Please pray for me. I need to carve out more time for God, more time for solitude, more time for exercise, more time for quality writing and yet, my plate is full of wonderful opportunities that are hard to let go of or ignore. Pray I have wisdom to know what needs to go, so that I may not get distracted with the good that becomes the enemy of the best.
Today’s Question: I just joined your ‘community’ and have been married 33 years. He is emotionally and physically abusive (has physically hit me 11 times which are documented, once breaking my rib, where he admitted it in the presence of our family physician). He has always raised red flags with me in how he relates to other women and has been “caught” in adultery two times, once after 10 years of marriage & most recently in July of this year.
His power over me is finances. He controls all the money. He reacts with indifference when I ask (like a daughter asking her father) for money to do things like join a gym or get facials, for example. We are financially well off, but he has always acted as though we cannot afford anything like this. Now I’m in counseling after learning from a text message of his affair with a co-worker in July.
He is in denial and always turns the blame for his behavior onto me. He takes no responsibility or ownership for his wrong doing. Due to the fact I had no father in my home as a child, I’ve stayed with him “for the sake of our two children”. Now they are grown and even though leaving him would still have painful effects on our family (which now includes two lovely grandchildren), my health (memory & focus especially) and my relationship with God are being adversely affected by this emotionally destructive marriage.
Yes, I have read your new book and have asked him the 3 questions from chapter nine. What next?
PS-his personality is charming to all who know him, a ‘classic’ profile of an abuser…nobody would ever suspect him to be who he truly is behind closed doors.
Answer: You said your husband admitted to hitting you and breaking your rib in front of your family physician yet, you believe “nobody would ever suspect him to be who he is behind closed doors?” Who do you think your physician thought your husband was – a nice guy? What did he or she advise you to do when this happened?
You said you have asked him the 3 questions from chapter nine but now you wonder what to do next? After the chapter on asking him the three questions, did you read further about having a safety plan? About implementing consequences? About consulting with an attorney, gathering together evidence of the documented abuse and adultery as well as possibly separating for your safety and well-being? What’s kept you from doing these next steps?
He’s hit you 11 documented times and committed adultery twice and you’re still living in the same home with him? Why? Is it worth sacrificing your safety, sanity, and mental stability for a comfortable standard of living? I can’t answer that for you, but you must really think about what you are enduring and why.
You say his power over you is financial as you are quite wealthy yet you indicate you feel like a child and have no money to actually spend or do anything without his permission. Have you consulted with an attorney about your legal rights to alimony and half your marital assets?
Now you are in personal counseling after finding out about his second affair. Good. This is crucial for you right now. Apparently he’s willing to pay for that or your insurance will cover it, but I’m glad you’ve taken this step. It is imperative that you are 100% honest with your counselor about all the abuse that is going on in your marriage and why you have been too afraid or confused or comfortable to flee this dangerous, toxic and destructive person.
Your husband may never take responsibility for anything. Because he’s capable of making a lot of money he may also believe he’s entitled to “break the rules” without consequence. Your collusion in this delusion has not helped you or him. The consequence for breaking your rib should have been some jail time, or at a minimum, a legal protection order for you and mandatory counseling time for him. How come you did not push for that?
I know I’m pushing you to think through a lot of questions and it may feel overwhelming. Your pain–physical, mental and relational–is meant to wake you up. Phillip Yancey writes, “Pain exists not to make us miserable but to force us to pay attention to something that needs changing.”
Believe me, I wish I could wave a magic wand or say just the right prayer to have your husband come to his senses and realize the damage he’s caused and be broken hearted and willing to do what it takes to change. But I don’t have that kind of power and neither do you. My bigger concern right now is why you haven’t done what you need to do to build your CORE Strength, get courageous, and make the necessary changes you need in order to stop being a continuous victim of his destructive ways. Now that you’re in counseling, please recognize that you have been as unhealthy as he has, just in different ways. God has so much more for you than to be a target or punching bag for your husband’s rage.
Don’t allow the deceit of wealth lull you to sleep. Francois Fenelon, one of my favorite authors writes, “Golden chains are no less chains than chains of iron.”
Friends, share your experience of what helped you break free from the idolatrous chains that kept you placating or pretending in your destructive marriage or relationship?