I just returned from attending the American Association of Christian Counselors Conference in Nashville. It was an amazing event with over 7,000 Christian leaders from all over the world. I spoke twice on my new book and had lots of opportunities to talk with people about it. It was an honor to be chosen to receive the 2013 Care Givers Award.
This week’s video is the third one in the series describing what needs to happen in order for an emotionally destructive marriage to be healed. The video is entitled: “What Does It Take To Heal A Destructive Marriage? – Stability”. I hope you’re finding these video’s helpful. I have put all 12 of these weekly videos on a single DVD so that you can share them with ministry leaders and/or friends you think would benefit. This DVD will be available for sale on our webpage for $25. However, as my blog friends, you can order them this week only at the discounted price of $15 plus shipping and handling. Just enter coupon code EDM15.
Tomorrow from 4-5pm ET I will be on the Chris Fabry show on Moody talking about my new book. On Tuesday, September 17th, which is the official release date of my book, I will be speaking on Moody’s Mid-Day Connection. I’ll be talking about destructive marriages and answering listener’s questions. Please join me at 1:00 ET, noon, CT.
Today’s Question: I bought your book, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, and have read many others just like it. I was in a bad marriage. Although not physically abusive, it was verbally abusive. My husband also went out with friends at least twice a week drinking and going to unmentionable places.
I was a stay-at-home homeschool mom. All the advice that I received from my church, prayer partners and friends was to stay–to just submit to my husband as unto Christ. I did this. I can’t even name all the books I’ve read, prayer groups that I went to and counseling that I attended on my own over the years.
My husband ended up leaving me. We sold our house, and he took all the money and left the country. I am now a single mom with a rebellious teenager. I was left without my home or furniture and everything gone. I am even unable to receive any child support since he is out of the country. My church was unable to help with the finances and really did not check up on me.
Now I am very bitter. If I would have divorced earlier, I would not be in such a bad position. Please tell me why the church is so adamant about a woman staying, but then when she’s abandoned and in financial trouble, they don’t really want to get involved
Answer: I am so sorry for what you’ve been through, both in your marriage and with your church. Sadly, your story is not that unusual. It’s understandable. Women have traditionally been groomed to be passive and defer to other people the power to decide what they should do.
It’s also tempting for those of us who are people helpers to tell those who come to us for help what God says you must do. Our motives are usually good. We want to help. We care. We’re afraid for you and your family, and we want to remain true to God’s Word. Therefore, we all have our opinion on what God says is best for you. However, it is very easy for people to tell other people what to do when they don’t have to live out the consequences of those choices.
A woman or any other person in a destructive marriage must come to see that they do have some important choices to make and they must not totally abdicate that decision to others who are advising them. That does not mean you don’t seek godly counsel or read outside books, but you must do the work to understand what God’s Word says to you about your situation.
For those reading today’s blog, it’s crucial that when you make your decision about what to do regarding your marriage, you think through the potential risks and consequences of your decision. What will it cost you and your children to stay living in the same toxic environment and what it will cost you to leave? Only you should make a decision so serious that it will affect you and your family for the rest of your lives.
Whatever choice your make won’t be easy. Whatever choice you make will involve future suffering and hardship as well as opportunities to grow and learn to rely on God. Many women in your shoes continue to feel helpless, angry and victimized because they believe or have been told that they have no choices. But that’s not true. I want you to know you still have choices to make. Important choices that will affect you and others for years to come. You not only have choices on what actions to take, but also on what attitudes you will embrace.
Your problem right now is that you feel your choices have been taken from you and you’re angry and bitter. You’re angry at yourself for following bad advice. You’re bitter towards your husband for walking out without providing for you and his child. You’re angry, bitter and hurt at your church for advising you to hang in the marriage but now it feels like they’re abandoning you.
Those toxic emotions don’t damage anyone but you and possibly your child. I would encourage you to work through your anger and bitterness towards yourself, your husband and your church so that they don’t continue to poison you. If you don’t, they will be like an anchor on your back or poison in your soul. They are toxic, and hanging on to them will change you into a negative person. Although it’s hard not to, please don’t let that happen. Satan won over your husband, destroyed your marriage, your family, and your finances, but please don’t let him continue to destroy you and your son with bitterness.
Forgive yourself, your spouse and your church. Move forward in grace, freeing yourself from the emotional chains that now bind even more tightly than a destructive spouse. It is only in that place that will you be able to write a new chapter in your life where you will discover that your life is not over and that God still has a plan for your life–a plan for a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11).
Friends, how did you get over your anger and bitterness towards yourself, your spouse or others who gave you bad counsel?