I’ve tried relentlessly to be lovable but I guess I have no clue what I’m doing. I can’t be perfect and when I screw up you can’t forgive or move on. I try to own up to my mistakes but you never seem to be able to. So I’m all for a marriage coach. You find one and we will go. We’ve invested to much of our lives to this thing to piss it away over some misunderstood feelings or whatever keeps getting in the way.
Me: I’ll look around and see what I can find. If nothing else maybe we can find one online.
Him: It needs to be a real physical person we can actually sit down in front of face to face.
Him: I’m human and lose my temper at times but that doesn’t mean I don’t love you! You may not love me anymore or maybe you just never have, I don’t know . But I have always loved you and always will. I’m a guy who fixes things for a living and usually I can fix whatever is broken if I set my mind to it. I’ve tried to fix you and me several times but fact is , I can’t! I can’t be affectionate enough or I do it wrong. To me affection involves touching etc.. I can’t hold you or caress you or even rub your feet if you don’t let me…..you’ve built up a wall over time that I’ve tried to get over by changing . I can’t get over it or around it you have to tear it down and let me in for it to work. I can think of many times lately (pass year or so) that when I’ve said or done something and you immediately let me know it bothered you etc.. that I’ve tried to make a mental note and correct it immediately. It’s hard to keep loving someone who can’t or won’t return it. It’s hard to kiss tightened lips. Or get up and go to work and then come home and have to do my own laundry or fix dinner or have to go eat. I don’t mind to do those things at all when your not feeling well but to feel like I have to because you refuse to because you have an attitude. It doesn’t sit well. I’m expected to still do and give and give and give with no appreciation. It’s stay to stay positive and up beat. Makes it easy to lose my temper over dumb stuff. I need help. Even if you don’t love me if we are going to try and be a family I’ve got to have some sort of support from you . You do things I don’t like or agree with but I’ve learned to over look them because the person I fell in love with I believe is still in there! I don’t think for one second you like who you are, let alone who I am. I can’t make you change anything . I’m just saying I’m doing some soul searching and I’d like for you to do the same as well. You’ve always been a reader and prayer. I haven’t been . I relied on you so much in those areas because you always knew more about the Bible than I . Your love of anything seems to have faded. I feel like you read too many articles and such on the internet that influence you in a negative way. I’ve always been a jerk and you haven’t! Please please please I beg you to look deep inside yourself and see if there’s any hope!?! I love you!!
Me: I sent you an email yesterday: The emotionally destructive marriage video series, by Leslie Vernick. Watch/listen to those and it will help give some added insight as to some of my behaviors, feelings and the struggles we face in our marriage and why.
Him: If it’s more of the same. Put the blame on me I’m not interested. We need someone who we both can talk face to face to. Last time you got stuff off the internet. About this time last year. I was willing and you weren’t when it came right down to it. You were unwilling to even spend the required amount of time together. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make this work but you have to be able to too. It can’t just be me change. So if your serious about it. Find a coach or counselor soon! We’ve waited too long. You want results without putting in the work. It can’t just be me doing the work and you getting the results you want.
Me: If that is true, being willing to do whatever it takes. You will watch/listen to the videos.
Him: Do they blame me?
Me: If you are not guilty of any of the behaviors/actions in the series. There will be no blame on your part.
Him: Ok so I watch them . And then what is your part?
Me: We can discuss that after you watch them.
You can listen to them on your way home from work. Once you hit play they keep playing continuously. None of the videos are very long 5-10 minutes each. I think there is 10 videos.
Him: We are at a crossroads and unless you realize and except some responsibility for what’s happened along with me it’s pointless.
Me: If you really want to know how I’m feeling in the marriage and the steps/responsibilities I need to take in our marriage to help solve some of the issues. You will watch the videos.
Him: It’s not one sided. When you are ready to admit that . I’ll watch them.
Me: These types of comments and ultimatums are a big reason why I don’t believe that you really, really love me. That you’ll do whatever it takes. I’m not buying it.
Him: You see. I’m not giving you an ultimatum. I’m simply saying it won’t do any good for our relationship for me to watch them if you are not going to admit that you ve played a part in this as well. Unless you have some medical condition that relieves you of choices you’ve made. Either your willing to participate or not. I don’t know . I can’t make those decisions for you. Pointing out my failures through internet writings and videos isn’t working for either of us.
Me: The way it is worded is an ultimatum. When a person says, If you don’t do this, then I won’t do this. That is an ultimatum.
Him: Ok be an ass. It will gets us farther.
Me: When you choose to speak to me disrespectfully and cuss at me. I’m no longer interested in continuing the discussion. When you’re ready to carry on the conversation in a non abusive way. We can continue.
Him: Is that ultimatum? See you can do it and I can’t. You should get a professional involved. Asap and if you think they are gonna put all the blame on me I think you will be surprised.
Me: I did not issue an ultimatum. I set a boundary on the type of behavior I will not tolerate. There is a difference.
Him: Ok fair enough. I won’t tolerate you it excepting any responsibility,my laundry not being done supper not being cooked no love no affection Etc… so until then see ya. When you decide you really want to further this relationship call me. Until then I’ll give you your space and tell the kids what’s going on. Good luck and may you find peace!
Me: You say you love me and always will. How is this action going to prove your love for me? Is it easier to run away instead of facing your fears of failure, abandonment, rejection, and whatever else you’ve been holding onto for so long?
I’m not trying to hurt you on purpose but You’ve pushed me away for so many years by your anger and hostility to the point that i don’t have much left in me to give. The abuse has left me emotionally and physically spent.
It seems like you’ve tried to push me just to see how much I would take from you. It’s like you’ve been testing me to see if I would leave like your mom did.
Him: I’m not running or going anywhere. I’m not pushing your buttons I’m merely trying to get you to see that you do the same things to me that you say I do to you yet you don’t see it. I don’t get it. I’ve never been afraid of you leaving until the last couple years when you said you didn’t love me. And then you started going all out on your dress etc. I’m unlovable I guess.
Me: When you hold people at arms length by anger and hostility it does not make you unloveable but it does make loving you a chore.
If you watch the videos. You will have a clearer picture of how an emotionally healthy person resides within a marriage. I don’t feel like you are truly sorry for the pain you’ve caused me and the kids. It seems as though you’re sorry for the pain/backlash you get from us due the treatment we get from you. It seems You’re more sorry for the consequences you receive. And Not your actions. If you were genuinely sorry YOU WOULD CHANGE. Not keep repeating the same BAD behaviors over and over again. You’ve had 23 years to change your bad behaviors. And you haven’t done it. Yet you keep blaming me for the consequences that your bad behavior constitutes. That’s why until you see that aspect. Things will never change.
Him: That’s is so not true . It obvious that you have no clue how hard I’ve tried. This is going nowhere. We can’t keep this up. We have to have professional help. Why can’t you see that? I feel like you are truly scared that you will have to except some responsibility and you refuse. I can’t take it any longer. I’m gonna sit the kids down tonight and get their true feelings of me. I’ve wanted to keep them out of it so bad because I know the pain it’s caused me as a kid and adult but if they’ve told you stuff then it needs to be opened up.
You could let me finish typing first. What do you want me to do? I can’t changed evidently so either you want me as I am or you don’t. Say the words . I can’t take it no more. I’m over it. I’ve never been loved and that’s all Ive wanted! I hate everything right now!!!
Me: I know exactly where I have failed in this marriage. I’ve been a pretender which is basically living a lie. I’ve pretended that everything has been ok in our marriage for waaaaay too long. I’ve made it look good from the outside while it was hell on the inside. I’ve not stood up for myself, for the kids or for our marriage in an adequate way. I’ve allowed too many things to go by without proper consequences and in doing so I’ve only compounded the issues and the abuse. I thought I was doing the right thing by being “submissive” for so many years. Boy was I wrong!!!
Him: So what’s the plan now? Since your making the calls. Where do we go from here. I haven’t had 23 yrs to change . It’s only been brought to light in recent years I had to change. If I’ve not made improvements then I guess I’m blind. either way I am what I am right now. So make the call what is it? Are we seeking professional help or moving on? Because I’m not living like this any longer. If you choose to not get help it will be without me. Because I’m done with it being one sided.
Me: You are right. I let you off the hook for about 15 or so years. But it seems like the more I voice my pain and discomfort the more terrible you get.
If I’m “making the calls” as you’ve said. I will feel like you are seriously wanting to change and get help if you watch the videos. I will even watch them with you.
I think it would be a good idea that you affirm for him the outside professional counseling and reinforce that your marital issues are going to be comphrehensive meaning multiple angles to took at, videos, books, counseling, intensives, support groups and accountability for the both of you.
He gets pretty narrowed and makes a lot of assumptions based on his history (family of origin) ~ this is his responsibility to look at and with good biblical counseling it will be exposed.
I think you keyed your point in your part very well.. both of your recovery tracks will be different because your not both recovering from the exact same issues.
He does a lot of ‘leveling’ which will also get addressed in counseling.
I think your on the right track with getting necessary interventions. Be sure the counseling will see you both independently 🤗
Aly, thank for your helpful perspective. My husband has a way of making me feel inadequate in my thoughts and decisions so it’s hard for me to see a clear picture of myself (decisions) when I’m solely being viewed from his perspective.
A little more background…My husband has turned mostly agnostic and does not claim to be a Christian. For that I am somewhat grateful because he is not deceived in the thinking that he a Christian like his father is deceived in that way. I feel like this part of the process might be more difficult if he thought God was already on his side.
When I spoke to the counselor over the phone I pointed out that we would need separate counseling due to my husband’s issues. I also cannot speak freely of certain areas with him present. It feels like it’s going to be a LONG process but with God all things are possible if we allow him to work in our life. Something my husband has always seemed to not want. I feel that due to the abuse in his own home it has caused him to be bitter against God and left him with feeling like that if his father could be a Christian and still be that kind of man. Is there really hope?
I would also like to addd that his mother has had two extramarital affairs and one of which he was a fairly young child. Around 10 years old. I believe his dad turned them against his mother and all women because my h does not respect women. He also has struggled with pornography at different times during our marriage. As well as a child. But I didn’t know about it until we were married for about 13 years. I caught him in an act while watching pornography. And that is one of the times he threatened suicide. His brother lived next door and I told him somewhat of the dilemma and he went over and spoke to him about how he was feeling. It’s honestly been one thing after another living with him. He will do great for a little while and then BOOM, he turns into a monster. It’s exausting!!
Most importantly I don’t want to do the wrong thing. But I also don’t want to let that fear keep me from taking necessary steps to address these abusive behaviors.
Do you have any other tips that I should do while we’re working with the counselor? I’ve read that keeping a journal can be helpful. If so, what types of notes should I keep?
Wow~ I’m so very sorry for what you are going through and support is going to be essential given what you have expanded on. Again my heart want to affirm and comfort you for what you’ve been on the receiving side of. I’m so sorry.
You wrote about other tips and yes ‘journaling’ is really helpful especially since there has been betrayals from your husband.
Let me clarify;
You don’t have to be a ‘christian’ to know that porn causes great pain and damage to relationships, in fact even agnostics have done the research and seem the overwhelming evidence of the destruction of porn.
Porn will cause so much havoc with all relations ~ God firstly .. hence why it might be convenient intellectually and emotionally to become agnostic. Not saying always, but sometimes in my opinion.
And thus more havoc with the relations down the path, wife, children, friends etc.
Porn isolates and most certainly will mess with men in a destructive & different way than women.. you mentioned this;
“He will do great for a little while and then BOOM, he turns into a monster. It’s Exhausting!!”
Typical for users of many coping mechanisms to have this type of a cycle!
The good news is~ this is very well treatable with a willing partner and since he is willing to be in counseling this area of trust and betrayal needs to be addressed (yesterday) in my opinion.
He’s going to have a hard time not seeing and devaluing your thoughts, beliefs and needs because of his history, his porn use (makes women objects not beautiful beings to be honored and cared for).
Even if he’s not currently using.. its mindset overall that will need to be considered and how his mindset has been shaped growing up in the home he did with those kinds of terrible experiences that were not about him ( but he was the recipient~ as it gets passed down to children in different forms)
I won’t exhaust you here with my Porn perspective but I do think it’s a necessary requirement that he gets this addressed to your level of what you need to restore any trust in order to work on the marriage.
This is HIS part alone, you get to define what you need to move forwArd.
I would recommend ‘EveryMans battle intensives’ through Newlife Ministries as a must, since you mention ‘monster’ episodes.
As many here know porn isn’t about sex or necessarily that you have a husband as a sex addict.. he could be so I’m not weighing that out either. But Porn is about counterfeit intimacy and intimacy issues in general ~ obviously your husband has had a broken relationship with his father and that issue is a breeding ground for long term intimacy issues and respect issues of the wife specifically because then you get to be the lightning rod for all of his inadequate feelings that have nothing to do with you.
Short side; you both have different work to do, regardless if the marriage can be redeemed?
You giving requirements and boundaries IS loving him more than he is currently loving himself. I know it’s hard and tough😥😝.
I’ll reply to some other thoughts from your post so this isn’t a book;)
I was taught porn is about selfishness. I never heard the counterfeit intimacy term. We each have our own tipping points, for me, porn would have me packing my bags and heading for the door no matter who he is, how repulsive!
I agree with you and feel both definitions apply…
regardless it’s a form of betrayal.
I never knew much about porn until I met my husband. It started with play*** books and then on to digital. He tried to convince me it was a healthy, normal guy thing. My argument was that I did not want to feel I would have to compete. What if the porn causes you to feel you’re missing something? How would you feel if I was ogling other men?
And of course as you say Rebecca repulsive and disrespectful. We got past that I believe.
Regular television is low level porn now. My parents changed the channel when someone would kiss. I was never able to do that with our kids. Change the channel and there it is on the other channel. I’m not going to talk about the challenge of the internet. Regular search terms sometimes trigger porn sites.
I just wonder if any of us did something so deplorable how long they would stay. Would they be talked into their cunning deception, like they do to us?
“My husband has a way of making me feel inadequate in my thoughts and decisions so it’s hard for me to see a clear picture of myself (decisions) when I’m solely being viewed from his perspective.”
I think many can relate so well to this!
You are seeing yourself standing up to what you won’t tolerate anymore. He’s going to battle ~
He’s used to getting you to back down and settle with his version and you are in a different place, that will scare him some but also he’s seeing a different strength in you that for sure is going to adjust the ‘old dynamics’.
I’m guessing here not saying I know.. please know that.
“It feels like it’s going to be a LONG process but with God all things are possible if we allow him to work in our life. Something my husband has always seemed to not want. ”
You are right! It’s a long process ‘either’ road you take. Denial and peacefaking/peace keeping are also a long painful process. It’s best to decide ‘what end or goal in mind’ you desire as Aligned with what God desires.
Certainly not saying your in denial here or like you mentioned no longer peace keeping.
Good for you, what you wrote in your text to him about what you could see as your contribution to the problem! He probably isn’t going to like your take on that because it will change how you personally decide to move forward loving him well.
You mentioned that maybe your husband doesn’t ‘really want to look deeper and honestly at your marriage?
This is common and I’m sure given his history and maturity level he probably doesn’t see the benefit in looking at his past to explain some of his present because his past was so painful.
He also might believe that he is doing ok with his current ways of coping with stress and relationship issues~ and you are showing him (like holding a reality mirror up) that things are not ok.
“I believe his dad turned them against his mother and all women because my h does not respect women.”
Key key key! This is the biggest place that would have to be dismantled and he needs to be reparented by other men!
“I caught him in an act while watching pornography. And that is one of the times he threatened suicide. ”
This is why I highlight an *intensive* as critical immediately because of his response. The shame has to be dealt with or he will continue to put his shame upon you and your no longer the victim or willing to be that for him.
You are seeing where you can be a survivor (with or without him) 💜
Many are here to support you and pray for you;)
You are brace and doing the right thing! Do you have women support near you?
This would be in addition to counseling and other resources.
perplexed,Praying for you and your journey to healing and yes you have a long road ahead of you. Praying you see the Lords protection and guidance.
I’ve been separated for 18 months and we are recently on the mend. Tried years before I left without lasting results.
To answer journal question. I’m so glad I did for I can look back and see where I was angry, hurt where God gave me hope from a book Counceling His word or a friend. I also had forgotten how stagnant My Jesús walk had become. After not being under my H blaming etc. I could see more clearly my sin and who God was. Leslie book Distructive Relationships has verses on of pg. 191 answering the question “Who am I?” Ex: we are Gods masterpiece… things planned for us long ago (Eph 2:10.). Sometime my journaling was like a diary of my day. I would often forget the offenses of my H, writing them reminded me of the sin done against me and our kids. I was so programmed to live with it abuse became normal. Sometime i write verses that are meaningful sometimes lamenting before God . Why do I have to go through this? and why are my children effected? God can handle our questions and distress and hopelessness. Many of the psalms are like that . An answer won’t come to much of our lives until heaven when all of God is revealed to us. But going before the one who knows us best and is in control even in our caous is a comfort.
Also the Porn is a stronghold to your husband. My H gave it up many times but recently he realized he wanted a better walk with Jesus and knew and always knew that addiction was blocking his walk. I believe this time victory will be won.
He also had poor childhood and exposed very young to Porn.
Right now your healing and getting CORE strength is focus. Let the Lord work on your H.
God cares for you.
I don’t think she keyed her point. His message is still the same. He thinks SHE is the problem.
Him: Denial, Blame Shifting, Crazy Making, Gas lighting
Her: Lamb to the Slaughter
Aly and GL. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and support. It means a lot to me. The tips, strategies and advice is so valuable to me right now. It is comforting to know that I’m not the only one who deals with an unreasonable, abusive spouse.
There’s so much more I could add and address but my mind is so crowded and tired right now formulating my thoughts seems almost impossible. Have any of you formulated a private support group on FB?
Jumbling your brain is part of their strategy. Your “yes’ and ‘no” get challenged. They tell you up is down and down is up. Be alert for any contradiction to your opinions. Your opinions should be valued and respected, not dismissed.
Aly I believe you were addressing Perplexed when you said: It’s best to decide ‘what end or goal in mind’ you desire as Aligned with what God desires.
I asked, are you meaning that if we are going to stay, to stay well or if we are going to leave to leave well? I have to go back and read all of the comments but wanted to know if that was what you are meaning.
If so, I waver back and forth between those two options I guess because I know how I would like things to end or happen.
Do any of you find yourself doing this as well – wavering? If so, what helped you get to one place or another and then remain in that? I just keep coming back to Proverbs 3:5-6 but it is so hard.
Great question. My wavering comes from the fear of the financial consequences of leaving, keeping up appearances and his excellent manipulation skills in switching any subject to himself. I get sucked back into his drama. The wavering is also in large part due to my belief in marriage matter what and the vow I took. It wasn’t until he beat me. Threw me around like a rag doll, that I fled for my life. I could take everything else.
I hope it’s ok to respond to you here, Renee.
I don’t see it as a stay, or leave, decision. I see it as a decision for us to ‘be well’ at all costs
When we decide to be well that means guarding our hearts. We set boundaries and maintain them. That will enter us into the process of discovering if our husband can respect our boundaries. If he can’t, then we cannot stay in the same house and continue healing. It’s really that simple ( NOT easy).
At this point, once separated you continue to work on your own issues and observe wether your h is doing the same. Either way ( wether he is working on his issues or not) your heart is safe and well.
So, ultimately, the decision of wether to stay or leave rests on our h’s BEHAVIOUR ( not his words), And you really won’t know the answer until you make the decision that your heart (Christ) comes before everyone and everything else.
It will involve majorly depending on our precious Lord.
Excellent point about behavior vs. words. This applies to us too. What is our behavior? I wonder how much chatting we need to do before we start to act differently.
What do I do to protect myself legally? My husband is cheating on our joint tax return and also in his business , he self employed .
Past 3 years he signed my name to our taxes.
I only know he’s cheating Bc I saw a divorce attorney last month for my exit plan and he was shocked by his numbers and what he says we make.
After I was talking with him about expense
Clearly it’s questionable.
He told me as a friend , he says (not as legal advice ) to be careful and to look for a job to support myself
Bc if he gets shut down for instance audited I will be left with nothing after he pays all the penalties.
And I could be implicated too.
I’m tired of hiding his sin under my belt.
He is diagnosed as a narc . Does this excuse him Bc of the mental disorder?
Anyone know what I should do?approach him?
Oh I’m so very sorry for this. I don’t know what this answer is other than if I were facing something similar I would find out from my divorce attorney (who first mentioned it) if there are some ways you could file taxes separately from your husband?
I have heard of others doing this, especially for these types of situations but legally I don’t know what your rights are given your state too.
Filing separately (if you are able to) would hopefully protect you from this fraud and the same liability.
Protecting yourself is key here and probably ‘first in line’ as you are seeking a job because you don’t know all the liabilities and if your husband would or could be charged to serve time too for these frauds.
If the divorce attorney can’t help you with what you need? You might want to ask your CPA or call a CPA that would have some specialized knowledge about this.
Again I’m sorry for this;(
I would not approach him. However, I would consult a tax attorney that specializes in criminal tax law. You may be able to get a free, hour consult. From here on out, file your taxes ahead of time if possible and don’t file jointly. A tax attorney should be able to let you know how to protect yourself from here on out.
Thank you. If I’m a stay at home Mom and haven’t worked in 16 yrs.. am I still filing?
What am I claiming?
Im afraid of him as when I’ve asked for clarification and info on finances and taxes I’m met with anger
I know all about this. My H, same situation. If you rat him out it is perjury. Sadly, your lawyer is right, you will need a job. Just more layers of your husband’s betrayal and his manipulation of you by tying you into his business. Cut your losses and leave. You can not win this. You may leave with only your freedom. Ouch. Yes, happened to me. You can’t beat these guys at their game. They don’t respect authority and have already proved they know how to beat the system. Wait until you see how pitiful your social security check will be because he skimmed so much cash. I hear you sister!
Please hear me. Don’t report anything. Use the numbers he gave you and move forward. Shutting down his business will affect you long term as he needs $ to send to your kids. Let him keep the business and the kids benefit in the long run
I’m seeing it’s a quiet game he plays, and uses us as pawns to gain advantage.
It’s prob safer in there four walls then out of my own. He has threatened that I will have nothing if I leave him, he will spend down the money paying off loans and the house and his car. And he said he will make more and more and I will have nothing.
He’s lying and signing my name to the taxes
Now that he knows I’m suspicious. I will not sign anything going forward if I question any of it.
What a snake .
And he wants me to have more sex with him and adore him ? He needs physical touch and he needs nebto support him, and let him have done freedom
Adore what? That Hes a big cheat with no morals it integrity?!
Do you suggest I find out for sure if he’s cheating on taxes by calling a tax attorney or seeing s different cpa? Privately of course. He’s covert narc .
“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free”
Be assured he is cheating. Don’t waste money on an accountant. They can be bought off. His threats mean you are making progress. Good work, he senses you are getting harder to control. He needs to leave the house and you and kids stay. If you expose him, the government will seize everything.
Seaofgalilee, get on the phone with a local tax professional. If you are not pulling in any type of income, then that is a different story. For the bigger issue, I would contact a tax attorney that specializes in criminal tax law. Again I would not approach him or let him know you are consulting others. It’s time to protect you.
I will have to go back and read all your post. But I was wondering if there was anything you can do part-time? What about a work from home type job?
I completely disagree. You are opening a can of worms. You will be the loser with this and your money will go to legal fees. Sadly, accept his numbers, you can only claim what is on the tax returns. It is disappointing, but life with this man has been disappointing any way. Be glad if you get anything and move on.
I can’t get this one closer.
Ok Rebecca you’re thinking Seaofgalilee is thinking of ratting her husband out. I did not have that thought. I was thinking during the discovery phase (whatever it is called) those things were going to come out and that she would need a lawyer. I was also thinking that was what the other attorney was suggesting.
Do you think that if it were to come out in any other form that she may need an attorney? So just have a couple of names just in case but remain quiet?
This is a hard one. In my experience, it won’t come out unless she choices to fight and expose it. Remember everything has been made neat and tidy for the tax returns or he would have been audited. The best plan is to work with the legitimate numbers he has given to the IRS.
I think sea has to just be glad to get free. She is owed child support. Statistically women in her situation struggle with poverty. It is so unfair, but true. I have to ask myself what is the price to be free from abuse? Then a huge big step of faith and trust God to provide. Others, like me can attest that God provided. Maybe we need a blog to praise God and give testimony of how he saved us from evil.
I homeschool my kids. I have 4 of them ! Can’t work right now and I should add we are separated right now too.
Hard to hear as homeschooling is wonderful, but you will have to work.
Did the court order temporary matainance payments until the settlement hearing?
Stay strong, you are doing the right thing. It is so hard as you will have to return to work. Crushing.
Seaofgalilee your hands are full. I also homeschool. DD is in last year and studying for act. Our son is in the eighth grade. We started homeschooling once daughter started having trouble in third grade and son when he started first grade.
During that time I did customer service from home evenings. I also did article writing which was the easiest of all. Nothing full time. Needless to say after about four or five years those jobs played out. I now work outside the home as a personal care assistance. Not crazy about that job but it offers flexibly.
Although that brought on another layer of hard. I don’t have to worry about hubby getting angry and then blocking my access to funds. I can remember clearly him running to the bank and removing all the money (the little bit we had), hiding the lock box, and asking for all credit and debit cards back.
If feels so good to at least have that part of my life back.
Prayers and hugs.
How encouraging! Great post. I am so glad you found work that enabled you to continue home schooling.
Yes, I experienced the money hiding too. It is pretty common.
Boundaries in marriage. Does anyone have a thought on this book? Our counselor recommended it to me. It makes some good points at times, but at other times it comes across as blaming whereas the Emotionally Destructive Marriage book challenges your thinking but does not come across as blaming. It may be fine in a marriage free of abuse but it sounds kind of dangerous to do so otherwise.
I was doing the audio version of it today. I think for learning more about boundaries to stick around here and pick out more blog pages to read.
Boundaries in marriage is helpful for a good marriage that is going through a rough patch. it is way off point for your situation. The better read is Lundy Bancroft’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” I don’t think your counselor understands abuse. Boundaries in Marriage is too soft and your H will get a hug rather than the hand slap he really needs. He can’t change without consequences. The light, gentle approach only makes the woman hopeful and the guys gets a longer leash.
Wow! Thank you for this article! Super helpful!