A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Asking the Impossible: Being the Right Spouse to an Abuser

UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.

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The following article was written by Wendell. Many thanks to him!

As I was driving in to work this morning, I heard the little 2 minute Focus on the Family blurb our radio station carries and it got me thinking. Normally, I don’t hear this as I am in to work earlier than it comes on, but this morning was different. The host, Jim Daly, was talking about the fantasy world created by Hollywood and modern culture, that God has the right one for us and we just have to find him or her. Ok, valid point. This attitude does make finding a mate more like a giant lotto game and leads to much disappointment and many mistakes.

He then went on to decry the fact that it is prevalent in our society that if the one you “find” does not give you supreme happiness 24/7, then it is permissible to just leave and start over. Ok, I get that. Too many divorces are frivolous and it is completely unreasonable to be living on a cloud of marital bliss all the time. We are human after all and we disappoint each other.

The rest of it is what got me thinking today. He then stated that instead of trying to find the right one, we should become the right one for our spouse, essentially morphing ourselves into what our spouse “needs”. Now, on the surface, and in a normal situation, that may be fine. Sacrificial love is a good thing to have in marriage, and I should do what I can to be the best I can for my spouse; however, what about when your spouse is abusive?

But from what I have seen on this blog, and in dealing with my own daughter’s situation, I see accounts of abusers demanding that their spouses fit into a mold they were never designed for. It is a warped view of meeting only the needs of the abuser and the victim is expected to contort themselves into a grotesque form, that satisfies some warped view and desire of the abuser, yet is not recognizable as humanity to anyone else. Further, rather than sacrificing to become better for our spouse being a gift to our spouse, it becomes an obligation in an abusive relationship, stripping the “specialness” out of the whole process.

Upon hearing the stories of so many here, I have seen comments that portray how unpredictable their abuser is or was. It is sheer torture to desire to be something pleasing to another person, when their definition of pleasing is in constant change, and when one tries to do what he/she feels is the right thing, their efforts are simply thrown back in their face.

I know that many times growing up, I so wanted to be accepted and loved by my mother. I was willing to change almost anything to please her, yet I never could find what I needed to do. It was only later that I realized how self absorbed into her own pain and shortcomings she was and that nothing I could change would be enough. I finally became like Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof when he stated that if he bent too much, he would break!

Now, I hold no ill will toward Focus on this. I know they are catering to an audience within a certain spectrum; however, I wish more ministries would recognize and deal with the fact that to the abused, some of the teachings they espouse are asking the impossible and the harmful of so many victims who have tried to bend so far they are in danger of breaking!

56 Comments

  1. Jeff Crippen

    Wendall – I think that a husband or wife should indeed try to “be” the “right” spouse, but as you no doubt already realize, the real kicker is “what is ‘right.'”? Right must be defined by God’s Word. A husband becomes the right kind of husband by loving his wife as Christ loves the church. A wife becomes the right kind of wife by developing a gentle, beautiful, Christ-like spirit. Now, if that turns out to be attractive to their spouse, great. But as we know, nothing is going to satisfy an evil, abusive, power and control freak spouse. As Scripture says, Christians are going to stink to some and be a fragrant aroma to others.

    • Wendell G

      Agreed, Jeff. I also look on being the “right” spouse as a gift, not a demand and certainly not to be taken advantage of. Abusers tend to not only demand that their spouses sacrifice to become what they want, but nothing ever seems enough to them!

      • Wendell — I LOVE what you said about being the “right” spouse being a gift. That attitude has been such a beautiful aspect of my marriage now. David and I very much see each other as gifts because in our previous marriage we were forced, pushed, expected, taken advantage of . . . as Barb would say, “should-ed on”. It truly does lead a person to a dark and desperate place. Abusers are, ultimately, not happy with themselves so no amount of molding ourselves into what is expected really works, anyway. The victims are not free to be themselves . . . or to grow, develop or bloom into a husband or wife that glorifies God because they are so busy trying to please man . . . an unpleasable man. Or unpleasable family. It can even be small . . . but my family’s demands upon me (especially when I was going through crises and was barely surviving) were overwhelming (“You didn’t write a thank you note” . . . “You did not send a gift for this or that . . . .” . . . “You were not what I THINK YOU SHOULD BE”).

    • Memphis Rayne

      A christian wife married to an abuser is a rancid, repulsive stench to him…..nothing will aggravate him worse than you. But yes we can all “Die trying” to be the impossible. That is the end result.

  2. I have seen so many “Healthy” marriages that do just what Jeff C said in his comment. I think we are to be the “right” wife by being who Christ created us to be and to develop a deep and intimate relationship with Christ. If We do that we will be the right wife. The issues arises when our abusers are not being the “right” husband it has nothing to do with us or our needing to change but only to do with them and their sin. If they refuse to be the right husband then we have every right to leave and find the right husband. I am not so naïve to think that God created us to only have one “right” mate in life and that once we have committed to someone we are stuck for life. I also refuse to believe that any woman is “damaged goods” after she has been with a man (inside or outside of marriage) and therefore the “right” man would seek an “pure virgin” and no one else. If Christ only sought out pure virgins then we would all be up a creek without a paddle. Just the other day I had someone try and tell me that when seeking a future spouse one would have to get forgiveness from that spouse for not “saving themselves for him/her”. My response was “why should anyone have to seek forgiveness from man when God has already forgiven (if there was a sin to forgive in the first place)”. I think this is a dangerous Idolatry that we are putting our future spouse in the place of Christ.

    • Tersia

      Bethany you are so right and I fully agree!

    • Wendell G

      I have to admit Bethany, that is one that I have not heard before. Imagine a widow wanting to seek remarriage and has to ask forgiveness?!? Some people have a really warped view of Scripture and relationships.

      Now I am all for disclosing one’s past, if for no other reason than complete honesty. It is then a decision on the other party if they can live with that past, but asking for forgiveness for a past that did not involve the other person already seems to set things up for a fall.

    • Anyone who would expect such forgiveness is likely not going to be much fun to be married to. I’d hazard a guess that that would not be the only realistic expectation. Why take such a thing personally anyway?

      I’d like to know why not saving yourself is seen as a sin against a future spouse? It’s a sin, but for a future spouse to think it is about them is a bit narcissistic. And if someone is a narcissist in one area . . .

      • Anne

        I was raised that not saving yourself was a sin. Purity was supposed to be the dearest gift you could give your spouse. It was put on a pedestal above so many other things that should have mattered just as much or maybe even more.

      • Anne- I was too. And obviously people I grew up with (like the one who made the comment to me the other day) still believe that.

  3. I have to admit that I just have no faith in the church to tell us how to have healthy relationships. I tried the “work on yourself and forget about your spouse” plan and it is a naive approach that does not work when both spouses aren’t on board.

    And the whole idea of “don’t focus on getting a spouse” bit is a good idea (we need to be wary of looking for a spouse to “complete” us), but the church needs to understand it is sending mixed signals. When you have sermons series devoted to marriage, when gatherings are organized around families, when the family is the focus of so much ministry at the church, when there is little place for singles over the age of 25 to plug in, the church is telling singles they yet are not complete without a spouse.

    I know all of that is slightly off topic, but I have just come to believe that the church at large doesn’t understand what healthy relationships really look like. It’s all about getting married and having babies, and when you get off that track, you kind of get pushed aside. And then they tell you the problem is you are too focused on finding a spouse and possibly are idolatrous. I grow tired of trying to measure up and just prefer to to be honest: I’d like to get remarried someday and I regret so much that my son is not getting a two parent experience, but I’m not going to settle for a “partial” Christian experience while I wait. And I’m not going to enter into a new relationship where I don’t ask questions or acknowledge things that hurt or concern me. I’m working on who God wants me to be and will never stop, but that doesn’t make me an impenetrable wall who can withstand anything thrown at me.

    • The plight of the 25+yr old single Christian! I agree 100% Jeff S my church is having a couple retreat this weekend (no I don’t begrudge them their retreat in any manner and I think it is a very good thing) but that means that me, a little old widow lady, and a mentally handicapped 40yr old man are the only ones not going . Can anyone say singles retreat?? I think not… Even if I were in a larger church the “singles retreat” would be revolved around 18-25yr olds and would not have any benefit to a single mom in her late 20’s or older or a single dad for that matter. There is sadly no place where we fit into the “Christian life”

      • Saved By Grace

        I have come to the conclusion that there is no room in the “c”hurch for singles. the “singles and careers” groups focus on 18-25 year olds and their quest for a career, mate and marriage. This is one of the reasons I do not attend church. I don’t feel valued or appreciated as a single woman.

        I do long to be in a relationship, be married, and have a family; but God has not seen fit to bring this into my life (yet!). I feel left out, neglected, unwanted, overlooked by the “c”hurch because I am a single woman in her 30s. Over the years, I have noticed that once single friends marry, they seem to forget the their “former” single friends and no longer contact them, communicate with them (except in passing) or get together with them.

        Thank you for the community here: a community of support, love and encouragement. This is what God really meant for us, right?

      • Memphis Rayne

        This is so deppressing, but true, because I was in my thirties left as a single mom there was no place any longer for me or my kids in church functions…..Whats even more deppressing is how I spell the word deppressed …..but hey I live in a country that sees women as only purposeful between the ages of 18-25, they will openly admitt that is why people marry so young here…..the assumption is after 25 everything about a woman goes to crap…..just the other day I had somebody say “I would never make my son do laundry or cleaning because that is womans work” different person openly said “Anything after thirty is a risk or dangerous” I am in a country where they tend to view women as second class, they have the wife, the mistress, and that is okay because they are the man….this all sounds strikingly like the church mentality I have ran into? The pastor himself married somebody 25 years younger, (not that that is bad in itself) yet a woman after 30 35 is to be content with being alone, God forbid she dates anybody that is say 10yrs her junior, or dates anybody at all????? Im just saying, the blatant sexism is not what its about, yet it all stems from the “like” thinking or same mind set as an abuser who has all the privledges without judgement, and the victom who is suppose to go without, or else!

    • Wendell G

      Amen, Jeff! The church does a lousy job at ministering to and making places for people in all stages of life. Living in a college town where most of the churches only want to reach college students, it is tough to find places for those of us who are past child bearing age to find a place where we are appreciated or are given a chance to minister. It almost seems that if you don’t fit their target demographic, you are irrelevant. And you know what, I don’t think most abuse victims fit within that small circle that many churches even care about!

    • Anonymous

      I agree with you here, Jeff. Maybe God is just trying to get rid of all the marriage/family idolatry that has been pushed around for the past few decades and clean us up from it. I know there is upset in the camp that pushes marriage/children/family, that so many are now single and approaching 30. God has a way of rescuing us from the way we thought was right.

    • Well-said, Jeff. I agree completely:

      “I know all of that is slightly off topic, but I have just come to believe that the church at large doesn’t understand what healthy relationships really look like. It’s all about getting married and having babies, and when you get off that track, you kind of get pushed aside.”

      • Wendell G

        I hate to be cynical here (an old friend of mine used to call it “sin”ical), but when you think about it, the only way some churches get new members is through their current members having babies!

    • Memphis Rayne

      The Wizard of Oz comes to mind….the weak old man behind the curtain….except this poor old guy did in fact have a heart when he got busted. The church and its mentalitiy is more of the wicked witch, serving winged monkeys, and eating little puppies.

  4. Tersia

    Jeff C, I agree with you, what is the “right spouse”. For 16 years I tried to be the “right spouse”. I made sure I did everything I was supposed to, but just got trampled on each time. I never walked out of the house not knowing how I looked, I took care of myself not to gain a lot of weight. Made sure he got breakfast before leaving to go to work, he had lunch for work, I had supper done or almost ready when he got home, had the house as clean as I could have with working 5 days a week, homeschooling 3 kids, doing all the bill paying, grocery shopping, tending to the kids whatever they needed or wanted to do. And did whatever and whenever he wanted to do on a personal side. Even continued same routing after he quit his job and refused to go look for work. But yet I was ignored, yelled at, cussed at, belittled, threatened, accused. Accused for not raising my kids right by not beating them whenever they needed it. I did not believe in mistreating kids in any form. Now my kids are very well behaved. Yes they have their issues they are working through since being with an abusive father, but yet they are awesome and would not change them for the world. I will protect them every way I can. Once he lost his temper with my son, which was 5 at the time, and grabbed a belt and beat him halfway to the car till I grabbed the belt away from him and told him he was never allowed to touch my kids in that way ever again. I was constantly told how ugly I was, or how fat I was. I love to cook and all my friends love my cooking, yet he always had some bad comment about my food. I never did anything right. The 16th year of our marriage I started giving up. I hated going home in fear I was going to get yelled at, I would get a stomach ache by the time I reached home. You know the ones you got when you were going to take a test at school and was not ready for it? We walked around like we were walking on eggs scared he was going to yell at us for saying something he did no approve of. My kids stayed upstairs in their rooms till I got home, and only then came down. They would sneak in the kitchen to get something to eat or drink when he was outside. It seemed he became very bitter, it was as if the demon came out in him and was controlling him. I was not allowed to talk on the phone even to his mom or my mom, nor to any of my friends. Had to have permission from him to visit my own mom. I hung in there thinking he would change if I kept on being nice, like the church says to do. I took notes over the years as it was the only way I could keep my sanity, since I felt that talking to anyone was the wrong thing to do, as the church teaches. He had a king’s life, he worked for my parents and got a very good salary since he was the owner’s daughter. All he ever had to do was mow the lawn as I thought that was the least he could do to help me. My 1 year of separation is coming up at the end of June and the kids and I cannot be happier. They went to see him this past weekend and said that when he found out his mom had called me and chatted with me that he got mad and started yelling at her. My mother-in-law is a wonderful person and to this day we are close regardless of her son’s doing. My stbx (soon to be ex) has the narcissistic personality disorder, and has been convicted of criminal domestic violence. He has shown no signs of changing but does put up a good front for those that he wants to impress. Jeff, sometimes there is just no way you can please a person, no matter what you do.

  5. As I See It Only

    Hmmm. Focus on the Family may have a problem unless they too define ‘right’ spouse as ‘in alignment with Scripture’ and not ‘in alignment with their spouse’s desires’. This program has a huge audience. Maybe it is time they helped lead the way toward godly marriages rather than add to the confusion. After all, speaking to the 99 while not pursuing the 1 lost sheep is just a little too safe, isn’t it? That lost sheep is the abuser’s victim. The abuser is a ravenous wolf, seeking to devour that one precious lamb. WWJD? Focus on the Family–go and do likewise!

    • Wendell G

      As I See It,

      That is part of the reason this got me thinking. Granted it is hard to fully flesh something out in about a minute, but they do need to define what a Biblical marriage is. Not the Focus superimposed on top of the Bible marriage, but what it really is without the filters. The abused spouse seems to be the unspoken and unnoticed (aka, ignored) exception to most teaching of the church today about marriage.

      • Memphis Rayne

        They cannot define marriage biblically because they have no idea what that is? Our church did these little mini series with Focus, sadly I remember one of the videos we watched about child rearing, I had to sit through that with a man who abused my children..none of the principles were applicable in this situation, just like being the RIGHT spouse for him was not applicable….the MIW actually bolted from that class, irritated and agitated that he even had to be there, do you think anybody held that against him???? NO it was my job to sit there, then my job to go home and placate him…even though I knew I was going to get the shit-take mushrooms beat out of me spiritually and physically because one of his best deflectors of his abuse was under the heading of “”Parenting issues” like we just had differring parenting styles?????? Whaaaaaaat?? The thinking was and will most likely always be “If YOU (the victom) cannot get in there and make this BETTER, then YOU are the failure”

  6. The attitude of Focus on the Family reflects the evangelical mindset, usually. I can’t tell you how many evangelicals I have heard bleating about how “everyone just gives up on their marriages” – they truly believe that the divorce rate is the result of nothing more than lazy selfish people who don’t want to WORK on their marriages!
    I am SO CAREFUL now not to get pulled into critiques of the marriage and divorce rates in our culture, unless it’s with people who are wise and experienced (like the people here 😉 )
    Those without experience and understanding are usually the first ones to shout from the rooftops condemnation and judgment. I see that now and cringe, where I used to be somewhat blind to it.

    re: being single in the church…. I’m starting to think that independent ministry is the place to be, not sitting in the back pew feeling lonely. I’m pondering this singleness – truly it is a gift – and if I want to use it (and my time and abilities) in the most effective way, I won’t waste it trying to fit in or cram myself into a box at church. I’m going to have to set out on the road less traveled 🙂 I feel “set apart”… and there has to be some purpose in that. At least I hope !

    • Saved By Grace

      …being single in the church
      Amen Katy!! You are so right. Thank you for this encouragement. At times, I too, view my singleness as a gift, a gift from God. And I need to continue to work on my gifts and use them to benefit others not mold them and make them fit into the church-ey status quo, the box.

    • Katy . . . I love what you wrote. I love that you are “pondering this singleness as a gift”. Beautiful. I cannot wait to hear more about it. 🙂

      • Me too Katy! I would like to “ponder my singleness as a gift” I am going to have to think about this a lot more 🙂

    • Amy

      Yes, let us see this singleness as a way to reach out to others. I am sure we are not the only ones. I think there was some post awhile back about that. We need to expose things but possibly in a gentle way. It would be great if we all could get a ‘singles’ group going in the Church- a way to support each other and not necessarily look for a spouse! Why can’t we all show each other Love, the way Jesus wants us too where we support each other male or female but in a healthy way? Guess we are starting that here?

      • My church is so small that there is no way we could have a “singles” group (there would be 4 of us, only two over 30 and I am the only male). Consequently we singles meet with all the rest just like normal Christians- lol. The worship pastor at my church counts this as a strength, and I’m glad he does.

        Having said that, they do have to be intentional in order to make it possible in my case. I wouldn’t be able to go to Bible study unless his wife was willing to watch my son during that time, which she does every week.

      • Memphis Rayne

        Yes the great affliction of single-dumbness….haha I may have to rearrange my schedule but I would love to return to my old church, with a Tshirt and banner that reads “single and still Christian” Yep STILL single (by the way that is viewed also as, I was the problem because I did not get remarried but he did!!) If I get remarried I am the adulterer, but its okay for him…..but since I choose to stay single because obviously I am a tad gun shy, then my problems according to them reside in me, you know because there is NO strength in being alone, just proof that I am un marriable…..thats there thinking,,,, so as usual I am damned if I do, damned if I dont…..damned if I care about what they think anymore!!!!! These days I stay away from Organizations, Clubs, Societies, Legions, Groups, Communities, Sororities, Fraternities….Subscriptions…..haha anything that requires a membership or Joining fees….. well all the above is what Churches have become…..it all just makes me want to go to the Dr for a prescription.

  7. Anne

    The assumption I have ran into at church I that since I’m a single mom I should work in the children’s department.

    I get they need workers but honestly, I barely manage to get out of bed each day. Breathing is a chore. How am I supposed to jump in and teach children right now?

    • that is pretty standard. Our children’s ministry leader has to work pretty hard to get those teacher slots filled every Sunday. I did it for a year until I just couldn’t take it anymore.
      Say no and don’t feel guilty.

      • So does ours. They’ve been appealing every week to get anybody and everybody to try to work in the classroom.

        But what I can say is that our pastor took a week off preaching to work in a Sunday School class. At least when they say they are looking for anyone in the church, they mean it!

        I don’t think, however, they’d be pressuring a single parent who isn’t up for it.

      • I felt more pressure when I was married to my ex than I have since then. But, I was home schooling (at the time) and I never understood why it seemed the ONLY thing I could do was work in the nursery. 😦 Didn’t they know I had 4 children 24/7 all week long? I felt like the church leader-people felt like I must love it since I had so many children and home schooled. I don’t know. I struggled with that. Big-time. I almost hated going to church because I was so burned out. Some people are GREAT in children’s ministry . . . and are gifted. I am not. 😦

      • I’ve heard the complaint from many women that it’s basically the only place they are allowed to serve.

        Interestingly enough, I think a lot of churches are not comfortable with single men working in Sunday school (and many have explicit policies about not letting ANY men work in the nursery unless accompanied by females). My current church had no problem letting me work in the Sunday School.

        I think many complementarian churches need be a little more intentional about finding places for women to serve that isn’t childcare. In know if you asked me to write software in Sunday morning it would drive me nuts. 5 days is enough if that for one wrj. And honestly, I really don’t enjoy working in the classroom, but I know the need is there so I’m willing to give up one Sunday a month. But if ever there is an abundance of teachers (ha!) I will certainly take a few months off 🙂

    • Memphis Rayne

      Dont do it. Suggest they recruit one of the men they post at the doors to greet people, or recommend they rearrange their own schedule to fill the slot. I have seen alot of the youngers guys do a great job with the childrens ministries, and the children love them…

      The assumption is an exhausting one, I doubt you will change their perspective on what as a “single” mom you are to be doing…..Just say, “NO. But thanks for considering me.”

      My two cents…..I never was asked, because I was considered unworthy, and people were afraid to have their children in contact with a woman of my sorts, once the abuse was made aware of, and the things I was gong through, just by my spouses actions I was condemned to isolation….including my children, they barely tolerated “people like us”.

  8. problem is that nobody really wants to do that job. It’s just babysitting – and that’s fine. But most people want to take Sunday as a day of rest and hearing the Word from the pulpit. This is the eternal struggle of the church – what to do about childcare because nobody wants to do it. Very few are gifted with an ability to teach 4 year olds the Bible. I am def. not good at it. I can’t get a class full of 4 yr old boys to do anything, much less sit still and listen to the Bible story. Unless I want to get mean about it. 😦
    It was more just the pressure of having to show up on time on Sunday morning, prepared (these lesson plans were 8 pages long with lots of steps, and I couldn’t ever get prepared enough) I crashed and burned. But the end it was all I could do to drag myself to church and throw goldfish crackers at them.

    • Anne

      I used to do the children’s dept thing and enjoyed it. Though I would much rather be with middle schoolers than little kids. But still, I get the need and didn’t mind doing it. I don’t even mind helping out now. It’s just the assumption that working there is the best place to stick the single moms that bothers me. There’s not a SS class where the single moms will fit in so ship them off to the kids hall and put them to work. And that’s where most of the single moms end up staying it seems.
      I remember being told by the SS teacher of a “Young Married” class that we should as a couple make an agreement with each other to not have single friends. The teacher said that meant being willing to walk away from friendships if the couple divorced. Their reasoning was that it would create a too much temptation for us and our own marriage would suffer.

      • That whole teaching of marrieds not having single friends is horrible. It can cause so much pain to singles who lost their friendships due to marriages. Talk about creating a special elite class of people. And if the single folks complain then they are just jealous.

        And I feel bad because I fell into this trap, losing my single friends and only hanging out with marrieds.

        There has to be a better way of a posing affairs than treating singles like lepers.

      • I gotta say this is one place where my friends don’t fail me (one in many 🙂 ) my best friend is married and her husband is a good friend too so we hang out the three of us and it isn’t awkward at all plus the other married women and I (the only single one right now) try to have a girls night out once a month and the husbands get together and babysit (even my kids) it is a real blessing I wish more churches/ groups of friends would do this.

      • . . . being told by the SS teacher of a “Young Married” class that we should as a couple make an agreement with each other to not have single friends. The teacher said that meant being willing to walk away from friendships if the couple divorced. Their reasoning was that it would create a too much temptation for us and our own marriage would suffer.

        That is appalling! It makes single people into lepers, and makes any married couple who want to befriend singles into objects of suspicion. I would love to hear Paul ( a single man) admonishing that SS teacher in no uncertain terms!

      • Amy

        I do happen to agree to a certain extent-you see my husband was the one who would flirt with women and I as usual thought it was just me and he was a nice guy and friendly-ha! It was devastating to me on a deep level-no respect for me! I found out years later he had Porn Addiction. I think if both spouses are friends or a group friendship, but I do tend to agree about temptations. Now I am made to feel yes, like a leech or out to husband hunt because I am trying to be friendly and smile which I never did before. Oh well, we can’t please everyone!

      • Anne – that’s exactly why I ended up in the nursery for so long – they had nowhere else for me to go. The SS classes were all for marrieds. They did recognize this though, and started one for “women only” – so that has been good for me! I think there was a struggle though, because I heard they didn’t want to have a “women only” class because they were afraid the married women would want to go to that class, and maybe the men would quit coming. .The “married classes” almost seemed like they were designed to keep the men in SS 😛 That’s just my perception though.

  9. Amy

    Yes, I know for myself personally I tried to ‘morph’ myself into being THE PERFECT WIFE, MOTHER, LOVER, BLAH, BLAH, BLAH…Gosh, I really don’t even like to admit that or realize how much time (20 years!) I wasted with ‘Mr. Nasty’. I know I went to most if not all of those Christian sites trying to do whatever I could to be a different person than who I was and created to be. YUCK! It’s hard to start over. It’s scary to think if there is a Mr. or Mrs. ‘Right’ because of all that we have gone thru-I guess trust and opening your heart. Just tonight I saw a site about single parenting but an article was to ‘save your Marriage’. They fail to mention about being abused and how detrimental that is to do that. So, yeah done that-all of it and ready to move on. For our own sakes and I really think Jesus wants better for us all! We have just been too kind of people and allowed all of this to happen. Thank you for this site and support.

    • Amy- I saw a site the other day that was about “saving your Marriage” and in reality it was a bunch of tips on how to stall or stalemate your divorce so you can work on getting your wife back!! It was horrifying to read all the things like “don’t sign the paperwork until she agrees to go to counseling with you” and ” find a councilor who will has your values on marriage to persuade her to stay” It all made me sick!

      • Wendell G

        I would call that, The Myth of Objectivity, as far as counseling is concerned. Of course, everyone, including counselors, bring their own biases to the table, and it is impossible to completely “divorce” yourself from them; however, shopping for a counselor to help you browbeat your spouse sounds like a whole new level of abuse! One would hope that an ethical counselor would recognize that one spouse is trying to use them as a manipulative tool and have nothing to do with it.

  10. Martin

    Jeff;

    With respect to this comment: “Too many divorces are frivolous” I would respectfully suggest another perspective.

    The fact is that until the church faces the real fact that marriage itself can be sinful requiring divorce to cure, we will always be asking people to live in bondage to evil relationships. Divorce is not the issue. Frivolous and deceptive marriages are the problem – not the biblically ordained provision of divorce.

    But of course if pastors admitted this, they would have to take responsibility for the couples they shouldn’t have married. Oh but then we can see why some pastors demand such unreasonable things in marriage – it’s their ego on the line in reality.

    • Jeff Crippen

      Martin – I was thinking along similar lines as well. I believe that teaching that divorce for abuse – for habitual, unrepentant, violation of the marriage covenant – will promote marriage, not divorce. That is to say, it seems to me that our problem is not rampant divorce, but rather rampant sin that destroys the marriage covenant. Like abuse. In all of our “healthy marriage” seminars and so on, we are only dealing with a symptom, not the real cause. What if we taught plainly that abuse is biblical grounds for divorce? One result would be that some (many) people would not get married! At least, not to a spouse who knows and expects that the marriage vows be obeyed. “Well, if that’s how it’s going to be then forget it” a potential abuser would say.

      • Martin

        Exactly!

    • Wendell G

      Martin, while I agree with your premise, let me explain the approach I was taking on that. Granted, this is anecdotal and I don’t have empirical evidence to support it, but it is from my last 12 years of working in a public library.

      In our library, the most commonly requested book is the one on do it yourself divorces. In fact, we don’t actually check it out and ask for a person’s drivers license or car keys to hold until they return it to the desk.

      Often, the people requesting the book will open up and we hear all sorts of reasons for divorces, including abuse, and adultery; however, a shocking number of them simply tell us that they are tired of being married or are tired of being married to a particular person. Those are the types of divorces that I was labeling frivolous. Granted, some of them may be hiding the real reason, such as abuse, but at least on the surface, many of the reasons we hear are actually silly at first glance. Unfortunately, we are not allowed to engage them further, which might lend further clarity. Some of these same things were echoed when we worked in marriage ministry.

      I do agree that pastors should do a better job of choosing who they will marry. I have to admit, that a few of the weddings I have performed in the past, probably should not have happened, but it was expected of me, or in a couple of cases were last minute fill ins for a pastor friend of mine who was ill (most notably a gangster themed wedding where the couple only spoke Spanish!). Knowing what I know now, I won’t do that anymore, but since I am not in active ministry, I doubt I will be asked. I think you know as well as I do the different pressures on pastors to perform weddings, but that is a different discussion.

      I also agree with Jeff C. that pastors should tell couples they are thinking of marrying about the right to divorce due to abuse, and let them know what abuse consists of (for example, emotional abuse is just as serious as physical) and let the couple know that if either of them feels they are being abused, they can come back to the pastor for support and counsel.

      It is sad that the culture of the clergy and the church still does not allow for such things, except for a few cases like Jeff C.’s church and some others. You know full well that calling marriage a sin is almost a blasphemous statement to many, but I can see now that in some cases that is probably true.

      • Martin

        Wendell;

        You experience with the public and as a pastor is very insightful. Thanks.

      • Wendell, the experience you’ve had as a public librarian is fascinating. Wow. I would never have thought of that as the most requested book would be the one on Do It Yourself Divorces!

  11. Anne

    Well we pretty much did the no single friends thing so my husband just flirted with married women. Circumstances can’t circumvent character.

  12. Wendell G

    “Wendell, the experience you’ve had as a public librarian is fascinating. Wow. I would never have thought of that as the most requested book would be the one on Do It Yourself Divorces!”

    It is amazing the education you receive working in a library. I don’t work the desk that much since I am in charge of the computer systems here, but I have dealt with the public and helped librarians with the public enough to have my eyes opened. We hear very sad stories all the time, but as they drilled into our heads when I was working on my MSIS, we “have to not get involved personally”. There are so many times I would have liked to probe a person further, if for no other reason than to try to get them into groups such as this.

    Our library is in a downtown area and very close to the poorest neighborhoods in town. As such, we get a whole array of people, from the very nice to what some would call the dregs of society. We get flashers, ex-cons (we are almost next door to Adult Probation and down the street from the county jail), homeless who have less than desirable hygiene, people with mental illness, thieves, the violent and porn surfers (though we have taken steps to mitigate the latter. We also get families and people that are very nice. I could tell you stories like the time two bounty hunters came in and grabbed a guy and when one of our staff members confronted them, they pointed their pepper spray at them and told them to back off. At first, we didn’t know they were bounty hunters as they didn’t display any visible badges!

    And people say libraries are boring!

    Oh, I am trying to get our collection development people to order Jeff and Barb’s book, but so far no joy there. If it isn’t reviewed in Library Journal or Publishers Weekly, they are reluctant to order them.

    Sorry for the off topic, but every once in a while I just have to talk!

  13. Anonymous

    For a long time, wanting to be a godly wife, I tried to please my husband. I found out that it was a one-way street. My requests were met with, “No one tells me what to do in my own home!” Nothing I did made him happy & I ended up very confused & feeling crazy & distressed trying to please him .

    He would compliment me very effusively sometimes, but just as often he would unexpectedly become outraged at some fault of mine. When I worked full time and was also responsible for every task pertaining to us: housework, meals, shopping, laundry, taxes paying bills etc (what exactly did HE do?) & was being faithful, he would condemn me for the one thing I was letting slip. If I would pick that up, he’d condemn me for something else. He loved my cooking before I was married, but after marriage every meal became subject to anything from “constructive” criticism on how to make it right next time, to angry outrage (“I’m not going to eat this garbage!”). I used to be a good cook & really enjoyed it & enjoyed learning more. Now it’s necessary drudgery.

    I made him coffee in the mornings, which at first he liked, then he didn’t want it, then he complained I didn’t make it for him. He doesn’t like breakfast in the mornings, but when I stopped making it for him, he complained.

    I’m glad to see it isn’t just me that isn’t right for him, his discontent extends to coffeepots, razors, pastors and other church leaders, clothes, etc. When will he realize it’s his heart that isn’t right?

  14. granonine

    Good observations. Sometimes we overlook the obvious because we don’t live in a world where the one who claims to love us most is constantly demanding we be someone we aren’t. Abuse is all about control. It’s not about love in any way. All types of abuse–verbal, mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, sexual– demand that the victim change to meet the abusers “standards” of perfection–in the victim! The abuser, of course, has no need to change anything at all.

    We have freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1) and victims need to understand that THEY are not the problem. Convincing them of that truth is another matter entirely.

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