What is my Biblical role?

What about headship and submission? Unsaved spouse? Other marriage roles.
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OnlyByGrace
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Re: What is my Biblical role?

Post by OnlyByGrace »

I think I said this above somewhere, but it's not likely that a temporary separation would even be a wake up call for my husband. Rather, an opportunity for him to further brainwash the kids and hammer home that "See, your mom has a really big problem. She's a stupid, lazy idiot and a big wuss who can't take anything. She's selfish. All she thinks about is herself".
Could it also be an opportunity for you to model to your boys, even after many years of this, that abuse is not acceptable in marriage, that you have a new courage to make a stand and protect yourself?
I'm sure, at their age, they would know in some way, that what they see goes against everything they've been told about what's acceptable behaviours and abusive behaviours. But the two people who love them the most will have the biggest impact on what they believe.

If you choose to leave an abusive situation, their dad may tell them all of that and they may believe it. But they will also see you taking a stand against being abused.
If you stay in an abusive situation, what messages could you be reinforcing into their belief system about abuse and submission?

Either way, what messages are they receiving about Godly actions of husbands and wives, and/ or their role as men and women in general?
Unfortunately, it's too late for my kids to be unaffected. They have witnessed too much already.
Yes, they have already been affected by what they've witnessed. That doesn't mean it's too late to give them and yourself a safe place to heal and learn what is acceptable.

Thought to ponder... do any of your teenage children experience emotional and verbal abuse from their dad? What would it take to act, if you knew with absolute certainty that even one of them was longing for you to shelter them from their experiences with their father? Would you do it in a heartbeat?
What if they don't know how to tell you or can't tell you... but they silently long for that protection that only an adult in a similar situation, who lives them unconditionally, can provide?

It might be good accountability and guidance for you to talk through ideas/questions from here with your pastor, who knows you in person and understands your situation better. My questions are simply points to ponder based on what you've shared here, and my experience of working with children and their families in foster care and other community services.

Praying for you to have courage and insight in seeking God's direction in how to walk this out, and how to best support your teenage children through this also.
💜 Tread gently, sit compassionately, love abundantly 💜
MrMarried
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Re: What is my Biblical role?

Post by MrMarried »

kj1973 wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 11:00 am I have been married to my husband for 19 years. Over the last 10 years he has become increasingly emotionally and verbally abusive. I emotionally left the marriage about 5 years ago. That is also when I stopped physical intimacy.
I wonder as I read this thread, was he ever kind to you? Did you ever get along? Were you ever good together as a couple?

The question I'm thinking is what do you want actually? What is the goal? I would imagine you don't really, really want to be a woman who leaves her husband because he has been emotionally abusive to her, based on what you've said. I know there are two of you in the relationship, but what would you actually want your relationship to be like and to look like?

Do you know what is at the root of the way he talks to you? Is there some bitterness or unforgiveness. I could imagine a certain type of man might have difficulty getting along with his wife if he hadn't had sex with her in five years. But from what you say this started about 10 years ago? Did you speak kindly and treat him in an excellent way for five years while he was constantly verbally abusive to you, or did you argue on and off for five years before the sexual relationship stopped and you 'emotionally left the marriage.' I am wonder if there is some unforgiveness over something that is at the root of this.

Have you told him calmly that you had envisioned a marriage where you loved each other, and you wanted to go back to that, like when you were first married, and go forward from there, and ask if he wanted that, too, then pray about it. Does he show any openness to the idea?

If what you want is a marriage like that, then your actions and prayers should be in that direction, and if that is what you have been doing for years hopefully a room full of people could aid you in your prayers.
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Re: What is my Biblical role?

Post by DoveGrey »

kj1973 wrote: Thu Feb 09, 2023 10:08 am Leaving at this point wouldn't be so much about keeping the kids from being affected because they already are. It would be about myself and getting away from the crazy mind games and focusing on my emotional health.
As you say, he's not just hurting you; he's hurting your children. Leaving now gives them a chance to live at least part time in a peaceful environment. Even though they're older, their brains are still developing. The trauma they're being put through is going to have lasting effects on them. Giving them a part-time "out" will give them a chance to heal, as well. It also sends a message to them that you're prioritizing their emotional needs. Whatever their father does, they will at least have the knowledge that their mother did what she could to protect them. [/quote]

kj1973 wrote: Thu Feb 09, 2023 10:08 amAnd then there's the well-meaning person who, when I expressed that to her, said, "I'll pray for you, that God softens your heart".

Spoken like a person who doesn't truly understand abuse. It's a lonely place to be in when you are surrounded by people who don't understand the pain you are in despite the work you have done to improve the situation. It's not like a normal marital disagreement between two emotionally healthy spouses. People who have never been in your situation will have trouble understanding it. Do you have friends who are more understanding?
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Re: What is my Biblical role?

Post by DoveGrey »

MrMarried wrote: Thu Feb 09, 2023 6:39 pm Have you told him calmly that you had envisioned a marriage where you loved each other, and you wanted to go back to that, like when you were first married, and go forward from there, and ask if he wanted that, too, then pray about it. Does he show any openness to the idea?
I'm sure you mean well. This entire post seems like victim-blaming and ignoring what she's saying. She has said repeatedly that she has tried these things and they are not helping.

An abusive person is not emotionally stable enough for a healthy conversation. Full stop. Working with someone like that requires entering into another realm entirely separate from what works with healthy individuals. Her husband has been offered help, has even come up with ideas himself for how to get help. He doesn't follow through. This is classic behavior for someone in his position. It is extraordinarily damaging to everyone around him. He has to seek this help himself or it will have no effect.

Please, for the love of your fellow human beings, educate yourself on abusive relationships before giving advice on them. They are a different breed from your typical marital problems.
Myers-Briggs INFJ - The Advocate

"She will do him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
"

~24 years and counting~
MrMarried
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Re: What is my Biblical role?

Post by MrMarried »

DoveGrey wrote: Fri Feb 10, 2023 6:38 am An abusive person is not emotionally stable enough for a healthy conversation. Full stop. Working with someone like that requires entering into another realm entirely separate from what works with healthy individuals. Her husband has been offered help, has even come up with ideas himself for how to get help. He doesn't follow through. This is classic behavior for someone in his position. It is extraordinarily damaging to everyone around him. He has to seek this help himself or it will have no effect.

Please, for the love of your fellow human beings, educate yourself on abusive relationships before giving advice on them. They are a different breed from your typical marital problems.
Monolithically speaking of an 'abusive person' you don't know, haven't interviewed, having diagnosed, etc. seems rather unrealistic. Applying the Duluth model to all situations deemed abusive isn't realistic either. I don't know if your comments are any more helpful than mine. We are all dealing with limited information.

But God knows, and we can pray.
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Re: What is my Biblical role?

Post by LovingHimAlways »

MrMarried wrote: Thu Feb 09, 2023 6:39 pm [quote=kj1973 post_id=79367 time=1670266828
Do you know what is at the root of the way he talks to you? Is there some bitterness or unforgiveness. I could imagine a certain type of man might have difficulty getting along with his wife if he hadn't had sex with her in five years. But from what you say this started about 10 years ago? Did you speak kindly and treat him in an excellent way for five years while he was constantly verbally abusive to you, or did you argue on and off for five years before the sexual relationship stopped and you 'emotionally left the marriage.' I am wonder if there is some unforgiveness over something that is at the root of this.
This sounds very close to blaming the victim of abuse.

Sexual refusal, for whatever reason, does not make a man abuse his wife.
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Re: What is my Biblical role?

Post by Doug »

I have a few remarks concerning both KJ1975’s situation, as well as some of the comments that have been made. KJ1975, I ask in advance for your forgiveness if I get too far off track.

First, in response to your question about your role. I believe your first responsibility in this case is to your children. I don’t know exactly how that would look in your situation because as others have pointed out, none of us have all the details. Inherent in their welfare is not only their, but your physical safety as well. Once that is assured, then my response gets a little less certain. Emotional well-being is important, but in truth, I do believe that it can be difficult to determine what is abusive behavior and what isn’t. Certainly, the name calling you described would cross the line, but anger by itself….maybe not. The way it manifests would be the determining factor.

In the spirit of transparency, I have to confess that I was an abusive husband and father. I was not the same as the husband you describe, but I have come to realize that much of my behavior was abusive. In fairness to your husband, I would have denied it right up till I saw it for myself, and as you have noted, pointing it out only aggravates the situation. In fairness to myself, I never resorted to name calling and the like. My temper was bad enough by itself. Also in fairness to myself, and maybe this will seem hypocritical, to this day, while I acknowledge that my behavior could be abusive, I still have some difficulty with the label of abuser. To me that would be reserved for someone who was deliberately cruel. That wasn’t who I was. If it is your husband, my advice is pretty simple. Get out. Get your kids out. If that is not him, then I don’t know what to advise. A lot depends on your ability to endure, and a lot depends on your kids welfare. I make that distinction because I do believe one is redeemable, and one, probably not. Miracles happen, but I don’t believe you are expected biblically to wait
for one, whichever type of man your husband is.

A lot of people believe the Bible never speaks to the matter of abuse in marriage, particularly emotional abuse, but there is one verse that would seem to speak directly to the matter of emotional abuse and the need to separate yourself from it. In this particular verse, it is the wife who is abusive, but so don’t believe that has any bearing. Some might disagree that it applies, but it seems pretty clear to me. Proverbs 21-9 seems to speak pretty clearly to the matter.
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Re: What is my Biblical role?

Post by kj1973 »

With the intent of being as open and transparent as I can, I am including in this post a copy of two things I wrote one year ago. The first is the letter I read to my husband at the intervention. The second is a description of behaviors and how they have affected me. I will say again that I do not throw the word "abuse" around lightly. I have never told my husband that he is abusive. I did not use the word in my letter. The idea was not to attack him, but rather bring him to a place where he would be willing to acknowledge and change his behavior. I'm not trying to prove abuse one way or the other. That's not the point. I said it on here because I feel like I have a good understanding of what it can encompass. You're free to read what I wrote and draw your own conclusions. It's long, but I hope the following might be of help to any other women who find themselves in a similar situation. I also hope it will provide a few answers/clarity to some of the questions raised above.

INTERVENTION LETTER
"As I’m sure you are aware, I have been struggling for a very long time in our marriage to be the wife that I should to be. Because communication between us is so challenging I have not been able to effectively express to you that how you choose to manage your frustration and anger is negatively affecting my relationship with you. As I’ve experienced this behavior over the years I have completely shut down and disconnected from you emotionally. I take ownership in the fact that this is not a healthy way of responding to difficulties in a relationship. That being said, I am at a point where I cannot continue to ignore how your negative behavior has contributed to the state of our marriage. I need to be open and honest about how it has affected me, and the changes that I need if there is any hope of restoring a relationship with you.

For the past few years I have been seeking advice through books, counseling and conversations with other people I trust. I have learned a lot -- about myself, about you and what is healthy and not healthy in a relationship. Everything that I have learned is what has led to this meeting. I realize now that I brought a lot of baggage into our marriage. Not having a relationship with my dad left me with unmet emotional needs. I was hoping marriage would be a safe place where I could be vulnerable and share what I think and feel. However, the negative behavior I experience in our marriage has created much loneliness, fear and loss: loss of feelings for you because we cannot connect in a healthy way, loss of intimacy—emotional, physical and spiritual, and loss of emotional safety.

I have to be completely honest with you and say that I don’t know where I am in wanting to restore a relationship in our marriage. I know that the right thing to do is work towards reconciliation, but I am having a hard time getting my feelings to follow what my heart is telling me I need to do. There is a lot of work that needs to be done by both you and myself. In order for me to better evaluate my commitment I need to know if you are willing to do the work? I need to know if you are willing to acknowledge the negative behavior and accept responsibility for the impact it is having on our marriage? Are you willing to seek help through counseling or from someone who can be a spiritual mentor to you, help work through issues and also be an accountability partner? If so, then I will support you in whatever ways feel safe to me right now. If you are not willing to seek help then I need you to understand that I cannot have a healthy and intimate relationship with you. For my own emotional health and well-being I will need to implement boundaries and continue to seek support and healing for myself outside of our marriage."

Negative behavior I experience:
1. Verbal rage: Yelling, name-calling, swearing when things don’t go his way.
2. Defining: Telling me/kids what I/we are thinking, feeling, doing, not doing, etc. in belittling, degrading,
demeaning tones: “You think you are so perfect”, “You‘re afraid of food.” “You don’t know how to make a
decision”, etc.
3. Blaming/excuse making: Putting responsibility on us for his actions.
4. Minimizing: Treating the above behavior as less serious than it is. Talking in a manner that minimizes me/kids
into feeling like a lesser person than we are.

Behavior has negatively impacted me/my relationship with him in the following ways:
1. Contributed to feelings of unworthiness because of name calling (defining me)
2. Contributed to loss of self worth, which led to self-destruction with food.
3. Contributed to depression, hopelessness, isolating from people.
4. Loneliness. Detached/distanced emotionally from him in order to cope.
5. Loss of feelings for him because we cannot connect in a healthy way.
6. Compromised my personal values by tolerating destructive/negative behaviors.
7. Become the worst version of myself—allowed his negativity to influence me to be critical and defensive.
8. Emotionally exhausted by his repeated cycle of destructive behavior followed by brief emotional “highs”
(pleasant, happy mood).
9. Fear. Not comfortable being alone with him.
10. Loss of emotional safety with verbal rage. Cannot share feelings or be vulnerable.
11. Loss of intimacy. Emotional, physical, spiritual.
12. Loss of respect. Difficult to have and teach kids proper respect for him because destructive behavior is not
respectable.
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Re: What is my Biblical role?

Post by Doug »

kj1973

I appreciate your response, particularly since I am sure it isn't easy to dig into. I hope you don't think I was in any way dismissing or diminishing what you have endured. The simple fact of the matter is that only you know the extent of it, and only you know the limits of your endurance to it, so my recommendation is largely unchanged. If you are in any way being physically abused, then get out now. If it is verbal and emotional abuse, with no fear for your physical well-being, then only you know what you can endure. My wife endured my anger for 20 years, but she, like you, pretty much locked me out of her heart. I am living proof that people can change, and I would pray for that in your husband, but I don't believe you are bound to wait on something that may never happen.

Regarding some of the comments made that seemed to be victim blaming, I will say this. In many cases, in many ways, I was responding to both what I had endured myself, and responding to what I perceived to be true in the present, and none of that excused my behavior. I was wrong. I do believe that there is a difference between excusing something, and understanding it, and there is value in understanding something if you have any hope to change it. I say that only to say this.

If there is any area of your past that you are responsible for, anything which you owe amends for, I do believe that should be addressed. Just as your actions, past or present, do not justify your husbands behavior, the reverse is also true. I am not saying that any of this is the case, and I am not saying that you owe any amends or apology unless you have truly caused offense, but if you have, then I believe that it has to be addressed for your own healing, and so that you can truly know that you have done everything you can.

I am sure that my own story is different from yours and your husbands, but there is one common thread. The anger you spoke of in your husband. I don't believe anything can change until he truly understands that he can put that aside. I decided in a single moment to let it go, and I had to learn whole new ways to deal with my feelings. It has been life changing, but it hasn't been easy, so I know how hard it can be to let it go. It pretty much leaves you defenseless to every bad feeling, every disappointment. It is a hard thing to do, to give up your armor. I also never knew I had a choice, until I made it. I don't say any of that to justify his behavior, but just to help you understand it better. For whatever reason, he has donned anger as his armor against the world, and you are asking him to set it aside. What you are asking of him is right, but it may be more than he can do right now. That is an unfortunate truth, and it has nothing to do with how he feels about you.
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Re: What is my Biblical role?

Post by DoveGrey »

KJ1973,

Thank you so much for sharing this. It took strength and courage to first write it, and then share it. I know (because I've done it) how difficult it is to do that research and then sit down and define what has been done. I pray that what you have written here will reach others - women as well as men who have had to endure this. It's so difficult to see all of this for what it really is until it's written down and staring at you in the face.

You asked at the start what your biblical role is. You've met that with all the reaching out that you have done. Ultimately, he is breaking his covenant by causing you to live in fear of him. I, too, do not use the word abuse lightly. But I've lived it, I've sat in group therapy and listened to it, and I've helped others in recovery from it. What you wrote there is textbook, so much so that I knew most of what it was going to say before I read it. I've heard this so many times before.

Only he is going to be able to make a change. He has to make that decision for himself. It's just so sad that he acknowledges that he should seek help, but then doesn't. Somewhere inside is a man who is likely hurting, but that doesn't give him the right to continue to subject you to all of this. What you have described here meets the Department of Justice definition of domestic violence. It's not only harmful to you, but also to your children who have to watch it.

Setting boundaries as you did goes a long way toward your own healing. Only you will know if your current boundaries are enough.

I am praying for you as you contemplate your next steps.
Myers-Briggs INFJ - The Advocate

"She will do him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
"

~24 years and counting~
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