When Do I Put Consequences In Place

Morning friends,

Can you believe that summer is on its way out? Life is going way too fast for me. This past weekend I had the opportunity to be in Chicago with some good friends visiting the Windy City. We had a great time taking a boat tour down the Chicago River, eating pizza and all my other favorite Chicago foods. And I was a brave girl and you can see my picture where I walked out on the glass ledge of the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) and quickly had my picture taken to prove I did it.

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Can I get a little personal with you for a minute? I’m working on developing some new programs for 2016 and I want to hear from you on what would meet your needs. I have tons of questions I’d love to ask you and may ask a few more in future postings, but for now, please tell me:

What’s the worst-case scenario related to your life situation – the one fear that keeps you up at night? The one thing that you fear the most? If you want to answer it in the blog that’s fine, or if you want to e-mail me privately, that would be welcome also. Leslie@leslievernick.com.

Thanks ahead of time. I appreciate you all.

This week’s question: I've read some of your books; I wholeheartedly believe that I deserve to be treated better than I am.  This crazy cycle isn't ok and it must stop one way or another. I'm on board with that much.

My trouble is that I need some help thinking creatively about what natural consequences might be. It's easy when it's a little kid.  Example:  “You know the rules, until you can respect the furniture and sit on it properly (rather than jumping) you may not use it. Here… sit on the floor to have your lunch and maybe tomorrow you can use the furniture again properly.”

What do you do with a husband and that crazy cycle? I can go toe to toe when I have to, but really what I want to do is run far, far away. In these times, I want nothing but out of this relationship.

I desire to be treated properly, but don't know another reaction other than fight it out (which gets so old) or flee. Those are my two stand-by's. However, I don't like it (actually it angers me) that I don't know any other reaction. What actions could I take instead? Can you give some practical examples of how to dance differently?

Answer: First of all let me commend you that you even want to dance differently and you’re not happy with your own “reactions”. Let’s take the metaphor of the dance. If you were dancing with someone and they repeatedly stepped on your toes, what would a “natural” consequence be? Especially after you kindly asked them to be more careful, or to stop dancing that way? If they would not change their behavior, then you would have to dance differently yourself if you wanted your toes to stop hurting.

That would mean you would let go of his hands, step back, stop trying to dance close and romantic and dance separately. If he pulls you back into the embrace of a slow dance then you stop dancing and say, “I won’t close dance with you because you’re stepping on my toes. That hurts me and I’ve asked you to stop and you haven’t. Until you learn to dance with me without stepping on my toes, I am not able to slow dance with you.

Now it’s his turn to make a choice. Either he will stop dancing altogether with you, dance separately, or learn how to dance without stepping on your toes. Meanwhile, he may scream and blame you that you’re being too sensitive, unreasonable, controlling, un-submissive, mean spirited, and sinful because you won’t dance with him like he wants.

This is where women in destructive marriages tend to get fuzzy headed and manipulated. We do want to dance with our spouse and we long to dance closely. We also believe that is God’s will and what we promised each other when we got married. Therefore, we feel guilty pulling away or putting boundaries down. We look inside and begin to question ourselves. Were we too sensitive or selfish? Is it controlling to ask someone to change his behavior if it’s hurting us? Should I just submit?

Once fuzziness sets in, most women, either out of fear or guilt will go back to trying harder to make this painful marital dance work, only to have her toes get stomped on again. Pain often brings clarity and once again you feel at your wits end again. Now you may start to explode or implode–out of total frustration and anger. Then sooner or later, out of guilt or shame, fear or desire, you get lured back to the same old dance where your toes keep getting stepped on and nothing changes.

But you already know that. You asked for some practical ways to implement consequences when your husband is abusive toward you. You don’t mention specifically what is happening so I can’t speak of specific strategies but here are some general principles about consequences.

It’s important that we understand that we are not to punish our spouse (as a parent might punish a child). That is not our role and it is inappropriate. Consequences are designed to wake us up and help us to see more clearly. The pain of our sin is meant to teach us not to repeat the same things over and over again. The scriptures are clear, what a man sows he reaps (Galatians 6:7). When a man sows a pattern of discord, deceit, abuse, enmity, and strife in a marital relationship, there is a natural consequence. He doesn’t reap the benefits of a good marriage relationship.

When he doesn’t experience that painful consequence, it enables him to stay deceived into thinking that what he’s done is no big deal. He believes he can act destructively and sinfully and not suffer any consequences. That is not the truth and so painful consequences have a way of helping a person see that he must change his sinful ways if he doesn’t like or want the PAIN of the consequences such as a broken marriage.

I think this is where many Christian women have been misadvised by well meaning people-helpers. They have put up with terrible treatment and still been counseled to provide the relational closeness of a healthy, loving marriage. That enables the husband to deceive himself into thinking that it “is her problem” and “she makes me act this way.” The lie says it doesn’t matter how I behave or treat her, she’s my wife for life, God hates divorce, and therefore I’m entitled to the perks of a good marriage no matter how I behave or treat her. That is not biblical wisdom, nor healthy reality.

You asked, so below are some natural consequences for an abusive relationship.

1. Call the police and press charges if he is physically abusive. The longer you make excuses or put up with it, the more aggressive he will become. A night or time in jail helps someone see that what they are doing is not only wrong it is illegal and you will not allow yourself or your children to be physically abused.

2. When he becomes verbally aggressive end the conversation. Simply walk away when he begins his screaming or verbal assault. Remind him that you will not allow yourself to be talked to that way. Do not argue with those boundaries. If he follows you, go to a bedroom and lock the door. If he breaks it down call the police. Always make sure you carry a cell phone with you and have it preprogrammed to 911.

3. If he verbally assaults you in a closed area such as a car, refuse to drive with him, drive yourself separately because he can’t control himself. He loses the privilege of your company when he mistreats you.

4. Exit the situation if it is escalating or he’s stepping on your toes. If you need to leave the house because you feel in danger, whether emotionally or physically or sexually, you need to have a safety plan in place. That might mean putting a spare key in the garage or under a planter, packing a suitcase and hiding it in the trunk or garage, making sure your children know that when you say a certain phrase, they all exit the house and get into the car. If you’ve been through the cycle, you can tell when he’s getting himself worked up. You don’t have to stay for the blow up stage. Leave. The consequences for his inability to control his temper and his tongue (or his hands) is the loss of your company (for a hour, for an evening, for a season).

5. If he mistreats you in public make sure you always have an exit plan, credit cards or cash with you, a phone number of a cab company to call to pick you up so that you are not hostage to his abusive behavior. If he refuses to stop his behavior, you take care of you and leave.

6. If someone repeatedly refuses to listen and you are in a position to do so, separation can be a very effective consequence for this kind of behavior. It has the potency to “wake him up” and let him know that he cannot continually act abusively towards someone and expect that they will still want to be in a loving relationship with him. Separating often begins to open the abusers eyes for the first time that you are a separate individual with your own thoughts, your own feelings and your own needs. Before you return back into the relationship however, it’s important that he not only “see” what he’s done wrong, he’s gotten help in respecting your “no” and ability to tolerate and manage his own negative emotions.

7. End the relationship. Some Biblical scholars disagree on whether or not abuse is a biblical reason to dissolve a marriage. Certainly it would be a last resort after other steps have been taken. But it is a natural consequence of this kind of behavior. When someone repeatedly abuses someone else without repentance, without remorse, and without change what are the alternatives? Continued separation, continued abuse, or ending the relationship. Sometimes the abuse continues throughout the separation and end of a marriage through legal harassment, child custody disputes, and withholding of finances.

These are the ways you can dance differently so you don’t get sucked into the same destructive dance. You alone can make a bad relationship better by not escalating the conflict, not retaliating, not repaying evil for evil and not engaging when someone is pushing your buttons. But as much as you desire a good marriage, you cannot make a bad marriage become a good marriage all by yourself.

Your husband has to want that too. I know you are hoping your husband comes to his senses through painful consequences, and he might, but then again he might not. Negative consequences don’t always wake people up or get them to change even when they are quite painful. For example, those in jail often re-offend and go back to jail. Those who smoke cigarettes know the negative health consequences, yet they choose to do it anyway. Proverbs 26:11 warns that “as a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness.”

You said you deserve to be treated properly. I hope you want a man who stays with you because he love you and wants to be with you as your husband, not because he fears the consequences. Consequences won’t teach your husband to treat you with love. They may wake him up and teach him to stop doing some hurtful things, but only love will motivate him to start doing the right things.

Therefore remember, consequences can be a first step to the wake up phase but are not the only or last step in repairing or restoring a broken relationship. (tweet that).

Friends, what consequences have you tried and did it make a difference in your marriage?


  1. Hopeful on September 2, 2015 at 7:52 am

    What jumped out at me is. Feeling fuzzy headed and questioning myself. I spend most of my day like this.

    I tried the “no sex if you aren’t commitEd to our marriage”. Then I read something about healing our sexual discord by allowing sex to see if it would bring us closer. So I committed to being vulnerable in this area.so far no change.

    When the rapid unraveling of our marriage started last summer, my husbands Christian counselor must have used your materials with him.
    Leslie because so much of what comes out of my husbands mouth is very much what you say.

    He reminds me that the state of our marriage and how he refuses to trust me is the ” consequences of my actions”.

    The last couple of days he has rejected me. I took a big risk Sunday and expressed a need I have and he has done the complete opposite. I am hanging in this week because tomorrow we are hosting a big pasta dinner for my sons football team and I don’t want to rock the boat. I hate living like this.

    How do I instill consequences to the way he treats me when he say that the way our marriage is right now and the position he has taken is MY consequence.?

    We go to couples counseling weekly. I have thought about calling the counselor to see if he can see any abusive qualities in my husband and to let him know what goes on at home

    • Sunshine on September 2, 2015 at 8:03 am

      I am sad for you. I know how that feels to question yourself and feel fuzzy headed. It’s depressing to know you can’t be close to the one human you are supposed to be in relationship with. I find myself still catering to my husband because I hope to get warm cozy affection in return. It rarely happens, yet I continue to try.

      • Hopeful on September 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm

        Sunshine.. I do the same thing…sometimes is purely to see if he will respond to me the way I desperately want the other times I care for him with unconditional love and respect. Either way, its a ton of work. I had a thought this evening that I am pretty much his maid, coffee maker, bill payer, office assistant, childcare provider, health insurance provider, an occasional person he has sex with.. Rarely intercourse. He cares little about me.

        • Lonely wife on September 3, 2015 at 12:50 am

          Hopeful, Lundy Bancroft and many others say that counseling with an abuser is a BAD idea….that it does no good and you end up getting hurt over and over again…

          • Holly on September 15, 2015 at 7:43 am

            Lonely Wife…can u please tell me where that is in his book? I’m reading his book and it is helping me a great deal. Lately I’ve been questioning whether or not counseling is even helping…so far it’s not. I’d like to read what he says about this issue…


    • Valerie on September 2, 2015 at 2:11 pm

      Hopeful, I think it is a great idea to notify your counselor of your husband’s abusive behavior. He has the upper hand now in his one sided game of “The World is All About Me.” If your counselor does not acknowledge your reports of abuse. You need a new counselor.

      • Hopeful on September 2, 2015 at 8:48 pm

        Valerie… I have been thinking about calling our therapist. We go tomorrow. On top of that it is our anniversary tomorrow. I am anticipating that my husband won’t acknowledge it. I plan on bringing it up in therapy.

        • Valerie on September 3, 2015 at 9:44 pm

          How did therapy go today? Happy Anniversary. I bet you were a gorgeous bride. 🙂

    • Momofthree on September 2, 2015 at 3:11 pm

      I highly recommend Leslie’s book on destructive marriage, also, don’t go to counseling together, but separate. I tried going to counseling together and my counselor actually was the one to ask to see us separately (I think she caught on to what was truly going on). My husband quit going when we didn’t go together and in my desperation, I have continued to go which has been so very helpful. My counselor is very familiar with Leslie’s information which is helping me get my confidence. Prayers for you.

      • Hopeful on September 2, 2015 at 8:53 pm

        I go to counseling on my own as well. I suggested to my husband and our therapist that he takes every other session for himself. I am starting 2 small groups for women next week. One is an intensive 29 week study called The Healing Journey. The other is a casual small group. My plan is to continue to grow and blossom regardless of what my husband chooses to do.

        • Elizabeth on September 2, 2015 at 9:02 pm

          Hi Hopeful,
          Where are you located if you are willing to share that? I just moved to Richmond, VA and would love to meet some of you if you are in this area. All of my support is back in my home state and we still keep in regular contact but I would love to have someone here in VA.

          • Hopeful on September 3, 2015 at 5:31 am

            Elizabeth..Google The healing Journey. It’s a ministry that churches nationwide offer. I hear about it from our local Christian radio station. I live in the Binghamton NY area.

          • Elizabeth on September 3, 2015 at 8:45 am

            Thank you, Hopeful.
            I will check it out…

          • Valerie on September 3, 2015 at 9:47 pm

            Have you heard of Open Heart Ministry? It is similar. http://ohmin.org

          • Cheryl on September 7, 2015 at 10:11 pm

            I live in the Richmond Va area and would love to meet other women walking a similar road to mine. Im not sure how we should share contact information though. Hope to hear from you.

        • Valerie on September 2, 2015 at 9:38 pm

          Wow, Hopeful! Your are sure to succeed with all the effort you are putting into yourself! Good job!

          • Hopeful on September 3, 2015 at 5:35 am


            I have to go on. I have to be with other believers ad become the best I can be. This week has solidified for me that my husband has no interest in me. Today is our anniversary. I left him a card by his coffee mug. He will either leave the card or open it and not say a word.

            But…God is a God of miracles, and my husband could acknowledge the card and what today is.

    • DJ on September 3, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      Turning things upside down is what someone with narcissistic personality disorder specializes in doing. Rhetorical question: How can I set boundaries when they have been already set against me as retaliation for attempting to respond maturely to abuse? I can’t. (i.e. Abuser tells my extended family members that I am forcing him to withdraw emotionally and physically to protect himself from hurt because (according to his side of it) I am immaturely using passive/agressive behavior to extradite myself after a “typical-type” (Ha!) marital disagreement. Nope. I am attempting to set natural boundaries when abuse happens by walking away without further engagement. But because of his sob stories, family members get involved and attempt to get me to return so he will have the “courage” to talk to me and “rebuild” our relationship. Crazy. Just crazy.)

      • Janet on September 6, 2015 at 5:15 am

        DJ, I question the use to the word boundaries with your husband’s behavior. He is using abusive power and control tactics, not boundaries. Does he get what he wants when he does those things? Consequences are him not getting what he wants from his actions. A true abuser changes to another tactic because he wants what he wants at any cost regardless of anyone else’s feelings.
        I also want to make sure that people who keep calling their husband’s narcissists don’t use that as an excuse for his abusive behavior. Narcissist can learn to change and grown out of their immaturity through cognitive and behavior therapy. NPD are really just selfish, sinful people who have not humbled themselves to get the counseling they need. Your man is sly, beware.

      • Rose Jackson on September 26, 2015 at 12:55 pm

        Wow, I really appreciate that intelligent discourse between Janet and Di! Y ou are both right on the money, Di with an exact description of my own conclusions about my experiences, and Janet with a no-nonsense challenge for change and calling those selfish, sinful, prideful behaviors what they basically are.
        I think the verbal, emotional, financial and cognitive abuses my husband MUST give my so-called husband a vengeful-type of satisfaction. He likes that he is punishing me for not being his fantasy wife & carrying him towards some pot of gold he’s long believed he is entitled to. My suffering is actually a rush for him I think.

    • RubyJen on September 15, 2015 at 12:59 pm

      Hopeful, you most definitely need to be telling the counselor EVERYTHING that is happening, ESPECIALLY the abusive behavior, because otherwise, the counselor can’t help you effectively. Don’t be concerned with husband’s embarrassment, because he needs to be embarrassed for treating his wife wrong.

  2. Sunshine on September 2, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Those are very helpful steps. I appreciate the list as I am a checklist kind of girl. I feel validated after reading this. I informed my spouse that I had an event on a certain day. Twenty-four hours later, he Informed me of a “family” vacation for the same time. He acted surprised when I reminded him that I already had plans. He has now asked me more than three times to cancel my plans to be a part of the “family” vacation that he planned but never discussed with me. so I have been wondering if I need to stick to my decision and keep my plans or if I need to cancel in order to follow his lead. At this point, I question myself. Am I setting a boundary by saying no to the vacation or am I just being stubborn?

    • Valerie on September 2, 2015 at 2:14 pm

      A vacation couldn’t possibly be fun with a man who doesn’t respect your time or commitments. Give him some consequences and don’t go on the trip. Next time he can check with you and you can plan to go somewhere together. Did he think you were his child and not another sound minded adult to consult with?!!

  3. Jenny on September 2, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Hi Leslie

    How should we act in the case of repeated infidelity. My husband has had 3 affairs in the past 12 years that i have known of . After the 3rd affair i had had enough ..i went through a tough initial 3 months just trying to function and get through the day as i dealt with the pain . 2 years later i was strong enough to move out . In those 2 years we had also fought about making calls to workmates after hours and at weekens and he would always usework as an excuse .at one time i saw condims in his wallet and he blamed the fact that we had not been talking for about a week and he had needs to be met . After i moved out he finally opened his ears to my grievances or so it seemed . I asked him to go for counselling he initially refused but in the end agreed ..but he hasnt done that up till now . He recently moved to another country was there for 2 months and he came back home this week . I went thruogh his skype and aaw he was calling another woman late at night and he told me as always it was to do with work but in a message ahe sent to my husband this woman said i miss you . I told him it doesnt make sense that this woman is saying i miss you but he dismissed me and blamed it on the woman . I know how my husband works and i know he has led thia woman on . How do i instil consequences in a aituation like this . I moved out then after a yr and a half i moved back in ..so i move out again ..will he take me seriously. In the meantime what is the difference between punishment and consequences ..i have decided to sleep on the guest room until he leaves next week is that punishing him ? Or is it a consequence . We are supposed to join him next yr so this is not our permanent state . I have been through this so many times and i am exhausted and like the lady above i fight or flee and sometimes i just keep dancing and keep getting my toes stepped and hope i build resistance which isnt happening .

    • Janet on September 2, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      At this point, I don’t think your husband will ever take you seriously. Your Yes is not Yes, and your No is not No. He is a cheat and a liar. The marriage has been over for a long time. Adultery is not part of marriage. Why do you think you are still married to this man. He gives his heart and body to others. Be done with him.The sooner the better, so you can find someone who might really WANT to love YOU. Unfortunately, you have been a fool, tricked by a liar. No good can come of this. Gather up your toys and leave the sandbox.

    • Pamela on September 2, 2015 at 5:28 pm

      Jenny, my dear, i agree with Janet.. It is time for you to leave this abusive marriage behind and start anew. You can do it. You’re a smart, kind lady with a whole new life ahead of you. You can do it!

      • Rose Jackson on September 26, 2015 at 1:07 pm

        Jenny, I completely understand your despondency over the prospect of being ‘alone’. I felt the same way for so long, but now my heart and mind is already out the door because I’ve realized that I have been WORSE than alone. I have abandoned myself to achieve some out-of-body existence centered around a person who neither loves nor respects me!!
        I have an appointment w/a reputable lawyer that I consulted with last year! I’ve worked on scraping up the retainer for the past year. I cannot wait to start a life with Jesus as my husband. If another man does come my way, I pray with all my heart I will read the signs and vet that suitor properly. I
        was very unwise 21 years ago when I ignored the signs w/this “husband”.
        It’s hard, but no company is better than bad company. Learn to love your-self as Jesus does. Then this maltreatment may become as revolting to you as it is to our Lord.

    • Hopeful on September 2, 2015 at 8:59 pm

      I love your question regarding what is the difference between consequence and punishment.
      I often wonder this myself. I have left our bedroom and slept on the couch because I had had enough of his one word answers and refusal to make eye contact with me. That’s immature and playing games.

      • Lonely wife on September 3, 2015 at 1:03 am

        Hopeful and Jenny…my husband and I haven’t been intimate on over a year….I sat down with him and explained why…using the suggestions Leslie had in her book….my H said he understood….and that was it.
        About 6 months later my H came and asked me about having sex again, and I again told him the reason why I can’t be intimate with him, and he said Ok, I understand…
        It’s not a punishment, I’ve told my husband that I crave intimacy and I want to feel loved and cherished…he just looks at me and says nothing.
        I can’t be intimate with a man who has cheated on me twice, flirted with another woman right in front of me, and then became upset with me when I told him how much it hurt me when he acts that way.
        This isn’t a marriage, and if we were intimate it would be sex…just meeting his sexual needs, like a prostitute. I am a daughter of God…and I won’t be treated like that!

        • Elizabeth on September 3, 2015 at 8:31 am

          Thank you, Lonely wife.
          Very well said and expresses my heart as well. That fear of being raped in the early morning is gone now. I am so thankful for the safe place God has given me in our house.
          As Leslie says God cares more for us as His daughter’s than for the institution of marriage that is so broken in our lives.You cannot even call it a marriage…

    • Shelley on September 3, 2015 at 1:00 am

      Wow “because he has needs to be met” … That shows his twisted unhealthy view of sex and relationship. Praying for u.

  4. Jenny on September 2, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Condims -condoms

  5. Kristine on September 2, 2015 at 9:26 am

    My husband has pulled the “mommy doesn’t want to be a part of the family” after he’s been emotionally destructive to me & we had plans to go somewhere. But today we are going on vacation an hour away from home & if he’s being destructive to me I have plans to leave and go back home. He’s good to the kids for now so I’m not concerned about leaving them with him.(he’s daddy of the year). He has met with our pastor a couple of times & the pastor would like the next meeting to be the 3 of us. The pastor wants me to come prepared to speak the hard things to my husband about the way he treats me & for him to sit and listen even if I have to speak for a long time. He has not heard my pastor & only sees himself as a victim and doesn’t understand what I’m so upset about but our entire marriage he has said “poor you, your such a victim” when I’ve brought up his behavior towards me. Im tired & feel like this is my last try to restore the marriage but not too hopeful.
    So thankful for all of you & the encouragement you have been to me.

    • Janet on September 2, 2015 at 2:32 pm

      Kristen, Time to give some consequences to this unappreciative, disrespectful,selfish bully. Nothing will change until you take a stand with this man. I hope your pastor has great strength, because your husband is going to smooth talk his way out of this meeting and try to blame you. Without repentance and a contrite heart, this man is not teachable.

      How will he become teachable? Consequences! No abusive man has changed until he gets the reality check that he no longer gets what he wants using his current behavior. Having you as his wife is a privilege. Do you feel cherished? If not, he has a lot of work to do.

      Who can help you formulate a plan? Do you have a local domestic violence shelter than could help you with an escape plan. If you do not take the kids, you can be charged with abandonment and lose custody.

      Now you might say to me. There is no physical violence, so this doesn’t really pertain to me, but it most certainly does. His verbal abuse is a gateway drug. He must have control at any cost. It might seem inconceivable at this time yet, you must rescue your children from the affect this man is having upon them. He is not father of the year. He is competing for the children’s affection and devaluing you! What a pitiful individual.

      • Janet on September 2, 2015 at 2:32 pm

        Kristine sorry. Not Kristen. Both pretty names.

      • Kristine on September 2, 2015 at 3:29 pm

        Thank you for these words.
        Just an FYI, I’m just working on baby steps. If he starts to be destructive on vacation then I will leave and go home, just for the week. I have no plans of walking out of the marriage with out my children. I have many children with this man & he definitely lacks empathy or care for me but “looks” like he has it towards my children .I feel my pastor has been more than gracious with him listening to his woe story but my h can not offer any of that to me. I was hoping for consequences from his last meeting but the pastor only asked him to do two things. First, he’s to let me know that our marriage needs help & we need counceling and to make the apt for the next meeting where all 3 of us will meet. He hasn’t done either one. I will say my life has been on hold waiting for these meetings, while he goes about life as usual. I am not looking forward to the next meeting with the 3 of us. The pastor wants to see how he reacts to what I have to say & try to help him see what he’s doing wrong:( I am trying to set healthy boundaries but struggling.

        • Janet on September 2, 2015 at 4:48 pm

          So what is the consequence if you leave to go home from the vacation? He gets to tell the children that Mommy this or Mommy that. Maybe he has to do more childcare, but you leaving makes you look like the crazy one. Who would leave a vacation, right? The advantage would be that you have a fabulous husband free week, yet the kids are left with the brain washer. Must you take baby steps? Why? Do you want the abuse to end or are you ok with certain aspects of it? All these decision would be so much easier if we had know all this before we chose to have children with an abuser. They are so convincing aren’t they?

          Of course it seems better to stay married for the children. I did that and don’t regret it. I learned to walk on egg shells, suffer in silence, trust God as my true husband and give up all my hopes and dreams of a real marriage. The kids turned out great. The only loss was my happiness and safety. I guess the trick is to find out how to live well while doing that.

      • Hopeful on September 2, 2015 at 9:03 pm

        My husband plays the father of the year too. He and my 14 year old son are very close. I am often left out of their activities. My husband says I am jealous. I definitely feel left out and uncertain of my role.

        • Valerie on September 2, 2015 at 9:44 pm

          Have you heard of the term misogynist? Paul Hegstrom writes about it in his book, “Angry Men and the Women who Love Them” He also wrote, “Broken Children , Grown Up Pain”. Two more books that might be helpful. Life Skills has session at many churches for men and women in separate classes. http://www.lifeskillsintl.org/

      • Sandy on September 17, 2015 at 8:41 am

        I appreciate your strength Janet!!
        I am taking what I can for my own situation from these words!

      • Rose Jackson on September 26, 2015 at 1:20 pm

        Yes Kristine, what Janet says. Right on.
        So, do these guys all go to the same school for “How to be a Jerk w/o really trying”? The more of these posts I read, the more I think it would be so much better to just commit to having a good relationship with my self. I’ve always avoided this and would love to hear from women who have succeeded on this score. Married twice, no wins/two losses.
        I plan, with God’s help, to find a community of friends, family and people who believe in reciprocal love and caring.

  6. » When Do I Put Consequences In Place on September 2, 2015 at 10:15 am

    […] When Do I Put Consequences In Place […]

  7. Jane on September 2, 2015 at 10:16 am

    “What’s the worst-case scenario related to your life situation – the one fear that keeps you up at night? The one thing that you fear the most?”

    The biggest fear is this: that I’m not living biblical love with my husband.

    What if this is the time when things will be different?
    What if he’s trying and I’m just missing it?
    What if I’m being too stubborn?
    What if I’m not patient enough and not waiting long enough?
    Have I stopped believing and hoping and enduring too soon?
    If I’m willing “to lay down my life for my friend,” and pledged “til death do us part,” then how can I even think about quitting?
    I have changed the dance and he doesn’t want to learn new steps, but should I keep trying even though it hurts? Isn’t that how he’ll learn?
    People live with much worse pain than mine, so shouldn’t I just keep trying?
    Does his personality disorder bring different responsibilities for me? How accountable is he if he doesn’t think anything is wrong?

    • Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Jane!! A fantastic and thorough expression of my thoughts, fears, the things that keep me up at night crying for God’s direction and wisdom.

      I will add the most pronounced one for me over the last two years….losing the relationship, love, and respect with my children because I have chosen to speak up & remain standing up for what is right, true, healthy, and what I see as Biblical in relationships. Even though they are teenagers, they cannot possibly understand the depths of hurt, frustration, and depletion of my personhood that threatens to drown me daily. Wanting desperately to have a marriage, but that takes two to understand what that means and what their responsibility is to keeping it a marriage….not an arrangement of our own design.

      The children, Leslie. The endless heartbreak for me.

    • Melody on September 2, 2015 at 2:39 pm

      Adding my fears to the list. Is the fear of being raped in my sleep. I have been beaten, raped, strangled, kicked out of the bed and thrown out an open window. So Leslie, they are my fears. Things are much better now, but things like that don’t leave a me.

      I don’t feel any doubts of about my relationship with God nor do I have any fuzzy thoughts about my role in this marriage as a Christian woman. I have a peace that passes all understanding and the blessing of a great mind that can be sly as a fox and peaceful as a dove. Salt and light prevail and life is good.

      • Lisa on September 4, 2015 at 3:09 pm

        “I have been beaten, raped, strangled, kicked out of the bed and thrown out an open window.”

        Have all of the above been reported to the police? Do you have photos, doctor reports of your injuries? And why are you remaining in this hell hole you call a marriage???

        • Melody on September 4, 2015 at 9:37 pm

          Thanks Lisa. At least it didn’t happen on the same day! Ha.

          These incidents happened many, many times years ago. I stayed because I am a Christian and believed it was my “cross to bear”, “God has a plan”, “all things work together for good”, “divorce is a sin”…you know the biblical principles….pray, pray, pray and that is what I did. I submitted, forgave, upheld my vows and endured.

          • Lisa on September 4, 2015 at 11:11 pm

            And what is it like now?

            I would like to say to other women reading Melody’s acct of how she dealt with physical abuse that I don’t recommend you just pray and stick it out under the same roof. He could have killed her with any one of those incidents. She has fears of being rapped in her sleep. Now if she really thought he was safe there would be no fear.

            Melody I hope you listen to our doubting that he is still unsafe.

          • Melody on September 5, 2015 at 5:36 am

            Lisa, you are completely right. It only gets worse and he did try to kill me. I somehow crawled out of the house with his car keys in my hand and the clothes on my back and drove away. I called three domestic abuse hotlines for shelter that night and none had any openings.

            I went to the Emergency Department and got X-rays and a CT of my brain from the trauma. The social worker helped me call the police and reported the crime. The police knew my husband as a respected citizen, generous contributor to police fundraisers and a well connected business owner. They placated me, but took by report with “tongue in cheek” smugness. I had visible bruises. By the time they got to our home, my husband had removed the shattered furniture and repaired the broken banisters from the steps he threw me down. He spoke quietly to authorities, denying his actions.

            I slept in the car and froze for days because I had no place to go. I took a coat, hat and gloves from the lost and found at our public library. I showered at the health club and took naps in the sauna. I went to work and ate the bagels and juice from conferences and then stuffed a few more in my purse for dinner. I didn’t dare use our joint credit card because he could find me.

            It took three days, but I finally got an appointment with a domestic abuse counselor. They provide free legal counsel and helped me file out a restraining order. Their counselors were great. I told a girlfriend, our adult children and my employer. I got a restraining order and my own apartment. I was free.

            He got help, spending over $30,000 per year in counseling and attended a batterers group. He got accountability people at church and in our community. Our pastor preformed an exorcism with him. He claims he heard Satan’s (or at least some wicked demon’s) voice wrestling with him and he believes God spoke to him. After his humbling and spiritual warfare victory, he changed.

            What about me? Did I change? I had developed many coping mechanisms and lived a free and full life within the abusive marriage. I compartmentalized the abuse and savored each moment and hour I was free from my abuser. I knew that I had never done any of the things he was so angry about and noted that eventually he got to “My mother did that”. He was trapped in issues from his past that had nothing to do with me. I knew, even while being repeated emotionally, physically and sexually abused that none of it was my fault or had anything to do with me. I just ignored it and did my duty. I savored life and grew closer to God. I had ( and have) a fabulous career. I traveled extensively, exercised, dined well, dressed smart, socialized, laughed with friends and volunteered in my church and community. I hid the abuse from every single person in every level of our lives.

            So Lisa, I completely agree with your comments and I too would never, ever suggest such a plan for anyone in a destructive marriage. Each persons life is a gift and I endured and found joy within the sorrow.

      • Maria on September 5, 2015 at 11:25 am

        Melody, your husband still sounds like a dangerous person. Why are you with him when you fear he will harm you?

        • Lisa on September 5, 2015 at 7:31 pm

          I was going to say the same Maria. She go out, has her own money, & her own apartment.

          Melody, your description of living well—all that, but the abuse was still going on? Even after all the counseling he got?

          • Melody on September 6, 2015 at 5:24 am

            Yes, the abuse was still going on even with much counseling. My H just changed his tactic. He just spun the power and control wheel in his head and picked new choices. The counselor actually added new spokes to the wheel after meeting with my H because he has used tactics that he had never even heard of before.

            I would add that finding counselors that have experience with working with men in domestic violence is very difficult. Their many court ordered programs, yet they are not faith based and be enabler groups.

          • Leslie Vernick on September 6, 2015 at 7:08 pm

            Melody, in your vow did you promise to allow your husband to abuse you? To lie to you? To verbally batter you? Or treat you as if you were an object instead of a child of God? I don’t think you did. I think you promised to love him until death do you part. Can you do that while holding his feet to the fire, holding him accountable for his behaviors? I think that is love – meeting his real need and not just catering to his ego. Give it some thought.

          • Lisa on September 6, 2015 at 1:54 pm

            Melody are you still married? If so, do you still live with your abuser?

            I’m confused on your previous post. You said, “After his humbling and spiritual warfare victory, he changed.” I took that to mean he no longer abused you. But then you answered me that he continued to abuse you that you just enjoyed life around the abuse.

        • Melody on September 6, 2015 at 5:28 am

          I stood at the altar and took a vow before the Lord, that is why I am still with him. I didn’t care if he killed me because I knew where I was going. I have to answer to God, not man. I accepted my lot and lived inspire of my circumstances. I figures God knew my circumstances and I would use my mind and resources to the best of my ability. I think my fearlessness of death is the big difference for me. I am truly ready for the Lord’s coming at any moment. I think the blessing of a difficult life is that we don’t get too attached to it. We are always ready to move heavenward.

          • Melody on September 6, 2015 at 5:30 am

            “inspite” not inspire.

          • Melody on September 6, 2015 at 5:32 am

            Correction: There are many court ordered groups for men which are not faith based and often are little more than enabler groups.

          • Leslie Vernick on September 6, 2015 at 7:06 pm

            I don’t think they have much success because they only address behavior change, not heart change.

          • Maria on September 6, 2015 at 4:38 pm

            Melody, isn’t the vow you took conditional? For example, the Bible is clear that the covenant is broken in instances of adultery and abandonment. Leslie has also explained how when one spouse is abusive, the marriage covenant is broken. God cares about the people in the marriage more than the institution/vows of marriage. It’s great that you you trust God no matter what, but staying with the abuser/allowing the abuse is enabling him and looking out for his good.

          • melody on September 6, 2015 at 4:39 pm

            Lisa, sorry to be confusing. I am still married and he did change. My time line was not clear. Sorry.

          • Maria on September 6, 2015 at 4:39 pm

            And NOT looking out for his good.

    • Lori on September 15, 2015 at 11:00 am

      I am in the early stages of understanding my own situation. Many times over the 27 years of marriage “submission” has been the club of choice with my husband. If you only were more submissive such and such wouldn’t have happened. Even though I would buck it at first, because of my desire to please God, I would usually give in. Over time I began to resent it. Submission became more of a weight, then an offering. I became quieter and quieter. I thought that maybe that was ” the quiet and gentle spirit” that Eph. talks about. I have recently understood that I need to speak up and be truthful. I tend to be fearful of those confrontations, because I dread his lectures and condemnation that is contained in those lectures. My husband quotes so much scripture during those times my mind swims emotionally for days trying to decifer truth from error. How did you get to the point you could speak truth? How did You justify being like Christ, ” who learned obedience through suffering” , and self preservation? I often say “I just want to do what is right.” Is it better to just get the confrontation out on the table, and deal with the consequences latter? There is still that little voice in my head that says he could be right, even though many have told me he isn’t. How did you overcome that? We did do some counseling and I feel like they diagnosed the problem, but because he wasn’t teachable and my husband didn’t like the route it was going they quit. My husband then proceeded to tell the counsellors not to ever contact me again. So I try to write my own prescription. Books such as Leslie’s have helped. I guess my biggest question is where did you get the courage and the confidence that you were doing the right thing?

      • Shellie on September 15, 2015 at 2:01 pm

        Hi Lori. Thank you for sharing your story. I can identify and relate to so much you have said.

        I too used to think that submitting to my spouse was pleasing to God. I too began to ignore my inner voice or conscience (like when you would “buck it at first”), telling me that this was wrong. My spouse’s voice, his needs, wants, and wishes became stronger than my own. …Then I learned that submitting is not pleasing God when doing so enables sin (my resentment and my spouse’s destructive attitudes and behaviors).

        In reference to your “biggest question,” I had to come to terms that I was afraid of making mistakes. This fear was hindering my ability to have courage and confidence that I was doing was the right thing. I thought that if I made a mistake then I deserved any punishment that followed. What I lacked was truly believing that God’s grace and mercy was a gift that he freely gives to those who believe him. I didn’t realize I lacked this for many years. I’ve loved the Lord since I was a child and have been committed to serving and pleasing him for most of my life. Yet, I had to come to admit that I thought I had to earn His forgiveness when I made a mistake. That’s not true. (That’s wrong thinking, which was hard to admit.) I knew this was not true because I extended forgiveness to others, namely, my spouse for his mistakes, sins and destructive behaviors over and over again.

        Why couldn’t I extend forgiveness to myself? Why was I struggling to accept God’s forgiveness of me?

        Once I honed in on what God really thinks about women, about me, it changed everything. I was no longer trying to be perfect (perfect Christian, perfect wife, perfect parent, perfect leader, etc.), erroneously thinking that perfection was the way to please God.

        I learned that God loves me right as I am and where I am, especially when I make mistakes. Mistakes remind me of my need for the Lord and His people. He didn’t design me to figure out life on my own, then live it out perfectly, so that I am worthy to be blessed. No. In His eyes, I am already worthy to be blessed, because I believe in His Son and am clothed in Christ’s righteousness.

        I began to grow in courage and confidence when I turned my fear of not doing the right thing over to God. I began making decisions, seeking God fervently for His guidance – and trusting Him to direct my path. Proverbs 3:5-6 is one of my life verses – worthy of memorizing and meditating on daily. This verse taught me that my job is to trust in the Lord and not lean unto my own understanding; and God’s job is to direct my paths. Believing this and living it out means that I lean into the Lord when I must make a decision, even when I’m afraid it may be the wrong one. Then, I continue to lean into the Lord, trusting that He will make it clear to me if my path is not straight. Because I am intently following Him, the God of Grace and Comfort will not punish me if my decision is the wrong one, He will simply direct my path, or straighten it out. He will inform me clearly and in love what I need to do if I need to make changes.

        Lori, when I stepped out on faith and began to experience God directing my path in love and not condemnation or punishment, I began to grow in courage and confidence about my ability to make healthy and God-honoring choices for my life.

        None of this is without pain. So, the presence or absence of pain is not a reliable tool to determine if you are making the right decision. Continue to nourish yourself on the truths of God’s Word and its application. Books like Leslie’s are an excellent place to begin to learn new thinking and application of God’s Word and your worth.

        • Kathy on September 18, 2015 at 12:54 pm

          Shellie, Thank you so much for your words of wisdom and for speaking the truth from God’s Word. God spoke to me through your well written words. God Bless You!

    • Rose Jackson on September 26, 2015 at 1:26 pm

      You know Jane, I’ve asked myself and guilted myself with all the questions you ask. Read Leslie’s book: “The Destructive Marriage”. Read it over and over till it all sinks in. I personally have come to believe these guys know exactly what they are doing to you & are having the time of their lives watching you struggle with their behaviors. Even if he has no idea, does that mean it doesn’t hurt. I tell myself over and over when I get into these guilt rabbit holes, that whether he completely understands how he is hurting me or not, IT DOESN’T MATTER, DOESN’T MATTER, DOESN’T MATTER. IT HURTS BAD, and the longer I stay around to take it, the less his behaviors burn his conscience (if he still has one).

  8. Elizabeth on September 2, 2015 at 11:29 am

    Thank you, Leslie, for your very practical advice in hard places in our lives. I have been married almost 52 years to a verbally and emotionally abusive man. There have been some physical manifestations of his anger, ie throwing things but he has never touched me. It was many, many years before I realized what was happening. My two children were gone and married when I separated from him to stop the cycle of evil. I had full support and good counseling from my church. They never rushed me to go back but trusted God to show me. This was such a blessing. We were separated 5 years and he “seemed” to be doing all the right things. He confessed sin, treated me nice and did everything his counselor told him to do. So I agreed to reconcile. Two weeks after we reconciled he told our counselor that he did not think we needed counseling any more. Unfortunately I agreed and the next 6 months were the darkest of my life. I was so devastated and deeply hurt that he had lied to me and just jumped through hoops to get me back. I felt stuck thinking I could not separate again. I knew that I was a different person than before and God began to strengthen my heart, draw close to me and love me in ways I could not imagine. I also had some good close friends who understood and supported me. I was in Celebrate Recovery and still am. That was 17 years ago and nothing has changed with my husband except that age has mellowed him some. I have grown in who I am in Christ and who He is in me and that is the only reason I am still here. Sometimes I regret that I did not separate again and divorce but I cannot change that. We live separate lives in the same house in order not to continue the destructive cycle. I know that I need Christ everyday to not punish my h. with silence, anger and unforgiveness. I work at that everyday and am often surprised at the words and attitudes that come from me toward him. I know it is God in me, His grace. I ask God everyday to put love in my heart for him. Galatians 5:6 is where I live… “faith working through love.” I love my h. by faith every day. Thank you for listening to me. I love you all and how you encourage us all…

    • Not Alone on September 2, 2015 at 12:44 pm

      Elizabeth, thank you for sharing your story. I so resonate with all you have written. I have been married 36 years and in the past three years have finally come to terms with my reality. The Lord has become my Rock and the relationship I now have with Him is worth everything to me.

      We now live separately under the same roof, but the Lord has given me great support in new friends outside the home as well as freedom in the home (in my little sanctuary downstairs) to pursue my life and growth in Him without being in bondage any longer to my husband’s control. That freedom also allows me to treat him with respect and agape love rather than react in resentment and anger to his continued behaviors.

      You wrote: “I have grown in who I am in Christ and who He is in me and that is the only reason I am still here.” That is the summary of my life as well. I am already seeing the Lord use the comfort He has extended to me in sharing with others that same comfort as He brings them into my life. Thank you for doing that for me with your post.

      • Elizabeth on September 2, 2015 at 4:50 pm

        You are welcome, Not Alone. I also have been comforted so much by this blog. Your handle says it all. Not Alone! Ever!

    • Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 1:35 pm

      Curious Elizabeth, how you navigate separate lives, but love in grace with agape love. When I have tried that, living separate lives under same roof, demands for sexual intimacy returned almost immediately, and vicious attacks against me for my refusal. It seems the only way to remain separate lives in the home is no, or very minimal contact. This, I find exceedingly difficult and hard in me in every way.

      Any advice is appreciated!

      • Kathy on September 2, 2015 at 2:56 pm

        Remedy: from my own experience at living for 3 years separated yet under the same roof… the sexual part was never an issue. He didn’t want me, and that was fine with me as the relationship was severely broken before that point anyway. That can work, but my guess is its only when sex is a non-issue (or is being satisfied elsewhere with or without the spouse’s knowledge). It may not work for you.

      • Elizabeth on September 2, 2015 at 6:53 pm

        HI Remedy,
        You are right that it is exceedingly difficult to navigate each day. The sexual was hard at first as he did not get it that I could not emotionally or physically engage in sex when an hour previous or that morning he had beat me up verbally. He would never make that connection and then just gave up I think. He is more passive in his anger and responses so it will come out in sarcasm subtle meanness. We do interact on a business everyday level but not socially, church or intimacy. It is hard and every day is a walk of faith to surrender my heart to God to be forgiven and to forgive.
        When he lashes out or is emotionally abusive with his criticism I have learned that it is a reflection of his heart and not who I am. I surrender him and his words to God and do not take it on as my fault.This is impossible apart from Christ in me. If there is any truth in his words I am learning to hear God speak that to me and give me the grace to take responsibility for my part. I do a lot of crying out to God all day.
        I hope this is helpful, Remedy. I am praying for you.

        • Elizabeth on September 2, 2015 at 6:54 pm

          a business level everyday. Sorry

        • Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 9:11 pm

          Thank you for sharing all this Elizabeth. Of course this is just how I envision it….a struggle every day. Then I ask myself, is this marriage also, just a different type than the one God lays out. The thought of the rest of my life lived out that way is almost too much to bear.

          I admire your tenacity to hold on knowing God will eventually make all things right. God bless!

          • Elizabeth on September 3, 2015 at 8:40 am

            Hi Remedy,
            I understand those thoughts of living the rest of our lives like this and it being too much to bear. I will easily slide into the tunnel of despair and depression when I give into them. I am learning to turn my thoughts to Christ and who He is in my life and His desire to conform me to His image in the midst of my struggles. He gives me that bigger picture, His story that I am a part of. Then I call someone in my support group and get out of the house. This is what building our CORE looks like and how we grow in the midst of suffering. Praying for you Remedy with love…

        • Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 9:13 pm

          Thank you for sharing all this Elizabeth. Of course this is just how I envision it….a struggle every day.

          I admire your tenacity to hold on knowing God will eventually make all things right. God bless!

          • Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 9:15 pm

            Sorry for duplicate post…hit send too soon 🙂

          • Rose Jackson on September 26, 2015 at 1:52 pm

            I am a little confused and a lot scared that women are staying in the same house with abusers for why?
            I have already know that I am scared to death to live “alone” (I’m already emotionally alone). I am also scared to death of the financial consequences, its will be slim pickings for me. But, I have tried for almost 3 years to live separately in the same house. Maybe my house is too small, but I can’t get peaceful knowing he could pop up or in at any time. I don’t know, am I missing something?

    • Shellie on September 2, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story.

  9. Belle on September 2, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    The children… How will they turn out growing up in this environment and not growing up seeing and being bathed in the warmth of a good marriage?

    Do I really see all this right? Am I mixed up?

    This post is excellent and has brought some clarity to my thinking. Praise God.

    I still struggle with consequences, but I do believe it is right to protect ourselves. I would surely not let a child or friend keep dancing with some one bruising their toes up, and I am just as much a person as them, so it is ok to protect my own toes.

    • Melody on September 2, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Island girl. You are NOT the cause of his misery. That is completely and utterly impossible. Don’t believe Satan’s lies. We are to count is all joy in all circumstances and your husband should be joyful in his circumstance!

      It is hard to know how to pass faith down to the next generation. Don’t you know committed Christian who had terrible lives? Don’t you know some raised on communion bread who turned away? The choice is ultimately up to your children to chose for themselves. You can neither make or break their faith. It is between them and God. Yet, you are right even Jesus didn’t like hypocrites.

      I just want to throw in there. That remember, there is no marriage in heaven. Marriage is important, but is not the only principle of the Christian life. God is just and he sees everything. Will he not be fair and loving towards you too?

      • Elizabeth on September 2, 2015 at 7:23 pm

        You are right Islandgirl.
        I have a son and a daughter. They both experienced the anger of their father as well as the gospel. One allowed God to use it to bring her to Himself and heal her heart. The other chose to not forgive and has become a very angry, bitter young man.
        This is my greatest pain and joy apart from Jesus in my heart. He is healing my heart and strengthening my faith. The story is not over yet. Let’s keep praying for them….

  10. Holly on September 2, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    My biggest fear: the unknown with my kids as they stay in relationship with their dad, who has abused me for almost 4 years. They are little now but how will I explain to them later why I left, without harming them? What damage will they suffer because of him and how many precious moments with my kids will I lose because it’s “his time” with them.

  11. Shellie on September 2, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    I’ve tried many consequences and each one of them served a purpose. Some were reactionary and unhealthy; others were healthy, and right alongside the practical steps Leslie presented in this blog. Throughout my personal healing and restoration from my destructive marriage, I began to learn the purposes behind my consequences, or choices.

    My reactionary consequences included things like: flying home with the kids to stay with my parents, arguing (with logic and emotion), angry outbursts, or, most often, silence, shame and self-degradation. Some of the purposes they served were to reveal to me the damaging and traumatic affects of my spouse’s sexual sins, that I have needs, that God created me to be loved and respected, and that I am imperfect and desperate. I was hoping these consequences would wake up my spouse. Instead, I experienced a temporary reprieve from the destructive attitudes and behaviors, but no permanent change.

    My unhealthy consequences included giving him more sex; trying to be perfect; walking on eggshells; taking the blame; not using my voice; giving him the benefits of a good marriage. The purposes they served were to reveal my own capacity to sin and my propensity to make my husband my idol. I had the hidden belief that my happiness was dependent upon how well I made my spouse happy. I thought I was pleasing God by pleasing people (namely, my spouse); and I thought God would bless me more as I was more submissive to my spouse, etc. What I was really doing was condoning sinful behavior, which God does not bless. (I am so glad God does not bless sin!) I had hoped these consequences would make my spouse want to change. Instead, he became a better manipulator and I became easier to manipulate. I had hoped he would see how good he has it and decide that it was better than anything else. But why would he change if he was already getting what he wanted? Furthermore, I was competing for my spouse’s faithfulness and marital intimacy. How sad is that! A wife should never have to compete for her husband’s faithfulness or marital intimacy. The very definition of marriage includes faithfulness and intimacy unique to husband and wife.

    Finally, I ended up setting a firmer and clearer boundary with my spouse of 15 years at the time: “I will no longer be in physical, emotional, or spiritual relationship with you for a year.” Our three children were between the ages of 8 and 14, so they were clearly affected by the separation. … This consequence worked. … He has learned to trust God and to trust his support. He is honest and vulnerable. He confesses his sins and has a true broken heart for the pain he has caused me. …He still goes to counseling, has had and continues to have an accountability partner, and is still a committed member of a local support group. …My spouse is sensitive to the pain he caused me and listens tenderly when I need to share that. He’s more emotional and other-centered than he’s been since childhood (we are high school sweethearts). All this is the beginning of rebuilding trust. …We’ve both committed to understanding one another and to be understood. That means we stick it out when the conversations lead to disagreements or hurts. We respond like adults by asking questions to bring about clarity and solutions. We’ve both learned what to take responsibility for, and what not to. We both have a respect for one another and are willing to gently speak the truth in love. … We confess our temptations to one another and they are received with compassion. This activity has especially helped rebuild trust. Christ is miraculously bringing our dead marriage back to life. Sometimes, I still can’t believe it.

    To answer the blog question succinctly, the consequences I’ve tried did make a difference in my marriage, because they first made a difference in me.

  12. Aleea on September 2, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    I see nowhere in the Word-of-God where we need a guilt reduction strategy to leave well.  If God cares more about His children than He does about marriage, then just leave.  Emotionally unavailable, narcissistic personalities and various mental disorders (interpersonally exploitative, devoid of empathy), how are these going to be cured by just dialogue or withholding sex or better boundaries?  I guess I don’t understand that.  Especially if a husband will not do serious counseling or get medical help?  I think it is very important not to ask God to completely set aside the laws that normally govern the universe because the Lord God normally will not do that.  Yes, He did some of that in times gone by but that was when the Lord was here on the earth or God broke into history.  Of course you will go with εὔσπλαγχνοι (compassionate, charitable, tender, understanding) but you still go. . . A mentality of power and control via physical, verbal, emotional, financial, social, sexual, spiritual abuse is still abuse that destroys your person.  
    . . . . As I pray through these posts for people my heart gets so heavy and I tremble at some of these situations.  I so wish I could show people that they have choices, even if it doesn’t feel that way (I know it doesn’t feel that way.)  I really believe the Holy Spirit will do 99.9% of the heavy lifting for you but we have got to do our 0.01% and make a choice.  Now, if your husband is saying something like this, and you believe it, and he is willing to get treatment —maybe— if you have the strength left, work with him:  “O Lord, I am lost without you.  I have ruined everything.  I commit my life to you.  Forgive me and give me the power to do good.  Reconcile me with yourself.  Look at me only through the work of Jesus, and enable me to live for Him.  Thank you that you care for someone like me.  Help me to grow in grace and guide me in all my ways.”  If a man has real love, real repentance it will have real sacrifice all over it. 
    . . . . I’m going to balance what I just said with Leslie’s words from Acting Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong because I think it is easy to misdiagnose just about anything and God’s love may actual cure things in ways we can’t fully understand. “. . .  .Rather than engage in combat with each other, we need to ward off Satan’s tactics.  Rather than seeking to vindicate ourselves, we need to fight for the glory of God, the preservation of our marriages, our spiritual health and our children’s future.  Satan is our real enemy.  He is out to destroy us.  Satan tries to convince us that God and His ways don’t satisfy and believing and following Him will rob us of something enjoyable.  During times of marital troubles he whispers, “Why should you work on your marriage? After all, look what your spouse has done. Why should you forgive: You have needs too.”  . . . .I really, r-e-a-l-l-y like that book, every time I start reading in it anywhere, I wind-up re-reading the whole thing.  God always just loves on us until we can’t stand it anymore and then we repent.  Again from that book: “. . . The only weapons that have any real power are spiritual.  God gives us a powerful alternative to reacting recklessly to our spouses’ sin: “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good”.  The Apostle Peter reminds us, “It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men”.  We overcome evil with good when we stop battling our spouses and respond to wrongdoing in ways that are godly, righteous, and loving.”  
    . . . . . . So, we do the actions that bring the most glory to God (—that really sounds like the key to me) but only you and the Holy Spirit can ultimately decide that.  Don’t get hung up on tag lines and frig-magnet spirituality.  God hates divorce?  He also hates shrimp in the Old Testament (—eating certain kinds of seafood (including shrimp) are an abomination, they are proscribed there.)  Do what brings the most glory to God.  . . . . . —And God doesn’t really hate shrimp.  He hates behavior that damages our souls.

  13. Kathy on September 2, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    My biggest immediate fear in the midst of it all was coming home from work, or being out at family or friends to find my pets injured, dead, or worse. Since I was not blessed with children, my pets are my kids and that would be a sure way to hurt me deeply. My biggest long term fear is that I will be alone to the end. I’m no spring chicken, and again, have no children to help me. Currently, I’m terrified of what will happen if I don’t get a job soon. I’ve been looking for over a year, and I’m either over-qualified or under-educated or they think I’ll be bored… it’s been very stressful & it’s even more so now that the ex has defaulted on the maintenance payments.

    • Melody on September 2, 2015 at 5:01 pm

      Kathy, Would you like to work with animals? That might be a perfect fit. I am happy for you that you are no longer living with your abusive spouse! Can you open your home to another in need? Would a college student or exchange student be a fun roommate?

  14. Lynn on September 2, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Will my friends on Facebook be able to see my reply?

    • Martha Gerber on September 2, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      No they will not – anything you put on the secret groups will only be visable to you and noone else. Great question.

      • Lynn on September 2, 2015 at 7:30 pm

        That’s good, thank you.

    • Lonely wife on September 3, 2015 at 1:51 am

      Lynn….just so you know…they won’t see your reply here on this blog…but if you post on Leslie’s FB page then, Yes, there’s a chance they can…just so you know 🙂

      • Elizabeth on September 3, 2015 at 8:22 am

        Lonely wife,
        I have been a long time learning not to feel guilty when he has his sad pity party but I am finally believing the truth in my mind. His pity party is more about him and not real sorrow for anything he has done and continues to do.

        • Lonely wife on September 3, 2015 at 9:54 pm

          You’re right Elizabeth….and when you can finally see that and accept it, it really does free you emotionally! I have Leslie to thank for freeing me from the “marriage trap” I was in!
          Also, if you can believe it, AFTER my husbands emotional affair was revealed…I actually felt SORRY for him and tried to boost him up….all while I was crying almost every day because of the pain I was in, and my husband couldn’t care less!
          He was feeding me a sob story about how he was emotionally abused as a child, how his parents never loved him, etc…and I fell for it…married 25 yrs and he’d never said ONE WORD about abuse…then after he’s caught cheating, poor wittle abused boy starts crying abuse….he even blamed his parents for his behavior and has now cut all communication with them!
          He told our children about how his father spanked him so hard that he couldn’t go to school, and other things that supposedly happened, ..and yes, my kids felt sorry for him also…for a time….eventually they stopped feeling sorry for him when they saw NO change in his behavior towards me or them!
          I now live my life, ministering in my church, home schooling my youngest son, and spending time with my friends…recently I went back to counseling, just to reaffirm I’m doing the right thing.
          I can’t make this marriage work on my own…it takes two, and my husband isn’t interested in working on our marriage. His loss.

          • Elizabeth on September 3, 2015 at 10:06 pm

            Lonely Wife, I do wonder how many of my h. childhood stories are really true. Some of them conveniently show up when he needs sympathy. He is only interested to keep us together to have someone to care for him in his older years (he is 75 and has some health issues). He has no desire to have a relationship or work on it. I honestly believe at this stage of his life he is unable to do relationship at any level with anyone. I do not know if at this stage I would want to work on it with him as there is so much mistrust. I could not go back to living with a false hope. Facing the reality has been freeing and peaceful for me. As you say his loss… It is so sad.

  15. Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    So Aleea..you’re a lawyer. We have the choice to leave. How do you advise if the homeschooled teenage children refuse to leave their ‘home’ because it is home, the spouse refuses to leave, and if I leave I could be charged with abandonment? Have tried to live separated under same roof…not working. I have replayed all possibilities over and over in my head. I’m at a loss. What would the legal system likely do in this case?

    • Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 5:05 pm

      By the way…thanks for the shrimp humor. I loved a little laugh sandwiched in with the intelligent and logical counsel from the Word.

      • Aleea on September 2, 2015 at 6:53 pm

        I am so, so sorry for that horrific situation and even more for any wrong I have caused if I was not clear that I am a Tax Attorney with the IRS in U.S. & International Corporate Tax Law. . . . . For the longest time, I had in my Gravatar:  “Aleea, Senior Counsel & Tax Attorney; U.S. Dept. of the Treasury, Internal Revenue Service. . .Corporate tax collector and sinner, completely redeemed by Christ and hopelessly in love with Him!  I will discuss any Corp. Tax or Bible related issue with you but please cite all relevant IRS codes or Bible source verses!  Aleea_Rodgers@yahoo.com” .  . . . . I took that out a few months back because precious folks were sending me retail tax matters (—Understandable!!!  —Very few people have business tax questions!!!) and I had to keep funneling those questions to other folks at the IRS who gave them full answers to very specific questions.  . . . .So, I have a J.D. and an LL.M. from Georgetown Law School in Tax Law but my whole career at the IRS (Office of the Chief Counsel) has been in corporate tax law litigation: corporate acquisitions, dispositions, spin-offs, joint ventures, reorganizations and restructurings (Section 355 – Section 7428, et.al. of the IRS code). . . . I do others cases related to constitutional law and contracts but not family law, per se. 
        . . . . .The legal system will do nothing until something breaks.  As you well know, abandonment is not the same as a woman fleeing domestic violence in a crisis, nor it is the same as your husband announcing his intentions to divorce and then moving out.  And even desertion, like adultery, is a difficult route to divorce, and like adultery not used much.  I would ask a local family law attorney what are your options and alternatives and the advantages and disadvantages of each when: the marriage has broken down to the point where the spouses share a roof and nothing else.  I am sure you know that just leaving has legal repercussions that weaken your case particularly with the home-schooled child because it may be much more difficult for you to make a strong case that you are a fit parent if you walked away for a period of time. . . . . Remedy, I will pray and please know that I was already praying for you and will continue to do so.  I so apologize for any misunderstanding, people hurt enough here without misunderstandings too.  Feel free anytime to write me directly or here if you think I could help you.

    • Valerie on September 2, 2015 at 9:51 pm

      Can you clarify? Why would home schooled children need to leave their home? Will they go to college? Are you trying to leave an abusive environment and the teens want to stay in the home?

      • Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 10:18 pm

        Spouse will not leave…..unless he would be forced ,( by court). If I leave, the children insist they do NOT want to leave their home. It is traumatizing to all every time we attempt this conversation. They want to remain homeschooled, with me here. Trying to live separated under same roof and school is too much. I’m becoming undone with the stress. I do not want to break the hearts of my children. Feel optionless here!

        • Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 10:28 pm

          I will add, I have received loving counsel from trusted people in my life to just leave and insist the children go with me if they want to remain homeschooled. While this seems good in theory, it would likely bring some very big attitude problems with my kids bc of their ages. Attitudes of anger & disrespect that would be difficult to overcome, and maybe would not be overcome. So, out of one excruciating life to another. This is a legitimate concern and main reason I have not left to this point.

        • Valerie on September 2, 2015 at 10:29 pm

          Might you possibly, now get ready for this, consider sending the children to public or Christian school? The exposure to other families would probably make them want to leave Dad. Kids have a way of talking and they compare their parents. I know home schooling is great. Congratulations to your commitment to a wonderful cause. Yet, now, things are different. It seems you are getting tired. If Dad is home you have an abusive principal at the school. Let’s protect the kids from him. Even public school doctrine is better than abusive Daddy.

          You gave the kids a great foundation. Let them go to public school and prove what they know. They can you go home school enrichment in the summer.

          I promise you, a change like this will open everyone’s eyes.

        • Valerie on September 2, 2015 at 10:34 pm

          How can you be sure that your children would be disrespectful if you removed them from an abusive environment? Many young adults report that they wish Mom left sooner. Some get mad at Mom as adults when they realize that she allowed them to stay in such a situation and allowed herself to be disrespected for so long. They report feeling betrayed because Mom and Dad were pretending and were too concerned about appearance rather than addressing the truth. What do you think?

        • Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 11:18 pm

          The father is wonderful to the kids and they adore him. Have talked to my children many, many times about other school options. They have zero….zero interest. Play sports with school kids and for the school, but deeply desire homeschooling. I would add that if they were in school all day, very likely they would remain in the home with their dad if I left. Again, unless he is ordered out of here, he appears to be going nowhere, despite the long in-house separation.

          So if another school option is taken, it would be forced by me.

        • Lonely wife on September 3, 2015 at 1:59 am

          Remedy, I also home school and for the longest time felt so angry and trapped…betrayed by my husband after two emotional affairs…but then I just decided I didn’t want to feel that way, so I started working on my CORE and praying and asking God to give me peace, I started reading books and blogs on abusive, manipulative men…really just educating myself on their behavior…and now I can live peacefully in my home, and continuing to educate my youngest son.
          I don’t let what my husband says or does bother me that much anymore…I now realize that HE has the problem, not me…and I don’t suffer from guilt like I have in the past when he has his sad pity party..
          It IS possible to live peacefully in these types of marriages when you really give up on the marriage….when you throw all hope of a good marriage put the window.
          Now, I have to add, my husband isn’t verbally abusive, he’s more emotionally abusive…I know verbal abuse can really wear you down…I will be praying for you!

        • Valerie on September 3, 2015 at 4:48 am

          Remedy, I am going to challenge you with your answer to me about a school option. You are the parent. You tell the children wear they are going to school. Your husband is NOT a good parent. He is a horrible husband and that is part of being a parent. He is a terrible leader. He is emotionally investing your children for his own self esteem. I know I am being tough on you. I hear that you want the problem solved by him leaving. Is that working? Do you really want the problem solved? Put the kids in public school. Who rules the roost here? You or your kids.

        • Valerie on September 3, 2015 at 4:50 am

          Remedy, Spell check turned my word “incest” in to “invest”. Even spell check was appalled at the thought. Ha.

          Your husband is coming emotional incest to your children by using them for his self personal needs to feel important, loved and superior to you.

        • Valerie on September 3, 2015 at 4:52 am

          “Coming” should be committing and well…”self” should be “selfish.” Auto correct and suggested text can really make a mess of things.

        • Leonie on September 3, 2015 at 6:18 am

          Remedy, could you home school from another location – using it as the start of a way to leave – maybe from a friend’s home that also home-schools? I understand, home is home. If you left would your husband then teach your kids or would they be forced to enrol in public school. I tried homeschooling but it was at a time when my ex was abusing me and I was too distraught – in the end he left and we stayed in the home and the kids went to public school. They have each excelled but they were so young when all those decisions were made and we had recently moved to our current location. I am praying for you, keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, he is bigger than the impossible things in our lives and he cares about what your husband is doing to you!

        • Not Alone on September 3, 2015 at 9:44 am

          Lonely Wife, what you said about acceptance of the end of the marriage bringing peace has also been so true for me. It has freed me to let go of any expectations from him and move forward in my own life to pursue my walk with the Lord and who He has created me to be, without second guessing how my husband is going to respond (or not).

          I had let my desire for a godly marriage and family consume me as I tried to make it happen by trying harder to be what others were telling me I needed to be – most especially my husband. My hope has changed focus from my marriage and family to the Lord alone, and that has made all the difference. I am His and He is mine and that is enough.

        • Remedy on September 3, 2015 at 11:42 am

          Yes, two years ago the offer was put to my children to homeschool them elsewhere (at a relative’s home) and I even had a friend present to help with that conversation. The kids adamantly refused & rejected the thought, as I’m certain they saw it as the end of the family. So the compromise was made to stay in the home with a separate bedroom. I am reluctant to give too many more details, for my emotional safety. Suffice it to say, it has profound negative effects on everyone and is no way to live, not to mention a terrible example of what is normal to my kids.

        • Aleea on September 4, 2015 at 1:23 pm

          I am sure you are but just keep being very sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance.  There is nothing that we seem so afraid of as getting to know how enormously capable we are of doing and especially becoming in Christ.  I used to think people were afraid of their weaknesses but now I realize they are actually, at moments, glimpsing their power (God’s power flowing through them) and to various degrees are terrified of it. . . . Christian role “scholarship” is the Church’s invention to defend itself against the Holy Spirit, to ensure that we can continue to be good little Christian women and that power structures that demand women offer men unconditional relationship don’t completely topple.  -Oh, priceless “scholarship” that has already been multiple source deconstructed, what would we do without you?  . . . . . Let me tell you, Jesus is about sweeping, encompassing empowerment. . . . If you belong to the Lord, then you are a champion eternal.  A daughter of the Living Light.  A person of the highest caliber. To be cherished; to have real affection; to be treated like a precious treasure; to have real love. . . .Anyway, it is empowering to be alone with the Holy Spirit!!!  . . . . –And don’t disclose anything that makes you uncomfortable or anything, period.  You and the Lord know what and why, that’s enough.

        • Marybeth on September 15, 2015 at 3:28 pm


          I’ve been reading your concerns about homeschooling your children and how they adamantly refuse any change.

          This may not apply but I used to work with a Mom whose child, when in HS, began to become verbally and emotionally abusive toward his Mom because that is what he saw his Dad do. This was the same Mom who sacrificed and was always their for the son.

          I’m just afraid that yours could be doing the same? It doesn’t seem that they are respecting you but only you can know how they are really feeling or behaving. Have they seen a counselor to help them deal with your in house separation? They must be aware of all the undercurrents. (maybe I already missed this discussions and if so I apologize).

  16. Remedy on September 2, 2015 at 9:31 pm

    Aleea…I knew full well you are a tax attorney :). Just wondered if you had any knowledge of how courts handled such things. I have seen an attorney several times and received good counsel regarding the situation of homeschooling. Even taking the prescribed legal steps….it is something that makes me sick to the depth of my being, even knowing this is likely the only path (the hardest one) with any chance of healing. It will be strong consequences. And of course I think how can a person professsing to love Christ have such levels of hardheartedness. The disconnect is stunning to me.

    Thank you for praying for so many on this site.

  17. Elle on September 3, 2015 at 9:30 am

    Does anyone ever feel like they found this information too late? I found this site after my separation and beginning of my divorce. I know that really doesn’t change my situation or the reasons it all happened, but 10 years ago, maybe I would have known, at least, how to handle things, if not implement them and learn how to protect my heart. I was on my way to doing that, but one day, it all came crashing down.
    I am still so devastated, I can’t see past the pain or move.

    • Elizabeth on September 3, 2015 at 11:58 am

      Yes, Ellie. I have often felt like that and wondered what I would have done with it. I think my children wish I had left many years ago and divorced but they never say that to me.
      I am thankful for the information now and want to help other women who are stuck in this mess…
      I know now that it is never too late to make changes… I am praying for you Ellie to see and feel God’s presence in the middle of your pain. It hurts so much and we cannot see beyond it. He is there holding you, loving you. He cares for you….

      • Maria on September 6, 2015 at 5:25 pm

        Thank you ladies for sharing your stories, it really does help us who read about how you handled different situations. Much of this information was not available years ago, so thank you Leslie for your passion and effort to help. Hopefully, with this information, women can get out of abuse quicker and realize we are not without options.

        • Rose Jackson on September 26, 2015 at 2:23 pm

          It’s true, for so many years, all Christian women (and their abusive spouses) heard was “Submit”.
          Now there are some wise Scripture-based counselors such as Leslie. We can’t beat ourselves up for what we never knew. Most of us abused women never knew that we had value, that we deserved love and nurture as youngsters or young women. Let’s face it, we live in a patriarchal society that has no resemblance to the way Jesus treated women in his life on earth. You know what you know when you know it. You do what you ca with what you know now, how else could it work?

    • Valerie on September 9, 2015 at 10:11 am

      Elle, many times I have lamented over the same thing. If only…if only I had been given this truth earlier…if only. Yet I see how God was working on me all those years despite the abuse. If I had been in my current situation several years ago I would not have been ready for it. I also saw through the divorce He used the continual trials to actually strengthen me in a way.

      What I’m trying to say is that God has a way of being able to turn the worst of things for our good (Romans 8:28). Not only parting the Red Seas at times but turning water into wine. (In the case of abuse turning poison into wine). Not saying He makes it all better but through His sovereignty He brings good out of it.

      What I try to do when I revert to the “if only” as I look back on all the years lost, is to corral that into a separate issue and instead look at what good things God did through me or to me during that time. What would I have missed if I had been delivered earlier? Again, I’m not at all saying the abuse turns to joy but that there is PURPOSE. That is the theme that can get me in despair- that I feel like those years were completely lost and wasted. I dig through the debris of the abuse and find the treasures God provided and I hang on to those.

      As a side note, there is another Valerie that is posting here as well. How do I add a thumbnail image by my name to distinguish??

      • Elizabeth on September 9, 2015 at 6:10 pm

        HI Valerie,
        “I dig through the debris of the abuse and find the treasures God provided and I hang on to those.”
        Thank you for that great visual. I will use it when I am tempted to believe the last 52 years are wasted years never to be redeemed.

        I have journalled many of those treasures and need to go back over my journal to be reminded once again of God’s faithfulness. Just today He did something very special for me and I was reminded of His great love for me. He is giving me a new home that is for Him to use for His glory. All the other houses we have lived in have been tainted with abuse holding painful memories. I am looking forward to what He will do in the next 6 months while it is being built to protect it from the same cycle.
        I am thankful He has brought me to where I am because of all that He has done to make me strong in Him. I love Christ and all of you….

      • Rose J on December 3, 2015 at 10:56 am

        Exactly Valerie, Looking back is only useful as we try to piece together where we were misinformed and made decisions based on our immaturity or pain. The breadcrumbs are there, we can retrace them to the truths we were meant to discover with the help of the Holy Spirit. What good is a charmed life it all it produces is a weak character and an increasing narcissism. No, pain and abuse is no fun. Yes, it leaves scars and even actual physical chronic pain. So, let’s not waste those experiences with a permanent pity party. I am so grateful that these comments help me to see this and live w/o that same ole blame and shame system established and maintained by the evil one.
        Our creator wants our good and promises to give us the strength we need. What a system, but this is what is!! Truth sets us free.

        • Leslie Vernick on December 4, 2015 at 7:20 am

          I love your sentence, “What good is a charmed life if it produces a weak character and increasing narcissism.” I think that is what has happened to many of our children as we sought to over-function and protect them from everything bad and they have grown up feeling entitled and lacking internal muscles for the real world.

  18. Elizabeth on September 3, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Sorry, Elle not Ellie….

  19. P on September 3, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    I am ready to get some serious help with setting boundaries and not backing down, regardless of the consequences of my assertiveness. I have been saving money for a counselor. I contacted Leslie and they have no counselors in my area. Does anyone have any advice on finding a counselor qualified to help with my enabling nature and my husband’s emotional abuse? I can’t afford the money or time to “shop around” randomly.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 4, 2015 at 8:15 am

      Shelby, you may want to consider taking my two session class Moving Beyond People Pleasing which will be offered in October. Also AlAnon or CODA are absolutely free groups that tackle co-dependency issues and they are usually everywhere.

  20. Vivienne on September 4, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    My greatest fear is that my children will repeat this cycle of destruction in their own relationships: I fear they have been affected by my bad choice in choosing to stay, albeit mistakenly believing that was my Christian duty. In trying to keep what was dead alive, in not placing firm boundaries, in enabling the abuse, my destructive marriage has affected our children. I stayed for far too long, I have been unhappy for way too long so that I now feel incredibly stupid and a really bad parent for enabling the abuse. I did persuade my H to seek help a few years ago but he has not changed, he is still angry, neglectful, selfish and absent emotionallyand he cares not that I hate living in a foreign country. I have been angry and resentful too, and while I thought I was marvellous for staying so long, I have only fooled myself and hurt my boys.

    I now face being separated not just from my H but my children as well, and difficult to accept when I sacrificed myself to save them – or that was what I thought I was doing but I have hurt them instead. For me this is sometimes too much to bear. I now fear the future, in terms of how they will connect with me – or not.

    Having long held a desire to escape, now I have the opportunity and I fear falling flat on my face so that my H will say “see, I told you so, you won’t make it without me”. I fear failure so much that it makes it hard to break away even though I know my soul is heavy each day I stay. It doesn’t help to witness the world heading for yet another major upheaval…..how will I cope on my own? I know God is with me but…..it’s still scary.

    • Vivienne on September 4, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      I also want to add that the premier reason I stayed so long was that I feared God, I believed that because he hated divorce I had to die to myself and stay despite the abuse, despite my pain, despite the despair, the depression, my emotional breakdown, the loveless sex, it was all done in the belief that I was doing God’s will.

      I thought I was so spiritual when in fact I have been incredibly deceived.

      So another fear now emerging is this: If I can be so deceived in these ways, in what other ways am I being deceived too?

      • Aleea on September 5, 2015 at 11:18 am

         “. . . . .So another fear now emerging is this: If I can be so deceived in these ways, in what other ways am I being deceived too?”
        Vivienne, only you and the Holy Spirit will know, but He will tell you when you truly search Him out and ask Him and keep asking Him.  We all believe so, so many wrong things that we only understand are dead wrong with time.  It always completely amazes me.  I’m trying to do better with the length of my posts so I will not list some of mine, but they are whoppers.  Just remember that faith is what con-artists ask for and the Lord God knows this.  Any untestable; undetectable; unknowables disable all our reality checks.  The reason you need real evidence, evidence that scales with some man’s claims is because we all have an extraordinary capacity to believe whatever makes us feel good in the moment.  . . . . .Also, very importantly, make sure your scripture beliefs HAVE made contact with the last 275 years of Biblical Research, Manuscript finds and Archeology.  Many pastor’s beliefs have not and that is where their outrageous certainty comes from.  The only path to truth is objective evaluation.  In the Lord God we trust, all others must show peer-reviewed evidence. . . . . So many women in my church believe that they are spiritual because they have effectively shut down the strong, RATIONAL, critical reasoning abilities God gave them to survive.  But evil is that which makes people dependent.  Truth makes people independent (Don’t listen to just one voice, listen to many, many, many others.)  Pastors can be very sure when they are alone at their podium and not one person is there to challenge them.  But let an expert give counterpoints and ask questions and you see a whole different side.  To me, blind faith is a sorry gift to return to the Creator of human intelligence. . . . . Now, that said, we also don’t want to go around deconstructing everything.  We, (—me too) need to resist the urge to interpret and read all sorts of motivations and insinuations into what other people are saying.  Scripture condemns such thinking as “evil suspicions” (ὑπόνοιαι πονηραί see First Timothy Six). . . . YOU be the judge:  Flawed or NO logic, be on guard.  The acceptance of the truth of an assertion without evidence, be on guard.  —Use logic, evidence and reason.  Study, read many sources, ask lots and lots of questions that go against your confirmation biases.  Just keep asking: —How do you know that?  —How do you really know that?  Real Christianity (Real Truth) is messy and extremely nuanced.  It is so hard to take a piece of it, process it, batter and deep fry it and make a McNugget out of it.  But pastors think they have: “God hates divorce.”  “Jesus told me to tell you, you can’t remarry.”  “God hates gays.”  —or from the past: “Cosmetics are the devil’s paint!”  “Women must not work outside the home (—be totally dependent!)” . . . .et. al. and a thousand more.  Few human minds are able to peer outside the box they were born and raised in, that is the ceiling of their comprehension.  If you choose to, attempt to apply scholarship and logic, always.  I really believe the Creator of human intelligence wants you to be fully free.    
        What you write is so, so beautiful.  I was reading something else you wrote a number of blog posts back last night too and it bypassed my head and went right into my heart.  I just love heart talk like that!!!  I so hear you. . . . . . We just have to never shut down the strong, RATIONAL, critical reasoning abilities He gave us to survive.  Open hearts but even more: Open minds that are willing to question!!! . . .Praying, caring, loving, sharing. . . That is the power of the cross.  That is why Christ came, period.  The rest is often legalism and many misogynistic, xenophobic men —and some women too— trying to control women and even men instead of an all-loving, all-moral God/ Jesus. . . . Tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay.  The constant assertion of belief is an indication of fear.  As we say in court: “What can be asserted without proof, can be dismissed without proof.”  . . . Now, if you choose to, write more of those wonderful faith posts, I just love reading them! 🙂

    • Elizabeth on September 4, 2015 at 9:43 pm

      Oh, Vivienne, I am praying for you, lifting you before our Father that you will know His presence in power and practical direction and provision as you take one step at a time. It is so hard to break those old thought patterns but in Christ we can. Listen to His truth and follow Him. Believe Him. He loves you. He is carrying you. You are very special to Him. Never forget that.
      Lots of love, Elizabeth

      • Vivienne on December 28, 2015 at 7:59 pm

        Thank you Elizabeth. 🙂

  21. Elizabeth on September 5, 2015 at 5:33 pm

    Thank you, Aleea. God has done such work in my heart to free me from legalism and start looking at the thoughts and motives of my heart (Hebrews 4:12). It is no longer about my performance but what I want or am worshiping in that situation. What I cannot live without. As you say I am easily deceived because I am very good at convincing myself that what I want is what God wants. I am so dependent on Him to sort this out in my heart. Legalism, performance Christianity, was my response to abuse and my coping mechanism for 40 plus years so it has been a hard journey to change. However God is so jealous over my heart to change it into Jesus’ image that He is winning this struggle more and more.
    I would like to know more about your sources and books, readings, research into Biblical interpretation. I enjoy reading your processing of these marriage/women issues and would like to read more for myself to be grounded Biblically, real Christianity lived out that glorifies God and loves others well, by doing what is best for them and not what feels good.
    thank you for your encouragement, Aleea. It means a lot to me. For a long time I was “not aloud” to share my feelings and truth and I love this blog where that is possible. I understand the gospel now in powerful everyday practical ways that I never did before and I love to share it. You are a blessing to us all…

    • Janet on September 6, 2015 at 5:37 am

      Aleea, Would you be willing to tell us some of your fears? I don’t know your circumstance.

    • Aleea on September 6, 2015 at 7:52 am

      “However God is so jealous over my heart to change it into Jesus’ image that He is winning this struggle more and more.”  —That is so wonderful!
      “. . . .I understand the gospel now in powerful everyday practical ways that I never did before and I love to share it.”  —Wow, that is even more wonderful, that you share the best gift ever with others. 
      That makes me cry and become afraid all at the same time. . . . . If you only knew how much posting here has helped me.  I’m afraid of everything.  I know that sounds just crazy but I will just say it: I am afraid of Leslie Vernick.  I’m terrified of my counselor Dr. Cheryl Meier.  My mother so abused me that I guess my only hope was to act as if I wasn’t terrified but it is just that, acting.  I am so afraid . . . . .and my father just let it all happen.  He never encouraged or . . . . .or anything, —he did nothing.  Anyway, imagine being afraid of nice people posting verbiage on a blog?  This is crazy but I think it is because you are so nice and don’t really, seriously attack me like my mother always did.  When people seriously attack me, I know exactly what to do.  It structures and sharpens my thinking and I build better arguments but when they love on me, I fall apart.  Dr. Meier says for me it is the “—Oh, NO. . . .not the love moments” that totally disorient me.  The Lord, Cheryl and I are fixing that but it is NOT easy.  Posting on here has given me a voice too. . . . I’ll never be anything more than what Christ makes me and I’m so, so afraid.  I can act strong, that’s easy, but it is just acting. . . . I so love to pray, everything is possible when I am praying and everything just feels so right when I am praying too.
      “I would like to know more about your sources and books, readings, research into Biblical interpretation.”
      1) . . . So you know the areas that are of need/ concern/ interest for you but I like the Spectrum Multiview Book Series from InterVarsity Christian Press.  They offer all kinds of topics with which Christians disagree and they get the most knowledgeable people representing each view.  In the books, they give proponents of major positions an opportunity to make their case.  Each of the other contributors then offers a response.  For example: Five views on Divorce and Remarriage; The Historical Jesus Five Views (—that book has Dr. Robert M. Price, Dr. John Dominic Crossan, Dr. Luke Timothy Johnson, Dr. James D. G. Dunn and Dr. Darrell L. Bock —five extremely divergent views in a really hard hitting but totally understandable dialogue.  That book was 2011 Christianity Today Book Award winner!)  I think this helps us think more carefully about what we believe and appreciate more the perspectives of others.  Biblical Hermeneutics (How do you interpret the Bible) Five Views; Psychology & Christianity Five Views, —that book has become a standard introductory textbook for students and professors of Christian psychology, etc, etc.   
      2) . . . Also, you can go on Google or iTunes and search Premier Christian Radio (They have an iTunes site where all the podcasts and downloads are available for free download called: Unbelievable) – Justin Brierley engages in fundamental questions on Christianity and marriage with all kinds of scholars and openly discusses different opinions between Christians and even non-believers.  Premier consists of Premier Christian Media Trust, et. al.
      3) . . . Also, if you study how to think, not just what to think, that is very helpful too.  As you know, a fallacy is an incorrect argument in logic that undermines a position’s validity and soundness.  False dilemmas, ad hominem,‎ straw arguments, circular reasoning, red herrings, appeals to emotions, misleading vividness, flawed ‎syllogisms.  There are tons of resources on logical fallacies that explain and give examples of common errors in reasoning out there.  U-Tube has loads to watch on the subject too.
      Elizabeth, we are all experts at convincing ourselves that what we want is what God wants for us.  But the question is: Do I really want intimacy with the Lord God where He shows me myself and the world as He sees it?  The really incredible thing, as you know, is that God cares way more about us than we even care about ourselves.  WooHoo!!!!  Thank you Lord because I so need the care.
      Christ’s love to you Elizabeth!
      You ask: “Aleea, Would you be willing to tell us some of your fears? I don’t know your circumstance.” . . . —Certainly, see above and my previous posts on older threads in the last months —it’s all there just search Aleea on the post/ thread.  —I just tried to put some of my counseling notes out in my Gravatar (—when you click the sunflowers) for you to see my fears but it can’t handle the size.  I don’t know why.  I want to find a way to put all that out there in the Gravatar because it might help someone —or someone help me.  —Actually, they are my counselor’s notes that she gives me at the end of each session.  She takes a picture of them and e-mails them to me but those pictures take up lots of space.  They are not like a text file and I think that is why the Gravatar will not allow them to be loaded.  
      Much love to you!!!

    • janet on September 6, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      Aleea, Thanks for catching me up on the real you. Once we push aside the rhetoric and the protective shield of doctrine, there is a real living, berthing woman behind the words. Hooray! I would like to hear more about your feelings and less about your helps and reasoning.

      You have value just because God made you. I am so sorry for the little girls who had to develop tactics to survive her war zone of a childhood. You should have been loved all along, then you wouldn’t have needed those protective strategizes you have developed to feel safe.

      What would it take for you to feel safe enough to be yourself without the cover of rhetoric and scriptural principles to expound on? Have you set a goal to put down those weapons and live life as the rest of the world does? I bet we would all really like just plain, wonderfully made you!!

    • Aleea on September 7, 2015 at 7:25 am

      “What would it take for you to feel safe enough to be yourself without the cover of rhetoric and scriptural principles to expound on?”
      . . . A safe, judgement-free zone. . . .A palm tree garden oasis of spiritual knowledge and insight.  Not a place of circular arguments and standard pat spin but where sincere, real questions are tolerated and answered by people who, because of what they have been through, would seem to have a much lower probability of doing just that (—magical thinking). . . . . I am terrified because my mind has been so traumatized with fundamentalism that. . . .that I fear I will just write my own gospel and live my own scripture.  Once you empower yourself in one area, how do you keep that fire from burning into other areas?  The same hermeneutics that deconstructs divorce, remarriage, deconstructs so many other “truths.”  God’s truth is a pathless land.  Do you know what I am saying? . . . .Faith, honestly applied, can prove any claim, how would you ever come to the truth of one over the other if you are not special pleading?  If your faith is based on evidence and you are confident of the evidence then you do not need faith.  If you don’t have evidence and are going on faith, to me, you are swallowing intellectual dishonesty.  Swallowing intellectual dishonesty is not the same as submitting your will to the Savior.  Do you know what I am saying?  I have this “feeling in my heart” but the hearts of every other believer in every other faith tradition deceives them.  I feel something is wrong, I just don’t know what it is.  No one who I have met is honest enough to tell me.  What is the reality behind the “reality?”  —Do I really have any value if all I have are serious questions?  I feel and fear I don’t.  (re: Yes, you have value, just go have that “value” somewhere else.)  God is going to be there; it is we who have to work through our issues so we can be present to Him??? . . . .Thank you Janet, no matter how this works out.
      “. . . as a child my mother lived by her many fears and we were not allowed to ask questions. I took on many of her fears and bunch of my own.  As I have learned to walk by faith my fears have lost their power.  They may never leave me entirely but their power is gone now.”
      Thank you Elizabeth.  I am always so impressed with everyone here. . . . .Buddhism and Islam (but especially Buddhism) —As you may know, Buddhism has the worst hells imaginable.  (Yes Buddhism —if you choose, check it for yourselves.)  I am certain you, like me could easily read about their HELLS and sleep like a baby afterwards —I know I have.  Faith follows our culture and upbringing that is why their hells do not touch us?  They can’t touch us because we are outside of those bubbles?  I was terrorized as a child in school with the New Testament hell.  It is hard to ignore the NT hell when it is clearly in the texts, no matter how clean my heart is.  I so fear for others, how do you just let that go?  —Deconstruct it like divorce and remarriage?  . . . .The price of a ticket to heaven can’t be intellectual dishonesty. . .I know in my heart sounds better than I refuse to analytically consider this with logic and evidence because I am emotionally attached to my faith community and it is a package deal. . . . How do you know any of this is true? . . . The answer can’t be because the people at my church are very nice and really friendly.  The locomotive of New Testament textual research and archeology will not stop for persons (like me) astride the tracks.  Lord, I am willing to repent of anything but I don’t know how to repent of the TRUTH?  . . . .Faith, honestly applied, can prove any claim, how would you ever come to the truth of one over the other if you are not special pleading?       
      In kindness and real love,
      Lord God, —I have nothing to offer you but I beg you, please, may our darkness be broken into by inescapable light from You.  Lord, flow through our lives —And Lord let us —one day— awake, forever, in the likeness of You.

  22. Elizabeth on September 6, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you, Aleea. I am familiar with the five view books as I had to read one that my professor in counseling training class had written a view in. It was related to Biblical counseling vs. secular or psychological counseling or something like that. I started to learn to think critically and for myself when I was taking Precept Inductive Bible studies. they teach you how to ask questions of the text in order to glean meaning and purpose. I learned a lot because as a child my mother lived by her many fears and we were not allowed to ask questions. I took on many of her fears and bunch of my own. As I have learned to walk by faith my fears have lost their power. They may never leave me entirely but their power is gone now. The power of the cross that defeated all sin has taken their place. I am learning to live very close to that power source.
    I will pray for you in this journey as well and thank you for all your prayers for us…

  23. Lisa on September 6, 2015 at 4:34 pm


    Are you still married? If so, do you still live with your abuser?

    I’m confused on your previous post. You said, “After his humbling and spiritual warfare victory, he changed.” I took that to mean he no longer abused you. But then you answered me that he continued to abuse you that you just enjoyed life around the abuse.

    While you have upheld your vows, he broke them years ago. God is not calling you to suffer under abuse. You have the means to get away; it seems unwise to stay.

    • Melody on September 6, 2015 at 5:22 pm

      Thanks for your patience Lisa. Apparently I am not a very good story teller. My H has been in counseling before, during and after trying to kill me. The biggest change came after the exorcism which occurred after, the attempted murder. He did change and remains changed today. He continues counseling as a safety measure. I read, go to lectures, and do enriching things to keep myself fed and refreshed.

      Thanks for listening to my story. I agree that one can never trust anyone who has tried to hurt you even if they change and repent. It is just common sense to remain on guard. I am not afraid to die so fear doesn’t have a hold on me.

      When I read some of the posts on the blog, I think it is great that people who have struggled in destructive marriages have a support group of cyber friends who understand and can relate to their issues. Yet, I am a little different from many in the group because I did not love my husband, did not want him sexually, did not feel lonely, and did not want to fix him. From the night he was abusive on our honeymoon. I thought, Oh, Sh.. What did I just get myself into? The charming man I dated became a terrorist husband. I decided then, that I would find a way to survive and thrive. I think it has been easier for me than most because I never expected him to meet my emotional needs and I didn’t believe his rants. I have been told that my adaptation to trauma is similar to POWs, some have the personality for it and some just break.

      Do I wish my story was different? Yes! But it is my story and God has used it mightily. I am thankful that I had a life so challenging, that I needed to test and rely on God for my very breath. I like who I am. I have character and hutzpah.

      • Lisa on September 6, 2015 at 6:06 pm

        Melody thank you for making your experience clearer.

  24. Maria on September 6, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Melody, I replied to you in a thread above.

    I have a question for you- how can you thrive if you fear he will rape you in your sleep. Are you being foolish by staying in such danger. Jesus and Paul both “ran” away from danger. They didn’t take the stance that they were not afraid and God would protect them no matter what.

  25. Leslie Vernick on September 6, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks Aleea.

  26. Patricia on September 7, 2015 at 10:46 am

    He’s the laziest person I’ve ever been with. He’s passive aggressive and a jerk. Sorry. Have to vent. Ty.

  27. Elizabeth on September 7, 2015 at 3:07 pm

    Aleea I am not sure exactly what you are trying to say so please help me understand if my response does not relate.

    My faith that breaks the power of fear is faith in a real Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. Not a community, feeling or my own understanding. As you know that is all based in the Biblical Scriptures. That is our TRUTH. If I do not understand it all and I do not, I trust God by His Spirit within me to reveal it to me in time as I dig into the Scriptures, His Word.
    I also heard those stories of hell in Sunday School and probably responded to invite Jesus into my heart many times out of fear, to make sure I would not go there. It is sad because there is a greater message of God’s love that saves me forever from that hell. Either because of my childish mind or the teacher’s incomplete understanding of the gospel I did not fully understand God’s message to me in Jesus. When I realized that Jesus’ words “It is finished” meant that all my sin (past, present and future) was forgiven always, I knew I was free from sin’s power and presence. God never holds my sin against me because it is already forgiven 2000 years ago at the cross. When I repent I am already forgiven. That is the good news for believers today.

    Yes, the NT message of hell is true but not because God sends me there but because outside of Christ I deserve it. He sent Jesus to pay hell’s punishment once for all and that is the good news we have for unbelievers today.

    I am not sure what you meant by needing to repent of TRUTH. Please help to understand if I have misunderstood you.
    With love,

    • Aleea on September 7, 2015 at 6:07 pm

      Thank you so, so much, that is very helpful and very honest.
      Listen, I just want to make this one point (below) but I am addressing the Lord more than challenging you.  I want you to know that.  Maybe these questions belong only between me and Him but maybe it will help someone realize we all have thoughts like this.  People always send me e-mails about how naïve I am.  Maybe, but I want them to know I really do try to see the issues.
      Lord, why do we have what appears to be such a massive failure to communicate.  Timeless truth means to me that we don’t need text deconstruction to fix the culturally, psychologically unacceptable “hard” parts.  You say hell is real but look at the warning of hell, it is not even culturally available in churches anymore.  If it is real why do the majority who represent You not even mention it when they used to ALL THE TIME?  Is this because people have figured out that it is abuse and that people will agree to anything to avoid going to hell where they can count on being tortured for eternity? . . . . Lord, now we have divorce and remarriage, for all kinds of things, they are okay but why are people only learning about this after 1,900 years? . . . . What’s the number one principle of good relationships?  Good, solid communication, right?  It is not carried out on the back of secretive, hinty, mystical, hiddenness and yet the Bible is a vast book of puzzles and mysteries and Lord, I am sorry, but frankly, confusion.  Lord, we have so many variant views because everyone can find their own “proofs.”  I just don’t understand that and maybe we are not supposed to understand but it just seems like too many hidden plans and mysteries.  Why?  Lord don’t You really want us to know?  Why hide the real meaning and then put people into hell or let them have their lives ruined because they thought: God hates divorce.  What we seem to have is a failure to communicate.  Lord, you know I love You and only want to do Your will but I see too many lives shattered to bits because of poor communication.  Lord, how many people have died because the Bible didn’t say, flat out, straight up:  “You can’t own other human beings, period, not ever, for any reason (slaves).”  It looks like Christianity just floats along with the culture.  I don’t understand that.  Aren’t these timeless truths?  When I read on this blog that someone has been a slave in a marriage for 30 years and never knew they could leave, it really, really makes me wonder.  That’s the only point.  It is so easy to blame everything on us Lord but you know we are nothing but clay and You have the ability to communicate in a crystal clear fashion.
      Elizabeth, I love you and even if it said in the Bible not to love you, I would deconstruct that text, no matter how many layers down I had to go, and still find a way to justify loving you and that’s the point.

  28. Elle on September 7, 2015 at 3:49 pm

    My fears? Everything. I don’t remember being afraid like this before my abuse. It kind of came on and became stronger as time went by. I am 8 months out from separating and they are still there and very strong. It seems that no matter how hard I try or how hard I pray, they don’t leave. They are there right under the surface. I can feel them trying to surface to the point I get chills and tingling in my hands. I am told it will get better with time, but I even fear that it won’t. Fear of fear is the worst of all!

    • Elizabeth on September 7, 2015 at 7:58 pm

      Hi Elle. It sounds like your fears are paralyzing you. That’s what they do and it is very scary. That is what I hear you describing. You cannot think clearly or even know what to do to stop them. That is an awful place to be. I was not that severe but I experienced the same feelings especially when I went to counseling years ago with my h.
      It took a long time and I had to face each fear head on. With the help of my counselor and support team I saw the lie behind each fear. I had believed that lie as my truth. Over time and total dependence on the Holy Spirit I have been able to replace the lies with the truth from God. It is true what Jesus said. THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE. Believe and embrace it for yourself, Elle. I am praying for you as you embark on this journey.

    • Elizabeth on September 7, 2015 at 9:17 pm

      Hi Elle,
      Fears fighting to surface into your consciousness all the time. That is scary and so unsettling for you everyday, Elle. Fear captures and paralyzes your mind so that you cannot think much less act. I hurt for you.

      Even though my fears did not get to that point they were just as paralyzing for me. Especially when I had a counseling session with my h. or any contact with him. I would write Scripture on 3×5 cards so I would not forget the truth.
      Over a long period of time and with the help of my counselor and support team I was able to face each of my fears head on and uncover the lie behind it that I had been constantly thinking and believing. That lie was what fed my fear and paralyzed me. I have able to slowly replace each lie with the truth of what God says to me and about me. I am learning that Jesus was right when He said THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE!
      It is amazing but a very slow process. I am praying for you, Elle, as you embark on this journey to truth and freedom. You are loved and very special…

      • Elizabeth on September 7, 2015 at 9:18 pm

        I have been able…

        • Elle on September 7, 2015 at 9:34 pm

          Thank you, Elizabeth :). Thank you so much for your prayers and understanding. I too, hope and pray that one day through God’s truth, I will be totally set free from the lies and be able to live in the freedom the He so freely gives to us.

          • Elizabeth on September 7, 2015 at 9:48 pm

            It is possible, Elle, because Christ is at work in you… That is my hope and assurance for you, dear sister.

          • Elizabeth on September 8, 2015 at 7:37 am

            Elle, Sorry about the double post. I had sent the first one from my ipad and thought it did not go through so I wrote another one.

          • Elle on September 8, 2015 at 8:53 am

            No worries 🙂

    • Leonie on September 9, 2015 at 4:13 am

      I am not sure Elle if this is an option for you or if you have done this already. Sometimes if you are really stuck your Dr. can help prescribe some medication to help you to begin to reduce your anxiety and help you function again. It is not for everyone but it can help as you go through a really difficult time. It is important for you and your children for you to get help to get healthy inspite of the fear. It is scary to be on your own but you will find God to be faithful and he will help you. It is better to be away from the abuse and figuring it out on your own with God’s help than to be in a prison of abuse being degraded and mistreated daily with your children witnessing it. You will look back with pride after awhile as you realize you figured out where the A/C fuse was or successfully changed the lawnmower oil or called the repairman to fix the plumbing leak and it wasn’t as expensive as you had imagined or to cope with whatever other daily things are going on in your life! God tells is in his word that he daily bears our burdens. Take it to him, he knows, he cares & he will help you in ways you never thought possible!

  29. Elizabeth on September 7, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Oh Aleea, you are precious. I love your raw honesty with God. I know He is giving you answers and wisdom as you need them. It gives me permission also to be so honest with Him. I am learning that is what He desires.

    I love you too and thankfully that is very clear in God’s Word for us. As He loved us we can love Him and one another. No deconstructering necessary.
    Blessings, my dear sister…

    • Rose Jackson on September 26, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      Hey, the struggle to understand God is what it is all about, right? I am nowhere near the degree of intellectual development that is evident in Aleea or Elizabeth, but I do remember that the word “Isreal” means to struggle with God. Is that correct Aleea?

  30. Debby on September 8, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Leslie, Re your question about what is your greatest fear: Mine is that we will never get out of this cycle of fear and have a marriage relationship that is well bonded.

  31. Aleea on September 8, 2015 at 2:16 pm

    Thank you and I so appreciate and am so thankful for your prayers, nothing is better or more valuable to me.  I love prayer, unlike the Bible, it seems to be the one thing everyone can agree on.  The amount of mental power spent trying to interpret Bible passages would have probably cured cancer by now.   . . . . I can only assume fears are a way to freeze ourselves, like spraying on dry ice.  Maybe we think if we paralyze ourselves, we will not do anything “wrong” like we were always doing with our abusers (—for example my mother).  But the fear of people just strangles the life out of us.  We can’t please anywhere near everybody.  Many will always think we are wrong.  I was taught in my Christian High School that when man’s terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God.  Obviously, I am not sure, but I think fear of something is at the root hate for others, and hate within eventually destroys the hater.  I will concede that the fear of the Lord at least gets it down to an audience of One.  One fear cures another, hmmm?  —Anyway, what may really help is getting away from navel gazing and complaining about our husbands [—Obviously, I am bracketing off emotionally unavailable, narcissistic personalities and various mental disorders] and helping others.  If we got out there and helped others (—safe houses, serious therapy, job skills, legal protection) along with our husbands, we probably won’t even have these rarified issues. 

  32. Elizabeth on September 8, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Thank you, Aleea. “Fear of people just strangles the life out of us.” How true this is my friend and at the root of keeping me isolated. When this happens to me I am deaf to God and miss His grace and love for that person. The antidote for fear of man is to grow in the fear of the LORD. Psalm 34:11 is my favorite on this subject. “Come you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.” My Father calls me to Himself to teach me to fear Him, worship Him instead of my idols. This is the healthy fear that cures all the others. You are right!
    One of the ways I have learned to stay well is to get out and be involved in others lives. Since we have moved to a different state I am just getting to know people and do not have any friends yet to do this with. Although it is coming along.
    Blessings and love to you all…

  33. Caroline Abbott on September 14, 2015 at 8:48 pm

    Great suggestions Leslie. I like that you used the “reap what you sow” verse. Too many people in the church suggest the abuse victim keep giving “good things” to the abuser who keeps sowing “bad things.” This doesn’t work in the natural world, and it really doesn’t work in the relationship world either, no matter how many people wish it would. It just brings more abuse down on the victim’s head as the abuser thinks everything is OK when it is really NOT OK.
    Nice job!

  34. Debby on September 17, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    Excellent article! It is a culmination of all I have learned in the past year. 27 years of verbal and emotional abuse. Tried everything to no avail. Tried to leave a few times, half-heartedly (which is worse than none!)protecting our kids, being manipulated, guilt-ridden, verses thrown at me out of context, such confusion, anguish, uuuuggghhhh! But finally, I began studying domestic abuse. I literally studied non-stop for a year. I stopped going to church counseling (most of the time they just do not know what they are talking about. they are not educated on the dynamics of abuse and can make a situation worse and for some, dangerous.) After a year, I was finally strong enough and felt the Lord was giving me peace. I separated. No date. No thought of when I would, if ever, return. (I did not, however, engage in any other relationships. That was not even on my radar and I think would have just complicated matters immensely! I needed time to heal and assess my options) In that year, God healed me, strengthened me, made me new and whole. I had to get to the point where I literally didn’t care if I pleased anyone. I knew what I knew what I knew and I was like granite. It was empowering and filled me with peace. I also had to go through all the anger I had been forced to conceal for 3 decades and the grief of “wasting” 3 decades and all that goes into dealing with the trauma of long-term, chronic abuse. And my situation turned out great. My husband began changing during that year. Even though I didnt care about US, I still cared about HIM but had no relationship with him. None. I gave him stuff to read as I came across good articles (many from Leslie’s website!) but I had NO expectations of him at all. If he read them, and they helped him become a better person, great. But if he didnt or it didnt make a difference I really didnt care. I was through pleasing people and certainly through with accepting abuse. After a year, he was showing me consistent changes, true, heartfelt remorse (that’s tricky ladies! We so want to reconcile and be thought of as “loving, caring, unselfish women” but without true repentance, you are wasting your time; nothing will have changed and you will be back to square one, dealing with abuse.) Separation worked for us. I should have done it sooner but I was ignorant and scared and shackled with the “pleaser” mentality. Now I am free, strong, I can let him make mistakes but he knows he better own up and truly apologize and he does now. It has been a very long, painful road, but I can honeslty say God has helped me forgive him completely. One of the biggest truths that made a difference for me was understanding the difference between forgiveness and fellowship. Forgiveness is for ME (the forgiver) and is unconditional. Fellowship MUST be earned. You are casting your pearls before swine to offer fellowship to a person who is consistently and persistently abusing you. You are HELPING them to continue sinning, which makes you a party to it. When I finally understood this concept of earned fellowship (which we are very familiar with and exercise in every other type of relationship EXCEPT marriage, the most intimate one?!!) it completely changed my perspective. No more guilt. No more confusion. No more being manipulated. No more trying to get church people to “understand” or “agree” with me (they won’t becasue they have no clue how destructive abuse is. They look at “marriage problems” from their own experience and can’t fathom anyone not being able to deal with the “regular issues and difficulties of marriage” not understanding that abuse is NOT a “difficult marriage” but a tyranny with Bible verses used to back it up.) I am blessed to have a “new” husband who saw the light and has made radical changes. I am blessed that God healed me from years of pain and anguish. And I will encourage you to do everything you can do to become as educated as possible. Then your choices will be clear. But I will never again judge anyone for separating or even divorcing as I know only a miracle and real change on BOTH our parts (not just mine!!) saved my marriage. Get educated. God will set a lamp unto your feet and a light unto your path.

    • Elizabeth on September 17, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      HI Debbie,
      Thank you for your encouragement. I have made some new changes to what I will tolerate and not tolerate and it has been very hard with no real repentance. I needed to be reminded again that there is no new relationship without true repentance from the heart with heart deep changes. I have finally come to the place where I have accepted that there is no marriage and no relationship and have changed my thinking and therefore my responses. I have a new sense of freedom to be honest and speak honestly in each situation. I have no expectations and that is freedom in itself.

  35. Vivienne on September 18, 2015 at 2:34 am

    Thank you Debbie for your well written account of your experience. I resonate with all you have said. I am in the process of detaching myself from my angry abusive husband. I have two teenage boys, both are affected by our toxic marriage – this hurts the most.

    I am encouraged that your separation brought your husband to his senses, allowing the Holy Spirit to do his work and bring forth fruit in his life and your relationship, praise God.

    On the one hand you say you separated and the other that you gave your husband articles to read, so you didn’t go “no contact” but remained in touch with him.

    I have, in past years, given articles to my husband to read but he either does not read them, scoffs at them, or just doesn’t get it. I sometimes would copy him UCB’s Word for Today but he asked me to stop doing that – so I did.

    He gives me stuff too – usually from a poor understanding of scripture, and definitely not from the perspective of abuse! He refuses to see he has done anything wrong – it’s a long standing issue with him.

    So I am now moving toward a physical separation, which looks bad for me because my husband has a heart complaint and of course he lets everyone know this, plays on it, milks it for it is worth, even fakes a funny turn (like he is about to faint…but only I see it for what it is…play acting to gain sympathy so he can paint me in a bad light. I am so tired of his antics.

    Like you, the lights came on when I began reading about domestic abuse, initially I was shocked to discover I was being abused so that I later became angry; both with him and myself for not realising it earlier. More counselling was sought but of course he ended the sessions by not wanting to continue and yet still expected to continue our relationship, even planning our future retirement and it was at that point I pulled the plug – pointing out we had no relationship but what we had was toxic.

    Six weeks ago my husband was encouraging me to leave, I separated myself to another bedroom and only talked when necessary. Some days he would be hostile to me, make threats to manipulate me, I was unmoved, I remained calm. In the last week to ten days he has mellowed, he is still unrepentant but is now saying he feels dejected, daunted by my imminent departure, doesn’t know how he will cope without me, can’t envisage being without me – I remain unmoved. I am not seeing anything like remorse for his years of abuse – he still blames me as the reason why he has anger.

    I experience gut wrenching moments, especially when memories of his good and great behaviour invade my mind but I can’t allow these to stop me making a stand now. The biggest problem I see is that, despite my blocking his plans for “our retirement” (I am preventing him selling property to invest elsewhere – property I need in order to escape), he has even attempted to control my departure. Therefore, I am not even sure he sees this as me making a stand – but rather him making one toward me which I fear bolsters his view that he has done nothing wrong. I would add here that his plan for “our retirement” was a thin veil covering his need for yet another project – one I considered held immense risk and one I was not willing to make because it would block my route to freedom.

    I have confronted his behaviour but he remains blind to himself. However, when he sees the same behaviour in our youngest son he admonishes him, word for word what I have said to my husband.about his own behaviour. My husbands even displays shock that our son would behave in such a way! God is not mocked, a man reaps what he sows. We are all reaping my husbands poor behaviour.

    I hope in a year’s time, I will see evidence of change – but I will not hold my breath..

    • Remedy on September 18, 2015 at 9:42 am

      Debby & Vivienne….thank you for your very articulate posts. Both reveal that if a work is to be done, it can only be done by God through the power of the Holy Spirit. In some cases, He saves the person and in some He does not.

      Always SO humbled and grateful for a place of solace with believers who ‘get it’ and willing to share what they have gone through. No ongoing counseling could have provided me such a wealth of knowledge and comfort of shared experience, though having a good counselor who ‘gets it’ would be priceless to me now.

      Thanks, as always, to Leslie and other blogsite groups for being here helping us to sort out and navigate these continuously murky waters.

  36. Ruth on September 18, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    What do I do when I husband gets into his moods where he is just so angry about his life, that he gets angry about everything! He takes it out on the kids and I by belittling me, degrading, calling me names, swearing, yelling. He makes cutting remarks that attack us as who we are.
    He always apologizes the next day, but they’re always attached to his pity party of his life. He was verbally and emotionally abused by his dad as a child. So he’s angry about that, he’s angry about where he is in life now, that he doesn’t have as much as others around him. He afraid, he’s questioning his faith.
    So all that gets kinda attached to his apology and it feels likes he’s saying he can’t help his anger.
    When I tell him I won’t tolerate the angry swearing and name calling, he thinks I’m expecting him to be perfect.
    I tell him I understand why he’s angry, I have spent countless hours trying to help him sort through childhood garbage and it’s affects on his current life. But I matter too and he can’t take it out on me like that. Even when I make mistakes and make him angry, name calling is never ok.
    Please help me figure out how to change this cycle. It happens really badly at least 2-3 times a month. I stay calm, say as little as possible, go to another room. But a big thing for me is Do I have sex with him? Even after his half hearted apology, I feel like taking se away completely until I see more lasting changes. Sex just makes me feel like a doormat.
    I’m tired of feeling anxious, of crying myself to sleep.

    • Debby on September 22, 2015 at 10:02 pm

      Leslie wrote an excellent article where she was answering a question about “do I have sex with him when he treats me so badly.” (Leslie Vernick please tell us where to find that one again!) I grappled with that for 30 years and it was awful. Always feeling used (even though sex was the only time he actually was kind and giving) but you know, when you are treated so badly all the rest of the time, you feel so used as if having sex is the only time you are worthy of care and kindness. As I learned about abuse, I changed my whole perspective. If he was acting toward me in a manner consistent with a loving, caring marriage, then I would put in whatever effort I needed to to make it work. But what I CALLED a marriage, was NOT a marriage so I stopped acting like I was married to him. This settled the sex issue. I would not have sex with someone I wasnt married to. I found in my situation that doing things half-way hoping he would “get the message” hadnt worked for years so why I was still doing it? I got the whole “super angry and ugly” for a few months (trying to scare me), which slowly changed to “really sad and rejected and I just feel like you dont love me anymore” stuff (trying to invoke guilt, which I would always counter with “Love? why is that word coming out of your mouth? What does love even mean to you? YOu have said I love you many times and yet your actions are anything but so I ask you, what is love?” and that shut him up because he didnt have an answer. What he wanted was the “love” that means I give in to whatever he wants. Love is patient, love is kind and he has never been that to me or our kids.) and when none of that worked (like it always had in the past and that was MY issue) he slowly began actually listening, learning and doing some changing. Even now, 2 months in to reconciling, I will call him out on his behaviors and what I am looking for is listening, contriteness, understanding, NOT excuses and justifying his behaviors and so far, he has done that. Not all abusers will and each person has to decide what they need to do for their own situation. All the stories I have read over the past 2 years are filled with (mostly) women who have given it their ALL, for YEARS to no avail. It’s time for them to do something bold, something different, and not feel guilty about it. God loves each person. He does NOT condone abuse! (I would not give this counsel to women who are in physical danger. They have ONE option, to do whatever it takes, however long it takes to make a plan, and get out, and take the kids with them. My heart breaks for those who are NOT able to do this without police intervention.)

      • Ruth on September 23, 2015 at 12:40 am

        So, no sex. Also did you do only things you wanted, or did you also try to do things for him? Did you try to improve your marriage. Or did you just live as if you were single? How did this work when he’d get angry and be yelling?

        • Debby on September 23, 2015 at 12:47 pm

          In my situation, I was able to move in to another room. I was like granite. When i say that, I dont mean I was ugly or looking for a fight. I just did not respond to ANYTHING he said or did that did not apply directly to household/children needs. So I still would tell him what was for dinner or whether he would need to cook or buy dinner but I did not go out of my way to cook what he wanted or ask him what he wanted. If he did not want what I cooked, he could fix his own. ANytime he would get mad or use guilt or any trick, I would just say, in a very calm voice, never yelling in anger becasue I really didnt care at that point, “Then do it yourself. Im not afraid of you anymore. You are using manipulation and it wont work. Cook your own food.” I did not try to “improve my marriage.” That is what i HAD been doing for 3 decades. You cannot improve a “marriage” that is not a marriage but an abusive relationship. Only the abuser can “fix” this. He DID get angry and yelled sometimes. I was granite. I would speak very calmly and give him the boundaries. I would say “I am going to my room. You may not come in. I am not discussing this issue or any issue with you. You need to get professional help. If you cannot abide by these parameters, I will need to find somewhere else to live. I am fully prepared to do that. It is your choice but I will not allow you to continue to yell at me.” and he would finally stop. After him doing this every 2-3 weeks for a few months, he switched tactics (since that wasnt working!) and began with the crying, “I feel like you dont care” to which I replied, “This is not about me caring or not caring. This is about you abusing. I will not reconcile until you get help and show me by your actions for a long period of time that you have changed.” I read a “list of manipuative tricks” that all abusers use, it was either from Leslie or cryingoutforjustice.com or hurtbylove.com. These were invaluable as they allowed me to SEE exaclty what he was doing (abusers can REALLLY sound sincere!) and it helped me to stay strong. My prayer every day was “Lord, help me stay strong, until it is safe.” And after a year, I was seeing consistent change and I knew in my heart that now was the time, no guilt, no hesistation, i knew it was time. It does NOT happen that way with all abusers, or even most of them. I was fully prepared to make a permanent move anytime I felt I needed to. When I stopped feeling guilty and stopped listening to him and others try and give me a guilt trip, when I stopped trying to get people to AGREE with me or understand what I had gone through and what I was doing, all the pressure in my soul just stopped. It is the TRAPPED “I MUST take this to be a good wife” lie that keeps us in bondage. I stopped believing that. A marriage has very specific parameters of care and respect shown to BOTH spouses. If only one is doing what they are to do, real marriage, real relationship cannot take place. I began to ask “If he was a friend, would I EVER subject myself to this?” Marriage should be the same. Now, I certainly would be wiling to WAIT longer for improvement before cutting him loose (as I would NOT do with a “friend) because there is so much more repercussions for everyone involved (kids, family, etc) but nobody HAS to live like that. Most of the women I read here and on other sites have certainly not just “thrown theri marriage away on a whim” but have put in YEARS of anguish and pain to try and “fix” their “marriage.” Yes, God hates divorce. It is ugly and negatively affects all involved. We ALL should hate divorce. But God also hates abuse. It is ugly and negatively affects all involved. The difference is NOTHING good can come of subjecting yourself to ABUSE. Good CAN come from separating or divorcing if necessary. There is a chance for redemption (healing, wholeness, a new start etc) whereas you will NEVER find that as long as abuse is present.

          • Leslie Vernick on September 24, 2015 at 10:09 pm

            So when you stopped dancing the old way – as I’ve said the dance changed. You’re right – it doesn’t always change positively, but time and lots of time will show the fruit.

    • Debby on September 22, 2015 at 10:12 pm

      I finally got to the point where I realized my job in life was not to solve all his problems or make him happy. That I had just as much value as he did. I started to get as educated about abuse as I could. Then a picture began to emerge where I was able to fit my own situation into the vast abuse continuum, how serious it was, what practical steps I needed to take. I got to the point where I was ready to just do them no matter what ANYBODY else had to say. I didnt ask anyone anymore for their advice, support, nothing. THEY did not live in my situation. Only God really knew everything so He was the only one I listened to. He led me to verses about what to do with an angry person and verse after verse said FLEE. I began to understand, “If the angry person is your spouse, does that change God’s counsel? Why should it?! Am I LESS valuable to Him because I MARRIED someone who abuses?! It seems so obvious now but I think of all those years where I listened to others twist scripture that kept me chained to an abuser. When God finally showed me what HE says, I was set free and was able to set serious, long-term consequences that have made a huge difference in me AND my marriage for the better. I have to say, I changed first. It was just different than I ever understood the “You cant change him, you can only change you” mantra I had thrown at me for years. The way they meant it was “since you cant change him, stop complaining and focusing on his abuse and start seeing the good in him.” But I have learned that when abuse is present, the “good” doesn’t matter at all.I had to become strong and value myself, the abuse had to go for any chance at reconciling, and THEN I can “see the good” in him, not before because it is a moot point.

      • Ruth on September 23, 2015 at 12:38 am

        How did you manage to live in the same house as him still? And did it affect the children(if you have any).

        • Debby on September 23, 2015 at 12:56 pm

          I dont recommend the in the same house for most people. It was what I TRIED and it happened to work for me. Had it NOT worked, if I was too taken in by his manipuation, i would have moved elsewhere but I was granite. Read my post above for more details about how I actually handled the day to day. My sons were both living at home, were teens, one in college and one in high school. It did not disrupt their schedules or lives as living with abuse had. I wrote them letters to tell them what I had learned and what my plan was. I think they were happy I was finally “dong something” about the abuse.I did not however wait for their approval. Sometimes, decisions will not NOT hurt someone innocent, no matter how you try but it certainly couldnt be worse than what they had been subjected to all those years. I was very clear with my parameters to my spouse. I let him know “if you EVER try to use these kids against me, we will leave. You are their dad. You certainly may tell them what you want them to do but you will NOT make a decision without discussing it with me and you will NOT yell at them again. If this will not work for you, we will live elsewhere.” His goal was to keep me there so he could work his manipulative tricks. The problem for him was that I did not fall for them anymore. So I got what I wanted: staying in my home, taking care of my kids and chickens, etc, and he did NOT get what he wanted: controlling me in any way. If it had not worked like that, I would have lived elsewhere. I hope that helps. If you are still living in fear of him, this will not work. I was no longer afraid, not even a little bit.

  37. monica on September 22, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    Thank you for this question and Leslie’s answers and thank you all for also contributing. So much I have learned here. My situation resonates with this part of point 7 in Leslie’s response “Sometimes the abuse continues throughout the separation and end of a marriage through legal harassment, child custody disputes, and withholding of finances.”

    My ex-initiated divorce when I said NO to dancing the destructive dance with him and we have been separated for 5 years and divorced for 3 years . He was not happy with the court order and so he fired his lawyer and enrolled himself in law school and he made a number of appeals even to the supreme court to no avail. So it has been a challenge to keep on interacting with my ex-husband —we have small children between us and a parenting plan. So there is room for disagreement now and then and it is worse when we disagree or I challenge him with things he is doing wrong, it will be a response of disparaging emails from him, calling the police to my home unnecessarily, behaviors that are so upsetting and traumatizing to me and our children. I am still under pressure when I interact with him when we disagree. I am not sure what consequences or boundaries…..if this is the right thing for this situation right now…..to implement.

  38. Ruth on September 23, 2015 at 12:36 am

    Just tonight he lost it on our 10 year old son. They were building in the garage and husband was patient until the son made the same mistake 3 times because he was in a hurry and not trying to do his best. He was big following instructions. And then i could hear from in the house, my husban yelling and swearing at my son, he said “are you fricken stupid?” Among other things. I went outside to see what was going on but didn’t say anything. Hubby sent son to bed and then was mad at me because I didn’t support him. Apparently I should have gotten upset at my son as well and then later in private calmly told my husband I didn’t approve of how he handled it. He spent 2 hours putting me down, telling me I never make him proud, he doesn’t respect me. I don’t home school or parent right, I never do it the way he wants me too.
    I have for most of our marriage felt like I was never good enough for him. And when I tell him so, he says he doesn’t even undersand that and what I mean by it. He’s a perfectionist and I always feel like if I don’t do things his way it’s not good enough and I must not respect him.
    I told him I want him to move out but he isn’t taking me seriously. I work as a dayhome provider and I don’t know how I can leave, and keep working. I feel stuck. But I am so tired of the yelling and swearing.
    I feel like I am always trying to improve our relationship, but it’s never the right thing. He says I don’t do anything to improve our marriage.
    He keeps saying nothing he ever does works. He gives up.
    I’ve never told anyone about our hard marrige but I feel like I have to, I just don’t know who. I’d feel like I was betraying him if I told my sister or parents. But I’m about to snap, I’ve lost all joy for life.

  39. Vivienne on September 23, 2015 at 3:32 am

    Hi Ruby, well done for sharing here. it is important you confide in someone you trust. If you feel there is no one like that you know personally, find a women’s shelter for contacts. The longer you keep your toxic situation to yourself, the longer it will take to be resolved; this was my mistake. The first time we went to marriage counselling together, my H asked me not to share with family and I went along with his request because I wanted to safeguard his reputation…..big mistake! In hindsight my life could have been so much better had I told my family about his behaviour in 2002 so that 13 years later I am only now telling people! 13 years is a long time to waste on someone who is abusive. We must commit ourselves to bring whatever is in darkness into the light. Fear will prevent you moving forward so you must also overcome by doing whatever needs to be done despite any anxiety. Get help for your children’s sake.

    • Vivienne on September 23, 2015 at 3:33 am

      Sorry Ruth, I misread your name.

    • Ruth on September 23, 2015 at 9:40 am

      Thank you for your response. You know he hasn’t always been this bad, and we’ve had so many good memories too. So I think I must be too sensitive. I know I’m not perfect and make many mistakes too. But when my 13 year old daughter started asking why I let him treat me this way and why I haven’t divorced him yet….well I realized it’s affecting the kids more than I thought.
      I have a large family, but I think I’ll start by telling one sister and then go from there. The environment in our home is just too toxic.

      • Debby on September 23, 2015 at 2:17 pm

        “making mistakes” and “not perfect either” is not the same thing as “being abusive. That is called “sin-leveling” and it is a trick of manipulators and those ignorant about the devastating effects of all types of abuse. Don’t buy into that false guilt trip. All of us sin, but not all sin has the same consequences or repercussions. If it did, then we would have no need for jails or courts if “all sin is the same” and is treated equally. Whenver my spouse would try this one on me “youre not perfect” and “you make mistakes too” I respond with “My imperfections cause inconvenience, and at times, frustration, it does not DAMAGE you to your core. This isnt about my imperfections. This is about YOUR abuse.” Call it what it is.

      • Rose Jackson on September 26, 2015 at 3:46 pm

        Ruth, you have reminded me how finally telling my Aunt about what I have been hiding from my family helped me so much. She understood perfectly and it enabled me to stop pretending that my marriage was fairly perfect.
        There was a lot of shame I felt at first, but now, with prayer, scripture reading, Leslie’s counsel, and others like her, I just feel like a survivor. You’ll get there, just value your gut more, you’re NOT too sensitive.

  40. Ruth on September 23, 2015 at 10:21 am

    I recieved the following text from him shortly after he arrived at work.
    “I can’t seem to do everything God and people ask of me… I long to spend quality time with our kids instead I lose it. Going to a therapist doesn’t help. It’s like I have no idea what grace is. I was thinking about my actions lately and it’s stupid, I just seem to have no grace; I’m sorry for losing it on you. I’m tired of failing like that. Not sure what else to say…”

    What do I do with that?? He had similar apology SO many times! And yet I feel like I hve to show grace and forgiveness now, even though I got up this morning to make plans to leave him and in the meantime live as if we’re not married.

    • Debby on September 23, 2015 at 11:50 am

      It is his chronic, ongoing ACTIONS, not his apologies that need to drive your decision. If his actions don’t change, his apologies, while having meaning, will not do anything to solve the real problem and that is not your problem, that is his.

      • Ruth on September 23, 2015 at 12:19 pm

        You’re right! He’s always sorry, he means it. He wants desperately to change but nothing is. I’ve been asking him what his plans I action are to implement change, but he has none.
        My problem is that I am a deep feeling person. Problem is I end up trying up fix him. To fix us/our life. But I can’t. Only he can fix himself. If I say I want him to leave he thinks I am not a good Christian wife because I am not forgiving him. But I have to think of the kids and I.

        • Debby on September 23, 2015 at 1:09 pm

          You have to stop caring what he thinks. Or believing the lie that to NOT subject yourself to abuse is somehow “unCHristian.” Jesus only allowed himself to be abused one time for redeptive purposes. In many other instances, yo u see Him “fleeing” and “wiping the dust from his feet” and flipping over the moneychanger tables. He did not TAKE ABUSE, nor advocate that others do that. I would also read up on the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation.The fact that you dont want a brick to hit him over the head and actually CARE about him is proof positive that you have forgiven. Maybe its time to stop worrying about how HE feels about these problems he is causing and let yourself BE angry and grieve all the lost time trying to “fix” it. Forgiveness will come easily and like a cool breeze when we are allowed to BE angry when ANYONE would be angry instead of stuffing it and feeling guilty that we even feel anger! It is like asking a person to drink poison and not be sick. Does NOT make sense and that is why it FEELS so awful to live with abuse. Reconciliation must be EARNED if real relationship is to occur. I would also recommend a phone consult with Cindy Burrell at hurtbylove.com She helped me so much in 60 minutes more than YEARS of counseling. Low cost, high yield 🙂 God bless you as you navigate these waters. I have been there. There IS light on the other side. Maybe with this man. Maybe not.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 24, 2015 at 10:03 pm

      I think you can say something like “I agree with you – your therapy is not helping and you don’t understand grace and I’m not sure where to go from here.”

  41. Ruth on September 23, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Thank you everyone for all your comments!! This was a safe place For me to share. I am learning a lot about abuse and what steps I should take. Thank you!!

    • Debby on September 23, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      Ruth, I wanted to clarify my “attitude” when I am granite, separated, no sex, etc. It is strictly for MY benefit of healing. I am not withholding to “pay him back” or “revenge” or “to control him.” These are all criticisms leveled at me by him and others. I patiently explained to him and to others very simply. “This is for my own healing. He (you) have been abusive for many years. You wont’ stop no matter how many times I cry, beg, try to be perfect, etc. I need time to heal. I will take this time to heal. I am not asking your permission or your agreement. I’m taking it. If you choose to get help in the meantime, that is your call but I will not even consider reconciling until that happens and you are able to show me consistent, long-term change. But right now, I am separating so I can heal from your abuse.” I hope that makes my motives more clear. Once I separated for that reason, i no longer felt guilty.

      • Ruth on September 23, 2015 at 3:42 pm

        Makes sense To me. I think I need it too.
        I mean, I can’t keep being treated like a child(he tells me I am a stupid child) when he gets into these moods, and still feel like/want to be a wife when he’s horny. I can’t do it anymore.

  42. Vivienne on September 23, 2015 at 3:43 pm

    Hi Debbie, wise words and something I am doing for myself at the moment too. I really appreciate the space of having my own room. Since I separated in this way my H has been more respectful toward me in general but rages on occasions, specifically when we address why we are now separated! I can share that I am only 6-8 weeks into this grey rock like granite thing and life can still feel like a roller coaster ride even so.. I continue to try and share with my H why I am not willing to engage more fully but he still doesn’t get it, just accuses me of bringing up the past again. Round and round the same mountain we go.

    • Debby on September 23, 2015 at 4:15 pm

      I suggest you stop trying to “share why you are doing what you are doing.” You have explained it to him. Whether he “gets it’ or “accepts it” is his problem not yours. I had to stop waiting for mine to “get it.” I had to stop waiting for his approval of what i was doing. He will not give it! It is COSTING him so of course he will not “get it.” It is not rocket science to know when you are mistreating someone. They know. They simply do not want to give up control and their sense of entitlement. At that point, it is a choice he is making and this is my choice of consequences. The “bringing up the past” is because there has been no closure when hurt is caused, no accountability, no “path to reconciliation” becasue nothing has been admitted or changed. You dont just “forget” things or put them behind you for his convenience. You can put it behind you when he has taken REAL steps to show remorse, and PROVE he is remorseful by CHANGING. Lundy Bancroft has an excellent book, The Minds of Angry and Controlling Men. Absolute must read for abuse info. Blessing to you on this journey!

  43. Vivienne on September 23, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Concise and on point Debbie – thank you. Yes, wounds still open, no apology, no ownership, no reconciliation. I am seeing my H bleat about his discomfort – I am unmoved but am aware I need to strengthen my core. Bless you for sharing your strength with me, I appreciate that xx

  44. Elizabeth on October 5, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    Hi Rose. I think what you are seeing is that all of our situations are different and we are on different journeys in response to our circumstances. Some are able to stay and others are not. If you are not able to live safely in your home with your abuser when you put consequences in place, then you will need to pursue other options and I think from your blogging that you are doing that. I am praying for you, Rose, and trusting God to guide you, protect you and provide for you. Much love…

    • Debby on October 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm

      Excellent point, Elizabeth. Abuse, consequences, responses, boundaries, all of these are on a continuum and only the person IN it can really make the call of exactly what to do and when to do it and if it is effective (in their own healing and/or the abuser). Not all abusers are physically dangerous (which should have ONE response and that is distance at any and all costs, no second thoughts about it, put a plan in to place as soon as possible and get out!) but I have found that the level of inner strength and confidence of the abused comes into play. I was in NO way capable of staying in the same house in a separate room a couple of years ago, too much fear of his disapproval/yelling/anger, too much false guilt, too much worried about people judging me and blaming me for my “marriage problems,” too much believing what other people told me “God wanted” me to do, yahdayahda. Only through extensive studying and listening to others stories/ideas/experiences, etc. has helped me draw up a workable plan for MY situation and it has bore fruit, but only because I took a stand and my hub was willing to listen and do some real changing over a long term. All we can do as overcomers is share our own stories and God will get it to the person who is in a similar situation. Thank God for Leslie V and for all of you willing to share and help each other. I would still be living with abuse, being crushed in spirit every single day if it were not for these online communities.

      • Elizabeth on October 6, 2015 at 4:56 pm

        Debbie, you sound like you are in a good place as a result of hearing God and putting all those other voices in God’s care. Your inner strength and confidence in God’s Word overcomes the fears within and without. So keep sharing your story and we will all benefit and be encouraged.
        Blessings from God who alone is able to keep you and guard you, my sister….

        • Elizabeth on October 6, 2015 at 4:56 pm

          Sorry, Debby not Debbie…..

    • Rose J on December 3, 2015 at 10:42 am

      Hi Elizabeth, thank you for your generous spirit. You are so correct about “Should I go or should I stay”. I had questioned why anyone would stay in the same house with the abusing spouse, knowing how unrepentant he/she has been so far.
      But, you are right. This journey is ours and our growth is not dependent on the abuser. Yes, SAFETY FIRST. And that could mean different things along our journey. Obviously, physical abuse of our selves or any sort of abuse towards our children is a non-starter. But, as I have grown in Christ’s will for me as He reveals it, I now think that it could be possible to live peaceably with the abuser, AS LONG AS YOUR ARMOR IS HARD ENOUGH TO DEFLECT HIS WEAPONS. This could mean extra support (friends, pets, church, counseling, this community of Leslie’s students etc.) and being open to the learning. I am finding myself considering the possibility of continuing to reside with him under certain conditions. These are my conditions: 1) I have another place to go if I begin to sink again. 2) We get divorced so I can leave quickly if I have to and also to protect the rest of my pitifully diminished assets. He has used my fear of his financial terrorism to bind and manipulate me these past 21 years.
      3) No more sex, we live like roommates. 4) He knows that he has his own journey and that I will be his wife again if he repents and shows enough permanent progress to convince me and my support systems that his heart has been saved.
      And, here is the key to all of this. Use my CORE.
      C = No more lying to myself about his actions towards me or hiding from how I got here in the first place. I’ve got to know that I can live w/o him (or any man) b/c I am strong in myself as a resourceful person and Child of God.
      O = Allowing my thoughts to be changed by God and the truth tellers. Knowing that this trial is meant for me so that I can finish learning what it is God wants me to know. My life is not done yet, obviously, God has some very valuable lessons for me to learn for me to be more useful to Him here on earth and a bigger vessel to enjoy my Eternal Life with Him after this.
      R = I can be respectful to my husband despite how badly he behaves because I know he is a human being and is broken. Also, I can be better prepared to know when others are disrespecting my boundaries. I can learn how to assertively take the appropriate actions with fairness and courage.
      E = Not letting anger turn into bitterness and simmering resentment. Be big enough to allow others to have their own journeys with God w/out getting sucked into their paths. To always be in process, taking it daily to God/supports and turning it over as often as I have to. Continue to be committed to being an example of His gospel, especially when it hurts because He is Greater than my sinful nature.
      I know all these CORE aspects of personhood work together and my life can only be OK when they are all in balance.
      Well, that’s more than I meant to say. This blog works because the many voices are needed for me to not become rigid and stuck.

      • Sal24 on December 28, 2015 at 7:48 pm

        Rose j,
        I like your plan. Would you use this option to stay vs divorce because of finances or because you have learned how to live in core strength and stay well?

        • Rose J on December 29, 2015 at 9:31 am

          Hi Sal24,
          This is it for me, my husband won’t stop his financial terrorism as long as he has any legal means of getting to what is left of my retirement money. He would quit his job, wreck his car or harm someone else & get sued if that’s what it took to deplete me. It’s all the same to him as long as I go down with him.
          I feel sorry for him, but divorcing him is just the way-overdue outcome of his outrageously destructive behaviors.
          Since I last posted on this blog, he gave me my 64th birthday present. He stole a bunch of Vicodan I picked up to deliver to my elderly neighbor (how low can you go), and to prove that i deserved that, he pushed me through a door and cornered me. But I called 911 and they rescued me.
          I never ever thought he would lay a hand on me in violence, but goes to show how degraded they are willing to get. I’m getting OUT, all the while making a home and trying to be pleasant & patient wife. I’m tired. Just one step at a time as the Lord gives me just enough strength to do this.

  45. Sal24 on December 28, 2015 at 6:59 pm

    I have recently joined this website and have read Leslies book on emotionally destructive marriages and I took the core strengthening class. I have told my story in more recent blogs.
    I have been reading through some of these comments and this blog has information that can help me for right now.

    Heres where I’m stuck. “That would mean you would let go of his hands, step back, stop trying to dance close and romantic and dance separately. If he pulls you back into the embrace of a slow dance then you stop dancing and say, “I won’t close dance with you because you’re stepping on my toes. That hurts me and I’ve asked you to stop and you haven’t. Until you learn to dance with me without stepping on my toes, I am not able to slow dance with you.”

    So I did this and the dancing has stopped. (Basically a loveless marriage) Do I make anymore moves? The scenario is as follows:
    My husband and myself and my son all sat down a few weeks ago to enjoy Monday night Football. ( we all love the game) My 15 year old son PLAYFULLY was punching my husband in the arm as he sometimes does in an effort to get his attention. Well, this particular time, my husband lashed out in a rage and pushed my son away and yelled out DO NOT HIT ME! My son was kinda smiling as to show it was not meant to be negative or aggressive. But my husband was out of control and I told him if he could not calm down, we would have to leave the room and he said, ” no worrys I’ll leave” and he retreated to his room but before he left he accused me of always taking his side and that I’ve had “one to many” referring to alcoholic beverages ( but I was drinking juice).

    After 20 minutes or so I went to his room and implemented the boundary. I asked if he has calmed down and he said,in a few years when our son moves out, this will not be an issue because I will not be able to take his side anymore. Confused, I said I do not think I will make it a few more years.Then I toldt him that its not ok to loose his temper with us and to badmouth me to our son and that that was a “deal breaker”.

    Since then he has been quiet, passive, going through the motions as I have implemented the consequence. I have separated from him emotionally. I do not include him in our dinner meal plan and I do not ride together with him if we are going to the same place, I have withdrawn my companionship and no longer sit in the same room with him. Prior to this consequence I privately told my son that he is not at fault with anything that is going on with his dad and I. My husband has always made my son the focus and then tries to turn my son against me. Almost as if he resents having a son. The abuse aginst my son in this manner has to stop so by telling him his behavior is a deal breaker and by withdrawing myself emotionally, I’m hoping he will just stop. So far he has but he is not dancing at all so I’m not sure if this is permanent? I dont want to get fuzzy and get my toes stepped on again.

    • Vivienne on December 28, 2015 at 7:24 pm

      Hi Sal

      I am in the exact same situation. I too separated emotionally, and by a bedroom, in which I often spend my time in order to create space between my husband and myself. I have two sons, one of whom, the eldest, seems to have matured well and is not the focus of my husband’s attention but rather my youngest son, who he picks on the most. I too am charged with taking his side when an argument ensues, usually because my husband has found fault or has made an accusation (unfounded) and then expects me to back him up in chastising my son for his rage at being so accused. I mean, how does anyone deal with that kind of stuff?

      For many months, after separating in the way described above, my husband has been angry with me, aggressive, trying to have me leave the family home. He has also tried manipulation and promises of rewards…but I am still here.

      In recent weeks, my husband is more contrite, less explosive but he has not, for the most [part, been sorry for his past behaviour until a few days ago, when he wrote me a four page letter. There was some apology but still a lot of excuses, attempts to wash over his behaviour and nothing about how his actions hurt me or our children; it was still all about him. Also, he has not made any real attempt to make things better between us, he is not dancing, and I am no longer sure that I want him to without a real change of heart on his part and I have not witnessed anything like that, in fact I still sense an anger in him.

      Other consequences are being felt, our finances have been greatly affected as we are no longer in receipt of Tax Credits and my husband has accrued a personal debt, something we did not have before. My husband’s social life has diminished some as well, all of which he is keenly feeling, especially over Christmas. These things may speak more to him than I ever could and he is alone much of the time now which I feel sorry about and have to avoid the temptation to rescue him, having fallen into that trap before. I want to remain for my children, I also want to escape for myself and it is a constant daily battle emotionally. I have not yet arrived at a final decision one way or the other.

  46. Debby on December 28, 2015 at 10:17 pm

    Hi Vivienne,
    I lived in a separate room for a year before I was SURE there was a change of heart. He tried every manipulative trick in the book. Stay strong. Do NOT rescue! I know it feels foreign and “mean” sometimes but that is a lie. You are doing this out of a need for healing for yourself, and to put in place much-needed consequences because others are being negatively affected by his behaviors and he is doing nothing to change that or account for it. Just about the time you THINK there is some real change, he slips back into blaming, angry mode. But little by little, IF he changes and sometimes they DONT, but IF he does, it will be little by little and 2 steps forward, one step back (and you have NO “obligation” to give him “credit” or “cut him slack” because of those steps forward, although he will certainly use that line on you) and you need to make sure he is truly, truly repentent and understanding what he has done and making restitution before you even THINK about reconciling. Its like taking antibiotics. You start to feel better and think, “maybe I dont need to finish this medicine” but if you stop too soon, you will be worse off. As long as your heart is distancing yourself for healing and change and NOT for “getting back at him” (which it doesnt sound like at all even though HE will see it that way and use that line as well) then God will bless it in some way (not necessarily reuniting but certainly you will come out the better for it, and so will your children, and believe it or not, probably so will your husband) Stay strong.

    • Vivienne on December 29, 2015 at 6:19 am

      Thank you Debbie. I have been in our spare room almost six months now. My H has many of the classic Narcissistic traits and prior to separating myself I was in what is termed his discard stage, during which he abandoned me emotionally (while still expecting sex) and he began a smear campaign i.e. telling mutual friends how awful I was as a wife and portraying himself as the victim. Thankfully, due in part to his usual tall stories, exaggerations and grandiose schemes, people are aware that what he says is to be taken lightly; and although he is careful to wear his nice, helpful, generous mask people can still see through him.

      You are correct to say Debbie that I need this separation and space for my own healing and I felt heaps better only a week after doing so. I am not in any way trying to manipulate my H, or get back at him, in fact emotionally I think I am detached now, in as far as making a return is concerned but of course I still care about him as a person as we did have good times and I have shared my life with him for 34 years. Sad to say, even his own children from a former marriage have better connections with me than they do their Father, and no wonder when he abandoned them and then agreed they should be adopted by their step-father. My H also has two children from his second marriage who were estranged from him until three years ago. My H does not keep close contact with his children, grand children, siblings and I think he fears spending a lonely existence in his latter years which he is beginning to experience. It will be interesting to see what he does about this, if he changes his ways at all.

      I know for a fact that his upbringing was difficult, he took many beatings from his Father, was emotionally crippled by him I think but he has been given much Grace and many opportunities to help himself but prefers to hide behind a mask and pretend he is OK; but he is not OK.

      Yes, I have seen him change tack when his efforts to manipulate do not work, and he goes from being Mr Nice to Mr Nasty as the mood takes him. At 71 he has previously enjoyed being very fit and he could pass for a man twenty years younger but in recent months has suffered from several health issues, the worst of which is an irregular heartbeat that he takes medicine for, a lung condition which means he gets out of breath more easily than others plus other ailments being more seasonal but I guess adding to his low mood. I would add here that he has, on occasion, used his health issues to try and guilt-trip me.

      It will be interesting to see how, as time goes by if he changes…or not. I am fortunate in that I have a couple of elderly relatives who, due to their personal situations, require me to visit, allowing me time away from the home as well, time in which my H gets to understand all the things I have done over the years that must still be done…washing and ironing, cleaning, shopping, gardening, taking care of animals, certainly I have done more than my fair share but my H always argues this is not true, in fact he has the audacity to say I am lazy and tells others this too! I have learned that this is a Narcissistic trait of “mirroring” what they are onto you; nice!

      If my H did change, I imagine I would face more hurdles emotionally but I’ll cross that bridge if and when I come to it.

      Thanks for your story Debbie, and other’s stories too, all of which help me to see I am not alone and have much to glean and learn from those who post here. This is the best blog I have found anywhere and I appreciate it very much, not least Leslie’s regular posts and personal input.which are priceless; thank you Leslie. xx

      • Vivienne on December 29, 2015 at 6:31 am

        Debbie (and others in similar situations) are you still doing their washing, ironing, cooking for them?

        • Rose J on December 29, 2015 at 9:48 am

          It is sad to see good-hearted people struggling to understand bad behavior & figure out what to do about it. All I can say is, I was there just a little while ago but that stage for me lasted almost 3 years. I now know that there is absolutely nothing that will stop my husband from abusing me & mine: either I die or I leave. That is it. I have tried EVERYTHING except being as hateful as he is. I have never returned tit for tat, it’s not my nature & I don’t believe it is helpful to anyone. Maybe I’m just too tired to give energy to revenge at my age.
          I too am struggling with the “should I do the usual wife things such as cook, iron etc”. I asked Leslie about this and she answered in that group call that I need to do what is right even if he acts wrong. So, when I am healthy enough, I do everything I ever did. But you will know when you just can’t anymore. You at times, like I am now, won’t be able to lift your arms due to the fatigue and discouragement of it all. Until the ink is dry on the divorce papers, I plan to do my duties to the best of my ability.

          • Vivienne on December 29, 2015 at 10:46 am

            Thank you Rose for your response. I am a bit hit and miss at the moment. Sometimes I do everything, other times I let him take the initiative because I am sometimes just not motivated enough to follow through. I must admit I can still fall prey to depression about my circumstances….I have good days and bad days. I have a lot of responsibilities right now too, with elderly relatives, I am Secretary for local ex-pat club and I am caretaker of a holiday home. Meanwhile the H is retired and is home all day.

        • Debby on December 29, 2015 at 1:02 pm

          Vivienne, as far as living in the house in a separate room: I told my h straight up what I was willing to do and what MY expectations were. I was not ugly but I was firm. I was NOT negotiating but laying down my terms which were a one-way street. It went soemthing like this: “H, you have been abusive to me for almost 3 decades. I have done everything I know to do to get you to stop and nothing has helped. I cannot and will not live like that any longer. If and when you decide to get help for you abusive problems, that is up to you, but I will no longer be in relationship with you. What I am willing to do is stay here, in the other room. You will not come in without knocking and getting permission, which I may not give you and you will respect that. I will not be engaging in any converstaion with you that does not specifically have to do with my responsibilities or to keep our household running as smoothly as possible or has something to do with the boys (who were 15 and 19 at the time). IF you will respect these limits, I think I can stay in these 4 walls and continue to do my regular duties. I am still willing to cook and do laundry and keep the house reasonably clean but you are responsibile for you own dishes, room and bathroom. If you complain or try to tell me “how to do it better or right” I will stop and you will do it all on your own. I do not consider myself “married” as married would mean that both partners are working toward a healthy, close relationship, which has never been the case with you. You should not expect to have fellowship or closeness with me. I will not be ugly to you, I will not be rude or try to pick a fight because I really dont care at this point. I will not engage in converstaion about your day or how bad it is at work, that’s what friends do, and we are not freinds because no freind would EVER treat a friend the way you treat me. IF you can accept these terms, I will stay and keep our household moving to insure the least disruption for my sons, no other reason. If you cannot, or you cross the boundaries, I will need to move somewhere else and take care of my boys the best I can. I also expect you to put a load of laundry in and to clean the kitchen and get the meal started when you are off work or get home before me. I am not interested in discussing “our future” or “us” or “reconciling” etc. That will not even be on my radar until I see you taking the steps to see a professional, and to see some long-term change of heart and behavior. I suggest you read up on some of the articles, websites I have been frequenting. Maybe it will help you understand why you do the things you do and give you some guidance on how to change your thinking/behavorios but that is totally up to you. I dont really care at this point what you do. I only care about getting some peace, some healing and taking care of my sons.”
          He did cross the boundaries a few times, and a few times I had to remind him that I do not HAVE to live here and life will get much more complicated for him when he is trying to do everything on his own. At first, I had to really stick to my guns. I would sometimes NOT allow him in when he knocked just to remind him that I COULD do that and to sort of test him. (If I ALWAYS let him in, then the message would be “If you just knock, you can just come it” and that would defeat the whole purpose.) But eventually, he started reading stuff and taking accountablity. But the entitlement mentality was still there. It took about a year before I really felt like I could TRY and trust him that he was for real and so far, for 4 months, he has been very consistent in his changes, not yelling or nagging and helping me more. I hope that helps.

          • Vivienne on December 29, 2015 at 6:25 pm

            Ye, thanks Debbie, it does help a bit; I love your style !! Of course all our situations are different but being direct and laying down terms and boundaries in the way you describe is great. I have set myself apart, I go out socially alone, sometimes to the same places as the H but we travel separately. Initially I didn’t set down any terms because in the early weeks of separation the H tried his best to encourage me to leave, (he is still trying) and at the time I wanted to leave but it just hasn’t panned out like that, I am, still here. Today, the H asked me what my plans were? I replied in all honesty that I didn’t have any. The H then said “well we can’t keep on as we are” and I thought….why not? I am not the one who needs to stop being abusive, he is! I may need to reassess my life choices, to discover what led me to where I am now but my behaviour and attitudes towards my children and husband are not abusive so it is not me impacting my family in negative ways. I know he would find it hard to cope alone, I also know that financially it would be difficult for him so I may use these facts to speak to him and suggest he get help. I think that maybe some fear of him still exists as I know I have wanted to say stuff but have often avoided saying anything in order to keep the peace, which is very important when my youngest son is at home as he finds any strife too distressing – he also needs help to manage his emotions but so far refuses my offer to obtain help for him. Perhaps a quiet talk with the H, when we are alone is where I could start. I am fortunate to be able to get away for several days at a time and that allows me space to think and the H to understand what life would be like without me. My H already knew to knock on my door before entering and occasionally I lock it so he can’t just enter after knocking for the same reasons you gave but as I have said before, I still sense an anger lurking underneath his cool facade…so I am not willing to be drawn back at all until I witness major changes over a long period of time. If my H wants to bail out, that’s his call, I won’t stop him.

  47. Elizabeth on December 28, 2015 at 10:51 pm

    Thank you Debby for articulating this so well. It helped me keep on track and not be drawn into feeling sorry for him when he puts on the pity party. “As long as your heart is distancing yourself for healing and change and NOT for “getting back at him” ” is an excellent guide. It has been 5 months since I put into place some new consequences and there is no evidence of any heart change but actually a deepening of the pity party with its emotional tugs. Even though he has not changed they cycle of evil (angry outbursts, sarcasm and name calling) has stopped and that is good change for me. Yes, we need to keep strong in the Lord and in His power.

    • Debby on December 29, 2015 at 12:38 pm

      Elizabeth, I also found this to be helpful when explaining to church folk (at the time I still felt the need to do this, now I wouldn’t bother) who would ask, “Well, how long are you going to be in the other room/separated/(code for “how long will you deny him sex” which seemed to be VERY important to them, as opposed to the trauma me and the kids were going through ? Oy!) anyhoo, the unspoken assumption was that I was “doing this” to “teach him a lesson” or “to get back at him” so they expected there would be some kind of “deadline.” In my heart I KNEW I was not doing it for that reason, so the false guilt did not have a hold on me and I was able to calmly tell them “I dont know. How can I know how long it will take me to heal from his decades long abuse? How can I know how long it will take for him to STOP abusing? Its not really up to me.” After some healing, I no longer HAD to get them to undertand (and therefore, support me or agree with me, I could live without that) but at the time, it was very helpful for ME to understand that the false guilt was a lie and would serve to drag me back into the abuse to start the dreaded cycle all over again. God opened my eyes to so many things that year. I spent the whole year studying abuse and what the REAL experts had to say and what God’s stance was on it and I feel like I am an “expert” on it (if I may be so bold?) and can help others who are where I was.

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