Did He Apologize or Not?

Apology:  [uh-pol-uh-jee]:  a written or spoken expression of one’sregret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, or wronged another.

One evening several years ago,  a woman with whom I had been corresponding sent me an urgent message.  Only minutes earlier, her estranged husband had shown up unexpectedly on her doorstep with a bouquet of flowers in hand.  The man tearfully professed his love for her, promised her that he would never harm her again and begged her to take him back.  The woman was stunned.  She wanted to believe his words and rush into his arms and receive him back into her life, but something cautioned her to hold back.  She accepted the flowers and calmly told him she needed to think about what he had shared and watched him go.

She admitted in her message to me that she was overwhelmed and rightly confused by the rawness of her husband’s emotion, his display of what seemed to reflect wholehearted repentance.  She also felt some measure of pressure to get back to him immediately but decided to seek some feedback before jumping in.  I quickly responded and urged her to simply allow a little time to pass before investing completely in his words or actions.  I specifically noted that she was wise to trust her instincts, reminded her that time was her friend and conveyed a confidence that, over the next few days or weeks her husband’s true colors would likely be revealed one way or another.

Only a few minutes after hitting the “send” button, she wrote me back to say that she had just hung up the phone.  In between the time it took for the man to leave and the moment she received my message, her husband had called in a rage, so furious was he that she had not responded to his overture the way he wanted.  Although she was shocked and hurt by his phone call, the timeliness of our correspondence lent an almost humorous footnote to the revealing turn of events.  I was glad for the woman’s sake that she chose to take the smallest step back, trust what her instincts were telling her, and test her abuser’s apology.  In the course of perhaps an hour, she saw the ugly truth about her abuser’s motives and character.  And all she did was wait.

Knowing how abusers operate, upon reading the woman’s message, several things immediately stood out to me about her encounter with her husband.   First of all, they were living separately, yet he showed up at her home uninvited, a brazen intrusion and a violation of her need for space and a sense of personal safety.  It was a control tactic, sure evidence of disrespect.  Second, he brought flowers which were both a buy-off and a form of manipulation.  By design, such gifts create confusion about the status of the relationship and are designed to incite the victim to lower her defenses and express some measure of gratitude.  His wife had to choose whether to respond as one would to a healthy person – with warm appreciation – or risk appearing cold and unfeeling.

Then the man added some tears, making himself appear truly sorry for his past behaviors.  And finally, his verbal expression of devoted love and the promise of a new life together left her with virtually no logical excuse to back away from him.  The entire incident was in truth a self-serving, multi-faceted, heartstrings-tugging attack.

The woman chose to keep her distance, and her instinctual wisdom paid off.  She trusted her experience enough to wait, if only long enough for her abuser’s anger to reach a boiling point and reveal his unchanged heart.  Fortunately (or unfortunately), she didn’t have to wait long to see what she was really dealing with.  I can imagine the man walking away from her doorstep inwardly churning as abusers do, “How dare she refuse me when I went to so much trouble? She’s toying with me.  Who does she think she is?  She’s crazy if she thinks she’s going to get away with that.”

 Yes, that is how abusers think.

And a true apology is more than words.  It is an expression of sorrow, remorse or regret as a result of personal failure or harm.  Regret is naturally reflected in profound, lasting change.  Furthermore, if repentance is genuine, the offender should be willing to be specific about his offenses, while most abusers prefer to say, “The past is in the pastIt doesn’t matter anymore. You just need to get over it.

So how can you test whether an abuser’s apology is genuine?  It is easier than you might think.

First, begin with the understanding that an abuser always has an agenda, a game plan.  When an unrepentant abuser realizes he is losing his grip, especially during separation, it is common for him to approach his victim with an initially disarming, subtly manipulative strategy designed to incite her to trust him, which gives him room to convince her that his plan (whatever it may be) makes good sense.  Should she refuse to buy in, he usually has a back-up plan, often a shock-and-awe approach designed to punish her for not going along with the initial strategy, similar to what happened with the man on the doorstep.

Second, no matter how convincing his plan sounds, avoid making any spur-of-the-moment decisions or commitments.  To protect yourself in the moment:

  • Maintain a safe emotional and physical distance from him. (An abuser will try to corner you and pressure you to succumb to his wishes.  Remember that duress is never an appropriate motivation.)
  • Say little and commit to nothing. (Any conversation is an opportunity for crazy-making, and an abuser will almost always petition for his version of compromise as well as a specific timeline.)
  • When pressed, you can always say, “I need some time to think about it.”

Third, after any encounter, step back and ask yourself a few simple questions:

  • What are your instincts telling you?
  • Do you feel safe or confused?
  • Is he respecting your needs and boundaries, or is he bulldozing them?
  • Are you tempted to accommodate him out of guilt or fear?
  • Does he respectfully take ‘no’ for an answer?
  • Do his actions reveal an attitude of repentance or entitlement?
  • Is he more concerned about your needs or his?

Remember that a sincere apology will not minimize the depth of harm or come with conditions or assign blame to others.  The truly repentant offender respects the victim’s boundaries and the need for time and space to heal and also recognizes that the magnitude of his offenses may exact the ultimate price: the forfeiture of the relationship.

Conversely, when an abuser admits to nothing specific, there is no change in behavior or his actions imply that he is entitled to a relationship, then it follows that his apology is just a collection of words intended to invoke a premeditated response that serves his own interests.   Most abusers can say, “I’m sorry,” but time will always reveal whether those words are an expression of genuine sorrow, remorse or regret – or not.

Do yourself a favor.  Guard your heart.   And wait.

“Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.”  Proverbs 4:23

16 thoughts on “Did He Apologize or Not?”

  1. Hi, Cindy,

    Great article! I’ have read it through a couple of times, and my main impression is this: if one has to put so much energy into deciding whether or not to first, regard an “apology” as genuine, and secondly, to determine whether or not to accept it and, thirdly, when to do so, holy cats! Right there! STOP the machine! lol.

    That said, as you know, I do so understand the predicament, and I couldn’t agree more heartily: be very, very, very careful about such overtures from a person you know to be abusive.

    Time does tell.

    And short of a miracle (and I would first require a hand-written verification from God on that), people who choose to abuse rarely, if ever, change.

    But in the meantime, we are best advised to remain far away from them.

    Blessings, and thanks for all of your good work.
    P.

  2. My husband has been having a relationship with a young girl. I only found out about the affair by chance. He lied so much about his relationship and was not truthful or transparent. I also found out that he was planning to go to another state and look for work there and that he had made plans to bring this girl with him. When I confronted him, he denied it. But I had proof of his plans from his texts. He did go away to another state sometime ago but returned home soon after, saying that life was difficult there.
    He has only recently apologized for the affair and the pain he caused me but I feel that he is not sincere. He got very intense when I asked for time to consider whether our marriage could work out. He was absolutely livid and enraged and shouted. I cannot see true repentance from his conduct. I suspect that he wants to return to me for his own agenda.
    I am a very soft and meek person by nature and slowly over the years he had been exerting control over me. He will decide how we should spend the money that I earn and what clothes I should wear and where to spend our holidays which makes me resentful. If I am assertive, an argument will follow and he will go on and on until I grow weary. I did not realize that he was abusive and manipulative until some months ago. I have been married to him for 25 years.
    Now he will not let go of me as he will lose out on my income. If I ask him to leave, he will use emotional blackmail as he has done in the past. Is there any other way to deal with people like this?
    Hope

    1. Hello, Hope.

      I am so sorry to read about some of your experiences with your husband. Based upon what you shared here, I think you know more than you think you do. You specifically said that you “cannot see true repentance” for his conduct. That is a powerful (and accurate) observation. True repentance accepts full responsibility for the pain that you have endured and grants as much time and space as necessary to re-earn trust. The behavior you described is not consistent with that mindset. On the contrary, he is trying to diminish what he has done and put on you an expectation to take him back. You are under no such obligation.

      Furthermore, the control issues you noted (and I am guessing there are others) are indicative of an entitlement mindset which is consistent with verbal and emotional abuse.

      So, “Is there any other way to deal with people like this?”

      Yes. Just because he will not let go of you does not mean you must accept him. You are free to release him. Whatever pain he suffers whether financially or otherwise is his own doing. You are simply allowing him to reap what he has sown.

      Not knowing whether he is living with you now or you are separated, I would encourage you to spend time apart and not to make any hasty decisions about the future of your relationship, but rather allow time to reveal the truth about his character. Any diminishment of what he has done, any pressure or guilt message of any kind put upon you – if it is still about his wants and needs – is a pretty clear sign that he is not repentant and hasn’t changed.

      I would like to recommend a couple of articles on the site that may help you: “Leaving An Abuser: What to Expect and How to Stay Grounded,” (when he tries to get you back), and “Checklist Blackmail.” Start there.

      I hope you will let me know what you decide to do and how I may be able to direct you – either here or you can reach me through my private e-mail from the About Cindy/Contact Cindy link.

      I hope this is helpful. Know that it’s not your fault; nor is it your responsibility to fix it. Take a step back and learn to trust your instincts and what they are telling you about who he is.

      Sincerely,

      Cindy

  3. Hi Cindy

    My husband is still living in the same house. He has refused to move out even temporarily. He claims that he wants to take care of our child and that our child needs him. I work full time in a very demanding job and he is using that against me to show that I cannot both work and look after the household and our child on my own. It would be difficult of course but I think I can manage it. This was the same man who 3 months earlier wanted to leave me and take his girlfriend with him to another state. I am not sure what happened but he came back saying that he ended the relationship with the girl and that he is a broken man. Yet he shouted at me and pummeled his fists at the steering wheel and on the walls of the house when I suggested a separation.

    He will not leave as he cannot survive out there on his own. If he stays with me he has no worries about any expenses. He has not worked for the past 17 years. I cannot leave the house either as I am paying for it and my child lives there. I think there was emotional abuse in the marriage although I only came to be aware of it recently. In a way I contributed to it by not taking any action. But I felt so embarrassed to talk to anyone and I could not confide in anyone.

    My instincts are probably telling me not to trust him given his past conduct. Whenever I confront him about his affair or other abuse inflicted on me he will shift blame to me and say that I was partially to blame and he would attack me in a very personal way. In the end he always makes me feel bad about myself.

    He has is the same as before except that he asked me to forgive him over his affair. Everything else is just the same. He is cold and distant and there is no friendship between us. He withholds himself emotionally and sexually. I see him texting sometimes but he would immediately pretend to do something else when he sees me. He still hides his phone from me. In short he is not transparent and still conceals what he does. I just have no proof that he is still carrying on with that girl. I feel so trapped living with him because I don’t see a way of escape.

    Should I just accept that this may be what God wants for me and stop praying for God to deliver me. I was told that God has plans and a destiny for me and that He is working on my behalf but I don’t see any evidence of that at the moment. But He is God and I trust Him.

    Hope

    1. Hello, Hope.

      I am glad to hear from you again and appreciate your openness and honesty about your situation.

      Repentance is seen in both remorse and heartfelt change. What you describe is inconsistent with repentance. Diminishing what he has done, shifting blame and demanding forgiveness is not repentance. Failing to see your need for room to heal and refusing to work to re-earn your trust is not repentance. It is entitlement.

      Yes, God is trustworthy, but that does not make your husband trustworthy. Ephesians 5 describes what a godly marriage looks like. Hope, that design is not what you have described. God is always working on our behalf, but sometimes we feel like we have to just accept what is in front of us and assume it is His will. But we have to choose whether what we are living in is consistent with His calling – or makes a mockery of it. Sometimes acting upon the truth makes our lives more difficult.

      I know I had to sacrifice a lot when I left my abuser. It was hard, I was exhausted, my children struggled emotionally. Logistics were a challenge. Finances were tight.

      Do I have any regrets? Not a one, except for wishing I had demanded a separation sooner. By getting out, I finally saw how toxic and cruel he was, that our home was unsafe, and that we all lived our lives based on my husband’s crazy-making, manipulation, demands and ever-changing moods. As difficult as it was logistically, I finally gave our abuser a clear choice. He refused to change, so I allowed him to reap what he had sown. I told my kids that we weren’t going to live that way anymore. They had the the opportunity to see the contrast between the way their father lived and the way we lived after he left – and they chose a life without him. We created a healthy family and a safe, faith-based home. We all began to heal…

      And, we are under no obligation to accommodate wickedness:

      “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them…” Ephesians 5:6-11

      Hope, you matter. Furthermore, by remaining in this situation, by accommodating his attitudes and actions, you are essentially telling him that what he does and says is not that big of a deal. God does not condone his behavior. You are not obligated to condone it or live under it either.

      I realize that finances are a huge factor here. The man needs to get a job. I am inclined to believe that your situation has been contrived by him to benefit him and give him power over you. It’s wrong. If he is unwilling to contribute to the household, then he should live elsewhere and find a way to support himself. I also realize that you may need logistical assistance from others who know your situation to help you with this. But at the end of the day, from my perspective, he needs to be put on notice that you do not need him, and he does not deserve to live with you. At one point, he was willing to abandon you for his own benefit, but has since discovered that you are of great benefit to him. But he still wants you on his terms. Wrong.

      If you have not yet checked out “Suffering Love: A Redemptive Force or An Enabling One?” I think it might be helpful to you.

      I’ll be praying for you – for clarity and strength. Keep in touch.

      Cindy

  4. Hi Cindy

    Thank you for your encouraging words. It definitely helps to know that someone else understands what I am going through.

    I did mention to my pastor that my husband was having an affair and indulging in porn but he asked me what I wanted to do with the marriage. He was of the view that my husband loves me but it is not the kind of love required to make a marriage work. He did not say any of the things you have mentioned here or that I should leave him. I doubt that he even found my husband abusive.

    I am afraid to leave him because I know my husband will not let go easily. He has already hinted that he will not leave without my daughter. And many years ago when I threatened to leave him, he said he was coming over to my place of work to shout at me. He may be capable of this if he thinks he is on the losing end. I cannot afford to lose my job as I am supporting my child and cannot rely on my husband for child support. I am in my early fifties and will find it hard to get another job.

    Cindy can you pray for me that my husband will change his mind and leave us, as he had initially planned. I do want to give him a chance but his secrecy with his phone (he keeps the phone with him even when he is asleep or having a shower) makes me wonder if he cheating on me again. I don’t want to waste another 10 years if he he is still deceitful.

    Hope

    1. I’m glad you took the time to respond. There is a lot going on here. I wonder if you would consider scheduling a phone consultation. Yes, it is fee-based, but I want you to know that many women have found themselves better grounded after a single consultation.

      Hope, all of those pressures put upon you by your husband are by design – the threats to take your daughter, the threats to come to your place of business, the determination to bind himself to you financially… There is a method to his madness.

      If he can keep you living in fear, then he will get what he wants – control. Fear is the wrong motivation for relationship. Safety, honesty, respect and love should be hallmarks of relationship. He is not giving you those things.

      The only way to address his strategies is head-on, to refuse to be manipulated by him. This may mean going to your employer and telling those in authority what he has threatened to do in case he does. Let your employer step up to protect you. It may mean being prepared to call the police if he shows up or threatens you or your daughter in any way or seeking a restraining order against him if it comes to that. It may mean creating a plan to leave your home with your daughter to keep both of you safe. It may mean sharing your situation with people who may be willing to help you.

      Why would he leave? He has you right where he wants you. He has you too terrified to act.

      Then I must ask: Why do you want to give him another chance? Is he going out of his way to prove his trustworthiness? Is he truly repentant and now seeks to meet your needs? Or do you feel an obligation – a sense of Christian duty?

      What I would suggest is that you take a step back (preferably a step out) and watch and see who he really is. Where is his heart? Where are his loyalties – to you or to himself?

      His affair and his use of porn are adulteries. From a biblical perspective, he has broken the bond of marriage and you are free to leave him. Can God redeem such a broken marriage? Of course, but only if both parties are willing. And even if he says he is doesn’t mean you are obligated. And, as I have shared before, words are not enough. Not even close. You know a tree by its fruit.

      I hope you read the previous post I recommended. And based on what you shared here, I would also urge you to read, “The Truth About Reconciliation.” It’s a powerful and necessary measure of understanding that we as Christians tend to overlook.

      I have been where you are, Hope. What you describe is not consistent with a biblical, godly marriage.

      Keep reading and learning and listen to your instincts. What are they really telling you about your situation? I urge you to learn and grow strong in the truth and walk in it.

      In Him,

      Cindy

  5. Dear Cindy,

    After reading several of your articles I must leave a reply. I have been the wife to a verbally and emotionally abusive man for 11 years. We have no children. I have decided not to have kids (something that I felt like, at one time, was my purpose in life) with him because I did not want to expose a child to his abuse. Also, because he treats his own mother with terrible disrespect and despite me telling him this over again, refuses to see that it is wrong. Even she will not recognize it. I did not want to be in the same position of my kids being horrible to me and my husband looking on in approval. This was the same behavior his father showed and still shows to this day. We lived with him for a time and God showed me what kind of home he came from. Praise the Lord I have not become pregnant.
    I have rationalized his behavior for years. Using his upbringing, his back injury, the fact that he works so hard, etc. etc. to explain to myself why. He called me a “b—ch” because I am one, he tells me I’m “crazy” because I am. He says “f— you” to me because he’s so stressed out. This, that, the other. He would make promises to me that he would not keep and had no intention of keeping. He would lie to my face about things he had done, or things that were done to him, things that he was going do– anything to get me to believe him or have sympathy for him or accept his apology or stay with him. If I was disrespected by his father or friends, it was because I deserved it. (If only I worked harder, or did this or that) Many of your articles and readers comments echo my feelings over the years.
    To hear him talk, I have never done anything for him. I cannot be pleased, am always unhappy. That I am not perfect, I make mistakes too and always make it his fault. For a long time I believed this. All the money was his money, the house is his house, the cars are his, the land is his. He worked for it, it’s all his. A few years ago I began believing that I literally smelled badly. Crazy? He tells me so. This belief further isolated me from society, a job, my family and friends. Through God and following his will, I am finally breaking that stronghold. Although I still believe it sometimes.
    One day I just stopped caring. It was like the emotional rope between us was cut. I don’t care if we are married anymore. I don’t love him anymore. His words don’t hurt me anymore. I am done with him. There is this terrible emptiness inside me. Although I know I am doing better myself– working to heal my body, mind, soul… I cannot CANNOT being myself to want to heal this marriage. I want it to end, to be done, to be over.
    I pray and pray to God to let me go but for almost a year now I have been hearing him tell
    me to WAIT. I even tried to leave him last summer, praying and fasting for two days for God to stop me if it was not his will and the car broke down!! I took it as a sign. Since then my husband has been “changing” for me. since the not caring began I have stopped walking on eggshells, stopped having sex with him, stopped avoiding the “bad issues” and started saying and doing exactly what I want. He appears to be afraid of me leaving, he appears to be trying to be the husband he should have been all this time. However he will still yell and scream and tell me I should just get over it and let it go. That I can’t let things go. That if I’m not going to even try that I should just leave. I am so confused. How can I disobey God and leave? How can I stay with a man who has crushed my soul and broken my heart and my trust?
    God is still telling me to wait. But I cannot wait anymore. I feel like I have to leave, wether God wants me to or not. I know God asks us to forgive, forgive, forgive. He tells us to wait on him and we will rise up with wings as eagles. When I read scriptures I am pointed to verses on divorce being hated and submission and God will turn deserts into gardens. I believe all these things. I believe God is good and Jesus died for my sins. But I cannot do this anymore. I cannot wait on God to end my marriage. I don’t know what to do. I want to leave but I feel like God is telling me that if I go now I will lose forever the life his is preparing me for HERE. I don’t want to reconcile with my husband. If he changes, great. But let it be with someone else. I cannot even pray for my heart to be softened toward him. I don’t want him anymore. I don’t care. This is a horrible way for me to feel. I don’t know even what I am asking you. Maybe just to pray that God will open the door for me to leave. Thank you.

    1. Hello, SadLady. I am glad you took the time to write and share some of your story.

      There are so many things I would like to say to you, but I will try to limit my comments to what I think you need to know most.

      First, if you haven’t left already, I hope you do leave. You need a good deal of time and space away from your husband to begin the process of detoxing and seeing the truth about him and where you have been – and yourself. You think that God has told you to wait, and perhaps He has. But I must say from my perspective that the God I know and love does not condone your husband’s behavior and does not require you to remain in a toxic environment when a way of escape is available.

      Second, your husband may be seeing the handwriting on the wall as a result of your increasing disassociation with him, so he is willing to try in some areas to attempt to hook you back in, but if he is still blaming and shaming you, then what you are seeing is not repentance (See “Understanding the Difference Between Compliance and Change.”)

      Third, know that if you do change, the dynamic will change yet again. Trust me in this. I have seen this scenario play out countless times. For a little insight in this regard, please read, “Checklist Blackmail” and “Leaving An Abuser: What to Expect and How to Stay Grounded.”

      I want you to know that you are not alone and you are not crazy and it’s not your fault. And, by the way, God does not hate divorce, and I can prove it. That is a biblical misinterpretation sadly perpetuated for perhaps thousands of years. You are not responsible for your marriage, only your part in it.

      If you are prepared to begin the journey toward healing and a new life, I am confident that I can help and direct you. You might want to consider getting a copy of my book, “Why Is He So Mean to Me?” or perhaps scheduling a phone consultation with me.

      I will be praying for you, but far beyond what you are asking. See the truth and freedom will follow.

      I’ve been where you are. I am willing to help if you are willing to do the work.

      Thank you for writing. I hope you will keep me informed as to what you decide to do.

      Cindy

      1. Dear Cindy,

        Thank you so much for replying. I have not left him. Although he has abused me since year one, it was only in this last couple of years that I really started to admit it to myself– if that makes sense. I was not a super self confident person before we married, plus I was rather young and naive. I have long struggled with feelings that if I just stand up to him enough, explain my feelings more, be a better wife…things that, even as I want to write them down now, don’t even make sense to me like: “if I was just attractive enough and served him more and his friends envied him for how great a wife he has, then he would SEE that I’m worth defending, standing up for, respecting, loving…” Wow. It’s also very easy for me to feel guilty and like things are my fault. If he would go out and buy us dinner I would think to myself: “Oh he’s so sweet.” And the night before he could have told me I was just taking advantage of him and that I never do s**t. Even RIGHT NOW it’s hard for me to write this to you because I feel like me talking to you or anyone about this is wrong and I’m, I don’t know, being a victim or something. Even that sounds like I’m being manipulative. Am I?! Possibly!!
        Besides the abuse and how changed I feel as a person, the hardest thing is how I feel like people will perceive me if I go. I know I shouldn’t care what people think about me but I do and his reputation around here is so great. I finally got FB in the past two months (he didn’t want me to have one bc it was only for “meeting men”) and I get more likes on the one picture of the two of us than anything else I post. I feel like my value in this community is based on the fact that I am married to him, not because of who I am. Most everyone thinks he’s super nice and a hard worker and a good man and if I had a dollar for everytime someone told me what a good man he is.. It makes me feel crazy or like maybe im wrong about him. But I KNOW I am not wrong. I have seen his face below the mask and heard his ugly words about the very people who praise him so loudly. My own father will say to me that he knows that he’s a good man, and it’s how he was raised.. It’s like he thinks I am just not forgiving him enough. And I do struggle with forgiveness, walking in forgiveness specifically.
        And he does have his good qualities, yes, he’s not all bad– but can the bad parts make the good parts just.. Not good anymore?
        I don’t want to stay, or change the dynamic between us. I do want to be done– I want to GO. But I pray and the same scriptures come up. They say to me to obey the Lord and wait or all that I have been praying for and deeply desiring in my heart will be lost. I feel like this is God working a great work in my life. It’s so hard to feel like I am just surviving my life. Remembering to be grateful instead of sad all the time or being faithful and not running away because it’s too much for me to handle. I do feel like this is going to end, soon, and however that looks hopefully will bring Glory to God.
        Im sorry if this is a bunch of rambling. i would like to schedule a consultation with you when I can. I have read the free sample of your book and it rings a lot of truth bells for me. I will try and keep you updated on what happens. Thank you for praying for me, that means so much.

        1. Oh, SadLady. My heart truly breaks for you. Everything you describe is absolutely consistent with where I once was, where so many women just like you have been.

          I know that you want to do the right thing, that you want to honor God in your life and your marriage. You want people to understand and believe where you are and where you have been. But at the end of the day, what matters the most is the importance of seeing and standing on the truth – whether or not other people see it or believe you – or not.

          The truth is that marriage is God’s sacred institution. It is not a place where abuse should be tolerated. “Love, honor and cherish” applies to both parties in the relationship. The teaching that “love is patient and kind, is not boastful, arrogant, nor does it serve itself”applies to both parties in the marriage (I Cor. 13). It was never your sole responsibility to fix the marriage. It takes two people to create a marriage, and only one person to destroy it.

          The confusion you are living in is (if I may be so bold) is created by your husband’s unpredictable swings, the false image he has created and the contemporary church’s unbalanced view of marriage. Ephesians 5 establishes the model, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her…” Yet most churches begin with, “…wives, submit to your husbands as is fitting in the Lord.” If your husband is rightly in the Lord and is loving you as Christ loved the church, it is not an effort to love and submit to a husband. It is a balanced, beautiful, God-honoring thing. But the twisting of truth is what creates confusion and causes us to doubt our senses and our obligations, as well as God’s design for marriage.

          I hope you will consider a consultation. I am confident that I can offer you some clarity and validation. I would also urge you to consider getting my book, “Why Is He So Mean to Me?” As an e-book, it is only $8.95, and many women have attested that it is a life-changer. I am confident that as you read, you will quickly realize that your husband’s actions are consistent with those of an abuser, and you are not alone.

          I’ll be praying. Keep learning about the abuse dynamic, and you will gain clarity and grow stronger in the knowledge of the truth.

          I hope you’ll keep in touch and let me know what you decide to do.

          In Him,

          Cindy

  6. Hope, I can 100% attest to Cindy being well-worth the small cost of a phone consult or 2! I was in your spot (slightly different behaviors, but same confusion and fear!) only 2 years ago. Cindy broke through the fog of my confusion and really helped me see what I needed to see. I was in a somewhat different position as my children were older (still at home, though), however, I had a network of close friends who were willing to help me. All of these behaviors show me that he is still very much trying to control and very much NOT trustworthy. You are definitely seeing ALL the signs, but maybe not sure what action to take or afraid to take action. You are the only one who can make that decision. But I strongly encourage you to base it on YOUR sanity, your child’s safety, and NOT on “how it might affect him or how he might behave because of it.” That is his responsibility to deal with the fallout of HIS behaviors. And when he intimidates to get his way, that is not “you having a choice”. That is domination. I had to get to the place where I was willing to go all the way, NO MATTER WHAT, to be free of the control and intimidation. If he is slamming things, as you said, I would begin to make an exit plan with your local women’s shelter. You have nothing to be “ashamed” of. It is not YOUR behaviors that are damaging the relationship (although I’m sure he has made you feel like it was yours, which is a typical abusers trick.) I would read everything on Cindy’s website and call Cindy. She was a Godsend!!

  7. I have been married to a man who has been abusing me verbally, emotionally and mentally. The sad part is that almost throughout the marriage, I did not realize that my husband was being abusive. i believed the lie my husband told me that all couples have fights and disagreements.He was manipulative and argumentative. I am a strong willed person but over the years I grew so weary and did not have the energy to fight him.

    And that was my biggest mistake. My husband took it as as a sign of weakness and started to control me. He would criticize me on a personal level and downplay all my accomplishments. He controlled my money and what I purchased. On the brighter side, he continued to do some nice stuff for me, like cook the meals, made sure I ate my meds and vitamins and sent me to and from work (for 3 years) when I did not have a car. I excused his behavior because I was taught that no one is perfect and he had the nicer side to him. Until now I find it very hard to admit that the man I was living with for more than 20 years may have married me for convenience and that he was not interested in me as a person or in building up the marriage. I hardly have any friends now because he does not like people in the house.

    He is so cold and detached that I cannot even bring myself to ask him for a hug. I suspect he has had affairs over the past years, one of which I am sure of. I know I can divorce. My heart is no longer with him and I cannot bear the thought of continuing the marriage with him for my remaining years. I have discussed separation and divorce but he is against it. I am confused as what to do as the community I belong to frowns upon divorce and I would be considered the “scarlett woman” if I left my husband and the marriage. As it is I have no support from anyone except from this blog which I have been following these past few months. My priest knows about what has happened in my marriage and has offered his help if I needed it but that was it. No one else knows about my life. I feel so alone and abandoned that I have to go through such rejection and despair everyday. My husband does not care how his behavior has affected me. I am not surprised as he does not love me. From your responses to other women, you sometimes advice them to leave such relationships. I am not sure if my life would be better if i left as I would still be lonely and unloved.

    1. Hello, Lost. Thank you for taking the time to write and share your experience. I am so grieved to read your story, and I know it doesn’t even begin to shine a light on the years of struggle and heartache you have endured. I am so sorry. You do not deserve to live that way – and you do not have to.

      In terms of process, generally I encourage separation initially in such situations for several months at least. Separation provides time and room to detox and take a step back and see the truth of you have been, an opportunity to grow in the knowledge of the truth and decide over the course of time based on what becomes clear about the relationship. Most often, I’m sad to say, the true motives of the abuser are made apparent, and it becomes easier to let him go and allow him to reap what he has sown.

      I’ll admit my frustration and anger at those within the church who “frown upon” divorce, yet don’t seem to frown upon abuse in marriage. How can that be? That is nothing short of appalling. God’s design for marriage clearly does not accommodate abuse. Or is it preferred that victims remain in an abusive environment rather than get a divorce? Furthermore, God does not hate divorce, although that is a commonly taught false doctrine; nor is divorce only allowed for adultery or desertion – and yes, I can biblically prove it. (See “A Redemptive Look at Three of the Most Commonly Misappropriated Scriptures on the Subject of Divorce” if you would like to know more on this important subject.)
      You also note that your husband does not care how his behavior has affected you. You should be rightly horrified by such an attitude. I am.

      Finally, you question whether your life would be better if you left. The only way to know is to test it. You might want to consider separating from him for a healthy period of time so that you have an opportunity to detox and take a healthy step away from him and begin to heal so that you can see more clearly where you have been and how you want your life to look and feel going forward. I can’t begin to tell you how many women with whom I have had contact who took the risk of leaving their abuser and have ultimately reclaimed their lives and gone on to be happy and healthy and fulfilled. I know it may not seem like it at this point, but the only way to know is to imagine what your life could be like when you are no longer being taken for granted or abused.

      I hope you will keep in touch. And keep reading… There is a wealth of information here on the website, and I am confident that my book, “Why Is He So Mean to Me?” will also help you if you are interested. I also provide phone consultations, and I have been pleasantly surprised by how often only one or two consultations can work wonders. Something to consider…

      I wish you well and hope you will let me know what you decide to do.

      In Him,

      Cindy

  8. Dear Ladies,Cindy, Hope, Sadlady, Lost.

    Cindy is so spot on. I am amazed and relieved to read what she writes. Your stories are so similar.

    It is true that things became clearer in separation. I had the courage and strength to leave and stand up to him when I started to meditate and believe that God loves me. I am the beloved of God. Also I realised that it was the year of Jubilee where slaves go free. I just believed it so. I told the Lord I had enough and wanted out.
    Bit by bit, though with shaking knees and trembling hands, we were led out.
    It was a terrifying one year in fleeing and departing..i fell for his tricks in a couple counselling when he knew I had planned to move…I fell for his pity story and let him move in with me only to have the cycle recurr. Aack! He could not accept my boundaries. Btw, he was hiding laptop and phone for a few years..I had stumbled across porn and texting and bad influence. I had been shocked and cried profusely only to anger him but no kindness. I thought he no longer looked after the first few years but he still was many years later and got worse with online dating websites etc…he had emotionally abandoned me for years. I knew something was wrong and always felt him distant but felt I wasnt pretty enough or good enough wife and communicator.I have just come to realise it. He also withheld sexually and would blame me it was because we argued and didnt make the meals the way he wanted or kept the house well enough etc.. He even said I was a great mother but lousy wife…how can you separate the two? If the wife is a good mother , she is a trustworthy wife you can rely on? No. That did hurt a lot.
    He would get so angered with the food if it were too salty or not the way he wanted ..unfortunately I was quite a wreck and after conversation and crazy-making by him, I had put salt in as usual forgetting there was already salt in it.
    He would hurt me physically subtly like squeeze my hand and tell our child I was crazy, when I exclaimed in pain.
    Long story short, as I kept believing on the Lord’s love for me and that I am precious.. i cant explain how but help came and with some difficulty, we left Egypt and sea parted. It hasnt been easy since in terms of lodging, other giants/ hurdles and finances but so much better in terms of peace and only meditating on God’s goodness, empowering words . It has been sweeter trusting Jesus to provide our daily bread..though recently it has been difficult and I shudder to think if I made a mistake and shouldve stayed..but stumbling acroos this website has encouraged and affirmed me. I think the Israelites at one point complained about the difficulties in the wilderness and felt they were better off in Egypt..However Im encouraged that Joshua and Caleb saw giants as bread for food as they remembered God’s goodness. Praying for you all that His love will so envelope you and that He is on your side through the shed blood of Christ.

    1. Hello, Liber8ed. What an incredibly powerful testimony you shared here. Thank you for taking the time to write and offer your insights, even acknowledging how hard the journey has been with its setbacks and pressures. I am happy for you, that you are seeing the hand of God and experiencing His grace, love and provision. I have been there too. I thank God that I too have passed through the wilderness of despair and now live in the promised land of sweet freedom and peace.

      Again, thank you for sharing. I’m sure your words will be very much appreciated.

      In Him,

      Cindy

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