“I Can Honestly Say I Want Out of My Marriage”

This morning a woman left the note below as a comment to my post 7 Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships. It’s just heartbreaking. And it so perfectly captures what it is to be a woman trapped in an unhappy and abusive marriage that I wanted to share it in this way. Here is her letter, exactly as she wrote it:

I think my biggest problem is confusion. I’ve lived in chaos for so long, I don’t even know what’s right and wrong anymore. Sometimes I feel like I should leave my marriage for the sake of everyone involved and sometimes I feel like I’m supposed to stick it out until something changes and that it is allowing God to develop me and him. But then I think if things don’t change and he EVER makes my girls (who are 1 and 3 years old right now) feel the way he has made me feel, then I couldn’t handle that.

I can honestly say I want out of my marriage. I don’t want to have to live in this kind of pain anymore. I don’t love my husband as a husband anymore because of what he has put me through. But I don’t feel “allowed” to leave my marriage. Like I don’t have biblical grounds and that is all that is holding me back. It would be so much clearer if I were being physically abused then I would know and I would leave. I have become so bitter and hard, that I am starting to become a little like him, towards him anyway. And that to me is the scariest part. I have been married for 6 years and they have been the most painful years of my life. I have never had support or understanding in any way from him. Everyone around me besides maybe a handful of people tell me to leave him.

For the first few years I was so blind I just took it because I loved him. I believed everything he said about me. He would call me lazy, irresponsible, stupid, an idiot. Anything he could think of at the time really. Then there were the actions and the faces that he would make. Many times if things weren’t or aren’t to his pleasing he would dump it on my side of the bed or anywhere and I would just cry and clean it up, whether it was trash or dirty laundry. He always makes me feel so worthless and like there is something so wrong with me. He is manipulative and he lies, but claims he would never do such a thing. He claims to be this organized and clean person, but he plays video games and does nothing while I do everything for our girls and the house. Then once in a while if I haven’t got things done yet he’ll get up and start ranting and raving and pretty much saying any other woman would be doing what he’s doing right now and how I’ve never been much of a woman anyway. Then he even takes it back to my childhood and makes me feel like I was a bad child even though he didn’t know me then.

Then there are those things I just can’t seem to let go of or move on from no matter how hard I try. Like when I lost my cousin and how the day he died when I told him he acted sorry to hear it, but then a little while later he called me back and told me basically to leave him alone and let him do his thing and I’ll do mine. That was in the first year of marriage. He still hurts me every single day in some way or another, but I don’t let it affect me in the same way. I act bitter and mean just like him. When I told him I was pregnant the first time we were getting ready to leave for a bible study and he said that I told him at the wrong time and basically made me feel like I was a bad person for getting pregnant. There are countless stories and things I wish I could share from over the years just cause it feels good to have someones understanding, but my biggest dilemma right now is the confusion. I walk in confusion everyday…saying yes and no to myself about leaving. I pretty much live in a daze. I can’t concentrate or operate like I used to and I am depressed. I don’t know I just wish someone could make sense of things for me even though many have tried and I believe them for the first hour or two and then I’m back to questioning. Is that normal?

Also, my husband told me in our first year of marriage that if he had it to do all over again he wouldn’t have married me and from that point on he stopped telling me he loved me. I haven’t heard those words again until within the past year and that was because I left him for over half a year. He told me on our one year anniversary that he had feelings for someone else and that it wasn’t necessarily a sexual or physical attraction, but a spiritual one. He has told me countless times over the years that he doesn’t believe I’m saved or that I need to get saved because I don’t “bare fruit”. Almost a year ago he said God changed him and he told me he loved me which to me was such a big change that I believed him, but on day one he was already back to making me feel so stupid. I just feel like I’ve lost who I once was and that it’s almost impossible (except for a miracle) to ever even know who I really am again. I do feel stronger because I don’t take it like I used to, but then I feel weak because I am acting like him. It’s just so much to deal with and sort through. I really appreciate this blog and I can identify with so much of it. I know it is the truth for other women, but sometimes for some reason I feel like my situation is unique and that I am supposed to deal with this somehow. I don’t know.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • JoAnn Mitchell

    Confusion is the word that describes an emotionally/verbally abusive marriage. As, it is obvious you are a gentle soul; so he can easily make you confused about yourself. Especially if you are a stay-at-home mom and do not have the type of parents you could go back to for awhile.

    Honey, you are me years ago. I didn’t leave for the reasons you stated. Thought well God will change him or God wants me to learn something as otherwise why “Am I living this living hell”.

    He didn’t change and the Hell continued. I am still with him; 35 years later I am still with him. Instead of becoming bitter; I did become even more meek. Not necessarily a good thing. I would tell you to leave. You and your daughters do not deserve this; and yes, he will make your daughters feel the same way as time goes on. All my children are adults now; they all have major issues with their father. I never got the family I so wanted due to his mouth and violent actions (no physical; because I stood in front of each child and said NO); but, oh, the anger towards me was unbearable.

    Honey, you do not deserve this; God does not want this for you. I had no where to go with a large group of children and had become isolated due to being a stay-at-home mom.

    Today, my life is what it is. He is trying as all kids are gone; and now all focus is on him; so that helps him to calm down. People have said to him “I would not treat my dog the way you treat her”. But, he was physically and emotionally abuse himself for the first eighteen years of his life. So, it is all he had in his tool box. Was it worth it? NO! I did my best to get children through a bad situation. Went to church about fourty hours a week to survive. Did get much time alone with my kids as work kept him away for about sixty hours a week.

    My heart breaks for you…. blessings, love to you.

    JoAnn

    • RoeDylanda

      JoAnn,

      I’m so sorry about the life you described here, and moved beyond words that you could use it to help someone else. I hope there is light for you, and soon. You are a strong soul to last this long. I don’t know you, but my heart breaks for *you.*

      I hope your children are a source of love and comfort for you. Can your church help you out of there? You could still have a long and fulfilling life away from this man. I will hold you in the light as well. Please take care.

      • JoAnn Mitchell

        Your kindness is greatly appreciated.

        Sometimes a little candle light upon the road of life is enough, is enough.

        I greatly appreciate life and the God-given opportunity to walk within it.

        My soul rest in Christ in the chaos of my existence. Tears do fall; heart does hurt; mind is unsure as it seeks truth. Yet, I continue to walk, continue to walk accepting balm where it is offered.

        Thank you for the balm and candle light.

        Blessings to you and yours,

        Jo

  • JoAnn Mitchell

    This morning icycles are frozen on barren tree limbs. The world is still turning; the Sun and Moon in place. The brightness of sunlight shimmers upon the blanket of snow.

    Honey, I need to state one more thing: Use the pain you are in to have compassion for all. For gay individual’s and the broken. Read “Raggamuffin Christian by Brennan Manning”; the one “gift” if you can call it a “gift” from that much pain is understanding/ having empathy for others.

    For how much a gay individual feels the same type of emotional and verbal abuse pain.

    Have compassion for others from what you have felt yourself.

    God bless you… and move on, move on. He will not change; actually as stress becomes larger as the girls grow older it will become worst.

  • Melissa Chamberlin

    No, you do not deserve this, and No, God does not wish for you to stay in this.

    Whatever you decide to do, stay or leave, I ask that you find some support. Reach out and let someone….someone who loves you…know about what is happening.

    I am wishing that you would have given more information about where you live. I have a three bedroom house where I only use one bedroom. My entire upstairs is waiting for someone like you. You have an out…but I know the risks. Please ask John for my information if you want it.

    God Bless you. Melissa

  • Denise

    Make a plan and leave. I pray you will wake up one morning and be able to have the “lightbulb” moment – I woke up and said “I am not going to live this way anymore” and, in the end, it was hubby who left. It hasn’t been easy getting divorced (and later remarried) – it’s been 4 years and only NOW do I begin to feel a little like I am getting the old me back (as you refer in your post). It’s taken that long for me to realize how bad it truly was and how much better my life is now. Yes, I still get abusive emails as the ex is angry that he has to pay child support (and is currently over $7K in arrears) but he cannot hurt me any longer. I have worried about my children and their safety. I have woken in the night and been scared about what if hubby went to the knife drawer in the kitchen and got one when he was in one of his crazy tirads. Don’t just walk out one afternoon but think things through. Take people you can trust into your confidence. And then do it, even if it hurts. I stayed 13 years — and things weren’t good (physical abuse) from year one. You have to come to the realization that probably your husband doesn’t have it within himself to be what you and the children need him to be. And don’t let him “hide behind God” in this — abuse is abuse. Good luck dearie, you need it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/PembertonD David Pemberton

    I am praying for your solution, that the ministering angels of hope and freedom come to your aide.

    Please, and I mean today, please align yourself with an abused women’s group who can help you escape. Please be careful, and protect yourself. Let no one know where, when, or if you are leaving, but leave as soon as you can. This man is not a husband, and God will not condemn you for leaving this kind of abuse. He is in his hell. You do not belong there.

    I have seen and worked personally with women who allow this kind of abuse to continue. It will never end in the way you want. God wants you to find happiness, and peace. You cannot make him change, and you will not. He has to want to be a husband, and I pray one way or the other you will find a safe haven. Please escape this NOW.

    Is there anyone on here who will comment, and help with a number, or assistance to remove her from that man, with her children. They are in danger. This is not good John…. please get her help to escape!

    You can always message me on FB or Twitter… I will do everything I can.

    http://www.facebook.com/PembertonD

    http://www.twitter.com/TheGiftOP

    • Natalie

      “God wants you to find happiness, and peace.”

      Indeed, and may that be said of all of us.

  • Gin

    I’ve never had reason to reply to one of John’s blog posts before, but I cannot help but respond to this one. I was a child raised in an abusive household. As someone who has experienced what you are going through from a different perspective, I ask, please think of your children. I know you worry for them, and you are right to. While your husband may never directly abuse them, I assure you simply living in that kind of atmosphere is damaging enough. I’ve yet to forget the terror I used to feel when my dad went into one of his fits of rage, calling my mother all the names under the sun. I was a very angry child due to the surroundings i was raised in, and I have been through so much pain growing up because of what happened between my parents. My Mother has apologised to me on a number of occassions for not leaving him earlier, but it wasn’t her fault, she didn’t know any better. She had no one to support her, no one who would take her cries for hel seriously, but you my friend do. You have people here willing and loving you to say yes to a better life, not only for you but for your children. This is not a situation you are supposed to stay in so you can learn some grand lesson from, and you are not called to be a martyr. Jesus delights in our joy and agonises over our suffering, He does NOT want to see you in pain as you are. I am not married, and so cannot speak to your relationship with your husband, but i can tell you that you need to get your children away from that atmosphere as soon as possible.

    I truly hope you are able to find the strength and assurance you need to know that it is not wrong to leave an abusive relationship. Abuse is abuse, it does not matter what form it takes.

  • berkshire

    Do not make the mistake of thinking that physical abuse is the ultimate test of whether you are or are not really being abused. You *are* being abused. There have also been studies that show that, for children, verbal/emotional abuse can be even more damaging. There is a lot I could say about doing this for yourself, and you have probably already heard much of it.

    So I will say that, for your children, who are in a critical period of their development, you have to leave.

    Exposure to domestic abuse (and that includes the verbal/emotional abuse you describe) has a profound effect on brain development. Such exposure increases the risk of mental illness for them later in life, and can even alter brain structure–not just brain function. I work with such children, and I also work with adults (men and women) who are still dealing with the consequences of exposure to domestic abuse as children.

    Beyond that, you and your husband provide for them the primary model of how relationships work, what love ‘looks like’ and ‘feels like’. Ask yourself what they are learning from this situation. . . Do you want to see them spend their young adult and adult lives seeking out men just like your husband, trying to resolve past issues that way (sometimes not even consciously doing it), or just putting up with abuse under the mistaken notion that that’s what love is, because they know of nothing else?

    Love yourself the way you wish your husband would. In so doing, you will teach your daughters to do the same, help them develop strength and self-esteem.

    If you tell yourself “maybe God wants me to develop through this” then let it be that you develop self-esteem, self-respect by knowing when to say when. Help him to develop by ceasing to enable him, and forcing him to see that his actions have consequences and he can’t abuse you forever. You may feel you have the option of staying or going, yourself. But when children are involved, you have a responsibility to protect them. That’s your job . . . even if it means protecting them from their own parent. He is not just damaging you, he is damaging them, and he has no right to do that. If he has forgotten his responsibility to them (or never knew it), you must not forget yours. You have already been with him for years–what will happen this year or next that will suddenly turn him into a loving and supportive partner if you continue with things as they are?

    I don’t know where you’re located, but one place you can start to make a plan, or at least inquire about resources available to you is here:

    http://www.mysistersplaceny.org/

    This organization helps abused women. They have locations in many places. The site above is for NY, but if you are somewhere far from there, perhaps you can write to them and inquire about how to find resources closer to home. Their purpose is to help people just like you. Also, if you live anywhere near a University or College (and by near, I mean if there’s one within 100 miles) that has a social work department or psychology department, or counseling center for students, contact them and ask about resources. Contact family or child protective services in your state anonymously, and inquire.

    Love yourself, love your children, and leave. Break the cycle. Do it, or kick yourself as you watch your girls go through the same nightmare some years down the road. You sound like a gentle and loving soul who is hurting. I do not believe you want that fate for your girls. Help is out there if you will seek it. You already know what you must do.

    You already know.

  • Susan

    Dear Survivor,

    The thoughts you have are common – the guilt of leaving, that your situation is special and you need to stay, etc. NOBODY can sustain your situation and think clearly in such an oppressive, dysfunctional environment.

    Read the letter you wrote as if someone else wrote it….what would you tell them to do? No doubt, you’d see the direness of the situation and tell that person to leave.

    You MUST leave. Make a plan, tell no one, go to a shelter, erase your computer’s online history. If you have documented the abuse and will need it for the future, save it on a flash drive and erase from your computer. Take the flash drive with you.

    God wants you alive, and healthy in body, mind and soul. NONE of these can happen where you are. This is not your fault. You need to take care of yourself, put your abused thought pattersn on hold, be safe and get to safety.

    Peace.

  • Tim

    Here is a view that may be met with outrage and anger, but here goes nevertheless.

    My dad died of Alzheimer’s Disease. The effects that this disease has on the brain, causes changes in temperament, moods, and perceptions, that create nightmare scenarios for the spouse or caregiver. While everyone reading this dear sister’s dilemma, is quick to suggest leaving and moving on…let me make an alternate suggestion. I doubt if anyone here would disagree that the husband needs therapy and possibly medication. While he is probably unwilling to seek help as long as she continues to absorb his abusive output, by seeking a legal separation and extracting herself and her girls from that situation could be the catalyst needed for the man to reach his crisis point. Obviously six months was only enough to make him say, “I love you”, and then, only as a manipulative phrase as a means to an end.

    The reason I brought up Alzheimer’s Disease, is because any behavioral dysfunction is a matter of dysfunctional brain chemistry. While the path of Alzheimer’s dementia is unchangeable, other behavioral dysfunctions are treatable and reversible IF… the affected individual has the resolve to change for the sake of saving their marriage and their family. Since nowhere in the letter did this dear woman mention that any professional medical intervention had been attempted, I feel it paramount to suggest that leaving this husband behind and moving onto a new life, may be looked back upon with regret later on.

    We see an unchanging spouse with abysmal flaws as unlovable and unlivable. That lack of both affects our resolve to love a spouse as Christ loved us while we were still enemies to Him. I would never suggest that she continue to stay, especially in light of the fact that the status quo will never lead to any resolution on the husband’s part. Legal separation will remove her and her children from the situation without creating any immediate inward conflict for her, over divorcing without biblically sufficient grounds. While she may not feel any love for the abusive husband, that is a natural emotional response to the situation. The husband needs help, and if it’s the last thing this wife does for him…it may end up being the kindest thing.

    Now, it could be that after six months of separation, the manipulation will start all over again. It would be foolish to capitulate. Demand that the husband seek professional psychological help, as well as spiritual counsel from the church. If the church happens to spout the nonsense about women submitting to their husbands, WALK. Find a church that teaches equal responsibility in marital health. He will never find healing for his mental problems if he’s coddled by sexist bible interpretations. Even if he submits to treatment, It would be reckless to return. Force him to stick with it and find healing for his sake and not for anyone or anything else. It would be good for the wife to seek both modes of counseling for herself. Chances are, the problems the husband has, are the result of emotional damage caused by events in his own life.

    We are all damaged goods. There is no perfect person that will not fail us in one way or another. I ‘m not saying that this woman must stay with this sap, but I’m suggesting that if she leaves any stone unturned BEFORE leaving him for good, she may have regrets later on. Chances are the guy will refuse to submit to therapy and decide to call it quits to the marriage himself. Then, mom and kids can begin again with a clean conscience. But after all, this is a Christian blog. Marriage asks us to love one another in sickness and in health, for better and for worse. Even if hubby was an asshole coming into the marriage, there is decent chance that he can work through his demons with professional and spiritual counseling.

    As closing note…when my dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my mom and him had been on the verge of divorce for most of the 55 years they were together. They shared a relatively loveless marriage. Dad was no picnic. But something miraculous happened when he was struck down. She went back for him and pulled him up out of the mud and carried him. In the seven years he struggled against an insurmountable foe, she fell in love again. This time, seeing him through different eyes. At times he was impossible to cope with. He had hallucinations. He accused her of conspiring with others to kill him. He regularly asked for that “other gal” he used to love to spend time with. She took it all in stride. She realized, in a personal way, what it meant to forgive because they didn’t know what they did.

    My constant prayer for my parents was that they would finish well. They did. That’s my prayer for any marriage.

    My prayers and thoughts go out to this particular marriage and family.

    • DR

      Tim I believe that without a doubt, your advice here is well-intended and spoken by a man who has been through a lot in his marriage. That being said (and because people disagree with you it does not mean you’re going to be blasted for it, people are certainly more civil here), I couldn’t disagree with you more. Not necessarily the spirit of your comment or the idealism within it – certainly God can and does do miracles when people stay together.

      But this is violence. Emotional violence caused by someone who might be mentally ill or who might just be severely selfish, spoiled and emotionally crippled as a result. We would not ask the spouse of a very sick cancer victim to stay in the room with her husband while he receives radiation in order to take care of him when she in fact, is not protected. The responsibility for those who suffer from an emotional disorder or mental illness is on us to identify, pursue treatment, follow the treatment, stick with the treatment and get better. They do that alone, it is not the caretaker who does any of this for them.

      So again, I know you’ve been wounded in your marriage. But there is a time to suggest sticking with a marriage (and again I don’t disagree that’s a great thing) and it’s not when someone is being abused. The impact of that is making the victim feel like he or she is obligated to stay.

      The care taker can’t

      • Diana

        Agree.

      • Kirsty

        Tim, I have to say that while for the majority of the population I do believe in redemption, and I do believe that there is a chance for change, for many abusers it is not simply brain chemistry that causes them to abuse. Many times it is deep-seeded personality disorders which do not respond well to therapy or medication. There are many theories as to what causes personality disorders with leading theories being genetics and/or trauma and abuse during the first three years of life (in the latter, these experiences actually re-wire the brain).

        I stayed in a marriage that was on its way to killing me for 20 years because I truly believed he could change and that it was God’s will that I was in his life and he in mine. It took a horrendous event to make me realize that God did not will me to sacrifice my life for his.

      • Tim

        DR

        The tenor of your response sounds as though I’m suggesting this woman and her children stay. My primary concern is that she protect herself and her girls by seeking legal separation. From a safe distance and undisclosed location, she can measure her options. I thought I made that fairly clear.

        I still maintain that NOT jumping immediately into a new life is probably the best legacy she could leave her daughters. Keep in mind, that unless there is a history of physical abuse, no judge will deny the father at least some form of visitation or custody. Regardless of the situation, this man will always be the father of these two girls. Custodial rights cannot be stripped away according to what MIGHT happen. My sister has worked for California CPS for over fifteen years, and it takes more than being an asshole to lose custodial rights. I hope this woman does protect herself and her girls, but I also hope she exhibits a desire to help her husband get better from a safe place. Walking out on the situation only teaches the girls the idea that instead of trying to help people their dad be a better person, we should abandon them on the side of the road and move on.

        One needn’t be physically present to be a good Samaritan and one needn’t be in the same room to support a husband receiving radiation therapy.

        • DR

          While I understand you suggested a legal separation, again the spirit of your post suggested otherwise. There is just simply a time and a place to start talking about reconciliation and the obligations one spouse has to another that is sick. Your message was undoubtedly meant well but what actually came through was a subtle suggestion that – like your mom – to stick with someone who is sick and subsequently hurting her is the ultimate “good thing”. And again – it might be. But it’s just timing. For someone who is suffering from the impact of sustained emotional abuse, it’s like asking her to run back into a burning building to get the pictures that she might regret losing. She’s getting out with her life and the life of her kids and for girls, when their dad is emotionally abusive it ruins their minds and hearts.

          Anyway, it’s just feedback. Take it or leave it!

          DR

      • helen

        It is heartening to see how well meaning and dedicated people have been to this issue. I must agree, however, that patience in an abusive situation, in hopes of helping the abuser, who may be emotionally ill and in need, is to tragically err by neglecting what is at stake for those subjected to the abuse. After 41 years of my own subjection to regular doses of emotional abuse, and occasionally, phusical, that my children now in their 20s, sadly witnessed, I finally reached the resolve to leave, but feel crippled to do so. My children have suffered immeaurably, their father has been diagnosed with a serious mental disorder, has been on medication and has undergone regular treatment now for over 12 years, but the abuse has been relentless. My children are sad, and my daughter now disgusted, to see me stay. Leave while you are not so emotionally cirppled that you cannot, and save your children. I wish I had listened to professionals who had counseled me to do so after his diagnosis.God help us all.

    • http://www.facebook.com/john10423 John Gragson

      “outrage” i wasn’t inspired to feel, and i think Tim’s right that she should always be willing to forgive the guy. but i don’t know that i’d advise her, “Chances are the guy will refuse to submit to therapy and decide to call it quits to the marriage himself. Then, mom and kids can begin again with a clean conscience.” i don’t agree with that premise as i understand it. if she should try and make it “his fault” (if it weren’t already), that’s just playing games. there’s no good answer to this kind of situation, but assuming that what she says is true, she needs to get help for herself first. and i hate to bash anyone’s church, but from the sound of it the church they’re going to is making the situation worse. really, what sort of “Christian” judges women by whether or not they “bear fruit”?

      • Diana

        “Chances are the guy will refuse to submit to therapy and decide to call it quits to the marriage himself…” I think it more likely that the guy will refuse to submit to therapy but insist upon clinging to the marriage anyway and that he will continue to try to control his wife using the weapons of guilt and fear. That’s what often happens in this type of situation.

        Mandy, I agree with all of those who are urging you to get out. Take seriously what Don Rappe said on January 9, 2011 at 11:42 pm. Don’t wait for the worst to happen.

      • Tim

        I didn’t make myself clear, obviously. I wasn’t suggesting any game playing.

        The idea is that the separation doesn’t allow him to reject therapy and cling to the marriage. No therapy, no hope for reconciliation or reunion. Any decent therapist should be able to see when someone is just going through the motions with deceitful intent. All I’m saying is give the girls’ dad the benefit of the doubt. They may not be able to understand now at a young age, but later on in adulthood, they will know that their mom did all she humanly could to help their father preserve their marriage and family together. If he rejects therapy, he has in all respect, rejected his marriage and his family. Once that’s established, he has no marriage to cling to. At that point, I believe she can divorce him in all good conscience. Maybe DR is right and he is beyond help. But I believe she owes it to herself and her daughters to find out one way or the other. They don’t have to live in a house with him to find that much out.

        • Mindy

          Mandy should take everything slowly. She needs to leave, find a place of safety and peace, and learn to believe in herself again – which will likely be difficult, because she has been told for so long that she is worthless. But she can do that. Counseling will serve her well. She needs to focus on herself and her children, separate from whatever drama her spouse will surely put forth.

          That being said, she doesn’t have to immediately file for divorce. She needs an attorney, though – to make the separation legal, to arrange for supervised visitation, and to make counseling a mandatory condition of reconciliation. She needs a way to communicate with her spouse other than directly – as in through an attorney, so that no further abuse can take place.

          And while she is focusing on finding her own inner strength and restoring her shattered self-image, she can hope that her spouse will take seriously the need to seek counseling and change. The odds are against him, that’s for sure. His behavior is terribly narcissistic, and that seems to be one of the most difficult personality disorders to overcome. But giving him time to work on it is reasonable, because she will need that time to find herself, as well.

          If he fails to seek help and change, she can then divorce without guilt. And by the time she gets to that point, she will have learned what life is like with her sweet babies when she is not walking on eggshells, fearing the next outburst, when they can laugh and play without knowing that somehow they will pay for all those smiles. It will be a freedom she will not likely want to relinquish.

          • Tim

            Agree agree agree! I don’t always word my responses carefully. Especially when this infernal iPad tries to figure out which word I’m typing and turns it into another word, altogether.

            I realize we all have a dog in this fight in one respect or another, so it’s hard to be emotionally objective. Yet, I always try to stress forgiveness and second chances. Maybe the guy doesn’t deserve a second chance. I don’t know. It’s actually foolish of me to offer any suggestions without hearing the husbands side of the story. I suppose that’s why it’s biblical to hear the testimony of two or more witnesses that the whole truth may be established.

            Have a good day, Mindy, and thanks for your input.

          • DR

            You always are willing to bring another perspective that goes against the grain and it’s why I appreciate you participating! To believe in the ability for healing, redemption and forgiveness is a really important and wonderful thing, particularly after what you’ve gone through in your own marriage. I hope you didn’t feel attacked at all.

            DR

          • Tim

            Heavens no, DR. I have the skin of a Rhinocerous….metaphorically speaking. GBY.

        • Lina

          Tim, your advice is exactly what I was led to believe and follow for over 20 years. He would abuse, say sorry, shows signs of change, then abuse again. Nobody told me about the cycle and pastors he talks to are STILL in the dark about it. Unfortunately, the advice I got from the church only resulted in more trauma and damage to the family. You said any decent therapist will be able to tell – not at all. He has continually hoodwinked the most recommended of Christian psychologists and Christian counselors. He has manipulated Bible Study leaders and pastors as well. He changes tactics very easily to suit himself.

          In the end, I just followed my own gut instincts and went AGAINST what the counselor and psychologist recommended. Why? Because I was afraid that the kids and I were going to implode. We left and are so much better. Do we have biblical grounds for divorce? Yes – abuse is Biblical grounds for divorce, but not many know it. Not Under Bondage by Barbara Roberts is a great book that delves into the Scriptures and gives the evidence for it.

          Normal people who have issues can go through therapy and may have a chance of changing. But if a narcissistic, disordered abuser (who doesn’t present as such) tries to do therapeutic separation, he will end up covertly and insidiously carrying on his abuse through control and manipulation. Very few will detect it, because he lies and the pastors won’t know he is lying – after all, therapy and counselling is about listening to the client but in the case of an abuser, he is not a reliable source of information.

          I certainly hope that my ex’s current desperate attempts to show real change lead to change, for his sake and for the Kingdom’s sake. But meanwhile, it is cruel to keep us involved in his life in any way. The only way to heal is to not have ANYTHING to do with him. Abuse is soul murder, and my ex just about killed us.

          • Tim

            I appreciate what you endured and I would never blame anyone for making the decision you made. I guess my response may seem like an over-reaction, and it may well be. Like I told another commenter, we all seem to have a dog in this fight. I am also aware that there are those pathological deceivers that will skillfully put off all the right appearances and say the right things, but in the end, the spouse and the kids are usually the best judge of whether or not a person has genuinely changed.

            Blessings to you and yours.

    • Natalie

      Tim, while I (like others who have commented here) agree that you mean well by this post, I have to disagree with you on an “alternative” solution. This woman is living with daily mental and emotional abuse. She has already begun to change due to the affects from this abuse – his words and his emotions are changing who she is at the core, and that is not a good thing. IF the husband wants to change, that is HIS responsibility – it is not his wife’s duty to stick by him while he goes to therapy and counseling and gets on medication. She has done her part, she has stuck by him, she has trusted him when he says he’ll change, and he has shown time and time again that he really has no intention of changing. He’s just afraid to be alone because he will have no one left to manipulate, no one left to make him feel big. I agree 100% with DR above – “The responsibility for those who suffer from an emotional disorder or mental illness is on us to identify, pursue treatment, follow the treatment, stick with the treatment and get better.” This is violence, and she has waited long enough. If she leaves and her husband decides that he needs to make the change, then he can do it on his own, because when it comes down to it, only we can make ourselves change – that’s the beauty and tragedy of free will.

      • Tim

        Ask any psychiatrist or psychologist if a person with a mental disorder can self-identify their own dysfunction. They cannot help themselves. They need someone, a helpmate, to intervene on their behalf. When people get married, they generally make a vow to God with everyone in attendance as a witness. They vow to love honor and cherish in sickness and health, for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, and so on. To say that she has no responsibility doesn’t exactly jive with those vows. If those vows are of no account, then why are even having this discussion? Fulfilling any portion of those vows does not demand that anyone be physically present or subject to emotional or verbal abuse, or violence. I’m not suggesting that she has to physically live in the same home, city or even same state to “stick by him”. I side with the mom. I agree she should get out and legally separate until a time when she can be sure that he is beyond help and she can divorce with no regrets. That’s evidently too much for me to suggest in most people’s estimation. However, I pray she and her girls get away to a peaceful and quiet place…that she seeks the Lord, and counts the cost of any decision she makes. I pray the same thing for her husband

        • Lina

          The trouble with hoping and giving chances, even from a distance, is that she leaves the door open and anyone who has been abused knows that trauma bonding makes the tie a very very strong, though toxic one. She needs to break it to heal. Any contact at all from the husband, even a “Hi honey you are all I live for, the Lord is changing me, can we meet up for a coffee?”, though harmless to others, will do her head in. She is suffering trauma and anything that sucks her back in will re-injure her.

          Experts in abuse (eg Lundy Bancroft, author of Why Does He Do That) claim many abusers don’t have mental disorders. If they do, those need to be dealt with separately and if they are healed, their abusiveness still needs to be addressed because they are different issues. An abuser can take responsibility for changes in behavior – it is not caused by a dysfunction he can’t help, it is rooted in entitled and justified thinking.

          Vows made “for better, for worse” doesn’t refer to worse treatment from one to another. That is tolerating and enabling wickedness. Since when did the institution of marriage become an excuse for allowing evil? Does God want us to protect an institution at the expense of the wellbeing of people in it? In that case, Jesus shouldn’t have healed on the Sabbath. No wonder the Pharisees were livid. How dare he break an honored institution.

          “For better, for worse” refers to life circumstances and events that happen from the outside that are unforeseen, like loss of job, loss of health, natural disasters, etc. Abuse is not what the writers of that vow had in mind. Marriage partners should help one another, but not at the expense of one’s health. I used to say that I couldn’t be his wife, lover, helpmeet and punching bag at the same time. Even removing myself physically didn’t remove my availability to be abused unless I cut off all ties and contact. You have to live in it to understand how pernicious this is.

          • Diana A.

            “The trouble with hoping and giving chances, even from a distance, is that she leaves the door open….” And leaving the door open doesn’t just leave the person being abused vulnerable to more abuse, it also tends to encourage the abuser to feel that he (there are female abusers, but this one is a he) has gotten away with it and will continue to get away with it.

            Sometimes the best break is a clean break.

  • Mindy

    First, I send you positive thoughts and prayers for strength and hope. Second, I implore you to take those little girls and leave. Don’t let them live for another week in a home in which Daddy treats Mommy like a dog.

    It is easy to think that you should stick out a bad marriage, that God has some greater message there for you – but is it still wrong. Leaving won’t be easy. You need to make a solid plan. You need to have the support of anyone you can find – family or a best female friend. Document what you can remember of what he’s said and how he’s treated you, and then GO.

    As Tim said, we are all damaged goods. But you are not responsible for only yourself anymore, you are responsible for two other lives, girls who will grow up believing their father’s behavior toward their mother is normal if you do not remove them from it. They will find men to treat them the same way, and the cycle will continue.

    You have the power to break the cycle. You have the power to find your kind and gentle self under that bitter exterior you’ve developed as you’ve fought to survive this with your dignity intact. Demanding that he get counseling, etc. is all fine and good, but chances are, it won’t happen unless he knows he will otherwise lose you completely. Which means you HAVE TO LEAVE. And you have to stay gone until he has healed whatever it is inside him that has made him cruel.

    I was fortunate not to have had children with my abuser – but I do have two daughters now, and protecting them is the one thing that matters most of all.

    Peace.

  • Kelly

    As a child you grew up in an abusive home, get out!!!

    I am so proud of my mom for leaving my father after 19 years of marriage. People do not change remember that. By leaving my mom taught me that I deserve better and love does not have to hurt mentally or physically. Because of the courage of my mom, my brothers and I were finally able to live in a quiet peaceful home! Now years later I am married to a wonderful man who treats me like an equal and loves me more than I thought possible! Give your daughters the greatest gift you can right now, leave.

    Good luck and God bless.

    • Tim

      @Kelly

      While I agree that this woman and her kids need to get away from the current situation, I disagree that people don’t change. Maybe they don’t change easily, but 28 years in ministry has proven to me that people can change if they want to. The wife I was married to for nearly 15 years changed. When I married her, she was very forgiving and always looked for the best in people. I really admired that, since I was a less forgiving person with a pessimistic bent. Somewhere along the way, she changed. Like I said in an earlier post, we are all damaged goods to one extent or another. We are responsible to one another (at least in marriage) to be painfully honest with one another and be frank about when we are hurt and what hurts us. We need to give ultimatums and let the spouse know in certain terms when they need to get help with any behavior that threatens our emotional health and our children’s emotional health, if there are any. We should be better at reading when our spouse is hurting, but often, we are to wrapped up in our own issues to get an accurate read. Or too often we deny that anything is wrong when something is seriously wrong. Failure to be honest is the single most destructive force in relationships. It has always been that way, and it will always be that way. We have to risk hurting a person we love to salvage the relationship with that person. It’s called tough love, and too few know how to use it.

      I don’t disgpagree with the bulk of your comment…only that people don’t change. That just isn’t true. They change for the better AND for the worse all the time.

  • Azi

    Emotional abuse may not leave obvious physical wounds, but it does leave long-lasting scars that are hard to heal from. And just cause it hasn’t been physical doesn’t mean it wont escalate.

    Call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline (1−800−799−SAFE(7233)) if you can. From a safe number.

    I had to rescue a friend from such a situation this past summer. No actual physical violence (though there were threats,) just a LOT of emotional abuse and manipulation. They were very helpful and gave us local contacts for groups that could help her out.

  • tavdy79

    I would imagine that one of your greatest concerns is that you have made certain promises to him which you do not feel able to break. Many people consider marriage to be the binding of two souls together (I don’t personally, but I’m working on the assumption you do so am coming at this from that angle) hence ending a marriage is a serious thing. So let’s go back to the vows you both took.

    I,____, take thee,_____, to my wedded Wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth.

    — Groom’s wedding vows, Anglican Book of Common Prayer

    I, ____, take you, ____, to be my (husband/wife). I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health. I will love you and honor you all the days of my life. I, ____, take you, ____, for my lawful (husband/wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

    — Catholic wedding vows

    I’m assuming you used one of these sets, or a close variation – most people do. If so, your husband is clearly in breach of his wedding vows due to his actions and words. He has chosen not “to love and to cherish” nor to “love you and honour you all the days of [his] life”, but instead his has chosen to ridicule and denigrate and dishonour. He has clearly broken the promises he made to you and to God.

    Traditionally at the end of the marriage ceremony the priest says the words “what God has joined together, let man not separate”; the words are Jesus’ own, from Matt 16:9 and Mark 10:9. But if your husband has broken his vows to you, is seems to me that he has already caused a division in the marriage. In other words, you should not feel guilt over something he has destroyed.

    If you still feel concern over the spiritual implications of divorce, don’t feel obligated to choose that route. You don’t have to divorce him, but his actions mean you’re no longer obligated to put up with his attitude and, as others have noted, give your daughters an unhealthy idea of what it means to be a woman in the process. You could choose to separate on a permanent basis. You wouldn’t be breaking any vows he has not already rendered irrelevant by breaking himself.

    Finally, as someone who was a victim of emotional and psychological abuse as a teen, I can say that the situation your daughters are in is unhealthy for them in ways you may never realise or fully understand, and which will affect their future health and happinness in a myriad of ways. Their best interests have to come before yours or your husband’s. Children benefit from their parents remaining together only if there is a strong bond of mutual love and respect between them; this is clearly not the case here: by staying you could do them more harm than good.

  • http://strelitziamusings.blogspot.com Birdie

    I responded to Mandy on the original post and I am reposting that comment here:

    Mandy, if you won’t leave for yourself, do it for your children. They are learning from you what to expect in their marriages. This is the template for their future. What do you wish to instill in your daughters? They need to see you respect yourself, take control of your life, and work toward a happy future. Your happiness in only your hands; that will always be the case.

    You don’t seem confused at all, honestly. You close with the realization that other women should leave in similar circumstances. Why are you different? The real question is: what do you fear? Is the awful present really better than an unknown future? Every city has an agency to deal with domestic abuse—and make no mistake, that’s what is happening in your marriage. Call them. Talk to them. Find out your options so that the fear can be faced. Having done it, I can tell you that the fear does not go away until you step through it and act. We’re rooting for you and your children, honey. You know what to do.

  • DR

    You are brave and wonderful for wrestling with this in the ways that you are doing. And you are also a deeply obedient woman who clearly loves God and wants to do the right thing by Him.

    If one of your kids who I’m sure you are devoted to was in this situation, you’d want her to leave without thinking. You’d do anything you could to shield her from this abuse that kills our ability to be loved well in big and small ways. It’s your baby, all sorts of promises she made to this man would be thrown out the window. They cease to matter.

    That is. Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. how God wishes to parent you now. He is prevented from doing so because you got tangled up in a requirement to be obedient at all costs, even if it harms you, that originates in evil. It is perhaps, one of the most sophisticated ways evil catches us. And it catches and holds really good, smart capable people it says absolutely nothing about your faith, your intelligence – nothing – that you’re held by it. But you are actively freeing yourself now and moving into the place where God can immediately snatch you up and out of this as well as your kids. I don’t know you but I am proud of you for being obedient to Him by writing this note.

    You are already on your way. You’ve already decided. You’re already responding to the real Presence of God that would never, ever have the expectation that you stay in what is now a distortion of this sacrament. Now the rest of this is just logistics. Turn off your brain that will over think them. Just move. You’re safe and you’re moving to even safer ground. A year from now you are going to be in some very beautiful, green pastures. Just start moving there now.

  • http://blueberrypancakesfordinner.wordpress.com/ Erika

    i have nothing to add, every post here says what i would tell you. ( save for one)

    you can do this. you can do anything though Christ, remember?

    i will hold you and your babies in the light.

    erika

  • http://skerrib.blogspot.com skerrib

    I agree that things cannot remain how they are, and you should definitely not tolerate your husband’s treatment of you. In my opinion, you should–like tomorrow–find a GOOD counselor who can be there as a support through this. Then, depending on what you & the counselor decide, you can pursue counseling (with or without your husband), separation if needed, or even divorce if your husband refuses to fight WITH you FOR your family.

    Everyone here is right, you cannot change him or make him treat you differently. You can only change your response to him and what you are willing to tolerate within your household. You absolutely need to protect yourself, and protect your kids from such a situation, and it sounds like your husband will need some really tough limits to help him understand how harmful his behavior is.

    I do believe that, in general, God wants marriages to work out, and he wants to see families restored, and I have seen him do big things in some really bad situations. I also believe that does not mean merely staying and being a doormat–both parties have to be willing to fight for the relationship. If your husband isn’t willing to admit how harmful he is and do some serious work on himself, then he is choosing not to live in a healthy, God-glorifying marriage with you, then you may need to let him go.

    Either way, I encourage you to get lots of help and support to get yourself in a healthier place so you’ll be able to take good care of your babies and do the best thing for your family. And pray, pray, pray for clarity. I don’t know what God wants for your family, but I do know that he loves you all dearly and is not OK with your husband treating you in this way. For me the book “Boundaries in Marriage” has been a great starting point for starting to deal with stuff like this. The authors are solid Christians and solid counselors…they advocate reconciliation where possible, but with the understanding that true reconciliation takes both people fighting hard.

    I’ve been lucky in that my husband and I have fought hard for our family and we are still together after almost 13 years. It’s taken a whole lot of work on both our part and some strong stances on mine. Lotsa work for me to learn how to stand up for myself in a healthy way. Sometimes it’s easier than others…right now we’re in a tough time…but we’re both fighting for it. Love to you.

  • Beth Alo

    please forgive any typo’s as I am shaking while I am writing this. It is God’s doing and not mine.

    I found this website by God’s leading and now read every day’s email.

    I too have never responded to any of John’s blogs, but felt compelled to do so this time. I so understand where you are!!! I have been in the exact same situation for 22 yrs. I have 3 children that I am truly blessed to have. My issue is that I have tried leaving 4 times over the past 18 yrs. I have once again filed divorce papers but have not yet had them served as I am afraid of his reaction. He has threatened to say horrible things to my children since he knows they arw going to be upset because I have left 4 times before. I have been in counseling since July of this year and also have been talking about it with my pastor who is a woman.She understands and supports divorce when abuse is present either emotionally or mentally since this seems to be the two overlooked and not supported as no one sees it. This is helping me to stand up to him and be unemotional toward him. He is trying everything he can to be the husband he thinks I want him to be, doing laundry, dishes, fixing me breakfast etc but these only add to my resentment as if he knows how to do it now, why didnt he do it before. He has been going to church regularly and has started christian counseling after I told him he needed to go and not before. But it is not going to work if he is not honest with his counselor, and I know there are things he has not or will not tell. I have checked out emotionally because he did this the last time I left and ended up going back to his old self when I came back. I cant believe this time will be any different. When I married I had no idea this was abuse I just thought he was an ass when he acted this way and degraded me. There are so many incidents over the years I am just beginning to remember them all because I have started a book about this journey. I actually have titled it Road Trip. I stopped writing for a min to check my email and when saw the comment She needed help and DIRECTION it was a true God moment as I knew He was blessing and supporting what I already knew He was telling me to do. The comment John made in the original artical about it being easier to stay with the monster you know than to end up with one you dont know is so true for me. I have wonderful friends God has put in my life recently that support me, but the final step is so scary..i am worried about how my children will react. My 18 yr old son is furious when I try to broach the subject. Although he now has anger issues because for most of his life that is what he has seen and lived in. He says Dad is really trying to change because he is going to church, reading his bible and going to counseling so he thinks I am selfish for leaving again. When he says “Mom why do you keep doing this” it breaks my heart, but I just cant take the chance that my husband will return to the same person he was. God is lining up so many things for me that there is no way to doubt Him. As Joyce Meyer says in one of her books, and John I know you probably hate me for quoting her but, she said when the disciples doubted Jesus walking on the water they lost out on the blessing and miracle they could have experienced in it. They should have gotten out of the boat, and we need to too. Lets get out of that boat together and see God’s Blessing.

    PS. There is a wonderful book and website that I found thru the leading of God. The book is God’s will for divorce and the website is either divorcehope.com or divorcehope.org cant remember. Most of the book is actually on the website so you really dont have to buy it, which is a blessing as well..

    • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

      Beth, God bless you honey. Run, don’t walk away from that man. You are in my prayers.

    • Mandy

      Beth, I’m in the process of making plans to leave now. We can do this together. :)

      • Beth Alo

        Mandy, file the papers, you will feel so empowered just doing that, serving will be the most difficult. Let me know when you are ready and we will serve at the same time knowing we have each other to lean one…Love you for sharing your story, you have no idea how you have empowered me.. We deserve better, ….. I realized reading my Bible about being in the wilderness for 40 years God gave them what he had promised. Of course it was only the ones who didnt lose faith in what He said He would do, God told me that night t my 40 years in the wilderness are over this year..It started with my mother being abusive when I was 7 and is ending when I am 47…nothing is a coincidence with God. You and me on this website? another sign from God

  • Anne

    Praying for you to have the strength to overcome. God does not want you to be treated like that. God does not want for your husband to treat you like that. Your husband has broken his marriage vows numerous ways according to your post. Leaving him does not mean divorcing him necessarily. Get a good therapist to guide you through this process. Surround yourself with a support system. Get to a safe place for you emotionally, and for your kids. Do it for your kids, absolutely, if you can’t do it for yourself. But you deserve it too. God will work in your husband’s heart. But it may take you leaving – and staying away until he feels consequences – for him to see he needs help and seek it. And if he doesn’t, if your husband never gets help? You do not need him. You need God alone. You and your precious kids.

    I’m learning this myself. It’s not easy. But it is of utmost importance. Generations are at stake.

  • RoeDylanda

    Please listen to these wise people and get yourself out of there. You may worry about offending God, but honey, you have that of God within you. We all do. Your husband is abusing the light of God that you carry within every cell of yourself, always. Please get your daughters away from this toxic relationship before they learn that this is what marriage is supposed to be like. You can do this.

    There will be days when it will hurt like hell, and there will always be a certain sort of toxic person willing to see you as “less-than” because you didn’t stay until death (or insanity) did you part. Excuse my French, but screw ‘em. They do not know. They’re not the mother of your two precious girls. My first husband is a better man today because I LEFT HIM. It was the first time in his life that there were irrevocable consequences for treating someone badly. I’m grateful every day that I got out.

    I will hold you and your daughters in the light no matter what happens, and no matter what you decide. I wish you strength, wholeness, and love.

  • Lili Crawford

    There is little I can add to the many words of wisdom already posted here, but what I DO want to add is my support and encouragement to you. As a survivor of abuse myself (many years ago) I can tell you that what seems insurmountable and impossible to figure out gradually becomes more clear, and friends and supporters are available if you just find the courage to reach out. Making a new life on your own may not be easy, but it neither will it be as hard as you fear. Please, do the right thing for yourself, and your family.

  • Don Rappe

    Dear Commenter,

    If the man never kept the troth he pledged, your marriage may never even have begun. God does not expect you to pretend you are married. You have mated with the man and borne children of him. I hope you will separate yourself and the children from him safely and rapidly. Do not wait for the abuse to become physical. The first physical abuse is sometimes fatal. He may decide that the tree which does not bear good fruit should be cut down. I had a cousin who waited one weekend after she was counseled to take her teenage daughters and leave. He shot her in the back, waited for the daughters to return from the Homecoming dance and executed them, wrote a self pitying letter to the father and grandfather of his victims, went into town and mailed it. went home and killed himself.

    May God bless you and your daughters and keep you.

  • Mandy

    I am beyond blessed by all of your encouraging words and support. I take everything said very seriously and this week I am in the process of making a final decision. Please pray for me that I would have the strength to do what I need to do and that I would follow God’s leading. I know He only has great plans for the future and I know He doesn’t want me and my children living in chaos and pain. Thank you all so much! <3

    • Natalie

      Mandy, Please keep us posted on your status and progress. The only advice I can give is to do what is best for you and your children, which from what you have said is to leave your husband. God would never blame you or hold a divorce against you – He wants you to love and be loved in return. He wants you and your children to grow up happy and safe. Life on this Earth is too short to stay miserable all the time. There is so much beauty and joy in the world – don’t trap yourself in a world of pain, suffering and guilt. I wish you nothing but the best.

    • Eliza

      Praying for you, Mandy!

      Deep peace and freedom to you.

  • Susan in NY

    I too suffered in a marriage with an emotionally abusive husband. I was with him for 24 years. When I finally told him that I wanted a divorce, only then did I have the chance to see how much he had damaged my psyche, and how wrong I was to stay in the marriage while the children watched.

    Please do what is right for you. Feel the strength we are all sending to you to enable you to endure whatever choice you make.

    In my case, the three years that I have been free have been the best of my life. My body and mind are healing, my kids are calmer and happier, and I have found a wonderful new love (thanks Match.com!) who makes me swoon each and every day. You will not believe how wonderful it is to be loved not in spite of who you are, but precisely because of who you are.

    I’ll be praying for you.

  • Tee Lynn

    Oh sweet girl, you’re not alone. And while it may seem that your marriage and your burdens are unique, sadly they’re not.

    I belong to an online forum called “Our Place”. It’s purpose is to be a safe haven for women (and men) just like you. Emotional and verbal ABUSE (which is what is happening to you) leaves scars just as surely as physical abuse. But because the scars are on the inside, it’s harder to call things what they are. Many of us on the forum are Christian and have wrestled with the same problems and concerns that you are confronting.

    Please come and join us. My “screen name” on the forum is SM (short for “SparkysMom). You will fiind loving and wise counsel and friendship. I promise you’ll be glad you found us.

    Come and see for yourself at http://our-place-online.net/ .

    Open arms and understanding hearts are waiting for you.

    Tee Lynn

  • Marie

    I believe you deserve to be surrounded by people – ONLY the people – who recognize and acknowledge your magnificence. Despite 1) what you are surviving and 2) your awareness of what you are surviving right now, you are not hardened, cold or afraid of Love. Your heart is truly amazing.

    You are magnificent. You and your children are being denied consecutive mornings of being thanked for filling someone’s eyes with joy when they behold you. You’re being denied consecutive evenings of being humbled and strengthened by hearing another person declare their gratitude that you exist in their life. There is a powerful, actually “tangible” sensation that happens in your heart during those moments of grace that take place in the presence of mutual honor and respect. Think of how your heart swells and can’t contain its euphoria when you behold your children – when they laugh, when they cry, when they smile at you, when you watch them sleep. That is how you should feel with everyone you allow into your heart; everyone you give your heart away to. It’s a standard.

    Take your children and start over. Please. Feed and honor your heart. Love and honor yourself. It is not too late, it may be perfect timing. Perhaps it takes all of these events (and lastly “leaving”) to teach your children how to maintain the highest standards of love and honor for themselves from now on.

    I grew up in chaos. My husband grew up in coldness. We found each other because of those things. Those things are not bad, unless you embrace them and repeat them. Take your kids and start fresh. You’ll find that when you shut this window, doors you never thought existed will open along an amazing path for you. What does your heart tell you? What timing does it dictate? Listen to it.

    My prayers and my confidence go with you. I’m a stranger to you, but I am taking my energy to lift you up (and surround you with protection). God be with you. Namaste, good mother. ♥

  • Susan

    Her story is so close to mine. I put up with the exact same thing for 17 years – for the same reasons. My ex-husband even tried acting like he was going to shoot himself twice. Part of me knew he was simply being manipulative, but part of me didn’t want to chance it.

    The second time he tried it was the night I left him (at the time, we were living with my father). After I told him we were through, he declared he might as well shoot himself because I’d taken away any reason for him to live, trying once again to manipulate me into staying. I literally laid on his rifles and shotguns while he tried to load one and then another, all the while with me pulling on them. Finally, he got tired of fighting me and walked outside. I grabbed them up, ran out the front door and threw them in my trunk. As I was backing out of the driveway, he got into his car and rammed mine. I managed to get out of the drive, around the corner and down the street a bit before he caught up with me and hit my car again. He passed me, got in front of me and hit the brakes. I managed to stop without rear-ending him. He got out of his car, walked back to mine, and yelled at me to go back to my dad’s house. I knew my kids were safely asleep at my dad’s, that I had the unloaded guns, but I turned around and went back anyway “so we could talk”. When we got back to the house, he demanded my car keys so he could get the guns out of the trunk. I refused, so he grabbed me by the shoulders and threw me to the ground (which was the driveway – he left bruises on my shoulders, my tail bone was bruised, & and the back of my head hit the concrete). Then he snatched up the keys, got his guns, and put them in his car trunk.

    Keep in mind this was only the 2nd time, he’d put his hands on me. The first time had been a few years earlier, when he’d put his arm around my neck, choking me. I had lost my temper and thrown a tiny doll at him. He claimed he did it to restrain me and try to calm me down. What part of trying to choke someone is supposed to calm them down? Instead of hitting me, he would punch the wall. The walls of our home bore the scars, instead of my face. Fortunately, for me and my family, no one was seriously injured or killed. But the emotional scars caused by almost two decades of emotional & verbal abuse & manipulation are still there. Even for my children, who are now 14 & 16.

    Get yourself and your babies out of there as soon as you can.

  • Eliza

    I was in an abusive marriage for 25 years. You are very blessed to have the information you have. 25 years ago, verbal and emotional abuse were not known and I was blamed by counselors and pastors for what he was doing.

    There is a lot of support online, from books, and from other survivors. Good for you for speaking up and commenting on this blog. I believe you can and will get out and get healed. There is no hope in abusive relationships.

    It only gets worse and you get more broken down and confused as the years roll by. Save yourself and your kids.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    I can’t say it any better than so many already have.

    I am divorcing a man who never once hit me, nor has he ever hit our children. But he punched a hole in the wall of our house, he screamed and yelled at our children, our dogs, me, constantly, daily. He had an internet affair. He had employment problems and refused to take any work that he felt was “beneath” him. He is virtually unemployable in his chosen field because of his personality disorders. He is narcissistic, emotionally abusive and miserable. He would only help me with housework or chores if I asked him to, and he did it resentfully and angrily. He could sit and watch me clean house all day long without ever lifting a finger to help, never mind that we both worked full time outside the home.

    It was my second marriage. I stuck it out for almost 10 years because I felt so horribly for having failed at the first one, I didn’t want to fail again. I kept hoping he would change. Finally I was so depressed and miserable and angry with him that I was becoming someone I didn’t like. I was almost ready to commit suicide — thoughts of taking my own life would cross my mind daily. I have a long commute to work and for months I would cry all the way there and all the way home. I isolated myself from my friends and my family. Life was unbearable.

    Since we split, he has changed some, for the better, and maybe someday he will meet someone that he is more compatible with. If he does, I will be happy for him, but I no longer wish to be married to him. As for me, I have learned that I can care for myself financially, emotionally, physically. I am a better mother and a woman more at peace with herself and her life. I have been on my own for a year and a half, and I am finally reaching the point where I can be happy.

    I recently and very unexpectedly met someone who is gentle, kind, giving. The hardest hurdle we face is that so many years of conflict have made it hard for me to trust anyone. Fortunately, he is patient too, and I believe that we will find happiness together.

    You are a beautiful child of God, and He loves you so very much. I hoep you can recognize that He would never want you to subject yourself or your babies to horrible treatment.

    You are in my prayers.

  • http://allegro63.blogspot.com/ Sylvie Galloway

    Dear Commentator.

    I hope by now you realize that you aren’t alone. I too lived in an abusive marriage. My ex-spouse had alcohol issues and could be violent. He lost a business thanks in part to his addiction. During that time I was left with the burden of filing the paper work, dealing with creditors, raising three small children, while he sat and drank himself silly.

    YOu feel scared, isolated and confused. That is normal. You get conflicting advice, sadly that is normal too. You may be horrible advice by well meaning but utterly ignorant people. I once had a pastor look me dead in the eye and tell me that if I wanted to get my husband to stop drinking then I need to be more sexually available. You believe it will get better and live for those quiet peaceful times. But all the while you live waiting for the bottom to drop out again. The cycle always completes itself unless you choose to break it.

    Doing so took me 23 years. IT was the hardest and the best decision I ever made.

    I wish you courage, I wish you peace, I wish you a bright hopeful future.

  • JoAnn Mitchell

    To Roedylanda,

    Your kindness is greatly appreciated.

    Sometimes a little candle light upon the road of life is enough, is enough.

    I greatly appreciate life and the God-given opportunity to walk within it.

    My soul rest in Christ in the chaos of my existence. Tears do fall; heart does hurt; mind is unsure as it seeks truth. Yet, I continue to walk, continue to walk, accepting balm where it is offered.

    Thank you for the balm and candle light.

    Blessings to you and yours,

    Jo

  • Jeannie

    Everybody else has said is so eloquently. Please don’t feel guilty about wanting to be happy. Please don’t feel like God has called you to stay in a situation that is so toxic it is killing you as surely as poison would.

    I want to add one thought…IT GETS BETTER. I was so frightened to leave my situation. I am low income and living on disability and I have a special needs daughter. But my life and my freedom is infinately better now then it was living with constant emotional and verbal abuse.

    Make plans. Think carefully through things if you need to. It took me a while to get everything I needed together. But when you go never look back into the face of guilt.

  • http://thanksgiving2003.shawwebspace.ca/ Christine

    I see there are 51 responses, but I can’t figure out how to get them onto my screen to read them. Maybe I have to be a member of this site or something, but not having time to figure it out, I wanted to just say to the woman who wrote that letter: “Oh, yes, you DO have Biblical grounds to leave him!” He has broken the marriage covenant by abusing you.

    Here is a link to my story. Maybe you can relate to some of it.

    http://thanksgiving2003.shawwebspace.ca/

    In Christ,

    Christine

    • Jeannie

      Christine, click the older comments link below.

  • Emma

    I could have written this about my ex; he was emotionally and mentally abusive for many years. But of course, no marks means it’s not really abuse, and so I am being too sensitive, and have to take it… right?

    Ugh! Therapy is cheap compared to the cost of your spirit. Just grab your babies, and run. Your heart and soul are worth so much more than this “marriage”.

    *hugs*

    It gets better. You can heal, and there are people who will support you– regardless of “biblical” reasons for divorce. If someone disagrees with you, they’re wrong, they aren’t you, and they will never understand.

    Blessings to you, my dear, and all the others who have been where you are, and come out on the other side,

    -Emma

  • http://OurPlace.com AuslanGirl

    Hi there!

    I agree with the others…you have every right to leave your abusive husband! He is abusive, he is NOT loving you as Christ loves the church…in fact, HE is the one who is sinning against God-NOT you!

    YOU are NOT the one breaking up your marriage if you leave him…he has already done this by his abuse of you. Emotional abuse is every bit abusive as physical abuse-perhaps MORE serious, because there is no evidence physically to others of your husband’s violence.

    Sweetie? What did he promise you in his wedding vows?

    He promised to love you, and honour you, he promised to care for you and be faithful only to you for as long as you both lived. He also promised to protect you.

    He has broken EVERY SINGLE vow!!

    He is NOT loving you because he abuses you and talks down to you.

    He does NOT honour you-if he REALLY honoured you, he would NEVER treat you like this!

    He is NOT faithful to you-he told you he had a “spiritual” connection with another woman…that’s exactly the same as if he’d committed adultery with her-he did that spiritually.

    And he has NOT protected you-not from his own vile words and thoughts and treatment.

    I believe God would tell you to RUN…NOT walk out of this marriage.

    I’m part of a great website called OurPlace…come and check it out if you like…there are some great people there who have all been through the exact same thing you are right now.

    Big hugs and prayers for you, sweetie!

    AuslanGirl :)

  • Susan Golian

    You MUST leave him – and soon! Not for yourself, but for your beautiful baby girls. They are watching and learning and if you don’t get out and get better they are going to grow up and believe they deserve to be treated the way you are being treated! They will actually seek out husbands who treat them the way your husband treats you!

    The sins of the father will be visited upon the children unto the 4th generation – you’ve read that – but do you understand that it means that the effects of your husband’s sins will be felt down through the generations? Do you want your daughters, granddaughters and great-granddaughters to live with never ending echo of his words to you?

    Get out. Get therapy. Save your babies.

    In love, in courage and in Christ,

    Susan

  • Mandy

    When I wrote this comment to John’s blog I was thinking I might get a few responses at most. I can not tell you how much it means to me to have so many people take time out of their schedules to counsel and encourage me. Thank you all so much!

    I have been looking for a place to rent in my area and with my budget the past couple days (longer than that really, but only half-heartedly). Please help me pray that a door would be opened so wide it could only be a confirmation to me. I want what’s best for my girls more than anything. I think that’s why making this decision has been so hard. I don’t want them to grow up with issues cause they didn’t live in a two-parent home. But I am realizing that their “issues” may be a lot worse if I keep them here. Please pray that I would have the strength to do EVERYTHING I need to do.

    Before I wrote this response, I kept being reminded of the scripture in Proverbs 15 that talks about how good it is to have a multitude of counselors. How much more that scripture means to me now. And as I stated before, not only on this website do I have many people counseling me, but also all around me everyday. I guess it’s time I take the hint.

    Again, thank you all from the bottom of my heart!

    • Jeannie

      I will pray. It’s amazing how many doors open when you really start looking. Also, don’t feel too intimidated to ask for help from domestic violences resources. You don’t have to be punched to qualify. Best of luck to you. I want to hear how you are doing. I walked this path, it’s dark, scarey and uncertain, but there is sunshine up ahead. I can’t wait until you see the sun again.

  • Suz

    You can’t afford to believe a word he says. He’ lying: to you, to himself, to everyone. He wants to keep you under his control, and he knows all you want is love. He will “offer” anything you ask, to keep you right where you are. He will not be capable of loving anyone until he learns to love himself, and that’s something you can’t teach him. It may feel cruel to “abandon” him because he’s broken, but he’s already shown that he’s not ready to be whole. The only way he can function is to live among broken people, even if he has to break them. Since he already knows there is a problem and refuses to believe it’s HIS, the only hope for him is to fall down completely. If he can accept God’s help in getting back up, he will be a better person someday; he will never become a better person while you are propping him up – why should he? You can’t raise two children AND a husband, although I applaud the love that motivates you. He can survive without your “parenting.” Your children cannot. There is no longer any room for compromise; you MUST choose between them. Make no mistake. If you choose him, your children will pay the price. For years you’ve chosen to pay that price yourself, but you have no right to choose it for your children. And if that seems heartless, REMEMBER – you are NOT the one who created the no-compromise situation, but you are the only one who can end it.

    Above all, keep seeking out people who support you without (agenda-based) judgment. Don’t listen to what people tell you is wrong; listen to what your conscience tells you is wrong. At this point in your life, your husband has taken away all your “good” choices. For now you are left with “better” or “worse” choices. Try not to be afraid of the gray area; God is in your heart and he will guide you if you will only ignore the noise around you.

  • Mandy

    Moving into my new apartment in a week or two, just me and my daughters. :) Thank you all so much for your help and encouragement. It has meant more than you probably realize.

  • Fedup

    Need councelling. I want out of a dead marriage. My “beloved” is a depressed individual and in hindsight has been for most of our twenty years together. Our children are almost of age and can see the hurt from both of us. Many unkind and hurtful statements have been made over the years and we both just seem to have had enough. Wish him no harm, no evil, just want out. No more walking on egg-shells in case of a major mood swing. No more feeling as though his depression is my fault. Just seeking peace and hopefully, finally a bit of joy. Does marriage really need to be this lonely and painful?

    • KK

      I feel the same way toward my wife. No happiness in our home, only tension. Have no interest in fighting over anything. I JUST WANT OUT.

      Some people are depressed or some treat others so terribly that they just simply do no deserve to be in a marriage.

    • Barbara Walker

      contact one prophet abayotor he is real at ,ajamugashrine@gmail.com

  • KK

    All of you need to realize that this can also happen to a man. Its been happening to me for 5 years. The story is the same, just a man being abused by his wife. It can happen and it does.


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