Skip to main content
IMG_0801

Why Don’t I Address Women with Abusive Husbands?

IMG_5914

Because I haven’t been abused, and because I was a dominant, controlling wife – my slant and approach are going to naturally be from the perspective of a wife who was not abused and who used to be dominant, controlling, and disrespectful with a husband who was passive and unplugged. Every writer has a slant. This is what I know. My blog will probably fit women in this category better than with any other marital dynamics. Even for wives who are not being abused but are just more timid, introverted, shy, overly submissive, or passive with dominant husbands – some posts on my blog may not be the best fit. (The posts about our relationship with God may be a fit for everyone, but here – I am talking about some of my posts about respect, conflict, and biblical submission, especially.)

Women who tend to be too quiet, “too submissive,” or “too respectful,” will have to approach many topics from an opposite direction than I do. They may need to learn to speak up more, to share their feelings more, to plug in more, to be more involved, etc… I try to have guest posts from wives with various marital dynamics to help wives in different situations. The reality is that many controlling/dominating husbands will not allow their wives to share what they have learned in a blog, even anonymously. And many wives who tend to be “too submissive” or “too respectful” tend not to be very verbal and don’t want to write posts.  So – it can be more difficult to find resources for certain marriage dynamics.

The abuse issue is so much more complex than a simple “dynamics” issue. Let me be very clear-

I don’t EVER condone any sin against anyone. No one deserves to be sinned against or abused in any way.

Real abuse is always sinful.

A good definition of abuse:

Abuse is “fundamentally a mentality. It is a mindset of entitlement. The abuser sees himself* as entitled. He is the center of the world, and he demands that his victim make him the center of her world. His goal is power and control over others. For him, power and control are his natural right, and he feels quite justified in using whatever means are necessary to obtain that power and control.”- cryingoutforjustice.com. When leaders see abuse defined they are responsible for that knowledge. When targets of abuse see it defined, we realize that we cannot cause abusers to abuse. – Ellie from www.cryingoutforjustice.com

  • To me – it seems that abuse an issue of idolatry of self and a demand that one’s spouse “worship” oneself, as well – to the detriment of the other person’s spiritual, emotional, mental, financial, or physical well-being.

I don’t condone lust, gossip, greed, pride, self-righteousness, materialism, selfishness, hatred, unforgiveness, malice, control, resentment, bitterness, stealing, hurting someone in any way (emotionally, physically, mentally, financially, or spiritually), violence, infidelity of any kind, idolatry, or any sin. Sin always hurts the one who is sinning, it hurts those who are sinned against, and it grieves the heart of God. No sin is ok. God never gives any of us a free pass to sin.

Some of my posts may apply to everyone – particularly the posts about our relationships with Christ. But some of my posts about marriage, respect, biblical submission, etc… may not be a good fit for certain women.

REASONS I DON’T WRITE FOR WOMEN WHO ARE ABUSED:

1. Some women believe they are being abused but they are not. Some of these wives are actually controlling, manipulative, and disrespectful and their husbands are desperately trying to get the family back on track with God’s Word.

This word, “abuse,” is so overused today. Many women use this word just to garner sympathy or justification for the way they mistreat their husbands. Some of these wives are actually abusive toward their husbands in various ways. They may believe that all of the problems in the marriage are their husband’s fault and take no responsibility for their own sins or their own obedience to God. That was me!

Almost any time that someone wants to blame someone else 100% for all of the problems in a marriage, that is probably a red flag. When two people are married to each other, they will usually both have issues they need to address (of course, there are some rare exceptions where there is severe abuse going on). Some wives in this group have husbands who are truly just trying to lead in a godly way and who ask them to do things like:

This group of women may wrongly call these kinds of things “abuse.” If anyone asks them to look at their own responsibility and accountability to God, to God’s Word, or in the marriage, they get very defensive. This particular group would probably actually benefit greatly from reading my blog. I don’t want to send them away. These are some of the very women I know God has called me to reach in this ministry.

2. Some women are targets of abuse by their husbands but do not realize or acknowledge the abuse to themselves.

They may believe their husbands that all of the problems in the marriage are totally their (the wife’s) fault. They may not realize the manipulation, brain washing, spiritual abuse, emotional abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse, or even physical abuse that is going on. They rationalize the abuse away and think that if they were just more respectful and more submissive, then their marriages would be great. They don’t see their husband’s part of the problem in the marriage. They take full responsibility for every problem in the marriage themselves and believe their husbands are completely innocent. They cannot correctly identify sin in their own lives or in their husbands’ lives.

For these women, reading my blog is not a good idea. It is easy for them to read what I say and “hear” that if only they were more godly wives, everything would be better in their marriages. They make no allowance for the issues that their husbands are responsible for and are overly responsible for every problem themselves. Of course, husbands in such situations often endorse my blog heartily and use my blog as “proof” that all of the problems in the marriage are the wife’s fault while these husbands take zero responsibility for becoming the godly men God calls them to be. That really upsets me! Men are also called to obey God and to love and honor their wives. Just because I only teach women does not mean that men are off the hook before the throne of God. They have even greater accountability and responsibility before God than wives do!

Everyone is welcome here. I love ALL of my sisters and brothers! But I want to be sure that everyone benefits from being here. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand or to be hurt in some way because her needs are different from the things I am addressing. I want each woman to find the help she needs to find emotional, spiritual, mental healing. And I know that each woman has different needs. I do have limitations. God does not. But I certainly do. I am not a professional or certified counselor. I am not a pastor or a theologian. I have not been trained in dealing with severe marriage issues. I am just a wife who wants to share what I have learned and share my journey with others to bless them. But I realize my blog may not be the best resource for everyone and every possible situation.

3. Some women are being targeted by abuse by their husbands in some way but are not honest with me about the abuse.

They don’t tell me how bad the problems are. They tell me that things are going much better than they really are. I appreciate wives wanting to be respectful of their husbands. But, I cannot know how severe problems are unless wives tell me what is going on and give me an accurate picture. Of course, I have no way to know when wives are telling me things that are not true. Some wives expect me to magically know that they are leaving out critical details and that what they do tell me is very sugar-coated. They expect me to give them appropriate advice without me having any idea what is actually happening. They sound like they only have minor issues then are upset that I didn’t figure out the truth and say that I told them to submit to an abusive husband. I don’t tell wives to submit to a truly abusive husband. I tell wives in that situation to find appropriate help! (For more details, please see the bottom of “Spiritual Authority.“) This is just not a reasonable expectation for people to have of me. I am not omniscient. I have no mind-reading abilities. I depend on women to be honest with me about what is actually happening.

This group of women will not benefit from reading my blog and will need specialized and individualized assistance from someone who is spiritually mature and who can get to know them and their particular situation in person and with whom these women are willing to be honest.

I believe that women do need to take personal responsibility if they seek counseling that what they are telling the counselor is accurate and truthful. It is not being disrespectful to be honest with a counselor when you are seeking help for your marriage.

4. Some women are honest about how they are being mistreated in their marriages but are so afraid that they cannot go into much detail.

It is very difficult for me to address problems that are not fully disclosed. I understand why many women would not be able to share many details and that they are afraid of their husbands finding what they wrote. That is a very legitimate fear in cases of real abuse. These wives DO need to be extremely careful what they share online in a blog format where their husband may see what they have written. But, just like with #3, I am not very good at mind reading, and, without the entire picture, I will be quite limited in what I could share that might be helpful. If I don’t have all of the information, I may make wrong assumptions and may give advice that would not be appropriate. I don’t want to mislead anyone or misdirect anyone ever. I want everyone to find healing and to find the power, love, mercy, and grace of God, and His wisdom.

Again, this group of women will need specialized, specific, individualized help from someone who is very spiritually mature and experienced with dealing with abusive situations. My blog is not a good fit for women whose husbands are abusive. They hear me saying things that I don’t say and never intend to say. I don’t want to cause harm. That is my first priority – to do no harm to my sisters. I want everyone – men, women, and children – to be safe.

5. Some women are targets of abuse and do share about it in detail.

Because I haven’t been abused and haven’t spent years studying about abuse, it can be difficult for me to predict how women who really have abusive husbands might take what I say. Their paradigm and “filters” are so very different from mine. Sometimes, women in actual abusive situations think I am saying that they have to just stay there and be severely mistreated and take the abuse. I NEVER EVER say that. There are times when separation is very necessary, as much as I hate that and wish that every marriage could be healed immediately. But women who have been abused hear me talking about “normal” situations and just normal respect/biblical submission issues and hear vastly different things than I ever intended. My talking about normal situations can be triggers for women who live with abusive husbands. They are going to need very specialized resources and help from people who are familiar with abusive situations.

My blog is not a good fit for women with truly abusive husbands or who are dealing with husbands with uncontrolled mental health problems, active drug/alcohol/gambling/sex addictions, infidelity, or major sin issues. It may not be safe for a wife to submit to a man who is not in his right mind – as men in these situations may not be. I am just not able to address severe marriage problems in a blanket way and would strongly encourage women in any of these situations to seek godly, experienced, spiritually mature, biblical, personalized, one-on-one help. I can help wives in such situations with their walk with Christ, but I am not prepared at this time to give specific marriage advice to women in these severe situations.

Why I Don’t Recommend Many Resources Specifically

If I were to recommend a website or book – I am then endorsing every single word in that website or book. I am also endorsing the way that the women in each of these groups would “hear” every word in each website or book. That is a very tall order. Readers sometimes share comments on my posts about abuse and share resources that helped them. That is awesome. Y’all are more than welcome to share resources that have been helpful. But there is no way that one particular resource would be appropriate for women in all of these different groups – or that women in all of these categories would be helped by one particular resource. There is also no way for me to anticipate how each women in these various groups might take what is said in different books or websites.

I encourage women who are actually being abused to seek out godly one-on-one counsel with a trusted, mature believer who can help each particular woman find the resources and support she needs individually.

The Salvation Army has counselors who are able to help women who are really being abused.

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline may be a necessary resource for women who are in true physical danger

www.thehotline.org

1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Please check out the resources listed in the comments on this post – please read any resource prayerfully and compare it to the truth of God’s Word!

RELATED:

Do I Condone Marital Rape or Abuse?

What Does It Mean to Be an Ungodly Woman?

Godly Femininity

85 thoughts on “Why Don’t I Address Women with Abusive Husbands?

  1. Hi April… I’m sure you have good reasons for explaining that you don’t write to women who are being abused, because you never experienced abuse.
    Praise God for that, I’ve never been physically abused myself. If you don’t feel inspired to address those women, certainly you are in the right to avoid doing so!

    But does one have to experience everything to address it adequately? You write to women who experience many other things, including husbands who are addicted to pornography, who are poor fathers, who want out of their marriages etc etc. I don’t know all that you have experienced, and I’m sure that you too do not share everything (and that’s fine of course!), but I’m assuming that you do write about somethings that you haven’t experienced. So, maybe simply not experiencing abuse is not the man or reason why you don’t write to those women. I feel that if you’re not comfortable doing so, you’re probably right to avoid it.

    1. PrayinglikeHannah,

      True, I do write about things I haven’t experienced at times. But, I try to involve women who have been through those things first hand when I address those kinds of things. The thing about abuse that concerns me the most is that I may not fully understand or appreciate or identify all of the filters and the perspective of women who have been abused – and I cannot accurately predict how my words might be received. That is a big concern for me. These are the most vulnerable women – and they are already hurting deeply. I don’t want to hurt them further or mislead them unknowingly.

      Women in serious situations need and deserve counselors who understand exactly what they are going through and who know all of the resources available and who can get to know them individually and can walk personally through that situation with them. I don’t have the resources that are needed for these precious women – and the last thing I would ever want to do would be to cause them further pain or to endanger anyone.

      Much love!

      1. Also, there is a big difference – in my mind, at least – between discussing a husband’s sporadic pornography use or another woman flirting with a woman’s husband and a potentially life and death abuse situation. To me, the abuse issue and severe marriage problems are in a very different league than “run of the mill” marriage issues.

      2. I appreciate this blog very much, I respect that you are clear about your limitations. No human person is going to be able to be all to everyone. I fell into that trap before by holding up my previous Pastor minister on such a pedestal that it was only after he repeatedly verbally abused me. I woke up. I have been able to forgive him after a long time of having crying out to God. He is no longer my Pastor as I do not go to that church any more ( Not for that reason)

        Anyway, I realise I am also in another abusive relationship this time with my husband. His abuse is pyschological.

        My dilema is I do not have a church where I can find consistent support. The Pastor is not readlly available as he works away from home and is only around on Sunday for the service then leaves to stay in the city he works.

        My mind is now very unsettled and I am worried about the stress levels I am experiencing. 2 weeks ago I had a black out while driving. I don’t where to go for help.

        1. Prayerful wife,

          Goodness! How my heart hurts for you!!!! Do you know why you had a black out? As a pharmacist, I would want to know – was your blood sugar low, was your blood pressure low, did you have a seizure? Do you know what happened physically? Have you seen your doctor?

          Are you safe?

          Are you free to describe the abuse that you are experiencing at all?

          I am praying for you, my precious sister!

          1. I have been away from most emailing or internet use for a while so I didn’t see your response. Plus I have been dealing with so much more with my health (I thought I had a miscarriage) and trying to overcome a mind attack. Ironically I am participating with our church’s corporate fasting 40 days to prepare for the year ahead, so I should not be experiencing all this. The black out while driving was before the fasting, so not connected.
            I have been bombarded with fearfulness thoughts constantly throughout the day. My daily activities are filled with what if this happens what if that happens. My mind is often filled dozens of permutations of any given scenario of what could go wrong. I have going for a walk daily to get some exercise, it’s a place I have walked many times over the years, and then recently I am afraid I may fall down the ledge by the side of the road where I go walking. Then another day I saw some horse riders, I thought what if the horses kicks me if go pass them, and on and on thoughts goes

            It is hard to put into words the numerous examples of the psychological abuse however one key thing is for weeks, he does not speak to me. I mean nothing at all. I am treated as if I not even present so it not just the silence but the body language of ignoring my presence so much so he may not even as much look in my direction. If I speak silence or walks away, or turns his back, get busy with some activity and just blanks me.

    2. I hear you PLH –
      It is two different things to say, “I am not being lead at this time to address these issues for this population” or, “I can’t address it because I haven’t been through it”. The first is a spirit-led truth. The second is an emotion-led lie that is supported by our current culture.

      That lie is destroying brotherly (sisterly) accountability. It denies truth. Following The Bible is uncomfortable. It is generally not supported by counselors or well-meaning friends and family, whose main concern is generally a wish for us to be “happy”. And when we follow the truth, it can often look to the world as if we’ve made an awful mess of things. (“What do you mean you are turning the other cheek AGAIN!?!?!”) Which is difficult to distinguish with the awful mess the world is in! That is why we can only manage the plank in our own eye.

      April, you have a wonderful blog. You have a special ability to present the truth in a loving, compassionate, humble way that reaches the masses gently but firmly. You have responded with grace and compassion regularly while under attack. You have many times reminded us who your target audience is and the platform from which you feel lead to speak. Through Christ alone, you are a mighty warrior for women around the world. As He always has, in His timing, if it is His will, He will give you the strength and wisdom to battle the unknown. And He will give you the words. He is SUPERNATURAL!! When we follow Him, we are not limited by the boundaries of our human experience. And we should not bow to the worlds expectations as though we are.

      Much love to you sisters!

      1. Free Indeed,

        Thank you so much for sharing!

        I do mention that I have not been through abuse, infidelity, mental illness, or addictions in my marriage because I want to be upfront with my readers so that they understand where I am coming from and that I am not able to write from a place of personal experience with these issues, in the interest of transparency.

        If this is something God desires me to address more directly, please pray that He might provide the resources and wisdom I will need. Thank you for your prayers! I long to honor Christ with every issue, including this one.

      2. I agree with the above comment by Free Indeed!
        April I see the worlds & the enemy’s influence in your feeling the need to write that post. Something about it doesn’t seem right.
        You are doing a huge, great thing April.
        I have experienced some emotional abuse & a spouse with mental health problems. I do see that things are not all my fault & I am able to see the difference between regular & severe marital problems.
        Your advice on marriage IS helpful to all marriages. I definitely see areas where I showed disrespect to my husband & had no idea. Every little thing helps! I also have responsibility to my marriage. It does not all lie in my husbands hands. From your blog I have also learned how to control my reaction to things. This makes a world of difference!!! This keeps peace in the home & in my heart.
        your blog has been more helpful to me then anything I have ever read.
        During times when I want to run from God, you keep me centered in Christ & His word.
        God bless you for allowing Christ to work through you to reach your sisters!

        1. In Christ Alone,

          Thanks so much for sharing! I am aware of a number of women with severe marriage problems who have found help and hope in Christ here. For that I praise God! But I am also aware of a number of women who did not have the level of spiritual discernment that you have make dangerous decisions because of misunderstandings they had about things I had written for women in entirely different situations. Some of the posts I write about respect and biblical submission can be greatly misunderstood by women who have been extremely emotionally/spiritually scarred/mistreated. I know enough about how some women have taken what I have written in these kinds of situations to know that they are going to need a very different approach to being a godly wife in these difficult circumstances. I don’t ever want a wife to endanger herself or her children because she thinks she is respecting and submitting to a husband who is not in his right mind. Sometimes wives think that if they are more respectful, they can “fix” their drunk, high, psychotic, extremely depressed, extremely manic, or abusive husband. We cannot change people. We can influence them. But a wife’s respect cannot “fix” these kinds of issues in a husband’s life. Of course, if she sins against him, that will probably make things worse. But wives with husbands who are out of control will need one-on-one, private, individualized counseling and someone who can invest a lot of time pouring into their lives.

          I do think there are posts here that may be helpful to any wife – particularly posts about our relationship with God. But I do not ever want to endanger anyone. The approach to teach/mentor wives in the first group in this post and the approach for wives with truly abusive husbands would be very, very different.

          I am so thankful that God has used this blog to bless you. Thank you VERY much for sharing!!!

          Please pray that God might give me His wisdom and sensitivity to His Spirit to minister in every way He desires me to minister. 🙂

          1. I completely understand where you’re coming from, and have thought this many times… that in some ways, the things that the abused, meek, frightened wife who is truly striving to honor her husband and do right before the Lord needs to hear are entirely different from the things that the manipulative, controlling, domineering wife needs to hear. And each is perhaps most likely to gravitate toward the advice she actually doesn’t need to hear.

            The meek wife often gravitates toward “submit”/”obey” and the domineering wife may gravitate toward “live with your wife in an understanding way” or “the husband is to serve the wife like Christ serves the church,” when in actuality, each needs to hear the opposite.

            Maybe I’m rambling in a different direction than where you’re heading, but I just wanted to affirm that your thoughts here really and truly ARE a weakness of our words, no matter whether they are spoken on a blog or at a conference or in a Sunday School lesson. There are times when the disclaimers are so huge that we can’t adequately address them all and we have to rely on the wisdom and discretion of listeners/readers to discern when to apply and when to ignore advice (even when that is biblically-based advice!) in their particular life circumstances.

          2. Jess Connell,
            Yes, I do think that we tend to seek out the words we WANT to hear instead of the words we may NEED to hear. I think that is probably human nature. It is hard to listen to things that ask us to change and look at ourselves and allow God to radically transform us.

            Ultimately, we must each stand accountable to God for what we read, how we apply it, the decisions we make, the things we choose to believe, and how we live.

            I appreciate you sharing your insights!

  2. Here is a comment from the past from a wife that may be helpful:
    FROM “ANONYMOUS ME”
    Hi, April!

    I have read your blog many times, and I want to say that I completely agree with you on just about everything. Your message is SO needed today. I also really appreciate your efforts to set the record straight on where you stand regarding abuse on your blog. That, too, was much needed for those of us who have been and are in abusive marriages. So, thank you for posting it. I will admit that it was your blog, paired with the prompting of a woman in my church, that led me back into the home that was mine and my husband’s after an 18-month long separation. I did it to give things one last effort since it seemed as though he might have improved enough to be safe to live with again. I wouldn’t say it was the best decision, but God still used it. Unfortunately, my marriage is ending in divorce. However, through all of the pain and suffering, God still manages to bless. I am so thankful for this.

    If you have the time and desire, I would like to share a few things with you concerning the topic of abuse as it relates to my experience. I know you haven’t experienced abuse and that your blog is not to be used as advice for the abused. You’re very clear about this. So, if this isn’t something you want to give your time to, I understand. I’m only emailing because the subject of abuse – whether you want/like it to or not – comes alongside your blog topic from time to time, as you know better than anyone. And I must say I’m glad you haven’t been abused! If you had been, I don’t think you would be doing the type of ministry you are doing today. So, WOOHOO for many reasons! 😉

    One aspect of abuse I want to just speak to a little is that of the impact on a person’s soul and relationship to the Lord that even “just” verbal abuse and control can have. In addition to receiving counseling, I read many, many books/blogs/websites during my marriage seeking advice, strength, inspiration, encouragement, and truth as to how best deal with and endure my husband’s abusive treatment. As a side note… because I had never been in relationship with an abusive person before nor was I ever really educated on the subject, I didn’t actually think of my husband’s treatment as “abusive” except when I was actually physically hit. I just thought of him as mean. It took individual counseling, having my boss ask me about the re-occurring bruises, finally opening up to a friend about my situation, and dealing with legal authorities at the onset of my first separation from him for me to start considering it as such. While that might sound crazy, it’s not uncommon. I say all of this to say… it’s often the people who show the greatest insecurity or fear in talking about their spouses treatment that are actually experiencing a great deal of abuse. A book I came across that I felt best explained the feeling of “spiritual death” that often occurs when being abused was Leslie Vernick’s book, “The Emotionally Destructive Relationship”. (It’s a Christian book.) So much attention gets put on physical abuse, but it’s the other types of abuse that often create the greatest damage at the deepest level – resulting in total squelching of your inner light and spirit, where you truly live from. It’s impossible to really understand it unless you have experienced it.

    The woman that responded to your blog above – the one with the husband who is a pastor and has bi-polar – is clearly in a bad situation. Spiritual abuse – and I know this one well – is one of the worst kinds of abuse a person can endure in my opinion. I was quite concerned for her. I know you know this, but I just want to serve as a reminder that there is a real necessity of being very, very careful with those who are in these situations. Perhaps it would be a good idea for you to have a counselor or two who specialize in and maybe blog about this stuff whom you can refer them to because when they write in asking questions, they are desperately clinging to the answers they receive. Abuse has a horrible way of creating such a loss of self that you are unable to look at things clearly and trust yourself to make wise decisions. So, you look for signs/miracles everywhere you turn. Leslie Vernick says it well in her book when she quotes the following verses – “When you continue to offer yourself in relationship to people who consistently mistreat you, disrespect you, control you, abuse you, deceive you, and use you, you will feel sicker and sicker (Proverbs 4:14-27)”. It’s so true!

    The sites you list on your website – unless I missed some – don’t really touch all of the issues and forms of abuse. I’d first like to recommend the following site. http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/contact-about-us/ Jeff Crippen does an excellent job in his sermons of bringing to light biblical approaches to abuse. The one thing I would add that I feel he doesn’t always do the best job of is to remember that abusers are people, too, and are certainly capable of experiencing redemption through the Lord. Though, statistically, it’s a very small percentage of those who experience a heart change and thus change their ways. This should be remembered when advising anyone in an abusive situation. So, I do think someone like Jeff Crippen – speaking with such power on this issue – is what some people need to get them to sit up and take notice of how wrong and devastating this stuff really is and how it is dealt with in scripture. So much negativity and fear of misdirecting someone gets placed on divorce – understandably so. However, I strongly believe it is just as necessary to be this way toward abusive situations – and not just primarily physical abuse. I’m not implying you do this. However, I do have a little concern – maybe I’m wrong – that you might accidently steer someone to carry a cross that isn’t theirs to carry in the marriage. I’m just not so sure you gave the best advice to a wife when you said…

    If he is not asking you to sin – trust that God will lead you through him, even if you do not agree.

    Do all that you can to build him up, affirm what is right, admire what is good, focus on his strengths and use your words to breathe life, support, encouragement and respect in him.

    THEN, he will hear God’s voice much more clearly. He may still sin. He may still mess up. But our God is so sovereign, that He can use even your husband’s mistakes for your ultimate good and His glory.

    It can still be abuse – and very harmful abuse I might add – even when they aren’t asking you to do something “wrong” or “bad”. Sometimes the sin would be in doing what they are telling you to do because doing it would be enabling their sin and furthering the damage being done to you. So, please… just be very careful with your replies. These people are in very delicate positions and want to do the right thing. I don’t want you to feel bad as a result of my email today. I really don’t. I’m thankful you are addressing the issue and having the discussion. I just wanted to suggest that maybe less is best when it comes to offering specific advice in these situations and to simply refer them to some really good, comprehensive resources and counselors. “Boundaries” by Henry Cloud is another great book. As is “Not Under Bondage” by Barbara Roberts. “Reclaiming Your Heart” by Denise Hildreth Jones is a really wonderful book for anyone who’s heart has just shut down. It’s especially good for the healing phase after leaving but can also serve as a great tool and inspiration for re-connecting with your heart within the marriage.

    The good news is that God is bigger than anything we might do or not do perfectly. His will prevails! However, being someone who has been in an abusive relationship and having taken the advice of well-meaning people during my marriage that didn’t serve me well, I just wanted to bring this concern to you. I pray you will take what good there is to take from this email and let what’s not go. J

    If you have any desire to know a little more about my story, my blog is http://moonblazer.wordpress.com/. I haven’t written many posts. Nor do I go into much detail of the abuse.

    For actual details of the abuse I endured and the efforts I made to save my marriage, go to the following website and scroll down to December 31, 2011 and read what “anonymous me” wrote. (that’s me) http://wisecounsel.wordpress.com/2006/11/14/living-faith-bombshell-honest-wrestling-with-mental-illness-and-divorce/ I don’t like the idea of defacing my soon-to-be ex-husband because I don’t believe that serves anyone any good. So, I choose to share my story anonymously. I also have high hopes he will one day become a true follower of Christ and would not want his ugly past to hurt his potential future good reputation. For the record, he was never diagnosed of any mental illness to my knowledge. I was just desperate for help/answers and thought that he may have BP when I posted this statement, which could still be possible.

    Thank you for taking the time for this email. Again, I thank you so much for your ministry. You are doing a great service to marriages, April.

    Blessings,

    Anonymous Me

    P.S. It’s not my intention to offend anyone with the generalities I have spoken in about those who experience abuse. If I do offend anyone, I apologize and understand there are always exceptions. Mostly, my statements come from my personal experience and of those I know personally who also experienced abuse.

    1. Thanks so much for this! I am am more passive wife, married to a non believing, self-centered husband.
      I love and agree 100% with the advice you give wives because it is 100% biblical based on what I’ve read in His Word. Trust me I wouldn’t subscribe to this blog if it wasn’t!
      Unfortunately, I’ve struggled to put into practice respecting my husband. It has been so difficult. It rang true with me when I read
      “…they [abused wives] are desperately clinging to the answers they receive. Abuse has a horrible way of creating such a loss of self that you are unable to look at things clearly and trust yourself to make wise decisions. So, you look for signs/miracles everywhere you turn. Leslie Vernick says it well in her book when she quotes the following verses – ‘When you continue to offer yourself in relationship to people who consistently mistreat you, disrespect you, control you, abuse you, deceive you, and use you, you will feel sicker and sicker (Proverbs 4:14-27)’.”
      I feel as if this is my current situation. I want to respect my husband but at times I feel so sick, I cannot. I’ve tried to respect him out of service to Christ, not how I actually feel about my husband. I don’t really like him much. But, it’s a constant battle. More often than not, “positive” things you say are countered with a harsh and abrasive response. He speaks to us with contempt most days, criticizing what we do, how we do it, why we do it. He scoffs at our apologies when we make mistakes and can become more angry because “we don’t get it.” Our children love him but the older two spend most of their time in their rooms away from him (and me as a result). I’m home with the younger two which is definitely a ministry in selflessness! I love it but something changes in our home as soon as he gets home.
      If he’s in a good mood, he gets upset if everyone else isn’t turning cartwheels. If he’s had a bad day, he will nit pick things he feels are not up to his standard.
      He’s in education so breaks are so tough. He’s home and expects everything to revolve around him. He complains when the babies are up early and he wants to sleep in. He won’t take the older kids anywhere. So, I basically do all the cooking, cleaning, chauffeuring and emotional/spiritual mentoring for our family. I’M TRIED! But, I tell myself he works hard to support us and I should respect his need to rest and find home to a clean and orderly house.
      The only “rest” I find is in my time with God, it fuels me throughout each day. But, I know there’s more. Not that God is not enough but that I’m somehow not standing in His truth, letting my husband’s negativity and ungodly influence control our household. I don’t think I should be in charge; I don’t even want to be. However, I’m praying about how our family can be led by God and His Word in spite of the corrupt authority that is my husband 🙁
      Again, I’m more of a passive, “peace lover” so I tend to keep silent when he goes off on his tirades. The few times I have addressed his tone or harsh words, he responds with defensiveness, table turning or self-pity (“I just can’t do anything right!”) I’M TIRED!
      I won’t divorce him. I’ve thought about leaving. I even told him I was going to my mother’s , but he told me he didn’t give me permission. He doesn’t believe there is anything wrong and that I’m just bent on being unhappy. There has not been any physical abuse. However, I don’t feel like I exist anymore. We are only physically “intimate.” He may ask me how my day was but quickly turns the subject to himself. He is not a believer so we don’t pray, read the Bible or attend church together. He has attended a few times, but criticizes from the moment we walk in until we leave. He “allows” me my quiet time in the morning when he “catches” me doing it but doesn’t make any attempt to hide his dissatisfaction with my time not focused on him. I tried to spiritualize it and say I was dying to self so that Christ could live through me. But, something different is happening. I remember driving home from a doctor’s appt for the youngest child and contemplating opening my door & jumping out on the highway to get away from him! I don’t have many thoughts of hurting myself but have viewed my death as a way of relief. I shared this with him once and he dismissed it as being overly dramatic.
      I’m in no way without my own issues. I’m just not sure where my responsibility ends and where I should speak up more regarding his behavior.
      I could go on and on with examples. It’s really sad. I struggle to have hope that things will change.

      1. Anonymous,

        Being married to an unbeliever would be very, very difficult.

        How are you doing in your walk with Christ? You will definitely need the power of God’s Spirit and His wisdom to face the challenges ahead.

        Has he ever been diagnosed with mental illness? Is he addicted to any drugs or alcohol?

        How do you attempt to address his harsh words and tone?

        What was his parents’ marriage like?

        What was your parents’ marriage like?

        What do you believe you need from your husband?

        Are you still thinking about suicide?

        What resources and support do you have around you?

        What things do you believe God wants you to change?

        Much love to you!

        1. April, if it is possible not to compromise the privacy of the answers Anonymous gave you to your questions, would you be able to post your reply to her here?

          -HisHelper

        2. Anonymous,

          What happens when you have tried this new approach after he gets really angry?

          Have you ever tried responding gently?

          Are you apologizing for things that you really didn’t do wrong?

          Have you ever seen your husband apologize, repent, or be selfless?

          What is your husband’s relationship with Christ?

          What are you learning, what are you praying for, what are your greatest desires in your walk with Christ?

          I’m very glad to hear that you are not seriously considering suicide at this point. If you begin to think about it – please, please, reach out for help!

          How are you managing your issues with which you were diagnosed? Do you believe things are fairly under control? Or is that issue causing some of the problems, do you think?

          Do you have a godly, spiritually mature, mentoring wife you can speak with?

          I am going to keep your answers hidden for now. 🙂

  3. Good points April. I would like to add that women should also not attempt to give advice to a friend who is in an abusive situation or those same situations with serious problems that you list. We all have our own baggage, filters, paradigms. ..and we will see others’ situations through our own lens, focusing on issues that are similar to our own familar wounds and being blind to other critical issues. Counselors have to undergo therapy themselves to reveal those issues and to deal with them as much as possible. However even they continue to see through their own lenses, so they try to be aware of that, and take time to be reflective after a session to see what the client’s issues brought up in themselves.
    I have seen many, many christian women try to be rescuers and give advice to others, not knowing that they can do some real damage to their friend’s marriage and even to their friend, unknowingly triggering shame, inadequacy, family of origin wounds…I have seen women urge a friend to put strategies into place that can hurt feelings for a long time. Just as we are not surgeons and would kill a friend by “helping her” with her appendicitis, we can unknowingly do real damage to her and her family by blindly plunging into issues that we know nothing about. The best way to help a friend is to listen nonjudgmentally, and allow her to talk it out to find her own solution. Serious issues should be left to people with professional skills.

    1. Marked Wife,

      Thank you very much for sharing! I know that many times we have good intentions – and we WANT to help others. But our good intentions are not enough. There are some situations that I know I am not prepared or well-enough equipped to handle. I want to be very clear about my limitations so that women will seek appropriate help and find the resources that will be best for them.

      I am always happy to pray with women and seek to point them to Christ. But I want women who are truly being mistreated to get the help they most need.

  4. From my point of view, such as it is, you do a much better job (as far as Christian sites go) for addressing abuse for BOTH husbands and wives than almost anybody does for husbands.

    It’s so strange to me. Like a few Christian men I have in mind who have been (even physically) abused in marriages, sometimes bloggers, don’t see the need so much as to write anything that keeps men company in those situations they themselves encountered–not even so much as a word of “I know what you guys are going through” or “no it isn’t you fault even if you think/feel it is.” And no righteous indignation at all. It’s interesting how you’ve made a disclaimer in your blog toward abused women actually to avoid your blog–when men’s ministries offer so little, it may be a lesson to men in avoiding virtually every men’s ministry out there until they learn to love the men to whom they “minister.”

    Only in special men’s groups (not particularly Christian) do I see any such thing, where guys find each other–which is to say things may gradually be getting there. The encouraging thing about that is they’re supported by men and women both, and good, productive things happen there even if they’re in infant stages. 🙂

    Of course I’m sure that’s another reason why so many men check out your blog. Your writing is simply full of the Holy Spirit in any case. 🙂 No doubt men would show up to a male counterpart of your ministry if it actually existed, with the full scope of love, empathy, and accountability.

    It’s so sad to think a husband wouldn’t recognize what a worthy challenge it is to see just how happy they could make their wives–what a joy that would be to see.

    1. JC,

      I so never want to see anyone mistreated. It breaks my heart to hear that a husband, wife, child, or anyone is being sinned against.

      I want very much to be able to bless everyone who comes here. I am very glad to pray with anyone. I want everyone who visits here to know that he/she is of great worth in a God’s sight and that our God is able to save, heal, and transform anyone – those who are mistreated as well as abusers. We serve a mighty God!

      Please pray that God might give me wisdom to address even these difficult issues and that He might provide resources for me to point people to.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

      1. Honestly April your reaction seems awfully sensible to me not to take on this dimension of relationships–unless people insist on looking to you for absolutely everything. From my point of view it looks like every other person and his/her dog is just eager to tackle the issue of the protection of wives. Is there really a shortage of resources and materials out there for women in abusive relationships?

        I really don’t see why you need to be the millionth person to talk about this issue for the reasons you stated. Not that wives in abusive relationships isn’t an important issue, but how many are already on that job? Obviously it’s up to you, but as it is you’ve been contributing to filling in one of a few big, fat holes in marriage ministries, doing so with love for the women and men involved. People can see you’re being productive to that end. It kind of seems logical to me that you would pursue issues that have the least amount of attention paid to them as well as areas you feel inspired to work on. It’s all between you and God of course.

        I was going to say a lot more–basically more work needs to be done on men’s end. Men are very right not to pay attention to sources of “accountability” which very obviously have no love for men (otherwise discussion of men’s healing and protection would be strongly present, just as you see in virtually any women’s ministry), but unfortunately that means that they’re not getting much of anything either way.

      2. PS yes I pray for you April. 🙂

        I am trying to replay, over and over and over again, the “new normal” that I’m desperately trying to soak myself into and make a part of me that you helped impart. Marriage means little to me anymore, but just that “new normal” is what I want to go through me. It’s something I needed my whole life, but the rest of world isn’t changing much–apart from developments on the men’s rights front, which are encouraging. I’m sure you’re praying for me just as you spread your love out to many people. 🙂

        Yes ma’am it’s a great benefit to see your work, the earnest seeking of Christ and submission to Him. In the end that’s my only job: obedience to God. It is a blessing and benefit to see someone else who is so passionate about that.

        1. Thank you, JC!

          I’m so glad that God is healing your heart.

          I pray for His will, His power, His glory, His love, His healing, His will, and His good purposes to be mightily accomplished in your life.

    2. I know of men who are/were married to abusers. I can think of 4 right now and those are just the ones I *know* of. There are several men who contribute or comment at ACFJ. Their perspective is appreciated and welcomed. You are not alone.

      1. I visit a men’s facebook group in which men and women offer male victims of all sorts practical advice–it’s encouraging seeing people making concrete efforts. For example, one man told about he was giving a male DV victim shelter in his home, as battered men otherwise have no place whatsoever to go. Other times they get a lot of legal advice for how not to get shredded by family court (men getting divorced by their wives, custody issues and such) and a lot of good things come from that. Beyond that, it’s a great general support group, though of course there’s a lot of frustration from guys who have basically discovered the hard way how disadvantaged they are in basic rights on virtually all fronts. It’s super encouraging to see this kind of thing happen small-scale though.

        I’m actually not married. The heartache just from my outside perspective is bad enough–I cannot imagine coping in the situations some of these men have in their lives in such loneliness.

  5. Peace be with you, April!
    Your blog has helped me out a lot despite of all that I have been through. I may have been bullied and all, but I have NOT been abused because I’ve NEVER been in a relationship nor married. I mean, I kind of been taken advantage of by boys sexually when I was about 6 years old when I was at home, and I was riding on a school bus to elementary school. It all gotten to the point where I felt like it was all my fault not just because I am a female, but it’s because my body is a sin. For years I’ve struggled to forgive in order to move on with my life and as I grew up into my young adult hood, God has blessed me to be braver than I believe, stronger than I see, smarter than I think, and twice as beautiful as I’d ever imagined. My encouragement to you, myself, and others is to Love yourself for who you are. Those flaws are not imperfections. God made you absolutely beautiful and perfect so despite all your flaws, God still loves you so much that He continues to write your story. It’s Beautiful!!!!

    God is Love,
    Wykeshia

    1. Wykeshia,

      I am so glad that you know now that your body is not sin and it is not something shameful, but is a blessing, a gift, and the temple of God’s Spirit. 🙂

      I thank God for the healing He has done and continues to do in your life.

      Thank you very much for sharing!

  6. I appreciate that you know your audience and are not attempting to address an issue that you have difficulty relating to. I am a contributing editor at A Cry For Justice and I am pleased to see that another commenter linked to ACFJ. When I was still with my abuser I used to read blogs like yours in hopes that I was the real problem in the marriage and I could respect my abuser so much that he would value me, that I could pray harder, submit more, be more available, etc. So it is very very good that you are offering this caveat to your audience.

    I write because I was wrong (that’s gonna be a post title). I was one of those who would hand out marriage books and haughty platitudes to women who were suffering. I thought that if I had to endure X, they could surely tolerate their husbands’ name calling and they should just pray more and be thankful more and study Philippians 4 until they could force a smile all the time. I thought that leaving the abuse would require leaving my faith. And now that I know better, I write. I write as I learn and I hope hope hope it helps others have hope in Christ, get safe, and stay safe. And I hope I can equip people who are in safe relationships to aid those who aren’t.

    I often ask authors who write about marriage to include a strong definition of abuse in their writing along with resources, links, phone numbers (good job with this, Peacefulwife), etc. for people who may be in relationships with abusers. Many people don’t know what abuse is. It is “fundamentally a mentality. It is a mindset of entitlement. The abuser sees himself* as entitled. He is the center of the world, and he demands that his victim make him the center of her world. His goal is power and control over others. For him, power and control are his natural right, and he feels quite justified in using whatever means are necessary to obtain that power and control.”- cryingoutforjustice.com. When leaders see abuse defined they are responsible for that knowledge. When targets of abuse see it defined, we realize that we cannot cause abusers to abuse.

    You mentioned that targets of abuse often hide the truth of their situations when they communicate with you. I did this with my friends and I have seen it in others. I wrote this post http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/07/11/how-can-you-get-your-pastor-to-help/ to alert people when they hear certain phrasing. They can then offer assistance and support when needed and I wrote it to implore targets of abuse to find safe people to share with and tell the whole story when they do.

    I recently finished reading Mending the Soul. I think you would like it and find it to be a good resource. I know many Christians who have been encouraged by their ministry (mendingthesoul.org).

    I noticed that you use the term “women who are abused.” One of the first things I learned as an advocate is to place the blame on the abusers, not the targets of the abuse. When the term “women who are abused” is used, it makes the targets of abuse the actors. I use the term “target of abuse” as it paints a picture of the true nature of the issue. There is an abuser and a target. I reserve the term “victim” for a legal setting. When the DA asked me if I were the “victim,” I had to catch my breath. Society has painted targets of abuse as shrieking shrews who have it coming or people too weak or stupid to leave. I don’t shriek and those who DO don’t “have it coming.” I am not weak or stupid. My abuser wasn’t wearing a “wife beater Tshirt” and downing beers while cooking meth like TV so often portrays abusers. He is a successful man with a graduate degree. He wore his white collar clothes, not a stained Tshirt. I had to process all of that while answering the DA’s question truthfully. Yes. I was the victim of criminal abuse. But I use the word “target” in my writing.

    Again, good job in offering this caveat to your readers. I hope the post I referenced helps alert you to people who are in danger if they use some of the phrasing I mention there. And thank you for providing links to resources who offer assistance. You are a step ahead when it comes to that! The Lutherans have a new website that your readers might find helpful as well. http://www.lcms.org/socialissues/domesticviolence

    Ellie

    1. Ellie,
      Thank you very much for sharing and for the resources at http://www.cryingoutforjustice.com. I am so thankful! I want to be able to point women to biblical, solid, reliable, helpful, godly resources.

      I wonder if you might allow me to quote the paragraph with the definition of abuse you quoted, please? I would like to include that in my post.

      Thank you also for sharing about words and phrasing. I appreciate it very much.

      In Him,
      April

      1. Ellie,
        It seems to me that the definition ACFJ uses for abuse describes a man who has himself on the throne of his life as god, who idolizes self and demands that his wife idolize him, as well. Of course, women sometimes do this, as well. I have seen men who are abused by wives who do this same thing.

        Thank you so much for all that you have contributed to this important discussion!

  7. From a husband:
    April: I’d like to leave this comment anonymously if possible, or for you to work into another blog that follows your train of thought here.
    What you say about the controlling wife — that was my wife when I was married. I think I discovered why, which is what I think needs to be addressed.
    Your address abuse and a controlling attitude in the same context. I don’t know if you realize it, but I think they may go hand-in-hand in a variety of ways. You see, my ex-wife was apparently abused when she was younger. She also watched her own father cheat on her mom and her mom “take it” for so many years before she left.
    I tried to encourage her to get help, but I was unable to.
    I believe in this case my wife became controlling as a defense mechanism. I never sought to control her and wanted to live out a biblical marriage, but couldn’t because she loathed the word “submit” as it’s used in the New Testament. She even refused to use the word “obey” in our marital vows.
    I’m not trying to use this forum to rip on my ex-wife; I’m simply telling you what was and what I think was an issue for my ex-wife.
    From what I’ve seen, I think if a woman has been sexually abused (particularly as a child) or has trust problems with males, then I believe she needs professional counseling with a good counselor who can help her through those issues as they will only serve to create rot within a marriage that the husband cannot fix. Because it is his nature to want to “fix things” this could make him feel like a failure and further shut down.
    I need no attention to myself or my ideas here: I’m simply sharing some thoughts that might help you in your ministry to women.

    1. Anonymous husband,

      Yes, I do believe that control and abuse often go together. I believe they have a similar spiritual root – idolatry of self, pride, and fear. I agree that many times abuse in a person’s past can be a huge trigger for someone to become controlling or abusive himself/herself.

      Thank you so much for sharing!

      1. Hi April, yes in regards to my abusive and controlling husband i can clearly see now that it is idolatry, self-pride and fear. A sense of entitlement to be worshiped instead of respected and admired and this is where i became very confused. He had an abusive childhood (mostly emotional but also physical) from his mother and his father was mostly absent although he does not and will not recognize it as abuse. Also Ellie was right on with her comment. It is extremely painful trying to acknowledge that my respect and submission won’t fix the marriage and it is confusing because it did help alot but does not help the root of our problems. Thinking there is no hope for my marriage leaves me in extreme despair and depression and this blog gave me some hope but i am not under an illusion that we have deeper problems. I also like reading your blog as it has just helped me to grow spiritually and also still be respectful to my husband even though we are separated and have issues. I think the best advice that you have given me April is to seek God and honor Him first which is ultimately what your blog is about. I do appreciate that this is a subject that you do not want to give advice on as it is very complicated so i understand where you are coming from with this issue. I just want to thank you for your time and dedication to helping people come to Christ and heal their marriages.

        1. Megan,

          In Christ, there is EVERY reason for hope, my precious sister!!!!!!

          Yes, a wife’s obedience to God, her being filled with God’s Spirit, her godly respect and honor CAN bless her husband. But alone, she cannot change her husband’s character or sanctify him. The Holy Spirit does that job. But she can be God’s partner to bless, inspire, encourage, build up, affirm, and honor him.

          It does get more difficult when a husband has self as god and demands to be worshipped. If he experienced abuse as a child – there are gaping wounds in his soul that need to be addressed and healed.

          I’m very thankful that God has used the blog to bless your walk with Him and to help you find power in Christ. What a wonderful answer to my prayers. Thank you for the encouragement. I am praying for you and your husband today, my beautiful sister!

          How can I pray for you specifically?

          1. Yes April he has very big wounds that won’t be healed until he truly surrenders to Jesus. In a way he has expected me to be the source of his happiness. When i have submitted and respected him he felt happy. When i wasn’t doing this well he felt insecure and threatened, treated me very badly. God has revealed some things over this past year of our separation that have been truly painful and shocking to find out about my husband. Secrets that i guess had to come out when i asked God if i could trust this man to reconcile things. It has left me lost and not knowing what it is God now wants me to do. I feel in limbo and also wonder if I have not heard correctly from God as what to do as I may have filters because of all the manipulation and confusion caused by my husband. I would love to have prayer for clarity and sensitivity to the holy spirit. I have not been putting God first recently as I have just felt quite broken with my health and marriage that i have sort of retreated from God. Not the best thing to do i know. Have felt exhausted with trying to figure all this out that i really just need to get back to following God with all my heart and put my trust in Him. I really appreciate your prayers, support and comforting words. Thankyou.

          2. Megan,

            I am so very sorry that things have been so painful! It is easy, and pretty common, for spouses to have self as an idol AND each other as idols. It is also very common for spouses today in our culture to make the other person responsible for their emotions and happiness. And just like women can tend to idolize “feeling loved” – men can tend to idolize “feeling respected, admired, and being submitted to.” These are good things – they are part of God’s design for marriage. But if we make those things more important than God, or our needs more important than our own obedience to God, or more important than our spouse or the marriage- there are big problems.

            I will absolutely pray for clarity and sensitivity for you from Gods’ Spirit – as you move closer to Him and begin to walk in faith and trust. Praying for the resources, love, encouragement, people, strength, wisdom, courage, and God’s power that you need to take each step and to live each day – one day at a time.

            Sending you the biggest hug, my precious sister!

  8. April: I thought you didn’t know my ex-wife? Your point # 1 above describes her so well it seems as if you must have known her. She “fired” almost every counselor we ever had because, at some point, they would try to get her to recognize and work on her issues. She thought that necessarily meant I had brainwashed them. Our last counselor eventually came straight out and said that she did not have biblical grounds for divorce based on my behavior toward her but that I did based on her behavior toward me. (She would routinely say such mean and disrespectful things to me, often in front of the kids, they’d take my breath away. I got plenty angry plenty of times, and I’m not a pussycat, but I would never even think of saying things to her like what she said to me.) Shortly after that she stopped going to the counselor and soon filed for divorce a second and final time. And somehow it was all my fault that she “had to” file for divorce. To add insult to injury, after years of counseling in which she complained about all my faults and failures but never described anything I did as abuse, her divorce petition accused me of emotional and verbal abuse. Gahhh. A long way of saying that your point # 1 is excellent (as usual).

    1. David,

      I think your ex-wife and I had a lot of VERY similar ways of thinking in the past. The word “abuse” is used for so many different situations – I wanted to try to clarify a bit. How can we pray for you at this time?

      1. Thank you for asking, April. I really appreciate it. First, I’m thankful that 4.5 years after she filed for divorce and 3+ years after the divorce was final, my finances are finally improving. I’m also thankful for the support of my parents, siblings, and other family. My daughter and I got to spend Christmas with them where they all live (about 2,200 miles away), and it was a great blessing to both of us. Requests:

        (1) Making the most of my youngest son’s last year at home before college (I struggled mightily a couple months ago realizing that everything this year was going to be a “last time” — last time I got to watch him play fall baseball, now the last time I’m getting to see him play rec league basketball, etc.);

        (2) restoration of my relationship with my oldest son, which was badly poisoned by my ex; it’s been about 1.5 years (and now two Christmases) that he has refused to have any contact with me, which is very painful;

        (3) wisdom and the fruit of the spirit in handling my ex’s continued pursuit of excess child support (over and above what was set by the settlement agreement) and attorney’s fees, while refusing to bear her share of the significant expenses of my having to pick up my daughter for visitation, and refusing even to meet me halfway — a total of 1,600 miles to drive for every visit, 800 round-trip to pick her up and 800 round-trip to take her back;

        (4) emotional and spiritual healing for my second son, who is going through the heartbreak of the end of a relationship that very much appeared to be headed for marriage;

        (5) still, much later than I ever expected or wanted, letting go of bitterness and anger toward my ex for the ongoing effects, especially on my kids, of her unbiblical divorce (and similar feelings toward those of our “friends” who actively supported her “decision”).

        Sorry, but you asked. 🙂

        1. David J,
          I am so thankful to hear that your finances are doing better! That is great news! Thank you for sharing these prayer needs. How my heart breaks over the pain and woundedness everyone in the family is experiencing. I will pray for you right now.

  9. Hi, April. I’ve really been struggling with your blog. To start off with, I’m the woman you describe under Point 2. My husband has been emotionally abusive for years. Counseling has failed because he believes that everything that concerns me is just my problem and therefore not his concern. I just “need to get over it”. He told the counselor he does not have any responsibilities in marriage and will not do anything he does not “want” to do. I have engaged a personal therapist, my pastor and also an accountability partner to ensure my attitudes are sincere and in line with the Bible. I was encouraged, regardless of the situation, to remain kind, respectful and blameless, and to address my faults first. Very hard, but excellent advice – looking back, I have nothing to apologize for in terms of how I handled the situation to get help (always things to apologize for in the relationship, so let’s differentiate those two).

    At some point (after counseling ended, the counselor gave up) he printed off nearly all your writings (minus the one on how to confront your husband) and left them for me to “read and embody”. I have really been struggling with this but your article here has helped me to see the truth. It is very difficult when you are told by professionals that continuing to behave in the classic submissive wife role is just enabling your spouse to keep sinning, because he has no accountability. It puts you in a lose-lose situation. Keep submitting with no consequences to your spouse? Lose (because you continue to allow yourself to be hurt, or abused, depending on the situation). Stand up for yourself and demand change? Lose (because you feel like you are violating the submission clause if you establish boundaries with consequences, and then have to enforce those consequences). I have been working really hard to establish personal boundaries without being selfish in the process. It is a delicate balance to demand respect but still be kind and respectful in return. At this point we are now separated. He will not budge on his views and I cannot accept to be treated this way forever.

    Thank you for what you do and for writing this article that clearly says who this blog is *not* for. I appreciate your honesty.

    As for the earlier comments on how you choose not to address abusive marriages, that’s fine. You cannot minister to everyone in all circumstances and clearly you have a mission already, and if you branch out where you are not called, that’s inviting disaster. If people want to get picky on semantics in terms of how you phrased it, so be it. We understand your heart. Thanks for what you do and for setting a good example to your sisters.

    1. Another Anonymous,

      I am so glad to hear from you! 🙂 But how my heart breaks over your situation.

      I am not called to disciple men – Scripture prohibits a woman from having authority over men to instruct/teach/preach to them. That is another limitation of mine – and it does cause issues at times when husbands read my blog and want their wives to change and be godly but are not willing to look at themselves, their sin, their accountability to God, their obedience to God, etc… Some people seem to think that because I do not address men, that means men have no responsibility to obey God. No!!! We are ALL accountable to God and we ALL desperately need Christ. Husbands are even more accountable to God and have more responsibilities in marriage than wives do. A godly man cannot say, “I don’t have to do what God tells me to do. All the problems in our marriage are your fault and I am not lifting a finger to help you.” No.

      I don’t know that you must “demand” respect. I think you can “command” respect by your own character. And you can absolutely set boundaries when necessary – with the help and wisdom of God’s Spirit and His Word, along with wise, godly counsel.

      In marriage, we are one. If one of us has a problem, we both have a problem. And both people are accountable to God.

      I tell wives that our level of respect for our husbands and our willingness to submit to them in a biblical way has almost nothing to do with them and almost everything to do with our reverence for and submission to Christ. (I also mention that if a husband is mistreating his wife, is asking her to sin or condone sin, is actually abusing her, or is not in her right mind, that it may not be safe to submit to him. We can show a desire to want to submit to our husbands and we can honor them. But there are times that boundaries and limits can be necessary.) In the same way that the way a wife treats her husband has nothing to do with him but everything to do with her walk with Christ and her character and whether she is filled with God’s Spirit or not – the same is true for husbands. Their love for their wives has almost nothing do to with their wives and almost everything to do with their walk with Christ. A man who is submitted to Christ WILL love his wife the way Christ loves the church.

      Husbands have issues, too. They can have idols. They can have sin in their hearts that keeps them from hearing God. Sometimes a husband’s sin has nothing at all to do with his wife. Yes, a wife can influence her husband and can make temptation greater or smaller. But – we are not responsible for our husbands’ obedience to God. We are not responsible for their sin. We are not responsible to make them love us. We cannot change them or sanctify them or be the Holy Spirit to them.

      It is a very delicate balance that requires extreme sensitivity to God’s Spirit for a wife to see where her responsibilities end and her husband’s responsibilities begin.

      Interesting which articles your husband decided not to print.

      I really appreciate your willingness to share your story. I praise God that you don’t have regrets and that you are seeking to honor God and be a godly woman and wife no matter what your husband does. That is awesome! I can understand why separation was necessary at this point and pray that God might work mightily in both of you for His greatest glory!

      Much love to you!

      1. Thank you for the encouraging reply. I am praying for reconciliation and I know that no matter what happens, God has a plan and this is enough. Like some of the other stories, God has shown me so many great lessons in this process and shown me a glimpse of how much I am loved and valued.

        And you are right – “demand” respect is incorrect.

        1. Another anonymous, i feel for you and your situation as i am also separated and face the dilemma of being respectful and submissive yet establishing boundaries and following through. My husband does not see the reality of things. Yes he also loves to point out submit submit submit, listen to me and respect me, however fails to see the part where he loves me unconditionally and how his role is NOT to force and punish me. In other words it is about oppression rather than submission. It is really sad and hard when you are trying to be a Godly wife and yet you cannot fix the other half. However i agree with you about the great lessons learned and I am also growing and learning how to be a Godly respectful separated wife. Not reacting to his bait or poor treatment in an ungodly way. It is hard:/

        1. Roger,
          That is my understanding:

          A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety. 1 Timothy 2:11-15

          Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. I Corinthians 14:34-35

          1. There are lots of examples of women speaking to and teaching men in the broadest sense. More include the women who saw Jesus at the tomb, or Deborah the prophetess.

            In interactions, it’s “don’t talk to men like a boss.” And, not be placed officially in authority, such that a man is compelled to do as she says–so women cannot teach men in that “official” sense, as it undermines the authority/submission relationship of men to women.

            Beyond that, of course it’s impossible not to “teach” others in the broadest sense of the word when any interactions are present. Men learn things from women all the time as well as vice-versa.

          2. Gisela,

            God absolutely uses women in His kingdom to bless the Body of Christ. 🙂 The way He uses them might be a bit different from the way He uses men at times.

  10. I am not sure if this is the right place for this but it has been on my mind. Often women have a hard time “seeing” abuse if it is not physical. One thing I would love to see you write on behaviors wives do not and should not accept and respectful ways to deal with them. Maybe you already have and I haven’t read it.

    One for instance, husbands who talk or yell for hours to the point of sleep deprivation trying to convince their wives of something she has already said she doesn’t like. I was talking with a wife the other day who was enduring this. First, I told her she had a right to her feelings as long as she was respectful. Second, I told her that she did not have to endure this night after night. She could leave or go to another room.

    I think sometimes when it comes to submission there is not enough focus in marriage books on the fact that it is ok to respectfully say how you feel and it is not alright for a husband to yell, call names or berate you for hours because of your feelings.

    In my case, my husband used to yell a lot when he didn’t like the topic of conversation I brought up. Of course, I didn’t help things yelling back or being disrespectful. Once I changed, he would still yell. What I would do is quietly leave the room. If I had to, I would lock myself in the bathroom. Once he realized I would no longer listen if he yelled, he stopped.

    Also, I had to remember not to take offense when this happened. He was only responding the same way he always had when I was disrespectful. Learning a new way to communicate is a process.

    1. Daisymae,

      I’d love for you to help me write a post about this subject. Greg doesn’t yell. Ever. So – I don’t have personal experience to bring to the table on this issue. I could use some help from some wives who have learned to handle this kind of mistreatment in a godly way.

      Thank you so much for sharing!

      1. April,
        I can try…. I think like AA said the Boundaries in Marriage book is good but it can cross the line with submission, in my opinion. Some things would be ok for a husband to do but if a wife took the same approach it would be disrespectful. That is why I think there is a need to talk about boundaries from a respectful approach.

    2. I know April is limited to what resources she can recommend and I fully understand why. But in my opinion, a very helpful resource is the book “Boundaries in Marriage” by Drs Cloud and Townsend. It covers off how to establish those boundaries in your marriage. What I really appreciated about it is the chapter that speaks of your boundaries on yourself – it’s a hard chapter to read because we want to stop others from doing the things we find hurtful, but it deals with how to ensure that you are not overstepping someone else’s boundaries or being hurtful yourself. I think this is really the first step but it’s so hard to humble yourself when you’re feeling so hurt or betrayed. The book also acknowledges how easy it is to misuse boundaries as a selfish way to control your spouse, and of course this is not the intent at all – but we need to be aware of it. I wish I had read it before my marriage ended up in a crisi situation.

      (Interestingly, one of the examples they use is if your spouse yells at you. They suggest telling your spouse, calmly, that you cannot accept being addressed this way and that if he/she continues to do so, that you will leave the room until the person can communicate in a more respectful and calm manner. That assumes, of course, that you had already tried explaining kindly to him/her that you found it hurtful or frightening, and asked for it to stop so that you could better appreciate and understand what they were trying to communicate.)

    3. Yes this was a big issue for me and still is even while separated. The yelling and name calling and sleep deprivation while he felt the need to convince me of something or see things his way. It happened so many times and mostly ended up the same way, me becoming frustrated and distraught trying to get past him to leave the room when he wouldn’t let me. One night i got out the room and rang the police but it isn’t seen as abuse as he did not hit or punch me but did restrict me physically for trying to get out. My husband has been violent in the past but mainly it was verbal abuse and other tactics would can be even more damaging over time but isn’t really recognized.

      1. Megan, One thing I recommend when you can not get away is sit down turn your back and sing or hum softly. If this makes him even more angry, do it in your head, but do whatever you can to stop listening. It doesn’t help much with sleep deprivation but it does help in general. If my husband started yelling in the car and I couldn’t get out I would hum very softly.
        Like anything else, it must be done respectful. It cannot be done “in your face, I am not listening to you”. I always hummed Silent Night. It was peaceful to me.
        And it always worked, he would stop.

        1. Daisymae, thank you for your wise advice. I know i have handled my situation wrongly so many times. I would get in his face and get angry which of course escalated things. I wanted to be respectful and just listen and look him in the face when he was speaking but when it was out right lies it just made me angry. What you are suggesting is a good idea in times like those. Can i ask how things are with your husband now?

          1. Megan,

            My husband never kept me from leaving except in a car. That was happening to a friend of mine. She learned to leave and lock herself in another room as soon as he started to yell. When I do get stuck in the car, I just get very quiet and hum and he stops. I will a few minutes later say something like “Look at that new building they are putting up” so defuse the situation.

            My husband can still be a yeller though and he has learned if he yells I will leave the room or the house. I not listen.

            I strongly feel like that the reason these situations escalate is women try to defend themselves from the lies and horrible things being said. That will never work and it will make things worse.

            Tell yourself “truths”. Remember that he knows that he is exaggerating or out right lying but he is doing this to get a reaction from you.

            I have found if a yeller has no one to argue with, they will stop.

            Also, a yeller will never see his sin if we yell back or defend. All that does is justify their behavior for them. They are out of control and they want you to be too.

            We have to always remember to appear peaceful and happy. Going around angry, hurt and sulking is not going to help us or our marriage. They have to see that no matter what their behavior is, They can’t steal our joy. This will also make them more attracted to us and want some of that joy too.

            BUT…. and this is a big BUT! Many husbands will be resentful and more angry at first when they see us joyful and peaceful. They will try very hard to get us back into the other state because that is much more comfortable to them.

            I will say, the more peaceful and joyful I am the less my husband gets angry. I still speak my mind but I don’t get upset if he gets mad.

  11. God showed me at a prayer conference last night – that – maybe I don’t know exactly how to advise those who are facing abuse, and maybe I don’t understand all that they are going through or know all the best ways to teach them or all of the most godly resources – but I can offer this precious group of women and men something. I can pray for them and with them. This is a spiritual battle, after all.

    I hope to run a post within the next week with a prayer for the victims of abuse and for the abusers. I hope you will join me in praying for them. 🙂

    Thank you for praying for God to give me His wisdom. I long to be a blessing to all of my sisters (and brothers).

    Please pray that God might continue to show me (and the whole church) the way that He desires me to minister to those who are hurting so very deeply according to His will.

    Much love!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

%d bloggers like this: