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What's New:

  • Next Tuesday: Our Conquer Workshop goes live next Tuesday. Our topic will be “How long should you keep hoping for your destructive spouse to change and how will you know his change is real?” This is a free workshop, so save your seat at leslievernick.com/joinworkshop

When Trying Harder Becomes Destructive

Leslie Vernick

Christian women in troubled marriages who have gone to their pastor or a Christian counselor seeking help are often encouraged to work on themselves and try harder to be more submissive, more caring, more attentive to their husband’s needs, more respectful, and less demanding.

In many marriages this might be wise counsel. When one person starts to try harder it often begets a reciprocal response in the other person. He begins to try harder too. Amends are made and the relationship is repaired. This is a good start and when the marriage stalls, someone needs to get some movement forward. However, in certain kinds of marriages it is not a good idea and can actually make the marriage worse.

Briefly, let me explain why, in some marriages, trying harder to accommodate one’s husband, do what he wants and needs and to be more compliant and submissive to what he says becomes destructive not only to her but also to her husband as well as their marriage.

It Feeds the Lie

Some men do not want to be married to a real woman who has her own feelings, her own needs, and her own brokenness. Instead they want a fantasy wife. A blow up doll wife that continues to bounce back with a smile even when he knocks her down. He wants a wife who always agrees, always acts nice, always smiles and thinks he’s wonderful all of the time no matter what he does or how he behaves.

He wants a wife who wants to have sex with him whenever he’s in the mood, regardless of how he treats her. He wants a wife that will never upset him, never disagree or never challenge him, and never disappoint him. He wants a wife that grants him amnesty whenever he messes up and never mentions it again.

The more a woman colludes with her husband’s idea that he’s entitled to a fantasy wife, the more firmly entrenched this lie becomes. She will never measure up to his fantasy wife because she too is a sinner. A real wife will disappoint him some times. She won’t always be able to meet every want or need. A real wife also reflects to him her pain when he hurts her and God’s wisdom when she sees him making a foolish decision.

In a healthy marriage where both individuals are allowed to be themselves, couples must learn to handle disagreements, differences and conflicts through compromise, mutual caring, and mutual submission. Sacrifice and service are mutually practiced in order to love one another in godly ways. When we fail (as we will) we see the pain in our partner’s face and with God’s help, make corrections so that damages are repaired, and love grows. In an unhealthy marriage when real wife and fantasy wife collide, it’s never pretty.

Therefore, what should wives in destructive marriages do? Start by gaining a bigger vision for God’s role as your husband’s helpmate. According to the Bible a helpmate is not an enabler, but rather a strong warrior. It means you will need to learn to fight (in God’s way) to bring about your husband’s good. You will need to think and pray about how God can use you to meet your husband’s deepest needs, not just his felt needs.

I often give women in these situations this challenge. Ask God what are your husband’s biggest or deepest needs right now. Is it to continue to prop him up, indulge his self-centeredness and self-deception or does he need something far more radical and risky from you?

I encourage her to prayerfully and humbly ask God to show her how best to biblically love her husband. It may be to stop indulging his selfish behavior and speak the truth in love. It may be to reflect back to him the impact his behaviors have on her and their children. It may be to set boundaries against his misuse of power under the guise of headship so that he doesn’t remain self-deceived. It may mean exposing some of his sins to the leadership of the church so that they too can act as a reflective mirror so that he has the best opportunity to look at himself from God’s perspective and repent.

That kind of love is indeed risky, redemptive, and sacrificial as she does not know what his response will be to this kind of love. But if he wakes up and repents of his demand for a fantasy wife that would be a positive change for her, for him, and for their marriage.


The Emotionally Destructive Marriage

by Leslie Vernick

You can’t put it into words, but something is happening to you. Your stomach churns, your heart aches, and the tension in your marriage is making you feel weary and a little crazy. The constant criticism, disrespect, cruelty, deceit, and gross indifference are eroding your confidence and breaking your spirit.

For any woman caught in an emotionally destructive marriage, Leslie Vernick offers a personalized path forward. Based on decades of counseling experience, her intensely practical, biblical advice will show you how to establish boundaries and break free from emotional abuse. Learn to:

  • identify damaging behaviors
  • gain the skills to respond wisely
  • promote healthy change
  • stay safe
  • understand when, why, and even how to leave
  • recognize that God sees and hates what is happening to you

Trying harder to be a perfect fantasy wife won’t help fix what’s wrong your marriage. Discover instead how you can initiate effective changes to stop the cycle of destruction and restore hope for the future.

Two winners will be selected in our next newsletter! (Giveaway only available to U.S. residents)

If you would like to enter to win, you can click here to provide name and email address.

The winners of “Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy” by Leslie Vernick are Jane W. and Pam B.



Want to have Leslie speak at your event?
Click here to find out more information.

September 8th – 10th
Dallas, TX

Center for Christian Counseling
Date TBA
Madison, WI

He Has Aspergers, Do I Stay?

By Leslie Vernick

Question: My husband was diagnosed with Asperger’s over a year ago. He’s an engineer and 56 years old. I was separated for two months living in the same house with him with my children. He promised he would work on the marriage so I called off the divorce.

For 15 months every two weeks, our therapist and I would ask him why he’s not doing the simple things I’m asking him to do. For example, find a movie for us to watch on TV, ask me to take a walk in the park, read some literature of yours to learn more about marriage and how I’m feeling empty.

He says he feels fully filled. He has no remorse, he doesn’t change. He’s been getting told this for 15 months he’s lying to my face being deceitful lying about me in front of my child trying to say he can’t trust me when I’ve never given him a reason not to trust me in 20 years.

I have worked hard having a diagnosis of bipolar for the past 15 years. I don’t have episodes, I don’t go crazy, I am fully in control of my emotions. My question is if he’s not working on the marriage for the past 15 months when he is supposed to be so happy and I gave him another chance to have his family together and have his wife and his income, do you feel since he takes no responsibility for his actions or even cares about how I feel at all and is it OK to finally divorced and throw in the towel?

I’ve also been seeing my pastor at my church for the past 10 years dealing with past pornography problems and other marriage problems so I faithfully go to Christian therapist and pastor and they know how he has been treating me and they say I’ve been emotionally neglected and it’s the indifference that you talk about. I just feel like I can’t go on anymore in this relationship. At 46 years old I feel that I will be losing my sanity If I continue in this crazy cycle that benefits him always and never me.

Answer: It sounds like over the years you’ve worked hard on yourself. You’ve also brought his problems to his attention and competent people helpers, yet nothing really changes. How long do you keep hoping? How long do you keep bugging and badgering him to do what he says he will do? How long do you live this way when nothing is changing? These are your questions to wrestle through. No one can answer these for you but you, because you are the one who has to live with the outcome of your choices.

What People Are Saying About Leslie’s Conquer Support Group

I would like to extend a HUGE “Thank you” to Leslie and her team for making a difference in my life and in my relationship!!! All the knowledge and support I have received from CONQUER has been extremely valuable. I know it was only through divine providence that I stumbled across Leslie and this program at the exact time in my life when I needed help. God is so good! I pray that God will continue to Bless Leslie and all those who are a part of CONQUER to continue teaching, supporting, and loving women in unhealthy relationships.

Thank you! – Pearl


Leslie wants to help you grow in your personal and relational effectiveness. Please submit your questions by clicking here.

Then, visit Leslie's Blog as she posts her responses to one question per week.

Note: Due to the volume of questions that Leslie receives, she is unable to respond to every question.


Leslie Vernick PO Box 5312 Sun City West, Arizona 85376 United States