I went to the movies this weekend and saw Love and Mercy, the story of Brian Wilson, the leader of The Beach Boys. Growing up I loved the Beach Boys and I was eagerly looking forward to hearing one of their best songs, Good Vibrations. Seeing how he created the layers of that song was fascinating.
But Love and Mercy is much deeper than reminiscing about great music. It is a riveting movie, painful to watch at times. Brian was emotionally and physically abused by his father and it set him up to be vulnerable and abused later in life by his psychologist. The drug culture of the 60’s and 70’s only added to his slide into mental illness.
Watching the power and control that his psychologist implemented over Brian’s entire life was scary. I wondered during the movie if there were any couples in the theatre where power and control, abuse and manipulation were present in their relationship and what take-a-ways each one got from the movie. Elizabeth Banks, the actress who played Brian’s girlfriend was the first one to speak up about what was going on and eventually helped Brian to break free. The movie has a good ending, the good guy marries the beautiful girl and goes on to have a better life; the bad guy loses his power and his license to practice psychology. If you can handle the triggers it might set off for some of you, I’d highly encourage you to go see it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.
Question: I've been married for almost 5 years and last June my husband informed me that he had gotten an apartment and was seeking a temporary separation in hopes that things would get better. I have also known that things were bad but my desires were to seek couples counseling from a Clergy or licensed Christian Counselor.
My husband pastors a small church and feels that he is qualified to lead us to resolution although his repeated attempts have not worked. We are both over 50 years old and I guess very set in our ways. I feel he is very controlling, manipulative, and secretive about his affairs, abusive and uncaring. He feels that I am a poor communicator, negative, and lack romance.
It's been 9 months since he left and there has been no progress made. He once said, “I promise that I will never go to counseling with you.” He also left me with 90% of the bills to pay. It includes the mortgage, his medical and car insurance.
I stopped attending the church he pastors (1 hour away) and attend a great church near our home and have stayed in fellowship with godly people who minister to me regularly. There were very low points in the relationship where I became depressed and lost hope but God stepped in and I'm much healthier now.
Through your material I've realized that he was abusive and that my marriage was destructive but I'm not sure where to go from here. I feel like I'm in limbo between two different worlds. I continue to wear my ring but every time I look at it I'm confused as to what to do next.
I've sought God and have received no clarity to date so I am patiently waiting for his direction. This is my husbands 3rd marriage and my 2nd, I was single for about 17 years before I married him. I thought I was ready.
What should I do?
Answer: Friend, in your deep heart of hearts, what do you think you should do? I think your question reflects the lie or myth that you still cling to that there is something you can do to change your husband.
You’ve acknowledged that he’s been abusive. Nine months have gone by with no progress. He’s told you very clearly that he will never go to counseling. He’s the one who left you and left you with 90% of the bills – and many of them his bills.
Now that you’ve gotten healthier are you thinking that the marriage would improve? His complaints, the reason he said he left was that you were negative, a poor communicator and lacked romance. Do you agree those were issues of yours that negatively impacted your relationship with him? Are these things you’ve been working on during this time? Have you tried communicating with him lately in a healthy and positive way? What were the results? Has he initiated any attempts towards repairing your marriage or is it all up to you to just do what he says and then things will be fine.
Many abusive men think they know all the answers and if you would just fall into line and do it their way (submit), the marriage would be fine. And it would be fine – for them. But what about you? Would it be fine for you?
When you lived together he left because he said you were negative, a poor communicator and lacked romance. Were these inherent problems you came into the marriage with or did they result because of the environment you lived under?
When you live with a dictator, someone who is secretive and manipulative, it’s not uncommon to begin to be more be negative, lose your romantic feelings and have trouble communicating – mainly because they twist your words and refuse to listen and treat you harshly. Who feels like kissing someone who verbally berates her?
I understand it is very confusing. Living in limbo land – married but not married. (tweet that)
I’m glad you are not rushing into making an important final decision but stop beating yourself up. Being ready for marriage after 17 years of singleness doesn’t mean that you were ready for a destructive and abusive marriage. No one is ready for that and anyone who lives in one finds it extremely difficult to stay well.
I’m thankful that you are in a good and supportive church family and I hope you are getting some godly counsel there. But from my vantage point, I see that your husband has abandoned you. He left you with the financial burden, he refuses to get help for the marriage, he hasn’t made any attempts to change or repair things with you so I’m not holding out a lot of hope that anything will be different.
What are your options? Do you stay in limbo land – waiting to see if God grabs hold of his heart? Do you go back to the same things you had before (I hope not)? Or, do you take his inaction and indifference as abandonment and Biblical grounds for divorce? Those are your choices and they create a tough decision for you to make but I’m confident that as you continue to trust God, he will show you what to do.
Friends, how did you know God was telling you to stay, to wait, or to end your marriage?