I feel your prayers for this new book I’m birthing. Thank you so much. It is such a discipline to park my bottom down in my chair for hours at a time during the weekend just to write and pray and think, especially when I sit most of the week for counseling and coaching clients. My computer is not working well, so we finally decided it was time to invest in a new one. I got one that has a screen that works outside so I’m excited that I might be able to write some of my book sitting on my deck. That way I won’t spend the ENTIRE summer inside.
Here is a sneak preview of the results you will get from reading my new book on destructive marriages.
You will gain:
Clarity – to see what’s wrong and why trying harder in the traditional wifely way won’t work in this kind of marriage.
Confidence – to know God’s heart for marriage and gain confidence about how he wants you to love your husband well (even if you don’t like him) and what that looks like biblically, and it doesn’t mean allowing him to continue his destructive behaviors toward you.
Courage – so that you will be empowered to take firm and godly action to protect yourself and your children as well as maximize the opportunity to wake your spouse up to his destructiveness and change.
Competence – to know exactly what steps to take, when to take them, and how to implement them in order to maximize the opportunity for true healing and restoration of your marriage.
Continue your prayers friends. I desperately need and value them.
This week’s question: My family consists of my husband, 3 adult children and one teenager. My 33 year old daughter, 21 year old son, and 16 year old son are all at home. The verbal abuse coming from all directions is just too much to bear. I know that there are two sides to every story, but I tell you, the name calling and the disrespect is too much. I can’t do this much longer. What can I do?
Answer: I’m sorry to hear that you live in a warzone. Understand that this is very toxic to your physical, emotional and spiritual health. When you say that you can’t do this much longer, I’m assuming you mean you can’t continue to endure this treatment much longer. Good. That will give you the strength to make some drastic changes.
I know there are always two sides to every story. I don’t know fully either side, so I’m going to give you some general principles and steps to follow.
First, what’s your part? Why are you allowing yourself to be treated this way by your grown children? What kind of consequences have you implemented as their mother when they talked to you this way as they were growing up? Have they learned it’s acceptable to talk to you with disrespect and use abusive language?
Ask yourself why you’ve been willing to live like a prisoner in your own home? After you’ve done some of your own soul-searching, you need to have a talk first with your husband and then with your children. With your husband, start by saying something like this:
“I cannot live with all this abuse in our home anymore. I can’t stop you from treating me disrespectfully, but I think the children feel it’s OK for them to do because you do it to me. I know I’m not perfect and may do things that aggravate you and them, but I will not tolerate any longer the verbal abuse and disrespect from you or the children. If they don’t stop, I’m going to ask them to move out and I’d like your support. From now on, when you talk with me like that, I’m going to go out for a while. I’ll be back when you can calm down and talk with me constructively.”
With your husband, after you give him the warning, the very first time he gets abusive, leave immediately. Call him from your cell phone and tell him that, when he can calm down and talk respectfully, you’ll be back. Drive around for an hour, go to the mall or a coffee shop, and call back and ask if he’s calmed down and ready to talk respectfully to you. If not, stay out and do not return or call him until the next day. Soon he will learn that his anger get’s him nowhere and you won’t allow yourself to be a target for his fits of rage.
Before you have that conversation with your husband, you need to make a plan just in case you need to spend the night somewhere. I don’t know your extended family situation or financial abilities, but make sure you have the things you need packed in your car so that you don’t have to return home.
With your grown children I might say something like this with a calm voice tone:
“I love you and have been willing to sacrifice many things to help you get on your feet so that you could get a good start in adulthood. But I will not longer sacrifice my health and well being. I am sick of being verbally abused (give specific examples), and I will no longer allow you to live in my home if you choose to continue to talk to me in that way. If you don’t stop immediately, you will have to find another place to live.”
Do not argue and do not back down. When they slip and start up with you, put you open palm up in the air like a stop sign and stay “Stop it!” If they stop, say “thank you” and walk away. If they continue, then remind them of the consequence. If they don’t stop, tell them they have 2 weeks to find a new place to live. And…you must stick with it.
With your 16 year old son, you will say something similar, but instead of telling him he will have to move out, implement the gift of consequences. In other words, when he chooses to talk with you that way, you will not allow him to use your car, or you will disconnect the computer, or cell phone, or whatever works to get him to understand that you mean business. You should do this for only 24 hours. When he is respectful to you for 24 hours, he gets his privileges back.
If your husband won’t cooperate in implementing these consequences with you, then the other option is for you to move out temporarily until the family understands you mean business.
You will have to be firm on changing your part; no pleading and no arguing, just consequences. You cannot change your children or your husband. The only person you can change is you. But as you change, you are creating an atmosphere where it’s more likely that they will make better choices which will be good for you and good for your family.