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Reclaiming Hope and Safety in a Destructive Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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October 22, 2020 6:00 am

Reclaiming Hope and Safety in a Destructive Marriage (Part 2 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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October 22, 2020 6:00 am

Drawing from her years of work as a counselor and her own life experience, Leslie Vernick offers guidance and hope to women who are in need of finding safety and healing from an abusive marriage. (Part 2 of 2) (Original airdate: Oct. 24, 2013)

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Do the issues in your marriage seem insurmountable. You can break free from cycles of pain with help from Focus on the Family's hope restored marriage intensive. We helped thousands of couples who thought that their marriage was over. Find out which program is right for you and hope today on Focus on the Family will return to a very serious problem that affects far too many marriages interactions that damage the heart and the mind and the spirit of your spouse. She wired up her courage and we work together in her having a very direct but respectful conversation with her husband and this is what she told him she said no honey, I know that you are unhappy with their sex life and that you'd like me to be more warm and responsive in the bedroom can't manufacture those feelings. When you ignore me for long periods of time and we don't have anything else in common. We don't do anything together.

You ignore me most the time.

Whenever I ask you for something you shoot me down. Wouldn't you rather have a wife who is loving and warm and friendly in the bedroom and someone just doing her wifely duty was a question she asked me know. His response was Chris I would but if wifely duty is all I get enough of that statement completely cut her off at the knees. Because what he's really saying to her is that you are an object to use, not a woman to love that completely crushed your spirit restlessly verdict. She's back again is our guest today your hostess focus Pres. and Dr. Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller that's such a heartbreaking story John and it points right to our selfishness and our sinfulness as human beings without the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can easily fall into a trap of making our marriage.

All about us and what we want and as a result we destroy the oneness that God intended for us. If you missed our conversation with Wesley last time I hope will go to our website get a download to get the broadcast app. Whatever you need to do to access this powerful content.

Leslie helped us understand that abuse can happen in many different ways. There's physical abuse, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, with sarcasm and harsh words or abusive situations where one spouse has all the control the other spouse has none. We also pointed out that abuse happens to both men and women. Many of the examples we share last time and will have today will feature women as victims. And that's true in the majority of cases of abuse. But as we acknowledged last time.

Abuse happens both ways and many of the principles and advice.

Leslie shares from her book will work for abused husbands as well and we can tell you more about Leslie's book and or broadcast last time when you call 800 the letter a in the word family 800-232-6459 or stop by the episode notes for the link, let's go ahead and return now to part two of our conversation with counselor Leslie Wernick on today's episode of Focus on the Family. You've written the book the emotionally destructive marriage recap for us.

So those that are joining us today can understand the definition for the emotionally abusive marriage. What does it look like it looks like you are regularly dismissed, deceived, dominated, degraded or diminished when you are regularly feeling those feelings or your spouse is doing that to you. We all may do it once in a while, but when something like that happens too frequently in your marriage marriage, it becomes destructive. The marriage itself, and you become destroyed. You talked last time about a woman's difficulty we we put the qualifiers on everything last time, knowing that abuse goes both directions again don't be too critical of us not talking about that right now because we did talk about that last time and sometimes the abuse goes toward the man and I again we just refer you back to the discussion last time to hear that definition but for the woman that doesn't truly understand if she's in that abusive relationship and she feels the way that you're feeling. What are some of things that she could begin to do to remedy that situation.

How direct should she be with her abusive husband like things that she needs to begin to do to build her own confidence is to talk about for core strengths that a woman needs to develop and a lot of times I need to develop them before they can ever have a conversation with her husband because they're just too scared or their two week with her to angry. These are things within herself and José yes so the first when I use the acronym core CLR E in the first one is I will be committed to honesty, I will be committed to truth telling, both internally I cannot lie to myself anymore like this isn't so bad and maybe be different and I should just pray harder. I've done all that and it didn't work and insanity is doing the same thing over and over again hoping things we difference you committed to truth, both in your own spirit. Like maybe this is really getting to me and I'm starting to take out my kids to be honest with yourself and that's the first step to really do the honest part, you know, I think in counseling and church. One of the verses that I have been so committed to is when Jeremiah warned the prophets of Israel. He said you heal the wounds of my people superficially by saying peace peace when there is no peace. And so for people. How is listening to that they need to understand these kind of marriages. You need a lot of truth telling and truth seeking you can't discover over things and so wife has to be committed to telling the truth about herself and where she's at, as well as what's going on her marriage. She tells truth to herself.

She cannot tell the truth to her spouse and usually because he's not respond very well to that she may have to tell truth to her church and she's been a great master at keeping secrets and covering over she can have to learn and be committed to that before she can have that discussion with her husband that sound advice and we talked last time about the description of the emotionally abusive relationships. Again, if you didn't hear that. Go back and listen to that. Let's talk for a moment about what healthy and good relationship looks like, though, because we need to paint the picture when couples and I think it's inevitable.

Leslie Juergen hit some hard times that we talked last time about the graded marriage and in every marriages all over the place. You may plus for some things and maybe a D- for other things and you averages sear a B minus something like that. That's just the natural development of marriage and relationship, but in that context where the a grades at heart when we doing it well. When a woman comes to her husband and says what here's what I'm feeling. What is a healthy relationship look like there are three qualities that every healthy relationship must embody and if they don't embody these three qualities doesn't matter what your Christian or non-Christian. If you don't embody these three qualities you will not have a healthy relationship and it could even become distracted in the first is mutuality. Those people in the relationship have to give something into the relationship to make it work in a marriage. Both people have to give honesty have to give caring they have to give him respect in both people have to give responsibility another with. I am going to take some responsibility for the care and maintenance of this relationship and both people have to be willing to be repentant when they mess up and if both people are doing that mutually in the relationship.

The relationship is can either stagnant or it's gonna fall apart and working with a woman right now what her husband feels he has absolutely no responsibility in the marriage to do anything other than be a provider.

He does need to talk to her. He doesn't need to be nice to her need to love her. All he needs to do is be a paycheck which is horrible role for husband is to be an object in a paycheck but he hasn't want to do anything else and she feels like she's shriveling up and dying. She's in a desert. She has plenty of money, which is nothing else in the marriage and there's no mutual in this relationship. That's the first ingredient the second ingredient if there needs to be reciprocity. What I mean by that is that the power and responsibility are shared and I'll give you a story about Megan make up names that a client of mine was a full-time wage earner.

She worked outside the home. She made a good salary should make as much as her husband made and so he required her to deposit her entire paycheck into the account that he only deposited the same amount in the account because he wanted to be even that he required her to be absolutely accountable for every penny she spent but he always had reasons why he could spend the money because he was ahead and he could do what he wanted and he didn't have to account for his money, but she had account for her money.

She had no power over their money. He had the power over the money she could make a decision what to do with their money. He made that decision. In addition, had this other account where all the rest of his money went. That was not had no name on it for her. She had no access to it yet aptly no idea how much money he made so there was a financial lack of reciprocity and he used money to exercise control over her abusive way by limiting her freedom in her choices. And so that was an abusive relationship, even though he didn't use words he is money to abuse and control her lack of respect capacity in the third point ingredients of mutuality reciprocity in the third ingredient is freedom. And I don't mean the kind of freedom you can do whatever you want with no consequences blaming as each individual in the matching the freedom to be themselves and when you're trying to control and make another person into what you want them to be and they don't have the freedom to be the person that God called them to be.

They don't have the freedom to disagree the freedom to have a voice and give their own opinion or say they don't like something without heavy price to pay is not healthy relationship and Leslie that regard. Those are three excellent attributes which actually are so scriptural that when we apply them even when the world applies and they work a work in that when I would say when you're looking even non-Christian counseling those truisms are going to be there because there biblically based. That should give us great hope that we have the tools whether we pick the tools up and use them is the question, let me come back to something you said because I think is so critical to power and control keep coming through and the things that you're describing and it's the abuse of those things and it tends to land in this murky place called submission and the definition that we give it.

There's probably as many definitions to submission as there are denominations in the church, which probably explains the problem with what is the right way. The biblical way for us to view this idea of submission. What does it actually mean folk can you talk about the actual biblical definition of submission yada clarify what hatchet means to an Jesus actually modeled both headship and submission for us so that we would be crystal clear what it meant and so in modeling headship what Jesus did is instead of wielding his mighty power, which he was certainly capable of doing. He was in authority. He was a son of God, he could have done all kinds of fabulous things like lightning bolt shown is headship and that when factory set up to Pontius Pilate he could know my father could send an army. He didn't model headship that way. In fact, for his disciples how he model headship.

Lessee put a towel around him and he got a bowl of water and he washed her dirty feet and he told his disciples that this is what I'm showing you headship looks like it doesn't mean you get your way doesn't mean you get to go first means that you get to be the servant and you get to lead and servant hood and yet his disciples were so unclear about that. Just a few verses later after he model that wonderful example.

They're arguing whose can get the first seed in heaven and see Jesus again says to them you know the Gentiles and how they use their authority in the Lord it over people. Jesus has not so with you. If you want to be the head you get to be the servants of headship biblically is defined as, if you want to be the head you get to be the example of sacrificial servant hood first you get to initiate that battle biblical hatchet means. And so when husband Nora church says husband gets his way. He is to dominate and control another person scriptural words for that is bullying or selfishness.

It's not headship and Jesus also model submission when he willingly gave himself to his father's will. Jesus always is described as wanting to do what God wanted him to do. But one time he didn't want to do it, and that was in the garden of Gethsemane said anything to happen that we could do this a different way.

I would rather have it done a different way. And yet I'm willing to do what you want. Submission is when some person or a male or female willingly gives her will to another and so submission is only done by the person who chooses to do it and you can't force someone to submit and Leslie are saying that very clearly yet we live life to the between boundaries and sometimes it's great where the boundary line is and where we crossover it help us better understand because we want. I hope we want to live a life that is honoring the Lord everyone in marriages that are lifting up the Lord in those relationships. So when were crossing that boundaries help us better understand where that line is Rose looking for the lines on example and I and I share this example in the book that Bill was very controlling.

In Teresa's phone use.

He didn't want her to talk on the phone when her when he was home in his mind he thought your stay-at-home mom you have all day to talk on the phone if you want when I'm home. I want that time to be ours, not an unreasonable thought and so he didn't want Teresa to use a phone at all when he was home, so one night she sees her cell phone ringing, and she looks at it as her sister and she picks up the phone and she puts it over and Jesus both my sister and want to get this and so he looks at her with a cop and his brow happy and so she takes the conscious and my sister is having trouble at work she's on her computer. She can't figure something out to the deadline. I was gonna take a call minutes Teresa and her computer very well and since she got off the phone bill said give your phone and she said my phone. He said give me a phone and they wrestled the bed and he grabbed it out of her hand and he threw in a sink full of soapy water.

He said now you not be able talk on the phone when I'm home now. We would think that that was abusive and yet and Bill's mind Teresa wasn't loving him she wasn't honoring his request. She wasn't submitting to his leadership as ahead of their home and so this theory murky because we have to ask the question does husband have the right to dictate some decisions I can Talk on the phone if I feel it's an emergency and I don't have the right to prioritize my sister's needs for attention and a moment over your needs for me to sit and watch TV with you and so this can become very sticky and very murky for pastors, counselors who got Bill and Teresa sitting before them and built thinking I should've thrown her mom after all she should've been listening to me because I'm the head husband and I really told her I didn't want to talk to him when she was on the phone.

She does love me very well. She's doing this and it gets to smart and confusing and who's right and who's wrong. Who has the freedom to say to talk to my sister right and is a Teresa's an adult woman has the freedom to make that choice is Bill as the head get to dictate her phone use.

Unless it really goes back to the fundamental value which is for us as Christians to lay down our lives as husbands is very specific in the Scripture meaning you lay your self-interest down in the interests of your spouse when you're doing that in healthy way that's not being abused by the spouse really your relationship will be godly. Things will flow from fruit will flow from W healthy aroma in that relationship and that's what you're driving when there's mutual submission and mutual sacrifice and mutual giving for the welfare of each other at work great.

Jesus was saying that that's an excellent public thing to Ms. that he's giving the marital duty loss.

He saying because was traditionally in the hierarchal culture always had to submit was nothing new, even to non-Christians that new thing was hey husband, you have some response to, and he was trying to make it more mutual and more cervical.

He wasn't just saying hey husband, you get all the goodies in life, as do all the work you think you've got some responsibility hereto, and so Paul and Jesus were saying something that our guest today on Focus on the Family is Leslie Wernick's written a book called the emotionally destructive marriage will recommend you check that out. We got the link in the episode here.

Now is the rest of her conversation with Leslie on today's Focus on the Family as I asked her this question Leslie. We've got a few minutes left for you to address the woman in particular, the woman who feels you are describing my situation that cell phone thing that happened to me.

How can she start getting some help for that. Like I started to say she needs to build her core strength which is she's committed to truth. She's open to growth. She's gonna learn what to do because she's not on that overnight. She's going to be responsible for her own reactions to destructive behaviors because often once woman begins to wake up and my conscious is me. She starts to get pretty harsh herself and her desire to have the freedom to say what she needs to say and so she can be responsible for her own reactions and respectful to her husband without dishonoring herself and the last thing she can learn to be empathic and compassionate for her husband's weaknesses and sins without enabling him and that is the key that she can have compassion for someone and still implement tough consequences because consequences are going to be an important wake-up call for him, and without the pain of consequences. He will not be motivated to change and was out only that in terms of the observation on the husband's part. Hopefully their self revelation that occurs hopefully listening to today's program and last time that I do lean in that direction.

It does seem to describe some of my behavior. Maybe not all like I said, you know, these are choices that we live between these boundaries and maybe we've chosen on unwisely at times, as husbands to verbally attack our wives.

What can we do to arrest that kind of behavior. What should we do tonight.

We go home if we recognize that in ourselves.

How should we speak to our wives. Let me give the man who's listening to this broadcast to maybe recognizing well. She speaking about me find things that they can do and one is to get clarity to begin to understand that maybe you are abusive and you are living in an abusive marriage in your life is just about had it. And that doesn't mean it has to come to divorce if you're willing to change and you want to do something different. So the next step would be. I'm committed to doing something different you know when I talked about abusing my child in the broadcast I did on a mostly instructive relationships. I was committed. Once I saw that I had the same capacity as my mother to be. If you said that I was never to do that again. I was committed to do whatever I had to do to change to not repeat that destructive behavior so that the second step. The third is that you need to confess needed open up and talk to wife and say I see something that I've never seen before and I am willing to do what I needed to get help. The fourth thing is that you need community around you because you cannot do this change by yourself. God never that means accountability. Yes, that means to accountability that meet other men in your life who can speak into your life that you're willing to listen and that you're willing to hear your wife's feedback when she says to you, you're doing it again that you're allowing that community.

Hebrews 313 says that we all have the capacity to be deceived and so that we need one another to speak into our lives and so you an invite community and the last thing that you can understand if there are consequences if you refuse to change, and you keep doing the same thing you've always done them to be painful consequences not to hurt you but to help you wake-up Leslie back to the illustration of the husband throwing the phone into the sink. You describe some things that that particular woman might have done. How how could she possibly respond respectfully and what consequences can she give him for treating her like that.

Really, it was way over the line and it was abusive situations it might not be that she has any power to do any consequence in that moment, but it might be that she begins to speak up and say what you did was unacceptable. If you ever do that again. I won't be able to live with you because you've just created a an abusive situation. It's destructive to me to our children who are watching and to our marriage and I love you too much to allow you to continue doing that without you understand how damaging that is. I don't feel safe with you anymore and we talked about safety.

We haven't As much about safety as I like to, but safety is an important component to God and sometimes we think the sanctity of keeping a marriage together all costs and any price is more important than the safety of the individuals in the marriage and when someone chronically feels unsafe. Whether it's emotionally unsafe, physically unsafe, sexually unsafe, financially unsafe or spiritually unsafe. They may have to create some distance and that may include separating for a season not to punish but to help someone wake up that you do not get the perks of a good relationship without doing the work and that's important. I think we need to put that emphasis on that safety factor go and speak to the beyond the obvious, but define that for us. What should a woman do who feels unsafe just put some biblical parameters on that because I think sometimes women feel guilty taking measures to be safe.

When I think I should to stay and you know try to put up with that. The Bible says in Proverbs. I think 27 the prudent see danger and take refuge, and so some examples. Although God says to us that we are to obey authorities over us. When David knew that Saul was seeking to harm him. He didn't just pray he fled and when Jesus baby Jesus was being sought after Herod who was in authority over Joseph, the God book just about the dream I didn't say worry Joseph, I'll take care of you. He said get out of Dodge. She said got up because Jesus is safety was more important than obeying the authorities and we all know that lying is wrong on the 10 Commandments and yet when Rahab lied to save the spies kept their safety commended her. She's in the Hall of Fame in Hebrews 11 and so God value, safety, and when Jesus was arguing with the Pharisees over there legalistic application of the Sabbath he used safety. He said which one of you if you are ox fell into the well or even your child who wouldn't break the rules of the Sabbath in order to rescue that ox and I think sometimes we have valued.

Like I said, the sanctity of marriage more than the safety of the individuals and so I think a woman needs to be safe and stay safe and let me just get a last dramatic example in separation. One of the women that I work with her husband engaged in a lot of road which he had a lot of rage at home to but roadway was particularly terrifying to her and the children and finally she said to him you are out of control, your terrifying me and the children and from now on I refuse to talk with you wherever we go.

I'm going to go separately, I will not be in the car with you and less on the driver this you need to plan for the conversation to go poorly reacts out of the anger that she does and so I give lots and lots and lots of information about how to prep for that kind of conversation both internally as well as safety for you if you can have that kind of conversation. If there's ever been any physical abuse or other kind of ramifications against you. How do you prepare for that and so a whole chapter is devoted to that. One of things I will say is you don't have that kind of conversation with your husband. If you haven't told other people that you having that kind of conversation that you haven't accountability for 30 minutes after I had this conversation please call me to make sure I'm safe and that you have an exit plan that if he starts to escalate that you can get out of the house, Leslie, that is really good advice. Let me cure that will further, let's say tonight, someone service broadcast. This wife is feeling vulnerable shoes recognizing, perhaps for the first time that she might be in that abusive situation. The lights of gone and what would you suggest for her tonight when they go home and there in the home tonight.

What can she do to begin this process of healing really that's what you're talking about how to heal the relationship should she say nothing and go back to the four core things and wanted to quickly mention those, once again, I wouldn't encourage her to say anything yet because she needs to be empowered to say it wisely and were confronting somebody with some difficult information about themselves.

Galatians tells us to do it wisely that when someone is caught in a trespass. We who are spiritual should do it gently and in the spirit of humility and so I think sometimes when we are empowered with truth we can go in with guns blazing in said user. You're a jerk and I'm not little you anymore and that is likely to fall and very deaf ears. If will not will raise the opposite direction. I hope so. If your desire is to be heard.

Then you need an action plan. I think of Queen Esther is a great example. She desired to be her chest and very tough stuff to tell her husband that she planned she prayed she prepared she develop an action plan and when the timing wasn't right and she realized another good day to have this conversation. She postponed it to the next and so I think to help a woman have that kind of conversation. She needs some prep work and it's really important that you take the time to do that she can begin to educate herself get stronger and work on those four core things, honesty and openness to growth to be responsible for my own reactions respectful to my husband without dishonoring myself and back for the man he is right now. I'm not can enable him to continue to stay there. That's a powerful advice and encouragement for anyone dysfunctional abusive relationship and it's our prayer that those marriages can be turned around and transformed by God's love, forgiveness and grace now. Maybe you've been challenged by Leslie's words today. There's something going on in your life where you're falling short and not treating your spouse the way you should.

If so, you need to deal with that and get some help through your church and accountability group or even professional counseling.

And if you're the victim of what we've been describing today. I urge you to get help right away.

That's why Focus on the Family is here to provide tools and resources for families and for you if you need them. We've got our team of Christian counselors.

They can give you Bible-based truth for your situation so don't delay God wants to heal your heart, your spouse and your marriage so contact us today to get started her number is 880 family 800 K and the word family or check the episode notes to learn more and I want to recommend Leslie's book the emotionally destructive marriage to you as well. This is such an important message for the Christian community and we can send a copy to you when you send a gift to Focus on the Family for any amount that's our way of saying thank you for partnering with us to rescue hurting marriages and offer God's hope to these couples working together we can make a difference in their lives. Join the support team and help us help marriages across the globe.

When you call 800 K and the word family or check the episode notes coming up next time Deborah Begay describes how trusting God can help you overcome your anxiety.

We can do it through Christ who strengthens us is God. My peace of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family on John Fuller inviting you back your family thrive. The seasons of your life are always moving forward, marriage, parenting, aging well, and through it all.

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