Morning friend, I’m spending a few days in Santa Fee, New Mexico this week. It’s my first visit to a place rich with history and art, two things I love. This is our first official “vacation” since Covid and we took our dog, Addie, on this road trip. She’s doing great. The weather has been perfect and we’ve eaten some of the best food, seen beautiful landscapes and, most enjoyable for me, enjoyed seeing the work of amazing artists.
Did you know that you were created to create? To co-create with God? Paul reminds us that we are his workmanship created to do amazing things (Ephesians 2:10). How are you partnering with God in creating your life story?
This week’s question: How do I heal from being mentally, emotionally, and spiritually abused by my husband? It was also getting physical too. He's a Christian who seems to be narcissistic, and we were going to have 2 years of being married in August. I recently separated from him two months ago and still looking for a place to live with my two daughters.
We are going through marriage counseling once a week, which is the only way I speak with him since he's very manipulative and persuasive in his words. He is trying to set up visitation to see his daughter (who is about to be one year old this weekend) and tries to convince me that God doesn't like divorce. He is very keen on his words and says things but doesn't really mean it. I don't trust him and feel hopeless that he will ever change. I'm feeling so hurt by all this and am seeking Godly advice on how to move forward.
Answer: First I’m so relieved that you have recognized that things are dreadfully wrong in your marriage after only two years. This community is amazing and will give you a lot of support. Sadly, many of the women here waited until they were married 22 or 32 years to take a stand. There wasn’t a lot of support for an abused Christian wife to take a stand for herself and for the integrity of a truly biblical marriage. I’m glad you are doing that now. Yet I sense you are a bit conflicted. You want to learn how you can heal from what you’ve experienced, and you want Godly advice moving forward. I wonder if you fear that those two desires are in conflict? Do you fear that God may ask you to go back to your abusive marriage without you seeing any sign of substantial repentance and change from your husband?
God is not a God who loves men more than women or husbands more than wives. He is not a bully, nor does he sanction the behaviors of the oppressor over the oppressed. He cares for the weak, the downtrodden, the bullied, and the oppressed (Psalm 9:9; Psalm 34:18, Psalm 146:7). To heal, you must come to know deep within your heart and soul the God that loves you. The God that created you. And to know without doubt, that it is God’s will for you to be safe, sane, and strong. (Proverbs 27:12; Psalm 89:17; 2 Timothy 1:7)
God tells us that bullies, abusers, and oppressors do exist in this world. But he also clearly tells us that they are never to be protected, sanctioned, or supported by God’s people, especially within an intimate relationship (Isaiah 1:7; Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19). Your husband confuses you by proclaiming God doesn’t like divorce. He’s technically correct, but he neglects a huge part of what else God hates. God doesn’t like divorce generally, but God also doesn’t like what’s been happening in your marriage and the sinful ways your husband has been treating you. In fact, God hates that. (Proverbs 8:13; James 3:13-18; Psalm 5:5; Proverbs 6:16).
The marital relationship is the most intimate relationship God has ordained. In God’s design for marriage, being married should never lead to less safety, less sanity, or less strengthening for the individuals in that relationship but rather continue to nurture and nourish those qualities. Safety and trust are the most important foundation to maintain a healthy marriage. You say that you do not trust your spouse. Not his words, nor his actions. You no longer feel safe with him because of his manipulations and abusive behaviors. The Bible supports your lack of trust. We are not to put our trust in untrustworthy people (Proverbs 25:19).
Once you truly believe that God is for you and not against you, that he supports you speaking up against abuse and up for what’s good, true, and right, your husband’s manipulations will lose their power over your heart and mind. The Bible tells us that words are powerful (Proverbs 18:21), and right now your husband’s words hold more power over your mindset than God’s words. To heal, this must change. The psalmist reminds us, “He sent forth his word and healed them.” (Psalm 107:20). Begin your healing process by rooting out the lies you believe about God, about marriage, about yourself, and about what you’ve been told God’s will is for you regarding what’s happening to you right now. That will take time and effort, but it’s the best place to begin your own personal healing. If needed, find a trusted therapist or coach who can work with you through this process.
Next, as far as what God wants for you moving forward, I would look at it this way. Both you and your husband’s healing are important to God. Is it possible for you to believe that God is using this situation right now for your husband’s good as well as your good? As you stay strong and refuse to cave in to his manipulations and threats, he will have the opportunity to self-reflect and to do his own work. Perhaps your marital counselor can help him look at his own attitudes and behaviors that broke safety and trust in the marriage. Regardless of what he does or the marriage counselor does, as you speak the truth in love during your counseling sessions and stand in that truth, you will get to observe how he handles your voice. Your opinions, Your truth. God’s truth. Does he hate the light? Or does he start to realize his own darkness when you and God’s Holy Spirit shine the light?
Don’t get sidetracked worrying about whether he is going to change, whether he can change, or whether or not you have to reconcile this marriage. Stay focused on seeing the evidence before your eyes, today, tomorrow, a week from now, when he’s upset, when you say no, when you don’t do what he wants. What do you see? Not what he says, but what do you see?
Currently, you say there is no evidence that he’s changing or doing his own work. He continues to coerce and manipulate you by trying to get you to back down. That’s what you see. Please don’t back down from your stand just to pacify, placate, or peace make. That is not healthy for you, nor is it healthy for him if you do that.
Continue to heal, grow and strengthen yourself. Keep your eyes on God and put your hope in him and not in your marriage or your husband or even your counselor. That will make things clearer for you going forward (Proverbs 3:5,6).
Friend, what steps have you taken to heal from the destructive words and actions of another person? How have you gotten safer, saner, and stronger?