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  • Announcement: I am doing a workshop on Tuesday, February 13th. Walk away from this training equipped with practical tools and actionable tips that you can immediately apply to enhance your relationships. The topic will be “I'm Not Okay When You're Not Okay”: Defining my problem, your problem, and our problem.” you can save your spot at https://leslievernick.com/joinwebinar

Who Do You Want to Be?

By Leslie Vernick

A while back, my friend Barb noticed I was slouching more than usual. Ugh, I feared I was turning into an old lady with bad posture. I didn’t want to end up with a walker and a curved spine so it was time to make a change. I called my gym and made an appointment with a trainer for an evaluation.

Chris, a young, burly fitness trainer, pushed me through a battery of tests and finished our evaluation by whipping out a camera. Already I felt old, frumpy, and fat, but it got worse. You know the saying a picture doesn’t lie. The truth was right in front of me. My shoulders slumped, my belly pouched out, my back swayed, and my neck and chin jutted out from my shoulders in a most unflattering way—and I worked hard to stand up straight when he took the picture. Chris turned to me, eyebrows raised and said, “You need to build your core.”

“What’s that?” I asked, dreading his response.

“Your core muscles wrap around your abdomen and back, support your spine and keep you balanced and stable,” Chris said. “Bottom line, a strong core keeps you from slouching and looking old.” Then he asked, “Are you ready to get to work?”

“Ummm, let me think about this for a few days,” I stammered, anxious to bolt out of there as soon as possible.

After a hard cry, I realized I faced a tough choice.

I was either going to work hard to strengthen my core muscles, or I could continue to do nothing and become rounded and more slouched. I didn’t like those two alternatives. I wanted Chris to tell me that there was a third choice, a pill I could take, a massage I could get, something that didn’t hurt and was easier than working out with weights three times a week. But that wasn’t one of my options if I wanted to improve my core, my weight, as well as my overall muscle strength and alignment.

In the same way, when you’re in a destructive marriage, you know that you have some difficult choices in front of you. You already know you can’t change your marriage or your man, but you can change something. You.

I know change is hard, but I want you to know something important. You can do something even if your husband or marriage never changes. You can choose to grow stronger through your destructive marriage. But I also want to warn you if you choose to do nothing, it will cost you.

Your emotional, mental, and spiritual core will get weaker and weaker, curving inward until your entire personhood is out of alignment. You won’t know who you are anymore or who God made you to be. Your example to your children will be telling them that it’s okay for a husband to devalue a wife, a man to treat a woman with disrespect and contempt. Is this the picture you want them to see? The family life you want them to model in their own families in the future?

Sacrificing yourself and allowing your spouse to continue to sin against you simply to keep peace in your marriage or pretend things are fine when the relationship has terminal cancer sin is never a wise choice, not for you, not for your husband, not for your marriage. God calls you to be a biblical peacemaker but not a peacekeeper or peace faker.

In my book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, I outline four core strengths that are essential to build and maintain good mental, emotional, spiritual, and relational health. I use the acronym CORE to help you remember what they are. With God at your center and with His help, you can make these four changes:

C – I will be committed to truth, both internally in my own heart and mind and externally. I refuse to pretend.

O – I will be open to the Holy Spirit and wise others, teaching me, maturing me, and guiding me into his way of living my life.

R – I will be responsible for my own responses to destructive behavior and commit to being respectful without dishonoring myself.

E – I will be empathic and compassionate toward others without enabling people to continue to abuse and disrespect me.

Marital adversity not only reveals character but also shapes it. You have a choice about how that shaping is taking place in your character.

When you know and believe that you are a loved, valuable, worthwhile human being and live from that core place, toxic people lose their power to manipulate you. They can’t control and intimidate you as they once did when you felt worthless, dependent and needy.

If you don’t strengthen your core, you will always live from your circumstances (of an awful marriage) and your emotions. On the other hand, when you live from your core, your abusive/destructive husband might permanently damage your marriage, but he cannot destroy you.

Don’t forget your CORE reflects who you are or who you want to be, not just what you do.

Book Giveaway


Lord, I Just Want to Be Happy

by Leslie Vernick

Counselor and author Leslie Vernick has discovered that many people pray, “Lord, I just want to be happy!” With candor, Leslie reveals that readers don’t need new circumstances but a new perspective to discover true happiness. With biblical insight, Leslie guides readers to take simple steps as they…

  • recognize and change habits that, day by day, keep them from experiencing happiness
  • make good choices and learn from mistakes without beating themselves up
  • develop the skills that enable them to let go of negative and painful emotions more quickly
  • transform difficult circumstances so they can live with gratitude, joy, and purpose

Application questions help readers work godly thinking, as well as healthy skills and habits, into their lives and hearts. They’ll discover that, even if nothing changes in their circumstances, their inner chains can be broken and they can go free…into a new path of real hope and happiness.

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 “Angry with God: An Honest Journey through Suffering and Betrayal” by Brad Hambrick are Denice M. and Bob S.

Enter For Your Chance to Win

How to Heal Through a Painful Story

By Leslie Vernick

Question: A year ago I finally escaped an emotionally abusive relationship with a young man who proceeded to stalk me for 8 months after I told him to get lost. I was never dating him or even interested. He was needy and I was kind. As soon as I realized what he wanted (a codependent girl), I told him “absolutely not.”

Out of anger, he attempted to blackmail, emotionally abuse, and stalk me for 8 months. I am emailing you because although this was a long time ago and have tried to work through the pain and fear with God and two different counselors, the pain has never gone away and the fear is something I carry into every relationship.

I want to be free, but sometimes all I see is this: the older adults who didn’t believe that this was happening and didn’t raise a finger. My roommate (who let him into my house), and my Christian community who gossiped, hated, or remained aloof instead of helping. Often my emotional energy is exhausted from trying to take care of myself and trying to be a healthy, firm woman. I am 26 years old. I don’t know if you can help me. The last counselor I went to told me that this happened because I was sinful. I AM sinful. But this runs in another vein. Can you give me any steps to become healthy again?

Answer: I am so sorry that your counseling experience wasn’t more helpful and that one of your counselors even told you this happened to you because of your own sin. It reminds me of one of Job’s friends. Job didn’t find that kind of advice helpful either.

I want you to think about a few things that might provide a new roadmap toward healing that enables you to start writing a new chapter to your life story.

What People Are Saying About Leslie's Book “Lord, I Just Want To Be Happy”:

I've enjoyed reading this book immensely. Although I haven't stopped at the end of each chapter to answer questions, I plan to re read and do that very thing. It takes time, but I find when I get into a book, I just want to see what it says first, then take the time for personal inventory. Very good read!


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