Morning sweet friends,
What a week I’ve had. Chris Moles and I had an amazing time at The Village Church. Pastor Matt Chandler and their entire staff were extremely supportive of our work and wanted to know how they as a church could do better. I was very encouraged by their humility, affirmation, and support of how we can help men and women in destructive marriages find genuine healing and good biblical help. Thank you so much for your prayers.
I’ve also had a few surprises this week that will uproot my life in the next few months. Please pray for me as I navigate through those changes in the midst of everything else that I need to do. Please pray that I have focus, energy, good decision-making and a positive attitude. It’s one of those things that will either overwhelm me or strengthen me. I choose for it to strengthen me, but it’s a fine line. I sure would appreciate your prayers.
And our CONQUER conference is quickly approaching. We are getting new registrations every day and people are bringing their friends, their mothers, sisters, and daughters. Trust me, this will be a wonderful conference and you will not want to miss it. For more information click here.
Today’s Question: I'm a newlywed of 10 months who has realized that I am in a destructive marriage. My husband didn't have a major outburst of controlling abuse until our honeymoon. I was excited about wearing lingerie, and he didn't want me to. I tried to explain how exciting it was for me to wear it (I was a virgin when I got married and had dreamed of wearing pretty things like that for my husband on our honeymoon).
He went into a yelling tirade about our disagreement and how much I (emphatically and disdainfully called, “his wife”) was hurting him by disagreeing. I ended up sobbing on the couch as he yelled at me. This was just the beginning of the worst 10 months of my life so far. We have had at least one explosive episode like this every month since we've gotten married. He engages in incessant texting or calling until I answer him, badgering and pressuring me to change my thoughts or answers, physical restraint from leaving an escalated conversation, as well as sneering at and mocking me.
I was then able to actually talk uninhibitedly about what was going on in our marriage. We separated. We don't have children yet. I make twice as much money as my husband since he is finishing up his degree. I also have a wide support group in my city. The costs of separation have not been high for me.
But here is my question. I'm fearful of reconciling too early, working on our marriage, getting pregnant (that is the scariest thought to me right now), and then finding out that no change has happened. I live in fear of a “what if.” I'm just not sure how to handle it. I know I don't want to go home yet. But if and when I do… sex will be extremely difficult for me. I am on birth control, but what if it is ineffective? I don't trust my husband what-so-ever. I really want to withhold sex until I do see true change. Is that wrong of me or an over-reaction? If so, can you offer some insight into battling this “what if” scenario?
Answer: First, I’m so glad you recognized after 10 months that this marriage was getting worse and more destructive instead of waiting 10 or 20 years and having children in the mix as well. You wisely separated.
That said, how will you “know” he’s changed? In your question, you said your husband didn’t have a major episode of controlling abuse until your honeymoon. This is not uncommon but did he have some minor episodes of controlling behavior while you were engaged or dating? You didn’t mention how long you dated or how well you knew each other before dating but I’m wondering if you have taken the time to explore for yourself the red flags you ignored or missed that may have given you some indication of these destructive tendencies?
You also didn’t mention in your question what were the terms of your separation or what kinds of changes you asked him to make in order to reconcile? You mentioned that he is finishing up his degree, but what is he doing to change his behavior and attitudes? Is he getting help to recognize and repent of his destructive ways? And, how has he been treating you now that you are separated? Is he still incessantly texting you? Badgering you? Insisting that you see things his way or else? Mocking you?
You said that you do not trust him whatsoever. That is not a good sign if you want to put this marriage back together. You are especially afraid of reconciling, getting pregnant and then finding out that nothing is different. I hope you never get to that point. You should see many small and large changes before you reconcile or get pregnant. He should respect your thoughts and feelings. He would allow you to have your own ways of doing things instead of always making it about disrespecting him if you disagree. He needs to know how to handle his disappointment or anxiety in a way that doesn’t lead to control or belittling of you as a person. If he hasn’t worked on this and you haven’t seen improvements in these areas, nothing is really different.
I imagine he does have a charming side. After all, you fell in love with that person. So his charming side may have resumed and you are tempted to believe that the other side is gone. But unless he has owned, explored, and repented of that other side, it will definitely come back.
No one can predict the future. All we know is what’s happening now and what’s happened in the past. If the now together isn’t changing and the past is what it is, then there is a high degree of certainty that nothing is going to change with him in the future.
Remember, healthy people live in reality, in what is, not in what they wish was true (tweet that).
So let me ask you some final questions. How has your husband handled your opinions and perspectives when you do have conversations or interactions together while separated? Is he different now and if so, how is he different? What has he learned about himself? What insights has he gained about why he did what he did while you were living together? What changes is he committed to making over the long haul? Who is he accountable to for these changes? Have you seen any humility, sorrow, and concern or true biblical repentance for how he treated you? Or, are you finding that he is quite capable of being his charming self when it serves him to do so, but there has been no real internal change in his mindset around marriage or you as his wife.
If you don’t trust him at all, then you are nowhere ready for reconciliation or raising a child together. Why are you afraid that you would rush that process? What’s going on inside of you that fear you won’t stick to your boundaries? Who or what is pressuring you to reconcile before you are ready or see significant changes?
On the other hand, if over time while you are separated, you see that he is gradually and consistently changing in the right direction and you choose to reconcile, I would wait a while longer before getting pregnant even if you do resume your sex life. You can take effective methods of birth control that will greatly lessen the possibility of an unplanned pregnancy while the two of you are working to repair your marriage. You don’t want to bring a child into this relationship if you aren’t comfortable and safe with him.
Friends: How many of you saw destructive behavior on the honeymoon that continued on through the marriage? If you did separate, did he change his ways? How did you know genuine change was occurring?