Emotional Abuse….it’s NOT normal!

I’m reading a book right now that I have to tell you all about because it is blowing me away and I’m not even half way through it!!


Its a book by Leslie Vernick called The Emotionally Destructive Marriage and I have to tell you…if you’re a Christian woman and have questioned WHY your marriage is the way it is…and WHY God is not answering your desperate prayers for a different marriage, you HAVE to buy this book ASAP and read it!

Leslie really hits hard on the church and how they are letting women down, Β women who come to them begging for help, only to be told it’s THEIR fault and they aren’t respecting their husbands enough and to go home and be even more subservient to their husbands!!

NEWSFLASH!!!! I loved this quote from the book….

“God does not value men more than women, or the institution of marriage more than the people who are in it.

He wants to help you know how to heal and what to do to bring true restoration to your destructive marriage.

He also knows that because of the hardness of your husbands heart, true reconciliation of your relationship isn’t always possible.”


FINALLY!! Here is someone who GETS it!! After having it hammered into my head for years that my husband is the “leader” in the home, and I have be “submissive” here is a woman who truly understands emotional abuse within a marriage!

And that sometimes…it’s better to get OUT!!!

I’ve also Β watched several of Leslie’s Youtube videos, and I’m telling you…it’s made me feel so much better about how I’m reacting to PA Man…and it’s lessoned the guilt I feel for not loving and respecting him like he wants and expects!!

I CAN’T love and respect a man that is emotionally abusing me…it’s not normal…so the fact that I feel this way…means I AM normal, but my marriage isn’t!!

I’ll write a follow up post after I finish the book….now, back to my reading!! πŸ™‚


33 thoughts on “Emotional Abuse….it’s NOT normal!

  1. AMEN!!! I am so glad you are reading this and watching the videos! I’ve watched the videos, and I ordered the book yesterday.

    • Seeing the Light….yes, so far I’ve learned a lot from the book! And some of what I’ve learned, I don’t like! :/
      I have to work on ME, because I’ve started to become bitter, resentful,etc…and I don’t like it one bit!!
      So, first step….work on me….then I will go to the next step, talk to PA Man and let him know that I will no longer tolerate his sinful, destructive behavior!!
      Let me know what you think of the book, I’d love to chat on this blog with others who have read it! πŸ™‚

      • lonelywife, I’ve got the book now and will dig in asap. I know it’s hard to realize that we may have bitterness and resentment to deal with, but one of the worst parts about all this is the way they can end up getting between us and God if we hold on to those things. And you know what? So much of my bitterness and resentment was over feeling like I had to let him keep abusing me! It’s amazing how little hold those things have over me now that I know God isn’t expecting me to allow it and to perpetuate something sinful and destructive!

  2. I love this book.

    I would summarize the bulk of marriage advice to Christian women as “pray and be nice”. That might work with a normal man, but it won’t work with an emotionally abusive one.

    I loved her example confrontation (and set up for the confrontation) and started in January to prepare to do that in August. Then I realized, what would I “ask” for? I have already used almost all of the boundary/consequences that she lists, and the only one left is for me (and daughter) to move out. My counselor also has steered me away from that (although I should probably start my own blog and list all of the coping strategies my counselor has helped me to develop; my counselor has been a HUGE help to me) and now I’m kind of adrift.

    I, too, have had to realize that there are significant limits to the kind of marriage I can have with my damaged husband. I can love him in the way I love all people, but there will never be much of a sense of intimacy with him. I certainly cannot love him in the way I would love to love a husband of 20+ years. And he is, I think, truly incapable of loving “as Christ loved the church”.

    • Jane…First, welcome to my blog, hate the reason that you’re here, but so glad you found me πŸ™‚ May I ask, why is your counselor against you and your daughter moving out?
      If you’ve tried to work with your H, tried to set boundaries…what is the next step for you to take?
      I’m curious about the reasons for you to continue in an an abusive relationship?
      And yes, I agree. I can’t love PA Man the way he wants me to love him, and the way I want to love him…not while he treats me like I’m not important to him…I’ve tried..it’s impossible!

  3. Thank you for welcoming me.

    I honestly don’t think my counselor is against me moving out. In the example in the book, the wife confronts the husband about his various behaviors and tells him that in order to continue the marriage the husband will have to go to individual counseling, have an accountability partner, etc. The counselor has basically said that it’s my husband’s job to decide what kind of husband and father he’ll be. I recognize the truth of that, having forced my husband into counseling a couple of times before. In true PA form he goes along with it, but doesn’t do the work because he “forgot”, he “didn’t know”, and “that’s not me, I could never do that”. If it was 15 years ago some of the consequences Vernick recommends might be shocking enough to him to bear fruit, but not now. (Plus, I’ve already applied most of them!)

    I’m currently taking the approach of “if you stay, stay well”. . . and as such have been working on getting my own life. It reminds me in some aspects of being single, but like you – we are comfortable financially and I’d like to hold it together for four or five years if I can until my daughter is grown. Our friends are used to seeing us both separately and apart, and some of the ladies know what is going on. I focus on being detached, I limit contact with him. While I push my daughter to treat him with the respect we are to show any one – I do not cover up his behavior. She is well aware who he is.

    I’m focused on my own happiness and right living, hopefully not in a selfish way, but after letting him determine my happiness for a long time, I’m just not willing to do that anymore.

    • Ok, I get that, I really do. πŸ™‚ I’ve also considered the “if you stay, stay well” approach….and I know I can do it, I’ve done it for 28 yrs!
      But PA Man isn’t going to like the “no sex” part in that! LOL!!
      Because there is NO way that side of our marriage will continue because I’m tried of feeling used!!
      If he doesn’t see this for the sin it is…if he doesn’t want to go to counseling to fix what’s broken inside of him…well, life is going to change for him…drastically!
      May I ask a question? Do you think your daughter, who you said sees her dad for what he is…do you think this is going to affect her later on, in her own relationships…with friends or boyfriends/husband?
      I worry about my own 3 boys that still live at home…my oldest son is married, and he seems to be doing ok, my DIL and I have a very open and loving relationship, and she assures me that my son is a great hubby πŸ™‚ but he wasn’t living at home when the affair came out, and hasn’t seen the full PA behavior towards me…though he DID experience it as a teen because PA Man was very hard on him at the time….I even sought counseling for us because of it, only to be told that I was wrong for my attitude, that I should be grateful for this hard working man,etc…you know how it is!

      I don’t worry about myself, I’m making a life for myself that makes me happy, PA Man and I get along fine, we go shopping, out to dinner, we’re taking the whole fam on a cruise next year, PA Man has no problem spending money, I think it’s his way of saying to himself and the world, “See, I take care of my family…I spoil my wife, I’m a great husband!” (He said that to our counselor last year, that he “spoils me”)
      As long as I have no expectations of him being there for me emotionally, he’s happy!!

      Since their dad is Mr.”Big Fun”, doesn’t really discipline them, and when he does, it’s with impatience because he’s being bothered…I do wonder and sometimes worry about long term effects…:/
      But so far, all of them seem to have a lot of empathy for others, and I know that with most PAs, they have no or very little empathy….So I hope and pray that the PA behavior doesn’t come home to roost!

  4. You asked about my daughter. . . yes, I think this will affect her, in the same way that my high functioning but still dysfunctional parents affected me. I think that if she sees me handling my husband differently than I have in the past (per my counselor’s guidance, and also Vernick’s, Bancroft’s and Evans’ books) it will help her but. . . I’m a realist. That said, I have two good friends whose mothers are married to difficult men. Both of these ladies were able to ultimately make good marriages with good men. So I pray for my daughter, and her future husband, every day.

    As far as staying but staying well. . . I have stayed but I’d have to say most of it has not been “staying well”. It was year 12 when I realized that my husband did the things he did, not because he couldn’t think of anything else to do, but because it got him what he wanted. It was year 15 when I realized that he was unlikely to ever change and grow. And it was year 19 when I finally got in with my good counselor. So years 12 – 19 were definitely not “staying well”. Years 19 – 21 are working on staying well, but also developing a safety plan and preparing to leave quickly should the need arise. I consciously decided to take the energy I was using to “work on the marriage”, and instead work on coping strategies and developing friends and interests outside of the marriage.

    I actually don’t spend much time with my husband. . . I just never know when he’s going to go off, and it’s really not very enjoyable for me. Years ago we had some discussions about family vacations. That’s something families do, right? I’d been on trips with my husband before and they were never very enjoyable for me – he was always bent out of shape about something, and I spent way too much time placating him. So I asked him, “Where do you want to go?” “What do you want to do?” “How long do you want to be gone?” “How do you want to feel on/after your vacation?” (Some people like to go, go, go on vacation while others like to hang out in a lounge chair.) His answers were always “I don’t know.” These conversations went on for five years (he would tell me that he really wanted to take a family vacation). What I finally got out of him was that he wanted a trip like some of the trips he had as a kid, where it was all fun and no responsibility, and someone else handled the problems and made it work out to his satisfaction. Uh, no, I’m not doing that. Eventually I started taking my daughter to visit my family, about a 1500 mile trip. She and I have fun and make good memories. . . husband hates visiting my family and is out of the loop.

    • Sounds like you’re doing the right thing then….if you can’t leave, then keep your distance!!
      I usually make the decisions if PA Man doesn’t want to…I’m not waiting around for him, lol!
      Of course, I’m sure he resents me inside when I do that…but oh well, he can deal with it!!
      Oh wait!! He’s PA…they don’t deal with ANYTHING!! LOL!
      Jane, I appreciate your input…I’m also thinking about “staying well” so I read with interest all that you say!!
      I’ve battled with feeling selfish…PA Man makes good money, and we take nice trips, and I have a beautiful home…and as long as I don’t let negative thinking get me…I do ok, but then I feel materialistic…
      But after reading Leslie’s book, I’ve realized that I’m trying to “stay well”, so now I work on myself….and encourage PA Man to do the same…whether he will, remains to be seen…but I think going without sex might help him to see that this is a game changer…but we’ll see!!

  5. Thank you for your transparency in your blog, and also, taking the time to talk about this book, ” The Emotionally destructive marriage.” I am reading it as we speak, and though necessary, it’s incredibly difficult to see the truth.

    I wanted to share my story about living with my PA husband, in hopes of just connecting with others who can identify. It’s the first time, in my entire time of being with him, I’m putting the pieces together, and seeing things for what they are, and speaking up about it.

    I feel like I’ve hit a wall in my marriage, and day by day, I’m losing more of myself.

    We have been together 11 yrs, married for nine years. From the beginning, I know we were drawn to each other to meet unmet childhood needs through each other ( unhealthy set-up), but we also had a great friendship together. One of the initial things that drew me to him was that he was so quiet, not at all like the raging alcoholic father I had feared as a child. I noticed he appeared almost too quiet at times, and sometimes, would not respond to basic questions. I thought it odd, but at the time, he didn’t seem unkind about it.

    As our dating relationship progressed, I became witness to his mother’s behavior around him, as well as his family, in general. I never once saw her hug him. I would eventually learn that, his entire childhood, she yelled and controlled him through her anger, and his father, was absent. Still, our relationship progressed, and things seemed fine. He wanted to be in a relationship with me, that is until we got married.

    Almost immediately, he became withdrawn, shut down, depressed. He began to pick fights; he was angry all of the time; I felt I was walking on eggshells. He became very demeaning, and if I ever cried, and went to him for comfort, he would say in a cold, disdainful tone, ” I won’t touch you, until you calm down.” Our dynamic worsened, and I found myself highly triggered by behaviors I could not understand. I became angry in response, trying to defend myself, and was triggered into my own issues of being abused and controlled by trusted men in my childhood.

    The more time has gone on, the more I feel I have lost my husband, my family, and myself. Sometimes, I see small glimpses of the person I thought I knew, of a person who loves me, and wants to be close to me, but it’s becoming less and less.

    He creates more distance between us, including our 6 year old daughter, who is afraid to go to her father to meet any need; she knows he will be angry with her, so I am left to meet all of her needs, which I know, I cannot. I feel like a single parent!

    He obsessively watched tv and stays on the internet. If you try to engage him at all, he becomes very irritable, and withdraws even further. He is repelled by any affection I try to show him, and literally turns his face away from kisses, and holds his body away from me. Affection is only acceptable on his terms, and on his watch, which usually means, every couple of weeks. I feel like I’m starving to death from lack of care and affection. He knows how painful this is for me, which is why it’s so much worse when he withholds affection and communication purposely, for long periods of time ( I usually have no idea what has triggered this mood). He also does not like to have any discussions at any time, and is usually repelled by any expectations put on him -from simple requests: “Please, give me a glass of water, I’m ill” to serious requests, ” It’s urgent, we need to go the hospital.” I have also found him hiding in a closet, after he randomly disappeared at night, for hours, and family called his phone, and searched for him. That’s only the tip of the crazy behaviors I’ve seen him do, to run away..

    I recently told him how much these behaviors are hurting me, and that I want him to heal, instead of more distance created between us. I encouraged counseling, and told him I can’t go on like this anymore. I told him I loved him, and he looked like I had shamed him, and was extremely threatened.

    That night, he came to bed, and would not acknowledge my presence, touch me, or talk to me, but the message was clear, ” I refuse to touch you, you will be punished.” I found myself, feeling the accumulation of silent heartbreak, humiliation, rage, and loneliness, and tears streamed down my face. I knew if he saw my tears, they would be a reward, and make me look like I was the crazy one. I left the room, silently, and went into the bathroom to cry. I knew then, I am alone in this marriage. I have since moved into the spare room, where I feel safe from his toxic energy, and behaviors. He doesn’t like it one bit, and says, I am crazy, and make no sense.

    I cannot go on like this. I feel like my spirit is breaking. I’m exhausted from living life alone, and walking on eggshells around him. If he isn’t willing to get help, I can’t stay. Is there any hope for someone with these behaviors? I’m only 31. I can’t imagine another 30-40 years like this. Thank you for listening!

    • Mari….I take marriage seriously…I really do. And I’m glad that your reading this book….it’s really helped me to find my way back to liking myself.

      I’m sorry you’re in this situation. I really am.
      But I’m telling you right now…save yourself and your precious daughter…LEAVE!!!! It will NEVER change! You have a full life in front of you!! GO!! Live a wonderful, exciting life and don’t look back!
      I wish I would have realized when I was 31 just how bad PA behavior is! I really do think it’s a mental illness!!
      You can’t change him…you really can’t!!
      And even IF he decided to get the help he needs…from what I’ve read…it’s YEARS of costly therapy…with minimal results!!
      Please don’t waste your time…just go. Seriously…just go.

    • Oh Mari…I just reread this….he was hiding in the closet?? Oh my word! That’s awful! How can he expect you to live with him..after doing that???
      We are here for you! and I’m praying for you!! πŸ™‚

  6. Lonely,

    Thank you so much for reaching out to me! It feels like a salve on my broken heart, to know someone out there hears me, and understands the PA complications.

    As it stands now, I have a therapist who I’ve been seeing for childhood abuse issues, but who hasn’t really dealt with my life with my husband, yet. We have a wonderful working relationship, so I was hoping he would have something helpful to say, when i recently shared, the PA stuff I’m dealing with at home, much of what I just shared here. The response I got, to be honest, felt very invalidating, and for a split moment, I thought, maybe I really should try to be more understanding. My counselor’s response to my husband’s withdrawal, inability for affection, communication, etc was this, “wow, he must really be hurting.” And, I’m sure he is, being as miserable of a person as he is, but what about my daughter and I?? I have to believe my therapist doesn’t understand Passive aggressiveness.He proceeded to tell me that I need to ask my husband if he’s considered counseling. If he won’t go, separation would be good. But, if he will go, to try to live with him, and see if I can stay while he gets help. And, if PA won’t get help, or things stay bad around here, I can lovingly tell him, ” Out of love for you, we’re deciding to leave, because we can see you’re going through a lot, and we don’t want you to have to deal with the pressure of having us around, and for that tension to be there. So, we will give you your space so you can heal” tbh, I was a bit flabbergasted. Do I believe in compassion, empathy, etc? As a Christian, those qualities are particularly important to me, but I also wonder where is PA’s accountability going to come in, instead of remaining the forever victim?? He may be hurting, but he is damaging my daughter and I. And, yet, he is angry with me that he needs to change 😦

    Since separating our sleeping places, and being unwilling to do PA dance, and intervening, calmly and directly when he oversteps into mistreatment, his anger actually seems to be getting worse. Now, it’s coming out pretty overtly, and the tiniest person is the target: our six year old. She asked him for lunch, and he said, ” You get enough of what you want. I’m going to relax, and sit here” she is left standing in the kitchen alone, and confused. I end up making her lunch, so his rejection of her needs isn’t so obvious. As soon as she and I sit down to the table to eat, guess who decides to get up?? PA wanders to the fridge, sighing angrily, and looks to make HIMSELF lunch. My daughter noticed his displeasure, as he continues to grumble at the fridge, and she asks, “What are you doing, daddy, talking to the food?” Lolol sorry, I have to laugh, to have some lightheartedness about the crap we deal with. Out of the mouths of babes!

    The other night, she was trying to serve him some food for dinner, get his napkin ready, and asked him if he was going to be eating with us, as he usually stays on the computer, and keeps us waiting alone, at the dinner table, til he feels like coming. He all the sudden, blows up, and yells, “Stop!stop!” As if he’s being tortured by questions. ” I already heard what you two were talking about ( I told her, daddy would eat when he was ready) , I don’t need to be asked 3 times?!” She stood there, his napkin in her hand, and dropped it, in discouragement.When he joined us for dinner, she was nervous to eat, and said she didnt like one of her favorite foods. Out of nowhere, he goes authoritarian, and says repeatedly, “You’re a liar, you’re a liar, you’re a liar.” I told him to back off, and we left the house.

    I want to believe he can change, but as you’ve shared about PA people, the chances of that are usually slim. It’s been a long, painful road, but what has been confusing is the glimpses we have seen of him, really being normal. Before our church closed a cpl months ago ( we were there 2 yrs) he said he had come to faith. Our then Pastor mentored him, and he went from angry little boy, to confident God fearing man, at least it seemed. The men in our church were held accountable in their leading, and loving of children and wives. He seemed to take on all of the qualities of my pastor. I thought he was changing. 2 mths after the close of the church, he has back to typical PA form, but the anger and distance is worse. I feel like I don’t know who this man is anymore, maybe I never did. Maybe This is who is. He told me early in our dating life ( red flag) ” Before I met you, I was an a**hole.”

    I’ve been holding out hope that if he really is a Christian, he will be convicted about his sinful behavior, and be willing to change, hit rock bottom. I don’t know if he will, but I won’t allow him to mistreat my daughter. I am doing my homework now, and making sure I have the things I need to separate, in the next cpl mths, if I have to. Again, I truly cant thank you enough for reaching out

    • Mari – I don’t have much time right now but just wanted to comment that I have had similar experiences with my husband and daughter – daughter is a teen now. I’ve made it a point to make sure she knows that she doesn’t cause his behavior. Dad has a choice and this is what he chooses, and here are some other things he could choose but he doesn’t. I think it helps her.

      Of course your husband’s behavior is completely confusing to your daughter. I have seen that happen too – I set boundaries & stop reacting to his behavior, he finds a new “victim”. Frequently our daughter but she’s more wise to him now.

    • Mari…I’m so sorry! That sucks, it really does! Especially how he treats your daughter! That’s unacceptable!
      PA Man hasn’t been like that with our boys, thank goodness! He acts like their “best friend”, very immature, etc…

      Ok, I’ll try to answer this the best I can, because I’ve seen the same thing with my husband…
      These men are soooo desperate for attention and acceptance and that’s probably why you saw such a change in him….He so desperately wanted to be like the pastor, and to be accepted by him, that he tried to become him.
      As soon as it all ended, he went right back to the way he TRULY is!!

      And that therapist…I’m finding that there are VERY few therapists who actually know how to see through passive aggressive behavior and deal with it!
      My sons therapist told me, when I mentioned how PA Man and I might be looking at separation because of his PA behavior, that it’s hard for men to come to counseling on their own, that most men are there because their wives have pushed them into it.
      I didn’t say anything else because right there in that moment I knew that he didn’t GET IT!!
      And this guy has impeccable credentials!!
      I find it funny that your therapist is more concerned with your husbands pain…and not you and your daughters.
      BUT as you read The Emotionally Destructive Marriage you will see that this is quite common…therapists and pastors just do not GET IT!!

      You are doing the right thing. Educate yourself, gain confidence, KNOW that this IS abuse and you and your daughter deserve BETTER!!!!

      I read somewhere…I don’t know if it was on Leslie Bernicks blog or book but I read that us wives have to stop waiting for our husbands to hear a sermon that will be the AH-HA moment! That it’s not going to happen!
      That some men have just hardened their hearts and there is NO reaching them! And as I read more blogs relating to this….I have to sadly agree.

      Hope to hear from you soon Mari…please keep us up to date on how things are!

      Here’s one of my favorite songs to encourage you!! πŸ™‚

  7. Jane,
    Thank you for taking the time to write me, and share your experience in your own family. I think what you said was key, that it’s vital the kids know they didn’t cause this behavior, and it’s a choice he makes! I am really trying to keep arguments away from her ( which, is incredibly difficult, because he goes PA over simple things, and it leaves her and I baffled. Learning, though)

    I love how you said you have set boundaries, and have stopped being reactionary. I so need to do that. I have really only been in the true know of the PA dance dynamics, this past week. It’s definitely a learning process. I almost cannot believe the craziness of the dance. I am angry, and grieving for how much time, energy, and life I’ve lost, in these dances from hell.

    One thing I’ve really taken from the book, ” The emotionally destructive marriage” is that if I stay, even if it’s for a little while, until I’m forced to do otherwise, I need to stay well. I know in my heart, I have to disengage from the dance, and I have to change. It’s sooo hard. The dance trips up my own emotional triggers of abandonment. In PA form, he will give me silent treatment, at times, and withhold himself on every level; it’s so hard for me to not be reactionary. But, I know I must. One thing I’m finding really helps is to stay busy, and go out and live my life. Thank you so much for the encouragement πŸ™‚


    Again, your reply, wisdom, and compassion have certainly been a lifeline to me! I can’t thank you enough.

    What you said about PA men wanting desperately to be accepted, and given attention, really makes sense. What’s so sad about all of this, in my own life, is that I have been more than willing to give him the acceptance and attention, but most of the time, he will NOT receive it. I try to share life with him, even bring him thoughtful gifts, to nurture him. He ends up threatened, and insults me to my face, or flat out refuses to say thank you, and shuts down.

    When you pointed out that my PA was most likely trying to become just like my pastor, in order to be acceptable to him, the light went on πŸ˜› I mean, it really, truly did. There are almost no words to express how critical it is for me to understand that. You see, our entire marriage leading up to our joining our former church, he was severe PA. In fact, he had shut down and withheld himself from my life so much, prior, I was essentially alone for 1.5 years, going to another church on my own, with my daughter. I really relied on friends, and life outside the home, to keep going.

    As soon as we started going to our former church together ( when he finally decided to join me at a church) the pastor being missional, and very father like, almost immediately took my husband under his wing. I could see the love starved boy who never had a male figure to guide him, start to soak up everything from his interaction with the pastor. Men were encouraged there, the pastor tried to equip the men to have spiritual backbones, and to lead and care for their families. In my own christian walk, I was growing tremendously, esp with the sermons there. It seemed that my PA was on the same page.

    For the first time, he seemed to have hope. He started stepping up in areas in our family and marriage I had never seen before. He seemed to be investing in my daughter and I. My pastor was big on men washing their wives with the Word, and so, my PA started doing some bible reading with us at home. He seemed to enjoy leading, and in return, I let my guard down, and submitted to what, I thought was going to be a new life, a new design between us. He also seemed happier.

    One thing I did notice in the church was that he had the job to do sound for the sermons, and for the most part, within the walls of the church, I was actually completely alone, while everyone else was with their families. Even the co-sound guy who worked with him would leave the booth after service to go be with his family. My PA rarely did. He stayed in the back booth, while I sat alone with my daughter. Again, I realized that serving came first, so I didn’t think much of it, until it seemed, he had become so serious about this position, that he would rarely talk to me at church. He would walk around, professional like, staying busy, and working for the pastor. I learned to deal with it by becoming close to their other families.

    Fast forward 2 years later, and the church has closed down, after my pastor resigned. My pastor has his own issues, and has since that time, not been open for communication with anyone, as he tries to adjust to a new life. I have stayed in contact with the pastor’s wife, however, as she is a good friend of mine. The problem? PA has taken this very, very hard. I do feel for him in that regard, that it is painful to lose a kind of father figure, esp when the pastor was more of a father to him, than his own has ever been. So, I had figured his grief may be the reason for his bad behavior to have come back. I’m starting to understand, though, that his anger towards to the pastor leaving his life has probably only reinforced his PA patterns, and now he is angry at everyone to a greater level.

    The past months since the church closed, I’ve felt like I had lost my own family, and home life has been on the decline since, where he is leading me alright, back to the parched desert I had known before. It hit me that much harder, because I had seen PA do the whole godly, attentive husband role, and now it feels I have been dropped again. I am scared, and confused. I am grieving. I think I’m starting to understand, esp with what you said about him ” changing” to be like pastor to be accepted, that the person I saw was just a mirage, an image he projected, that it wasn’t about a heart change. I thought God was changing him! I thought to myself, that Christ’s heart had become his, and that’s why he was finally able to show me empathy, etc. Now, as soon as the church isn’t keeping him in that role, all of the pain I have known before is flooding back. The lack of empathy, treating me like an inconvenience, impatient and hostile most of the time, withholding from me, etc.

    In realizing I needed to move forward, and find a new church, we’ve proceeded to find a new one, about 35 min away from our rural community. I really want to get involved, and be closer to the church, grocery stores, friends, etc. I need to be in community with people, not stuck in this rural area with no interaction at home, except with my daughter. So, I recently went to PA and told him that I was ready for change, and the adventure God had in store, and that Lord willing, I would truly love to move closer to the church. I gave me heartfelt reasons why I needed this fresh start, including how good it would be for our daughter. He became very hostile, threatened, and started trying to shut me down. He told me to stop it, and he didn’t want to hear it. That he isn’t going to put up with it. I was shocked at such a reaction. Is this what a loving husband does when his wife has respectfully stated her needs, and not just needs for herself, but their daughter?? I made the mistake of trying to use our pastor as an example of stepping out in faith, as he and his family are actually planning on moving halfway across the country. I tried to encourage PA, ” I know how much we admire our old pastor, and I was really encouraged that he was willing to move wherever he felt the Lord was calling the family, because he knew God was with them, and would take care of them.” PA snapped at me, and said in a very angry and cold tone, ” well, I’m NOT Mike!” I think, esp after what you said about trying to be like pastor mike, to gain acceptance, that he no longer sees any point to be ” like him” because he was ” left” in the end anyway, and now everyone will be punished for it.

    That’s been part of what has been so confusing and painful about this. I thought my marriage had changed, and I’m missing PA being THAT man he was when we were at the church. I thought that he finally became who he was meant to be. I want that person back. Maybe I’m grieving a mirage. The closing of our church seems like it’s uprooting everything in my life, including the marriage I thought I had, but really didn’t.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with therapists! Boy, oh, boy do I hear you! I honestly don’t think my therapist gets it, and I have to explain it to him, I don’t know that he is the right person to fully help me navigate PA waters. It’s a shame, a real shame. Glad to know that it doesn’t even necessarily have to do with credentials, but rather, experience with PA’s. I’m honestly shocked just how something as destructive as PA is no longer classified as a disorder! I agree with what you said earlier; PA is a kind of mental illness. I don’t think half of these pastors, therapists would give the poor counsel they do, if they actually lived with this.

    • Mari,

      Your story is so painful. I’m so glad Lonely and some other women have been able to encourage you out here. Your comments are spot on, especially the last one you posted. I know Lonely has shared insight and you are reading Leslie Vernick’s book. I just want to chime in that what you are learning is sticking and your powers of discernment are growing. You will need those so be encouraged!

      Your intuition has served you well with the therapist. It is a dangerous thing to look to someone who doesn’t truly understand PA disordered people for help with them. It already sounds like your radar is up on this point, but I’m just another voice to say that you are absolutely right.

      I wanted to add something in regard to your daughter. Six is such a tender age. I am sorry she has to go through this. In speaking to my therapist – who totally gets personality disordered people – one of the biggest bits of counsel given to me was to not deny anything the child perceives if it is true. I could probably say that more clearly. Whenever she communicates something to you about her father that is true, even if it is ugly, don’t deny it to her. She needs to be learning to trust her own intuition. She will start to pick up on the fact that this man can’t be trusted and will probably doubt his ability to love her. However gently you encourage her mercy or compassion for him, don’t deny her when she is right. Secure her in your great love for her and God’s perfect fatherhood towards her, but don’t cover for him. I built my PA man up in the eyes of my children in ways that just were not true – I thought I was supposed to – and it was a mistake. They also surprised me in recent years with just how much they were picking up on by the ages of 6-7 years. Children are very perceptive. Just my two cents’ worth πŸ™‚

      I hope you can get out soon. Many of us out here stayed until it compromised our health and now we’ve got that to contend with in getting away. Hang in there.

      • Excellent advice Seeing the Light!! I covered for PA Man also…until I was told, by you I believe πŸ™‚ NOT to!!
        My 3 older boys and DIL see PA Man for what he is…in fact, my DIL told me last week that she’s sees him slipping back into the verbal sarcasm that he uses with me…she felt it had gotten better for awhile..but he’s reverting back…probably because I’ve set some boundaries AKA no sex and no engaging in his PA dance… and he’s not happy!! LOL!

        Mari, when my sons therapist said that to me, I wanted to yell at him…”Hey, do you think it was easy for ME to deal with AND recover from my husbands emotional affair?? NO! It was NOT! And I did it all by myself… So stop making freaking, ok, confession time….I did NOT use the word freaking in my mind….I used the really BAD word, lol…anyway, I wanted to tell him to STOP making excuses for him!!”

        I truly believe that ANYONE can change….IF they want to…the problem with PAs…they don’t want to!
        If our husbands are hurting…if they are soooo angry…then get off your sorry butts and DO SOMETHING about it!! Sheesh!!!
        Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure THAT out!!

    • Mari,
      Again my time is limited (busy, over committed week) but I just want to encourage you in learning to not react. It might take a while, and your husband will ramp up his bad behavior as you continue to non-react. I have been at it for two years. . . perhaps more. I feel like I am finally there most of the time.

      Knowing that your husband is likely to ramp up his bad behavior will help you. You can think ahead about strategies. You will know it when you see it: my husband was flying into rages so his abuse became much more overt. It included things like throwing hard metal objects in my general direction and cussing me out on the phone and hanging up, neither of which I had seen in my previous decades of marriage. After these things (and probably more – they sort of blend together), I took a suggestion from Vernick’s book (and also various domestic abuse safety lists). The next time he flew into a towering rage, I left the house, grabbed my daughter (she was at a neighbor’s), got in the car with her and drove off. I called my husband and told him that daughter and I were in a safe place and we would be back later. I’d planned to go to a motel for the night, but just went to friends and came back about 11 pm. Daughter and I went to bed. Husband has not done that since. (This incident happened in Dec. or Jan., so pretty recent.)

      Husband actually got “nicer” in mid-March this year. I have seen less overtly aggressive behavior and more passive-aggressive behavior since then.

      • Good heavens Jane!! How do you do it? PA Man goes silent when he’s angry…sometimes he throws in a snarky comment…but with a smile…but he has NEVER displayed such rage to me!
        Thank goodness you’ve done your homework and know how to act!

        I just LOVE The Emotionally Destructive Marriage! It’s a great book!

  8. Lonely – How do I do it? Practice. Have had many years. When I finally got to the point with it, I had tried many things, felt like I’d done it all, and I had nothing left to lose. I started to pull away from him emotionally many years ago. Why would I keep holding my hand in the fire?

    After the throwing things incident I googled domestic violence. From there I got the MOSAIC test, an emotional abuse forum and Why Does He Do That? by Lundy Bancroft. After things got “quieter” in mid-March I googled passive aggression. I have been down this road before with him. Definitely have had the experiences that other bloggers have had where I want to do something in life, he enthusiastically “supports” me, and then sabotages my efforts.

    Things have been peaceable lately; mostly because I haven’t had to deal with anything real with him.

    Still, we don’t always know what our PA spouses will do when they are not rewarded for their PA behavior. So – if you do start to non-react, recognize that you will probably see more bad behavior, and some of it may really surprise you.

  9. Seeingthelight,

    Your words of warmth bring comfort to my soul. Thank you for reaching out to me, as well. The encouragement in knowing I can trust my intuition, and that someone out there, understands, knows the pain of life with a PA is like a water spring in the desert.

    Your advice in regards to my six year old is so helpful, and important. I absolutely see what you’re saying, and I thoroughly agree with you. You mentioned that she may communicate something about her father that is true, yet ugly, and to not deny her that. That really struck home with me. I have been trying so hard to protect her from the reality of the ugliness, that I have forgotten how critical it is for her to have a voice, about many of the things, that cannot be denied, no matter how hard I try. I am crying as I write this. This is exactly what I had to do in my house, as a child with an alcoholic father. Everyone could see my dad was sick, abusive, etc, and yet, we tried to dance around the elephant in the room, and make excuses for it. I don’t want my daughter to have the childhood I had. This is why this is tearing my heart apart. I wanted so bad for my desire to get healthy, do what’s right, to be enough to fix the dynamics here, but there are some things I cannot override. What’s interesting, and deeply saddening to me, is to look back on a comment she’s made repeatedly, over the last year, or so. She would bring it up during random times, even times when PA wasn’t acting up, just simply when he was present, was off work, or came into the room, after she and I were together. She would constantly ask, ” When is dad going back to work?” She wanted to know. I was very confused at the time, and PA took it as a huge cut, and of course, started becoming more insecure around her, and withdrawing. My daughter is very smart, and it scares me to think that she picked up on his energy ( even when he wasn’t acting up) to such a degree, that she couldn’t wait for him to go back to work, and leave us alone.

    I am a crossroads, trying to figure out what to do. I have since moved into the spare bedroom, and have been staying busy with my daughter. His anger has only increased, and now it’s moving to mocking me, trying to get me to react to his disrespectful tone with me. He goes back and forth between hostility to being Mr. Nice guy, suddenly, hoping he can smooth things over as he always has, by turning back to Mr. innocent. I cannot believe how long I have allowed this dynamic to go on. He has shown no signs of repentance, godly sorrow for how he has treated either us, and it is now day 6 of him withholding from me. I am seeing the dynamic clearly now. The longer he holds out, and withdraws, my own abandonment issues are triggered, and I would normally start having physical reactions to the control and abandonment ( headache, stomachache, high anxiety, depression, exhaustion, etc). I noticed that I started feeling all of these things yesterday, and yet he does not care to relieve any of the pain he’s putting me through. I can see I am obviously a co-dependent, and this is sick. I cannot go back to how things have always been, and let him smooth things over with Mr. nice guy attitude, when he has no responsibility for his behaviors or remorse! I thought maybe I could take the advice from the book, ” Living with the passive aggressive man” and try to accept he wouldn’t apologize, and just go back to sleeping in the bed with him, and trying to work on not reacting, but I don’t know that I should do that. This is emotional abuse, and if he has no consequences, how can he ever realize he needs help??

    I am thinking that PA is nowhere near ” rock bottom” and will therefore, have no motivation or desire to go to counseling, or change. That being said, the right thing then, would be to get a separation. The problem? We own our home and we have five pets whom he hates, and refuses to care for, and I’m a homeschooling mother, so we have one income, as of right now. In thinking I had a marriage I didn’t, and we had the same family goals, I am in a very vulnerable position, and my options are limited. I am expecting some money left behind from my grandma in her will. It is already a bone of contention because he sees it as a form of control. I know that if I leave the house, I’d have to bring 2 pets who are fully dependent on me, and who he neglects the most, and move into an apartment which would cost me an arm and a leg every month, and it would rapidly drain the money I have from my inheritance. He would also love to see me be the one displaced, I’m sure, and spending all of my money to get a break from him, to see if he decides to come around, and be willing to get counseling. Who ends up getting punished with consequences in the end? It seems like me! If I ask him to be the one to leave, I am pretty sure he will go full blown PA on me, and refuse to, maybe even completely shut down, and fail to cooperate. I don’t honestly know what I’m going to do.

    Thank you again for everything, and letting me vent. You ladies are a Godsend.

    • Mari….one thing that Leslie said in her book really made me think…and I want to go back and read it before I write it out here, but I do believe it’s something that may help you
      I’m swamped the next 2 days with a wedding reception I’m helping to cater, plus a church activity…but I’ll try to get back to you tomorrow…
      Hang in there!
      You have friends here, we care about you and your daughter!! πŸ™‚

    • Mari,

      You are in a tight spot, I know. I know how that is. I am stuck right now due to my health situation being very dire. It’s one of the reasons I long for you to get out before you end up very sick and weak. Your symptoms related to your abandonment issues and his control are a big red flag that you are at risk for being vulnerable in this area.

      I know about Mr. Nice Guy. That is how he was this morning. It is so very hard to remind myself during Mr. Nice Guy mode that I am not a bad person for not responding to it by dropping my guard. I expend a lot of energy reminding myself that it is a temporary phase and that he is still who he is under the surface. Then who he really is surfaces fairly quickly and confirms everything I already know. I hope you will not be seriously tempted to return to bed with him. I think that is so damaging, and the bare minimum to keep yourself grounded and focused on a positive direction is to shut the physical area down firmly. In the mindset within which such men operate, sex is nothing like what God created it to be. It is profane in my opinion. For myself, I know that I could not handle being used that way again.

      I would like to hear from Lonely about what Leslie said in her book before I say any more. Both of those ladies have a lot of good things to say.

      Keep holding on, by a thread if need be. “Talk” to you soon.

      • Hi seeingthelight,

        I am baffled as to how I missed your post. I apologize for missing it, and not getting back to you. Thank you SO much for writing me.

        I am terribly sorry to hear about your health situation, and how trapped it has made you feel. I can relate to a health crisis in my own way, which is another big reason, I am trying to deal with this in the least stressful way possible. One year ago, I woke up, one day, and could no longer walk. My periods stopped, I lost a dramatic amount of weight, and I could not stay awake. I was bedridden for months, and have been under a Dr’s care for what I found out was adrenal exhaustion. My hormones flat-lined, my body had trouble maintaining proper temperature, and everything besides the basic functions were pretty much impossible for the first 6-7 months of treatment. I schooled my daughter, folded laundry, ” cooked” on the couch, and tried to keep my stress to the bare minimum. My Doctor told me that my body had been under prolonged stress for so long, going back to when I was 8 years old, that it could no longer carry me. It has been an intense year of healing physically. My Dr. believes it will take another year of treatment, and being cautious about energy exertion, before I am fully well. This situation, itself, has left me very vulnerable. In the time I have found myself vulnerable in a whole new way, and in need of empathy, PA has been particularly difficult, unempathetic and downright resentful that I ” take so much work.”

        I just wanted you to know that, your kindness means the world to me. Thank you for caring enough to try to warn me of the red flags, and save myself and my daughter from more pain. You are so right about the abandonment issues making me vulnerable. Perceived abandonment is a huge trigger for me.

        From where I last left off, I ended up going back to my counselor, who finally came to the realization that home life is bad, even though I don’t think he gets the PA mode, he does know my husband is emotionally out of commission, so to speak, and that he needs to be given an ultimatum for counseling, or I’m leaving. So, after 10 days of being in the spare room, and coming back from my appointment, I go to PA, and tell him, that things have gotten to the point where I can’t go on. If he doesn’t want to lose our family, he must get help, and if he chooses not to, he will need to move out, or I will. I made myself very clear. PA was taken aback, and I could see he was fighting back showing signs of vulnerability. I felt relieved at first, to have gotten this off my chest, and having stood my ground.

        I walked out of the room to sit on the couch for a few with my daughter, and all of the sudden, PA jumps up, in some kind of energetic, funny, nice guy mood, and asks me to peel his sunburn. I was honestly shocked. Is this the same guy who gave me the silent treatment for 10 days?? Is this an appropriate response to give someone, moments after they have told you they are thinking of separation?

        I wait for the next days to go by, hoping that the ultimatum I gave has made its’ way into his thoughts and heart. I hear no response. The silence seems deafening. I start feeling the anxiety again, and feelings of being isolated, in the spare room. Sick as it sounds, I feel like the little girl I used to be, who just wanted her dad to love her, protect her. PA knows what I’ve been through in my life, and yet he still does these things.

        A couple days into, I finally had enough of just being in limbo, so I go to PA, and tell him, feedback is important, and that I didn’t feel I was getting any from him over such a serious topic. He looks at me, and says, ” You never asked for a response.” I was stunned. We end up having a conversation, which he appears to be compliant in having, he appears to be wiling to be honest, and cooperative, and to talk about the issues, and tells me that I shouldn’t be threatening separation. I told him it wasn’t a threat, it was a consequence. After the conversation is over, I feel very worn, and my gut was telling me something wasn’t right. I felt like I had been the one put on the hot seat. PA wanted me to give examples of the things he has done, and when I did, he minimized or flat out denied them, altogether, or told me he didn’t remember, or he forgot. He also blamed everything on me, and even went so far as to say that, his increased behavior is a result of financial stress from having to keep up with my medical bills. He said, ” You notice how I’m not this way around other people, or when I leave the house? It’s only when I come home, that it hits me, and then I hear this little chipmunk ( our daughter) in my ear, over everything, and I can’t think!” To make a long story short, the next day, I told him, I saw how the conversation was turned in his favor, and that I wasn’t going to accept the responsibility for his behavior, and that the counseling ultimatum would stand. He ended up saying, ” Yeah, yeah, we’ll look into it” after a million excuses, as to why the money would be an issue. I asked him point blank if we were on the same page, and he said, yes, in a half hearted way, which was probably his way to appease me, and get me off his back.

        I unfortunately, made a misstep along the way, and after thinking we were on the same page, I thought maybe, it was ok to go back to the bedroom. I was hurting, feeling isolated, and as a codependent, wishing in some way, for him to accept me, and tell me it was going to be ok. I take responsibility for that. I don’t want to enable. I just want to be able to trust! I went back in the room for 3 or 4 nights. He wanted to be intimate, it was difficult for me, but I chalked it up to being willing to move forward, if he said, we were on the same page of working on things. The morning I woke up with him in the same bed, he makes a smart comment, ” Boy, It was better when you were in the spare room, then you didn’t steal all the blankets! hahahahaha” I didn’t think it was funny, actually. I thought it just went to show how ungrateful he was for me trusting him, and letting him near me again.

        Now, I am here again. His nice guy mode switched on when I went back to the bedroom, yet in some ways, the digs came out other ways. He has avoided researching anything about counseling, but is already trying to plan a family vacation to Disneyland, a month after the inheritance is supposed to come! He is also, from time to time, making underhanded remarks with a smile, ” You’re nuts” or ” you’re crazy”, for no apparent reason.

        I’ve realized that underneath it all, he wants to be just as in control as ever, and hand me scraps to keep me around. I feel like I’m dying inside. I told him today, that this is his chance, his opportunity to try to save his marriage and family, and that I didn’t feel I could sleep in same room or be intimate with him, without that trust. I told him I can’t trust him, when there is no evidence of him trying to get better or take action for counseling. I said that sex between us was just physical, there was no heart in it at all, and made me just feel used, not what the Lord wants it to be like. He responds as a victim, ” Thanks!” I’m here again, having to force myself back in the spare room, for what seems like another round of ” Will he get help, or won’t he?”

        I feel like he has left me to die on the side of the road, and I wish I could ask him why. Why do I have to go through another month of ” wondering” if he gives a crap, and will get help?? I could just let things go back to how they’ve always been. Don’t expect anything, allow him to have sex with my body, while it is vacant of my trust and spirit, and let him take out his need to control and punish, when he feels like it, giving me pats on the head, when he feels like it, in between. But, I can’t do it!

        The Nice guy mode is actually very painful to live with because it gives the impression that he really can love and is well-intentioned, and just as soon as he doesn’t get his way, it’s snatched away.

        Thank you for writing, and hearing me vent. I truly hope for both of our sakes, that our health heals, and we can both heal in the ways we need to, with or without them.

      • Mari, I have read your comment of July 18. I want to respond, but now is not a good time. I will certainly write back as soon as I can. My heart really goes out to you, I want you to know. I am praying for you and your dear daughter. Be back soon.

    • Mari, You sound like such a strong wise and loving mother and my heart goes out to you. I’m sure that between everyone here, we can offer support and good advice to help you.

      Regarding your inheritance, make absolutely certain that the money is to be sent to YOU only and have it sent to an attorney or other safe place to be picked up by you. Do you know who would be issuing you the check? Make sure that no correspondence re: the inheritance comes to your house. Don’t ever let your husband know that you received the money!! Talk to an attorney about your rights regarding the inheritance if you are unsure. I’m pretty sure that your husband has no right to it any of it but you need to find out what kind of an acct you can put the money into that is safe and off limits to your husband.

      I’m not sure if his withdrawing from you is just self loathing or if he’s narcissistic and will file for divorce but it’s always best if you are the first person to file. If he files first then I worry that it will seem that he’s the victim and have the advantage.

      Are there any legal clinics in your area that you could consult with? They are non-profit and usually very inexpensive and helpful in these matters.

  10. Thank you so much! πŸ™‚ It’s kind of you to take the time out to write me at all, so please never worry about having to get back to me. Whenever you are able, or want to at all, is a blessing.Hope you have a wonderful day

  11. Mari….have you seen this blog? Mylifeinpajamas.wordpress.com? PJs blog is really good…and you’ll find other women who will give you advice and support….we ALL need each other!!
    Ok, y’all want to know how crazy I am? I can’t remember what it was in Leslie’s book that I wanted to say!! UGH!!!
    I KNOW I’ll remember….eventually….going to go back over everything we’ve written on here and see if that jogs my memory!
    Anyway…Mari…PLEASE!! Make plans to leave….take the money and LEAVE!! Do you have any family that will help you?? Friends?

    Ohhhh wait! I remember! Whew!! Leslie said in her book that if you can RECORD your husband being verbally abusive…do it!! As proof for Pastors, friends, family…or…the court!
    You need to be smart…take the time you need, but make plans to leave this verbally abusive man! And DO NOT go back into the bedroom….it wont fix anything!
    PA Man and I haven’t been “physical” for over a month now…and he’s asked a few times….but I tell him what Leslie said in her book…and that shuts him up!
    I’ve told him I want the RIGHT kind of marriage, a God honoring marriage…not the kind we have now…and it’s up to HIM to change things….he says he understands. And that’s it. So…I wait.

    • Mari….I hope you see this…in chapter 8 of TEDM book….on page 121, Leslie talks about having a safety plan! That’s what I wanted to tell you…get your safety plan in place!
      What about your former Pastors wife? You said she was your friend…will she help you??

    • Lonely,

      I so much appreciate your kindness and help! You are a blessing, as are all the kind people who have taken the time to reply to me. I’ve never seen Mylifeinpajamas.wordpress.com before. I will definitely check it out asap. Thank you! πŸ™‚

      I am back in spare room, after making a misstep along the way, and I’m staying here. I am making my plans, and prepared to leave if he is unwilling to accept the ultimatum of counseling. I feel that is the last that I can offer at this point, before I accept that there is truly no hope, or turning back. Maybe I am stalling the inevitable, but I am holding on by only my fingernails at this point, seeing if the Lord will do something in his heart, as I’ve made myself abundantly clear to PA and to myself, that even though I don’t want to be alone, I would rather leave the insanity, than stay in it, and will, for the sake of myself and daughter, if nothing changes. I know there is a high probability that he will not. I am trying to prepare myself as realistically as I can. I am trying to walk out of this knowing I did everything I could, and if in the end, there is nothing, I must accept my losses and move on. I know this. It hurts. I feel like I’m standing at an empty plot, a grave waiting.. my marriage.

      I wish that I was able to move in with my parents at this time, but unfortunately, my mother is finally getting ready to leave my abusive alcoholic father, after over 30 years of hell. She will be a single woman, scraping by, with my youngest sister ( who is barely 18) in tote. I was hoping that there may be a chance to move in with them, but I don’t know that that is a possibility.

      I so love what you wrote about the boundaries you have in place with your husband. I have removed myself physically from the marriage and the room, too. I feel like to do anything else, would be to be used. What motivation does PA have to do a darn thing to change, if he doesn’t lose anything? I love what you said to her husband about wanting the right kind of marriage, and not being willing to settle for less. You inspire me! Thank you for everything

  12. Mari, I posted two and a half weeks ago that I would write back and time and health have gotten away from me. How are you doing?

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