How are you holding up? Share some things with our blog community on what you are learning, and how you are using your time now. I’ve been reading more, practicing my art, and taking long walks every morning with Addie (my dog). We’re up to five miles now and I hope we can continue to do this even when we’re not so stuck at home.
These are the books I’m reading or just finished:
Defiant: What the women of Exodus teach us about Freedom by Kelley Nikondeha. Excellent.
Tiny Habits: Small Changes that Change Everything, by BJ Fogg. Just started.
American Dirt: By Jeanine Cummins. Novel about a woman’s escape from the Mexican drug cartel and her immigration to America – so far it’s riveting.
The Next Right Thing: By Emily P Freeman. Excellent on decision making.
The Warmth of Other Suns: By Isabel Wilkerson. About the migration to the North after slavery – excellent.
I Am Pilgrim: By Terry Hayes. A scary novel about the release of smallpox in a terrorism plot. I read this just before the Covid-19 virus hit. Don’t read it now.
Pachinko: By Mim Jin Lee. A novel spanning several generations of Korean life in the 40’s in Japan. Interesting peek into a way of life and culture that’s very different than ours.
Captivate: By Vanessa Van Edwards. An excellent read about developing better social skills to improve your relationships.
The Dressmaker’s Gift: By Fiona Valpy. Excellent story about French seamstresses during WW2. Just started.
Yep, I like to have a lot of books going on at the same time. Some are paper books. Some are kindle. And some I listen to while I walk. The variety helps as I don’t have a long attention span for any one book right now.
This week’s question: I’m currently separated from my husband (7 months) and wanting out of this marriage desperately because he is emotionally unsafe for me. He has taken me down so low I thought I wouldn’t come back up. I am getting stronger with Christ as my center and your YouTube and Facebook videos.
My question is – I’m staying in this marriage right now because of fear of the unknown specifically with our kids.
His entire family (pastors) are controlling, manipulative, and spiteful people who claim to walk with God. They think so highly of themselves and their name, I feel certain they will try and turn our kids against me.
If I file for divorce that would allow them to tell our kids “your mommy did this.” My husband has even told our 7-year-old that when he is 15 he will explain how mom wrecked the marriage.
So there’s no doubt what other lies my husband will tell him. And his parents are the same. I know you focus on the individual – I don’t hear much about kid custody or co-parenting. Is there a place you could direct me to for help in this area?
Right now I feel if I stay, I keep my children and lose myself. If I go, I lose my children and keep myself. I’ve met with 2 attorneys and of course, they say to get out! But I feel like I am throwing my kids to the wolves if I leave the marriage. There is No physical harm, but mental and emotional harm.
Any contacts or YouTube channels or Facebook groups that you recommend? ANYTHING you can think of please let me know when you have time.
Answer: This is a huge and real problem for many women who are in destructive marriages with toxic extended family dynamics especially when the family is prominent and powerful.
I can’t tell you what the future holds for you or your children. However, it seems like you are telling yourself there are only two possible outcomes. The first, you stay in the marriage, shrivel up and die inside but you’re able to save your kids from being harmed or alienated from you. The second, divorce, and rebuild your shattered self, but your kids will be alienated and harmed and it will be all because you left.
Both scenarios sound awful. But I’m not sure those are the only possible outcomes.
For example, if you stay, lose yourself, and get beaten down again, how can you possibly protect your children? That’s not possible.
On the other hand, if you choose to stay, what if you didn’t shrivel up inside? What if you grew stronger, and more resilient instead of reactive and depleted? What if you focused on raising your kids and being a woman of strength and dignity and stopped trying to convince anyone that your husband is emotionally abusive.
Then if or when your spouse or his parents speak poorly of you to your kids what would they actually have to say? If your side of the street is clean and your kids don’t see any behaviors from you that look sinful or cruel towards their dad, his words or accusations won’t ring true.
I’m not saying lie to your kids about the state of the marriage and pretend that you’re a happy couple. You can even say, “Daddy and I have some real differences and sometimes it’s hard to work through them. Right now, our marriage isn’t so good. I don’t know what will happen. But I do know that I can’t fix this all by myself. Right now, I’m trying to be the woman God calls me to be and take good care of you.” And leave it at that. They’re getting older. They can begin to see things for themselves as long as you don’t confuse them by allowing yourself to become beaten down, emotionally weak, or unstable. Taking this route is sometimes not possible.
Option #2, getting divorced, and sharing custody. Co-parenting with someone who is bent on alienating your children and disparaging you is tough but not impossible. If your children have witnessed the emotional abuse towards you, or even experienced some of it themselves, it’s much easier to name it for what it is.
However, If the abuse is more covert, all the more reason for you to learn how to disengage, detach, and not get hooked into his covert tactics. A covert aggressor wants to bait you in order to make you react and look unstable, ungodly, or unglued. The more he wins at this, especially in front of your children, the more he convinces them and others that his version of reality is the truth. This is where you must do your own work, and it’s not just leaving. You must get healthy and strong so his tactics do not work with you anymore.
There are plenty of books, YouTube videos, and classes, both free and paid, on parental alienation. However, I think your first step is to continue your growth so that you don’t give him any evidence to smear you with. He wants you to look bad to your children. He will bait you, provoke you, and manipulate your words, your boundaries, and your actions to make it look like you are the unforgiving, uncharitable, ungodly, sinful person.
You can get really clear on his strategies, but if you don’t do your own work to know how to stand strong in the midst of his games, you will fall and your kids will see it. This only reinforces his version of reality to them.
Right now, whether you leave or stay, you need support, you need to educate yourself and you need to develop a battle plan so that you are not overcome with evil. Click To Tweet
Google parental alienation and you will find lots of resources for you to read. Tina Swithin wrote an excellent book on one mom's battle in her divorce with her husband called Divorcing a Narcissist: Advice from the Battlefield and has some on-line resources on parental alienation.
Friends, when you were too scared to leave and too depleted to stay, what helped you to move out of fear and take your next healthy step forward?